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Department Of Defense Off-Camera Press Briefing by Acting Assistant to The Secretary Of Defense Summers and Deputy Undersecretary Of Defense Kurta

ACTING ASSISTANT TO THE SECRETARY OF DEFENSE CHARLES SUMMERS:  Good morning.  Yeah, it's still the morning.  I want to start off with just a couple of things.

First, I want to offer our condolences to the family members of the three Marines that were killed in Afghanistan this week.  They gave, obviously, the ultimate sacrifice.  And our thoughts and prayers are with their families

As part of our ongoing effort to provide access to senior leaders to you all, I've got Dr. Tony Kurta with us here today.  He's going to discuss the part -- the department's updates on the transgender policy which take effect today, I believe.  And once he is finished with his presentation and your questions, then I'll have some time for questions, as well.

But I do want to mention that Jeff Schogol speaks amazing German.  I just --


I just heard him in the bilat upstairs, and I'm very impressed.

All right, Tony?



One -- one quick correction, for the record -- not a doctor.  Thank you.  And so -- Ph.D. or medical, either.  I just (inaudible).

But, hey, thank you, everybody, for having me here today.  Thanks to Mr. Summers for sharing some of his time.

As he mentioned, the department's policy on military service by transgender persons and persons with gender dysphoria goes into effect today.  We have ensured that all of those most immediately affected -- which is, kind of, you know, recruiters, medical providers, commanders, applicant service members -- have the information they need about this policy.

So we said it goes into effect today, so what happens today?

First, anybody currently serving who has been diagnosed with gender dysphoria or anyone who is under contract to asses for the military with a diagnosis of gender dysphoria is grandfathered, and they remain under the 2016 policy for the remainder of their careers.

For those who want to join the military, a diagnosis of gender dysphoria is presumptively disqualifying under the new policy, just as it is and was under the 2016 policy, absent a waiver.

However, there are recognized exceptions.  The applicant must demonstrate stability in their biological sex for 36 months and be able to meet all applicable standards, to include those associated with their biological sex.

For those who are currently serving, future diagnoses of gender dysphoria will be dealt with on an individual basis.  So if the service member can continue to meet all standards, including deployability standards and all those associated with their biological sex, then the service member can continue to serve without waiver.

For those who require gender transition to treat their -- their gender dysphoria and cannot or will not meet all standards, including those associated with their biological sex, they will be referred to the disability evaluation system.

And then lastly, I'd just like to emphasize two key points.  The department will continue to treat all individuals with dignity and respect, and every service member is able to express their gender identity.  DOD will take no action solely based on gender identity.

And with that, I'm happy to take any questions that you may have.

Q:  Tom Vanden Brook with USA Today.

So if -- under this 2016 policy, if the service member came -- decided that they identified as a female soldier, for instance, would they be required now -- and they wore a female uniform, are they required now to wear a male uniform because that was their biological sex?

MR. KURTA:  So I'm not -- so you're saying under the 2016 policy or the 20 -- under the new policy?

Q:  If -- if they came -- if they expressed their gender under the 2016 policy.

MR. KURTA:  So, again, anybody that was serving and had a diagnosis of gender dysphoria -- so under the scenario that you raise, it kind of seems like the service member probably had a diagnosis of gender dysphoria and changed their gender.  They are grandfathered under the current policy, and they remain for the remainder of their careers under the old policy.

Which, in that case, if they had changed their gender marker and are living in their preferred identity, preferred gender, they can continue to do so for the remainder of their career.

Q:  So somebody who tomorrow is feeling bad, a service member.  They walk in, they see a medical provider.  The medical provider says, "You have gender dysphoria."  Can you describe the various scenarios that could occur from that point on?  And in which case would it eventually go to discharge?

MR. KURTA:  So you're talking somebody currently serving?


MR. KURTA:  Somebody currently serving.

So I would just -- you know, start out by saying, gender dysphoria is a very complicated condition.  Everybody's, you know, medical treatment is different.  We treat them as individuals.  And as I said, it can be -- can be very complex.

