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Sabrina Singh, Deputy Pentagon Press Secretary, Holds a Press Briefing

DEPUTY PRESS SECRETARY SABRINA SINGH: All right. Hi, everyone. Good afternoon. Happy Thursday. I have a few things at the top -- actually, quite a bit at the top -- and then I'd be happy to take your questions. So, just a few items to pass on.

Earlier today, the secretary spoke with Israeli Prime Minister of Defense [sic] Benjamin Gantz. The secretary underscored the close partnership between the United States and Israel on a range of mutual security issues and emphasized our continued support toward Israeli security. A full readout of the call is forthcoming and will be posted on defense.gov.

As a reminder that tomorrow, Friday, the secretary will depart for a trip to Canada Indonesia and Cambodia. In Nova Scotia, he will deliver keynote remarks at the 2022 Halifax International Security Forum centered on the department's efforts to build a more resilient security architecture in concert with allies and partners across the Indo-Pacific and Europe. He will also meet with the Canadian Minister of National Defense Anita Anand, to discuss the close defense relationship between the U.S. and Canada and the importance of strategic investments in defense capabilities.

From there, Secretary Austin will travel to Jakarta, where he will meet with senior government and military leaders. His visit will drive progress on key bilateral initiatives to support interoperability, capability development and professionalization and modernization of the Indonesian Armed Forces.

And finally, in Cambodia, Secretary Austin will participate in the ninth ASEAN Defense Ministers Meeting-Plus alongside 10 other member states and eight dialogue partners.

A few other announcements here. Next, I'm happy to announce that Marine Captain Kelsey Hastings will make history next week when she becomes the first woman to command the Marine Corps Silent Drill Platoon. Captain Hastings is a native of Seattle, Washington, and was selected to serve as the silent drill platoon commander for the Marine Barracks Washington 2023 parade season. She will assume command on Monday, November 21st, and we wish her well.

On - a note on exercises: Since November 10th and concluding on Saturday, Indo-Pacific Command's first island chain stand-in force with the Third Marine Expidentiary [sic] Force is conducting Exercise Keen Sword '23 in several locations in the Pacific. This field training exercise will increase the readiness and interoperability of III MEF and our Japanese and joint force partners in order to protect and preserve regional peace and stability. This biennial exercise will test Marines and their Japanese counterparts in command and control of maritime strikes and amphibious force actions. This demonstration of stand-in force capabilities provides assurance to our partners and allies of readiness to rapidly counter aggression in the region. 

And just two more items here...

I'd also like to announce a scheduled multicarrier operation. Five allied aircraft carriers are currently operating in the Atlantic Ocean and the North and Mediterranean Seas as part of their regular, scheduled, activities. Participating forces include carrier strike groups formed around the French Navy Charles de Gaulle carrier, the Italian Navy ITS Cavour, the United Kingdom's Royal Navy Queen Elizabeth and the United States Navy's George H. W. Bush and Gerald R. Ford.

These operations present an opportunity for allied nations to coordinate credible combat power throughout the Euro-Atlantic area while showcasing NATO cohesion and interoperability. It is also an opportunity to test allied cooperation and to practice NATO's “deter and defend” concept across all geographic areas, operational domains and functional areas of the Alliance.

And just very lastly here...

And finally, I want to acknowledge some very important news that just came out of U.S. Senate today as they confirmed Rheanne Wirkkala as the assistant secretary of defense for legislative affairs. With this Senate confirmation, Ms. Wirkkala will now be able to play a leading role in making sure that Congress works with the department to pass two critically-important pieces of legislation, which includes the NDAA and an end of year omnibus appropriation before the end of the calendar year. We would like to thank the Senate for taking this action by a unanimous consent, and we are especially grateful to Senators Schumer and Tester for their work to confirm Ms. Wirkkala.

And as I noted last week and with today's confirmation, we now have 11 highly-qualified civilian nominees still awaiting Senate confirmation, and we urge that the Senate confirm these nominees who will play a critical role in managing our recruitment, budget and physical force -- physical health of the force.

And with that, I will take your questions. I'm going to go to the phones first. I think we have Lita Baldor.

