News Briefings

DoD News Briefing

Tuesday, August 17, 1999 - 1:40 p.m.
Presenter: Mr. Kenneth H. Bacon, ASD PA


Q: Ken, why did General Shelton refuse to send THAAD radar to Japan who officially made the request? And was the SecDef consulted on it?

Mr. Bacon: First of all, let me put this into perspective. We are in the process of deploying significant assets to the Pacific to monitor a test should one occur by the North Koreans. We don't know whether one's going to occur or not at this stage.

General Shelton felt that the collection assets we either have or will have on scene are perfectly adequate to meet our needs. And THAAD had not been integrated into the collection plan. So he felt that the assets we will have on the scene are perfectly adequate to meet the needs.

Second, there would have been a cost to deploying the THAAD radar that he didn't think was worth spending, given the collection assets we were already planning to have on the scene.

Third, it would have interfered with other plans for the THAAD radar.

When he added those three factors together, he decided that it did not make sense to send the THAAD radar.

Q: What are the significant assets we're sending, other than the two ships that have been deployed?

Mr. Bacon: There are ships. Japan has Aegis cruisers that certainly were valuable collectors the last time around and would participate in any collection activities this time as well. I announced last week some ships that were going. So there are a variety of collection assets that we'll have at sea and in the air. And General Shelton felt those were adequate and that the THAAD radar was not going to be necessary.

Q: Was anyone else consulted in the civilian hierarchy, or was this strictly a military decision based on money?

Mr. Bacon: This was discussed in the policy area, and in the military area, but it was finally General Shelton's decision. The reason he made the decision was the request had been made by the Commander in Chief of the Space Command, General Myers.

Q: Any additional or new indications of whether missile preparation has advanced or not?

Mr. Bacon: We do not have anything to suggest that North Korea is closer to a test today than it was last week.

Q: Why would General Myers make the request to use this radar if other plans were being made for the THAAD radar?

Mr. Bacon: I think you should ask SPACECOM that. But it's the Chairman's job to evaluate these requests and to allocate resources sensibly, and this is the decision that he made.

Q: Can I ask what other plans were being made for the THAAD radar?

Mr. Bacon: You can ask but I'm not going to answer. There are a number of things set up for it.

Q: Considering that they plus up the budget for missile defense by a billion dollars, I understand the costs were somewhere between $3 and $5 million. What were the real cost problems with deploying this radar?

Mr. Bacon: We don't have mountains of money sitting around. The question was who was going to pay for this? No one really stepped up to want to pay the bill to move it from their own budgets.

Secondly, it would have interfered--it would have taken some time to send it there, set it up, and then move it back. It would have interfered with other plans that are in line for the THAAD radar. The Chairman, when he evaluated these three factors, decided that it wasn't a decision worth making.

I might add, Bill, that I thought that was a very unfair remark made or quoted in your story about the Chairman, anonymously. It was a low blow, I felt.

Q: Were arms control considerations a factor in this.decision?

Mr. Bacon: Arms control considerations were not a factor. I've given you what the factors were. I don't think arms control considerations were going to be a big issue in this case. But in fact the decision was made on the three factors that I gave you.

Q: Was there any consideration that this radar's not ready to be integrated with missiles over there that it's never operated with? It's specifically for the THAAD unit, it's not a telemetry radar which you'd want for the Taepo Dong. Were there any technical issues raised that this thing's not ready to do what Myers thinks it might be able to do?

Mr. Bacon: The decision was based on the feeling that it wasn't going to add a significant amount of information to the package we will already have there. That was the basis of the decision. There were other considerations which were the cost and the competing schedule for the THAAD radar, but the primary consideration was the fact that it wasn't going to--the benefits of what we would get weren't worth the costs both in terms of money and in terms of disruption to other needs for the THAAD radar.

Q: This may be more of a question for the Space Command, but is it your understanding that it was wanted more to test the THAAD radar or to add capability to gathering intelligence? Do you see my point?

Mr. Bacon: I think it was a little bit of both. Usually these things are not just one dimensional, there are several dimensions to them. I think it would have both tested the radar and there was a thought it might provide some additional information. But when the Chairman evaluated it, he didn't think it was going to be a significant amount of new information.


Q: What was General Tilelli's opinion about THAAD? Had he also requested it for his theater?

Mr. Bacon: I'm not aware that he had requested it. I think the request came from General Myers.

Q: My other question is, to go back to Charlie's point. Can you just expand a little bit more on what you meant by the significant resources? We do have the two Navy ships which you've previously announced; and you've told us here today the Japanese Aegis cruisers will participate in monitoring a test if it should occur. But what else makes up the significant resources that you mentioned?

Mr. Bacon: We've been monitoring missile launches for a long time. We have a force that is trained, highly technologically advanced, and experienced at doing this type thing. The fact that there may be a test is hardly a secret. I can just tell you that we'll have a combination of sea-borne and airborne assets to help us monitor this. Without getting into details, we think this will be adequate.


Press: Thank you.