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Department of Defense Vieques News Briefing
Presenter: Secretary of the Navy Richard Danzig
December 3, 1999 3:01 P.M. EST
Also participating: Under Secretary
of Defense for Personnel and Readiness Rudy de Leon, Chief of
Naval Operations Admiral Jay L. Johnson and Commandant of the
Marine Corps General James L. Jones.
ADM. QUIGLEY: Good afternoon,
ladies and gentlemen. For a little over seven months there has
been a process in place taking us through events such as the Rush
Panel and the very intense discussions among the president, secretary
of Defense, the governor of Puerto Rico, the entire national security
team, to attempt to resolve the situation at Vieques.
With us this afternoon -- this is an on-the-record, for-direct-attribution
briefing -- Undersecretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness,
Rudy de Leon; Secretary of the Navy Richard Danzig; Chief of Naval
Operations Admiral Jay Johnson; and Commandant of the Marine Corps,
General Jim Jones. Secretary Danzig will lead-off with a prepared
statement, Secretary de Leon will follow with a somewhat shorter
statement, and then all four of them will be available to take
Upon completion of the briefing, we will have a copy of Secretary
Cohen's letter to the president. We will have copies of Secretary
Danzig's prepared opening statement. And I will try to have available
copies of the president's statement. I believe the White House
is releasing those probably while we are here in the briefing
room, and if we can get those before this briefing is done, we
will make copies of those and have those available for you as
well. And if it does not come in before we're done, then the White
House should make those available very shortly thereafter. Secretary
SEC. DANZIG: Good afternoon.
I have a short statement on behalf of myself, the Chief of Naval
Operations, Admiral Jay Johnson, and the Commandant of the Marine
Corps, General Jim Jones. After this, the three of us and the
Undersecretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness, Rudy de
Leon, will address any questions you may have.
Admiral Johnson, General Jones and I have no more important
duty than to assure the readiness of our sailors and Marines.
This is not an abstract requirement. Our sailors and Marines are
today flying combat missions over Iraq, and were within recent
months flying similar missions and launching missile in the Balkans.
The most rigorous, realistic training that allows us to certify
our forces as combat-ready is provided at the training range on
and around the island of Vieques, Puerto Rico. This unique facility,
in the only location in the Atlantic where realistic multi-dimensional
training can be conducted, has been safely operated for 58 years
without a single off-range accident.
Unfortunately, on the 19th of April of this year, operating on
the range but against an incorrectly selected target, a Marine
Corps aircraft accidentally dropped two bombs near an observation
post, killing a civilian security guard. This tragic accident
has sparked a demand for the closure of the Vieques facility.
Following that accident, I ordered the Navy and Marine Corps
to cease training on Vieques and conduct a thorough review of
the incident and of the requirement for Vieques. I appointed Vice
Admiral Bill Fallon and Marine Corps Lieutenant General Pete Pace
to undertake this review, and their work strongly validated the
continuing national security need for Vieques. The secretary of
Defense then appointed a distinguished panel headed by Principal
Deputy Assistant Secretary for Defense for Force Management, Frank
Rush to study the situation through out the summer.
Their results also validated the need for the Navy and the
Marine Corps to continue training on Vieques, while strongly also
recommending dialogue between the Department of Defense and the
government of Puerto Rico to resolve differences about the Department
of the Navy's presence on Vieques.
Taking into account the work of the Fallon-Pace report and
the Rush panel, two things are clear: First, that we need to continue
training on Vieques. Second, that we need to repair relations
with the people of Vieques. Towards that end, we have today joined
the secretary of Defense in recommending a plan that has four
(A), training on Vieques will be limited to inert weapons unless
and until a resumption of live fire training is agreed to by the
people of Vieques and the Navy.
(B), training will be reduced from the 180 days per year presently
used to 90 days per year.
(C), within five years of the resumption of training on Vieques,
the Navy will develop an alternative to that training and all
training on the island will terminate unless otherwise agreed
to by the people of Vieques and the Navy. And
(D), a resumption of training will be accompanied by a $40
million community development and economic adjustment program
that recognizes and offsets the burdens that the training imposes
on the people of Vieques.
