United States Department of Defense United States Department of Defense

News Transcript

Press Operations Bookmark and Share

Transcript


Department of Defense Press Briefing by Admiral Kirby in the Pentagon Briefing Room

Presenters: Rear Admiral John Kirby, Press Secretary
May 20, 2014

REAR ADMIRAL JOHN KIRBY: Once again, I'm sorry I'm a little bit late.

REAR ADM. KIRBY: The honest truth is, I had to put this uniform on.

All right, let me just make a couple of comments about the budget before I start taking questions.

As you know, the full House of Representatives and the Senate Armed Services Committee are considering their defense authorization measures for fiscal year '15 this week. Secretary Hagel appreciates the efforts of leaders in both chambers to move forward with this critical legislation. He believes that it's important for the ideas and proposals put forward by the Defense Department in the president's budget be subject to a full and vigorous debate.

He also knows that this debate is just now beginning. This is the beginning of it, certainly not the end, and there's lots more discussion to happen. He stands firmly behind the tough decisions that were made in that budget proposal, decisions that he believes are necessary to preserve our military edge in a very difficult fiscal environment.

So I expect that you'll be hearing more from the secretary and from other senior leaders in the department on this in the weeks and months to come.

So with that, I'll start taking questions.

Q: Admiral Kirby, the Chinese have said that the U.S. has set back relations by having made this cyber spying indictment. I'm wondering what you make of their reaction to that and whether Secretary Hagel is planning to talk to any Chinese officials about it?

REAR ADM. KIRBY: Well, he has talked to Chinese officials about it. When we were there just in April, it was a topic of discussion throughout the visit. It's a topic of discussion that we routinely have with Chinese authorities across the government, not just here in the Defense Department.

And...

Q: But referring to the specific indictment?

REAR ADM. KIRBY: Oh, I'm sorry, to the -- no, he has not spoken to his counterpart about this specific indictment. This is a Justice Department matter, as you know, and not necessarily -- doesn't fall under his purview. And to the degree that it affects the relationship, well, I mean, that's a decision that the Chinese have got to make. We -- we still desire from a military perspective to further grow and develop the military-to-military relationship and to find ways to have a more productive conversation about these very tough issues, and cyber is one of them.

So, you know, I understand that yesterday they pulled out -- they announced that they pulled out of the Cyber Working Group. That's regrettable. It's a decision they made and that's a regrettable decision. It wasn't a decision they had to make, but this is a tough issue we don't always agree on, but it's one that we've got to keep the dialogue and the conversations open on. And the secretary firmly believes in still doing that.

Again, I'd go back to what he said recently, which is we have no desire to militarize cyberspace, and with countries like China who are active in cyber, we want to continue to have as open and as transparent a conversation about it as possible.

Q: Admiral, can you tell us exactly what military assets you deployed to Sigonella for a potential evacuation in Tripoli? And what the State Department is asking of you to be ready for exactly?

REAR ADM. KIRBY: So, we have moved elements of a Marine air-ground task force from Moron, Spain, which is where they're based, to Sigonella, Sicily. We also, I want to at the top, thank the Italian government for the continued support that we continue -- that we get from them in their country across many military bases, but particularly there in Sicily.

Right now, there's a total of about 250 Marines there on Sicily; seven Ospreys; three C-130s as part of this air-to-ground task force. They -- they are there as a precaution. This was a prudent measure taken by General Rodriguez in consultation with General Breedlove, the European Command commander, and of course, the State Department, to be able to be in a posture and in a location that should they be needed in North Africa, specifically, yes, specifically Libya, that they would be -- that they would be ready to do so.

There's been no request for military operations or assistance in Libya. And that's -- obviously, that's going to be a State Department call. And I think you heard the State Department speak very clearly that there's been no change to their embassy operations there in Tripoli.

We're watching the situation very, very closely -- the unrest, the violence there certainly troubling to all of us here in the Defense Department. And again, this was a prudent precautionary measure. And I would add also, Justin, I mean this is part of what we consider the new normal. You know, one of the things that we learned from Benghazi was the need to have an agile footprint, you know, that you can -- that you can move quickly to address just these kinds of issues in North Africa.

