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DoD News Briefing: Dr. John M. Deutch, Deputy Secretary of Defense and Mr. Ed Dorn, Under Secretary of Defense, Personnel

Presenters: Dr. John M. Deutch, Deputy Secretary of Defense and Mr. Ed Dorn, Under Secretary of Defense, Personnel
November 04, 1994 1:30 PM EDT
Mr. Dennis Boxx, DATSD PA, Thursday, November 3, 1994 - 1:30 p.m.


Mr. Boxx: Good afternoon.

Dr. Deutch, again, offered to come down and kick off the briefing, and I, again, immediately accepted. He wanted to talk to you a little bit about something that's very important to him, and that's the recruiting effort. He'll make a very few opening remarks, take a couple of questions, and then turn it over to Ed Dorn, who will do the briefing.


With that, Dr. Deutch.

Dr. Deutch: Thank you, Dennis.

Good afternoon. I would like to say a few words about the recent data that's come in about recruiting for our armed services' ability to attract the best women and men in the country to join the uniformed services. It's a good news story.

Last spring, there were a number of stories about the difficulties that the Department was having in meeting numerical and, especially, quality goals for FY94. There was concern here and elsewhere that there was a downturn in recruiting.

During my confirmation hearings, I especially addressed the question and indicated my intention--if confirmed--to put some special attention on this subject of recruiting. And, upon confirmation, I formed a panel composed of myself as chairman, General Shalikashvili, Ed Dorn, the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness--who will speak to you in a moment--[and] the Secretaries of the military departments to keep track of, and take actions required, to maintain the recruiting and retention of our members of our military forces. I'm happy to report here today that those actions and other events have certainly gone well and reversed the prior trend. And, we have been able to meet and, in fact, exceed our quality--our goals in the recent round.

What I mean by quality is [that] the percent of high school graduates in our recruiting class is up. Among those successful recruits that we have chosen, their upper mental categories are also higher [in] testing for that.

Quality is important to us because the recruits that we are getting into the service are required to be much more productive as we downsize. Of course, this also includes the number of highly specialized, high technology jobs. So we not only met our numerical goals, we ended with the third best quality year since the all- volunteer force was introduced in 1973. It was better than the preceding year. The proportion of new recruits with high school diplomas is 96 percent compared to an average for the country in the age group [which is] 75 percent. We have increased our part of this, which is a result of the hard work of our recruiters, but also we spent more money on recruiting--$40 million, [on] these programs for this purpose. I note that Congress has provided $90 million in FY95 for this entire effort. Very, very welcome to us was the greater proportion of women in this recruiting year.

We're not out of the woods yet. There is a continued decline in the propensity of American youth to serve in the military services, and we have a lower cohort in the age group that are eligible--very low levels coming up. There's also the perception in the public that we no longer need military services.

So, you all can help by reminding all of your viewers, and your readers and your listeners, that we care enormously about recruiting the best qualified men and women to serve in the armed services of our country. It's very important to Bill Perry, very important to me, very important to all the Service Secretaries and [to]the Chiefs. We are continuing to watch this area very, very closely, indeed.

I'll take a few questions. I want to turn this over to Ed Dorn, because, fundamentally, I'm taking credit for the hard work that he has done and his organization has done, as well as the component services. But, as I say, this is a good news story, and one that is important and [that] contributes to maintaining the readiness of our armed forces.

Q: Your success here might be a little overstated, because this was the lowest enlistment year that we've had in decades. You're meeting your quota, but it was a very low threshold.

A: All these numbers are declining in terms of the size of the population-- the size of the numbers that we need. The fact of the matter is that we still were concerned last year about the quality of those that we needed. There are two things that could have been reported here. One is that we did not do as well as we hoped or expected; but indeed, we are here to report to you the contrary. We exceeded the goals and the expectations.

Q: You'll have to get a lot more people next year, and you're still working out of a small base?

A: We expect that we will be able to be successful with the increased recruiting efforts we intend to make.

Q: What did you do to reverse this trend, number one? And number two, is it not harder to get people into the military with the economy improving and better jobs...

