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

Presenters: Rear Admiral John Kirby, Press Secretary
August 22, 2014

REAR ADMIRAL JOHN KIRBY: Everybody, sorry I'm late. I know I'm terribly late today. I do want to just say something right at the outset and then we'll get to your questions. We are very concerned by the movement of a Russian convoy across Ukraine's border. We strongly condemn this action and any actions that Russian forces take that increase tensions in the region. Russia should not send vehicles, persons, or cargo of any kind into Ukraine, whether under the guise of humanitarian convoys or any other pretext, without Kiev's express permission. This is a violation of Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity by Russia.

Russia must remove its vehicles and its personnel from the territory of Ukraine immediately. Failure to do so will result in additional costs and isolation. We're currently consulting with the International Red Cross and other international partners. And as we have more details to provide on what we know, we'll certainly do that.

Q: Does the U.S. consider this an invasion? And is the U.S. taking any action, either calling any counterparts overseas either in Ukraine or in Russia?

REAR ADM. KIRBY: It's certainly unauthorized entry into the Ukraine by -- by this convoy, and we are consulting, as I said, with international partners right now about next steps. I don't have anything additional to add at this time. And I think, again, in my opening statement, made it very, very clear what we expect of Russia.

Q: But no phone calls or anything yet with either -- between the administration and...

(CROSSTALK)

REAR ADM. KIRBY: This is just happening today, so I'm not aware of any outreach today by -- certainly by this building. And I won't speak for other agencies in the federal government. I would remind you, though, I mean, the secretary did talk to Minister Shoygu just a few days ago, and the minister guaranteed, was his words, that there would be no military intervention using the pretext of humanitarian relief and, in fact, assured us that there would be no military members as a part of this humanitarian convoy.

Q: You said under the guise of a humanitarian convoy. Does the U.S. have evidence that there are military forces and military equipment?

REAR ADM. KIRBY: I'm not prepared -- I'm not prepared to speak to the specific evidence at this time. We've made our position very, very clear, that they should not be doing this under the guise of a humanitarian convoy, to use that as an excuse to -- to cross the border in an non-authorized way. We have a lot more work to do here, and I think we'll sort this out throughout the day. I think you'll hear more from us throughout the day.

Q: Admiral Kirby, on Iraq, we heard yesterday Secretary Hagel and Chairman Dempsey talking about the long-term strategy. Could you give us a sense what -- what does it mean? Are we going to face to see changes in regards to the current operation right now in Iraq?

REAR ADM. KIRBY: I think what the secretary was referring to -- and I'm pretty sure the chairman was referring to -- was that we need to have a regional approach here and interagency and an international approach about this threat proposed by this particular extremist group, ISIL, and that -- and that this was -- this would take time to develop this kind of multilateral and multinational approach to dealing with this threat.

The president himself said that this wasn't going to be over in a matter of weeks. I think we all recognize that this group didn't grow up overnight. They didn't get the capabilities that they got overnight. We've been watching this for a while, and that we all recognize it's going to take a while.

But just as critically, Joe, it's going to take a while for everybody, not just the United States military. And the secretary was clear about this yesterday. You're not going to see the answer to all ISIL problems through a military lens. We're a component; we're a tool. We are conducting operations inside Iraq against this group, in support of Iraqis and Kurdish forces, but we're not going to be the only tool in the toolbox that can or should be used.

Q: Admiral, do you -- do you know, does the Pentagon know what's the size of ISIL in Iraq and in Syria? Are we talking about 10,000, 20,000? Do you have any numbers?

REAR ADM. KIRBY: It's a difficult number to get at, Joe. And we -- believe me, we've asked ourselves that question. It fluctuates a lot. It changes, if not weekly, then certainly daily. I mean, it's a constant fluctuation, so it's hard to pin it down. This isn't a classic army, you know, with an order of battle that you can just take a look at a map and say, "This is how many they have."

Clearly, it's thousands. There's no question about that. But it changes every day. And as you -- as we've talked about, you know, they -- they have free flow across that border between Syria and Iraq, which for all intents and purposes doesn't exist for them. So it's very difficult to pin it down to a given number.

Yes?

