Nov 10, 2022

Pentagon discusses Ukraine war during briefing Transcript

Pentagon discusses Ukraine war during briefing Transcript
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Pentagon discusses Ukraine war during briefing. Read the transcript here.

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Patrick Ryder (00:13):

Hey, good afternoon, everybody. All right. Just a few items to pass along, then we’ll go ahead and get to your questions. Let me go ahead and… All right. So, today the USS Gerald, our Ford Carrier Strike Group, is participating in exercise Silent Wolverine in the Eastern Atlantic Ocean, along with six NATO ally nations in support of multi-domain carrier training and to enhance integrated NATO interoperability and deterrents. Exercise participants include the United States, Canada, Denmark, Germany, France, the Netherlands, and Spain. Silent Wolverine demonstrates the US commitment to supporting regional stability and security through seamless interchangeability amongst participating NATO allies. The exercise will conclude on November 14.

Separately, opening ceremonies for exercise Malabar 2022 commenced today as well and will be followed by scheduled at-sea exercises involving naval ships, aircraft, and personnel from Australia, India, Japan, and the United States in the Philippine Sea off the coast of Japan. Malabar 2022 is a surface, air, and subsurface multilateral field training exercise between the Japan Maritime Self Defense Force, Indian Navy, Royal Australian Navy, and the US Navy with the objective to enhance interoperability between participating maritime forces, strengthen critical partnerships, and further demonstrate DOD presence in the Indo-Pacific region. Malabar is an annual maritime exercise dating back to 1992 with the Indian Navy as a bilateral partner, and the exercise will conclude on November 15th.

Finally, the Department of Defense continues to consult closely with allies and partners on Ukraine’s security assistance needs and support of their fight to defend their country. As you’re aware, we announced additional security assistance for Ukraine on Friday under the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative worth approximately $400 million. In an earlier USAI tranche announced in July, we highlighted that we would provide two NASAMS for delivery to Ukraine, which we can confirm have been delivered, as you’ve probably seen the Ukrainians announce. These systems will contribute to Ukraine’s air defense capabilities and will help protect the Ukrainian people against Russian aerial attacks to include those conducted by unmanned aerial vehicles or cruise missiles. And with that, I will take your questions. We’ll start on the phones with Tara [inaudible 00:02:41], AP.

Tara (02:43):

Hey, thanks for doing this. I wanted to ask about the reports that Russia is now seeking Iranian ballistic missiles, and whether or not the Pentagon can confirm that, and if it changes the calculation as to whether the Pentagon would consider providing Ukraine ATACMS.

Patrick Ryder (03:01):

Yeah, thanks very much, Tara. So again, we don’t have any updates to provide from what we’ve previously said, which is that we don’t have any information to corroborate right now that Iran has delivered ballistic missiles to Russia for use in Ukraine, although we do have concerns that they may seek to acquire that capability due to supply shortages in Russia’s own arsenal. So it’s something that we’ll continue to keep a close eye on. Excuse me one second here. When it comes to things like ATACMS or other types of capabilities, as we’ve mentioned previously, we continue to have a ongoing and robust dialogue with the Ukrainians, with our allies, and with our partners, in terms of what Ukraine’s battlefield needs are. And so, while I don’t have anything new to announce today, that is something that we’ll continue to take very seriously as the fight progresses to ensure that they have the capabilities to defend their country. Thank you. Okay, Laura.

Laura (04:05):

Thanks for doing this. I wanted to go back to the arrival of the NASAMS for a second. Can you give us some more details on what that capability means for Ukraine? What kind of range do these weapons have? How much of the battlefield will both of the two be able to cover, and what kind of difference will this make?

