DoD News Briefing - Mr. Crowley, PDASD PA and RADM Quigley, DASD PA
Thursday, January 06, 2000 - 2:00 p.m. EST
Admiral Quigley: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. For those of you who I'd not had the opportunity to see since the new year, Happy New Year to you all.
Q: Same to you, Craig.
Admiral Quigley: I have three announcements today and then I'll take your questions. First Secretary of the Army Louis Caldera will lead a senior delegation to Korea on January 10th and 11th for talks with South Korean officials on the status of the No Gun Ri review. The trip will include a visit to No Gun Ri, where Secretary Caldera and other members of his delegation will visit the bridge site and meet with survivors and family members. And again, that's next Monday and Tuesday, the 10th and 11th.
Second, in our continuing effort, as Admiral Willard and Dr. Hamre and others have said over the past several days, when we continue for the next several days to check our various business systems, administrative systems, checking for the Y2K glitches, we would report those to you as they popped up, and another one popped up. The Defense Finance and Accounting Service in Charleston, South Carolina -- there are various DFAS offices around the country; this one is in Charleston, South Carolina -- experienced a Y2K system error on January 4th resulting in 230 vendor payment checks being issued with the date January 4, 1900. The error was caught by the quality assurance people there at the DFAS center. DFAS has issued replacement checks today. They are going out via overnight delivery to the vendors. In addition, DFAS has contacted all the affected vendors and will follow up to ensure that they have received the corrected checks.
Last, the Chinese People's Liberation Army Deputy Chief of Staff, Lieutenant General Xiong Guankai, will visit Washington DC from January 24 - 26 to meet with Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, Walt Slocombe, in the third annual Defense Consultative Talks between China and the United States. These meetings will discuss the framework and content for military to military relations between China and the U.S. this year. This is the first step in resuming military to military programs since they were suspended in May of 1999. Previous Defense Consultative Talks took place in Washington in December 1997 and Beijing in October 1998.
And with that, I will take your questions.
Q: What is the date of the visit of the Chinese?
Admiral Quigley: The 24th through the 26th.
Q: What is he again, Craig.
Admiral Quigley: Lieutenant General. I'll spell this and then pronounce it. X-I-O-N-G G-U-A-N-G-K-A-I, and it's pronounced "Shee-young Gwang-kye". He is the Deputy Chief of Staff of the PLA.
Q: Do you anticipate that they would discuss specifics such as a future visit by Secretary Cohen to Beijing?
Admiral Quigley: All of that would be incorporated. It would be anything that you could put in the mil-to-mil category, Bob, whether it's individuals like the secretary, the chairman, other -- commander-in-chief of the Pacific Command, others in that -- or ship visits, exchanges of any sort; it would all be on the table for discussion.
Q: Can you give us an estimate of when the secretary would like to visit Beijing and when you'd propose that he visit?
Admiral Quigley: No, not at this point. I mean, that's something that we hope to discuss during this meeting. But I don't think we're going in with any particular dates in mind. We'll -- that'll be part of the give-and-take during the three days of talks.
Q: All right -- 24th and 26th of this month?
Admiral Quigley: Twenty-fourth through the 26th of this month, right.
Q: And will he be available for us here at some kind of a debriefing or something?
Admiral Quigley: I asked that question myself, and I don't know the answer yet.
Q: Does he speak English?
Admiral Quigley: I don't know that one either. I will see if I can find out.
Q: We'll speak Chinese to him.
Admiral Quigley: Jim?
Q: There was a German newspaper report that some of the video from -- gun camera video of a misguided -- of a mishap during the Kosovo conflict was played for the public at something like three times normal speed. Is that report correct? And if so, why did that happen, and what was the impact?
Admiral Quigley: I have been largely away from the office this morning. Thankfully, P.J. Crowley has not, and he has had time to look into that in detail. So I will punt to my compatriot here on that issue.
Mr. Crowley: The short answer is, it is the normal way that the intelligence system processes gun camera footage that starts as 8mm gun camera footage, and that gets translated, through something called the Common Intelligence System, or CIS, which is a Unix-based computer software system, and then ultimately down to a PC, where analysts can study the video.
