Tuesday, November 21, 1995 - 1:30 p.m.
Captain Doubleday: Good afternoon.
I have one announcement before we get started.
We'll have a Memorandum for Correspondents for you today announcing that Secretary Perry will travel to Brussels, Belgium, to attend semi-annual NATO meetings of the Defense Planning Committee and Nuclear Planning Group on Wednesday and Thursday of next week. Prior to these meetings he expects to meet with Russian Minister of Defense Pavel Grachev on Tuesday. They will continue their discussions on Russian involvement in a peace implementation force in Bosnia as well as other security issues. There will be a background briefing on this trip tomorrow at 11 a.m. here in the briefing studio by two senior defense officials, so, I would suggest you hold any questions you might have on the trip for them.
With that, I'd be happy to try and answer your questions.
Q: Under the peace agreement signed today, when will the first U.S. troops, when are the first U.S. troops going to go into Bosnia -- even planning, preliminary logistic troops going to Bosnia?
A: Charlie, I just want to point out that the key player in all of this is the President of the United States. He is the individual who makes the determination on the deployment of U.S. troops on the acceptance of the plan, as he indicated in his statement, and on any kind of movement of forces. I think the President indicated that he would be receiving a briefing on the final NATO plan some time in the near future, and based on that, he anticipates making a decision, but until he makes that decision you won't see any troops moving.
Q: Other than the very small logistical groups which have been going in and out of Bosnia over the past two or three weeks to look for good communication sites, that kind of thing, troops won't go in until he makes a decision...
A: That's correct. I think it might be helpful for me to kind of give you what I consider to be my definitions of the various components of this.
Secretary Perry and Ken Bacon have talked before about the fact that there will be survey teams going into Bosnia over time. These are small groups of military personnel who deploy with the purpose of putting their eyeballs on the terrain, on the asphalt, to get a better idea of exactly what is there -- to mesh what they see with what is in the plan. And then they go back and refine the plan, make improvements, so that the deployment can work more smoothly. That's one group of people.
Q: They've been doing that.
A: They've been doing that. We've had several of those teams in there. Frankly, we don't get a day-by-day account for every person that goes in there in connection with any kind of a survey that is done. But these are, generally speaking, very small numbers of people. I'm talking here usually less than eight or ten.
Q: Secretary Perry has said that amounts to some hundreds of people over time, is that right? Americans, I mean.
A: I'm not sure I've ever seen any kind of comment in terms of the total number adding up to that. It's conceivable it would have, but frankly, I think up to this point it has not been that many.
Then there is another component we have talked about from time to time called the "enabling force." The enabling force is a larger number of military personnel who would deploy in advance of the large numbers that would ultimately go in to implement the peace. The enabling force is designed to make it possible for the deployment to flow smoothly. Now, not all of the enabling force would go into Bosnia. In some cases they would go into some of the surrounding countries. But the purpose of the enabling force is to set up the infrastructure that would make it possible for troops to deploy more rapidly and to get their headquarters set up more quickly. Among the specialties that you normally would think of in an implementation, or in an enabling force, would be things like communications personnel, engineers, those kind of people. Secretary Perry has indicated that there would be several hundred U.S. personnel that would be involved in an enabling force.
Then, of course, the last component -- if the President decides to deploy U.S. troops in connection with the peace implementation -- would be the main body of troops that we've talked about before also.
Q: These enabling troops... You say no troops will go into Bosnia, will these enabling troops begin moving like the British and the French and the Croatians and the Americans to Hungary before the President gives the go-ahead to go into Bosnia?
A: There are two things that have to happen. One, as I mentioned at the outset, the President has to approve the movement of any kind of U.S. troops. The second thing that would have to happen with the enabling force would be an approval by the NAC. The NAC has not yet approved the NATO plan for any kind of peace implementation, so the first things you're going to see are an approval by the President -- or some assessment by the President -- and then, finally, there will be some action taken by the NAC. I can't predict for you exactly when that would happen except that I would imagine that it would occur rather quickly.
