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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, everyone. So, just a few items to pass along and then we'll go ahead and get to your questions. First, on behalf of the entire Department of Defense Secretary Austin extends his deepest condolences to the family of former Secretary of Defense Ash Carter. The Secretary like many others, was deeply saddened to hear the news of his sudden passing and has released a statement in which he states quote, the entire Department of Defense mourns the loss of a towering intellect, a steadfast leader, a devoted mentor to countless public servants and a great patriot who devoted his life to strengthening the security of the country that he loved. And you can find the Secretary's full statement on defense.gov.

Separately, Secretary Austin participated in phone conversations yesterday with Ukraine's Minister of Defense Reznikov and NATO Secretary General Stoltenberg to discuss the ongoing situation in Ukraine to include Russia's false accusation that Ukraine is preparing to use a dirty bomb. Additionally, the Secretary has spoken twice with Russian Minister of Defense show us since last Friday, which we read out via press releases on defense.gov. Secretary Austin believes it's important to have mechanisms in place to keep the lines of communication open in order to manage escalation and prevent potential miscalculation.

And finally, the first four or five LC-130 ski bird aircraft from the New York State National Guard's 109th Airlift Wing will arrive in McMurdo Station Antarctica this week, as the guard kicks off Operation Deep Freeze its annual mission to support the National Science Foundation. Equipped with special eight bladed propellers for additional power and specialized skis that allow the modified C-130 to land on ice and snow. More than 420 Guard airmen will deploy to Antarctica over the next four months to support climate research and other scientific activities during the Antarctic summer. The 2022-2023 mission will involve supporting three science camps outside the McMurdo area specifically, South Pole Station, Western Antarctic ice sheet divide camp and Siple Dome camp, as well as providing airlift between New Zealand and Antarctica. These activities not only increased the U.S. military's readiness by operating in extreme conditions, but also enable researchers to safely conduct their important scientific missions, since these very remote locations require the capability of heavy airlift aircraft to deliver needed fuel equipment and supplies.

And with that, I'll go ahead and take your questions. We'll start with AP, Tara Copp.

Q:  Hey, thank you for doing this. just one clarifier. And then a question. You mentioned in your opening statement that the Secretary had -- had two discussions since Friday with his Russian counterpart, I just want to make sure that there were just two total and it's not two since Friday.

GEN. RYDER:  Correct one on Friday and one on Sunday.

Q:  OK, perfect. Thank you. So, I wanted to ask about the continued pressure that Russia is putting on the alliance that Ukraine is possibly making a dirty bomb. Today, Ukraine's own nuclear energy company put out a series of statements on what they think is evidence showing that Russia is actually trying to assemble a dirty bomb, and perhaps blame Ukraine, including unauthorized construction, where there's spent fuel at the Zaporizhzhia facility. I was wondering if the Pentagon has seen any of this unauthorized activity to and do you think that Russia is actually trying to plant a false flag where it would blame Ukraine, but might be assembling this dirty bomb itself?

GEN. RYDER:  Sure. Thanks, Tara. So, first of all, I've seen those press reports, I don't have any information to corroborate those claims. I will say that again, from a U.S. standpoint, the allegations that Ukraine is building a dirty bomb, or false. We have not seen at this time, though any indication that Russia has made a decision or intends to employ nuclear weapons or a dirty bomb, but -- But again, it's something that we'll continue to watch closely. And certainly, as others have said, there would be consequences for Russia, whether it uses a nuclear weapon or a dirty bomb. So, we'll continue to keep the lines of communication open. And in the meantime, our focus from a department of defense standpoint will continue to be on supporting Ukraine. Thank you. Let me go ahead and go the room here. Lara.

Q:  Just to follow up on cars question to ask you more about the dirty bomb threat. President Biden told reporters that he spent a lot of time today talking about the prospect of Russia using a tactical nuclear weapon. Is that something you are more concerned about today than you were yesterday or a week ago?