A text of the secretary of Defense's recommendations in this
regard will be provided at the end of this briefing, as Admiral
Further, we have decided that it is best for the Navy and the
Marine Corps to defer resumption of training at Vieques until
next spring, when the Vieques Range will be required for the George
Washington Battle Group and the Kearsarge (sic) [Siapan] Amphibious
Ready Group. In the intervening period, we anticipate that discussions
about the recommended plan will take place in Puerto Rico.
We intend also promptly to initiate a Navy Vieques Consultation
Group, in which the Navy/Marine Corps representative will be Rear
Admiral Kevin Green. Admiral Green will assume a new position
next week as the senior Navy official resident in Puerto Rico.
As many of you know, the Eisenhower Battle Group and the Wasp
Amphibious Ready Group were scheduled for important training in
Vieques over the next two weeks. We have arranged substitute training
sites for these groups. Over the next two weeks they will conduct
training operations in and around Florida, North Carolina and
Virginia. Further, we have arranged for the use of Cape Wrath,
Scotland for Naval gunfire training en route to the Mediterranean,
and we are making arrangements for exercises and other training
in the Mediterranean.
These arrangements will not provide training as good as that
obtainable in Vieques. While training at Vieques is fully integrated,
synchronized and occurs in a live-fire combat scenario, these
substitutes are fragmented and less realistic. Further, the need
to train abroad will reduce the time these battle groups can spend
on station. We stress also that future groups are not likely to
have, and historically many other groups have not had, time in
the Mediterranean for further training before entering combat
We are not training the Eisenhower Battle Group and the Wasp
Amphibious Ready Group at Vieques for three reasons.
First, we believe that not pressing the issue at this moment in
Puerto Rico is the most productive route for resuming training
in Vieques over the longer term.
Second, we would like to avoid exposing sailors and Marines
to the uncertainty and turbulence associated with trying to train
on the range before this issue is resolved.
Third, we believe that we can by alternative means achieve
satisfactory readiness training for these particular groups before
they are committed to combat.
Having said this, I will ask Mr. de Leon if he'd like to make
any statement. And then we'll be joined by General Jones and Admiral
Johnson, and we'd be happy to take your questions.
MR. DE LEON: Thank you
very much, Secretary Danzig.
I would briefly like to note that the report that the secretary
of Defense is forwarding to the president is one that reflects
his own personal work and effort to try to find a comprehensive
solution to the Vieques question. Throughout this process, as
well as his appointing and being briefed by the members of the
Rush panel, he has throughout very much engaged the chairman of
the Joint Chiefs and the vice chairman, the chief of Naval Operations,
the commandant of the Marine Corps, as well as the secretary of
the Navy and other senior civilians in his staff, in terms of
working through the substance and trying to find a framework that
will allow the Navy to resume training at Vieques with the George
Washington Carrier Battle Group and the Kearsarge (sic) [Siapan]
Amphibious Ready Group later this spring.
This is a step forward. This is an important start. The problems
and the questions that rest on Vieques did not occur overnight.
They are the product of several years and many issues. And the
solution will not be accomplished overnight. But this is a starting
point. This continues the dialogue that I think has already started,
that has been constructive, and that will put us on the right
track, as well as a new track.
So with that, thank you, Secretary Danzig.
SEC. DANZIG: Thank you.
MR. DE LEON: We're ready
to proceed to questions.
SEC. DANZIG: Admiral Johnson,
Q. I'd like to ask Admiral Johnson and General Jones, with
this decision, particularly with the Eisenhower Battle Group,
aren't you shortchanging the sailors and Marines aboard those
ships in terms of their readiness to enter realistic combat, on
ADM. JOHNSON: The short
answer is no. It is our mandate to ensure that that is not the
case. And as the secretary outlined, the combination of the training
experience that they're undergoing right now in the East Coast
of the United States, plus -- plus -- the commitments that we've
made to train in the forward theater -- that combination will
take us to a satisfactory level of readiness --
Q Would it?