Q: This week?
A: I'm not sure that it would be this week. I think you ought to probably talk to the folks at NATO to get a better idea of exactly what the timing on that will be.
Q: This could happen before...
Q: ...UN approval of this...
A: I think you need to check with the folks at the State Department. I think down in Dayton when they brief the agreement you'll get a better sense of exactly what the plan on that will be.
Q: Is there a sense of how long it will take for an enabling force to set up appropriate infrastructure?
A: I can't at this point predict exactly how long it would take. I know that there are, in some cases, there is some infrastructure that already exists, and we would simply build upon that. In other cases there is quite a bit of work to be done. In terms of communications, I know many of you have used the commercial phone system that exists there, and we'd probably build upon that for the communications that are going to be required, but I can't, Tammy, predict for you exactly how long all of that would take except that I think there would be a desire to get the enabling force in there before the main body moves.
Q: Would the main force go in by road or rail?
A: I think we need to wait until we get the agreement to talk about that, but I think most of the reporting that you've seen has been pretty accurate in that regard.
Q: Will the enabling force -- prior to a presidential approval of a plan and NAC approval -- will the enabling force move to Italy or to Hungary, and then wait to go into Bosnia?
A: I don't want to predict what they may do. The point that I think everybody needs to keep in mind is that the President needs to hear what the final version of the plan is and to approve that before any kind of deployment is going to take place.
Q: Does the Paris signing have any bearing on the timing of this enabling force?
A: On the enabling force? I believe that the most crucial part of the enabling force will be the action taken by the President and by the NAC, not so much by the final signing, because the desire would be to actually move the enabling force into position beforehand. The reason I say that is because even the movement of the enabling force does not necessarily preclude any kind of final action that may be taken in connection with the signing.
Q: So they would go before Paris, is that the idea?
A: My guess is that yes, the desire would be to have them go before that.
Q: Can you tell us what United States units are involved in this besides the 1st Armored Division?
A: I can't give you any kind of a troop rundown at this juncture, but I think that probably within the next ten days or so we'll be able to provide a little bit more detail on that, if the President approves any kind of deployment.
Q: Can you tell us whether all of the NATO countries are contributing at least some troops to this force?
A: I think we ought to look to NATO to provide a rundown on the contributors, but I have heard not only a large number of NATO countries but also non-NATO countries have asked to participate in this.
Q: Is General Joulwan going to come here to brief the President and to brief Congress on...
A: I can't predict who it is that will brief the President on the final plan. It would not be necessary for General Joulwan to do that briefing. The briefing could be transmitted here, and it could be done by somebody here in Washington.
Q: In a general way, could you describe how far along this NATO plan is, how precise, how refined is it? And in a general way, describe what the military implication of this peace signing is to the U.S.?
A: In a general way, I would say that the NATO plan is in its very final stages, and it can be briefed to the President in the very, very near future.
Q: What about the overall military implication of this signing to the U.S.?
A: I think, Mark, before I comment on that we need to see exactly what the plan involves. I know they've got not only an initialing ceremony set up, but some additional briefings in Dayton that will provide a lot more detail on that.
Q: Do you anticipate mobilizing Reserve units?
A: Yes, we've already said that there are going to be Reservists who are going to be called up. My guess is that that will occur within the near future. I think you'll probably see a larger number of units called up than the actual number which will deploy. The reason for that is that as this thing moves along, it may become unnecessary to deploy all of those who have been alerted. But frequently, any time there is a deployment that is being planned, we like to make sure that anybody who may be affected is alerted to the fact early on.
Q: Will any of those Reservists be part of the enabling force?
Q: How many Reservists are you talking about?
