United States Department of Defense United States Department of Defense

News Transcript

Press Operations Bookmark and Share


Transcript : DoD News Briefing : Admiral Leighton Smith,Commander in Chief of Allied Forces Southern Europeand

Presenters: Admiral Leighton Smith, Commander in Chief of Allied Forces Southern Europe and Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Europe
April 02, 1996 1:30 PM EDT

Tuesday, April 2, 1996 - 1:30 p.m.

Subject: U.S. Forces Currently Serving in Bosnia

Adm. Smith: I'm not sure I've got a whole lot to add to what General Joulwanbriefed you all on some time back, but let me just try to bring you up to date.There are a couple of things going on today. One, you obviously know that theInternational Tribunal is doing some work up in Srebrenica and the SecondBrigade of the 1st Armored Division under Colonel John Batiste is up thereproviding the standard support package that we have been offering and wouldoffer to ICTY and others. You probably know already that essentially relatesto area security. That is to say that we will give them a good briefing on anyinformation we might have on minefields, any information we have on a populaceup there that would be hostile to them. We obviously know where the forces areand frankly, we don't have a problem with the forces. The military side ofthis thing, the entire peace agreement and peace implementation process isfrankly going very well.

So, that has not been a problem. With the teams, we have been able to placewhat we call liaison teams. Their principal concern is to make sure that wehave constant communications and contact with these teams that are in there andthen, of course, their response capabilities in the event that they arerequired.

So, intelligence data on the area that they will be working, obviously theywould be interested in minefields and what kind of minefields that might be upthere. We have been able to provide some logistics support in terms of theysleep in our camps. So that gives them a place to go at night and I suspect ifthey're real hungry, they can eat MREs. But let me tell you, you've got to behungry to eat those things. I really found out why I joined the Navy after Ihad my first MRE.

We see good evidence that there will be compliance at the D-Plus 120. Youwill know that basically involves moving forces into cantonment areas. Therehave been some difficulties, quite honestly, in numbers. We continue to seediscrepancies in the total numbers that they say they have. For instance, wegot a call yesterday by the HVO that by -- we found some air defense systemsthat we didn't know we had and we're going to put them in this collectioncenter. Well, my guess is that they figured we would find them. So, they`fessed up to having them. I mean, I can't imagine that an Army would havesomething like air defense systems that they wouldn't know about.

Then we found some weapons in the zones of separation and other places. Thoseare, I don't think, serious violations. They are violations which take ourtime and frankly, detract from our ability to perhaps do other things.

Let me tell you that there are a couple of unsung heroes in this wholeoperation aside from the soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines, the young menand women not only of this country but about 33 other nations that are doing abang-up job on the ground in frankly, a somewhat complex environment. But,we've got an internal information campaign system. We call it the IIC. In ourcountry, we use to refer to that as a PSYOP program. We've gone through agreat deal of effort to ensure that the people in Bosnia know what we're about.And we have, as an example, four radio stations. We buy time on about 14 or 15other radio stations. So, we can reach 95 percent of the population over thereand do. We publish a weekly newspaper. We had initially started out with60,000 copies and we would go distribute that and frankly, we had some problemdistributing that. We now are up to 100,000 because they have been requestedand not only that, when we go to a town to distribute them, the people come outto get them and that's good news. When we print in the newspaper, we willreprint a lot of the things that you all put in your newspapers and what youput on your television screens and radio. Because the people of that countryare starved for news and we'd like to provide for them what we can. We do thaton our radio stations as well.

So, the IIC I think is doing very well. In addition to putting news out, thisgroup of individuals will publish pamphlets, fliers, on mine awareness and minesafety. We've published things like the poster on war criminals. We'vepublished soldiers cards that give them the requirements that we have in termsof detaining war criminals. We have published cards for the soldiers on ourpolicy with respect to police checkpoints. Those things will also be madeavailable to Ambassador Bob Frowick in his efforts with respect to theelections. And we have also used them to support Carl Bildt in hisorganization in putting out information such as the Sarajevo transition plan.

