Pentagon Press Secretary John F. Kirby Holds Briefing | March 22, 2022

Pentagon Press Secretary John F. Kirby briefs the news media at the Pentagon, March 22, 2022.


Just one thing at the top here. Mm hmm, mm hmm. Today. And if you haven’t seen the memo, you will soon as part of the Secretary’s priority of taking care of our people. He has directed the department to create a suicide prevention and Response independent review committee. This committee will conduct a comprehensive review of the department’s efforts to prevent suicide. Um and as a result of that, will this review committee will visit multiple installations uh here at home and overseas as well as conducting additional information gathering to strengthen our actions in this space. It’s imperative the secretary believes that we continue to take care of all our teammates and reinforce that mental health and suicide prevention remains a key priority. I think you’ve heard secretary say many times mental health is health period. Ultimately, that health is critical to our readiness. Now, one death by suicide is of course one too many. Uh and suicide rates among our service members are way are way too high still. I mean just in 2020 Alors we had a total of 580 service members died by suicide. That includes active reserve and national guard. So clearly obviously we have more work to do. And it’s the secretary’s intention that that this independent review committee will help us wrap our arms around this uh and really try to come up with some more innovative solutions for how to how to prevent suicide and how to make sure that everybody is getting the mental health support that they that they that they need and deserve. Okay with that. We’ll take questions. Um I think bob your first and you’re on the phone. Yes, thank you, john um I have a question about Ukraine, but also on the suicide, on your announcement about the suicide review committee. You cited a figure for the number of suicides in 2020. Is Secretary Austin taking this action because there was a further increase last year Or is he seeing some something that has triggered this decision to to review what you’ve already been doing? Um That’s my my first question. The question on Ukraine, if you don’t mind is the Ukrainian government said today that its forces have retaken the Kiev suburb of mockery. Viv, I’m wondering if you agree with that assessment and and beyond that specific case. Um do you see anywhere else in the country where Ukrainian forces are regaining or retaking ground that they had previously lost? Thank you. Thanks bob. On the suicide question. As you know, Bob the the counter, you’re 21 numbers are not in yet. There’s there’s a, there’s a bit of a lag in fact, The 20 numbers really, we didn’t get them tabulated until just last fall. So it’s gonna be a while before. We’ve seen the 21 numbers, but the secretary is not interested in waiting for the 21 data. Um he’s seen enough based on the 20 data and then the the anecdotal reporting that’s been coming in throughout the course of of 21. Uh he’s seen enough to know that we’ve we’ve got to do something different, that we’ve got to try to take additional and more creative action here. Uh One suicide again is one too many. Um and uh, you know, he visited Alaska. There’ll be bases in Alaska will be part of the installations that will be visited by the Independent Review Committee. Um and he spent a lot of time when he went out to to Fairbanks talking with troops and commanders About the challenges there with respect to mental health and suicide. So, um, he’s gonna stay focused on this and it’s it’s not not waiting for the 21 data to come in on your second question about the suburb of of Kiev. We’re not in a position to confirm that that that that suburb around Kiev has been retaken by the Ukrainians. What I would tell you is though, that we have seen indications that the Ukrainians are going a bit more on the offense now, they have been defending very smartly, very nimbly, very creatively in places that they believe in the right places to defend. And we have seen them now, uh in places particularly in the south, uh near curson. Um they have tried uh, to to regain territory. Again, we don’t have great fidelity of tactical movements, but we have seen them make these make these efforts and I would tell you bob, I mean, it’s not the Ukrainians themselves several days ago said that they were planning on on counterattacks and so I think we have seen indications that they are that they’re moving in that direction. Okay, next question, Travis, thanks. I want to follow up on the suicide issue. Obviously this has been a huge problem for years and years and there’s been a lot of time that the Department of Military Service branches have invested in trying to get at this this issue. Does the secretary have any initial assessment of why he believes this is so difficult problem And what can be done that is different than what has done has been done in the past. And my second question is um involves Ukraine. You mentioned the secretary is traveling to Poland again and we have thousands of US service members there the 82nd. Um can you give us some update on what they’re doing there? Whether they are involved in exercises with the polls, whether they’re hunkered down, what is their status and what are they up to now? And do you have a an updated number and the number of Americans that they have assisted who have fled from Ukraine. Okay, there’s an awful lot there. So let me try to tackle one at a time. I think