As that happens, there is an acceleration and a compression of the video, so in this particular case, the video started at the 8mm format at roughly 15 seconds in length. When it went through first iteration to the CIS, it was compressed to 6.5 seconds. When it was further compressed to the PC, it got down to about the four-second clip that everyone saw on television on April 12th.
This is the way that the system works for all gun camera footage, so there was no manipulation by the authorities in Europe, and in fact I would say that there's nothing new here. Media that have already gone through this, with the air forces in Europe -- for example, Der Spiegel sent some experts down to Ramstein. We walked them through how the system works -- worked, and showed them, in essence, what happens as you go through these iterations. The computer itself starts to drop off frames to deal with the compression.
And so this is -- what was unusual about this video clip was you had the single point of reference being the train, and as you saw in the clip, the train at various points jumped slightly.
That's because the computer itself dropped frames out in order to deal with this requirement for compression. So this is the way that our intelligence system operates in terms of translating gun camera footage and getting it to the PCs where intelligence analysts can make quick assessments of the gun camera footage, you know, to benefit the operation.
Q: P.J., when this footage was first shown and briefed at NATO headquarters the next day, on the 13th, General Clark made the point that the weapon systems officer on the F-15 had only a second or so to see the train and possibly react, not enough time to have a reaction. If it turns out that there was actually more time, does that change that?
Mr. Crowley: No. Jamie, good question. It doesn't change the basic facts of what happened on April 12th. The pilot and the weapon system officer -- in fact, the weapon system officer is looking through a screen that is five inches by five inches. He's focused on the bridge, which is his target for that mission. And this in no way changes the basic facts that they were not able to divert the missile before the train came into their field of vision.
Q: Maybe you could clear up one other thing. On the clip that was released by NATO the next day, we saw the train on the screen crossing the bridge. And on the clip there were also white brackets and a cross-hairs in the middle. Which -- does the weapon systems officer on the plane see everything that was released in that video, or only what's in that bracketed area, the smaller area in the middle?
Mr. Crowley: Not being a pilot, I don't know that I'm particularly qualified. We can take that question and try to find out. My presumption is he's only seeing what's in the brackets, which is a miniaturized version of what we happened to see on television. But I would probably ask an expert before making that comment.
Q: Admiral Quigley, do you by any chance -- do you know if that is the case, or do you have to take that?
Admiral Quigley: The weapons systems officer or the pilot?
Q: Did they see everything that was in the field of vision on the video that was released, or only what was in the smaller area in the brackets?
Admiral Quigley: My understanding is the five-by-five area. We'll double-check.
Mr. Crowley: Yeah. Tim just handed me something. The weapon system officer does not see the entire panorama presented by the video file available on the Internet. The WSO, or "Wizzo," sees only the image presented inside the four corner markers. So that's a five inch by five inch monochrome cockpit monitor.
Q: P.J., are you saying that this was not -- this video was not speeded up -- because the SHAPE folks say it was -- at least twice as fast as it actually happened?
Mr. Crowley: Well, Jack, in the -- you know, there is a compression and acceleration that goes through the normal process as this goes from 8 millimeters, through the CIS, to the intelligence analyst's PC. So, yeah, it roughly ends up being something like 2.7 times as fast.
Q: Now, they also said that other video, which we saw, was not speeded up the way this was: 2.7 this was; other video, not 2.7. So there was a difference in this presentation than in the other presentations.
Mr. Crowley: I can only attribute that to the speed with which we tried to get the video from the intelligence community so that we would all have the benefit of seeing it.
Q: (Inaudible) -- I don't know that anyone -- well, some -- never mind. I won't ask it that way.
So the issue is why didn't NATO, if in fact this was different, at different speed than was presented on other days, and this was one of those three big critical mistakes that NATO made; why didn't NATO tell us that this one was speeded up, whether by accident or not, where the other ones were not?