I know that General Joulwan talked to you about our CIMIC under BrigadierGeneral Tom Matthews. Talk about a unsung hero, with about 400 people inBosnia, a double handful in Croatia and other places, they have made atremendous difference. They are completely integrated into the HighRepresentative's office throughout all of the committee structures. We CIMIC,have regional offices where Carl Bildt's organization has not yet gotten out ofSarajevo into the regions; principally, I think, because of funding. I'm notcomplaining or criticizing. What I'm trying to tell you is that we planted theseed going out there. We've got an organization that he can fall on top of andwe've offered him support in terms of office space, administrative support,communications support, and obviously the context with those people that we'verun up against.

Some of the concerns that I have -- well, let me just add one other thinghere. The Deputy COM IFOR, French Lieutenant General John Hamrish [ph] hasbeen essentially acting for me as our direct contact with the civilianorganizations at the higher level. He works with Carl Bildt and Jacques Kovee[ph] and Mike Steiner. Aside from that work, John has put together what wecall an airport transition plan. I was briefed on this the other day. Wethink that one of the key elements in getting Bosnia back on its feet will bethe opening of the airports. And we've got a pretty ambitious program laid outthat -- we say it's ambitious because we know it's going to be expensive. Fromwhat our people have done, I say our people, military, have gone around to thefour airfields. Sarajevo, Banja Luka, Taszar, and Mostar and laid outprecisely what is required to make those functional airfields for commercialair traffic.

We are, of course, controlling the air coming in now. We are controllingtheir airfields and those four are in use. The civilians are very interestedand I have just written a letter to Prime Minister Milosevic last week sayingthat in order to bring commercial air into Sarajevo and into Banja Luka, whichare the two places that he asked for as well as to Tuzla, we just need to workout the modalities.

But the airfields are -- I think that's going to be a long term problem andit's going to be very expensive. But we have laid out the requirements. Someof the concerns that I have frankly, of coming on line are the return of thedisplaced persons and refugees. There's an awful lot of them out there.Roughly 2.4 million that are in the country and I'd say something less than twomillion in the country and another 700,000 to 800,000 outside of the country.The UNCHR has got a plan to resettle these and, of course, an awful lot thatresettlement is going to be dependent on whether or not we can open the roadsand we're doing pretty good at that frankly. The first step is mobility.Let's make sure they're trafficable. The second step is psychological.There's not much you can do about that because people are afraid to go fromfrankly, one entity to the other right now. But, we do have mobility.Roughly, 80 to 85 percent now and the rest we're working on.

The election is coming up. Bob Frowick is doing a dynamite job and I think hewould be the first one to sit here and tell you that he's got a lot of hurdlesto go through, but he's working that. We're working with Bob very closely. Infact, I mentioned to you General Hinrish. He has a weekly meeting with BobFrowick's people, the OSCE, ICRC, UNHCR, ICTY, World Bank. And our objectiveis at the highest level in COM IFOR is to show our interest and our support tothem, again, within the limits of our capabilities and on a not-to-interferebasis.

The very difficult problem frankly, that we see right now is the police. Theinternational police task force is roughly 38 percent manned and we are what,105 or 106 days into this mission. I personally believe that even if they geteverybody, they're not going to have enough and they're not getting them fastenough. I've talked with Peter Fitzgerald. We worked very closely together,Commissioner Fitzgerald is a great Irish cop and he's a wonderful man and heworks for Ink Ball Resa [ph], who is the U.N. mission in Bosnia-Herzegovina.So, we work with them and we have done so as you may have recalled during thetransition in Sarajevo which was rather difficult.

A real sore spot is the prisoner issue. It should be unconditional. That isto say we continue to hear stories that the Serbs would release theirs if theCroats released theirs, if the Muslims would release theirs. You go back andread the Annex One. There are no conditions to release. It's not an exchange.It is the release of prisoners and we continue to push that point home and Ithink that it's terrible that the people of that country continue to barterwith people. The folks have been in prison long enough. They are beingtreated like large pieces of meat and it's time that they are released withoutcondition and we have called on them to do that virtually every time that I'veever talked to the Presidents or the Prime Minister.

On the civil aspects, I'm proud to tell you that there's an awful lot ofthings that have been going on and this was part of our plan at the verybeginning. We knew the importance of the civilian construction projects. Ourengineers have been vitally -- a vital part of the entire Bildt organization interms of providing data that we have developed in our surveys of the roadsystems, the telecommunication systems, the power systems, the water systems.Those kinds of things are important. We know that.