Q: To go back on Russia for a minute and another question, is it not accurate that you now estimate there might be up to 18,000 troops near that border between Russia and Ukraine? And isn't the reality that you have seen very recently a number of additional heavy weapons, including SA-22 surface-to-air missiles and long-range artillery, go across? And my second question is, can you bring us up-to-date on this threatening encounter the Chinese military has had with the U.S. Navy this week in the air?

REAR ADM. KIRBY: OK, there's a lot there, Barbara. Let's start with Ukraine. I'm reticent, as I typically am, to give a hard number on Russian troops arrayed along the border. I have said for several weeks now that it's north of 10,000. I believe it is still north of 10,000. We do believe that they continue to add to their battalion tactical groups there along the border. And...

Q: (OFF-MIKE) well north of 10,000?

REAR ADM. KIRBY: I'm going to stay where I've stayed, which is it's north of 10,000. It does fluctuate. Now, we have seen a consistent increase in the last week or so. I haven't exactly seen troops moving away. They have certainly added and reinforced those -- those troops.

But again, I'm really reticent to get into numbers. It's hard for -- for us here in the Pentagon to give an exact order of battle for another military's forces when, you know, you're not there with them. So, well north -- north of 10,000. I think that's -- that's fair to say.

More worrisome than the number is the readiness and the capability that exists in these battalion tactical groups. They are, as I've described before, combined arms capable: armor, artillery, infantry, air defense.

They're very ready. They're very capable. They're very mobile. And they continue to do nothing but just increase the tension on the other side with Ukraine.

Just as -- and this gets to your second of three questions. The -- just as worrisome is the continued support to the separatists, which continues to this day and does include heavy weapons systems, air defense systems, artillery systems, tanks. So we're seeing -- we're seeing a lot of hardware going across that border on a routine basis.

Q: And Russian troops?

REAR ADM. KIRBY: Well -- it's hard to believe. I think it strains credulity to think that this equipment's not moving across the border, accompanied by Russian forces. I wouldn't get into an estimate right now.

But again, let's not get fixated on the numbers. And we tend to drill down on that. I mean, I think what's -- what's more worrisome is the capabilities, the capabilities that exist in those troops on that side of the border, and the capabilities that continue to find their way into separatist hands or in support of separatists actions. That's the real problem, and that's what needs to stop.

Now, you asked about China. And I know you may have seen a press report on this. So let me give you a little bit of a -- I'm going to just give you an update here about -- about it, in case you weren't following. But on the 19th of August, an armed Chinese fighter jet conducted a dangerous intercept of a U.S. Navy P-8 Poseidon aircraft, patrol aircraft, that was on a routine mission. The intercept took place about 135 miles east of Hainan Island, in international airspace.

We have registered our strong concerns to the Chinese about the unsafe and unprofessional intercept, which posed a risk to the safety and the well-being of the air crew, and was inconsistent with customary international law.

Also, it undermines -- and we've made this clear, that it undermines efforts to continue developing military-to-military relations with the Chinese military. So that's where we are now.

Q: How close did they get?

REAR ADM. KIRBY: It's difficult to say with precision, but, within 30 feet of the P-8, very, very close, very dangerous.

Q: Is it correct as they went within 30 feet they moved around the U.S. aircraft over, under, around it at close range?

REAR ADM. KIRBY: We believe that they -- they made several passes, three different occasions, crossed under the aircraft with one pass having only 50-100 feet separation. The Chinese jet also passed the nose of the P-8 at 90 degrees with its belly toward the P-8 Poseidon, we believe to make a point of showing its weapons load-out.

And then they flew directly under and alongside the P-8, bringing their wingtips, as I said, to within 20 feet. And then conducted a roll over the P-8, passing within 45 feet. So...

Q: Can you describe what you mean by a roll?

REAR ADM. KIRBY: I mean a roll. I'm not an aviator, so I'm not good talking with my hands. But basically, if here's your P-8, you've got a jet fighter going over like this, so -- pretty aggressive and very unprofessional.

As I've said, we've registered our concerns very strongly to official diplomatic channels with the -- with the Chinese. This kind of behavior, not only is unprofessional, it's unsafe, and it is certainly not keeping with the kind of military-to-military relationship -- relations that we'd like to have with -- with China. Did I answer your question?

(CROSSTALK)

Q: Do you have photos or video?

