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tv   Pentagon Press Secretary Delivers Briefing  CSPAN  April 22, 2022 2:47am-3:34am EDT

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about ukraine.
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>> the secretary highlighted the authorization of a public -- presidential drawdown. a hundred million dollars tailored to meet -- $800 million tailored to meet -- this authorization is the eighth drawdown of equipment from dod inventories for ukraine since august of 2021. capabilities include 72 155 military -- millimeter howitzers and a hundred -- -- rounds. vehicles that are designed to toe be howitzers. -- the howitzers. field equipment and additional spare parts. this equipment -- commitment together with the 18 howitzers
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announced on the 18th of april -- to equip battalions for ukraine. i want to stress again what we are providing is with full consultation with the ukrainians and they believe the systems will be helpful in the fight. where and when and how they employ them is up to them. the united states has committed more than $4 billion in security systems to ukraine since the beginning of the biden administration including 3.4 billion since the beginning of the invasion in the 24th of february. the united states works were partners to identify and help ukraine with additional capabilities and we will continue to utilize all available tools to support ukraine's forces. earlier today, the secretary met with a shack -- check chronic heart -- czech republic
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counterpart to -- discuss. the secretary conducted calls with his counterpart in germany and france to discuss security systems in ukraine and for ukraine. he thinks leaders for -- in ukraine for their constitution -- contributions. it is a piece of the secretary's continued efforts to consult and to communicate with allies and partners, not only in europe but around the world, to try to improve ukraine's abilities to defend themselves. some of the allied partners have capabilities they can provide that we cannot. he has been working every single day. to that end, the secretary can -- will host a number, -- of
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counterpart for a group at a air voice -- airbase on the 26. the goal is to bring stakeholders for a series of meetings. ensuring that ukraine's enduring security and sovereignty over the long-term is respected and developed. topics will range on the agenda from the latest battlefield assessment of the renewed russian fsu -- offensive to energizing the defense industrial base to continue the steady flow of defense systems and taking a larger view of ukraine's defense needs, be fine -- the on the world they are facing. secretaries are very much looking forward to -- have this meeting. >> on that last point, how many
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countries are represented? >> we are still working through all the invites. i do not have the total list. as soon as we can get you in, we will. not just nato countries. >> two questions. on the jones, phoenix ghost drones. what can you say about their role broadly speaking. are they intelligence or attack oriented? when did you begin to develop that asset. the second question, on the artillery. the howitzers. in layman's terms, what is the significance of battalions of artillery that you are helping the ukrainians develop? >> five depauw -- battalions will add to their complement on their own battalions. it is added firepower.
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they will have to provide the artillery. it is added capability. five more battalions, which is quite a number. hundreds of additional troops to field these systems. what makes it important is the kind of fighting that we expect in the donbass. because it is flat and not as urban. we can expect the russians to rely on long -- long range fires. in fact, we have seen them move in artillery movements before they started moving ground forces in. i should say traditional infantry. we know this is going to be part of the russian playbook. use of long-range fires assisted by artillery. understanding the terrain angiography and russian
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doctrine. we believe in the ukraine's sec. kirby: we are going to continue to have a conversation with the ukrainians about their needs going forward. but given the kind of fight we expect is coming, we believe this will be good for them. on the phoenix ghost, this is a drone that had been in development before the invasion. the air force was working this. in discussions with the ukrainians about their requirements, we believe that this particular system would very nicely suit their needs.
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it was already in development, but we will continue to move that development in ways that are attuned to ukrainian requirements. i am not going to get into detail about the specifications. i would just tell you that this unmanned system is designed for tactical operations. largely but not exclusively through targets. almost all unmanned systems has optics. it can also be used to give you a saved picture of what it is seen, of course. but it is -- its principal focus is attack. .
