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Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby Holds an Off-Camera Press Briefing

MR. KIRBY: Okay, some things at the top, if you don't mind. I think you saw earlier today, the secretary met with the president and the FEMA administrator for a briefing on the administration's efforts to send resources and personnel to hard-hit communities across the country that are experiencing a surge in hospitalizations due to the Omicron variant. They spoke with teams that are already supporting hospitals in Arizona, New York and Michigan to hear about the impact that our troops are having on the COVID-19 response.

Next week, I think as you saw, the first of 1,000 additional active-duty military medical personnel will be available to deploy to enhance surge efforts at hospitals across the country. These people will be joining the over-400 active-duty military personnel -- medical personnel that are currently supporting our federal and state partners. And this, of course, as again, I think you know, comes on top of the more than 15,000 National Guard members that are activated in 49 states to support everything from clinical care, to testing, to vaccinations.

Additionally, the president announced the next deployments for six additional medical teams to six states: New York, New Jersey, Ohio, Rhode Island, Michigan, and New Mexico. Now specifically, these active-duty medical teams of doctors, nurses and other clinical personnel are going to be going to Cleveland Clinic in Ohio, Coney Island Hospital in Brooklyn, Rhode Island Hospital in Providence, Henry Ford Hospital just outside Detroit, the University of New Mexico Hospital, Albuquerque and University Hospital in Newark, New Jersey. They'll be providing relief, triaging patients, helping to decompress overwhelmed emergency departments and freeing up healthcare providers to continue other lifesaving care. They'll be working alongside healthcare workers on the front lines to give them the support they need, so it's not just about COVID medicine, necessarily. They're going to be acting as a relief valve for our civilian healthcare workers. And these are just the first wave of -- of these deployments. Teams will continue to be mobilized and deployed where they are needed over the coming weeks to confront the Omicron variant.

Now, since first launching these surge response teams on the first of July, the Biden administration has deployed over 3,000 personnel to 39 states and four U.S. territories, and these teams have worked tirelessly, again, to -- alongside healthcare workers through all the seasons of this pandemic and -- and often, very far from home.

In case you were going to ask about sourcing, I mean, all that, as you know, is ongoing, so I don't have any sourcing solutions to speak to. I would tell you that most of these teams are -- are -- they're -- they're not coming from set units. These are personnel that are -- are being -- are being assessed from their own military treatment facilities of where they are around the country and -- and fashioned together into teams. So it more of an individual deployment scheme than it is a unit deployment scheme, so I don't have a lot of context on sourcing solutions.

Secretary Austin signed a memo on Monday re-designating Joe Bryan, the senior advisor to the secretary on climate, as the chief sustainability officer. Executive Order 14057, which is titled "Catalyzing Clean Energy Industries and Jobs Through Federal Sustainability" and previous executive orders required the Department of Defense to designate a chief sustainability officer with the authority to implement sustainability requirements and the responsibility to report to the White House on agency progress. Though the assistant secretary of defense for sustainment was initially designated the CSO last spring, this change is now being made due to the efforts required to meet existing and emerging sustainability objectives and the priority this issue holds for the administration and for the department.

As the CSO, Joe will report directly to the secretary and to the deputy secretary, and will represent the department on sustainability-related matters within the department and in the interagency. The whole memo's posted on our website, and I encourage you to go take a look at it.

And then finally, you should have it by now. I think we released it just a little bit ago. If you don't, I can confirm that Secretary Austin spoke this morning with his Ukrainian counterpart, the Ukrainian minister of defense, Oleksii Reznikov, to discuss Russia's ongoing and unprovoked military buildup in and around Ukraine. Secretary Austin reaffirmed unwavering U.S. support for Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity, including ongoing efforts to build the capacity of Ukraine's forces through the provision of defensive assistance. The leaders expressed support for diplomatic efforts to de-escalate tensions and committed to continuing in their close coordination.

And I think that is it. Bob?

Q: Hey, John, thank you. On that last point about the phone conversation, did Secretary Austin tell him of any specific items that the administration has agreed to provide in the way of either defensive or offensive (inaudible)?

MR. KIRBY: No. There was no specific discussion of articles, just reaffirmed our commitment to help Ukraine defend itself.