REAR ADM. KIRBY: I believe there's imagery of it, Jim. I don't know. We'll have to -- we'll have to get back to you on that. I'm not sure.

Q: And also, I'd like to follow up on Joe's question. Can you tell us if the administration more seriously considering now expanding the air campaign in Iraq to directly confront ISIL in a way that it hasn't, with a goal, with the expanded mission perhaps of defeating them or expanding the strikes to Syria?

Because of the comment that administration officials have made in the past few days suggests that maybe that's under more serious consideration than it has been in the past.

And then secondly, can you update us on the provision of weapons by the United States or by allied countries to the Peshmerga?

REAR ADM. KIRBY: On your first question, I think Secretary Hagel and the chairman spoke pretty well to it yesterday. I don't know that I can expound on it any further. We continue to assess and monitor ISIL activities. That's one of the reasons why we put assessment teams there in the first place, to get a situational awareness of what's going on there.

As you know, we are engaged in supporting Iraqi security forces and not just only -- but you know, with kinetic air strikes, which we believe have had an effect.

I'm not going to get ahead of planning that hasn't been done or decisions that haven't been made. We don't telegraph our punches. But I think you can rest assured that the leadership here in the Pentagon understands the threat posed by this group, understands the threat posed inside Iraq, and we are gaining every day a better understanding of Iraqi security force and Kurdish force capability in meeting the threat inside Iraq.

Two points I think are important to make, and I'm not -- I'm going to make these points but I also know I'm not answering your question. I'm not going to talk about any future planning or future operations. But it is important to remind everybody that these -- what we are doing in there is in support of Iraq and that ultimately this is a fight that the Iraqi security forces have got to take on.

The second point is, there's not going to be a purely military solution. So, when the secretary and the chairman were up here talking to you yesterday, they talked about using all of the elements of American power and international influence as well to deal with this.

Ultimately, the answer is going to be found in good governance. Now, I know that's not -- you know, that doesn't offer everybody the -- you know, the immediacy that they may want to have in dealing with this threat, this very serious threat -- but ultimately, it's defeating the ideology through good governance.

It's removing the unstable conditions, the Petri dish through which groups like this can foster and grow. And that's -- that's where we've gotta get long term. And so we are a tool in the toolbox, the -- we're going to continue to conduct the missions that we've been conducting in Iraq. You've seen it more today.

I think Central Command released yet another press release now. We're up over 93 air strikes. But ultimately, that's not going to be what solves this problem.

Q: Just a couple. When does it become a question of U.S. self defense versus this organization that's posing a transnational threat? Because, you know, the administration has said again and again that it won’t hesitate to act against any organization or terrorist group that directly threatens American interests. That, to me, seems different than the Iraqi, you know, helping them to fight -- defeat, you know, push back ISIL.

REAR ADM. KIRBY: But I think what you're seeing us do in Iraq does both of those things. And again, the secretary mentioned this yesterday, that we are -- that part of the mission is supporting, advising, assisting, helping Iraqi security forces and Kurdish forces blunt the momentum. We believe we've succeeded in blunting that momentum. But it's also about protecting U.S. personnel and facilities, including some of the air strikes that we're conducting inside Iraq.

I think the United States military has, over the last several years, a pretty good track record of defending American interests and American citizens and American facilities in many places around the world from, you know, protecting them and defending them from terrorist threats.

Q: And the Peshmerga question?

REAR ADM. KIRBY : I'm sorry, yes, there's been -- as you -- as you heard yesterday, and I think I've said it before, Secretary Hagel has set up a task force here at DOD to examine options and opportunities for us to -- to resupply Kurdish forces. No decisions have come out. I have nothing to announce about that today.

That said, we do continue to help the Iraqi government in Baghdad conduct those kinds of resupply missions: in some cases actually flying their equipment up to the north where it needs to get. And we have been encouraged by the assistance of international partners like the U.K.

And I also want to take the opportunity today to thank Albania. Albania has now come forward and offered to conduct resupply missions for Kurdish forces, which, again, we're very grateful for.

Q: Admiral...

REAR ADM. KIRBY: Yeah.

Q: ... can you just help me understand what Dempsey was saying yesterday? He did not rule out airstrikes inside Syria, did he?

