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Deputy Pentagon Press Secretary Sabrina Singh Holds a Press Briefing

DEPUTY PRESS SECRETARY SABRINA SINGH: Hello everyone. Good afternoon. I have a few items to pass along at the top here -- I think I'm echoing a bit -- but I have a few items to pass off at the top here and then I'd be happy to take your questions.

So today, Secretary Austin departed on travel to Germany and Brussels, where he and Chairman Milley will host an in-person meeting of the Ukraine Defense Contact Group on June 15th, and then that will be followed by a NATO Defense Ministers Meeting on June 16th. Readouts from the meeting will be posted on throughout the week.

Also today, the Department announced additional security assistance to meet Ukraine's critical security and defense needs. This is the Biden administration's 40th presidential drawdown of equipment from DOD inventories of -- for Ukraine since August 2021.

It includes key capabilities to aid Ukraine's efforts to retake its sovereign territory as they bravely protect Ukraine's soldiers, civilians and critical infrastructure. The package includes artillery, anti-armor systems and ammunition valued up to $325 million, and additional details can also be found on

Also today, the Department announced the results of its Foreign Military Sales Tiger Team effort. The Tiger Team analyzed all phases of the FMS process, including -- which illuminated best practices for the Department to benchmark and identify systemic challenges in DOD's FMS ecosystems.

The team incorporated feedback from allies and partner nations and U.S. industry on ways to improve the efficiency of the FMS process. The team's recommendations cover six key FMS areas, to include improving the Department's understanding of ally and partner requirements, providing our allies and partner nations with the most relevant priority capabilities, and accelerating acquisition and contracting support for FMS.

Of note, as part of the Tiger Team's efforts, the Department plans to establish a dedicated Defense Security Cooperation Service on par with the Defense Attache Service, who will serve as the Department's key FMS link with our allies and partners around the globe.

Shifting gears just a bit, the Department launched the Value of Service spotlight webpage on This site highlights DOD's efforts in promoting the value of service to our nation and commemorating the 50th anniversary of the all-volunteer force. Since its inception 50 years ago, the all-volunteer force has empowered countless individuals to step forward and leave a positive impact on the world, both at home here and abroad.

Today, more than 3 million service members and DOD civilians serve all around the world to protect and defend the United States, its citizens, and its partners and allies. Through their unwavering commitment, volunteerism has become the cornerstone of stability within our communities, fostering cohesion and self-reliance.

And finally, Exercise Air Defender '23 kicked off in Germany yesterday, with more than 235 aircraft and more than 10,000 service members from 25 countries taking part in the largest readiness exercise of this summer and the largest Air Force deployment in NATO's history.

Led by the German Air Force, 110 Air National Guard aircraft from 35 different states make up the largest contingent in an exercise that will test command and control and provide logistics support to such a large, diverse armada of international aerial assets.

The exercise will take place June 12th through 23rd, primarily in Germany and with forward operating locations in Czech Republic, Estonia and Latvia. And for more information, I'd ask you to reach out to the Air National Guard Public Affairs for any additional questions.

And with that, I'd be happy to take your questions here. Tara?

Q: Thanks. A couple on Ukraine. First, can you say anything about Russia reporting that as many as 16 different types of armored vehicles the U.S. provided has -- have been destroyed in these early rounds of the counter-offensive?

And then secondly on the dam, what can you say now about the attack on the dam and whether it was indeed Russia?  And what can you share about what you know?

MS. SINGH: Sure. Thanks, Tara, for the question. So on the report that 16 vehicles were destroyed, I've seen the reports but I can't corroborate some of the video and imagery coming out of that. So we're going to continue to monitor that but I just wouldn't be able to confirm the reports that the -- at least what we're seeing from Russians of putting out those imagery.

In terms of the dam, we're continuing to assess who, if anyone, is responsible for destroying the dam. We don't have -- we just don't have anything additional right now to provide. I know that's something that the Ukrainians are continuing to look into.

It's -- we've seen this type of behavior before from Russians, of destroying critical infrastructure, but on this case, when it comes to the dam specifically, I just don't have more information at this moment.

Q: Okay. And then just a follow-up on the vehicles --

MS. SINGH: Sure.

Q: -- if those reports are true, does this line up with what the Pentagon was kind of planning for as far as losses?  And is there a plan in place to help backfill some of that for Ukraine?

MS. SINGH: Well, I think, here in this building, we were always going to assess that there was going to be damages and casualties of capabilities and systems that have been provided to the Ukrainians. I don't know that there's going to be a backfill of a -- like, one-to-one ratio, but as you're seeing today just with our announcement of our 40th presidential drawdown authority, you're seeing continued support go to Ukraine in their fight against the Russians to take back their sovereign territory.

Again, I don't think -- I don't know that it'd be a one-to-one ratio every time, but we are -- something that went into our calculations when we provided this equipment to the Ukrainians is that there could be battlefield losses and damages as the fight continues. And so this is just one of many packages that we've announced. You saw last week, we rolled out a USAI package, and on -- not tomorrow -- on Thursday, the Secretary and the Chairman will be meeting in person the -- hosting the Ukrainian Defense Contact Group where, again, that's another discussion for allies and partners to decide and to figure out and hear from the Ukrainians themselves of what else they need on the battlefield.