Q: Okay, can I ask you another question?

MR. KIRBY: Yes, sir.

Q: About the North Korea situation and the missile launches, most recently the one on Monday, can you confirm that it's been assessed that it was a hypersonic glide vehicle as opposed to the normal ballistic missile weapons launched?

MR. KIRBY: I can -- I cannot, no.

Q: Is that classified or because you don't know?

MR. KIRBY: I cannot confirm beyond what we've described it as.

Q: Which is?

MR. KIRBY: Which is a ballistic missile.

Q: Okay, the other question is, amid the -- there's been a lot of back and forth about what FAA did and didn't do. And I know you're not speaking to what the FAA did or why.

But there's been reports that NORAD requested certain airspace be cleared before they were able to determine that it was not a threat and that may be a factor in what happened subsequently. Do you -- do you know whether that's what happened with NORAD?

MR. KIRBY: I -- I don't -- I can't speak to the specifics. I'd point you to NORAD and the FAA. But just -- and I -- and I -- I think -- I think NORAD might have a little bit more context to put out this afternoon, so I don't want to get ahead of them.

So the short answer to your questions is, Bob, I don't know what specific action was taken at every minute throughout this -- this early process but, as I think you know, we detect missile launches on a fairly routine basis. And most of them very quickly are decided to -- to not -- not be a threat, to not be a factor.

But -- but when -- but there is a process of interagency consultation that -- again I don't want to speak for NORAD -- but that's very typical and it's not new to these current circumstances, when there's a -- when there's a detection. And it's -- it usually happens very early on.

And then as you get additional telemetry data, you update your estimates. You update your information. You appropriately coordinate.

And I think, again without speaking to the eaches and I won't speak for obviously the FAA either, my understanding is that the normal process of -- of identification, and early assessment and interagency coordination took place.

And out of that -- out of that very early part of the process, some decisions got made that probably didn't need to get made. And -- well, again, I'm just going to leave it at that, Bob. I think, you know, the -- I think -- I know NORAD, I think, may have more to say about this a little bit later today.

And again, I won't speak for the FAA. I think the FAA has already talked about this. But I think what you're talking -- I think what we're seeing here is just the normal process of coordination and communication, out of which, early on in that process, some decisions were made that probably didn't need to get made. But I think I'll leave it at that.

Q: Okay.



Q: Thank you. I follow up that North Korea missile launches and that second missile launch. I think the people and me aren’t going to ask a question to you. As far as I know, U.S. are still assessing the detail of it. But North Korea is saying that this hypersonic missile test fire was the final test launch. And Kim Jong-un and his sister observed this missile launch. What is the significance of the final test launch of the hypersonic missile? How can you analyze this because they said this is final? Does it mean they are never going to fire again? 

MR. KIRBY: Well, I think some of those questions are better put to Kim Jong-un and his sister, not to me. I can't and won't go beyond my answer to Bob. We are still assessing the results of this test. And I don't have anything more to add today than what we have already said. 

Q: Korea, Japan, the United States not coordinating ...

MR. KIRBY: We're still assessing. 


MR. KIRBY: Oh, you have another one. OK, go ahead, yes. 


Q: As the U.S. and South Korea and Japan Defense Minister meeting has been cancelled or postponed in Hawaii, probably this week? 

MR. KIRBY: Yes, I spoke about this a while ago. I mean, we had -- we had never announced it. But helpfully other people decided to. That we were going to go to a trip to Southeast Asia in January, which would have included a stop in Hawaii, which we are hoping would include a trilateral discussion with our counterparts in Japan and South Korea. And obviously that trip is not happening, so that trilateral discussion is -- is not going to happen right now. But it's a postponement, it's not a cancellation. It was the right thing to do with the spread of Omicron. I would remind that our decision to postpone the trip was -- was made before we had an indication that the secretary was positive for COVID. So his -- his diagnosis had nothing to do with the decision to postpone this trip. It just seemed like the right thing to do. 

