11:00 A.M. EDT
THE WASHINGTON FOREIGN PRESS CENTER, WASHINGTON, D.C.
MODERATOR: Hello and welcome to the Washington Foreign Press Center. Today we have Lieutenant General Thomas Bostick, Commanding General and Chief of Engineers for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and he’s here to discuss U.S. Army Corps of Engineers operations in the Asia Pacific region. Without further ado, here is the general.
LTG BOSTICK: Okay, well, good morning and thank you for taking the opportunity to hear some of the work that the Corps of Engineers does. I thought I’d first start off on just a little bit of history. The Army Corps of Engineers is two days younger than the Army itself, so the Army birthday is coming up; it’s on 14 June. And it was started in 1775, and the Corps of Engineers just two days later on 16 June, 1775. So for almost 239 years, the Corps of Engineers has been serving the country.
You’re here in Washington, D.C., and there’s many things that you see that you may not associate with the Corps of Engineers, but the Washington Monument, for example, is something the Corps of Engineers built. The dome on the Capitol building, the old Executive Office building. All of the water that you drink, except for bottled water, of course – (laughter) – but the water that you drink in Washington, D.C. is water that’s produced at the National Aqueduct – the Washington Aqueduct that the Corps of Engineers runs.
So we do a wide variety of tasks and missions and we have 33,000 civilians in the Corps of Engineers. Most people think it’s a military organization; it is a military organization with a lot of civilians. So there are only 700 soldiers in the Corps of Engineers that wear this uniform, but 33,000 civilians. So largely a civilian organization with deep expertise in training and engineering services.
Our expertise runs the gamut from engineering, construction, and science – and it’s broad and deep. Much of our expertise is dedicated to the civil and the military infrastructure development and sustainment. But we also do a lot of work in research and development. We have seven laboratories all across the country, and some of our scientists and engineers are world-renowned in some of the areas that they work in.
We execute different missions – military construction, host nation-funded construction, foreign military sales, humanitarian assistance, and disaster preparedness and response projects – in 22 countries in the Asia Pacific region, including the Republic of Korea, Japan, India, China, and Vietnam, to name a few.
In the Republic of Korea, the Corps is administering two large programs: The Yongsan Relocation Plan – also called YRP – and the Land Partnership Plan – LPP. When completed, the two programs will enable the return of land to the Republic of Korea and the relocation of approximately 12,000 U.S. troops to Camp Humphreys from Yongsan garrison and from multiple locations north of Seoul.
In addition, the Corps is executing construction and supporting construction of modern facilities in which the U.S. forces will work, train, and live. In newly – new family housing will enable our service members to bring some of their families to Korea that they might not have been before, in what we call accompanied tours. When completed, the Army Corps of Engineers will have overseen construction of 655 new and renovated facilities. This is the largest single activity in scope and scale that we currently have underway when it comes to military construction.
In Japan, the Army Corps of Engineers is conducting quality surveillance of construction and movement of more than 170 buildings on Marine Corps air station Iwakuni. This work will allow the Carrier Air Wing from the U.S.S. George Washington to relocate from Naval Air Station Atsugi down to Iwakuni. We’re also ensuring that the replacement facility for the Marine Corps Air Station Futenma at Camp Schwab is built to our criteria. The scope of work includes 200 projects that will be executed through the year 2022, and it will reduce the overall U.S. military footprint in Okinawa.
Farther west at Ghaziabad in India, the Corps is managing the construction of a C-17 facility for the [Indian] Air Force Station Hindon. We’re also assisting India with the procurement of infrastructure for C-17 transport aircraft as part of our foreign military sales program. The construction of the facilities began in 2012, and we expect to have them completed by the year 2016.
These critically important projects for the Republic of Korea, Japan, and India demonstrate the many capabilities of the Army Corps of Engineers. It also helps to enable alliances and partnerships throughout the region, and it provides value to the international community. However, our capabilities extend beyond construction management and foreign military sales. We also have the ability to assist other nations in disaster response and preparedness as needed.
