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tv   Pentagon Press Secretary Holds Briefing  CSPAN  August 28, 2021 3:53pm-4:29pm EDT

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understood all this, who recognized her power, people like secretary of state george schultz, or the white house chief of staff, james baker, they really understood that she was a very important and crucial ally to have, if you are trying to get ronald reagan on board. the biography called the triumph of nancy reagan, sunday night. you also can find all q&a. now, general hank taylor also holds efforts to evacuate afghans, after the fall the country to the taliban. this is half an hour.
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[no audio] >> good morning, everyone. i will get right into our operational update for today. yesterday, u.s. military forces
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conducted a counterterrorism operation against an isis planner and facilitator. their strike occurred in a province of afghanistan. i have confirmed as more information is coming, to high-profile ices targets were killed, and one was wounded. we know of zero civilian casualties. without specifying future plans, we will have the ability to defend ourselves, and to have leverage to conduct counterterrorism operations as needed. we continue to evacuate american citizens and vulnerable afghans out of kabul. their 1000 400 individuals at the airport to have been screened and manifested for flights today.
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this is a massive military and diplomatic undertaking for the united states. i will give you a specific update over the last 24 hours. 32 u.s. military aircraft, 27 c-17's, and five c-130s departed with a proximally 1000 personnel. combined with coalition aircraft, that department -- departure saw 2000 personnel for various intermediate staging basis. 66 flights left out of kabul yesterday, and that toy bar. come with 6000 -- with 6000 evacuees. there are more than one hunter 17,000. the vast majority of which are afghans. this total number, of
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approximately 5000 of which are american citizens. this is an incredible number of people who are now safer faced to the heroism of the young men and women who are putting their lives on the line each day to evacuate americans and vulnerable afghans out of kabul. the threats to our forces, and to the operation remain real and significant. i am sure you can appreciate that. with the military mission, thousands of service members are working across the globe, and in the united states, to complete this incredibly important mission. six flights will transport about 2000 afghans to the united states. since august 20, dao are -- the ao are has received many evacuees. as we try to exceed this mission, a flight from italy
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will fly to philadelphia international airport the second u.s. onward location to receive flights. general van hurt said in his brief yesterday that our total capacity across all double u.s. installations is approximately 21000 and growing. we are working to increase the capacity to 50,000 by september team. -- september 15. we are hosting many afghans at fort glace and fort mcguire. we are dedicating a team to military civilian contract personnel to work closely with numerous agencies, government and nongovernment, to ensure further requirements and capabilities are available. we will keep you updated on this. south, continues to conduct relief operations in haiti.
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while in the north, we are conducting evacuation flights to support fema as the lead federal agency in preparing for tropical storm ida. i want to share the department of defense will share the names of the 13 servicemembers who were killed in service of their country. we grieve with the goldstar family, friends, and loved ones of our fallen. they will be remembered and revered among americans who have served in afghanistan in operations freedom sentinel, and enduring freedom. >> i do not have anything to add, so we'll go right to questions. >> a couple questions on last night in afghanistan. general taylor just said to high-profile targets were killed, and one wounded. the initial announcement said
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one. is this the same strike? is this a single strike? can you explain who these individuals were and if they were directly involved in the kabul airport attack? >> i will not speak to the details of these individuals or what their specific roles might be, but as the general said, we
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have the ability and means to carry out over the horizon capabilities and we will defend ourselves. >> can you give us the names of the individuals killed. >> no, we will not release the names. >> there appeared to be images and reports to the ground about
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reports. >> we can't confirm that. as we get more information, we will communicated to you. -- communicate it to you. >> there is another warning saying don't approach the gates. does this have anything to do with the attack? can you talk about what they lost in the strike? >> a couple of things. i will let the state department speak for the advisory they sent out. that is not uncommon to do that. they are constantly watching the threat environment, and doing the prudent responsible thing, inform americans about what is best for their own safety.
