An official website of the United States Government 
Here's how you know

Official websites use .gov

.gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.

Secure .gov websites use HTTPS

A lock ( lock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

Pentagon Press Secretary Air Force Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder Holds an On-Camera Press Briefing

BRIGADIER GENERAL PAT RYDER:  All right, good afternoon, everyone.  Thanks very much for your patience.  Just a few things here and -- and we'll get right to your questions.

So earlier today, Secretary Austin spoke by phone with Turkish Minister of National Defense Yasar Guler to discuss Turkish activity in proximity to U.S. forces in Syria.  The secretary reaffirmed that the United States remains in Syria exclusively in support of the campaign to defeat ISIS.

The secretary also acknowledged Türkiye's legitimate security concerns and underscored the importance of close coordination between the United States and Türkiye to prevent any risks to U.S. forces or the global coalition's Defeat ISIS mission.

Separate but related, the Department of Defense also condemns the recent terrorist attack at the Turkish Interior Ministry and we wish those injured a speedy recovery.  We will post a readout of the call later today on the DOD website.

Separately, Secretary Austin also spoke with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg today to review priorities for next week's NATO's Defense Ministerial in Brussels scheduled for Oct. 11 through 12.  The two leaders discussed a range of transatlantic security issues focused on implementing Vilnius Summit deterrence and defense deliverables, as well as ongoing NATO operations in the Balkans and Iraq.  A full readout of the call is available on

And looking ahead to next week, Secretary Austin and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Brown will depart Washington on Tuesday for Brussels, Belgium, where they'll host an in-person meeting of the Ukraine Defense Contact Group on Oct. 11.

This will be the 16th meeting of the UDCG since Secretary Austin formed the international coalition in April 2022.  And following the Contact Group meetings, Secretary Austin will subsequently participate in the NATO Defense Ministerial at NATO headquarters.

And with that, I'll be happy to take your questions.  We'll start with AP, Tara Copp.

Q:  ... General Ryder.  You said the secretary spoke to his Turkish counterpart about the shoot down of the Turkish drone.  How concerned was the secretary that these troops were put at risk and that despite multiple attempts to I guess deconflict and get U.S. troops out of danger, it still had to come to this?

GEN. RYDER:  Yes, so first -- first of all, just a -- a little context up front.  You know, Turkey is one of our strongest and most valued NATO allies, and that -- that partnership continues and will continue.  So this is certainly a regrettable incident.

At approximately 7:30 local time in Syria today, our -- our forces had observed UAVs conducting airstrikes in the vicinity of Hasakah, Syria.  Some of those strikes were inside a declared U.S. restricted operating zone, our -- or ROZ, near Hasakah, and were approximately a kilometer away from U.S. forces who relocated to bunkers.

At approximately 11:30 local time, a Turkish UAV re-entered the ROZ on a heading toward where U.S. forces were located.  U.S. commanders assessed that the UAV, which was now less than half a kilometer from U.S. forces, to be a potential threat, and U.S. F-16 fighters subsequently shot down the UAV in self-defense at approximately 11:40 local time.

It's important to point out that no U.S. forces were injured during the incident.  We have no indication that -- that the -- that Turkey was intentionally targeting U.S. forces.  And as I mentioned, the secretary did talk to his Turkish counterpart and reaffirmed our commitment to continue to closely coordinate.

Q:  How striking is it that the -- I mean, Turkey's a NATO ally.  And is this the first time that you can recall that a NATO ally has had to shoot down the aircraft of another NATO partner?

GEN. RYDER:  Yes, I think, again, it's a regrettable incident but U.S. commanders on the ground did assess that there was a potential threat, and so they took prudent action in this scenario.  But again, the secretary has talked to his counterpart.  They had the opportunity to have a fruitful conversation and again commit to one another that the U.S. and Turkey will continue to closely communicate and coordinate.

And -- and as I mentioned, Turkey does remain a very important and valuable NATO ally and partner to the United States.

Let me go to Courtney.

Q:  Did the -- in the -- on the phone call, did the -- did the Turks vow not to do this again, not to fly their drones over U.S. -- or -- or you said they were dropping ordnance from the UAVs within a kilometer...

GEN. RYDER:  I said they were observed conducting airstrikes.

Q:  Airstrikes, and -- and including one that came with -- about a kilometer away from U.S. troops?