GEN. RYDER:  Again, we're going to continue to monitor this very closely. I think, as we've said in the past, when we've seen Russian leaders use nuclear rhetoric, certainly that is concerning. It's reckless. But it's something we'll continue to take seriously. So, again, in the meantime, we have not had any indication that Russia has made a decision to employ those types of capabilities, nor have we seen any need to change our own strategic forces posture. So, we'll continue to keep a close look on this. And as I mentioned, we'll also continue to keep lines of communication open. Thank you.

Q:  Are you taking any precautions that might impact our allies in the region sending anything, any types of protection?

GEN. RYDER:  So, we have not changed our force posture in NATO, and again, have seen no need at this time to change our Strategic Forces posture. Thank you. Sylvie.

Q:  Thank you. But yesterday, you said that you had no indication that Russian made the decision to use nuclear their tea but also bio and chemical weapons. Is it still your assessment that they didn't make a decision to use biochemical weapons?

GEN. RYDER:  Yes, we have no indication right now that Russia has made a decision to employ nuclear Chem bioweapons at this time. But again, it's something that we'll continue to monitor very closely. Will?

Q:  You mentioned that there would be consequences for Russia if it uses a dirty bomb. Have those consequences been -- been conveyed directly to -- to the Russians at this point?

GEN. RYDER:  I think that the U.S. Government writ large has communicated to Russia the concerns that we have with the language that we've seen the -- the nuclear saber rattling, as well as condemning these false allegations that Ukraine is building a dirty bomb, in terms of what those consequences may be. I'm not going to get into that. But needless to say, that has been communicated at a variety of levels. Thank you. Yes, ma'am.

Q:  Hi, I'm Meredith Roaten from National Defense magazine. I wanted to ask a question about the DOJ's charges against some Chinese intelligence agency yesterday. And I wanted to ask if there are additional concerns that the Pentagon has in gaining technological advantage over the Chinese if they're if the Chinese are willing to use these kinds of tactics? And does that change the Pentagon thinking about how to approach the tech race?

GEN. RYDER:  Sure. Great question. So, in regards to that specific case, obviously, I'd refer you to the DOJ. When it comes to things like espionage, tech transfer spying. We know that that's a challenge. And it's something that we have to take seriously. And so, the Department of Defense works very hard in a variety of sectors, in a variety of organizations to include coordinating closely with the defense industrial base to where appropriate, and when able to identify potential threats to tech security. And so, that's something that we'll continue to work closely with industry on also with our interagency partners on and our allies and partners around the world. Because again, it's no secret to anyone that the United States provides very valuable and high-tech capabilities. And particularly in the defense sector, that's something that we need to protect. So, that will be an ongoing effort across not only the defense industrial base, but also in areas like cybersecurity intelligence, and our own operational capabilities. Thank you.

Broa?

Q:  Thank you very much. China, the Chinese Communist Party Congress ended on Saturday. Do you see any indication from the CCP is Congress that the president of sea by change that project we focus, call safe and aggressive holding policy over the next five years?

GEN. RYDER:  So, I'm not going to talk about a particular government's decisions and process by which they choose their leaders. Nor am I going to speculate on what President Xi may do. As you know, we've said many times that China continues to remain the pacing challenge for the Department of Defense and the National Security Strategy recently reaffirmed that and so we're going to continue to do our part to ensure that the U.S. military is prepared to continue working with allies and partners in the region to be able to deter and preferably ensure stability and a free and open Indo Pacific going forward. I'll go to Janne and then I'm going to go back out to the phones.

Q:  Thank you, sir. As the war between the Russia and Ukraine prolongs the crisis on the Korean Peninsula, we also intensify due to threats from Russia, and in China and North Korea. And how is the United States preparing for a simultaneous for peace?

GEN. RYDER:  Sure. Well, as you know, the United States military is engaged as you highlight in a variety of locations around the world. And we will continue to uphold our commitments with our partners and our allies, and most importantly, to ensure that we're protecting us interests and the American people. And so, as things like the National Security Strategy and the National Defense Strategy highlight, we will continue to focus on China as the pacing challenge. But also recognizing that countries like Russia, North Korea, and Iran will also continue to play to play an important role in terms of our security and our defense posture. So, we have the forces, we have the capabilities to, again, secure U.S. and allied interests, and we'll continue to do that.

