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Pentagon Press Secretary Air Force Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder Holds an On-Camera Press Briefing

BRIGADIER GENERAL PAT RYDER:  Good afternoon, everybody. So a few items to pass along, then we'll get to your questions.

As you are aware, Secretary Austin returned late last week from productive discussions in Brussels, where he participated in the NATO Defense Ministerial, as well as hosted the sixth Ukraine Defense Contact Group meeting, which featured senior defense leaders from nearly 50 nations who came together to discuss support to Ukraine as they fight to defend their sovereign territory.

Additionally, the Department of Defense also announced Friday the 23rd presidential drawdown package valued at up to $725 million to meet Ukraine's critical security and defense needs. The package consists of additional ammunition for the High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems, or HIMARS, 155 millimeter artillery and precision guided rounds, 155 millimeter rounds of remote anti-armor mine systems, anti-tank weapons, high speed anti-radiation missiles, more than 200 High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicles, or Humvees, medical supplies and other small-arms ammunition.

In total, the United States has committed approximately $17.8 billion in security assistance to Ukraine since Russia's illegal and unprovoked invasion in February.

Turning to other news, Secretary Austin hosted his UK counterpart, Secretary of State for Defense Ben Wallace, today in the Pentagon to discuss the ongoing support to Ukraine by our two nations, as well as the continued importance transatlantic and regional security cooperation play in light of Russia's attack in Ukraine. We will be issuing a readout of the meeting later today.

Additionally, Secretary Austin will welcome Estonia's Minister of Defense Hanno Pevkur to the Pentagon today at 2:30. He will also speak to his Colombian counterpart, Minister of Defense, Diego Velásquez*, during a phone call later this afternoon, and we will be issuing readouts for both of those engagements.

And then finally, Secretary Austin met with the Defense Innovation Board yesterday at the Pentagon. And during this session, he shared a strategic overview of his priorities and discussed areas where he would like the Defense Innovation Board's expertise and insight to give DOD an edge in technology and innovation.

Board members provided their feedback and ideas on how to catalyze innovation within the DOD. Secretary Austin emphasized the importance of building enduring advantages for the warfighter and catalyzing innovation in the DOD, in partnership with America's private sector, which is critical to U.S. national security.

Secretary Austin highlighted the following areas of focus for the board to bring unique private sector insights and expertise - accelerating experimentation and technology adoption, innovation workforce and talent, the National Defense, Science and Technology Strategy, and strengthening the relationship with the private sector on national security issues. We will be issuing a readout on later today.

And with that, I will go ahead and take your questions. We'll start with Lita Baldor at AP.

Q:  Thanks, Pat. Two questions.

One, can you bring us up to date on any either ongoing negotiations, discussions or just thoughts by the Pentagon regarding the funding of the SpaceX Starlink? Can you tell us whether or not this is still going on or - I think there's still some question about Musk's tweet on Saturday, as to whether or not he was actually saying he was going to continue to pay for it or not? Just give us a - an update on that.

And then secondly, just more broadly, the airstrikes in Ukraine have been targeting their power, water supply, et cetera. Is there any broad Pentagon thinking about what more can be done in order to help Ukraine protect its utilities as the winter approaches? Thanks.

GEN. RYDER:  Thanks, Lita. So on Starlink and SpaceX, in regards to any statements that have - that have been made by the company in terms of, you know, their - their business strategy or focus, I'd obviously refer you to them. I can say that the Department of Defense does continue to discuss various matters with SpaceX and - to include Starlink, but I don't have any further details to provide beyond what we've already provided in that regard.

In terms of airstrikes or strikes in Ukraine, rather, and what they're targeting, we do continue to see them target, among other things, civilian infrastructure, to include energy-related targets - power grids, for example - and again, this is not something new for Russia, as they continue to inflict damage on innocent civilians, on civilian infrastructure, as they have failed to achieve their strategic objectives along the front line.

In terms of why we think they're targeting those areas, I think obviously trying to inflict pain on the civilian society as well as try to have an impact on Ukrainian forces; but what we've seen so far is Ukraine be very resilient in their ability to get things like their power grids back up online quickly.

In the meantime, our focus will continue to be on working with them to identify what their needs are, to include things like air defense, and we'll work to try to get those capabilities to them as quickly as possible, along with our international partners and allies to support them.

Thanks, Lita. All right - Idrees?

