Subject: USGOV: Pentagon on Indonesia-US Military Ties

NEWS TRANSCRIPT from the United States Department of Defense

DoD News Briefing Torie Clarke, ASD (PA) Wednesday, March 20, 2002 - 12:00 p.m. EST

(Also participating was Air Force Brig. Gen. John W. Rosa, Jr., deputy director for current operations, Operations Directorate, the Joint Staff.)


Q: To change the topic slightly, is it in the -- would it be in the interest of the Pentagon or the U.S. military to reestablish military-to-military relations with Indonesia?

Clarke: What's in the interests of the United States and the American people is something we're actively engaged in, and that is working with countries and friends and allies and people around the world in the global war on terrorism. We've made it very clear that an important part of the road ahead is with friends and allies, where we can equip and train and assist them in fighting terrorism in their backyards, we will do that. Full stop.

Very separate and distinct thing with Indonesia. There are real constraints put on us by Congress as to what we can do with Indonesia in any kind of military-to-military relationship. So before there is any consideration given to what you might do with Indonesia, there would be extensive consultation with Congress and there would be action by Congress.

Q: Is there a desire on the part of the administration to change existing barriers so that military-to-military relations could be resumed? This building, and Denny Blair, as I understand it, is a strong advocate of military-to-military relations so that a number of things can happen.

Clarke: The secretary of Defense is a very strong advocate of military-to-military relations, and he stood up here and he has talked about them prior to September 11th and since September 11th, about the value that it can bring --

Q: No, but I'm talking about Indonesia.

Clarke: I know. I know what you're talking about, but context is important. There are very, very special concerns and considerations with respect to Indonesia. So I'll repeat myself: Nothing would be done, no consideration would be given until and unless there is very close coordination, consultation with Congress, and there would have to be action on their part. But --

Q: (Off mike.)

Clarke: -- to try to answer your question more directly, do we want to work with every country, with every friend and ally that we can around the world in efforts to fight terrorism? Absolutely.

Q: Do you think that the trail of the terrorists and al Qaeda leads increasingly to Indonesia in the aftermath of U.S. operations in Afghanistan?

Clarke: I'll say something and then General Rosa can clean it up.

I get very nervous about talking about individual countries because I get mixed up with what I've seen that is classified, what isn't classified. So I am very careful about not talking about specific countries, unless I know it is something that we have discussed publicly, we have discussed with that country.

We have said repeatedly al Qaeda alone is in 50 or 60 different countries around the world to varying degrees.

Q Are you pressing Congress on --

Clarke: Let's stop and see if General Rosa --

Q Let's let the -- maybe the general can address Indonesia specifically.

Rosa: To my knowledge, we are not working at this time, currently working any kind of plan for military force, or military presence, I should say, in Indonesia.

Q Does the trail of many al Qaeda terrorists, some, lead to Indonesia in the aftermath of American operations in Afghanistan? Is it a country of concern?

Rosa: I would say it's a country that we've looked at the trails. I don't want to be specific and tell you how or what we found. But as you might expect, that is a vast, vast array of islands. Are there easy places to hide there? You betcha.

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