United States Department of Defense United States Department of Defense

News Transcript

Press Operations Bookmark and Share

Transcript


DoD News Briefing - Rear Admiral Craig R. Quigley, DASD PA

Presenters: Rear Admiral Craig R. Quigley, DASD PA
March 15, 2001 1:30 PM EDT

Thursday, March 15, 2001 - 1:30 p.m. EST

Quigley: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. I have two announcements this afternoon.

The Department of Defense will recognize National Women's History Month during a ceremony today at 2:00 in the Pentagon auditorium, Room 5A1070. The acting under secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness, Mr. Charles Cragin, will host the program, and the guest speaker will be the adjutant general for the state of Vermont, Major General Martha Rainville. The theme for National Women's History Month 2001 is "Celebrating Women of Courage and Vision."

Second, Secretary Rumsfeld will host a welcoming ceremony for the new deputy secretary of Defense, Dr. Paul Wolfowitz, at 3:00 tomorrow afternoon at the Upper River Parade Field. In the event of inclement weather, that ceremony will be held in, again, the Pentagon auditorium, Room 5A1070. [The press advisory for this event is on the Web at http://www.defenselink.mil/advisories/2001/p03152001_p048-01.html ]

And with that, I'll take your questions.

Charlie?

Q: Craig, how long is the investigation expected to last in Kuwait? And what exactly is the purview of that board?

Quigley: Well, the first one is a tough one to answer. I believe that General Franks has asked General DeLong, who is leading the investigation board, to complete his work by the 16th of April. So he has set right to it. He arrived on the ground in Kuwait at about 1:30 in the afternoon Kuwait time today; that's about 5:30 this morning our time. And I believe that they are going to set to work right away, tomorrow, and are going to go to the range, to the Udairi Range, and to the Harry S. Truman. And his travels will take him wherever he needs to go in the days ahead to complete his work.

So that's -- I can't put a "less than" time frame on it for you, but General Franks has asked the completion date to be not later than the 16th of April.

Q: What's the purview of the board again? What are they going to look into?

Quigley: They are an investigation board to look into the causes of the accident -- put at its most succinct. Separate from, now, the safety investigations that the services will need to do. But General DeLong, as part of his efforts today, and in the early days -- I'll put it that way -- of his efforts on the ground there in Kuwait, will make sure that the safety investigations are deconflicted from his own team's work so that both objectives are met.

As you know, Charlie, a safety investigation's purpose is a little different than what General DeLong's is here, where his is trying to ascertain the cause of the accident and what lessons learned can we gain from this so as to, hopefully, preclude this from happening again, whereas the safety investigation is -- takes a look at specific safety issues and not so much hardware or things of that sort.

Q: By "seeking cause of the accident", you mean establishing blame in the process.

Quigley: Well, if human error is a factor, if communications standards are a factor, if equipment failure is a factor, all those are certainly fair game and will, indeed, be looked at, yes.

Q: Following a briefing this morning with -- a classified briefing with the Readiness subcommittee, Congressman Curt Weldon issued a statement that sort of attributed the accident to a lack of readiness and military training. He said, "We are witnessing the unfortunate results of eight years of neglect of our military." Does the Pentagon see this as a lack of readiness, a lack of training, or faulty equipment issue?

Quigley: I don't think we can say that yet at this point. That certainly would not be our position yet. We're going into this, General DeLong is going into this with a completely open mind and a very broad charter as to try to learn all the details that he can that would shed light on how this tragic accident occurred. So I -- at this point I would say we would certainly not be a position to say such a cause, any cause would be the reason for the accident yet.

Tom?

Q: And would General DeLong then be in a position to make recommendations to General Franks, presumably about if there are lessons to be learned or if there is blame to be cast --

Quigley: Yes.

Q: -- if the possibility, even, of disciplinary action should come up, that would all be in the nature of recommendations that General DeLong would make as a result of this?

Quigley: Yes, sir. He would have findings, he would have recommendations on the way ahead, or corrective actions that might need to be taken for follow-on procedures, whatever he thinks is the appropriate way to go. His charter is very broad. Yes. It's conceivable that there could be follow-on actions, possibly legal actions, resulting from the completion of General DeLong's work and the submission of his report.