Q: So a follow-up to Tara's question on the Bradley’s and the Strykers being provided now. Certainly the timing certainly seems to line up. The counteroffensive begins, and suddenly you're providing armored vehicles again. Is that intentional that now that Ukraine will suffer and has suffered some losses on the battlefield, you are providing these to continue support for the offensive or are you saying that was coincident to the timing, lined up like that?

MS. SINGH: Well, I mean, we consider presidential drawdown packages a few weeks out. They don't -- they're not something that happens, you know, two or three days beforehand. Packages are something that we have to consider what we're pulling off of our shelves in order to give the Ukrainians, and how long that will take.

And so I wouldn't say that, you know, each package is timed directly for what you alluded to, but you know, as President  Zelenskyy said, they have -- they're continuing to engage in offensive operations. I'll let the Ukrainians speak to that. But in terms of this package, this is something that meets the priorities of the Ukrainians. Armor, artillery, air defense -- these are all priorities that they've laid out and something that will be continued to be discussed at the Contact Group on Thursday.

Great. Oh, Idrees, and then I'll --

Q: Just going back to last week, when there was a press conference and General Ryder was asked about reports about China setting up a spy base in Cuba, and he said, "We are not aware of China and Cuba developing any type of spy stations," and then was further asked, "Have you seen China set up any military base in Cuba?" He said, "Not that I'm aware of at this time." So was he not aware of what had happened in the Trump administration, or was it an attempt to mislead reporters?

MS. SINGH: It was certainly not an attempt to mislead reporters by any means, and General Ryder, I believe what he was referring to was the reporting that had come out that day, the Wall Street Journal story that had outlined the -- and I'm paraphrasing here, but the idea that China was setting up a type of base near Cuba, a new one.

As we've said from the podium many times, you've heard the Secretary say this many times, it's no secret that the PRC wants to set up further infrastructure in the Western hemisphere and to expand their capabilities. I mean, just recently, earlier this year, we were talking about a Chinese spy balloon. So it's not a secret that they want to expand their capabilities here, but I -- in no means was General Ryder trying to mislead in any way. He was directly referring to the Wall Street Journal report that had come out earlier that afternoon or morning.

Q: (inaudible) the question was, have you seen China set up any military bases in Cuba? And he said, "Not that I'm aware of at this time."  I'm just curious. Was it something that -- I guess what I'm getting at is, did the White House direct Pentagon to say what it said on June 8th?

MS. SINGH: No, I mean, we can -- we, of course, coordinated with the White House when we saw the report, and this is something that happens pretty naturally whenever there's reporting on very sensitive intelligence in a story. It's -- all the interagencies, they work together and coordinate on, you know, how best to approach it.

This was a -- this is very sensitive intelligence. You saw at the podium yesterday, John Kirby addressed this in great detail. At the time when the story broke, you know, the White House, us, we were able to provide what we could, and as we were able to declassify more information, we provided that.

Q: Last one. Why not just say, "We don't comment on intelligence," rather than saying, "No, we're not aware of any bases in Cuba"?

MS. SINGH: I think, again, what General Ryder was referring to on that was, I believe, the actual story itself, not just a blanket statement. I understand how when you read it back, it could look like that. But again, this was something that he was -- and I believe the question -- and I'd have to go back and check the transcript -- was about the reporting itself.

Yes, over here.

Q: Hi. Sam LaGrone with USNI News.


Q: So I'm following up on the House markup yesterday that calls for abolishing CAPE. Today, a group of Senators sent a letter to the Secretary of the Navy over this amphib issue of hitting the floor at 31 amphibious ships. And so what's coming back from Congress is, why is CAPE defying the statutory requirements set by Congress, I think. And Sullivan's been pretty public about it, but this is a bipartisan issue that, why is this organization, CAPE, calling into question the statutory requirement put by -- put out by Congress to the point where the HASC bill was calling for abolishing the office altogether?

MS. SINGH: So thank you for the question. I'm just not -- I have not done my due diligence on the statutory obligation, so I'm going to have to take that question and get back to you on that.

I'm going to try going to the phones, and then I'll come back into the room. Howard Altman, War Zone?

Q: Thanks, Sabrina. I want to get back to the issue of the Bradleys and the other battlefield vehicle and equipment losses. Is the Pentagon tracking those losses?  And can you tell me, is it part of the monitoring process, or is there some other way that the Pentagon has an idea of what's being lost in Ukraine in terms of, you know, what's lost on the battlefield?

MS. SINGH: Thanks, Howard. So we are in constant communication at all different levels with the Ukrainians, and of course, when it comes to presidential drawdown authorities and the packages that we put together, one of the things that we're doing is working with the Ukrainians to determine what they need to meet their requirements not just in the short term, but also long-term goals. So of course, one of the things that we would be discussing with the Ukrainians is loss of battlefield equipment, capabilities, anything not working, any systems not performing the way they should be. So there is a direct line of communication at all different levels here in this building with the Ukrainians.