Q: Hi, thanks. One quick clarification, and then a question. Did you say the five carriers are going to be in the Atlantic or in the Mediterranean Sea? Just wanted to make sure I understood the location of this exercise.

MS. SINGH: Of course. They are current -- the five allied aircraft carriers are currently operating in the Atlantic Ocean and the North and Mediterranean Seas.

Q: OK. And then just on Ukraine, two things. Does the Pentagon have any further clarity on exactly -- or -- and confirmation on exactly what kind of missile struck in Poland, the air defense missile? Was it an S-300? And then secondarily, has Poland reached out to the U.S. to seek any additional military aid, equipment, support in order to defend against any potentially future such incidents?

MS. SINGH: Thanks, Lita, for the question. So for your first question, as you know, the Polish government is leading the investigation, so we have full confidence in their deliberate manner and how they're conducting the investigation. I'm not going to get ahead of the investigation. I'm going to let it continue to play out, and when I have more for you, I'd be happy to -- happy to report back.

And then your second question on additional aid to Poland, as you know, the secretary spoke with his Polish counterpart earlier this week. The secretary made clear also here yesterday, following the Ukraine Defense Contact Group that we have offered our support to Poland as they conduct this investigation. But in terms of force posture, troop movements, anything like that, nothing has changed in terms of our posture within Poland.

All right, I'll come to the room, and then I'll go back to the phones. Yeah, Brandi?

Q: Hi, Sabrina.

MS. SINGH: Hi.

Q: Thank you.

MS. SINGH: Yeah.

Q: Another follow-up from yesterday -- what did Secretary Austin, Chairman Milley, and their counterparts discuss regarding cyber defense and cyber attacks at the Ukraine Contact Group meeting? And how have their discussions regarding cybersecurity with those counterparts evolved since the invasion and since the earlier meetings?

MS. SINGH: Yeah, thank you for the question. So again, I think I will let the Secretary and the Chairman's comments speak for themselves. I'm not going to go any further into what they discussed at the Ukraine Defense Contact Group.

But those -- those groups, those meetings -- and the seventh one was just convened yesterday -- that's really about partners and allies coming together to share and to coordinate on what capabilities they can share with Ukraine.

So it was -- you know, I think the Chairman spoke to this, that air defense systems, of course, came up. It's not that cyber's not critically important and didn't come up, but in terms of what the Ukraine Defense Contact Group is focused on, it's about making sure that Ukraine has what it needs and coordinating with our partners and allies on getting Ukraine what it needs.

Q: And two quick follow-ups there, on that. Would you say that, as you're discussing those needs, cybersecurity is trending as less of a priority as we get closer to the winter and as there's more of a focus on data generation and sort of cold weather gear and that stuff?

MS. SINGH: Well, I wouldn't say that one outweighs the other. Cybersecurity is incredibly important. I was just saying in terms of the Defense Contact Group, what that group is focused on is making sure and seeing what we, as the United States, can further provide Ukraine but also what our partners and allies can further provide.

Cybersecurity remains a top priority, I mean, not just for Ukraine but for us, for other countries around the world. And so I wouldn't say it's sliding - it's just on what was discussed in that meeting.

Q: Cool. And then really quick ... 

MS. SINGH: ... and then I'll go to another... 

(CROSSTALK)

Q: ... one.

I know the investigation is ongoing regarding the projectiles in Poland, but yesterday, General Milley said that there's going to be other forms of data that will be available through other technical means. And so I'm curious if you can elaborate where the data is coming from, what the sources are, and if you guys are pulling from maybe commercial satellite data, open source satellites? Where actually is the information that's informing the investigation coming from?

MS. SINGH: Well, again, Poland is leading the investigation. We have offered our assistance but I would direct you to Poland in terms of what they are using, what satellite capabilities. I would direct you there.

Q: Thank you.

MS. SINGH: Jen. Yeah?

Q: There's still a difference of opinion. President Zelenskyy has not -- denies that it's a Ukrainian missile. Why aren't the Ukrainians part of the team that's investigating?

MS. SINGH: Well, I think the Ukrainians have said that they offered to be helpful. I would direct you to the Ukrainians to speak more to that.

