Transcript

Pentagon Press Secretary John F. Kirby Holds a Press Briefing

June 24, 2021
Pentagon Press Secretary John F. Kirby

PRESS SECRETARY JOHN F. KIRBY:  Hey, everybody.  Sorry I'm late.  (Inaudible) full house again.  This is what 50 percent looks like.

Q:  (Inaudible).

MR. KIRBY:  Yeah -- of me or of my -- of you?  A few things at the top, guys, and then we'll get right at it.  Let me start by highlighting that tomorrow morning, Secretary Austin will welcome the President of Afghanistan Ashraf Ghani and the Chairman of the High Council for National Reconciliation Dr. Abdullah Abdullah here into the Pentagon.

Their visit will highlight the partnership between our two nations as the U.S. military drawdown continues.  During their visit, Secretary Austin will emphasize the United States' enduring commitment to the people of Afghanistan and to the department's goal of ensuring that Afghanistan never again becomes a safe haven for terrorist groups who pose a threat to the U.S. homeland.

Now, I'd also like to highlight the continuing military cooperation that we enjoy with the United Kingdom aboard HMS Queen Elizabeth, which announced its first combat missions in support of the Global Coalition against ISIS.

UK and U.S. combined operations with fifth generation aircraft demonstrate our ability to conduct missions together as allies and to handle any contingencies.  We would like to congratulate the UK on achieving this milestone, for this impressive new capability and we look forward, of course, to operating together with them on this deployment and far into the future.

Next, a few major events and exercises I want to highlight in Panama.  Representatives - -- I noticed ever since I started putting photos up, you guys are looking there and not at me.

(Laughter.)

Probably smart.  In Panama, representatives from the United States and Central America are participating in the annual Central American Security Conference, otherwise known as CENTSEC, along with other regional and international partner nations.

CENTSEC 2021 will focus on lessons learned during the national disaster response operations last November after hurricanes Eta and Iota struck the region back-to-back.  The exercise will also examine approaches for ongoing humanitarian assistance -- humanitarian assistance aid programs, as well as greater coordination in the region to continue addressing root causes that drive irregular migration.

In the Pacific, today marked the opening ceremony for exercise Orient Shield '21, the largest annual U.S. Army and Japan Ground Self-Defense force bilateral field training exercise.  Several thousand U.S. and Japanese troops will conduct tactical training exercises and bilateral planning across multiple sites in Japan.

Now in its 35th iteration, the exercise is designed to enhance U.S.-Japan combat readiness and interoperability while strengthening bilateral relationships and demonstrating U.S. resolve to support the security interests of friends and allies in the Indo-Pacific region.

Now, in the cyber domain, more than 430 cyber professionals making up 17 cyber protection teams from the Department of Defense, the U.S. House of Representatives, U.S. Postal Service, U.S. Coast Guard, National Guard and nearly 140 participants from Canada and the United Kingdom are competing against each other in U.S. Cyber Command's annual exercise Cyber Flag '21-2.

The exercise provides virtual defensive cyber training, with cyber protection teams working independently on compromised networks at fictional facilities with the goal to detect, identify, isolate and counter adversarial presence on their networks.  The goal of the Cyber Flag exercise series is to keep us ahead of potential adversaries by evolving our training at a greater speed than our adversaries can evolve their tactics, techniques and procedures in cyberspace.

Looking at next week, U.S. Navy Europe will begin this year's Sea Breeze exercise, co-hosted with the Ukrainian navy.  Sea Breeze 2021 will kick off on Monday and continue through July 10th in the Black Sea.  This year's iteration has the largest number of participating nations in the exercise's history, with more than 30 nations from six continents.  Combined, this represents 32 ships, 40 aircraft and approximately 5,000 personnel.  Since it began in 1997, Sea Breeze brings Black Sea nations and NATO allies and partners together to train and operate in the pursuit of building increased interoperability and capability.  We will continue, as we have been, to be transparent about our operations in the Black Sea, and as always, will continue to operate within all applicable international laws and agreements.

Finally, tomorrow marks 71 years since the start of the Korean War.  For the past 71 years, our commitment to the alliance has been ironclad, built on the shared sacrifice of Americans and South Koreans.  The U.S.-ROK alliance is the linchpin of peace, security and prosperity from Northeast Asia and a free and open Indo-Pacific, as well as across the world.

With that, we'll take questions.  Bob?

