DoD News Briefing - Rear Admiral Craig R. Quigley, DASD PA
Tuesday, March 6, 2001
Quigley: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. I have a couple of announcements this afternoon.
On Thursday, this Thursday, March 8th there'll be a ribbon cutting ceremony at 2:00 marking the partial opening of the Pentagon's Wedge One, first of the wedges for renovation. Weather permitting, the ceremony will be held in the Pentagon center court at the entrance to corridors three and four. This is the most significant milestone to date and represents the most visible part of the Pentagon renovation program. You've invited to cover the ceremony and then tour the renovated spaces if you wish. For further information on this we've got a press advisory with a little bit more detail on that as well as a point of contact in the renovation office itself. [The press advisory is on DefenseLINK at http://www.defenselink.mil/advisories/2001/p03062001_p045-01.html ]
Second, also on Thursday, we will not hold our regular press brief here. However, there will be two other press events that day.
First at 9:45 Secretary Rumsfeld will host an honor cordon to welcome German Minister of Defense Rudolf Scharping on the steps of the River Entrance. And the honor cordon is open to coverage. And then at 11:30 a.m. Secretary Rumsfeld will host an honor cordon again to welcome NATO Secretary-General Lord George Robertson. And then at 12:45 Rumsfeld and Robertson will hold a joint press conference here in our briefing room.
And finally, we're pleased to welcome to our briefing today a group of 13 students from the National War College. They are currently enrolled in a course on information, the media and national security. Welcome to you all.
With that I'll take your questions. Charlie.
Q: Has the SecDef made any more progress on selecting deputies of --
Quigley: It's a process that he devotes at least a couple hours of his time to nearly every day. But the process is time-consuming.
Those recommendations are ultimately made to the president, who, of course, is the final arbiter as to whether or not the person would actually be nominated to serve in the president's government. And so I have nothing more to announce except to say that the process gets his personal attention and that of others every day.
Q: Have recommendations gone over to the White House beyond anybody who's been named by the president so far?
Quigley: I don't think there's any additional recommendations that have gone since Secretary Rumsfeld came down here last week to introduce Deputy Secretary Wolfowitz. I think he said six or eight, I believe, at that time. I don't think there's any more that have gone over since then. But those are still in the works.
Q: Are those service-secretary ships or are they other --
Quigley: I can't be more explanatory as to who they are. I'm sorry.
Q: Craig can you give us a little update on the Greeneville situation? We, obviously, are in touch with PacFlt, but just to get it from the podium, so to speak, what transpired yesterday and what's on today and how long it's going to run, whatever you can share with us.
Quigley: I don't think I could improve upon the information that you can get from the folks that are actually in charge of the court of inquiry out in Hawaii. Our reports are coming from them, and it's a process we're watching from here but not taking an active role in, obviously, because of distances involved.
Q: I can share one thing with you, and everybody else, which you may know, talking to them this morning. There's been some speculation that the Greeneville was going to put to sea with the court on board. It's in drydock, still. The court will be on board but not going anywhere.
Quigley: Okay. Okay. You got that.
Q: Yeah, Craig. China today announced that they're going to increase defense spending by nearly 18 percent next year. And they said that that's in response to drastic changes in the world military situation. Is that kind of an increase in line with the Pentagon's expectations? And how do you interpret that?
Quigley: Well, I don't know that we had any expectations for a specific percentage increase in their defense budget. That's certainly their prerogative. They as a nation can make those sorts of decisions. I would -- on the one hand, I very much would welcome, and do welcome, the transparency to have the Chinese government officially say that there is a 17.7 percent increase in their defense spending next year, I think, is a welcome addition to the knowledge that the world can then assess as to the amount of money that the Chinese government is spending on defense.
The fact that the Chinese are modernizing their defense forces is not new.
They have made their goals in this area very clear for several years now. And I also don't think that it's the size -- that, in itself, that they are increasing the size of their military in the modernization effort, and now we've seen this 17.7 percent increase in the defense spending, it is not destabilizing of itself. How you use the forces, what policies do you put in place and what activities those forces engage in, that is the bottom line. And we hope that those policies are constructive and add to the stability of that region of the world instead of the opposite is true.
