News Briefings

DoD News Briefing

Tuesday, October 20, 1998 - 1:50 p.m. (EDT)
Presenter: Mr. Kenneth H. Bacon, ASD (PA)


Q: Can you tell me, Congress maybe will finish up its work this week, and $8 to $9 billion supposedly for defense related activities, but of that only about $1.3 billion is readiness. Is the Pentagon happy with the distribution of that bundle of money?

A: In short, yes.

First of all, I think the President promised $1 billion in additional money for readiness, and that's what the bill provides.

Another big chunk, twice as large, of that bill is the $1.9 billion for Bosnia. Of course, if we didn't get that money to pay for Bosnia and operations, we'd have to rob it from operations and maintenance which would have a direct and deleterious impact on our readiness.

There are other groups of money in there, $2 billion for intelligence; $1 billion for ballistic missile defense. These are all important programs. There's $358 million for embassy security [which] was put in there, also very important.

So I think this is a good program, but it's only a down payment on some of the expenditures we'll have to make in the future to deal with readiness problems, with quality of life problems, and with our efforts to have more equitable military compensation and benefits.

Q: On ballistic missile defense, the Secretary, the Chairman, and I believe Gen. Lyles have all testified recently that they can't spend any more money on ballistic missile defense right now, at least not on THAAD, and that they just, the technology isn't there. More money won't help. Where are you going to spend the money?

A: Well, the real aim of Congress here, I believe, is to position the Department to be able to fund a deployment decision for national missile defense if one is made in the year 2000. I'm sure that given the technological complexities and the demanding financial needs of both theater and national missile defense programs, that we will be able to spend this additional $1 billion.

It won't all go into THAAD. That is one where we have sort of reached a technological barrier for the time being, and I'm not sure that more money there would help. But there are other areas in which we could spend that money and will.

Q: If it's supposed to be for deployment, then why are we...

A: I think that the...

Q: ...until the time comes to deploy?

A: You'll have to ask Congress, but I believe that that was their purpose.

Press: Thank you.