tv Pentagon Press Secretary Holds Briefing CSPAN March 30, 2023 5:55pm-6:25pm EDT
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the families and said an investigation into the incident will begin immediately. brig. gen. ryder: good afternoon everyone. quite a few items. i will be happy to get to your questions. on behalf of secretary austin and the department of defense, i would like to offer our heartfelt condolences to the families and friends of the nine soldiers bho sadly lost their lives last night. according to army officials, the helicopters were planning night fright training operations. a team from alabama will arrive later today and will begin an investigation and our thoughts and prayers are with the
families and units and all those affected and for additional questions, i refer you to army public affairs. separately, earlier today, secretary austin met with minister tobar. secretary austin thank row mania for hosting forces to defend flank and role in the black sea region. the two leaders absoluted of row mania's state program with the alabama national guard. the secretary looks forward to opportunities to work with our allies. a full readout will be posted later today. on the training front since russia's unprovoked invasion of ukraine, u.s. army europe and africa and security assistance group ukraine have trained 7,000
members. 65 ukranian air defenders completed in oklahoma and have now arrived back in europe and integrated with other air defenders and air equipment with the united states, germany and netherlands. the air patriot system will add to the air defenses to provide protection and shield from russia's attacks on innocent civilians and infrastructure. in germany at the close of this month, more than 4,000 soldiers and two brigades with two bradleys and strikers will have returned to ukraine. it is currently underway and with two motorized infantry bay tallians and armed ukranian forces personnel.
this is also ongoing with 3,000 ukranian soldiers completed platform training on more than 20 systems since april of 2022. training for ukranian forces is an effort being conducted in with coalition soldiers across 26 different nations. the u.s. will continue to provide training and work with our allies and partners to ensure ukranian people have the assistance they need to keep their country safe and we will support ukraine as long as it takes. i would like to provide an update in regard to our recent air strikes in syria and the status of our forces who were wounded in attacks by those groups. . . . .
again these precision strikes were taken to protect and defend u.s. personnel. second, the six u.s. personnel wounded in the march 23 attack against a coalition base near hasaka in northeastern syria are all in stable condition. two of the wounded have already returned to duty. one was medically evacuated to receive treatment, and two u.s. service members and a u.s. contractor are receiving medical treatment in iraq. separately, the u.s. service member injured in the attack on march 24 is also in stable condition and continues to receive medical care. as secretary austin made clear in congressional testimony this week we'll take all necessary measures to defend our troops and our interests overseas. to underscore, in response to a pattern of iranian and iran-backed attacks against u.s. personnel and facilities in iraq
and syria and the continuing threat of future such attacks, the united states has taken, and as necessary will continue to take, military action against the irgc and its affiliates. this includes use of force against irgc and irgc affiliate personnel and the u.s. central command area of responsibility with intention to de-escalate threats against the united states, our interests, and our people. again, we do not seek con applicant with iran but we'll always protect our people. with that, i'm happy to take your questions. reporter: thanks, pat. one thing and then another quick question. on syria you mentioned u.s. forces that are injured and also insurgents injured. and killed. eight militants, is that the total number of militants assessed killed and/or injured by u.s. forces in that time
period? brig. gen. ryder: that's correct. reporter: and are there any other strike that was happened? and then i have a question. brig. gen. ryder: no additional strikes than the ones we announced. and that is correct, we assess that eight militants were killed as a result of the air strikes. in addition to the seven injured service members that i highlighted, there were an additional six u.s. service membered that had subsequently been diagnosed with traumatic brain injury as a result of the iranian backed attacks, specifically, four u.s. service members at the coalition base near hasaka during the march 23 attack and two at mission support site green village on the march 24 attack. standard procedure, all personnel in the vicinity of a blast are screened for traumatic brain injury. these injuries were identified in postattack medical
screenings. reporter: are all the screenings complete? brig. gen. ryder: those will be ongoing as a matter of standard procedure. there's the possibility there could be additional but that's where we're at right now. reporter: the white house announced earlier today that the white house reached out to north korea for weapons and support for the war. has the pentagon seen any indication that other additional weapons or military support is either preparing or moving from north korea to russia? brig. gen. ryder: we have not at this time, beyond the -- which had been previously announced, beyond the shipment that wagner group previously arranged for. it's something we continue to keep a close eye on. let's go to janeie. reporter: thank you. the u.s. senate foreign relations committee has mentioned review of deployment
of tactical nuclear weapons in south korea. what is the pentagon's position on that? the u.s. senate foreign relations committee has mentioned review of redeployment of nuclear weapons. brig. gen. ryder: sure. of course we'll always continue to work closely with the congress. our current policy is the denuclearization of the korean peninsula. so at this time that will continue to remain our priority. reporter: and do you need more, stronger deterrents in south korea? brig. gen. ryder: as you know, we are in constant discussion with our south korean allies and partners in the region on extended deterrents to ensure we can deter aggression from countries like north korea or china and we'll continue to stay focused on that.
