May 10, 2022

Pentagon press secretary John Kirby holds news briefing 5/09/22 Transcript

Pentagon briefing
RevBlogTranscriptsJohn KirbyPentagon press secretary John Kirby holds news briefing 5/09/22 Transcript

Pentagon press secretary John Kirby speaks to the press on 5/09/22. Read the transcript here.


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John: (00:00)
So I just wanted to make you aware the secretary had two phone calls with counterparts this morning. First he spoke with the Greek minister of national defense regarding the situation in Ukraine. Of course, he thanked Greece for its security assistance and contributions to Ukraine. They also discussed the importance of continued allied and partner assistance, and agreed to continue to closely collaborate on these issues, including finding a time to meet in Washington later this year.

John: (00:27)
They also reviewed the deepening defense partnership between the United States and Greece resulting from the updated US/Greece mutual defense cooperation agreement.

John: (00:35)
The secretary also continued his routine conversations with the Ukrainian minister of defense, Minister Reznikov, so they had yet another talk this morning. The secretary highlighted for minister Reznikov the president’s announcement last Friday of an additional $150 million in Presidential Drawdown Authority to continue to provide Ukraine’s armed forces with artillery, counter artillery radars, and electronic jamming equipment.

John: (01:04)
And the minister was grateful for this additional support. Also help share his view of what was going on on the battlefield with Secretary Austin.

John: (01:15)
Secretary Austin emphasized our enduring commitment to bolster Ukraine’s capacity to counter Russian aggression and updated the minister on our ongoing coordination with allies and partners on security assistance efforts. I think you guys have heard us talk many times that we’re continuing to help coordinate the provision of security assistance materials from many other allies and partners. And of course, as always, they pledged to remain in close contact, and they of course will.

John: (01:42)
On the exercise front between, May and September of this year, the US Army Pacific will participate in over 15 major exercises with multiple multinational and joint partners across the Indo-Pacific. During this period of time, Army Pacific will execute operation pathways across the Indo-Pacific and Asia, deploying thousands of troops and equipment sets to execute tactical actions that solve operational and strategic problems.

John: (02:15)
The first of these events is an exercise that’s called Marra. Did I say that right Mike? Marra, which began Saturday in French Polynesia. From now until the 21st, this 13-nation exercise held in the South Pacific, and there it goes [inaudible 00:02:33] on me right in mid-sentence. Luckily I’ve got a backup here.

John: (02:40)
I think we’re just going to have to go back to the old notebook.

John: (02:46)
Okay. From now, till the 21st, this 13-nation exercise held in South Pacific environment will improve interoperability, enhance the ability to conduct humanitarian assistance and disaster relief and share knowledge and expertise. Army Pacific soldiers and Marines, along with the USS Pearl Harbor, approximately 1,000 total, will primarily train with the French military to further strengthen relationships and help increase our presence in the region. So very exciting exercise, lots to get done over the next few months. And we’ll keep you guys updated on that. We’ll start with questions, and Ledah, I think you’re up.

Speaker 1: (03:20)
Thanks John, two things. With the pace of the weapons and other US contributions to Ukraine going fairly quickly, how long before the Pentagon is going to need the additional drawdown authority in order to avoid some delays in sending some material to Ukraine? And then the second question is on training, at this point as you look at the training that’s being given to the Ukrainian troops, can you give us a sense of what the demand is for the training, and whether or not the Florida National Guard is enough, or you’re going to have to bolster that? Where do you see that going?

John: (04:08)
So on the second question, we don’t right now see a need to boost the number of trainers. We believe that with the assets we already have, and of course the Florida National Guard are participating in helping in that, but they’re not the only ones; you saw the Canadians are also providing some Howtizer training. We believe right now we’re we’re okay, but we obviously want be flexible. And if we need to change the numbers or, or add people to do training, we’ll certainly be open to looking at that. And I completely blanked on your first question.

Speaker 1: (04:49)
They drawdown authority. How long before that starts to run out? You’ve used all, but I think about 100 million.

