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DoD News Briefing: Mr. Kenneth H. Bacon, ATSD (PA)

Presenters: Mr. Kenneth H. Bacon, ATSD (PA)
October 12, 1995 2:30 PM EDT

Thursday, October 12, 1995 - 2:30 p.m.

Mr. Bacon: Good afternoon.

Everybody in Washington seems fascinated by public opinion polls, so I wanted to start today with a public opinion poll from Serbia. The Serbian magazine Telegraph, in Belgrade, recently surveyed 1,000 Serbian high school students and it found that they're not interested in politics, they don't want to serve in the army, and most of them want to be businessmen. In fact, the majority wanted to be businessmen, and the second largest group wanted to be artists, and the third largest group wanted to be scientists. I don't know whether this means there's a foundation for peace in Serbia, but it's a poll for you to cogitate on, nonetheless.

Q: What was the margin of error on that? [Laughter]

A: I have an announcement about Secretary Perry. He will host a full honors ceremony to welcome the Defense Minister of Uzbekistan, Lieutenant General Rustam Akhmedov at the Pentagon, at 10:30 on Friday, and it will be on the lower parade field. There will be a signing of a Memorandum of Understanding formalizing defense and security relationships between the United States and Uzbekistan, after the honors ceremony, in Room 3E869. If you're interested in covering that, contact Terry Mitchell.

Finally, I'd like to announce that a week ago Deputy Secretary White ordered the Army to stop work on the laser countermeasures program. As you remember, back in early September, Secretary Perry issued a policy stopping work on blinding lasers, and this provoked review of the Department's laser work, and as a result, Secretary White ordered an end to this Army program effective immediately, and the Army has, in fact, stopped the program. He sent this letter to the Army on October 5th.

Q: How come we just heard about it today?

A: It took awhile for the paper to work its way through the system.

Q: By laser countermeasures, do you mean using lasers to... What do you mean by laser countermeasure? You mean a weapon using a laser?

A: No, it was a program that used a laser to defeat other lasers. It was an Army program.

Q: Anti-laser laser?

A: It was an anti-laser laser, that's right, an "ALL." [Laughter]

Q: That's because it might blind?

A: Yes. Deputy Secretary John White determined that it did not fit in under the proscription against building lasers that are intended to blind. There were other problems with the program. It was a costly program, and also it turned out that the equipment was extremely heavy, and a soldier carrying the laser countermeasure system could only carry that. He or she couldn't carry any other equipment. So the program has been stopped.

Q: Can we get a copy of the letter?

A: I have a copy of the letter right here from John White, and you can get a copy from Lieutenant Colonel Hoehne.

I'll take questions on that or anything else.

Q: Is there any policy -- personnel policy -- in the Pentagon regarding the march next Monday?

A: The Pentagon will operate as usual next Monday. We are cooperating with the organizers of the march to provide some parking space for their buses, and we've been in contact with them and we've offered to be as cooperative as we can. The main support they've asked is parking space.

The marshaling point for the march is going to be RFK stadium where there's room for 2,800 buses. That's, of course, very close to a Metro stop, so people can just get off buses there. They'll park the first 2,800 buses there. If there's an overflow of buses, and the organizers think there will be, people will get off, and then the buses will drive out to parking places at Andrews, the Washington Navy Yard, other military installations. Then, they'll come back and pick up their riders at the end of the march.

Q: Is there any policy regarding Pentagon people taking part in the march?

A: People can take -- I assume can take leave if they want to take part in the march, but there's no specific policy on that. As I said, it's going to be work as usual at the Pentagon on Monday, so we would expect people to report for duty unless they've made other plans.

Q: Are there any top-level Pentagon appointees that you know of taking part in the march?

A: I don't know that. It's a good question and I'll try to find out. I'm not aware that there are, but I just don't know.

Q: Can you tell us in some detail what the NAC agreed to with regard to the concept of the plan, and to what extent you can tell us about the plan itself?

A: I described the basic five phases of the plan on Tuesday. It still has five phases. I can go into a little more detail about each one of the phases. But let me tell you first of all, where we stand in the process.

The acceptance of the concept of operations by the North Atlantic Council in Brussels now triggers a period of much more detailed planning to flesh out the actual force that will be sent in after a peace agreement is reached.

In addition, several other decisions were taken. NATO will begin briefing the United Nations and contributors to the United Nations peacekeeping force in Bosnia, as well as interested Partnership for Peace countries, next week on the framework of its coordination plan under the implementation force.

In addition, NATO will invite Russia to attend a 16-plus-1 meeting of the North Atlantic Council in the near future -- there's not a specific date on that -- to talk about possible Russian involvement with the force.

In addition, the three star general, who is going to be sent by Moscow to Mons to work with SHAPE headquarters, will arrive within the next few days. By Monday, he'll arrive to start his consultations with the military authorities in Mons.