Q: No, no, I'm just saying why are the Ukrainians not being invited by the U.S. and Poland to be part of the investigation?

MS. SINGH: Well, this is Poland's investigation to lead. So I would direct you to Poland to further answer that question. We are not leading this investigation. We have offered our full support to the Polish government, but again, I wouldn't be able to speak to why particular countries are not involved in the investigation itself.

Q: And yesterday, the discussions here with the seventh Contact Group, were there concrete proposals or donations of air defense that were made or just discussed?

MS. SINGH: So I don't want to -- I know the Secretary spoke to this a bit at his remarks yesterday. I don't want to get ahead of what is going to be announced or could be announced, but part of what you saw -- I believe it was last week or the week before -- with Germany committing another air defense system, Spain committing another air defense system, those are coming out of the Contact Group.

So it's not necessarily I have a deliverable this moment on Wednesday, when we came out, but in the days, weeks following, it's because of these discussions that happened here, either virtually or in-person.

Great. Yeah, hi.

Q: Hi. Travis Tritten, Military.com.

MS. SINGH: I know.

(LAUGHTER)

Q: Thank you, Sabrina.

MS. SINGH: Yeah.

Q: On the five carriers ... 

MS. SINGH: Yeah?

Q: ... is there a timeframe? I'm not sure if you mentioned that. How long will the exercise last?

And second of all, can you talk at all about how rare this is? Has this ever occurred in the past, where we've had five carriers with these particular nations exercising together?

And then finally, like, what is the theme of the exercise? What is the scenario that they're exercising for?

MS. SINGH: So I'll take the last question first. So in terms of the theme, again, this was a prescheduled exercise. So this just -- further demonstrating our interoperability, our partnership, our commitment to our allies in Europe.

For more on how long the exercise is taking place, I would direct you to EUCOM for that.

And I think you asked about has this taken place before or the size of this exercise? I don't know the answer to that. I'd be happy to take that question. I just don't know off the top of my head. But it is significant, in that it is five allied aircraft participating in this operation, but I would have to get back to you on that one.

Q: Can I just follow up ... 

MS. SINGH: Sure.

Q: ... clarification? And then later on, I'll ask my question about something else.

MS. SINGH: OK.

Q: So you -- initially, you said this is -- they're participating in an operation. Is this ... 

MS. SINGH: It's a multi-carrier operation.

Q: Is it an operation or exercise?

MS. SINGH: It's an -- we're classifying it as a multi-carrier operation because it's not necessarily -- it doesn't have a name attached to it, like, I read out at the top of the -- in my topper about what the Marines are doing in Japan.

I would say this is, you know, something that was prescheduled. For more questions, I would direct you to EUCOM.

Q: OK, thank you.

MS. SINGH: Great. I'm going to go to the phones and then I'll come back in the room. And I saw you, Orrin, sorry.

Phil Stewart, Reuters?

Q: Hey there. I just wanted to follow up on something the Secretary said yesterday. On the Polish site, the investigation that's going on in Poland, he said, you know, that the United States -- or he said "we are assisting in any way we can. We do have some experts on the ground there helping Polish leadership."

I'm hoping that you could explain a little bit, you know, what DOD experts are on the ground there? How are they assisting Polish leadership? And what kind of group -- what size group are we talking about? Is this dozens of people? Is it a few people? You know, what can you tell us?

MS. SINGH: So I'm not going to get further ahead of what the Secretary said. Again, this investigation, we're going to let Poland lead.

And in terms of further details on U.S. participation, the Secretary confirmed yesterday that we -- you know, we've offered our support, we are actively engaged with Polish leadership, but not going to be able to offer more on that front.

I'm going to go to Heather, USNI.

Q: Thanks so much. Like other people, I have questions about this exercise. Can you tell me when it was scheduled? And what does the Ford bring, since it's the new aircraft carrier?

MS. SINGH: I'm sorry -- and can you -- can you repeat the last part of your question on the Ford?

Q: Sure. I was just wondering if you can expand on what the Ford's going to be able to bring, given that it's the newest aircraft carrier?

