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Transcript : DoD News Briefing : Dr. Ashton Carter, ASD (International Security Policy)

Presenters: Dr. Ashton Carter, ASD (International Security Policy)
February 01, 1996 11:00 AM EDT

Wednesday, January 31, 1996 - 11 a.m.

[The topic of this briefing is the new Information Sharing Initiative with the Russian Government, a result of the recent Gore-Chernomyrdin Commission meeting. Also in attendance: Ms. Sherri Goodman, DUSD (Environmental Security); Jim Baker, NOAA Administrator; Rear Admiral Paul Gaffney, USN, commander, Naval Meteorology Oceanography Command; and Captain Mike Doubleday, USN, DATSD (PA)]

Capt. Doubleday: Well ,thank you all for coming this morning. The purpose of the briefing this morning is to bring you up to date on some new initiatives and further cooperation between the United States and Russia as a result of the sixth Gore-Chernomyrdin Commission meeting which concluded yesterday.

With us today to give you an overview is Dr. Ash Carter, the ASD for International Security Policy. Following Dr. Carter is Mr. Jim Baker of the National Oceanographic Atmospheric Administration. Then, Ms. Sherri Goodman, who is the Deputy Undersecretary of Defense for Environmental Security, and Rear Admiral Paul Gaffney, who is the commander of the Naval Meteorological and Oceanographic Command will brief on some specific environmental aspects of this new cooperative effort. And, at the end of the presentation, they will all be available to answer some of your questions and with that, Dr. Carter.

Dr. Carter: Well, thank you for coming. Dr. Perry attended, for the last two days, the sixth meeting of the so-called Gore-Chernomyrdin Commission, which it's hard to believe it's been six now, but they are held twice a year and Dr. Perry has attended every one. This is a forum where the vice president gathers together the departments and agencies of the U.S. Government and the prime minister in Russia gathers together the ministries of the Russian Government and they work together on problems of common concern, and, if you like, exploit the opportunities that we now have for cooperation whereas for a long time we didn't have enough contacts to know where our common interests lie and didn't have a spirit of cooperation. And, this -- what's remarkable about the Gore-Chernomyrdin Commission and what we're going to give you today what I regard and I'm sure you'll regard as a remarkable example is the -- what's remarkable about it is the large number of very interesting, very tangible cooperative projects we have between our government and the Russian government.

Dr. Perry gave a presentation to the Vice President and Prime Minister Chernomyrdin on cooperation in the defense field. And, his presentation ranged from U.S. Russian cooperation in Bosnia peace implementation to the Nunn-Lugar program, where we have hundreds of millions of dollars of cooperative projects with the Russian government -- eliminating nuclear weapon systems, converting defense factories in Russia to commercial purposes, and a whole host of other activities that this Department does with agencies of the Russian government.

Dr. Perry is the chair on the U.S. side of the defense conversion committee, but DOD is active, it turns out, in all the other committees as well, energy and -- the example we're going to give you today -- in the environment. It just happens that as we get to know one another and get these habits of cooperation going, we hit upon unexpected, but very tangible opportunities for cooperation.

With that introduction, I think Jim Baker is going to describe this rather remarkable example of tangible cooperation.

Mr. Baker: Thanks, Ash. I wanted to just give a brief background on this process that we call the "Environmental Working Group." Because the roots of it really go back to the late-70s and early-80s, when Al Gore was first in the House, and then in the Senate, with his dream of trying to see if we couldn't fully utilize all of the assets of the country to provide environmental information. He's had a long interest in that and what you see here are these very tangible results -- as Ash mentioned -- come because of Al Gore's very strong commitment to seeing if we couldn't have a real civil-military-intelligence community connection.

In the late-80s, he was very instrumental in working with the Navy to see if ice data from the Arctic could be released in a way that didn't harm national security but still was valuable to the scientists who were studying global change in the Arctic and, in fact, that led to the decision by the Navy, in 1990, to, in fact, release some information based on the sonar information that was there.

Well, following that up, the then-Senator Gore met with Gates of CIA and established an environmental task force, where there were a group of cleared scientists and members of the defense community and intelligence community came together to see if there was potential application of this classified information that we had in the U.S. and see if there were ways that some of it could be released or some information based on the assets could be released to make it work. And, Linda Zall is here today from the CIA. She's been the central figure from the very beginning. She and I and then-Senator Gore met with members of the intelligence and defense communities in 1991, and helped pull together the first steps in that process and Linda can answer some questions about how that worked.

Well, with that background, the Vice President was very interested in seeing if we could do a similar kind of activity with the Russians under the Gore-Chernomyrdin Commission. The Commission, itself, was an idea of the Vice President, "Let's try to bring together our two countries and see if we can help Russia make this transition to a market economy."


