An official website of the United States Government
Here's how you know

Official websites use .gov

.gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.

Secure .gov websites use HTTPS

A lock ( lock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

Transcript

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

Jan. 25, 2022
Pentagon Press Secretary John F. Kirby

PRESS SECRETARY JOHN F. KIRBY: No opening statement. Lita, over to you. 

Q: Thanks John. Are you going to be able to identify any of the units sort of publicly today that are going to be going? And can you give us sort of two things on that? 

One, can you give us maybe a -- even a broad percentage about the number that are going -- that would be going for the NATO Response Force versus that other smaller amount that you though would go independently to other places?

And then secondly, do you see any sort of larger, higher-end air defense systems being deployed as part of this? More Patriots, things like that? Thank you.

MR. KIRBY: Those are three things, Lita. One, I -- I can't identify units today. We are still going through a notification process. So, you're just going to have bear with me on that. 

Two, I don't have an exact number of how many of these troops that we are putting on heightened alert are specifically allocated for the NATO Response Force. But as I said yesterday, the majority of the 8,500 that it talked about are dedicated to that. I will see if we can get you a better, more specific figure. But, I'll have to look at that one. 

And then, number three, I don't know of any advance systems that would be going along as a part of that or as a part of any unilateral support to our NATO allies. We are still in active consultation with allies and partners about capabilities they might need and might desire. But no decisions have been made about spending anything in terms of significant air defense systems or weapons. 

So, we're still very much in active discussions with allies and partners about what the needs are. And again, I want to remind that all we did yesterday was start the process of putting some troops on more heightened alert, from -- in some cases from a 10-day prepare to deploy to 5-day. There's been no deployment orders issued. Nobody is moving outside the United States at this time. This was just about being ready. 

The other thing I'd say is I'm not going to rule out the possibility that there will be more such direction given to additional units at home or even abroad in terms of their readiness posture. As we have things to announce and speak to I'll do that. 

Q: Can I have a follow-up? 

MR. KIRBY: Yes, go ahead.

Q: Has the secretary had any additional conversations that we haven't seen read-out from any of the NATO allies asking for any specific assistance on --

MR. KIRBY: No. No, he has not. But, rest assured that if and when he does, and I suspect he will in coming days, have discussions with NATO allies we will absolutely read those out. So, if you haven't seen a read-out from us it's because the conversation hasn't happened. 

Meghann?

Q: Then using the moving to a 10-day to a 5-day timeline, as your example here, is there another range in there? Like, are there troops that are going from a 5-day recall to 24-hours?

MR. KIRBY: No. I don't know -- I don't know -- in terms of the tranche I've talked about, I don't know of anything faster than the 5-day. And as I said yesterday, some of the units were just on that advanced readiness level. And so, I was just trying to give you an example of what some will be experiencing, but that -- but not all.

Q: So, it's fair to say 5-days is like as quickly as you're trying to have anybody ready right now?

MR. KIRBY: It's the -- it's the quickest I know of in terms of those 8,500. Now, whether we look like going forward, you know, I -- we'll talk about that when we get there. It could be faster, it could be slower, if we -- if we, in fact, put on a heightened alert additional forces. Which again, I'm not going to take off the table. 

Yes, Barb?

Q: I'm confused, bluntly, what is taking so long, if I may ask? This is notification of families, but also notification of the troops of the units themselves, U.S. military is expert in quick movement, notifying troops, saying pack up and go. 

And even though you're not at that point yet, you are on an issue of -- is something different here that it's taking longer than a usual notification process, which by all accounts is always capable of being very rapid? Is there something different here we're not understanding? 

MR. KIRBY: I think I'd refer you to the services themselves. And then, of course, there's a limit to what they can say because we haven't identified the units. So, it's a little bit of a -- of a do-loop unfortunately, Barb. 

I -- the -- it's a fairly -- it's not -- it -- it's not typical that -- that a decision to decrease the timeframe of when a unit is to be -- it's not typical that we talk about it as -- as much as we've been talking about it. 