MS. SINGH: Well, I mean, in terms of more specifics on the Ford, I would direct you to the Navy.

But in terms of what this exercise brings, again, it shows a partnership and a continued alliance with our NATO partners and allies in the region. But for further details, I would direct you to EUCOM, just on the exercise itself -- I -- oh, sorry, not the exercise, the multi-carrier operation. Sorry.

(LAUGHTER)

But I would direct you to EUCOM for further details. It's currently underway but I don't have the exact timeline on when it's supposed to wrap.

I'm going to take one last from the phone and then I'll come into the room. Caitlin?

Q: Hey, there's been a number of initiatives to restock some of the HIMARS like announced today. I'm wondering if you can speak at all to if the U.S. has enough in its stocks to continue sending critical weapons to Ukraine and what the Department is doing to help resupply those stocks.

MS. SINGH: Thanks, Caitlin, for the question. So, the secretary spoke to this yesterday and I think the chairman did as well. We're not going to dip below our readiness levels and we continue to assess our readiness levels with each, whether it's a presidential drawdown package or security assistance that we announce. Our goal is to make sure that we are setting up Ukraine for this enduring war that Russia started in February. And we're in it for the long haul.

As the secretary said yesterday, we're going to continue to support Ukraine for as long as it takes. And so, you're going to continue to see packages announced from this department, from other agencies when it comes to support for Ukraine. But, again, our support we're going to continue to do what we can for Ukraine in any way that we can for the long-term as well.

All right, I'm going to come back into the room. Yes, Orrin, and then I'll --

Q: I have two questions. Is there an expectation that Secretary Austin will meet his Chinese counterpart in Cambodia, which I think would be the first time since the Shangri-La dialogue? And second question, unrelated, Iran recently claims to have tested a hypersonic missile. Does the U.S. view that as credible? Have they developed this technology? And this is a new threat for Iran?

MS. SINGH: So, in terms of the secretary meeting his Chinese counterpart when in Cambodia, I have nothing to read out, no other meetings to read out or to announce today. For your second question on the Iran hypersonic missile claims, we've seen the reports asserted by Iranian -- we've seen the reports asserted and coming out of Iran. We remain skeptical of these reports.

As always, you know, I'm going to refrain from talking about our intelligence and our reporting and our own assessments. But, we will continue to monitor closely Iran's -- any development or proliferation of advanced technology coming out of Iran or missile systems. 

Yes? Tony.

Q: A couple things.

MS. SINGH: Sure.

Q: Then I want to go back to the question on technical means that --

MS. SINGH: OK.

Q: -- General Milley talked -- mentioned yesterday (inaudible). I don't expect you to know this, but maybe you can get a written answer. Is he referring, when he says technical means, to our early warning satellites, our missile track satellites that could have picked up a plume from the ground going into to Poland?

And that's not classified stuff, but that would be useful to -- if you can clarify that in writing, because that would be a major contribution to the -- from the United States to this effort. That what technical means was he talking about?  

MS. SINGH: Well for that in terms of that question I would refer you to the Joint Staff to further answer that, just because I don't want to mischaracterize --

Q: If you could just ask them for a written answer? That's why -- I don't expect you to know this. 

MS. SINGH: Yes, I mean, and I fully do not know the answer to that question, but I would refer you to the Joint Staff for that. 

Q: A couple of -- one on Afghanistan. 

MS. SINGH: Sure.

Q: It will become topical when the new Congress convenes because they're going to come after the Pentagon on the withdrawal.The SIGAR yesterday released its final report on why the Afghan government fell. What is the status of the classified after-action report that General Ryder mentioned like three months ago? Can we get an unclassified summary of that?

MS. SINGH: So, as General Ryder had said then, this is a classified, internal report, it's been submitted to the secretary, but I have no updates on any type of release of that report -- classified or an unclassified summary.

Q: Can you push that? Because the Republicans are going to ask you for it and they're going to shape it -- the narrative in their own way. It would be useful for you to get it out, declassify it, like you did the Abbey Gate report from CENTCOM.