And now, as you know, we're on HPCON Charlie. So all non-critical travel is being postponed until we get into a better position with respect to COVID. So when we have a trip to announce and to speak to and get a -- get a chance to get it back on the schedule, we absolutely will let you know. And the secretary is committed to doing that. I would also say, and I think we put a readout of it, but Dr. Ratner did have a discussion this morning with his counterparts from Japan and South Korea. So there still was a trilateral discussion as recently as today, just wasn't at the secretary's level. 

Q: Does Secretary Austin have a call with the South Korean defense minister regarding missile launch? 

MR. KIRBY: No, there has been no phone discussions. We -- we read all the calls out to you, so it's not like we're doing one and then hiding it in our back pocket. There has been no discussions with respect to these missile launches. 

Q: Thank you. 

MR. KIRBY: You're welcome. 


Q: A specific North Korea, and then an entirely unrelated question. Was their initial reading from the initial telemetry that it might -- the ballistic missile launch might land east of Japan? 

And then the unrelated question is, is there an estimate on how long the COVID related deployments of either National Guard or active duty or medical teams might have to last in light of the fact that Omicron appears to blow through hard but blow through quickly? 

MR. KIRBY: Yes. On your first question, I will let NORAD speak to that kind of -- I'm not going to talk about telemetry data here. So I'm -- I would refer you to NORAD. On the second one, nobody expects that these deployments will be open-ended and, you know, over a long period of time. But nor have we set finite, specific periods of time on it right now. They are temporary deployments. We don't think that they will last an inordinate amount of time. But, it is a chance to just relieve the pressure. And that's really what this is about.

I mean, I saw one of your colleagues on Twitter, you know, sort of I don't want to say, well, fairly criticizing this effort and noting that, you know, in the early days of the -- of COVID we -- you know, we had active duty deployed, like the hospital ship and we set up field hospitals in various places and didn't see a lot of patients. This is not that. This is completely different.

These are smaller teams and they're going to hospitals, actual, you know, brick and mortar hospitals to help alleviate the strain on the health care workers that are already there. As I said to Bob and they all won't necessarily be doing COVID related stuff, they'll be just taking up the slack and trying to help the doctors and nurses power through this.

So, and not being and epidemiologist I can't predict how long the Omicron variant is going to last, Oren. But what I will tell you and this is a long-winded way of getting to your question, is the Secretary is committed to this mission and to -- and to -- and he's committed to alleviating the stress and pressure on the civilian healthcare system to the -- to the degree that we can.

And -- and so, we're going to be watching it in real time and making decisions about who to deploy, when to deploy, when to redeploy based on the need in these hospitals around the country.

And obviously, look, I mean these individuals are coming from military treatment facilities. So, we also have to be mindful of our own ability to run our own facilities and to take care of our troops and our families. And so, we're going to be watching that as closely as we can too.


Q: Thanks. This renewed attack on the green Zone in Baghdad.


Q: -- any comments on this please?

MR. KIRBY: I've seen very early operational reporting on this, Pierre. So, I want to be careful here, because first reports are almost always wrong. So, what I can tell you is we're aware of reports and I'm not just talking about in the press.

I mean, operational reporting that we've seen of another indirect fire attack, this one on the Green Zone in Baghdad. A relatively small number, we think, of rockets that were fired. We're still assessing the damage. We're still assessing the health and safety of our people.

And I just don't have any more for you on that. I literally looked at the operational reporting minutes before coming here. So, I just don't have a lot right now. You can follow up with Central Command. They might have a little bit more as time goes on.

Q: It seems they are not being deterred by the previous retaliation of the U.S. forces?

MR. KIRBY: Yes, look, I've said this before, we're going to do what we have to protect our people. And if and when we respond we're going to do it at a time and place of our choosing.

We're certainly mindful that these attacks continue. They are -- they are obviously meant to cause harm, if not death to our people and we take that threat very, very seriously. And we have communicated -- the other thing I'll say is we have -- we have made it very clear in other channels to the Iranians how seriously we're taking this.

Q: Are you confirming there were like messages sent to the Iranians indirectly or..

MR. KIRBY: I would just say we've made it very clear how seriously we're taking this. I'll leave it that.


