Apr 28, 2022
Pentagon press secretary John Kirby holds a news briefing 4/27/22 Transcript
Pentagon press secretary John Kirby holds a news briefing 4/27/22. Read the transcript here.
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… the howitzers that you’re sending to Ukraine, the 90. Can you update us on where that stands, and are you confident that they’ll be able to get enough of them there fast enough to make a difference in this offensive?
John Kirby: (00:13)
I would tell you today, without giving whole numbers, more than half of those howitzers are in Ukraine.
Are in Ukraine?
John Kirby: (00:21)
Are in Ukraine.
And the training part of it, is that-
John Kirby: (00:24)
Well, we’re on a second tranche of training here, Bob. We finished up early this week the first tranche of more than 50 trainers that are going to go in and train their teammates. And we’re working on a second tranche here of training. I’m not sure if that second tranche has actually begun yet. I’ll have to check and get back to you on that. But there was another tranche of more than 50 that we’re going to go through training in the same location outside Ukraine. And then we are also part of the discussion yesterday was to explore additional training opportunities on that system, as well as other systems. And so we’re just not in a position where we can announce anything, but the training’s ongoing.
The first 50 are done, you say, and have gone back out?
John Kirby: (01:08)
Yeah, they finished up earlier this week. Yeah. Mm-hmm (affirmative). Travis.
Thanks, John. I wanted to ask you about recruiting, and I know that that’s an issue usually handled by the services, but our colleague over on The Hill, Leo Shane, is reporting that at a [SASC 00:01:23] hearing today, the chair said that he’s worried that we’re in the early days of a long term threat to the all volunteer force. He said every single metric tracking the military recruiting environment is going in the wrong direction. And so I’m just wondering if this is something that’s risen to the Secretary’s level. Is he earned, and does this need some kind of global approach within the department?
John Kirby: (01:47)
It absolutely has risen to the Secretary’s attention. In fact, I think it was last week he had a chance to meet with the service secretaries. Obviously, they meet on multiple topics. One of the topics was recruiting, because he wanted an update from them on where they all are. And while none of the services reported sort of in extremis conditions, clearly the service secretaries and the services aren’t taking anything for granted in the recruiting environment. And it can be a tough environment, particularly when COVID has prevented recruiters from being able to do that face-to-face contact that you want to have. And that’s beginning to loosen up now, as we start to come out of the pandemic. But it had a huge effect on their ability just to connect with people.
John Kirby: (02:43)
And the economy, which continues to improve. And so you’ve seen the unemployment numbers yourself, so there’s plenty of jobs out there. And then there’s always the issue, which has been almost a perennial issue now for much of the last 20 years, is just the number of young Americans who can meet the basic standards to come in. That continues to be a challenge. So look, recruiting numbers are often lagging indicators. When you start to really get down to bare metal, then you’re well past the problem set and the numbers are probably going to get worse. I would let the services speak for where they are. The Secretary doesn’t want to get us down to bare metal, and he wants to make sure that we’re staying ahead of recruiting challenges because they’re real. And so we’re working on that. And the Secretary is 100% committed to making sure that we continue to recruit the best possible force that we can for the American people, for the defense of the country.
John Kirby: (03:51)
Whether or not he thinks there’s some sort of overarching policy umbrella … I mean, he believes that, as Secretary of Defense, he enough authorities to direct the services with respect to every aspect of how they spend budget to include recruiting and retention. And so he’s very comfortable with his own authorities here. And he also recognizes that the services have unique recruiting demands, not just in terms of numbers, but in terms of skill sets. And he doesn’t want to overly dictate to them how they manage their workforce, but it is absolutely on his mind. He has had a good session with the service secretaries, and I fully expect that they’ll be more going forward.
And we’ve seen the services rolling out bonuses and efforts to bring people in. Was there a sense at that meeting that there needs to be kind of like a rethink about how the military is doing this, that whatever it’s been doing isn’t quite working and that we need to figure out a better way?