John: (04:56)
100 million left in the current authorities. And we believe that between what the president just announced Friday, and the 100 million that we still have left, and we’re going to be working that in real time with the Ukrainians, that that will get us to about the third week of this month is what we’re pretty much anticipating, which is why we continue to urge Congress to pass the president’s supplemental request as soon as possible, so that we can continue to provide aid to Ukraine uninterrupted. So we think with what we got left, that’ll get us through most of this month, in terms of future packages and future material. But that’s why we’re urging Congress to act quickly. Demetris.

Louie: (05:47)
Over the weekend some US diplomats went back to the embassy in Kyiv. Are there any Marines yet at the embassy? And if not, have any of them gone to do sort assessments in the case that there is a need for them there?

John: (06:00)
There was no Marine security attached to the diplomats. Everything was done through diplomatic security personnel. There was no need to have the Marines there.

John: (06:08)
Remember the mission of the Marine Security Detachment is to protect what is considered US soil. That’s why they’re there. And right now the embassy is not fully occupied. And so it’s not considered… It’s obviously still our embassy, but there’s no need to have a permanent Marine Corps security detachment there.

John: (06:27)
So we’re in constant discussions with the State Department here, and we’ll certainly follow their lead as they determine what sort of embassy presence they want and on what timeline. But there were no Marines, no US military involved in this visit to Kyiv and to the embassy.

Louie: (06:44)
And second question, the reports from Ukraine and the Russian sort of suggest the territorial gains in the east are very limited on both sides. Is it too early to say we’re at stalemate now in the Donbas, as far as the ground offensive?

John: (06:58)
Yeah, when you say the word stalemate, too many people look at that and they think, “Well, that means nobody’s moving, that everything is kind of stuck.” You think of World War I and trench warfare. And everybody’s kind of…

John: (07:08)
And it’s very dynamic [inaudible 00:07:09], I would not call it a stalemate. There are literally towns and villages that are changing hands, sometimes in the course of a day or so. And we assess that the Russians continue to make incremental progress, moving down from the north, pushing down into the Donbas area from the north of that area, particularly along a line of access coming out of a town called Izium, but it’s incremental and it’s still plodding, as I’ve said, it’s slow and it’s uneven. And they continue to meet a very stiff Ukrainian resistance.

John: (07:47)
So no, we would not call it a stalemate in the classic sense that just everything is frozen. It’s not frozen. There’s a lot of artillery going back and forth. There’s a lot of movement back and forth. It’s just that when you take two steps back in the aggregate, you don’t see the Russians really making a lot of progress over the course of time. We still believe that they are behind their own schedule. And that what progress they’re making is very limited in terms of just geographic reach. Jen.

Speaker 2: (08:16)
John, I’d like to get your reaction to Putin’s speech on Red Square today at Victory Day, and the fact that they didn’t have any flyovers, they usually have flyovers. What did you notice about this? And what’s your reaction to the words he chose and what he said?

John: (08:32)
I can’t account for their parade planning, and what assets they had or didn’t have, I think the Ministry of Defense can… Mr. Putin can speak to their parade.

John: (08:44)
What I would tell you is that we still heard some of the same bluster, some of the same falsehoods, some of the same, quite frankly, just untruths in terms of his rhetoric that we’ve heard from the beginning. He talked about this being a justified military operation. It’s not. He still had diplomatic options on the table on February 24th and chose to ignore them.

John: (09:19)
Ukraine posed no threat, not only no threat to Russia, but no threat to anybody else. So it wasn’t justified. He said it was timely that it needed to happen now. No, it didn’t. Again, he had plenty of options available to him.

John: (09:31)
And he talked about ridding the region, or Ukraine of Nazis; you know who’s in Ukraine? Ukrainians, not Nazis. It was just a ridiculous claim. So we heard pretty much the same out of Mr. Putin. What we didn’t hear, not that we expected to, but what we should have heard was plans for how he’s going to end the war, how he’s going to move his forces out of Ukraine, and how he’s going to finally respect Ukraine as a sovereign state and nation that borders his, a nation that posed absolutely zero threat. That’s what we didn’t hear. And I think that’s what he should have said.