But it would go, essentially, as this.  They go to their medical provider.  The medical provider says, "You have a case of gender dysphoria."  Diagnosed with that.  By its very definition, that means there's clinically significant distress that impairs somebody in their social, work or other important areas of their life.

So medical providers then provide treatment.  We provide all necessary treatment to our -- to those in uniform.

Very often, the first step of treatment is behavioral health counseling.  That would continue as it is in all cases.

If with some counseling, the individual says, "Well, I can continue to serve and meet all standards -- deployability standards -- and continue to serve in my biological sex," then nothing happens.  They just continue whatever treatment they need, you know.  The behavior health treatment.  And they can continue to serve.

If the military medical provider determines that that individual requires gender transition in order to treat their specific case of gender dysphoria, which would, you know, usually include some cross-sex hormone therapy treatment, maybe some surgical treatment, then they would be referred to the disability evaluation system.

And so, that looks, then, at a person's, you know, entire medical history and current medical condition.  And if they're eligible for disability, they'd either be, you know -- they could be medically retired, medically discharged, however that goes.

And in some cases, they could also be processed for administrative discharge for not being able to meet all applicable standards, if they didn't meet any of the eligibility requirements for the -- for the disability evaluation system.

Q:  Is there anything in this new policy that precludes the people who are grandfathered from re-enlisting or extending their contract?


Q:  So if they're grandfathered, they can still re-enlist, they can still stay in the military?

MR. KURTA:  Yes.

Q:  Okay.

Q:  (inaudible).  What precipitated the policy change?

MR. KURTA:  So, when Secretary Mattis came into office, he was approached by the -- by the service leadership, because we were getting ready to -- under the 2016 or Carter Policy, we were getting close to starting the accessions of transgender individuals.

The service leaders expressed some readiness reservations to the secretary, and he said, "Therefore, I will take a look at the policy."  And he ordered a review of that policy, later to include impaneling the panel of experts.

And then that panel made a recommendation to the secretary.  He took that on board, gave it -- his best military advice to the president.  The president approved that recommendation and told him to go ahead and implement the policy.

Q:  I -- what -- can you describe some of the readiness issues that the service chiefs had, that they brought to Secretary Mattis?

And then just to clarify, that occurred after the president tweeted about the policy or that occurred prior to the president --

MR. KURTA:  That occurred prior.  That -- that --

Q:  -- tweet in July of 2017?

MR. KURTA:  They brought their concerns to the secretary shortly after he came to office.  And so I can't speak for what they told to the secretary or what their readiness concerns were, but they were such that the secretary said, "We need to take a look at this."

And in fact, even under the 2016 policy, we knew that the -- you know, the medicine of -- the medical aspects of this are complicated and changing very quickly over time.  So even though we review our accession standards usually every four years, we said, "We're going to do it every two years because things are changing."

And so it was almost -- almost time to do that anyway.  But the secretary said, "Let's take a look at this."

And what we didn't have under the 2016 policy was any data about what was happening to transgender service members or those with gender dysphoria in the military.  We just didn't have any history or any data.

So he said, "Conduct a review.  Look at how we are treating soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines with gender dysphoria.  What -- you know, how they're being, you know, employed in their units."  Just basically, "Take data that we didn't have the first time.  Look at all of that and give me a recommendation anew."

And all that was -- was prior to the -- to the tweet.

Q:  Do you feel that this policy can lead to discrimination of transgender service members by their peers and leaders who could see this policy as some indication that they shouldn't be allowed to serve?

MR. KURTA:  I don't.

I think you'll see in the -- in the memorandum that was signed by -- by Secretary Norquist, it, kind of, started off by emphasizing our core values, that all people will be treated with dignity and respect, and that we're not going to deny re-enlistment, deny accession or otherwise take action against any service member based solely on gender identity.

Q:  Is there any type of training that is being or was done before this policy, for leaders and service members, was being implemented?

MR. KURTA:  So we're relying on much of the same training that we did prior to the implementation of the 2016 policy, where all the services went and -- and conducted training for all of the service members on emphasizing those core values, which haven't changed whether it's under the 2016 policy or the 2018 policy.