if the secretary were here, he would tell you that if he if he knew how to uh prevent suicides. If it was if it was that easy then then we would have we would have solved it by now. It’s a very complex problem. Um And each suicide is very individual. There’s no there’s not gonna be and there hasn’t been a silver bullet and we’re not looking for one Travis to be honest with you. One of the things, well, several of the things he heard when we went out to to Fairbanks, he had a chance to to uh to spend time with some mental health experts, particularly from the university. There came in and spend time with them and they they walked him through some of the complexities they’ve seen with respect to to suicide and suicide prevention efforts. Um Each one is, each one is an individual tragedy and it’s difficult to wrap your arms around um what’s causing it. I think uh the secretary believes that one problem that we have to get after is the stigma of seeking help for mental health problems, which is still a problem in the military. Uh There’s still a feeling by too many service members that if I’m having problems um uh dealing and coping, I can’t seek help because it’ll be it’ll be held against me on my next promotion board or it may be held against me on my assignments or maybe my commanding officer will think twice before giving me a new assignment inside the command. So I think the secretary firmly believes we’ve got to work harder to get at the the stigma. Um I think another thing and you’ve heard him talk about this is, you know, the majority of suicides, I shouldn’t say the majority, there is a significant amount of suicides in the military, uh, that are our gunfire related, gunshot related, uh, personal firearms. And um, one of the things that he wants to do is, is uh, is work with commanders on on storage of firearms in the home or on base and make sure we’ve got that uh that that we’ve got that uh, well, well in hand. And then the other thing, Travis and this is why I think you’ll you’ll see in the in the memo that the secretary is putting forward a list of some initial installations that he wants visited by the Independent Review Commission. Is is the geographic isolation in some of our assignments and where some of our troops and families are working, um as well as the resources at some of those installations with respect to mental health. So there’s an awful lot, it’s very complex. And I and I, and I think we would be doing ourselves and our and our teammates a disservice if we tried to simplify this. As, you know, here’s one thing or two things that can fix it. There’s, there’s it’s it’s very complicated and it is so individualistic, but I think we gotta start with understanding the mental health needs of our troops and their families, reducing the stigma and making sure that if we’re gonna say, hey, you’re not gonna be held against you for seeking mental health counseling that we can actually get that counseling to you. Uh and it’s available so it’s it’s a re sourcing issue as well. But look, we look forward to seeing what the Independent Review Committee comes back with. The whole reason of standing this up is to try to help answer your question and that’s what the secretary wants done. Um um And I just totally forgot your other questions in the 82nd Ukraine. Oh yeah, thank you. Um Yeah they They’re still there as you know Poland now hosts thousands of us troops on rotational orders of course. Um the 82nd are there they are conducting training with our polish allies. So they are doing training and exercises. Um They were ready to assist with the evacuation of of American citizens coming from Ukraine. They had uh several um uh facilitation areas where they could help with folks that needed transportation assistance, some food, some water, some some medical care as they came across the border. Uh There wasn’t a large number I can get you the exact number. I don’t have it with me. But it was a handful that that ended up needing support from the 82nd airborne and what they were trained and ready to do was again food, water, Internet access, helping them move on. Ah most of the Americans the vast majority and I think it’s been several 1000 I think since the course of the invasion that left Ukraine already had tickets in hand places to go. They were ready so they didn’t really need us military support but we wanted to be there just in case. And the other thing they’re doing is contributing to the assurance and deterrence measures that that all the forces that the secretary ordered to the eastern flank had been doing to just to bolster the the eastern flank of NATO to make sure that we’re sending a strong signal not just to Mr. Putin but to our allies. That article five is important to us. It matters and and we take that seriously that answer your question. Yes. Thank you. When will the commission rack buckets work? The suicide commission? When will it wrap up its work? I don’t have that. I don’t have that for you. Yeah. Yeah. Thank you. There are two things. 