Home World Pentagon Press Secretary Air Force Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder Holds a Press Briefing

Pentagon Press Secretary Air Force Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder Holds a Press Briefing

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BRIGADIER GENERAL PAT RYDER: All right. Good afternoon, everyone. A few things here at the top, and we’ll get right to your questions.

First, I’d like to take a moment to echo some of the points made earlier today by Secretary Austin during his remarks at Senate testimony.

As the secretary said, the department has submitted an urgent supplemental budget request to help fund America’s national security needs to stand by our partners and invest in our Defense Industrial Base. We’re requesting $10.6 billion to help Israel defend itself, $44.4 billion to help Ukraine continue to defend itself against Russia’s ongoing aggression and $3.3 billion to meet U.S. military requirements in our submarine industrial base and to fulfill our AUKUS commitments.

During his testimony, the secretary thanked the senators for their bipartisan support to ensure that we can defend America and stand by the allies and partners who magnify our strength.

Now, when it comes to the situation in the Middle East, Secretary Austin highlighted that first and foremost, we will continue to protect American forces and our citizens in the region. Second, we will continue to flow critical security assistance to Israel. Our focus is on providing air defense capabilities, precision-guided munitions and more interceptors for the Iron Dome system. Third, we’re coordinating closely with the Israelis to help secure the release of the hostages held by Hamas, including American citizens. Secretary Austin highlighted that we immediately provided U.S. military advisors to offer best practices for integrating hostage recovery into Israel’s operations. And finally, we’ve strengthened our force posture across the region to deter any state or nonstate actors from escalating this crisis beyond Gaza, to include the presence of two carrier strike groups currently in the region.

Moving to other updates, today, I can announce the decision to deploy an additional 300 troops to the U.S. Central Command region from home stations in the continental United States. These additional troops will provide capabilities and explosive ordnance disposal, communications and other support enablers for forces already in the region. Please note that we will not discuss specific deployment locations for these forces, but I can confirm they are not going to Israel and that they are intended to support regional deterrence efforts and further bolster U.S. force protection capabilities.

Separately, Secretary Austin continues to remain in close contact with his Israeli counterpart. He spoke with Israeli Minister of Defense Yoav Gallant yesterday by phone and received updates on Israel’s phased operations in Gaza. The secretary commended the Israel (sic) Defense Forces’ commitment to hostage recovery and re-emphasized the importance of conducting operations in accordance with the law of war. He also stressed the imperative to protect innocent civilians and allow unfettered humanitarian aid into Gaza. Now, we have posted a readout of the call on the DOD website.

Shifting gears, later this afternoon, Secretary Austin will welcome his Australian counterpart, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defense Richard Marles, to the Pentagon to discuss the United States-Australia alliance and review progress on defense initiatives following the 2023 Australia-U.S. Ministerial consultations earlier this summer. We will share a readout following the meeting.

Also this afternoon, Dr. Sean Kirkpatrick, the director of the All-domain Anomaly Resolution Office, or AARO, will be discussing the status of the AARO website and the next phase of the secure mechanism for contacting AARO to report on unidentified anomalous phenomena, or UAP. Additional details can be found in the press advisory published earlier today, and I would encourage any media interested in asking questions on this topic to take part in Dr. Kirkpatrick’s briefing.

And separately, tomorrow, a prescheduled operational test launch of a U.S. Air Force Global Strike Command unarmed Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile is scheduled from North Vandenberg Space Force Base, California. This launch showcases the redundancy and reliability of our strategic deterrence system, while sending a visible message of assurance to allies. For any further questions, I’d refer you to Air Force Global Strike Command.

And finally, I’d like to take a moment to send General Eric Smith, Commandant of the Marine Corps, well-wishes and a speedy recovery on behalf of Secretary Austin and the entire Department of Defense. Our thoughts and prayers are with him and his family.

And with that, I’ll be happy to take your questions. We’ll go to Tara Copp, Associated Press.

Q: General Ryder, in the days since the (inaudible) shooting, it’s come to light that the Army determined that the Maine reservist (inaudible) Pentagon at the time, and there’s been numerous other warning signs about him. Is the Pentagon looking at all at maybe something that was missed or a way to maybe further tighten reporting to law enforcement in the wake of this attack?

