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DoD News Briefing: Deputy Secretary of Defense John Deutch

Presenter: Deputy Secretary of Defense John Deutch
October 19, 1994 1:00 PM EDT
Thursday, October 13, 1994 - 1:00 p.m.

Mr. Boxx: Good afternoon.

There's been a great deal said and written in the last 24 hours or so about the state of readiness of the United States military, and Dr. Deutch asked if he could come down and talk to you all a little bit about his perceptions and views on that subject. So I accepted his offer immediately.

He's got a few minutes. He'll make some opening remarks and then take some questions, and then I'll finish the briefing with what other subjects you might have. With that, Dr. Deutch.

Dr. Deutch: Thank you all.

I want to just spend a couple of minutes addressing the question that I hear more and more speculation about in the media, about are we spending too little on defense. I'd like to address this question, uncharacteristically, with a bit of passion. [Laughter]

Q: An Ollie North rebuttal?

A: No. I've read about it widely. In a lot of different places there are issues raised about readiness, there are issues raised about can you fight two MRCs, there are issues raised about is the defense budget too low. So I just thought I might give you a little bit of Bill Perry's and my perspective on this question, on each of these three questions very briefly, and then take a few questions.

 

The first has to do with readiness. We've just seen 20,000 troops introduced in Haiti in one of the most remarkable joint operations ever mounted by the U.S. military. After all, Army helicopters were on an aircraft carrier, and that was the principal mode of insertion of these forces. The most precise integrated joint task force effort that's ever been mounted. We put our men and women into Haiti--and they have been operating there without one fatality from combat--carrying out a wide range of functions with a degree of proficiency and high morale which many of you, I know, in this room have seen first-hand.

It seems to me that under these circumstances--and we are also mounting in Iraq now... With very little warning we've seen the Airlift and Sealift Command get our troops beginning to move over there--the supplies, the aircraft, the ships. Again, with highly trained and proficient troops, with training and morale able to handle anything which can arise out there.

So under these circumstances, I think the record shows that the readiness of the forces are as high as they've ever been. Higher, in my judgment, than they were in 1991, or 1990 when we were worrying about Iraq the first time.

Now you can cite examples of places where we have units with high Op-Tempo. You can find places where training has been stood down--specific units at the end of the fiscal year. So it's not a perfect story, but even in those units you are going to find highly proficient individuals who have the right doctrine and who have high morale to get the job done.

If you stand back and you look at the entire defense budget, the operations and maintenance resources that have been allocated to units, whether they're air, naval, or army units, on a per soldier basis are higher than they have been in any recent fiscal year. So I would say to you that the practical measures of seeing what our troops are doing on the ground argues that these forces are ready and more ready and capable than they've ever been. If you look at the macro indicators, they would show you that the emphasis that the President, Secretary Perry have placed on readiness are shown in how the budget allocation is being done.

Secondly, can we fight two MRCs at the same time? I was heavily involved in the analytical work of the Bottom-Up Review. One can cast a scenario where on midnight of a particular day through concerted action, North Korea and Iraq, or any other two particular actors you want to choose from the Far East and the Southwest, without a hint from our intelligence assets--which I might indicate have demonstrated their readiness by showing the movement of Saddam Hussein's motorized troops into southern Iraq--but through surprise, would put us in a situation where we couldn't deal with two MRCs.

On the other hand, I think that any reasonable evaluation of the kind of threats and how they could occur in both the Far East and in Southwest Asia, at a nearly simultaneous point in time, again given the modernization and the changes which have occurred in our forces in quality and in training since 1990, suggest, as General Shalikashvili, and I believe at the time of the Bottom-Up Review, General Colin Powell and the military leadership agreed with the civilian leadership of this Department, that we are able to deal with two major regional conflicts occurring almost simultaneously.

If there are places which are of concern to us, they have to do not with the number of troops or the number of airplanes or the number of ships, but rather with the strategic mobility and the logistical support to deal with this matter, and in fact, one of the important lessons of the Iraqi experience that we're going through now is how, working with pre-positioning of materiel in the critical areas of the world, one can compensate for strategic mobility shortfalls, or strains on strategic mobility, when one is trying to deal with two major regional conflicts.