Q: How dangerous is the security situation in Tripoli right now? And what's the likelihood that the embassy will need to be evacuated?

REAR ADM. KIRBY: Well, I'm not going to speculate about embassy evacuations. That's something for the State Department to speak to. We're watching the situation very closely and we urge, as I think everybody in the U.S. government has been urging, all parties to take a step back from the violence and work through these issues peacefully.

But yeah, we're watching it very closely. It's certainly unsettling. And that's why, quite frankly, that's why we made the decision to move those Marines to Sicily. And they are -- they're ready to go if they're needed.

Q: Specifically, Admiral Kirby, what is the latest assessment of the threat to the embassy and personnel? You mentioned Benghazi, and that threat was underestimated.

Yeah. Well, as I say many times, I'm loath to discuss intelligence issues here from the podium. And I would not speak for the State Department. I -- the embassy is still open. They have not ordered any evacuations. I would leave it to them to discuss what they believe the security situation is. We're -- from a military perspective, our job is to be ready in case we're needed. I mean, we are a planning organization. We're a responsive organization. Our commander out there, General Rodriguez, did the responsible prudent thing to move forces, to have them closer in case they're needed. And beyond that, I just won't speculate.

Q: Back on China, I was wondering if you guys had fair warning that these indictments were on the way, and if there was sort of an interagency assessment of the fallout this would have on the various facets of cooperation you've been trying to foster? And I wonder if, you know, even though the Chinese have decided to walk out of the cyber group, on the other areas where you have made progress on military-to-military cooperation, do you think those will remain strong? Is it too early to tell whether they will be impacted?

REAR ADM. KIRBY: Good questions. So on the fair warning, yes. I mean, we certainly knew that the Justice Department was working on these indictments. So there was -- certainly, there was visibility into -- that it was moving along. But again, I would refer you to the Justice Department for, you know, details on how they got to where they are. And that's certainly not for us to speak to. But yes, we were aware of the work that was going on.

As far as the Chinese reaction, I think, look, without speaking for another agency, I mean, clearly, you know, nobody expected that Chinese authorities would react well to this or welcome this. But, you know, I'd leave it to the Justice Department to speak to the specifics on the reaction itself.

And then on mil-to-mil, as I said, in answer to Bob's question, I mean, this is a relationship that is important to us. It matters. There are plenty of issues that we disagree on. And it's fair to say and it's certainly clear in the indictment of what this military unit was responsible for, that cyber is one of those issues. That we don't see eye-to-eye on in every aspect. All the more reason to keep the military-to-military communications opens and keep working at this.

But you know, I'm not trying to, you know, paint a rosy picture here. Cyber is a difficult issue, and it's an issue that, again, we do have differences with the Chinese over, as evidenced in this indictment. It's an important relationship, though, and we need to keep working at it.

Q: A follow-up on China and then Russia-Ukraine. On China, did the Pentagon, especially, I guess, General Dempsey, want to have the indictments delayed until after his meeting with the Chinese that seem to happen extremely quickly after the Chinese were here at the Pentagon? Did you inform them that this was coming? Did you want this delayed until they left?

And on Russia-Ukraine, any evidence of them yet moving off the border? And what is your military definition, at this point, of Russian troops withdrawing? What would constitute specifically, in a military sense, them withdrawing from the border?

REAR ADM. KIRBY: Okay, well, I'll take the -- on the first question, again, I won't speak for the Justice Department or their timing. That's -- these are -- you know, these are their indictments and I'll let them speak for timing. I'm not aware of any discussions that General Dempsey had with his counterpart about this particular issue.

On Russia and Ukraine, look, we continue to monitor very closely Russian forces there along the Ukrainian border in the tens of thousands. They are still in the tens of thousands. We have not seen any withdrawal activity as of 2:45 this afternoon, and we're watching as best we can constantly.