ADM. JOHNSON: -- or we
will not commit them to combat.
Q Well, will these units be combat-ready when they leave Norfolk?
ADM. JOHNSON: No.
Q What happens if, as in previous cases, they're needed right
ADM. JOHNSON: They will
be trained before they are put into combat. They will be sufficiently
trained in live fire before they are put into combat. That is
our commitment to them, and that's why this deployment is a clear
exception to our policy. They will receive good training. They
are receiving good training right now. We have every confidence
in them, as we always do, but we owe them the graduation level
exercise and they will receive that in the forward theater before
we would ever commit them to combat.
Q Admiral, do you recall the last time --
ADM. DANZIG: Pardon me,
just -- before your question, and then we'll take you in a moment.
I think also, David, we frequently encounter circumstances in
which we have to make choices of forces, and those choices would
well be made by the CNO and the commandant and the members of
the Joint Chiefs of Staff. But there are -- for example, the returning
battle group could be kept on station longer. There are other
options available to us.
Q Admiral Johnson, do you recall the last time a carrier group
left Norfolk or anywhere else not combat-ready?
ADM. JOHNSON: Well, it's
always a degree of risk management in there, you understand that.
But the short answer to your question is in the last battle group
you recall we -- because of the Vieques timing, the timing of
their deployment relative to Vieques, we worked them into Vieques
earlier. We had to get one of the surface combatants some training
before they were --
Q But this carrier group would be a lower readiness than the
previous carrier group, correct?
ADM. JOHNSON: This carrier
battle group and amphibious ready group will carry with it a sufficient
level of readiness, but we believe that -- we don't "believe,"
we are committed -- to ensuring that they receive, as I say, the
graduation level live-fire experience before we would commit them
Q But leaving -- leaving Norfolk, it is not combat-ready, right?
ADM. JOHNSON: Right.
Q Yeah, I just want to know, you didn't give a time on all
training on the island to terminate. Is that still under discussion,
ADM. JOHNSON: The recommendation
from the secretary of Defense and from us was that unless otherwise
agreed by the people of Vieques and the Navy, all training would
terminate within five years of the time it had resumed. So it's
a five-year period.
Yes, go ahead.
Q We don't have a definitive solution here. We have a band-aid
or something temporary. If I understand you correctly, the United
States is offering a $40 million carrot, and yet the governor
of Puerto Rico and the politicos there are unalterably opposed,
or so they say, to the resumption of live-fire training. What
makes you think that by spring, by five years, by the foreseeable
realistic future, we will ever use Vieques again?
SEC. DANZIG: Well, first
of all, I think you're right, we do not have here in the present
arrangement a definitive solution. It needs to be worked through
between the Navy and the people of Vieques. I would not deprecate
the financial aspect of this as simply a carrot. There is from
our standpoint a need for a recognition that the relationship
needs to be repaired between the Navy and Vieques.
In virtually all other instances in which the military -- the
Navy and the Marine Corps, particularly -- are operating, we've
achieved remarkably good relations with our communities. They,
in fact, don't want us to leave. And in instances like the Base
Realignment and Closure process, where we've talked about leaving,
they have protested that. And as secretary of the Navy, I very
frequently have to deal with that. So we have to ask ourselves,
what is it that causes such a difference here?
Well, one of those things, I think, quite straightforwardly,
is the sense of the people of Puerto Rico and the people of Vieques
that they're not being heard, that they're not being cared for.
And one of the things we need to do is to manifest in concrete
ways that we do hear them and do care. One of the ways of doing
that is, for example, by making the training minimally burdensome,
as, for example, we are proposing to cut dramatically the number
of training days. Another way of doing it is by saying we recognize
anyway that there will be burdens and we're prepared to take steps
that will give you a more positive output, more positive advantage
from our presence than would arise if we weren't there. And these
kinds of efforts are a part of that.
Q Let me do one follow-up quickly. If we had had a flag on
the island last April, particularly one who perhaps spoke Spanish,
would this have become a cause celebre, do you think?
