United States Department of Defense United States Department of Defense

News Transcript

Press Operations Bookmark and Share

Transcript


DoD News Briefing - Rear Adm. Craig Quigley, DASD

Presenters: Rear Adm. Craig Quigley, DASD
September 14, 2000 1:30 PM EDT

Quigley: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. I have several announcements this afternoon. First, Secretary Cohen departed last night from Andrews Air Force Base and is currently en route to Manila, where he will arrive later tonight, Washington time. He'll then meet with senior government officials, to include Secretary of National Defense Mercado, Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines General Reyes, and will attend a dinner hosted by President Estrada. Late Friday night Washington time, Secretary Cohen will then depart for Singapore.

Deputy Secretary of Defense Rudy de Leon will host the National POW-MIA Recognition Day ceremony tomorrow at 11:30 a.m. at the parade ground near the River Entrance. The commemoration honors the sacrifices of America's service members and their families, especially those service members whose fate remains undetermined. It will include formal military honors and a joint service flyover. Keynote speaker is Mr. Gene Smith, a former Vietnam prisoner of war. The event is open for media coverage. More details will be available in the press advisory released today.

Next, as the Olympic Games begin, I am pleased to announce that there will be 15 U.S. military Olympians competing in the Games. In addition to the 15 athletes primarily competing, there are several alternates and coaches in involved with the Olympic team. All four of the services are represented within the ranks of the primary and alternate athletes and the coaches. We will put out a press release today with a list of the athletes' names and their events. And what we're showing here, obviously, is some of the photos of the military athletes that will be competing in the Games.

Q: A very snazzy system you have here.

Quigley: I think this will be very useful in the years ahead.

Q: Would that you had it for the -- (inaudible).

Quigley: We would like to thank the New York Jets of the National Football League for designating their game this Sunday against the Buffalo Bills as "Military Appreciation Day." Game day activities will include a pre-game flyover of A-10 Warthogs from the Air National Guard unit out of Baltimore, a joint service color guard will be on hand, and the U.S. Military Academy Band from West Point will perform the National Anthem. The master chief petty officer of the Navy will participate in the coin toss, and the coin itself will be delivered by a joint parachute team from Special Operations Command. The half-time show will feature a Korean War commemoration from Spirit of America, and conclude with a Marine Cobra flyover.

Recruiters from each of the services will also be on hand outside the stadium and there will be a host of other activities throughout the game to recognize the great service of our men and women in uniform.

And again, we very much appreciate the special efforts of the Jets.

Finally, we are pleased to welcome a group of visiting fellows who are participating in the State Department's Freedom House program. They include a mix of government officials, non-government officials and journalists from Macedonia, Romania, Montenegro and Slovakia. Welcome to you all. Glad to have you with us today.

And with that, I'll be pleased to take your questions. Toby?

Q: On Iraq. How seriously are you taking their recent comments about Kuwait that they will take some sort of unspecified action? And are you guys gearing up in any way?

Quigley: We always pay attention to what Iraq says and, more particularly, what it does. The comments, the very bellicose comments made several weeks ago by Iraqi leadership were one indicator. Historically, if you go back over the course of the past decade, there have been several instances of this being a time of year when Saddam has done aggressive acts against either his own people or moved forces in an aggressive way that would lead us to believe that he was about to do something else. So this is -- we always pay attention, but this is a time of year that we pay particular attention to what is going on inside Iraq.

Now, this is also the time of year that is their traditional training cycle, so it is not unusual to see Iraqi forces doing what you would consider normal routine training activities. That's fine, and that is expected. What we would be looking for would be something that is not normal, that is larger, longer lasting, if you will, or some other sort of activity that might prove to be an indicator of potential hostile action against either a neighboring nation or against his own people in the North or the South.

So this is something we always pay attention to. This time of year we pay particular attention to that, and we will continue that for as long as it takes.

Q: But are there any indications that there is something larger in the works?