REAR ADM. KIRBY: The secretary didn't rule anything in or out. I think he said that options -- that all options remain available. And they do. And I'm not going to speculate about where that might take us, Justin. I think you can understand why we wouldn't do that.

Q: On the Foley operation, there was a suggestion from at least one member of Congress today that the president -- or that the White House was slow to approve the rescue mission and that this may have led to not getting there on time, essentially, and that the hostages were then moved. Do you have any indication that this operation was slowed down in any way?

REAR ADM. KIRBY: I don't have any such indication, Justin. As we talked about before, attempts like this, which was risky, under the best of circumstances, they take time. They take time to plan. They take time to organize. And just as critically, they -- it takes time for you to become informed enough to be able to conduct that kind of an operation. Intelligence is not perfect, and it is often layered over time, not unlike the way you all do your jobs when you are working with sources. You build a picture over time from many different vehicles. And that's the way intelligence works, and that's the way it works in this rescue attempt.

I think Chairman Dempsey said it very well yesterday, that there was a lot of planning and effort that went into it. And we, once on site, had an indication that they had actually been at that site. When they -- you know, when they were moved, we don't know, but to say that, you know, that it was slow-footed or done in a ham-fisted manner or that it was an intel failure, I think, does a disservice to the immense amount of work and -- and the courageous decision that it was to move forward to actually -- to make the attempt.

It also -- if you allow me just a second to editorialize it, I think it says a lot about who we are, not just as a military, but as a country, that we're willing -- that we're willing to try to pull something like that off, and a lot of bravery, a lot of skill, a lot of courage. There's going to be, you know, a lot of names and faces you'll never know of people that put their lives very much at risk to try to save the lives of others. And I think that's pretty darned commendable.

Q: And then, finally, last question. Is there any update on sending these 300 U.S. security personnel to Baghdad? Is there any specific threat to the embassy in Baghdad? Are there plans -- are these people being sent there to prepare for an evacuation? What's going on? I mean, we heard this request from State Department. When is it going to be fulfilled, if at all?

REAR ADM. KIRBY: The -- what I'll tell you now is they're -- we are processing a request by the State Department for some additional security force personnel, for Baghdad specifically. Like all requests that we get for forces, we take them seriously. We explore sourcing options and force protection requirements that go along with it and any number of other factors that go into this. We're reviewing that right now. I don't have a decision to announce on it today.

And as for the need, I wouldn't get into -- I don't talk about specific intelligence matters. I won't do that today. I'm not aware of a specific threat stream that led to this request, but clearly, it's the kind of request that we take very seriously, and we will.

Q: Admiral?

REAR ADM. KIRBY: Yeah.

Q: Last night, Missouri Representatives Clay and Cleaver met with the secretary to talk about the 1033 program. Can you tell me if the secretary is contemplating an official review or even a temporary suspension of that program and, if so, when that might happen?

REAR ADM. KIRBY: The secretary is keeping an open mind about the program. He shares the president's concerns about any blurring of lines between the military and local law enforcement, of course, certainly, as -- as that concern could lead to the use of military equipment. But he's not made any decision about conducting a review. He's still very much gathering information about it.

He not only met with those two representatives, he -- he held a meeting with senior staffers the day before to ask lots of probing, deep questions about this program and how it's operated. But he hasn't made any decisions yet.

I do want to point out, you know, that most of the -- first of all, the military is not the only source of tactical gear used by law enforcement in this country. And I think we're losing sight of that. And we look at -- we see the pictures, and we think, `Well, that's all military.'

Most of the stuff you're seeing in video coming out of Ferguson is not military equipment. And as I've said before, Ferguson itself only had -- they got two Humvees, soft- skinned Humvees from this program and a generator and I think a trailer. And that's it. So a lot of this is not U.S. military equipment. That's point number one.

Point number two I would make is 95 percent of the property that is transferred to local law enforcement through this program is not tactical. It's not -- it's not weapons. It's shelving, office equipment, communications gear, that kind of thing -- furniture. So it -- I think it's important to keep this thing in perspective.

And where the secretary wants to be is he wants to keep it -- he wants to, you know -- as he looks at this program, wants to make sure that we're striking the right balance, that the right stuff is being transferred, that the accountability is in place.