Q: What's the flying status of the wing -- or the squadron at this point, and Zimmerman?

Quigley: I don't know the flying status of the squadron. The wing flew today, John. I don't know the squadron status.

Q: No bombs have been been dropped since the accident on the range? Is that correct?

Quigley: Correct.

Q: And Zimmerman's status?

Quigley: Well, I should -- well, let me take that back, too. If other nations have used the range for training, I don't know that. But no U.S. forces have used the range for training since the accident.

Q: And Zimmerman's status?

Quigley: Let me take that, too, and I'll check with the Navy. [Update: Cmdr. Zimmerman is in a non-flying status while the investigation is in progress.]

Q: And flying today, you mean they flew Southern Watch?

Quigley: The wing flew today; correct.

Yeah?

Q: Can you give us some guidance on the composition of this investigative board, who else is on it or what -- how many members from each branch of the services are on it?

Quigley: Headed by General DeLong, who is a Marine. Lieutenant General DeLong is a Marine. He has one member each from the Army and the Air Force -- correction -- one member each from the Air Force and the Navy, two, I believe, from the Army; and both the Kuwaitis and New Zealand has accepted our invitation to contribute advisory members and observers to the panel. There may be some additional administrative support personnel that are assigned as well -- I suspect that's the case -- as well as some provision of transportation assistance on the ground in Kuwait.

Q: All these others from the Army, Air Force and Navy, have they been assigned yet? Can you give us names?

Quigley: I don't know if CentCom has yet received the names of those individuals. I don't know.

Q: Are they to be --

Quigley: I know I'm right with the numbers, but I don't know if they've been assigned.

Q: Are they to be flag or general officers?

Quigley: I don't believe. I think they will be junior to General DeLong. And I don't think they'll be flag or general officers. What they will bring would be particular areas of expertise to the overall composition of the investigation board.

Q: Along those lines, the safety investigation, can you clarify, I guess, who would be -- what service is leading that and who's going to be a part of that investigation?

Quigley: Each service would do their own.

Pam?

Q: Will the report be public or is this classified findings at the end?

Quigley: Well, classified findings would remain classified, but I think ultimately those unclassified parts would certainly be releasable, yes.

Q: What do you know about movement of remains and injured?

Quigley: All of the remains and the injured are now at Landstuhl in Germany. I have the happy occurrence of just before I came out the condition of the three injured has been upgraded from stable to good.

And movement of the injured -- follow-on movement, I should say, of the injured from Landstuhl will of course be determined by their condition in the days ahead. But we're encouraged by the movement to the good column.

The preparation of remains for transfer back to the United States is not yet accomplished. I don't have a good timeframe on that, John, but all of them are in Landstuhl or Frankfurt and being prepared to be returned to the states. We'll work very closely with the families, of course, in the days ahead, on their desires in that regard as well.

[A photo of the arrival of the remains in Germany is on the Web at http://www.defenselink.mil/photos/Mar2001/010315-F-2454T-501.html ]

Dale.

Q: When they are well enough to travel, will the injured be taken back to assist in the investigation? I mean, obviously their testimony could be very valuable.

Quigley: I don't think there's any intention to return them. I don't see their recovery being far enough along in the near term to warrant movement of the injured back to Kuwait. If their medical condition is such that they can contribute by their words, then we would certainly accommodate their medical needs and go to them. But I don't know of any interest in moving them back to Kuwait for that.

Pat.

Q: On a different subject --

Quigley: Can I hold you on that thought one second? Any other questions on -- yes, ma'am.

Q: Where will Crusing be interviewed then?

Quigley: Where?

Q: Yeah.

Quigley: I don't know if General DeLong has that level of detail worked out yet.

Q: Well, obviously it's one of the top priorities since he was the forward air controller.

Quigley: He will go to wherever he needs to get the information in order to come to the conclusion of the accident investigation board. If that includes going to Germany, then that's okay.

Pat, go ahead, sorry.

Q: Is Secretary Rumsfeld or Secretary Wolfowitz looking into the Army's -- there is a dispute between defense contractors for the Army's new lightweight assault vehicle. Are they holding it up as part of the review, or do they plan to look into that dispute at all?

