DoD News Briefing: Capt. Michael Doubleday, USN, DASD(PA)
Captain Doubleday: Good afternoon.
I just wanted to make sure that all of you knew that earlier today General Wesley K. Clark succeeded General George Joulwan as the Commander-in-Chief, U.S. European Command, during a ceremony at Patch Barracks in Stuttgart, Germany.
General Joulwan, who had been serving as the Commander-in-Chief of U.S. European Forces since October, 1993, will retire after 36 years of commissioned service. General Shalikashvili was the guest speaker at the ceremony today.
There is a blue top on this, and it has biographies of both General Clark, and we can provide you one of General Joulwan. There is another change-of-command ceremony scheduled tomorrow in Mons. You may recall that this particular position is a dual-hat position and it will be necessary for General Clark to relieve General Joulwan as Supreme Allied Commander in that ceremony tomorrow.
So with that, I will be happy to try and answer some of your questions.
Q: May we assume that General Clark is no longer in the running to become Chairman, because he was selected for this position?
A: Well, we haven't announced the Chairman's replacement yet, but General Clark is taking over these various positions in Europe. I will let those actions speak for themselves.
Q: Another change of command matter. Is the command changing in SOUTHCOM as well, and is that coming up this week?
A: Actually, I can't tell you the timetable for that but, yes, indeed, there is a change of command coming up at SOUTHCOM since General Clark is the commander there.
Q: Who is taking over?
A: Well, I think probably his deputy will take over for a period of time until the full-time replacement reports. Excuse me?
Q: There's no nominee.
A: That's correct. And I think last night, the Senate also confirmed General Zinni to become the next Central Command commander. That change of command, though, is not until later this summer.
Q: Just so we can have our story complete about the Clark story, so who temporarily will replace him at SOUTHCOM?
A: Let me get you the name. It will be the deputy commander who will be temporarily taking command there, and we'll provide that to you after the brief.
Q: Can I change the subject?
Q: Can you give us any more detail on what type of U.S. cooperation was involved in this operation involving a war criminal in Bosnia, what type of support, logistics-wise or whatever?
A: Well, let me, at the outset, say that I'm not going to be able to provide a great deal of detail on this. But as you have probably heard before, U.S. forces did provide logistics, backup, and transportation support.
This operation, which took place earlier today, was a multinational Stabilization Force [SFOR] evolution, which took place in Multinational Division Southwest, which is sometimes called the British Sector. U.S. forces were not involved in the actual detentions which took place in the region near Prijedor.
Q: What do you mean by transportation? What kind of transportation?
A: There were -- there was transportation of Milan Kovacevic, who is the individual who was detained in this evolution. He was turned over to the International War Crimes Tribunal.
My understanding is that took place in the vicinity of Tuzla, and then he was placed on an SFOR aircraft and flown to The Hague, and the SFOR aircraft was a U.S. aircraft with a U.S. crew.
Q: Captain Doubleday, NATO and U.S. officials have said repeatedly today that this does not represent any change in the NATO mission or orders to NATO troops of the mandate that they're operating under.
But will you concede at least that this appears to be a new way of carrying out that mandate, using secret indictments to arrest or detain people who don't know that they're going to be subject to arrest?
A: Jamie, we've said for many months now that forces involved in the stabilization force and, before that, in IFOR, had the authority to detain indicted war criminals if the tactical situation permitted. This was a case where the tactical situation permitted, and so really there is no change to what we've been saying for many months -- more than a year.
Q: Except that before we were working from a published list of known war crimes suspects who have been indicted by The Hague. In this case, apparently the message is that anybody could be on this list and not know it, and you could be subject to detention by SFOR troops at any time. It seems to be a different way of operating than we were before.
A: Well, I'd have to refer you to the International War Crimes Tribunal to get some insight into how they approach things. But I think that you are aware that SFOR troops can only act if, indeed, an individual has been indicted, and that was the case in this situation.
Q: What is the message that this sends to war crimes suspects in Bosnia?
