Pentagon Press Secretary John F. Kirby briefs the news media at the Pentagon, November 8, 2021.
Yeah I was given. I know, I don’t think seven minutes is all that bad to be honest with you. Mhm. Okay. There we go. Okay, so just quickly. Um I think you’re tracking the deputy secretary Hicks is on the road there this week for a short trip. She’s in Detroit today then she’ll be heading to quantum morale in Groton Connecticut later or she’ll be meeting with lawmakers, defense industrial based partners and military leaders to deepen our relationships and discuss department priorities to address future. Warfighting needs also reinforce the importance of manufacturing renewable energy green technology to us National security. Uh And today I think it’s fairly obvious that we’re pleased to welcome our new deputy assistant to the Secretary of Defense for Media Operations. And that’s Todd, brazil, Todd’s no stranger to uh to all of you I think I think you know, he retired from the army and 2014 after services director of the US Army’s Entertainment Industry Liaison Office in Hollywood, tough duty. The Director of media relations for coalition ground forces in Iraq, Deputy Public Affairs Officer and Director of Media relations for the International Security Assistance Force and U. S. Forces. Afghanistan. Todd also served in the Department of Homeland Security as the Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs and then joined the team at Facebook where he was responsible for messaging around its community partnership programs in 2000 and 9 19. Todd moved to Microsoft as the Director of public affairs and communications. Um And we are just absolutely thrilled to have him on the team. He’s an old friend of an old shipmate I’ve I’ve known and worked with Todd a long, long time and uh I just can’t tell you how pleased I am to uh that he was willing to come back into public service and to come back here to the pentagon to help us with our communication efforts. So Todd, thanks great to have you on board with that. Take questions. Hey, uh the Republican congressman McCaul and Rogers have written letters to Secretary Austin and Secretary Blinken asking them that they release the questionnaire that was sent to us Allies on nuclear declaratory policy as part of the nuclear posture review. And my question is whether the Secretary Austin supports releasing that information, not just the questionnaire, but the response to it. I don’t know, I’m not aware of the letter bob. So let me take the question. I don’t think we’ve seen that letter if we have hasn’t. Um I’m certainly not aware of it. So let me let me take the question and get back to you. A related question would be whether to what extent did the Allies views on these questions about sole purpose or No. First use to what extent are they taking into consideration of the nuclear posturing. I think across the across the review itself are the views and perspectives of our allies and partners are important and consultations with them and hearing them out in their perspectives has been and will continue to remain important as the review continues, continues down the path. And as I said last week, I’m not certainly gonna speculate one way or the other about uh policies inside that review and what that’s gonna look like. But I would tell you just two things. It has been and remains an inclusive, comprehensive process. Let’s look at the broad swath of our strategic deterrent capabilities here in the United States. And number two, any policy decision of that nature is going to ultimately made by the President of the United States or other aspects of the review. Being also either briefed to the allies or consulted with them on specific aspects of the review. Well, that getting into specific details, I mean, uh for understandable purposes, what I can tell you is that we are as appropriate, uh consulting with allies and partners in the course of this review and certainly remain open to listening to and hearing out their perspectives. Yeah, Charles, thanks. Is there any update on civilians and covid vaccinations? Do you have any sense of the numbers? And as the secretary concerned at all, that could be a significant number who refused the vaccine? And finally, those who do refuse a vaccine without an exemption. Will those civilians be fired? Yeah, I’m not going to speculate about uh Future administrative or disciplinary actions. I mean, they haven’t the deadline isn’t really until the 22nd of the month. We have laid out expectations that all federal civilians will get vaccinated. We’ve also given them guidance on how to attest to that vaccination today that attestation starts. Um and we have given them guidance on how to Uh that they can get exemptions if they want and and and uh and how to file for those exemptions. Um as of today, more than 333,000 Dios de civilians have been fully vaccinated. Now. We know there’s a lot more to go. But again, they haven’t we have until the 22nd. Um and I just don’t want to speculate about what it’s gonna look like day to day from between now and then. The only thing I’d leave you with is what I’ve said before, that the secretary believes very strongly that these vaccines are safe and effective. Uh and that he wants the entire workforce to be vaccinated against it. I just followed the and that number, he said 333,000. That would be less than half of the total civilian workforce is 700. Some right? But at the point where they would have to be. But you say fully vaccinated, you mean, plus the fully vaccinated that we that we know of through the military treatment facility. And I should have made that clear some civilians uh can get vaccinated on their own by