A: As I mentioned, the propensity here is declining. What we basically did is we placed more emphasis on recruiting efforts--both letting the youth of this nation know about the opportunities in the armed forces and helping our recruiters, which Ed Dorn will address, [to] get the job done more effectively.

Q: How deeply have you had to cut into that delayed entry program which is sort of borrowing against tomorrow in order to [inaudible]?

A: I think that varies by service, but I don't think it's a serious problem. I ask you to address that question to Ed Dorn.

Q: In terms of the propensity issue, isn't this sort of a disconnect between the images that young people are seeing on television, for example of Somalia, and maybe some of the advertising? Is the Pentagon going to address that issue?

A: I think it is an interesting question. The propensity is certainly going down. The data shows the propensity is going down. Young people have a general impression that defense is less important than it was in the Cold War. On the other hand, they're seeing a lot of the fantastic contributions of our young women and men in Haiti and elsewhere. And, therefore, you'd hope that would have a counter-effect on the propensity of people to serve, and we're asking you to help in that with the message that you're going to be giving out.

Q: On the matter of personnel, it doesn't seem to be a growing problem, but there is a high profile problem. A number of people, sadly, in the military, have killed themselves--taken their lives--recently, including a drill instructor, a Marine drill instructor, this week at Parris Island. Is anything being done to address that?

A: A great deal is being done. A report has been presented, and again, I'd ask that you direct these questions to Ed Dorn. The matter of suicides in that age group, either in universities or in the military service, has traditionally been higher. It's a very high age group for suicides, but it varies sporadically. Some years there's a lot, some years there's a little. I know this from my own experience at the university--dealing with a similar age group. We have looked at the matter very carefully--both the specifics in Haiti and the drill instructor example, as you mentioned. It's a matter of great concern to Ed Dorn, to Togo West, the Secretary of the Army; to Gordon Sullivan, the Chief of Staff of the Army; and it is a matter we are paying very close attention to.

Thank you all very much.

Mr. Dorn: Thanks a lot, Dr. Deutch.

I want to begin by repeating a couple of key points from Dr. Deutch's opening statement and then amplify a little bit.

It was a very good year. It was a good year because we met our quantity goals. We set out to recruit about 184,000 people into the active force and 150,000 people into the reserve component. We did so.

Second, it was a very good year in terms of quality. As Dr. Deutch mentioned, the third best year in terms of quality in the history of the all volunteer force.

Our minority representation stayed strong; our female representation actually grew.

Dr. Deutch mentioned one of the reasons for our success, which is the high level attention that was given this matter earlier in the year when we began to sense a problem. He organized a committee which included the Service Secretaries --Secretary West from the Army; Secretary Dalton from the Navy; Secretary Widnall from the Air Force; the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Shalikashvili. They held several meetings to decide how to manage that problem and we have managed our way out of the problem this year.

But, there's another important reason. We don't do this work. We support the people who do it. I want to introduce to you today and perhaps commend to you for discussion after I leave this podium, one of the roughly 13,000 people who day to day are involved in recruiting. Sergeant First Class Ricky Tarver, now with the Army's Recruiting Command in Fort Knox, Kentucky. Sergeant Tarver, thanks very much for joining us today. Sergeant Tarver has some 10 years of experience in this very demanding business, and I'm sure he'll have some useful observations to share with you.

Let me talk about our recruiting results this year. As you know, our quantity objectives change yearly. Last year, our objective for the active force was 184,000 and our objective for the reserves was around 150,000. We met those goals. But let's go on and talk about what's equally important--perhaps, even more important--which is the quality of the people we bring in.

Last year, 96 percent of our recruits had high school diplomas; 72 percent scored in the top half of our aptitude category. That's tremendously better, on average, than the American population, age 18 to 22. As a matter of fact, as Dr. Deutch mentioned, about 75 percent of the cohorts would have finished high school.

As you see, we have some standards here: floors. We compare ourselves against those floors. What we believe is that we need to continue to bring in at least 90 percent high school graduates into the active force. We want at least 60 percent of our new recruits to be in the top half of those aptitude categories.