Q: Is it something that he will take into consideration as you -- or take into account as you consider Taiwan's request for new arms, including apparently Aegis destroyers and Patriot 3 defense systems?
Quigley: Well, I don't think you can divorce those sorts of decisions from the People's Republic's defense spending completely. No, I don't think you can split those two. I mean, you're familiar with the terms of the Taiwan Relations Act. It commits the United States to meeting the legitimate defensive needs of Taiwan. Every year that process takes place. It is a fresh sheet of paper, if you will, every year to look at the balance. And there's an ongoing debate both within the government and of the United States and with the Taiwan authorities as to what is that -- what are the defensive systems that need to be made available to the Taiwanese for their legitimate defensive needs. And every year you again start with a fresh sheet of paper and take an honest look and come up with a decision that is made between the Taiwanese authorities and the government of the United States.
Q: What about selling American weapons to the Chinese government? What's our policy?
Quigley: I don't know. I don't know.
Q: Haven't we ever -- do we see it as an opening market, an emerging market for our defense contractors?
Quigley: It's a new topic that I have not -- I don't know what the government's policy is that regard. Let me see if I can find out.
Q: On the same subject --
Quigley: Jim, you look like you had another --
Q: I had -- out of the same comments out of Beijing today, the foreign minister also said that had been conducted in the allegations that the Chinese were involved in building that fiberoptic system in Iraq, and that they found that no Chinese companies were involved in that.
Is it still the position of the United States that the Chinese were involved in putting up fiberoptic systems for the Iraqi air defense networks? And if it is, can you be more specific about who was involved in that?
Quigley: Well, I think I'd better leave that one where it rightfully belongs: in the exchanges between governments. I know Secretary Powell has taken the lead in the State Department on asking the Chinese government, and the Chinese government has therefore responded, I think via that means. So I think I would defer to the State Department on --
Q: Have they notified you officially that they've conducted this investigation, what their conclusion was --
Quigley: Not that I'm aware of. I've seen the press reporting, some wire reporting on that this morning. But -- you know, quoting the Chinese foreign minister verbatim. So I'm going to -- with a Beijing date line. So I'm going to take that those wire reports are correct. But I have not seen that, and I don't know that the Department of Defense has been formally informed. I'm not sure that it would come this way. I think it would come to the Department of State instead of to us.
Q: Craig, speaking of Iraq, has there been any no-fly zone violations, no air defense activity over the last several days, or -- ?
Quigley: Well, we have flown I think most of those days that you just referred to if not all of those days -- most of those days, certainly. The anti-air activity of the pattern of the past two years plus has continued during that timeframe. Again, all coalition aircraft returned safely. But the activity continues.
Q: By that you mean every time, every day, is it just sporadic, or --
Quigley: No, it's frequent, but it's not every day. But it is frequent.
Q: Plus there's been no indication that there's been a response from coalition aircraft.
Quigley: Correct. Correct.
Q: May I follow up on the Chinese military thing? Do you maintain -- and officials of this building maintain an official estimate of what Chinese spending is on the military? Unless there's some conflicting estimates.
Quigley: Our most recent estimate, Chris, probably would have been in the June last year, the assessment of the Chinese military, the report that we issued eight months ago. I don't know of a more current estimate than that. [The most recent report was released on June 23, 2000. See the press advisory on DefenseLINK at http://www.defenselink.mil/advisories/2000/p06232000_p111-00.html ]
Q: Okay. And does an increase -- I tried to get it in here before. Does an increase in spending by the Chinese on their military affect U.S. -- we talked about Taiwan and the sale of arms to them. Does it affect U.S. military planning? Does the commander in chief in the Pacific start looking at things differently? Does that affect the budget process here in terms of where resources are allocated, that sort of thing, or is it --
Quigley: Well, I don't think you take a look at it as -- any single nation's defense spending to by itself have an overriding effect on U.S. defense planning. You really do take a look on a regional basis. And you rely on the commander in chief of the Pacific, you rely on the U.S. ambassadors in those countries to get a feel for the tenor of military engagement throughout a region. So is it something that we pay attention to? You bet. Is it all by itself going to have a profound impact on U.S. defense policy and defense spending? I don't think so. I think that's too strong a description.