Speaker 2: (10:14)
He said in his speech that Ukraine was on the verge of getting nuclear weapons. And that was one of the reasons they went in.

John: (10:22)
Another falsehood, just not true.

Speaker 2: (10:25)
And the Ukrainian government says that a 1.2 million Ukrainians have now been deported to Russia and are in these camps. Do you have evidence of that? Do you see these camps, are these concentration camps?

John: (10:43)
I can’t assert to the number, but we certainly have seen indications that Ukrainians are being moved from Ukraine into Russia. I can’t speak to how many camps or what they look like. I don’t know that we have that level of detail, but we do have indications that Ukrainians are being taken against their will into Russia. Again, unconscionable, not the behavior of responsible power. Certainly another indication that he simply won’t accept and respect Ukrainian sovereignty and that they are citizens of another nation.

Speaker 2: (11:20)
Isn’t that ethnic cleansing though? If you take 1.2 million people from a country and move them to camps?

John: (11:28)
That’s not a determination that is best coming from the US Defense Department. We’ve long talked about the fact that we do believe Russian soldiers continue to conduct war crimes. But beyond that, I think it’s better not for the Defense Department to make that kind of determination. There’s a process for that. And it doesn’t reside here in the Pentagon. And we want to respect that.

John: (11:49)
But look, again, you don’t have to look very far to see evidence of Russian brutality here continue; we’re on day 75, which means 75 days of brutalizing-

John: (12:03)
… which means 75 days of brutalizing the nation of Ukraine and the Ukrainian people and every time you think they just can’t fall to a new low, they prove you wrong. Yeah, Travis?

Travis: (12:19)
Thanks, John. With all the US weapons and hardware flowing into Ukraine, is there any concern about the Ukrainians ability to maintain that equipment? Do they have the capacity to do that? Has the department been having any discussions with the Ukrainians about potential solutions? Like using private contractors to work on Ukraine.

John: (12:41)
Look, one of the reasons why … I mean, we’ve talked about the kinds of systems we’re giving them as we really are trying to provide them the kinds of things they know how to already use, and that’s why we’ve been working with so many other nations who have inventories of old Soviet era weapons and systems because that’s what the Ukrainians are comfortable with, it’s what they’re trained on, it’s what they’re used to using.

John: (13:07)
Now we have started to … As the war has gone on and they have continued to work themselves through some of those systems, we have been trying to provide them with some additional advance systems that do come from our inventory, the howitzer is a great example of that. But that required some training. It still is. We’ve now trained more than 300 Ukrainian artillery men on the howitzers and there’s another 50 plus that are going through that training right now.

John: (13:32)
We’ve also just started today a two week maintainer course for the howitzer, because it is a system that not only do they not have experience using but they don’t have experience maintaining and as you use these things, any artillery man will tell you they’re going to break every now and then, there’s going to be required maintenance.

John: (13:50)
We’ve just now started a two week course, just actually started today, to take some artillery men and put them through some maintenance training. I suspect that that too will be an ongoing requirement. If that’s needed for some of the other systems, we’ll look at that but I think some of the other systems like the counter-artillery radar, the mobile air defense radar … Right now we’re focused on getting them the operational training on that and if we feel like there’s a need to do additional training on maintaining, we’ll do that. I just don’t have any plans to announce for that.

John: (14:26)
But, Travis, while we understand the need to do that, as you give them more capable systems, we also want to be mindful that we don’t overload their system with too much of that because there’s still very much an active fight and manpower matters to them in that fight.

John: (14:44)
It’s a balance. You want to make sure that they can use the material, that they can keep it up and maintain it, but you don’t want to put such an onerous requirement on them that it distracts them too much from the fight at hand. Again, this is another reason why we’re staying in touch with Minister Reznikov to have that kind of conversation and make sure that we’re striking the best balance in that regard.

Travis: (15:06)
I think that’s a concern, there’s so much moving in, that they might not have the capacity. Is the sense that this new training program for maintainers that you’re putting together will fill that need or do you anticipate that there is going to be additional need that they’re going to have to figure out some way [inaudible 00:15:20].