MS. SINGH: Well that was -- you know -- again, the -- that report that came out on Abbey Gate was on a specific incident. This report that you're referring to focuses on the timeline between February 2020 and the withdrawal. It's a much larger timeframe, it's -- there's many more pieces to it.

Again, Abbey Gate was a separate incident, and while I always appreciate your advice, Tony, and I will take it under consideration, this is, again, a classified internal report and I just have no updates for you on any type of release of that yet.

Q: ... let me throw an audit question at you.

MS. SINGH: OK.

Q: We're -- we're going from Afghanistan to audit.

MS. SINGH: OK.

Q: So this ... 

MS. SINGH: You're just trying to stay in the A’s right now. OK. OK.

Q: ... the Comptroller acknowledged that, for the fifth year in the row, the Pentagon didn't get a clean audit opinion on its 28 consolidated audits.

So people are going to ask, given that you can't keep track of your stocks, i.e. audit, how do we know that you can keep track of Pentagon inventories going to Ukraine, that you're not sending them stuff and then coming out we have a major shortfall cause you don't have a good enough inventory? This is going to come up as an issue. It's simplistic ... 

MS. SINGH: Right.

Q: ... but I want to give you a sense of -- a chance to get ahead of that.

MS. SINGH: Sure. I mean -- and I think our Comptroller spoke to this yesterday. I don't know if you were able to listen in, but ... 

Q: Not on camera, though, so this is more useful.

MS. SINGH: OK. Well, we -- I mean, the DOD welcomes an audit. I mean, we always want to be accountable to the taxpayers on how their money is being sent -- or spent when it comes to what we have in our inventory and what we are sending to Ukraine.

So it's not that we don't welcome this. We don't mind going through the audit process. Accountability is important here. And we can always improve the ways that we do things here at the Pentagon and the way we are accountable to the American people. So Ukraine is certainly a teachable moment for that.

Again, I just -- I was there, I saw -- I was listening in to what the Comptroller said. I don't have anything further to add on what he said widely about the audit but, I mean, we welcome audits when it comes to Ukraine or anything else.

Q: But you -- can you assure the public that basically you have a good handle on what's being sent and what needs to be replaced, even though there's -- broadly, you don't have the clean audit opinion and the eyes of ... 

MS. SINGH: Right. I mean, that's what we're doing with our PDA packages -- we're assessing what's on our stock -- on our shelves and we're being able to say "OK, we have X amount here and we're not going to dip below, you know, where we feel comfortable in our readiness, and we're going to get that to Ukraine in what we need.

And so part of that is accounting for what's actually on the shelves -- what we have in stocks. So, I mean, I feel confident in our ability to do that and comply with an audit ... 

(CROSS-TALK)

... should -- should it be necessary.

Yeah? Yeah, in the back here.

Q: Thank you. Can I switch to Turkey really quickly?

MS. SINGH: Sure.

Q: Can I switch to Turkey really quickly? There was a bombing on Sunday. Turkey has called the United States complicit in this attack. The Interior Minister even said to U.S. condolences that it was like the killer is the first among the scene -- I think that was how that was phrased by them.

What has the Pentagon done to communicate with its Turkish counterparts? This is a NATO ally. Have there been any conversations with the Secretary or on any levels since the attack?

MS. SINGH: I don't have any calls to read out that the Secretary had -- I just have nothing to relay in terms of his own calls. But, I mean, I think it's very clear the U.S. stands and -- condemns the violent acts that happened on Sunday. You saw the President just met with Erdogan on his trip.

And, you know, we offer our deepest condolences to those who lost their lives in the explosion in Istanbul and we condemn all forms of terrorism and we remain in solidarity with our Turkish ally and with NATO.

Yeah, Ryo?

Q: Thank you.

MS. SINGH: Yeah.

Q: On North Korea, North Korea has launched a ballistic missile at an unprecedented pace since the end of September. So are you concerned that North Korea's missile launches at this high frequency might become a new normal in the region? 

MS. SINGH: Well, if it is a new normal, that would be incredibly -- again, it continues to be destabilizing, that they launch these ballistic missiles, and if they continue to do that, it just further destabilizes the region.