Q: Going back to Iraq for a second, is there evidence as the air activity challenging our aircraft increases the data is coordinated by command and control facilities such as the ones we attempted to take out, or is it still sporadic and individual? And if it's coordinated, obviously, even though you don't talk about contingency plans, what are we going to do about it?
Quigley: I think General Newbold from this podium on the 16th of February said that one of the principal reasons for us doing the strike on that day was because of the increase that we had observed in capabilities of the antiaircraft systems -- and that's command and control communications, missile batteries, triple-A, all of it -- in engaging coalition aircraft over the southern no-fly zone since the start of the year. And we attributed that to an ever-improving interconnectivity amongst the elements of that air defense system. We see nothing that would change our understanding of Saddam's goal to improve in that regard. That's simply a more effective way to have an integrated air defense system. The more integrated you can make it, typically the more effective it is by knitting together all the component parts. We would do what we could over time to try to disrupt and degrade that capability so as to not put coalition air crews more at risk. [The transcript of Gen. Newbold's briefing is on DefenseLINK at http://www.defenselink.mil/transcripts/2001/t02162001_t216iraq.html ].
Q: But wasn't that the purpose of the strike, to try and do that? And if it continues then, you know, we have to look at the strike as being unsuccessful, and will there be other strikes? I mean, if you have --
Quigley: Well, again --
Q: -- a continuing problem, you've got to do something right.
Quigley: We had no thought on the 16th that this would have a permanent effect. The installations that were struck can be repaired. They can be replaced. They can be changed to some other shape and form in another place. So it's something that we watch all the time and pay very close attention to as to what the Iraqis are doing to place and integrate and use air defense systems that could place coalition aircrews at risk.
Q: But watching does not reduce the threat to our aircraft.
Quigley: No, no, that's true. But, I mean, it's all part of an overall -- we perform the no-fly zone patrols very carefully. And we know where we're flying; we know why we're flying there on that particular place and time. And it's all part of a very complicated flight planning process that goes into monitor activity in the no-fly zone and to make sure that the coalition aircrews are very much aware of the threat they face in the areas in which they fly.
Q: Can I go back --
Quigley: Tom, one second. To answer your question, Pat, on arms sales to China: In accordance with the 1989 Tianenmen Sanctions Act, we are restricted from selling items on the munitions list unless the president himself deems a sale to be in our national interest. Now, I'm not aware of any sales since that time, so it's been a while.
Tom, go ahead.
Q: This is with reference to Lord Robertson's visit on Thursday. The French government has come out now, again, and apparently has reopened the can of worms over their Rapid Reaction Force, saying that they firmly believe it should be outside NATO and, you know, an autonomous EU. Is this issue still up in the air? And do you -- to what extent do you expect this to be featured prominently in the session with Secretary Rusmfeld and Lord Robertson on Thursday?
Quigley: I believe the issue is still on the table for discussion, but I can't predict as to whether or not this would be a discussion item between the two men on Thursday. I'm not sure.
Q: But do you regard this --
Quigley: It's certainly possible.
Q: Do you regard the organization of this force as resolved or is it still unresolved?
Quigley: I think -- let me check. I need to check with the NATO folks to see where we are in that regard. I think it's still unresolved, but let me check.
Q: Admiral, any comment on the recent attacks by Albanians against FYROM?
Quigley: We think that the recent activities by Albanian extremists along the border between Kosovo and former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia are exactly opposite what everyone is trying to accomplish in that region.
Any sort of an effort to destabilize, further aggravate a tense situation is in no one's best interest. The goal of KFOR, the goal of NATO, the goal of all of the parties in that very troubled region has been to create a process and a sense of stability that would lend itself to a longer-term sense of peace and allow people to live more peacefully in that region.