GEN. RYDER: Yeah, thanks, Tara. So I’m not aware of any specific departmental efforts as it relates to this individual case. What I would say is that for servicemembers who are departing the service or servicemembers who are even still in the service, but in particular, those departing, we do offer a wide variety of services as part of that transition process, to include medical and mental healthcare services.

Once a servicemember leaves, he or she is, of course, a private citizen, and when appropriate, certainly, the DOD would consult with local law enforcement. In this particular case, the individual, of course, was in the Army Reserve, so I’d refer you to them for any further questions.

Q: All right, and further, can you just update us – has there been any additional attacks on U.S. bases in Iraq and Syria in the last 24 hours? Is the total still 23, I think?

GEN. RYDER: So you know, again, we’ll continue to keep you updated. What I’m tracking right now is since our self-defense strikes on 26 October, there’ve been six additional, what I would consider small-scale attacks, three in Iraq, three in Syria. Right now, we’re tracking a total of 27 attacks, 16 in Iraq, 11 in Syria. Again, as we see the data miner alerts pop-up, we check each of those with CENTCOM, go back to verify the information, and as that information is either verified or batted down, we’ll make sure to let you know.

Q: Did any of those actually hit the bases, or were they all intercepted?

GEN. RYDER: In some cases, they just didn’t strike anything.

Q: (inaudible).

GEN. RYDER: Yeah. Again, to my knowledge, no injuries, no damage to infrastructure. OK? Thanks very much.

Yes, sir?

Q: General, you have discussed about these attacks, the need to keep the response specifically to them isolated to the anti-ISIS coalition and how that’s separate from what’s going on in Gaza. But we have seen such an increase over the past couple of weeks. Does the department acknowledge, at least, a link of what’s spurring these attacks is the U.S.’s support for Israel?

GEN. RYDER: Yeah, so I think it’s important to differentiate between what Iranian proxies and Iran might be saying and the perspective that we bring to this, which is our forces are in Iraq and Syria for one purpose, which is the enduring defeat of ISIS. That’s why they’re there. That’s what they’ll stay focused on.

So this is separate and distinct from the situation in Israel, between Israel and Hamas. And so again, our message is we will take whatever necessary actions to protect those forces, to deter future attacks, and if and when we need to respond, we would do so at a time and place of our choosing.

Q: If they are separate, what has led to the increase in attacks over the past couple of weeks?

GEN. RYDER: Well, certainly, this is not the first time we’ve seen these Iranian proxy groups do these kinds of things for a multitude of purported various reasons, so that in and of itself is not unusual. And again, we’ll do what we need to do to protect our troops.

Q: And you said you’re going to hold them accountable. Do you have a sense of how involved the Iranian government is in these attacks? Or are they simply just not communicating for these groups to hold off, or do they even have that power?

GEN. RYDER: Yeah, we know that these groups are funded, trained, sponsored by the Iranian government, and we hold the Iranian government responsible for that.

Let me go to the phone here. Tony from Bloomberg. 

Q: Hey, sorry. Quick — I was slow to unmute. Two quick questions. Roughly, how much presidential drawdown authority do you have left now for Ukraine? And I had a second question about the Persian Gulf.

GEN. RYDER: Yes, sure. So, right now we have a little more than $5.4 billion in restored PDA authority that remains available for Ukraine.

Q: And Persian Gulf, is the United States increasing its force posture or protection measures in the Gulf to protect international shipping from Iranian small boat harassment attacks if, in fact, that occur — they occur?

GEN. RYDER: Well, Tony, you know, we have those forces in the region for a variety of things, to include helping to protect the shipping lanes and free flow of commerce through the region. And we’ve been doing that for a very long time. So certainly, that is a capability that we can provide, working alongside our partners in the region and we’ll continue to do that. Thank you.

Q: Thank you.

GEN. RYDER: John. 

Q: Thanks, General Ryder. You mentioned that the U.S. is providing munitions to Israel. Does that include loitering munitions, like the Switchblades or Phoenix Ghost that the U.S. is providing to Ukraine?