SEC. DANZIG: I think it's
an astute question. I think the Navy made a mistake institutionally
when in 1994 the flag billet that had been in Puerto Rico was
disestablished in order to use that billet elsewhere. And we're
trying to correct for that now by asking one of our most talented
of admirals, Admiral Kevin Green, to go to Puerto Rico as the
senior Navy official and resume that billet, indeed at a higher
rank than it had been previously.
I'd note that the CNO actually had proposed doing that and
set the plan in motion to do it prior to the April 19th accident,
and it's, I think, a great misfortune for all of us that we weren't
able to execute that but had the accident in between.
Yes, go ahead.
Q Could you break down by aviation, naval, gunfire support
and Marine operations where each of those will stand when the
two groups leave Norfolk, and then whether they will all come
up to standard at some point in the deployment, or whether some
will stay below standard?
SEC. DANZIG: Why don't
we have the CNO first, Rick, and then General Jones will make
a comment on that.
ADM. JOHNSON: In the three
groupings that you described, I would put it this way: There will
be many parts of their training experience that will be fully
sufficient to satisfy the tasks that are asked of them out forward.
What we're talking about here, and in terms of the combat readiness
of the force, is that graduation-level, live-fire training. That
piece, for those elements of the battle group and the ARG that
need it, will be conducted in the forward theater before we commit
them to combat.
GEN. JONES: From the Marine
Corps's combat side of the house, the landward power projection
-- the embarked Marines will be substantially trained by virtue
of the fact that we can do our requirements in live firing at
our home stations -- Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, in this particular
What we will have to do forward, in theater, is the integration
piece with the amphibious ready group and the carrier battle group,
and also we have a Marine squadron embarked as part of the carrier
air wing, and they will have to come up to speed with their Navy
Q Where will that all -- that integrated training -- happen?
Do you know?
GEN. JONES: I would defer
to the CNO in that, since he's --
ADM. JOHNSON: In the forward
theater -- we won't discuss the operational specifics in terms
of location and time, but I will -- other than to describe what
the secretary said, that the surface combatants are going to go
via Cape Wrath, Scotland, to get their surface gunnery quals.
But we are working very actively with the forward commanders
to ensure that we have opportunities to do exactly as we described
earlier, and that is finish off their training -- their live-fire
ADM. QUIGLEY: Ma'am?
Q Regarding the proposal that you outlined in the beginning,
when the negotiations began, some of the things that were discussed
were possibly giving back some of the land in Vieques, returning
it to the government of Puerto Rico. Is that still on the table?
Could you address that?
SEC. DANZIG: Yes. I'm glad
you asked about that. The secretary's recommendation includes
a 10-point outline of some economic steps that we would be prepared
to take as a part of the resumption of training activities on
Vieques. And one of those would be the return of land on the western
end of the island, the ammunition facility and the surrounding
land, part of which could be used for park land and environmental
things, and the balance of which could be used for economic development
or other activities the people of Vieques require. We have a radar
facility there that we would need to maintain, but it's a relatively
small portion of that. And I would estimate that that land has
value in the hundreds of millions of dollars, in addition to the
$40 million we're talking about.
Q Yes, would that be the resumption of inert or the resumption
of live for all the aid package to be implemented?
SEC. DANZIG: Our sense
with respect to the economic aspect of this is just as I said
earlier in response to Ivan's question, that the idea is to offset
the burdens. The greater the burdens are on the people of Vieques,
it seems to me the more vibrant the need to offset them with substantial
economic assistance. So I think we intend the economic package
to be available from the outset. I think we would want to talk
seriously with people on Vieques about how it could be enriched
if we could go on to use live-fire.
Q Yes. Have you already had consultations with Senator Warner
or other members of Congress so that they won't hold special hearings,
since the battle group is going to be deployed without the readiness
SEC. DANZIG: Would you
like to speak to this, Secretary de Leon?