What would constitute movement? The departure of significant numbers of troops back to their home bases. You know, we've seen them say this before, well, we're going to withdraw, we're going to move. And we've seen very small unit movements, you know, to and from the border area, back to these forward bases that they have established in recent weeks. But President Putin said he's ordered them back to their home bases, which to us means a wholesale withdrawal of all the forces that are readied on Ukrainian border. We have not seen that yet. So they need to -- you know, if in fact, this order was given, and we have no reason to doubt that it was, we're looking forward to seeing it followed.

Q: Not to these -- back to these new forward bases, but back to their ...

REAR ADM. KIRBY: Back to their home bases, to their garrisons.

Q: And in a military sense, would they have had enough time at this point to begin that effort, since the order was issued, should -- if it was going to happen, shouldn't the world have seen something happen by now?

REAR ADM. KIRBY: Well, I mean - I - you know, that's a great question for President Putin. I don't know exactly how he termed his orders to his - to his generals. You know, he might have given them - he might have given them a deadline to meet, or I - I just don't know. All I can tell you is what we have seen and we - we haven't seen any movement yet. Yes?

Q: India got a new prime minister this week, Mr. Narendra Modi from the BJP Party and U.S. has dealt with this BJP Party, but 15 years ago. So in the past under Congress we didn't see much movement as far as military-to-military relationship between the U.S. and India. So now, what do you think about future of U.S./India military-to-military relations under this new government?

REAR ADM. KIRBY: Yeah, I don't do well talking about, you know, our foreign governments and elections and that kind of thing. So, I'm not - I'm going to refrain from that. I won't speak to - to internal Indian politics. But I can tell you that - and this won't come as a surprise to any of you, that you know, India is an important partner in - in a very critical region. It matters not just to people that live there, but to people that live here. So, we look forward to working with the new administration on a military-to-military relationship that we believe is mutually productive and helpful for all of us.

We - we all - we have very - we share common threats, common concerns, common challenges there in that part of the world. And we look forward to advancing our cooperation.

Q: I'm sorry did - anybody have spoken? Are you in touch with Indian officials at this time since he's going to take...

REAR ADM. KIRBY: I'm not aware of any discussions that we've had from the Defense Department to the new administration there in - in India. But again, this is an important relationship. I think you might have heard Admiral Greenert talk about this recently, that you know from the navy, that you know, we have to look for more opportunities to operate together and I think you will see that across the board here in - from the military.

Q: Is the secretary planning to call anybody, or a counterpart in the near future?

REAR ADM. KIRBY: In India?
REAR ADM. KIRBY: I'm not aware of any - I don't have any calls to announce here - here today, but if he does, I'll certainly send you a read out.

Q: Thank you, Sir.

REAR ADM. KIRBY: Yeah?

Q: On Thailand is there any concern in this building that the declaration of martial law there could be a precursor to a coup? Has the secretary or the chairman reached out at all to their counterparts to discuss concerns? Or to encourage them to respect the constitution?

REAR ADM. KIRBY: I can't speak for the chairman. I don't - the secretary has not reached out to the - to his counterpart in Thailand as of yet. That said, we're watching the situation very closely. We expect that the - the Thai Army will be true to its word when it says that this is not a coup and this is just a temporary injunction. I mean this - it's important for everybody to respect the democratic principles there and to refrain from violence and further damage in - in Thailand.

So, that's - that's our call from the Defense Department. You know, everybody needs to restrain from violent activity, respect these democratic principles and then again - they've said it's not a coup, they've said it's temporary. It's our expectation that they'll - that they'll live up to those words.

Q: And the U.S. has some - some forces there now and they're doing some exercises?

REAR ADM. KIRBY: Yeah, there's an exercise - give me a second here so I don't get it wrong. There's an exercise called CARAT, it's an acronym. There's a shock for you, and acronym from the Pentagon. Cooperation of Afloat Readiness and Training Exercises. It began yesterday and its schedule to go through 27-May. There's about 100 - I'm sorry, 700 Marines and sailors participating in the exercise. Half of those are on the - on the - on the ground and half of them are at sea. And - and it's - it's going on as scheduled. So, yeah, there's been no changes to the exercise, to answer your question.