There will also be a series of briefings for non-NATO countries -- other non-NATO countries that want to participate in the implementation force -- and they'll probably be invited to Brussels for a briefing relatively soon to fill them in on what the planning is and how it's going.

The five-phase operational concept that was adopted by the North Atlantic Council yesterday has one goal, and that's to move a large well-armed force quickly into Bosnia, within days after the implementation of a peace agreement. When that happens, we don't know, because it depends on the progress in reaching a peace agreement.

I think you've all heard Ambassador Holbrooke say that there's no assurance we will reach a peace agreement. The progress is good now. We're continuing to make progress, but there are still daunting obstacles before the negotiators can say that they've reached a peace agreement. Those obstacles will have to be overcome in November and December, if possible.

So after a peace agreement is reached, the troops would move in. But the first phase of the five-phase plan is preparation, and that will involve the accelerated and detailed planning for the implementation force called IFOR. It will involve the prepositioning of people and equipment to move quickly into Bosnia -- once the peace agreement is signed -- and it will also involve some early work on a communications system in Bosnia -- some infrastructure work. It will... In the area that doesn't involve the movement of troops, it will involve completing work on the rules of engagement; it will involve putting out requisitions or requests for force contributions from the participating countries -- first to the NATO countries and then to the non-NATO countries who might want to participate in this force. So that's basically what will happen during the preparation stage.

All of this phase is designed to make it possible for phase two, which is entry into Bosnia. The idea there would be to move a force in as quickly as possible, to set up headquarters, right away, and create a substantial massing of forces at the earliest possible moment in the theater after the peace agreement is signed.

After that, begins -- basically -- the implementation. There are, I suppose, three ways in which this force will operate. The mission of the force is to monitor and maintain lines of separation. It's to take the borders that have been agreed to during the peace negotiations and to maintain those borders, and to prevent cross-overs -- incursions -- from one territory to the other.

The military mission of the force will be spelled out in the peace agreement, and it will stick to that mission. It does not plan to get involved in the delivery of humanitarian aid. It does not plan to get involved in other non-military functions, such as the movement of refugees. It does not plan to get involved in rebuilding infrastructure or economic rehabilitation, nor does it plan to get involved in the collection of weapons. It will concentrate on enforcing the zones of separation and keeping the formerly warring forces apart.

In places of high threat there will be a continual manning of the lines of separation. In other areas, there will be patrolling of the zones of separation. Then, in areas of least threat, there will be mainly monitoring which could be done by air, could be done on a more intermittent basis. So we'll move from constant manning through patrolling -- regular patrolling down to monitoring, depending on the threats that are faced by the force.

That's basically in the implementation phase and the force carrying out its operations.

The fourth phase is transition to peace. I talked about this in considerable detail on Tuesday. All the functions I mentioned, that the implementation force will not carry out -- for instance, refugee resettlement, delivery of humanitarian aid, economic rehabilitation -- will be done by civil forces. They'll be done under the auspices of the UN, under the auspices of the European Union and the Western European Union. But other groups will handle these.

They'll be working in liaison with the implementation force, but not underneath it, and certainly in cooperation with it.

We hope that once we can stabilize conditions in Bosnia and keep the formerly warring parties apart, that the economic rebuilders, the refugee resettlers, the bridge builders, etc., will be able to come in and start laying a foundation for growth and prosperity and peace in Bosnia, Croatia, etc. There will be a substantial economic aid component to the peace plan, but this will not be administered by the implementation force, by the military forces. It's important to make that distinction, because the goal of this force is mainly to maintain the lines of separation and not getting dragged into other so-called nation building-type tasks. So that's the fourth phase -- transition to peace.

The fifth phase is the exit phase. That would involve an orderly turnover of activities to indigenous security forces that, we hope, will be able to maintain stability in the area. We will also leave behind to work in a more stable environment the rebuilding of forces that are doing the civil repairs.

That, in short, is what was agreed to, and that's the gist of the concept of operations that the NAC voted on yesterday.

Q: Any detail on numbers of troops or...

A: No. It did not get into numbers of troops in the plan at all. You know the numbers, they've been repeated, we've had the ranges.

The difficulty in settling on the numbers comes from the fact that: one, we don't have a map yet; and two, we don't have a peace agreement yet; and three, we don't have a firm plan for sending the troops to Bosnia, yet.

Q: You said on Tuesday, I believe, that the Russians had proposed possibly providing some other divisions in addition to the two battalions they had. And you said the United States would prefer two battalions.

We had a story out of Brussels yesterday quoting a NATO specialist saying that the Russians might provide up to 20,000 troops. Does that sound in the realm of possibility? And would the United States welcome that kind of effort by the Russians? Meaning, if they suddenly decided that things weren't right, they could yank those out and perhaps jeopardize the whole mission? Would you welcome a large Russian presence?