John: (15:19)
I think it’s too soon to know. What I can tell you is that we’re going to stay open-minded here and if there’s a need for additional training, if there’s a need for other systems that could use some maintenance support to include the provision of spare parts, because we can’t expect that the Ukrainians are necessarily going to have all the spare parts for these things, then we’re going to do that.

John: (15:38)
In fact, we have already … The howitzers are a great example. I mean, as part of the shipment of the actual pieces, the artillery tubes, we have already started to flow in spare parts, the kinds of parts that are the ones that you need the most when you’re using them in combat.

John: (15:57)
We’re going to stay open-minded on that. Yeah. Yeah.

Speaker 3: (16:01)
[inaudible 00:16:01] on $100 million left, is it just $100 million left out of the $3.8 billion of draw down of authorities or can you just clarify what did you mean by $100 million left?

John: (16:14)
Of the authorities that we have been granted by Congress, we have about $100 million left.

Speaker 3: (16:22)
Then the rest of it have been used in procurement of arms and ammunition?

John: (16:27)
Well, we’re talking about drawn down authority only, and so that’s why the president asked as part of this $33 billion supplemental that’s on the hill right now, $5 billion of it is just for additional presidential draw down authority. $6 billion is to be used in the Ukraine security assistance initiative, so that $6 billion would be where we would go out and buy the material specifically with the purpose specifically to send it into Ukraine.

John: (16:57)
The draw down authority allows us to go get it off our shelves. We already own it, it’s already ours, and get it right to Ukraine. We have about $100 million left in terms of what we haven’t announced. We think … Again, this is an estimate but third week of this month, by the third week of the month, we expect to utilize all of that, which is why, again, we encourage Congress to act quickly on the supplemental that the president submitted because that … We’ll be able to just keep the flow going uninterrupted.

John: (17:35)
As you have seen, we have continued draw down packages … It varies in frequency but pretty frequently. Sometimes more than one a week, depending on what we’re giving to them. Obviously, time is of the essence. We’d like to be in a situation where there’s no interruption to that ability to draw down our own stocks.

Speaker 3: (17:57)
Also, Donbas, of course, it has been weeks the Russians have been building up their forces in Donbas and then you have been saying that they are just moving extremely slowly. To what extent does the building think that Russians are going to fail in Donbas as well? If you give a [inaudible 00:18:20].

John: (18:20)
We’re not going to predict the outcome here, Qasim. I can’t imagine in what world that would be a prudent thing for us to do. All we can do is tell you what we’re seeing. I’ve done that.

John: (18:39)
The other thing we can do is to continue to talk to Ukrainians, as we did today, about their needs in the Donbas, specifically, and making sure that we’re doing our best to meet that, that $150 million package that we announced Friday, that does that. It’s very much in line. The next $100 million, if in fact it’s $100 million, I don’t know what the amount is going to be for the next package but let’s assume that that’s it, we’ll do exactly the same, working with the Ukrainians about what they need.

John: (19:16)
I can’t predict outcomes on the battlefield. We would never do that. What I can predict for you is that our commitment to helping Ukraine defend itself for the fight they’re in, that will absolutely continue. [inaudible 00:19:29].

Speaker 4: (19:31)
Thank you. You said that the fighting is very dynamic. Do you see the artillery that US has provided to the Ukrainians making a difference on the ground?

John: (19:48)
We know … Again, our knowledge is limited. Once these things go into Ukraine, they belong to Ukraine and how and when they use them is up to them. All I can do is tell you that what we’re hearing from the Ukrainians are two things, one, that they are being used, the howitzers, specifically, are being used in combat and I don’t know how many and I don’t know where but they are being used and that they are effective and that there is … As we have long said there would be, that there is a heavy reliance in this particular fight in the Donbas region, specifically, on artillery. Long range fires is the way we talk about it here, but it’s basically artillery fire. Both sides are firing artillery at the other’s positions. We know they’re being useful, and we’re hearing that directly from the Ukrainians.