Q: Former Ukrainian deputy defense minister was in town last week, and he was pushing the latest request they've had for body armor, Humvees, reconnaissance. Is there anything new on that?

REAR ADM. KIRBY: I have nothing new to announce in terms of military assistance to - to Ukraine. I can tell you that some items that end - you know, we've announced - the president has announced $18 million in - in support and over three tranches, and we've talked about those. But I can tell you that the embassy has just recently purchased and delivered some additional supplies to the Ukrainian border guards, including shelters, sleeping bags, fuel filter adapters, wire, flash lights and alarm systems. So - so some of the - some of the assistance he has been - you know, been approved and funded before is - additionally is getting to them.

Q: On a bit of a lighter note, a celebrity chef, Robert Irvine said that he was in the Pentagon yesterday. He tweeted that he was here and that he was in discussions to open a restaurant in the building.

REAR ADM. KIRBY: Is that right?

Q: Do you know anything about that?

REAR ADM. KIRBY: Well, listen, as a guy who spends 12 to 14 hours a day here, I welcome a new place to eat. No, I was not aware of that. Do you want me to get back to you on that on the record? Because I could do that. Are you serious? You want me to do that? Okay. I'll do it. You're going to have to give me his name again. What's the name?

Q: Robert Irvine.

REAR ADM. KIRBY: Robert Irvine. Okay. I don't...

REAR ADM. KIRBY: Is that right? And he has a show on TV?

Q: ... that are struggling.

REAR ADM. KIRBY: Okay.

Q: ... restaurants that are struggling.

REAR ADM. KIRBY: Then I'm sure we can use his assistance here.

He'll fit right in.

All right, well, I'll look at that and get back to you. I was not tracking that. But again, I'm always welcome to have another place to eat.

Yes?

Q: How concerned is the Pentagon about intellectual property theft of the kind seen yesterday in the indictment with regards to defense systems? And also the DOJ implied there would be more indictments to come. Are you concerned or aware of any such indictments that might affect the defense industry?

REAR ADM. KIRBY: I'm not aware of any specific effects now to defense contracts or contractors. I can tell you just in general we share the U.S. government's concern about intellectual theft and property theft from cyber. The president's been clear. The secretary's been clear. We remain deeply concerned about these government-sponsored cyber-enabled thefts of trade secrets and other sensitive business information. It's got to stop and we have the same concerns.

Yes?

Q: On the transition of the wartime operation control in South Korea next year, 2015, does the United States reconsidering on the schedule?

REAR ADM. KIRBY: I'm not aware of any reconsideration, but let me take the question for the record. I don't think so, but just to be sure I'll get back...

Q: ... last week, they decided they are reconsidering about...

REAR ADM. KIRBY: Yeah, well, I mean that's part of pending legislation and I'm not going to talk about pending legislation obviously. There's no changes that I'm aware of.

Q: (inaudible) the secretary sought to speak with his counterpart in Russia, Lavrov, about -- since Putin's announcement, one? And two, is there any expectation that Nigeria would accept any additional U.S. assistance in the search?

REAR ADM. KIRBY: His counterpart is Minister Shoygu, and no, he has not spoken to him in recent days, not since -- there's no efforts right now to talk to him, not since the last time. And I read these out pretty regularly, so there's been no conversation since the last time I talked to you, and I have no future calls to Shoygu to announce today.

On Nigeria, where we are now is, you know, we've got this small team working in the embassy, part of an interagency, interdisciplinary effort. They're down there now and they're still -- they're still doing their assessment work. And we are flying -- at the moment, we're flying unmanned reconnaissance flights over the areas in which we think it's possible for the girls to be.

We've not seen anything that indicates their location at this point. And we're making, you know, making that very clear to the Nigerian authorities. We're -- we're sharing with them what -- what we're seeing, but we're not seeing anything that is indicative.

I'm not aware of any other requests from Nigeria for any additional assistance right now. Right now, the effort is truly, from our perspective, it's on two tracks: one, aerial search; and some advise-assist analysis there at the embassy.

