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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.  Just a few things and then I'll go ahead and take your questions.  So, today Secretary Austin participated in the U.S. Africa Leaders' Summit along with Secretary of State Anthony Blinken and other U.S. government leaders.  The summit which runs December 13th through the 15th, here in Washington, D.C. brings together U.S. and African senior leaders and provides an opportunity to convene African governments’ civil society, diaspora communities from across the United States, and the private sector in pursuit of a shared vision for the future of U.S.-Africa relations.  On the margins of the summit, Secretary Austin also participated in a multilateral meeting with the presidents of Somalia, Djibouti and Niger, as well as a bilateral meeting with the President of Angola to discuss security development, cooperation and deepening our U.S.  Angola partnerships. 

In addition, Secretary Austin also co-chaired the Peace, Security and Governance Forum today, with Secretary of State Blinken and Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development Samantha Power.  Security-related challenges in Africa are often multifaceted and rooted in weak governance.  Solutions require cross-government and inter-ministerial collaboration and community engagement and integration.  Secretary Austin, along with Secretary Blinken and Administrator Power, appreciated the opportunity to discuss these critical issues with, and learn from, leaders from across the African continent.  Collaboration with African nations, institutions and peoples is essential to the U.S. approach to working with partners to promote stability in Africa.  Separately, Secretary Austin will host Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi at the Pentagon tomorrow to discuss regional security cooperation, and a readout of that engagement will be forthcoming. 

And finally, the Department would like to wish our National Guard a happy 386th birthday.  On this date in 1636, the first militia regiments in North America were organized in Massachusetts to better defend the Massachusetts Bay Colony.  Today, our incredible National Guard service members serve in 50 states, three territories and the District of Columbia, conducting a full range of operations at home and abroad in defense of our nation, truly living up to their motto, “Always ready.  Always there.”

And with that, I will take your questions.  We'll start with AP.  Tara?

Q:  Several U.S. officials have confirmed that the U.S. intends to send Patriot missile defense systems to Ukraine.  Can you confirm this?  And as part of this, would there be U.S. troops providing training in Germany or in other nearby locations?

GEN. RYDER:  Yeah, thanks for the question, Tara.  So, I don't have anything to announce today.  As we've discussed before, we do maintain a robust dialogue with our Ukrainian partners with our allies, and our international partners on Ukraine security assistance needs to include battlefield capabilities that they may need as well as air defense.  And so, in light of Russia’s cruel and continued heavy bombardment of innocent civilians and civilian infrastructure in Ukraine, we'll continue to have those discussions and look at capabilities that they'll need to defend their territory.  But, again, I don't have anything to announce today.

Q:  But are Patriots one of the systems that are in the realm of possibility because of the intensified attacks by Russia?

GEN. RYDER:  So, as always, we will look at a full spectrum of security assistance and defensive capabilities that are available within our common inventories when we consider Ukraine's needs.  And so, when and if we have something to announce, we'll certainly do that. 

Let me go ahead and go to Jennifer.

Q:  Pat, I'm trying to understand what the issue with the Patriots has been up until now, because it's not new that Russia has been striking civilian targets and they've wanted air defense; we're now into the 10th-11th month.  Is the issue that you need to alter the Patriots?  Are you concerned about technology falling into the wrong hands?  What -- what is the issue with the Patriots?

GEN. RYDER:  Again, I don't have anything to announce today, Jennifer, in regards to any new air defense capabilities that we may or may not be providing to Ukraine.

Q:  But when you send Patriots to other countries, do you alter them?  Are they changed technologically?  So, that is it a different version than what the U.S. has or sends to NATO?

GEN. RYDER:  So, broadly speaking, in any of our defense relationships and your security cooperation relationships with other countries, there's a variety of factors that go into consideration, as you know, through the foreign military sales process that goes through the State Department.  As a matter of operations security, we don't discuss the specifics when it comes to the schematics or the capabilities of those particular systems.  And so, like any other system, there's a variety of considerations. 

Q:  And can you confirm that the U.S. plans to send troops to Ukraine to track the weapons that have already been sent?  There was a report yesterday.

GEN. RYDER:  So, I did see the article that you're referring to.  As you know, back in May, when conditions permitted, we reopened the Office of Defense Cooperation in the Office of the Defense Attaché at the embassy.  As we've mentioned before, that team there, the Defense Attaché Office, maintains a small team that do conduct inspections in terms of capabilities that we are providing to Ukraine.  In terms of the numbers associated with that mission; again, we're talking small numbers.  We don't discuss specifics for operations, security reasons and force-protection reasons. 