We sat down, with the Vice President's blessing, to see if we could make this happen and held what we called an "Ecological Environmental Seminar," just last year, May 1995, outside Washington where we had people from our defense and intelligence communities, their defense and intelligence communities, and also the science communities come together to see if, in fact, there were some projects that we could jointly work on.

Out of that process, we have formed an Environmental Working Group, that I co-chair together with the Minister of Environment from Russia, Minister Danilov-Danilyan, and there have been a number of ideas that have come out of the conference.


In August, we signed the terms of reference of this activity to see if there were ways that we could get information without jeopardizing national security. And, we were asked to report on the commission activities at this last meeting which just finished. And, this poster that we have up here lists the series of projects that, in fact, we have identified as ones where we think there will be real progress.

Let me just quickly list those. We've had some real interesting exchange on military base clean-up, on cooperation between our two Navy's in the Arctic climatology. We have a project on disaster monitoring, on land use, one on oil and gas activities, and one on earthquake predictions. All areas where we know that the information that comes from national security assets, if properly protected, could, in fact, be valuable in a much broader community.

And, so we have been working together with the CIA and Linda Zall, NOAA, the Department of Defense, EPA, USGS, and other agencies working with the comparable agencies in Russia -- the Ministry of Environment, the Ministry of Defense, the Ministry of Energy, and a number of other agencies. And, what we would like to present to you today is a little more detail on what was announced yesterday, specifically, on those areas where the DOD is involved.

We have the military base clean-up and this Navy-to-Navy exchange. Both of which involve some exchange of data that has never happened before and a process in place that is also unique. And I have to -- I have to say again, it goes back to the vision of the Vice President, who saw the opportunity to do something that couldn't be done before this linking.

So, it's a Vice President Al Gore initiative, which has worked very well and we're pleased to have the opportunity to show you some specifics about that. Sherri, you can talk about the DOD aspects.

Ms. Goodman: Thank you, Dr. Baker. I'm pleased to be able to tell you today about one element of our collaborative work with our Russian colleagues, which is the exchange of derived products on a military base in the United States and on a military base in Russia. And, I must underscore Dr. Baker's point about the Vice President's long-standing support for developing such products for environmental purposes.

In the early-1990s, then-Senator Gore conceived of the idea of asking the Department of Defense to prepare a series of diagrams, or derived products, from multiple sources of military facilities using classified intelligence capabilities to help determine, specifically, the possible locations and types of environmental contamination at the site. The selection of the site was based on changes occurring at that time in central Europe. Many of the former Warsaw Pact countries, having inherited military bases formerly used by Soviet troops, had inadequate information about the activities conducted on these bases and, therefore, had very little knowledge of the location or possible types of contamination there.

In response to requests from the Czech Republic, formerly Czechoslovakia, the first derived products were created on 17 Czech bases, several years ago. That effort proved so successful that similar efforts have been undertaken with several other central European nations as well, the Baltic nations in particular.


As Dr. Baker stated, at the Gore-Chernomyrdin meeting in mid-1995, the Environmental Working Group was established and they had several meetings in 1995, and agreed to consider cooperation in six areas. One of these is military base clean-up issues. This project aims to develop methodologies for comprehensively assessing locating cleaning up and remediating environmental contamination at military facilities.

The U.S. group here is led by my deputy, Gary Vest, and the Russian group is led by Mikhail Tolkachev, the deputy minister of Russia's Environmental Protection Natural Resource Department -- basically, their "EPA."

During the first phase of this project's work, the members agreed to create unclassified derived products for multiple classified sources on two military facilities in each country. The first set of products was to focus on one site in each country, contaminated primarily with petroleum oils and lubricants or what's known as "POL." The U.S. delegation has prepared a derived product on Eysk Air Force Base, near the Okhotsk Sea -- and that's the map you see. There's several maps you see up there. And, the Russian delegation prepared a derived product map on Eglin Air Force Base, in Florida. They are both time-lapse analyses from the 1970s to the present. And, examples of the latest photo from each of these -- from each of these sets is available at the table by the door.

We plan to create another set of derived products for two other sites yet to be determined. The derived products illustrate locations and types of contamination at each military site, over the last 20 years. And, they also indicate possible pathways for contamination which could affect human, animal, or plant life in the surrounding region.

Following this exchange, which has occurred this week as part of the Gore-Chernomyrdin Commission, the two countries will now compare the derived product information with other known information on the military base in their country to help assess the utility of using this classified intelligence capability to perform environmental characterizations and assessments. If appropriate, field tests be conducted at some or all of the sites. And, in June of this year, the two delegations plan to prepare a report analyzing the utility of this derived information and making recommendations to determine subsequent steps.