A: It is the same message that has been stated all along, and that is that those accused of war crimes are subject to detention and to being turned over to the International War Crimes Tribunal if the situation permits that to occur.
Q: Should Radovan Karadzic be looking over this shoulder?
A: I think that anyone who has been indicted of criminal activity is subject to this kind of action. But I want to point out that if you look at the Dayton Accords, the real responsibility for the apprehension and turnover of war criminals is with the parties who signed that accord. We, in the United States, have been saying for some time that we feel that it's important for the international community to provide support to the International War Crimes Tribunal.
Q: Mike, you talked about how SFOR has had this authority for some time, but we haven't really seen it used before, and we also haven't seen that many indicted war criminals being turned over. Is this the start of a campaign actually to get the war criminals to The Hague? Are we turning a corner here?
A: Well, I wouldn't want to characterize this in any way in that regard -- other than to say that this particular situation was one which was such that some very deliberate planning could be done, in which the risks to SFOR personnel were such and were deemed at a low-enough level that this action could be taken.
Q: What is the difference between having deliberate planning and having a manhunt, which you said you wouldn't do? If you deliberately plan to go after somebody, isn't that hunting them down?
A: Well, I think in this particular case, we had a situation where individuals who people in this sector had come across on other occasions -- who were known to SFOR troops -- were indicted. In this case, it was a sealed indictment, and it was a situation which was such that this action could be taken with minimal risk to the soldiers that had to carry it out.
Q: Did anything prompt this particular action? Were the people involved stirring up any trouble in that particular sector?
A: No. The thing that prompted this action was the indictment.
Q: Isn't Karadzic in the situation that you just described there? Isn't he regularly in the presence of SFOR --
A: I really am not in a position to describe what anybody's situation is. I, frankly, don't think that would be helpful to anybody in this regard.
Q: You mentioned that the U.S. provided logistics, backup and transportation.
Q: And you went over backup very quickly. What do you mean, back up? What did we do?
A: I don't want to get into any further details about exactly what kind of support our troops were involved in. I want to leave that real vague, and for reasons that I think many people can appreciate.
Q: Because we are going to use the same sort of backup for next time?
A: I don't want to go into any specifics with you on that, Mark.
Q: Captain, you have mentioned that the responsibility for arresting war crimes suspects lies primarily with the signatories to the Dayton Accords -- former warring parties. But isn't today's action a reflection of the frustration that that process is not working?
A: Well, I think that you have heard over the past several months statements from many, many senior officials who indicated that there was a requirement to support the International War Crimes Tribunal. You have heard that from the President, from the Secretary of Defense, from the Secretary of State.
To me, this action today is simply a reflection of not only that policy, but a policy which has been actually articulated by NATO, by the North Atlantic Council, and by others over many, many months that indicated that, if the situation permitted, forces assigned to this operation would detain those who were indicted of criminal activity.
Q: Are there high-level discussions underway in the U.S. Government about other options for bringing Karadzic and Mladic to justice?
A: I can not answer that question.
Q: Why is that?
A: Simply because I do not have any information on that.
Q: New subject, new topic?
A: We have this just in. The biography of the Deputy Commander-in-Chief and Chief of Staff down at the U.S. Southern Command, is Rear Admiral Walter F. Doran. He has been down there for -- let me see if I can tell you when he arrived. This doesn't have that piece of information, but he has been the Chief of Staff for some time and he will assume the role of Acting [Commander-in-Chief] at Southern Command when he relieves General Clark in that capacity.
Q: He's Deputy CINC?
A: Deputy CINC.
Q: That's D-o-r-n?
A: It's spelled D-o-r-a-n.
Q: On Cambodia, can you update us on whether or not the United States is any closer to possibly evacuating any U.S. nationals from Cambodia?
A: Jamie, the departure of U.S. citizens and other citizens from Cambodia is going in a very orderly fashion. I understand some Americans departed today. More are expected to leave tomorrow. All of these departures have been on commercial aircraft.