going to a local drugstore. Um and we wouldn’t have that in this number. This number as as of today, but of course today is the deadline uh for attestation. So we are encouraging all our civilians to be able to come forward. Uh uh and and and display their proof of vaccination. But these numbers of the numbers were tracking inside the military treatment facilities but civilians have other options available to them. And we understand that. So we’ll get a better sense. Over the next couple of weeks. Travis, it’s a little too early to say with certainty what the total is and where we’re lying tough questions for you as us. And I first reported China has apparently built mockups of the U. S. Aircraft carrier and some other warships to practice bombing runs. How concerned is the pentagon about this? And this is just another sign of escalation of, you know, potential conflicts that with china, I’ll tell you what we’re concerned about Tara is the increasing intimidation course of behavior of the Chinese military in the Indo-Pacific and uh also the course of tactics. They’re using uh even using economic tools around the world uh to bend other nations to their to their will or or two there, their view of what’s in their best interests. We are in uh full support of a free and open Indo-Pacific and we’re going to continue to work towards that goal with our network of alliances and partnerships. Uh and again, you’ve heard the secretary talked about this many times. He holds the PRC is our number one facing challenge and what we’re focused on? I haven’t seen these images and then they can speak to what, what their bombing runs look like. That’s for them to speak to. What I can tell you is, we’re focused on developing capabilities, the operational concepts, making sure we have the resources and the right strategy in place so that we can deal with the PRC as the number one pacing challenge involved in a separate topic. But doesn’t the Pentagon planet concerning that there is a very active now visible uh kind of practicing again, you know, for a potential future conflict or do you treat this is just another, maybe it’s their version of a tabletop gaming. Again, they can speak to their exercises and what their training against. Uh it’s been pretty fairly obvious and we just released the china military report a week ago that I think makes it very clear uh what our understanding of their intentions are and their capabilities are and and how they’re developing those capabilities and to what end. Um and clearly they have invested a lot in particularly air and maritime capabilities that are designed largely uh to try to prevent the United States from having access to certain areas in the Indo-Pacific what we’re focused on is that pacing challenge and making sure that we maintain the right capabilities and the right operational concepts to meet our security commitments in that part of the world. I want you on Ukraine Ukraine now says that it assesses that there’s 90,000 Russian troops at the border. Does this match with the Pentagon’s own assessment? And how worried is the pentagon about this build up? I’m not gonna get into intelligence assessments from the podium, uh, particularly in quantifying this. We continue to see concerning movements by, by the Russian military, um, uh, around in their, their western areas and around uh, Ukraine. Um, we continue to call on them to be clear about what their intentions are, what, what, what they’re actually doing. Um, and to abide by the Minsk agreements and to respect the territorial sovereignty, territory, integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine. Do you disagree with the Ukrainian assessment or I’m not gonna be able to qualify the assessment. I’m just not going to speak to intelligence assessments here from the podium. Yeah, maybe. So. We’re about four into the fourth year of the border mission, The National Guard working along the US Mexico border. Is the secretary in discussion with DHS about what they’re doing there? Why they continue to be needed? Is there an end game or a point at which he would want to pull troops back or not? Grant the next request that DHS sends over. I don’t have any conversations in recent conversations to read out to you today, Megan. Um, this is something that um, he has remained in touch with, he has, he has had frequent interactions uh, with Secretary of uh, the Department of Homeland Security on uh, they’ve had multiple conversations uh, since they’ve both been in office about that mission? What it’s designed to do, um, and um, and what it’s gonna look like going forward. But I don’t have any announcements to make today. No changes to speak to today. I would remind you that the troops that are there, are there, uh, in a manner of support uh, to our immigrations and Customs officers, They are not conducting immigration and customs or law enforcement activities. They are providing additional capabilities to free up those agents so that they can do, can they can do the hard work of border control. So, in those discussions about what this mission is and what they wanted to look like? What endgame have they discussed? Well, I mean, there, I can’t speak to a specific endgame Megan, but what they have talked about is um, uh, what specific needs are still required by the US military to support the border control work, um, and over over what period of time and with what level of, of support, but nothing to speak to specifically. Um, uh, the secretary still believes that the work they’re doing down there is needed. It’s a valid requirement, um, and then we’ll continue to have these discussions with DHS going forward about, about whether and when that