But he's also mindful that it's not a good place for the republic, for the Pentagon to be holding strings or carrying sticks out to law enforcement. There's a reason why we aren't involved in local law enforcement activities. And he -- he wants to make sure that -- that we take our proper place inside this democracy.

Q: So the local media accounts of these vehicles being heavily armored is incorrect?

REAR ADM. KIRBY: I don't know whether they're heavily armored or not.

Q: (OFF-MIKE)

REAR ADM. KIRBY: They're -- I'm talking -- no, and what I said was the two Humvee vehicles that we provided to Ferguson were soft-skinned, not armored.

Now other tactical vehicles they have, I can't speak for where they got them and whether they're armored or not. I just don't know. But I just was trying to make the point that as you look at the video coming out of Ferguson -- I understand how people would look at that and say, `Well, gee, look at all that military gear,' most of it. In fact, almost all of it, is not military gear. It didn't -- doesn't belong to us. We didn't provide it for them. So I just wanted to provide a little bit of perspective on your question, which was a good one, I think. Thank you for it.

Margaret?

Q: We've heard a lot about the response to ISIS needing to be sort of locals retaking their country, right, And helping to craft a regional response.

Yesterday, Secretary Hagel talked about the $500 million he wants to put to work to help train and equip Syrians, moderates, that we've identified that we want to work with. What's the status of that program? And if it's not going to be funded until 2015, is there thought to actually speed that up?

REAR ADM. KIRBY: The -- you're right, Margaret. The program is part of our overseas contingency operations budget request that was submitted to Congress this summer. That -- so it's on the Hill now for contemplation, and it has to be authorized by -- by Congress.

You're also right that it's a fiscal year 2015 request. So that if -- if authorized and appropriated, we wouldn't be able to access that money, and therefore wouldn't be able to execute that program until fiscal year '15. I know of no plans to try to accelerate it. Again, we're working through Congress and through the budget -- the budget vehicles available to us to get at that program.

While we are waiting for Congress to act, the secretary is working with the joint staff, Central Command, and, of course, his own staff here in the Pentagon to further develop the ways in which we would -- should we get the funding we're asking for, the ways in which we would execute that.

I don't have any hard decisions here to announce today. I can't tell you, you know, where it would take place or how many people would be trained. And there’s still a vetting process that needs to be fully developed here.

So there's a lot of -- there's still a lot of homework to do. We have kept Congress informed until they went out on a break. I mean, we were over there frequently, keeping them informed of what the thinking was. But it's not fully developed yet. And we're gonna work -- the secretary wants to work closely with Congress as -- as they both review the -- the request itself, and we continue to develop our plans.

Q: But isn't there a sense that this needs to be get -- this needs to happen quickly? I mean, is that what the secretary is trying to do?

REAR ADM. KIRBY: We are working through the budgeting process here to develop this program. And while, yes, everybody shares a common sense of purpose here when it comes to the train and equip mission for the moderate opposition, we also don't want to get wrong, either. So you can only go as fast as his right. And that means that you've gotta have a good plan in place and that you -- and a key to that is a proper vetting process, which we just haven't nailed all that down.

It's really important -- in order to do this, to have a positive impact on the moderate opposition that you're -- that you're working with the right sorts of folks.

Q: And my understanding what you're saying to me, this building would not have the authority to act without congressional approval...

REAR ADM. KIRBY: We...

Q: ... and not before 2015 to do this?

REAR ADM. KIRBY: We do not have the authorities now to begin a train and equip program with a moderate Syrian opposition. We want to have those authorities, and we want to have the resources that go with it. And we also want to build a program that will make sense and will do the job, and we're still working on that right now.

In the back?

Q: In January, the president equated ISIL's capabilities to that of a junior varsity team, so, which seems to be in direct contrast with what the secretary said yesterday. I was wondering if there had been new analysis or done to get to the secretary to that position?

And does that mean that ISIS is getting stronger?

REAR ADM. KIRBY: I would make a couple of points. One I would point you to what the president said yesterday or the day before about ISIL and the threat that they posed, as well as comments made by Secretary Kerry, and of course you've heard what Secretary Hagel said. I think everybody has the same view here about the threat posed by ISIL not just to Iraq, but to the region.