Now, this exchange is important for several reasons. First, from an environmental perspective, the use of the classified intelligence assets may help us save time, money, and manpower in identifying types and extent of environmental contamination and in providing the risk assessment based on the location of the pathways and the receptors being humans or animals. In that context, the work of both delegations has been very timely and thorough.

Second, from a more general perspective of U.S./Russian relations, this product is an outstanding example of establishing contacts and developing trust between two groups of people who have long been taught not to trust each other -- members of the intelligence communities. It has also, I might add, helped develop relationships between the defense and intelligence -- excuse me, the defense and environmental communities in both our countries, which, I believe, is particularly valuable.

And, at a broader level, the sharing of such information between these two countries, that have valuable intelligence assets under their command, raises the possibility of sharing this information with other countries as well. As such, we will jointly be able to contribute to enhanced environmental knowledge throughout the globe.

In sum, this project, under the Vice President's leadership, is an excellent example of using our nation's investment in national security during the Cold War to enhance environmental security today. Admiral Gaffney.

Adm. Gaffney: Thank you, Secretary Goodman. Good morning. Last night, at the Russian Embassy, at a reception at the conclusion of the Gore-Chernomyrdin Commission on Monday -- in the semi-annual meeting -- Vice President Gore highlighted the growing cooperation between the oceanographic services of the U.S. Navy and the Russian Federation Navy. Specifically, he focused on a plan cooperative oceanographic survey for later this year, the summer of `96.

Since 1993, representatives from the U.S. Navy and from the Russian Federation Navy oceanographic services have been meeting in various places -- St. Petersburg, Savannah, New Orleans, Moscow, Monterey, California -- to explore ways to increases cooperation between the two navies and, specifically, in oceanography.

In May of `95, this year at the conference that Dr. Baker eluded to earlier, the Navy-to-Navy cooperative effort was discussed as a potential Gore-Chernomyrdin commissioned project under the environmental working group which Dr. Baker chairs and it was subsequently selected as one of its projects.


In December of this year, just before Christmas, I hosted at the Naval Oceanographic office, which is located at the Space Center near Bay St. Louis, Mississippi, on the Gulf Coast -- not far from New Orleans -- I hosted a delegation of Russian oceanographers headed by my counterpart, Rear Admiral Solonov [ph] for some discussions on how we might cooperate.

We jointly agreed at that meeting to pursue a greater understanding of how we collect, analyze, and retrieve oceanographic data. We also agreed to pursue a cooperative survey -- military oceanographic survey -- in the Sea of Okhotsk, focusing on the northwest corner, hopefully, during the upcoming summer. We envision the cooperative survey to be about 20 to 25 days and to involve military surveyed vessels from each nation. At least the United States one ship and it will be probably be the USNS SILAS BENT, which is already a ship that does work for me, that is already deployed in the western Pacific right now.

Further, in the spirit of cooperation, we hope to exchange a couple of -- probably, two or three -- oceanographers from each Navy to cross-deck and ride on the other Navy's ship as we're surveying sort of side-by-side each other for that 25 day period. And, then, immediately thereafter -- or soon thereafter, as is practical -- we plan to take copies of all the data that we collect on the U.S. Navy vessel -- oceanographic vessel -- and all the data collected on the Russian vessel and exchange those. Some we'll be able to exchange at pier side at the conclusion of the survey. Some we'll have to do lasted because we won't have a xerox machine big enough to make copies for example.

In December -- right after our meeting in Mississippi -- we came back to Washington to brief Mr. Gore, personally, on our plans, because of his great interest -- expressed personal interest -- in environmental matters and how the Navies might be able to contribute to its overall goals. And, as you might expect, there are many, many details to work out exactly about where we will survey; what do we do in case of bad weather; how do we communicate between the two ships, etceteras. And, I hope to start working those final details out in late March, in St. Petersburg, when I meet with my counterpart again. Thank you very much.

Capt. Doubleday: Do you have any questions?

Q: Could I ask Mr. Carter a question about START II, it's a little bit off the beaten path. There are a lot of analysts who think that -- given the political situation in the Russian parliament -- that they will be lowered to give Yeltsin sort of a victory by ratifying START II before the April Summit. What's your assessment? Do you agree with that?

A: I can tell you that yesterday, Prime Minister Chernomyrdin indicated that, while he couldn't be 100 percent sure that the Duma would ratify START II, he had some hope that it would and was going to -- the Russian Government would be attempting to secure ratification of START II.