Q. Thank you John. So I have a question on Russia and a follow-up. Today the OSCE chairman in office, in his opening speech that, quote/unquote, "The risk of war in the OSCE’s area is now greater than ever before in the last 30 years." Do you -- does the Pentagon agree with this assessment? And -- and do you see the -- the current Russian military buildup on the Ukrainian borders as a potential risk into -- stepping into this type of war?

MR. KIRBY: I would say, you know, we continue to be deeply concerned by the Russian presence near the border with Ukraine. We continue to be deeply concerned by what appears to be a refusal to find a way to de-escalate this on their part. And we here in the Department of Defense still believe that there -- there's a path for diplomacy here and that it should be continued to be pursued, and I know our State Department colleagues feel exactly the same way. You heard Deputy Secretary Sherman talk about this last night. So we very much want to see diplomacy succeed here. Nobody wants to -- to see Ukrainian territory and sovereignty assaulted yet again, and I would remind that it's already been assaulted by the Russians, and nobody wants to see that happen again. 

The administration continues to pursue a -- a range of -- of options and continues to pursue consultations with allies and partners. We just spoke to the minister of defense of Ukraine this morning. And for our part here at the Department of Defense, we continue to stay committed to helping Ukraine defend itself.

Q: OK. And another one on -- on Russia. This one is coming from the Russian side. So Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Ryabkov said in a T.V. interview today that he basically did not rule out the possibility of deploying Russian military assets into Cuba and Venezuela, based on one type of interaction and the outcome of these talks with the U.S. How would you view not only such a potential step, but even raising the prospect of such a ...?

MR. KIRBY: Well, I'll let the -- I'll let the deputy foreign minister speak to -- to -- to Russia's intent. We're focused on trying to find a way forward in de-escalation of this particular crisis that Russia has caused, and that's what our focus is on, and I think I'll leave it at that. 

Let me -- I haven't gotten to anybody on the phone and I -- I need to. David Martin?

Q: John, the website of the Ayatollah has posted a video showing the use of a robot to conduct what looks very much like an assassination plot against Donald Trump. Does the -- the Pentagon have any reaction to that video? And has anybody communicated that reaction to the Iranians?

MR. KIRBY: David, I'll tell you, I'm going to -- I'm going to have to take your question. This is the first I've heard of that video. That doesn't mean that there aren't other people in the building aware of it, so let me not waste your time by speculating here, or pontificating. I'll -- I'll see if we have something more official to say on that, but that's the first I've heard of it. 

Q: OK. 

MR. KIRBY: Al-Monitor.

Q: Hi, sir. My question's been asked. Thank you.

MR. KIRBY: Thank you. Mike Glenn of the Washington Times.

Q: Hi, John. Thanks a lot. I was wondering if you could comment on these allegations that the Air Force pushed an unqualified female candidate through the Special Operations training pipeline.

MR. KIRBY: Mike, I've seen the -- the reporting on that, and as I understand it, the Air Force has already spoken to this issue, that the -- about the seriousness with which they take their standards for those operating in the Special Operations and Special Forces components. And it's certainly the secretary's expectation that -- that that's exactly what -- what we want the services to do, to have -- there should be high standards for those fields of endeavor, and that those standards should be -- should be applied to everyone. He also fully supports efforts by the department to continue to look for ways to open up opportunities for -- for women in the force, to continue to find ways for them to -- to demonstrate the leadership and the capability and the skills that we know that they -- that they have and that they bring to -- to force readiness. But with respect to the specifics on this, we would refer you to the Air Force.

Q: OK, thank you, John.

MR. KIRBY: You bet. 

Jeff Schogol?

Q: Thank you. Today's the 40th anniversary of the Air Florida crash, and one of the heroes of that day was a veteran named Arland D. Williams, Jr., and I was just wondering if the Pentagon plans on paying any tribute to him. He was the one who was trapped in the wreckage and kept passing lifelines to the other passengers who survived. I just wanted to see if the Pentagon is planning on issuing any kind of statement or any kind of expression of his sacrifice. 

MR. KIRBY: Jeff, no, thanks for -- thanks for bringing that -- bringing that up. I -- I don't have any specific commemorative actions to speak to at -- at this moment, but obviously -- I mean, I remember that -- I remember that crash well, and -- and there, you know -- that there was courage demonstrated clearly is -- is not in -- not in dispute, and -- and we recognize the -- his courage and -- and bravery. But I don't have a specific commemorative event or anything to speak to today.