GEN. RYDER: Yes, so beyond what I’ve already provided, I don’t have any additional support to announce again. You know, we’re focused on artillery, ammunition, precision-guided munitions and air defense capabilities.

Q: And with regard to air and missile defense in the Middle East, is the U.S. providing any directed energy air and missile defense systems to U.S. troop locations in the Middle East that have come under attack to kind of augment their traditional air defense capabilities?

GEN. RYDER: So, I don’t want to go into the specific capabilities that we’re using to protect our forces, other than to say we have a wide variety which does include directed energy capabilities. Thank you.

Yes, ma’am?

Q: Thank you. Thank you, General. I have a couple questions. (Inaudible) of U.S. (inaudible) deterrence to South Korea, what is the Pentagon’s assessment of units in South Korea throwing (inaudible) — to (inaudible) to put on the strengthening nuclear guarantees for South Korea, which aims to reemploy U.S. nuclear weapons in (impossible?) way even though (inaudible) to freeze nuclear weapons production?

GEN. RYDER: I’m sorry, Janne, can you repeat that last part. I didn’t fully understand. I want to make sure I get your question right.

Q: I mean, which end to redeploy U.S. nuclear weapons in a (inaudible) way if North Korea refused to nuclear (inaudible).

GEN. RYDER: Got you. Yes, so I don’t want to get into hypotheticals. We’ve been very clear in terms of our commitment to extended deterrence, working very closely with our Republic of Korea allies, our Japanese allies and others in the region to deter.

And we continue to stay very focused on that. We’ll continue to consult closely to make sure that we have the forces in theater to be able to prevent any type of, you know, issue like you highlight. So, I’ll just leave it at that. Thank you very much.

Q: The Defense Ministers of China and Russia created the military cooperation between the two countries at a reasoned confidence in Beijing. And the (inaudible) (inaudible) the United States for the Middle Eastern crisis, saying that it was due to U.S.’s authority (inaudible). Why do China and Russia say that the war (inaudible) is (inaudible) and Hamas. Is it because of the United States?

GEN. RYDER: I’ll let China and Russia speak for themselves. I think their record speaks for itself. Fadi?

Q: Thank you, General. So, on the U.S. assistance to Israel, can you update us on how many shipments you have delivered and the price tag of these shipments so far?

GEN. RYDER: I cannot. I don’t have that information in front of me. As you know, we continue to provide assistance to Israel, pretty much on a daily basis. And we’ll continue to stay focused on communicating them as far as what their needs are. In the future, if we have that information and we’re able to provide it we certainly will. But as of right now I don’t have that.

Q: Is there — I mean, is it an issue of collecting how much you send or is it something else? Because in the case of Ukraine, there is — whenever there’s a new package of assistance the Pentagon announces what’s in it and the price tag. So, this is being offered in the name of American taxpayers and American people.

GEN. RYDER: Yeah, no.

Q: (Inaudible) to know what’s been offered.

GEN. RYDER: Again, I don’t have that information in front of me. As appropriate, we’ll provide it. Certainly, right now, there’s an elimination of operation security. And the mechanisms by which we’re providing assistance to Israel, from a policy and a legal standpoint are a little bit different.

And from a budgetary standpoint are a little bit different than the way we’re providing aid to Ukraine. And so, you know, again, we will make sure that we’re as transparent as possible while also recognizing that there are operations security aspects to this. But like I said, if at an appropriate point in time we have that information to provide and we’re able to we will.

Q: So, you’ll try to offer the information when, if…

GEN. RYDER: Yeah, but I mean, we’ve been very clear in terms of the kinds of capabilities we’re providing, in terms of the types of munitions, medical support, air defense support and those kinds of things.

Q: And if I may, the IDF spokesperson on CNN with Wolf Blitzer, minutes ago, acknowledged that Israel thought it hit (inaudible) refugee camp, where scores of civilians have been killed. The IDF spokesperson said “this is the tragedy of war; we’ve been saying for days move south.” Your own department is saying there are no restrictions on Israel how to use weapons provided by the U.S.