A: I think at this point I'd like to hold off on that. The numbers that will actually deploy, I think Dr. Perry has already indicated there are probably 2,000 to 3,000 in that vicinity. But I think we need to realize that at this point it's kind of preliminary when it comes to that aspect of the thing, and we may want to change those numbers later on.
Q: What kind of Reserve units would you call?
A: The kinds of expertise that exist in the Reserves which most of you are aware of that the expertise does not reside in the regular component are things like civil affairs, I think some water production units, some medical units, those kinds of things. There may even be some public affairs units that would be called up.
Q: Is this call up for volunteers or...
A: I can't say at this point. I have not seen the paperwork, and I just can't predict for you exactly how it's going to be done.
Q: One of the things the Secretary has mentioned about doing is training and equipping the Bosnian forces. Have any steps been taken to...
A: First of all, I want to caution you that we need to see what the final peace agreement looks like. But I do want to stress that we feel a very important part of the thing has been to negotiate a set of arms controls to both reduce the total armament in the region and to reduce force imbalances between the Bosnian Federation and the Serb Republic, so I would just want to wait until we hear from Dayton as to exactly what details there may be on that aspect.
Q: Speaking of some of those details, can you shed any light on the legal obligation of NATO, or especially the United States, to be involved militarily in the peacekeeping, or the permission that the United States must receive from those three countries, I guess? When do we need to be authorized to go in there? They don't need an invitation?
A: Bill, I think one, we need to defer on your last question to the folks down in Dayton. I think they will be addressing that aspect of it. But on the aspect of military deployment, I want to stress what I started out with, and that is that the President of the United States is the Commander-in-Chief and forces move after he has ordered them to do so.
Q: One of the things that we're hearing from Europe is that the rules of engagement do not appear to be as robust as some would like them, and as U.S. officials have said are a prerequisite for a force. Do you have anything on that?
A: I don't have anything on that. I'm not sure that you'll see rules of engagement today out of Dayton, but at some future time we may be able to talk more about that aspect of it. I know that Dr. Perry has said in the past that the rules of engagement will be robust enough that it will ensure the safety of the U.S. troops.
Q: Along that same line, President Clinton said twice, at least twice, that steps had been taken to minimize the danger to U.S. troops. Can you shed any light on...
A: I can't. I think we want to defer to the folks in Dayton on that aspect of it also.
Q: Can you tell us whether this announcement of a peace agreement will have any affect on the Secretary's planned travel this week? Will he make any changes in his travel plans?
A: No, he's in Vilnius, Lithuania, today. On Thanksgiving, he intends to be with the troops in Macedonia. Then, he'll return here over the weekend. Then, as my earlier announcement indicated, he'll go to Brussels next week. At this point, I know of no changes to his travel plans.
Q: Just for clarification on the enabling force, you said several hundred Americans would be part of it, and it's not just to Bosnia, it's to adjacent countries. Will any Americans actually set foot in Bosnia as part of the enabling force?
A: It's conceivable, and I would anticipate that that would be the case, but I don't have any specifics about where the enabling force is going to be going, except that you can kind of predict that any place there will be NATO forces, you will find people setting up infrastructure to accept them.
Q: How big will the whole enabling force be?
A: I can't give you an exact number. I think the numbers that have been given in the past, which is I think 1,500 to 2,000 is in the ball park.
Q: Is that U.S. or...
A: No, it's not U.S. That's a NATO number.
Q: Can you tell us whether this IFOR operation has an operational name like the other NATO operations in the theater?
A: I've not heard of a name at this point. There may be one, but I just have not yet heard of it.
Q: Can you be any more precise than being ready to brief the President in the near, near future?
A: No, I can't. But I think if you want any more precision you might want to go to the White House to see what they've set up.
Q: The defense appropriations bill is on the President's desk now. Can you give us any sense of where the Secretary stands on that bill, and is he in favor of the President going ahead and signing it, or does he have reservations?
A: No, I can't. I can't give you any indication at this point. I think we need to wait to see what the President does.
Q: Does the Secretary support the bill as it...