And we've also conducted additional training prior to today by all the services, to ensure that they understand the new policy and the emphasis on treating everybody with dignity and respect.

Q:  Courtney Kube with NBC News.

Can you just run through some of the numbers?  Like, there's a lot of confusion about exactly how many people this might impact who are currently in or who are -- have -- are on contract but haven't actually accessed in yet.

MR. KURTA:  Yes.  So the numbers are a difficult issue because we don't track transgender status, (inaudible), right?  It's something that people self-identify.  So we don't -- we don't ask people.  So if you say, "How many are there?"  The answer is generally we don't -- we don't know.

We did, however, conduct one survey in 2016, a Workplace and Gender Relations Survey, which is a normal survey that we conduct every two years.  And there was a question on it of, you know, "Do you identify yourself as a transgender service member?"

And the results of that were, in the active force, just shy of 9,000 people consider themselves transgender individuals, who are apparently serving.  Okay.  So that's, you know, a data point.

We do know how many people are diagnosed with gender dysphoria because that's a recognized medical condition, and when they go and get diagnosed with it, it goes in their record.  So since the 2016 policy began, we have a little over 1,400 individuals who have been diagnosed with gender dysphoria.

And so that -- that really tells us.  And those 1,400 are in various stages of -- of their treatment, changing genders, going through all of that -- all of that process.

Q:  Do you also know -- if you have any numbers on how many of active duty have gone through or are going through reassignment surgery?

MR. KURTA:  It's -- I will get you that number but it's a very small number.  I believe it's less than 10, but we can get back to you with the exact number.

Q:  And just one quick thing on that.  Are those numbers as of now, sort of, as of the beginning of --


MR. KURTA:  Yeah.  The very low numbers are within -- within the last month or so.  But we'll get that number.

Q:  And the -- that 1,400 is roughly as of now?

MR. KURTA:  Yes.  So that was -- those -- that number was current, I think, as of February.  So 1,400 since the process started.  Many of those have left the service, so I think there's currently just over a thousand who are currently in service that we know of, in the active force, who are -- have been diagnosed with gender dysphoria.

Q:  And one other quick thing.  There were some concerns expressed by some of the services about whether or not they were going to be ready with -- you know, to have all of their recruiters and everyone trained by today.

Do you know, are they ready by today to have all the recruiters and everyone necessary trained up?  Or is there going to be, sort of, a little kind of transition period here?

MR. KURTA:  Well, all of the services have indicated formally to us that they are ready to proceed today.  That was one of -- obviously before we implement policy, we ensure that they -- that they are ready.  As I said, we conducted some specific training for medical providers, for recruiters, for commanders, for service members.

Each of the services did that over the course of the past, you know, 30 days or so.  And then certified to us that they were ready, as of today, to implement the new policy.


Q:  Corey Dickstein with Stars and Stripes.  I want to follow up on Elizabeth's question.

Can you provide us any evidence right now that transgender service -- that individuals with gender dysphoria have negative impacts on unit cohesion, on readiness, on lethality?  Because I don't think you guys have spelled that out in public to us.

MR. KURTA:  Well, as -- as you know, the department is currently under litigation for -- for this.  But I will -- I will say this.  I can describe the process by which we came to this conclusion.

And the panel of experts, which, you know, consisted of very senior uniformed military personnel, both officer and enlisted, and senior civilian personnel in the department, picked for their, you know, experience and -- combat experience.

Talked with civilian medical providers, military medical providers.  Talked with transgender service members currently serving.  And also talked with the commanders of those transgender service members.

Unlike the -- the working group that came up with the 2016 policy, we also had access to our own medical data of -- of those who had been diagnosed with gender dysphoria over the past 18 months or so.

Having looked at all of that data, tasked by the secretary with using their best individual military judgment, the panel made a recommendation for the policy as you see it today, to the secretary.

He gave it an independent scrub himself.  Obviously he had -- has, you know, great experience in the military.  And he made an independent military judgment, based on that and, you know, his own experience.  Made the recommendation to the president.  The president approved it.  And that's the policy we're implementing today.

