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Pentagon Press Secretary Air Force Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder Holds a Press Briefing

BRIGADIER GENERAL PAT RYDER: Well, good afternoon, everyone. I have quite a few things to cover at the top here, so I appreciate your patience in advance. And then we'll get right to your questions. 

So first of all, we are aware of the press reports regarding a potential suspect in the Department of Justice's ongoing investigation into unauthorized disclosures of documents appearing to emanate from throughout the intelligence community. 

Because this is an ongoing criminal investigation, I will have to refer you to the DOJ for any questions. This is a law enforcement matter, and it would be inappropriate for me or any other DOD official to comment at this time. And certainly, when we have more to provide from the Department of Defense we will. 

In the meantime, as Secretary Austin has stated, the department is taking the issue of this unauthorized disclosure very seriously. We continue to work around the clock along with the interagency and the intelligence community to better understand the scope, scale and impact of these leaks. 

And just as we're limited in what we can say about the DOJ's ongoing investigation, we'll be also very limited in what we can say about any of the documents themselves. And while we certainly understand the media's interest in asking questions about the contents of these documents, I will highlight that as a matter of longstanding policy, just because classified information may be posted online or elsewhere does not mean it has been declassified by a classification authority. 

And those of you who have been covering the Pentagon for a long time know that we're just not going to discuss or confirm classified information due to the potential impact on national security as well as the safety and security of our personnel and those of our allies and our partners. 

And for that reason, we will continue to encourage those of you who are reporting this story to take these latter factors into account. And to consider the potential consequences of posting potentially sensitive documents or information online or elsewhere. 

Separately, Secretary Austin hosted Latvia's Minister of Defense Ināra Mūrniece today at the Pentagon. The leaders discussed the strength of the U.S.-Latvia defense relationship and ongoing efforts to support Ukraine. They also discussed shared security interests in Europe, including NATO's deterrence and defense posture ahead of the July NATO Summit in Vilnius. A readout will be available later today. 

Staying on Europe for a moment, next week Secretary Austin will travel to Sweden to meet with his counterpart to discuss security-related topics shared by our two nations. From there he'll travel to Germany, where he and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Milley, will host an in-person meeting on April 21, at -- of the Ukraine Defense Contact Group at Ramstein Air Base. 

This will be the 11th meeting of the UDCG since this vital form was established by Secretary Austin one year ago. 

The secretary and General Milley will join ministers of defense and senior military officials from nearly 50 nations around the world to discuss the ongoing crisis in Ukraine and to continue our close coordination on providing the Ukrainian people with the means necessary to protect themselves against Russia's unprovoked and illegal aggression. 

And as we've highlighted before, the contact group has been instrumental in identifying, synchronizing and ensuring delivery of the military capabilities that Ukrainians need to defend their homeland. 

And on a semi-related note, at the end of this month, the Arkansas Army National Guard's 39th Infantry Brigade Combat Team will replace the New York Army National Guard’s 27th Infantry Brigade Combat Team and assume command of the Joint Multinational Training Group-Ukraine at Grafenwoehr Training Area in Germany. 

The 27th Infantry Brigade Combat Team took charge of the JMTGU during a transfer authority ceremony in August of 2022, becoming the first and only unit in the JMTGU's eight-year history to assume the unit mission for a second time. And we look forward to the arrival of the 39th and the continuation of the important work to provide Ukraine what it needs in terms of training to defend itself.

And with that, I'll be happy to go to your questions. We'll go ahead and start with A.P., Tara Copp.

Q: Thank you, General Ryder. So can you confirm that Airman First Class Jack Teixeira, a member of the Massachusetts Air National Guard, is a person of interest in this leaked document's case? And then I have several other questions.

GEN. RYDER: Sure. So first of all, as I mentioned, there is an ongoing criminal investigation, and so anything related to that, I'm going to need to refer you to the DOJ or the FBI.

Q: Can you speak at all to if anyone in the Department of Defense has reached out to this airman? Do you know where he is? There are reports that law enforcement is closing on this airman's location. So has anyone been able to reach out to him?

GEN. RYDER: Again, Tara, appreciate the question, but again, given that this is an ongoing investigation, I'm not going to be able to talk about the investigation or any potential DOJ actions, so I'd refer you to them. 

Q: OK. In the days after the leaks came to light, what steps has DOD taken to reduce the number of people who have access to not only these classified briefings, but the classified material in general?

GEN. RYDER: So we continue to review a variety of factors, as it relates to safeguarding classified materials. This includes examining and updating distribution lists, assessing how and where intelligence products are shared and a variety of other steps. 