Why does that matter? Why does the quality matter so much? It's a matter of economics, quite honestly. We found that about 80 percent of high school graduates will complete the first term of enlistment. By contrast, high school dropouts also have a high propensity to drop out of the force. Only about 50 percent of non-high school graduates will complete that first term of enlistment. It costs us a lot of money to replace somebody who's dropped out prematurely, so it's an economic matter.

It's also a matter of training time. During the 1980s, the Defense Department worked with the National Academy of Sciences to get a sense of how long it took people to develop certain kinds of proficiencies. What we discovered, perhaps not surprisingly, is that people who score in the upper aptitude categories master or attain a given level of proficiency much faster than people who are low aptitude scores. That translates into training time, and that too, translates into dollars.

Let me talk a little bit about our long-term trends. I mentioned that this is a very good year in comparison. We've had the all volunteer force for 21 years now. What I want to talk about is the last dozen or so years. These straight lines, again, are our floors--90 percent high school graduates, 60 percent in the top half. As you can see, after a slight dip in FY93, we've come back in FY94. FY94 being one of the three best years in this entire time period. So that's very good news.

Nevertheless, we have some concerns. We're concerned about the declining propensity of young men and young women to enlist in the force. We do surveys every year. Over the past few years, as you can see, enlistment propensity--that is, the numbers of young people saying they are very likely or likely to enlist in the armed forces--has declined from the high 20's or low 30's down to around 25 percent. There was a spike around the period of the Persian Gulf conflict. That's worrisome because this is an indication of how much harder Sergeant Tarver and his colleagues have to work in order to bring young people into the force.

We also are concerned because this decline in propensity is occurring also at a time when the youth cohort, that is the enlistment age population also is beginning to decline. That gives us pause because we are recruiting from a smaller pool.

We also expect to have slightly higher enlistment requirements or recruiting requirements in 1995, '96, '97, and these problems give us pause in light of what we see to be our increasing need for people as the drawdown levels off.


There's also another thing, which is that the economy is coming along quite nicely in large measure, because of the Clinton economic reform, the declining budget--jobs are growing. Young people are going to look at those opportunities in the civilian sector.

So we have some concerns over the long term in spite of our success this past year. I want to spend a couple of minutes talking about how we plan to address those longer term concerns.

First, we're going to continue to give this very high level attention. Dr. Deutch will continue to meet regularly with the Service Secretaries and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs to keep tabs on recruiting and to make those short term adjustments where needed--to ensure that we're pumping the right resources into it.

Second, we plan to continue to work closely with Congress. This year Congress approved our reprogramming, about $40 million, to enhance our recruiting efforts. Congress also added another $90 million to the FY95 budget so that we can improve our investments in recruiting. That support is going to be very important over the long term.

But, further, the real key to maintaining our success over the long term is to maintain our readiness and to treat people fairly. We've got to continue to give people rigorous training and meaningful missions because that gives our Soldiers and Sailors and Airmen and Marines a sense of professional pride and a real sense of accomplishment. That's important, because in spite of what I said earlier about investing more money--more resources in recruiting--ultimately, your best recruiting, your best advertising, always is word of mouth. It's what young men and young women who are in the service tell their friends and their neighbors and their relatives about their experience when they go home on leave or when they leave the service.

So, we've got to continue to give people meaningful missions, realistic training. We've also got to treat them fairly. We've got to ensure that we maintain their quality of life, that we compensate them in a way that's commensurate with the sacrifices that we ask them to make. We've got to make sure that their families are taken care of in terms of their health care and access to commissaries and morale and welfare and family support programs. We've got to make sure that our equal opportunity programs are working well--that everybody has a fair chance to advance and to contribute, and that no one suffers from discrimination or harassment.

Treating people fairly--maintaining quality of life--as you know, is one of Secretary Perry's keys to maintaining a quality force over time.

In conclusion, we're still hiring. You can help us by letting young people know that. We're still looking for nearly 200,000 young men and women a year to join the active force. I think we're still one of the biggest employers around, and we are still one of the best.

With that, I'll take your questions.