And we want to make sure typically, you know, there's a -- it's something that we're not -- we're not talking about quite as much as we are now. And so, usually units have a little bit more time to make those notifications. 

So, we want to continue to give them that time and I know that they're, based on what I've heard this morning, I mean that they are -- they are working through that. But, we want to make sure that they have the ability to do it in a responsible way. Not just to inform troops, but also families. 

In fact, to Meghann’s question, I mean not all of the units are necessarily ready-response force units, right? And so, this isn't a typical process for them. So, I understand the impatience, but we're doing this as best we can and I think you all can understand why we'd want to respect that process.

Q: One other very quick. Yesterday you did not indicate at that any point it would go beyond the 8,500. Did something change that now you have to say you wouldn't take that off the table? And can you give us any sense of what you're potentially talking about, double? 

MR. KIRBY: I don't believe that I said that I -- that I would never go beyond the 8,500. I said that's what we're talking about today. 

Q: Yes - and now, today you're saying you can't take out -- I'm not sure I heard you say yesterday that we would not take more -- you're suggesting today it could go higher. 

MR. KIRBY: I am. 

Q: What has changed since yesterday? 

MR. KIRBY: Nothing has changed, the Pentagon exists to provide options, and we're thinking -- we continue to think through options to make sure that we are properly postured to support our NATO allies. I'm not -- I'm not -- I'm not -- Barbara, I'm not saying there's going to be, I'm not saying there won't be, I'm just saying we're not taking anything off the table right now. 

And I don't think yesterday that I said the 8,500 is the end-all be-all. 

Q: So is this an additional option since yesterday? 

MR. KIRBY: The -- the -- we have -- we have been thinking through lots of options over the last few days, I think I'll leave it at that. Tom? 

Q: Hi John, two questions. One on the -- you just answered part of it, been thinking through over the past few days some options…

MR. KIRBY: If I could answer part of any question, that's usually good enough for me. 

Q: That’s a good start. Today, I was asked by a host what changed from Friday where it was more of a wait and see to more of an active response by the United States -- by the Biden Administration, and you have indicated of course that yesterday you said the buildup continues, et cetera; is there any other elements over the past few days that prompted these options to be suggested and followed on?

MR. KIRBY: No, no, I wouldn't say -- I wouldn't answer the question any differently today. 

Q: OK, and second, for clarification on my part, you've referred to these 8,500 coming from -- possibly coming from domestic facilities in Europe. I think yesterday you also mentioned in other parts of the world, did I hear correctly? 

MR. KIRBY: Yes, no, I think you -- either I said it wrong yesterday or you didn't hear me correctly. I thought yesterday that I was clear that when we're -- first of all it's up to 8,500 or about 8,500, I don't want you to get fixated on an exact figure, and number two, those troops are domestically based. 

Q: Are they all… 

MR. KIRBY: All here. 

Q: OK. 

MR. KIRBY: What I did say yesterday is that -- again if I -- I thought I'd made it clear that we certainly aren't taking off the table ideas or the prospect that troops already based in Europe, either rotationally or permanently, could also be used to bolster the readiness and to help reassure our NATO allies and the eastern flank. 

So we have put some troops here domestically on a heightened alert posture. They have not been ordered to deploy. The NATO Response Force has not been activated, and General Walters has resources already, I mean, tens of thousands of troops that we have stationed in Europe, again, some on rotational orders, that he could move around in consultation and coordination clearly with the allies. 

I have no announcements or decisions to make with that respect, but I want to make it clear, the 8,500 are domestically based, but we are -- we have a range of options available to us. 

Q: Yeah -- you may remember, I had a bad connection yesterday and you could not hear my question clearly, so I did -- yes, that's on me, thanks for clearing that up. So the 8,500, or whatever that number may be, are domestic, a good point. 

MR. KIRBY: Correct. 

Q: Troops in Europe could -- emphasis on could -- be sent to another country at the request of that country, independently of the 8,500? 