Q:  So you're saying, point blank, this is a military decision that is not a political decision made by the president and forced on this building?

MR. KURTA:  I just described to you the exact sequence of events and the policy procedure by which we came to this conclusion.

STAFF:  One more.

Q:  Oriana Pawlyk,

You say that medical treatments are different for everyone but the first step in the process for some folks with gender dysphoria is behavioral counseling.  Is the Defense Department running these counseling sessions?  And are counselors in any way trying to discourage individuals from transitioning to meet your readiness goals?

MR. KURTA:  So, I'm not quite sure the thrust of the question.

But I'd say generally, the first step is, you go to your military medical provider, who's usually a primary care manager, and you describe the symptoms that might be diagnosed as gender dysphoria.  Gender dysphoria is -- is according to the, you know, the DSM-5, is a mental condition.

So if you describe -- again, I'm not a doctor, but if you describe symptoms that would lead somebody to diagnosing you with a mental condition, the first step, normally, is to refer them to a behavioral health counselor.

So I -- I don't know of any reason -- we encourage everybody to seek military medical care if they have issues that affect their -- their service.  We expect all our service members to -- to consult the military medical family if they -- if they have issues.

And whether that's behavioral health counselors or no matter who it is, that's an individual responsibility of all our service members, and our collective responsibility to provide that care to all service members.  And we do that.

Q:  Are you -- are counselors, perhaps, saying, you know, to individuals, "Don't transition because this might affect your deployability status"?

MR. KURTA:  Well, I don't know.  The policy's been effective now for, you know, just -- just a few hours.

We have not had any evidence of -- of counselors saying that to anybody.  I think it is incumbent -- what we have told people is, under the new system, if somebody comes and is diagnosed with gender dysphoria, we do need to lay out to them what the consequences of some of that treatment are, right?

If they require gender transition in order to treat that, there is -- you know, under the normal course of things, they would be referred to the disability evaluation system, absent a waiver.

So that is the policy.

Q:  Thank you (inaudible).  Are there --

STAFF:  Kristina for the last one.  Because --

MR. KURTA:  Okay.

Q:  Are there any plans to review this policy once it's been enacted for a while?

MR. KURTA:  Two years.

Q:  Okay.

Q:  I wanted to -- just one thing you (inaudible) my question.  

So if someone is -- if someone comes in that's already serving but they haven't been diagnosed and then they're diagnosed, they automatically get referred to the disability board even if they have not opted for reassignment?  Did I misunderstand that?

MR. KURTA:  No, no.

So I -- I go back to the -- you know, the way I originally explained it.  If the gender -- if the treatment for gender dysphoria requires gender transition, then it could be referred to the disability evaluation system.  If they -- if -- if just through behavioral counseling it is determined that they continue to meet all standards, to include -- include those associated with their biological sex, then no waiver, nothing further, they continue to serve.

Q:  Okay, so it's not an automatic review to the -- referral to the disability board.

MR. KURTA:  Yes.  Depends on their -- on their treatment and their individual case.

Q:  Because there have been people who are in and out who are getting reassignment, but they haven't presented readiness concerns, right?  They've still been deployable.  So why is that, if you're already in and you're diagnosed?

MR. KURTA:  So, again, I would -- I would just go back to the -- to the process that I talked about at the beginning.

We were told that -- that -- the panel was told to give their -- the best, you know, military and independent advice.  And after talking with civilian medical providers, military medical providers, transgender service members and their commanders, and the data that -- that we had on the treatment of gender dysphoria over the last 18 months, that is the best considered advice of that panel of experts and the secretary, and agreed to by the president.

MR. SUMMERS:  Tony, thank you very much.

MR. KURTA:  Thank you.

MR. SUMMERS:  All right, now that we're switching over, I'd be happy to answer any questions anyone may have.  (inaudible)?

Q:  (inaudible).  Can I ask you to give us an update on the situation in Libya?

There was a story today from the Wall Street Journal saying that the -- that Saudi Arabia has been backing General Haftar in his offensive.  So can you give us just an update on, like, where things stand with -- what is DOD's, you know, what is DOD's policy on this?  Have -- has DOD had any contact with the Saudis or General Haftar?

