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DoD News Briefing: Mr. Frank Kramer, ASD Int'l Security Affairs

Presenters: Mr. Frank Kramer, ASD Int'l Security Affairs
September 15, 1999 3:00 PM EDT

Mr. Bacon: ...He's going to talk about two major topics. The first is the Defense Capabilities Initiative to follow up on the Kruzel Award that was given earlier today. And the second is the Defense Ministerial in Toronto next week. I know these are issues of great interest to you in particular, Charlie, because of your international audience. So we've gone to considerable trouble to get Frank Kramer down here, and he's talking on the record today so this will be a particularly valuable briefing.

Frank?

Mr. Kramer: As you know, the Secretary did host the Kruzel Award which Jeremy Rosner was the recipient of this year, and a lot of you knew Joe. He was a particularly effective and inspired advocate for NATO. A lot of what he was pushing for in its early days is what the Secretary is trying to do in the DCI, the Defense Capabilities Initiative.

You have all been involved in that or know about it one way or another. If I can just update you, that will be a major topic of discussion at the Toronto NATO Informal. If you remember, it was an approved Summit initiative in Washington here at the NATO Summit, and it continues to have the focus on transforming NATO capabilities, continued focus on mobility, precision engagement, precision-guided weapons, logistics -- especially away from home, survivability, and command and control.

There was a high-level steering group meeting, so called, last week. I was the U.S. representative. We moved forward to tee up things for the Ministers and for decisions at the formal meeting in December, and then throughout the next year. Some of those will focus on logistics, some of those will focus on C3. I can go into those if you want. We will also work with the NATO military authorities to build all this into the force goals that they have so that the countries actually come on board and do that.

In addition, as Ken said, the meeting of course in Toronto will focus on Kosovo issues, they'll take a look at Kosovo next steps. They'll review lessons learned which feeds into the DCI kinds of issues.

The Secretary is back -- you all may have gone, I'm not sure -- from Moscow. There will be a Russia discussion and of course he'll report on that.

Let me stop there. It's just a quick up and back, basically, as you know. So if you want any technical details on where we're going to be, what we're going to do, I'll go over them.

Q: Are the Russians going to attend?

Mr. Kramer: No, they're not.

Q: What's the gist of the Russian discussion, I mean what angle are you approaching on Russia?

Mr. Kramer: I think there are two basic approaches. One, of course, the Russians are in Kosovo with us. They are operating really quite professionally. They're in three different sectors. The reports that I get from the U.S. sector are really quite good. The reports, I was actually in the Netherlands last week, and the Dutch reports are likewise quite good. They're operating very effectively. So just the Kosovo aspect.

The broader issue will be how to build on that kind of activity for further cooperation. I know the Secretary talked about that generally when he was in Moscow. I don't think we have any specifics. But I think NATO as a whole will want to go forward.

Q: I'm sorry, NATO...

Mr. Kramer: NATO as a whole will want to go forward with further military-to-military cooperation. For example, we were going to put a military liaison group into Moscow. I'm sure we will see whether or not we can't revive that idea. There may be other approaches.

Q: Favored by the U.S., I assume?

Mr. Kramer: It's favored by everybody. It's approved by NATO.

Q: You mean... Of course that fell off the scope earlier...

Mr. Kramer: It did.

Q: But I thought it came back on when the Russians agreed to send their representative back to NATO. That's still...

Mr. Kramer: I don't think the person is actually there yet, so we just want to get it going.

Q: Which person?

Mr. Kramer: The NATO person in Moscow. Maybe you're ahead of me, Charlie. I don't believe that we have a NATO person yet in Moscow.

Q: That's not a decision to be made at this meeting?

Mr. Kramer: No, actually both we and the Russians approved it and to use Charlie's words it fell off the scope or fell off the table -- I don't like to mix my metaphors. The press does that, but not me. It fell off the table because of the problems that arose from Kosovo and we want to get it back on track.

Q: So it's back on... It's going to happen?

Mr. Kramer: We want to get it back on track. It has not happened. You asked me what we would discuss.

Q: I'm just trying to figure out if you're making a decision on that or...

Mr. Kramer: No. Not to be technical, but there are no decisions made at an Informal anyway, but this would be the kind of thing to make sure everybody is supportive of it. I'm sure they will be, but that would be an example.