Quigley: So far, we have not seen an indication that is out of character of the sort of activity that you would see this time of year in conjunction with their normal training cycle.

We'll continue to watch very carefully.

Q: What kind of restrictions are there on actual Iraqi troop movements in the Kuwaiti theater?

Quigley: Say that again?

Q: What kind of restrictions -- I understand that there's also the -- I think they call it the no-drive zone. You know, there's the no-fly zone, but is not the Iraqi military under U.N. sanction to prevent massing troops along the border?

Quigley: I'm going to have to check. The one that we pay attention to most of the time that we see, certainly, is either activity against coalition aircraft, patrolling the northern or southern no-fly zones and certainly movement of forces elsewhere in the country. But let me check on that. [U.N. Security Council Resolution 949 (October 1994) restricts Iraqi troop enhancements south of the 32nd parallel. It demands Iraq not use military or other forces in a hostile or provocative manner to threaten neighbors or U.N. operations in Iraq. It demands Iraq not enhance its military capacity in southern Iraq, defined as below the 32nd parallel.]

Q: Has the coalition bombed any targets in Iraq today?

Quigley: This morning at 9:00 Eastern Time there was a strike in Southern Watch against a radar site, an element of the air defense network. The coalition aircraft all returned safely to their home stations and the battle damage assessment is still being done.

Q: What precipitated that strike?

Quigley: A series of provocations over the past -- yesterday -- the past couple of days, of either AAA [anti-aircraft artillery] or SAM [surface-to-air missile] firings. And as we've said on several occasions, we will respond in a manner and a time and a location of our choosing.

Q: There are some reports, and apparently confirmation out of New York that the Iraqis flew over Saudi Arabia last week with at least one flight. Can you give us anything on that?

Quigley: Well, we've seen more than 150 violations of the no-fly zone -- zones, I should say, both northern and southern no-fly zones, since Desert Fox of December of 1998. The preponderance of those are in the south. But I'm not going to get into any violations of any other nation's sovereign airspace. Those questions should be referred to the nation that you're concerned with to let them respond on their own behalf.

Q: Well was there a plane that flew over the no-fly zone, headed into Saudi Arabia?

Quigley: There were a couple of violations on Monday, the 4th -- I think it was the 4th of September, Labor Day, yes, of the Southern no-fly zone.

Q: And did they go into Saudi Arabia?

Quigley: Go back to my previous answer.

Q: Well, were they deep into the no-fly zone or were they just --

Quigley: I'm not going to start splitting hairs, Jamie, I'm sorry.

Q: Well, I think --

Quigley: I will say that they were unequivocally south of 33 North.

Q: All right. Well then why was the -- if these violations were not simply a quick skirting of the no-fly zone, an in-and-out, if they were an actual substantial penetration into the southern no-fly zone, why weren't the -- why wasn't the Iraqi plane challenged or shot down?

Quigley: Typically, the Iraqis do not fly when we are flying, or it's when we are egressing from the area and not in a position to engage. They are not looking for a fight with coalition aircraft. They are looking to try to only reassert sovereignty over Iraqi airspace and to, I guess, show us that they still can. But they have not put themselves in a position, that I can recall, where coalition aircraft can engage.

Q: Without citing any specific instances, can you tell us whether Iraqi aircraft in the past -- well, during the time that we've been enforcing the no-fly zones, have they violated the airspace of any neighboring countries?

Quigley: Again, I will stick with my previous statement -- that we've seen more than 150 violations of the no-fly zones. But I'm not going to address violations of another nation's sovereign airspace.

Q: Can you explain why you can't talk about that?

Quigley: Because I feel that would be more appropriate -- for the nation concerned to address their own airspace and not me, from here.

Tony?

Q: Is it non-Iraqi, your question?

Q: (Off mike.)

Quigley: Any other -- Barbara?

Q: These two incidents that you referred to on September 4th -- you seemed to be suggesting that it was a different sort of air tactic by the Iraqis. So were coalition aircraft surprised? Why weren't they there?

