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Remarks by Acting Secretary Shanahan at an Enhanced Honor Cordon and Meeting Welcoming German Minister Of Defense Von Der Leyen to the Pentagon

April 12, 2019
Acting Secretary Of Defense Patrick M. Shanahan; German Minister of Defense Dr. Ursula von der Leyen

ACTING SECRETARY OF DEFENSE PATRICK SHANAHAN:  Well, let's see.  I'm sure I have some prepared remarks here.  But maybe I won't give the prepared remarks.  What do you think about that, huh?


Yeah.  So, Minister, it's wonderful to have you here in the Pentagon.  I always enjoy the opportunities we have to spend time together, because you're a serious, thoughtful leader who enjoys solving problems.  In our short time together, I've come to know you as someone who's very pragmatic, forward-leaning.

I think our respective teams are in a good position to deal with an unstable world.  That we'll, together, build plans that strengthen our collective defenses, strengthen NATO.  And we'll make real progress today.

As I've come to know in working with you is, you're not shy to bring forward the real subjects that we should discuss.  And I think our agenda today reflects substance, and I expect that we'll make progress and continue to make progress.

So welcome to the Pentagon and it's just wonderful to see you.

GERMAN MINISTER OF DEFENSE DR. URSULA VON DER LEYEN:  Thank you so much.  It's wonderful to be back with friends.  And as you know, we have a stable long-lasting friendship, the two of us, can build upon.

And it's good to be back here in the Pentagon, to know people here who are working on the same problems, crises and conflicts.

But the knowledge that our service men and service women are standing shoulder to shoulder in all these conflicts, gives us the notion and emphasis to work on forcing the necessary (inaudible) they deserve.  And therefore it's good to be here again.

SEC. SHANAHAN:  Danke schoen.



MIN. VON DER LEYEN:  Would you like an answer in German or in English?




He was asking about the Wales pledge.

Germany has now had, since six years, a rising defense budget.  And we are committed to the 2 percent goal.  We will reach 1.5 percent of defense spending as a portion of the GDP in 2024.  And afterwards, we will be moving towards the 2 percent.

I think we know that Germany has to do more.  It has done a lot more over the last six years since Wales.  But not only the financial support of NATO is important, but also capabilities and contributions, and we are proud to say that we are the second-largest troop contributor.  So we know there needs to be a fair burden-sharing, but also commitment in capabilities in our missions and activities.

Q:  Mr. Secretary, how many additional troops do you anticipate deploying to the border?  And will those troops be involved in detaining migrants in any way?

SEC. SHANAHAN:  Yeah.  Let me talk about the border activity.

You know, first of all, it shouldn't come as a surprise that we'll provide more support to the border.  And the way I tend to frame that is, it's -- our support is very elastic.  And given the deterioration there at the border, you would expect that we would provide more support.

And, you know, in terms of the type of support, it'll be in the form that we've provided.

Now, just to give you a sense of where we stand in the process, I haven't received a formal request.  And those usually come in the form of requests for assistance.

But we've been having a number of conversations with DHS.  I'll be --  you know, this past week was space week for me.  So tomorrow we'll have a planning team here in the building.  And it'll be, you know, follow up:  Where are we on barrier construction?  Where do we stand on the current support?  And then in the areas we anticipate, what type of preliminary planning should we be doing prior to receiving that request for assistance?

So to your detainee question, we haven't received any details on that.  But we're going to -- I expect that an increase in support will occur, okay?

All right, everybody.  Thank you very much.