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Department of Defense Press Briefing by Rear Adm. Kirby in the Pentagon Briefing Room

Press Operations

Pentagon Press Secretary Navy Rear Adm. John Kirby
Feb. 3, 2015
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REAR ADMIRAL JOHN KIRBY: Good afternoon, everybody.


Thanks for waiting.


I want to read a statement on behalf of the secretary and then I've got one other short announcement to make and we'll get to your questions.


On behalf of the men and women of the United States Department of Defense, Secretary Hagel extends his deepest condolences to the family of Royal Jordanian Air Force Pilot First Lieutenant Moaz al-Kassasbeh, who was brutally murdered after being taken captive by ISIL terrorists.


This horrific, savage killing is yet another example of ISIL's contempt for life itself. The United States and its military stands steadfast alongside our Jordanian friends and partners.


Jordan remains a pillar of our global coalition to degrade and ultimately destroy ISIL, and this act of despicable barbarity only strengthens our shared resolve.


We send our thoughts and prayers to Lieutenant al-Kassasbeh's comrades, loved ones, and all Jordanians as we join them in mourning this tragic loss.


Now, I do want to make you aware that on Saturday, this past Saturday, the 31st of January, a little bit after 9 a.m. Eastern Time, U.S. Special Operations forces conducted a strike south of Mogadishu, using unmanned aircraft and several Hellfire missiles. This operation was a direct strike against the al-Shabaab network, and the terrorist group's chief of external operations and planning for intelligence and security. His name was Yusuf Dheeq.


We are still assessing the results of the operation and will provide additional information when and if appropriate. At this time however, we don't assess there to be any civilian or bystander casualties as a result of the strike.


This operation was, as others have been, an example of the commitment made by the United States government, our allies and partners, to the people and to the government of Somalia. And it goes to show, again, how long our reach can be when it comes to counterterrorism.


Q: Admiral, was the U.S. aware that the Jordanian pilot had been killed one month ago, on January 3rd? And also a question on the Somalia announcement there. This was the – did you say that the intelligence and --


(CROSSTALK)


REAR ADM. KIRBY: The intelligence chiefs – intelligence and security chief and director of external planning. So directly involved in the planning and collection of information to plan and conduct strikes outside Somalia.


Q: Can you give any assessment of the impact of that as killing him as well as the previous senior al-Shabaab about three weeks ago?


REAR ADM. KIRBY: Well, if, again, I'm not in a position now to confirm the results of the strike. But if successful, if he no longer breathes, then this is a significant – another significant blow to al-Shabaab and their ability to conduct, plan, prepare for and – and strike against targets inside and outside Somalia. So we would deem this to be – if successful – a very significant blow against their capabilities.


On your first question, Bob, I haven't seen anything that indicated that we had before today any direct knowledge of the murder happening on the 3rd of January. I've seen these reports today, but I'm not aware that we had any indications prior to today that it happened so long ago.


Q: Admiral, as a result of the killing of the Jordanian pilot, President Obama said today that the U.S. was going to double-down on the efforts to defeat and degrade ISIS – ISIL. What does that mean?


I mean, are there plans by the U.S. military to double the efforts in their fight against ISIL?


REAR ADM. KIRBY: Well, you know we don't talk about future operations, Jim, but I think it, as I said in my opening statement, reflecting the secretary's views, that it's just another example of how barbarous this group is and how serious the threat we need to continue to take -- to take them – and we will.


And you also know that there has been a long, concerted effort here over the last seven months to degrade and destroy their capabilities. Nothing is going to slow down about that. We're going to continue to put as much pressure on them as possible with our partners in Iraq and in Syria.


Q: I guess my question is, was that just a sort of a reaction to what happened? Or are there actual plans in the works to double-down the U.S. military efforts against ISIL?


REAR ADM. KIRBY: We don't talk about future plans and operations. What I can tell you is that we're going to remain committed to this, as we have been, and we're not – there's not going to be any loss of focus. In fact, an event like this only sharpens that focus and makes it that more – you know, makes it that more important for us to succeed.


(CROSSTALK)


Q: Admiral Kirby, Lt. Gen. Vincent Stewart was on Capitol Hill for his confirmation hearing, or on – at a hearing today and said that of the – given the percentage of recidivism among released Gitmo detainees, that one of the five – Taliban five who were released for Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl would be expected to return to the fight and that DIA would not be able to do anything to trace them once the one year is up in terms of Qatar watching them for one year.