Mr. Crowley: Well, first of all, let me correct the premise in your question. This was not speeded up on purpose. There is a normal acceleration that goes in through this process of converting the gun-camera footage, you know, for the benefit of the intel analyst. You know, I --
Q: The other video that they showed was not. So this was at a different speed than the other video, which is commonly shown at these briefings. So it had the effect, whether it was intended or not, of speeding up the video by 2.7 times.
Mr. Crowley: It did speed up the video. But it didn't change the basic facts of the incident, which is that the pilot and weapon systems officer did not see the train come into their field of view and were not able to divert the missile.
Q: But back to the point of why didn't NATO tell us this? They knew it in October when they had a query from Der Spiegel and acknowledged to Der Spiegel, but to no one else, that, "Whoops! We showed you something that was nearly three times faster than we thought"?
Mr. Crowley: I would say, Jack, you know, the folks at Ramstein Air Base are standing by to walk any news media, who are interested in this story, as they did with Der Spiegel, through the entire process of how this transpired.
It happens that, for example, Frankfurter Rundschau was not interested in going through the same careful study that Der Spiegel was.
Q: Well wait a minute, P.J., can I just follow up on that? You're saying you're waiting for news media to show up. If you knew you had a mistake, honest though it was, you wouldn't come out on your own initiative and --
Mr. Crowley: I'm not saying -- Barb, I would say there was a mistake. Again, there was no manipulation of this video. This is the way that when start with what -- 8mm gun-camera footage and go through two -- material that goes to the desk of an intel analyst, this is what you have. I can't speak to the difference between this video and other video that was shown during the Kosovo conflict.
Q: The question is why would neither NATO nor USAFE or the Department of Defense, once they knew that this situation was not what it was represented to be in public back in April, do you not think it's a problem with credibility to not overtly come out and say, and simply wait for people to come and ask you, even after you know?
Mr. Crowley: I would say, first of all, this has not been a major subject of media interest since the end of the Kosovo conflict. Secondly --
Q: Well --
Mr. Crowley: Well excuse me. Let me finish. Now, to the first news organization that looked at this, Der Spiegel, they went to Ramstein, we carefully walked them through this. We're not hiding anything. But by the same token, this is not an area that has been of significant news media interest up until now.
Q: P.J., I'm confused about some of the terminology you've used here today. You described the process by which the train video was used as the "normal" process. Is that --
Mr. Crowley: Remember what gun-camera footage is to allow the pilots, the weapon system officers, the intel analysts to have a quick review of a mission in a campaign. And so you take the 8mm gun-camera footage off the weapon system, you plug it into something called the Common Intelligence System, which is a UNIX-based system. That basically -- you first now take the video, load it into the computer, and then you ship that to the PC of the intel analysts. During the course of those two translations -- to use my word -- you've got this compression and acceleration.
Q: No, I understand that; I understood the technology of it, which seems fairly straightforward. My question is, you have characterized this as the "normal process" for the treatment of gun camera video. My question to you --
Mr. Crowley: Within the intelligence community; yes.
Q: Right. And -- I mean -- all right.
Is it the normal process for the distribution of gun-camera video, which is done all the time, which was done at the Gulf War, which was done in Kosovo, which is done out of training, it's done in a number of different contexts -- is the process you just described, this two-step production which results in a 2.7 percent acceleration of the video -- is that the normal process for the handling of gun camera video that is distributed to the public?
Mr. Crowley: Well, I can't speak to that, Roberto. I --
Q: Excuse me. Then let me ask you to take the query.
Mr. Crowley: I understand the premise of your question, which I really can't answer, which is, at the point that you took gun camera footage from the intelligence analyst and prepared it to put it on and distribute it to -- and show it to the news media, if in fact in other cases we have then adapted that video to normal speed and did not do so in this case. I'm not equipped to answer that question.
Q: Can I just ask you -- this is a straightforward public affairs question.
Mr. Crowley: Sure.
Q: It is strictly within your department as to what your policy is on the distribution of gun camera video and in what format it's given to the public. Your explanation of these events is incomplete without telling us whether this gun camera video and the process you describe as normal for intelligence purposes is the normal process for distribution to the public, so that, like, every bomb we've seen going down a stack and into a building for all these years is actually three times faster than it really happened.