Extremists on all sides simply do not contribute to that process. And any actions that would be taken outside of a process that takes us towards a path to a peaceful settlement of differences among the peoples there simply is not in anybody's best interest. And we would condemn that in the strongest terms.
Q: Why then you don't characterize them as terrorists?
Quigley: I think I'm comfortable with the term of "extremists".
Q: Since you have all civilian facilities in the area, do you know happen (sic) who is aiding those Albanian "extremists"?
Quigley: I'm sorry, would you ask that again?
Q: My question is since you have all type of civilian facilities in the area of Balkans, do you happen to know who is aiding those Albanian "extremists"?
Quigley: No, I don't.
Q: And how much those new developments affects your military presence in the area of the Balkans?
Quigley: Well, over the past 10 days or so you have seen about a 150-man force of elements of the U.S. forces in the U.S. sector in Multinational Brigade East have moved closer to the border with FYROM, increased their visibility, increased the activity of their surveillance patrols along the border there, all with the goal of trying to restore a sense of calm and to stop the actions by the extremists. It's a very difficult border right there, it's very mountainous, very rugged terrain. It is not a tight border by anyone's description. But by moving additional forces closer to the border we hope that by increasing the numbers, increasing the visibility, increasing the surveillance and patrol activity we would have some effect to try to tamp down the extremist action that's been taken in that region.
Q: (Inaudible) -- do you guarantee the security and the territorial integrity of FYROM?
Quigley: Well, I think the United States is present in Kosovo as a part of KFOR. KFOR is a NATO creation, and I think the charter of NATO and KFOR and the United States, with its commitment of forces to that region, is certainly going to remain within Kosovo. So once you cross the border into another sovereign nation, that's a whole different issue, and I don't think that's -- that is simply not the charter of KFOR, or NATO's intentions. So the U.S. forces, all of NATO forces, are certainly remaining on the Kosovo side of the border.
Q: Anything on the Bulgarian proposal to send troops in Skopje?
Quigley: No, I don't have anything on that. That would be a proposal made to the government, and that would be not something that --
Q: And the last one, as the Department of Defense, did you discuss this crucial issue with Greek military officials here or in Athens?
Quigley: I think it was probably done amongst all of the 19 NATO nations, in a NATO context. We have tried very hard to keep all of our discussions on force levels and timing and activities and equipping and all of that within the context of an overall NATO effort. I think we've been pretty successful in that so far, and I think we'll stick to that.
Q: For a number of years, the U.S. contributed peacekeepers or sentries or whatever to a U.N. mission on the border with Macedonia there. Do we have any presence at the current time in Macedonia at all -- the United States?
Quigley: Well, in the city of Skopje, you have Camp --
Q: Able Sentry.
Quigley: Able Sentry. Thank you. I was going to say the name escaped me. That still exists, certainly, and is a major logistics staging area for a lot of the equipment moving into and out of Kosovo.
Q: But is Operation Able Sentry, which was basically U.S. folks on the border looking out, is that still -- I don't think that still exists.
Quigley: No, I do not think that is still in operation.
Q: So it's just a sort of logistic staging area and is no longer a kind of trip wire or something?
Quigley: Right. No, it's still a very, very helpful, and are very appreciative to the government of FYROM to make that available for moving the logistics items -- people, equipment -- in and out.
Q: Do you think since Macedonia has been sort of the Switzerland of the Balkans, it seems it's been sort of out of much of the problems, do you think it might be good to have a -- to reinvigorate that presence that you had for many years that seemed to successful keep problems out of Macedonia?
Quigley: Well, you're touching on an area there that I'm not comfortable going into, and that is the requests of one government to another, or to a world body such as the United Nations. I think those discussions should take place in that forum rather than here.
Q: Admiral, the SecDef told us last week that there would be additional discussions between the department and the government of Puerto Rico concerning the future of the range on Vieques. Can you give us anything on how those discussions are progressing? Have there been additional meetings? Or when might there be additional meetings?
Quigley: I'm not aware of any additional meetings that have taken place, but I know there have been a couple of telephone conversations in the days since then. But the secretary and the governor are still committed to doing this privately and not doing it publicly. So I don't have any additional details to announce for you, other than to acknowledge that there have been some follow-on phone calls.