I'm gonna go ahead and go to Janne and then I'll come back to Oren.

Q:  Thank you very much on the missile defense systems, South Korea has been stating that it has no intention to participate in the U.S. missile defense system.  What is the U.S. position on this?  Do you think that the ROK military's dependence, besides defense system, can sufficiently defend against the North Korean missiles?

GEN. RYDER:  Yep.  Thanks, Janne.  So, I don't have any comment to provide on any policy statements or operational statements that the Republic of Korea may have made.  As you know, we have a very deep security cooperation relationship with the Republic of Korea as allies in the Indo-Pacific region.  And our focus continues to remain on working closely with them to ensure the defense of the Republic of Korea and the broader Indo-Pacific region.

Q:  Do you think that the reason South Korea is not participating in the U.S. (INAUDIBLE) system is because of China, Chinese pressure?

GEN. RYDER:  Yeah, yeah.  And I don't have anything on that, nor would I want to speculate on why South Korea may be doing what it's doing.  I'd refer you to them. 

But let me go ahead and go to Oren here.

Q:  Can you update us on the status of training at Grafenwoehr and the training under SAGU?  Does -- does that remain training on individual systems or has that expanded beyond individual systems to wider or larger training in any way?

GEN. RYDER:  Yeah, so -- so no new updates to provide on the on the training front.  Again, we have been training Ukrainians for a while now on the systems that we provide to them.  And so, we're constantly looking at ways that we can support Ukraine.  And in this case, you know, training is one of them.  Thank you. 


Q:  Oh, yeah.  Can I ask you on Turkiye and Syria and Iraq?  What's the Pentagon's assessment of?  Are U.S. troops still at risk due to Turkish military activity, be it in Syria or Iraq?  And, secondly, has DoD been able to convince Turkiye to hold off on the on the land defenses?  Do you believe that if you have, is it temporary, permanent?

GEN. RYDER:  So, I don't want to speak for Turkiye.  Certainly, I'd refer you to them for their views on a particular, on that particular matter.  From a U.S. standpoint, I can tell you that the partner operations with the Syrian Democratic Forces have resumed; they resumed in full on December 9.  Again, our focus is on working with those local partners to prevent the reconstitution of ISIS.  And let’s leave it at that.

Q:  I guess it was two weeks ago, and DoD publicly stated that U.S. troops were at risk due to certain military activities, obviously, Turkish airstrikes being one of them.  Have U.S. troops been put at risk after or since then?

GEN. RYDER:  Not to my knowledge.  And again, this is exactly why we need to continue to keep that region stable, and to be able to continue to work with our local partners in the region to prevent, again, the rise of ISIS.  But well, you know, Turkiye remains a very close NATO ally.  We’ll continue to consult and work closely with Turkiye.  And, you know, nothing to add beyond that, at this point.  Let me go ahead and go to the phones here. 

Jeff Schogol, Task & Purpose?

Q:  Thank you.  Does DoD have any update on the Army's investigation into bizarre pictures that were posted on social media?

GEN. RYDER:  Thanks, Jeff.  I do not.  I would refer you back to the Army for any information on that the status of their investigation. 

Let me go to Joe Gould, Defense News.

Q:  Hi Pat, thanks for taking my question.  Another question on oversight of arms deliveries to Ukraine.  I want to say back in November, you had said to date there have been no illicit diversions.  And I just wanted to see if we could get you on the record.  Is that still the case?  Have there been no diversions of -- of U.S. arms to Ukraine?

GEN. RYDER:  That's correct, Joe, at this point, we have no information that would, no credible information that would indicate that there's been any diversion of Ukrainian assistance into illicit means.  Again, and I think the results on the battlefield in this case speak for themselves.  We continue to see the Ukrainians take the capabilities that they're being provided by the United States and the international community and using it to great effect to defend their nation and regain sovereign territory. 

Let me go ahead and go to Ryo from Nikkei, then I'll come back in the room.

Q:  Hi, thank you very much for taking my question.  The Chinese and Indian military forces clashed on their disputed border for the first time in nearly two years.  How much is the Pentagon concerned that this clash could lead to a bigger military confrontation?  Is the Pentagon willing to provide more military support to India to help them handle China's military threats at the border?  Thank you very much.