1. Kremlin spokesperson Tesco today said that the Russian president Vladimir Putin, is ready to employ nuclear arms in case Russia field threatened potential threat. Are you concerned with respect to that statement? And has have you ever seen any changes in the Russian nuclear posture over the course of the week? I’m not gonna get into intelligence assessments. I would just tell you that uh we monitor this as best we can every day. And uh we haven’t seen anything that would lead us to conclude that we need to change our strategic deterrent posture. The Secretary is still comfortable and confident that our strategic deterrent posture is well configured to defend not only the homeland but our allies and our partners. And um and as to your the first part of your question, I mean, as you’ve heard the Secretary say many times, it’s it’s uh the kind of rhetoric that’s been out there on the use of potential use of nuclear weapons or new or changes in nuclear posture is is it’s dangerous. Um and it’s not the way a responsible nuclear power should act. So we were very clear about that. Travis. I just looked at my notes. I actually I don’t have an end date for you. But um So within 60 days uh from today p and our personnel and readiness will issue a memo identifying the members of the Independent Review Commission, the timeline for the installation visits and then a charter that will outline the approach to the collective efforts of the of the Independent Review Commission. The Secretary is going to have them commenced their work no later than the 14th of May this year. Um and they will begin installation visits no later than the first of august. So, I don’t it’s not a real answer to your question, but it is it does get at the timeline and I believe all that’s laid out in the Secretary’s memo. So I apologize. I didn’t have that before. Sorry. Okay. There is also reports that some of the mines are drifted away from Odessa into the Black Sea. Have you seen any indications of that or are you going to help Romania Turkey too to deal with those minds in case we haven’t seen. We can’t, I can’t confirm reports of minds and where they might be in the Northern Black Sea. No. Uh, yeah, 20 couple questions. I’ll take them one at a time. What’s the status of the Pentagon’s finding sources for the $800 million dollars in lethal And not only led to the Ukrainian military, We’re still working that through Tony. Um, the policy folks here at OsD the Joint staff, uh, and the various relevant combatant combatant commanders are all working on the sourcing right now. Is it difficult? I mean, stingers, javelins in these little drums and it’s not that it’s difficult. I mean, it’s it’s a, it’s a, it’s a large package that the president signed out. $800 million. You’ve seen the list. Um, and so we want to properly source it, make sure that we can get our hands on this, uh, and that, you know, it can be properly arranged for shipment into Ukraine as fast as possible. But I don’t have a a timeline for you have a transparency question totally different distance from Ukraine. The Senate Armed services committee today held took up the nomination of William LaPlante to be the pentagon’s top weapons buyer in its questions in advance to him. It raised concerns about the potential overuse and abuse of this ubiquitous controlled unclassified information cuz I label that’s on everything but toilet paper you are clear at the highest levels to see classified and CEO I need to ask you, is it your, is it your view that this label is is being overused and abused and the Senate committee has a point? What I would tell you Tony is C. UI has a purpose. Um, and I, and I don’t think I don’t see that purpose going away. Um, we have an obligation to protect information uh, that that could give our adversaries advantage. Now look and you and I have talked about this a lot. It is a balance and I’m not gonna stand up here and proclaim that we get that balance right every time. We don’t. But I can tell you that we try every day to get that balance right between operational security and transparency. Um, and the guy that being the guy that stands up here almost every day, I can tell you even, I don’t always get it right. But we do try, uh, and uh, and the secretary is mindful again that we have obligations to the American people and certainly to uh, the oversight of Congress to be as open and transparent as we can. But we also have an obligation to protect information that we don’t want out in the public sphere. So, um, I’m not going to make a definitive declaration here on on see you. I except to say it does serve a purpose and we have to be mindful every day. We have to look at how we’re using, not just that, but other levels of classification to make sure we’re we’re treating it appropriately. Is it possible that the secretary may launch a little reviewer Mr. LaPlante may launch a review just to see whether the services are being too protective. I know of no plans by the secretary to launch a review of of classification. And I think Mr. Le Pen will tell you that he’s not confirmed yet. So, I I don’t know that he’s got that kind of that kind of planning. Yes, sir. Two things on the suicide independent Review Commission. How are the bases that are going to be visited chosen? It looks like there’s three in Alaska and the other ones are a little more spread out. And who is the department looking to put on this commission from what backgrounds and experience are you looking for? So, great questions, Megan. The this this is just an initial list. Ultimately, the Secretary made these decisions and he was advised about this from talking to senior service leadership about some of the challenges that they’re having. Um by the chairman, of course, General Milley uh and and and policy, particularly personnel and readiness. I mean, it was a it was a team effort to come up with this list. Um and it made, you know, it’s the initial list of installations that doesn’t necessarily have to be the end all list here. Um and yet another one. So we’re gonna