Q:   On the meeting tomorrow morning at the Pentagon with the Afghan leaders, I assume you'll put out the details on that.  But will there be coverage of that in any way?

MR. KIRBY:  Yes.  You mean in terms of press coverage?  Yes, we'll put out a media advisory later today, but it's a working-level visit.  That said, there will be at the -- at the top of the meeting there'll be a -- a pooled press spray so that you'll be able to capture the opening comments of -- of both Secretary Austin and President Ghani.

Q:  Good.  My question, also on Afghanistan, is about the -- regards to the -- what the White House has described as the planning for relocation of SIV applicants.

MR. KIRBY:  Right.

Q:  With regard to the Defense Department's role as to when does that begin?  Is it going to be -- initially going to be a military airlift operation, or will it begin in some other form, and you would be called to -- to help only if there's like an emergency?

MR. KIRBY:  I don't want to get ahead of the planning process, but we are deeply involved in this across the interagency -- State, DHS, as -- as well.  So I don't want to -- to get too far ahead of that, but we will, obviously, be participating in that planning.  In fact, we already have been doing some planning.

I would just remind -- and you know this, that not all such evacuation operations require the military aircraft to conduct.  And so again, I don't want to get ahead of things, but as you well know, it's not like we haven't done this before using chartered aircraft, commercially-leased aircraft or contracted aircraft.  So there's lots of opportunities here, lots of things that we still have to work through, and I just don't have anything more detailed than that today.  All right?

Q:  Is this a relocation or evacuation?  And you know, the military's been planning on this for -- for weeks down at CENTCOM.  So is the State Department still in the lead?  Is- who's still in the lead on this?

MR. KIRBY:  State Department is still in the lead.  We're -- what we're talking about are -- are Afghans who are in the SIV program, so it's definitely a State Department lead, but it's going to take a whole interagency effort to do this.  As I said, the DOD and the Department of Homeland Security will be involved in it.  And the idea here is to be able to facilitate their departure from Afghanistan to another location so that they can complete the SIV process.  Whether that leads to all of them coming to the United States or some, I mean, we just don't know.  It'll be done on a case-by-case basis, but the idea is to be able to facilitate their departure from Afghanistan so that that processing can continue.

Q:  I'm hearing the planning numbers are 20,000 to 100,000.  That sound about right? 

MR. KIRBY:  I won't speculate about numbers, Tom.  I don't think that'd be helpful right now, since we're still in the planning stages.

Q:  If the U.S. military's pulling out of Afghanistan early next month.  How can you evacuate these interpreters without the military on the ground?

MR. KIRBY:  Well, again, there's lots of ways to facilitate transportation out of Afghanistan.  Again, I'm not going to speak to timelines here.  As I said on Monday, the direction from the commander-in-chief has been clear: that we will be out by early September, and that is still the order that we're obeying.  It's a dynamic process.  As Secretary Austin said, -- we're on pace, and we're going to continue to try to do this in the most efficient, timely and orderly way possible.  But as I said to Bob, Lucas, it's not like we haven't done this before.  This is not an uncommon mission set for the U.S. government, and it doesn't always have to entail military aircraft to accommodate.

Q:  Can you actually evacuate the interpreters if the U.S. military is not present on the ground?

MR. KIRBY:  We have helped with the noncombatant evacuation of people from countries where we don't have U.S. footprint. Now, I recognize the security situation in Afghanistan is dynamic, and it's different.  I get that.  But, all of these considerations are going to be taken into effect as we work through this planning process.

The point is, Lucas, that we are taking this seriously here at the department and here in the United States government.  We know we have an obligation to these men and women and their families, and we're working our way through how best to meet that obligation.  And there's again, planning is ongoing; lots of options available both in terms of transportation, in terms of potential locations, and we're just not there yet where I can, specifically announce exactly how this is going to transpire.

Q:  Do you know how much it will cost?

MR. KIRBY:  I don't.  I do not have a cost estimate.

Dan

Q:  Thank you.  This Wall Street Journal reporter last night the latest intelligence assessment that the government in Kabul could fall within six months to a year.  I know you usually don't speak to intelligence from here, but the open-sourced stuff in the media reports and the reporting from the ground is very similar.  What's next, if that's going to be where it is?  We're leaving regardless.  How do you see the Defense Department being able to help from afar?

MR. KIRBY:  The secretary and the chairman talked a little bit about this in their hearing yesterday, Dan.  Obviously, I'm not going to get into validating open-press reporting on intelligence assessments, and I'm certainly not going to talk about that.

