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Transcript : DoD News Briefing : Secretary of Defense William J. Perry

Presenter: Secretary of Defense William J. Perry
March 26, 1996 10:30 AM EDT

Tuesday, March 26, 1996 - 10:30 a.m.

[ The subject of this media activity: Press stake out]

Q: ...to help rebuild the infrastructure in Bosnia. This is something that's a little surprising. Is that mission creep?

Secretary Perry: No. It's not surprising to me Jack. What General Joulwan has said is what he has always been saying; really, which is that the Dayton agreement allows IFOR -- allows NATO forces to perform these missions in support of the civilians. That has always been part of the Dayton agreement to allow us to do that.

General Joulwan's position from the beginning has been, he had to concentrate on his military missions, first of all; and any assistance to the civil missions would be as forces were available to do them. In the last three months he's accomplished a large part of his military missions. He also has his entire force in place now. He has more time and resources available to assist. So, as it is available -- as resources are available -- to assist in the civil reconstruction mission, and within the charter that he has, he's going to be willing to do that.

The principle objective that he would have is maintaining freedom of movement throughout Bosnia. That in itself will facilitate all of the civil activities there.

Q: So to the critics in Congress who will immediately say 'This is mission creep,' your response?

A: This is not mission creep. This is carrying out the mission we have stated from the beginning. Which is, we would assist with the civil efforts as we had the capability and as we had the resources available, but not the interference of the military mission. It's only in the last few weeks that we've had a whole force in place and gotten far enough along with the military mission that we have some resources available to that.

Q: Would that include policing and, if asked, assisting in the arrest of war criminals?

A: All of those decisions about how to execute his mission will be up to General Joulwan, General Nash and the other commanders. I'm not going to try and make those decisions for them. But he will operate within the mission spelled out in the Dayton charter, and within the resources available to him.

Good to talk to you sir.