Some of the work we can do ourselves. Some of the work we can merely pointout this needs to be done, and we can even help try to scope it out. We'reinvolved in engineering tasks, mine clearance, medical, supply, transportation,resources such as having our mechanics either teach repairmen or repairambulances, fire engines, those kinds of things that are pretty critical to thelocal communities.

Local contracts. We want to try to maximize the number of local contractsthat we can sign so that we generate employment amongst the community where ourforces might be. And finally, I mention to you the telecommunication system inour attempt to try to help identify problems that can be fixed, find the placeswhere the lines have been cut or blown out, try to help them reinstall if wecan. Some of it is just finger-work, splicing wires. We are involved in thatas much as we can to the degree that the individual commanders on the ground donot believe that that work is interfering with their primary mission.

Now let me just finish up by telling you that this right here, that representsabout 1,000 kilometers of former confrontation line. Now, you will knowbecause General Joulwan told you that two kilometers either side of that has tobe free of all weapons. Ten kilometers either side of that any weapons in thatarea have to be declared so we know where they are and we go visit those andinspect them. That's like leaving here and driving to Charleston, SouthCarolina and trying to make sure that six miles either side of Highway 95 isclear of weapons or that if they are, you know precisely where they are.Except transfer that to mountainous terrain where there are no roads and peoplewho don't always tell you the truth and you've got yourself a problem. So,this is not an insignificant problem, just the maintenance of this kind ofthing.

The second part of this equation is -- this map doesn't have it on there --but there are a darn sight lot of roads in this country, a lot of roads. Andon every single one of those roads, you will find police checkpoints becausethat is the way that those folks have lived for years. And I put out an edict,a policy statement, about three weeks ago that they complimented that onedeveloped by Peter Fitzgerald. And what it said was we will not toleratepolice checkpoints that are there solely for the purpose of restricting themovement of the population. And it's to say if they are only stopping carswith license plates that are either Croatian or Muslim or Serb, they will betaken down. Checkpoints have to be established under the guidance and auspicesof the international police task force. If they are not, they get shut down.

Last week, we shut down in just MND North, up here, we shut down 30checkpoints. Of those, 14 were Bosniac, six were Croatian and 10 were Republicof Srebrenica. We have as much restriction or movement inside the Federationas we do outside the Federation.

Yesterday, we shut down a total of four. There were two others that weunderstand were there and we're investigating those. I'm not sure that I cansay much more except that in the grand scheme of things, I will tell you thatwe have been very pleased with the military implementation. I think I kind ofthink that our successes, as I told Art and some others at a defense breakfastone morning, I lay it to the three Rs. We went in there with a robust forceand we advertised it as such, a capable force, well-disciplined, well-lead,well-equipped and well-trained. We have the right rules of engagement and wetold everybody what those were in general terms. And we have "resolve," andthey know that.

And that's one of the reasons why the implementation process has been prettygood. We've also been even-handed across the board. I'm not liked by anybodyover there anymore.

Now, may I take your questions? Yes, sir.

Q: Admiral Smith, what do you see as a solution to the prisoner issue?

A: Well, Carl Bildt has recommended in Moscow that if the prisoners are notreleased, they would postpone the Donors Conference which was to be held or isto be held I think later this month. It's not clear. That's clearly up toCarl Bildt and the people who are in the political realm. But, I believe thatthe pressures from the political side and the economic side are the proper wayto deal with the prisoner issue. It is a political issue. We don't -- IFOR is-- let me go back and say that the prisoner release issue is contained in AnnexOne, but it is an international committee of the Red Cross and we basicallyhelped them by providing logistics and using our joint military commission as aforum for making sure that the data is exchanged and we would then go andprovide security while they exchanged them.

We -- I don't think that military force to enforce a prisoner release isprobably something that I would jump in the middle of right now. I will tellyou that while we were doing the prisoner release discussions during the veryfirst joint military commission, the parties of the representatives, which werethe military, would go back and telephone their politicians. And I'll tell youwhere -- it was coming exactly right from the top. I talked to Krajisnik aboutthis. I've talked to both Milosevic and to Izetbegovic and to Granic [ph]about this personally. I've talked to President Milosevic about this. Heagrees with it by the way that we should release them. And I've talked toPresident Zubak and to President Tudjman. Personally, I've seen these peopleon the prisoner release issue and I know a lot of other people have as well. Imean, I'm just telling you that I'm just one of many. We haven't brokenthrough yet.