support uh, might be able to change. Does that answer your question? Okay, here, thank you, John McKenzie today talked a little bit about the attack in Baghdad on the residence of the Prime Minister of Iraq. Are you in a position to attribute responsibility? Say who was responsible for what happened? No, I’m not in a position to speak with specific attribution here. Any position on what happened? Well, I mean, obviously we and you heard the President speak to this as well as our colleagues at the State Department. I mean, uh we certainly uh condemned this attack on the Iraqi Prime Minister. Um and uh I you know that you heard the President talked about this as well, that uh this kind of violence needs to stop. But I don’t have anything specific on attribution to speak to. Yeah. In the back there, are you guys reaching out to the Iraqi counterparts in terms of assisting them in the investigations that they are carrying out? Have you heard the Secretary? I’m sorry the President made clear that should there be a need for assistance, we would absolutely do that. I know of no such request for assistance by the Iraqi government, at least not from the Department of Defense perspective, yeah, just terrorist question on the china report, do you have a direct response to china on this? And are we doing the same to our adversaries? I think I think I answered your question by my answer to Tara. They can speak for their military exercises and their training. What we can speak to is the capabilities and the operational concepts that we know we need to have in place to to maintain our readiness against what the secretary has made clear is our number one pacing challenge in this department. I just want to follow up to that is the speed and sophistication in which china has developed a concern for the pentagon. Yes, of course. And it’s all laid out in the china military report. We’ve been nothing but transparent and clear about our growing concerns over the kinds of capabilities that the Chinese military continues to develop. Yeah, can you update us on D. O. D. Efforts to help service members get their family out of Afghanistan in light of NBC news reporting, that security policy is essentially gathering information or creating a database of those family members. So we put out a memo last week. Yeah our our policy shop put out a memo uh to the services to let them know that the immediate family members of our service members, media family members are in Afghanistan are eligible for facilitated departure and it lists who that who they are. Um and encouraging also encouraging military personnel and D. O. D. Civilians, quite frankly with immediate family members. They contact uh the Office of Policy here at the pentagon and to make it clear that we would facilitate passing that information on to the State Department action group that’s working this um their their care team uh so that we can nest all that into an integrated inter agency effort to help these people get out of the country? What kind of numbers we’re looking at in terms of the memo to the services just went out on Thursday or and I don’t have here on a Monday. I don’t have updated numbers on that. And it might be some time before we before we were able to do that. But I think it’s safe to say. I mean, um that uh we would expect dozens of of uh of service members would have concerns over family members. And again, the reason we put the memo out was to encourage them if uh if they have family members that they believe qualify that we want them to come forward, let us know who they are, gives as much information as we can. Well ness that into the inter-agency effort. Okay, let me get to the phones here, Sylvie. You know? Hello, john, I have a question about Ukraine. You said the the movement, the Russian movements are concerning. Are they are they more concerning than they were in April I don’t think that it would be useful for me to make historical comparisons back to the spring. Uh they are concerning and we’re watching them closely. And again, we call on Russia to be more transparent about what their intentions are. Jeff Seldin, john, thanks very much. Uh Two questions first on the assassination attempt against the Iraqi Prime Minister um to the extent that you can, did the attack caused any changes and force protection or precautions for us forces in the area. And how many groups are there in Iraq that are capable to have the capacity and the capability of carrying out that type of coordinated drone attack. Your first question, we obviously don’t ever talk about the specifics of force protection Jeff. So I won’t do that here. I can just assure you that um on any given day our commanders have the right and responsibility to protect themselves and their troops uh and to help help defend our Iraqi partners and enforce protection measures change with the environment because it’s a very dynamic security environment and we rely on our commanders good judgment to be able to handle that the best they can. As for groups, I couldn’t give you a list of them right now, Jeff and I don’t have a number but we know there are multiple groups operating inside Iraq that are, that are backed by Iran who are capable of these kinds of attacks. Again, I’m just not able to get into attribution at this time. Um again, we condemn the attack and we’re going to continue to do what we need to do to make sure that our troops are protected and our facilities are adequately defended um any more in the room here jenny. Thank you, john before I speak in something, I hope you understanding I’m getting the enter treatment enough. So always are you in pain? Yes, they pay anybody. And yet you still came to the