GEN. RYDER:  They were conducting airstrikes inside a declared U.S. restricted operating zone near Hasakah.

Q:  ... did -- on the -- in the -- this phone call, did they agree not to do that anymore, or is that ...

GEN. RYDER:  Well, I won't speak for the Turkish minister. I would say that the bottom line is it was a very productive discussion on both sides, and again, a commitment that -- that we would continue to closely coordinate to prevent putting U.S. forces at risk. A reaffirmation of the strong partnership that our two countries share and also an acknowledgement that, again, we will keep lines of communication open, particularly given that region of the world and the focus on the Defeat ISIS mission.

Q:  Can you say a little bit about how the U.S. communicated with the Turks before and told them that if -- that they would shoot the drone down?

GEN. RYDER:  Yes. So I don't want to get into the specifics other than to say that we have multiple channels of communication at multiple levels. As you know, U.S. forces as part of the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS, have been operating in that area for a while. And of course being on the border of Turkey and having U.S. forces stationed in Turkey, we have multiple ways to communicate with our -- with our Turkish allies.

Q:  But can you say about at what level it escalated to before the shoot down? I mean did it get as high as, you know, the commander of Central Command or something like that?  Like how high up did it go?

GEN. RYDER:  It -- it went to a high enough level within the operational chain of command. I'll just leave it at that.

Yes, Matt.

Q:  Thanks, Pat. So to be clear, the concern here was that that drone, you said, reentered, got within a half kilometer that it might have launched an air to ground missile so close to U.S. forces that it could have endangered their lives?

GEN. RYDER:  Again, based on the observation of air strikes being conducted and the fact that this drone was, you know, upwards of nearly half a kilometer from U.S. forces, U.S. commanders made the determination that it was a self-defense threat and so appropriate action was taken.

Q:  So how concerning is it that, as my colleague said, would -- a NATO ally puts the U.S. in a position to take self-defense actions, either through negligence or -- or otherwise.

GEN. RYDER:  Well look again, this is a regrettable incident and -- and Secretary Austin has spoken with the Minister of Defense in Turkey and -- and again, we will communicate at all levels. And so we will stay focused on the Defeat ISIS mission in Syria. That's why we're there in the first place. And so that will continue to remain our focus.

Q:  Thank you.

GEN. RYDER: Thank you. Sir?

Q:  Thank you very much, General. First question, was the United States or the chain of command really thinking that the Turkish UAVs were going to strike American bases there? Is that why this strike was done? You know learning the Turkish drone was shut down because all rules of engagement have changed. That's why this incident took place?

GEN. RYDER:  Yes. Well, again, as I -- as I laid out, based on the situation on the ground and based on the observation, the decision was made out of due diligence and the inherent right of self-defense to take appropriate action to protect U.S. forces.

As I said, you know, based on the discussions with the Turkish defense minister and post shoot down analysis, we have no initial indications that -- that Turkey -- Turkey was intentionally targeting U.S. forces.

Again, it was a regrettable incident and we will continue to keep those lines of communication open to hopefully prevent these types of incidents from happening again.

Q:  Just one last question please.

GEN. RYDER:  Sure.

Q:  So you told CNN (inaudible) just last night that the United States stands firmly by Turkey and it's people and their legitimate fight against the PKK. And according to our NATO ally, they're doing exactly that in Northern and Eastern Syria.

So this difference of opinion in the terminology – PKK, YPG, SDF – how are you looking to resolve that all -- are these two NATO allies going to be treating each other?

GEN. RYDER:  Yes, thanks Eunice. Well, let me just reiterate what I provided to you yesterday. And you're right. As I've said in my opening comments, we do stand firmly with our NATO ally, Türkey and the Turkish people in their fight against the PKK.

And the PKK has been designated as a foreign terrorist organization by the United States. So we condemn any act of terrorism against Turkiye and the people of Turkey and we recognize that the PKK poses a legitimate security threat.

When it comes to Northern Syria, we do remain concerned about the potential impacts of military escalation in that region in so much as it effects the civilian population and importantly as it effects our ability to maintain focus on rooting out ISIS.

And so the coalition and the United States remain very, very focused on rooting out the last elements of ISIS in this region. And so the potential for escalation, military escalation in that region can serve to become a distraction on this critical work, create instability in the region and it's been a hard -- you know we've talked about this before.