There are steps that can be taken to mitigate that, and we have done so with very fast sealift ships and with pre-positioning.

So my judgment is, and the military and the civilian leadership of this Department, both at the time and currently... Sure, it's tight. You wouldn't want to have it any other way. Sure it's tight, but we can deal with two major regional conflicts occurring almost simultaneously, successfully.

The third is, what about the size of the defense budget? There are those who testify or argue that we are $100 million over-funded, and there are equal numbers who argue that we are $100 million--have too much. You have people arguing both sides of this. I would argue that the size of the defense budget, now as projected over the next five years, is a fairly good balance. President Clinton has made it absolutely clear that that budget is not going down further. He has certainly confirmed and insisted upon high readiness. That is what has led to a rebalancing, a small rebalancing of the context of the whole defense budget towards people and readiness and away from modernization. But we believe that that defense budget, at its present level, represents a fairly good balance. After all, the threats have changed unbelievably in the last five years. We no longer have a Soviet Union equipped with massive forces ready to invade Central Europe. At the same time, here in the United States we have strong demands for our resources, both for improving economic growth, other investments that should be made by this country, and the widespread, bipartisan, called-for deficit reduction.

So I would argue that President Clinton, when he says this budget should go down no further, is exactly correct and as you all know, we are planning currently for submitting the FY96 budget. We will be working with the President and OMB to arrive at a reasonable five-year program. We have made it very clear that we are making some adjustments within our top line that has been allocated to us. We will still be seeking the support of OMB and the President for the $20 billion or so that was left uncovered at the time of the Bottom-Up Review discussions last year.

In sum, the defense budget, in our view, is at about the right size. It maintains the readiness of our forces today, and it permits us to fight two major regional conflicts and be victorious quickly and with the minimum risk to loss of the lives of U.S. troops.

Q: Supposing, since we no longer have the Evil Empire, no longer have the juxtaposition of two super powers, supposing, looking at the current situation in the world we have not two, but three... It's conceivable you could have a major, major conflict in Korea; one in Iraq; and one in Bosnia.

A: We have not, and I do not believe that we have the military forces to deal with three major regional conflicts occurring almost simultaneously. That, I think, does strain what would be prudent planning for military contingencies at any time, and it's certainly not true today.

Q: I think when you talk to admirals and generals, one of the points they make is right now they're very concerned about the near term future, let's say the next five years. Just by way of example, the Navy says the requirements, the CINCs' requirements for aircraft carriers are 13, not 10. General Hoar, who just retired as head of Central Command said airlift is so broken, he doesn't think you can do one major regional conflict. General Sullivan, the head of the Army, says he can't do a regional conflict and any peacekeeping. How do you address these concerns of the senior officials in this building who say, "Maybe, right now, it's all right." But, they're worried about a couple of years from now.

A: First of all, I think that's a very important point. It's all right, right now. I have not seen all the stories, in fact, make that point. It is all right, right now.

The second point I would like to make is that General Hoar--you mentioned his concern about lift, both fast sealift and fast airlift, that's a concern that I mentioned to you also. But we have seen a splendid performance of the lift and the sealift occur--both in the case of Haiti and in the case of the Gulf. In fact, in the buildup in the Gulf, the amount of airlift and sealift and pre-positioning which is working together in the Gulf exceeds the rate that it was done at the time of Desert Shield.

So I would say to you that we have that readiness now. I share everybody's concern who say, "We have to worry about tomorrow, that it will still be present." But it's there now, and we, indeed, do have the lift to get...

Q: The point is that they're setting a foundation for insufficiency in the very, very near future.

A: I think the programming of resources is such that if it's properly executed, and I believe the military will execute it properly, that readiness and training... And I might say, "lift," the most recent lift figures, show that we have had great success. These last figures, which we've got in the last day or two, that we are still finding young men and women of the highest quality that we've ever seen meeting the required quotas for the Department. That's as important as any of the measures of readiness.