briefing? Well that’s okay because I can’t speaking still only a little bit. But I think a biotic for two weeks. I’m sorry to hear that best wishes for a speedy recovery, whatever this is uh on the north Korea. North Korea criticizes that recently joined the U. S. And South Korea ever exercises. And it was reported that North Korean army has recently conducted the a large scare are generally artillery exercises. Uh What is your comment on the I haven’t seen the specific reports of these exercises. Um and I think you know what I’m going to say here, we uh we’re mindful of the threat that North Korea continues to pose to the south and to the region quite frankly and that’s why we’re gonna stay committed to our alliance commitments there on the peninsula and to making sure that our readiness is not diminished. And also North Korea announced that it will continue to strengthen strategic and the tactical cooperation with China. What is the United States view that North Korea is not interested in talking with the United States but is further strengthen cooperation with relation with China and Russia. Well, I think we let North Korea speak to their bilateral relations in in the way they seem they deemed fit. I would just tell you a couple of things. One the Biden administration has made clear uh that we want to pursue dialogue and diplomacy with North Korea to find a diplomatic uh way to end uh or to denuclearize north Korea and the peninsula, we’ve made that very clear ah to date there has been no interest shown by Pyongyang to move in that direction and that’s regrettable. Uh in the meantime as I said before, we have a security alliance with the are okay that we have to respect and we do respect and we’re gonna make sure we have the capabilities uh in the region and on the peninsula at to make good our security commitments in that alliance. And then the last thing I’d say is with respect to china and I’ve said this before, china does have influence in Pyongyang and we all the international community would like to see them use that influence in a constructive way uh to put some bite into the sanctions that that are already in place under the U. N. Security Council. They have influence and uh and they should use that influence to help steer North Korea towards a diplomatic solution to this and the denuclearization of the peninsula, which one has to assume is also in china’s interest as well. Chinese uh neighbors uh say anything about the reason to the eight times North Korea fired the missiles. The Serbians china is so quiet but never saying, you know, never convincing North Korea. How do you think Chinese can have North Korea where they can’t because they have because they have significant, there’s a long border there. They have significant economic influence inside Pyongyang. They are the neighbor. Um and they are they are power uh and they can have a role in influencing Pyongyang’s behavior. I’m not suggesting they have absolute control. I understand that there’s some tensions there too. Uh but they have not used to your point. Exactly. Uh they haven’t uh used the influence. They have to try to steer Pyongyang to a better, more sustainable path here in a path towards diplomacy and the denuclearization of the peninsula. You’re welcome tom Squitieri. I think you have one. Hey john thank you today. The strategic board game risk was one of the 2000 and 21 inductees into the Toy Hall of Fame. However, the game battleship was once again rebuffed as a former admiral. What’s your take on this? I’m shocked and outraged and I’m afraid that I’m going to leave the briefing and go write a letter. A really mean nasty letter. That’s a great game actually by the way. Alright. Any other questions? Yes, Christine the Stockholm security conference got underway today and one of the things they’re talking about is how the battle space is changing, it’s becoming not just a simple battle space while it never has been I guess but between space, cyberspace and now also the mind and it’s moving closer to populations in their thinking the forward thinking that they’re doing in the conference. And the question would be how do you prepare for that in terms of training a force looking ahead trained? I’m sorry preparing for what battle space that is evolving based on fast moving technology uh that combines space, cyberspace and mind and then uh and moves closer to the actual population, the urban population without getting, I’m certainly no expert on this but I mean a few months ago we rolled out Jad C two which is a terrific joint concept for exact for exactly that for helping us um integrate and be more networked when it comes to advanced technologies. And how do you how do you net those together to have the most effect um in the battle space? And it is a battle space that is much more dynamic than it was before. No question about that. And you’ve heard the Secretary talk about integrated deterrence um and I would encourage you to go look at some of the things he’s written and said about that since he laid that vision out in Hawaii earlier this year for the Secretary, Integrated deterrence isn’t just about Netting technologies together and weaving in advanced technologies, some of them that don’t even exist right now. It’s about netting the capabilities together not only have the joint force but of combined forces allies and partners as well as the capabilities across the U. S. Interagency. So um we’re very much focused on this dynamic changing battle space and uh rapidly working very hard to develop the kinds of capabilities and concepts that will allow us to um to prevail in that dynamic battle space. Okay. Thank you everybody. I appreciate it. Mhm.