Speaker 5: (20:42)
I’m just curious, as you near the third week of this month and near the end of the draw down authority, does the pace of equipment going into Ukraine continue at its previous pace or is that slowed as you near the last bit here?

John: (20:55)
No. We’re not slowing it down based on … I mean, we’ve gotten enough indications out of Congress and there’s bipartisan support for supporting Ukraine. Everything coming out of the hill tells us that this supplemental will be acted on and approved. That doesn’t mean we still don’t want to get acted on very, very quickly so that there is no interruption but as for the pace, it’s going to the same speed as it was before. I mean, there are still multiple flights a day heading into the region, into trans shipment sites outside of Ukraine, not just from the United States but from other nations as well.

John: (21:41)
There’s still a daily movement on the ground of that material inside Ukraine. That’s still happening at pace. Now, again, we’re always adjusting … I can’t say the same number of shipments get into Ukraine on any given day. You have to adjust it based on the security environment and the threat and also the absorption rate of the Ukrainians and how much … They’re in a fight, so you don’t want to throw the kitchen sink at them every day when they haven’t figured out a place to put everything or where they’re going to move it to.

John: (22:15)
Again, that’s a constant balance that we’re striking and that’s why we’re in touch with the Ukrainians every day but short answer to your question is we’re not allowing the fact that we’re down to $100 million left and we think that that will get us through the third week of the month to slow down what we’re already providing.

John: (22:33)
We want to have a little flexibility with what we’ve got left to make sure that it more discreetly meets their needs, so we know there’s not much left in this current set of authorities, so we want to use it smartly and we want to make sure that as we work that next package, that it’s, again, lockstep with what their requirements are. David?

David: (23:01)
Do you have a plan for what you would do if the legislation isn’t enacted by the third week?

John: (23:02)
Well, we still have some, as you heard from Mr. LaPlante, we still have some money in terms of USAI, the security assistance initiative to go purchase things to provide them. We’re working closely with Congress on this.

John: (23:21)
Again, we’ve seen no indication that this is going to be an issue. I mean, every indication we’re hearing, including from Speaker Pelosi just yesterday, is that Congress will act on this.

David: (23:34)
Does that lend lease legislation make it possible just to send stuff without any money from Congress?

John: (23:45)
I think I’ll let the president speak for this and I think there will be more … He’ll have more to say on this later today. I don’t want to get ahead of the president. I would just say that any support that we get from Congress, and Congress has been …

John: (24:03)
… any support that we get from Congress. And Congress has been very supportive, but any additional support we get from Congress in terms of security assistance to the Ukraine is welcome, and we’ll work inside that. Gordon.

Gordon: (24:15)
Yeah, just want to go back to this stalemate not stalemate a little bit. A few weeks ago, three, four weeks ago, there was a lot of energy behind the idea that those weeks that we’re now in after the Russians retrenched and focused on the east, was a do or die moment and that it was critical to seeing how well they would do. There does not, despite the incrementalism and the dynamic battlefield, there does not seem to be those kinds of objectives over taken. Are you guys at all even surprised by the lack of that momentum now, forgetting like whatever happens on the battlefield, but are you surprised with the lack of momentum that they’ve achieved thus far? And what do you think that means either way?

John: (25:10)
The lack of momentum by the Russians?

Gordon: (25:12)

John: (25:14)
I wouldn’t say there’s surprise. We’re watching this unfold in real time same as you, Gordon. In fact, some of what we thought was going to happen, has happened. We knew that this would be an artillery fight, and it’s turning out to be an artillery fight. We knew that the Russians would meet a stiff Ukrainian resistance because they have been there since before the war began there’s been fighting in the [inaudible 00:25:50] region, and that is proven true that the Ukrainian resistance in the [inaudible 00:25:54] remains stiff. And that progress in the [inaudible 00:26:02] because of the terrain, because of the weather, the mud, and because of the fact that it’s flat, it’s open, it’s not as urban, that it would be that the Russians would have to, in order to achieve their progress, they would have to focus on small towns and villages.