MR. SUMMERS:  Well, you know, our strategy for Libya includes military support to diplomacy and counter-terrorism.  And as part of that, U.S. military officials have accompanied delegations to meetings with Libya officials, and those meetings were in support of a diplomatic resolution to Libya's political situation.

Q:  Is that recent?  Since this offensive?

MR. SUMMERS:  Yeah, I can't give you a -- a specific date, but we're -- you know, it's ongoing.

Q:  Have you -- has DOD spoken to the Saudis about the situation?

MR. SUMMERS:  I will have to take that for you.

Q:  Okay, thank you.

Q:  Tony Bertuca, Inside Defense.

The department's awarded about a billion dollars in contracts now for the border barriers.  It was initially going to do $2.5 billion.  You were going to transfer the money into that 284 account.

What's the timing to move the additional billion and a half into the account and get that under contract?

MR. SUMMERS:  Well, I can't get into timelines.  I think you're talking about the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers awarded I think nearly a billion on April 9th, and that was to remove vehicle fencing and replace it with pedestrian fencing along the southwest -- southwest border in El Paso and Yuma, Arizona.

And as far as a timeline on when that would be moved, I don't have it.

Q:  But you're still looking at -- the intention is another billion and a half transferred into that account so it can be put under contract for that purpose?

MR. SUMMERS:  Well, I -- I can't be that specific with you at this point, but as more of that --

Q:  There was the intention, so if -- if it's changed, we --

MR. SUMMERS:  I don't believe that anything has changed.

Q:  Okay.


Q:  And the intention, then, to move from the counter-drug money into the 2808 funds, is that something that (inaudible)?

MR. SUMMERS:  Well, the -- the 2808 funds, no decisions have been made on the 20 -- 2808 funds.  But as those come -- as those decisions are made, we'll certainly let you know.

Q:  Could you talk about the status of the consideration of 2808 funds?  Where are you at right now?  And what needs to happen before you get to that point?

MR. SUMMERS:  Well, it's -- they're trying to work through that as -- as quickly as possible, but I don't have a timeline for you.  Although if -- you know, I would imagine that you would see it sooner than later.

STAFF:  Ryan?

Q:  Just to follow up on that, sir, one on the contracts -- the awarding of the contracts.  Are those being challenged, to your knowledge, by any other construction firms that could cause its execution to be delayed?

And then additionally, on the border just more generally, is the military willing to do detention operations on the southern border?

MR. SUMMERS:  As -- as far as the military -- military doing anything like that, we are in support of DHS, and DHS has the lead role in -- in terms of -- of police operations down there.  So we have no plans.

Q:  And then, have -- are you aware that the contract award's being challenged?

MR. SUMMERS:  I am not.

Q:  Okay.

Q:  Could I follow up on that?


Q:  Can the military legally, without violating posse comitatus, actually engage in detention facility management?

MR. SUMMERS:  Well, as -- as you know, in the past, we have provided facilities for something like that.  But we have never engaged in that, and I -- I don't know that we have any plans to do anything like that.

Q:  Right, which is what you said.  But can DOD legally do that without getting --

MR. SUMMERS:  I would -- I would have to take that for you.  And I'd be happy to because I just want to make sure that you have the right information.

Q:  I think we'd all appreciate a real clear understanding of where the line is.  And I think there's some legal lines here, and I think we'd really like to --

MR. SUMMERS:  All right, I'll get with Tom after this and we'll make sure that -- that you have that.


Q:  (inaudible) you said that the Pentagon in the past has built detention facilities for migrants?

MR. SUMMERS:  Built?  No, no.  We -- we've provided facilities for HHS, not -- not necessarily, you know -- and that's what I was referring to, is HHS.


Q:  Hi.  Two questions. 

The other day President Trump tweeted something about the military would be able to be more rough on the -- along the border if it weren't for laws that were preventing it from doing so.  Does the Pentagon believe -- do you find that they were unduly constrained by some unidentified law by being more rough on the border?  Does the Pentagon believe that it could be doing other -- that would -- would be unduly constrained along the border from doing what they should be doing?