In 2011, the Corps of Engineers closely worked with U.S. forces, Japan, and U.S. Army Japan to provide technical engineering support to the Government of Japan in response to the great East Japan earthquake. We provided technical expertise in the areas of terrain visualization, using Geographic Information Systems – or GIS – flood damage assessments, and fault line analysis.
Last year, as part of the annual U.S. and China disaster management exchange, we hosted a Chinese delegation to visit and meet with our officials in Washington, D.C. and New York City. They discussed our response to Hurricane Sandy and ongoing efforts that we continue to do along the Northeastern coast in response to Hurricane Sandy. And we have a reciprocal visit to China being planned for later this year.
To help improve disaster preparedness in the region, the Army Corps of Engineers has provided technical expertise and assistance in the development of disaster response exercise and exchange events in the Lower Mekong countries. By working and training together, we improve the capabilities of our countries while strengthening the partnership of our nations – partnerships with U.S. Government agencies such as the Department of State and the U.S. Agency for International Development as well as agreements within Southwest Asia that have assisted in the successful completion of hundreds of humanitarian assistance projects in Bangladesh, Cambodia, Laos, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Vietnam. Since 2007, the Corps has completed 34 projects in Vietnam, including the construction of schools, medical clinics, and emergency operation centers. Currently, we have eight ongoing projects in Vietnam.
In conclusion, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers continues to support the Asia Pacific region with a full range of planning, engineering, and design and construction management as well as technical assistance services. We’re agile. We’re very quick. We can adapt to just about any environment, and using the collective military and civil expertise, we feel like we can take on the – our nation’s toughest challenges and other challenges in the international community as well. So we welcome the opportunities to work in the international community. We have ongoing work in 132 different countries, we’re physically present in over 40 countries, and we look forward to that continued partnership.
So I’ll leave it there and open it up to questions from each of you.
MODERATOR: We’ll go around the table starting with Mr. Chen.
QUESTION: Hi, Weihua Chen with China Daily. It’s a little confusing. I mean, is your cooperation with China considered part of the military-to-military cooperation or – because obviously, I read you’re cooperating with the Chinese ministry with water resources, so it’s a military-to-civilian. I don’t know how this – is that a U.S. counterpart which – I don’t know, ministry of – department of transportation – is that working with you in collaboration with China?
What is this MOU you are working on with China is about, the ministry of water resources? What exactly are you going to achieve in China?
LTG BOSTICK: Much of our work is through the Department of State, so we work with the Department of State, we work with U.S. Army Pacific Command led by General Brooks, and the Pacific Command led by Admiral Locklear. We work through them and their staffs to help achieve their objectives in different parts of the Asia Pacific.
In China, we both have a mutual interest in water resource management, so our participation, our engagement with China is not necessarily from a mil-to-mil type relationship, although both military and civilian from the U.S. will engage with China, from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers – one of my deputies engaged in China and one of my senior civilians who’s been there. So it is a military-civilian engaging with China for the purpose of better sharing ideas on water resource management areas, and that could be anything from water supply, navigation, work in ports, flood risk management – those sorts of things are areas of mutual concern.
It could also be disaster response, and that’s what China came to United States – to better understand how the international community and how the United States responded to Superstorm Sandy.
QUESTION: A follow-up?
LTG BOSTICK: Sure.
QUESTION: Yeah. I mean, you talk about that you have a reciprocal visit with China, I mean, later this year. Are you going or some – is there – what is the – what are you going to see? And the other is: Do you have a cooperation with the sort of the Chinese (inaudible)? I know Chinese have large sort of corps of engineers which build this railway in Tibet, all these. Do you cooperate with them?
LTG BOSTICK: In transportation?
QUESTION: No. The PLA have a huge army of – I mean, doing construction work. I mean, like, they build this older, long, big platform railway.
LTG BOSTICK: The last visit was primarily with the minister of water resources and it was focused on their – on the Yangtze, the dams, the Three Gorges Dams and their ports, and really sharing lessons learned.