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i will let the state department speak to the rationale. they are doing what they need to do to keep people safe. i will not talk about capabilities they lost. they lost a planner, facilitator, and was wounded, and the fact two individuals are no longer on the face of the earth is a good thing for the people of afghanistan, the troops, and forces at that airfield. i will leave it there. >> can you discuss the level of threat at the airport? we have seen allies bring their evacuation operations to a close. will they stay there through the 31st? >> we will complete the mission by the end of the month. nothing has changed about the timeline. we would do this as safe and as orderly as possible, evacuating up until the end.
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reporter: what about the threats at the airport? >> they are real, dynamic, and we are monitoring them in real time. we are taking all means necessary to remain focused on that threat stream and doing what we can for force protection. >> have u.s. troops begun retro grading? >> we have. >> can you say anything more about that? >> no, i cannot. >> general taylor, the number left is consistent, but passengers are down from where it was. does that mean the u.s. is moving military equipment on those? >> as we said, our mission to continue evacuating those as required and to meet the mission requirement is with the
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commanders are executing. reporter: there is equipment? general taylor, there is equipment. reporter: have there been any attacks? there were reports, but have the taliban stopped attackers from getting to the airport? general taylor: i don't have specific reports. the security of the base is the most important thing we are doing to allow us to continue our mission. reporter: thank you. reporter: john, you said the threat remains active and dynamic. it is fair to say whether or not those people killed last night deserved to be on the face of the earth are not, that the threat at the airport remains
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unchanged? john: i would not say it remains unchanged. i did not say that. it remains active and dynamic. reporter: is it as serious as yesterday? john: it is a serious threat. i'm not sure how or potential terrorist threat can be anything other than serious. it is serious. reporter: yesterday you deny the taliban claim they assumed responsibility for security at some parts of the airport. is that the case, the taliban do not provide security at the airport itself? john: that is still the case. reporter: without remain the case, or at some point do they move into the airport to keep crowds at bay while those last airplanes take off? john: i will not speak about
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specifics as we get closer to the end. we will maintain the ability to defend ourselves and our operations all the way through. lucas? reporter: does the taliban provide intelligence or support for the drone strike that killed these two? john: i will not talk about intelligence matters one way the other. reporter: with the taliban supporting this drone strike in any way? john: we had used was intelligence on our own to conduct the strike. reporter: do you consider the taliban in the network separate entities? john: lucas, i will not give you a breakdown in characterization of the taliban. lucas you have to remember what we are focused on, getting more people out, getting our troops out, completing this mission, and i am not sure what benefit
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it does for me to characterize one group or another. reporter: the people, the deputy leader of the taliban had a $10 million bounty on his head. are these separate entities? john: there is a co-mingling, a marbling of the two i am pushing back because the relevance of that discussion to what we're doing today, complete and evacuation safely and get our troops and our forces at the airport out safely. that is what we are focused on. reporter: one more question. every newspaper and television outlet said that u.s. military brass recommend the president leave 2500 troops, not pull out. have you as those outlets for a correction? john: again. reporter: every newspaper and television outlet said that u.s. military brass recommend the
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president leave 2500 troops, not pull out. have you ask any news outlets for a correction to the stories? john: thanks for repeating it. we don't make it a habit to talk publicly one way or the other, right/wrong, up/down, about advice and counsel the pentagon leaders give the commander-in-chief. reporter: has there been another helicopter evacuation recently? john: no, i don't think there has been. reporter: can i follow up on the discussion about the drone strike yesterday? it has been characterized as being retaliation for the bombing at the airport. is that accurate? or is this part of the over the
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horizon counterterrorism planning? john: this was a little bit of both. we have the ability to conduct over the horizon counterterrorism capabilities. it fits in that mold. it is not coincidence that it happened a couple of days after we lost 13 brave service members. john: can i as -- reporter: you're calling 18 planner the other a facility -- calling one a planner, one a facilitator. what is the difference? general taylor: that is the clarification, planner/facilitator. those that would have the ability to facilitate or help plan attacks. that gave us the ability and