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the kinds of things this drone can do lend itself well to this particular kind of terrain. i am going to leave it at that. its purpose is akin to that of the switchblade which we have been talking about in the past. which is a one-way drone and attack drone. reporter: i have two questions. we heard -- do they have a longer range than what the russians have or are they more precise? the second question is the president said that putin would
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never succeed. it does he mean that the objective of the western assistance to ukraine is to push the russians out of ukraine? sec. kirby: i am not going to get into the specifics but pacific -- specifications on the howitzer. my understanding is it does have a very longer-range. but i am not going to get into the specifics of it. it should be clear to all of you already that i am no expert on american artillery. i am certainly not an expert on russian artillery. so i cannot tell you how much better it is then so be. as an american system, we are very confident in its abilities.
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more critically, the early feedback that we are getting from the ukrainians poor undergoing training is that they are very happy with the performance of the system and they are learning it quickly. training is going very well. and they are excited about being able to use the system in the field. we have been nothing but consistent here. we want ukraine to win this. which means we want ukraine sovereign again and we do not question -- want russian forces in any part of ukraine. it is really up to the ukrainians to determine come on
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epic united states. but the president's right. in terms of vladimir putin's initial strategic objectives, he has failed. he has failed to achieve any of the objectives to date. now the russians are saying they are going to focus their efforts on the donbas. they have been vague on to what end, but that is where they are focusing their efforts. and we will do what we can to help the ukrainians. reporter: people are saying that the united states forget them.
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and how much the ukraine situation impacts afghanistan. sec. kirby: there is a lot there. it is not up to the department of the defense to talk about recognizing the tele-been government. -- taliban government. we have not forgotten the people of afghanistan. the state department is working very hard to continue to work with nongovernment agencies as well as the taliban to continue to get people out of afghanistan. that effort continues. there is not a defense department role in that, but we are clearly in support of that.
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reporter: [indiscernible] sec. kirby: i do not have an exact start date. the whole idea of this was for us to use it. i would expect we still have an interest in using this capability. reporter: about this meeting, one of the goals is ensuring [indiscernible]
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are we talking about postaward type of security for ukraine and -- are we talking about post war type of security for ukraine? sec. kirby: yes, post war. reporter: do you see on the side of the border any capacity concerns. are there any issues? sec. kirby: so far no issues in terms of slowing it down. ater 12 flights a day -- eight or 12 flights a day are going in. not all of the flights are american but a lot of them are. there has been ground movement inside of ukraine so we have seen no slowing down. as for absorption inside
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ukraine, it has not proven to be a problem because it is factored into the discussion. clearly absorption rate is an issue. they have to be able to receive transport and then to deliver two units. that is that is the ukrainian responsibility. from what we are hearing, they are able to do that and do that quite effectively. that is always a factor in discussing what gets sent in and how it is packaged for them. we are doing this in tranches. we want to keep apace with it.
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we want to alter within the package is based on what is going on on the ground and what the ukrainians say they need. all of that is baked into the process. there has not been a stumbling block that is stopping something from going to end because we are factoring it into all of the decision-making. reporter: is it true that some of the platforms that need training [indiscernible] sec. kirby: we believe the phoenix ghost will require a little bit of training. we require it will -- we believe
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it will require some training and we are working it out right now. the only training going on right now that i can speak to is the training that is going on on the howitzers. we believe there will be additional training done at some of these things like the radar and the phoenix ghost. even the m113 armored vehicles. reporter: on the howitzer training, will it be the only training? sec. kirby: there will be more. reporter: where is the training happening? sec. kirby: it is outside of ukraine and i am not at liberty to talk about that. reporter: there has been a
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cluster of suicides on the george washington carrier. and i know the secretary has an ongoing effort to understand the suicides and he is looking at eight different facilities. are there any plans to look at ships and do you think that ships provide unique circumstances that need to be understood when it comes to suicide? sec. kirby: the navy is still investigating these deaths. and i do not want to get ahead of that ask you may understand. each death is tragic regardless of how and our thoughts and prayers continue to go up to the families and the ship mates.
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the secretary's expectation for the suicides if we will look across the board. he wants to look at ship board life, duty. unless that has had this issue. -- alaska has had this issue. i have served on ships and on ships that were in shape yards. each of those environments is challenging. we have to be a little humble when we are talking about suicide. it is human nature to want to point to something and say that is the reason.