John Kirby: (04:53)
I think each service is working that through in real time. And, again, the Secretary didn’t expect from them fingertip feel solutions right in the moment. He wanted to express that he, too, is concerned, making sure that recruiting is healthy going forward. He wanted to get their assessments. And I’ll let them and the services speak for themselves, but they each offered him a view of where they are in recruiting. And I think all participants agreed that this is an issue worth constantly staying on top of and discussing going forward. But there was no individual solutions put forth in that discussion. Courtney.
Do you have any information about Trevor Reed and whether he’ll come back to the DC area and get any kind of medical care in the military?
John Kirby: (05:40)
I’m afraid at this time, I do not have information on Mr. Reed. I mean, obviously we all at the Department are glad to see him back and to be reunited with his family where he belongs. But this is really a State Department issue to speak to, not a DOD issue.
The only reason I ask is it’s pretty common that if somebody’s held hostage, I know he wasn’t necessarily hostage, but that they are brought into military medical care afterwards. So do you have any indications at all that he’s either eligible for that or if that’s even under consideration?
John Kirby: (06:07)
I would let the State Department and Mr. Reed’s family speak to that. I mean, clearly, Court, as you know, if there was a role we could play from a military medical perspective, we absolutely would do that. That’s not unusual at all. But at this time, I just don’t have much more detail on whatever medical care he’s going to need and where that would be. But if there’s an appropriate role for the United States military to play in helping assess and restore his health, we absolutely would do that. Phil.
You’ve said for a long time that there are not US troops in Ukraine. With the return of diplomats, and there was a team there yesterday in Lviv, is that still the case? Is that something you can still say? Or are there going to be certain numbers of troops there to ensure diplomatic security?
John Kirby: (06:57)
I think we’re going to be having constant conversations here with our State Department colleagues about what their diplomatic activities are going to entail, and to what degree they might need support from the United States military in a force protection mode. Keeping in mind, Phil, that they may not. So we’re just going to take this in steps and we’ll see where it goes. But as you and I speak here, nothing’s changed about our support to US diplomats.
And secondly, is there a sense after the conference in Ramstein yesterday that the Ukrainians have enough munitions right now and artillery and everything they need to repel the Russians in the southeast, or is that still to be determined?
John Kirby: (07:50)
It’s an active kinetic fight there in the Donbas every single day, including this day. And as you, I think, heard when you went in Ramstein, there are real needs that the Ukrainians have to stay active in that fight. And you heard the Secretary say very clearly that we’re going to be trying to meet those needs as best we can, not just from the United States, but other countries as well. That includes munitions. So what I can tell you, Phil, is that munitions continue to flow into Ukraine that the United States is helping coordinate. That continues to flow in there, including while we were overseas just over the last couple of days. And efforts to get those munitions into Ukrainian hands will also continue going forward as they are in a very active fight.
John Kirby: (08:33)
You’re asking, “Do they have enough?” I mean, I think that question is something that changes every hour, depending on their rate of consumption and what is actually going on on the battlefield. So it’d be a difficult question for me to answer here, thousands of miles away at the Pentagon. All I can tell you is that we know they’re expending rounds every single day of all different types and calibers. And we’re doing everything we can. The flow continues to make sure that they can stay in the-
John Kirby: (09:03)
… doing everything we can. The flow continues to make sure that they can stay in the fight.
Speaker 1: (09:06)
Today, right now even, a former master sergeant is meeting with the secretary of the army. He is waiting for compensation for a misdiagnosis while he was in the army. Does the Pentagon have a response to his case and the hundreds of others who are waiting for their repayments here? And why is this taking so long to happen?