I would say, though, that it is -- it is important to understand that we do have stringent guidelines in place for safeguarding classified and sensitive information. This was a deliberate criminal act, a violation of those guidelines. And so again, I think that's important to understand.

Now, we will continue to do everything we can to ensure that people who have a need to know when it comes to this kind information have access to that. We're always going to learn from every situation. But again, this is something that we'll continue to look at.

Q: But you are taking steps to tighten that, I guess, population who might have access to this level of information?

GEN. RYDER: That’s accurate. Again, we continue to review those distribution lists, update them, make sure there's a need to know. But again, let me just emphasize my point that this was a -- you know, we have rules in place. Each of us signs a nondisclosure agreement, anybody that has a security clearance. And so all indications are, again, this was a criminal act, a willful violation of those, and again, another reason why we're continuing to investigate and support DOJ's investigation.

Q: And just last Q: Do you have a sense that this is just the act of one individual? And even if so, wouldn't members of his chain of command also be held accountable for this lost information?

GEN. RYDER: Again, I don't want to speculate or get ahead of the DOJ's investigation. We need to allow that to run its course, and so I'd refer you to them. 

Let me go ahead and go to Gordon, and then I'll come back to Jen.

Q: Yeah, Pat, just two questions. One, just to clarify, in DOD's efforts to change the way you do business in terms of protecting classified information, apart from the stuff that you do already, is that DOD-led, or is that Joint Staff-led? Who's kind of directing what on that?

And then second question is just hypothetically -- I know you like hypotheticals -- if somebody was to be charged, what would determine whether the military would charge and indict and, you know, carry out the legal process against that person or people or DOJ?

GEN. RYDER: Yeah, so on your latter question, you're right. I don't want to get into hypotheticals. I will say that, you know, as always, every case is judged on its own merits, and we need to allow this investigation to run its course, and then, of course, there'll be more to say on that.

On your first question, again, it's important to understand that this is not just about DOD; this is about the U.S. government. This is about how we protect and safeguard classified information, and as I highlighted, we do have strict protocols in place. So anytime there is an incident, anytime there's an opportunity to review that and refine it, and of course, going to take advantage of that.

Within the Department of Defense, as you've heard us say, Secretary Austin has been convening daily meetings with his senior leaders, to include the chairman, to talk about reviewing the scope and the impact of this, and also to look at mitigation measures and what we need to do across the Department of Defense to ensure that we're doing our utmost to reinforce existing policies, procedures and rules, and if there are any areas where we need to tighten things up, we certainly will. 

Q: And you've made some changes already?

GEN. RYDER: That's correct, as I mentioned to Tara.

Q: By DOD, not Joint Staff?

GEN. RYDER: When I say DOD, I mean the Department of Defense, across the entire enterprise. OK?


Q: General Ryder, you say that there are strict protocols in place, and yet, a 21-year-old airman was able to access some of the nation's top secrets. How did this happen? And isn't this a massive security breach?

GEN. RYDER: Again, we need to allow the investigation to run its course. We'll, of course, know more when that is completed, so I'd refer you to DOJ on that.

Q: What is your message to anyone who might be thinking of leaking these kind of documents in the future?

GEN. RYDER: Look, again, we have procedures. We have protocols in place. We receive regular training on the proper handling of classified information. As I mentioned, we sign nondisclosure agreements. So those rules are very clear, and anyone who has a security clearance knows that. Anyone who violates those rules is doing so willfully.

Q: Can you put into context the damage that has been done by this leak?

GEN. RYDER: Again, right now, we're continuing to assess the scope and the impact, and so that's work that will be ongoing.


Q: How large was the distribution network for these documents, say, prior to last Thursday, when the disclosures came out? Are we talking thousands of people had access inside the Pentagon and outside the Pentagon, to include Europe and bases around the United States?

GEN. RYDER: Yeah, Tony, so I don't have any numbers to provide you as I'm sure you can appreciate. The Department of Defense and all of our components, it's a global enterprise doing work in all areas of the world. And so certainly, we have people who have access to information that they need to do their jobs, but I don't have any numbers for you.

Q: Can you say it was widespread, though, versus, you know, outside the Pentagon, though, and to other military installations?

GEN. RYDER: Well, again, the Department of Defense, we conduct global operations, so intelligence products, operational information products are shared with DOD leaders and personnel globally throughout the world, whether it's at a component command, whether it's in the services. But again, the important thing to understand about classified information -- it's not just "I want to have access to it because I have a clearance". It's all based on need to know. Do you have a need to know that information? And that typically will grant you access if you have the appropriate clearances.