use you, as I said, we’re gonna get to PNR will come up with 60 days. They’ll come up with a list identifying them. Um It’ll what we’re going to be looking for our obviously people with experience and expertise in mental health, particularly suicide prevention, um and and people with senior organizational leadership expertise. Uh it’s it’s I would, you know, again, I don’t want to get ahead of the decision process, but uh but there will be a a significant amount of reliance on outside experts, that’s what independence is all about. And so I would look for that to be the main focus outside expertise. The Sexual Assault Commission had everybody was from outside of the Defense Department, but many of them are veterans had had experience in both domains, both in and out. So well, as I said, senior organizational leadership experience and I don’t want to get ahead of the process, but independent for the Secretary means independent. We want them to be able to to be brutally honest with us about what they’re finding and therefore uh their ability to do that. The freedom that they have to do that’s going to be important to the Secretary louis all right at the White House to discuss. Some of the things that the President is going to be talking about at the NATO summit, one of the things he talked about was working with allies on the longer term adjustments um to NATO’s force posture on the eastern flank. Um and answer to Travis question, you talked a lot about the 82nd. The 82nd is one of the main components of adjustments have been made on the eastern flank, but that’s been done unilaterally by the U. S. So is there a possibility that we could see a turnover from us? This turning from a unilateral mission to a NATO mission involving US troops? Or is the President talking about further contributions from other countries, NATO countries along NATO’s eastern flank. This as opposed to just the U. S. Which As I think has searched the most number of troops there right now. Well, we went from 80 to about 100,000 Look look I don’t want to get ahead of the President here in a meeting that that that that hasn’t happened in brussels um when we were in brussels last week and the Secretary had a chance to meet with the Secretary General Stoltenberg as well as many defense ministers across the alliance. It was clear that the alliance itself was taking steps to bolster deterrence and readiness. I mean we talked about these battle groups that are that are going to be formed and um the degree to which they exist long term is really going to be an alliance decision, not something that the United States uh will be able to decide unilaterally. But even before This invasion, we had some 80,000 troops on rotational and or permanent deployments to Europe. And some of that, as you well know, is a result of decisions that President Obama made back in 2014 with the European deterrence initiative uh with these additional rotational deployments. Um I don’t know what the future is going to look like. I can tell you that the Secretary wants to preserve his options uh to unilaterally be able to continue to bolster the eastern flank. We’re not sure where this is going to go, but the Secretary is convinced that wherever it goes, the security environment on the European continent is now changed and we’ve got to think about it in a completely different way, no matter how this all ends up. So I think he wants to preserve as many options available to him so that he can t those up to the President, ultimately, it’s going to be the Commander in chief’s decision. But I think you’re going to see a robust discussion inside the alliance, but also you’ll see, I believe you’ll see robust discussions inside nations themselves, sovereign decisions that they might make about their own deterrence and defense capabilities, some of them will be just intrinsic to themselves because they are on the eastern flank. Some of our NATO allies are not on the eastern flank, but might make unilateral decisions as well. So we’re gonna have to see where it goes clearly though the security situation, the framework here on the European continent has changed and I think everybody’s gonna have to deal with that going forward. The National Defense security strategy and national defense strategy that is supposed to come out. I’m not going to get ahead of the document louis. Um we’re still we’re still working on that and uh there’s been a lot of effort put into the national defense strategy. Um so I don’t want to I don’t want to preview it. Um I would only say that as I said before, certainly the strategy will have to be informed. It will be informed. It is being informed by what’s going on in Ukraine. Yeah, yeah. The briefing earlier with senior defense official and background suggested that the logistical problems continue to manifest themselves. Can you talk a little bit of how that looks at sea for the Russian naval forces and also for Russian troops on the ground and if they are not prepared for the winter weather. Yeah. Um we continue to see indications that the Russians did not properly plan for logistics and sustainment. We know that they continue to have fuel issues um across there, their force and that they are still they’re still struggling with with food. I mean you’ve seen the footage yourself of Russian soldiers looting grocery stores so they’re still having trouble feeding some of their troops. They they either didn’t properly plan for logistics or sustainment or they didn’t properly executed their plan, but they are still