From most reports that I have heard today, the situation certainly in Phnom Penh is quiet. There has been some fighting and unrest up in the northwest section of the country. All reports that I have at this point are that no Americans have been hurt in any of this activity and Americans are certainly not the target of any kind of unrest or violence that is going on.
The airport is open. Charter flights are departing the airport. At this point, they expect regularly scheduled commercial flights to commence tomorrow.
Q: So you don't contemplate that the Belleau Wood and all are going to be steaming towards Cambodia any time?
A: The Belleau Wood and other units are certainly in a position to help out if there is a requirement for them to do so but, at this point, all of the departures are being taken care of on commercial aircraft.
Q: A reaction to the action on base closures on the Hill?
A: Yes. I think you're well aware that the Department had asked for two additional rounds of base closures. This will have a major impact on our budgetary and modernization plans in the long run. This is an area that the Secretary has been working very hard on.
You may recall that in connection with Quadrennial Defense Review, he determined that there was an excess infrastructure capacity in the Department. We have brought down the force structure some 33 percent, and it will have declined by 36 percent when we're finished with all of the QDR reductions.
At the same time the domestic infrastructure has come down only 21 percent, and we simply can't afford a waste of resources in an environment where we've got a lot of tough choices and fiscal constraints. So we have simply got to shed more weight from the infrastructure.
The Secretary was certainly disappointed with the action that was taken in the Senate. This means that we will not be able to get the BRAC process started as rapidly as we had hoped. But we intend in the Department here to continue these discussions and to embark on the study which is going to be required by the legislation if, indeed, it is finally signed into law, which will further document the savings that we can make from further base closings.
Q: Do you expect that study to take months or -- if your deadline for that is the spring of '99, is this information that you mostly have now, or is this a...
A: Well, in fact, there have been previous studies that have been done. The DOD IG has periodically looked into bases which have been closed to date. The intention of the Department here is to pursue this as rapidly as we can, but there's no timetable at this point that has been set out.
I think that everybody in the Department here is aware that we have saved billions of dollars through the BRAC process and that, in order to get on with the modernization program that we hope to have in place after the turn of the century, we are going to need to close further bases that we really have no need for at this point.
Q: The base closing process is supposed to protect this process from politics, but what appears to have hurt many members of Congress is the perception that certain bases that were ordered closed were, in fact, protected by the Pentagon bases in Texas and California. Are you going to go back at all and look at some of the Pentagon policies concerning those bases for any sort of review?
A: To my knowledge, we are not going to go back. I think that Dr. White has testified on this extensively within the last several months. You might want to go back and review that testimony, but he said at the time that the actions that we took with regard to Kelly and McClellan were consistent with what the panel had recommended, and we are still hopeful that we can conclude those plans as we have made them.
Q: Will the Pentagon panel make changes in the QDR now that the would-be savings from the base closings process has been completed?
A: No. The QDR was a review of, first of all, strategy and also what we anticipated our requirements were going to be in the future. It also included a further look at the Office of the Secretary of Defense, the defense agencies, and other parts of the defense establishment that had not been reviewed in sufficient detail during the QDR process.
That process will go on, and I know that there are expectations that there will be additional savings that we can get through greater efficiency in the Department and through a closer look at the work that's being done by those agencies and parts of the Office of the Secretary of Defense.
So the process is continuing. We'll continue to make our case for additional action on closing unneeded bases. But there is disappointment that we are not going to be able to get to that goal as quickly as we had hoped.
Q: Does the Secretary now consider that plans that might have been made in the last few months for some extra weapons procurement, like additional destroyers, might now have to go by the boards because that money won't be available?
A: No. First of all, I think it's too early to predict exactly what's going to happen. I mean, I think that if you look at this action that was taken by the Senate and you know what's gone on in the House, that it certainly is not optimistic with regard to BRAC. But that does not mean that the immediate future is going to radically affected by this.