That seems to stand in contrast to what you said in terms of the ability to mitigate the risk that these released prisoners pose after the one year mark in May ends in Qatar, if they decide to leave for Afghanistan, return to the fight. How do you reconcile that?


REAR ADM. KIRBY: Well, I didn't see the general's comments, but let's just take that at face value. What I – I still stand by what I said up here before. And so let's look at this factually right now, because it's very difficult to predict the future. All five remain in Qatar. All five are being monitored. There are security assurances that we have from the government of Qatar. And the secretary's comfortable that those assurances are being met and followed.


It was the fact that they existed at all and there was a monitoring program in place allowed us to know about this individual's reengagement. And as you know, I can't get into the details of what that – the character of that reengagement. But we knew about it and were able to have a dialogue with the government in Qatar because it worked.


And so again, I would repeat what I said last week, that we're comfortable that going forward, through these measures, we're going to be able to more closely monitor them. And that we will continue to work with partners, not just in Qatar, but in the region, to try to mitigate the threat that any returned detainee could potentially pose, not just to American interests, but to the interests of our partners in the region.


Q: But do you think that can continue after May? I mean, you have --


REAR ADM. KIRBY: The other thing I'd say – the other thing I'd say is, because I think where you're going is "well, what happens if they go back to Afghanistan?"


I think Secretary Hagel said this very, very well, and very eloquently, in the House Armed Services Committee testimony, when we discussed the Bergdahl transfer, when he said they return to the battlefield at their own peril.


And they will, because when they return to the battlefield, if they choose to do that, we obviously have the ability to protect our troops, and we will. And the Afghan National Security Forces are far more competent today than they were even a year ago, and they are certainly capable, and increasing in their capability of defending their citizens.


Q: He also said DIA was not consulted before the decision to swap the prisoners was made. Why wasn't DIA consulted?


REAR ADM. KIRBY: I'd have to get back to you on that, Jen. I didn't see that particular comment. I can't -- I can't validate it. I mean, I'm sure that the general was speaking honestly and truthfully. I'd just -- you're going to have to let me get back to you on that.


Joe?


Q: Admiral Kirby --


REAR ADM. KIRBY: I'll come to you in a second.


Q: After the killing of the Jordanian pilot, how do you think the Pentagon, the United States, and the coalitions will respond to that killing and to the killing of other hostages?


REAR ADM. KIRBY: We haven't made it a -- and I can only speak for the United States military – we haven't made it a point to respond directly to these killings, even when these -- when American citizens were killed.


What we have done and will continue to do is degrade and destroy their capabilities and continue to put them on the defensive, in which they still remain today.


So there's -- I wouldn't -- at least from an American military perspective, I wouldn't look at this as a -- you're not going to -- it's not tit for tat. We're at war with ISIL in the same way that we're at war with Al-Qaida. We're at war with allies and partners: indigenous partners in Iraq, and hopefully growing Syrian moderate opposition in Syria. Nothing's going to change about that, Joe.


Nobody's letting off the gas. We're going to continue to put pressure on ISIL regardless of these barbaric acts. What these acts do, however, I mean, they bring into stark relief just how despicable these people are, and how little that – the contempt that they have for life and how little they care.


Now, I don't need to remind you that this pilot was himself a Muslim. So, it does bring into stark relief the seriousness of the threat.


But you know, the – these brutal murders, I can't – there's no way I could, but no possibly figure out how to justify it in your brain, because it's so twisted. But it certainly isn't – these aren't the acts of a winner.


And they're not winning.


Jamie.


Q: You mentioned in the strike in Somalia that it demonstrated the long reach of U.S. counter-terrorism efforts. Is that in any way a veiled or maybe not so veiled warning to ISIL?


REAR ADM. KIRBY: There's no veil put upon the warning to ISIL. We have been nothing but clear and transparent about the degree to which we take this threat seriously and that we're going to work to eradicate it.


Q: Do you think that the – you've mentioned the brutality, the barbaric nature of this act. Do you think that could backfire against them in terms of creating more homegrown capability to go against them?


REAR ADM. KIRBY: Backfire in terms of hurting their recruiting efforts?


I think it – it's hard to say.


I do think an act like this, as all their murderous acts have been, but they're not – they're certainly not, as I said, the behavior of a winner. And they're certainly not in our view going to further advance any success by them.


I do think that this will be a setback, eventually.