MR. DE LEON: We have earlier
today made a round of calls to key members of the Senate and House
of Representatives that have been engaged and are interested in
Second, I have just come back from the Senate, where I, along
with Admiral Bob Natter, briefed Senate and House of Representative
staff relative to the issues and the decision-making process.
As we well know, Congress speaks in its own voice. But an essential
part of Secretary Cohen's engagement has been to make sure that
he has kept the lines of communication open not only among his
senior military and civilian leaders here in the Pentagon, but
obviously with the president, with the Congress, and with the
governor's representatives and the governor.
ADM. QUIGLEY: Barbara?
Q I'd like to ask the CNO a question. The uniform side of the
House, since day one, has said Vieques is irreplaceable. Clearly,
the White House has slightly disagreed with the uniform side of
the House. Can we get your personal reaction to that? I mean,
do you feel that you got the support from the president here?
ADM. JOHNSON: Short answer
there, yes. I don't think any of us disagree that Vieques is an
irreplaceable asset. It's, in my words, you asked for my personal
belief, it's the crown jewel of live-fire, combined arms training.
It's the world standard. We do not want to leave Vieques. It is
important to us. As you see us now with Eisenhower and Wasp, we
are doing next-best things that we have full confidence will get
us to a satisfactory level of readiness, but make no mistake,
Vieques is the standard.
QSo can I just ask you, I mean, is in fact for the uniformed Navy
still the ultimate goal here to resume live-fire exercises on
ADM. JOHNSON: We are hopeful
that as we rebuild the relationship that that will be the end-state,
yes. But we have much work to do and many challenges between now
and such an end-state, as you heard articulated earlier. So, for
us, taking that longer view, we believe it's time to roll up our
sleeves and get to work on these challenges, and we're committed
to doing that. We think it's important to us and to the people
of Vieques. We must rebuild the relationship.
Q Secretary Danzig, I just wanted to walk through the inert
training that will take place. Will there be inert bombs dropped
from aircraft? Will there be inert fire from the five-inch guns?
And will the Marines come ashore and use inert fire with their
Howitzers on Vieques? And do those steps have the permission now
of the Puerto Rican government?
SEC. DANZIG: Those are
the steps that we are proposing and the Puerto Rican response
to that, I think, will be available this afternoon or over these
next days. And as I say, there needs to be a fair amount of discussion
with the people of Vieques as well.
QWhat steps will now be taken to deal with the protestors on the
SEC. DANZIG: This is a
question that I think needs to be answered in the days and weeks
ahead and is not really an appropriate one for us at this time
and in this place.
Q Is it possible for the Eisenhower battle group to deploy
with a C-1 rating with the arrangements that you've made?
ADM. JOHNSON: As I said
before, there will be parts of the training set, if you will,
to which they will be fully trained. There's no question about
that. But in terms of the live-fire experience, no. We've got
to get that forward and we're committed to doing that.
Q Can you give us a sense of what the overall readiness is?
SEC. DANZIG (?): Sorry.
(Inaudible) -- in the back. Go ahead.
Q Yeah, thank you. You all have repeatedly described the live-fire
experience at Vieques as unique and irreplaceable. How, then,
do you propose to fully train the future forces with inert fire
alone? What will be the readiness ratings of battle groups and
amphibious groups that leave for deployment having only had the
inert experience in Vieques?
ADM. JOHNSON: As you see
us right now, working with Eisenhower and Wasp, if you don't have
the live-fire, full-spectrum experience, as we say, in Vieques,
then what you have to do is this patchwork that I described earlier.
Part of it has to do with inert training, which is good; part
of it has to do with live training in other places, which is good,
not as good as Vieques. All of that pieced together, plus what
we've committed to in the forward theater, will take us to a satisfactory
level of readiness.
Q Excuse me. I'm not getting something here. You have alternately
described Vieques as irreplaceable -- I think that was your word
-- and then just now you described a replacement for it.
ADM. JOHNSON: I described
-- I described the patchwork, the work-around, if you will, for
our inability to use Vieques right now. Taking a longer view,
there's no reason in the world why we wouldn't want to maintain
the standard to which we know we can train at Vieques, and that's
our challenge, to work with the people of Vieques to take us back
there. But as the secretary described, there are a number of steps,
many challenges between now and then, and we want to work very
carefully to get there.