But the issue where I think you hear more concern is, what about the long term? Are you permitting enough for modernization not three years out or five years out, but ten years out? There, Bill Perry and I have plainly stated that we are, for the time being, emphasizing the people and the readiness at the expense of the new systems.

Q: When do you think...

A: I think you can see the problems which take place when the useful life of some of the major systems in the inventory come to the end of their useful life. Depending on how you count that, that's going to be in the first decade--the end of the first decade of the next century. So that will have to be addressed. That, I think, is a much more legitimate concern than the issue of, "Are you ready to fight?" And, "Can you deal with two major regional conflicts for the foreseeable future?"

The world may change, we may have to make further adjustments up or down, but for the next five year period, I claim these forces are ready and as ready as they've ever been. The resources are there to keep them that way. And we can deal with two almost simultaneous regional conflicts.

Q: You said you're taking from the White House money to cover a $20 billion shortfall in the five-year plan. But that doesn't take into consideration the fact that you've had two pay raises you didn't count on, and you've got another one, we understand that's programmed. Now the White House has given up and they're going to accept an inflation pay raise in '96. So you're dealing with multi-billions of dollars in those pay raises that you're going to have to absorb on top of the $20 billion that you had set.

A: First of all, last year when we were looking at the whole affordability of the Bottom-Up Review, the question about pay raises and what was likely to happen over the life time of the plan was also taken into account in our analytic work. So in point of fact, the fact that we have pay raises billed is not something we didn't know last year.

Q: But your plan calls for 1.5 percent below inflation, and you're going to get basically the inflation rate, or five percent below inflation. That's billions of dollars every year.

A: Half a percent. The number, the amount of money which was not fully funded last year in our discussion of the Bottom-Up Review, addressed that question, the tail of the FY94-95 pay raise, and anticipated inflation. We still think that those two requirements, we're still going to be advocating for that money to be added to the financial plan of the Department. That's what we said last year, the President decided to lay it over one year. We will still be advocating coverage for those two matters.

We do think it's important, and Bill Perry has made it a priority, to ensure that Bill Perry has made it a priority to assure that the funding for quality of life for the military and for military pay is put at the top of the list. So modernization is being given a lower priority than the one which has emphasis on people and the quality of life which contributes directly to continuing the readiness that's present.

Q: One of the excessive truths in this building is that if you delay modernization programs now, you make them more expensive when you pick them up again in the future. As you're cannibalizing modernization now, aren't you leaving whoever comes along in the first decade of the next century an even larger bill than they would have already had?

A: No, I don't believe so. First of all, I do not believe that if you delay modernization you make it more expensive, and I can quote one very prominent example that we've just been dealing with, maybe two in particular here. And that is the space-based infrared satellites where we moved away from a system which was designed ten years ago called FEW. Early warning system, something like that. Because technology is, it's Follow-on Early Warning System, and because we waited to take advantage of more modern technology, commercially-based technology, we will have a more capable system at significantly lower cost. So I do not believe that the proposition is true.

Q: Dr. Deutch, Dr. Perry has spoken of some significant cuts in the ground forces that are going to the Gulf. Can you give us your assessment of the threat there on the ground and has the decision been made to cut back on the forces going into the Gulf for any of the reasons -- budgetary or otherwise?

A: We're talking about a different subject, but let me just say that we have not taken any action to stop the planned flow of Marine, Army units, and air units until we see that the withdrawal of Saddam Hussein, of the Republican Guard Divisions is absolute. So no action has been taken on that but we will, in a timely manner, make those decisions as the circumstances warrant.

Q: Do you have a cost range of this deployment to Iraq?

A: We have a superb Deputy Comptroller here who is absolutely -- Alice Maroni -- who has told me that I cannot and should not mention any number, but it would be in the range of hundreds of millions of dollars.

Q: Given the costs involved here, we know there have been discussions with Gulf allies on sharing the cost. What's the scenario on that? How are those costs going?

A: I don't think they've really reached any degree of fruition. I think it is correct that we will have to discuss with our allies, those who are being defended by our actions, how we share the cost of this deployment, but I can't give you any details on that because it hasn't...