Our commitment remains strong to the Republic of Korea and Japan. We are always going to stand up for our allies and partners around the world, in particular in the region, and we've called on North Korea to stop these ballistic missile launches. I would refer you to North Korea to see if they were going to stop them.

Yes?

Q: Thank you, madam. My question is on China. We have been talking -- so much have been going on, that China’s threat to the U.S. national security and challenges are there, including yesterday we saw in the briefing and many other times.

In recent months, for this year or next year, several people have been arrested (inaudible) for stealing U.S. secrets -- state secrets, military secrets, nuclear secrets, among other -- many other secrets, Chinese or working -- people working for China.

So what kind of steps U.S. is taking now? Because China is now a greater threat to the international and also the U.S. national security.

MS. SINGH: Well, thank -- yeah ... 

Q: ... sorry ... 

MS. SINGH: No, go ahead.

Q: ... several people have been arrested and now they're in jail, including yesterday, according to the Justice Department and other agencies.

MS. SINGH: Well, I think, actually, yesterday, the Secretary and the Chairman spoke to this quite eloquently, about China being our greatest pacing challenge. We know that when it comes to the economy, military, diplomacy, China continues to grow and expand.

And to be clear, we don't seek conflict with China. We can compete but we do see China as our pacing challenge, which is why the Secretary, as I mentioned, is traveling to Cambodia, leaving tomorrow on his trip, to reaffirm our alliances in the region.

We're going to continue to monitor and assess what China is doing but China remains our pacing challenge, and I would direct you to what both of them said yesterday from here at the podium.

Yeah?

Q: But madam, just to follow ... 

MS. SINGH: Sure.

Q: I'm not talking from here, it's a White House question as far as President and the Chinese President, the meetings and all of that, that's a White House question, but the question here, DOD or the Pentagon, when we meet -- or the Secretary of Defense or other officials from this building to the Chinese counterparts, do they bring these issues of stopping espionage or stealing U.S. secrets?

MS. SINGH: Well, I'm certainly not going to get into conversations that happen at -- between staff or leadership in this building with China. I think our leadership here -- and I won't speak for other agencies – but we're very clear on the challenges that China poses.

And we will continue to responsibly manage competition between our two nations and we believe in maintaining open lines of communication, and so we've reiterated that and we'll continue to do that.

I'm going to go ahead -- yeah, over here. Yeah?

Q: ... so I want to go back to the attack in the Gulf of Oman that happened a couple of days ago.

MS. SINGH: OK.

Q: Obviously, the U.S. Navy in the region responded to the attack one way or the other with the Royal Navy. Jake Sullivan issued a statement yesterday, saying basically that the administration has confidence that it's likely Iran, and ended that statement by saying that "the U.S., with allies and partners, will respond through appropriate means," quote. So has that level of confidence changed? Are you confident it's not only likely Iran, it is Iran? And the follow -- the second question -- is when we're talking about a response from the administration, has the department been asked to prepare any options? And your understanding, this response, is it limited to diplomatic and economic actions, or are all options on the table?

MS. SINGH: Well, I certainly wouldn't want to engage in a hypothetical, and potentially something that, you know, would forecast how we would respond one way or the other. So again, I would refrain from engaging on the second question because that is a hypothetical, and I just don't want to go down that path.

But I would direct you to what Mr. Sullivan's statement said yesterday. We are likely confident that Iran conducted an attack using a UAV. This would not be unprecedented for them. We've seen this type of behavior before. And behavior like this threatens navigation. It threatens international shipping and commerce. And so we've -- you've seen us work with our partners and allies in the region, and we're going to continue to do that. But actions like -- that Iran took are not only destabilizing, but they fly in the face of the rules-based order that we are seeking to uphold.

Q: May I follow up?

MS. SINGH: Sure.

Q: So I don't understand how my question is hypothetical. It's a public statement by a U.S. official that, quote, "respond through appropriate means," unquote. What are appropriate means in this instance?

MS. SINGH: Well, I'm not going -- but your -- the way you had phrased it, I believe, at first was if this happens, then -- what further actions do you...

Q: (inaudible).