MR. KIRBY: Correct. 

Q: OK. 

MR. KIRBY: That's correct. 

Q: And finally on another note, I'm sure having your background, you've taken note of the fact that the Russians are planning a naval exercise off the Irish Coast within the economic zone of the Republic of Ireland but not within their territorial waters. You've noted that, I'm sure, that the Irish fisherman have decided to interfere with that exercise in lieu of the Irish Navy; would the Pentagon be able to provide any kind of hard intelligence to the fisherman to help them in their quest? 

MR. KIRBY: I know of no such plans to do that, Tom. 

Q: Thank you. 

MR. KIRBY: Yes. Let me go to the phones here. Tony? 

Q: Hey, John, I had one Ukraine question and one non-Ukraine question. In the -- during the active consultation with NATO partners has there been much discussion about contingency planning in case the air space over the Ukraine is considered hostile?

MR. KIRBY: I don't of a -- I don't know of specific discussions about that, Tony. That's probably a better question put to NATO in Brussels not to us here in the Pentagon. Our consultations with allies and partners are really about discussion with them what sorts of capabilities they might need in terms of defensive ability and of course to reassure them of our commitment to the alliance.

But I -- that's a really very specific question that I think would be better put to our colleagues in Brussels.

Q: OK and a non-Ukraine question. Lockheed Martin today announced that the Federal Trade Commission was going to block their purchase of -- their merger with Aerospace -- excuse me, Aerojet Corporation. Can you tell me what the Pentagon's view of the merger was? Ms. Hicks was the point person on it. Now that it's in the end game can you let us know whether the Pentagon supported the merger or -- with conditions or recommended rejection?

MR. KIRBY: Yes, I would say look the department shared our conclusions on the proposed merger to the Federal Trade Commission and we did that in a letter back in December from Deputy Secretary Hicks. This was provided to the FTC for their deliberations and final decision making. And I would refer you to the FTC for anything regarding their analysis and conclusions. 

We're -- because our information was used for internal deliberations, I cannot and won't share the department's recommendations.

Q: How about head steer though. I mean any -- was it more incline to reject it or more inclined to approve it with conditions?

MR. KIRBY: I think I'm going to leave my answer the way it was, Tony.

Q: OK, thank you.

MR. KIRBY: OK, Terace?

Q: Yes, hi. Good to talk to you it's been a while. Thank you for taking my question. So what would it take for the U.S. and our allies to act? Because Russia just announced that they're going -- they're going to do even more drills as a result of you announcing 8,500 troops being put on alert. So what would it take for us to react?

MR. KIRBY: Well, look, I would first say we have acted. We're shipping over additional security assistance to the Ukrainians, as we speak, they're taking off and landing in Kyiv. So we are acting. And the president has made clear in two conversations with Mr. Putin that there will be severe consequences largely of an economic nature if he conducts another invasion, another incursion of Ukraine. 

And we are having active discussions with allies and partners about ways in which we can -- we can bolster their defensive capabilities. And, as I said yesterday, we're increasing the alert posture on quite a number of U.S. troops here stateside as well as taking a look at a what could possibly be moved around the on the European continent. So I reject the notion that we aren't acting. 

Now if you're asking me what would it take for us to actually move or deploy those troops; first of all, the bulk of them are dedicated to the NATO response force and that would be a NATO decision. And as for any movement either on the continent or from the United States unilaterally by the United States to bolster the defensive capabilities of a NATO ally that would be the result of individual conversations that we would have with those allies and partners. And I just don't have decisions to read out on that. 

The other thing I would say, Terace, is we still don't believe that Mr. Putin has made a final decision whether to conduct another incursion/invasion into Ukraine. So we still think there's time and space here for diplomacy and dialogue to work. 