GEN. RYDER:  Yet thanks, Ryo.  So, I can tell you that DoD continues to closely watch developments along the line of actual control at the India-China border.  We have seen the PRC continue to amass forces and build military infrastructure along the so-called LAC.  But I would defer you to India in terms of their views.  It does reflect though, and it's important to point out, the growing trend by the PRC to assert itself and to be provocative in areas directed towards U.S. allies and our partners in the Indo Pacific.  And we will continue to remain steadfast in our commitment to ensuring the security of our partners.  And we fully support India's ongoing efforts to deescalate this situation.  Let me come back to the room. 


Q:  Just clarification on the partner patrols with the SDF.  Are they restarting at the same pace as when you left off?  And are they restarting because there's been a pause in air strikes?  And then I have a separate question. 

GEN. RYDER:  Sure.  So, I'd refer you to CENTCOM to get more specifics, but my understanding is yes, they've reviewed they've fully resumed the pace of patrols prior to the previous suspension of those.

Q:  And on a separate note, there was a Reuters -- Reuters story yesterday about the Nigerian eyewitness accounts of the Nigerian military killing civilians, including children.  Do you have a comment?  Are you reviewing any of the military assistance given to Nigeria?

GEN. RYDER:  So, again, the reports are very concerning.  We support the State Department's efforts on this, you know, what they've said publicly and would call again on -- on an investigation to take place by the Nigerian government.  But beyond that, I'd refer you to the State Department.  Thank you. 


Q:  Thanks, Pat.  Do you have any update or additional information on the increased U.S. rotations to Australia, particularly numbers, units, when you expect those new rotations to begin?  And additionally, is that expected just to be in Darwin, or is that they're going to be new facilities in Australia for those rotations?

GEN. RYDER:  Yeah, thanks, Travis.  So, as you know, as part of the AUSMIN discussions, this was an area that Secretary Austin highlighted was part of the discussion.  And that was to look at increasing the number of rotational deployments.  What I would tell you is in terms of the next steps, our staffs will work together to identify the specifics of those, but they will entail air, land and sea opportunities.  And so, as more details become available, we'll -- we'll be sure to provide those.

Q:  Is there any kind of timeline and when do you think more details might be released?  Is it something near term?  Or is it going to be a few months out?  Any sense of that?

GEN. RYDER:  I can tell you that there's a lot of interest in moving this forward.  But I don't want to put a timeline on it right now.  Thank you. 


Q:  General, a follow up on the -- on patrols.  Can you tell us if those patrols are now closer to the Turkish border?  Or are they further down in the south?  And then I have another separate question.

GEN. RYDER:  Again, I refer you to CENTCOM for more specifics.  But my understanding is, again, they are resuming the patrols that they conducted previously and, again without getting into specifics into the specific areas, but in the operations areas that they previously had been conducting operations in.

Q:  Also last week, we heard some, like we heard from you from the State Department that you are not encouraging, you're not enabling Ukrainian forces to strike the Russian posts in Russian territory.  But we also saw some stories in that now after the Russians striking more and more inside Ukraine and targeting infrastructure, the Pentagon is okay with the Ukrainians to strike inside the Russian territories.  I mean, the official Russian state territories.  Could you confirm or what -- has there been any change in the Defense Department's position?

GEN. RYDER:  Yeah, thanks, Kassim.  So, look, our focus is on enabling Ukraine to defend their territory.  They were invaded by Russia almost a year ago.  You know, we've seen some significant progress by them on the front lines to take territory back, and that remains our focus is.  I think you've heard others say, there is no interest in escalation of this conflict.  We remain solely focused on helping Ukraine, defendants' country and take back its sovereign territory.  Thank you.

Q:  Thanks, General.  Stepping away from any specific system, like the Patriots, but a system that involves usually a lot of training for U.S. personnel, what part or parts of the Pentagon say, “OK, how do we make this training abbreviated so we can get the Ukrainians to use it quicker?  Am I making myself…?”

GEN. RYDER:  Yeah, OK.  I think you're asking me to speculate.

Q:  No, no, no.  I'm asking, is there a specific group of folks here at the Pentagon who said, “We have to come up with ways that make training easier?”

GEN. RYDER:  So, broadly speaking, let's use HIMARS, for an example, or NASAMS, right?  So any of those systems as part of the process is going to entail taking a look at what it would require to train the Ukrainians, what it would require for them to sustain it, and then operate it right.  And so, so that's going to be built into any plan to provide equipment to the Ukrainians.  And so, in the case of HIMARS, providing them with, working with in this case, the Army, the U.S. Army, to look at what the training program would look like, and how we could facilitate that in the most effective, efficient way possible.