And secondly, I know you guys can't comment on pending legislation, but has the Pentagon started discussions of any kind with the Saudi-led coalition as to what it will do in the instance that President Trump does not veto the War Powers resolution and the military support is cut off to the coalition in Yemen?

MR. SUMMERS:  That was fairly long.

Q:  Sorry.

MR. SUMMERS:  (inaudible)  But the first of your question was --

Q:  The first part was, do you guys agree with what -- what -- the sentiments that President Trump was expressing in his tweet, which is that the military was unduly constrained by laws about, you know, being more rough along the border (inaudible)?

MR. SUMMERS:  I would encourage you to talk with the White House, you know, regarding the president's --

Q:  Does the Pentagon have that -- like, shares that assessment.

MR. SUMMERS:  I'm sorry?

Q:  I'm asking if the Pentagon shares that assessment.

MR. SUMMERS:  We -- we are -- are in support of direction by the commander in chief and that's simply -- that's our role.

Q:  Okay.

And then the second question is are you guys in discussions, have you initiated discussions with the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen as to what will occur if the legislation -- the War Powers legislation that had been passed by both houses of Congress goes into effect, cutting off all remaining assistance to the coalition?

MR. SUMMERS:  At -- at this time I don't have any updates for you on that, Missy).  But I would be happy to take that and get back to you on it.

Q:  Thank you.

MR. SUMMERS:  Go on.

Q:  I want to ask you three to five questions.  Has the Japanese government or Japanese military asked the Pentagon to expand the search-and-rescue technology assistance, find the downed jet?

MR. SUMMERS:  I -- I'm not aware of that.

Q:  Okay.  Turkey, is there any other move planned by the Pentagon to ratchet up pressure on Turkey, in light of the -- their -- apparently, they're going to go ahead with the sale -- they're going to go ahead with the S-400 purchase.  Is there any plans to ratchet up pressure beyond manuals and equipment?

MR. SUMMERS:  Well, I -- you know, I think the important thing to keep in mind is Turkey's a valuable NATO ally, has been a longtime ally, and we are in active discussions with them to get beyond the issue of the S-400.  And -- and we will continue to do so and work in a constructive way to try and get beyond this process.  We've been longtime allies and friends and we are working to get beyond that.

Q:  Is there more action planned, though?  In terms of ratcheting up pressure, though, in terms of other --

MR. SUMMERS:  I don't have anything for you --

Q:  (Off mic) Okay, sure.  Thanks.

MR. SUMMERS:  -- in that regard.


Q:  Charlie, is there any update as far as any decisions regarding the continuation of military support exercises, foreign military sales, et cetera, to the -- the three countries -- the Northern Triangle countries in Central, South America that have been sanctioned by the White House?

MR. SUMMERS:  I -- I only heard about the --  I apologize.  I guess I'm getting old.

Q:  Has there been any decision by the Pentagon as far as what will happen with military assistance to the three countries, the Northern Triangle countries?

MR. SUMMERS:  No.  There has not been any decision.

Yes?  I feel like I should stand.  It's -- it's a little --

Q:  The next --


MR. SUMMERS:  So I hear you.  Go ahead.

Q:  The next U.S. -- the next U.S.-Japan 2+2 security dialogue is happening next week.  Is there anything you can share about what they'll be discussing?

MR. SUMMERS:  I can't -- no, I don't have anything to share on that.

Q:  Can I do a lightning round of follow-up?

MR. SUMMERS:  Absolutely.  I've been waiting for this.

Q:  Okay.  Sudan, any request for U.S. military assistance to help move the Iraqis out?

MR. SUMMERS:  I've have --

Q:  Now that they've -- they've ordered departure of non-essential whatever?

MR. SUMMERS:  I have nothing for that.

Q:  Did we ever get a copy of the Norquist memo that Anthony Kurta referenced on implementation of transgender?  Is that something we could get, if not?

