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DoD News Briefing, Thursday, September 16, 1999 - 2:00 p.m.

Presenters: Mr. Kenneth H. Bacon, ASD PA
September 16, 1999 2:00 PM EDT

(Also participating in this briefing was Vice Admiral Scott Fry, Director for Operations, Joint Staff)

Mr. Bacon: You can see because I'm backed by Admiral Fry I'm on time today.

Admiral Scott Fry is the Director of the Joint Staff for Operations, and he's going to give you details to follow up on the President's announcement of our support of the East Timor peacekeeping operation.

Admiral Fry?

Admiral Fry: Thank you, Ken.

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We can never talk without charts. This is, the first one is just a quick locator of the relationship between East Timor and Darwin. Darwin will be the main support base for the operation. Our forces will initially fly into Darwin and operate from there under the command of U.S. CINCPAC, Admiral Blair. He has designated the commander of the U.S. forces in support of this operation named WARDEN by the Australians, as Brigadier General John Castellaw, United States Marine Corps, who is the Deputy Commander of the 3rd MEF.

Q: The spelling?

Admiral Fry: I'll get back to you with that. We can get you that spelling.

This is the mission that has been given to CINCPAC to provide forces to support an Australian-led multinational force in East Timor in accordance with the U.N. Security Council Resolution which was just passed night before last.

These are the kinds of forces that we'll be providing that the Australians have requested that we provide. Approximately 200 personnel overall.

Long haul communications equipment and personnel to operate it, about 20 to 30 folks.

Some intelligence analyst augmentees, overhead support in the way of an aircraft. We're talking about less than 100 personnel here.

Planning support, we've got a 15 man team from U.S. CINCPAC that has been with the Australians for a few days, and there will also be about four logistics planners moving in to help with the flow into Darwin.

Sea-based helicopter support. There are two ships operating in the vicinity of East Timor right now, the USNS KILAUEA which has two H-46 helicopters on board; and USS MOBILE BAY, an Aegis cruiser that has an H-60.

Strategic lift. We have offered to fly contributing nations' outsized cargo and helicopters into Darwin. We've encouraged contributing nations to move their own troops into the area, however we will consider on a case-by-case basis a request to provide lift for troops and some civil affairs support, about 20-25 more people that will assist the Australians in establishing a civil/military operation center.

Q: Excuse me, Admiral. By moving their own troops into the area do you mean to Darwin or to East Timor?

Admiral Fry: Darwin to begin with. Right about here, as I mentioned before.

Q: So they will stage...

Admiral Fry: They'll stage out of Darwin to start. That's right.

Q: The helos, you're saying that you will lift other countries' helos...

Admiral Fry: We will lift other countries' helicopters if they ask us to do that.

Q: But the U.S. is not going to have a helicopter unit...

Admiral Fry: The sea-based helicopters to begin with.

Q: Those are going to be the only U.S. helicopters?

Admiral Fry: Yes, that's correct.

Q: Where is all this coming from, or will you tell us as you get to it?

Admiral Fry: U.S. CINCPAC. These are theater forces operating for Admiral Blair already. Some of the civil affairs support will likely come from CONUS, but he already has those kinds of people in the theater as well.

Q: The heavy lift, will that be from CONUS?

Admiral Fry: He has heavy lift in the theater. It will likely have to be augmented from CONUS. It's all going to depend on the kind of requests that we get.

Q: What will the heavy lift be?

Admiral Fry: C-17s, C-130s. C-5s as well into Darwin.

Q: And these... In other words you will transport troops from other countries from Darwin into East Timor using...

Admiral Fry: What we've offered is to transport their outsized equipment and helicopters and we'll consider transporting their personnel if they can't make other arrangements.

Q: But it's from Darwin...

Admiral Fry: No, it's from their country to...

Q: Not into Dili.

Admiral Fry: Not initially, no.