Q: On the propensity issue, to what do you attribute this decline in inclination of people to join the services? And what impact has the new policy on admitting homosexuals into the services had on the recruiting effort?

A: We don't have a definitive answer to the question about declining propensity. I was talking to Sergeant Tarver earlier and he said something that I've heard before--which is that it's tied to our advertising. We simply have not been in the magazines, we have not been on television as much as we should. That combined with what you rightly have been reporting over the years as a massive downsizing, has given people the sense that the services aren't hiring any more. So I think it is partly a reflection of young people's sense that there are not opportunities in the service. Why express interest in something where you don't think it's likely to come to pass? We think we can increase propensity a little bit just by letting people know that those opportunities are still there.

On the second question, we see no effect.

Q: Has it had any impact at all on...

A: We've not seen it, no.

Q: Do you have any thoughts on the differentials in rate of decline and the propensity of Blacks against the total--other than the fact that the propensity for Blacks was higher to start with?

A: The propensity of African-Americans to enlist in the force is still higher than the propensity of Whites. We've never explained satisfactorily the higher propensity so we can't explain satisfactorily the more rapid decline. Although I guess, commonsensically, what we conclude is that African-Americans have been more highly "propensed," that's an awful word but I'll use it anyway. I've been in the Pentagon long enough to feel comfortable turning nouns into verbs. [Laughter]

I think, again, to go back to the question that was asked here, it may have to do with a sense of where the opportunities are. The services have long had a very good reputation for leadership in the area of equal opportunity.

Q: A couple of different kinds of questions, one dealing with retention. Do you have a trend on retention, especially among those who want to [inaudible], number one? And do you see any impact on the amount of operations in the last several years on that retention? And secondly, the issue of the delayed enlistment program, and how much you've had to eat into that in order to keep the base.

A: Retention has not been a problem. Keep in mind, it's very hard to make sense of retention numbers during a downsizing, when you, in fact, are encouraging large numbers of people to leave the force. But we do not see a problem with retention right now.

Your second question had to do with the delayed entry pool. One of the things that was brought to Dr. Deutch and the Service Secretaries early in the year was the services feeling that they were having to dip into their delayed entry pools because too few people were signing up. That is one of the problems that has been addressed through our efforts during the past year.

The services like to enter each fiscal year with at least 35 percent of their goals in the delayed entry pool. At last report, all of the services were at least at that 35 percent number. So the delayed entry pool is not a problem right now.

Q: You keep aggregate suicide numbers. But, do you ever get reports on the reasons why, after all the investigations are done, people do take their own lives? What is the common trend that runs through a lot of these cases?

A: Any suicide is devastating to the family involved. In the military, it's also devastating to the units involved because these are very close-knit communities. So, we pay a lot of attention to it and have long paid a lot of attention to it with education and prevention programs. And after a tragedy such as that unfolds, we make a special effort to counsel not just the family, but members of the unit, and to help everyone recover from that situation.

After every suicide, in fact, each one is investigated very, very carefully to get a sense of what may have caused it. We put that together in a kind of profile which is then used--those lessons are used, in our education program. One of the reasons is we give chaplains and commanders and NCOs information about how to identify people who appear to be having difficulties, and where to go to help them find some kind of assistance, and soldiers are... We try to sensitize everyone in the units to, if you will, the signs of someone who is in distress.

Q: What are those signs, and what have you learned after all these investigations? What is the profile, then?

A: I'm not prepared to offer you the profile except in a rather common sense way. You look for somebody who seems to be exceedingly moody, who seems to have retreated, obviously somebody who mentions idly, or who displays, an unusual preoccupation with his or her death, who threatens suicide.

Sue Bailey, our Deputy Assistant Secretary for Health, gave a very good interview with USA Today. And, I think that's a pretty good story in which she summarized some of our trends, but also the things we look for in the programs we operate. I commend that to you.

Q: Do you have a new trend now on your hands, or is it just getting more attention at this period? Is something happening that is calling it to our attention?

