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DoD News Briefing on Thursday, June 6, 1996 - 1:45 p.m.

Presenters: Captain Michael Doubleday, DASD (PA)
June 06, 1996 1:45 PM EDT

Thursday, June 6, 1996 - 1:45 p.m.

a few announcements. First of all, I want to welcome a group of nine editors and publishers from Russia. They are visiting the United States for two weeks under the auspices of the US Information Agency. Thank you for being here. And the Air Force is pleased to announce that Captain Bart Klein from the 55th Air Refueling Squadron which is located at Altus Air Force Base, Oklahoma, received fiscal year 1995 Kollegian Trophy. The Kollegian Trophy is given to an aircrew member who most successfully coped with an in-flight emergency. Captain Klein landed his KC-135 without the left landing gear, saving both his crew and the plane. We'll show a short video of that landing after the briefing today and Captain Klein is also available on a speaker phone to answer any questions you may have.  

I'm also going to give a little advanced notice that there's an announcement today about a new consolidated office in the Department. The new office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Peacekeeping and Humanitarian Assistance, which is going to be headed by Ms. Sarah Lee Sewall. Ms. Sewall has been serving as the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Defense for Peacekeeping and Peace Enforcement Policy and there will be an announcement blue top later today that you can pick up on that subject. And with that, I think I'm ready to try and answer your questions. John?

Q: [Inaudible] Admiral Smith -- report by Admiral Smith?

A: On Admiral Smith, this is something that the Secretary talked about a little earlier today and, indeed, there is going to be later today an announcement regarding the fact that the President has nominated Vice Admiral Thomas J. Lopez, United States Navy, for appointment to the grade of admiral and his assignment is Commander-in-Chief, US Naval Forces Europe and Commander-in-Chief, Allied Forces Southern Europe in Naples. He's presently assigned as Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Resources, Warfare Requirements and Assessments in the Office of the Chief Naval Operations.

Q: When will that take effect?

A: Well, I can't give you a timeline. As you know, the nominations go over to the Senate for confirmation. So, I believe that you could anticipate that it would be weeks rather than months, but I don't have an exact timeline at this point.

Q: What is Smith's next step?

A: The Secretary has also talked about this. There is no follow-on assignment for Admiral Smith and so I would anticipate that he would retire.

Q: Has he been fired in a sense?

A: No, indeed. Absolutely not. What occurred on this was that Admiral Smith, of course, has been in the position for more than two years. The normal rotation for the assignment that he has in Naples would come at the two- year point which was in April of this year. He, of course, realized long before that -- that his rotation was coming up, so he went to the Chief of Naval Operations and indicated that he was willing to step aside at some appropriate time to make way for a more junior person to come in and essentially fill his shoes. The CNO and the VCNO considered that, decided that the timing that has come into play here was the best in order to make that happen both for the jobs that Admiral Smith has but also the jobs that Admiral Lopez now fills, and so that's why the change is taking place as outlined.

Q: We understand that Snuffy's wife is not well. Was this a Michael...?

A: I have absolutely nothing on that aspect of the thing. Yes?

Q: Won't it be disruptive to be changing the commander of IFOR in the middle of a deployment?

A: Well, you may recall that a similar kind of a situation occurred during the Haiti operation when Admiral P. D. Miller was relieved by General Sheehan about halfway through the Haiti operation, and so this is not unprecedented. The other things to keep in mind here are that there is an entire chain of command at work over in Bosnia which starts, of course, with the SACEUR, General Joulwan. It includes officers under Admiral Smith -- General Walker, General Nash, General de Lapresle -- so that we would anticipate that the IFOR mission would be conducted without any interruption as a result of this change when it does occur. And again, I can't -- I can't pinpoint for you exactly when it is going to happen.

Q: When Admiral Smith went to the Chief of Naval Operations to say he was going to step aside, did he say that he was --

A: He didn't say he -- he didn't say he was going to step aside. He just said he was willing to step aside and that, in looking at the personnel moves that were going to be required associated with this, they needed to look at both where his relief was coming from and the responsibilities that his relief has as well as the responsibilities that Admiral Smith has.

Q: Did he indicate an interest in retiring?

A: I can't tell you that aspect, but I just don't happen to know.

Q: Will he remain there until Admiral Lopez takes over?

A: Oh, of course. Secretary Perry feels that Admiral Smith has in the past and is currently doing an absolutely first-rate job. He is performing not only in his capacity as the IFOR commander the military aspects, but he's also a soldier-diplomat. Earlier today he was in Zagreb meeting not only with IFOR commanders but also with President Tudjman. This is kind of indicative of the responsibilities that the position has had over the past months that IFOR has been in existence, and my expectation would be that he will continue to perform until the minute he is relieved.

Q: What's your view on a post-IFOR? Secretary Perry was quoted as saying some things about the nature of IFOR after the end of December and the US role in it.

A: Well, I think we have the transcript of what the Secretary has said on that subject and I'll offer you a copy of that transcript, but beyond that, I don't want to elaborate on what the Secretary has said.

Q: Can you say how many senior officers have paid outside positions such as on corporate boards?

A: No, I don't have any kind of a run-down on that. I think what you're probably referring to is the USAA matter that came up last night. I don't have any run-down. I do know that USAA for many years has provided some pay for their board members and that this is done in accordance with regulations that exist. It's reported on forms that are submitted on an annual basis and so all of this is well with Departmental regulations. However, yesterday, this matter was raised by Senator Thurmond and, as a result of concerns that he voiced, the Deputy Secretary of Defense has instructed the General Counsel to review the policy and to take a considered look exactly what the policy is and whether it should be modified in any way.