I was invited to go about two years ago and my schedule did not allow me to go. I’m sure that I will be invited again, and as we start working this next visit – and I would love to go over. And the purpose, again, would be to help the United States, from a strategic perspective in our engagement strategy, and then from a tactical operational perspective, it’s for the United States and China to learn from each other in water resources management. And I – and in terms of the railway and working with their military engineers, we haven’t pursued that. But as a soldier, I would love to work with the military in terms of where we can learn lessons from each other on how engineers operate in both of our countries.
QUESTION: [Mikyung Kim, The Seoul Shinmun Daily, Korea.] Thank you for this opportunity. In terms of emergency preparedness, what do you think of the Korean – recently Korean ferry sinking accident? We all collaborate with each other quite well, but there are so many victims this time. So could you respond to the accident first? And then what should we do to prevent that kind of accident? Thank you.
LTG BOSTICK: Well, first, my thoughts and prayers go out to those that have lost loved ones and to the country of Korea. But this is not my area of expertise. All I could offer is that – our areas of expertise, whenever our nation calls and whenever the international community calls, if there’s some technical assistance that we could offer working through the State Department and working through U.S. Army Pacific and the Pacific Command, we would be happy to provide any assistance that we could provide.
I’m not really in a position where I could comment on the accident specifically. But what I will say is what our nation and what the international community does very well is that when a nation is in need in times of disaster, it’s all hands in from the perspective of the United States and other countries. We have responded to disasters worldwide, and we have benefited in the United States from the international assistance that we have received when we have a disaster here in our country. So I think going forward in the future, if asked, the Corps would be very supportive of providing the kind of assistance, for example, that we did in the Japan earthquake.
QUESTION: [Dat Tuan Pham, Vietnam News Agency.] Thank you very much for the precious time. And you have said that from 2007 you have done 34 projects in Vietnam and eight projects now still going on. So could you give us some very simple, like, projects that you have done or you are doing now in Vietnam? Is that water management in city of Hue or in the Mekong River?
GEN BOSTICK: Well, I will say on the Lower Mekong River, there’s a partnership that we have with the Lower Mekong Commission. And that commission has been over here several times. And my team from the Mississippi Valley Division has been over to the Lower Mekong countries, and we have learned from each other.
We have had significant issues on the Mississippi, for example, with both floods and droughts. And how we reduce the risk to our populations through the infrastructure that we’ve built is very important for our country and it’s very important in the Lower Mekong, so we’re trying to share those lessons. So we’ve had them on our boats. We’ve had them up and down our inland waterways. And I think all of those countries, including Vietnam, has learned quite a bit. And our leaders that have gone to Vietnam have learned as well.
But – and I can follow up with you with the exact type of projects that are ongoing now in Vietnam. We’ve got – I said we had eight. But the types of projects we have done in the past have been the schools and the medical clinics and those sorts of facilities. So I would imagine that they’re the type of facilities that are similar to that. But we can follow up with you and get the exact type of each, each of the eight.
QUESTION: And Vietnam, as you know, that is a heavily flood-damaged country from the north to the south and the central as well. So in that order, the Corps of the Engineers who helped Vietnam in February when we ask for the help. And we have flooded – flood damage have country from the north to the south and central, so we need a lot of help from different countries, including U.S. So do you – have you got any request to help our – help us in that area?
GEN BOSTICK: Right. Our request for assistance generally comes through this Lower Mekong Commission. And that has been in the area of technical assistance. So, for example, General DeLuca, who commands my Mississippi Valley Division, is responsible for the Mississippi. And in ensuring that we reduce the risk of floods for the people along there. He and his team visited Vietnam and Cambodia and Laos and that entire area, and from a technical assistance – we can provide assistance. In terms of construction, we’re not involved in the construction of levies, for example, or dams, and that sort of thing, nor have we been asked, to my knowledge. But it’s another question I can follow up on, but to my knowledge, most of our work is providing technical assistance and the expertise of water resource management.