There's no divergence. This is August. You're talking about comments that were made in January. ISIL -- and we've been watching this for months. They have grown in capability. I've said it from the podium as have others. They have grown in capability with speed, helped along by resourcing from some of their own criminal activity, as well as donations and ransoms and helped along by a sanctuary that they have in Syria. So, we've all been watching this. They have advanced in capability. And we -- we saw the speed with which they gained ground and held ground in northern Iraq earlier this summer.

So, it's a -- the real answer to your question is, it's a constantly changing, fluid situation, and their threat continues to grow. And that's what led us to where we are today, which is that we believe it does pose an imminent threat, and it's a threat that we need to take seriously.

Q: The New York Times just moved a story quoting NATO officials saying that Russian artillery had fired on Ukrainian forces. What do you know about that? And how does that -- is that a game changer in any sort of way?

REAR ADM. KIRBY: I didn't see the New York Times report, so I won't comment on a press report I haven't seen and can't -- and can't confirm. I'll just go back to what I said at the outset, that the support for separatists, the build-up along the border, the constant flow of -- of significant weapons systems across the border in Ukraine needs to stop. It just needs to stop, and that's as far as I can go given what I know, and I have not seen that press report.

Tony?

Q: Just one budget question. The convoy going in today, one of your guys a couple of weeks ago said that it could be a Trojan horse, actually military equipment going in under the guise of humanitarian. Do you have any indication at all that this is a Trojan horse, or is it really humanitarian supplies, but you still think it's a quasi invasion?

REAR ADM. KIRBY: We don't have a perfect picture of what's inside those trucks, Tony.

Q: How about an imperfect picture?

REAR ADM. KIRBY: I don't have an imperfect picture either of what's inside those trucks. It's the entry -- the unauthorized entry into Ukraine, which as I said at the outset is -- is a violation of the territorial integrity of Ukraine, and we call for Russia to pull those convoys back.

Q: (OFF-MIKE) the OCO for '15. What's the status of the fiscal '16 budget where you have the specter of sequestration returning? It'll be fall's crisis after these other crises end. So what's the status?

REAR ADM. KIRBY: We're hoping it's not -- we're hoping it doesn't become a crisis, Tony. I mean, we want Congress to do the right thing, which is to -- which was repeal sequestration and get it off the books. The work on the '16 budget continues. The comptroller has given the services guidance to deal with a range of options. I won't speculate any further than that.

Q: You were here two years ago when the Pentagon was getting criticized for not planning for sequestration. Contrast that with today in terms of planning for what may likely happen.

REAR ADM. KIRBY: As I've said, we've given the services a planning guidance for a range of options, a range of budgetary options. I really don't want to go into any more detail than that. You saw how we dealt with sequestration and the planning that we did for it when we submitted the '15 budget. So, our focus right now is on getting that '15 budget authorized and appropriated. We’ve not only had public hearings. We've had many briefings up on the Hill. And then secondary to that is the ongoing work of the '16 budget, and I just won't go into details on that.

Q: Let me take a shot at you on one thing. Why are we only learning about this China P-8 incident four days after it happened? Why didn't you disclose it quicker?

REAR ADM. KIRBY: Well, there's a -- there's not -- there wasn't some Machiavellian intent here to conceal. I think we needed to process the information and kind of figure out what really happened. And I also believe -- and I think this was the right course, too -- we wanted to make sure that we had taken the opportunity to register our deep concern directly with the PLA, which we've done. And it made no sense to go public with that until we had had a chance to deliver that demarche, which we did -- which we did today.

Q: Was there a response?

REAR ADM. KIRBY: I am not aware of a response.

Maggie?

Q: Do you have any indication from U.S. allies whether they'd be willing to participate in airstrikes in northern Iraq? I mean, many of them have agreed to deliver weapons. Have they talked about possible airstrikes? And if not, I'd like to know why they've expressed hesitancy and why we're the only ones out there.

REAR ADM. KIRBY: Your question presumes hesitancy. I won't -- I am absolutely not going to speak for other countries up here. It's hard enough for me just to speak for, you know, what I have to speak for here. I speak for the United States military; that's my job. I'm not going to talk about what other countries are willing to do and what timeline.