John Kirby: (09:25)
Well, look, I won’t talk about the specific case that you’re speaking of. I mean, that’s really for the army to speak to. I’m aware that there is going to be a meeting this afternoon if it hasn’t already happened. And again, I’ll let the army and the family speak to that. As you know, the Military Claims Act is governed by law. We follow the law, and we do the best we can in every case to make sure that all claims are treated fairly and appropriately and judiciously. The secretary takes that responsibility very, very seriously. I can’t speak to the specifics of this individual claim. That wouldn’t be appropriate it here from our podium, but I know that army leadership is certainly mindful of this case, and as you rightly said, I mean, there’s even a meeting today in the army department.
John Kirby: (10:12)
So, look, bottom line, we take our responsibilities under the Claims Act seriously. Nothing’s more important to the secretary than the health and wellbeing of our people and their families, and that’s a sacred obligation, but we have to follow the law, and we absolutely do in every case.
Speaker 1: (10:33)
Is there any way to expedite it because for some of these people, they’re running out of time.
John Kirby: (10:36)
Again, it’s governed by law and very strict, as you would expect there would be, procedure that has to be followed so that claims can be treated impartially and fairly. So while we want to certainly work claims as fast as we can, we don’t want to go so fast that we miss something. And so there has to be a process here, and we have to follow that process.
John Kirby: (11:02)
Again, it’s in the law, too. I mean, we obviously can’t break or bend the law, so all I can tell you without getting into the specifics of this case is we do take that seriously. We follow the law, and we treat every claim seriously and as judiciously as we can.
Speaker 1: (11:22)
And if I may ask one on, switching gears, to the nuclear threat. Do you see a danger in not taking Putin’s threats of nuclear war seriously?
John Kirby: (11:31)
Do I see a danger in not taking the threat seriously? The question presupposes that we aren’t taking the threat seriously, and I think I might challenge that supposition there. You heard the secretary got asked this question yesterday and said very clearly that the rhetoric that we keep hearing from Russian leaders, and just recently with Minister Lavrov, raising the specter of nuclear confrontation is irresponsible. It’s certainly not what you would expect from a modern nuclear power, nor should anybody expect from a modern nuclear power. Nobody wants to see this war escalate anymore than it already has. Certainly nobody wants to see, or nobody should want to see, it escalate into the nuclear realm. And there’s no reason that it should.
John Kirby: (12:17)
Mr. Putin can do the right thing right now by ending the war, moving his forces out of Ukraine, sitting down in good faith with president Zelensky, and coming up with a negotiated settlement. Now, clearly he doesn’t appear interested in doing that because they’re still fighting in the Donbas and in the south. Short of that, raising the specter of nuclear confrontation does nothing for the peace and security of the region, much less the people of Ukraine. And I think we can all understand that escalating this conflict and making it between the United States and Russia is not only not good for our national security or Russian national security, it sure as heck ain’t good for the people of Ukraine.
John Kirby: (12:58)
And so, again, and I go back to what the secretary said yesterday. It’s irresponsible rhetoric. It’s rhetoric beneath what should be the level of conversation by a modern nuclear power. We monitor the threat every single day, including today, and the secretary remains comfortable that we have the appropriate strategic nuclear deterrent posture in place. Yeah.
Speaker 2: (13:27)
John, two questions. One to follow up on Phil’s. How tight are the supplies of non-standard ammunition, the kind of things that Ukraine military uses? And if it’s really tight or if there’s a shortage, are there moves to step up manufacturing? This kind of stuff wasn’t explained from your conference yesterday.
John Kirby: (13:50)
Speaker 2: (13:51)
[crosstalk 00:13:51] manufacture [crosstalk 00:13:53].
John Kirby: (13:53)
Right, we’re not going to talk about specific inventory levels for the Ukrainians. First of all, I’m not going to talk for Ukrainian inventories on anything. That’s really a question better put to them. And clearly, I think you can understand why we wouldn’t necessarily find that level of information and detail in the public realm helpful to Ukraine right now as they’re in an active fight. There was a discussion yesterday at the end of the day. The last session was all about the defense industrial base, not just from the United States, from all the countries that were represented there, and to begin to get a grasp from an international view of what Ukraine’s longer term defense needs might be in a post-war environment specifically.