Mr. Crowley: We will take the question whether in this particular case, we failed to do something we have done in other instances.
Q: Can you get the answer to that within this news cycle?
Mr. Crowley: Yes.
Q: Thank you.
Q: Can I follow up on that? If SHAPE knew about this in October, can you also tell us when the Department of Defense found out about this?
Mr. Crowley: We'll take the question.
Q: Is it the contention, P.J., by both NATO and the U.S. that regardless of how fast this gun camera video was replayed, that the weapons officer still only had one second in which to make that decision; that he saw the train only one second before impact, regardless of how fast this tape was replayed?
Mr. Crowley: It does not change the basic facts of the incident, which is that the pilot and weapon systems officer did not have time to divert the missile that had already been fired before the train came into their field of view.
Q: You're talking about the first AGM-130 shot. There was a second AGM-130 shot after the first.
Mr. Crowley: I think the clip that we're talking about, my recollection is that it's the first one.
Q: The first. But then, in the second, the train is now stopped on the bridge. It is obscured by smoke, perhaps, but it is on the bridge, and there's a second shot. And what are you saying about the weapons officer on that one?
Mr. Crowley: I'm -- we're dealing with the issue. I'm not here to do a mission debrief, I'm just here to say based on the Frankfurter Rundschau report there was no manipulation to this video, as we've talked about.
Q: But I guess one of the questions is, there were two pieces of video released that day, the next day. Are they both -- were they both subject to the same acceleration effect?
Mr. Crowley: I will presume yes. I don't know. You know, I didn't ask a question about the second piece of --
Q: And also, will you -- as long as you're taking questions and queries, we'd like to be, if possible, provided with a tape of this event that occurs in -- that's slowed down to what is real time and shows precisely what the pilot actually saw so that we can make an intelligent evaluation --
Mr. Crowley: Again, I would think that you basically saw what the pilot saw. You know, the speed doesn't alter the basic facts that the --
Q: You told me that they only saw what was in the brackets, and what the video that was released showed a much wider field. We'd like to be able to show the public what it is the pilots or the weapons systems officer saw in the actual time that he saw it so the people can make their own judgment about whether the statements that you've said are reasonable.
Mr. Crowley: I understand what you're looking to do. I'm not sure whether we have the ability to do that or not, but we'll look into it.
Q: On both -- on both tries.
Q: Have you asked SHAPE whether or not this situation occurred in any other released video?
Mr. Crowley: I think that's related to what you've already asked. We'll --
Q: You've shown other AGM-130s.
Mr. Crowley: We will see whether there was something that has been done to other video that, because of the speed of getting this out, was not done in this particular case. We've already taken that question.
Q: Has anyone done a frame by frame analysis that you can tell us exactly how much time the pilot had from the time the train entered the view and the time that the bomb was launched?
Mr. Crowley: Again, I don't think that we're here to get into a mission debrief of exactly what the pilot did and did not do, see and did not see.
Q: Whether they --
Mr. Crowley: The heart of this is simply whether this video was manipulated, and our answer is no, it was not, definitively not.
Q: Right. I understand that. But what you're standing on is saying that the basic facts haven't changed. But we feel misled. And so now we kind of want to have something concrete --
Mr. Crowley: Well, again, I think probably the best people to go through review of this particular episode, for example, would be General Leaf, who is the commander at Aviano, or one of the senior leaders at USAFE.
And they are prepared to go through this whole incident with you, if that's what you want to do.
Q: Well, General Clark used this video as evidence to support his contention that, look, the weapons officer did not have the ability to keep this from happening and the train from being hit --
Mr. Crowley: Let's stay -- let's --
Q: No, no, no, but that's -- he used --
Mr. Crowley: I understand, but let's stay where, you know, we here at this podium today can deal with. I cannot give you a mission debrief pertaining to the pilot's actions --
Q: But that's what General Clark did at the time --
Mr. Crowley: I understand that. You know, the report today is suggesting that we manipulated this video. We did not.