And you heard Secretary Blinken talk about this on Sunday, that there's going to be at least another round of talks here and I think it's important to not forget that. The fact that we placed troops on heightened alert I understand that's newsworthy, I understand that's significant. But in and of itself it is not -- it is not the silver bullet that's going to solve this. We still think there's room and time for diplomacy and the department wants to make sure that we help provide that room and space -- I'm sorry, time and space for the diplomats.

Q: OK, thank you. 

MR. KIRBY: Yes. 

Q: Regarding the incident yesterday in Abu Dhabi, you said yesterday and I quote, "We are certainly going to be looking into the possibility that this was directed at our forces." If you can explain what does it mean? And -- or maybe just say simply if it was or it wasn't against U.S. forces? And also if this possibility can lead to maybe a decision to carry out strikes against the Houthis?

MR. KIRBY: Strikes against?

Q: Houthis?

MR. KIRBY: Strikes against Houthis?

Q: Yes.

MR. KIRBY: So I don't really have any updates from yesterday or conclusions that we've made here. Certainly I have no decisions to speak to nor would we talk publicly if and when we choose to do something about it. I think I'll leave it at that.

Q: Is this possibility also can maybe lead to a review to the support that you -- that United States is providing now to Saudi Arabia in it's fight against -

MR. KIRBY: I have no decisions or deliberations to speak to in terms of what the attack yesterday is going to do for support we're giving to the Saudis or quite frankly the Emiratis. We're still digesting what happened here and I won't get ahead of decisions that haven't been made yet.

Obviously this was a potentially very, very dangerous potentially lethal series of attacks. It didn't have that affect and that's because both the Emiratis and U.S. capabilities were put into play here and that's a good thing. But we're still assessing right now.

Q: John, do you mean lethal in general or lethal -

MR. KIRBY: When you fire ballistic missiles at a base you have to assume that there was a potential for lethality here. 

Q: Against U.S. troops?

MR. KIRBY: Well, there were U.S. troops there. Are you asking me was it deliberately intended to kill Americans? I can't get into that. 

Q: That's not my question. When you said lethal was asking whether lethal in general, like the population in the UAE or specifically, the base itself?

MR. KIRBY: Well I mean it could be both. I mean it was definitely targeting Al Dhafra. But there were potentially other civilian targets not from the ballistic missiles. There was also a use of drones. So we have to assume and it would irresponsible if we didn't assume that there wasn't some intent of lethality here. 

Q: May I ask question on Ukraine? You just mentioned that as we speak more security assistance is being shipped to Ukraine. Can you give us more details about these shipments? What type of weapons… 

MR. KIRBY: Yes, we can do that. We can get you some more detail on that.

Q: OK. Thanks.

MR. KIRBY: OK, Jared.

Q: Hi, Mr. Kirby. Thank you. Just wondering if the department has received reporting from the CJTF-OIR on whether or not the coalition believes any of the detainees -- ISIS detainees might have escaped during this prison break in northeast Syria. I'm just wondering if you have any estimates on how many. If so, thank you.

MR. KIRBY: Yes, I thought I'd point you to OIR, Jared. That's a level of detail that I'm just not going to get into from the Pentagon podium. We are still providing a measure of support to the SDF to help contain this threat. We helped them establish a perimeter around the facility, they have seized backed several areas that were under ISIS control. 

And as far as we know, they remain engaged to help bring this dangerous situation under control. As I said yesterday, we provided some support, real time surveillance, some airstrikes, and some ground support, mostly in the form of Bradley Fighting Vehicles positioned to help assist security in the area. But as for more granularity on that I'd point you to OIR. 

I don't have like, you know, how many prisoners are still at large, if any. I just I don't have that level of detail. 


MR. KIRBY: I said so yesterday, Barb. Yes. Mike Glenn.

Q: Yes. Thanks, John. Couple questions. Will the 8,500 CONUS troops coming -- getting a warning order? Is that will, they all come from a single service? Are they all army or a mixture of army and air force, or whatever? And also, other question about speaking of NATO unity. Germany won't send weapons to Ukraine. 