Now, will it possibly attract some young, disenfranchised young men to the cause? It very well might.


And I think that they believe that there is propaganda value. Obviously, they think there's propaganda value into not only doing this, but videotaping it and then posting it online.


But in the end, it just shows the utter corruption, the debasement of who they are as an organization. And yes, it will – I think that at least regionally – it will backfire on them.


Yeah?


Q: So admiral, since the capture of Lieutenant Kassasbeh, did -- did you have any information about his whereabouts or make any effort to -- to try and release him?


And the second question, do you have any concerns that the killing of Kassasbeh will have any negative implications on the popular support for the war on DAESH, and more specifically --


REAR ADM. KIRBY: Popular support here in the United States?


Q: No, abroad, basically in the region, in Jordan. And do you still have the commitment of the Jordanian government to be part of the coalition against ISIL?


REAR ADM. KIRBY: Well, I won't speak for the Jordanian government.


Q: Did you receive any new commitment?


REAR ADM. KIRBY: Since this video? None that I'm aware of. But I would let the Jordanian government speak for itself and for the Jordanian people. That's not my place.


I'm not aware that we had any information at all in terms of specificity about where he was being held. We had been working closely with Jordanian officials since he was captured, you know, to do what we could, to try to help locate him. But I'm not aware that any -- that there was any success in that regard. So, there would've been no ability to try to mount an overt rescue opportunity.


Q: And on the popular support in the region?


The public opinion support.


REAR ADM. KIRBY: What this will do to popular support? Well, you're already seeing video out of Amman about the reaction there by the Jordanian people to this. I think this goes to Jamie's question. I do think that this has the potential to backfire on them. I absolutely do believe that, in the region.


But again, I think it's important, everybody, just to take a couple of steps back and look at who these guys are, what they're about, and the seriousness of the threat.


And we've been saying this for a long, long time. And we've also said it's going to take a while to get at the ideology, which is the real center of gravity here. You're not going to do that through bombs and airstrikes. That doesn't mean the bombs and airstrikes aren't going to keep happening. They are.


Nothing is going to change. Nothing is going to change as a result of today and this video about the resolve that we, the United States military have, or the coalition has more broadly.


Q: Since you mentioned, if I may have a follow-up, since you mentioned the videos from Amman, we actually on Al Jazeera have different other videos as well. We had videos from the region where Kassasbeh is, was born, and people saying "well, why are we in this situation? This is not our war in the first place. This is a U.S. war." How do you respond to that?


REAR ADM. KIRBY: I didn't see those videos.


So let me just more broadly respond to the idea that this is the U.S.'s war. It's not. And I think a coalition of 60 nations proves that it's not. We're not the only ones involved in this in trying to get rid of this group.


That said, I can – you know, we also believe in this country, in you know, a diversity of opinion, and certainly can allow for the fact that others may have a different view about what this murder means or should mean going forward.


All I can do, again, is speak for the United States military. That's my job. And what I'm telling you is the United States military is going to stay committed to this.


Phil?


Q: Admiral, I know you don't like to get into body counts or nose counts in this fight against ISIL, so I won't ask about specific numbers, unless you're interested in talking about them, but there are reports and discussion over the past couple of days that ISIL is getting more foreign fighters as part of its recruiting effort than the U.S. and the coalition are killing there.


Is that accurate? And can you give us any sense of what the difference is between their ability to add to their pool of combatants and the Americans' and others' ability to take those guys off the battlefield?


REAR ADM. KIRBY: You're right, I'm not going to get into body counts with you Phil, or throw out numbers, because, as I've said before, I don't think that's a helpful metric.


That's okay. But what I can tell you is we do continue to attrite their forces. In other words, they are still suffering battlefield losses every – almost every day, as airstrikes continue, and as ground operations continue, particularly up in the north.


And it's true that they continue to recruit back to Jamie's question, and I think one of the things that we believe they believe they're getting out of these very public, grisly murders is more recruits. So, we know that they have the ability to continue to generate young men that are attracted to this group and this ideology, and that's going to be a long-term problem.


I can't sit here and tell you – and I saw the press reports, and I made a few phone calls before I came out here, as you might think I would. I can't tell you with any specificity that those numbers in the press reports are accurate.


I can't refute them either.


We do know that they are capable of bringing more people to the fight. And we have been saying that from the get-go as well, Phil. You know that. Which is why, again, we are going to stay committed to this for the long-term, and it is going to be a long-term fight.