having problems. It is exacerbated by the Ukrainian resistance because the Ukrainians have have targeted some of their resupply. Uh as we’ve all talked about this, this vaunted convoy for so long. Um So we know they’re still struggling with that. Um we haven’t seen indications that they are trying to resupply from outside of Ukraine, but um, but we know that that’s something that they have thought about. Is it just a follow up also? It sounds like the combat power that they have deployed has been reduced slightly from what it was. How do you explain that shift? And is there some sign that there pulling some forces out in some way connected to logistics or munitions? Have the combat power, has The combat power in being employed at the moment is less than 90%. Well, I mean, I’m not, I can’t speak to specific data about their combat power. Uh but I mean they’ve been at this now for 27 days, they’ve expanded a lot of munitions. Um They have put a lot of forces into this fight. Um and they’re flying aircraft and they’re launching missiles and you’re seeing it for yourself, the the kinds of hardware that they’re putting into this. So It follows that after 27 days, um that there’s gonna be a deck criminal to some of their inventory. But I would remind dan, and we said this as far back as November and December. They were, they have, they have, over time, built up a significant amount of combat capability to conduct this, this operation, this, this war. And um, they still have our assessment is they still have a significant amount of that combat capability available to them. They are that said They have been increasingly frustrated by a lack of progress. Here. It is day 27 and they haven’t taken Kiev, they haven’t taken Kharkov, they haven’t taken chair native. Um, they, they haven’t been able to isolate the Donbass area. The Ukrainians are fighting back very creatively, very bravely and that’s not by accident either. I mean, there’s been a lot of training, a lot of security assistance has been provided to them over the last eight years, certainly over the last year in particular. That has helped the Ukrainian stay in the fight Zoe ! Yesterday, you spoke about the air force activity that has picked up. Does it continue today? Did you? Is the uh, the Ukrainians using their planes more. I’m gonna refrain from uh, talking about the Ukrainian order of battle. Sylvie. I think you can understand why we wouldn’t want to do that. Um, I would just say a couple of things. One we don’t believe that the Russians have achieved air superiority over Ukraine. They’re dominant in some areas to be sure, but not over the whole country to the airspace is contested and it’s contested because the Ukrainians are making it that way and they’re being um uh they’re they’re being uh very smart about how they’re marshaling and using their air defense resources, which includes fixed and rotary wing aircraft which they continue to fly. Let me go back to the phones here because I kind of ignored that uh Phil Stewart, Reuters, Thanks. You said earlier that the the Ukrainians were going on the offensive. Um Do you think from a military perspective it’s possible that Ukraine can can win the war? Um We we do assess that in some places they are um they are attempting to take back territory that the Russians um have have captured or occupied. Um I would just tell you Phil, the Russians have not achieved any of the strategic objectives that they set out to and they certainly haven’t achieved the objectives that they have uh easily or without without loss. The Ukrainians are putting up a very stiff defense and what what we continue to believe is, well, a couple of things won the war was completely unnecessary. A war of choice. Mr. Putin still had diplomatic options on the table when he decided to invade, He can end this war today by being a negotiator of good faith with the Ukrainians. It could end today. Um uh there’s no indication that that he’s willing to do that, but we still believe that the that it should end now and Mr. Putin should commit to good faith negotiations with the Ukrainians to do that. Um Mike breast Washington examiner. Thanks for taking. Thanks for taking my question. Uh this is going to be a little bit out of left field, but is the Ahmadi family still in Afghanistan? And if so, why is this taking so long? We haven’t heard anything about it in a little while. Mike. Thanks for that. Um We’re still working very closely with the family’s representatives um with Mr. Ahmadi’s former employee, I’m sorry, former employer um uh to affect their their safe relocation out of Afghanistan. They are still there. But we are working this very very hard. Um It’s um it’s a complex process. We want to make sure that uh that we do this uh in the appropriate way and I don’t have more of an update than that for you. Nothing heard Mike. Yeah. John can you comment on the high mortality rate of Russian generals on this campaign? Because you know the us sustained one general lobster loss after 20 years in Afghanistan. But I mean if if Ukraine is correct, There have been five Russian generals killed in a month. Yeah. We can’t verify those numbers mike. I mean we’ve seen them and I know the Ukrainians have reported the number. I think the Russians, the Russian military or about this sort of the unique nature of this campaign, assuming they’ve lost it is I mean again, you have to assume that they’ve lost all those generals. And we’re not in a position to independently verify that the the Russian military is not organized