The secretary, today, in his Tweet about his phone call with Mr. Gallant, said he reemphasized the safety of civilians. Wouldn’t the idea of putting some restrictions on how Israel used the weapon actually achieve the target of making sure civilians aren’t being killed the way we’re seeing? I mean, they’re otherwise saying, and this is a quote, “Gaza has become a graveyard for thousands of children.”

GEN. RYDER: Yeah, thanks, Fadi.

So, I can’t speak to individual Israeli strikes. I’ve seen the press reports on that. I don’t have information on that.

You heard Secretary Austin say today that taking civilian safety into account is both a moral and a strategic obligation. And we do care about civilian casualties. And we’ve made it both clear publicly and privately about our concern for the protection of innocent life and the respect for the law of war. And that’s not going to change.

But I also think it’s important to not forget about the common denominator here, which is Hamas, which is a terrorist organization that has taken a page out of the ISIS playbook in terms of brutality and wanton disregard for civility and for human rights.

And not only did they commit a horrific slaughter of Israeli civilians and take more than 200 hostages to use as bargaining chips, but they’ve willfully and deliberately integrated their operations, their command-and-control nodes, armories, rockets, targeting Israel among the innocent Gazan population. Thus, in effect employing them as human shields. And so, it’s Hamas using Palestinians as human shields that is creating this extra challenge for Israel as they conduct their operations. And we’re going to, of course, continue to talk to our Israeli partners about the importance of taking civilian safety into account as they conduct their operations, but we also recognize that they have a responsibility and a duty to their citizens to protect their citizens from future Hamas attacks, and we’re going to continue to support them in that effort.

And as you heard Secretary Austin and Secretary Blinken talk about today, the U.S. government is also going to continue to work very closely with other partners, as well as vetted NGOs, to deliver humanitarian aid to Gaza, to the Palestinians because again, no one wants to see innocent people suffering, whether they be Palestinian or Israeli. Thank you.

Yes, Joe?

Q: Thank you, General. I want to go back to the Houthis attack against Israel. Do you have any additional information in regards to this attack you could share it with us? Was it a missile or a UAV? And also, does the Pentagon consider the Houthis’ activities right now as a threat to Israel, or it — or if it could be extended to go whole region?

GEN. RYDER: Yeah, thanks, Joe. So I’ll tell you what I know. Right now, we are aware that the Houthis did fire a medium-range ballistic missile or, you know, a cruise missile to — targeting Israel. Israel did take it down. The IDF did take it down. And so I’d certainly refer you to the IDF to talk about that in particular.

This is something that we will continue to monitor. As we’ve said before, we want to prevent a broader regional conflict. We will continue to stay in close contact with our partners in the region to make sure that we continue to do that. But that’s all I’ve got on that at this point. Thanks very much.

Q: (inaudible) there’s a big difference between a ballistic missile and a cruise missile. Which did you say?

GEN. RYDER: This was a — I’ll have to come back to you, Dave. I don’t want to get it wrong. Yeah. But we know that — we know that they have missile — as I’ve mentioned before, they have missiles that can range approximately 2,000 kilometers, so clearly within range of Israel.

Yes, sir?

Q: Thank you. So today, Secretary Austin said that if the U.S. stops supporting Ukraine, Russia will succeed in Ukraine. Do you have additional options for supporting Ukraine’s military in case if Congress does not approve new funding now or in the future?

GEN. RYDER: Yeah, so at this point — I appreciate the question I don’t want to get into the hypotheticals. We will continue to work closely with Congress to get the funding that we need. We’re confident that we can continue to support both Ukraine and Israel.

Q: One more on Ukraine. Could you provide us updates training in Arizona on F-16s and how long approximately can it take for the pilots to complete the course?

GEN. RYDER: Sure. Let me just double check here. So right now, what we expect, graduation completion will be dependent on the individual proficiency of pilots themselves, but we can estimate about five to nine months for them to complete that training.

Q: Five to nine? Five to nine?

GEN. RYDER: Five to nine, yes, sir. Right.

Yes, sir?