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it is this problem or this culture or it is because the ship is doing this or doing that. we have to be careful jumping to those conclusions. what compels an individual to take their own life is individual. and it is complex. as the secretary has said, a sense of humility going into this is very important. obviously, as we look across the force, we certainly want to look at things like command climate, culture, mission, the tempo at which we are pushing people. all of those things are stressors in life. some of them could contribute to the problem of suicides. but again, it is a individual
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thing. the other thing we want to do is be willing to consider what we don't know and to talk to experts. we have terrific mental health professionals in the military, but there are people outside the ranks that really do focus in on this particular issue. we want to avail ourselves of their knowledge and be humble about what we do not know and ask tough questions. when the secretary was in alaska, she took time to sit with mental health professionals from the local universities who specialized in issues surrounding suicides. they conveyed very clear to him how tough this is to wrap your arms around.
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reporter: [indiscernible] reporter: [indiscernible] sec. kirby: i do not want to get ahead of the navy's investigation. it is designed to look across the force and the factors that compel an individual to take their own life and what those factors are and how we can help mitigate those. reporter: are these phoenix ghost drones already in the arsenal? sec. kirby: they are already in. when you draw that authority, you are drunk down from your inventory -- you are drunk down from your inventory.
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reporter: [indiscernible] sec. kirby: the sanctions are not have been an effect on the communications. we have been trying to have communications for several weeks and they clearly are not interested in that. the fact that their assumptions levied against them is not a
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factor in the lack of communication. as offensive operations begin a new in donbas, this is the time that we need to be talking to russian leaders, but so far they have been unwilling to engage in that. i looked at everybody else on the list and that is a good group to belong to so i am ok with that. reporter: for those of us from the vietnam operation, the battle of --. sec. kirby: i am not in that grouping. i just wanted to state for the record. reporter: caisson was a big
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battle in vietnam. fast-forward to the bosnia war, on the planes we would do a maneuver to avoid ground fire. i reference these points thinking about what is happening in ukraine. how has the u.s. military progressed to be able to supply should a case come up to provide ammunition. sec. kirby: are you referring to error dropping -- air dropping? the president has been very clear. we will not have u.s. forces
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fighting in ukraine and that includes the sky. reporter: i was not asking about the u.s. in ukraine. i was referencing that. we are talking about the u.s. military capability. sec. kirby: i am not only not an expert on artillery, i am not an expert on air drop supply. we can get you in touch with somebody at the pentagon. obviously we have that capability but i am not qualified to offer much on that. reporter: i want to cap your expertise on defense contracting. sec. kirby: this is going to be a short exchange. reporter: so far you have done
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one contract. where are those contracts? sec. kirby: we are working hard on that. i can tell you our new undersecretary is personally leading this effort. we are working hard on that right now. reporter: you guys keep talking about that. has secretary alston decided to use the dx rule? sec. kirby: i do not have any
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decisions to read out respect to that. i do not have any updates for you on that. i do not want to get into internal deliberations about the contract in progress. we let the one for the pumas. they are working hard on the remaining contracts. reporter: everybody is asking you about it. sec. kirby: i appreciate the advice. i am only going to be able to go so far here. i hope you guys will understand why we are doing bats.
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there are some things that we can talk about more plainly and openly than others. we are never straying from our desire to help ukraine defend itself. there are things we can talk about and there things that we are not going to talk about despite what is on instagram and tiktok. just because it is out there, does not mean we will always be able to fully candid about every single capability. there is a lot of security assistance going to ukraine that does not come from the united states. and those countries do not always talk about it.
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some do and some don't. we have to respect that and we would hope that you would understand that as well. the goal is to help ukraine defend itself. the goal is to help ukraine have sovereignty and have this war end and have the russians leave. if that means in the pursuit of the goal, we will have to be a little bit less transparent, we can live with that. reporter: can you further clarify the phoenix ghost? sec. kirby: this was a system in development before.
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it was developed for a set of requirements that very closely match what the ukrainians need right now in donbas. reporter: was it a research lab thing? [indiscernible] sec. kirby: please do not ask me another artillery question. reporter: i want to ask you about the disposition of the issues is going on with the artillery right now. you are not stripping them from units and sending them out there, right? sec. kirby: we are canvassing the force.