the way we are. You know, they don’t really have a noncommissioned officer corps. They so um um uh and they have been struggling. So um it’s not out of the realm of the possible that more generals are more in the field. Um But I just can’t verify the I can’t verify the numbers of how many they’re they’re losing. Look take a step back. The they have struggled again, what we talked about with logistics and sustainment, they have struggled with maneuver. They did not expect the stiff Ukrainian resistance. They are not integrating, we don’t see them integrating air and ground forces. The way you would think a modern military might do that um they appear to be operating in silos, we think they’re having command and control problems and voting just to communicate with one another and communicate between units. Um So there’s there’s there’s there’s been a lot that the that they haven’t done successfully here. And again, all of it, all of that Can end today if Mr. Putin agrees to negotiate in good faith and end the war. Come over here to question one is a follow up on Louise questions. So in light of the assessment by the secretary that the security situation in Europe has has changed is the U. S. In favor of um permanent and collective re posturing on the eastern flank of NATO something to be taken by the entire The NATO Alliance. And the 2nd 1, as you recall, The previous aid package of 350 million actually was delivered in probably in a record time. Um we had it was yeah I was wondering why although this is more than double that 800 is more than double that that package. Can you explain why you’re still looking into how to source it? Are there like issues related to shortages? I mean what’s what’s what’s that mean? Look I mean, yes you’re right. We deliver that 350 million in record time and we’re gonna be moving out just as expeditiously on this 800 million. I mean uh it just got announced by the President a few days ago. Uh and there’s a lot in it. Um I would also remind me that there are shipments arriving literally as we speak every day. We’re still completing that 350 million. I think we’ll finally get to the end of it by the end of this week. Um So uh we’re working on this very very hard. I mean just think about it in in uh in one year alone The Biden Administration committed 650 million originally. Then we added 350 then another 200 and then another 800. So that all told um in the time that President Biden has been in office, we have now committed $2 billion dollars worth of security assistance to Ukraine. And a large part of that, That initial chunk of 650 million was delivered before, well before there was even a threat of invasion. Uh, so this is something we’ve been focused on. And I think you’re gonna see that continued focus going on forward. Now we understand that now, You know, time is not necessarily our friend, we get that, which is why that 350 million was delivered so quickly. And that’s why we’re going to work very, very fast on this one. Um, on the posture question. I think for me it’s it’s just too soon to know right now. Um, your position on the issue, the US position, not that’s what I mean, it’s too soon to know right now. I think the Secretary certainly understands that again, the security situation in Europe has changed and however this ends up, we’re gonna have to look at the European continent in a different way. And the Secretary understands that what does that mean exactly in terms of force posture, we don’t know yet. But I think the Secretary is willing to have that conversation with his leaders civilian and military alike and certainly wants to be able to provide options to the President. Should the President decide to go uh in new ways, but we’re just not there yet right now. The focus is appropriately on two things. Making sure Ukraine can continue to defend itself by getting this stuff there as fast as possible and to making sure that NATO is prepared to defend NATO territory and that we Are prepared to do our part in that in in Article five commitments, that’s where the focus is right now and what the long term is going to be. We’ll have to see, I’m going back to Mike’s question, all of those problems with the Russian military, there are also reports that Russian soldiers are, are suffering frostbite, You know? Well, if there’s any military in the world that you think would know how to operate in the cold, do you think it was the Russian one, which seems to indicate an absolute breakdown in leadership and all of those problems that you mentioned before. Is this affecting the morale of the troops out there? Are you able to assess that? And could that be something that that changes the tide in this? I think all of you know, you guys have been covering the building long enough, you know, how important Morales and military effectiveness and cohesion. Um look, I uh I would I would just tell you, we have, we certainly have indications that Morales a growing problem inside the Russian forces that are fighting in Ukraine. Um and as time goes on and they continue to failed to achieve the progress on the ground that they want to achieve. We’ve seen increasing indications that morale and unit cohesion is a problem. And yes, that absolutely translates into potential military effectiveness issues. I don’t want to get into too much diagnostics here on a day to day basis of how they’re doing. Um I think, you know, went through a whole litany of things. We know that they have struggled with clearly morale at the, at the unit level, but anecdotally