MR. SUMMERS:  I -- let's -- let's take that.  And I'd -- I'd be happy to see if I can get that for you.

Q:  On Libya, is there any -- have any U.S. military troops, are you aware that they've moved back in or are they still out after (inaudible)?

MR. SUMMERS:  Again, we're -- we're there to -- to help with the diplomatic solution on that.  And --


Q:  On the ground in Libya?

Q:  You are there?

MR. SUMMERS:  No, no, no.  No, no, I'm sorry.  Let me be clear.  We're -- we're -- any support that we would add would be in support of the diplomatic solution.

Q:  And then can you just update us, have U.S. troops begun the withdrawal from Syria?

MR. SUMMERS:  As you know, we are -- we are working to meet the president's direction on that.  And -- but we will -- will leave a residual force to ensure that ISIS cannot regenerate itself.

Q:  How large of a residual force?

MR. SUMMERS:  I can't get into numbers.

Q:  But the withdrawal has begun, right?  Is that fair to say?

MR. SUMMERS:  We're working to meet the president's direction, yes.

Q:  That -- that -- does "working to meet the president's direction" mean the withdrawal has begun?  Is that what you're saying?


Q:  Okay.

MR. SUMMERS:  Okay.  Melissa?

Q:  Two quick ones.  What is your message to transgender service members who may have some sort of anxiety about today's implementation of the policy?

MR. SUMMERS:  What is our -- I think --


Q:  What is your message to active, you know, currently serving transgender service members who may have some anxiety or fear around the implementation of today's policy?

MR. SUMMERS:  Well, I think I can sort of echo what Tony Kurta mentioned.  That we're working to get full information out to every individual who may have an issue in that regard.  And -- and they will have the full support of the military community.

Q:  And then, could we possibly do this next time on camera?

MR. SUMMERS:  I would -- I would love to.  And -- and --

Q:  Or is there a reason we didn't do today on camera?

MR. SUMMERS:  No.  No.

Q:  No?  Okay.


Q:  With the influx of migrants at the border in recent weeks, has the Pentagon taken in any migrant families or children at any of its bases?  And if so, which ones?

MR. SUMMERS:  I would have to take that for you but I do not believe that is the case.

Yes, sir?

Q:  Chris Kelly, Associated Newspaper.

Regarding the downed F-35, does the Pentagon have any independent plans to investigate and is there any cause for concern about the F-35 in general?

MR. SUMMERS:  I would have to take that question for you.  I'd be happy to try to get it answered.

Last question?

Q:  Just a follow-up on that.  Has the Pentagon seen any indication that (inaudible) Chinese ships or submarines have -- have moved into the area around where the F-35 went down to try to -- to scoop up some of the pieces?

MR. SUMMERS:  I don't have anything for you.

Okay, Phil.

Q:  Could you bring us up to date about Russian activities in Venezuela?

MR. SUMMERS:  Up to date on Russian activities in Venezuela?

Q:  Yes, military activities.  There's been recent deployment of Russian troops in Venezuela.

MR. SUMMERS:  It's -- I don't have any other updates other than what we've shared in the past.  We have seen some movement but that's it.

Q:  Any in recent days?

MR. SUMMERS:  No.  (Inaudible).

Q:  Is there -- is there any update on the Niger review?

MR. SUMMERS:  As you know, the secretary has asked for a review on that and it's currently underway.  And as soon as we have something, I'll be happy to share it with you.

Q:  But Charlie, just on the -- is (inaudible)-- did he give -- did he at least set -- usually they set -- okay, I'd like something back in 30 days, 60 days or whatever.  What did he say in regard to how long he -- when he expects a report back on this?

MR. SUMMERS:  Well, I mean, he's asked for it as -- as soon as it is possible.  But it -- but it -- obviously he wants to ensure that that is done correctly.  And with the thoughts of -- the concerns of the families in mind and make sure that we have a full accounting.  And we hope to have that back as soon as possible.

Q:  But he didn't set a --


Q:  -- timeframe at all?

MR. SUMMERS:  Not to my knowledge, no.

All right.  Thank you all very much.

Q:  Thank you.