Q: Thank you.


Luis Martinez?

Q: Hi, John. Following up on these contracts that the DOD has arranged for, you know, at-home rapid tests, I've noticed that these are some that are already in the stockpiles of these companies. Are you anticipating more contracts with large producers in coming weeks to -- to make up that shortfall? Because right now, I think the initial goal of 500 million, based on the numbers on these contracts, is still a long ways away.

MR. KIRBY: The process of reviewing bids and awarding contracts for that first 500 million, you're right. To date, we've awarded four contracts, and all the details of those can be -- are -- are available on our website. These early contracts mean that we can purchase exist -- existing tests, as you said, Luis, to be delivered to the American public. We're obviously ensuring that the tests contracted -- that are being contracted arrive as quickly as they are manufactured by the companies, and then immediately being made available to the American people. 

As for the additional 500 million announced today, our defense-assisted acquisition cell is going to continue its role to support the procurement of these additional 500 million tests, so we're -- we're -- we are working on the original tranche, and -- and we're continuing to -- we're continued to review bids for -- for -- for even more. And -- and -- and our -- as I said, our defense acquisition -- defense-assisted acquisition cell will continue its role to support the procurement of these additional these additional 500….

Q: John, can I follow-up on a different matter? If that's OK? On the boosters, I -- do you have -- I know it's been difficult to give us some kind of a range of how many personnel are getting the booster on their own since there is no mandate. Do you have any data that would give us any kind of a concept? And are there still discussions underway for a mandatory booster? 

MR. KIRBY: I don't have any data for you today, Luis. As you know, we're not tracking the booster shots since they aren't part of the mandate. And I -- obviously it goes without saying that some people can get boosters on their own without going through the military treatment facility nearest them. 

And I would tell you that we are still discussing here in the Department the potential for whether or not the boosters ought to be made mandatory. There's still no decision on it, but it is very much an active part of the discussion. 

Q: Thank you. 

MR. KIRBY: Sylvie. OK, Sylvie. 

Q: I didn't hear, sorry, I was not sure you were calling me. I would like to call -- to speak about Ukraine. Some experts are speaking about troops movement in Russia from the eastern part of Russia to the west. I wanted to know if you -- if the Pentagon has the same assessment, and if you have noticed a reinforcement of the Russian military posture near Ukraine? 

MR. KIRBY: Well, Sylvie, I don't know of any -- I can't speak to specific unit troop movements from east to west inside Russia. That's a great question for the Russian Ministry of Defense. I would tell you that about -- and I'm -- so about 2/3 of the troop buildup we've seen around Ukraine are troops that we would consider out of garrison. 

In other words they weren't already stationed in western Russia, they came from elsewhere. But it is -- a good chunk of them, again about 1/3 was already in the western or southern military districts. 

So I can't speak to exactly where all those out of garrison units came from, but we have seen that the bulk of the troops that Mr. Putin has arrayed in – around the borders of Ukraine came from what we would consider out of garrison. So they moved from somewhere else inside their -- inside Russia. 

I'm sorry, and your second question was...

Q: No, I wanted to know if you have seen any change in the posture recently. 

MR. KIRBY: You know, without speaking to details here -- I've been careful to do that. We continue to see a significant force posture of Russian troops in the western part of their country. Around the borders with Ukraine we've seen no indication that there has been any decrement to that force posture, and again we're watching it real closely. 

Q: Thank you. 

MR. KIRBY: Abraham. 

Q: This morning at a Senate hearing Dr. Celeste Wallander agreed with an assessment by Senator Kaine that Putin might have proposed so much -- so many big changes as a pretext for invasion. Does the secretary agree with that assessment, that there needs to be sort of planning. Is he discussing with his European counterparts that no progress in these discussions means the potential for an invasion is …?

MR. KIRBY: No, as I said earlier the -- we do not think -- the secretary does not think that -- that -- we -- we have no indication that President Putin has made a decision to launch another incursion in the Ukraine. He clearly continues to have a military capability that would allow him to move on Ukraine.