Q: Yesterday we were given indications that that was going forward, that the allies over there said they were willing to help. Are you saying there's a problem?

A: I'm certainly not saying it's a problem. I'm saying it's too early to give you any report that I can give you on the results of those discussions.

Q: Is it too early to say whether in your opinion the crisis in the Gulf has eased somewhat? Would you be willing to say that?

A: I can certainly imagine circumstances where it would have been a lot worse. That is, if they'd kept on moving down armored battalions, I would say that it is the result of President Clinton's decisive and early action, stopped what was an obviously significant threat, and I can easily imagine how matters could be a lot worse today than they are. We have a situation now where the Republican Guard divisions are being removed more rapidly than they were put in, and I believe it was the result of the readiness of U.S. forces, the proficiency of the men and women, our fighting force, our ability to lift materiel and people there rapidly, and the decisive action of the President.

Q: Then how do you answer, Dr. Deutch, some accusations that we didn't move soon enough, that a lack of readiness or will to go soon, to preempt any threat by the Iraqis, since we knew, perhaps, it was known in the press as much as two weeks in advance that these preparations were being made by Baghdad.

A: This is not my experience. The sequence of the readiness, the preparedness of the intelligence systems to notice this movement, and the decisionmaking process was extremely prompt. I think it will be important to study it. I think it will be hard to fault it.

Q: What do you make of the reluctance of allies to support the idea of a no-tank zone in southern Iraq?

A: I think it takes time for a consultation to take place. They're taking place today with our allies, they're taking place at the UN. We're drifting from our subject here. I think they're going to be successful.

Q: Can I ask you about the ability to fight two major regional conflicts. The latest iteration of the Bottom-Up Review is the White House National Security Strategy which put a pretty strong caveat into that, saying that with force enhancement, U.S. forces would be able to handle two conflicts. Considering your August memo cutting back on modernization and the issue of those enhancements, how can you say that the U.S. forces could handle two regional conflicts?

A: Let me remind you what the specific force enhancements were as were presented in the Bottom-Up Review. Let me just dwell on two of them.

First was additional pre-positioning, and the second was precision-guided munitions. As I just indicated to you, not only that additional pre-positioning above what was proposed, is already happening, and is one of the good news stories about the Gulf, this most recent episode in the Gulf. We are proceeding with that. The other was precision-guided munitions, that I believe that even the dreadful memorandum included funds for additional precision-guided munitions, and all of those programs are going forward without the slightest reduction. Indeed, are being accelerated.

Q: On the issue of pre-positioning, the fact is that there are only 3,000 forces in Kuwait right now that could have stopped an Iraqi invasion, and that it will take weeks even with the pre-positioned equipment, to have turned back something like that.

A: Turning something back of this kind also requires ships; ships which bear Tomahawk missiles and also aircraft, aircraft which are air-to-ground capable. The buildup in the air, available to stop armor is just extraordinary, and if that armor were ever to have come south, the devastation would have been as bad as it occurred in the last days of Desert Storm.

Thank you all very much.

Mr. Boxx: I've got one announcement, and then we'll get into questions.

We have a Memorandum for Correspondents for you today announcing the first U.S. ship visit to a South African port in 27 years. The guided missile cruiser USS GETTYSBURG, and the guided missile Frigate USS HALIBURTON, are scheduled to visit Capetown, South Africa from November 9th to the 14th. During the visit the ship's crew members will participate in various events to commemorate South African Armistice Day, including several sporting events designed to promote good will. The last visit by a U.S. Navy warship to South Africa was the aircraft carrier USS FRANKLIN D. ROOSEVELT in February of 1967.

Q: Is this part of the midnight basketball program? What kind of sports... [Laughter]

A: I don't know about you, but I'm not touching that.

Q: Can you fill us in to any extent on the comments from Secretary Perry traveling in the Middle East about the adjustments to U.S. deployment of troops and planes?

A: I'm afraid I don't know what Dr. Perry's comments were. I think Dr. Deutch alluded to it. We are watching the intelligence information as it comes in very carefully. We'll be making decisions based on CENTCOM's recommendations to the Secretary and the Chairman and to the President ultimately who will decide what kind of adjustments we need to make. Once we are sure and convinced and confident that it's time to make those adjustments.