Quigley: I think it's really two separate issues. I mean, the one is a dispute by one of the contractors -- contractor teams that did not get the award of the contract. So that's on the one side.

Now, the role of such a vehicle in the Army of the future is certainly fair game to be reviewed, along with all other acquisition programs that are part of the ongoing review. So I need to put those in two different piles, I think.

Q: Do you know if the GAO has resolved that?

Quigley: I do not believe they have. I do not believe they have.

Q: And, so the secretaries are looking at that as part of their review?

Quigley: For the --

Q: Decision on the lightweight assault vehicle?

Quigley: Well, I would just put that in the same category as all other acquisition programs. When you come up with a strategy of what the American military is to do into the early part of the 21st century, then you move to the sorts of equipment that you need to carry out that strategy in the world, and all systems are fair game for review and will be part of the review.

Q: As long as we're on the Army, can we talk about the meeting between Wolfowitz and Shinseki today? Do you have any readout on --

Quigley: No, I'm not going to get into a discussion of how Dr. Wolfowitz is carrying out his tasking from the secretary.

Q: Another subject. On the Balkans, are there any plans to increase the number of troops in Kosovo in response to the fighting along the border and inside of Macedonia, or any other, you know, response to that? And then, as a separate issue, apparently there are plans to withdraw some troops from Bosnia, and I was wondering if you could explain what that's all about and whether there is a larger plan to withdraw U.S. forces from Bosnia, or at least reduce them down to 80 percent, within the next two years?

Quigley: Three issues, and all distinct from each other, but let me take them one at a time; first one first. For the second day, the activities in what NATO refers to as Sector Charlie East, along the border between FYROM and Kosovo, the FRY military units have been patrolling in that sector for, like I say, the second day, without remarkable incident.

There was one injury yesterday, but it was related to a FRY soldier who had attempted to defuse, I believe, a land mine, and an accident of some sort occurred and he was injured. But certainly nothing in the way of a confrontation with armed Albanian extremists. So that's in that regard.

As far as force levels along that part of the Kosovo-FYROM border, it's certainly something that's being watched very carefully, Jim.

I don't know of a request by KFOR at this point, at least, to supreme headquarters, Allied Powers Europe, the SACEUR, then the NATO channels, to increase force levels. There is some capability for that right there on hand in Kosovo, with NATO's quick reaction force, that can be moved quite quickly, by design, for a localized beefing up of forces. But I know of no request. And it would, of course, be done through NATO channels, from KFOR to SACEUR to the NATO nations, for increased force levels, at least at this point.

It's a very tense situation. They're watching it very closely every day. But so far I'm not aware of any requests for more forces.

Q: Any request from Macedonia?

Quigley: Well, NATO's charter stops at the border of -- between FYROM and Kosovo. And so that is where the participating NATO nations -- their charter of activity ends, is at the border, there.

But again, we're hoping that by the reduction of the ground safety zone over time, as well as the introduction of FRY military units, with proper controls, into Sector Charlie East will lessen some of the movement of both criminals and extreme elements up through that portion of the ground safety zone and up into Serbia proper. And so far -- like we said, this is the second day -- so far, there have been no incidents. So that's that one.

Second is the pending reduction of excess requirements in the U.S. forces in Bosnia, in SFOR, in the Stabilization Force. As part of the long-term strategy, as you know, NATO takes a look at the force level requirements in the Balkans every six months. The most recent one was done in December, and as a part of that process, the United States had informed the NATO allies that it was removing what it considered excess equipment, and people to operate that equipment, from the forces that it had contributed to that area.

The drawdown to that -- to rid the excess equipment -- we're talking now -- we're talking Apache helicopters, talking heavy armor, a reduction in the heavy armor, some of the Bradley infantry fighting vehicles, and, of course, the people to maintain them and to operate that equipment that the United States saw as above and beyond its needs in carrying out its mission in the larger NATO SFOR context.

There's been absolutely no reduction in our ability to carry out the mission assigned to U.S. forces as a part of SFOR, but it's really a product of success in that particular part of the Balkans. As conditions have warranted, you see these forces, which were kept there, and with their capabilities -- the Apache helicopters, the armor and what have you -- as something of an insurance policy. But with the conditions as we see them today, and as agreed to by the other NATO allies in that part -- in SFOR, these excess requirements are being drawn down.