A: You're helping to call it to our attention. The numbers are not out of line with our past trends. As a matter of fact, the aggregate data are always delayed a little bit, but the past year was not out of line with preceding years. So in statistical terms we are not seeing a trend. Nevertheless, as I said, any suicide is devastating. It's something we take very, very seriously. We try to learn as much as we can from it. And, most importantly, we try to deal with families, and with the units affected.


Q: It's now been several months since the Haiti suicides, which were tremendous spikes statistically.

A: Well, I don't know that it's been several months.

Q: More than a month.

A: OK.

Q: It spiked statistically for you. A large spike in that small population in a small amount of time. Have you drawn any general conclusions about--was it related to stress? Is there any correlation between these?

A: I'm not prepared to give you that right now. We are going to pull together a little background paper over the next week that we can share with all of you. And, it will cover not details on the individual cases, of course, but it will give you a sense of what our trends are, what lessons we have learned, and so on.

Q: The jobs in the military that have been opened up for women in the past year. What effect has that had on recruiting? Has there been any reluctance among women to enlist, knowing that they could be closer to the front lines?

A: We haven't detected anything so far, no. We hope, as a matter of fact, that these enhanced opportunities will actually cause more women to take an interest in the armed forces. And, we expect to see that.

Q: Is that reflected in these figures you have for this year?

A: I can't tell you that the policy changes are reflective. There is an increase in the representation of women in that enlisted pool. Women were 17 percent of all the people we brought into the active force last year, as opposed to 14 percent the preceding year.

Q: You mentioned earlier there was a problem with recruitment. Can you elaborate on what you did to solve that problem? And, was one of the solutions recruiting more women to make up for a shortage of men?

A: I don't know that... Sergeant Tarver may be able to tell you how things worked on the streets. There was certainly no guidance coming out from OSD or, to my knowledge, there was no guidance coming out from the services saying recruit women more aggressively. There's no quota, to my knowledge, on the recruitment of women under any circumstances. You take the best qualified people you can find.



Q: How about solving the problem? What did you do to solve the problem identified earlier?

A: We see enhancing opportunities for women as a matter of maintaining the long-term viability and the long-term quality of the force. It is a key to broadening to our recruitment pool so that we maintain quality. It also is key to giving the services the flexibility they need to put the best people in the right jobs. But our commitment to improving that assignment flexibility was not a short-term fix for this problem. It is rather seen as a long-term approach that's designed to ensure that we have as large, as diverse, and as high, a quality pool as possible over the long term.

Q: Were there other steps that you took earlier in the year to try and resolve this downward trend?

A: Yes. I mentioned one. Specifically, the services pumped about $40 million additional into their recruiting resources. A lot of that went for advertising. In fact, most of that money went for advertising.

Q: A couple of months ago there was a General Accounting Office study that said there was great inefficiency in recruiting offices--some offices only recruiting an average of one a year. Did you agree with that? Is there any thought to making the recruiting offices more efficient so you could get more money into advertising and things that are more productive?

A: We think the GAO identified several things we can do to support, to get efficiencies out of the way we support our recruiters. On the other hand, I think the GAO report also suggested that we could focus better regionally.

Q: Is that under consideration--closing offices that don't recruit as many recruits?

A: We haven't given consideration to that. And the reason is that we think there's a great virtue in having as much geographic diversity in our force as possible. It is America's military. We want all of America to be represented. That means rural areas as well as urban areas. It means the racial diversity that the services have been quite successful in maintaining. It means recruiting people from the North and the Far West as well as from the South. Propensity varies by region. Enlistment propensity varies by region. Traditionally, enlistment propensity has been higher in much of the South than in other parts of the country. But we tailor our recruiting in part to make sure that we recruit for the entire nation.

Q: The educational statistics that we see--test scores, for example--suggest that today's high school graduate is probably not as well educated as the high school graduate was ten years ago. Given that, how reassured should we be that 96 percent of your recruits are high school graduates? How much increase in retraining are you having to do because these folks maybe don't come to you in as good a shape as high school graduates once did?