Quigley: Well, the Iraqi air defense system clearly sees when we are flying, when the coalition is flying, in either northern or -- either the northern no-fly zone or the southern no-fly zone. And as I indicated, they don't seek to come into the same airspace as coalition aircraft at the same time. And we were not flying on Monday the 4th. It was a no-fly day. And clearly they saw that that was a no-fly day. And I can -- I'm assuming here, Barbara -- I don't like doing that, but I can only assume that they felt that this was an excellent opportunity to violate the southern no-fly zone when they saw no coalition aircraft up that day.

Q: So the coalition aircraft don't patrol the no-fly zones every single day --

Quigley: Correct.

Q: On average, how often do we patrol the no-fly zone?

Quigley: Oh, gosh. I'd have to go back and check, Jamie. I'm not sure. It's most of the time, but we do have no-fly days, for a variety of reasons. That particular day was a no-fly day.

Q: I just want to really make sure I understand this, then.

So, can you say then were we surprised by what the Iraqis did on the 4th?

Quigley: I'm not going to characterize our state of alert or what we knew or didn't know, either, Barbara.

Q: How long did the incidents last?

Quigley: They were not long, although I don't have the exact duration of time that the violation was actually occurring.

Q: (Off mike.)

Quigley: No, more than minutes. It was deeper than that.

Q: Admiral, I don't want to read too much into what you're saying, but are you then characterizing this as something that was not designed to provoke any kind of action from the United States?

Quigley: I don't know if I can give it a very good characterization because I'm not clear as to the motivation of the Iraqi leadership as to why this was done.

Dale?

Q: You said it was a no-fly day, but obviously their movement was detected. Was -- were any coalition aircraft scrambled and put in the air and the Iraqis were gone by the time they got there, or was this just judged not a threat?

Quigley: Well, again, I'm not going to get into our reactions, I'm sorry, to what we do note when we see Iraqi air activity. And the reason I'm not going to do that is because that would give the Iraqis some assistance in determining what would trigger a response from us. And I'm not going to help him in that regard.

Ben?

Q: Could you explain the philosophy behind the no-fly zones in that -- I mean, it's sort of like a sometimes-fly zone. If we're not monitoring 24 hours a day and challenging every single time they come up, how do we explain it to our readers that it is a no-fly zone but there are significant gaps?

Quigley: The no-fly zone means that Iraqi aircraft are not to fly in the two zones.

Q: Right. But if they do fly and there's no repercussions for them immediately --

Quigley: Because we have said that we will respond to violations or provocations, and that would include triple-A fire, that would include surface to air missile firings, and it could include airplane incursions as well. But we will respond in a manner, in a time, in a place of our choosing. And it's not necessarily a tit for tat or an immediate response to a provocation.

Q: So why fly any -- why fly anything at all? Why not just wait until they do something and then respond? What --

Quigley: Don't feel that that's an effective way of enforcing the no-fly zones. Most of the time, we fly. But it isn't an everyday, 24 hours around the clock sort of an event. But we are airborne often, and we think that that is a better way to more effectively enforce the no-fly restrictions in both zones.

Q: Are U.S. forces currently on heightened alert in that region because of --

Quigley: We are paying particularly close attention to the activities of the Iraqis in that part, and have been for some time. But I'm not going to characterize our alert posture, Toby, in that part of the world. But I will certainly say that we are paying close attention to both statements and activities.

Q: Was the bombing this morning the first U.S. strike since that incident? And was it in any way a reaction to that incident?

Quigley: I think it was the first, but let me double check. Since the 4th, you mean?

Q: Since the 4th.

Quigley: I think so, but let me double check.

Q: Was this in any way a response to that?

Quigley: Again, we try not to keep a particular box score, that if they have violations we're going to respond four times. We don't do it that way. We will respond at a place and a time and a manner of our choosing, and it's not necessarily reciprocal; nor to the provocateur, it may not be that we would strike a AAA site necessarily if coalition aircraft were shot at by AAA; it could be another method. And again, we reserve that choice.