There was a big breakthrough last weekend, a weekend, I guess it was theweekend before last when the Bosniacs released 109. Actually, they released110. They just didn't tell you about the other one. Yes, sir?

Q: Admiral, a two-part question which is usually half of what I ask.

A: Make it short. I've got a short brain. [Laughter]

Q: I'll come back at you again. Over the past 100 days, how often, I don'tmean in totaling up the number, but how often have the IFOR forces had to goeyeball to eyeball with the former combatants in removing roadblocks and whathave you? And the second part and you may want to cover it at the same time,do you get any indications from the former combatants either in force or inrogue elements of an impending spring offensive?

A: Let me answer your second first. No. We're going to break this springoffensive cycle. That's what General Joulwan calls it. Let me tell you why Ibelieve that to be true. We are seeing the forces one, demobilized. We areseeing the forces brought into cantonment areas. We are seeing concentrationsof weapon systems. And let me tell you, we'll know if they start gettingantsy, they'll start moving those weapons systems and that's a major tipper.But, we're watching that. We know where their weapons are, and we check themvery, very closely. So, I don't think there's going to be a spring offensive.

I don't think there's going to be any kind of force on force against IFOR. Wedidn't expect it when we went in and we don't expect it now. And the reason itwon't be because they don't want to tangle with us and that's just a simplefact of life. I'm not trying to be a tough guy. I'm just telling you that's afact of life.

The first question was how many times have we gone eyeball to eyeball?

Q: Does it happen?

A: It does happen. It has happened -- well, I'll just give you a couple ofquick examples. Day one or day two, the Brits were going up -- I'm sorry.

Q: You're not on mike.

A: Oh, I'm sorry. I'll come over here. All right. I don't like hidingbehind the podium. I want you to get a clear shot at me. Up in this area, theBrits on about day one decided to go on up in Serb territory. It hadn't beendone before. A couple of guys on a checkpoint said no, sorry you can't comethrough. They said fine. They made a little quick call, a couple of Warriortanks over the hill, you know, all that patriotism evaporated like that.[Laughter] We had, just to make sure we're even-handed, there's an airfield uphere I want to say Olovo, about a 3,000 foot strip. A couple of the Frenchforces wanted to go and take a look around. Again, a couple of guys at thegate said no. The next day, 100 French soldiers, two tanks, and a few armoredvehicles. No problem. It turns out that they were the only two guys there, sono wonder they let us in. [Laughter] But just to make sure that we got theirattention -- we got a lot of protests by the way, and it came to me from thePrime Minister. He said we don't appreciate that you're not an occupationforce and you can't do that. So, just to prove to him I could, I took ahelicopter and landed at the damn thing the next day and that really made him-- I got his attention. [Laughter]

I wanted to go to Omarska [ph] up here to see the detention camp. What ahorrible, horrible place that is. Anyway, John Shattuck wanted to go up thereand I told John I'd take him. So, we went. I sent what we call an advanceteam up there the day before I arrived. They got to the gate. Omarska is nowhousing a battalion of Serb soldiers. We had two of my guys and aninterpreter. They went up to the gate. The two guards at the gate wereimmediately joined by about another 10 or 12 and through my interpreter, myguys were -- said no way you're coming in this place. And the guy said well,you need to understand, Admiral Smith is coming back tomorrow. I'm not goingto tell you what they said. But, they don't love me up there. I mean, this isnot a big love-in. The next day, we landed our helicopters in the field about800 kilometers away. The Canadians met me with 21 armored personnel carriersand all the force we needed and the sergeant major who was driving my APC as wegot to the gate, he looked around and he says well, Admiral, wonder of wonders.The gate just went up and we went in. [Laughter] John Batiste down in HanPijesak wanted to inspect a weapons storage area. He had been to that twotimes. The third time he went back, he was denied entry. He informed the Serbguard there that he was going in one way or the other. Now, the easy way waslet him walk in. The other way was that he had this place covered withartillery to include multiple launch rocket systems plus Cobra helicopters plus35 Fixed-Wing aircraft overhead. Now, do you have any questions? And the gatecame up.