We're doing that as a part of the overall change out of SFOR. Units of a turnover between SFOR rotation number eight and number nine have now started to take place. I believe a change of command takes place in early April, I believe. So you'll see a spike for a while in overall numbers as the relief units come in and those units being relieved then eventually leave.

But the way we're going to do this is for the Apaches, for example, as they flow out, they will simply not be replaced, and some elements of the armor will not be replaced, some elements of the Bradleys will not be replaced. So it's part of the overall rotation, but unlike past rotations, you're not replacing the force with a comparable level.

Q: What are the numbers?

Q: Yeah, what are the numbers?

Quigley: You're going down when the -- when the change-out is all done, you're going to be down to a level of around 3,500.

Q: And there are now 47 --

Quigley: Well, right now they're very much in flux. I think it's 4,300 or 4,400 today. But that number is going to rise as the forces do a change-out here in the weeks ahead. But when that is settled out, you're going to be left with a force of around 3,500.

Q: Are any other NATO nations similarly reducing their contributions?

Quigley: I don't know if any of the others think that they have excess requirements there, Pam. I'm not sure.

Q: Can you explain -- it seems kind of weird that, you know, we say this all happens with the advice and consent of all the NATO members and we all agree, but it sounds like the U.S. kind of walked in and said "We're reducing our force here," and they said "Okay." It doesn't sound like it was a --

Quigley: That's just not an accurate description of the process.

Q: The way you presented it, it doesn't sound to me like it was a general NATO belief that, ah, we have a little bit more than we need. And so, you know, United States, why don't you pull it out? It seemed like the U.S. came in and said it.

Quigley: All of the NATO nations take a look at the overall force requirements for both SFOR and KFOR every six months.

Q: But this was generated in the U.S., this idea.

Quigley: Yes. And discussed in the context of the six- month reviews, the last one that was completed in December.

Q: Do you mean to say that the decision was made in December by the United States to do the reduction?

Quigley: The six-month review was completed in December. And then, as the NATO nations went back to their governments and discussed the way ahead, this was then worked through military committee, the defense ministers of the various nations, and this is the process by which NATO works on an every-six-month basis to determine the appropriate level of forces both in SFOR and KFOR.

Q: How big is --

Q: Just to make the December-January thing clear, it was not done -- the decision was not made by the previous U.S. administration. It --

Quigley: I believe it was. Made in December, yes.

Q: How big is SFOR now?

Quigley: I believe the U.S. contribution -- I don't know. Let me get the overall --

Q: You don't know how big SFOR is.

Quigley: No, I don't know the total number.

Q: I'd like to know. I'd like you to take how big SFOR is now and how big SFOR will be after this U.S. drawdown.

Quigley: Okay.

Q: Is this the first stop of a two-year drawdown that would bring the --

Quigley: That's the third part -- that's the third part, Jim. So, anyway, let's -- that's the circumstances with this drawdown of excess -- excess to our requirement there in SFOR.

Now, the other part is, again, it's different, but it's not different in the process. For a long time the NATO nations have been discussing, what is the long-term way ahead, both for SFOR and KFOR? As agreed to for a long time now, it's not so much calendar-driven as it is event-driven, and I just mentioned, the reduction of what we would consider excess equipment and people requirements is an outgrowth of what we consider a successful -- a movement towards success in Bosnia.

So you always take a look at that every six months, and you determine what you think your appropriate force level is for that six- month window, and move ahead.

There are no final decisions that have been made by United States as we prepare to enter that next round of six-month review. The next one is in May, I believe, and so some of the advance work for that would begin in April. Is there advance work being done here within the U.S. government as to what our position will be? Yes. But there's been no final decisions as to how we're going to approach the next six-month review in May, with a number total or a time line or anything like that.

Q: It's completed -- sorry.

Q: Will that look out two years, the next six-month review? Or will it look out six months?

Quigley: I don't think it has a time line attached to it at all. I think the preparation is to go for the May six-month review, to try to take a snapshot of conditions on the ground, and to tailor your force to accommodate what you see in those conditions on the ground.

Q: Are you saying that May is the end of the six-month period?