John Kirby: (14:38)
It was meant to be a broaching session on that, so you heard. The secretary read out the meeting. I can’t do better than he did yesterday. So I can’t give you an active deliverable that came out of the defense industrial base discussion, but I think it’s noteworthy that it was even had here even while Ukraine is still involved in an active war. There was a discussion by 40 nations about their defense industrial bases and how those industrial bases could help address longer term Ukrainian strategic defense needs going forward. But no actual decisions made yesterday that we can speak to.
Speaker 2: (15:20)
Do we know anything about whether the producers, the Western European or countries who can produce non-standard ammunition, are stepping up production?
John Kirby: (15:32)
I think each country’s looking at that on their own, and I can’t speak to all of them.
Speaker 2: (15:37)
Okay. One second thing, different. Apparently, according to Russian videos and stuff like that, there were possibly two Bayraktars drones downed over Russia in the past day or two. I don’t know if you can confirm that. And on top of that, there’s a report that president Zelensky is asking the U.S. for attack drones, including MQ-1s and MQ-9s. Is there a possibility that the U.S. could supply those?
John Kirby: (16:08)
Cannot confirm the reports of downed drones in Russia. I don’t have anything for you on that. And all I would tell you is we have been very transparent about what we are providing Ukraine, very transparent. And we will continue to be transparent with you as decisions are made to provide capabilities to Ukraine going forward, and there will be forward contributions, and we will talk about them.
John Kirby: (16:34)
I am not going to talk about from the podium, deliberations that are ongoing with the Ukrainians about this or that capability. We talk to them every single day, including the last two days, and at the very senior levels as well. And when there are decisions to announce and to speak to about capabilities that we’re going to provide Ukraine, we’ll certainly do that. Yeah.
Speaker 3: (16:55)
And follow up on nuclear, what is the level of concern in this department that Russia might use low yield or a conventional nuclear weapons in Eastern Ukraine?
John Kirby: (17:09)
Low yield or conventional nuclear weapons? I’m not sure I’ve ever heard it described as conventional, but I’m not going to, again, speculate here about what Russia may or may not do with that or any other system. The, rhetoric surrounding nuclear activity, particularly given that this war is now two months old, and there has already been a bloodshed and violence visited upon the Ukrainian people, is irresponsible. It’s irresponsible for a nuclear power to even broach that topic in part of this discussion. And again, I’ll go back to what I said before. We’re monitoring every single day as best we can, and we continue to see nothing that gives us cause to change our strategic nuclear deterrent posture. And we’re confident in our ability to defend the-
John Kirby: (18:03)
… nuclear deterrent posture. And we’re confident in our ability to defend the homeland from that perspective, as well as our allies and partners.
Speaker 3: (18:07)
Secretary [Poston 00:18:10], back in Europe, said that they would like to see Russia weakened in a way that it will not be able to launch another, this type of invasion, against any other country. Do you think that the arms that the United States is currently providing Ukraine will be sufficient to weaken Russia, not to launch another invasion in Europe?
John Kirby: (18:32)
The weapons and systems that the international community is providing Ukraine are designed to help Ukraine defend itself against the Russian invasion. And if you’re asking me have they been effective, I would just offer you to, look, we’re at two months into this war, and Mr. Putin didn’t take Kyiv, he didn’t take Chernev, he hasn’t taken Odessa. And instead of moving on three wide geographically separated lines of axes, now he’s concentrating all his fire and forces in the east and in the south. So he has achieved none of his strategic objectives. So I think that’s proof right there that the kinds of systems that are being provided to Ukraine have had an effect and an ability on their self defense needs.