reporter: stationed in south korea recently started resuming training. how do you view it and do you have another plan to have additional deemployment? brig. gen. ryder: i don't have anything to announce right now. edris? reporter: are the troops still on the bases? or have they been medevaced out? in the helicopter crash in kentucky, do you have a sense of the range of ages of those killed? and are you confident in the aircraft? are you looking at a potential stand down? brig. gen. ryder: in terms of the troops diagnosed with t.b.i., to my knowledge they're being treated at those bases right now, although there is the potential, obviously, for additional medical care. i'd refer you to sent come for the status of that. in terms of the blackhawk crash,
right now, the army is going through the process of next of kin notification. so it would be inappropriate at this point to release any additional information. certainly more will be provided as it becomes available. in terms of any type of stand-down for aircraft, none that i'm tracking at this point. of course that certainly, you know, the prerogative of the army as it manages its aircraft. again i refer you to them for the current status. thank you. reporter: i have a followup and then a separate question. the eight militants you have information that died in those strikes, are you able to confirm what group they belong to and whether they're iranians or not? brig. gen. ryder: what i would tell you is to my knowledge not iranians but these were individuals that are associated with the irgc. reporter: and then on --
congressman jamaal bowman is leading an effort to determine whether any u.s. weapons have been used by israel to -- in violation of u.s. laws or human rights violations. so first, does the secretary have any concerns that u.s. weapons have been -- may have been used in occupied west bank in violation of human rights in light of the recent escalation we saw? and does he support measures to make sure that no u.s. weapons are used to violate the rights of the -- or kill for that matter, civilians within the palestinian population? brig. gen. ryder: a couple of things there. as it pertains to congressional correspondence, we, of course, will respond to congress appropriately, so i don't want to get ahead of any kind of response. when it comes to security assistance to israel, you know,
our commitment to israel's security is ironclad. we will continue to be committed to their qualitative military edge in the region. but you've also heard us say, most recently when secretary austin visited israel, speaking with israeli leaders and highlighting that our focus continues to remain on communicating with israel with the palestinians and our partners in the region to try to de-escalate tension, restore calm and rewould -- and we would call for no action that's going to increase the insecurity in the region. thank you. reporter: thank you very much. the taiwan ease president -- the pie thai wanese president is now in new york and china may retaliate have you seen any irregular movement of the chinese or evidence of china
preparing major activities around taiwan the last few days? brig. gen. ryder: without getting into intelligence, i would say we have not seen anything particularly concerning or out of the ordinary at this stage. we continue to monitor. reporter: thank you so much, general. considering the number of catastrophic military training incidents in the last decade, does secretary austin see the need to launch a broader oversight review that should be conducted across all the services on aviation and other training mishaps that have put lives in danger? brig. gen. ryder: thanks for the question, i apologize getting your name wrong there. couple of things. first of all, in the united states military, we take safety very, very seriously. each of the services, each of our -- each aviation unit down to the unit level will have a safety branch whose primary role
is to do exactly that. maintain constant situational awareness on safety. so that is something that's baked into our culture, something we'll continue to do. i'm not aware of a d.o.d.-wide review. certainly any time there's an accident, it is incredibly unfortunate. something we take incredibly seriously. and every single investigation is intended to help us learn from that to prevent future accidents from happening. unfortunately, a lot of what we do is inherently dangerous and so you know, this is something that we're always going to constantly be working at. and as in the case of the blackhawk helicopter crashes, you heard me say, there's a team already en route to alabama to begin that investigation. so again, it's something that we as department will always take very, very seriously. and we'll just never let up on that. reporter: my other question, the team on the way associated with o.s.d. or is it strictly an army team? brig. gen. ryder: my
understanding is it's an army team. reporter: so no o.s.d. brig. gen. ryder: that's standard for these types of crashes. if it were an air force crash, it would be the air force that responded. reporter: i'm just thinking of the navy crash and how more people seem to be dying in training than battle. about the launch of abort this morning, do you have any comments about that? brig. gen. ryder: the secretary is aware of a lot of things and been briefed on that. to provide perspective, not uncommon for space launches to go through a checklist before launch to make sure there's no anomalies, given the expense of the by paisloads and safety and security. my understanding is that there'll be another attempt tomorrow for this launch. so we'll certainly be keeping an eye on that. thank you.
