Captain Doubleday: Good afternoon.
I'd like to start by welcoming 12 Japanese college journalists who are winners of the USA Today English Speech Contest which was sponsored by the newspaper. Welcome. We're glad to have you here.
With that, I'll take your questions.
Q: General Fogleman says the Air Force has received the money back from General Ashy...
A: That's my understanding.
Q: Some $5,020. How much was it?
A: My understanding is that it was in the neighborhood of $5,000.
Q: What does that mean, in the neighborhood?
A: We'll have to check for the exact amount, but the figure I heard was $5,000.
Q: When was that received, do you know?
A: I don't, but we can look into that also.
Q: Is that the end of it, or will there be further action?
A: As you know, the IG report which was released today makes a number of recommendations that refer to the process -- the procedures that apply to the travel of senior officers -- and Secretary Perry has released a statement which I think you've seen that indicates that he's committed to the use of military aircraft in as fair and as cost effective a way as possible. So what has happened is that Dr. White has appointed a group of people to look into exactly what our procedures are and what our directives say with regard to senior officer travel.
Q: Talking about the general, is that the end as far as he's concerned?
A: That is the only recommendation that was made by the IG, and that action is closed at this point.
Q: Who are the people that Dr. White has appointed?
A: The working group will be headed by Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Logistics, James Klugh. I don't have a list of the members. I think it will be an informal group comprised of individuals who are assigned to the Transportation Policy section of Under Secretary of Defense Klugh's office.
Q: Will there be any disciplinary action taken against General Ashy? Also what's the logic of last month's memorandum from the Deputy Secretary requiring that all admirals and generals take military aircraft on such flights, flights such as this one for reassignment?
A: To answer the last part of your question first, these directives, of course, have come into being over a period of time. I think in the past there's been some concern for the security of senior officers and their travel. There is also, in some cases, a requirement for senior officers to maintain communications at all times.
The most recent directive, which was put out in May of this year, indicates that for senior officers to use government aircraft in connection with a permanent change of station move, they must justify that use. My understanding is that that was included in the latest revision of the directive because of the work that the DoD IG was doing on this particular instance of aircraft use.
Q: I thought the IG report said that this directive says they must...
A: Let us get a copy of the directive for your review. But my understanding is that it says if they desire to use government transportation, they must justify that use before it can be assigned.
Q: How about disciplinary action against General Ashy?
A: As far as I know, there is no disciplinary action pending against General Ashy.
Q: How about anyone else?
A: Or anyone else.
Q: Why is $5,020 being repaid and not $100,000, since this flight from Naples to Colorado and from New Jersey to Naples and Naples to Colorado...
A: Again, I think I would refer you to the DoD IG report which goes into some detail on that. I have not had time to go over it in great detail, but my understanding is that the recommendation made by the DoD IG refers to reimbursement for the portion of the trip that went from Colorado Springs to Washington and return, and it is that portion of the trip that General Ashy has reimbursed the government.
Q: Does the Department have a position on the proposal that Senator Warner has made concerning submarine procurement? Specifically that the first boat in the new attack submarine class go to Electric Boat, and the second to Newport News?
A: Let me take your question and we'll see if we've got anything for you on that.
Q: Can I ask a question about the other Air Force general who was in the news this week, General Griffith. Can you give us any more detail about what this inappropriate personal conduct that he's alleged to have committed that led to his relief of command?
A: No. I can't provide any details. I would refer you to the Air Force for details on that personnel action.
Q: Back to General Ashy for a moment. This is the latest in a series of military investigations that looked to this situation and basically found fault with the system but not individuals. What does that say about the accountability for senior commanders in the military? Once again we have a senior commander here who is found to have wasted hundreds of thousands of tax dollars, but is not held to be at fault.
A: Jamie, I believe you need to take each individual case on a case-by-case basis. There is in the military a tradition of accountability. Accountability is something that is separate from actions that may be taken in the military justice system. Although these two systems may work in parallel, they are not necessarily connected to one another.
In issues of accountability, normally the military justice system is not an appropriate system to deal with those issues. The reason for that is because if a person is found innocent, there is the misperception that the individual is not accountable. In fact, that is not the case. Therefore, most accountability actions are taken in a separate system, which has at its disposal certain administrative actions which can be taken. These administrative actions could be things like adverse fitness reports, could be removal from a command, could be letters which are issued to the individuals which affect their career potential -- potential for promotion -- that sort of thing. And in fact, in one of the cases that you referred to, there were a number of these administrative actions taken.
I think many people have not been aware of the fact that these actions have been taken, because in most cases administrative actions are a matter of privacy, and therefore, not normally made public.