Germany's blocking Estonia from transferring German origin. Howitzer artillery to Ukraine. And you have the German navy, former German Naval Chief saying Putin deserves respect. My question is, can Germany be counted on to act as a reliable ally? And to the U.S. and NATO and the other NATO allies in a pinch? 

MR. KIRBY: Look, Germany is a key ally and partner, both inside the NATO alliance and also just bilaterally with the United States. And we greatly value the defense relationship that we have. I think you know the Secretary was in Germany several months ago and announcing that we're going to even be plusing up some of our force presence there, in in Germany. 

I think every nation inside NATO should be allowed to speak for itself in terms of what its perspective is on Russia and Ukraine. And I'm going to allow the Germans to do that. They are a valued ally and partner inside the Alliance. On your first question, it won't just come from one service. But again, until we can nail down when the notifications are complete, I'm going to be a little bit circumspect about how much more I identify them. 

But it won't just -- the up to 8,500 won't just be coming from one individual service. 

Q: Alright, thanks John. 

MR. KIRBY: Yes. Tony Bertuca.

Q: My question's been asked. Thank you.

MR. KIRBY: Thank you. Luis. 

Q: Hi, John, couple of questions on the Ukraine. You said that you're not going to be releasing unit names at this time. Does that mean we could expect that later today? 

MR. KIRBY: You know, it's going to depend on the notification process, Luis. And I just -- it's hard for me to be able to predict or give you a timeline on that. And look, there's a lot of individual units involved. I don't want to set the expectation that in every case, we're going to be able to identify every single element, every single unit. 

But what we're hoping to do is at least give you a sense broad brush of what is going to go into this 8,500. And hopefully, we'll be able to do that soon. But again, I don't want to get ahead of myself here. We want to respect the process, that these commanders have the opportunity to inform their troops. And their troops have the opportunity to inform their families.

Q: And if I could follow up on the 8,500 number. You talked yesterday about how the NATO response forces a force of 40,000. I mean, is there a set number of how much the U.S. contributes to that force after an initial deployment? Let's say from within your European forces?

MR. KIRBY: Based on a number Luis, it's -- we don't source things based on numbers. We source things based on capabilities. And so, there is a -- and again, this, I think, will be more clear once we can talk about the units that are being put on alert. You'll see a range of capabilities. And I talked about some of those yesterday, logistics, sustainment, medical, aviation, certainly Brigade Combat Teams. 

I mean, so there's a ground element, these are combat credible forces, that's the idea. That's what the NATO Response Force is all about. But it's not based on a cap or a number. It's based on what capabilities we have agreed to contribute to the NATO Response Force.

Q: And can I follow up on when you say Brigade Combat Teams? Sorry, are you talking about full Brigade Combat Teams, you're talking about, like components, like, you know, battalions, the mixing and matching, as opposed to...

MR. KIRBY: You're just going to have to give me some slack here. We're going to -- you know, until we can talk more specifically about notifications. I really don't want to get into that, but we're talking about combat credible ground forces. 

Q: Thank you.

MR. KIRBY: Roxana?

Q: Hi, John, thanks for taking my question. Just to go back to the merger with Aerojet and Lockheed. Would you say that it reflects a little bit more skepticism on the part of DOD for mergers of this kind?

MR. KIRBY: Because I'm not going to detail what our recommendations were, I'm afraid I'm going to demur on that question. It's just not appropriate for us to speak to internal deliberations and what the department's recommendations were to the FTC. I'd referred to the FTC.

Q: And if I may, a Ukraine related question. Are you getting sort of -- is there any particular country in Europe, you know, particularly from, you know, Ukraine's neighbors, that are demanding a lot more help with defense capabilities? Any...

MR. KIRBY: It's not about demands? I mean, it's not -- I wouldn't... I would not characterize the tenor of the discussions as demands. We are in active consultation with allies about what they think they might find helpful or useful. And whether or not you know, the United States is the best place to go for those kinds of capabilities. 