Q: Thanks.

GEN. RYDER: Thank you.


Q: Thanks, Pat. I'm still confused on the access issue. You said that there were changes that were made, but you also said that you're reviewing things. Can you tell us, are there less people who have access to this type of information today than there were a week ago?

GEN. RYDER: So Travis, again, I'm not going to get down to numbers. Again, reviewing distribution lists, looking at who has a need to know, making sure those things are updated, doing due diligence in the wake of these unauthorized disclosures. Again though, I want to emphasize that this was a deliberate criminal act to violate those guidelines and rules, in the same way that if you locked your front door and somebody came into your house and took something, you followed your procedures and you locked your door, but somebody went in your house and took something and put it out on the street, that's what we're talking about here. 

Let me go to Carla.

Q: Just a couple questions on this and then I a follow on something separate. Why did it take so long to brief the secretary about the leaks? He said that he was briefed on April 6. And would you classify that delay as a failure of the open-source intelligence teams?

GEN. RYDER: Absolutely not. We were notified, you know, the department became aware on the 5th. The secretary was briefed hours later, on the morning of the 6th. I don't consider that a delay. 

Thanks. Yes. 

Q: But to follow on that, these documents were available long before April 5 and 6. So, what took so long for DOD and the intelligence communities to locate these documents?

GEN. RYDER: Yes, so that's really something that the investigation will tell us. That said, I think it's important to remember that DOD's intelligence activities are primarily focused internationally. So, to the extent that the department collects any information related to U.S. persons, for example, or gaming chatrooms, it would have to be conducted in accordance with the law and policy and in a manner that protects privacy and civil liberties. 

So again, we'll know more at the culmination of this investigation. Thank you. Let me go -

Q: Would you be able to follow up on -

GEN. RYDER: No. Let me -

Q: Just the Syria, really quickly -

GEN. RYDER: All right.

Q: -- really quickly, on the Syria attacks from March, do we have a final conclusion on the TBI assessments? How many U.S. troops received TBIs as a result of these attacks? And do you believe that the U.S. strikes that happened on 3/23, the retaliatory strikes, do you believe that they've deterred Iranian-backed groups from targeting U.S. forces? 

GEN. RYDER: Yes, so on the TBI, my understanding is CENTCOM has collected some additional information. So, we'll get that to you and the press team here. In terms of deterrence, again, we're going to continue to do everything that we need to do at a time and place of our choosing, to ensure that we're deterring and safeguarding our folks. And I'll just leave it at that. Thank you. 

Let me go to Dave.

Q: Can you just tell us what the mission of the 102nd Intelligence Wing for the Massachusetts International Guard was? And are you going to release this airman's service record in response to, I'm sure, the thousands of requests you've already gotten?

GEN. RYDER: Yes. So, David, on the service record, again, we'll take that, and we'll provide an update when we're able to. In terms of the 102nd Intelligence Wing, I don't have that in front of me. I am positive they have a website we can quickly find the fact sheet up there. In general, intelligence wings throughout the Air Force support as what you might imagine, Air Force intelligence requirements worldwide to support a variety of types of intelligence missions and requirements. So, which include active guard and reserve components. 

So, let me go to Brandy and then I'll come to Oren. 

Q: Thank you so much, General Ryder. What technologies is the Pentagon applying right now to both spot leaked documents online and track potential indicators of leaking-type practices? Do you plan to be investing in more?

GEN. RYDER: Again, Brandy, so when it comes to this particular situation we'll know more when the investigation is concluded. As I highlighted, when it comes to intelligence collection with the Department of Defense, that's focused primarily internationally. I'm not going to get into the specifics of where, how and when we conduct our intelligence activities. But we're always looking at potential gaps, potential vulnerabilities and that's something that will be just ongoing work. 

Q: You are using technologies right now to spot potential leakers of future documents?

GEN. RYDER: You're asking me a hypothetical basically. Again, we're always going to 
be on the lookout for any potential insider threats. Again, we get training on how to spot insider threats. But again, as I mentioned to Travis, you've locked your door, you've lent some keys to your friends. If one of those friends decides to give the keys away, you know, hopefully, you've been able to clue in on those signals. So, we'll continue to monitor it. 

Q: And I don't think it's lost on anyone in this room that this is all happening at the same time that Deputy Secretary Hicks is conducting a review of the Pentagon's classification practices, and at times, overclassification. So, can you talk about how this incident is informing that ongoing review? 