Q: P.J., if I'm understanding right, you're telling us that intel officers are routinely looking on their computer screens at video that's been sped up and compressed. Frames, as I understand what you said, have been dropped out. Does it give anybody in this building concern that people are making judgments, whether in Kosovo or anywhere else, based on their examination of video that's going almost three times faster than real time, that has had frames cut out? I mean, as a layman, that gives me a lot of concern.
Mr. Crowley: Well, no. But the primary purpose of this is to judge the success of a particular mission. You know, where you aiming at the right target? Did you hit the target? Does that target need to be re-struck? So an analyst is going through to evaluate -- or based on the video, did you see any threats that you have to advise your crew members to be careful about if you're operating in the same area? So first and foremost, this is about helping analysts with -- who are making recommendations on missions as part of the conflict.
Q: So if they're looking at video to help them decide which targets to strike, that's not sped up as well? For example, the mistake that was made on the Chinese embassy -- were they looking at video that was run three times faster than normal and deciding that that wasn't the Chinese embassy, that it was a real target?
Mr. Crowley: Let's not stray too far afield here.
Q: P.J., I'm concerned about some of the use of words here, P.J., and I just want to tell you how your statement appears to conflict with what they are saying in Europe. And maybe we can clear this up easily.
They are saying that the video was not intentionally manipulated, that they accidentally put out video that was 2.7 times faster than what they normally showed to the press briefing. They didn't intentionally do it. They did manipulate the video by accidentally putting this out. It wasn't intentional, they claim; there was no malice, there was no manipulation intended. But they did accidentally put it out at a different speed. That's a different story than what you are maintaining here.
Mr. Crowley: We have taken the question as to whether there is something that we have done in other instances, that we failed to do in this instance, which would get at whether, you know, this video is in some way different in its presentation than other examples that we showed during the various briefings during the Kosovo conflict.
I would argue with you that if it is a normal process of working through compression and acceleration of intelligence data that is reviewed by analysts, that's not manipulation. That is how, you know, you go through these various computer iterations and get to a product. The product was presented as the intelligence analyst normally would see it, and that is not a manipulation.
Now, whether we should have backed that down to a slower speed so it's seen in real time -- a fair question, and which we've already taken. But I, again, challenge the assumption that we have in some way manipulated this in a way of trying to mislead people. We have not.
Q: You said that this product is -- its primary purpose in the way it's -- not "manipulated" but -- excuse me -- the way it's formatted, is for strictly sort of war-fighting purposes, accessing damage, et cetera. In that instance, and in several other instances, both in Kosovo and in other conflicts, gun camera footage has been used by military leaders to make policy points about collateral damage, about the intent of the pilots and weapons officers in a certain incident, it's been used to clarify and explain rules of engagement. Is there some other formatting that is developed for that purpose? I mean, is this stuff really dual use, or is it inadequate for --
Mr. Crowley: Roberto, let me presume something here; that depending on the time it takes in order to make a presentation, I suppose a question is whether we were able to get our hands on the original 8mm footage, in which case you can make a dub from 8mm to VHS or to Beta so that it can be presented to you all, versus in this particular case where we acquired it once it had gone through this process that is normal for intelligence analysts. It may well be that because of the short circuit that we took, that meant that we, in essence, got a different product that we didn't realize. It's quite possible that in the normal routine of getting gun camera footage, as General Wald presented to you here many times, we were working off of the original 8mm gun footage where the compression had not taken place.
Q: You are indicating knowledge of this question that you've taken. I mean, is that --
Mr. Crowley: I am just offering a possible explanation before you will allow me to get off the podium so I can go research the answers to --
Mr. Crowley: -- the many technical -- the many questions that we have already taken.
Q: But you can go and --
Mr. Crowley: (Inaudible.)
Q: All right. (Inaudible) -- I just might point out one thing; it's not really a question.