Okay, here's the spelling for Brigadier General John G. Castellaw, C-A-S-T-E-L-L-A-W, U.S. Marine Corps. He is currently Deputy Commanding General, 3rd Marine Expeditionary Force.

Q: You mentioned a possible intelligence aircraft. Is that a U-2, an EP-3?

Admiral Fry: I don't want to get into the specifics of what kind of aircraft it is right now.

Q: You haven't decided, or...

Admiral Fry: The decision's been made. I don't think it's appropriate for me to discuss the type of aircraft at this point.

Q: What will the airport in Dili handle?

Admiral Fry: There are two airports. Can we get the other... Dili for sure can handle C-130s because the Australians have been flying...

There's another airport called Baucau which is over here. It was assessed in June to be able to operate C-141s and C-17s. We don't know what the condition of that airport is right now. What we do know for certain is Dili's ability to take C-130s.

One of the first things that I'm sure the Australians will do when they get in there is get an assessment of the condition of the airports.

Q: What's the timeframe on all this, Admiral?

Admiral Fry: The Secretary has just signed the execute order, so our forces will be ready to flow within 48 hours. Now that doesn't necessarily mean, or it certainly doesn't mean that they're going to start moving in 48 hours. They'll be ready to. We'll want the Australians to give us an idea of when they want the kind of capabilities that I indicated to flow in there. We don't just want to start piling this stuff into Darwin until they need it.

Q: Is the U.S. going to send in a TALCE?

Admiral Fry: That may happen a little bit later once we get an idea what the airfields are like in Dili and Baucau and if we can fly forces directly in there. TALCE is about 30-40 people depending on what you're going to move in and out. And that's certainly a possibility later on.

Q: How about command and control? Are you going to augment that at all?

Admiral Fry: Not now. You've got MOBILE BAY out there, an Aegis cruiser, has a good command and control suite on board it. We aren't looking at augmenting that.

Q: How many of the 200 will actually end up in East Timor?

Admiral Fry: It could be as many as half, depending on how the operation goes once the Australians get in there and get a lodgment, then we would look to start moving forces in there. About half of those would probably go.

Q: Are the airports in East Timor presently secure? Are they being secured by Indonesian troops that can be trusted to protect the interests of the forces coming from Darwin?

Admiral Fry: I don't know the condition of the airports right now. I wouldn't stand up here and tell you that they're absolutely secure. They were secure enough when the Aussies were asked to conduct evacuations of the UNAMET compound and some of the displaced persons that were with UNAMET in the compounds, and the TNI provided security at the airport at Dili at that time. But what they're like today, right now, I can't tell you.

Q: Would IFET [International Force East Timor] expect cooperation from the Indonesian armed forces?

Admiral Fry: It's my understanding that... The Australians, by the way, are calling it INTERFET. Their discussions with the Indonesian armed forces at the U.N. and in Jakarta have been very positive so far. They expect complete cooperation from them.

Q: What capability is the intel augmentation team providing? A downlink from national technical means? HUMINT connections? What?

Admiral Fry: They'll provide the wide variety of intelligence support that the Australians at this point believe that they need. I'm not going to characterize it specifically.

Q: Admiral, could you just one more time go down through the breakdown of the 200?

Admiral Fry: Sure.

Long haul communications, this is between 20 and 30 folks.

Q: What is that?

Admiral Fry: It's a long haul communications van and some other capability.

The intel augmentation team, I mentioned the aircraft, talking about probably about 50 people.

Q: Aircraft?

Admiral Fry: The support team to operate and support the aircraft. As well as 30 to 40 other intelligence analysts, etc.

The strategic lift, the aircraft themselves are going to be the crews moving in and out and the helicopters from the ships.

The logistics planning cell right now is sized at four or five people as PACOM determines he's going to need.

The planning support team is 15 folks at this time. The civil affairs support is between 15 and 25. Then of course if we start looking at moving a TALCE in, you're talking about 30-40 more people.

Q: Are the Aussies planning to move in first and then be supported later?