On police checkpoints, we have had to consistently knock those down.Sometimes they're easy. Sometimes they're not so easy. But really nobodyargues with us. Once they see that we're determined, they understand that theyare going to lose if they try to take us on. We may go up to a place and berefused entry, but one hour later that guy's going to see a force he's neverseen before and it has never failed. We've never been told no more than aboutonce or twice in a particular place.

Q: Just a quick follow-up here. When you say no sign of force on force, whatabout rogue elements? And going back to what you just described and it's veryforceful. Looking back, would you say that if the UN had the horsepower to dowhat you're doing, that much of what has happened in the former Yugoslaviacould have been prevented over the past couple of years?

A: Well, I'd really be going out on a limb if I said that. I will tell youthis. I worked with General Bertrand de Lapresle [ph] when he was thecommander of the UN forces there in Zagreb. I know of no finer officer. He iscurrently the senior military adviser to Carl Bildt and General Bertrand deLapresle [ph], I consider to be a close friend now. I think he was in animpossible situation. He had a peacekeeping force when there was a war to beenforced. I've got a war fighting force as a peacekeeping force. So, we justgot our things backwards.

I think if he had the force I had and the ROE that I've got, we may have beenable to avoid this scene sometime back, but boy, that's a -- I mean, that's wayout on that limb. Yes, ma'am?

Q: On the war crimes issue.

A: Yes.

Q: Is the provision of general area of security sufficient for guaranteeingthe integrity at that site?

A: Tammy, you know, I think so. Here's the situation. There's probablyupwards of 300 mass grave sites over there. I can't tell you how many becauseI don't really know. And a mass grave site is defined as anything with aboutthree or more and we decided we have eight. We have called those the "BigEight" and we think that in those eight, Ljubija, Omarska, Srebrenica, andobviously five others. We think it's upwards of 30,000 people potentiallyburied in these sites. There are other sites that the International Tribunalhave expressed an interest in. There are sites that we know of that weobviously want to keep an eye on. And we're working with the intelligenceorganizations. We have road patrols that keep an eye on them. The fact is, Ido believe that we can, in fact, we will know if someone decides to tamper withthose.

There is a report from the Christian Science Monitor reporter who was capturedback in October, I think, as he was investigating some war crimes, that theremay have been some tampering with a grave site near Zvornik. I found out aboutthis this morning. Obviously, one of the things we'll do is we'll start takingsome pretty good pictures of that site to see. But, you know, the questionI've got to ask myself is this place has been under snow for quite some timeand if the reporter who hasn't been back there since October, you know, what ishis -- what is his -- how does he know and what's his information? We've got asingle source that there may have been some tampering.

I look at this way. I've been to several of these mass grave sites. It isnot a pretty thing to stand on top of a piece of ground where you think theremay be 1,200 people buried and look right there and there's one of them thathasn't been buried. I mean, he was -- his body was out there, fully clothed.Obviously, decomposed. Anyone that tampers or tries to tamper with a site likethat or the Omarska site, which is what they call a "Sludge lake," in which thebodies were dumped because they wouldn't float back up to the top or theLjubija site which is a strip-mine which is the largest iron ore mine in Europeand it is 10 kilometers long and probably five kilometers across. If somebodywants to tamper with those sites, it's going to take a tremendous size of forceand we will know that pretty quickly. I mean, if a few people go in to exhumea body or two I can't do much about that, but we're watching withreconnaissance and we'll respond by telling the ICTY if they want us to, we'llguard the site until such time as they come and guard it. But, we haven't seenany evidence of it. Yes, sir? You're next.

Q: Following up on that, Admiral. What David Rohde of the Christian ScienceMonitor says, and our cameras were with him when he went there today,[inaudible] is that there's substantial evidence of tampering there. That thesubstantial evidence of large scaled earth moving equipment having been used onboth of the burial areas on both sides of the road in that area. When I was inthe Srebrenica area with John Shattuck in January, he said as you said todaythat these sites were going to be monitored. They would be watched. Would you-- if intelligence has evidence of tampering, would you know about it today?Has there been tampering?

A: If the intelligence -- I guarantee I would have known about it because Iwas at the CIA this morning.