But you may recall, when this tape was briefed the next day by General Clark, when he began his briefing, he didn't have the tape. And he said that he hoped to have it before the end of the briefing. And at some point before the end of the briefing, the tape arrived. So --
Q: He said it was hung in his computer assistant. So --
Mr. Crowley: I think it's important to make one final point here.
In the intervening time, since the Kosovo conflict, I have heard no one suggest that this crew operated in error. I think everyone has understood that they launched a missile based on the field of view that they had at the time and that there was not sufficient time, once that missile was launched, to divert it once they saw the train. So, under the circumstances and the fog of war, I have heard no one blame this crew for making an error, based on the information that was available to them in the cockpit when they made the decision to launch the missile.
Q: That goes to the second missile also?
Mr. Crowley: Again, I have heard no -- you know, I think people understood, based on the information that this crew had in the cockpit at the time that they launched the missile -- and it was only after they launched the missile, that they saw the train come into view.
Q: A new subject?
Admiral Quigley: Other topics? Jamie?
Q: Regarding the Middle East peace talks, I was reading an account in the Jerusalem Post that said Israel's, I think, defense minister was planning to return for more meetings with Pentagon officials about military assistance linked to the peace process. Can you give us any idea of what kinds of requests Israel has made for military assistance from the United States and whether the U.S. is looking favorably on any of these requests?
Admiral Quigley: I won't be specific because it is very much a work in progress.
But it is safe to say we have had consultations, discussions with the Israelis, as to what they think might be necessary, if such a peace agreement with Syria is signed, to ensure their security posture within the Middle East. But as I mentioned, this is still very much a work in progress.
I would characterize it as discussions only at this point, and we remain hopeful that those talks -- the president has said repeatedly that the United States is committed to that Middle East peace process, and that will include substantive commitments of perhaps items or money or people over a period of time.
I think it's in our nation's interest, it's in the region's interest, it's in the world's interest to have that part of the world, the Middle East, be a peaceful place. And we, the United States, have made a commitment to do that, to be a very substantive part of that process.
Q: Two quick follow-ups. Can you tell us whether Israel has asked for U.S. cruise missiles, such as has only been provided to Great Britain at this point?
Admiral Quigley: I won't characterize the discussions except to say that there have been some, but I would say that of course we would follow the legal process once there is a Syrian-Israeli peace agreement, hopefully. We can get specific at that point as to what items would be appropriate, what role and items the United States might contribute and, of course, we would do that in full consultation with the Congress and our allies around the world.
Q: And one last follow-up. Is there any consideration or contingency planning for U.S. troops to take part in any sort of peacekeeping force in the Golan Heights, or in any peacekeeping mission related to a possible peace agreement?
Admiral Quigley: That would certainly remain an option. Again, the issue here is one of this is very much work in progress in Sheperdstown, and we'll see what develops from those talks, and take up the discussion from there. But I would say there is nothing that isn't on the table, Jamie. It's all fair to discuss. But by the same token, I would not leave you the impression that we have made a commitment to any particular thing or troop strength or monetary amount other than in a very general way, as the president has said, to be supportive of that process.
Q: Sir, speaking in a very general way, could you generally characterize the Israeli request as a lengthy and expensive shopping list for top-of-the-line weapons? Is that --
Admiral Quigley: I would characterize it as quite detailed, but I don't want to go into descriptors of length or dollar amounts or anything. But it is quite detailed.
We think we understand their position. And I think that's clear to the Israelis, that we understand what they're asking in return.
Q: When did they give you the list?
Admiral Quigley: I don't have that date, but it was recently; within the last few weeks, Pam, I would say.
Q: A question on "don't ask, don't tell, don't harass." Under the current law -- let's go ahead to January 2001; a new president has been elected, and he decides, "I want gays to serve openly in the military." If he were to give that order, given the state of the current law, would that be a lawful order? What would happen if that were to take place?
Admiral Quigley: Well, I think the current policy of "don't ask, don't tell, don't harass" is rooted in law. And so a newly elected president would have to, I would think, go for -- I'd have to check my constitutional law process in more detail, but I would think the more likely way would be to go for a change in the law.