GEN. RYDER: Again, I think that there is the investigation that the DOJ is conducting. And then you're talking about something separately which is, again, our review of classification requirements, acknowledging that where we need to be better in terms of classification, and so. 

Q: But it's having no impact on Hick's review?

GEN. RYDER: Thank you. I'm going to go on to Oren now. 

Q: I want to come back to the question of distribution -- on two different questions. Given the gravity of the situation are you actively paring down the distribution list now? Is this a process that's moving quickly? Or is it going to take time for there to be meaningful, substantive changes to the distribution?

And then, is DOD or has DOD taken additional measures to restrict the access to classified information of others in the Massachusetts International Guard? 

GEN. RYDER: So, Oren, broadly speaking I think I've already answered the question that, yes, we are taking and have taken steps to review distribution lists and to ensure that the folks receiving information have a need-to-know. But again, to belabor the point, we have safeguards in place, we have processes, we have procedures. We'll continue to do due diligence as part of this review to ensure that we're doing everything we can to prevent potential unauthorized disclosures in the future, recognizing that, again, this was a criminal deliberate act. Thank you. 

Q: And at the Massachusetts Air National Guard…

GEN. RYDER: Again, I don't have anything on that. 

Q: Thank you very much, General. So, please let me ask you a question about China, two questions about China --

GEN. RYDER: Wait? What?


Q: -- briefly. 

GEN. RYDER: Read the room, Ryo. Come on. 

Q: Yes. Yes. The China conducted a three-day exercises around Taiwan and still continue the combat training around Taiwan. So, do you assess China has overreacted to the meeting between President Tsai and Speaker McCarthy?

GEN. RYDER: Yes. Thanks, Ryo. So, we, obviously, continue to monitor the situation in the Taiwan Strait very closely as well as the PRC's military exercises. You've heard others say that, from a U.S. government perspective, these military exercises undermine peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait, which is critical to global prosperity. You know, they estimate, you know, upwards of a few trillion dollars of global commerce going through that strait regularly. 

And so, as we've said, there is no reason for Beijing to turn President Tsai's transit, which was consistent with longstanding U.S. policy into something that it’s not or use it as a pretext to overreact. 

And so, we'll continue to do everything we can to maintain open channels of communication with the PRC. And we will not be deterred, the U.S. will not be deterred from operating safely and responsibly in the seas and the skies in the Western Pacific consistent with international law. 

Q: Just one quick follow-up. The Chinese military exercises accumulated the brocade of Taiwan. Are you confident that the U.S. military is capable of breaking Chinese brocade around Taiwan?

GEN. RYDER: Well again, I'm not going to get into hypotheticals and I'm not going to talk about, you know, or speculate on future scenarios. Again, we're going to work closely with our allies and our partners in the region to focus on our primary goal, which is peace, stability and security in the region. And so, that will continue to be our primary focus.

OK, let me go back over to here, Will and then Laura.

Q: Thank you. What is the scope of the leak, as identified by DOD so far? Are we talking tens, hundreds, thousands of documents? And then second, the U.S. has been reviewing the authenticity of the documents for several days now. What has been found so far on that?

GEN. RYDER: Yes, thanks. So, that work is ongoing, Will. I'm not going to be able to provide you with an overall number of documents. We're just going to continue to look at this. As you highlight, you know, some of the initial indications were that some of those documents had been altered. Again, for obvious reasons, I'm not going to go into which ones were or weren't. But that is work that we continue to do and take a look at. 


Q: Thank you. Sort of as a follow on to Carla and Brandy's questions, can you say whether DOD has anyone looking at chatrooms on Discord, for example, or other social media chatrooms right now for leaked information? And if not, should DOD have these people? 

GEN. RYDER: So, DOJ is, as I understand it, is working with Discord or Discord has come out publicly to say they are cooperating with the DOJ. So, that's really a question for DOJ to tell -

Q: So, is that a no, that DOD has -

GEN. RYDER: I think I already answered the question, in terms of what our focus is on. It's primarily focused on international. I'm not going to get into the specifics of what intelligence activities we're conducting or not, other than to say when we do conduct those activities they're in compliance with the law and with policy. 

OK, let me go to Jim and then I'll come back over here. 

Q: Thanks, General. You know, every time something like this happens there's a huge tendency to clamp down on everything. But that sort of ends up throwing the baby out with the bathwater if you know what I mean. Is there any sort of idea in the department that the intel does need to be shared, it just needs to go to the correct people. Is there a sturdy going on with that?

