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Transcript : DoD News Briefing : Tuesday, February 6, 1996 - 2:25 p.m.

Presenters: Mr. Kenneth H. Bacon, ATSD (PA)
February 06, 1996 2:25 PM EDT

Tuesday, February 6, 1996 - 2:25 p.m.

Mr. Bacon: Good afternoon.

I have one announcement to start with. The Air Force announced today that it has awarded the Joint Primary Aircraft Training System contract to Beech Aircraft, a division of Raytheon Aircraft Company, after the GAO denied the last of two appeals. This is a $4 billion contract which calls for buying 711 training aircraft -- that's 372 for the Air Force and 339 for the Navy. For more information, you should contact Gloria Cales at Air Force Public Affairs.

Q: Can you tell us if there's a report available yet on what led to the death of Sergeant Dugan?

A: It is not yet available.

Q: Any idea when it will be?

A: No. Soon, I hope.

Q: In connection with China and its intentions as far as military exercises go, which Secretary Perry referred to this afternoon in his talk, is the Pentagon making any plans or considering any changes in the disposition of its forces in the Pacific to address this?

A: No, we're not. He said it's something we're watching with concern. We don't anticipate any military action there.

Q: Is the Secretary planning a return visit to China?

A: Not currently, no.

Q: Is there any further planned visits of U.S. ships to Chinese ports?

A: As you know, there was a ship in Shanghai, and I'm not aware that there are further planned visits, but we can check on that.

Q: Isn't it in the U.S. strategic interest to defend Taiwan if it were to be attacked by China? And don't you have to be careful about China miscalculating U.S. resolve to assist Taiwan in the event of a threat?

A: We're always worried about miscalculations when there seem to be military buildups or exercises that perhaps could be misinterpreted. I think the Secretary spoke very clearly about our adherence to the Taiwan Relations Act earlier today, and stated what our policy was. I can't go beyond that.

Q: Are there further plans for Chinese officials to visit here?

A: As you know, the Vice Foreign Minister is here now. There is a plan currently for the Chinese Chief of Staff, General Chi, to visit, I believe, next month, but it might be April. We have a series of ongoing relationships with China. There are visits from time to time of a variety of officials. The military exercises that people have focused on are something we're watching with concern, but I think you have to put them in the right context. The military exercise cycle starts in February. The Chinese cycle of military exercises generally starts in February. They frequently have exercises in the strait of Taiwan involving naval, air, and ground forces. The last time they did was in the summer of 1995. So it's not unusual for them to have military exercises in this area.

Q: GAO, as you know, in a report some time ago listed a number of problems with the B-2 bomber. Can you tell us what number of those problems have been fixed since that GAO report?

A: Not off the top of my head. I do know that the B-2 bomber, like all new weapons, is being improved step-by-step. This is very common. You have various blocks of production, and each successive production block is more advanced than the one before it. That's happening with the B-2. But I do not have a list of what's been improved. I will try to get that. I don't know if we have actually put together a complete compendium of what's happened with the B-2 in response to the GAO report, but we'll look for it.

Q: Can you clarify a little bit more Secretary Perry's statement on Iraq today about discussion with the Jordanians regarding the exploration into the demise of the regime?

A: No. He said all we want to say on that. It was perfectly clear.

Q: ...mentioned other programs with other countries. What other programs are under discussion?

A: We've said all we wanted to say. Thanks for the opportunity to comment further, though. [Laughter]

Q: Since it was stated by Assistant Secretary of State Mr. Richard Holbrooke, that during the recent clash in the Aegean Sea around the Imia Island -- I-m-i-a -- that the Pentagon monitored the situation with all kinds of forces. We would like to know, what time did you monitor second Turkish military invasion against a Greek island. Number two, when did you file this information to... Mr. Holbrooke was negotiating all day, on the highest level, including President Clinton? Had you been advised to do something to prevent a second invasion? And did you inform Greece, your ally?

A: Those are all good statements for the State Department because they involve Ambassador Holbrooke, and he was the person who was in the middle of the negotiations, as you know. President Clinton and other officials were very actively involved in this, but I think you should take those questions to the State Department because they involve when information went to him.

Q: ...those questions to the State Department, but the focus is the military action because you were present there. And you monitored, militarily, the situation according to Mr. Holbrooke. He said that 2 a.m. that evening. So my question is addressed to you direct, and I repeat, what time did you monitor the second Turkish military invasion against a Greek island? When did you pass this information to Mr. Holbrooke from a military point? Who negotiated (inaudible) with President Clinton? Had you been advised to do anything to prevent it? Did you pass this information to Greece?

A: I want to stress again, I'd refer you to the State Department. This was a diplomatic negotiation in which Ambassador Holbrooke was in the middle, and it's more appropriate for him to answer those questions.

Q: It was important that the Chairman, Joint Chief of Staff, General Shalikashvili, during the crisis communicated with his Turkish counterpart, Gen. Ismail Karaday. Did he have similar communication with his Greek counterpart, Admiral [Christo] Limberis?

A: I can't answer that question. I can attempt to get you the answer. There were a number of conversations involving officials in our government and officials in both the Greek and the Turkish government. We will take that question and see if we can provide the answer.

Q: Including all the communication between Secretary of Defense Mr. Perry with his counterpart Mr. [Gerasimos] Arsenis and also with his Turkish counterpart.

A: I don't think we'll go into the details of those conversations.

Q: The number of communications...

A: No, we won't go into the number of the communications.

Q: Is there anything you can tell us on the progress of the investigation into the death of Sergeant Dugan and when that investigation will be completed and released?

A: This is a longer version of the first question that was asked me in this briefing, and my answer then was no, I can't give you anything on when we plan to deliver that. I hope soon.

This is a test. This is a test to see if I can say the same thing twice. I thought I passed it with the earlier reporter on Mr. Holbrooke, but I'm willing to take the test on a second topic.

Q: Then can I ask you the number of communications the... [Laughter]

Press: Thank you.