Patrick Ryder (04:24):

Yeah, so for a lot of those details, as I’m sure you can appreciate, I’ll refer you to the Ukrainians to talk about their specific emplacement as well as how they intend to employ them exactly. I don’t want to get into those details for operation security reasons. I will say, though, that it does provide a significant air defense capability in the sense that it can protect against, as I mentioned, UAV attacks, both armed and unarmed. It can defend against helicopters, cruise missiles, as well as crude aircraft. Basically any type of advanced aerial threat that Russia may try to employ against Ukrainian targets or civilians. So it does add an extra arrow to the quiver, so to speak, for Ukrainian air defense, along with a lot of the other capabilities that have been provided to help them defend their country. And it’s, as you know, not just the United States that’s providing those capabilities. Thank you.

Laura (05:26):

And what kind of training has been done to train the Ukrainians on how to use those systems? Is that training finished already? Can they employ them immediately?

Patrick Ryder (05:36):

Correct. So as part of this process, when we provide capabilities to the Ukrainians, they will receive training on how to operate and maintain that capability. So they did recently complete that training. It was conducted in Europe. I can say that. I’m not going to say where. We’ll defer to that country to talk about that. But they did complete training, and so those systems are now in Ukraine and operational. Thank you. Sir.

Speaker 1 (06:04):

Along with those NASAMS, are there contractors that are working in country in Ukraine right now? You didn’t answer that question last week. And can you talk about the training for the HAWKS that are going to be needed?

Patrick Ryder (06:13):

Yeah, so I’m not aware of any contractors, at least from the United States, that are in country in Ukraine. As far as HAWKS, for the United States, the HAWKS that we announced on Friday, those will be refurbished. So that’s a munition that will be provided. In terms of the HAWK system, we’ll have to get back to you on that. I know that Spain, for example, is providing that capability. So we’ll have to get back to you in terms of whether or not it’s Spain that will be providing that training or some other country. Thank you. Janie, and then I’ll go to the phone.

Janie (06:48):

Thank you, sir. Right after the US in South Korea joint air exercise is over, the commander of North Korean military issued the statement saying that he would soon retaliate more seriously against the South Korean and United States. Does this mean that North Korea can use nuclear weapons? How will the US response to this?

Patrick Ryder (07:18):

Yeah, so I’m not going to speak for North Korea. We’ve been very clear that the use of nuclear weapons would be unacceptable, and we continue to consult very closely with our ROK and Japanese allies, and other allies and partners in the region. But beyond that, I’m not going to speculate about a hypothetical.

Janie (07:39):

One more on the EMP, electromagnetic pulse, and the North Korea also mentioned about possibility of an EMP attack. How will the United States preparing for possible North Korea EMP

Janie (08:00):


Patrick Ryder (08:00):

Yeah. Thanks, Janie. So, as you know, we prepare for a variety of contingencies and situations. Again, I’m not going to get into specifics about any particular tactics, techniques, or procedures other than to say that we regularly conduct exercises, training, sharing of information with our ROK allies and other allies in the region on how to work together, how to ensure that we’re interoperable and be prepared to respond in defense of our mutual interests. And in this particular case, the Republic of Korea.

Janie (08:34):

[inaudible 00:08:35].

Patrick Ryder (08:34):

Thank you. Let me go ahead and move on. Tony?

Tony (08:37):

I want to go back to NASAM a second.

Patrick Ryder (08:39):


Tony (08:39):

Where are the missiles coming from, though? They fire six AMRAAMs at a time. Are those already in theater? Have they come from 8th Air Force and Navy stocks? And will future AMRAAMs for the NASAM be part of a PDA package?

Patrick Ryder (08:56):

So, without getting into the specific details, what I would tell you, Tony, is it’s from a variety of sources to include US stocks and those of various allies and partners.

Tony (09:08):

Will they be in the future PDAs, so drawn on from Air Force and Navy stocks, then [inaudible 00:09:12]-

Patrick Ryder (09:12):

Well, I don’t want to speculate, but certainly if there’s something to announce, we’ll be sure to do it.

Tony (09:17):

Yeah. Integrated air defense, the secretaries talked about the importance today. This is a NATO system. What are the challenges of integrating this NATO standard system into a Ukrainian air defense system that’s largely Soviet-era SA-6s and S7s and whatevers?

