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Interview with Secretary of Defense William J. Perry - Monday, December 16, 1996

Presenter: Secretary of Defense William J. Perry
December 17, 1996

Monday, December 16, 1996

J. Perry takes place during the Secretary's visit with U.S. Forces in Bad Kreuznach, Germany]

Q: You were concerned with quality of life and family support issues. You've really pushed them. And, what we'd like to know is, is that going to be a top priority for Secretary of Defense-designee Cohen?

A: I've discussed this already with Senator Cohen and told him my view, the importance of it, and how it is really an integral part of readiness. I believe he understands this, and I believe he's going to be supportive also as Secretary of Defense. But, in addition to that, I would point out that some of the things we've done with quality of life are already written into law; are already made a part of the institution.

The pay raise, for example, is in our five year defense plan, into the next century. The next approach of bringing in private money to greatly accelerate the housing is already underway. So, many things are already established and moving forward with their own momentum.

Q: About a year ago, you gave the announcement for the deployment of 1st Armored Division soldiers, and we'd like to know, what were your concerns and are you satisfied with the outcome?

A: First of all, I was not concerned -- as some people were -- about the 1st Armored Division meeting organized armed resistance when they went into Bosnia. Our forces were so strong and so capable that we knew that that would be a foolish gesture on [inaudible] part. It was an intimidating force. And, that turned out to be correct.

My concern, really, was on lesser, but still important, issues that we might face paramilitary forces of some sort; disorganized resistance, terrorists .... And, certainly, there was the ever-present concern of accidents; mines; driving on icy and snowy, poor roads. To deal with those problems, the leadership of the 1st Armored Division set up, really, an amazing program of force protection and discipline to protect their force against those kind of accidents. The results have been truly amazing.

We have looked at the statistics. You can describe them many different ways, but the most impressive way is that they had fewer accidents, fewer casualties in their year in Bosnia than the same division had in a comparable period, the preceding year, here in garrison. That shows that discipline and leadership really pays off.

Q: Is there anything you'd like to say to the USA-EUR soldiers before you depart for CONUS?

A: Speaking to all of the USA-EUR soldiers, not just the ones in the 1st Armored Division, it's that you provide the forward presence of America's military in Europe. Sometimes, you're called upon to go to Bosnia. Sometimes, you're called upon to send forces to Southwest Asia. But, any time there's an emergency, any time America needs its soldiers to move forward and deal with a crisis in this part of the world, we turn to USA-EUR. Every time we've done that, you have performed brilliantly.

I believe your performance is a result of two primary attributes of USA-EUR. One of them is the emphasis on training. You have some of the best training ranges in the world and you train on these over and over again. That paid off in Bosnia; it will pay off anywhere you go. The second is leadership. We saw that leadership demonstrated in Bosnia, but the leadership all through USA-EUR is .... I'm quite proud of it, it's the best anywhere in the world. You can be very proud of that.

I want to thank all of you and I want to wish all of you a very, very happy holiday season.

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