Q:  Do you think extended deterrence is more effective than deploying tactical nuclear weapons in South Korea?

GEN. RYDER:  I think we have a long-standing relationship with the Republic of Korea, with our allies and partners in the region to include Japan. And we'll continue to work closely with them to ensure that there's a strong deterrent so that we cannot get to the point of any type of armed conflict. Thank you. Let me go to the phone. I'll come back here the room. Let's see we've got Alex from Newsweek.

Q:  Hi, thank you for doing this and taking my question. I wanted to ask what is the state of military-to-military communication between the U.S. and Ukraine? And to what extent is American intelligence informing Ukrainian in planning as it moves forward with counter offensive operations?

GEN. RYDER:  So, just to make sure I heard your question correctly, what is the state of communication -- military to military communication between the U.S. and Ukraine?

Q:  Yes, and to what extent is American intelligence informing Ukrainian planning as it moves forward with counter -- counter offensive operations?

GEN. RYDER:  Sure, so -- so we regularly communicate with our Ukrainian counterparts on a variety of levels and have been doing that for a very long time going as far back as 2014. We do provide Ukraine with information to enable them to make decisions and conduct operations. But again, these are Ukraine operations. They're making the decisions, and they're executing their plans. Thank you. Let me get one more Heather from USNI.

Q:  Thanks so much. You mentioned yesterday that, or one of your previous briefings about the caliber missiles that are being shot from ships in the Black Sea. I was wondering if there's any other additional information on where these missiles are being art sent being sent to in terms of targeting, or any response from the Ukraine Ukrainian army to -- to try to take out these ships that are firing these missiles?

GEN. RYDER:  Yeah. Thanks, Heather. So, I'd refer you to the Ukrainian military to talk about their specific operations in that regard. And while I don't have a specific point of impact to provide you when it comes to the calibers, we do know that they've used these capabilities to strike targets in Ukraine, to include some of the civilian infrastructure, energy grid targets, for example, that -- that have been a part of the continued Russian missile strikes against civilian and military targets in Ukraine. Thank you. Let me come back to the room, Kasim and then Tom.

Q:  Thank you, general. We have -- you have said that Russians are actually making false claims. But Russians, on the other hand, saying that it's a big mistake that Europeans and Americans are not listening to their claims. Has the Secretary Austin given a chance to his Russian counterpart to -- to provide any evidence of his claims? Or do you have any insight of what exactly the Russians are talking about?

GEN. RYDER:  Again, what I would tell you is that based on the information we have these claims are false. Again, we're going to continue to focus on the facts. And so, beyond that, I'm not going to have anything else to add.

Q:  Again, on Ukraine. In the southern axis in Kherson, do you have any insight on the battlefield? Russians are being pushed out of the town, and they are trying to dig in the defenses to strengthen defenses? What is your insight of the war going on?

GEN. RYDER:  Sure. Well, certainly for the -- the most detailed information, I'd refer you to the Ukrainians largely speaking, what we continue to see is the Ukrainians push on the northern most axis of their three-axis approach and the Kherson region, making some gains in that regard. But as you highlight, the Russians, do appear to be digging in to defend that region. So, it's an area that we'll continue to watch closely. But again, the Ukrainians could provide you with additional information. And let me move on to the next question. And then I'll come back to you. Tom?

Q:  Thanks, general, for doing this. I'm interested in the exciting story about what's happening in Antarctica, the first of those planes going on there. And of the 420 National Guard personnel going, as you pointed out, and you think your words they're going to use very remote locations. It's general policy, that when you spend significant time in Antarctica, you have to have your appendix removed. Do you know if these National Guard's personnel have to have their appendix removed before they engage in this?