I mean, this is very much honest, give and take with allies and partners and when we have decisions that we can speak to we certainly will do that. But it's not about an individual country demanding something or not. It really is an honest back-and-forth about what kinds of capabilities they might find useful and when they might find that useful. 

And again, once we have something more to discuss on that front, we certainly will. 

Q: Thank you. 

MR. KIRBY: Paul Handley.

Q: Hi, John. Hi, John. The -- Russia launched these exercises on Ukraine border with air, sea, land things. How does that change the situation qualitatively on the ground?

MR. KIRBY: I don't know whether that changes quantitatively the situation on the ground. I mean, this isn't the first time we've seen them as they've been building up forces to exercise those forces. So quantitatively, it doesn't change it. And quite frankly, qualitatively, it doesn't change it dramatically. Because again, we are -- we've been watching this with great concern, he continues to add to his force capability in western Russia and Belarus. 

We see no signs of de-escalation. So, it's not like we're reading more into this exercise, then we wouldn't. We've seen them exercise before. What we're hoping for is a de-escalation. We -- and one of the best ways they could de-escalate the tension would be to remove some of those forces away from Ukraine. Now, that hasn't happened yet. 

Quite the contrary, he continues to add. Which again, is why we still think that diplomacy is the best path forward here and dialogue. And again, we want to be able to provide time and space for that.

Q: Thank you. You announced the 8,500 troops on standby yesterday. Have they taken any measures, additional measures, like putting other forces on alert, activating any units and the types of units that weren't already activated before?

MR. KIRBY: I missed the first part of your question. Who are you asking about?

Q: I'm saying since you announced yesterday that 8,500 troops are on alert. Has Russia responded by activating even more than were already put into play in this situation?

MR. KIRBY: Well, I'm not going to speak for the Russian Ministry of Defense. And then that's a terrific question for them. And it'd be interesting to see if they would be willing to be transparent about what they're doing. I suspect they will not be. 

What I can tell you, Paul, is that we continue to see additional combat forces, Russian combat forces move into the western part of their country, around the border with Ukraine, and into Belarus. And again, that remains deeply concerning to us.

[CROSSTALK]

Q: Can I verify something you said earlier about the UAE and Houthi ballistic missile attack? So, I believe yesterday, you were still looking into the attack and whether it was targeting Al Dhafra airbase, right?

MR. KIRBY: What I said was whether it was deliberately aimed at U.S. forces. But I did acknowledge that it targeted Al Dhafra. And CENTCOM has acknowledged that. 

Q: So, it's – you’re acknowledging...

MR. KIRBY: Nobody's saying it wasn't targeted at Al Dhafra. 

Q: John, may I follow up on this?

MR. KIRBY: Yes. 

Q: Thank you. After the last two attacks this weekend last week, does the Pentagon see any necessity to reinforce its missile defense system in Al Dhafra, and or other places in Saudi Arabia? 

MR. KIRBY: I mean, we're constantly reviewing our posture in the Middle East, particularly. And that includes air and missile Defense, and I don't have anything to announce today. But it's something we're constantly looking at. 

Q: When you say you're constantly looking for this, ould you mean in Middle East specifically?

MR. KIRBY: I'm talking about the Middle East writ large.

Q: OK. 

MR. KIRBY: Karoun.

Q: Hi, John. I'm sorry. Just back to Ukraine for a second. I'm -- two questions one, I saw that we're talking about 8,500 troops, but I'm mostly wondering if there's any sort of like additional physical resources, especially naval resources you're planning. Where there’s discussion about sending -- I saw that there was a carrier that has been contributed to the exercises. 

But in light of Russia stepping up its, wondering if there's any discussions about trying to contribute more U.S. resources of that variety to that region. And then also just wondering, you know, when we talk, I know you said you could provide more info about the material weapons support that we're sending to Ukraine. 

But since the centerpiece of that package always seems to be Javelins, it looks like the Estonians are sending them Javelins, too. Are we talking about like regular extended-range Javelins here what's like the maximum of the, you know, the power, I guess? The firepower behind these that we're working on at this point that they have in their arsenal.