SEC. DANZIG: I might emphasize
that the other line we also are pursuing at the same time is the
development of alternatives over time. And we have commissioned
a study from the Center for Naval Analysis to look at what kinds
of alternatives might be developed, with a five-year window for
achieving them, that would provide that substitution.
Q If you do not get the approval from Puerto Rico to have any
more live-fire exercises, does that mean you'll retreat from the
entire area of Roosevelt Road, the whole thing? Would it make
it then not practical to use that whole Puerto Rican operation
for your East Coast Navy?
SEC. DANZIG: Well, I think
you used the right word, "practical," which is the question,
what as a matter of practicality makes sense in that circumstance.
I think if we cannot use Vieques in a vibrantly useful way, that
will force us to reassess in general the utility of the basing
in Puerto Rico. Roosevelt Roads very substantially functions to
serve the Vieques Range, and a significant part of its functions
would go away. What the longer-term consequence would be of that,
in terms of its continued existence, is something that I don't
know. We'd have to assess.
Q When would you be -- imagine making that kind of a decision?
In a year? What is your deadline for you in a practical point
SEC. DANZIG: Yeah, I don't
have a deadline from that standpoint. I think we'd have to assess
that as we went along.
Q For months, Mr. Secretary, the leadership in Puerto Rico
has been saying that if the Navy had to come up with an alternative,
it could do so, if it really had to. And today, arguably, you
validated that claim. Having done that, if you can put together
a patchwork this time, and if you're making a commitment to leave
in five years if they still want you to leave in five years, then
why not just leave now and do with the patchwork for five years?
SEC. DANZIG: Well, it's
a good question. And in some respects, if we could, that would
be an attractive alternative. It's not, in my judgment, a realistically
appropriate route to go down. Let me give you an example of why.
We've talked about Cape Wrath in Scotland. Cape Wrath has 50
percent of its days, in the March time period that we'd use it,
such bad weather that in fact, being able to shoot there isn't
plausible to be able to do the training there. Therefore, we estimate
that it may take us something on the order of three steaming days
and four training days in the use of that range to accomplish
the training, but it could take longer. And every one of those
days that we stay for weather reasons is another day that we're
not on station and not available to perform the mission. It's
clearly not as good an alternative.
Moreover, Cape Wrath is not available in the summertime to
us; it's available in February and March, so it will not be available
for other battle groups. Moreover, this battle group is planning
to spend time in the Mediterranean because of our force structure
rotation arrangements. Not all groups do that. We may not have
as much time with future groups.
So the alternatives that work for this particular group may
by no means work reliably for future groups And therefore, I think
we think of this as a one-time patch that enables us to buy some
time to make progress on what we care most about, which is talking,
hopefully, in a fruitful way with people in Puerto Rico and arriving
at a resolution. And we're taking advantage of this time. But
as a long-term solution, it's not a good one.
ADM. QUIGLEY: Just a couple
of more questions, please.
Q Mr. Secretary, I wonder --
SEC. DANZIG: Could I just
see if anybody who hasn't asked a question has one?
Q What happens to the land on the east end of the island after
the five years? And how much will it cost to do the environmental
SEC. DANZIG: We don't have
precise data on that. We know from equivalent kinds of situations
in base restoration elsewhere, when we've closed bases, that estimates
are in the many hundreds of millions of dollars. And one of the
concerns that hasn't really come to the fore but would need to
be dealt with in a longer term is, it is very costly if we were
to leave Vieques, either to achieve that environmental restoration
or -- and addition to equip another facility elsewhere with the
very expensive, more than the environmental restoration cost kinds
of levels of support that would be required to transfer to another
place. That may be a bill in the billion-dollar range.
Q When exactly the next battle group is going to Puerto Rico?
You said spring. Would that mean March, April?