GEN. RYDER:  I do not. But I would recommend you contact the National Guard, and they can help you out with that. OK, thanks. Yes, sir.

Q:  Operation Deep Freeze? Is a pentagon looking at any interoperability with allies such as Australia and some of those operations? And can I also ask, does the Pentagon have any concerns about the type and frequency of activity from China in Antarctica?

GEN. RYDER:  Great question. So, certainly, we know that China has conducted, you know, or has a presence in Antarctica. And, you know, obviously, we can get you more information in that regard. But when it comes to interoperability of those types of exercises, for this particular operation, to my knowledge, this is a U.S. National Science Foundation exercise. But I do know that the U.S. works very closely, for example, with Australia and New Zealand and a variety of exercises throughout the region. So, we can get you more information on that.

Q:  (OFF-MIKE) concerns with China's activity in that regard?

GEN. RYDER:  Beyond the fact that, again, we continue to see in certain areas, particularly in the Arctic, where, for example, China has claimed that it's an Arctic nation when it is not, and so much as it starts to compete for various resources in that area, and to put defense capabilities in areas that are concerning. That's something that we'll continue to keep an eye on. Thank you. Let me go back out to the phone here. Phil Stewart. Reuters.

Q:  Hey, thank you ads, there been any notification for the Russians? About the Grom exercises?

GEN. RYDER:  Yes, the U.S. was notified. And as we've highlighted before, this is a routine annual exercise by Russia. And so, in this regard, Russia is complying with its arms control obligations, and its transparency commitments to -- to make those notifications. And so, that is something that we will continue to keep an eye on. But beyond that, I'm not going to have any further information to provide at this time, Phil. Thank you. Tony.

Q:  On the SpaceX Starlink, DOD, NIC talks, such as they are, what is the DoD reviewing right now is still reviewing whether to pick up the cost of Starlink, even though Musk last week said to hell with it, I'll pick the cost up?

GEN. RYDER:  Yeah, so I don't have any updates to provide in terms of what the DoD may be prepared to fund as it relates to satellite communication. As we've mentioned before, we are discussing that capability requirement with SpaceX and other companies. But as of right now, I don't have any announcements to make.

Q:  I'd like you to release the letter that went to the Pentagon without resorting to a Freedom of Information Act request. If you could do that, I think the public deserves to see what the richest man on earth is asking the Pentagon to reimburse, the tone and texture of the letter, and, you know, what exactly they're asking for. So, I asked you if you without a FOIA if you can release the document.

GEN. RYDER:  So, generally speaking, we're not going to release correspondence from companies that -- that send us letters, I'd refer you to Starlink to provide a copy of the letter that they sent. But I will certainly take your request under advisement.

Q:  Because FOIAs are easy to do and won't tie you up in knots. But can we go back to Ash Carter for a second? One of his legacies was setting up the strategic Capabilities Office back in the mid-2015. It was an -- seek an organization to take and classify new classified research and existing programs and repurpose them. Can you if you can give a couple two or three examples of weapons programs that have spawned from that operation that Carter set up that are now in the force?

GEN. RYDER:  Sure, yeah, we can certainly get you a more detailed list. I'd say, too, just off the top of my head, for example, the Navy's Standard Missile 6, which was repurposed to essentially be able to address ballistic and cruise missile capability at low altitudes. And then also, the SCO office also worked with the Navy as well, to look at building prototypes as part of their unmanned surface vessel program. So, again, what we'll get back to you with a -- with a more detailed list, thank you.

Alright, let me go back to the phone here real quick. We got Tuna from the Turkish Radio.

Q:  Thank you for the briefing general. Actually, my question about the Ukraine have been asked, but I have another question about the dirty bomb. You already answered that question. My other question is, as you said, the secretaries of defense of the United States and Russian defense minister have spoken on the phone two times in three days. So, is there a special reason for that? Because it is unprecedented for the U.S. and Russian top defense officials spoke two times in three days. Should we read that? The communication line is increasing between United States and Russia. And should we expect more escalation in Ukraine in the future? Thank you.