A: This is a much smarter, more skilled force coming in than it was 15 or 20 years ago. Further, keep in mind that we're using two measures here. We're using not only the percentage of people who have graduated from high school, we also are looking at their scores on the standardized examination. That tells us how literate people are, how well they have mastered certain kinds of facts. And those scores are used to influence where people are assigned and what kinds of training they get. But it is a much better force, both in terms of basic skills and in terms of discipline and dedication than the force of 20 years ago.

Q: There have been some openly gay men and women serving in the military now while court cases have worked their way through the courts. What evidence do you have to show that their service has been detrimental to good order and discipline?

A: I don't know the specific examples. We went through a rather long and exhaustive process a year ago, and came to the conclusion that overt conduct was detrimental to good order and discipline in the force. We continue to believe that that's the case.

Press: Thank you.

Mr. Boxx: We have a Blue Top for you today announcing the commissioning of the mine countermeasures ship USS CHIEF at 10:00 a.m. on Saturday, November 5th at the Naval Amphibious Base, Little Creek, Virginia. The ship is named in honor of all active duty and retired U.S. Navy chief petty officers. Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Mike Boorda will be the ceremony's principal speaker. Mrs. Susan Bushey, wife of former Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy, Duane Bushey, is the ship's sponsor.

I'd like to welcome Commodore Lewis Armstrong, Commandant of the Royal Naval Staff College in Greenwich, England; and Captain Harry Key, Director of the Royal Naval Staff Course; and students. They're here on a week-long orientation trip. Welcome.

I'd also like to welcome five Scandinavian college students who are visiting us in conjunction with a media program sponsored by the Southeastern University. Skol.

With that, let's take a few questions.

Q: You had, I gather, some announcements or pronouncements from down in Haiti about troop strength and what is going to be achieved by Christmas. Can you talk in any more detail about pull-outs and things?

A: I've seen the reports of some remarks that General Shelton made regarding the drawdown of forces from Haiti. His remarks were based on some planning figures that are being discussed, but no decisions have been reached on what the final drawdown will be as we move towards Christmas.

I would remind you that we said a number of times that the drawdown of forces in Haiti will be based on mission accomplishment as opposed to a date- certain, calendar kind of approach. We certainly have some targets that we're shooting for as we look at what those mission accomplishment dates might be. That's what General Shelton, I believe, was talking about. But we've not reached any final decisions in terms of what that schedule might be.

We clearly would like to get as many troops home before Christmas as we can, but the objective here has to be driven by mission accomplishment as opposed to a date certain.

Q: So there won't necessarily be 9,000 troops out of there by Christmas?

A: No decisions have been made firm on that yet.

Q: What are the mission accomplishments? That sounds rather vague. Is that on purpose, or...

A: Not necessarily. I try to be vague whenever I can get away with it. [Laughter] They are things like secure and stable environment, construction projects, logistics projects, engineering projects. As we can complete those kinds of specific missions, we will be able to draw back engineers, for example, perhaps, MPs, logistics people. Those are the kinds of mission accomplishments that we have to look toward completing before we can make some clear decisions about dates.

Q: I believe that General Shelton indicated that somewhere between 6,000 and 9,000 troops--that he hoped to have those withdrawn by late December. Can you at least confirm that planning figure of 6,000 to 9,000 is a figure that's being discussed as a possible withdrawal...

A: I really can't, Jamie. I think those are things that have to work their way through the building here with the Joint Staff, and ultimately to the national security team, including the President. So the numbers I just can't confirm for you.

Q: In terms of mission accomplishment, is this also key to the timing of elections in Haiti? Does that affect the withdrawal timetable?

A: The UN has said that they would prefer to come in after the elections take place. We will continue to work with the UN. The UN representative's down there now--I believe, still there--had some very positive things to say about the direction that this effort is going and the speed at which we will hopefully be able to turn this over to UNMIH. But again, those have to be based on real live situations on the ground and not based on calendar or false objectives that don't mean anything other than meeting our specific mission accomplishment goals.

Q: A clarification. On Tuesday, I think it was, Ken announced that General Shelton had left and that General Meade had taken over as commander of forces in Haiti, yet, Shelton was obviously there when the White House...