John Kirby: (19:19)
What the Secretary said yesterday, and I think he was very clear, and we’ve been clear from the very outset of this conflict that we don’t want to see Russia in a position to be able to do this again. That’s what the Secretary was referring to. And there’s nothing new there. We want to see Ukraine be able to defend itself. We want to see Ukraine win. You heard the Secretary talk about that. They believe they can win, and so did every other nation that was in Ramstein, believes that they can win. And we don’t want to see Russia in a position going forward where they haven’t suffered consequences for this unprovoked invasion. And I think that’s what the Secretary was talking about.
John Kirby: (19:55)
Yeah, in the back there.
John Kirby: (19:57)
Oh, hey Joe.
So on Monday there was a $700 million tranche, and more than half of it was financing for allies in Eastern and Central Europe to backfill the equipment that they’ve been sending to Ukraine. I just want to ask you, why does the Pentagon think that this backfill model is promising? What’s the benefit?
John Kirby: (20:26)
Look, I think there’s a lot of nations that are providing capability to Ukraine, and that provision is not risk free in every case. Nations are doing what they can. They’re having to make some tough decisions. Some are just in a better position than others to give more. And so I think it’s the responsible thing for us to do, to have conversation with these allies and partners about what their needs are going to be going forward as well. [inaudible 00:21:01]
Are there industrial based concerns as well? After all, this is maybe Soviet gear getting backfilled with American supplied [crosstalk 00:21:12]-
John Kirby: (21:12)
Not in every case. Not in every case. I mean, right now the focus, Joe, is on making sure they can defend themselves in the fight they’re in, and in the fight they’re in, they are still using what we call non-standard equipment and munitions because that’s what they’re trained on. That’s what they’ve been procuring. That’s what they’re used to operating with. Now, where this goes long term in terms of what standard they’re on, I don’t think Ukraine’s made a decision about that, and you can’t really expect them to have made a decision right now while they’re fighting for their lives. But the whole purpose of having a session yesterday on defense industrial base health and vitality is because we know whatever happens here, however this war ends, the security landscape in Europe has changed, not is changing, not will change. It’s changed now based on what Mr Putin has done.
John Kirby: (22:07)
And so the Secretary thought it would be a useful exercise, because we’re looking at our own industrial base, to ask other nations that were there yesterday their assessment of their defense industrial base and the degree to which there might need to be changes in terms of production of certain systems or not, or accelerations or not, not just based on how to help Ukraine long term, but also to make sure that they can look after their own national security. And so those discussions are ongoing, and I mean, I’m not going to get ahead of where we are.
John Kirby: (22:39)
But in terms of, and this is a really important point, in terms of what Ukraine’s military looks like in a postwar environment, that’s up to Ukraine to decide. They get to decide what systems they want to buy and use. And we’re just not there yet. We’ll see what kinds of decisions they want to make when they’re not actively trying to fend off an invasion. We also have a defense industrial base too that we have to look after, and so we’ve had meetings now with CEOs about some of the very specific systems that we’ve been providing Ukraine, Javelins, Stingers, the Switchblades, and the Secretary wants to keep that dialogue going with the defense industry as well on those and maybe even other systems, because we certainly think that, now that the focus is on the Donbas, this could become a more prolonged conflict, and we want to make sure that our own defense industrial base can continue to support our needs, as well as supporting our efforts to support Ukraine’s needs. It’s a really weird way of saying it, but. Mike.
Speaker 4: (23:52)
John, does the administration believe Israel should provide the Iron Dome system to Ukraine? And if so, are they doing anything to encourage them to do that?
John Kirby: (24:01)
The United States believes that every nation that provides equipment and systems to Ukraine should do it according to their own dictates. These are sovereign decisions, Mike. They’re sovereign decisions.And we respect that. Jim.
John, the secretary ordered thousands of US troops over to defend the Eastern plank of NATO. Has there been any sort of a discussion on how long that deployment’s going to be, and if it would be rotational following on?