Q: Is there any consideration of administrative action against General Ashy?
A: I am unaware of any kind of consideration being given in that regard. And I must say, that it is entirely appropriate that I would be unaware, and each individual throughout the Department would be unaware. Because those kinds of actions are taken by the next senior in the chain of command -- the individual to whom a commander, commanding officer reports.
Q: Was he presented a bill and given an order to pay back this $5,000? Or he just...
A: I would refer you to the Air Force on that. I just really don't have any details about how it was done.
Q: How is it that a general who is accused of having an extramarital affair is relieved of his command, but a general who is found to have wasted hundreds of thousands of tax dollars just pays a small fine and goes on with his career?
A: I think you have to take each one of these on a case-by-case basis, and realize that the actions taken, the administrative actions taken -- are a matter for the commander of the individual who is being investigated. In the case of the individual who is relieved from command, it was because his boss determined that he had some question about the judgment of the officer, and he therefore, removed him from command.
Q: In the IG report it notes that there are 10 or 12 other cases of high ranking military officials who have taken long military flights. Could we have those specifics that are cited in general terms in the IG report? What other generals taking what other flights that are also questionable, as pointed out in this IG report?
A: We'll take that question and see what we can gather for you. I don't have any specifics on any of those cases at this point.
Q: Just to be perfectly clear, to follow up on what you just said, it would be up to General Ashy's commander or boss to decide on any further action. Who would that be at this point?
A: His boss at this point is the Chairman. He also has a chain of command... I must say, he also has a chain of command because he serves in several different billets that goes through the Air Force. So the Chief of Staff of the Air Force and the Chairman both are his seniors.
Q: Either one of them...
A: Either one of them has the authority to take action.
Q: As far as you know, do Secretary Perry and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, have full confidence in General Ashy's judgment?
A: As far as I know, the answer is yes, they do.
Q: There was a report over the weekend about the military buildup by Iran on the islands in the Gulf. Is there any confirmation you can give us on that?
A: I can't give you any confirmation of that.
Q: Another matter related to the Gulf, the changes in Qatar?
A: Yes, I'm aware of that. As I understand, the Emir is out of the country. The Crown Prince has assumed the position of Emir. There's been some additional action taken by the family members over there. I believe the State Department will have some more information on that for you.
Q: Is that likely to cause second thoughts here about pre-positioning equipment in Qatar?
A: No. I don't believe it has given rise to any concerns in that regard.
Q: Is there any military obligation or steps that need to be taken by the U.S. in the Gulf regarding that?
Q: Can you tell us what facilities that either did, or did not end, up on the Base Closing Commission's final list are of the greatest concern to the Secretary?
A: He has indicated, of course, that there were a number of bases which were added to the list of those which should be closed. There were also a number of bases removed from closure lists. I believe the overall count is that nine bases were added to closure, and 15 were taken off. As a result of that, the Department has undertaken an analysis of what the impact will be in three different areas. The first one, of course, is the impact on military operations. The second one has to do with the cost of these actions. And the third one is the cumulative economic impact.
Q: Wasn't the Commission supposed to evaluate all three of those in their recommendations?
A: They go through that process, but because their actions were rather extensive, we here in the building are going to have to do an analysis to develop the full impact of those changes so that Dr. Perry can make an informed judgment as to exactly what he will recommend to the President. As you know, the President has up until the 15th of July to make some determination as to whether he will reject, will send the report back, or will send on the Commission's recommendations to Congress for approval.
Q: Given the short amount of time within which Clinton has to respond, when do you anticipate the Department's analysis will be done and...
A: I know they're working on it very hard right now, but I can't give you a timetable. I think the goal is to have something as soon as possible so that Dr. Perry -- even if he is traveling -- can be kept apprised of exactly where we stand on those, particularly on those three areas.
Q: So theoretically, could that recommendation be made while Dr. Perry is still traveling?
A: It could be made while he is still traveling.
Q: Can I take us back to the Ashy affair for just one more question? My understanding is that General Fogleman was originally planning to come down here and to explain this report and to talk to reporters about it, and he's not here. Why is that?
A: I can't explain why something has not happened, but I'm sure that if somebody would like to talk to the Air Force on the subject of this or any other matter, they would be happy to receive your request to do so.
I have one correction to make. In his role as a specified [Note: U.S. Space Command is a Unified Command] commander, General Ashy works for Secretary Perry, rather than the Chairman. He does still have an Air Force chain of command, though, under those hats that he works for the Air Force.
Q: So General Fogleman or Secretary Perry take the next step?
Press: Thank you.