Q: Okay.

A: If they knew it, I would know it.

Q: You do not know of any evidence of tampering?

A: No, not at that site. No. I'm not aware of any evidence at other sites.Now obviously, that does not mean that it did not occur. And I'm not certainin my mind as to the visitation on those sites because, as I said, there aresome 300 sites there and we're obviously not looking at all of them. And Ifrankly, would have to go back and look at the data. I'm thankful that Johnhas gone and looked at that and we'll take whatever information he's got andwe'll act on that with the ICTY.

Q: But what I'm asking you, well, first of all, is it a war crime to tamperwith a mass grave site?

A: I believe that I'm not qualified to answer that question. I will tell youthough that it seems to me if tampering with evidence, it has some associationwith the crime even, I mean, if they're trying to destroy the evidence, therewould be some association with that. But, I'm not qualified to give you ananswer on that. I will tell you this. I'm frankly surprised. Again, I wouldhave to look at the evidence that he's got in the area that he's got it. Thisthing is near a dam. There is plowed ground around this field. The place thatI went up to the other day up in this area with Ambassador Albright, that is afield where they plant wheat. So, they have earth movers up there that aremoving dirt, but they're not digging up the bodies. I mean, I was there so Ican tell you that.

Let me get other questions. But, I can't -- I mean, that's the most I can sayabout that right now.


Q: There's one more thing. Can the US detect earth moving equipment that isbeing used at night?

A: Yes.

Q: Admiral, on the end of the mission, is your expectation come December thatIFOR will be able to leave in its entirety and do you expect that to be yourrecommendation? You know that's one of the hotter questions.

A: Well, I knew that question was going to come up, but I've been trying tofigure out how to answer it. You asked it a little bit different. It's notfair. You're supposed to ask the question the way I expect it to be asked.Not the way by canned answer which I have written down right here. [Laughter]No, that's not true. You obviously know that is a tremendously excitable issueright here. Let me tell you where we stand on it and I'll give you the honestto God opinion that I can. First of all, there are three elements to thispeace process. The military, the political, and the civil. The military isgoing pretty darn well. The civil and the political, civil is coming on line.I'm pleased with some of the things I see and we'll try to help them andcontinue to help them as much as we can. The political side, there have beensome recent initiatives on the part of the Croatians and the Bosniacs withrespect to the Federation. We welcome that, but there is an enormouslydifficult task ahead for them. And I think what we have to do is to continueto evaluate those three, if you will, pillars to this peace implementationprocess. The real trick is whether or not a military force is going to berequired on scene to keep the other military at bay because that's really whatwe ought to be doing is to keep the militaries apart so the parties cancontinue to develop confidence between themselves that they can go aboutbuilding -- what I call transforming a situation -- where we have an absence ofwar into a situation where we have a lasting peace.


Right now, I'm not prepared to make that recommendation and I think we will beas we go along. Obviously, there are some people that are. Prime MinisterMilosevic has made it quite clear that he thinks that a very formidable forceshould be there after IFOR departs. There are some people in Europe who haveexpressed an opinion both for and against IFOR remaining after December. Iwill just tell you that the smart man would go look at the situation, judge itat the time, make a decision and then from that point on, be guidedaccordingly. I told you I'd call on you next and you're next.

Q: Briefly follow up. Is it your feeling from talking to allies, seniorallied officials, that if the US made a decision that its portion of IFOR wouldpull out, would that pull the plug from the whole thing or can you see aconstruct where IFOR, some portion of IFOR, could remain with US support butnot necessarily troops on the ground?

A: I have personally not done any planning on this. Let me make thisstraight. You've got that camera running. I have not done any planning. Isee that there's a potential for both scenarios. I have heard, read in thepapers, that we all came in together. We're all going to go out together. Ihave seen some countries individually state that on 20 December we're going tobe out of there, period. No questions asked. That is not by the way theUnited States. I have seen others that if the US goes, we go. There havestill been others that this is a European problem, we've got to get our acttogether and get in there and do it.

You can virtually get any combination of force you want to. The only thing Iask is look, let's take a realistic look at the environment and I'm the forcecommander, tell me what it is you want the force to do and I'll tell you thesize of the force and then let's get on with the problem. But, I think it's alittle bit early right now to be talking about that.