It's been a hard fought battle to prevent ISIS from resurging. And so that is what we are going to continue to stay focused on. We're going to continue to advocate for de-escalation in the maintenance of cease fires. But we will never question Turkey's legitimate right to protect its people from terrorist. Thank you very much. Sir?

Q:  Sir, do you have the -- at first you said -- you mentioned that there's no indication that the Turkish UAVs were targeting U.S. forces. Do you have an indication of what they may have been targeting in the area? And then a follow-up.

GEN. RYDER:  I would refer you to Turkey to talk about their operations.

Q:  OK. Do you have a sense of whether this was a Turkish military drone or perhaps from another agency?

GEN. RYDER:  Yes, I'd refer you to Turkey to talk about their operations and their equipment. Yes, ma'am?

Q:  Thank you. Turkey says that terrorists who are planning suicide or (inaudible) Syria, that they warned third parties, which always (inaudible) U.S., to await PKK, YPG (inaudible). I'm just following up my colleagues question, actually. What kind of facilities have been in those U.S. restricted areas? YPG (inaudible) or U.S.?

GEN. RYDER:  Yes, I'm not sure I fully understand what you're asking but in terms of U.S. presence in Northeast Syria, I mean if you've been following this since 2014 at the height of ISIS, the United States has maintained a presence in this ungoverned space working very closely with our vetted local partners in the region, the Syrian Democratic Forces.

And so that as part of a global coalition to defeat ISIS is what we continue to stay focused on. But as I mentioned to your colleague, Eunice, when it comes to the PKK we recognize and -- and have declared the PKK a foreign terrorist organization and, again, fully understand Turkey's legitimate right to defend itself.

Yes, let me move on. Chris.

Q:  Thanks, Pat. To clarify something, you said there are multiple levels of communications with the Turks. Did the U.S. make repeated requests regarding this incident that the drone leave that area and warn that if it did not or if it encroached again, action would be taken against it? And did Turkey acknowledge those requests before this action was taken?

GEN. RYDER:  Yes, thanks, Chris. I'm not going to go into the specifics other than to say yes, we have -- we did communicate with Turkey. You know our -- our inherit right to self-defense in the face of a potential threat. But again, in this particular case, you know, it's a regrettable incident. No U.S. forces were harmed. We took appropriate action based on the situation on the ground. Thank you.


Q:  Thank you, General. Just I'm still confused in trying to understand what really happened because you say it's regrettable and so I'm not sure what part is regrettable.

GEN. RYDER:  Well, it's regrettable when you have two NATO allies and there's an incident like this. So -- so again, you know the secretary was able to have a phone call with his counterpart this morning and -- and talk about the situation. Again, no U.S. forces were harmed but because of the proximity of the drone to U.S. forces in Hasakah and based on the observations that this was an armed drone that had been conducting strikes, we took appropriate due diligence.

Q:  And you said you -- you -- that the initial indication, there's no intention on the Turkish side to target U.S. forces.  However, how did you assess that -- or the commanders on the ground assessed there was a threat to U.S. forces that -- and they deemed it necessary to take actions to protect U.S. forces?

GEN. RYDER:  Right.  Well, at -- at the time, you don't know what you don't know.  You're making observations and you have to take quick action to again ensure the inherent right of self-defense.  What I'm telling you is subsequently, as we look at this and as we've had those conversations, you know, the initial indications are that there was no ...

Q:  ... and then this -- and the phone call was that -- secretary able to get any guarantees from the Turkish side that these operations would not happen again in these restricted areas or (inaudible)...

GEN. RYDER:  Yes, again, without speaking for the -- the Turkish Defense Minister, the -- the tone of the conversation was, again, an understanding that we are two close NATO allies, that we will keep the lines of communication, that we don't want to put our forces -- each other's forces in harm's way, but also again emphasizing the importance of the Defeat ISIS mission.  And that was a sentiment expressed on both sides.  Thank you.


Q:  Thank you very much, General.  I have two questions.  I have a question regarding reports suggesting that cooperation between the Iraqis central government and Kurdistan forces Peshmerga has been highly effective in countering and reducing ISIS activities.  Could you please provide your comment on this matter ...

GEN. RYDER:  Sure.  Yes, I'll -- I'll -- I'll provide a broad perspective, and -- and I would also encourage you to talk to CJTF-OIR, which is squarely focused on supporting Iraq in the Defeat ISIS mission.