My own assessment is perhaps no better than yours. The new Duma is organizing itself. Doesn't know its own mind, yet. Being just re-elected rather than facing re-election, its members might by that measure be more inclined to do something like START II ratification than the previous Duma was. But, obviously, the political complexion of the Duma has changed as well.

We, I think the fact that we ratified START II last week will help. I think the fact that the United States has made so much progress with Russians in the Nunn-Lugar program and the implementation of START I will continue that to the Russians that the implementation of START II can proceed smoothly as well. And so, I'm by no means pessimistic that START II will be ratified before April and that's our goal.


Q: Admiral Gaffney, could you give us a little bit of a thumbnail idea of what sort of information will be gathered during this survey?

A: Sure. It will be -- I would say it will be classic oceanographic survey work, which means our idea is for the two ships to enter the Sea of Okhotsk around the center line and head due north on a line of longitude and then start once they get the near the northern parts to move to the west for about 20 days collecting as they go information about the depth, the symmetry, temperature and salinity, taking current measurements but without deploying anything on the bottom. There are instruments now where you can measure currents from a ship with a sonar type device without in placing anything on the bottom.

We'll take some samples of the bottom of bottom soil, if you will, sediment. Look at that. We'll do some chemical analysis of the water and we'll collect routine weather information. Sea surface temperature and things like that. Classic oceanographic survey, all unclassified. All the data will be shared and we'll have the scientists on board their ship and they on ours and they'll be able to participate and watch while we do it. Actually, as interesting to us as collecting the data is learning how we each other collects and analyzes data on same. So that as we walk hand and hand together for the next 100 years, we can continue to cooperate on a better basis. Did you get the last part?

Unknown Speaker: I think.

Adm. Gaffney: Okay.

Q: For Sherri. Could you describe in a general way how badly polluted Russian military bases are and how that may compare to how badly polluted U.S. bases are?

A: Well, for this project so far, we have, as you know, just looked at one Russian military base. We believe, largely from the open literature, that the Russian military practices in environmental management are -- have some way to go before they meet the American environmental management practices. So, I would say that they are considerably more contaminated than the American military bases and I think that's one of the potential benefits to Russia from this project.

As we know from the work that has already been done of this type to document contamination at former Soviet bases in the Czech Republic and in the Baltic's, there is considerable contamination that will take many years and millions and billions of dollars to address.

Q: What sort of contaminants did you find?

A: Here, we were looking primarily at bases that are contaminated with petroleum, oil, and lubricant, which are things like your basic oil, jet fuel. Everything that's associated in these two cases with the use of an airfield. We have plans in the future to then look at bases that have different types of contaminants. For example, we might look, in the future, at bases that have radioactive-type of contamination. We could look at a site here in the U.S., that is, a DOE-managed site -- the Department of Energy site -- or a Russian nuclear site. We might also look at other, other types of contaminants -- solvents and inorganics -- that present different types of pollution problems.

Q: When do you expect the [inaudible] site to be part of the project? You mentioned [inaudible].

A: We hope to announce those in the next couple of months.

Q: Dr. Perry had commented that Congress has eliminated funding for the Defense Enterprise Fund. Is this going to eliminate these kinds of projects or seriously limit the ability to carry out these kinds of projects?

A: This particular project is not funded through the Defense Enterprise Fund. There are important opportunities for funding American/Russian joint ventures that involve Russian defense firms on the one side and American companies on the other. Those are good opportunities for American business. They are good opportunities for American security, which is why the Defense Department is interested in supporting them.

Our support in the Defense Enterprise Fund is not large. What it does is provide seed capital for those joint ventures. To us, that reduces the military production potential of Russia. For Russia, it's in their interest because they know they have too much capacity there. You're right. We've had a hard time convincing Congress of the importance of the Enterprise Fund. But, we haven't given up yet on the Enterprise Fund. It's a good investment for our security. It's a good investment for the Department of Defense to make. And, we're going to keep trying to convince folks up there to support it.

Q: Do you have program funds into the Defense Enterprise Fund [inaudible]?

A: We're looking at a number of options now for the future of the Enterprise Fund. I'll just remind you that the Enterprise Fund was established, it was actually a suggestion from Congress, itself, because the way we had previously done defense conversion -- project-by-project -- was rightly judged by the Congress, and Dr. Perry completely agreed, not as good as having the Enterprise Fund do it. So, we set up the Enterprise Fund at the behest of Congress. It is the best way to do things. We always said that we were going to give it an initial capitalization and then, from then on, it would become self-sustaining and it would attract private capital. We want to get it to that point. That will take another year or two to get it to that point and then we won't be involved anymore. But, we want to carry out that commitment to get it started.

Capt. Doubleday: Okay. Any other questions? If not, thank you very much.

-END -

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