MS. SINGH: Well, let me just say that I -- again, I'm not going to forecast what means we're going to take. I don't think that would be a good -- I don't think it'd be a good way to show our cards from here. I think I would let Mr. Sullivan's statement stand for itself. Again, we are going to work with our partners and allies, and we continue to work with our partners and allies in the region, and you know, I'm not just going to go down a path that's, like, potentially telling you what we could or could not do. I just don't think that's helpful at this time.

Q: Has this incident been discussed during the phone call today between the secretary and his Israeli counterpart?

MS. SINGH: We'll have a readout shortly, and from there, you can see what was discussed.

Q: Thank you.

MS. SINGH: Yeah. Anyone else here? Yes?
 
Q: (inaudible) Sputnik News Russia. I have a couple of questions, if I may.

MS. SINGH: OK.

Q: Thank you. My first question is about yesterday's press briefing. General Milley said that he tried to reach his Russian counterparts to discuss the incident in Poland, but he was unsuccessful. And so my question is, what did he want to accomplish with this call? What was the idea behind this call?

MS. SINGH: I would direct you to his staff.

Q: OK, and my second question is about arms inspections in Ukraine. Are there any findings already, or are they still on?

MS. SINGH: I have nothing to read out at this time. When I do, I'll let you know.

Q: OK, thanks.

MS. SINGH: Anyone else? Yeah?

Q: Hi. Carrington Clarke from the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

MS. SINGH: Hi, nice to see you in the briefing room.

Q: Thank you. First time here.

MS. SINGH: OK, welcome.

Q: Australia's being struck by a couple of pretty major cyber attacks recently, one emanating, it appears, from Russia. I'm just wondering, have you had -- has the Defense Department had any communication with Australia about those attacks? And would you see such an attack at the moment -- it's hard to see whether or not -- there's speculation about whether or not it's being, not orchestrated, but at least with some sort of Russian government OK. Would you see a similar attack in America as being an attack by a foreign entity? And how would you see such an attack in Australia?

MS. SINGH: Well, in terms of an attack on Australia, again, cyber attacks are incredibly dangerous. We have here from the department and other agencies, have worked with our Australian counterparts and continue to work with them. I don't have a call to read out from the secretary per se, but of course we are in touch at different levels with the Australian government.

In terms of your second question, I just want to -- can you repeat? I just want to make sure I'm understanding it correctly.

Q: Just, there's now Australia's trying to analyze exactly what this attack meant, who's behind it. Would you see a similar attack -- in this case, it was Australian private information being taken and held for ransom, and although there is no direct evidence, at least publicly, that it was orchestrated by the Russian government. If a similar attack occurred in the United States, where people from Russia, for example, or another country were taking that kind of information, would you see that as being effectively a -- an attack on America by a foreign country?

MS. SINGH: Well again, that's a hypothetical. Fortunately, that has not happened, and I'm not going to engage in hypotheticals from here. But I thank you for the question, but just not going to get into that.

OK, yes, I'll take one more, and then I'll wrap it up.

Q: Thank you so much.

MS. SINGH: Yeah.

Q: Would the recent Ukraine forces that achieved on the battleground, that they did against the Russian forces. So does the DoD think that Ukraine to date is in a position of strength to start a negotiation with Russia?

MS. SINGH: Well, I would -- again, and I think the secretary and the chairman spoke to this. It is up to Ukraine to decide when they want to negotiate. The secretary, you know, convened the Ukraine Contact Group yesterday to work with our partners and allies around the world to ensure that Ukraine has what it needs in this war against Russia.

And you know, just to remind folks here, but this war could end tomorrow. This war could end now. Russia has the opportunity, the choice, to make to decide to pull its troops, to remove its equipment, to get its systems out of Ukraine and you know, be held responsible for invading a sovereign nation. And so you know, I would let Ukraine speak to when it's ready to negotiate, but I think you heard pretty strongly from the secretary and from the chairman yesterday that we are committed to providing Ukraine what it needs, and we are going to continue to provide Ukraine what it needs for the long haul.

OK, great. Thanks, all. Happy Fri -- Thursday. Happy Thursday, and I will see you tomorrow. Yeah, see you. Thanks.

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