Q: So that as a chairman of the Joint Chiefs getting that order, what would the obligation of that chairman be?
Admiral Quigley: That's an issue for the next president to discuss with the next secretary of Defense.
Admiral Quigley: Yes?
Q: Can you tell us, where are the negotiations on the Vieques issue right now?
Admiral Quigley: "Ongoing" would be, in a phrase, to say.
Q: Is the Navy representative already down in Puerto Rico?
Admiral Quigley: No, he is not. He has not yet arrived. I don't have a timetable for that; perhaps the Navy might. But I am not aware of any announcements in that regard.
Q: One follow-up on "don't ask, don't tell." Vice President Gore said last night that he would not appoint a member of the Joint Chiefs who did not support allowing homosexuals to serve openly in the U.S. military. What kind of a message does that send to -- the fact that the sitting vice president makes that statement, what does that send -- message it sends to commanders? And is that -- would that be a legitimate litmus test to have for a Joint Chiefs chairman?
Admiral Quigley: Well, the message it sends is that, clearly you have a political candidate, a candidate here for the office of president of the United States, that has stated his views. As we've said many times before, candidates for political office are certainly free to do that, and must do that in order to explain their views to the American people. But I would not speculate as to what that may or may not mean a year from now. I would go back to my answer to Chris's question; it's really appropriate for the next president to discuss that with the next secretary of Defense.
Q: Do you think that the next president, if he were to adopt that policy, would have any trouble finding a chairman of the Joint Chiefs, if that were a requirement?
Admiral Quigley: I would have no way to factually answer that question.
Q: A question on Goldwater-Nichols. The terms the chairman and vice chairmen serve are set by law. It's a little different from many other jobs, as I understand it. In other words --
Admiral Quigley: Two-year terms.
Q: For two-year terms. In other words, a president comes in and then he'll have whoever is chairman for --
Admiral Quigley: Some period of time; yes.
Q: -- most of a year, I think. So he's not actually going to be -- he won't have had the opportunity to apply any litmus test to the serving chairman of the Joint Chiefs; right?
Admiral Quigley: Well, that's true. That's true.
Q: Just to clear up one other point that Chris was getting to about lawful orders. Just to clarify the role of the Joint Chiefs and the chairman, if the civilian leadership makes a change in a policy -- just generally speaking; maybe it's not even this policy -- that is unpopular with the military, the military, obviously, doesn't have any choice but to carry out that policy; is that not correct?
Admiral Quigley: Correct. If you, as an individual -- the institution of the American military, we are committed constitutionally to civil control of the military in this country. It is a bedrock principle of our democracy. As an institution, that is true across the board.
As an individual, each one of us, for whatever policies that are set, you must have a private conversation with yourself, because at the end of the day you've got to be happy with the decisions that you have made. So very clearly, all policies across the board are not surprises; they are fully out there in the full light of day. You need to understand them, think about them, and have a discussion with yourself, if you will. If it's a policy you cannot support, you are obliged to leave the service. So that's a very individualized question.
Q: Would senior officers, very senior U.S. military officers, if they were to not agree with policy, have the option of resigning?
Admiral Quigley: Of course. We all do.
Q: But not, say, enlisted personnel or -- I mean, at what point do you -- obviously, if they were to adopt a policy that was unpopular, you couldn't have half the military say, "Okay, that's it. I'm out of here."
Admiral Quigley: No, we have seen members of the military, over the years, say, "I can't endorse this policy," or "I can't live with this policy" -- whatever that might be.
And if it's something -- there are means of leaving the service. Whether it's retirement or a resignation of a commission or an end to an enlistment or something like that, that we are reasonable about that. If a person has a legitimate request to leave service from a moral issue that they've been wrestling with about a policy that is in effect in the military, that is something that we evaluate very carefully and try our darnedest to come to an accommodation to meet that service member's expectations and needs.
Q: Another subject entirely? Okay. Yes.