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i suspect they come from the army and marine corps stocks. i do not know where every single system is coming from. whether it was a system in storage or one that was being used by your unit. i suspect it will be a blend of that. as with every other system we are providing, we are mindful of our own readiness concerns. and we want to make sure that our own combat readiness is not affected in a negative way by these provisions. i could not tell you where each and every howitzer is coming from. reporter: the times of london said that something was tracking the ship before it was attacked by ukraine.
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can you confirm or say anything about that? sec. kirby: i am not going to get into a great operational detail here. but as part of bolstering nato's eastern flank, they have been a part of that. and that includes error -- air policing missions in the black sea. it is a very capable reconnaissance platform. it does a lot of things well. it is built into our air policing and i am just going to leave it at that.
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there was no provision of target information by the united states navy so i can disabuse you of that. reporter: [indiscernible] sec. kirby: without getting into more of the details of the call, we continue to see no indication that the chinese have provided military systems to russia. reporter: you said previously, [indiscernible] reporter: i do not have any future calls to speak to her to lay out on the schedule.
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this was an initial call. we felt it was productive. our expectation is it will lead to future conversations appropriate to whatever the issue is we want to talk about. reporter: the 184,000 artillery rounds, how long will those last? sec. kirby: it depends on what the consumption rate is by the ukrainians once they are in the field. reporter: what is happening with the intelligence, and f of the switchblade's -- coming off of
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the switchblade's? is the u.s. able to see --. sec. kirby: those are technical systems that we do not have a feeding tube. you would have to ask them. the phoenix ghost are not in the country at this point. reporter: russia is using up to 20,000 mercenaries in the war. what do we know about the use of foreign fighters by russia? is putin trying to use them at some his own men do not get killed? sec. kirby: i cannot verify the numbers. we do believe that the russians have recruited foreign fighters. we believe that there are
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foreign fighters, mercenaries, and said ukraine, in particular in the east. but i cannot quantify that for you. i would say a couple of the things on the larger picture. it is not unusual for them to do this. it is additional manpower. that they are recruiting so aggressively i think indicates their belief that they need to rely on additional manpower because they know have -- they know they have taken losses. i think it is a statement of need of more manpower because of the losses that they have sustained. but it is a tactic that they have used before, this use of foreign fighters. it would be wrong to say that by
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using foreign fighters that we have greater worries about brutality because the russian forces themselves have been brutal in some of the worse ways. it is a statement of vladimir putin's desire to bolster his manpower in response to the depletion of that manpower. reporter: do you have an update on the shipments [indiscernible] sec. kirby: we know the russians have continued to prevent ports from exporting in an effort to strangle the ukrainian economy. we believe that the effort is still ongoing. i cannot tell you what the
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economic impact is. reporter: is there any organized discussion about how to address that blockade and break it so that they can receive food sources? sec. kirby: if you are asking if the united states navy is going to get involved, the answer is no. this is just another piece of the brutality in which the russians are waging this war. reporter: i want to get to
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something you said at the top. you said it his feet -- it is time to take a longer view. do you mean the long-term footprint in europe? or the long-term view of the battle of ukraine? sec. kirby: a part of the agenda would be to talk about ukraine's long-term defense needs in a post war environment and what that might look like. the secretary believes it is not too soon to have a longer-term discussion with allies about what ukrainian sovereignty needs to look like going forward. reporter: are you talking about reconstruction funding? sec. kirby: not necessarily.
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defense needs, security needs. reporter: about the sanctions, you are also listed with several journalists as well. i wonder what this says about the effects of american media and your own public information about those efforts. sec. kirby: it is a good group to belong to. and it does say a bit about the fear of fact, the fear of truth that mr. putin continues to demonstrate every day. you can see that by the way he shuts down information in his own country. i think it demonstrates a sense of weakness, mastering. -- not strength.
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that he so abhors the work of independent journalists. nobody called me from the kremlin to advise me that i was being sanctioned or why. but i have to assume that this effort by the united states government as well as you and your colleagues in covering this war, unsettles mr. putin. frankly, i think that is a good thing. i have to go. i apologize we did not get to everybody. we will see you again tomorrow.
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