GEN. RYDER: Yes. So, thanks, Jim. So, as I mentioned, there have been daily meetings with the secretary and the senior DOD leadership team. We're taking this very seriously to look, again, that the scope, the impact and, importantly, the mitigation measures. I will tell you that these discussions are very focused, very deliberate and very measured in terms of ensuring that we're doing the right things while not impeding or impacting our ability to do our important missions worldwide. 

And so, you know, just to put it frankly, we're continuing to conduct our operations and provide people with the information they need without missing a beat. 

Thanks. All right, let me come over here. I'll go here and then here. 

Q: Yes, thanks, Pat. Tell me, would a junior servicemember like an airman in the Massachusetts Guard or any other junior servicemember typically have the level of security clearances that would allow them access to such sensitive information like joint staff briefing documents?

GEN. RYDER: Yes. So, again, let me just preface what I'm about to tell you with, I'm not going to talk about a particular individual. I'm not going to talk about the investigation. I'm not going to, again, have to refer you to DOJ for that.

Let's take a step back for a second. Let's talk about security clearances. When you join the military, depending on your position, you may require a security clearance, and if you are working in the intelligence community and you require a security clearance, you're going to go through the proper vetting.

We entrust our members with a lot of responsibility at a very early age. Think about a young combat, you know, platoon sergeant and the responsibility and trust that we put into those individuals to lead troops into combat. That’s just one example across the board. So you receive training and you will receive an understanding of the rules and requirements that come along with those responsibilities, and you're expected to abide by those rules, regulations and responsibility. It's called military discipline. And in certain cases, especially when it comes to sensitive information, it also is about the law. So I'll just leave it at that.


Q: Thank you very much. So separate topic: Last week, CENTCOM confirmed that three U.S. servicemembers were with YPG/SDF ringleader Mazloum Abdi when he was apparently targeting an airstrike in -- so northern Iraq, Sulaymaniyah. My question is, what was the mission or engagements that U.S. servicemembers involved alongside Mazloum Abdi in Sulaymaniyah? And also, were this engagements authorized or permitted by the Iraqi central government or not?

GEN. RYDER: Yeah, so let me tell you what I've got on this, Kasim. So on April 7, convoy, including U.S. personnel, was fired upon while in transit within the Iraqi Kurdistan region in the area near Sulaymaniyah. U.S. forces are in Iraq and Syria, as you know, in support of local partner forces, in support of the Defeat ISIS mission, the enduring defeat of ISIS. And so in this particular incident, we can confirm that there were no casualties; that the strike was not a near-miss. It struck more than 100 meters from the convoy, and CENTCOM is currently investigating the incident, so I'd refer you to CENTCOM.

Q: Is there -- what was the mission of the U.S. servicemembers? And was it somehow allowed or authorized?

GEN. RYDER: They are conducting in support of the Defeat ISIS mission.

Q: Was it authorized by Iraqi government? Because Mazloum is...

GEN. RYDER: Well, we're supporting the Iraqi Security Forces as part of the Defeat ISIS mission. As you know, we have forces in Iraq. They're not conducting combat operations. They're there advising and assisting the Iraqis. And then we have forces in Syria that are supporting the SDF. So again, there's an intra-theater mission in terms of the Defeat ISIS mission.

Q: So like Mazloum Abdi is in Syria. You are cooperating with him…

GEN. RYDER: Well, the OIR headquarters is in Iraq, right? But they conduct operations in support of Defeat ISIS mission in Syria and Iraq. 

So let me go ahead. Yes, sir?

Q: If I may, I'd like to remain on the same subject. Actually, I've got one question about this. I posed the same question to the State Department on Monday, and I was referred to the Department of Defense, so that's why. The question is, when the U.S. servicemen, U.S. military members are riding with the head of the SDF, isn't there concern within the Department of Defense that those U.S. servicemen are also made a legitimate target, not least one of your greatest NATO allies, because of this decades-long relationship with the PKK that I think -- I'm sure is very much known to the U.S. intelligence community?

GEN. RYDER: So, no. We’ve partnered with the SDF since, you know, 2015, 2014, as part of the Defeat ISIS Mission. We have a longstanding relationship with them. They are not the PKK. We are partnered with SDF to defeat ISIS. So, no, we've been conducting partnered operations for a very long time. So, let me go ahead and move on. Yes, sir? 

Yes, we'll go to you and then to Meghann.