MR. KIRBY: My goodness, I don't have the exact variants of Javelin missiles that are being provided. And we're not the only ones, as you said, providing them. I think I owe you guys an answer on what the shipments have been. And we'll try to do that and be as specific as we can be. 

But I can't promise you we'll know, you know, what serial numbers and variants there are here on these things. And on your first question, you're right, we have the USS Harry S. Truman carrier strike group in the Mediterranean. I think, you know, that keeping her in the Mediterranean several weeks ago was a decision made by Secretary Austin. And she and her escorts remain in the Med, and they are conducting this exercise called Neptune Strike. In fact, that they're still operating out of the Adriatic Sea. 

I don't have anything to announce today or speak to with respect to additional or potential other naval deployments or naval activity. But I would tell you that the Secretary continues to examine a range of options available to him to consider with respect to our responsibilities to NATO and to our desire to reassure our NATO allies about our resolve to them and to the Alliance.

So, I'm not ruling anything on or off the table here going forward. We continue to examine a full range of military capabilities available to United States as appropriate to make sure that we're meeting our commitments to our NATO allies. Carla Babb.

Q: Hey, I'm here now. 

MR. KIRBY: Oh.

Q: Thanks, thanks for doing this. Thanks for being so patient with us.

MR. KIRBY: Do you want me to do it this way or there?

Q: You can use the microphone. I know we've had a lot of questions. And I just want to echo that we really are interested in the third portion of the Ukraine security assistance that arrived today, the details on that. Thank you for taking that. I just have a follow up. You've been saying a lot of times yesterday and today that you've seen Russia add additional combat troops. 

But can you give us a little bit more specificity on those combat troops on the border and at that border with Ukraine. Has it been a gradual increase? Did you guys see a jump of ten of thousands of troops like from 90,000 to 130,000, any additional specificity?

MR. KIRBY: Without getting into specific intelligence assessments on numbers and where their locations and all that kind of thing, we're watching this very closely. You know, we've been very careful about that. 

I would tell you that we have seen a consistent accumulation of combat power by the Russians in the western part of their country around the borders with Ukraine and in Belarus. I'd say consistent, not dramatic, and certainly not sclerotic. But I'd say consistent. 

Q: OK. And then, in addition to the troops, can you talk a little bit more -- can you give us any specificity about the weaponry that they're piling over on the border as well?

MR. KIRBY: It's not about piling weapons on the border. They -- they're deploying whole units. And it's, again, I don't want to speak for the Russians, but you know, it's a -- it's a combined force capability. That's a fancy Pentagon talk of, you know, multiple-domain capability. 

So, for instance, in artillery and armor and conventional ground troops and logistics and sustainment and medical support and aviation support, I mean, it's the whole combined force, combined arms approach is how I would describe it. OK? 

Tom? 

Q: John, you said -- thanks. You mentioned earlier about in lieu of what Carla just asked, how -- how troops have come from the Russian's eastern flanks and central flanks toward the border of Ukraine.

MR. KIRBY: Right.

Q: Noting that the Russian Navy is divided and they're now active, by the last our base-force is now in the sea with the Iran and Chinese. Any indication that they will be moving ships over as well?

MR. KIRBY: We've already seen them -- the --

Q: From the Pacific side to the --

MR. KIRBY: Well, yes. What I would say is we've already seen significant naval activity in the -- in the Med and in the northern Atlantic, particularly in and around the Balts. 

And so, I mean, we're mindful of the naval activity that the -- that the Russians are also conducting here. I can't speak to specific movements from one port or another. Again, I mean, these are terrific questions for the Russian Ministry of Defense. And I wish you well in getting answers out of them on this. But --

[CROSSTALK]

MR. KIRBY: Yes, yes, I know. But again, without speaking to their specific movements we continue to watch the accumulation of significant combat power and it's not just on the ground.

Q: Thank you.

MR. KIRBY: OK, thanks everybody.