Patrick Ryder (09:33):

Well, certainly, as you highlight, any air defense system is going to be complex by is very nature because you’re integrating a lot of different aspects to include the ability to detect, the ability to respond. And so, that is an area that will continue to work and consult with the Ukrainians on. But as evidenced by their success rate and for example, the Iranian UAVs, they’ve been able to shoot down a significant percentage of those. They’ve also done a fairly good job of taking down Russian missiles.

So, as you can see, they’re employing the capabilities that they have very well, but we’re available and we’ll continue to consult with them on how to best integrate that as they convert using some Soviet-era, Soviet-built type equipment with, as you point out, Western modern NATO systems.

Tony (10:22):

Thank you.

Patrick Ryder (10:23):

Thanks. Sir. And then I promise I’m going to go to the phone. I am not forgetting about you guys.

Speaker 2 (10:26):

Thanks, Pat. The Pentagon is working on a UAP report to Congress. I think it was due on Halloween. Has any version of that report, either classified or unclassified been delivered? And if not, do you have an ETA on when that might be sent up to The Hill?

Patrick Ryder (10:43):

Yeah, thanks. So, my understanding is that report is being prepared by the office of the DNI, Director of National Intelligence. So, I’d refer you to them in terms of the status. So, I’m afraid I won’t have anything further until that report comes up.

Speaker 2 (10:57):

If I could just follow up, there’s been some reporting that Chinese drones may be monitoring US military operations. Has the Pentagon UAP office, I think it’s called AARO now, has it discovered that China is using drones to watch US forces or gather information as part of this UAP process?

Patrick Ryder (11:21):

Sure. I don’t have any information on that at the moment, but we’ll look into that and come back to you. Thanks very much.

Okay. Let me go to Idrees from Reuters.

Idrees (11:31):

Hey, Pat. Has the secretary had any conversations with anyone at the White House about leaving his post after the midterm elections? And is him continuing in his job contingent on today’s election in any way?

Patrick Ryder (11:46):

Idrees, so, to answer your first question, no. And again, I’m not going to speculate about what the future may bring. The secretary’s focus right now is on leading the Department of Defense and ensuring the national security of our nation. Thank you.

All right. Let me go to Eric Schmitt, New York Times.

Eric Schmitt (12:07):

Thanks, Pat. You said you don’t have any evidence yet that the Iranians have sent any kind of ballistic missiles to the Russians and Ukraine, but Ukrainian officials have now said there is a deal. They’ve confirmed that such a deal is in place with deliveries to come in November. Can you confirm that this deal is in place with deliveries to come? And then I have a second question.

Patrick Ryder (12:29):

Thanks Eric. Again, I can’t corroborate that information. I think I’ve mentioned before when we see Iranian ballistic missiles being employed on the battlefield in Ukraine, we will do what we can to illuminate that. It does, again, though, point to the fact that Russia and Iran have a security assistance relationship as evidenced by their employing Iranian drones on the battlefield. It’s very concerning and it does demonstrate the fact that both of these countries right now are targeting innocent civilians in Ukraine and extending the length of this conflict needlessly.

Eric Schmitt (13:10):

The second question is related to this is that there’s some media reports that the Russians sent over a hundred million British pounds as well as three different kinds of Western weapon systems, Javelin and others that were recovered in the battlefield. They were sent to Iran in exchange for some of the drones that they got. Can you confirm that?

Patrick Ryder (13:37):

Thanks, Eric. I have seen the press report, but I don’t have any information to provide on that. Thank you. Okay, let come back to the room here. Ma’am?

Speaker 3 (13:47):

Is there any plan to send battle-ready or battle-hardened energy resources to Ukraine as they face this really terrible, difficult winter ahead-

Patrick Ryder (14:03):


Speaker 3 (14:03):

… with a lot of their infrastructure destroyed?