Q:  Thanks, Pat. Just two quick follow-ups to questions. One was from Ryo, in regards to the Chinese activities around Taiwan. Before they did the military exercises they were conducting and exercise that which the Pentagon described as, well they were in international waters it's simply what we do in international waters. At what point does it move being in international waters to an overreaction? That's my first question, please. 

And my second one is, regards to what you said earlier in this briefing, even though the investigation's going on and such, but you're confident that -- but you said several times that this a violation of the law. And as we all sign non-disclosure agreements, not me but we, it depending on, so you're confident that those two factors will remain when the investigation concludes?

GEN. RYDER: Yes, so on your latter questions, again, I'm not going to discuss the ongoing investigation, by virtue of the fact that photographed documents of sensitive information are posted by default is a violation of, you know, how to properly handle and safeguard sensitive information. So, it is a criminal act. 

And then in terms of your first question, I would just have to take a little bit of an exception of conducting simulated strikes against Taiwan is not just -

Q: (Inaudible).

GEN. RYDER: -- that's not just operating peacefully in international waters. And so, again, yes we would call that an overreaction. Yes. OK, let me get a few more here. Let me go back to Kelly and then over here to Joe.

Q: Thank you. You mentioned taking steps to review the distribution list and ensure that folks receiving information have a need-to-know. But this isn't the first time you've had that kind of crackdown on this to limit who's on these distribution lists. So, my question is, how did this happen? How wasn't this solved before? And how did, potentially, a 21-year-old have a need-to-know?

GEN. RYDER: Again, we need to allow the investigation time to run its course. And so, again, I'd defer you to the Department of Justice when it comes to suspects, you know, on that. And again, look, this is something that we -- that will continue to be important work to ensure that there's, you know, an understanding of the rules and regulations. Again, we have strict safeguards in place and people are expected to abide by those. We'll just leave it at that. 

Let me go over here. 

Q: Thanks, General. A quick one on the Syria strike. So, just to clarify, there has been no attribution to was behind that attack with the (inaudible)? 

GEN. RYDER: Again, my understanding is it's continued -- CENTCOM is investigating, so I'd refer you to them. 

Q: Then secondly, yesterday Reuters cited several sources, including intel officials, as saying that they've seen Iranian weapons being moved into Syria following the -- following certain sanctions waivers, following the earthquake. Has DOD seen any Iran -- any increase or uptick in Iranian weapons heading for Syria?

GEN. RYDER: Yes, thanks. I don't have anything to provide from here other than, again, we, you know, as evidenced by the IRGC-aligned groups in Syria, we know that Iran conducts malign activities within Syria.

So, I've got time for two more. Meghann and then go to the back there. And then we'll end on Tara. 

Q: Several media reports have said that the airman in question was working at Fort Bragg at the time that the documents were put online. Was he on Title 10 orders at the time or has he been on Title 10 orders since?

GEN. RYDER: Yes, thanks, Meghann. Again, I don't have anything to provide on that front. I have to refer you to DOJ. When we have more to provide we certainly will. 

Q: All right, a follow-up. Has the leak prompted any discussion at OSD about either tightening policies or bulking up training for OPSEC or social media?

GEN. RYDER: Again, our review is ongoing. I've mentioned some of the steps that we've taken. And we're going to do everything that we need to do, to do due diligence to ensure that we are properly safeguarding classified information. 

Again, I can't emphasize enough, that this is something that Secretary Austin and the entire department are taking very, very seriously. We understand the impact that an unauthorized disclosure like this can have on national security. And so, again, it's something that we'll continue to work very hard on. 

Thank you. We'll go here and then over to Tara.

Q: Thank you, General. This morning the Prime Minister of Poland gave remarks that were very supportive of Ukraine's ambition -- stated ambition to join both the EU and NATO Alliance. From a strictly military perspective, would you see any benefit to Ukraine joining these two organizations? And especially for the wider defensive posture there in the area? 

GEN. RYDER: Yes, thanks.

Q: In the Baltic states?

GEN. RYDER: So that's not really something for me to comment on. Obviously, I'd refer you to Ukraine to talk about its perspectives on joining NATO and the EU. And I'll just leave it at that. 


Q: The Associated Press has confirmed that federal agents have taken a Massachusetts International Guardsman into custody. At this point, could you speak a little bit more about this case?

GEN. RYDER: I cannot. I'd, again, refer you to DOJ. It's an ongoing DOJ investigation and activity. So, I'd refer you to them. And again, I will say, when we do have more to provide we certainly will.

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