So, I don't know what the balance sheet is, and I suspect, quite honestly, that that balance sheet changes every day, because this isn't the -- they're not an army where you raise your right hand, you take an oath, you get a ID card, and off you go to boot camp. These are common street fighters. And they come and they go.


And sometimes they stay for a while, and sometimes they stay for a day and they leave. And so I know ISIL has – they have a fluctuating manpower pool.


What we have seen, and a better judgment of the strength of this group is their behavior. So, we've seen them change the way they operate on the ground. They're hiding more. We've seen them not travel around in convoys – not as much as they used to.


So they're not as – they're not as agile as they once were. We know that they've lost literally hundreds and hundreds of vehicles that they can't replace.


It's not like they've got a supply chain out there, you know, and a defense contractor building trucks for them. So they've got to steal whatever they want to get, and the number -- you know – there's a finite number. So, we know that we've hit them there.


We also know that they aren't – the main source of revenue for them used to be oil. Now we assess that it's no longer the main source of revenue. Now, I can't give you the dollar figure now, I know that, we know – because I know that was the next question coming – but we know that oil revenue is no longer the lead source of their income in dollars.


So, they are changing. And I know, and we have talked about the fact, that they are largely in a defensive posture. They aren't taking new ground. Let's talk about Kirkuk. Yeah, over the weekend, they mounted an offense Kirkuk. They were out of there before the second day was up, they were pushed out. And they're not on Kobani anymore.


So, they are losing ground. They are more defensive. They are more worried now about their lines of communications and supply routes. This is a different group than it was seven months ago. I'm not saying they're not still dangerous. I'm not saying they're not still barbaric, but they're different. Their character, their conduct, their behavior is different. And that's a sign of progress.


Q: Other members of the coalition here, especially Turkey, need to do more to stop the flow of foreign fighters to ISIL?


REAR ADM. KIRBY: Well, we've talked about Turkey and their contributions. We're grateful for those contributions, particularly on the train and equip side.


Every member of this coalition, and there are more than 60 countries, is contributing in ways that they and their people deem most appropriate. There are some countries that are only contributing financially, not militarily at all, others that are doing both, others that are, you know, much more focused on kinetic military support.


Every country brings something to this. It's a coalition of the willing. And that means we have to be willing to let these nations contribute in ways that they deem most appropriate.


What is their – what is their lead source of income?


REAR ADM. KIRBY: They get a lot of donations. They also have a significant black market program going on. But what I can tell you is that we now know that oil is no longer the lead source of revenue. I don't have their tip sheet with me.


Q: Can I follow up please?


REAR ADM. KIRBY: Yeah.


Q: How long has it not been the lead source of revenue? Do you know?


REAR ADM. KIRBY: I don't know.


Q: Okay. And one other question. You talked about the coalition, what they're willing to do, and how the U.S. has to be accommodating to that. Has Jordan continued to fly its F-16s over Syria since December 23rd when Lieutenant Kassasbeh was taken, and -- or had they at any point suspended it? And have they given any indication that they will or not be willing to --


REAR ADM. KIRBY: Those are great questions for Jordan, Nancy.


I don't know what the -- I don't know what their air tasking order is for Jordan. I would direct you to the Joint Task Force or to CENTCOM for what countries are flying. They keep track of that. I just don't have that handy with me. But really, this is for Jordan to speak to.


Q: Admiral Kirby?


REAR ADM. KIRBY: Yeah.


Q: You laid out a number of positive indicators, but let me ask you something. On the Iraq side of the equation, the new DIA director today testified that the Iraqi forces weren't capable of defending themselves without U.S. help.


And in Syria, again, U.S. airstrikes by all accounts allowed the turning of the corner in Kobani, so U.S. airstrikes right now in both cases appear to be the only thing really holding ISIS off.


When do you – for the U.S. military, how long do you just continue to grind away at airstrikes, or does there come a point when there is something else you can do or should do, will recommend to the president to change the basic relative strength on the ground?


Because right now, it appears on both sides of the border. It is only airstrikes that are holding ISIS off. And there's no indication that fundamentally, the balance of their power has changed.


REAR ADM. KIRBY: Well, I think I would just dispute that on both counts there, Barb. One, airstrikes have been an important component. We know that.


And that's why we're continuing to conduct them. But they're not the only component. Look at Sinjar Mountain and the airstrikes helped get those guys out from -- away from that mountain, but it is Kurdish ground forces, Peshmerga, that are actually helping secure the population that remains on Mount Sinjar and has remained there.