we have indications that yeah, that’s a problem. And just another sort of, I’m sorry tom but just another aspect of this, their precision guided munitions, I guess are running out is the Russian industrial base capable of replacing those, I don’t know, Jim, I mean, I I uh as I said before, I mean 27 days in. Um they’ve used a lot of munitions they are and I didn’t really get to this earlier. But what we have seen as they have been frustrated on the ground, they have resorted to more and more long range fires as we call it here, bombardment by artillery, missiles, rockets, um and uh, and clearly that’s going to have that, that’s gonna show up in an in an in an inventory detriment. But we don’t have an exact idea necessarily of, of what that looks like for them. Again, I think it’s important to remind How much combat power, combined arms capability they built up over the fall and that they still have so much of that available to them. But even for all that, it’s quite stunning even for all that power that 27 days in, they really haven’t achieved any of the strategic objectives we think they were after. Tom Thanks for the follow up to two of our colleagues here. One in this question about the 800 million, is it safe to assume? Presume that like 350 million, you’re not going to wait until the entire 800 million is ready to go. Okay. Thanks. And the second one is the gym is about morale. There have been reports and I know you can’t always confirm all reports you hear. But there have been reports regarding Russian troop morale that some of the Russian soldiers are now slashing themselves etcetera, causing physical harm to themselves in order to get sent home. What can the pentagon confirm or elucidate on this? I’ve never been accused of being able to elucidate on anything. But I can’t I can’t I can’t confirm those reports. I mean again we have anecdotal evidence that they are having morale and leadership issues at the at the unit level. But I have not heard that particular report. Let me go back to the phone, Jeff Seldin V O A john thanks very much for doing this to questions yesterday, President Biden confirmed Russia did in fact launched a hypersonic missile and described it as a consequential weapon? Can you share any additional information or assessment of what the Russians launched or how many times how many types of hypersonic weapons the Russians have used so far in Ukraine. And then also I know U. S. Officials said there there haven’t been any signs yet of Russian recruited foreign fighters showing up in any number in Ukraine. Is there any sense of whether there are any Russian citizens, Russian residents who have been motivated by the propaganda Russia has been putting out to go and join the fighting, perhaps traveling to the D. N. R. Or Eleanor to join up with militias there. I haven’t seen any indications of Russian citizens volunteering spontaneously to go fight in Ukraine. Um but that sure as heck happening in in Ukraine by Ukrainians. Um we talked about that a little bit yesterday. Um average citizens taking up arms and sometimes even resisting without taking up arms. Um it’s quite extraordinary, but I I’ve seen no indications that that that’s happening on the other other side. Quite the contrary, you see these uh this big fancy rally and uh you know, in an athletic stadium um and uh which is clearly clearly an orchestrated event by by Mr. Putin and the shutdown inside Russia of of any semblance of independence, independent media or independent information available to uh to the Russian people. So clearly they aren’t getting fully informed about what their military is doing inside Ukraine? Um and as for the hypersonic, uh your president is correct. I mean we we do understand that the um but at least in one instance uh they used a hypersonic missile um interesting that you would choose that against a fixed building at at when you look at the range of hypersonic missiles at a relatively close range. Um It’s hard to know what exactly the justification was for that but it could very well be tied to inventory the problems that uh and performance problems that they’re having with respect to precision guided missile uh munitions. So we’ll just uh we’ll just have to see where that goes. Um uh As you’ve heard the secretary say and he said it just again on on Sunday we don’t view the use of of that type of weapon is some sort of game changer here. Um They took out a storage facility with it or at least reportedly took out a storage facility with it. Um That’s a that’s a pretty significant sledgehammer to take two to a target like that. So it’s it’s not exactly clear what their what their intentions were. Yeah. Thank you sir, have a couple of questions on horseback. Counter share operations. Last week, Army General Stephen Townsend. He spoke before the Senate Armed Services Committee. He raised a couple of concerns regarding um counter operations. The first was the so called security Challenges and risk as a result of former Trump pulling out the majority of about 700 U. S. Troops from Somalia. And he says hindering the ability to battle al Shabab. They also had concerns about the so called over the horizon approach to counter operations coming from Djibouti into Somalia sort of like commuting back and forth. And he also said that was sort of hindering counter operation that maybe it would be better than a mixture of boots on the boots on the ground. So what is the uh the Secretary think about these concerns and are going to be troops? Is he considering troops being