GEN. RYDER:  Thank you for the question. So, -- So, Friday's call was initiated by Secretary Austin who reached out to his Russian counterpart to request a phone call. As you're aware, they had not spoken since May. And so, the Secretary felt that it was important to reach out and to keep the lines of communication open. And so, Friday presented an opportunity to connect in that regard. And then on Sunday, Minister Shoygu reached out and requested another phone call to follow up on Friday's discussion, which of course, we provided subsequently a readout of that call. To your point. I think this highlights, again, the importance of keeping those channels of communication open. And as I mentioned, at the beginning of today's briefing, Secretary Austin feels that it is very important to have those mechanisms in place. And while I don't have any information to indicate or nor will I speculate on the dates or times of potential future calls, we certainly want to keep those lines of communication open to again, prevent potential miscalculation, and prevent escalation. So, thank you very much. OK. Come back into the room here. Yes, ma'am.

Q:  Yesterday, Price said we are prepared to make both short- and longer-term adjustments to our military. Is the DoD thinking about this also?

GEN. RYDER:  I apologize who said that?

Q:  Price and Blinken. Blinken said it in March, I believe, and Price said the exact same thing yesterday.

GEN. RYDER:  OK, adjustments to our military in -- in what regard?

Q:  North Korea still keeps provoking us?

GEN. RYDER:  Yeah, so I don't I don't have anything to announce today. In regards to any changes in force posture. As you know, we do maintain a robust presence in the Indo Pacific region, we'll continue to work very closely with our allies and partners to ensure that our security relationships and our commitments continue to be in place, but I don't have anything new to announce in that regard. Thank you. All right. Let me go to someone else here, Janie. Yes, sir.

Q:  Thank you, sir. Two-part question. As far as this Russian Ukrainian war continues going on and on innocent people are being killed every day. Is anybody in touch with the Indian authorities, military to military from this building, and also, at the same time, Secretary have good relations with many defense ministers around the globe, and they can pick up the phone and talk to each other? In the similar thing with the Indian authorities or Indian defense minister?

GEN. RYDER:  Of course. In fact, they just spoke recently, as you know, and of course, we provided a readout on that as well. We have a good relationship with India and in terms of regular communication, as you know, like in most countries, we have a U.S. military presence there in the embassy. See in terms of defense attachĂ© is in the security cooperation efforts. And so, I would say that we'll continue to have a very good relationship with India, we look forward to continuing to build on that relationship as our two countries work together on things like interoperability and partnering in the Indo Pacific region, to ensure that it stays free and open and stable. Thank you. And let me go to -- is this the part two of the two-part question?

Q:  I'm sorry. As far as in this building or DOD concern, you think United Nations or U.N. have failed to stop this war?

GEN. RYDER:  I'm not going to comment on the United Nations. Our focus as a department is on working with our allies and partners right now to support Ukraine, and we'll continue to do that. Thank you. Yes, ma'am.

Q:  According to some reports, a former U.S. Marine pilot who worked in China was arrested in Australia based on U.S. request recently. So, my question is, could you give us a comment on this? And how do you see this challenge that China attempts to recruit some former western media official?

GEN. RYDER:  Yeah, I've seen the press reports on that certainly, in this case, I don't have any information to provide on this individual. It's a private citizen, and not a not an actively serving member of the Department of Defense. And so, fortunately, I'm not going to have any more to provide on that. But thank you. Yes, sir.

Q:  Quick clarifications on the dirty bomb first. So, in the second readout of the call, the call with between Austin and Sergey Shoygu is that Austin had rejected the pretext for Russian escalation. Is this the call that Shoygu probably spoke with Austin about the dirty bomb claims, and then also on dirty bombs? You just said that the consequences for a nuclear weapon or a dirty bomb? Would you equated the two? What is with the U.S. response if a dirty bomb were to go off, be comparable or the same if a nuclear device was detonated?

GEN. RYDER:  Yeah, so -- well, that was actually two questions, so.

Q:  Sorry.