Q:  There were some reports that Iran has promised to provide Russia with surface-to-surface missiles, in addition to more drones. Have you seen that? Have you seen Iran preparing to ship such missiles? And I have a separate follow up.

GEN. RYDER:  Yeah, thanks, Idrees. So I've seen the press reports on that. I don't have any information to corroborate that at this time.

Q:  And separately, you mentioned the meeting with the British Defense Minister. There are also reports that China is trying to recruit current and former Royal Air Force pilots to train Chinese pilots to evade Western planes. Is that something that was discussed between the two of them?

GEN. RYDER:  So again, we'll issue a readout. The focus of the meeting, as I understand it, was focused on Ukraine and our support - mutual support to Ukraine.

In terms of questions about UK citizens or UK pilots and China, again, I'd have to refer you to the UK for questions on that. Thank you.


Q:  Thanks, Pat. Lockheed Martin said earlier today that the company is meeting with its supply chain to increase HIMARS production to 96 units per year. Is this enough, or do you anticipate that you will need a higher - an even higher rate than that to accommodate war in Ukraine (inaudible) et cetera?

GEN. RYDER:  So, you know, I've seen some press reporting on Lockheed's comments, and certainly, we welcome it any time industry is going to help to address not only our security needs as a nation but also the needs of partners and allies around the world.

I don't have any specifics to provide in terms of numbers. As you've heard us say before, we do have processes in place to look at our own stockpiles, our own readiness requirements, in addition to working with allies and partners through things like the recent armaments director meetings to look at what those requirements are. So that will continue to be a conversation going forward. I think it's a strategic advantage that we have as a nation and as an international community and partnership, particularly within NATO, to be able to work together to identify those requirements and quickly get capabilities where they're needed and when they're needed. Thank you.

Q:  And just as a follow-up to that, how -- can you say anything about how long it will take Lockheed to ramp up to this higher rate?

GEN. RYDER:  Yeah, that -- I'll have to refer you to Lockheed on that. Thank you.

Let me go to Riyo, and then I'll go to the phone.

Q:  Thank you, (inaudible). Two questions on China. Secretary Blinken said yesterday Beijing was determined to pursue (inaudible) unification with Taiwan on a much faster timeline. Does Secretary Austin agree with Secretary Blinken's assessment? And secondly, the U.S. military has assessed that China might have the capability to invade Taiwan by 2027. Is there any change in that assessment?

GEN. RYDER:  So we continue to see China as the pacing threat. I don't have any specifics to -- you know, any comment on Secretary Blinken's comments, specific comments on those other than to say I think within the United States government, we all agree that we need to continue to work closely with our allies and our partners in the region and throughout the world, really, to highlight the fact that China continues to pose a challenge. And so we'll continue to do our part to preserve a free and open Indo-Pacific, again, working closely with allies and partners. But beyond that, I don't have anything new to provide. Thank you.

OK, let me go to the phone, and then I'll come right back to you, Janne. Let me go to Jasmine, RFA.

Q:   Hi. Thank you. There are reports that the U.S. and ROK's going to have air drills involving 240 aircrafts at the end of this month.  Can you provide any details? And this is the first large-scale joint air drills since 2017, so why at this time? Is it to deter North Korea's possible (inaudible) nuclear attacks? And then secondly, is there any updates on North Korea's ballistic missile submarine development? Thank you.

GEN. RYDER:  Yeah, thank you. On your last question, Jasmine, I -- I don't have anything to provide on that.

In regards to your question about the -- about potential exercises, I don't have any announcements today about any specific exercises. As we've said before, we remain focused on continuing to coordinate closely with our allies and partners to address the threats posed by the DPRK and to advance our shared objectives of the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula; and so we'll continue to work closely with allies and partners throughout the region to reinforce regional stability and security. But beyond that, I don't have anything new to announce. Thank you.


Q:  Thank you. I have two questions on Korea. Recently, North Korea carried out a series of provocations with various (inaudible) and artillery fire. And how -- North Korea was -- underestimate the U.S. missile protection, and why doesn't the United States intercept North Korean missiles? How would you (inaudible)?

GEN. RYDER:  So just let me make sure I understood. Your first question was what, again? How do you -- are you able to detect them? I'm sorry.

Q:  Yeah, North Korea said North Korea underestimate the U.S. missile detect, you know, detection is -- is very low. So how do you response on this? Secondly, why doesn't the U.S. (inaudible) intercept the North Korean missiles?