Admiral Fry: That is indeed correct. The Aussies are planning on moving in with a multinational force that they are building now, as early as this weekend. They'll secure a lodgement. They'll provide for the security and force protection of the area around Dili or wherever they intend to operate out of, and then they'll start calling the other support forces forward as they need them.

Q: They will provide all the transportation for that?

Admiral Fry: Yes.

Q: Is this it for East Timor? It's a pretty limited deployment you're describing here. Or is there more in the works? Or is the door open to there being more...

Admiral Fry: I'd have to tell you that the door has got to stay open as the Australians continue to work to put together this multinational force, continue to look at the capabilities that they need, and once the operation begins, what other capabilities they may need that we have and can contribute that aren't available from other nations as quickly as we could get it there. So I guess I would characterize the 200 as not a ceiling right now.

Q: Is there any ceiling? Or are we looking at already the possibility...

Admiral Fry: The flow of the requests would go with Brigadier General Castellaw to Admiral Blair to vet and work with the Australians and the other nations to find whatever the capabilities that they might need.

Q: Could you just clarify, who provides force protection for U.S. troops?

Admiral Fry: Once again, the flow would be the Australians move in, the Australians secure the area. These are support kinds of forces. We've got a Marine brigadier general that can evaluate the situation in relation with the Australians, and we've operated with the Australians a lot. This is a thoroughly professional military force. We've worked together and operated together many times in the past. Brigadier General Castellaw will make an evaluation of the force protection situation, make a recommendation to Admiral Blair. So I think we shouldn't be uncomfortable with, at least for these forces and that that would move in initially, to trust the Australians with the force protection role.

Q: Admiral Fry, will a MEU be moving into the area, maybe a carrier battle group? Or is that too far in the future?

Admiral Fry: Well, you've got the carrier battle group within 14 days, and there are other forces, Navy forces, operating down there as part of CROCODILE '99 right now. But they're not committed to this operation at this time.

Q: How about the MEU?

Admiral Fry: The MEU is down with CROCODILE '99.

Q: How many airlifters are you talking about making available?

Admiral Fry: I can't put brackets on that right now because we're not exactly sure of what the requirements are going to be.

Q: These individuals will be coming out of Hawaii, Japan, Okinawa, do you...

Admiral Fry: You bet.

Q: All?

Admiral Fry: Wherever Admiral Blair decides from within his theater he needs to source them.

Q: Could you give us a little better description of that secondary airport? Is it an abandoned...

Admiral Fry: No. Baucau? You're asking surface warfare guys hard questions. I can't give you a good description of it.

Q: What's the name of it?

Admiral Fry: B-A-U-C-A-U.

Q: Do you know yet if the General's going to be aboard the Aegis cruiser, or will he make his operational base...

Admiral Fry: He will be ashore.

Q: And you said that the airport at Baucau is east of Dili on the north coast?

Admiral Fry: It is.

Q: Roughly how far?

Admiral Fry: Thirty or 40 kilometers, I believe. We'll have to confirm that for you.

Q: The Humanitarian Daily Rations that were in California, what's their status?

Admiral Fry: They're moving by 747. The first one left this morning at about 0500 our time.

Q: When would they plan to be finished?

Admiral Fry: I think all of them are flowing today, if I'm not mistaken.

Q: And those are going to Darwin?

Admiral Fry: They are.

Q: How will they get to Dili?

Admiral Fry: I'm sorry?

Q: How will they get to East Timor?

Admiral Fry: World Food Federation is working a plan to either airdrop them or deliver them over land.

Q: 300,000?

Admiral Fry: That's what we're moving.

Mr. Bacon: Admiral, thank you very much.

Admiral Fry: Thank you.

Mr. Bacon: I'm going to move you from East Timor to Hurricane Floyd on the East Coast of the United States. But before I do let me make just a couple of announcements.