Q: Earlier you said that you hadn't seen any indication -- in your words -- of "hostile intent" by Iraqi troops on the ground. Can you give us any idea how many Iraqi troops are currently deployed or on maneuvers in the northern part of the country, and whether they include any Republican Guard units?

Quigley: No, I don't have those figures, Jamie, I'm sorry.

Q: Is that a question you can take, by any chance?

Quigley: I'll have to check the classification on that. If I can get that to you in an unclassified way, I will. [There are 23 divisions in Iraq today, compared with 54 divisions ten years ago. Thirteen divisions are deployed roughly along the "line of trace" with the Kurds in northern and eastern Iraq. These units include some Republican Guard Forces. There are three armored divisions around Baghdad. There are seven divisions in southern Iraq. We have seen no unusual Iraqi troop movements. Iraqi forces are deployed similar to the way they have been deployed for the last five years.]

Q: And just to clarify, you said this was the time of year when they conduct routine maneuvers.

Quigley: Yes, in the fall.

Q: But are there any indications, or have there been any public statements from Iraq that would lend any sort of question to whether or not these troops are in fact just on routine maneuvers?

Quigley: Not that I'm aware of, no.

Sir?

Q: Admiral, can you tell us how many Iraqi planes were involved in those incursions on the 4th, and if that was --

Quigley: I think just a couple. I think just a couple.

Q: And is that the typical amount that -- when they --

Quigley: Yeah, sometimes one. And they do vary. They penetrate to different depths for differing lengths of time.

Q: I'm sorry, to clarify that. Two at once or two flew two times during the day, or one flew and then another one flew?

Quigley: Let me double check. [There were five violations involving six aircraft on Sept. 4.]

Q: Do you know the type of aircraft involved?

Quigley: No, I don't.

Tony?

Q: A non-Iraq question.

Quigley: Right. Yeah.

Q: CBO [Congressional Budget Office] today released a report indicating that by their calculations, the out-year funding for the Pentagon is about $50 billion short of what's needed to sustain the force in its current state, pay the troops properly and maintain ops tempo. Do you have any reaction to it yet? I think you've seen it earlier today.

Quigley: Well, I think it's actually going to be released in about 15 minutes, so we haven't had time to take a look at the full report. Have taken a quick look at, I guess an executive summary, I would call it, and your characterization is correct. But there's a couple of flaws, I think, in the analysis and in the assumptions.

One, nobody is proposing that we purchase new versions of the equipment that we are using today on a one-for-one basis. That is in no one's budget proposal that I've ever seen. And I think, two, no argument that the procurement account needs to go up. Secretary Cohen has said that. General Shelton has said that on several occasions. You have seen now that the fiscal '01 -- or the fiscal '00 -- I'm sorry -- procurement account is at the $60 billion mark. That was done with considerable effort. And if you go out through the FYDP [Future Years Defense Program] years, you'll see that figure grow to around $70 billion.

Q: CBO says you need about $90 billion.

Quigley: Well, we feel that -- well, again, if your goal is to replace the equipment in the current inventory on a one-for-one basis with comparable equipment, and that is no one's intention. So I would need to take a closer look at the entire report to give you a more comprehensive answer, but that's just a quick reaction from taking a quick look at the executive summary.

Q: Can you bound for us how much OMB [Office of Management and Budget] has allowed the Pentagon in the '02-'07 POM [Program Objectives Memorandum]? This has all been written -- it's all been done now. I asked Bacon this a week ago and he said he was going to take it for the record. Can you find out what it is? Is it, like, $20 billion?

Quigley: I don't know if those figures have been released by OMB, but let me try. Let me try. I'll see if we can get those.

Q: Can I ask you a quick Olympics question?

Quigley: Sure.

Q: You mentioned the athletes. Have the Marines sent over the chemical-biological response team, the organic capability of the Pentagon?