Now, one of the things that we will certainly be talking with President Ghani about tomorrow is what the enduring commitment of the United States to his government is going to look like, and the expressed desire by President Biden that our diplomatic presence is going to remain there, which means the programs and policies that we're implementing in Afghanistan are still going to stay.  We will obviously have the capacity to protect that diplomatic presence with the military, and of course, again, without getting into speculating about what the future will look like, we're also mindful -- and you heard the secretary and the chairman talk about this yesterday -- we're mindful that the security situation in some areas of Afghanistan is certainly deteriorating, and that's of concern.  But there are the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces are still very much engaged and it remains to be seen exactly how this is going to play out.

I mean, this is their country, and ultimately as you heard Secretary Austin talk about, it's their responsibility to protect their citizens and their sovereignty.  And that's what our ongoing enduring support for them is going to be geared to -- to helping them do.

Q:  A few of us have reported in the last several days that there were discussions of at least delaying the closure or transfer of Bagram Airfield to the Afghans.  Can you tell us where that stands at this point?

MR. KIRBY:  What I would tell you is that the withdrawal continues on pace.

Q:  So, you can’t.

MR. KIRBY:  On pace, we're on pace.  Yes.  Dan Sagalyn, PBS.

Q:  Thanks, John.  Can you tell me or give us a little update, what's the roll-up plan for the Lynn Rosenthal commission and sexual assault in the military?

MR. KIRBY:  So, Dan, thanks for that.  You heard the secretary yesterday talk about the fact that he's now received all of the recommendations across all of the lines of effort from -- Lynn Rosenthal and her team is very grateful for their work.  He also said yesterday that he plans to provide his recommendations to President Biden in coming days.

That hasn't happened yet but I expect it will happen very soon and then shortly on the heels of that I think you can expect us once the President has had time to look at these recommendations I think you'll be able to see very soon after that the department lay out those recommendations and our way forward here for all those lines of efforts.

So, I can't give you a date certain right now, Dan, I wouldn't announce it today from the podium.  But I'd be looking at days rather than weeks.

Jeff Schogol

Q:  Thank you.  I just wanted to follow-up my -- on my colleagues question about Bagram.  Are troops going to be delayed from leaving Bagram so that the base can be used to relocate Afghans who are leaving the country while their visas are being processed?

MR. KIRBY:  Jeff, I'm not going to get into specifics on the retrograde process.  I have avoided that from the beginning.  And I'm not going to start talking about specific schedules here now.

I think you can all understand why, for operational security reasons, why we wouldn't want to do that.  I stand by my answer to Dan.  That the withdrawal continues on pace.  And I think I'm going to leave it at that.

Q:  If I could follow-up, I understand you don't want to get ahead of planning but if the 100,000 figure is out there, and as soon as something appears on Twitter, a magical thing happens, it gets accepted as a fact.  So, can you put in any context about how many Afghans are expected to be relocated?

MR. KIRBY:  I'm not going to get into a specific number.  I would only say that I've seen nothing that would indicate that number is that high at this point.

Janne

Q:  Thank you, John.  I think you must have seen the report there's 30... 3,700 U.S. troops in a combat team, who arrived in a force to South Korea last week.

MR. KIRBY:  Yes.

Q:  Do you think -- for what purpose, for this that troops come to the --

MR. KIRBY:  I'm actually ready for that and now I just have to find it in here.  My -- my binder -- they gave me now a six-inch binder.  So, hold on a minute and let me see if I have that. So, I do have it. I found it.  As you may have seen the Army Department announced this spring the upcoming 2021 rotation to Korea , the 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team from the 1st Armored Division stationed at Fort Bliss in Texas.  The 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team will replace the 1st Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division as part of a regular rotation of forces to support the United States' commitment to the Republic of Korea.  So this is a normal rotational deployment.

Q:  But the timing also, will the troops carry out the mission for the U.S. in South Korea, combined exercises (inaudible)

MR. KIRBY:  I don't have their specific schedule available to you now.  I refer you to the Army and to U.S. Forces Korea.  But, they're on deployment now and they're going to replace the 1st Brigade Combat Team and they will assume those duties and I have no doubt that some of those duties will include training events.  I just couldn't tell you right now exactly what training they would be doing.  But again, this was a normally, long scheduled rotational deployment.