GEN. RYDER:  So, in terms of the phone call, I'm not going to have anything to provide beyond what we issued in the readout in terms of if Russia were to employ a dirty bomb, I'll just leave it at yes, there would be consequences. Again, if Russia were to have to employ nuclear weapons or dirty bomb, there would be consequences. But again, I'm not going to go into details.

Q:  And then President Biden will be in the building tomorrow, meeting with Austin and other leaders in the defense community. I was wondering if there was going to be any potential release of the national defense strategy. Strategic coordinator Kirby will be speaking on Thursday, as well, the national press building. I'm curious if there's any potential release of that document?

GEN. RYDER:  Yeah. So, we do expect to release the national defense strategy soon. And so, certainly, we'll keep you updated in that regard in terms of what Mr. Kirby may be briefing about, I'd refer you to him to ask that. So, let me go back to the phone here and take -- take a few more. Let me go to Nancy Youssef, Wall Street Journal.

Q:  Thank you. I wanted to ask you about a Reuters report. That said the U.S. is considering sending older Hawk air defense systems to Ukraine. You provide any details about that, please? Thank you.

GEN. RYDER:  So, I don't have anything to announce today in regards to potential air defense capabilities. In the future. As you know, this continues to be a priority for us and our allies and our partners to support Ukraine. And so, we'll continue to talk with the Ukrainians will continue to consult with our allies and partners and look in terms of what we can provide when it comes to air defense. And when we have something new to announce, we'll be sure to make sure that you know, OK, let's see. Yes, ma'am.

Q:  Going back to China, again, given the reelection of President Xi, and thinking that there might be some additional concern, given his aggressive stance about Taiwan in the area in the region that this might spill over. He's kind of got a stronger position now that he's been reelected. Are there additional concerns now? Is there any move to take another look at the strategy in the Indo Pacific region and especially visa vie Taiwan, and prepare for additional aggression?

GEN. RYDER:  Well, I think when it comes to China, we've expressed our concerns in terms of the coercive -- coercive behavior, the treading on international rules and norms. And so, we will continue to work with our allies and partners to try to deter potential future aggression and to try to preserve peace and stability in the region. So, I think you will see that from the department going forward. It's so, so no change in that regard. And the meantime, I think it's important to point out that we do not want conflict with China, we want to be able to operate in a rules-based international order that's largely kept the peace since World War II. And so, that will be our focus area and, you know, certainly will maintain open dialogue or will seek to request open dialogue with China when it comes to those types of issues. So.

Q:  Would the secretary be interested in speaking with his counterpart?

GEN. RYDER:  The Secretary will always keep the channels of communication open, absolutely. OK. Let me go to the phone here real quick and come back into the room. Do we have Doug from Stars and Stripes?

Q:  Hello, General. There was a news report out today that said despite us and Ukrainian denials, of which there have been many, Russia's ambassador to the U.S. warned -- warned about catastrophic risk if the Ukraine pursues a dirty bomb to use against Russian troops there. In doing so the ambassador directly asked the American public if that price is too high, merely to settle political scores with Russia. General what would you say to the American people in response to the ambassador's words?

GEN. RYDER:  Doug, I apologize. I can barely hear your -- your question. Is there a way maybe on your phone, you can up the volume a bit?

Q:  Can you hear me now?

GEN. RYDER:  A little bit better.

Q:  Do you need me to repeat the question?

GEN. RYDER:  If you don't mind.

Q:  There was a report out today that said Russia's ambassador to the U.S. warned that there would be catastrophic risks if a dirty bomb was used in Ukraine. The ambassador asked the American public directly if that would be to a higher price, just to settle political scores with Moscow. I wanted to know what would you say to the American people in response to his words?

GEN. RYDER:  Well, again, the allegations that Ukraine is building a dirty bomb are false. And so, again, we will continue to keep the lines of communication open with our allies or partners, the Ukrainians and the Russians to ensure that we can deescalate and prevent miscalculation. I'll just leave it at that. OK. Let me go to Barbara here in the back.