John: (26:23)
Unlike when early you might remember, we were talking about encircling, trying to encircle Kiev, the [inaudible 00:26:35] all these larger towns. And so what we’re seeing now is a focus on sort of smaller gains, smaller towns and villages. And again, this is terrain that the Ukrainians know extraordinarily well.

John: (26:46)
So I don’t know that there’s a lot of surprise here, but it’s certainly clear at least where we stand on day 75, and nobody knows day 76 is going to look like, that the Russians have not overcome the challenges that they were trying to overcome in this new part of the conflict. They’ve gotten a little bit better at logistics and sustainment, but not so much that they feel comfortable outrun or even attempting to outrun their lines of supply. They haven’t solved their command and control problems. They’ve put in the fight more than 90 battalion tactical groups, but it’s not clear exactly what the operational effectiveness is of all those because so many of them have been depleted because of the previous fighting. And we don’t believe that they have, while they have tried to get better and you certainly see pockets where they’re more integrated air to ground and maneuver between units, it hasn’t gelled yet. So they’re certainly trying to get better, but there’s not an indication here that they’ve solved all their problems.

John: (28:01)
And as you might recall, a week or so ago, we were talking about that it remained to be seen whether they were going to be able to fix the kind of problems that they had in the north. And thus far, day 75, it doesn’t appear like they have. Rio.

Rio: (28:18)
Okay, thank you. I want to ask you about South Korea. The new administration will come into office tomorrow, that they are strongly interested in reinforcing the tolerance against North Korea. Is the US willing to discuss bigger military exercises, mobile US assets on the Korean peninsula with the new administration?

John: (28:41)
I won’t get ahead of discussions that haven’t happened. We look forward to working with the new government in South Korea, as we do with every new administration there. South Korea remains a key ally. We’re always going to look for ways to make the alliance better and more capable. And I’ll leave it there. We’ll see where the discussions go.

Rio: (29:05)
Separate question on North Korea, the US publicly said North Korea could be ready to conduct a nuclear test as early as this month. So generally speaking, you are reluctant to talk about intelligence matters in public. So what effect do you expect by disclosing intelligence on nuclear test? Do you expect it works as a deterrence against North Korea?

John: (29:31)
We’re doing that because we are a responsible nation that prioritizes the reduction of strategic risks. And we believe firmly that the international community must speak with a unified voice to oppose further development of such weapons by the north. So we’re doing it because it’s the responsible thing to do. Mike.

Mike: (29:58)
Yeah, speaking of artillery …

John: (29:58)
Oh man. Why don’t you just come up and give this part of the briefing?

Mike: (29:59)
Okay, I will.

John: (30:00)
Go ahead.

Mike: (30:02)
Ukraine has specifically asked for SP Howitzers like the 109 because it’ll provide them with more mobility on the battlefield and a level of ballistic protection that you won’t get on an M777. France has sent over a dozen of their wheeled Howitzers, the Caesar. The Netherlands, Belgium and Italy have all agreed to either send over the M109s themselves or the German PZH 2000 SP Howitzer. My question is, the US has more M109s than any country in the world. Why is the administration dragging its feet on sending these weapons systems to Ukraine and they need them now. They want them now, I mean.

John: (30:46)
I would take issue that we’re dragging our feet on anything, Mike. No nation has done more to support Ukraine’s security needs in the United States, no nation. In just the draw down authorities we’ve used already, we’ve provided to Ukraine almost the equivalent of their entire defense budget for 2021. So I take issue with the idea that we’re dragging our feet. What we are doing, including today in the call with Minister Reznikov, is talking to the Ukrainians at the senior levels all the way down to the staff level about what they need and what we can provide them. And it’s not just the United States. As you well noted, other nations are providing systems as well. So I’m not going to get inside the conversations we’re having with the Ukrainians privately about their needs, but I think the proof is in what we’re announcing every day about how seriously we’re taking their requirements. Louie.

Louie: (31:42)
There’s been talk about how the incremental progress in the east has been due to the stiff Ukrainian resistance. There’s also …

John: (31:49)
And some of the problems they’ve had with their own logistics and sustainment, command and control, integration. I mean, it’s a combination.