But largely speaking, as you know, I think that -- that one of the -- the key aspects of success in the Defeat ISIS mission has been the -- the collaboration between the ISF and Peshmerga forces in -- in northern Iraq, by working together against a common enemy, which is ISIS.

And so certainly, you know, that is something that I think has benefitted not only Iraq but the region.  Thank you.

Q:  Another question, General?  You announced yesterday that you had transferred Iranian weapons bound for the Houthis in Yemen to Ukraine.  So three part questions.

GEN. RYDER:  Oh.  Can we only do two?


Q:  If Iran continuing to send arms to the Houthis, is it your policy to seize such weapons when you can, and when appropriated, transfer them to your allies?

GEN. RYDER:  Yes, so I'm -- I'm not going to speculate about the, you know, potential future operations.  Certainly in the past, we have seen Iran attempting to deliver weapons and aid to -- to groups like the Houthis.  And in the past, in violation of, you know, multiple international laws, those -- those assets have been seized.

Whether or not we will replicate this, you know, remains to be seen.  Certainly, when -- when we did this, we did it under legal authorities.  In this particular case, the U.S. filed a forfeiture complaint over ammunition received -- or seized by the U.S. Navy from a flag-less vessel that had been transiting the Arabian Sea from Iran in early of December 2022.

And so this forfeiture action is a product of the U.S. government's coordinated effort to enforce U.S. sanctions against the IRGC and the Iranian regime.  And it -- on July 20th of 2023, a final order of forfeiture was issued by U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, and the Department of Justice put out a press release which provides additional information on this forfeiture complaint.  So thank you very much.


Q:  Thank you, sir.  Two questions.  One, as far as the U.S.-India relations are concerned, India made a history recently at the G20, hosting leaders from around the globe.  And President Biden was very clear about U.S.-India relations there.  And last week here, Indian Foreign Minister was in the building, Mr. Jaishankar.

So where we do -- we stand as far as military-to-military relations now after G20?  And also if there are any secretaries visiting India or Indian Defense Minister coming here?

GEN. RYDER:  Yes, thanks very much for the question.  I don't have any announcements to make right now regarding a -- potential visits, other than to say that, as you know, we very much appreciate our relationship with India on -- on a defense level.  We continue to foster a stronger defense partnership with India, and that is something that I think you'll continue to see us do going forward.

Q:  What I'm saying is that Prime Minister Modi also spoke as far as U.S.-India military-to-military relations and going beyond G20 and our relations because of China’s rising in the region and threatening many nations in the region.  So where do we stand as far as China's threat to the nations around that region?

GEN. RYDER:  Well, I -- you know, we've been very clear on this, right?  China remains the pacing challenge for the Department of Defense, and we do appreciate the partnership that we have with India and other countries in the Indo-Pacific region, when it comes to preserving individual nations' sovereignty and abiding by the international -- international rules-based order that has preserved peace and stability for -- for many years.

OK, let me go ahead and move on.  Let me -- Yes, let me go -- Ryo, yes, sir.

Q:  Thank you.  I want to ask you about the secretary's meeting with the Japanese Defense Minister yesterday.  The Japanese Defense Minister said in the meeting that Japan intends to acquire Tomahawk cruise missiles by 2025, one year earlier than originally scheduled.  Does the secretary guarantee that the U.S. will provide Tomahawk missiles to Japan by 2025 in the meeting?

GEN. RYDER:  Yes, thanks, Ryo.  So as a matter of policy, we are unable to comment on or confirm potential arms sales or transfers before they're formally notified to Congress.  So at this time, in -- in regards to their requests, I'd have to refer you to the government of Japan.

I would say that we've been very clear that we broadly support efforts by our allies to -- bolt -- bolster their self-defense.  Thank you very much.

And time for one more.  Yes, sir?

Q:  A couple of questions on Ukraine funding.  You weren’t around last week when a lot of this happened, but will the ...

GEN. RYDER:  I was in Africa.

Q:  ... you were in Africa ...


GEN. RYDER:  And it does rain there evidently, so.

Q:  Good.  That's why you're so cheery.  OK.  If the ATACMS decision -- if and when the president makes it, will it be affected by the lack of '24 -- FY24 Ukraine funding?

