September 11, 2001 : Attack on America
Informal Press Op For Journalists With Rear Admiral Craig Quigley Following General Franks' 10/30 Press Conference Tashkent, Uzbekistan; October 30, 2001

Informal Press Op For Journalists With Rear Admiral Craig Quigley Following General Franks' 10/30 Press Conference
Intercontinetal Hotel
Tashkent, Uzbekistan
October 30, 2001

Question: Did you use in any way Soviet experience of fighting in Afghanistan?

Admiral Quigley: Would you say that again?

Question: Experience of Soviet Union in war in Afghanistan. Did you take into consideration ...

Admiral Quigley: I think many nations in the world have studied very closely the Soviet experience in Afghanistan. The United States is certainly one of them. Many other nations as well have done that. There's a lot to be learned from the Soviet experience in fighting in Afghanistan. I'd like to think that the United States military took those lessons aboard and continues to take those lessons aboard and will not repeat mistakes made by the Soviet military.

Question: I guess the answer is obvious, but with regard to his question (previous off-mike discussion on access to U.S. military presence in Uzbekistan) what is the rationale for that, for the position you're taking?

Admiral Quigley: Which? I'm sorry?

Question: No access. What is the rationale for the no access position?

Admiral Quigley: I said this before we got going, but not to nearly this many folks. It's a play off on what General Franks said during the press conference. Each of the nations that has agreed to participate and support in some way, shape or form the war on terrorism has a unique, and I mean that word in its literal sense - unique to their nation, a set of circumstances they confront. Now they've offered to provide a variety of assistance, whether it's diplomatic support, financial support, military forces, it runs the gamut over a variety of support. But then they take the calculus as to what are the political initiatives within their country, and some countries feel they are in a position to be very overt about the assistance they are providing.

The United Kingdom would be an example of that. Australia would be another example. But there are many other nations that are providing concrete solid assistance to the war on terrorism who do not feel that they wish to take a high profile stance in that regard. We are going to be as sensitive to their needs, internal needs, as we can be. At the end of the day this is all about the provision of support to achieve a common objective. We think that's very, very important.

Question: So the issue is not operational security and safety of the US forces in those areas. It has to do with the countries themselves.

Admiral Quigley: That is an element of it. It is a mixture of elements, and you really can't divorce one from the other.

Question: The General said earlier about possibly getting a land-bridge (re humanitarian aid). Was there any discussion with President Karimov about opening the borders here? There is a bridge that humanitarian aid workers say would help them tremendously in getting aid to, how does (inaudible)?

Admiral Quigley: I think I'll repeat the General's answer. Here I won't be specific as to which elements he discussed with the President. But it is very important to General Franks that there be a means, I mean the United States has tried very hard since the beginning of the campaign over Afghanistan to do two things simultaneously, and one is on the military side, the taking out of Al Qaeda targets, of Taliban targets. But also to provide humanitarian assistance in the way of dropping food from C-17s.

Question: (Inaudible) ... using airports here to drop food?

Admiral Quigley: Same answer. We're approaching the one million mark, point, on the provision of humanitarian daily rations to the people of Afghanistan. And that's a big number, but, there's a much more effective way of doing that, and that is somehow finding a way to providing tons at a time of aid via any of several ways to approach Afghanistan by land. So we'll keep going with the airdrops as long as we must, but we'll continue to try to seek a more effective way of moving really larger volumes of humanitarian assistance to the people of Afghanistan. That'll be food, that'll be clothing, that'll be medicines, things of that sort.

Question: You can't even tell us if that was discussed today?

Admiral Quigley: No. That would be something for President Karimov to acknowledge, if that's what he wishes to do.

Question: In which country will visit Mr. General?

Admiral Quigly: I'll tell you where he has been. I won't tell you where he's going.

Question: Is that an objective of the US military at this point, to open a land bridge?

Admiral Quigley: To find a more effective way to get larger volumes of humanitarian assistance in to the people of Afghanistan.

Question: Admiral, when you just mentioned opening a land bridge to get aid into the (Afghanistan). Naturally, the place to do that is Mazar-e -Sharif. Both the Pentagon and civilian leadership in the United States have stated they want to see the Northern Alliance take Mazar e Sharif in order to get this kind of aid into Afghanistan. Uh, but it doesn't seem that our coordination with them as being very robust in achieving that goal. Can you tell us why?

Admiral Quigley: I would tell you that there are a lot of other places in Afghanistan that would be as perfectly suitable as Mazar-e -Sharif. So I think your thinking is too limited. There's a lot of other cities and areas within Afghanistan that would be perfectly suitable and the world does not center on Mazar-e -Sharif.

Question: Is it true the US is air dropping weapons to the Northern Alliance outside of Mazar e Sharif?

Admiral Quigley: We're providing weapons and ammunition to a variety of opposition groups in a variety of ways, but I won't be more specific than that.

Question: The General said that he spoke with some opposition leaders. Could you tell us who and where?

Admiral Quigley: No.

Question: The opposition leaders in Tashkent?

Admiral Quigley: Again, I won't say who and where. But he has talked and will continue to talk with opposition leaders in both the north and the south. And I think that, you know, he really meant what he said on the, on the criteria by which we continue to engage the opposition groups. It's an understanding of "Are your objectives what my objectives are?" and "Do you have the capability to make good on your commitment to help?" And you're going to end up with a very different panoply of answers depending on the circumstances of each of the opposition groups.

