Thursday, May 23, 1996 - 1:30 p.m.
a couple of announcements. First of all, I wanted to provide you with a run-down on the Service Academy graduation and commencement speakers, starting tomorrow, May 24th, at 10 a.m. at the United States Naval Academy where the address will be given by General John Shalikashvili the chairman. Then next week on Wednesday, General Fogleman, the Air Force chief of staff, will be speaking at the Air Force Academy. That's Wednesday, the 29th. That one is at 11 a.m. And then on Friday, excuse me, Saturday, June the 1st at 10:15 a.m., the address at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point will be given by Dr. Perry. And you can contact the services or the academies for more information on those graduation events.
Q: Mike, will there be some effort to have General Shali's speech piped back? It shouldn't be too hard.
A: We will see what we can do for you on that.
Q: All right. It would be helpful. Thank you.
Captain Doubleday: I also want to advise you that Secretary Perry today announced that Lieutenant General Arthur E. Williams, United States Army, will be placed on the retired list in his current grade. General Williams will retire after completion of more than 33 years of service. Since August of 1992, he's been serving as the chief of engineers and commanding general of U.S. Army Corps of Engineers here in Washington, D.C., and with that, I'll try and answer your questions. Yes, Charlie?
Q: There are reports that Milosevic in Yugoslavia might be preventing General Mladic from returning from Belgrade to Bosnian Serb territory. Do you have anything on that?
A: I have nothing that would confirm those reports.
Q: Can you check? I mean, --
A: I have indeed checked, and as I say, I have nothing that would confirm those reports.
Q: Have U.S. or IFOR military forces been put on alert to look out for Mladic given the fact that he is not in Bosnian Serb territory now and might be trying to get back?
A: Charlie, I've also seen reports that indeed he is in Bosnian Serb territory.
Q: By report, you mean fresh reports or --
A: Fresh reports. That's correct.
Q: Well, the question have the military been alerted to be on the lookout for him in case he is trying?
A: Well, I do know, Charlie, the military has -- the IFOR troops have always been aware of the fact that he is wanted by the War Crimes Tribunal and they have been on the lookout for him, but they do not have any kind of concerted effort underway to search for him.
Q: What is the situation of American citizens in Central Africa today?
A: Well, I think that a lot of you have seen the reporting that the situation in the Central African Republic continues to deteriorate. There is factional fighting which is continuing, widespread looting, burning of the commercial area. However, at this point, westerners, it appears are not the target of any of this activity; although there is concern that they may be caught in the crossfire. The United States has deployed Marines to assist the U.S. Embassy. We have also, with the assistance of the French, been taking some U.S. citizens and some others out of the capital city, and our plan is to continue doing that as long as there are American citizens who want to depart.
At the beginning of this situation, there were about 250 some U.S. citizens in the country. Right now, I believe that the number is about 184. We've taken 68 Americans out of the country. There are still eight embassy employees remaining on duty at the embassy. Another two embassy employees are out at the airport helping with the processing and working very closely with the French who are providing some assistance in moving citizens and westerners in general to the airport area where they can be flown out.
Q: Any change in the numbers of Americans involved? Mike, there were 32.
A: As far as I know, it remains the same. Yes, Jamie?
Q: Can you tell us whether or not there's been any official determination made as to whether Admiral Boorda was, in fact, entitled to wear his combat V device on his ribbons?
A: I think everything that has been said on that subject has already been said and I have nothing to add to it.
Q: So there's no official determination? No one has determined the answer to that question.
A: Let me say it again. Everything has been said on that subject has already been said.
Q: Kind of a narrow question if you don't have anything on hand, maybe you could take it. I've heard that Dr. Alvin Bernstein, the director of the Marshal Center in Garmisch over in Germany, had a meeting Tuesday with Deputy Secretary White and then Dr. Perry had a meeting yesterday which the topic of discussion -- or one of the topics -- was the Marshal Center, although I don't know if Bernstein was at that one. Could you possibly offer any --
A: I do know that -- I don't know about the second meeting. I do know Dr. White has met with Dr. Bernstein. The normal procedure is Dr. Bernstein visits Washington several times a year and he normally schedules meetings with Dr. White, sometimes with Dr. Perry, to update both on the status of activities at the Marshal Center. As you know, Dr. Perry has very great interest in the Marshal Center and in the activities that they're doing over there with regard to the instruction they're giving to military and civilian officials who are in defense-related jobs in countries from the former Warsaw Pact. Dr. Perry, I believe, is slated to attend a graduation ceremony in the next few weeks at the Marshal Center as he's done in the past. And this meeting on Tuesday with Dr. White, which was a very brief meeting because of some schedule conflicts, was essentially another one of those updates since Dr. Bernstein was in town.
Q: There's no indication it was anything other than routine?
A: Just -- yes. And as I say, he comes to town occasionally, and this is an opportunity for Dr. White to get an update on the kinds of things that are going on there.
Q: Speaking of things that are going on there, is Secretary Perry or Dr. White concerned about the report in the Stars and Stripes that there's been financial mismanagement?
A: I have -- I am not aware of any concerns that they've expressed based on those reports. But frankly, I have not been involved in any meetings on that subject that would provide that kind of input.
Q: That wasn't mentioned at the meeting that you referred to?
A: As far as I know, it did not come up at the meeting.
Q: Can you tell us what the status of the... Has the Pentagon yet sent a recommendation to the White House about the next Chief of Naval Operations?
A: Jamie, when the Secretary has made his decision, he will privately convey a recommendation to the President, and I would anticipate that once the President has made the decision on the selection of the next Chief of Naval Operations that there would be an announcement from the White House.
Q: Well, I'm not asking who the next Chief of Naval Operations will be. I'm just asking where in the process are we? Has the Pentagon forwarded its nomination to the White House? Are we waiting for the White House? Or has it not gone over yet?
A: I think I just answered your question. Yes, Charlie.
Q: I think that's two you haven't answered. [Laughter]
Q: Going back to Jamie's earlier question on the V of Admiral Boorda. You said that you think everything is said on that that's going to be said. You didn't indicate whether any decision has been made. Will a formal finding be made on that or is the subject closed?
A: I think I can only say it one more time. Everything that has been said on that subject has already been said.
Q: Everything has been said and will be said. I mean, you're not answering the question.
A: I'm not going to take that one one step further.
Q: Well, with all due respect, there's a debate raging about this and we're not asking you to settle the debate. We're just asking simply if there's going to be an official finding or not? That's really a yes or no question. Could you take that question, and perhaps get back to us on whether or not the Pentagon will have any sort of official statement on this issue which continues to be debated in the public and the press?
A: I think Jamie, that you asked that question on Tuesday, and Ken dealt with the question, and I am dealing with it the same way.
Q: The question hasn't been dealt with. It's been put aside and not been answered.
Captain Doubleday: Yes?
Q: Any comment about the asylum North Korean pilot and the intrusion of the gunboats?
A: I don't really have any comment other than to just be able to reiterate that indeed, there was a defection that took place earlier today, that the report that I have is everything that was done there on the part of the aviators in the Republic of South Korea was done in accordance with the textbook, and I think he's already appeared on television, and I certainly can't add anything to what is being reported from the scene of the activity.
Press: Thank you.