THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
REMARKS BY CHAIRMAN OF THE JOINT CHIEFS OF STAFF GENERAL COLIN POWELL IN QUESTION AND ANSWER SESSION WITH THE PRESS The North Portico
5:25 P.M. EDT
Q General, thank you for being patient.
GENERAL POWELL: Not at all. I just might say that my colleagues on the Joint Chiefs of Staff and I have just had a couple of hours of meetings with the President, a very useful exchange of views on the situation in Bosnia.
We explored a wide range of options having to do with the diplomatic efforts, as well as some of the other items under discussion. And I would just characterize it as a full discussion of a wide range of military options as well as consideration of the current diplomatic situation.
Q Have you ruled anything on or off the table?
GENERAL POWELL: We haven't ruled anything off the table, other than what the President had previously ruled off the table. And I don't want to get into any specifics of details of any of the military options; I think they have been covered rather broadly in the press. And, as you know, it is not our practice to go into the details.
Q It's been widely reported, General, that many in the Pentagon, including many of those in the Joint Chiefs, are reluctant to endorse limited air strikes against either artillery positions or supply lines, that sort of thing.
GENERAL POWELL: Well, lots of things are always reported about the views of the Pentagon. What we do is examine all of the pros and cons, advantages and disadvantages of all military options, and then we give the results of that analysis to the President, and the President has been very, very kind in taking the time to hear that analysis.
We also discuss with our political leaders the proper linking of military actions to political objectives and policy objectives to make sure there is that linkage, and the President understands the need to have that kind of conversation.
But it is also clear that once all of that consideration has been given and the President makes his decision, the Armed Forces of the United States will be fully able to carry out the instructions that we have been given. And at that point, there is never any reluctance. We have demonstrated repeatedly, especially in recent years, our ability to accomplish any assigned mission.
Q Does the meeting this weekend between the Croats and the Muslims and the Serbs, the meeting this weekend, does that change the equation at all -- the military equation in your mind?
GENERAL POWELL: We will continue with our thinking and planning on this issue. I'm, of course, pleased, as everybody, that there is another chapter unfolding in this diplomatic effort. But we've seen previous chapters unfold and close right away, so let's be hopeful, let's be optimistic that there is a breakthrough; but, nevertheless, we'll continue with our planning and thinking.
Q General, do you believe that air strikes can be effective and can be accomplished without too much risk to our people?
GENERAL POWELL: Air strikes, depending on the nature of the strike and the target and a lot of other considerations, can have an effect. Whether they have the effect that some of the more strident advocates hope that they would have is the question to be answered. There is always a risk associated with it. We will do everything possible, if we are ever called upon to conduct air strikes anywhere, to minimize that risk, but there is always a level of risk.
Q General, as you understand it right now, what is the political objective in Bosnia -- as you understand it right now?
GENERAL POWELL: I don't speak political objectives. Thank you.
THE PRESS: Thank you.
5:27 P.M. EDT