Q: So your own DIA director today says the Iraqi forces, not the Peshmerga, the Iraqi forces cannot defend themselves without outside help, even after all these months of airstrikes, they can't do it, even though you've been training them.


REAR ADM. KIRBY: I did not see those – I did not see those comments.


Q: And on the Syrian side, Kobani, yes, but again, at what point is – for you, if ISIS is such a threat, if they are so terrible, which obviously everyone agrees to, at what point is there – are airstrikes, I come to the other side of the equation, no longer enough? At what point do you have to recommend something else?


REAR ADM. KIRBY: Airstrikes have never been enough. We've been saying that from the very beginning.


Q: (off mic)


REAR ADM. KIRBY: Barb, we've been saying it from the very beginning. Airstrikes are never going to be enough. We're not going to win this fight by the barrel of a gun or by dropping a bomb. We know that.


Now, just let me -- please let me finish. You asked about a lot, and let me just have a chance to respond.


We've always said that airstrikes are never going to be enough.


We've said that military power is not going to be enough. But let's put the political stuff aside for a second. One of the other things that we've been working so hard to do is to help develop and improve Iraqi capability. And I know we're not talking Pesh, so let's talk about the Iraqi Security Forces.


Now, we've got four training sites stood up now – three of them to help train nine brigades of Iraqi troops. Not all Iraqi units are as competent as others, so we're focusing on those that our assessment teams believe needed the support. All three of those sites are up and running right now, and they're helping to crank out students. I can give you the stats here, we can give it to you after it's over. You can find out exactly how many are at every sight. We know that they need some improvement, and so we're working on that.


We've always long said that ultimately, you need a competent force on the ground. That force needs to be indigenous. It needs to be Iraqi. And we are confident, now that we're up and running with these training sites, that we're going to help them get there.


Q: What percentage of Iraqi forces right now do you think are capable of fighting, taking, and holding ground?


REAR ADM. KIRBY: They are already fighting, taking, and holding ground. I don't have a percentage for you today, Barb.


But there are units in the Iraqi army that are already doing that, in Anbar province and certainly in and around the capital city.


Remember, it wasn't too long ago we were – you know, that there was this breathless state of reporting that Baghdad was going to fall. It never did. Baghdad has stayed defended, ably defended by Iraqi Security Forces. And they have taken ground back in Anbar.


Q: Can you give us a statistic by coalition and U.S. standards, what percentage of Iraqi forces you believe are capable of fighting, taking, and holding territory?


REAR ADM. KIRBY: I will pose the question and try to get you something back.


Q: Admiral.


REAR ADM. KIRBY: Yes?


Q: BBC News here. Just on a different subject, there's been a couple of former ambassadors to Kiev today and a whole series of senior, former senior members of the administration, various administrations, calling for a change in tactics and a change in the way the U.S. supports the government in Ukraine.


Can you tell us what active consideration you're giving to hardware – supplying hardware to the government there, and lethal assistance? And is the – is the position of the U.S. government shifting?


REAR ADM. KIRBY: There's been – well, the focus of our assistance provided to Ukraine and the Ukrainian security forces right now remains on the non-lethal side. But we've said for months now that we continue to review and to consider all requests by the Ukrainian government for assistance, lethal and non-lethal.


That remains true today.


There has been today, this week, last week, three weeks ago, longer than that, discussions about the potential provision for lethal assistance to Ukraine. It remains on the table. We continue to talk about that. But right now, the material that we are sending is of a non-lethal nature.


Q: Are you actively considering lethal assistance?


REAR ADM. KIRBY: I don't know that the word consider needs the adverb of active. Consider means consider. We're considering it.


Yes?


Q: I’d like to follow up on Somalia. This is the third drone strike since September, I think. Are there fresh indications that al-Shabaab is targeting Americans or American interests? Or are these individuals of al-Shabaab being attacked just by virtue of their position in al Shabaab?


REAR ADM. KIRBY: Both are true, Craig. I mean, they're legitimate targets because they are – because they represent a terrorist network allied with Al-Qaida and pose a threat not just to the interests of the people in Somalia and in the region, but to American interests.


Q: And a year ago, the department said that it had established a new coordination cell in Mogadishu, a small number of people. Has that grown in size or operation? And has that helped with intelligence information that's enabled these attacks?