One of the things we are doing is we are doing what I call a reshaping of theforce drill. There are going to be rotations this summer. This was part ofthe plan. So, what we want to do is make sure that we put our bid in for whatkind of forces we want when the rotation is made. We came in heavy. We wantedto come in heavy. We wanted to come in there as mean as a junkyard dog and wedid. This summer, however, I think we need to lighten that force. Not lessencapability necessarily in terms of the missions that I see before us. Butlighten it in the sense that we're highly mobile and get around the country.And that's where we are right now.

We're also developing a model. The model will tell us how long it will takeus to get out so that if somebody asks me a month from now and if you ask menow, I ain't going to tell you, but if somebody asks me a month from now, OKSmith, how long is it going to take you to get out once I say go? That modelwill hopefully have all of the data in it and that includes all of theequipment that's been brought in, all of the stuff that was there before we gotthere, all of the environmental clean-up we'll have to do when we leave. Thatsort of stuff tells me how long it will take to get out and I'll be able togive them a pretty good guesstimate so that if I do have a drop-dead date whenI've got to be out, I can give them a pretty good idea of how long it's goingto take. That's what we are doing right now.

Q: To be sure I understand that. Your answer when you said right now, I'm notprepared to make that recommendation meaning right now, you would not recommendthat we pull out at the end of the year no matter what?

A: No, I didn't say that. I'm not prepared to make any recommendation aboutstay or go right now. I think there are too many variables in this plan and Iwould prefer frankly, to not be quoted as saying one way or the other. I'mprepared to wait and watch the development. We've got time before we have tomake that decision. From a military perspective, we've got plenty of time.And I'm just going to give the political bodies that control my destiny theadvice that I think is correct and I'll give it to them before I give it toyou. All right. Yes, sir?

Q: Admiral, do you agree with General Hughes, the new DIA director'sassessment of the situation in Bosnia at this point in time? And secondly,have you received the report on the alleged rape of the female Army officer bytwo Czech soldiers and what's the status of that?

A: Give me your first question again.

Q: The new DIA director's assessment on sort of the Bosnia house of cardsissue.

A: I talked to General Hughes this morning. He and I agree that the situationright now in Bosnia is, I guess, a good word to put it is fluid. I would notput the twist on it that he was quoted as having said in the paper. I thinkwhat he said was that there would be a requirement that once IFOR left thatthings would get sort of nasty and people would be fighting with each other.That came out in one piece of paper and believe me, where I live, most of mylife nowadays, you can read anything you want to in the papers. But, so Idon't really know what he said precisely. But I think we would agree that wedo have a situation that at best what we want to be able to do is keep themilitary apart and if we can do that without a large force or without a forcein there, that's really the goal.

I'm not convinced in my mind that pulling out is going to be an automaticresult and a lot of people fighting again. I'm just not prepared to make thatkind of a judgment right now. I just don't think that's the way it is. Excuseme, just a minute.

Q: I've got one more question. The rape question.

A: I have not received any substantive report on that. I have seen some ofthe reporting. You may or may not know that went in US channels right away andthe US Army Europe is handling the investigation of that incident. So, I'm notprepared to comment on it. What I have read was a piece of paper. It was aninterim report and it would be just totally irresponsible for me to talk aboutthat here because I'm just not qualified.

Right here. I'll get to you real quick and I'll answer it.

Q: Okay. Admiral, what problems do you see coming because the police forceisn't up to speed? Is that going to play a role in your decision torecommend...

A: Yeah, I'm glad you asked that because I should have said something aboutit. I think the police forces over there really are in trouble in terms oftheir professional capabilities and their attitude up here and that's what Ibanged on their heads pretty hard in Moscow with respect to what I call thelack of professionalism on the part of the police forces and the lack of thepolitical direction.

I sent a second letter and personally visited the three prime ministers and acouple of the presidents to talk about the conduct of their police forces whichI find to be less than acceptable. I think Mr. Fitzgerald would agree withthat. If they don't get their act together, that is going to be a seriousproblem for the resettlement of the refugees. It is going to be a seriousproblem for the elections and it's going to be an even more serious problembecause one of the major, major issues on the horizon is crime. Every countrythat's gone through what this country is going through has suffered an enormouscriminal problem post. In other words, and we see the development of that now.