First, we have several visitors here today. Commodore Edletson who is basically the CHINFO, Chief of Naval Information for the United Kingdom, is visiting us. He's spending some time with the Navy and he came to my pre-brief and is here today. Welcome.

And we also have a visitor from the Czech Republic, Lieutenant Colonel Vladimir Palan who is the Deputy Head of the Press Section in the Czech Ministry of Defense. Welcome to you as well.

Two scheduling items for Secretary Cohen. First, tomorrow he is going to officiate at the POW/MIA Recognition Day to be held at Arlington National Cemetery at 11:00 a.m. I think the details have already been published. The speaker will be Senator Max Cleland. One of the things that will happen at this event is the placement of a plaque on the Tomb of the Unknowns for Vietnam, for the Vietnam War.

Second, tomorrow evening at 8:00 o'clock, Secretary Cohen will speak to a meeting of the Congressional Black Caucus, and that will be at the Four Seasons Hotel. You can get information about coverage from DDI on that.

Finally, before we get to the hurricane, there was the first successful flight intercept test of the Patriot 3 missile today at 9:26 a.m. our time. Destroyed a target over White Sands, New Mexico. It was an intercept test, obviously. And there is imagery available, you can download it from a satellite hookup and the details are at DDI for that.

Q: This is the first successful intercept test?

Mr. Bacon: Yeah, this is the first... It was the first intercept test. It succeeded. Therefore, it was the first successful intercept test. It actually is the fourth mission test, but it is the first successful intercept test of the PAC-3.

Q:...It wasn't intended to be an intercept and it did in fact hit another missile.

Mr. Bacon: That may be true, but if we hit a target we didn't intend... This is we intended to hit the target and we hit it. (Laughter)

Q: This was a collision between vehicles?

Mr. Bacon: Yeah, this is a hit-to-kill missile capability and it did kill the Hera target over the White Sands, New Mexico range. As I say, there's film on it that you can get later today.

You're right, on March 15th a seeker characterization flight test actually succeeded in intercepting the target, although that wasn't the goal. So we've had two successes out of one attempt. Pretty good, huh? (Laughter) I guess that means we have a batting average of 2,000.

Okay, Hurricane Floyd. As you all know from watching television and reading, Hurricane Floyd has engaged the Department of Defense in a number of ways over the past several days. Most notably, nearly 8,000 members of the National Guard in states from Florida to Virginia and into the District of Columbia have been mobilized to provide support. The Army Corps of Engineers has also activated five planning and response teams that have performed a variety of tasks, including the distribution of 700,000 pounds of ice and 450,000 gallons of water. They also are helping to arrange temporary emergency power, temporary roofing, housing, and debris clearance. And of course the military has moved more than 600 aircraft and ships out of harm's way over the last couple of days. As the storm passes the ships will come back from sea into Norfolk and other ports and the airplanes will return to their bases.

So far we have reports of some but relatively light damage at military installations. Of course the storm is still passing through and we don't have a full account yet of what's happened at places like Camp LeJeune, but we have not received reports of major damage yet. Thankfully, many of the bases in Florida and Georgia escaped injury because the storm wasn't as severe or ferocious down there as we at one time expected. But we'll have a more detailed accounting of damage in the next couple of days as the storm passes on.

With that, I'll take your questions.

Charlie?

Q: Ken, the Admiral says this is open-ended. Do you expect that East Timor force, if it did creep up, to creep up by much? Or do you...

Mr. Bacon: I think it's impossible to tell. We have made a very important contribution in areas in which we have expertise and skill, and we have told the Australians that we would consider additional requests for people. I don't think we're going into this with an intention of rapid or large augmentation of the current force, but as Admiral Fry said, we may have to put a Tanker Airlift Control Element, a TALCE, on the ground in one or two airports. That would add some people. We may provide some heavy lift to countries participating in the peacekeeping force, WARDEN, under OPERATION WARDEN. That might spike up the numbers a little for awhile.