Q:  What does the movement of (centralized ?) troops (inaudible)

MR. KIRBY:  It's the size of a brigade combat team, that's about right. 

Q:  (inaudible)

MR. KIRBY:  Yes.

Q:  a brigade?

MR. KIRBY:  That's right, that's what they call themselves.  But that's the normal size of a of a BCT.

Q:  Regular rotation, correct?

MR. KIRBY:  Correct.  Regular rotation of a brigade combat team, regular size.

Q:  They are deployed in South Korea for nine months, you said that?

MR. KIRBY:  I believe so, but I would refer you to the Army for more specifics on the deployment length, I don't have that exact but it sounds about right.  It's a normal rotational deployment.

Q:  Thank you for your time.

MR. KIRBY:  You're welcome.  This time I actually had an answer for you. 

Q:  Hi, John.  I have a question on two different topics.  First on Afghanistan. I wonder if you can give us on updates on the talks between the DOD and DOS official in Turkey regarding Kabul's airport?  The second question is on Iraq, I'll ask it after your answer so you won't forget it.

MR. KIRBY:   Yes, mindful of my weaknesses I see.  I don't have any updates on the technical level talks between the United States in Turkey over security presence at the -- the airport.  Those talks are really just at the very beginning here so obviously if and when we have something that we can speak to and point to and announce after that we'll certainly -- we'll certainly try to do that but I don't have an update for it right now.

Q:  Okay.  So on Iraq, one Prime Minister (inaudible) political advisors said recently that current government wants all U.S. combat forces out of Iraq by the end of this year.  Do you have any comment on the statement, and can you consider it as like indication of the future of U.S. military presence in Iraq?

MR. KIRBY:  I haven't seen those comments so I think I'd refrain from commenting on them from the podium.  The only thing I'd add and you all know this that we are in Iraq at the invitation of the Iraqi government.  We had agreed, as you remember, to have a series of technical talks about that presence going forward, those talks continue. 

I don't have any decisions to read out.  And the last thing I'd say is just to remind that the purpose for being in Iraq is very specific and that is to participate in coalition operations against ISIS and to assist in building the partner capacity of our Iraqi partners to do the same on our own soil. Okay.  And here, sir.

Q:   The test on the General Ford last week generated a shockwave that was measured in earthquake sizes -- a moderate earthquake in Florida.  People are speculating maybe online that had an impact that that could have lead to the collapse of the building in Miami so I am asking is that possible, and did the -- more broadly, did the Navy actually consider that kind of issue as they took the test off the Florida coast?

MR. KIRBY:  I've seen nothing that will correlate the shock trial test with the terrible event today in South Florida, certainly our thoughts and prayers go out to everybody affected by that.  And then as for your other question, I'll certainly refer you to the Navy for more detail, but having been a naval officer, I can assure you that when we do these shock trials there are a wide variety of environmental and safety factors that are taken into account. 

We know we need to do this kind of testing for the whole of our major ships like aircraft carriers and that it's an important opportunity to evaluate the structural integrity of the hull and its ability to handle a blast of that size, but in choosing the location, the depth of the water, the time of day, all that where there's a lot of factors that go in to make sure that it's as safe it can possible be.

Q:  I have one follow up on another subject.  Can you say anything about how many of the interpreters, the Afghan people who have supported U.S. troops and U.S. operations in Afghanistan, how many in the past six months have actually exited and been allowed to travel to the United States?

MR. KIRBY:  That's a question I can refer you to State Department on. I don't have that number and we do not manage that program, it's really for the State Department to speak to.  Tony.

Q:  A follow up on the shock trial test.  What oversight role does the Pentagon have in the program terms in reviewing the test data and making the decision whether this vessel, our most expensive ever, should be deployed next year.   You might remember the Navy fought the shock testing five years and had to be pushed to do it.  So what oversight role would the DOD be (inaudible)

MR. KIRBY:  The offices of test and evaluation had representatives present and it's obviously a Navy test but we certainly were involved in oversight and planning and will evaluate the results as well.

Q:  Can I get your commitment that you'll put out an unclassified summary of what it showed?  I mean, the explosion got a lot of publicity and if the explosion causes problems, the public deserves to know that.

MR. KIRBY:  Tony, I can promise you that we will be as transparent as we can be -- I know, it's three syllables, right?  So, transparent as we can be, but I cannot promise any specifics – clearly we understand the taxpayers are funding the construction of the Ford and subsequent aircraft carriers.  We know we have an obligation to the American people to account for how we are spending their money and for the kinds of warships were putting in the water, we'll be as transparent as we can be.