Q: Can you just take a question then that would translate Dr. Perry's public comments into some specifics about what kind of troops and equipment he's talking about?

A: I'll take the question. Again, I'm at a loss since I don't know what the comments were.

Q: Mr. Deutch just said that he's not taken any action to stop the flow of troops, which is correct. What Mr. Deutch is saying or what Dr. Perry is quoted as saying?

A: I just said I'll take the question and take a look at what Dr. Perry said.

Q: The Marines at Camp Pendleton say they are on hold right now. They're not moving.

A: My information is that...

Q: The Air Force is saying that their Air Force aircraft deployments have been canceled.

A: That's not the information I have. I'll take a look at what Dr. Perry is talking about.

Q: The 101st Air Assault Group is also on hold.

A: According to?

Q: According to people out there.

A: We'll check it.

Q: What's the latest on the Iraqi withdrawal?

A: The indications are that all six brigades of the Republican Guard units have moved from their positions that they were in. They are in various stages of moving away from those positions. I think one brigade is in fact back in its garrison but others continue to move. So the indications at this point are positive in that they are apparently out of their original positions and moving. The final question is, where will they ultimately move to.

Q: The one that's back in garrison, is that a garrison in Baghdad? Is that a garrison in Mosul?

A: I don't have the location of that garrison. I'll take the question. I know we have it.

Q: So it is, anyway, a garrison that is not one of those that is garrisoned in the south.

A: Define south.

Q: South of Basra.

A: That is correct. South of Basra it is not.

Q: There were two divisions that came down from around Baghdad, and those are the ones you're most interested in, right? You have the other divisions that are permanently garrisoned in the Basra area. Those...

A: We're not saying that we are more interested in one Republican Guard unit than another. We want...

Q: The two Republican Guard units that came south, then the regular Iraq army troops, 3rd Corps, that are garrisoned in Basra. The ones that sparked the concern were the two Republican Guard units that came south. Those...

A: Those are the ones that I'm talking about. Those two divisions are the ones I'm talking about. That's six brigades. Two divisions. The Republican Guard units that were entrenched south, are in the Basra region or south of Basra and have now moved from those locations north.

Q: It appears that roughly half of the stuff was in motion. Can you now say that virtually all of the equipment that had been dug in in the south, that had been added onto those regularly deployed there, that virtually all of that is now in motion at any rate?

A: Yes. It is in motion in the sense that it has moved from its original encampment position.

Q: Can you detail for us at all the latest United States proposal to prevent a recurrence of this and explain how it would be enforced militarily?

A: I can't, Jamie. Those are things that are currently under discussion. I think there are discussions at the UN. I'm just not in a position to go into them.

Q: Can you speak hypothetically then? Is the United States capable of enforcing some sort of ban on troops or artillery without the use of ground troops?

A: I don't think I want to speak hypothetically about things that are currently under discussion. You gave me the perfect out. [Laughter]

Q: Dr. Perry did say there are only 30,000 or so that are going to end up in the Gulf. Even though you may not be able to cite numbers now, what will those forces do there? Is there any sense that they need to get into a defensive position? Could they possibly get involved in some exercises? Do you have any...

A: I really need to look at what those numbers are and who they are. It would vary, obviously, from service. If we're talking about Air Force, if we're talking about Navy, Marines, Army. I think I need to take a closer look at what he said and see if I can break them out in a...

Q: How many troops are currently on the ground in-theater? How many combat troops are really on the ground?

A: Four thousand, three hundred and ninety-nine.

Q: And how many combat aircraft are really in-theater now?

A: Two hundred and two.

Q: So basically you have added very few combat aircraft to the mix since this all began.

A: I'm sorry. Did you ask me combat aircraft? There are 202 aircraft that are in the region, and that's up from... Let's look at day one, if you will, and that would be October 7th in our view, there were about 70 aircraft in the region. I'm not now speaking of the aircraft in the Turkey... I'm not including that.