Louie: (31:55)
It’s a combination, right. But there’s also a big rush to try to get those Howitzers in very, very quickly.

John: (32:03)
Almost all of them are.

Louie: (32:04)
Yeah. Can you comment on what effect the Howitzers have had as part of that combined effort?

John: (32:10)
Again, all I can do is tell you what we’re hearing from the Ukrainians. Again, we don’t track each tube and where it’s at and how many rounds it’s firing on every given day. It belongs to Ukraine when it goes in there, and they use it as they see fit. We know as my answer to Sylvie, we know that they’re getting in and they’re actually being used in combat. We know that. You heard the Secretary testify to that last week. And what we’re hearing from Ukrainians are they’re very useful and they’re grateful for them and that they are having an impact because they’re additive to their own artillery pieces. All tolled, the 90 that we’re providing, provides them five to seven battalions worth of Howitzers. That’s not insignificant. But I couldn’t give you a GPS coordinate for each one and exactly how many rounds it’s firing and what it’s hitting. But the indications we’re getting from the Ukrainians are they’re in combat and they’re, and they’re being effective.

John: (33:15)
And more broadly, Louie, if you just take a step back, and back [inaudible 00:33:22] question about stalemate and what’s going on, if you just take a look at what’s going on, the fighting over these small towns and villages, some of them trading hands over the course of just a couple of days, you can see, I’ve seen some of the overhead imagery, you can see how active an artillery fight this really is. I mean it is, back to Gordon’s question, it is exactly like we thought it was going to be, like the Ukrainians thought it was going to be, very dependent on long range fires. And both sides are applying artillery in this fight.

Louie: (33:59)
Do you think that this moment the Gordon describe, the pivotal two weeks and the rush to get in there in time, that it has born fruition on …

John: (34:11)
I certainly wouldn’t speak for the Ukrainians. I think it’s better for them to speak to their assessment of how they’re doing and more specifically, how much the Western aid has helped. But again, our indications from talking to them is that it has been incredibly critical to their ability to continue to defend themselves in the [inaudible 00:34:35] , particularly the Howitzers and the rounds that go with them, because it is so reliant on long range fires. But it’s not just that. I mean, the counter artillery radars that they’re going to be able to use will help them defend against Russian artillery. UASs will help give them eyes and longer range strike capability. We’re talking a lot about Howitzers today, which I never thought I’d be able to do with any semblance of knowledge, thank you, Mike.

Mike: (35:06)
My pleasure.

John: (35:07)
But it’s not just that. And again, the feedback we’re getting is that these things, all these things, but particularly the artillery support is making a difference. Yeah. Christina.

Christina: (35:23)
Given the deterioration, again, in Hong Kong, the democratic systems there that are just kind of slowly being taken away, do you see any sort of, or would you like to address some of the changes that that might engender in the security situation in the region?

John: (35:44)
Well, I missed …

Christina: (35:46)
Well in Hong Kong, we’ve had a recent change in the way the governorship is going to be handled.

John: (35:54)
Oh, oh, I think that’s a better question put to Ned Price over at the State Department. I think I’ll refrain from that.

Mike: (36:00)
Have you seen any change in the security situation or do you anticipate that?

John: (36:02)
… refrain from that.

Speaker 6: (36:04)
Have you seen any change in the security situation? And do you anticipate that in the region?

John: (36:04)
I am not aware of any security situation. That’s different. Joe Gould?

Joe Gould: (36:12)
Hey John, thanks for taking my question. Wanted ask you, on the Phoenix Ghost, now that this cohort of Ukrainian troops has wrapped up training, can you tell us where that training took place? And now that we know Phoenix Ghost’s stem from an air force program, can you tell us if the trainers were with the US Air Force?

John: (36:31)
Yeah. The trainers were air force. I think I talked about that last week.

John: (36:50)
The week long training for Phoenix Ghost took place at Ramstein and it just wrapped up I think yesterday. Okay. I’m going to have to call it there. Thanks very much. We’ll talk to you guys tomorrow.

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