deployed back to Somalia? And what’s his position on the effectiveness of the over the horizon approach? Thank you. Again there’s an awful lot there. I’m not going to get ahead of decisions the secretary has or has not made or advice that he’s going to give to the commander in chief with respect to our force posture in Africa. Clearly General Townsend is was honestly speaking about a continued threat uh from uh from terrorist groups in Africa. Um and we’re mindful of that. Um uh and we’re going to continue to work with General Townsend and our partners on the continent uh to adjust posture as necessary. I don’t have anything to speak to today. No announcements to make but it’s not a threat that we’re taking lightly or that we’re gonna ignore. Again I don’t wanna I don’t want to get ahead of it. You could look at the global posture review and see how we laid out some of the concerns in Africa? And again we’ll uh we’ll see where this goes. Yeah. Is that corn? Uh is there an effort to try to get a snapshot of civilian casualties that at some point now that we’re reaching the one month marker, an assessment on what that number could be and in a related question, what specifically is D. O. D. Doing to assist in the evaluation of possible war crimes? So on your first question, I mean, there’s no effort here by the Department of Defense to tally civilian casualties. I mean, there’s other international organizations that are taking a look at this orange and you’ve seen the estimates as well as we have. We’re just not in a position to independently be able to verify those were not on the ground. Um, and as you well know, I mean, civilian casualties, even when it’s in operation, when we are on the ground is often a difficult thing to nail down specifically. So we’re not we’re not gonna take that mission on here to try to to give a tally, clearly there are civilian casualties and clearly they’re mounting every day because of the indiscriminate attacks that the Russians are conducting because of what we see as intentional. Now as they become more frustrated and relied more on long range fires, intentional targeting of civilian civilians and civilian infrastructure, residential homes, sorry, residential areas, hospitals, schools, that kind of thing. Um, and as I said yesterday, we believe there is evidence of war crimes by, by the Russian armed armed forces Uh and uh we across the administration, not just the Department of Defense, the administration is going to continue to gather evidence to provide to numerous investigative bodies as they look at this. Um but it’s also, and while we do that, and while that’s important, it’s also for the whole world to see, we don’t need to tell CNN about this. I mean, you’re on the ground as well. You’ve seen that. Um It’s it’s pretty stunning coverage. I mean it’s it’s it’s laid bare for everybody. Um I won’t get ahead and it wouldn’t be appropriate for us at the department to get ahead of investigative processes that we don’t own. Um It’s just we believe we should call it like we see it and and we believe that there are war crimes being conducted by the Russian armed forces um heather from us. And I thank you so much. Um I wanted to see if you could confirm any reports that Russia launched a caliber cruise missiles from um Admiral Grigorovich frigates um in the Black Sea earlier today or yesterday. Whether I can’t I’m not able to confirm that particular bit of reporting um what I can tell you is we have seen in the last, You know, 48 hours or so. We have seen increased naval activity in the Northern Black Sea. We have indications that uh in the sea of Azov off Mario people that the Russian naval vessels have contributed to the bombardment of Mario people from from the sea, but it’s difficult for us to quantify that and we can’t get to the level of detail about what munitions were were used. But but clearly in the last couple of days there has been increased Russian naval activity in the Black Sea. Okay. Take one more public know about this new space defense partnership with Australia. You’re gonna have to let me take that question. I’ll take one more. Okay. Are you you’ve eloquently talked about the long range brutal fire. The Russians are firing and the Ukrainians, but the cyber warfare aspect of this is Ukraine civilian infrastructure still up and running in terms of internet capability and command and control for the for the military. I mean this wanted cyberwarfare capabilities, doesn’t hasn’t seemed to play out with the Russians. There are times and places when um uh internet access in Ukraine is being disrupted but there’s also times and places when it’s not or where it’s being restored. Uh I um and we talked about this a little bit before. Uh the Ukrainians have built up over recent years, their own cyber resilience and we’ve helped them do that. Um it’s not just the United States, other other allies and partners who helped them do that. Um and they have managed to to maintain a sense of that resilience. It’s not perfect. The Russians clearly have tried to act in cyberspace to disrupt Ukrainian abilities to command and control and to communicate, but largely at a strategic level. They failed to do that because the Ukrainians still have good command and control over their forces in the field. In ways that the Russians actually don’t have. Okay, thanks, everybody appreciate it. Um We are out of town starting tomorrow, so we’ll pick up the briefings on Monday of next week. Thanks. Mhm.

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