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DoD News Briefing: Rear Admiral Craig Quigley, DASD PA

Presenters: Rear Admiral Craig Quigley, DASD PA
December 02, 1999 1:30 PM EDT

ADM. QUIGLEY: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. Two brief announcements today. For starters, I'd like to welcome 16 students from the NCO academy at Fort George G. Meade, Maryland. They're a combination of Army broadcasters and journalists. Welcome to all of you. I hope you enjoy something from this briefing today.

Second, an update on Secretary Cohen's trip to Europe. He is in Brussels today and tomorrow as part of the continuing NATO defense ministerial meetings, and those meetings conclude tomorrow. And then he is expected to return to Washington tomorrow night.

I'd like to call your attention to a couple of documents that will be going up on the website today -- if they're not up now, they will be very, very shortly -- to include transcripts of his remarks to the NATO defense ministers and to the German military officers. And we're also planning to post transcripts of his press conference which just concluded about 30 minutes ago, maybe, as well as the conference schedule for tomorrow morning our time. And we will get those transcripts posted again on the web as soon as we can.

By all accounts, the ministerial is going well. Ministers are engaged in substantive and positive discussions on the many, many issues facing the NATO alliance. A communique‚ issued out of Brussels earlier today addressed a number of those issues, including the ministers' continuing commitment to maintaining a strong trans-Atlantic alliance, underscoring the point that the established NATO structure will retain its primacy as the central core of our common defense establishment. And that is important to all 19 member nations. And that reaffirmation comes as NATO also works to adapt its defense planning system to accommodate a larger role for the European Union, particularly in the alliance's crisis management activities.

And with those two announcements, I will take your questions.

Bob?

QCan you give us the latest on the Vieques situation as far as Secretary Cohen's involvement today and yesterday? And also the movement of ships and what they're doing?

ADM. QUIGLEY: Yes. On the latter, I have very little new to report to you on Vieques, other than to say that all parties are still working hard towards a resolution, but I have nothing new to report to you in that regard. The various units participating in the JTFEX exercise, some have gotten underway. I believe Eisenhower herself is underway in about 30 minutes from Hampton Roads and the last, I think, three ships participating in the exercise will be getting underway sometime tomorrow. We have a complete listing of those units and when they either got underway or will get underway, at the news desk.

As far as the first part of your question, the discussions continue. I don't think it's productive to get into a telephone-call-by-telephone-call description of who is calling whom, but I will say that all parties remain in nearly constant contact, trying to come to a resolution that is acceptable to all parties.

QI guess that means he hasn't submitted his recommendation yet.

ADM. QUIGLEY: The secretary has not submitted a formal recommendation to the president yet, that's correct.

Yes, ma'am?

QYes, on Vieques again. According to sources this morning, the new stumbling block on the conversations is the insistence from the Navy to use live ammo versus the inert, which is apparently what they've agreed upon before. Can you shed any light on that?

ADM. QUIGLEY: No, I can't. I'm sorry. I don't know who those sources were. But I will say from here nothing further than this remains a work in progress and all parties are working very hard towards a satisfactory resolution.

Dale?

QIs all the talking going on by telephone, or has anyone from the White House gone to San Juan to have face-to-face discussions; or conversely, anybody from the governor's office up here having face-to-face discussions?

ADM. QUIGLEY: I'm not sure on trips from White House members, White House staff. I know for Secretary Cohen's participation, of course, it's been by telephone, as he's been on the road.

QRight.

ADM. QUIGLEY: Chris?

QOn Iraq, can you update us on where we believe Iraq stands in terms of reconstituting weapons of mass destruction programs, chem, bio, nuclear, ballistic missile?

ADM. QUIGLEY: Yes.

QWell, what can you share with us?

ADM. QUIGLEY: Any of the WMD programs. It remains an area of concern to us. I mean, you've heard Secretary Cohen, Secretary Albright and many others express their continuing concern about what we don't know. With the departure of inspectors on the ground last year, there was the loss of a very valuable, accurate means of determining what it is we really have. There are other means of -- intelligence means -- of gathering as much information as we can, and those continue. But we don't know what we don't know, and that's what's disconcerting. Given Saddam Hussein's past track record, there's no reason to believe that he is not engaged in some sort of activity hoping that we won't catch him at it. But that remains a very real concern to all of us.

QWhat do we know specifically in terms of his maybe reconstructing facilities that were targets in Desert Fox last December, or what sort of visible evidence is there of his reconstituting, if any?

ADM. QUIGLEY: Well, I rapidly get into intelligence means and sources there that I can't go -- I'm sorry. I think I need to stick with my statement: that we have enough information to give us concern about what we don't know to want to know more.