GEN. RYDER:  Sure, thank you. So you know, first of all, when it comes to monitoring and observing the region, I'm not going to talk about specific intelligence, but we certainly do maintain, alongside our allies in the region, a very robust indications and warning capability. In terms of how we respond to individual provocations, for example, missile launches, you know, we're going to maintain a whole range of potential responses. As you've seen INDOPACOM say in the past when they've detected those launches, those launches have been determined ultimately not to pose any threat to U.S. forces' territory or that of our allies. But it's something we'll continue to work on closely, or monitor closely, rather.

What I would say is, back to the earlier point that I was making, is our primary focus is on preserving a free, peaceful Indo-Pacific. The relationship between the United States and the Republic of Korea is about defense, and it's about preserving peace. It's not meant to escalate. It's not meant to create more consternation or instability in the region. And certainly, the actions by North Korea are doing just that, and so as we've said before, we would call on them to be willing to have dialogue to talk about these things versus potentially escalating the situation.

Q:  (inaudible) the U.S. strategic assets should be stationed at all times to defend South Korea?

GEN. RYDER:  Well, we have more than 28,000 U.S. forces already stationed on the peninsula. I think that is a signal of our commitment to our defense relationship and our security cooperation with the people of the Republic of Korea. That's very long-standing and will remain long-standing. So again, we'll continue to work closely with the Republic of Korea, our other allies in the region, to include Japan, to preserve peace and stability throughout the Indo-Pacific. Thank you.


Q:  (inaudible) my question. It's a little bit of a long one today. A new Washington Post investigation finds over 500 retired U.S. military personnel have taken jobs with foreign governments in recent years, including 15 retired U.S. generals and admirals working as paid consultants for the Defense Ministry of Saudi Arabia. Is this a concern for the Pentagon? And how does this affect national security that these former high-ranked military officials are advising other countries?

GEN. RYDER:  Yeah, thanks, Liz. So I've seen the article. I would highlight that as private U.S. citizens, retired servicemembers are certainly free to seek employment at their discretion, but certain standards do apply, and -- and the reason that is is because safeguarding national security and classified information, as well as preventing conflicts of interest, will always remain paramount to the Department of Defense.

So in addition to the limitations on foreign government employment that apply to all military retirees, all former DOD personnel are subject to a variety of post-government employment restrictions within law and regulations. And so, for example, they remain bound by laws governing nondisclosure of any nonpublic government information. This includes classified information or information that they may have obtained through their federal employment or other information that may be protected by the Privacy Act.

So, when it comes to individual cases such as the individuals highlighted in the article, I'd certainly refer you to them or to the appropriate Service branch, but I do know that the individual military departments do do their due diligence in terms of weighing and considering their reviews of foreign government employment requests.

And the final point I'd make on all of this is that, just to hammer home the point, that -- that there are policies, there are laws, there are regulations, they are well-established. And it is something that DOD members are educated on, retirees are educated on, and you are required to follow them. So it's incumbent on the individual to know and to understand those requirements and to adhere to them.

Thank you.


Q:  Thanks, Pat. Follow-up on Riyo's question. On September 7th Undersecretary Colin Kahl said that -- I want to ask about that 2027 timeline, he said it was -- he didn't think that China has sped up its clock. Is that still the assessment of the Pentagon? And if not, what’s changed between then and now?

GEN. RYDER:  Yes, so -- yes, so I don't want to put a timeline on or speculate on when we think exactly China might do this other than to point back at the words that President Xi and the PRC have said publicly in terms of their willingness, their supposed willingness to use force to take back Taiwan as part of a -- you know, what they would call a reunification. So, again, from a strategic standpoint, our focus is on preserving stability and security throughout the region. Our policy in regards to China and Taiwan has not changed. We still have the One China policy. And so our focus will continue to be on deterring potential military action and to calling on both sides to resolve these issues peaceably.

But I don't have a specific date other than to say I'd point back to the PRC and their own public comments on this issue.

Q:  What it sounds like is that the building is taking seriously another part of what Xi did say, which is that you're not ruling out the -- or wouldn't give up the right to take Taiwan back by force. Am I right that that's something that (inaudible) here and taken seriously?