And we've seen no indications to suggest as I said to Sylvie that he has -- that he has decreased that capability in any way. But -- but we -- we still don't believe that -- that a final decision by Mr. Putin has been made.

And that's why we continue to believe that there's still space for diplomacy and -- and hopefully time for diplomacy. And we're going to continue to support that effort.

Q: Can I ask another unrelated question?


Q: And also add clarification. In your last statement about that garrison assessment, you said both two-thirds and one-third. Did you mean two-thirds?

MR. KIRBY: I'm sorry. You know, math has never been my -- I was a history major and just barely that. What I meant -- about a third we estimate were already stationed in western Russia. In garrison is what we would say, they were already there. And about two-thirds of the total force posture that he has now came from elsewhere in Russia to the west. Does that help?

Q: Sure.

MR. KIRBY: Now where they came from and I -- I mean, that's, you know, Russian Ministry of Defense can speak to their troop movements. But we estimate that the majority of the troops that are there came from somewhere else in Russia, they weren't already there.

Q: I'm not sure you can comment on this but last year the secretary signed a classified document related to JADC2. Is there any plans coming up for release of an unclassed or any updates to provide about JADC2?

MR. KIRBY: I know of no plans to -- to update the language or to declassify it but we'll take the question, Mike, and just -- just ask. I didn't think I'd get a JADC2 question today. That's good. All right, Phil Stewart?

Q: Hey, John. Real quick do you, I mean, I'm assuming the secretary's been briefed by General Mingus and everyone following these talks. Does the secretary believe the Russians are sincere in these negotiations? And then -- and then I have a follow-up.

MR. KIRBY: I think the secretary would defer to our diplomats on the ground about the -- characterizing the negotiations. I would just say that he continues to believe that as I said, diplomacy is the lead, diplomacy should be given time and space to work. And he knows how hard Deputy Secretary Sherman prepared for those discussions.

And how much effort that our State Department colleagues put into it. But I - I don't think it would be -- he wouldn't think it's appropriate for him having not attended the -- the negotiations to speak to the sincerity across the table. That's really something that he would -- I would -- I'm sure would defer to Deputy Secretary Sherman to speak to.

Q: And -- and the U.S. forces that are training Ukraine inside the country, does the secretary anticipate being able to -- to keep them in the country? To keep advising the Ukraines -- Ukrainians if there were a, you know, some sort of further incursions by the Russians? Or does the secretary anticipate withdrawing those forces should things become increasingly hostile? Thanks.

MR. KIRBY: They are still there Phil, and, obviously, we take their -- their protection very, very seriously. I won't speculate or hypothesize about what might happen if there's an incursion. None of us want to see another incursion.

But obviously, as we do everywhere around the world, we'll factor seriously our options on force protection to make sure that our people are safe.

Tony ?

Q:  (inaudible).

MR. KIRBY: Well, look, I think the secretary's looking forward to -- to many things this year. 

We're in the beginning stages of the budget season. And putting together a robust budget for the Department of Defense is very much on the top of his list. Making sure we advance and further his vision of integrated deterrence, specifically in the Indo-Pacific but around the world, which is in -- in terms of the secretary, that's about really integrating not only joint capabilities but the capabilities that come to bear by allies and partners.

So I think you're going to see the secretary work very hard in -- in the coming year on integrated deterrence and really bringing to life this vision that he has about how better to net capabilities for deterrent effect.

Obviously, he's going to stay focused on China and the continuing, as he calls it, pacing challenge that they present, not just to us and -- in -- and not just in -- in the region but around the world. 

Obviously, and you can tell from my opening comments today and his participation at the White House, COVID remains top of the list. Now, I -- I recognize that -- that COVID is not something you're proactive -- you know, you -- you know, it happened to the world. 

It's not like -- but it still remains a top focus for him, making sure that the health of the force is sustained, and that the readiness of the force is sustained and that we continue to help out the American people as they struggle through this pandemic. 

And then I think another focus for the secretary is going to be very much about -- and I talked -- I briefly touched on this -- is the alliance and partnership piece. And making sure that we continue to put time and effort in revitalizing, re-energizing and supporting alliances and partnerships all over the world. 