John Kirby: (24:32)
There’s been no redeployments as yet of the additional forces that we have sent to Europe, air, maritime, and ground. I shouldn’t say there’s been no [inaudible 00:24:44]. Some ships have come home, some squadrons have come home, but I mean, in terms of the ground forces in particular, they’re still there. The Secretary is in constant communication with General Walters, as well as in the case of the army, the Secretary of the Army and the Chief of Staff and the Chairman, about what that needs to look like going forward.
John Kirby: (25:05)
So I don’t have any announcements for you in terms of redeployment of like the 82nd, for instance, which is where I think you were kind of getting at. And right now, our footprint in Europe, which is now over a hundred thousand, is both permanently based and rotational and temporary. And we’re still working our way through what that’s going to look like in coming months. Clearly, at some point, we’re going to have to make a decision about the 82nd, for instance, and whether they’re replaced or not, we’re just not there yet.
Is that something that probably will wait until the summit in Madrid?
John Kirby: (25:43)
I wouldn’t peg it to Madrid necessarily. The Secretary and the Chairman look at force posture every day, and there are decisions that come up to the Secretary every week about force posture around the world, but including in Europe. And so they look at this continually, and there hasn’t been a decision about other redeployments or replacements just yet.
John Kirby: (26:11)
I will say, though, that, and we’re not at the point now where this is happening, but back to my point to Joe, the security environment is changed now in Europe. And so the secretary does believe that it would be healthy for leadership here at the Department to take a look at our European posture going forward and what that should look like. Now that’s really not a discussion. That’s going to be a series of discussions to include consultations with allies and partners. You can’t just take for granted that you can plop a bunch of soldiers in one country or another. You kind of have to talk to the host nation. And so those kinds of consultations haven’t started yet. But I can tell you that the Secretary wants us to start thinking about what a European footprint should look like going forward, because again, the-
John Kirby: (27:03)
Print should look like going forward because again, the landscape has, has definitely changed. Yeah, I haven’t gone to anybody on the phone yet. Dan Lamothe.
Dan Lamothe: (27:12)
Good afternoon, John. The Canadians announced a day or two ago that they were going to be sending some triple seven artillery rounds. I’m sorry, triple seven artillery pieces and also some Excaliber rounds specifically. That’s an American capability. It occurred to me the Pentagon might be sending those as well. Can you clarify if that’s the case and then speak more broadly to Pentagon efforts to send precision artillery rounds specifically? Thanks.
John Kirby: (27:41)
Yeah, Dan, I think again, we’ve been very transparent about what we’re sending. You can see it up on our website, and I’m not going to go beyond that. What we’ve said we’re sending triple seven Howitzers, and I told Bob earlier, more than half of them are already in Ukraine, and they’re continuing to move. And obviously we’ve talked about 155 millimeter rounds to go with those Howitzers, and they continue to flow into Ukraine. Between the two tranches, between PDA seven and eight, you’re talking about almost 190,000 rounds total of 155 millimeter artillery, but I’m not going to go beyond that in terms of specificity. John Ismay.
John Ismay: (28:34)
Hi there. One of my Capitol Hill colleagues flagged that there’s lend-lease bill for Ukraine that may be heading to the president’s desk for signature later this week. But I want to know if there’s been any discussion about how this could possibly offer any additional permissions that the Pentagon doesn’t already have now.
John Kirby: (28:50)
John, great question, but I’m not going to get ahead of pending legislation, and I’m certainly not going to get ahead of the president’s decision with respect to that. What our focus is right now is on meeting our responsibilities under the presidential drawdown authorities that we’re executing as we speak. And looking ahead about future drawdown authority and what that could look like working with Congress, and again, I don’t want to get ahead of where we are in the decision-making process. Clearly, one of the things the secretary took away from his time, both with President Zelensky in Kiev, as well as in Ramstein with 40 nations represented, is that Ukraine does still have acute needs. There is a lot that nations around the world can do to meet those needs, and we’re going to keep looking for creative solutions to do that. But I’m just not going to get ahead of the legislative process right now. [Rio 00:29:54].