Q: ...is out.

A: Right. So there were 70 on October 7th. There are now over 200.

Q: Including the aircraft carrier?

A: Including the aircraft carrier. Not including Turkey.

Q: [inaudible]

A: No. Why subtract 70? We're talking about an increase of aircraft from 70 to more than 200. I wouldn't subtract anything.

Q: The figures we got the other day said that all the services project a buildup, including alert forces, of 156,000. When you're checking the figures, can you determine two things for us, if you would? One, are the alert forces now standing down and are no longer on alert? And two, has the decision been made not to call up the Reserves or the National Guard?

A: No decision has been made to call up the Guard or Reserve. That is clearly an option that remains available to the President, and it's one that will remain in force.

What was the first half of the question?

Q: The vast majority of the 156,000 troops on the alert--is the alert still on or has it been taken off yet?

A: As far as we're concerned, the alert still exists. We need to continue to look at what the situation is on the ground, what the requirements are going to be on the ground, what the intelligence reports provide us, and what we need to do. So I think we continue to have the assets available to us. What definition you put on it, whether it's alert or not alert, we would continue to put it in an alert status so we can quickly draw from it.

Q: Will you also take the question about whether or not plans have changed to actually deploy B-52 heavy bombers and F-117 stealth fighters to the region?

A: Let's move to the back. I think we're mistreating them.

Q: Does your 4,399 figure of U.S. combat troops, include the Marines from the TRIPOLI?

A: Yes.

Q: ...here this morning, said it was his understanding from the GCC [Gulf Cooperation Council] meeting that the Kuwaitis had agreed to pick up half the tab, and the other six would split the remaining half. I'm pretty sure he said that pretty explicitly.

A: I don't think he was quite that explicit, but clearly there was an implication there that there was some agreement reached by the GCC. I'm not sure, frankly, if that is some final agreement or not. I suspect that will be one of the things, frankly, that Dr. Perry will be talking about on his trip.

Q: What else does Dr. Perry plan to do while he visits Saudi Arabia and Kuwait?

A: He will meet with the troops. He will go out to the TRIPOLI and talk to troops out there. He will be talking to some of the leadership in Saudi and in Kuwait.

Q: Do you have a grouping of headquarters units that are going over, who actually is in charge? Are these folks considered just commanders of the U.S. forces that are entering the region, or are they also in charge of some of the Kuwaiti forces? How is this being worked out?

A: I'm not sure what the chain of command is. CENTCOM has overall responsibility for the mission. I suspect that any forces there would be part of the CENTCOM operation, but I'll double check that.

Q: I was asking about the leadership, the travel plans for people who are going over there to run the thing.

A: General Neil is on the ground there now. He is the Vice Commander, I believe, of CENTCOM.

Q: Do you have an assessment, a current assessment, given the pace with which Iraqi forces have been heading back, when all of the Republican Guard forces should be out of the area and back?

A: They continue to move at a reasonably good rate, I would say. We would hope to have some definitive answers about their ultimate destination probably within five to seven days.

Q: Can you quantify for us what percentage or number of these two Republican Guard units are out of the area? Last weekend it was indicated they came from the north. They showed Baghdad. Is there any way to quantify that?

 

The second part, what's the status of the remaining five divisions? Have they done anything that would lower their threatening posture towards Kuwait?

A: I don't have any way to quantify... I'm not sure I understand the questions, frankly, to quantify what has left.

Q: ...Republic Guard divisions have moved out?

A: From their originally entrenched positions, all of them.

Q: How about the other five divisions? Any change in them?

A: These are the non-Republican Guard units? Those are essentially where they had been prior to the deployment. They are not, by the way, were not and are not as far south towards the Kuwaiti border as the Republican Guard units have been. The ones that were the closest to the border were the Republican Guard units, and those are the ones that have left.

Q: How big did that force in Iraq turn out to be? About 50,000?

A: You're talking at the point at which it had... I think we put out that it was in the 70,000 range. I think that's what we said the other day.

Q: Has there been any noticeable change in Iranian army or navy movement?

A: I haven't looked. I don't know. I'll check.