There's a lot -- I mean, he did a lot this year. And when you go back and look at what he did this year, you can see a lot of time and effort put in consultations and coordination with allies and partners. I think you're going to see that expand, you know, going in -- going into the next year.

Q: Ukraine and the U.S. approach, is that an example of this elliptical term, integrated deterrence?

MR. KIRBY: I think, well, what we're doing with Ukraine is really about helping them defend themselves. 

Integrated deterrence is netting together the capabilities of not just the United States but -- and our armed forces but those of allies and partners to dissuade, to convince a potential adversary not to take a certain course of action. So I think Ukraine is a little bit of a -- of a special case in this regard because it's really about helping them defend themselves.

Q: May I ask you one thing? There's some fixation on troop movements and Russian numbers there all with Ukraine. Has Cyber Command at all come up with -- are they analyzing or have they come up with any indications the Russians are moving in electronic warfare units or beefing up cyber-attack capability so called non-kinetic capability that you can't really measure by troop movements?

MR. KIRBY: Without getting into intelligence assessments or speaking for the Russian Ministry of Defence -- so I won't talk about specific capabilities or what we're seeing one way or the other. 

That said, Tony, we've -- we have seen -- we have seen in the past where the Russians have advanced electronic warfare and cyber capabilities into a region or regions that they were trying to make less stable and to take advantage of those cyber capabilities to their advantage of them, that we were saying that, take advantage of these cyber capabilities.

So, we've seen that playbook before but I won't speak to specifically what we're seeing right now.

Q: Is there any indication that you're somewhat seeing a repeat to all those use of -- potential use of cyber?

MR. KIRBY: Again, I don't want to talk about cyber capabilities of another military. We have seen them use and advance cyber capabilities in the past to destabilize or to intimidate. That is -- that is a -- that is a page out of the Russian playbook. It's typical, but I'm not going to talk about what we're seeing right now. 

Last question to Caitlin.

Q: Hi, John. Thank you. I'm wondering -- I don't think you do, but do you have an update regarding any talks about how we will move forward, possibly with the Justice Department, regarding the stay on the mandate for the SEALs issued last week? 

And then also wondering about an update on civilian employees and vaccination rates, whether there has been any guidance put out on how to terminate the employment of those who continue to decline the vaccine in the civilian force? And whether any have been -- have been terminated? Thank you.

MR. KIRBY: No terminations yet, Caitlin. We are still finalizing the guidance to the civilian force in that regard. And I'm sorry, I completely forgot your first question. 

Q: Oh, the Navy SEALs and their -- the 35 Navy SEALs in Texas that have the stay on the vaccine mandate implications.

MR. KIRBY: Discussions with the Justice Department about our options. As far as I know there's been no final decision about what the department's approach to this -- to this litigation is going to be. 

Q: OK. And then a final question. Yesterday at the Surface Navy Symposium, Representative Gallagher came out pretty hard swinging against the integrated deterrence theory. 

He essentially claimed that it would be focusing too much on new capabilities and we need to be focused more on traditional capabilities, such as battleships. I'm wondering if can get a response on that narrative? 

MR. KIRBY: Well without speaking to battleships, I -- and you've heard the secretary talk about this, his vision of integrated deterrence is not just about new technology, although that factors into it. It has to, because technology keeps changing sometimes faster than we can keep up with it. So we absolutely want to take advantage of new capabilities and new technology. 

But, it is also, and you've heard him talk about this and I encourage anyone to go back and look at his comments on integrated deterrence, it's very much also about netting together existing capabilities and existing technology. 

Because, if all you're worried about is the future you're never going to get to that vision of integrated deterrence. You've got to deal with, in many respects, what you have now even as you try to improve it. So, it's very much about netting together existing and potential future technologies into a larger strategy of integrated deterrence. 

And again, I want to stress that in the secretary's view this isn't just about United States' capabilities existing in our future. It's about allies and partners capabilities and folding them into the mix when it comes to integrated deterrence, both their existing capabilities and platforms and systems and the future platform, systems and capabilities that they are also trying to pursue.

Q: Thank you.

MR. KIRBY: OK, thanks everybody.