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authority to conduct those missions. reporter: where they involved in planning an imminent attack? general taylor: we will not go into detailed intelligence information that led to that strike or future operations. reporter: a couple of things on the strikes. first, you called them high-profile. can you explain? i have a follow-up on the strikes, what makes you say they are high-profile? general taylor: based on the intelligence collected and activities in the past. that was the classification for those. reporter: general taylor, were you targeting both of these individuals, or were you targeting one and the other one happened to be there? general taylor: we had
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intelligence that led us to the target area that allowed for that strike to happen. reporter: were you targeting two individuals in that strike? general taylor: the intelligence allowed us to conduct that strike on multiple individuals. reporter: if i could ask you, so now you have done the strike. what is the assessment or feeling about the impact of the strike on isis-k in afghanistan? have you degraded them in any fashion? can you explain if they are high-profile? have you deterred/degraded? what is your conclusion about the impact of the strike? john: they have two high-profile planners, one planner, one facilitator no longer on their muster rolls, so they have lost
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some capability to plan and to conduct missions, but barbara, make no mistake, nobody is writing this often sang we got them, so we don't have to worry about isis-k anymore. not the case. the threat stream is still active, still dynamic. we are still laser focused on force protection and are not thinking a minute that what happened yesterday gets us in the clear, not a minute, but do we believe we had valid targets, bad guys who can plan bed missions? absolutely. will that have impacted going forward? absolutely. what and how much we will have to watch the intelligence going forward. reporter: does the united states have a scent of who is in command of isis-k now?
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john: i will not get into org charts and intelligence about what we know about the organization. obviously we put a lot of time and effort into learning as much as we can, and for security services, i will leave it at that. john: a question -- reporter: where did the aircraft come from? what kind of drone? can you give us any information? john: over the horizon. it came from over the horizon. reporter: there were reports the targets were in the vehicle? does that accurate? was there any other damage to infrastructure? john: as the general said, we will not reveal much detail here. we want to preserve our flexibility and i hope you understand we can't answer that detailed stuff now.
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reporter: what are you doing about the isis-k cells in kabul itself? the terrorists have gone underground. you can't target the city with airstrikes now. john: we are arching the threat stream carefully. clearly they have the ability to operate inside kabul. we are mindful of that. we are watching it as closely as we can and trying to make sure that we have available to us as much information and context as possible so as to pair for any future attacks, and we have to assume that could come from or be planned out or sourced out of places that they might have established themselves in kabul. i think that is as far as we are going to be able to go right
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now. reporter: a couple of questions about the airport? when are we handing the airport over to the taliban? will the taliban the running the airport as reported? general taylor: we will continue to run the airport until the end . those details continue to be worked out and we will come forward. right now we run that airfield to make sure we can execute operations. reporter: are some of the gates to the airport welded shut? general taylor: there are gates that are closed. absolutely. we have gates that continue to be open as we coordinate and work with the department of state to get people in for evacuation. yes, sir? >> i want to express my
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condolences to the families of lost loved ones in kabul. despite the effort to evacuate, some organizations, including current and former military feels a little of frustration not being able to get people out . there have been many reports about that. is dod cooperating with these organizations? can you talk about that? what is your message to these organizations? are they helping/hindering? should they continue their operations given what you know? john: it is not for us to tell them to stop caring about individuals they know are in afghanistan. as you might imagine, i mean, we are working off many different streams of information about
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various vulnerable afghan groups, not to mention applicants in the special immigrant visa program and american citizens. i don't want to speak for the state department, but the state department has been liaising with outside groups to identify those who need to be evacuated. we are primarily responsible for helping to provide that secure area at the airport to get through the process and to properly manifest them and get them out of there. look, a lot of us are getting emails in calls and texts from friends and colleagues, many are the trends who are passing information to us to try to help get additional people out. and we are doing the best we can when we are contacted to get
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that information in the right streams to the right people on the ground at the airport to continue to facilitate movement. as the general said, we will try to facilitate movement of evacuees to the very end. reporter: have these efforts helped? or are they adding to the confusion? is dod cooperating or helping in any way? john: to the degree they have brought to light information we can act upon to get additional people out, of course that has been helpful, and we certainly share the concerns that these groups have for these individuals. the feel the same -- we feel the same obligation that they do to it, so to help us latch on and identify, yes, that has been helpful. reporter: john, one question with the taliban. it is not an intelligence