Speaker 5: (29:54)
Oh, thank you. I want to ask you about U.S. Japan military exercises. The earlier this week, the [inaudible 00:30:02] government said if Japan expands the military exercises with the United States near the [inaudible 00:30:08] territory, [inaudible 00:30:10] will take a retaliatory measure. How much will you take [inaudible 00:30:14] warning into account when you decide the scope and scale of military exercises with Japan?
John Kirby: (30:20)
We will operate, train, fly, sail where international allows us to do that, [Rio 00:30:26]. I’m not going to talk about specific training event scenarios. Japan’s a treaty ally. We take our commitments, our security commitments to Japan, very, very seriously. And Japan should be the one speaking appropriately to the exercises that are conducted in and around Japan.
Speaker 5: (30:48)
Just a quick follow up. The U.S. and Japan have focused mainly on defending the southern part Japan and addressing the threat posed by China. But as the threat of [inaudible 00:31:02] is increasing, do you think the U.S. and Japan needed to pay more attention to the northern part of Japan and allocate more resources to the north?
John Kirby: (31:12)
Again, I would refer you to Tokyo to speak about their self-defense needs. We have a very robust training regimen with Japan, a very strong military-to-military relationship. Exercises and training events are constantly monitored and changed as appropriate, not just to potential threats, [Rio 00:31:35], but to the kinds of capabilities you want to improve. That’s why you do exercises, to get better at things. And we’re constantly having a conversation with Japan about what that could look like. But again, I’d let Japan speak to Japan’s defense needs. That’s really their responsibility and appropriately so. Japan, as you know, was a participant in yesterday’s meeting. They also recognize the threat to the rules-based order that Russia represents in their invasion of Ukraine, and they take that seriously. We were glad to see them participate. Sam LaGrone.
Sam LaGrone: (32:21)
Hey John, just to clarify on Phil’s question from earlier. So are you saying there are not U.S. Marines pulling embassy security in Ukraine right now?
John Kirby: (32:32)
The specifics of force protection, Sam, I’m just not going to do it. I’ll let the state department speak to what their diplomatic activities look like, but I would be surprised if they also want to talk about security right now. What I said to Phil was, if there’s a need for U.S. military support, then we’ll have that discussion with the state department. And we have supported our diplomats in the past. We know that’s at least not a total U.S. military responsibility, but there may be a role for that, but I got nothing. I got nothing for you on that today. Yeah, one more.
Thanks, yeah. I have a follow up on the medical malpractice. These claims have been filed for over two years now. So hundreds of service members, over 2 billion dollars worth of claims are in limbo right now. And it appears the services aren’t processing the claims because they’re waiting for policy guidance from the secretary. So I just wanted try again, see if you could be a little bit more specific as to why that hasn’t happened. We’ve been waiting for that for over a year.
John Kirby: (33:44)
I’m not aware that there was a need for guidance from the secretary here. Once a claim is properly filed and received, the service that ran the military medical treatment facility reviews it. Claims are reviewed in a non-adversarial manner to assess liability and pay meritorious claims. Settlements are offered based on the best assessment of liability and damages. Claimants have access to the medical records and the opportunities to submit additional information through their process. So again, the services run this claims process, and as I said, we take it seriously, and we also have to follow the law in doing it.
So do you have any sense of why they’re not processing the claims?
John Kirby: (34:24)
I don’t, and I think you have to talk to the services and each individual case for that. Look, we take it seriously. We know there should be a legitimate claims process, and there is, and it’s legislated and we have to follow the law. But we absolutely believe that it’s an obligation of ours to take this seriously, and we do. But it’s done by the services, and I’d refer you back to them individually. Okay, thanks everybody.
John Kirby: (34:49)
I think we’ll probably do something [inaudible 00:35:18].