reporter: to follow up on brandy's question, so i understand there's no d.o.d. investigation going on with the blackhawk crash. the investigation that will start as soon as the team arrives, does that have the potential, depending on the findings, to ground other blackhawk helicopters? basically depending on what they find, how big a problem could this be? what is the potential? brig. gen. ryder: great question. any commander anywhere has the, depending on the situation, has the ability to stand down equipment or call for those kinds of things. i don't want to get into hypotheticals or get ahead of ourselves. we need to allow time for the investigation. any time there's the potential far fleet of aircraft to have some type of systemic issue then certainly again those fleets can be stood down. you've seen us do that with other types of aircraft in the past. i'm not aware of anything like
that for the blackhawk. we need to allow time for the investigation to run its course. again, without getting into hypotheticals, during the course of that investigation, were something to become, were we to become aware of a need to do that, if there was something systemic, that is a step that could be taken. but again we need to allow time for this investigation to run its course. thank you. reporter: quick question on the ukrainians being trained. the numbers you gave there. the ukrainians currently in training, is will and effort to get that training completed before and anticipated ukrainian counteroffensive? is that the schedule you're working on? are there subsequent plans to bring more troops in following this group on the combined arms training. brig. gen. ryder: are you trying to ask me for the date of a ukrainian counteroffensive? just kidding. first of all i'm not going to talk about potential future
operations or timelines. this train, this program for the combined arms straining -- training began this january. at the time we announced that the course for the battalion level courses would take about five weeks each as we cycled forces through. so that is on schedule as these trawnchs of forces come through to provide that mechanized brigade, combined arms training. that's all on track and on pace. in terms of additional ukrainian forces, as has been the case from the beginning that is a iterative discussion with the ukrainians in terms of what their needs are and then how -- you know, keeping in mind that they need to be able to ensure they have the fores they need on the actual battlefield. so we'll continue to train them. continue to have those discussions on what kind of future training they might need. but in terms as it relates to any type of potential future operations i'm not going to be able to talk about that. thank you.
reporter: last week the secretary staid no one, no group, could strike the u.s. and u.s. forces with impunity. so can you help us understand why there hasn't been another retaliatory strike in syria as a result of the three attacks that happened over the weekend, one that injured a u.s. service member and now we're hearing caused at least two t.b.i.'s? brig. gen. ryder: again, we took action, we struck two irgc quds force targets as i highlighted. that was proportionate action and it was deliberate action in order to again send a message that, to your point, that u.s. forces will not be attacked with impunity. so as i highlighted in my topper, we will continue to take appropriate action at a time and place or our -- of our choosing to ensure our forces are protected. as it pertains to, you know, potential or speculative future operations, i'm not ever going
to talk about potential future operations or speculate on those things other than to say we mean it when we say it. we'll take appropriate action to protect our forces and we'll do so at a time and place of our choosing. thank you. back of the room there. reporter: thank you. just to follow up about visits of the president of taiwan and chinese threat. did the yates military had to take any precautions, additional precautions because of this visit? brig. gen. ryder: really, just to put this in perspective, president tsai's transit of the united states, you know, the department of defense, we're monitoring that for obvious reasons but really not playing much of a role in that regard. so again we'll continue to keep and eye on the indo pacific region and i'll leave it at that. thank you very much. tony. reporter: a couple of questions on classification issues. this week, a new washington,
d.c. organization called the nonproliferation policy education center issued a scathing report on overclassification. the "wall street journal" and "stars and stripes" picked it up so troops are reading about it. it was pretty critical. it says overclassification, an overclassification epidemic is killing off our nation's common defense, not protecting it. can you broadly address that claim? brig. gen. ryder: yeah, so, tony, i don't necessarily want to comment on somebody else's report. when it comes to classification, and we've talked about this in the past, you know, certainly as d.o.d. members we are all required to take train, regular training on the appropriate classification of information. that's something that we continue to work at and something we know we can continue to do better. as we talked about in the past there is an ongoing review, certainly when that review is complete, we may have more to talk about on that. but again, it is something that
we are aware of, that we need to address and work on. reporter: may i follow up, the review by secretary hicks was supposed to be done bijan 30, according to the appropriations committee last year. the pentagon hasn't sent it over yet why the delay and when may it be completed? brig. gen. ryder: let me take that question and come back to you. reporter: thanks. feel better. brig. gen. ryder: thanks. is it that obvious? reporter: my question is related to ukrainian -- last week republican lawmakers sent a letter to president biden urging the administration to provide ukraine with ammunitions. does d.o.d. support using those ammunitions in ukraine? brig. gen. ryder: i'm not going to get ahead of any announcements we're making. so i don't have any -- anything further on that. thank you.