SEC. DANZIG: Well, there
are different levels of training that are applicable to the group,
and there are various dates in the spring, and we can give you
more particularity with regard to that, but I shouldn't just recite
them off the top of my head.
Q Mr. Secretary, I wanted to clarify a point you made. Do you
say the Puerto Rican authorities have or have not agreed to the
resumption inert -- using of inert bombing in the spring?
SEC. DANZIG: We make no
pretension this afternoon -- speaking to the Puerto Rican authorities.
We're describing the proposal from the secretary of Defense and
the Department of the Navy.
Q You're talking to them. They haven't agreed to that, or they
said -- what have they said -- calling your proposal --
SEC. DANZIG: I think we're
going to leave them to speak to this.
Q Many portions of this plan has been reported already by the
press, and many protesters in Puerto Rico have opposed to it.
So do you think this is -- we are going to be in March or February
in the same situation again?
SEC. DANZIG: I think time
will help this. I think there's been a lot of focus on the protestors,
but for myself, the major focus has been on the mainstream government
of Puerto Rico, its elected leaders, and their judgment about
what should be done. And I think progress with respect to our
relationship with them and the community on Vieques is, for me,
the key with respect to this.
Q Have they been negotiating with the government of Puerto
Rico on this?
SEC. DANZIG: All of us
have had a number of discussions over time, going back all the
way to the time of the accident, in that respect.
Q Yes. Can you tell me -- and also if General Jones could talk
about this -- do you expect there's going to be any ripple effects
in other places where we have troops or bases overseas? Especially
I'm thinking about Okinawa, with the Marines -- and other places.
If we can't keep operations going in a U.S. commonwealth, how
are our bases overseas in other countries going to be affected?
GEN. JONES: Well, I think
the -- that's why this process that has been outlined is so important;
that we absolutely have a vital interest in making sure that we
repair the relationships that have fallen into a state of disrepair
over a long period of time, and that we see if we can't get the
people who live on Vieques to feel the same way that most of the
communities around our bases and stations here in the United States
feel about the training that goes on. I think it's important to
set that example, to avoid just that ripple effect elsewhere,
not only at home but abroad.
Q Are you concerned about ripple effect, especially in Okinawa
GEN. JONES: I think it's
a legitimate question, and we have to maintain those good relationships
as well. We intend to be good neighbors. We try very hard to be
good neighbors in terms of our training bases, and we want to
apply that same standard to our Puerto Rican experience, as well.
SEC. DANZIG: Is there anybody
who hasn't had a chance to ask a question? You might want to ask
the last one. Yeah?
Q The CNO and the Commandant, if I could. Given the importance
that you've placed on this range and the value of this range and
the difficulty in compensating for it, it seems that there's slim
likelihood of Puerto Rico changing their position and allowing
the Navy back in. Do you feel that you've been sold out by the
administration? (Scattered laughter.)
ADM. JOHNSON: We are committed
-- we are committed -- to rolling up our sleeves and working with
the good people of Vieques to ensure that we can continue to use
that range. That is the most important part of this. Vieques is
important to the United States Navy and the United States Marine
Corps. It's the crown jewel training experience for us. We don't
want to lose it, and we're willing to work to keep it.
SEC. DANZIG: General Jones,
you've got the last word on this.
Q Do you have the kind of support you were looking for from
SEC. DANZIG: You can hear
General Jones on this point.
GEN. JONES: I would echo
the words of the CNO. And no, I don't feel in any way whatsoever
that we've been let down. As a matter of fact, I'm heartened by
the fact that we've had great dialogue and we've arrived at what
we think is a very workable and reasonable proposal that will
restore the relationship, and we're optimistic that we can do
that. And neither the CNO or myself would jeopardize or in any
way denigrate the absolute requirement to make sure that our sailors
and Marines deploy, if need be, in harm's way, but as ready as
we can possibly make them.
Q But does it make things considerably more difficult as a
result of this decision?
GEN. JONES: It's been made
more difficult, but it's not unachievable.
Q How much did the events in Seattle influence you in terms
of not pressing on this right now?
SEC. DANZIG: Not at all.