QUESTION: And so far you have building facilities, like civilian facilities only, not for the military infrastructures. So we have Cam Ranh Bay in central Vietnam that we also have planned to upgrade it to meet the rising demand. So are you happy to take part in that project in the future? I mean, the Cam Ranh Bay – you heard about that?
LTG BOSTICK: Could you tell me about the project again?
QUESTION: The Cam Ranh Bay in the central Vietnam. We may have a plan to upgrade it to meet rising demand in the future. So --
LTG BOSTICK: Well, one of the things I always say in the Corps of Engineers, even in the United States, we don’t make the decision to build anything. The Congress of the United States authorizes us to do a certain project based on what the American people want, and then the Congress appropriates the funds in order for us to do that work. Once they do that, we’re very happy – not only happy, it’s a mission we must do, and we will do it to the best of our ability.
Similarly in the international community. If the international community had work that it would like the Corps of Engineers to do, working through the proper officials – whether that’s the State Department, we do work through USAID, for example – the U.S. Agency for International Development – if the work came through those channels or through PACOM in the U.S. Army Pacific, and was directed to us as a mission that they wanted us to do, then the Corps would be happy to support that mission.
QUESTION: So do you have a --
MODERATOR: Can we move on to the next --
QUESTION: Yes. Thank you.
QUESTION: [Hiroaki Wada, Mainichi Shimbun, Japan]. Thank you. Thank you again for your time. My – I have two quick questions. One is about this relocation (inaudible) in Okinawa and other parts of Asia Pacific, specifically in Guam. I hear – I see a lot of reports about the expansion of the infrastructure – military infrastructure in Guam not necessarily going ahead as planned. And (inaudible) expansion of the Guam facilities is really important for the Marine Corps (inaudible) Futenma Air Station’s relocation to Henoko [Bay] if there’s no more local opposition, which is a very critical issue anyway. But even if there’s no opposition on the side of Okinawa, we still need (inaudible) facility to be complete for the relocation from Futenma to be done in a new place. Could you, if you can, update on the status of the Guam project so far?
And the second question is about the tension in the eastern South China Sea. Because of that, the Government of Japan is making arrangements for its Self-Defense Forces to do training for the recovery of some islands in case they have been occupied by some foreign forces. Do you exchange any information or expertise in this area? For example, for the planning of that kind of contingencies? That’s it.
LTG BOSTICK: First to the Guam facilities. While that’s related to what might happen in Futenma and Okinawa, I’m not involved in – the Corps of Engineers is not involved in the Guam construction. So I really don’t have information that I can pass on to you on that. And to your second question, we do not – the Corps of Engineers is not involved in exchanging information in the manner that you describe.
QUESTION: Thank you.
QUESTION: [Lalit Jha, Press Trust of India.] Thank you. Thank you for doing this, and thanks for the Foreign Press Center for organizing this. In your opening remarks, you mentioned about C-17 (inaudible) Ghaziabad.
LTG BOSTICK: Right.
QUESTION: Can you elaborate a little bit more on that? And also if there are other joint projects that you’re working with India on C-17 (inaudible). And finally, do you have any – what kind of interaction do you have with your Indian counterparts (inaudible)?
LTG BOSTICK: I didn’t understand --
QUESTION: What kind of interaction or engagement do you have between Indian counterparts?
LTG BOSTICK: Okay. On the ground we have frequent engagements on – I have authorized for our civilians to be assigned and working in India to oversee the quality of the C-17 bed-down facility. So as you know that the – India purchased C-17s, and those C-17s are inbound to India. And we are working vigorously to keep up the schedule so that these bed-down facilities where the C-17s will go will be completed in time for the arrival of those facilities. We believe we’ll finish the facility construction in 2016. The construction has no issues currently. My Pacific Ocean division commander, General Rick Stevens, was just in India to see the construction site and the ongoing construction and to interact with some of the leaders in India.
So I think on the ground we’ve got the right people. We have a great relationship with the team on the ground from India and the contractor, and the work is on schedule, so – the aircraft may come in sooner than the construction is completed, but in terms of the construction, we’re moving as quickly as we can to expedite where we can.