Q:  Okay.

MR. KIRBY:  All right. Yes, Abraham

Q:  Thank you.  You mentioned Sea Breeze coming up next week with Ukraine hosting.  I wondered if you could talk about how -- what type of coordination or announcements are going to happen to -- Russia has a large Black Sea Navy fleet there and there has been some problems.  There's recent reporting of an incident that may or may not have actually occurred --

MR. KIRBY:  I think the British Ministry Of Defense covered that pretty well.

Q:  I was wondering, how is the United States going to ensure that there's no problems with the Russian Navy patrolling there?  And then why work closely with a non-NATO partner like Ukraine in the Black Sea?

MR. KIRBY:  We work with non-NATO partners all around the world, Abraham, and this is not anything new.  And it's an exercise.  And as I said at the very beginning, and you've heard me say it before, we're going to be transparent about it.  I'm going to get up here and answer questions about it, I'm going to tell you about it, you're going to get sick of hearing about that one too.

And that's okay because we've got nothing to hide.  It's an exercise; it's an exercise to improve our interoperability and our capabilities in the Black Sea.  It's not something we haven't done before.  And part of helping reduce the chances for miscalculations and misunderstandings is to be announcing it, is to be talking about it, is to be showing you pictures of it.  And you're going to continue to see that.

Q:  Does the United States -- just a quick follow-up, does the United States block off territory for those exercises?  As is customary in international waters?

MR. KIRBY:  You know, we don't -- you don't block off international waters, Abraham. They're international waters.  But you can operate in them.  Again, in keeping, as I said in my opening, with international law.  And we're going to continue to do that.

We will sail, fly, operate, and train in accordance with international law, and in international waters as we deem fit and necessary to protect our security interests around the world.  And those of our allies and partners.

Q:  About the British destroyer.  So, in the past, we have seen that the Russians buzzed U.S. aircraft and ships.  But this time, they threw bombs and then the ships shot at the British, actually, vessel.  So, what is your reaction to it?

MR. KIRBY:  Well, I would ask you to go back and look at what the British Ministry of Defense said yesterday.  I think they, and this is really for them to speak to, but they were very public about the fact that there was no shots fired as warning to HMS Defender.  That it was simply Russian disinformation, as yet another example of the Russians trying to spin events to suit their own narrative.  It just didn't happen.

Q:  Okay, and the other one, you said the U.S. is going to keep its diplomatic presence mission in Afghanistan.  Is this going to be the case even if Kabul falls to Taliban?

MR. KIRBY:  Well, again, I'm not going to get into hypotheticals about worst-case scenarios.  I can only speak for what we're doing now.  And what we're doing now is planning to try to help with the departure from Afghanistan in a safe and orderly way of -- of men and women and their families who have helped us.

And are in the Special Immigrant Visa Program.  That work is going on.  What we are also doing now is the safe and orderly efficient withdrawal of U.S. military from Afghanistan, and as I said to Dan, it's going on pace.  And the Secretary, as you heard him say yesterday, very comfortable that that is being done in a safe and orderly way.

And then the other thing that's going on, and you're going to see it go on tomorrow, when President Ghani and Dr. Abdullah Abdullah get here that it is a continued conversation with our Afghan partners about what the enduring commitment looks like going forward.  That the United States is going to remain committed to the future of Afghanistan and the Afghan people.

And there's ways to talk about that, there are things to explore such as the kind of financial support that will go along with that.  And that's going to be the focus of tomorrow.  That's what we're focused on now and that's what we can speak to.  I'm certainly not going to speculate going forward.  Mike ?

Q:  I just want to clarify something on Afghanistan.  Secretary has mentioned that the only troops that will remain in Afghanistan – post-early September, will be those that protect the American Embassy.  Is he referring to the sort of standard contingent of Marine Corps guards or is there some extra additional military force beyond that?

MR. KIRBY:  Well, without getting into specific details I think it's safe to assume, certainly, in this particular environment, that it would be beyond just what you would see in a normal embassies Marine guard.  Certainly, that will be – but yes, you should expect that it'll be larger than that contingent.  And, you know, again, in keeping with the security situation in Afghanistan.

Q:  So, a beefed-up force?

MR. KIRBY:  I'll let you use that phrase.  But, it won't be, again, without getting into specifics, it won't just be the typical Marine guard contingent that you see at embassies around the world.  And, look, Mike, this isn't all that unusual.