A: I believe General Shelton's remarks were made in North Carolina. He is back in North Carolina with his command headquarters there. General Meade has now assumed command of the operations in Haiti. I may go too far with this, in terms of my knowledge, but the 10th Mountain, which is commanded by General Meade--which is the operation that's now in Haiti--falls under, is a subordinate command of General Shelton's.

Q: Do you have anything on the Russian statement that a United States submarine violated their territorial waters?

A: I really do not. We, as you know, as a general rule, do not discuss submarine operations, and that's one I'm going to have to stick with.

Q: Can you make an exception in this case? [Laughter]

A: I think not, but thank you for the offer.

Q: Why did the Pentagon recommend going against the BRAC recommendation on Crystal City offices? There have been suggestions that this may have been to help the reelection efforts of Senator Robb. Are those suggestions accurate?

A: First of all, I wouldn't agree with the characterization. What Dr. Deutch indicated that the Navy should do is go back and validate their numbers. We have not suggested that we will reopen the BRAC process or alter the BRAC process. He simply felt that the Senator raised some legitimate questions that needed to be revalidated with the Navy's numbers and simply asked them to do that.

Q: Isn't that exactly what the BRAC process was designed to put a barrier around--that kind of second guessing and quibbling over numbers? I thought it was supposed to be an impartial, sealed process.

A: It's not unusual for the services to go back and look at BRAC recommendations as situations change. On occasion, BRAC decisions are, in fact, altered. If you look at the Carswell example, that was one where it was relooked, rethought, and--for very good, legitimate fiscally responsible reasons--considered. So,I think there are situations-- fact I think we'd be remiss if we did not look carefully as the process moved along to make sure-- fact, we were being fiscally responsible in these decisions.

Q: You're saying it has nothing to do with the fact that a Democratic senator is in a close race, this reexamination of the numbers bears no resemblance to the fact...

A: We receive Cngressional requests for pursuit of different subjects all the time and we try to be responsive to those requests.

Q: Isn't it true that the only person--at the Pentagon itself cannot reverse that decision? You would have to recommend it to the BRAC '95 Commission itself to...

A: That is correct. It would need to go back through the full BRAC process and get a complete review, again. If the numbers are invalid and if there's a feeling that we need to reopen this, it will get complete and full scrutiny.

Q: Can you comment at all on a published report, I believe in Europe, that suggests that Russia was selling radar that was capable of detecting U.S. stealth technology such as F-117 stealth fighters? Are you aware of such a radar system as that?

A: I'm not aware of the report specifically, but I think it's been fairly well known for decades that, hypothetically and technically, it is possible to defeat stealth technology, and it's also been well known that the cost of doing that is simply outrageous, and in all likelihood poses the proposition of doing it to be very questionable, if not prohibitive.

Q: So the Pentagon is not concerned that radar such as this would render stealth technology obsolete?

A: The technology has been out there to be able to deal with the way stealth operates. The question becomes whether it's economically feasible to do. Frankly, the cost is so outrageous that it's not likely to be done.

Q: Clancy solved it in his latest book.

Q: One more published report to clear up. A South Korean newspaper apparently reported that there were plans under consideration to begin the withdrawal of U.S. forces from South Korea. What's the true story there?

A: An absolutely incorrect report. Nothing to it. I knock it down in the strongest way. Dr. Perry has said that as long as North Korea presents a significant conventional threat, we will maintain our forces in that region. We are not in any way planning to draw down our forces in South Korea.

Q: One more on Haiti and General Shelton. You seem to be indicating since no decisions have been made and none of these numbers seem to correlate with what General Shelton had to say, that he may be a little out of touch...

A: I tried not to say that, unsuccessfully, apparently. I think General Shelton is simply reflecting what is currently in the planning process. Whether the numbers are going to be the right numbers, or the final numbers, that needs to be left to the decisionmakers. And to associate a date certain with it, as opposed to a mission objective, is simply the distinction I'm making. We are focusing on mission objectives versus date certain.

Q: Isn't General Shelton one of those decision makers, or doesn't he have any say in the matter?

A: He makes recommendations up through USACOM to General Shalikashvili. That's precisely the flow this is taking. There is nothing out of the norm here.

Press: Thank you.

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