QUESTION: And (inaudible) the kind of interaction you have with your Indian counterparts?
LTG BOSTICK: The interaction at the – is quite well.
QUESTION: But I mean (inaudible) --
LTG BOSTICK: My personal interaction – I have not been to India [Note: LTG Bostick has not been to India in his official capacity, but he has been to India, see below]. It’s one of the trips I plan to take, but at the local and regional level I have a general officer that is responsible to Admiral Locklear and General Brooks for the Asian-Pacific area of responsibility. So he interacts regularly with the countries in the Asia-Pacific region. And therefore he would interact and has a good relationship with the leaders that he would normally interact with in India.
QUESTION: But my question was if you have any other projects that’s going on or are in the pipeline in India.
LTG BOSTICK: I would have to follow up with you on that. I don’t know.
QUESTION: [Weihua Chen, China Daily] Yeah. I just wanted to see – I mean, have you met this Chinese delegation from Three Gorges Corporation? You know what they are interested in – I mean, about the dams and locks in the U.S., obviously. I mean, Three Gorges Dam – it’s gorgeous, but it’s also controversial in some way.
Also this U.S.-China disaster management exchange annually – do you participate? I mean, what is it about? I mean, this is under the S&ED, the Strategic and Economic Dialogue, or what? Do you know?
LTG BOSTICK: The – in terms of the delegation from China and why they would come and why we would go there and the interest in Three Gorges, I think from a leader standpoint we’re always interested in learning new techniques, and also learning challenges that other nations might have. In our country we have some dams that we are – are very old, and we’re working to ensure that we reduce the risk on those dams through the best engineering that we can apply. China is interested in that as well, and then because they built new dams, we’re interested in what lessons they’ve learned.
I know they have some challenges with the Three Gorges dams, and I think with any type of infrastructure construction – they certainly come with challenges. But that’s part of why we meet, is to understand and – what each country is going through, and if there is a method for us to help each other, then we help.
A lot of our work is work that comes up directly from the country through the State Department to the Corps of Engineers. It is often one-on-one-type work that sometimes is part of a larger program, but sometimes may not be. And the work with China is work that, because of the reputation that the Corps of Engineers has in disaster management and in water resource management, we are reached out quite frequently by other countries to engage with them. And that’s part of has happened with China.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) – sorry.
QUESTION: [Mikyung Kim, Seoul Shinmun.] YRP and LPP – would you update the – two plans so far, and what’s your priority to complete two plans?
And – actually, we had a new special measure of agreement a couple months ago, and there are some argument that the U.S. should be more transparent about the SMA [Special Measures Agreement] – I mean the sharing the cost, defense – shared cost. What do you think about that?
And we recently started to talk about the reviewing the wartime of OPCON [Operational Control] transfer. Do you think that kind of review, the time delay, will affect the two plans – I mean the YRP and LPP – in the future? And maybe though, it – will it affect the SMA in the future? Thank you.
LTG BOSTICK: Can you – the SMA is really outside my area of responsibility --
LTG BOSTICK: -- so I’m going to focus on --
QUESTION: Okay. (Inaudible) --
LTG BOSTICK: Okay. Could you --
QUESTION: -- (inaudible) and two plans. I mean, the share – costs share --
LTG BOSTICK: Can you explain again the question?
QUESTION: The special (inaudible) – I mean, the – okay, so first one is: Would you update the two plans so far?
LTG BOSTICK: Okay. Let me do that and then we’ll go on to the next one.
QUESTION: Yeah, yeah. Okay, thanks.
LTG BOSTICK: And this is one of the more complicated arrangements of managing this project that the Corps is involved in. The Corps is working with the minister of defense. We’re also working with a civilian contractor, and we’re working with the forces in Korea – with the forces in Korea overall in charge of force, and General Scaparrotti working with the minister of defense and leading this effort.