But I think we're comfortable with the contribution we have made so far. We're comfortable with our offer to consider additional requests. And without ruling anything in or out, we'll just have to wait and see what requests, if any, come forward.

Q: The TALCE, is there a possibility that would be on the ground in Indonesia or elsewhere?

Mr. Bacon: East Timor right now is still part of Indonesia.

Q: I mean East Timor.

Mr. Bacon: Yes, I think it would be in East Timor if there were a need for one. But what would govern that is the flow of air traffic into East Timor and specifically whether we have to bring in a lot of large planes like C-17s and perhaps tankers. So that's the type of question that we haven't been able to answer yet because there's no peacekeeping force on the ground and we don't know exactly what the flow of people and materiel will be yet.

Q: Are the Aussies going to provide their own TALCE-type operations for their flights going in and out?

Mr. Bacon: I don't know.

Q: The United States won't provide that?

Mr. Bacon: Charlie, the Aussies have been flying planes in and out of the Dili airport. I think it's a question of traffic density as much as anything else. If we move to round-the-clock operations or whatever, it may require more air traffic control and support on the ground than is currently there.

Q: Going back to the hurricane, there was a very dramatic rescue at sea yesterday. Can you tell us a little bit about it? Give us... There are some questions I'd like specifically answered, if you know. One, what caused the tug to founder or go under? And was it difficult for the helicopter crews to fly in that kind of weather to make the rescue? Was the rescue itself very difficult?

Mr. Bacon: My understanding from reading the newspaper is that the tug sank because it began taking water in the rear rudder compartment, and the captain made a decision to abandon it. It had been towing a 750 foot long container barge from one port in Florida to another, as I understand it, when it got caught in the storm. It capsized. Some of the crew members escaped on the lifeboat. Others were not able to make it into the lifeboat.

They had locator beacons. The helicopters, when the Coast Guard and the Navy got the distress call they determined that the USS JOHN F. KENNEDY was the closest ship. It got within about 100 miles of the disaster spot and launched some helicopters. The helicopters picked up the people in, I guess in two stages. They picked up the first group, and then had to go back and refuel, and then came back and picked up the second group. I think there were eight people collected in all.

Obviously flying in tricky, strong winds can't be easy, but Navy helicopter pilots spend a lot of time flying in adverse conditions and they clearly were well trained for this mission and carried it out very well.

Q: General Clark briefed today on the, sort of an after-after-action report on the operations in Kosovo and came back with the final numbers on targets destroyed on the ground, in the ground attack against Serb forces in Kosovo.

One of the things, and I don't know how familiar you are with this or whether you can address this question specifically, but regarding tanks, for example, and the other categories were similar to this. He said that there were, in the end there were a total of 90-something, 93 tanks destroyed. But he said that the hulks or carcasses of only 26 tanks were found. That they determined that 67 other tanks had been destroyed through other means, even though the wreckage was not found in Kosovo after the fact.

I'm wondering if there's some way to explain that a little further. Why is it that the count is 93 if after it was all over there were only 26 tank hulks found.

Mr. Bacon: General Clark described in considerable detail the Serb efforts to clean up their battlefields and to remove wreckage. He talked about this happening under cover of darkness or with transport vehicles being folded into civilian convoys.

I have not talked to General Clark or his team on how they came up with these figures, but my guess is, and it's just a guess--I'll check into this--is that we have other sources of information that have helped that we've pulled together.

Most battle damage assessment, and this, of course, was a type of battle damage assessment, but most battle damage assessment involves pulling together information from a variety of sources in reaching a picture of what happened on the battlefield. I assume that's what happened here.

Q: So these other 67 carcasses were removed and brought back out of theater and...

Mr. Bacon: I didn't say that. As I said, I have not talked with General Clark or his team. I will try to get more information on that.

Q: Ken, when do you expect the Perry report on North Korea will be made available to the press? Will it be modified from what's now a classified version? And what would have to be done to change the policy to lift the sanctions on North Korea? Is that done by Executive Order only? Or do you know?