Q:  So, to make sure I'm understanding you correctly.  So, in the case of HIMARS, like you said, the Army, those folks with the, “OK, how can we look at the way to the training best suited for the needs to get it there quickly?”

GEN. RYDER:  Correct. 

Q:  Quicker?  OK.

GEN. RYDER:  OK.  All right.  No problem.  Let me go to the phones here and I'll come right -- yeah?

Q:  Just could you give us an idea about the scope of the training.  General, I mean, how many Ukrainians are being trained in Germany or elsewhere right now?  And how many U.S. soldiers or service members are involved in training the Ukrainians?

GEN. RYDER:  Jim, we can get those numbers for you.  I don't have them right here in front of me.  But U.S. European Command does have a number that they've provided in terms of “by-system” that we can get that to you. 

OK, let me get on the phone here.  Will Dunlop, AFP?

Q:  Hi, thank you.  So, without getting into specific systems, the U.S. and other countries have been working to bolster Ukraine's air defenses for a couple of months now.  Now where does that process stand?  And how close is Ukraine to having the required air defenses in place?  Thank you. 

GEN. RYDER:  Yeah, thanks, Will.  So, you know, from a U.S. standpoint, we've been providing Ukraine with air defense systems for a while now.  Again, I mentioned the NASAMS, we've provided Stingers, we've provided counter UAS capabilities.  And it's in -- it's not just the U.S., as you know, our allies and international partners have been doing the same.  And so, we continue to consult and advise our Ukrainian partners on how best to integrate their air defense systems.  In the meantime, again, as I mentioned earlier, we recognize that with the air threat that Russia poses to Ukraine, that air defense continues to be a priority topic of discussion when it comes to security assistance.  And so, we'll continue to look at ways that we can best support Ukraine to protect their population, and to protect their -- their broader infrastructure to be able to survive these attacks.  I will also say that we continue to see Ukraine employ to great effect the capabilities that they have, and without going into specific numbers, can say that, that they have been able to successfully intercept, in many cases destroy, Russian missile and drone strikes.  But all that said, we've all seen the images on television, and social media of those missiles and drones that did get through and so we know that more continues to need to be done.  Thank you. 

All right.  Let me go to Heather, USNI.

Q:  Great.  Going back to the vaccines that we were discussing last week, COVID-19.  Now that the House has passed the NDAA and it looks likely that the Senate will too, has there been any preparation for what will happen once the -- a vaccine mandate is no longer allowed to be in effect?

GEN. RYDER:  Yeah.  Thanks, Heather.  So, as -- as mentioned, again, we're not going to comment on potential or pending legislation.  You've heard us be very clear that the Secretary still supports maintaining the mandate.  And we'll just leave it at that.  Thank you. 

Alright, let me go back to the room.  Yeah?

Q:  Thank you so much, General Ryder.  A question on oversight.  A GAO report came out this week that said quite a bit of further actions are needed to implement predictive maintenance to sustain weapon systems.  This comes nearly two decades after DoD first mentioned predictive maintenance as a priority.  And the report itself calls for more sustained focus from leadership.  And so, I was wondering, is that a concern that has reached you and OSD?  And where does predictive maintenance stand as technological priority in your view for the military coming in the next year?

GEN. RYDER:  Yep.  Thanks very much for the question.  I've not seen the report, but we can certainly take that question and come back to you.  Thank you. 

Let me go to Courtney.

Q:  Did, does the U.S. military have any role in the detention or moving the Lockerbie suspect?

GEN. RYDER:  Yeah, thanks, Courtney, appreciate it.  So, as it relates to the Lockerbie suspect, I'd refer you to the Department of Justice.  I just don't have anything to provide from here on that.

Q:  But I'm asking specifically about a U.S. military role now that he's here.  I don't know if there would be any operational security.  So, I mean, was he used on U.S. -- was he moved on a U.S. military plane?  Was there any role?

GEN. RYDER:  Yeah.  And again, I, I'm not going to have any information to provide from here.  So, I'd refer you to the DOJ since it was their operation to bring him back.  And really, they're the ones to talk to the various aspects of how they did that.  And yeah, just leave it at that.  Thank you. 

GEN. RYDER:  Tony?