I mean, we tailor -- we tailor our security presence based on threats and risks in any country in the world.  Obviously, Afghanistan is a unique case and so, we're working our way through that right now.  What's that going to look like.  Because as I've said before, security at the airport is also key to being able to have a diplomatic presence in a country.

That's why we are speaking with the Turks right now to try to work out would they agree to lead that security element.  What that looks like, how it's composed, what capabilities does it have.  All that needs to be worked out.

Q:  On Sea Breeze, who's running that?  Is that the Sixth Fleet or --

MR. KIRBY:  That would be, yes, that would be the Sixth Fleet. Yes.

Q:  Have you got any guidance on when -- a timeline of when the withdrawal of SIV applicants might begin?  And is DOD ready to begin that evacuation withdrawal?

MR. KIRBY:  We don't have a timeline for when it's going to begin.  Again, I think there's active planning going on right now.  So, we just don't have that level of detail.  To your second question, yes, absolutely.  And, again, you heard the Chairman and the Secretary talk about this yesterday.

We have been planning for quite some time.  You and I have talked about this.  The Department of Defense will be ready and has the capability to assist in a number of ways.

We just haven't figured out all of the details about the ways in which this is going to be done.  And, again, there's lots of transportation options available and we're still working our way through that.  Yes.

Q:  Yes, thank you.  The president of Angola was at the United Nation yesterday and he participated in the meetings at the Security Council.  So, on that meetings, he spoke about the issues going on right now at the Central African Republic and also in the Great Lakes Region.

At the Security Council, one of the main focus of President Lourenco was to advocate about the end of the armed embark, which has been banned weapon supplies to the Central African Republic.

As the acting president of the International Conference of the Great Lakes, President Lourenco has been doing a lot of efforts to promote peace and stability in this region.  And he strongly defend the end of the armed embargo on the Central African Republic.  But the United States opposed.  The United States wants to continue to embark on the Central African Republic. And I want to know, what is the view of the Pentagon on that?  And what role can the Pentagon play in order to help the United States come to conclusion that it is, the way to go is the end of the embargo?

Because all the nations have the right to defend themselves.  And in order for a country to defend, they need a strong military, and they need guns.  But unfortunately, the United States defends the continuation of the arms embark that is going on the Central African Republic.  But President Lourenco is on the ground. He not only meets with all the people involved in the conflict in this region.

He also knows the problems.  And he yesterday at the United Nations, he asked that is important to end this embargo.  So that way, the Central African Republic can also buy guns and equip their military people so they can defend themselves.  So, what is the view and what role the Pentagon can play on all of that helping the United States come to conclusion that now is the time to end this embargo?

MR. KIRBY:  The Pentagon supports U.S. policy in Africa.  It's policy that you're talking about is certainly led by our State Department.  And we are in support of our State Department's Diplomacy.  I don't have and won't speak to the Pentagon's role here.  Arms sales are in fact handled by the State Department.

And they're really a better place for you to go for your question.  And I apologize, I can't be more helpful.  But that's really where we are.

Q:  But the Pentagon play any role on all of that?  Like in terms of give some advice?  Like if the United States --

MR. KIRBY:  Well without --

Q:  --proceed with this embargo, and in on the Central African Republic?

MR. KIRBY:  Well, without speaking to this specific issue in the Central African Republic, there are various consultations between the State Department and the Defense Department.  When arms sales are being considered, as you would expect, but it is a program that is lead and run out of the State Department.  It's really more appropriate for your question if you go there.

Q:  State Department in this case?

MR. KIRBY:  I will refer you to my colleague at the State Department.  Yes, Tara Copp?.

Q:  Hi, John.  Thanks for doing this.  I have another Afghanistan question for you.  The Defense Department's role in planning.  Does it include preparing for the potential food and caring for those interpreters?  Would DLA or DOD be looking at how much water might be needed or how much food might be needed?  As all of these interpreters and allies are processed through?

MR. KIRBY:  Clearly, Tara the planning will obviously include housing and medical care and obviously, sustenance.  Of course, all those things are going to be factored into the planning here for how we are able to continue the SIV process for individuals that we help depart Afghanistan.  Who's going to do all that and at what level, and how much it's going to cost?