Q: Thank you very much, General. The U.S. has been providing military guidance and assistance, and also lethal assistance to Israel, and you’ve made it very clear that you’re talking to your counterparts about, they have to be mindful of loss of civilian life. But also, there are statements coming from both Secretary Austin and also the White House that there’s no conditions set on the use of munition and “the U.S. is not drawing any redlines”, quote/unquote. And would you say that it’s basically a blank check to the Israeli military to do whatever they want because there is support from the United States, and there’s no conditions set? And would you say that it’s time to perhaps start warning them about consequences to (inaudible), you know, recommendations?

GEN. RYDER: Well, I think Secretary Austin did talk about his consultation with his Israeli counterpart and again, across the board about the importance of taking civilian safety into account in order to think through the second-/third-order effects here, right? And so again, we’re providing these munitions to Israel to support their efforts to protect their civilians from further terrorist attacks. The Israeli Defense Forces are a professional military. They’re engaged in the campaign to defeat ISIS (sic) and prevent them from doing what they did on October 7th, and as we’ve said, we support their right to defend themselves against terrorism, but in a way that upholds the laws of war and protects silliness — civilians. And so again, as I highlighted earlier, the challenge in all of this is the fact that you see Hamas embedding themselves among the Gazan population.

And so again, we’re going to continue to relay to our Israeli partners that they must distinguish between terrorist and innocent civilians as they root out Hamas, and they’ve acknowledged that. Thank you.

Q: Just a follow-on, a quick question. It sounds like a valid point that Hamas is using these civilians as human shields. That’s why there are these casualties, but we’re talking about thousands of civilians. So are you able to pick out the ones that the Israelis are saying, OK — I mean, they’re right. You know, like, they’re being used as human shields, and it is air strikes specifically. They actually haven’t upheld the laws of war. Is the DOD able to make that differentiation?

GEN. RYDER: Look, I’ll let the Israelis speak to their own specific operations. We know that they’re not deliberately targeting civilians, unlike Hamas, which did deliberately target civilians and is deliberately using civilians as human shields. And so again, this is what creates a very challenging operational environment, and again, for our part, we will continue to communicate the importance of taking the laws of war into account, as well as protecting civilians.

Let me go to the phone here. Jared from Al Monitor?

Q: Hey, sir. Just wondering if you can confirm. The 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit and the Amphibious Ready Group, are they in the Eastern Med yet?

GEN. RYDER: So Jared, what I can tell you right now is they’re still in the U.S. Central Command AOR, Area of Responsibility. Beyond that, I don’t have any updates to provide. If and when there are, we’ll certainly let you guys know when we can. Thank you.

Q: Thanks, sir.

GEN. RYDER: Let me go to Laura Seligman, Politico.

Q: Hey, Pat. Thanks for this. Two questions. First of all, has Secretary Austin spoken with the new House speaker yet on those — like, there’s a couple of things of things I imagine he’d be wanting to talk about, including aid for Ukraine. And then I have a follow-up.

GEN. RYDER: Yeah, thanks, Laura. I will have to get back to you on that. Certainly, the secretary’s on the Hill today. I do not know if he had the chance while he was there to engage with the House speaker, so we’ll come back to you on that one.

Q: OK, thank you. And then a different Q: There was just a story from the New York Times saying that Chris Maier said that there were U.S. Special Operations Forces currently in Israel trying to help locate the hostages. I’m just wondering if that is accurate, or is that — or are the Special Operations Forces the ones that were just offering advice to the Israelis, and are now gone?

GEN. RYDER: Right. My understanding is that these forces are there supporting the advice and intelligence support as it relates to hostage recovery. Thank you.

GEN. RYDER: Ryo?

Q: Thank you very much. One quick question on North Korea. North Korea said they will conduct a military satellite launch by the end of October, but they didn’t. So does the Pentagon assess there are technical issues that North Korea has to resolve for successful satellite launch or do you see indications that North Korea is preparing to conduct satellite launch in the near future?