So despite the challenges, we feel that we’re making good progress. Overall, if you look at YRP and LPP we feel that we are at 42 percent execution; we’re a little less in YRP and a little bit ahead of that in LPP. In YRP, we feel we’ve executed about 36 percent and LPP at about 54 percent; so overall, 42 percent executed. And we think we’re on track to finish this huge mission in about 2017. There are some negotiations going on in terms of movement of troops and when those movement of troops will occur, but I’m going to leave that to the leaders in Korea to address. Does that answer your --
QUESTION: Yeah, the first one.
LTG BOSTICK: So – okay.
QUESTION: And the wartime – I mean, (inaudible). So in the Summit, President Obama and President Park Geun-hye started to talk about redoing the wartime (inaudible). And there are some speculation that if you delay the (inaudible) again, it will affect the SMA agreement or two plans that you were dealing with. So do you agree with that opinion?
LTG BOSTICK: I really don’t know. I don’t have enough details on that part of the ongoing discussions to offer whether it would delay or not. I know the timeline we’re on, I know the expectations that we have to deliver as – in our role of ensuring the quality of the work, but there are many different variables in this equation and I think for something like that question, it would really require someone in Korea that’s overseeing the entire work and in the operations to address.
QUESTION: [Hiroaki Wada, Mainichi Shimbun.] (Inaudible.) Thank you. About your progress in (inaudible), could you update me on how it’s going? Are you foreseeing any difficulties or is everything going smoothly as planned? I do see some reports of a – some local residents reporting to the construction of some housing units for U.S. troops. I don’t know how (inaudible) your position, but I appreciate (inaudible).
LTG BOSTICK: Yeah --
QUESTION: And also – sorry. Second question. You also mentioned about you are seeking cooperation – Corps of Engineers cooperation with Japan in a time of disaster (inaudible). Do you have any new projects coming out of this cooperation we had back then?
LTG BOSTICK: I was at Iwakuni about a year and a half ago, and it was going very, very well at that time. And it is going exceedingly well now. I was just shown a picture that updated the status of Iwakuni. And as you know we built that airfield out in the water and all the facilities on the installation. But the work in Iwakuni in my mind is going very, very well, and I think the people of Japan would be proud of what is happening there and I commend the Japanese in the construction and our workers – our USACE employees for what they’re doing.
As to the disaster response based on what we did for the great earthquake of Japan, we’re great partners with Japan in terms of disaster response. In fact, this Saturday I’m going to the Netherlands. And these are world leaders that come together in the area of disaster response when it comes to water-related disasters. The Japanese are leaders in that area, and we work with them very closely. So from a – again, from a technical assistance – constantly engaged, constantly working these kind of issues, I don’t think we would have a better partnership than we have with the Japanese. So – but in terms of specific projects and work that they’ve asked us to do, I’d have to follow up with you on that but I don’t think there’s anything that’s ongoing since the earthquake.
QUESTION: And you also mentioned the cooperation in the field of fault line analysis.
LTG BOSTICK: Right.
QUESTION: And this is something pretty looked up on, I think, in Japan, because the ongoing review of the (inaudible). Do you know if this technology – I don’t know if you (inaudible) how the exchange happened, but – and do you think that particular knowledge or technology we have in this fault line analysis is being utilized on the Japanese side? And beyond (inaudible) response?
LTG BOSTICK: I really can’t say how the Japanese are using it. I do believe it was very helpful at the time we provided it in making analysis of what dangers might be imminent based on the earthquake that just occurred. But whether it has long-term use in Japan, I really can’t answer.
QUESTION: So going back to the time right after the disaster, are you aware of any cases (inaudible) where the Japanese side or U.S. forces in Japan were able to avoid secondary accident (inaudible) because of the analysis you provided to them?