And we're always eager -- knowledge gives you a certain level of information about progress or lack of progress that is irreplaceable. And we're short of that specific knowledge, particularly that actual on-the-ground inspectors gained through their own eyeballs and seeing documents and facilities and things of that sort. And it's just this feeling of uncertainty that you don't know what you don't know, coupled with Saddam Hussein's track record of many years running, of attempts to beat the system, if you will. And given his known possession of weapons of mass destruction prior to the Gulf War, it's just something that's a very real concern to us.

QIs there an assumption that reconstitution is in progress? And given the limitations that the U.N. inspectors experienced when they were on the ground, of how much value is their presence there?

ADM. QUIGLEY: We have no hard evidence of a substantive reconstitution effort under way. But it's an area that -- again, where we can't say with conviction that this is the case or this is not the case, absent the knowledge and the access and the visibility into activities on the ground.

But again, we go past -- with his past track record, known possession of weapons of mass destruction in the past, and the absence now for nearly a year of inspectors on the ground, and combined, that gives us cause for concern.

QAnd the value of the U.N. inspectors there, given certain restrictions that they've lived with, even when they were there?

ADM. QUIGLEY: Yeah. Understanding the restrictions, it was still better access and visibility and knowledge than we have today, even given restrictions.

Ma'am?

QSo, given that Desert Fox sort of marked the end of the time when U.N. inspectors could be in there, and since then, the only attacks that have been made have been against integrated air defenses and SAM sites and radar sites, so has the last year of degrading the integrated air defense system in Iraq done anything materially to slow the weapons of mass destruction program down? I mean, has this policy --

ADM. QUIGLEY: Apples and oranges, really.

QYeah. So essentially it's been a year -- he's had a year of unfettered rebuilding, if he chose to do it.

ADM. QUIGLEY: There are many fetters on his attempts.

QCould you name them?

ADM. QUIGLEY: Yeah. The ongoing embargo, first and foremost, I would say, is one of the principal means of stopping him or denying him access to the means through which he could freely reconstitute a WMD program. So I would say there are many fetters.

On the other hand, getting back to Chris's question, we come back to this "I don't know what I don't know," and that is worrisome to us.

But through the last year, your point on the integrated air defense system, retaliation to the attacks on coalition aircraft -- that's one thing. WMD reconstitution efforts is really a separate program.

QA year after Desert Fox, then -- that was sort of the thing that I guess made Saddam Hussein finally dig in his heels and say, "Absolutely not." Prior to Desert Fox, he was at least allowing a small bit of access, although it was less than what he had agreed to. So a year after Desert Fox, now we haven't had any access for almost 12 months. Was Desert Fox a good idea?

ADM. QUIGLEY: Oh, I still think the answer would be yes to that, unequivocally. There must be a price to pay for the activities that go against the will of the international community of nations.

One second, John.

Otto, go ahead.

QOn Iraq, since they cut off their legitimate shipments under the oil-for-food agreement, has the 5th Fleet noticed any increase in attempts to smuggle oil out of Iraq?

ADM. QUIGLEY: It's very -- it's sine wave. It comes up; it goes down. It comes up; it goes down -- nothing of a sustained nature, no.

John?

QAs we are almost approaching the year anniversary since the last major military action in Iraq, can you provide us with numbers of sorties, numbers of bombs, numbers of targets hit in the last year, since official hostilities ended, for Desert Fox?

ADM. QUIGLEY: I think we did that to the greatest extent that we could as of a couple of months ago.

QWell, that was a couple months ago.

ADM. QUIGLEY: And we will see if we can update that list from -- I want to say it was two, maybe three months ago, something in that regard. I'll see if we can provide an update to that.

QWhat has not been provided is any attempt at accounting for the amount of munitions which have been dropped on Iraq. You generally give sites that have been attacked. Is there a reason for not providing us with some gross quantification, other than political?

ADM. QUIGLEY: I can't give you a meaningful gross quantification that is not supported by some sense of detail. And I don't want to provide the detail -- numbers, types, circumstances of employment -- without providing some advantage to the Iraqis that would be turned around and used against our own coalition aircraft. I can throw any number out there, but I can't back it up with the specifics. And I don't see that --

QIf you say that we've dropped a thousand pieces of ordnance on them in the last year, that gives Iraq some big advantage?

ADM. QUIGLEY: I'll see what we can do, but I don't think I will be able to provide a meaningful number in that regard.

Chris?

QJust for the record, you started the year giving very specific weapon systems and numbers, and then they phased that out. I mean, we even have pictures of some of the early things, and then that went away. So I don't see why a gross number of totals would compromise anything.