Patrick Ryder (14:05):

Yeah. No, thanks for the question. As you highlight, these Russian missile strikes have taken out a significant portion of Ukraine’s energy grid. It’s affected hydro electricity capabilities. And so, while I don’t have anything to announce today, I can say that this is under discussion in terms of how the US and allies and partners can assist. And again, without getting ahead, looking at things like generators, water purification, heaters, things like that. So when we have something in announce, we’ll be sure to put that out. Thank you. Sir.

Speaker 4 (14:44):

Thank you, sir. General, regarding to Iraq, recently a US citizen has been killed in Baghdad. How much you have a concern about the security situation in this country and the stability in the region, especially for the US citizen and US interest is there. Everybody knows there is some US soldiers in Iraq. How the DOD have concerns? Do you have high concerns about their safety in Iraq, especially in the region? And my last question, does Iran still threaten the US interests and allies in the region? Thank you.

Patrick Ryder (15:23):

Yeah. Thanks very much. So, in terms of the reports about a US citizen being killed in Baghdad, to my knowledge, this person was not associated with the US military. So, I’d refer you to the State Department or the embassy there for any questions on that.

In terms of US personnel assigned in Iraq, certainly force protection and the safety of our service members is always a priority. And there’s no specific concerns out of the standard when we’re deployed overseas. And so, again, we’ll continue

Patrick Ryder (16:00):

Need to place an emphasis on force protection and working closely with our Iraqi partners, who, by the way, were there at their invitation. So hopefully that helps to address. Thank you very much. Tom.

Tom (16:13):

Thanks sir. Today there were news reports, as they have recently at the Russians are apparently moving civilians out of Kherson and other areas for whatever reason does, depending on know where those civilians are being relocated. Are they in occupied Ukraine or Russia?

Patrick Ryder (16:29):

So I don’t have any information on that specifically, Tom. Again, we continue to keep an eye on the situation there. From what we’ve seen in terms of Russian forces specifically near Kherson as we’ve previously mentioned, they’re digging in and preparing their defenses. In terms of civilians moving out of that area. Again, we’ve seen what Russia has said on that, something that we continue to monitor. We do assess that it’s not been large scale in terms of the numbers of civilians, but again, we’ll continue to keep an eye on that.

Tom (17:04):

Thank you.

Patrick Ryder (17:05):

Thank you. Let me go back to the phone. Joe Gould Defense News.

Joe Gould (17:09):

Thanks Pat, I appreciate it. Wanted to ask you if you can react to ABC’s reporting that Ukraine is asking for C-RAM systems? It’s a trailer mounted gun and radar system said to be cheaper than NASAMS as a means of fighting back against the drones that are striking civilian infrastructure. Is that something that the Pentagon is considering?

Patrick Ryder (17:36):

Thanks Joe. I did see the report. What I would tell you, again, we will take into account a lot of different considerations and systems as we explore Ukraine’s security assistance needs. Process-wise, the way that works is Ukraine’s Minister of Defense provides its list to the Department of Defense, which we then consult with a variety of teammates within the government and our allies and partners in terms of fulfilling those needs. So again, air defense continues to be a priority. It’s something that we will speak about with our Ukrainian partners, with our allies in terms of how we can best support them. So when we do have something new to announce that we haven’t already, we’ll be sure to put that out. Thank you. Let me go to Alex Horton, Washington Post.

Alex Horton (18:33):

Hey. Thanks Pat. We’ve heard from folks in the building who said the next two to three weeks is pretty important for Ukraine to enlarge the ground they’re taking, especially in the South. Can you give us sort of a military strategy viewpoint of what they need to accomplish, what are some of the challenges they face as they head into the winter? And two on the Russian defenses that they’re building that you just mentioned, can you also give us a military analysis on those preparations, what they look like and what they’re intended to do? Thank you.