Quigley: May is the end of the next six-month period, right,

Q: And a point at which a decision should be made on the review that has been conducted over the six months leading up to May?

Quigley: No. The last one in December, next one in May, and six months after that.

Tom?

Q: Can you say, in the context of this work that's being done, whether the United States is considering the option of moving to a so- called "deterrent force," where local police take over a lot of the responsibilities that SFOR now has, and that would therefore permit much lower U.S. troop levels?

Quigley: I wouldn't put it as something that the U.S. is looking at. I mean, the idea of a deterrent force has been discussed in NATO -- within NATO for some time. Now, whether or not that's the way ahead eventually will be determined by that same process.

Q: Do you have any information on the net loss of numbers of -- like Apache helicopters and Bradley fighting vehicles?

Quigley: We tend to not be very definitive on specific types of systems that are in place so as to not completely show our hand. But, rather, I prefer to put it that we'll reduce the number of heavy -- of Abrams tanks, reduce the number of Bradleys, above the level that we feel is still prudent to retain there in SFOR.

Q: And choppers, you said all of the Apaches are coming out, right?

Quigley: All of the Apaches. They will be the first, as a matter of fact, to move.

Q: How many are they, since they're all coming out?

Quigley: I think it's 16.

Q: Coming out?

Quigley: Correct.

Charlie, you asked -- or Jim, I don't remember -- numbers overall. SFOR is approximately 20,000, and of that total, U.S. is approximately 4,400.

Q: But you say --

Quigley: Then we're going to go down to about 3,500, after the removal of the excess equipment and people.

Q: On the numbers, I checked --

Quigley: And I don't know if there would be an overall -- Pam, you asked this one earlier -- I don't know it there'd be an overall -- is it 20,000 minus 3,500, approximately, and does that give you the number of the balance of SFOR? I don't know that. That you'd have to ask NATO.

Q: But you don't know if other NATO forces are coming out also?

Quigley: I do not.

Q: I checked earlier, and the number I was told then was 4,700, and if you bring it down to 3,500, you're talking about a quarter of the force.

Quigley: I don't think the 4,700 is right. I think it's 4,400.

Now, if the SFOR rotation has started, Jim, it is possible you could see a higher number than 4,400 today or tomorrow or next week as those forces move in and move out. But the steady state for the U.S. contribution now is 4,400, moving to 3,500.

Q: Is the reduction in complete in April? Is that right?

Quigley: It's going to take -- yeah, I believe it is in April, but I don't have a date in April, Pam. I think it's towards the mid- to the latter part of April.

Yes?

Q: Another subject?

Quigley: Anything else on the Balkans?

Q: Real quick --

Quigley: Yeah?

Q: It will begin now, or it's already started?

Quigley: It has begun. It has begun, but just, in the last couple of days.

Q: New subject?

Quigley: And that would -- just for those of you who want to do the math, that will result in, if -- we will still have approximately 19 percent of the forces on the ground in SFOR.

Yes? Go ahead.

Q: On Tuesday I had asked you if you had any information about the report that the secretary was due to submit to the president by March 9th on the training that the Navy was going to -- training requirements through 2003, in light of a Vieques agreement. Do you have anything --

Quigley: I don't know as -- if the report has moved yet from DoD. I know Navy has given the report to DoD in the last couple of days, but I don't know if it's moved on to the president yet.

Q: Okay. Yesterday the governor of Puerto Rico addressed the Puerto Rican legislature, and she talked very briefly about her conversations with the secretary. And she said that the secretary was agreeing to put an end to all training while the vibro-acoustic study was being conducted -- the health study. Is that true, that all training is suspending until the health study results are in?

Quigley: No, I don't think that's the intention.

Q: And according to the directives that at least are still in place, the land transfer is supposed to occur by May 1st, as well as the $40 million in appropriations were supposed to take place in the event that there was training in Vieques. The former secretary of the Navy had said that everything was held in abeyance. Is that land transfer going to occur on May 1st?

Quigley: That's still a work in progress. I can't tell you the answer on the 15th of March.

Dale?

Q: On another new subject?

Quigley: Sure.

Q: Can you tell us if the department is taking any steps or what steps it is taking to make sure that service members don't bring foot-and-mouth back to the United States?