Q:  Let me take off the table that this is a hypothetical question because it isn't with the understanding that you have talked so much about U.S. concerns about Russian nuclear and dirty bomb rhetoric, not the Ukrainians doing a dirty bomb concerned about what Russia's rhetoric is, can you shed any light on the U.S. military, this building's commitment to -- what its commitment is to inform the allies in Europe to inform U.S. troops in Europe? If you begin to see evidence of something happening in terms of your planning, what is the commitment to inform of some nuclear or radiological related effect?

GEN. RYDER:  Sure. Thanks, Barbara. So, again, without getting into hypotheticals, we take force protection very seriously. And clearly, the Secretary has said as have others that we are absolutely committed 100 percent to protecting every square inch of NATO territory. And so, our commitment to do that is ironclad, we will continue to communicate very closely with our allies and partners on a broad range of topics, to include force protection in the security situation, throughout Europe and worldwide, really. And so, what I would say is going forward, again, without getting into hypotheticals, we will continue to monitor this situation very closely. We'll continue to keep the channels of communication open as we have. And we will continue to call on the Russians to deescalate the situation, and to ensure that we can do our part to support Ukraine in defending their sovereign territory.

Q:  Follow up; it's related. What's the level of confidence that the U.S. military the Pentagon would know as quickly as possible, if not instantly, anywhere, if there was to be the use of a so-called dirty bomb?

GEN. RYDER:  Sure. Well...

Q:  (OFF-MIKE) confidence that you would know that?

GEN. RYDER:  Well, as you know, we maintain a variety of capabilities to include technical means that are constantly monitoring for any detonations involving any kind of radioactive or nuclear material. And those capabilities are sophistic catered. So, I'm not going to go into specific details of how, when and where. But needless to say, it's something that we take very seriously and continue to monitor 24/7. Thank you. All right, we've got time for just one or two more. Yes, sir.

Q:  They're Ukraine is making gains but with your assessment is that maybe it's tough at some point because of the weather? And what can DoD assist Ukraine to avoid being in this situation?

GEN. RYDER:  Sure. Well, the battlefield will continue to be very dynamic and very fluid. And as evidenced by what we've seen over the last eight months, it will continue to be a tough fight. So, I don't want to speculate about future operations. We do know that the Ukrainians continue to push very hard in their counter offensive. From a DOD standpoint, our focus is going to be I'm continuing to communicate with them, and with our allies and partners in terms of what it is that we can do to support them as they fight to defend their country. Thank you. And now -- yes, sir.

Q:  Just one on the winner of that idea. We talked a lot about the appointment with the Pentagon and others were sending the Ukrainians, U.S. equipment, U.K. equipment, et cetera. There have been reports that the different allies have tried to get countries that used to have Russian or Soviet equipment to the Ukrainians. How's that going? That sort of general area of weapons transfers to Ukraine, providing with Russian or Soviet equipment, which essentially is geared more for winter fighting?

GEN. RYDER:  Yeah, sure. So, you know, I don't want to speak for other countries, as you know, we've had other countries provide them with capabilities in the past, to include some air defense capability, some armored vehicle capabilities. And so, to your point, one of the things that, why that's an advantage is because for a military that had traditionally trained on Soviet era type equipment and enables them to bring it into their system, and quickly employ it, because they have the skill sets, they have the ability to maintain in a lot of cases, those systems are a lot less technical, and so therefore easier to sustain. I will highlight that, in some cases, you know, the Russians themselves have contributed a significant number of tanks to the Ukrainian military. And so, certainly, they know how to operate in those without the Pentagon help.

So, all right, last thing before we conclude today's briefing, I want to highlight something particularly noteworthy, and that's the Pentagon press corps own Sylvie Lanteaume from AFP was recently successfully sworn in as a United States citizen. So, on behalf of the DOD, I want to congratulate you.

(APPLAUSE)

So, congratulations, Sylvie. All right. Thank you very much, everyone. Appreciate it.