A: We welcome a Russian presence. The size of that presence has to be negotiated. The basic concept of this force is it will be about a three division force -- a French division, a British division, and an American division. There will then be non-NATO forces inserted into this force to work under the divisional headquarters, if you want to refer to it as that.


The Russians have proposed up to a full division. Secretary Perry made it clear he felt that was probably more than NATO could accept or manage at this stage, and the Russians have talked since then of sending several battalions. They already have two battalions in Bosnia. It's possible those battalions would stay and be the Russian contribution if the proper command and control, political control, and other questions are worked out. They have not been worked out yet. As you probably gathered from the schedule I gave you earlier, those questions won't really be engaged until next week when Colonel General Shetsov arrives in Mons, and also they have the 16-plus-1 meeting with the NAC. So that issue has not been resolved.

Q: Tell us as much as you can about how this IFOR would actually get into Bosnia. Is this going to be a force that goes in on the assumption that they're going to be welcomed, in which case they just sort of roll in on trains? Or is this going to be a force which goes in worried that some elements may not welcome them, in which case they'd better go in as if it were an assault?

A: First of all, this force will only go in after the completion of a peace agreement, so we assume that there will be a cessation of hostilities in that peace agreement and that we are generally welcomed by the three parties to the peace agreement. Nevertheless, there's considerable risk that in this environment we could be hit with paramilitary forces, we could be hit by forces that aren't under very strict command and control, and this force will be ready to deal aggressively and assertively with any attacks that are inflicted on it.

We are sending in a very heavily armed force. It will be characterized really in three ways. It will be heavy, meaning that it will be an armored force and light armor; it will be highly mobile with helicopters; and it will be a highly flexible force. As Secretary Perry said, this will be the meanest dog in town, and it will be ready to strike back quickly if provoked. We'll have rules of engagement that do not require it to go back to Naples or back to Brussels to get permission to react to an attack or the threat of an attack.

Q: You could roll in with your tanks on railroad cars. You can roll in with attack helicopters to set up security zones and... Which is this going to be?

A: Basically, the plan is that part of the U.S. force would come in by rail from the north. The British and the French forces are more likely to come in by ship. So there will be entrance both by sea and by land.

Q: And not by air?

A: Some elements of the force will enter by air.

Q: What I'm trying to get at is, are you going to have this lead element going in much like the lead element went in to say Haiti, or even into Somalia where they went ashore prepared for the worst, and...

A: Yes. This lead element, in fact the entire force, will be prepared for the worst when it hits the ground, but particularly the lead element. We are going in on the assumption that we have to be prepared to defend ourselves against anything that can be thrown at us. That's why the force will be heavy, mobile and flexible.

Q: Is it planned to send small contingents of airborne troops in first like they dropped them in Haiti?

A: I can't get into those specific details right now. All I can tell you is the force will move in as if this is a military operation, which indeed, it is. It's a peace enforcement operation, not a peacekeeping operation.

Q: Will the force be authorized to use force to maintain the lines of separation?

A: It will be authorized to use force to carry out its military mission, and the mission is to maintain those lines of separation.

Q: A question about command and control issues with the Russians. On Sunday, Minister Grachev talked about two variants of political and military guidance, or possibly of two variants. Does that mean two command and control structures in place simultaneously under some larger umbrella than NATO?

A: The command and control arrangements for any Russian participation have not been worked out. Working that out is crucial to determining, one, if there will be Russian participation; and two, what sort of participation it will be. That's what's going to happen over the next couple of weeks. We haven't approached that yet.

Q: Senator Leahy had a press conference today on the Hill where he was calling on the Pentagon to stop deploying anti-personnel mines. I'm wondering what the distinction is between laser weapons that you described which presumably would be aimed at combatants; and mines which have shown a propensity to kill civilians and children? I'm wondering if you could restate the policy, whatever distinction you make between laser weapons and...

A: The fundamental difference is the stage in the development and deployment process of the two weapons. With lasers, we have an opportunity to stop a proliferation of a new and dangerous weapon, we hope. We are now engaged in discussions at the Conference on Conventional Weapons in Vienna to do just that. Secretary Perry felt strongly that we should take a lead role in that by swearing off the development and use of lasers intentionally designed to blind people.

The mine situation is entirely different. Mines have been around for well over a century. There are millions and millions of them deployed already around the world and it's an entirely different situation than we have with the lasers right now.

Q: Saddam Hussein is going to have elections on Sunday, a referendum or whatever. Are there any fears that he's going to be up to some mischief, or [will there] be any kinds of heightened security alerts or anything else?

A: We always fear mischief by Saddam Hussein. We watch him very closely. We have a very significant force in the Gulf -- a significant air force, a significant naval force, and we also have about 1,500 soldiers from Fort Hood, Texas carrying out exercises with their Kuwaiti counterparts in Kuwait now. So we are watching what's happening in Iraq.