Quigley: It's largely being done -- I mean, we're very much aware in the military of the requirements that the Food and Drug Administration, the Customs Service, and what have you are putting in place, and we're taking our cue from them, Dale. And many times lots of military members, as they move back and forth to the United States, come through commercial airports as they travel anyway.

But if you come back to a military base, an Air Force base, a naval air station, something like that, again, you follow those same Customs rules, the FDA rules. You have the Customs officer come on the plane and what have you. And those same rules are being put in place at the military airheads within the continental United States.

Q: How about overseas? How about within Germany? I mean, are these troops that get on planes in Germany to fly here, are they stepping in baths?

Quigley: Yeah, exactly. It depends on if they are landing at a commercial airport, Charlie, and have the facilities there, or if it's a naval air station or an Air Force base or something here in the United States. The procedure is put in place by the FDA and the Customs Service. We are following their lead as to what's required and then working with them to make sure that those sorts of preventive steps are carried out for military members when they return to the United States also.

Q: So all military members and families that come into the country, whether they land at commercial bases or whether they land at military bases, are being cleansed, whatever, to make sure that --

Quigley: Well, no, I don't think it's everyone, because I don't think that's what the FDA and Customs is calling for. It depends on -- you fill out the little questionnaire as to where you have been, and if you have been on a farm or someplace like that, those are the folks that are specifically having their shoes and whatnot disinfected. But if you have not been on a farm and you've been only to a city, let's say, and not in an agricultural setting, those are not the folks, is my understanding, that are having to clean their shoes and disinfect them. But if you have been in one of those circumstances, the same rule applies to military folks as to non- military travelers.

John?

Q: The Service Members' Legal Defense Network has issued their annual report saying that some instances of harassment of gay and lesbians in the service has actually declined, but they are extremely critical of the administration or the Defense Department for not moving ahead with its anti-harassment policies.

Can you help clear up where -- where are the policies, first of all? And has Secretary Rumsfeld endorsed a need for an anti-harassment policy in the Defense Department?

Quigley: Well, I think it's not so much the policy as it is the issuance of a directive, John, that would clearly spell that out.

Each of the services -- service chiefs, I believe -- has put out a communication some months ago -- I want to say in the summer of 2000 -- to their respective services, clearly enunciating their policy on harassment. And it should be very clear to everyone who serves in uniform or out that harassment is simply not tolerated in any branch of the armed forces of the United States.

Now, there was a recommendation to put out a DoD-wide directive that would be sort of an omnibus directive in that regard. That has not yet been done. It's going to be looked at as part of the overall incoming administration's efforts in that regard, but I can't predict where that will come out.

Q: So you cannot predict, for example, that Secretary Rumsfeld supports a strong anti-harassment policy against gay people in the --

Quigley: I think he's very much against a climate of harassment in any way, shape or form. Whether he chooses to express that via the publication of a directive, that I don't know.

Q: I have a question. There was a report today that a new Chinese missile base has been detected, I guess, you know, close to -- pointing towards Taiwan. Can you comment on that?

Quigley: Well, I can't get too far into this because of the strictures of classification and intelligence reports. But I don't think it's any secret that China is modernizing it's military. That includes increasing the size of its missile force. It's something we monitor very carefully. It's certainly within their rights to do that.

We would hope that the modernization efforts they have underway are not destabilizing to the region. That would be something that would be an adverse result of their modernization effort in that region. But it's certainly an element -- their modernization is an element of our thinking. It's part of the overall Taiwan Relations Act. And, as you know, we are committed to the legitimate defense needs of Taiwan. So it's all part of a very complicated mix that we try to watch very carefully.

Q: You can't comment on whether there's evidence of a new missile base?

Quigley: No sir, I can't. I'm sorry.

Staff: Thank you.

THIS TRANSCRIPT WAS PREPARED BY THE FEDERAL NEWS SERVICE, INC., WASHINGTON, DC. FEDERAL NEWS SERVICE IS A PRIVATE COMPANY. FOR OTHER DEFENSE RELATED TRANSCRIPTS NOT AVAILABLE THROUGH THIS SITE, CONTACT FEDERAL NEWS SERVICE AT (202) 347-1400.

Additional Links

Stay Connected