Q:  About Patriots one more time.  Maybe this is a suicide mission, but are Patriots to Ukraine under active consideration by the administration?  I think a senior defense official said a few weeks ago, but just bound, that is it under active consideration.  You just can't talk about the status of the review.

GEN. RYDER:  Yeah, thanks, Tony.  So, again, don't have anything to announce.  As a matter of policy, we're not going to preview or discuss potential or speculate on any security assistance prior to any type of announcements.  So, or discuss whether or not it may or may not be under consideration.  We continuously look at a wide range of capabilities.  And when and if we have something to announce, we'll be sure to do that. 

Q:  Now, I need to ask you an NDAA question.  And not -- not a dollar question.  But buried in there is a section that criticizes the Pentagon's ubiquitous, sustained and overwhelming use of the Controlled Unclassified Information label.  It talks about the uneven application of CUI.  And they're concerned about the extent and efficacy of training, oversight and guidance provided to DoD officials who put the stamp on everything but coffee cups.  You've been here a long time.  Is that label being overused, and does the Senate, do the Senate and House legislators have a point, that it's time to review and issue some guidance and when to use this label?

GEN. RYDER:  Yep, thanks.  So, again, given the fact that this is pending legislation, I really don't want to get into that.  I will say that we have policies and procedures in place when it comes to the classification of information throughout the Department.  So right now, I don't have any announcements to make in terms of changes to those policies.  But certainly, if and when we do, we'll be sure to let you know.

Q:  It's not pending.  Both the House and the Senate have approved and this president -- president hasn't signed it yet. 

GEN. RYDER:  So, that's pending legislation. 

Q:  Well, come on.  You're briefing CUI, too.  I mean is -- is this thing overused from your professional experience?  You've been here awhile and you've seen the markings change left and right.

GEN. RYDER:  Yeah, thanks, Tony.  My response is CUI.  Sorry. 

Let me go to the back of the room here.

Q:  (INAUDIBLE) Broadcasting Corporation.  Yesterday, Australia signed a legally binding security pact with Vanuatu.  Was America involved at all with those discussions?  And what's your overall view of the importance of that in security arrangements in the Pacific?

GEN. RYDER:  I appreciate the question.  I don't have any insight into that.  We can certainly take that question and come back to you.  Thank you. 


Q:  Thank you, General.  Does Secretary Austin directly approach U.S. concerns about Chinese involvement in Africa during his meeting with the African leaders?  And how much that could hurt U.S. military relations with these countries?  Thank you.

GEN. RYDER:  Yep.  Thanks very much.  So, well -- we'll certainly be sure to provide a readout of the -- the discussions today.  We do continue to communicate with our partners that engaging in certain types of activities with the PRC may have some negative ramifications on their relationships with us.  So, for example, you've heard various leaders talk about the challenges associated with Huawei telecommunications basing issues.  So, that will be an item of continued discussion, I'm sure.  But beyond that, I don't have any additional details. 

OK, let me go back out to the phone here real quick.  Carla Babb, VOA?

Q:  Hey, thank you so much for doing this.  Pat.  I have a question on Belarus.  There’s reports coming out of military convoys moving in the direction of the Ukrainian border in Belarus.  Is the Pentagon concerned about a possible escalation of war or a reinvasion from the North?

GEN. RYDER:  Yeah, thanks, Carla.  So, we -- we obviously continue to keep a close eye on the situation in the region to include activities in Belarus.  I don't want to get into specific intelligence, but I will say that it's our assessment right now that we do not see any type of impending cross-border activity by Belarus at this time. 

Let me go to Tara and then I'm gonna go back to the phone.

Q:  And if this one has to be taken, it's OK.  Can you give us a breakdown of the cost of the Patriot missile defense system and how much one of the missile interceptors costs?

GEN. RYDER:  We can get back to you with whatever we have that's publicly available and not CUI on that.

Q:  In general, where its performance, how it would fit in with the NASAMS, and all the air defense systems that you've provided.  How it would work with others?

GEN. RYDER:  OK.  Yeah, we can, I mean, so broadly speaking, you know, just any -- any type of integrated air defense system is going to look at the various capabilities based on the various threats and the ideas that they would work together with the command and control function to be able to -- to address those.  But understand the intent of your question, and we'll take that back and come back with whatever we --

Q:  Action and in terms of area of coverage like what the area of protection the Patriot gives versus NASAMS versus…

GEN. RYDER:  Absolutely, yeah, let me let me come back to you on that one.  OK.  I'll come right back to you Janne. 