Patrick Ryder (19:09):

Yeah, thanks Alex. Well, as I’m sure you can appreciate, I don’t want to get in to any future operations or speak for the Ukrainians when it comes to what they plan to do on the ground in Ukraine. Broadly speaking, the challenges I think that they will confront are the weather, as we get further into winter aspects like the terrain, weather, mud, snow, ice are going to present challenges not only for the Ukrainians, but also for the Russians. So you continue to see Ukraine press their counter offensive to take advantage of time and in the meantime, not surprisingly, you continue to see Russians try to solidify their defenses and hold the territory that they have. So our focus will continue to be on supporting the Ukrainians in that fight as we go into the wintertime so that they have the best chance of taking back their territory. Thank you. Let me go to Patrick Tucker, Defense One.

Patrick Tucker (20:24):

Hey, thanks for doing this. Over the summer the Ukrainians were using and the coalition was providing a lot of 155 rounds, and the Ukrainians were using them pretty much as quickly as they could get them. From the Pentagon’s perspective, are the Ukrainians continuing to use 155 rounds at the same pace that they were at the beginning of the summer counter offensive? And also officials at the Pentagon and also in Europe were talking about the stockpiles of those rounds getting sort of low from their perspective. If there’s a pause, is there a plan now to replenish some of those 155 stockpiles or what does the stockpile situation look like? Thanks.

Patrick Ryder (21:08):

Thanks Patrick. So on your latter question first, we’re going to continue to work with our allies and our partners to explore Ukraine’s ammunition needs. And we’re going to continue to ensure that they have the ammunition that they need to be successful on the battlefield. As you know, we recently had our national armaments directors meet to discuss not only how best to support the Ukrainians, but also to ensure that our own domestic stockpiles were replenished. So in other words, United States and our allies and our partners. And so that will be work that continues to be ongoing for the foreseeable future.

In regards to the Ukrainian’s use of ammunition on the battlefield. Again, as I’m sure you can appreciate, I’m not going to get into munition expenditure rates for operation security reasons, and so I’ll refer you to the Ukrainians on that. Thank you. Sir, that’s you Mike.

Mike (22:09):

Okay, thanks. Okay. There are some reports that President Zelensky says he’s open to talking to the Russians in some cases. Is the Pentagon supporting this and is the administration is a support for Ukraine in any way contingent on him talking to the Russians?

Patrick Ryder (22:29):

Yeah, Thanks Mike. So our focus, as I mentioned, is on supporting Ukraine with its security assistance needs, and we’re going to continue to do that. In terms of the topic of negotiations, Ukraine will decide when they’re ready to negotiate. Our focus is on trying to ensure they have the security assistance and the capability that they need to defend their sovereign territory and have a strong position when it does come to talks. Thank you. Okay, let me go back out to the phone here. Howard Altman.

Howard Altman (23:02):

Yeah, thanks Pat. I have a couple questions. First one is on in Kherson, the [inaudible 00:23:10] imagery is showing that the Russians are building along lines of defensive, almost like Atlantic wall kinds of fortifications, gun pits, et cetera. Are three levels on the Eastern Bank of the Dnipro. Is the Pentagon seeing this and does that give you any indication of Russian plans? And then I have another question.

Patrick Ryder (23:31):

So as I mentioned, we do know that the Russians are establishing defenses. Again in terms of what their plans may be, it could be one of two things, Howard, and I’m going to break my rule and I’m going to speculate here a little bit. It could be that they are looking to defend that territory for the long term, or it could be part of a rear guard action as they look

Patrick Ryder (24:00):

… look to retrograde out of that area. Regardless, you continue to see the Ukrainian supply pressure on them, and as I’ve mentioned, our focus is on ensuring they have what they need on the battlefield right now to be successful. So, something that we’ll continue to keep an eye on. But that’s about as much as I’m going to be able to provide right now. Thank you.

Howard Altman (24:20):

So my second question is, the Ukrainian head of the intel told me that the Iranian missiles that are coming to Ukraine are much more accurate and dangerous than the Russian missiles. Has Ukraine asked for any additional missile defense systems, and can you tell me the status of that request and what can be fulfilled?

Patrick Ryder (24:46):

Yeah, thanks Howard. Again, I don’t have anything to announce. As I mentioned, we have regular dialogue with the Ukrainians in terms of what their needs are. And so that includes a variety of capabilities from artillery to armor to air defense. And so again, when we have something new to announce in that regard, we certainly will. Thank you. Okay. Let me go to Heather from USNI.