As Lucas asked, all that we're still working our way through I just don't have additional details right now. But yes, broadly speaking, the U.S. Government will obviously fulfill those obligations.  Those basic life support and life sustaining obligations to these men and women and their families.  We will take that very seriously.

Q:  Isn't that a role that's typically provided by say, like the U.S. National Guard?

MR. KIRBY:  No, I don't think I'd say that, Tara.  I mean, take a look at, and it is not a perfect example, and I don't want anybody to say that I'm making this as an example.  But just to just to put context to your question.  I mean, the way the interagency has dealt with the issue of unaccompanied minors, coming up from Central and South America, across our borders.

In that case, DOD has provided a few, a couple facilities. But it was the Department of Homeland Security and HHS that also provided additional, the actual domiciles in many cases.  And of course, the care and the feeding, and the medical care that went along with that.  That was not done by DOD, is not being done by DOD.  So, it’s not something that would just be automatically punted to the National Guard.

So again, we are we are still in the planning stages.  And we don't have the eaches for all this worked out, or what department is going to be responsible for what components of it.  But I can assure you, that it will be an interagency effort.  There's a there's a team approach being done here. Various institutions have capabilities that that can be lent to bear to have a positive impact.  And we're working our way through exactly what that's going to look like.  Sir.

Q:  Thank you.  I have a question about Global Posture Review.  And also, the U.S. Japan Defense Policy Review Initiative.  Which was last updated in 2012.  And it was basically about the Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, the relocation and building of the replacement facility.  And also moving some elements of Okinawa Marine to Guam.

And in today's Senate hearing, Marine Commander, General Berger said that-- this initiative is worth revising and worth looking at.  Because the security situation is different as of now, compared to what was back in 2012.  Particularly China at the threat from China.  So, if this Futenma relocation facility building plan, and also the location of Marines to Guam could be revised under the Global Posture Review?

MR. KIRBY:  There's no change to our policy with respect to Futenma and the relocation. We're still working with Tokyo on that and we appreciate the support that we continue to get from the Government of Japan.  There's no changes to those plans and those efforts.  So, let's set that aside.  The Global Posture Review is ongoing, expected to be completed by the end of summer, early fall, we're still working on this.

It will certainly be informed by what we're doing in Japan, and certainly will be informed by the relocation efforts that are ongoing.  But it also be informed by a lot of other things. And I don't want to get ahead of what it's going to say. So, we're continuing to work on relocation efforts.  And we're also continuing to work on a Global Posture Review.  But I wouldn't necessarily say that one is totally dependent on the other and they will inform each other.  Okay.  In the back, Louis.

Q:  John following up on Tara' question.  You cited the example of the Military Facilities used for HHS?

MR. KIRBY:  Yes.  As I said, I was just trying to make the case that the National Guard isn't always, to answer her question, to show that it's not always the case.  I was not foot stomp, saying that that's going to be the arrangement in this case.

Q:  The question was going to be, has this Department of State since they're the lead in this? Have they contacted the Defense Department to conduct assessments of Military Facilities that could provide a similar role to what we're seeing with HHS?

MR. KIRBY:  I know of no such requests or moves at this point. You're talking about domestic installations? No.

Q:  And have you also, you talked about the capabilities that the Military.  You said, this is a whole of government effort.  But what are the specific capabilities that the Military can bring to bear?  If there's, you know, this type of operation gets underway on to remove these?

MR. KIRBY:  Well, again, as you heard the Secretary and Chairman, say.  We have lots of capabilities here, if I start to list some of those, which are obvious to you.  I don't want to leave anybody with the idea that those are what we're going to end up doing, we are still in the process of planning this.  And I don't think it's helpful right now to speculate on what the military may or may not do.

But you know, well, we have capabilities, we do have facilities, we certainly have capacity to assist in a number of ways.  And again, I could list it all. But then I don't want that to be like, well, this is what we're going to do.  We're still working with the interagency on this. And as I tried to say, when answering Bob's question.  We have done these kinds of things before that don't necessarily require all military capabilities, even transport capabilities.

I'm supposed to be wrapping up here. I'm running late. Yes, ma'am.

Q:  Thank you.  Do you have an assessment, what is the possibility of an execution against those translators in Afghanistan, once you leave?  And how timely you're planning to figure out this issue, because it's very sensitive?  And what kind of example it would be for your future operations in the region, when you need help for the translation for other logistics?