GEN. RYDER: Yes. Thanks. I appreciate the question. I’m not going to go into intelligence on what we may or may not know as it relates to that. Certainly something we will continue to monitor. Thank you very much. Time for a few more offline and then we’ll (inaudible).

Q: Yesterday a senior defense official said that the administration is asking tough questions. Of course asking Israel tough questions. If you can elaborate on this and especially that doesn’t seem like Israel is taking these advices. And I have another question.

GEN. RYDER: Sure. As I highlighted, I mean we are asking in our consultations, you know, like good friends do and highlighting the importance of being methodical in terms of targeting, taking into account civilian safety, thinking through second and third order effects as I’ve highlighted.

Again, at the end of the day these are Israel’s operations that they are taking to defend themselves against a future terrorist attack like the one they experienced and they’re the ones that are going to make decisions. We’re not directing, advising them on any of that. But again, we’ll continue to have those conversations going forward. Yes, ma’am.

Q: So Hamas is not a conventional party, as you know, and in fact it’s part of the population and it’s unlike ISIS and Al-Qaeda is considered — Hamas is considered as a resistant movement by a majority in the Arab world. My question is from a military point of view, how is it possible to destroy or eliminate Hamas without eliminating an entire population in Gaza?

GEN. RYDER: Yes, so we don’t see the Palestinians as Hamas and Hamas as the Palestinians. And again, I’d go back to October 7th when a terrorist organization essentially killed in cold blood 1400 people and took 200 hostages, again, using those hostages today as a bargaining chip, preventing people from leaving Gaza.

So if you’re so called governing these people but preventing them from leaving Gaza, you know, again — so it is a terrorist group like ISIS and it is the kinds of thing you saw in places like Raqqa and Mosul where there was a population that was being held by an ideological captor.

And so again, we are very focused on making sure that not only does Israel have what it needs to defend itself but also making sure that Palestinians — innocent Palestinians can get the aid that they need and looking forward.

And again, from this podium, the Department of Defense, I’m not going to get into the diplomatic or political realm but we are interested in what does this look like afterwards and how do we get to a two state solution so that Palestinians and Israelis can live safely and securely without the threat of being subjected by a group like Hamas. Thank you.

Yes, sir.

Q: Thank you, sir. Two questions. One, as for Hamas, attack on — surprise attack against Israel on October 7, they didn’t care who they were killing, civilians or non-civilians. Now Israel have a challenge, as you said, that how to separate civilians from the terrorist.

Another thing is that where is the Palestinian government in this war as for Israel’s war against terrorist on their land? And whenever (inaudible) attacked by terrorist whether it’s against the U.S. or India or Israel, those nations except the east or west, we call them terrorist but they call them their freedom fighters. So where —

GEN. RYDER: Yeah, so as it relates to the Palestinian Authority, I’d refer you to them to talk about where they stand on this issue.

And in terms of, you know, the definition between freedom fighter and terrorist group, I get what you’re saying. But any moral high ground was lost on October 7th, when 1,400 innocent civilians, many of them innocent civilians killed, hostages taken. And so again, that’s not the conduct of a professional military that’s looking to defend a population.

And let me go ahead and move on to the phone here. Patty, Task & Purpose?

Q: Hi, Pat. Thank you for doing this. I guess it’s kind of a bigger question. How is the Pentagon seeing the operations in the Middle East? I mean, are we — what’s the operational threshold for us, you know, being considered at war? We’re seeing, you know, movement of troops, movement of military assets and threats on U.S. troops. So I guess, where — how does the Pentagon see all this?

GEN. RYDER: Yeah, thanks, Patty. So again, I think if we take a step back here, right now, we see this conflict in Israel contained to Israel, between Israel and Hamas. We do recognize there are broader tensions in the region as a result of that, which is why we have deployed additional capabilities into the eastern Mediterranean and into the U.S. Central Command Area Of Responsibility to provide us with the options necessary to respond to a wide variety of contingencies. So those forces are really there for two things: one, to deter any escalation of a broader regional conflict, which no one wants to see; and then two, to ensure that we have the forces and capabilities in the theater to protect our forces that are there doing other important national security work like the Defeat ISIS mission, like keeping the lanes of shipping open and working with regional partners on air defense and things like that.