We're going to continue to pursue all of the actions that are going to result in increased efficiencies that were outlined in the QDR. We're going to continue to look for other areas where we can find additional dollars through increased efficiencies and better business practices and, hopefully, that will yield some additional funding for us.
But we are also not going to give up the pursuit of closing down bases which are part of the unneeded infrastructure of the Department.
Q: Will the Secretary consider withdrawing support for military aircraft that fly congressional delegations?
A: I don't see that as a possibility at all.
Q: Yes. The South Korean Intelligence Agency yesterday issued an 80-page report summarizing their debriefing of Mr. Hwang Jang Yop, and I think he had a press conference as well. South Korea seems to condone what he has said. Is this document being analyzed here?
A: You say condone, or they support what he said?
Q: They support what he had said by issuing this document. I ask you, is that your perception, and is this document being analyzed here in this building and throughout this government by Korean analysts?
A: Well, I think you're aware that the United States has had some direct access to Mr. Hwang, and we've also been debriefed by the government of the Republic of Korea on their discussions with him.
I'm not going to get into any characterization of anything that we have learned from those since they are intelligence matters, but I think basically we feel that he has some very important insights into the senior leadership of North Korea. We have said in the past that we do not believe that he is an expert on military or technical issues.
Q: article based on these revelations, Mr. Kim Jong Il is characterized as a carouser -- a man who is surrounded by sycophants and who only looks at trivial details rather than the larger objectives. Is this a concern of the DOD, that North Korea is being led by a carouser?
A: I think, Bill, that I'm not in a position to characterize in any way the leader of North Korea other than to point out that, for a long time, we have been very interested in this closed society and we certainly pursue every possible avenue to learn as much as we can about the leadership there and the intentions of the leadership there.
Q: And finally, it also says that, "The North's war preparation is beyond imagination." This is what Hwang told reporters yesterday, that "North Korean society is swept by a war atmosphere." How do you respond to that?
A: Now, I think you're well aware that we maintain a large number of troops, about 37,000 U.S. troops, over there on the Korean peninsula. We have been on the peninsula for many decades now and the troops who are over there are always in a high state of alert to watch out for any potential aggression on the part of the north. But we certainly have seen no changes that would indicate anything on the horizon there.
Q: This guy once again reiterated, Mr. Hwang did yesterday, that the United States would be kept out of the conflict by threatening missile strikes on Tokyo and other Japanese cities. Any comment to that strategy? Would that work?
A: Well, I'm not going to comment on the strategy. I just would point out that his insights are probably best into the leadership and not so much into military matters.
Q: Yes. Can you just give us kind of a view of what the Secretary's schedule will be when he comes back? Is he taking a few days off or is he going to be right back here in the Pentagon?
A: We'll have to take a look at the long-range schedule, but I'm certainly not aware that there are any days off that he's going to be taking when he returns. As far as I know, his agenda, which we talked about the last time, has to do with conversations with the President on the subject of the Chairman and the Khobar Towers situation.
Q: One last footnote on Bosnia. How would you characterize the state of alert of U.S. forces in Bosnia now? Are any special precautions being taken because of the possibility of any retaliation?
A: Well, for those of you who have been over there, the U.S. forces -- in fact, all of the multi-national forces over there -- are always on a very high state of alert and that certainly remains the case now.
Q: But have they reduced their profile in the several days, reduced the number of patrols or anything like that?
A: I have certainly heard nothing on the reduction of the number of patrols. You may be talking about the number of vehicles that are in convoys and that sort of thing, and my understanding is that the policy which has been in place for some time -- which is required at least in NMD north, I think it's several vehicles to travel together -- is still in place.
I don't know whether there has been a change recently in the actual numbers that are required there. I can tell you from our recent visit to Bosnia that at least U.S. troops are always in full battle gear every time they leave a base camp.
Q: But without revealing any details that would compromise security, can you just tell us whether any extra precautions are being taken?
A: Let me say it this way, that commanders in Bosnia are always aware of potential threats and they take appropriate measures to ensure the protection of their forces.