Q: Could I just clarify, are you still doing manned flights? You had said you were.

REAR ADM. KIRBY: It started with some manned flights. Right now, the assets we're using are unmanned. That doesn't mean it won't change. The president's been very clear. The secretary, his guidance has been clear. We're going to do whatever we can. So right now, today as we talk, it's unmanned systems that -- that are doing the aerial search, but it could very well to back to manned as well.

Q: Is there a reason you stopped the manned flights?

REAR ADM. KIRBY: In particular, the reason we stopped in this particular case was that the aircraft we were using needed to go in for some maintenance. So we replaced it with unmanned systems. It could very well go back into the effort. I mean, we're going to be flexible about this. The -- the point is we're looking from the air as best we can and we'll use whatever assets are available at the time.

Mick, I already got you.

Q: I want to follow up on this. Could you explain, please. It may seem to many people difficult not to find 300 girls. Why is it so difficult to locate these girls?

REAR ADM. KIRBY: Yeah, people have, you know, said it's a needle in a haystack. It's a needle in a jungle. I mean, we're talking about an area roughly the size of West Virginia, and it's dense forest jungle.

And we do still believe that these girls have been split up into small groups. And for all we know, we can't -- I don't know this for a fact, but for all we know, they could be even broken into smaller groups yet, still and be moved around.

So it's very difficult in terms of the geography, the actual size, just square miles, of what we're trying to search. And then, of course, you've got this very dense jungle cover.

So it's gonna be -- it's gonna be hard. And we -- and we've said that from the very beginning.

Q: And how difficult then would it be to launch any sort of rescue mission?

REAR ADM. KIRBY: Well, look, I mean, all rescue missions, all hostage recovery missions, are risky on so many levels, not the least of which is the goal is to get hostages back alive and unharmed, and they are being held by some pretty nasty folks right now.

So I don't think anybody's underestimating the level of difficulty in -- both in finding them and then being able, whoever it is, being able to launch some kind of recovery mission.

I mean, I think everybody understands how difficult this is; everybody knows how hard it's gonna be.

But I'd also say there's an awful lot of people that are involved in the effort and dedicated to it, and taking it very, very seriously, and it's not just the United States; it's other countries as well.

So, I mean, I think everybody's turning to just as hard as we can on this.

Yes?

Q: (inaudible) for an update on the Cape Ray?

And also there have been some reports out of the State Department that Assad may have used chlorine gas on Syrians. Does that change at all the plans for the Cape Ray? Is it still planning to stay there indefinitely until all of the chemical weapons are rounded up and shipped out?

REAR ADM. KIRBY: Okay, so let's unpack that.

There's not a connection between the purported, alleged use of chlorine gas on civilians and the Cape Ray's mission.

The Cape Ray remains in Rota, ready to execute the mission when all the material is out. The plans are still to wait until all the material is out.

And the last time I was up here talking to you, I said that, you know, there was roughly about 8 percent of the material that still needed to come out, but it was being held up because of the security situation at the facilities or near the facilities where it was being kept as pretty dire.

There has been some of that 8 percent moved out. I don't know exactly how many. I can get back to you on that. I'm not sure exactly what percentage of the 8 percent is out now. But it is starting to be moved, as we speak.

So that's encouraging, and we look forward to getting all that material out onto the Cape Ray for eventual destruction.

So that work continues apace. And we continue to urge the Syrian government to cooperate with OPCW toward the movement on that material.

But it's completely -- it's not related -- that effort is not related to these allegations of chlorine use.

Yeah?

Q: Thank you. For the last two years, India and U.S. were having an important dialogue called the Defense Trade Initiative, which was aimed at reducing -- removing bureaucratic bottlenecks in (inaudible) defense trade between the two countries.

And from the U.S. side this was handled by Deputy Secretary Ash Carter. Do you know who the secretary will -- intends to nominate for this position now? That seat has been vacant...

REAR ADM. KIRBY: I'll have to get back to you on that. An important initiative, obviously. I'm just gonna have to get back to you on that.