Quigley: We have supported and will support the Olympics with a variety of things, but I'm going to defer to the Australians as to which items that they would like -- they're reluctant, for obvious reasons -- it's not a nationality issue, it's more of an issue of content, I would call it, as to which assets are on site, which are close by, with what reaction times, in what numbers. But we are supporting the Olympic effort in that regard as well.

Q: (Off mike) -- beyond athletes.

Quigley: Correct. Beyond athletes.

Dale?

Q: There's a Navy inspector general's report circulating that says some pretty critical things about readiness in naval aviation. The report is about five months old, and my understanding is that at least initially it was not shared with the SecDef. Do you know if he's received it now and if he has any concern about the Navy's failure to share it with him initially?

Quigley: I don't know if Secretary Cohen has seen it. I know that there are copies that have been distributed to several pieces of the OSD staff, but I'm not sure if the secretary has seen it yet. But neither have I heard him make such an assertion. I think this was something done by the Navy IG. It is probably best retained at this point, at least, in Navy channels to take action as they see appropriate from the IG's findings.

Q: Does the secretary have any concern that there are issues raised in that report, or does the staff have concern about issues raised in that report, readiness problems that perhaps they weren't aware of before?

Quigley: Well, we work with all the services on a regular basis to try to do the very best we can to address readiness concerns wherever they pop up. So without rushing in and giving the -- we should give the Navy an opportunity to use the information that their IG has determined, to read it, to understand it, think about it. And if this is something that they feel that OSD assistance is required on, I'm sure they'll bring that up through either the budgeting channels or operational channels in order to rectify what the IG has found. I am not aware that that has happened yet.

Pam?

Q: A number of former generals and admirals I guess are going to come out today for George Bush in the presidency, and some of them have only recently -- like Zinni -- left their posts here. Does that give anyone at the Pentagon pause? I mean, should you -- is that -- is it politicization of the military?

Quigley: Well, once a person has retired from the military they are more free than when they are on active duty to express their political views. That -- I don't know if I need to go further. I mean, they're not doing anything that they're not allowed to do as citizens.

Q: Is there -- you know, there are limits on folks in other branches of government from, you know, making money on stuff -- you know, lobbying and so on. Are there any kind -- are there no kind of ethical wait-a-year-before-you-get-out-before-you-get-involved, or anything like that?

Quigley: Well, not for the kind of activity that you're describing, no.

We have -- we have restrictions in place for those who, while they were in uniform, were in positions of authority to make procurement decisions, let's say, as one example. And for a period of time after they have retired, they are prohibited from taking a position in private industry with the firm that they had just got done approving or not approving their products for purchase. So we have those sorts of restrictions, but the sort of activity you're describing, there is no time line, cooling-off period, if you will, required, no.

Q: So it doesn't come as a surprise to you that some senior military leaders, it turns out, happen to be Republicans? (Laughter.)

Quigley: Individuals are certainly free to espouse whatever political views they choose to share, once they have retired from the active duty forces.

Q: The Indian prime minister is in town, and he's talking, apparently, with a bunch of different folks about the Phalcon radar that India would like to buy from Israel. We talked about this a couple of weeks ago. Has there been any Pentagon involvement in these discussions, with the Pentagon weighing in with any opinions as to whether or not India should be allowed to purchase this?

Quigley: Not that I have heard of. Let me see what I can find out on that. [We are aware that Israel and India have been discussing a possible sale of Phalcon aircraft to India. Pentagon policy officials have been talking with their counterparts at the State Department and the Israeli government concerning the implications of this possible sale. At this stage, we would prefer not to characterize this discussion because we are still in an early and informal stage of the process. We have yet to receive or review all the details of any potential sale, so such discussion would be premature and less than fully informed.]

Q: Sir, there are some reports in the Philippines press about some special forces in the country now possibly joining some anti-terror or hostage rescue operations. Are there any U.S. forces in the Philippines now? How many? And why are they there?

