THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary (Dakar, Senegal) ________________________________________________________________________ For Immediate Release April 1, 1998
PRESS BRIEFING BY GENERAL JAMES JAMERSON, DEPUTY COMMANDER IN CHIEF OF U.S.-EUROPEAN COMMAND Le Meridien Hotel Dakar, Senegal
6:00 P.M. (L)
GENERAL JAMERSON: Probably the easiest thing to do is just me take questions if you have questions on ACRI. You've got a background sheet, you heard the President's comments today. Unless somebody wants me to run through any of the history of it up until now, I'll just wait and take questions that you have.
Q General, the factsheet that we have describes the annual training exercise. My conception of the ACRI is that it ultimately would lead to sort of a permanent African response force broader than what's described in the sheet. Could you straighten me out? Is that the long-term goal?
GENERAL JAMERSON: No. In fact, it had an initial name; when this thing started, the term African Crisis Response Force was used. You'll still hear it referred to periodically like that. We changed it sort of conceptually -- we didn't have that concept anyway, but we changed the name to Response Initiative. And it was due in part to some sensitivities on just that issue, about whether we were creating some kind of a standing military force, which among African partners -- we looked at this thing -- they were a little cold to that idea.
And our idea all along is we're going to build capacity -- we've used this term "capacity" -- we want to build the capacity, using standards that are accepted by the U.N. peacekeeping organization and by the OAU and others -- an exchange between Africa and ourselves, others who have done peacekeeping; build this capacity based on standards so that when these units, based on sovereign decisions of the countries where we've trained them -- there are no strings attached to this thing to the countries -- sovereign decision, if they ever want to bring them together. And they can bring them together under any number of formats -- a multinational force, the OAU, a regional organization or the U.N. peacekeeping organization -- any one of those.
We're just trying to build a capacity within the militaries to be able to perform the mission -- peacekeeping or humanitarian. But there are no standing headquarters, no standing organizations that go with it.
Q General, can you talk about the command and control, the issue that President Mandela raised about who actually is commanding the troops?
GENERAL JAMERSON: Sure. President Mandela was on the mark with exactly the concept that we've been working with. The goal -- and the President made this comment today in his comments -- the goal is to have African command and control and African leadership. Now, that's all part of the building process. There are not that many African militaries yet that have the kind of, what we call, command and control, that upper-level capacity to bring battalions or organizations together and then provide all the support that goes with it.
So that is part of the training process, both the one we do bilaterally -- ACRI -- and exercises like Blue Hungwe , which is in Zimbabwe; Guidimakha, the one that was just done here in Senegal. Those exercises will put African leaders into position. So there are African leaders already out there commanding things. The U.N. force in Angola has had African leadership all along. So the goal is just in keeping with what President Mandela said, is to build a capacity which includes African leadership.
Q General, are there any things we've learned from them along the way?
GENERAL JAMERSON: Absolutely.
Q Such as?
GENERAL JAMERSON: I don't know that I can give you specific detail, but it's sort of a -- osmosis is the wrong phrase, but it is us showing them what we think you would do with checkpoints on a road, patrols, and then telling us some of their experiences they've had. I don't have any specifics to give you, but it is a two-way exchange because, as has been mentioned by many, they have got a great foundation of peacekeeping experience down here within a lot of countries -- not just in Senegal -- Senegal in particular. And that's the way our troops operate anyway. They come and do training, but the training is a two-way proposition.
Q General, until you get South Africa on board, aren't you sort of working around the margins? I mean, they're the big military and economic power on this continent. How far can you go without South Africa?
GENERAL JAMERSON: Well, we're six countries into it now, and we're looking at -- it's sort of different level of training for the countries that don't have the capacity to put a full battalion on the table. There's no question that having the SADC organization -- because there are a lot of countries now that could do that -- Botswana has a very competent military. The Zimbabwans have military that's useable in this, and the South Africans, obviously. Yes, we are interested in them coming on board. The President, of course, spoke to President Mandela, which prompted the comment. We think in time that this will come along.