Q: What I mean is, the same time that the Russians agreed to send their representative back to NATO, was it implied or they actually agreed to have a NATO representative come back to the...

Mr. Kramer: I don't think that they agreed yet, and that is one of the things we want agreement to.

Q: Can you go into a little more detail on this Defense Capabilities Initiative, how it's advancing, what steps, is the United States so frustrated about the steps that the Europeans are taking to acquire precision weapons? That's going to require money.

Mr. Kramer: Let me talk first about the initiative itself and then come back to the precision-guided weapons part of it.

We plan to have a Multinational Joint Logistics Center approved at the December Ministerial, and then up and running with people starting in '00. I think you know, this is more or less the logistics complement to Combined Joint Task Forces. That's moving forward. We have every reason to think that that will occur. It has to be approved at the Ministerial level. The Ministers will discuss it.

We have a couple of command and control systems that are moving forward that need to be approved by the Ministers and we will get discussion of that to make sure that they are supportive of approving them and seek to have the decisions, the formal decisions made in December. It will take, whereas the Multinational Joint Logistics Center can actually start operating in '00, it will take more time to put these command and control systems in place. I wouldn't think that they would actually start operating for let's say a year after that, either '01 or maybe even '02.

Q: What are you talking... I'm sorry. What are you talking about, command and control systems? Joint command and control?

Mr. Kramer: No, I'm talking about physical command and control. That is to say communications-type system. A backbone system, if you will, that NATO uses to command. We already have those, but we're looking to have an upgraded system that could allow for quicker transmission of information, and then integration with national systems so that the NATO system and the national systems are more seamless. It's not as if we don't have command and control now, but it's an upgrading.

Q: So you won't run into the problem of the Serbs listening in on radio...

Mr. Kramer: That's the secure part of it, and that's true also. This is simply the kind of thing that you do, for example... It's like what we do ourselves here. It's the difference of going from 286s to Pentium 2 chips. You had computers, they were good computers, but now we have lots better ones. We had communications; we have ways to do it a lot better now.

This is something that will be done. The list I'm giving you now are things that will actually be done, assuming that everything goes forward smoothly, and I expect it will.

Q: Where are these centers?

Mr. Kramer: They're so to speak virtual centers. That is to say you have command and control throughout the NATO architecture so you have nodes in different places. For example, you'll have a node at SHAPE, AFSOUTH, wherever the Combined Joint Task Force might be, and then you would connect to national forces, whether they be U.S., Belgian, Czech, wherever they might be. You would have similar kinds of capabilities for maritime, but it will take a little longer to put them in place for maritime. This is mainly for the land forces. So it's not like I have to build new bricks...

Q: (inaudible) anywhere.

Mr. Kramer: I don't have to have... Right. There are two things. I don't have to build bricks and mortar to put the command and control in place. I've already got all the bricks and mortar I need. I have to put the systems in place.

With respect to the logistics center, it's just like the CJTFs, that is to say we have two CJTFs, one would be in the north, one in the north, one in the south at the headquarters. Those involve people being dual-hatted so if they have to leave the headquarters and go on lead an activity, big or little, they already know what their job is as part of the Combined Joint Task Force Headquarters. So they're there, let's hypothetically say, in AFSOUTH.

Likewise, you have people in the AFSOUTH area that do logistics. They will need to be dual-hatted so that they can get up and go to wherever the fight might be and do the logistics for that fight. Now if you were in Bosnia, you'll recall that we had, especially after about the first six months, a reasonable amount of multinational logistics activity. There was actually a building, for example, in Croatia where we did it, and I think it was in Hungary. There were two buildings that were sort of our headquarters. So we did that. But the people came from existing headquarters. Does that make understandable sense?

Q: (inaudible)

Mr. Kramer: Okay, well since we're on the record I don't want to take too long for this, but I'll tell you what. I'll invite you up and we can talk about it extensively. I don't want to go on too long if I'm not answering a question.

Q: Precision weapons.

Mr. Kramer: Some of the decisions as you said, Charlie, have to be taken by NATO and they get put in the force goals, they have to be implemented by the countries. A number of countries had some precision weapons, but most had relatively fewer than the U.S. and none had all the kinds that we had. So at the beginning of the conflict, as you know, the U.S. had to run most of the precision-guided weapons operations. For example, the British have Tomahawks, the French have some precision-guided weapons, but for the most part it was the U.S.