MR. KIRBY:  I think we made it very clear that we know we have a sacred obligation.  And we don't use those phrases lightly here.  To help those who have helped us those who want to leave and who are qualified through this program.  We know we have a responsibility, and we are working on that very, very hard ma'am.  Nobody wants to see the kinds of outcomes that you've alluded to there. The violence, potential outcomes.

So, we're taking this extremely seriously.  And that's why we've been talking about this kind of planning for quite some time.

Q:  But there is the risk, and you are doing that --

MR. KIRBY: We understand that for many of them there is a physical risk, we're mindful of that.  We're mindful of the uncertainty that many of them have about their own futures. We are also mindful of our obligation our responsibility to try to help them to the degree we can.  And we're doing that and we're working on that very hard.

Q:  I know the timeline is still being worked out for the Afghan interpreter's question.  But is the ultimate goal to have them out before September 11.  You know, the September or September date?  Or can you anticipate it may going on longer than that?

MR. KIRBY:  I don't want to put a date certain on that Mike. We are very mindful of the need here. And we're all working with as much energy as possible to execute on these plans as soon as we can.  And I think I just leave it at that.

Q:  Real quick on Ghani- is there anyone else involved beside Austin?  That we're going to be at the meeting tomorrow?

MR. KIRBY:  There may be additional representatives.  I'll have more detail. when we put our media advisory out.  There may be additional representatives from the United States Government, but we still haven't worked all that out yet, Tony.  Okay.  Yes, I've got to go,  there's another briefing coming into --

Q:  This military withdraw and the interpreters-  if (inaudible) rockets are raining down at the airport, don't you need the military to help with the evacuation?

MR. KIRBY:  Lucas, obviously, we take force protection very seriously.  I understand the spirit in which your question is asked.  What I can tell you is we're committed to helping this departure from Afghanistan.  And we want to want to help in such a way that is as safe and orderly as possible. And nothing's changed about our commitment to that.  And I just don't think it's helpful to speculate about individual tactical potential outcomes here.

But we take this responsibility seriously/ These are men and women who literally helped make possible what we in our troops tried to make possible in Afghanistan for the last 20 years.  There isn't anybody, certainly in this building, not least of which the Secretary of Defense who served in combat, there, who doesn't really take seriously this enormous responsibility.  And we're going to contribute to the interagency effort as best we can.

As there's more detail about how it's going to unfold, I can assure you, we'll be transparent about it.  We will be as transparent as we can be and also mindful.  Just like we've been during this whole retrograde process, that operational security remains paramount.  And we don't want anybody getting hurt. Did you have a question, Megan?

Q:  Yes, a lawmaker yesterday during HASC asked Secretary Austin for his definition of extremism. And his response was, more or less, I'm focused on behavior. But he has tasked the working group with  coming up with a definition. So, I want to check to make sure that's still a goal of theirs.

MR. KIRBY:  If you look at the tasking memo, it does talk about coming up with a better definition of extremists' behaviors and activities or  -- I can't remember was it behavior or activities.  But it wasn't about the extremism at large.  It was about extremist behaviors and conduct and making sure that we have a better understanding about that.  And that's what the Secretary was reiterating yesterday.

We're really focused on the behaviors and the conduct.  It's not about getting in between somebody's ears. It's certainly not about political beliefs.  It's really about how do we get a better grip on the kinds of behaviors that that kind of ideology inspires.

Q:  Do you have any event to propose tomorrow?

MR. KIRBY:  You don't have to yell.  Don't yell.

Q:  Because you're running away.

MR. KIRBY:  But you're yelling at me.  I haven't run away.  I'm right here.  They're trying to get me to run away.

Q:  Sorry.

MR. KIRBY:  That's okay.  Don't yell.

Q:  Do you have any event to put that tomorrow for Korean War Memorial Day?  Do you have any?

MR. KIRBY:  No, I don't.  There's nothing that the Pentagon is doing tomorrow to mark the beginning of the war.  I just felt that it was important milestone to cite today.  And a reminder of how long ago that was, but how still so significant and important security on the Korean Peninsula remains to the United States. That's all.

Q:  Because usually they do in South Korea sometimes present and have either Korean memory or cars that they come in or celebrate.

MR. KIRBY:  Yes.  Certainly, I referred to the White House. I'm not aware of any of that.  So, for tomorrow, certainly nothing here is at the department.

Q:  Okay.

MR. KIRBY:  Okay?

Q:  Thank you.

MR. KIRBY:  Have a great day, everybody.  Thanks again.  I'm sorry I was late.