Quigley: Yes, but we need to be real clear about there being two separate events going on. On the one hand, whatever activities the Philippine government feels are appropriate in order to try to gain the release of the hostages that are being held by the terrorist groups. That's over here.

Over here, there is an ongoing Special Operations Forces training activity going on in a completely separate part of the Philippines, long-scheduled, for over a year. I think it's the third or fourth one of its type this calendar year that we have going on for training of U.S. Special Operations Forces, in conjunction with the Philippines. This is not being done to train the Philippine Special Operations Forces, although there is certainly a side benefit of that, of them being present and training along with our forces. But this is primarily being done, because of the climate and the geography and the landscape that you find in the Philippines, as a very good training ground to provide the training for U.S. Special Operations Forces. Let me see if I have a number here.

Q: (Off mike) -- Philippine forces --

Quigley: Approximately 200.

Q: (Off mike.)

Quigley: Two hundred U.S., yes.

Q: Oh, okay. How long have they been in the country?

Quigley: I think it will last -- it's already started, and I think it will last about 45 days.

Q: What kind of training are we talking about?

Quigley: Special Operations training.

Q: The whole gamut?

Quigley: The whole gamut, mm-hmm [affirmative].

Q: And you're saying that this other thing, which is separate, doesn't involve Americans?

Quigley: Absolutely correct.

Q: But are the Philippine Special Forces part of this U.S. -- involved in this U.S. training exercise?

Quigley: Yes, they are, as there always are.

Q: Right. I just want to be clear on this. So U.S. forces there are in fact training Philippines Special Forces.

Quigley: Only as a by-product, Barbara. They're there principally to receive the training for themselves, for U.S. Special Operations Forces personnel. But there -- while they are doing that, there are also Philippine Special Forces personnel there as well. And there is an advantage to sharing some of that knowledge and training that's going on.

Q: Can you tell us that the U.S. military has ruled out any assistance to the Philippines military or government in going after the rebels? Are you saying --

Quigley: I'm saying I have no knowledge of the government of the Philippines' intentions as to how they plan on resolving the hostage situation. My hope is that the terrorists will release the hostages immediately. But I have no knowledge of how the Philippine government plans on doing that; it's an internal security matter for them.

Q: Is there some area --

Q: But would we entertain a request to allow the troops that are currently --

Quigley: I'm not going to go down that road. That's for them to decide.

Q: How many Philippine soldiers are benefitting from this training?

Quigley: It's a couple of dozen, I want to say, but I don't have an exact figure, Pam. [Approximately 100]

Jamie?

Q: I wanted to go back to Iraq for a moment. Four years ago, Saddam Hussein was able -- moved troops into the North, moved against some of the Kurdish factions there, one of the factions.

Quigley: Right.

Q: And the United States wasn't able to do anything to prevent that. In fact, that resulted in airstrikes after the fact, and I believe that's when the no-fly zone was moved from the 32nd to the 33rd Parallel.

Is the United States in any better position today to stop Saddam Hussein if he decided to again, as he did in 1996, move against the Kurds in the North?

Quigley: I'd have to do a more thorough analysis than I have at my immediate disposal, to compare 1996 to now. I think I'll just stick with now. I think that we have a variety of means at our disposal to take action, if we so choose to do so, against any aggressive acts that Saddam would impose, either on a neighbor or on his people. And that's a combination of -- as Toby asked early on in the brief -- a combination of trying to stay on top of things and be as proactive and get as much advance warning as we possibly can of whatever intentions we might see, as well as the actual forces that are physically present in the region.

Q: Other than public statements from U.S. officials, has the United States issued any sort of a warning to Saddam not to -- during this time when you were paying particular attention, as you said, to what's going on -- any warning to Baghdad not to move against neighbors or its own people?

Quigley: Not that I'm aware of, no.

Barbara?