REAR ADM. KIRBY: What I can tell you is the cell is still there and still performing a vital function, but we don't talk about the size of the footprint there.


(CROSSTALK)


Q: And just to clarify something about the Somalia strike. Was that a UAV strike or were there boots on the ground involved?


REAR ADM. KIRBY: There were no U.S. boots on the ground.


Q: And was this done in coordination with the Somali government? Or was this a unilateral U.S. strike?


REAR ADM. KIRBY: Well, Jon, I mean, let's not parse. I mean, all the operations that we conduct there are in consultation and coordination with the – YPG* [editor’s note: *Somali government]. But, I mean, it's not – this was, as I said in my – I believe I said in the opening, this was done with hellfire missiles fired from UAVs.


Q: The DIA – the new DIA director mentioned the spreading of ISIS affiliates to I believe it was Egypt and Libya. And I wanted to know what the military is doing to stop that, or if it's a concern that that ideology is spreading?


REAR ADM. KIRBY: Well, what we're doing to stop ISIL is what we're doing in Iraq and Syria, which is the real central focus of this group. That's – they're sustaining themselves and resourcing themselves out of Syria, a safe haven there, and they're operating and maneuvering or trying to operate, not really maneuvering so much, in Iraq. But that's where the focus of the effort is.


Yes, of course, it's a concern. I mean, it's not a surprise to us and we've been talking about this for a while, that this is a group that has a fairly evangelical strain about it. They want to metastasize. They want to grow. They want to increase their influence. And so we're aware that they are looking for opportunities to do that elsewhere in the region.


Yeah, but we're watching it as closely as we can. We're in consultation with partner nations in the region and we're monitoring it.


Yeah, in the back there.


Q: Admiral Kirby, it was reported that the DoD gave lightweight counter-radar systems to Ukraine. I think they reported it in November. I was wondering if you had an update on how that performed -- how it is performing? And if there are any new deliveries of that radar system?


REAR ADM. KIRBY: You're right. There were some counter-battery – counter-mortar battery radar systems delivered. I think I said that right, didn't I, Steve? No?


(CROSSTALK)


REAR ADM. KIRBY: Counter-mortar radar system, yeah. It's a – I'm a naval officer still – that were delivered earlier. I can't speak to exactly their – what their battlefield use was. I mean, let us come back to you on that. I don't want to characterize it from here and try to wing it, but it is a defensive system, obviously. And we'll just have to get – we'll just have to get back to you.


On future deliveries, as I said, we're considering all manner of potential assistance going forward. I'm not – I don't have anything to announce or anything specific to say today about what might be coming.


I'll just take a couple more. Yes?


Q: Admiral, ISIL has another U.S. hostage, a woman. And barring the event of a covert action and considering that you have called them a terrorist organization in this press briefing, should we consider any U.S. hostage with them as lost if they're in ISIL hands?


Do you follow me?


REAR ADM. KIRBY: I think I do. Let me – let me –


(CROSSTALK)


Q: -- consider any U.S. hostage in ISIL hands as lost?


REAR ADM. KIRBY: No. We never stop monitoring the situation of our hostages that are held by terrorist organizations. And I think you've seen in not too distant history here where we've made some pretty gallant attempts to try to rescue. But I'm not going to stand up here and talk about plans or efforts of any specificity. All that would do would potentially put any other hostage's life at further risk.


No, we don't – no, we don't consider – no, we wouldn't. We wouldn't. And we never stop trying to know more, to learn more, and to do something if it's possible to do something. But I wouldn't at all get into specifics in that case.


Q: (inaudible) – military action, we're not going to negotiate with them, in other words.


REAR ADM. KIRBY: Nothing has changed about the United States' policy of not negotiating with terrorist organizations.


Yeah, one more.


Q: (inaudible) – it is reported that North Korea conduct military exercise aimed to hit U.S. aircraft carrier. How do you response – (inaudible)?


REAR ADM. KIRBY: Didn't see that report.


Q: (inaudible) – North Korea – (inaudible) – joint military exercise with Russia next month. How – (inaudible)?


REAR ADM. KIRBY: Well, again, I didn't see these reports. Countries exercise their militaries all the time. They train – I mean, we do it virtually every day all around the world. What matters is the intent and again the message to North Korea is the same as it always has been. What they need to do is focus less on destabilizing the peninsula and the region, and more on feeding their own people.


Thanks, everybody.