reporter: christina anderson. thank you, general. as russia assumes the chairmanship of the u.n. security council, are we -- are you tracking any potential for them to use this as an opportunity on the battlefield in ukraine or elsewhere around the world in some contested areas? brig. gen. ryder: i am not -- that's probably a question better addressed by the u.s. delegation to the u.n. again, you know, we've seen in the past russia attempt to use some of its international positions to obviously advocate for its position on things. but from a d.o.d. standpoint i don't have anything to provide on that. reporter: and a followup, if i may. regarding the helicopter crash in kentucky. it seems that training incidents are part of the risk of -- that service members must bear as part of the service to the nation. as we go forward in a world
that's fairly contested, as it seems it's more contested, feels more contested every day, can we anticipate perhaps additional risk that the service members must assume in training? or is it something that we hope to mitigate? thank you. brig. gen. ryder: so, when it comes to military training, we're always going to try to take into account mitigating some of the risks associated with that training. as i mentioned before, a lot of the training that our service members do is by nature dangerous. right? whether it's live fire exercises, whether it's aircraft training, whether it's, you know, training on ships at sea. there are many dangerous aspects of that. so writing in to training plans, efforts to ensure that safety is taken into account, as i mentioned, our safety offices work diligently every day trying to identify potential hazards to
mitigate and reduce risks. that said that risk will always be there. this will be one of those things we'll always have to work at and never be satisfied with. so we're obviously committed to doing that. because at the end they have day it's about ensuring that we have u.s. service members ready to go wherever we need them to go, whenever we need them to go there, to do the important work we're asking them to do on behalf of our nation. couple more. prip thank you. yesterday second re-- reporter: thank you. yesterday, secretary austin said there hadn't been accountability for the withdrawal from afghanistan. can you clarify that statement. did he mean because it isn't needed or are there more actions that need to be taken in d.o.d., white house, executive branch, to review persons actions? can you expand a little bit more on what emeant -- what he meant.
brig. gen. ryder: when you say agreed there was no accountability, i don't recall him saying that. reporter: he said, i agree there's no accountability. he said, i agree. brig. gen. ryder: ok. i think the context here, you know, in terms of secretary austin's view of the situation in afghanistan and how the withdrawal went so first of all, the secretary was, you know, his veuns the performance of our service members, our men and women, during a very chaotic time, he felt they performed magnificently under incredibly trying conditions. you know. obviously very regretful in terms of the fact that we lost 13 service members in a suicide attack during that event. but we had a mission to do. it was to withdraw our forces from afghanistan. and again, despite incredibly
chaotic situations, we were able to evacuate more than 124,000 people from that country and we did it in a way that the united states military only could. working very closely with our partners and allies. again in a very, very challenging situation. so again, i think that's the important context to understand here is that the secretary is incredibly proud of the way that our men and women performed in a situation that was obviously a very trying and chaotic situation. thank you. thank you very much, everybody. appreciate it. [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2023] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for
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on district attorney bragg's indictment is exped to come in the following days. follow the latest developments here on c-span, incding on tomorrow's "washingtonournal" where we'll take your phone calls and comments on the indictment. "washington journal" live at 7:00 eastern on c-span. >> next, a look at military operations in cyberspace with general paul nakasone who heads u.s. cyber command and the n.s.a. and pentagon cyber official john plumb. they testified before a house armed services subcommittee.