Q: Different subject slightly. Now that the Wen Ho Lee case appears to be concluded -- certainly the security of nuclear weapons data is of interest to the U.S. military and to this building. So, now that that has all been concluded, have you guys seen anything that changes your mind about this whole matter and that would change your view about -- that there was, in fact, a threat or -- a threat to the security of nuclear weapons data; do you still believe that?

Quigley: Would you ask that again? (Laughter.)

Q: The Wen Ho Lee case is now concluded. Nuclear weapons data -- the security of that data certainly is of interest to this building and to the U.S. military. Now that the case is concluded, has anything changed the view of this building that this case was about a threat to the security of nuclear weapons data? Do you have any different view; do you still believe that this case was about a threat to the security of nuclear weapons data?

Quigley: I understand where you're coming from.

I think I'd best answer the question by saying we are always concerned about the security of nuclear weapons data. If there is a belief that there has been a compromise of information that would either reveal some of the classified information relating to the design and construction of our own nuclear weapons and, worst case, to a potential adversary that could use it, of course we care.

So I'm not sure that Wen Ho Lee being released has a bearing one way or the other on whether or not we remain concerned about possible compromise.

Again, you're kind of talking about two different things, really. The concern remains. What may happen in the future with the legal specifics of Wen Ho Lee are a different issue.

Q: Let me try it one other way, then, perhaps more clearly. Do you believe that nuclear weapons data was compromised? Do you believe that the Chinese gained access to classified nuclear weapons data?

Quigley: I don't think we know that for sure. And I think that it's premature at this point to make a guess. I think that's a part of the ongoing process. His release from -- was a separate issue, really, based on the judge's perception of the evidence against him. And that's certainly within his prerogative to do that. But I don't think that would stop any continued investigation of possible compromise.

Jamie?

Q: Completely different subject: the International Criminal Court. A new study I think is going to come out later this week, independent study, challenges the official position of the U.S. government that the International Criminal Court would undermine U.S. interests around the world and it cites some -- it quotes some people, including a former U.S. commander in Bosnia, saying that the U.S. would be better off signing on to the International Criminal Court. Can you just tell me whether that position is evolving at all, or whether -- or can you simply state why the U.S. continues to be opposed to the International Criminal Court?

Quigley: Yeah. I don't know of any change or a shifting in our position in that. We still don't think that the ICC in its current configuration is the right thing for the United States to sign on to. We think that -- for a couple of reasons. One is there's no oversight built into the current structure of the ICC. Now, there is nothing to prohibit any number of individual parties from bringing frivolous charges against any nation's service members. And our particular concern, of course, is our own. And that would start a process, a court process that could drag on for weeks and months against an individual service member from the United States.

We think that we have shown over the years that we have a mature, stable judicial system that is fully capable of investigating and taking action, where appropriate, of all allegations of misconduct by U.S. service members. So we think we have a system that exists and works well.

We think that the ICC, as it's currently proposed, without some sort of supervisory oversight, would lead to a horrible circumstance of a possibility of all kinds of frivolous charges against U.S. service members around the world. And for those two reasons, we find the proposal in its current state is just not acceptable.

Q: Does the experience with the NATO bombing -- the 78-day bombing campaign in Yugoslavia, is that an example of what you're talking about? Because after that action, there were many groups, including academics, even some in U.S. legal circles, other countries, who charged that NATO was guilty of war crimes after that. Is that an example of what you're talking about?

Quigley: I'm not sure that's a very good example. No, I'm not sure that's a very good example.

Pam?

Q: Can I take you back to the elections for a second?

Quigley: Yeah.

Q: What formal restrictions are on active-duty military with regard to being involved in political campaigns?

Quigley: You may not engage in partisan politics while you still wear the uniform.

Q: Does that mean you can't have like a Gore or Bush sign in front of your house, or does it mean you can't be handing out leaflets or --

Quigley: Let me check. I know we put that out, but it's been awhile.

Staff: The Hatch Act covers it.

Q: Huh?

Staff: It's all covered in the Hatch Act.