I can tell you right now I'm very concerned about that element and the policeare a part of it, not part of the crime, but their professionalism will helpprevent the crime. Right now, there's an impediment to movement in thatcountry. The police forces are. The Prime Minister, Milosevic, asked me if Iwould knock down his police checkpoints. I said now wait a minute. Thatdoesn't make any sense to me. Where is your instruction to them to dismantle?

President Zubak had to write two or three letters to one customs checkpoint toget it knocked down because they were charging or trying to charge us money,IFOR to come into the country. I said wait a minute. The president of mycountry, he just has to think something and man, I'm going to react. Yes, sir,three bags full. Three letters for one checkpoint? No.

Over here. Wait a minute. One behind you.

Q: Admiral, you said that you've got some time to make a decision aboutrecommending stay or go. Can you give some idea of the things that you'll lookat when it comes time to make that decision that is just the military part ofthe mission?

A: Well, I believe, you know, if you really -- I think the elections are goingto be a key and I think the atmosphere that is sort of prevalent up to and atthe election time is going to tell us an awful lot. If we start seeing aatmosphere or an environment that is sort of free of threat, in other words, ifa politician can forward and give a speech and go on to be elected withoutgetting shot, you know, that's a pretty good indicator. It's freedom ofmovement. Those kinds of things.

I don't think we're going to see an integrated society by then. I think that-- I mean, I just don't think that's going to be in the cards. There may be --there are going to be obviously places where they will be intermixed. Butgenerally, I would say we should not bank on a fully integrated society livinghappily together. That is not something that I think is going to happen in ayear. But, there are going to be other indicators. One, of course, is some ofit is just going to be, you know, what I call a gut feeling, how are these guysgetting along. What do they look like when they see at the JMC's together.Are they still glaring at each other angrily? Do they stomp out of the room andslam the door? Do they sit for hours and hours and finally reach an agreementand then 20 minutes later tell somebody that agreement is no longer valid?Those kinds of things happen now and I think that's what we're going to belooking for. Yes, sir?

Q: Are you talking about rotating a lighter force later this summer. Do youhave any particular forces in mind and are any of those US based?

A: The answer to that question is we have some particular kinds of forces inmind. Again, the highly mobile forces. I'm kind of partial to MPs because Ithink a lot of our forces, a lot of our work this summer is going to be interms of crowd control, traffic, getting people out patrolling, that sort ofthing. I like air mobile. I like lighter forces on the ground. But again,I'm not the ground commander. General Michael Walker is and he's very good atwhat he does. Thank you very much. And I'm going to let him make thatdecision. I have made some inputs to him. We have discussed it and there'sbeen an awful lot of very smart people working it. But, I think my personalview is lighter, mobile, so we can get around to more parts of the country. Wehave one final question back here. Yes, sir?

Q: Does that mean the 1st AD will be rotating out?

A: No, sir. It doesn't meant that at all. Because I don't know what the USpolicy -- the US policy that I heard was that the 1st AD would not rotateout.

Q: They'd be there for the duration.

A: I'm sorry?

Q: They would be there for the duration.

A: That's what I had been told. Yes, sir. Now, it's not clear to me that thewhole thing has got to stay there. In other words, there may be pieces of itthat rotate out and others of it come back in. I will tell you that let's letthe ground commanders decide what they want. Bill Nash is up there doing adynamite job. Bill Nash knows his area of responsibility much better than Ido. He probably knows all the roads and all the hills and all the valleys andall the dells. And all I know is he's up here somewhere in this sector andthat's a pretty big problem. I'd rather let him decide what he needs and thenhe'll tell me and I'll go forward to SHAPE or to General Joulwan. I'll ask himto go out to the countries wherever they might be and whoever they might be andgive him -- give them our requests.

I really appreciate your interest. Believe me, the one thing if you don't doanything else today, take away the message that your -- that the young men andwomen that represent this country whether they be Army, Navy, Air Force, orMarines, are representing you and the rest of your countrymen in a way thatwould make you just extraordinarily proud. They are -- some of them are notliving very pretty, but I haven't seen them stop smiling. I go up there and itjust makes me feel good to be around them. And thank you very much for yourinterest.

Press: Thank you.

Additional Links

Stay Connected