GEN. RYDER:  Well, I think this is why you continue to see us say that China remains the pacing challenge for the Department of Defense. This kind of rhetoric, the kind of coercive acts, the kind of behavior that we have seen is not helpful in terms of preserving peace and stability in that region. So it's something that we'll continue to watch very closely. And again, our focus right now is on working with allies and partners to deter so that we don't get to that point, hopefully. Thank you.

Let me go back out to the phone here and I'll come into the room. Heather from USNI?

Q:  Yes, I just wonder if you can give an update on the maritime environment over in Ukraine? And notice that you mentioned I think in a couple of briefings ago that there has been some Kalibr cruise missiles that might becoming from ships, is that something that we're still seeing?

GEN. RYDER:  Yes, thanks, Heather, I really don't have any significant updates to provide in terms of the naval picture per se. As you highlight, we have seen Russian vessels employ Kalibrs in some of their missile strikes against Ukraine. But beyond that I don't have anything beyond that to provide. Thank you.

OK, back to the room here. Yes, sir.

Q:  Thanks, sir. James Matthews from Sky News in the U.K. Ben Wallace, the U.K.'s defense secretary, is in Washington today. Is he discussing the use of nuclear weapons or the response to the use of nuclear weapons?

GEN. RYDER:  So he's here today to discuss the Ukraine situation and the U.S. and UK joint efforts to support Ukraine, as well as to, again, reaffirm the transatlantic ties and cooperation that our two countries share when it comes to issues like Russia. Again, we'll put a readout out later today detailing the meeting.

Q:  (Inaudible) Minister seemed to suggest on Sky News this morning that discussions were taking place that were, in his words, "beyond belief."  Can you illuminate us as to what he might have meant?

GEN. RYDER:  Yeah, I'd have to refer you back to the Minister for any comments he may have made. Thank you. Appreciate it.

Go to the back of the room there. Fadi?

Q:  Thank you, General. So I have a question that’s related to the National Security Strategy. In the document - and of course, it informs the National Defense Strategy eventually - and the document talks about constraining Russia and talks about Americans - how the U.S. is helping to make Russia's war on Ukraine strategic failure.

So I wonder if we can just explore with you the meaning of strategic failure when it comes to Russia's ability to conduct more wars and mainly project power in the Middle East region. Thank you.

GEN. RYDER:  That's like a political science test question right there. I'll get my little blue booklet out and write out my answer on that one.

Wow. Well, how much time do you have, Fadi?


So just very briefly - and again, happy to talk more offline in more detail - but what I would say is that when you look at the situation in Ukraine and you look at the broader strategic issue of a country using its military might to essentially try to take over another country illegally and unprovoked or to - to - you - you know, the sham referenda annexed territory, I think the strategic question at issue there is can we, as a international community, allow that to happen? Can the United States allow that kind of behavior to be acceptable? And what precedent does it set if it does - if it is permitted?

And so from a strategic standpoint, working again alongside our international allies and partners to support, in this case, Ukraine in their fight to defend their sovereign territory, the consequences of not doing so would portend a very serious national security threat - international security threat for a very long time to come.

In terms of Russia and the Middle East, again, you've been watching this story long enough to know that Russia, like any nation, has interests, to include interests within the Middle East. They certainly share relationships, security relationships, economic relationships with other countries. I'd refer you to them to talk about their own foreign policy, but it's certainly something that we keep an eye on. Thank you.

Q:  Another question - you talked about consequences if the U.S. and its allies and international community do not stand up to Russia's intervention but I'm more interested in knowing the - how - what you think are the consequences of this strategic failure, if it happens. Will it limit Russia's ability to use military force in the future?

GEN. RYDER:  Well, I think if I understand your question correctly, I think the idea here is, again, to compel a nation that might think that, you know, might through military power and taking over nations illegally, they'd be deterred from doing that and that it would be unacceptable and, therefore, not to their strategic advantage or policy to do those kinds of things.

So again, I - happy to have a deeper discussion offline but - thanks.

OK, let me go back to Barbara and then I'm going to go to the phone.

Q:  To follow up a little bit on my colleague from Sky - the thing is that Putin to date has never taken nuclear weapons off the table. His rhetoric continues and he's never said that it's off the table. So what reassurance can the Pentagon give the American people that it is completely ready to deal with a nuclear scenario from Russia?

GEN. RYDER:  Yeah, so we are completely ready. I will tell you that. We continue to monitor the situation very closely. As Secretary Austin and others have said, this kind of nuclear saber rattling is reckless, it's irresponsible, particularly given the security situation in that region of the world and elsewhere. And so it's something that we'll continue to keep a close eye on.