So again, right now, we are working very hard to prevent this from becoming a broader regional conflict. We’re working very hard to make sure that our forces can continue to stay focused on their mission, while at the same time, supporting Israel and their fight to defend themselves from terrorism.

All right, got time for just a couple more. Mike?

Q: Yes, sir, thanks, Pat. You’ve said that the IDF is a professional military. You know they’re not deliberately targeting civilians. Yet it seems like every time somebody from the Pentagon calls Israel, they have to sort of stress not to target civilians and not to — or is it you feel the need to remind them to act in accordance with the law of war. Has Israel done anything that would lead this building to assume that it’s an alien concept to them? They’ve been around as a standing army for 70-something years. And also I don’t recall this emphasis on any of this military support for Ukraine, that he has — did he have to constantly remind his Ukrainian counterpart to follow the rule of law of war in Ukraine?

GEN. RYDER: Thanks, Mike. So I — I’m not going to compare and contrast the conflicts in Ukraine and Israel. I think, you know, we’ve all watched how those have played out. I think at the risk of coming across as — and I don’t mean this to come across like I don’t understand what you’re asking. Clearly, everyone’s watching the television and seeing the situation as it plays out in terms of humanitarian situation in Gaza. We recognize that. So you and other members of the press can ask very legitimate questions in terms of what is the Department of Defense saying and doing as it relates to that situation? So that is why we’re highlighting the fact that these conversations are taking place, because it is a topic on people’s minds, and it’s a legitimate topic. And again, as I mentioned, we recognize the complexity of this conflict. We recognize the emotions surrounding this conflict, but we also think it’s important to have a broader understanding of why we’re supporting Israel, why it’s important to support Israel but at the same time why it’s important to also help the humanitarian situation in Gaza.

And to sort of see through the smoke screen here that Hamas is attempting to put up when it comes to the situation. So that’s what I would have to offer you on that.

All right, let me get a last question. We’ll do John and then — actually will go to (Jim).

Q: Thanks. I just wanted to get a quick clarification on something. You said that U.S. air and missile defenses in the Middle East include directed energy weapons. Were those systems that had already been deployed there?

GEN. RYDER: I said we have a wide variety in our inventory of the U.S. Military that includes directed energy weapons. I didn’t say specifically what we’ve got employed and where.

Q: So you won’t say whether they’re in the Middle East?

GEN. RYDER: Yeah, not at this time. I’m just not going to go into what we’re using and how we’re using it. I mean you know you and I both have been over there quite a few times. You’ve seen we’ve got a variety of capabilities to include CIWS and things like that. So I’m just not going to go through a breakdown, especially while we have forces that are, you know, over there right now.

So last question, Jim.

Q: General, I’d just like to go over to Ukraine a little bit. It’s winter in Ukraine now. Are operations slowing down? What are the Ukrainians telling you? And the training that the United States and the coalition put together for the Ukrainian units in Germany and in other places, is that contingent on the supplemental being passed also? 

GEN. RYDER: Yes, thanks, Jim. So again, I — you know when it comes to providing an operational update, I’d refer you to the Ukrainians. I would say largely speaking what we see are the Ukrainians making some incremental gains. They are making forward progress.

We are seeing in some places the Russians attempting offensive operations with limited affect. I think NSC provided a briefing the other day that talked about some of the issues there. All that to say though you do see the Russians attempting to move forward in some areas.

And so again, right now we continue to stay focused on making sure that Ukraine has what it needs in order to capitalize on the situation, have the battlefield effects that are necessary to not only preserve territory but take back sovereign territory.

As it — in regards to training we are continuing to conduct training at Grafenwohr (Germany). I will have to get back to you though in terms of the specifics on how far out that training will go. But certainly the supplemental funding will support those efforts for the long term.

And I think the last thing I’d say on this, and it’s important point, is we’re not only focused on the near term. We are focused on the long term defense cooperation and relationship with Ukraine and ensuring that they have what they need to be able to deter future attacks from Russia and maintain their sovereignty long term.

So thank you very much everybody. Appreciate it.

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