The countries have already agreed to go ahead and purchase. They now need to start making decisions on precisely what they'll purchase, how much, how soon and the like. We will seek from them, if you will, national reports on what they're going to do. I don't have answers to that yet. I know they all have made commitments in principle.

Q: Will these countries be moving to develop their own precision-guided weapons generally, or are they more likely to buy U.S. weapons, or perhaps French weapons?

Mr. Kramer: I think that's probably a time-phased answer. For the most part, most of the precision-guided weapons that exist now, particularly air-launched, are built in the U.S. So the probabilities are if you're going to buy things now you will buy them from the U.S.

The Europeans are talking about consolidating their defense industries, building them up, teaming with the U.S. and the like, and I don't have enough information to tell you whether or not they will make one of their goals precision-guided weapons. They could, but right now there's not much precision-guided weapons capability air-launched in Europe.

Q: Can you be a little bit more specific on some of the other areas? You mentioned a little bit about logistics, but is there going to be any announcements of actually concrete steps that you're taking next week?

Mr. Kramer: No, this is not an announcement meeting. That will be December. It's not that we won't let you know what they've talked about, but this is not meant to be a "we're going to do it tomorrow". They'll take the decisions in December. But that's mainly a function of the fact that that's when the formal meeting is. It's also a function of time. It's only been about three months since the Summit.

But to go over some, I guess some other specific kinds of things, a number of countries have talked about, and the DCI talks about improving sea and airlift capabilities. The British in their strategic defense review, for example, have committed to acquiring roll-on/roll-off ships. I have the recollection it's four, but that would be about right.

They're taking a look in Germany at the issue of strategic airlift. The Defense Minister has talked even about the possibility of a European Mobility Command. He may want to report on that. I have no specifics on any European Mobility Command beyond the fact that he's talked about it. We've asked the Germans to give us some more information. I think they're in the process of doing their own analysis as to whether they would do it nationally or in a coordinated fashion with other countries. I don't think they've come to a decision yet.

Some countries like the Norwegians which recently established a goal of a 3500-person rapid deployment force. For them, Norway is about four or five million, so on a proportionate basis that's a pretty good-sized force.

You all know that the British and the French and the Germans have also talked about having rapid deployability.

One of the things we want to do is we want to have the European approach to developing their own forces and the so-called European security and defense initiative effort be coordinated with what is done in the DCI and inside the framework of NATO. We talked about that at the high level steering group. There's every indication it will be. Part of making sure that it is to have the kind of interchange that keeps it on track.

Q: Is this meeting going to be 16 plus a whole bunch of Eastern steps...

Mr. Kramer: It's going to be 19.

Q: I beg your pardon. Nineteen plus...

Mr. Kramer: The Informal is just the 19.

Q: So you won't expect to have people from Azerbaijan or...

Mr. Kramer: No. There haven't been so many Informals, but there have been about five of them, I think. And they always have just been the NATO countries only. It's not different.

Q: You said also one of the focuses is going to be the next step in Kosovo. Can you give us anything...

Mr. Kramer: Sure. Some of the issues that are on the table, as you well know, are issues of developing police capability, issues of getting ready for elections which presumably would take place sometime next spring. That's a loose date because no one's decided. They will review with one another any issues that have arisen in the actual deployment and employment of the troops.

I think in broad terms in Kosovo things are going reasonably well from a military point of view, and the issues are more political than they are military, per se.

Q: Are you going to talk about reducing the force in Bosnia?

Mr. Kramer: Yeah. I think there's a possibility. There is going to be a military committee report which I lose track as to exactly when it gets provided. I'm not sure we'll get it before that meeting. But they will certainly talk about what should be done with respect to Bosnia.

Q: Including any change in the overall command structure? Lumping the two together...

Mr. Kramer: I kind of doubt that they'll do anything with respect to major significant changes here. It's possible someone will raise that kind of issue, but I think the first issue that will more likely be on the table is it appropriate or is it not appropriate to have a straight production.

Kosovo is pretty early on. We've only been operating there a couple of months so I think they will probably wait. But it's possible that later in time once things shake out that will come up.

Press: Thank you.

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