Admiral, a Cuban defector, former intelligence operative who defected to Spain, was here in Washington, I believe this last week, talking about Cuba, what he knew about the government of Cuba, said that the Cubans were involved in shipping guns and other kinds of arms, transshipping them to Colombia, trading for drugs with the FARC, basically doing barter with the FARC on this, and then transshipping those drugs through Cuba to the United States. Does the military have any knowledge of these type of activities by the Cubans?
Admiral Quigley: Bill, if we did, that would be based on intelligence reports, and that's a detail I can't get into, I'm sorry, from the podium in an unclassified way. Just let me use it as an opportunity to restate our support of the Colombian government as they do their level best to regain the safety and security of the nation of Colombia. It is in the entire world's interest to stop drug flow from Colombia to the world.
Q: And to follow, Mr. Macetti (sp) said that groups like the FALN, specifically, and other groups that were anti-American, anti-Navy, were being heavily influenced by the Cubans, cash-wise and otherwise. And is there any connection between the negativity on Vieques and the action of Cuban agents?
Admiral Quigley: Not that I'm aware, no.
Q: Not that you're aware of? Okay, thanks.
Admiral Quigley: Yes, ma'am?
Q: I'd like to ask about yesterday's talk between Secretary Cohen and the Japanese secretary of defense agency.
And in such talks Japanese secretary mentioned about a limitation of 15 years of limitation of the U.S. base in Okinawa as opinion of -- (inaudible) -- of Okinawa people. And I'd like to know how did the Secretary Cohen accept that issue of limitation? And also, I'd like to know whether he is ready to talk about that in the future with Japan or not.
Admiral Quigley: I don't know if that topic came up between the two men in their discussions. If it did, it has not been -- I am not aware that either nation is ready to release the results or a final decision in that regard.
All topics are on the table when we meet with as close a friend as Japan. That is one of our most important bilateral security relationships around the world. But even in such a close relationship there are differences between good friends. And some of these issues are more difficult than others to work through and take more time than others to work through. When that issue is worked through, I'm sure that we will make an announcement in that regard. But in the meantime, I don't think it would be helpful to be -- give it a higher profile than it deserves because it is a tough one to work through for both nations.
Q: Related question.
Admiral Quigley: Sure.
Q: Did the topic of the Japanese desire to limit the reimbursement that they do for U.S. forces in Japan and perhaps put a cap on that, did that topic come up?
Admiral Quigley: I'll take that question. I don't know. I saw the report on that from I think two days ago. But I don't know if that came up.
Q: Admiral, yesterday Korea time there was an incident that resulted in the evacuation of a U.S. military camp near north of Seoul because of apparently some sort of a bomb threat or bomb scare. Do you know whatever happened to that? Was there any bomb found, and was it -- did it turn out to be a credible threat, or -- do you know anything about that?
Admiral Quigley: We take all threats as credible. We can do nothing less. But there was no bomb found, and the people were returned -- allowed to return.
Q: The Chinese government has made a number of commitments to the U.S. government over the years, to the secretary of State and the secretary of Defense, that they will not export missile technology. Is it the impression of the U.S. government that they are living up to those commitments, or is there some question about that?
Admiral Quigley: We remain very concerned about any reports that they are not. To the best of our ability we will try to ascertain ground truth in that regard, Chris. But again, in order to do that we would use the capabilities of our intelligence organization, and it's not something I can go into. But we have made our views on that very clear to the Chinese government for many years and, indeed, in recent years have made it a very central discussion point with the Chinese government, our views on the importance of the nonproliferation of this very dangerous technology to other countries around the world.
Q: Are we going to get the secretary's speech piped back now, or is that --
Admiral Quigley: In minutes, if everything works.
Oh, thank you.
Staff: We have -- the line is up. We're a few moments -- there are probably a few moments we have so that if you wanted to take a break, you --
Admiral Quigley: Okay. Sorry, I went on too long.
Q: Oh, no.
Admiral Quigley: It should be just a few minutes before -- and for those -- someone has asked if it was television or audio. It's only audio. It'll be coming through the speakers in the overhead. It'll also be on channel 13, the Pentagon cable system. Again, just audio. But if you want to watch it there, your call.
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