MS. SINGH: I'm just going to take -- we have one last question on the phone, and then I'm going to come back in the room. Wafa, Al Hurra? 

Okay, Lara?

Q: Thank you. I just want to follow up on Idrees' question.

MS. SINGH: Sure.

Q: And I want to just read from the DOD's transcript --

MS. SINGH: Okay.

Q: -- what was said during the briefing. The question was, "Have you seen China set up any military base in Cuba, or is there any plan afoot we're seeing elsewhere in the region that they have?" General Ryder says, "None that I'm aware of at this time." So my question is, is it a concern that DOD, intentionally or not, did provide wrong information from this podium to reporters and to the public?  And what is being done to make sure that doesn't happen again?

MS. SINGH: So I would say that in terms of our relationship with the press, we certainly value this relationship. We believe in being transparent. We certainly believe in being able to provide you the information that we have when we can, if we can. And I think that doesn't just go for DOD. I think you heard the White House speak to that yesterday, as well.

You heard General Ryder say at the time -- I sorry, I'm  paraphrasing here -- but I believe, when he was -- and I know from speaking with him what he was referring to was the report itself, the Wall Street Journal story. I don't think there was any intention by any means to mislead from this podium or from this building.

And again, we work really, really hard to try and provide you with the information that we can. And of course, if we get something wrong, we will certainly correct that, and I think you've seen me do that with you and other reporters here. We make mistakes, absolutely, but we will certainly take accountability for that.

And I know that what General Ryder was, again, referring to and was speaking to was the actual Wall Street Journal story that came out that morning -- or afternoon.

Q: So did he give wrong information or did he not do that?

MS. SINGH: Well, I think you saw -- on the story? I don't think he was giving the wrong information. I think you saw the White House speak to that yesterday. I think there are points that were -- what's the right word -- being conflated within the story that were further clarified, that you saw at the podium yesterday at the White House, and I will just leave it at that.

Okay, great. Ryo?

Q: Thank you. I want to ask you about the PDA for. A month ago, the Secretary said the new security assistance package will come soon. So is there anything that has this new package on hold for now?

MS. SINGH: So again, I don't have any specific announcements to make today. You've heard the Secretary say that the U.S. will be providing significant additional security assistance to Taiwan and it will be through a presidential drawdown authority.

But in terms of an announcement, that's just not something that I have today, but our commitment to Taiwan of course has not wavered. This is part of our longstanding commitment under the Taiwan Relations Act.


MS. SINGH: Sure.

Q: Secretary Blinken is traveling to Beijing soon, reportedly. So does the content or timing of this package could change depending on the result of Secretary Blinken's trip to Beijing?

MS. SINGH: No, our timing is when -- we're ready to announce. I don't have any updates unfortunately today but when -- if I do, I will certainly let you know. Great.


Q: Thanks. Liam Cosgrove with The Gray Zone. So a former DOD contract negotiator, Shay Assad, came out, spoke with 60 Minutes, and has accused arms manufacturers, as well as the government, of price gouging for Ukraine war-related purchases, with -- pointing out specifically that Lockheed and Boeing are reaching margins as high as 40 percent. He pointed to one electrical switch that allegedly cost $10,000 when the market rate was about $325.

So how would you respond to these negotiations? These were from last month. And, you know, is it possible certain groups are taking advantage of the humanitarian crisis over there in Ukraine?

MS. SINGH: I would certainly hope that people do not take advantage of the war that is happening in Ukraine and the war that Russia started when it invaded its sovereign neighbor. We do everything that we can in this building to account not only for taxpayer dollars and authorities given to us by Congress, which we are very grateful for, but we intend to use those funds diligently, and you're seeing that in Ukraine. You're seeing us continuing our end use monitoring and working with the Ukrainians to make sure that we're keeping track of equipment on the battlefield, and that's flowing into the country. Okay --

Q: Are you aware of those specific allegations, the 40 percent margins or the --

MS. SINGH: I'm not aware. I have not seen this interview that you're referring to. I'm sorry.

Anyone else?  Yeah?

Q: Sabrina, are you able to offer any more details on the injuries in the Syrian helicopter crash at CENTCOM? I think CENTCOM reported something to the tune of 22 folks injured. Can you give any more details on the nature of those injuries?

MS. SINGH: So on June 11th, as you're aware, CENTCOM did put out a statement that, in northeastern Syria, there was a crash that injuries -- I believe -- there were 22 service members that were injured. They are receiving treatment for their injuries, and 10 have been evacuated out of the CENTCOM AOR.

In terms of further details, I can tell you that this was an MH-47 Chinook that had a problem with one rotor that caused a hard landing during takeoff. Again, this is under investigation, so we will hopefully learn more soon, but as of right now, all of the service members involved in that crash are in stable condition.

Q: Okay. And can you commit to giving us an update on their situation when you can?

MS. SINGH: Yeah, I can do that, no problem, and I will make a note.

Okay, we can wrap that up if that's -- if no one else has any questions. Okay, great. Thanks, all.