Question: You mentioned you flew over Afghanistan. Did you stop anywhere in Afghanistan?

Admiral Quigley: No. We flew right over.

Question: The general (inaudible) ...still counting on the Northern Alliance to take some of its territory, are they not?

Admiral Quigley: The Northern Alliance is one of the opposition groups within Afghanistan on which we count as, as a solid supporter of our objectives. They want to get their country back. They do not recognize the legitimacy of the Taliban government any more than any other civilized group of people on earth. So in that we can agree and I would take that one step further, Doug, and you have a lot of agreement amongst a variety of nations on earth that have at times different political objectives and different political motivations, but on this - the war against terrorism - you really tend to find a common denominator there where you can put differences aside and say, yes, on this, at least, we agree.

Question: But they're the ones on the ground. They're the ones the US has to rely on to achieve some of its goals.

Admiral Quigley: Well, again, it's a variety of opposition groups. Certainly, up north the one that is preeminent is the Northern Alliance. But you really do find a variety of capabilities and needs amongst the various groups. Some, it's ammunition and weapons as we've discussed. Others, a communications capability. And as we can understand what their needs are, and we make sure that their objectives are the same as ours, we will provide that assistance as best we can.

Question: How do you respond to their complaints that they're not getting that stuff?

Admiral Quigley: Well I would tell you that that's not what General Franks has been hearing in his discussions with the leadership of those opposition groups. So I've heard the same voices that you've heard - they're usually unnamed - but at the leadership level, that's not what the general has heard. Now it's not to say the discussion's done or they have everything they need. Far from it. That's why we continue to talk to them to make sure we can coordinate as best we can. I don't want to provide them something they don't need, but if they're in desperate need of something I'm going to do whatever I can to provide that most critical need.

Question: Will the US supply ammunitions, communications, all of the sort of basic military supplies that they've been asking for, in addition to food?

Admiral Quigley: Well, we will try to provide weapons, ammunition, and things of that sort to the various opposition groups. Again, you apply that yardstick initially to make sure that their objectives are the same as ours and if it's within our ability to do so, then we will move on to the next step and try to find a way to do that, and do that effectively.

Question: You said the Northern Alliance was one group. Now, what other groups have you been dealing with?

Admiral Quigley: Well, the Northern Alliance does not encompass the tribes of the south, for instance, around the Kandahar area and Pashtun tribes, so it's very important that this be a multiparty dialog because you will not find all parties in any particular geographic area. You've got a different group out in the west around Herat and down in the south around Kandahar. Up in the north we are in contact with a variety of opposition group leadership.

Question: Is it safe to say you are in contact with groups in those areas that are, you know, pazaras, people from Kandahar?

Admiral Quigley: I think I'll leave it just as I said it.

Question: How has Abdul Haq's assassination or execution affected your relationship with the southern tribes?

Admiral Quigley: I don't know.

Question: Sir, when the general was asked by a local journalist how many American (military) there are in Uzbekistan, the answer he gave was he saw that as the prerogative of (the government of Uzbekistan) ... I can understand that as an answer to an Uzbek journalist, but when American journalists are asking how many American troops are here, is it sustainable to keep saying that we should ask the Uzbek government?

Admiral Quigley: Well, every circumstance where you have a nation that has agreed to provide some sort of support to the overall coalition effort to fight terrorism around the world, they provide support in a variety of different ways. But they all have particular political sensitivities internally that they must be sensitive to. We are going to do our darndest to try to be responsible and sensitive to their concerns.

So in each case you have a partnership, if you will. It's a coalition of nations. It's dozens of nations around the world, but in each case, with the United States, it really ends up being a bilateral relationship at the end of the day. And so we discuss what sort of support the nation can provide and how high a profile, if any, is that nation willing to accommodate internally for its own political needs.

And as you heard General Franks say, we are very satisfied with the results on that, but it ended up being a partnership at the end of the day for a host nation to acknowledge or not acknowledge whether or not there are US forces on its soil. And if the answer to the first part is yes, then it comes back to the Defense Department on how much to acknowledge and still retain the level of operational security that we're comfortable with. So it's always two parts to the equation.

Question: Will the US presence continue in Afghanistan after the end of the anti-terrorist operation?

Admiral Quigley: Our military cooperation with Uzbekistan started before September 11th and it will not end for the foreseeable future. It is a very rich, good relationship that grows and improves all the time.

Question: You said that there are many countries where there are American troops and they have not even acknowledged that?

Admiral Quigley: Correct.

Question: There are countries in this region where there are American troops (inaudible)...

Admiral Quigley: There are countries around the world that are uncomfortable with that for internal political reasons. They provide the support that contributes to the overall effort against terrorism. We'll live with that.

Question: But the Uzbeks are saying that the Americans are here (to provide?) humanitarian aid. No one believes that in Uzbekistan. At least no one around the (inaudible) believes that. I mean I'm just wondering why there (inaudible) ...

Admiral Quigley: I think the words that the president (President of Uzbekistan) used were "in the first instance for the provision of humanitarian assistance." Were those not the words?

Question: None of which is ...

Admiral Quigley: I'll leave it there.

Thank you all very much.

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