GEN. RYDER:  So on ATACMS, I don't have anything to announce or -- or pass along on that front.  So Yes.

Q:  Well, I'm not asking you to make a decision -- announce a decision, but given the funding issues, do you think, at '24 funding -- if the president makes a decision, do you have enough -- do you have money and authority to pull the ATACMS from Army inventories ...


Q:  ... to defend Ukraine?

GEN. RYDER:  So -- so what I would say, Tony, is I'm not going to get into the potential impact on specific systems or capability, as it relates to Ukraine security assistance.  I -- you know, my -- my colleague Sabrina mentioned earlier this week that we do have enough PDA authority and funding in -- in the short-term to last a bit longer and that we will continue -- you'll continue to see us announcing PDAs on the regular cadence for the foreseeable future.

Certainly, as we move forward, we will need funding from Congress.  We'll continue to stay engaged with Congress on both sides of the aisle to advocate for the funding that we need.  But as it pertains to specific systems or capabilities, I'm just not, you know, giving -

Q:  (Inaudible) anything.  He's got about $5 billion of authority to pull from U.S. inventories.

GEN. RYDER:  That's correct.  We have a little more than $5 billion, I think $5.4 billion in restored PDA authority that remains available for Ukraine.  We have about $1.6 billion remaining for replenishment purposes.

Q:  That -- that's the differences what you're sure at the moment.  What's the latest thinking on a reprogramming request?  You know, one of the -- that arcane budgeting tool that you have available.

GEN. RYDER:  Sure.  So, as you know, reprogramming is always an option for urgent needs.  At this time, right now though, to my knowledge, no decision has been made on using reprogramming as a way to support Ukraine security assistance.

You know, we remain committed to working with Congress on the Ukraine supplemental and receiving a full budget. Thank you.  Thank you very much.

Q:  …can I (inaudible)?

GEN. RYDER:  Actually, I'll just do two more.  Tom, since you -- you caught my attention.  Let me go to Mike and then come to you.  Yes?

Q:  If you could talk about the impact, the Russia's decision to move the Black Sea fleet out of Crimea is going to have on the fight -- is going to have on the fight in Ukraine?

GEN. RYDER:  Yes, thanks Mike.  What I would tell you is I've seen the press reporting that.  I just don't have anything to pass along on it.  I can't corroborate those reports at this time. So, thank you.

Q:  Yes.

GEN. RYDER:  And, well that would -- all right, because you waved nicely, we’ll do two more.  We'll go Tom and then the final question.

Q:  Thank you.  A follow-up on Tony’s (inaudible).  I think Sabrina mentioned on Tuesday that part of the decision making on what kind of the -- how the remaining money will be spent, will be based on what the comptroller also said, we have X amount of dollars we could spend it this way.  So, is that part of the mix as well?  Like you have a certain amount, the 5.4, we could spend X, Y or Z and the comptroller will tell you how long it will last?

GEN. RYDER:  Well, yes, so it's a great point, right?  Because I know the question's come out, well, how long is that going to last?  And the reason that you're not going to hear us put a date on it, is because it's all relative to what Ukraine's most urgent security assistance needs are, the situation on the battlefield.  And so, you know, we will continue to tailor those PDA packages based on what they need on the ground.

So again, we have enough funding to last for a bit longer.  You know, from a Department of Defense standpoint and you'll see this next week at the UDCG, Secretary Austin remains singularly focused on making sure that we're working with Ukraine and our allies and partners to get what they need to be successful on the battlefield, regardless of what's going on like, you know, outside.

Yes, ma'am?

Q:  Sorry, another Black Sea question.  So, I know you can't say if the ships were moved.  But what effect will this have on the grain deal or the ability for Ukraine to export its grain, if those ships are moved further down in Crimea?

GEN. RYDER:  Yes, so I hesitate to get into a speculative situation, certainly with Russia withdrawing from the grain deal.  You know, we've talked about the fact that this significantly impacts not only people in the region but people around the world.

You know, we were just in Africa and this was a topic of discussion in terms of the impact of countries like Russia that are using food as a weapon to essentially negatively impact peoples around the world.

So, while I don't have any information on a potential Russian Navy movement, again, that's really something for them to talk about.  I would say, largely speaking, you know, it's just very unfortunate that we see a country like Russia using food -- weaponizing food.

Thank you very much, everybody.  Appreciate it.