Q: The secretary mentioned that former Deputy Secretary de Leon was being helpful in this effort. Is he staying on for this or other purposes for a while?
Quigley: Well he's staying on, yes, for some number of weeks. I think his plans are indefinite, Dale, but I think two to four weeks might be a good ballpark, at least. And not so much with a focus on any particular issue, but to use his incredible institutional knowledge, from having served here for eight years, to further help Deputy Secretary Wolfowitz and Secretary Rumsfeld during that next two- to four-week period of time on a variety of issues.
Q: Excuse me. Have these telephone calls been between the SecDef and the governor?
Quigley: They've been -- I don't believe so. They've been for staff members from their respective offices.
Q: In the carrier group that will not be training at Vieques, not doing any firing, will they do live fire --
Quigley: On the inner range. Okay.
Q: Right. Will they do that training in Florida and North Carolina, like the previous ones did when they stopped training at Vieques?
Quigley: I don't know that level of detail, Tom. I'm sorry. I'd have to refer you to the Atlantic Fleet folks on that.
Q: Craig, I had a missile defense and a readiness subject I wanted you to address. Yesterday, the Department of Defense's Operational Test and Evaluation annual report came out. The write-ups on both the Navy Theater-wide and National Missile Defense, the ground-based, were less than sanguine about the progress both had been making toward a viable missile defense system. [A press advisory with a link to the report is on DefenseLINK at http://www.defenselink.mil/advisories/2001/p03022001_p043-01.html ].
My question is this: Has Secretary Rumsfeld read the report, and have you heard any reaction from him to those sections?
Quigley: No. But I don't think anybody is claiming that a sea-based national missile defense system would be ready in five years or any particular period of time. And theater-wide is not national missile defense.
Q: And it would be ground-based.
Quigley: Repeat your question.
Q: The Navy section on theater-wide, it's called -- that's for an NMD also. That's the section on it. Then there's ground-based --
Quigley: No. There's theater-wide, and there's national missile defense.
Q: Area-wide is the one you're thinking of -- tactical. All I'm asking is has Rumsfeld reviewed it, and what impact will those write-ups have on his review of net missile defense and the recommendations he gives to the White House?
Quigley: I don't think that Secretary Rumsfeld has reviewed the annual report. Other than being a factor in his overall decision making process, I'd -- there are many very notable studies and opinions and analyses that have been done of a variety of ways to take a look at missile defense. They're all going to go into his efforts in the defense review and that portion of the defense review and will be considered. I wouldn't give them any more or less weight than other efforts in that area.
Q: Yeah, but the Pentagon's test office carries a lot of weight because it reports directly to the secretary.
Q: Could you make sure that the secretary at least is aware that some of us have an interest in getting his reaction when he briefs us on Thursday?
Quigley: I don't know as if he's going to offer a reaction. I don't have any reason to think that he's going to read the DOT&E report by Thursday. I don't think that his particular focus is looking back at what the Office of OT&E has just published looking on their efforts during the past year other than saying that it would be an element of his effort as he looks ahead to making a recommendation to the president on missile defense. But I can't give it any more or less credence than other areas, Tony.
Q: On a readiness issue, the Pentagon IG last week put out a report on the state of the U.S. blood supply in case of massive combat casualties. It reported that the bulk of the blood, the frozen blood that's prepositioned is between 10-21 years old. My question is this: in a $296 billion budget that emphasizes readiness, why has a situation like that been allowed to perpetuate itself?
Quigley: I have not been able to get into that subject in enough detail to give you a good answer to that question. Let me take that and either put you with the folks that are far more technically proficient on the medical particulars of that than I am, or we will work to get you a more -- it's a topic I haven't had time to get into into the depth that it deserves.
Q: You know that Rumsfeld was made aware of the report last week because it was a touchy, one of these red flag-type of issues. It does beg a question why -- what are the priorities here if the blood's that old and the -- older than a lot of the soldiers? (No response.)
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