A: I think we just, on this one we ought to hold off and see what action the President takes.
Q: Back to Bosnia for a minute, how many troops do we have in Macedonia, and what is their status?
A: The number of troops in Macedonia is about 500, and what is their status? They are...
Q: UN troops?
A: Oh, yes. They're assigned to Task Force ABLE SENTRY in Skopje, operating as part of the UN preventive deployment force in Macedonia. The soldiers are from the 1st Battalion, 15th Infantry Regiment out of Schweinfurt, Germany. Our rotation schedule there is that we put a battalion in there about every six months.
Q: How long will Admiral Macke stay in his position?
A: I cannot say at this point. I can tell you that on Friday he sent Dr. Perry a one-sentence letter indicating that he was going to request early retirement, and that his formal request would be submitted, I believe, within a week. My understanding is that the service, the Navy in this case, has received a formal retirement request, and that is working its way through the Navy to the Secretary.
Q: Is it Secretary Perry's desire that he stay on until a replacement...
A: I think as you probably saw in the Secretary's statement, the Secretary felt that Admiral Macke would face significant obstacles in working effectively with the government and the people of Japan in the future, but he also wanted to ensure there was an orderly transition in the position out there, so Admiral Macke has returned to his headquarters in Hawaii, and he is there at the present time.
Q: He'll stay until there is a person confirmed to...
A: I'm not sure exactly what the timing on this is going to be, Bob, but at the present time, he is the Commander-in-Chief out there of U.S. forces in the Pacific.
Q: Where does the United States stand now in supporting a candidate for Secretary General of NATO, and when do you expect that will be filled?
A: That process is still working, and I don't have any further information on it at the present time.
Q: Is the United States throwing its weight now behind any specific candidate?
A: To my knowledge, there is no candidate which has been formally endorsed by the United States.
Q: Will the Secretary recommend that Admiral Macke retire as a two- star, four-star...
A: I can't predict for you, at this point, what his recommendation will be. You know the process of retirement at the present time involves a recommendation, or a nomination, by the President of the United States, normally, based on a recommendation of the Secretary, then confirmation by the Senate. So that process is working, and I just can't predict how that will work.
Q: Also on Japan, it was reported this morning that the Japanese government overrode the Okinawans -- the local officials -- to renew base leases on Okinawa. Is this true? And will we continue to maintain our current number of troops in Okinawa?
A: I think you recall when the Secretary was out there that he made a very strong statement that we wanted to maintain troops which were presently assigned in Japan. There has been a mechanism set up to address the concerns of the government of Japan regarding the troops who are stationed in Okinawa, and that mechanism involves meetings of fairly high-level officials. Those meetings have, at least the initial one has taken place. I would anticipate there would be some sort of report, as I recall, that will occur within 12 months.
Q: Just to clarify -- this has been made clear before, I believe, but -- these 2,000 to 3,000 reserve troops would be in addition to the 20,000, on top of the 20,000.
A: I'm not certain that they were. Just keep in mind the 20,000 that they're talking about is troops serving in Bosnia. And the reservists in some cases may not be called upon to actually deploy to Bosnia. So I don't look at it as additive.
But again, I just want to caution you all about numbers. I think we need to wait until one, we have all seen the peace agreement and until the President has made a decision regarding deployment before we get into any kind of pinning down on the numbers. The President can decide, however, whatever level he determines is appropriate in this particular case.
Q: Will Admiral "Snuffy" Smith move his headquarters to Sarajevo or to Zagreb?
A: I can't say at this point. I know I've seen a lot of speculation, but again, I think we need to wait and see what the NATO plan looks like before we get into that.
Q: Is the year long time limit still operative, or is it looser than that now? The President talked a reasonable time limit.
A: I think, again, we ought to see what comes out of Dayton, and in the coming days we will have some material for you that can provide you a little more specificity on this whole matter.
Press: Thank you.