Q: Haiti. What can you tell us about the preparations or the plans for the return of President Aristide to Port-au-Prince on Saturday? What role will the U.S. military play in that?

A: The U.S. military will provide what was described, I think, earlier as an outer shell of security. President Aristide will have his own security forces that will provide his immediate, personal security. We will provide the outer shell and the stability to the region. I believe he plans to arrive by charter aircraft sometime in the morning on the 15th. He'll be greeted there by the mayor of Port-au-Prince and I believe flown then by helicopter to the palace. There's a noon ceremony, I think, scheduled for his return.

Q: Can you share with us who will make up his personal security?

A: No, I don't think I can.

Q: The last time there was a big celebration in Port-au-Prince there were also some violent incidents and some deaths. There was some criticism of the security arrangement and security level provided by the Haitian police. What, if anything, will be done differently this time?

A: We expect a certain amount of celebration. I believe there's a mass also in connection with his return. We are aware and concerned and will very carefully watch what the security requirements will be. We will provide the outer shell of security and hope we can deal with anything that arises.

We would obviously continue to work with all parties as we did the last time, to discourage violence or over-exuberance that might result in some kind of a difficult situation.

Q: There's still 2,000 Marines off-shore. Are they going to be brought ashore as an extra precaution for the weekend?

A: I don't believe at this point there's a plan to bring the Marines off the WASP.

Q: The original trip down was scheduled to be on board a SAM--Special Air Mission--one of the aircraft at Andrews. Has that changed now? When did it change?

A: I didn't know that it had ever been planned that way. I had heard that it was discussed as a charter. I think it's a Pan American Health Organization charter aircraft that will be bringing him down.

Q: [inaudible]

A: In Haiti?

Q: Yes.

A: Eighteen thousand, five hundred and fifty-seven.

Q: What are your plans for that 18,000 troops? Do you anticipate that that troop strength will shrink? Are you waiting to get past the Saturday milestone before you make that assessment?

A: The number has come down slightly, as you would recall. We have said we would hope to see it get down to 15,000 or so by the end of the month or early into the next month. There may be some minor downsizing of that before President Aristide returns, but it's not particularly in connection with his return.

Q: What is the monthly cost of this operation in Haiti, do you know?

A: We have some cost figures, Jack. I don't have them with me, I don't think. I think I've gone through the cost figures before on this, and frankly, don't remember them. I don't have a cost figure.

Q: What does it cost to run 15,000 guys down there? Can you take that?

A: Yes. I think we actually have it, I just don't have it with me.

Q: Can we get the number of ships off-shore with the Marine group? And also the number of Haitians remaining in Guantanamo.

A: Haitians now in Guantanamo, 10,481. And you wanted ships?

Q: Marines, if you have it.

A: We have eight ships.

Q: Does that include the WASP and the NASHVILLE?

A: That includes the WASP and the NASHVILLE.

Q: Can you give their location? Are they up to the north? Are they near Port-au-Prince?

A: I don't show where they are. I'm not sure. They're in the region. I'm just not sure if they've back from Puerto Rico into the immediate, off-the-coast of Haiti or not.

Q: To follow up the subject of the U.S. military protecting Aristide in the near term, when he first arrives, what is Aristide's relationship intended to be with the military, with the Haitian military? And are we not, indeed, the U.S. military, propping up the Aristide regime?

A: The U.S. military is there to provide a security environment for the return and the restoration of democracy to Haiti. We certainly plan to do that in a way that will ensure his safety. However, his personal safety is a responsibility of his immediate personal security force.

 

The United States has gone a long way to bring about the restoration of democracy from individuals who stole democracy from the Haitian people, so I would not characterize it the way you did. I would characterize it in a very positive way, because we've done the right thing by President Aristide.

Q: [inaudible]

A: Not yet, Mark.

Q: Will that be done by Aristide's return?

A: I'm not sure if it will be or not. It's not, in our view, a critical element. It is something that would be nice to have, and I think we continue to discuss it, but whether there's a fixed time to have it signed before he returns, I don't know that we view it that critically.

Press: Thank you.