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question, but was there coordination? did you share information prior to the strike on the isis targets? john: no. no. reporter: and turning to the preparations for folks coming back, is there a total number of people you have, evacuees you have on a domestic basis here, plus those in the process of coming back, of the different hubs and bases, all the numbers? john: i don't have it with me. i think we have just under 7000 sid applicants at u.s. military installations across the country. he has opened additional installations to get to a capacity of 50,000, if we need it, but he gave that number yesterday, and i don't think it has changed appreciably over the
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last 24 hours. before i jump up, let me just check and see if i have an updated number in europe. i got it here somewhere, i think. i don't think i got it across europe so we will have to come back to you on that. reporter: two other quick ones. do you expect troops to come into dover as soon as today? john: what i can tell you is the remains individuals who were killed are on their way back to the united states, but i am not at liberty to give you a precise arrival. reporter: a final clarification,
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the target last night was a planner and facilitator, or they are both considered both? i did not understand. general taylor: the capabilities of those struck and killed last night were a facilitator and planners. we will not get into this one was this, this one was this. facilitators and planners. reporter: were you aware of them before? general taylor: we will not speak about the intelligence that we had. reporter: they were on u.s. radar? general taylor: we had information on the targets as we continue to conduct that strike. reporter: on the over the horizon efforts, the last time we saw a strike was announced was february 2020. are you aware of specific
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strikes since 2020 in afghanistan? general taylor: i don't have that information. reporter: two days before kabul fell, intelligence did not show the country was going to fall to the taliban. that is why you are being asked questions about how serious these isis are. general taylor: i understand. we will not go into the details of the intelligence. reporter: is there the possibility of an attack on the airport in the coming days? general taylor: the intelligence that allowed us to conduct that strike. we now have two members of isis-k no longer able to facilitator plan attacks. i'm not going to go into that. reporter: will the secretary and president greet the caskets? john: i have no information
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about that. >> when you were talking about the presence of the taliban at the airport, are you saying there are no taliban on the airfield beginning to transition to control? john: yes. there was some reporting yesterday that the taliban were in control of the gates, then there was reporting we were shutting down all evacuation operations in the course of the day, and my point is those are not true. we are not shutting down evacuation operations. we will go until the end. we are still in charge of the airport, and we are still in charge of security at the airport. what was true a few days ago is still true today. the taliban have checkpoints around the airport in a loose perimeter, if you will, but they are not manning gates. they are not at the airport doing security roles or anything
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like that. reporter: they are not at the airport? john: they are not at the airport. reporter: going back to the drone strike, did you notify any country for which the drone may have had to fly through before the strike? which committees on the hill that you notify prior to the strike, if at all? john: as far as i know there were no notifications that needed to happen before hand. no notifications that were needed to be done before hand. yes? reporter: you know these individuals, right? do you know these individuals? john: we know who they are. reporter: the planner or the facilitator? john: i don't have that information. reporter: have the taliban
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indicated they were not let afghanistan to be used as a launching pad for terrorist attack against u.s. and allies? john: can you say that again? reporter: have the taliban leadership indicated they will not let afghanistan to be used as a launching pad for terrorist attack against u.s. and allies? john: they made assurances as part of the doha agreement about affiliation with terrorist groups operating from afghanistan. they said that publicly as part of the doha agreement. reporter: do you have any indication that the level or type of foreign fighters that may have flowed into afghanistan in recent days and weeks? john: i do not. we are going to call it a day, lucas. lucas, i appreciate it. thank you. i appreciate it.
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[captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2021] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org] ♪ announcer: c-span's washington journal, every day on the news of the day, policy issues that impact you. sunday morning, the senior fellow from the american enterprise institute, and the president of the atlantic council discussed afghanistan and biden administration foreign policy challenges. watch live 7:00 a.m. eastern sunday morning, and join the discussion with your calls, comments, texts, and tweets.
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