Yes? I don't know. I pointed at her. I'll get to you after that.

Q: Yesterday the chairman said that the joint operations center in Erbil and Baghdad are evolving. I was wondering if you could describe how they've changed since they were first set up and if the U.S. is looking at beefing up the one in Erbil.

REAR ADM. KIRBY: The joint operation centers are -- they continue to be operational, one in Baghdad and one in Erbil. The personnel have -- in each one have stayed fairly static. I mean, there's some fluctuations. I think I can give you an update. In Baghdad, there's 93 people in that joint operation center, Erbil it's 68. And that's stayed pretty steady, hasn't changed much. I'm not aware of any plans to beef them up. I think they're right about where they need to be for what we're doing.

Q: You said evolving. Does it mean the things that they're doing versus the number of people that are there? Are they...

REAR ADM. KIRBY: Just that now that they're up and running and now we are conducting kinetic airstrikes inside Iraq, they are working more and more closely every day with Iraqi and Kurdish forces on assistance and providing some advice from the joint operations centers. But I wouldn't read more into it than that. It's just it's a -- like any military operation, it -- you know, every day you advance and you deepen the dialogue, you deepen the cooperation, that kind of thing.

Yes, now it's your turn.

Q: As a follow-up to the question regarding the allies and partners in the region. At least can you give us a few details as to what level the U.S. military is cooperating with partner and allies in the region, combating these operations in northern Iraq? And the secondly, can I get your assessment about the situation in Syria, in terms of the ISIL and moderate opposition clashes? How these airstrike operations will affect the situation in Syria, while the ISIL seems free to go back to Syria with the heavy weaponry they got from the Iraqi army?

REAR ADM. KIRBY: Well, the answer to your second question is that we haven't made any decisions on -- with regard to Syria. I don't have anything to -- I'm not going to speak about operations that we're not conducting. So I couldn't possibly begin to answer that question.

On your first question, the international partners that we're dealing with most every day in Iraq, the Iraqis. And we've made it clear that a big part of our job there is to help assist them in combating this threat. And we're doing that every day.

There have been some international partners who have come forward and made it public that they would assist in the humanitarian side of that mission, the U.K. and Australia, the French, and others, Italy. And I'll let them speak to what they're doing and how they're doing it and the decisions they're making. But with regard to day to day, and particularly with respect to the airstrikes that we're conducting, it's being conducted with our partners in Iraq, our Iraqi partners.

Yeah. I got time for just a couple more.

Q: On the budget, are we likely to see an additional OCO request before Congress takes up spending measures sometime in September?

REAR ADM. KIRBY: I'm not aware of any, and I wouldn't get ahead of that. I think the secretary said it pretty well yesterday that we think we're going to be OK for fiscal year '14, but he wouldn't -- he opened the door for the possibility that in -- for '15 we might -- you know, we might need to look at some additional funding sources. But we're not there yet, we just don't know.

Q: Do you have any sense of a timeline of when that...

REAR ADM. KIRBY: I do not, no.

You had your hand up for like ever. He got -- that was easy.

All right, last one.

Q: So, I want to go back to the China fighter. Excuse me if I'm naive about this, but you said they intercepted the P8, and I was wondering if there was any message from the Chinese pilot about why they were intercepting it and if -- if there are any standard procedures that go with an interception, if it's noted...

REAR ADM. KIRBY: Well, you're not supposed to do a barrel roll over the aircraft.

Look, I'm not aware of any radio communications. I'd point you to Pacific Command for details like that. I think the message that they are apparently trying to send was you know, they -- resisting the flight of this patrol aircraft, which I'll remind you -- as I said at the outset, was in international air space. The message we're sending back to China is that's unacceptable and unhelpful to the military relationship that we would like to have with them.

Listen, before I go, I tried to make a quip, and I don't think I came off the way I wanted. I said I have a hard enough time doing this, I meant my own eloquence. I didn't mean that I don't like the job and what I'm doing. I very much do enjoy the privilege of being up here, but I was just talking about my own poor performance on most days.

All right, thanks everybody. Appreciate it.

Q: What is the possibility you could release footage or video of the P-8...

REAR ADM. KIRBY: We'll take a look at it. I don't want to give you a...

Q: It would be great if you could do that today, quite frankly.

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