In the meantime, we have not seen anything that would indicate that Russia has made a decision to employ nuclear weapons. And so, you know, again, others have communicated that there would be consequences, but I'm not going to get into what those were, other than to say that we stand the watch 24/7 and would be prepared if we had to respond.

Q:  And very briefly, given the fact that NATO is (inaudible) the U.S.' nuclear deterrence exercise in Europe this very week, when you say "fully ready," are you fully - can you say whether the United States is fully planned out and ready with the allies in Europe?

GEN. RYDER:  So I'm not going to get into hypothetical situations cause, you know, again, we maintain a very robust strategic deterrence capability and have for many, many years. We worked very closely with our allies throughout the world to provide deterrence. And I'll just leave it at that but thank you, Barbara.


Q:  Yeah, thank you, Pat. There's been - to go back to Ukraine, there's been some concern up on the Hill that with these - the drawdowns that we're doing, that the U.S. is sort of cutting too close to the bone and dipping too far into its own stock.

Can you comment on that and whether or not that's true or not and what the Pentagon is doing to make sure that doesn't happen, we still maintain a robust supply for our own use?

GEN. RYDER:  Absolutely. So there is a very detailed process in terms of - as we look at our security assistance to Ukraine, we weigh it against a lot of various factors, to include our own readiness. And so this is something that we constantly take into account, and again, this is a reason why you saw recently a meeting with national armaments directors, not only NATO but as part of the Ukraine Contact Group, to look at how we continue to work together to not only replenish our own stocks as an international community, but also ensure that we can continue to support Ukraine going forward.

I mentioned earlier that I think this is a strategic advantage because the key point here is that the United States, the international community, our allies and our partners are all working together as an international community to make sure that we can continue to meet our security commitments while, at the same time, supporting Ukraine, and that we're doing this together as opposed to a nation like Russia, which largely finds itself isolated already with logistics and sustainment problems and having to depend on countries like Iran and North Korea, when it comes to seeking security assistance. 

And so going forward, this is something that we'll obviously keep a very close eye on and work very hard to ensure because at the end of the day, the United States military is going to be ready. We're going to ensure that we're ready to meet our security commitments around the world. But we're confident that we've got the processes and the procedures in place to ensure that that stays the case. Thank you.

Let me just go out to the phone here, and I'll come back to Val -- Valerie. Luis Martinez, ABC.

Q:  Hey, Pat. Question about this incident off the coast of Alaska. NORAD Alaska pushed out a statement about F-16s intercepting some Tu-95s, and the Russian Defense Ministry has also issued a statement about this flight. What's so significant about this kind of encounter? I mean, so many of them have happened, but what was special about this one that it required both sides to issue statements? Was it very close to the U.S. territorial waters? Thanks.

GEN. RYDER:  Yeah, just for the benefit of all that are listening, so NORAD issued a statement right before the press briefing highlighting that NORAD detected, tracked, positively identified and intercepted two Russian Tu-95 Bear-H bombers entering and operating within the Alaskan Air Defense Identification Zone. No indication that there was any unsafe, unprofessional behavior. They did not present a threat.

So, Luis, you know, certainly, would encourage you to contact NORAD, but this is pretty standard and routine for us to issue releases. I think that, you know, we try to, especially in light of everything going on in the world today, try to make sure that we're being as transparent as possible when it comes to this kind of information so as to ensure that folks have the facts. Thank you.

OK, Valerie.

Q:  So I wanted to get back to Lita’s line of questioning. Are you able to provide any clarity at this point about how much, if any, funding DOD is providing to SpaceX for Starlink in Ukraine? Because there had been some reporting -- or some confusing -- confusion -- confusing reports about that. So can you at least rule out that DOD has previously sent those funds?

GEN. RYDER:  Yeah, so as it relates to Ukraine and Starlink, the DOD has not funded -- has not paid SpaceX any money at this stage.

Q:  OK. And just a broader question on that same subject, do you have any concerns that this situation could set a bad precedent? I mean, SpaceX made the decision to send these terminals and to provide the service. So, is the Pentagon being strong-armed into continuing funding for it, instead of going through the process that we've seen play out over the past couple of months where the Pentagon sources the Ukrainians' requirements, and then, you know, comes up with the capability that it feels is best, you know -- that best meets those requirements?