Q: Sorry. Romanian officials say that Secretary Hagel will visit Romania in the near future. So can you confirm that? Can you give us a date?

REAR ADM. KIRBY: I have nothing to announce on the secretary's travel schedule today, but stay tuned and, you know, I may have something a little bit more later. But I don't have anything to announce today.

Q: And Romania is one of the countries in Eastern Europe that strongly requested a permanent NATO military base in Romania. How does the Pentagon view the idea of this kind of -- of a permanent NATO military base...

REAR ADM. KIRBY: Well, without speaking to Romania specifically, and I'm not aware of that request, what I can tell you, our focus right now, is -- we already have tens of thousands of Americans stationed in Europe, at the request and invitation and support of many host nations. And we are grateful for that support.

Our focus now on reassuring our allies and partners, specifically our NATO allies, with respect to this Ukraine crisis, is through a rotational -- persistent rotational presence. And that's what you're seeing us do. We've got members of the 173rd are still doing exercises in Poland and the three Baltic countries. We've got other exercises that are going on or will be going on soon.

We've got ships that are coming and going in and out of the Black Sea. This is all going to be a persistent rotational basis. And that's what our focus is on. I know you've probably seen comments by General Breedlove who suggested that perhaps NATO should have discussions about more permanent U.S. presence or additional U.S. presence on a permanent basis. That's a discussion for, you know, NATO heads of state and minister of defense to have. And that discussion just hasn't happened yet.

Right now, the Pentagon's focus is on -- is on a rotational basis, training and presence that can be constantly updated.

Did that answer your question? Kinda-sorta? Then I succeeded.

Yes?

Q: Going back to the Black Sea, (inaudible) that you mentioned. There were press reports in Russia yesterday saying the Vella Gulf was going to go into the Black Sea. Can you confirm that?

And you talk about this persistent rotation that's going on. So is this going to continue for the rest of the year that (inaudible) if you're going to keep sending ships into the Black Sea? I mean, how much training can you actually keep doing with the same number of countries in that limited area?

REAR ADM. KIRBY: Well, I mean, look, you know, I grew up military. You can never do enough training. I mean, training is something that you can always improve on and can always do it. But to your question, yes, I can confirm the Vella Gulf, a Navy cruiser, will be going in to the Black Sea probably later this week.

And I'm sorry -- you had another question.

Q: Well, about this persistent rotation. I mean...

REAR ADM. KIRBY: Oh, how long we're going to keep it up. Well, right now, in terms of the -- in terms of the ground exercises that we talked about, we're definitely committed to keeping a rotational presence going through the end of this calendar year. General Breedlove has said that. Secretary Hagel has said that. We're committed to that.

And then we'll see where we go. At the end of the year, we'll just see where things are. But we're definitely committed to doing that through the end of this calendar year. And I will tell you, that will include naval presence in and out of the Black Sea.

But that's also not unusual, just the Black Sea piece. I mean, it's not uncommon for the U.S. Navy to operate ships in and out of the Black Sea. We do it all the time.

Q: And to make a switch to Jordan. You've got the Eager Lion coming up, a large military presence -- American military presence going there. The last two times...

REAR ADM. KIRBY: Eager Lion I think it's called.

Q: ... the last two times that this exercise has occurred, American forces have remained behind at Jordan's request. Is there -- are there any plans right now that potentially we may be seeing additional U.S. forces remaining in Jordan?

REAR ADM. KIRBY: I'm not aware of any requests by the Jordanian government for any kind of residual presence after the exercise is over. We're looking forward to the exercise. It's an important one.

Q: Admiral, on China and the desire to preserve the military-to-military relationship, how do these indictments affect that desire to retain the military-to-military relationship in the sense that you start -- you might start to run up against U.S. laws, the Leahy amendment and others regarding cooperation with militaries that are either anti-democratic or perceived to be anti-democratic?