ADM. QUIGLEY: I will see what I can do. We could agree to disagree in that regard, but I'll see what I can do.

QIs the decision based on political factors or is it based on security factors?

ADM. QUIGLEY: Security factors and risks to coalition air crews.

QAnd I have a related question.

ADM. QUIGLEY: Sure.

QIn the last year, have there been any interdictions of kinds of technology or things going into Iraq that would point to weapons of mass destruction; culture mediums, things like that, anything, as in the past, there have been many such things?

ADM. QUIGLEY: I don't think I can give you a good answer to that question without probably getting into intelligence sources that I couldn't divulge from the podium.

Yes, Jan?

QAnd as you update the other numbers, the sortie counts, munitions dropped, et cetera, a revised bomb damage assessment. A few months ago, Ken had some very rough percentages, and there have been a lot more bombs dropped since then. So if there is some way to characterize --

ADM. QUIGLEY: Well, we can bring those figures that were alluded to in both questions up to now, up to December.

QCould you give a sense, besides the National Guard folks out in Seattle, if DOD has any advisers on the ground or is involved in any way?

ADM. QUIGLEY: Yes. The National Guard folks that are there are under the control of the governor. There are, I think, a little over a hundred active-duty military providing bomb dogs; there are some Navy divers there; there is some explosive-ordnance disposal teams. I think there is a Naval Reserve -- I know there is a Naval Reserve Center that has been used by FEMA as an office space, and I think a headquarters facility. So the mix there is, I think, around 400, 450 Guardsmen and a little over 100 active duty performing the missions that I described.

Now, I know the Guardsmen also have been not armed. They have been used in a support role only to the law enforcement folks, and we think that's very appropriate and in accordance with the law.

QCraig?

ADM. QUIGLEY: Yes?

QA lot of questions came up surrounding the presence of military people at the Waco siege. You mentioned Navy divers here. Do we have Special Operations personnel involved in security issues and other --

ADM. QUIGLEY: No. These are divers for whatever sort of underwater EOD work might be necessary. No, no Special Forces folks. These are Reserves -- National Guard -- I'm sorry -- on the one hand, and explosive-ordnance disposal folks in a couple of different varieties on the active duty side.

QBut we don't have any Special Forces, any Delta or SEAL people there supporting FBI efforts or anything?

ADM. QUIGLEY: No. The forces are composed as I described. [Clarification: DoD has assigned two Special Operations personnel as Liaison Officers (LNOs) in the FBI's Joint Operations Center supporting the WTO Conference]

Yes?

QYes, back on Vieques. Is the Department of Defense using any Special Forces, like the Delta Force or others, prior to the president's decision to clear the range in Vieques?

ADM. QUIGLEY: Not that I'm aware of at all, no.

Bill?

QCurrent drug czar and former SOUTHCOM Commander, General Barry McCaffrey, was blaming yesterday -- blaming the Clinton administration and the Congress for failing to pass a $1 billion aid package for Colombia for the interdiction of drugs, basically. And he said Colombia is out of control. I quote, "It is a flipping nightmare," end quote. What does the DOD -- what is the reaction of the DOD to this very bad news coming out of Colombia?

ADM. QUIGLEY: Well, without -- I will let General McCaffrey's words speak for themselves, but I think the Defense Department's position in support of Colombia is very clear. We consider Colombia a strong ally. We consider it essential that the government of Colombia stand. We are providing assistance in a variety of ways, as we've described before, to support the government in Colombia.

Colombia is a major exporter of narcotics both to the United States and to other ports of the world. It is to everyone's interest that the government of Colombia remain stable and that the family of nations can do what it can to help stem the flow of narcotics out of Colombia to other parts of the ]world.

QNow does the Department of Defense favor the funding, further funding, of the Colombian military so they can fight heroin and cocaine exportation?

ADM. QUIGLEY: We have provided funding, equipment, people, training, and we will continue to do so.

QAnd will DOD lobby that the Congress should give this funding that is an issue here, this $1 billion? Is DOD basically in favor of it?

ADM. QUIGLEY: That's not an appropriate role for the DOD to lobby the Congress. I mean, we would provide our views to the Congress in a variety of forms -- written questions for the record, testimony, what have you. But that would not be an appropriate role for us.

QAll right. Thank you.

STAFF: Thank you.

ADM. QUIGLEY: I have one other thing that I would like to say. I try very hard, many of you that know me, to be quite purple in this job and others that I have held. However, I am a Naval officer and I will leave you with this thought: Go Navy, beat Army!

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