Quigley: Okay. Yeah, but let me -- we can provide you a copy of what specifically -- I know we put out, at the start -- typically the first of a calendar year in which there's elections, an election year guidance message to all of DoD, that tries to be as specific as we can make it as to what activities are okay and which are prohibited for those members of the military. And I'm not sure of the particulars. I need to lay my hands on that piece of paper. We'll post that. [See DoD Directive 1344.10 ]

Yes, sir?

Q: What are the reasons for the postponement of the THEL test in New Mexico?

Quigley: I think that the partial success of the THEL test caused our engineers to think that it's more prudent to pause for a little bit, make sure we find out why it was not 100 percent successful before we try again. If it's something that could be corrected with a minimal amount of effort and time, we'll do it.

And we'll think that that would be much more productive, to hold off for that small amount of time, make that correction and then do the test again. If it proves to be something more substantial, again that would be not a -- it just doesn't make sense to hold the test until we have a better understanding of why it was not more successful than it was. Partially successful. We got the first missile on the first test. But on the second one, we only got one of the two. Why? And we're not sure why yet. So rather than charge ahead with the test again, we're going to hold off for a little while, at least, until we can see what we can learn and what might be a better way to correct that.

Q: Therefore, I assume that no date has been fixed for a new testing.

Quigley: No. We don't anticipate it be lengthy, but no specific date.

Yes, sir?

Q: To go back to Iraq for just one second, you mentioned that the strike in the south today was in retaliation to several provocations over the past several days, I guess since the 4th. In the past, the pattern has seemed to be coalition aircraft are lit up or fired upon, they fire back on the spot. Why was there a delay this time? Was there any sort of reluctance?

Quigley: Sometimes that's true. But again it goes back to us making the determination when and how and if we will respond to a provocation. At times that is immediate, but at other times, it is not.

Q: Was there a reluctance, perhaps, to take any action while the summit was going on at the United Nations?

Quigley: That was not our motivation.

Jamie?

Q: Just a quick question. I'm not sure if you have anything on this, but I understand that there are some forest fires in California that may be posing a threat or having an effect on Vandenberg Air Force Base. Do you have anything on that?

Quigley: I heard that just before I came in, as a matter of fact, that there is supposed to be one of the very large fires, I believe it's still burning out of control. I guess the good news is that Vandenberg is a very large base, has a lot of acres attached to it. The portion of the base that would be used for the launch is a long way from the fires. Now, they have shown over the past weeks, unfortunately, they have ability to move real fast and sometimes in unpredictable ways. So are we concerned? You bet. At this point we would say that I don't think it would have an impact on the launch.

But we're watching it very carefully.

Q: Well, is it affecting operations at the base at all?

Quigley: No. Not yet.

Q: And when you "the launch", is there a launch scheduled or something --

Quigley: Yeah. I think we've got a launch scheduled for just a few days from now, a satellite launch, I believe. And again, we think that that's going to be unaffected.

A couple of -- going back to a couple of points, the last strike since before this morning was at five command and control sites on September 2nd. And I do have therelease [link no longer available] on the Vandenberg fire here, we'll post here when we're done.

Q: General Shelton apparently stopped in the former Soviet Republic of Georgia today. Do you know if he made any specific offers or new cooperation, military aid of any sort to the Georgians?

Quigley: I don't know. I would have to check with his folks.

Sir.

Q: Has there been any change in the potential threat by Milosevic against Montenegro and the response by NATO troops?

Quigley: Not that I'm aware of, no.

Q: Thank you.

THIS TRANSCRIPT WAS PREPARED BY THE FEDERAL NEWS SERVICE, INC., WASHINGTON DC. FEDERAL NEWS SERVICE IS A PRIVATE COMPANY. FOR OTHER DEFENSE RELATED TRANSCRIPTS NOT AVAILABLE THROUGH THIS SITE, CONTACT FEDERAL NEWS SERVICE AT (202) 347-1400.