We do not see signs of extraordinary or threatening military activity now.

Q: Has your office decided how you're going to present the C-17 decision? Will the Secretary come down? Will the Deputy Secretary come down?

A: The Secretary will probably be out of the country when the decision is announced. It's likely but not certain that Under Secretary Paul Kaminski will announce the decision. It is likely, but not certain, that it will be announced in early-November.

Q: Can you enlighten us on the possible use of a military base or bases for the Bosnia peace conference? Which bases...

A: I cannot. I think it is likely that it will be on a military base, but beyond that, I can't give you any information.

Q: Back to Bosnia for a second, you keep coming back to the issue that we don't have a border yet, and that determines the size of the mission. Does the Pentagon have someone at the table who is saying, "This border would be easier to enforce than that border," and pushing for an "easier-to-enforce" dividing line between the sides?

A: As you know, General Wesley Clark -- the J-5 on the Joint Staff -- is part of the Holbrooke team and sits in on all these negotiations. So he represents our point of view, as does Jim Pardue, who is the head of the Bosnia Task Force. So our views are represented, but this is not our country. This is really a matter of negotiation among the Bosnians, the Croatians, and the Bosnian Serbs. We can contribute our points of view and they will be considered, I'm sure, as the individual parties see our recommendations contributing to their sense of security.

Q: What is the basis for the U.S. preference for a smaller -- for fewer Russian troops rather than their suggestion of more Russian troops?

A: NATO is an organization that is used to training and working together. It's an organization that has established procedures -- command and control situations -- and including forces that don't have that background and training present an element of complication. That's the first reason.

The second reason is that quantity, in a way, has its own quality to it in that sending in a division suggests there will be a sector or quadrant of the country that would be the "Russian-sector," or the "Russian-quadrant," and we're trying to get away from that type of thinking. We're not trying to divvy the country up the way Berlin was divvied up. We want a more fluid situation. Although there will be assignments of troops into certain areas, we don't want a Russian-sector versus a U.S.-sector, etc. So those are two of the reasons.

But, there's also a third reason and I think the reason that in the end may be very compelling to the Russians. That is that it's quite likely that the Russians will have to pay the bills of stationing troops in Bosnia, and it's unclear that they will be able to afford to station a large force as part of the IFOR in Bosnia. That's another issue that has to be worked out.

Since you seem to be interested in this, let me just run through the four unresolved issues that will affect Russian participation in the implementation force: the first is military command and control, can they fit in under the NATO structure; the second is political control; the third is the size of the force they want to contribute or are able to contribute; [and] the fourth is the cost of contributing forces. Those four issues will have to be worked out over the next couple of weeks, or addressed over the next couple of weeks. We hope they can be worked out.

Q: What's the Russian position on cost? Do they want the U.S. or someone else to pay?

A: This was discussed with the Russians and there are a number of options for dealing with the cost depending on the definition of the force and where the force fits in. The rules will be that the contributing countries will pay for their elements of the IFOR. And so if Russia had troops in the IFOR -- if they could work out the command and control and other situations -- they would have to pay under that formula for their own forces.

They raised the possibility of an international fund to pay for the forces in the implementation force, but that's not the way it's going to be worked out. So the international fund doesn't seem to be a possibility for paying for the military part of the force.

If you look on the other side of the line -- the civilian rehabilitation forces -- it's conceivable that they could contribute engineering battalions or transportation companies or whatever to help with the non-military part of the mission. It's a very important part of the mission -- in fact, that's the part of the mission that's going to determine whether peace survives in Bosnia, or not, over the long term.

If they contributed to that, it's conceivable that that could be paid for through an international rehabilitation fund. It's not worked out, but it is conceivable it could be paid for. They would probably have a better chance of getting payment from an international fund for a support force than for a military force.

Q: Do you get the impression that they want to be in a certain log or intersector, i.e. the Bosnian Serb...

A: I don't have that impression. I have the impression that they want to participate in the force; they think they have a valuable contribution to make. The United States and our NATO allies would like to have the Russians participate in the force because we think it would be an important step toward dealing with European security problems in a unified, coherent, and cooperative way.

Q: On the budget, given the status downtown and the uncertainties, does the Pentagon have a plan for the next few months, and for the year, on operations, contracting, that sort of thing?

A: The Pentagon has plans for everything. [Laughter]

Q: Back to Bosnia. On the sectors, is it correct that the Americans plan to get the central sector, the British the western and the French the eastern? Or could you explain...

A: I can't really explain that right now. I think we should wait until the plan finally comes out. It's been reported, and I wouldn't disagree with the reports, that the U.S. would go in -- would probably be responsible for the area around Tuzla, which would be the northern sector. But that is the type of detail that remains to be worked out.

Press: Thank you.