ACRI was a new enough -- it's a new enough initiative, though the idea, I will tell you, is not brand new. The Africans themselves have talked about that sort of a proposition for a lot of years. But it's sort of a confluence of time, and events said this was the right time to do this. The cooperation with other countries, with the French, with the U.K., with the Nordic countries -- there are a lot of other players here that all want to get on board with the whole scheme of peacekeeping training -- not necessarily ACRI. ACRI is the U.S. bilateral piece of it. The French have a piece on it, the British are talking about doing some things on their own.
One of the more important things that has occurred in this ACRI generation has been the cooperation amongst the other countries involved, both countries in Africa and countries outside of Africa. I suspect the level of cooperation now is as high as it's ever been here between the French, ourselves, the Brits, and others.
Q General, President Clinton said the other day that on the Rwanda crisis it was not possible to contemplate the kind of killing, the quantity of the killing, the speed with which it took place. I'm wondering how far away you are from having any kind of a force in place, the capacity you mentioned in place to respond to something like that, were it Burundi or some other place, to begin falling apart. Can you tell us just what the vision is, how that would be prevented?
GENERAL JAMERSON: Well, as you know, the roots of ACRI are, in fact, tied to the genocide in Rwanda. And so the President's comments about genocide in general and things we would hope to be able to do are directly related to what capacity the ACRI is trying to achieve.
To pick a point in time -- and this has been a difficult thing, working with a number of people -- to pick a point in time when you say you have this force and it's there, this capacity and it's there, and all of a sudden you're ready to use it, I don't know how to do that even myself. One could say that if you look at the Central African Republic on a small scale that it's already -- that capability is already there. Africans can today bring together a military force and use it in any number of places.
Now, there are a lot of pieces that still have to go with it -- logistic support, transportation and some other things that don't exist on the continent. ACRI, when we look at it as we move through time, we're not going to be there next month, we may not be there next year if you look at a full-scale Rwanda-like event. Now, I say that, however, because part of the way we've paced ACRI is what we call "Chapter 6" -- we haven't looked at it as a Chapter 7 peacemaking operation. So that has to come with time, it's not going to happen immediately. But, in point of fact, we probably won't know until we get to an event and we will at least have some sense of who we've trained and what their capacity is. And then it will be, of course, a decision amongst all the different players as to whether they want to participate or not. So it's very hard to put your finger on I guess is what I'm saying. But some of that capacity is there today.
Q General, on that point, if there's no standing headquarters, then what triggers the launching of a ACRI force?
GENERAL JAMERSON: Well, again, remember we do ACRI training to build the capacity of those militaries. The decision about when, where and how they go will be taken by the countries themselves. And perhaps it will be under a regional organization, perhaps it will be under the OAU or the United Nations or just the coalition of the willing, if you will. So how it gets used and when it gets used is less clear than the fact that we will know over time -- after each one of these events, we know that we have an organization in a given country that is better than it was when we started. And some of them, as I said, have already done peacekeeping and that's gone okay, so now we're just going to keep building up this capacity to handle tougher issues.
Now, one of the things we have learned I would tell you as we have gone through this ACRI construct of ours is this relationship that our own military has learned over time about dealing with non-governmental organizations and all the other bits and pieces that make peacekeeping and make humanitarian operations successful. So we have -- at the end of an ACRI training event, we have about a 10-day field training exercise in which non-governmental organizations are right square in the middle of this -- which has great benefits within the country, building relationship with the militaries of the African countries, and it has a great benefit to both military and the non-governmentals to understand how each other does business.
So there are some pieces of this as we move through time which are just going to make all countries better at doing the business that we have to do. So that's about the best answer I think I can give you right now.
Q General, does the ACRI involve any permanent contributions of American equipment?
GENERAL JAMERSON: It does. Part of ACRI is that the term non-lethal, and fundamentally is it's communications equipment in the main. There's some water purification equipment. There's some mine-clearing equipment. There's basic soldier equipment -- uniforms, load-bearing gear.
Q Are essentially gifts from the United States to the nations that participate?