LTG BOSTICK: No, I can’t really say. Generally, what this would – this type of analysis, whether it’s earthquakes or fault lines or flood inundation, the real response in many of these cases are evacuation. And whether they evacuated anyone from an area based on this analysis, it would be hard for me to kind of say that. Even here in the States when we evacuated parts of New York City and New Jersey, there are a lot of different factors that come into the vision of a governor or mayor to evacuate. Technical analysis is just one of those many factors, so it’s hard to correlate, even if they did move to evacuate folks, that the reason was because of what we may have provided.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) back in 2005 or something (inaudible) we did have (inaudible) analysis (inaudible).
LTG BOSTICK: Right. But we didn’t have the evacuation. Yeah. So even when you provide it and – they may not evacuate.
MODERATOR: We have time for one or two more questions.
QUESTION: [Lalit Jha, Press Trust of India] Can I ask one more? Go ahead. Sorry.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) but based on the (inaudible) you have (inaudible) can you tell us (inaudible)?
LTG BOSTICK: Well, I have traveled to India. I haven’t traveled as the chief of engineers, but I have been there and I think it’s a great country. I’ve studied with a lot of engineers from India. I think it’s a wonderfully advanced country in many respects, and their engineers are some of the brightest, I think, in the world. So I think where we can best help is where India feels it has a need. I mean, the Corps of Engineers can do things in just many, many different areas of engineering construction or in research and development. And I think for the country of India it’s really their decision or any other country to advise on what they can provide.
And what I would say is we provide great water resource management expertise if that is necessary. But to any country, that is one of our strengths. We are very good in research and development in many areas. We do a lot of work in the environment, environmental issues that our nation is wrestling with, other nations are wrestling with as well. And of course, we’re good in construction and build some of the best facilities that house our soldiers and our civilians here throughout the United States. So any one of those areas. I think that the first step is probably to continue to have the dialogue with countries to see where needs may not be met and if those needs can be met by an organization like the Corps of Engineers; and if so, we’d be happy to support.
QUESTION: [Dat Tuan Pham, Vietnam News Agency.] We’re talking about the Xayaburi Dam in Laos construction. So would you say that the construction doesn’t hurt badly the environment in the area that have millions of people living there? So what is the comment on the construction of the Xayaburi Dam?
LTG BOSTICK: I can’t comment on the – that dam in particular. But we wrestle with this as well in the United States, where it’s not an either/or that you build a dam for water resource management or take care of the environment and the ecosystem. I think it’s both. We would have to manage both. I don’t think in some areas you can say we’re just not going to have a dam. If you were having problems with floods, if you’re having problems with drought, one of the tools that you have available is infrastructure like a dam that can control water supply, it can help alleviate the chance of floods by lowering that water supply and letting the rainwater go into the reservoir.
But you also have to think about what it does to the environment. And what we do is we mitigate those damages – potential damages – to the environment up front. For example, if you need wetlands, if you need to preserve farmlands, and how do you plan for that up front? And it becomes a significant cost to the dam that may not have anything to do with the structure of the dam itself. So I think you have to balance both, and I think Laos will have to do the same sort of thing if they – if it’s important to their country.
QUESTION: Thank you.
MODERATOR: I think we’re going to have to leave it there…
QUESTION: [Mikyung Kim, Seoul Shinmun.] Can I ask on Water Forum? I heard you are going to Korea next year, to attend the 7th World Water Forum.
LTG BOSTICK: Right.
QUESTION: What’s your role in the forum and what do you expect from it?
LTG BOSTICK: The World Water Forum – yes, first, I’m going – I will go to the World Water Forum.
QUESTION: Next April.
LTG BOSTICK: It’s in April – April of 2015. And the World Water Forum – part of the organizing group that works on this is the high-level expert panel. And the high-level expert panel brings expertise from the international community. And the chief of engineers representing the Corps of Engineers is on that panel. So as a member of the high-level expert panel, I would be there to participate.
We had one in the UN where the World Water Council leaders were able to speak and provide thoughts and ideas on how we deal with water-related disasters across the world, and what are the impacts of climate change and how do we adapt to be more resilient to climate change. Many of these types of topics are what we will be talking about in the international community in Korea.
Okay, thank you very much.
MODERATOR: Thank you all for attending. The event is now concluded.
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