Mr. Bacon: In answer to the first question, my understanding is that Dr. Perry will give a briefing at the State Department tomorrow in order to discuss his report. This is really under the State Department's control, so you should check with the State Department, but as of this afternoon, State Department officials told me that they expect Secretary Perry to brief there tomorrow.

In terms of the sanctions relief, I'm not a sanctions lawyer or any type of lawyer, but my understanding is that at least some of the sanctions can be lifted by Executive Order and there have been some press reports projecting that that will happen as early as tomorrow. There may be other sanctions that have to be changed by other means, but I don't know the details on that. That, again, is more of a State Department question than a Defense Department question.

Q: When would the Kosovo after-action report from the Defense Department likely see...

Mr. Bacon: I would say you should count on seeing it at the end of September or early October, we being more than halfway through September already. But my guess is it will be around the end of this month or early next month.

Q: The Clark numbers and the methodology there, is that a separate thing than the after-action methodology on that? They're looking at the same thing.

Mr. Bacon: First of all, despite what you read in the press, the primary goal of the after-action report being chaired by General Ralston and Secretary Hamre is not to review long lists of numbers. The primary goal of that after-action review is to look at how our systems operated, how command and control operated, how communications systems operated, how the weapons operated, to look at the intelligence and the relationship between gathering intelligence and getting intelligence to the pilots in the cockpit, how well we adapted our bombing techniques to fit new conditions. General Clark got into some of that today, and the pilots who briefed with him.

But the press may have a greater fixation on numbers in this regard than the people doing the after-action review. They're looking more at systems and weapons.

Q: Certainly numbers of beans give you some indication of how weapons operated, do they not?

Mr. Bacon: I think the primary indication of how they operated is we won. And that's the first thing to keep in mind.

Second, General Clark has already given a fairly detailed accounting. I don't know how much beyond that accounting we'll see in the after-action review.

Q: How about the Vieques report?

Mr. Bacon: The Vieques report I think will be out relatively soon. My understanding is, I'll have to get the exact date on that, I'm not sure, but I think it's, as you know they've held hearings, they've met with the Governor of Puerto Rico and others, and my guess is it will be out relatively soon, but I don't know the exact date.

Q: Has it been transmitted to the President yet?

Mr. Bacon: I don't believe it has, no.

Q: Has it been transmitted to the Secretary?

Mr. Bacon: I don't know the answer to that question. If it hasn't, it will go relatively soon, I believe. He'll then send it on to the President.

Q: Back to the storm for a minute, can you give us any more specificity about where these supplies are going? Do we know yet where the damage is and where the various supplies will be going? Are there military forces involved in helping rebuild things, open roads, anything like that?

Mr. Bacon: First of all, the military operates in support of FEMA. As you know, the Federal Emergency Management Agency is the lead government organization in dealing with disasters like this, and we provide help as requested by FEMA.

Governors can mobilize the National Guard and they've done that in a number of states for a number of different reasons. For instance in Florida the National Guard participated primarily in traffic control and security during the evacuation.

In Georgia, the National Guard did that plus debris removal.

In South Carolina the National Guard has been supporting mass care shelters. So I assume that some of the water and some of the ice which of course is necessary to keep food cold when the electricity is off, went to these mass care shelters.

In North Carolina the Army and Air National Guard was prepositioned for a variety of emergency support.

In Virginia the National Guard provided evacuation support.

The Engineers, I think I told you pretty much what they were doing. I can go into a little more detail on their specific operations if you want. But there again, it's a wide variety of operations to support caring for people and repairing buildings. I'll give you an idea, for instance, the Army Corps of Engineers, 249th Engineering Battalion, has 280 generators that they're ready to deploy to hospitals, shelters, water plants, at the request of FEMA. Those are the types of things that are being done, as I said, along with debris clearance. Quick damage repair.

Press: Thank you.

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