Heather (25:18):

Thank you so much. I was wondering if you can give us any more detail about Silent Wolverine and Ford’s participation in there. And then I was wondering if you have any comments about the Russian drone strike on a patrol boat, a Ukrainian patrol boat that happened, I believe over the weekend.

Patrick Ryder (25:39):

Okay, thanks Heather. So for the exercise, I’d refer you to INDOPACOM or the Navy. They should be able to provide you with, excuse me, I’m sorry, UCOM or the Navy. They should be able to provide you with more details on that and I’m afraid I don’t have any details on the drone strike. Thank you. Janne.

Janie (26:04):

Thank you, sir. Just for… About the EMP, North Korea think EMP is easier than nuclear weapons use. And to consider about this as much as North Korea use nuclear weapon?

Patrick Ryder (26:19):

I’m sorry, Janne, can you repeat that last part?

Janie (26:23):

Last part is North… The first part is a follow up to the other, North Korea think EMP is easier than nuclear use. So United States now consider about this?

Patrick Ryder (26:37):

Yeah, again, we train and prepare and plan for globally a wide range of potential contingencies and operations. So again, while I’m not going to speak for North Korea or any threats that they may have made, again, we continue to work very closely with our Republic of Korea allies and our Japanese allies and those in the region to ensure the safety and security.

I think it’s important to highlight here our focus is on ensuring a safe, secure, stable Indo-Pacific region, a free and open Indo-Pacific region, which certainly seems to be at odds with the kind of rhetoric that we see coming out of North Korea. And so again, we would call on the North Koreans to engage in dialogue and to ensure a safe and stable Indo-Pacific region. Thank you. All right, let me go to Seungmin Lee, RFA.

Seungmin Lee (27:41):

Yes, I have a question, North Korea too. In this report that US and South Korea and Japan made an agreement on major to respond if North Korea conduct nuclear test, which is like a deploying aircraft carrier and unilateral sanction on North Korea. So can you confirm this or can you tell me what possible measure address is considered to take if North Korea conduct a nuclear test?

Patrick Ryder (28:09):

Yeah, thanks Seungmin. Again, we’ve been very clear that the use of nuclear weapons is unacceptable and we are going to continue to consult very closely with our ROC and Japanese allies. But in terms of potential responses, I’m not going to go into details. Thank you. Okay, Mike Brest from Washington Examiner.

Mike Brest (28:36):

Hi. Thanks for taking my question. Last week John Kirby said that the US had intelligence to indicate North Korea had attempted to provide weapons to them, or to Russia, excuse me, but was unable to say clearly whether or not they had been received. Could you provide an update for us?

Patrick Ryder (28:53):

Yeah, thanks Mike. So I will tell you that I’m not going to have anything new to provide beyond what the NSC, and as you highlight the information we have is that the DPRK is covertly supplying Russia with a significant number of artillery shells. We’ll continue to monitor that situation, but I’m not going to have any additional details to provide beyond that. Thank you. Okay, let me go to Mike and then one more on the phone.

Mike (29:26):

Some of the Republican leaders up on the Hill are saying that they’re open to continued support for Ukraine, but that there won’t be a quote unquote blank check. Is the Pentagon ready, assuming the election turns out where the Republicans take over one or more houses of Congress, is the Pentagon ready for the change of process of doing support with Republicans in control of the legislature?

Patrick Ryder (29:55):

Yeah, thanks Mike. So I don’t want to get ahead of the election results. Certainly the Department of Defense will continue to work very closely with Congress on this very important issue, Ukraine security assistance. As I’ve mentioned before, we have very much appreciated the bipartisan support of Congress. And so going ahead, we’ll continue to communicate and work very closely with Congress and the rest of the US government when it comes to support for Ukraine. Thank you. And let me go to one last question on the phone here. George Castle from the Independent.

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