REAR ADM. KIRBY: Well, you know, I think the, as I said earlier, the degree to which it affects the military relationship that we are trying to establish, and it's a relationship that -- that sometimes comes in fits and starts with the Chinese. But the degree to which these indictments affect the relationship is really up to the Chinese.

We certainly support and stand by the Justice Department indictments. It represents activity that has to stop; activity that we don't condone nor do we conduct. And it's not indicative of the kind of relationship government to government, nation to nation, that we -- that we would like to have with China.

So, again, the degree to which it affects our military relationship is largely up to them and their conduct and their behavior. We still believe that it's an important relationship to have. We still want to keep the lines of communication open. You saw that with General Fang here last week, and Chairman Dempsey. It's an important relationship that we want to continue to invest in, but it has to start with a basis of trust and confidence.

Q: And are they still invited to RIMPAC?

REAR ADM. KIRBY: They are. They are.

Q: Does the United States trust China?

REAR ADM. KIRBY: Look, it's a complicated relationship. And I think trust is not something that -- trust is something you continue to work at. And I think it's fair to say that, and I saw -- we saw this when Secretary Hagel went to China. We saw that when General Fang was here. Just these visits are indications that we are trying to build a better level of trust between us.

And so while this activity and these indictments certainly indicate behavior that we don't want to see continue, we do want to see the relationship move forward and the trust to get stronger. But it's -- it's something you can't surge trust. You have to build it over time.

Q: (inaudible) Afghanistan?

REAR ADM. KIRBY: Sure.

Q: How long can you wait for the BSA to be signed before you can decide how many number of troops you will have in Afghanistan post-2014? Is it September, October...

REAR ADM. KIRBY: I -- I couldn't give you a fixed deadline on that. Look, we've been very clear that -- that we need a bilateral security agreement if there's going to be any force presence on the ground post-December of this year. We don't have a BSA. President Karzai won't sign it. So, we're certainly hoping that whoever his successor is will. And we're encouraged by the fact that all the candidates have said publicly that they will sign it.

The president, our commander in chief, has told us to begin planning for a complete withdrawal at the end of the year. And we've done that planning. He's also told us, you know, to be ready and to plan for some sort of presence. And we're doing that as well.

The president hasn't made a decision about what the presence is going to look like, but regardless if there's going to be a U.S. presence on the ground in Afghanistan in 2015 and beyond, we have to have a BSA to secure that.

General Dunford's been very clear that the closer you get to the end of summer, early fall, not having a BSA makes it much more complicated for him. But again, we -- we continue to urge President Karzai to sign it and since it's obvious that he has no indication of doing that or he's not -- there's no proclivity for him to do that, we look forward to working with his successor.

Q: And what is the recommendation to president of the troop numbers?

REAR ADM. KIRBY: I'm not going to talk about that. Nice try.

Tony?

Q: The Chinese indictments -- did the Pentagon provide any analytical support to the Justice Department and FBI, especially about this unit 61398 that was highlighted for the first time in the indictment?

REAR ADM. KIRBY: I truly don't know, Tony. I don't know. I can certainly go back and -- and look, but I really would refer you to the Justice Department for how they develop these indictments.

Q: Were any of the activities laid out in the indictment new -- news to the Pentagon in terms of the operations, the tactics, techniques and the breadth of the cyber hacking? Or was that pretty much known within the Pentagon analytical community that follows China?

REAR ADM. KIRBY: I'll just say that we've been working with the Justice Department throughout the process and I won't go any further than that.

Q: Will the China report -- annual China report have to be rewritten a little bit to accommodate the new information in the indictment?

REAR ADM. KIRBY: I don't believe there's any plans to rewrite it. That report is still working its way through the system, and I think we should have it, you know, we should have it out relatively soon, but I'm not aware of any changes to it as a result of this.

Gordon? This will the last one.

Q: (inaudible) Afghanistan. Do you expect General Dunford to remain in Afghanistan through the rest of the year? And if he were to come back earlier, would you expect a four-star to maintain that command?

REAR ADM. KIRBY: I have no personnel assignments or hypotheticals to announce today.

Thanks, everybody.

Additional Links

Stay Connected