Let me go to the phone here.  Lara Seligman, Politico?

Q:  Hi, Pat.  Thanks for doing this.  Just to go back to the Patriot question for a minute.  We've heard from senior DoD officials that Patriot is one of the systems the U.S. is considering going to Ukraine.  So, without confirming whether this announcement is imminent, can you talk about whether the Department is considering moving existing Patriot systems or new contracts, and contracting for new systems with the manufacturer?  Thank you.

GEN. RYDER:  Yeah, thanks, Lara.  Again, and with great respect and apologies to all of you, I don't mean to sound like a broken record here.  But again, I'm not going to, I don't have anything to announce.  And I'm not going to talk about or speculate on things that may or may not be under consideration.  And as always, when and if there's something to announce, we'll be sure to -- to do that.  Thank you.  All right. 

Let me go back here.  Yes, ma'am?

Q:  Thank you.  Japan is expected to announce its new national security strategies.  And the draft of national security strategy states that Japan and the U.S. will work together regarding Japan's new counter-strike capability that strikes enemy missile bases.  And my question is, how has the U.S. coordinated with Japan so far on Japan's position of counter-strike capability?  And how will the U.S. proceed such discussions with Japan following the release of Japan's NSS?

GEN. RYDER:  Sure.  Well, we've always been very clear that the United States broadly supports efforts of our allies and our partners to include Japan, in bolstering their self-defense capabilities.  But, as it relates to Japan's defense strategy or any capabilities that they make, or doctrine that they may be seeking to implement.  I'd refer you to the Government of Japan for that.  Thank you.  All right.  Let me do one more from the phone here. 

Gordon Lubold, the Wall Street Journal.

Q:  Thanks.  My question has been asked and not answered a few times.  So, I think I'll yield my time.  Thanks.

GEN. RYDER:  All right.  OK.  Thank you very much, ladies and gentlemen.  Appreciate it. 

Luis and then Janne.

Q:  Two -- two parter.  First, do you have an update on how many missiles it’s believed that Russia has fired.  You know, precision guided missiles, missiles Russia has fired into Ukraine?  We used to get those, that kind of information before.  Just wondering if you see anything that came up that provides an update.

GEN. RYDER:  Yeah, I don't have any specifics to provide on numbers.

Q:  Back on November 29 , I'm going to quote you here, you said regarding discussion of Patriots you said "Right now, we have no plans to provide Patriot batteries to Ukraine.  But again, we'll have to continue to have those discussions."  When you were talking about those discussions, were you referring internally, or were you referring to discussions with Ukraine?  And does your statement from November still hold, that right now we have no plans to provide Patriots to Ukraine?

GEN. RYDER:  Yeah.  So, again, Luis, I don't have anything to announce.  And if you look at the -- the duration of this campaign, and the -- the way that the United States has worked with our allies and partners to provide security assistance to Ukraine through mechanisms like the defense contact group, there is an ongoing discussion to continuously look at Ukraine's security assistance needs.  And as those needs evolve, based on the situation on the ground, and based on the threat, we continue to have those internal conversations not only within the U.S. Department of Defense, but with the broader international community.  And one of the things that I can, that I would say that we've been very consistent about is, as requirements have developed, and as we've worked with Ukraine, trying to rapidly get those capabilities to the battlefield.  You saw about a month ago, a little over a month ago, when Russia started massively bombarding Ukraine from the air, we were able to very quickly work with our allies and partners to get air defense capabilities there to include NASAMS, and we've got six more on the way.  So, you know, right now, again, I don't have anything to announce.  But we're going to continue to adapt, we're going to tend to continue to stay flexible, and we're going to continue to work with Ukraine to ensure they're getting what they need.  So, just leave it at that. 


Q:  Thank you.  I just -- thank you, sir.  I just followed on my previous questions.  China has warned South Korea not to join the U.S. missile defense system.  How can you comment on this (INAUDIBLE)?  What would you happen if South Korea did not participate in the U.S. missile defense?

GEN. RYDER:  Again, Janne, I apologize.  I just don't want to talk about hypotheticals.  Again, the Republic of Korea continues to be a close ally.  We'll continue to work alongside them shoulder to shoulder to defend not only South Korea, but also the broader Indo-Pacific region.  Thank you. 

Thank you, ladies and gentlemen.