Q: So far, it hasn't been viewed as a conflict of interest for general officers to sit on the board of companies?

A: No, as long as it does not -- as long as their responsibilities in connection with any outside employment don't conflict with their responsibilities to DoD, it is authorized and has occurred many, many times in the past.

Q: Mike, if there's no conflict, why did the Admiral resign the position?

A: Well, I think what he wanted to do is remove this as any kind of an impediment to the consideration of his nomination to be the CNO, and there was a statement on that subject last night which is available from the Navy for you.

Q: Well, [Simultaneous speaking].

A: Wait just one second. Let me do this one first.

Q: When are the confirmation hearings set?

A: I don't have a schedule yet.

Q: General officers wouldn't be allowed to sit on the board of say Northrop or, you know, Ingalls or other corporations that do major business with the Pentagon, would they?

A: I would think not. But frankly, I think you probably need to take a look at the directives on this and see if it has any more specificity. The main thing is to avoid the possibility or even the perception of a conflict of interest, I think, is the guiding principle.

Q: Aren't the clients of this company primarily people like yourself including Navy officers?

A: That's correct. USAA.

Q: Are you a member of this --

A: Am I personally a member?

Q: Policyholder?

A: Am I a policyholder of USAA? I don't address personal subjects from the podium. I'll talk to you afterwards. [Laughter]

Q: There's no restriction other than conflict of interest on service people having outside interest.

A: That's correct.

Q: A lot of military people have had second jobs for years.

A: Exactly. A lot of officers have had second jobs. A lot of medical doctors have had second jobs. That's correct.

Q: I'd like to change the subject. A published report that says the military services had compiled a detailed list of which districts and which defense contracts would benefit from a House-approved $12 billion Pentagon budget increase. Was this something that was done with the full knowledge of the Secretary of Defense?

A: No, it was not done with the full knowledge of the Secretary of Defense or the Deputy Secretary of Defense or any senior official associated with the office of the Secretary of Defense.

Q: What's the reaction to the fact that it was done?

A: They, I think, all feel that this was an unusual request and since this kind of information is not normally resident in the Pentagon and has no role in our defense policy making.

Q: Has any message, excuse me, has any message been sent to the service chiefs?

A: Has there been a message to the service chiefs? I believe that there has been communication to the various services regarding the issue and the desire of the Department not to assemble information that is not appropriate for the Department.

Q: Let's look at that. His question says it has, you know, not the kind of information normally accumulated and it has not part in your policy making.

A: Right.

Q: The Defense Department puts out annually detailed lists of state-by-state breakdown almost every major facility military facility puts out a local statement as the economic impact of that facility in --

A: It's done on a local basis, I believe you'll find.

Q: I can site you a statistic from COMNAVBASE San Diego, showing what the economic impact in San Diego is of the Navy presence in San Diego.

A: Exactly. That's exactly what I'm talking about. It's done on a local basis.

Q: OK. Well, all right.

A: It's not resident here in the building.

Q: But it comes from DoD statistics, and you folks put out the annual book on contractors and the impact of contracts by states and I think some even on localized basis. What's the difference between what's done for...

A: Well, I think there's a difference in terms of when you get down to individual contractors and when you get down to states. It's a level of detail as I say, it doesn't have anything to do with what we do here in terms of formulating defense policy.

Q: Do you -- what do you see as the purpose of the question by the House Committee?

A: I have no idea. You ought to talk to them and ask them that.

Q: I assume if you don't consider it appropriate, what is wrong with it?

A: What I said was I didn't think it was appropriate for the Department of Defense to accumulate these kinds of lists since it doesn't have anything to do with what our mission is.

Q: Back on Smith.

A: Sure.

Q: A lot of people--there must not have been much communication on this because apparently some newspaper or something said that Smith had already resigned and statements started coming in from every place -- Naples, Sarajevo. Clearly, he has not resigned. And as everybody said it will be this summer and sometime in the future. Now you're telling us it will be today.

A: Well, Admiral Smith has not resigned.

Q: He hasn't resigned. But I mean, all of the emphasis has been on that and with no one apparently knowing and adding that yes he's...

A: Well, I think that the difficulty that you may be referring to is that these announcements regarding the nominations by the President for any three and four-star jobs come from Washington and that announcement has not officially been put out yet. It will be put out later today. The Secretary earlier today addressed this subject and I'm just trying to convey to you what he earlier said.

Q: Can I do a follow-up on that?

A: Sure.

Q: You said that there is no follow-up assignment for Admiral Smith.

A: That's correct.

Q: If there's no follow-up assignment, what other choice would he have but to resign?

A: This --


Q: I mean, to retire. Pardon me.

A: Right.

Q: Bad choice of words here. Retire rather.

A: There you make a very good point. I don't think there is any alternative and I think that it's worth noting that there are a fixed number of four-star positions not only throughout the military but for each branch of the service, and it is an unfortunate, but absolutely true fact of the way we do business that, in order to provide upward mobility for more junior officers, someone has to move on and, essentially, I think that's what we have here.

Q: All right. On the subject of the patrols in Bosnia that Christopher addressed earlier in the week, Nick Burns yesterday at State had some unusually pointed remarks about the Pentagon's handling of the issue and I wondered if you were going to address what he said?

A: No, I'm not going to address what he said.

Q: Well, here's your chance to get back...

A: Nick Burns and I have talked and I think we're going in total agreement on not only what Secretary Christopher said but what General Joulwan said; and what the mission is in Bosnia; and I think that this a subject that doesn't deserve any more attention.

Press: Thank you.

Captain Doubleday: Your welcome.

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