GEN. RYDER:  So let me kind of approach it from a little bit of a different standpoint. So we haven't paid anything to SpaceX for Starlink in Ukraine to date, right? So, what an individual company may or may not do in any particular corner of the world, of course, is, you know, incumbent on that company to decide and do. When it comes to the broader issue of providing satellite communication to Ukraine, we are in discussions with SpaceX, as well as other companies, to look at how best to provide that service.

And so, what I would say is that as you well know, we have a process which we go through in terms of -- and again, I don't want to speculate or say this has happened, but any type of service that the DOD is going to be funding, there's a process by which we would go through to look at contracting and acquisition requirements and how we would do that. So again, I don't have anything to announce. Again, the bigger picture here is working with Ukraine in terms of what are their satellite communication needs, and continuing to work with industry on exploring how best to do that. Thanks.


Q:  As winter approaches, kind of, OK, what are the main challenges that poses to Ukraine? How do you see it impacting the fighting? And there've been various announcements on donations of cold-weather gear. Does Ukraine have what it needs on that front at this point? Is more necessary? What your assessment of that?

GEN. RYDER:  Yeah, well certainly, weather is a significant factor in any military operation. Winter definitely will present some challenges to all parties on the battlefield. I think that when you look at things like, you know, rain, snow, mud, the impact that it has on the terrain, it definitely will add another level of complexity to already very-dynamic battlefield. And so, this is why, you know -- a major reason why you see us continuing to work very closely with Ukraine, with our international partners and allies to identify what Ukraine's needs are. Secretary Austin talked a little bit about this last week in Brussels in terms of, you see Ukraine continuing to put pressure on Russia, and that continues to be important as we get closer to the winter months because you know, clearly, Russia is experiencing some significant logistics and sustainment challenges right now. Those are only going to get harder as the winter months set in, and so time is certainly of the essence when it comes to capitalizing on that from an operational standpoint.

In terms of your question about, how does it affect the support we provide, again, this will be the ongoing conversation. And I think through things like the Contact Group or through the bilateral discussions that we have with individual nations and our allies and our partners, we're going to look at what it is that we need to get to them to help enable that continued forward momentum on the battlefield. Thanks.

All right, take a couple more here. Let me go to you, sir, and you, and then back to Liz?

Q:  Thanks. Does the Pentagon view Iran's sale of large drones and cruise missiles to Russia and Russia's use of those as a violation or abuse of the Missile Technology Control Regime which governs large unmanned aerial systems and cruise missiles? And then, by way of follow up, can you give us an update on the deliberations on the sale of Gray Eagle to Ukraine?

GEN. RYDER:  So, no updates on the Gray Eagles. We’ll definitely provide those when we have something, or provide you with an update when we have something.

As far as the violations go, I'm sorry. Can you ask that part again?

Q:  The Missile Technology Control Regime covers cruise missiles and large UAS. Is the sale by Iran and the use by Russia, which -- of that technology... a violation or abuse?

GEN. RYDER:  So I would recommend you talk to the State Department. They can give you more details on that. I believe they've spoken to this issue. Certainly, we've seen these Iranian drones that have been provided to Russia for use in Ukraine being used to strike civilian targets, which of course, is a violation of the law of armed conflict, so yeah. Sorry I don't have more for you.

All right, let me do the last two questions. Mike?

Q:  Hey, sir, yesterday, Elon Musk said that SpaceX has withdrawn its request for funding for the Starlink services. Can you confirm if that message has made it up to the Pentagon yet?

GEN. RYDER:  Again, I'd refer you to SpaceX to talk about what they have or have not done. I can tell you that we do continue to have discussions with SpaceX officials and others, in terms of providing satellite communications to Ukraine, but again, I don't have anything to announce today. Thanks.

And Liz?

Q:  Thank you. (Inaudible), a Swedish newspaper released photos and videos today showing that it was likely an inside explosion from the pipeline. Has the Pentagon seen these photos and video and does it assess any -- anything differently based on them?

GEN. RYDER:  So I have not personally seen the photos. I'm aware of -- I've seen them on, you know -- some imagery on -- in press reports. What I can tell you is that Germany, Denmark and Norway are continuing to lead the investigation, we're certainly standing by to support as necessary, but I don't have any updates to provide at this point from here, so thank you.

OK, thank you very much, everybody. Appreciate it.

[*Eds. Note: The Colombian Minister of Defense is Iván Velásquez.]