GENERAL JAMERSON: Essentially, yes, it is. It's part of the package -- it comes with the training. Now, part of what was going on in Thies today is what is called a sustainment. We do the initial training package, and then we will do a series of sustainment exercises about every six months over the next couple of years. The sustainment exercise does several things for you. You find out about how much of what you have been working with them actually takes, you find out how much the training is progressing, and you find out where the equipment is being managed and taking care of.
That's the logistics part and I don't know if you heard out there today as they briefed it today, in this particular case, they accounted for every piece of equipment and equipment has been maintained. And again, this is not heavy-duty equipment, this is not big article stuff.
The Africans will tell you as they have, many have said, this is not quite enough if you go to do one of these peacekeeping humanitarian things. We're not naive about that, we understand that there has to be more. There's a logistics part of this, there's getting them to whatever the event is. There's more to be done. But this is the way we started off because it's sort of the right pace to start this thing.
Q General, I have two questions. One, could you tell us about your trip to Angola, the objective and what you accomplished? And, secondly, the President mentioned the establishment of this center for security studies in Africa -- if you could tell us a little about that, where that will be located, and the status of that.
GENERAL JAMERSON: Let me be real brief on Angola because the better person to do that would probably be Ambassador Wilson or Mr. Berger, one of those. But we went as we have gone many times before -- myself and some others -- to encourage the peace process and to encourage people to work within the Lusaka Accords, and that has really been what the meat of this is about -- both sides, attempting to be even-handed with both sides and to try to urge both sides to not resort to force, to not go back to the ways they used to do business, but to let this process work its way out.
This was just a particularly important time because we were coming up on one of the sort of milestones of the Lusaka process. So that's what we did. And I, myself, haven't seen the news since then to find out whether some of those things actually happened.
The Africa Center for Strategic Studies -- if you're familiar with the George Marshall Center, which is in Germany, in Garmisch, and there are several other centers for study, both in Washington for Central South America, and Hawaii, called the Nimitz Center for Asia -- the success of these institutions has been such that several years ago people started looking at Africa and saying could this kind of thing work there. And what we are going to do is work with the Africans -- as we need to do and as you have to do -- to work on this idea and see how this thing would fit and where it would fit.
What it tries to do is to mix civilian and military at the policy-making level for a defense structure, for a national security structure in a democracy. And it's been very, very successful in Garmisch, to bring in the countries of Eastern Europe, former Soviet states, former states of the Soviet Union and Eastern European states, and give them a chance to sit down and think their way through how do you do national security when you have budget limitations, resource limitations and you want to operate within a democratic environment.
The level that this will go to that is different than, say, a military school or others is that it tries to bring in senior decision-makers, both in uniform and in the elected government. In fact, I would give you as an example of this or as a suggestion is go look at the Marshall Center sometime and see how successful that's been. And it's that kind of an idea. But this has to be worked with the countries themselves to see where it fits.
Q But you don't have a site yet?
GENERAL JAMERSON: No. No, there's not a site.
Q General, can you tell us what the criteria are for the stability of countries that would participate in this program and what assurances does the U.S. have that the tools or the training won't be used in a way contrary to U.S. interests at some point in the future?
GENERAL JAMERSON: Back on ACRI again?
GENERAL JAMERSON: There's a significant vetting process that goes on. It starts with nominations of countries that can come from an ambassador, can come from the country themselves. In the interagency arena in Washington people go through and look at what is the human rights record of the military, what is the democracy record of the country. It is a significant scrub. And there have been a number of countries that have been looked at and said, it's not the right time, the record is not good enough. So there is a lot of -- and the Congress itself has laid that restriction on as well, that says you need to do that. We need to be talking about progress and democracy, record on human rights before we do this.
Now, does that guarantee that there won't be a setback here or there? I don't think so. But we are spending a lot of time looking at the candidates and that's why, thus far, we've only been as far as we've been.
Q Thank you.
GENERAL JAMERSON: Okay, thank you very much.
END 6:17 P.M. (L)