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Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III Press Conference

STAFF: All right. Well, thank you, everyone, for being here today. It's my pleasure to welcome Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III to the Pentagon briefing room. The secretary will deliver opening remarks and then take your questions.

Please note that I will moderate those questions and call on journalists, so I'd ask that you raise your hand if you have a question, wait to be recognized, and I'll -- I'll call upon you.

With that, over to you, Mr. Secretary.


It's been a difficult few days for the Department of Defense. And the entire Department is united in our outrage and sorrow over the death of three U.S. service members on Sunday in Jordan.

We all mourn the loss of three Army Reserve soldiers serving at Tower 22: Sergeant William J. Rivers, age 46; Sergeant Kennedy L. Saunders, age 24; and Sergeant Breonna A. Moffett, age 23.

Our thoughts and prayers are with their families and their loved ones. And we know that this grief will never leave them. We hope that they know that the Department's love and support will never leave them either.

We're also praying for the other American troops who were wounded.

Now, our teammates were killed when a one-way attack drone struck their living quarters. And we continue to gather the facts about this deadly attack.

Our fallen soldiers had a vital mission: to support Operation Inherent Resolve and to work with our partners to ensure the lasting defeat of ISIS. They risked their lives -- and lost their lives -- to keep their fellow Americans safe from global terrorism.

The President will not tolerate attacks on American troops, and neither will I.

Our teammates were killed by radical militias backed by Iran and operating inside Syria and Iraq. In the aftermath of the vile Hamas terrorist assault on Israel on October 7th, terrorist groups backed by Iran and funded by Iran have tried to create even more turmoil, including the Houthis attacking commercial shipping in the Red Sea.

So this is a dangerous moment in the Middle East. We will continue to work to avoid a wider conflict in the region, but we will take all necessary actions to defend the United States, our interests, and our people. And we will respond when we choose, where we choose, and how we choose.

Now, that's what everyone here is focused on, but in my first week back in the Pentagon, I did want to address my recent hospital stay and some of the issues around it.

I'm recovering well, but as you can see, I'm still recovering -- still having some leg pain and doing physical therapy and -- to get past it. I'm deeply grateful to my doctors and the nursing staff at Walter Reed, and I very much appreciate all of the good wishes.

But I want to be crystal clear. We did not handle this right, and I did not handle this right. I should have told the President about my cancer diagnosis. I should have also told my team and the American public. And I take full responsibility. I apologize to my teammates and to the American people.

Now, I want to make it very clear that there were no gaps in authorities and no risks to the Department's command and control. At every moment, either I or the Deputy Secretary was in full charge. And we've already put in place some new procedures to make sure that any lapses in notification don't happen.

In the future, if the Deputy Secretary needs to temporarily assume the office -- the duties of my office, she and several White House offices will be immediately notified, including the White House Situation Room, and so will key officials across the Department. And the reason for that assumption of duties will be included in writing.

Now, I want you all to know that -- to know why this happened.

I was being treated for prostate cancer. The news shook me, and I know that it shakes so many others, especially in the Black community. It was a gut punch, and frankly, my first instinct was to keep it private. I don't think it's news that I'm a pretty private guy. I've never liked burdening others with my problems. It's just not my way.

But I've learned from this experience. Taking this kind of job means losing some of the privacy that most of us expect.

The American people have a right to know if their leaders are facing health challenges that might affect their ability to perform their duties, even temporarily. So a wider circle should have been notified, especially the President.

I'll take your questions today, but as you know, we've got an ongoing internal review, as well as a DOD Inspector General review that we fully support. So I may have to discuss some aspects later.

Now, let me back up a bit. As you know, on 22nd December, I had a minimally invasive procedure to cure me of my recently diagnosed prostate cancer. And then I hit some bad luck during what is usually a pretty easy recovery. On January 1st, I felt severe leg pain and -- and pain in the abdomen and hip. And that evening, an ambulance took me to Walter Reed. The doctors found that I had several issues that needed treatment, including a bladder infection and abdominal problems.

On January 2nd, I was also experiencing fever and chills and shallow breathing. The medical staff decided to transfer me to the critical-care unit for several days for closer monitoring and better team care by my doctors. And the Deputy Secretary assumed the functions and duties of my office, which happens when necessary. Her senior staff, my senior staff, and the Joint Staff were notified of this through our regular email notification procedures. And I never directed anyone to keep my January hospitalization from the White House.

On January 5th, I resumed my functions and duties as Secretary from the hospital. I was functioning -- functioning well mentally, but not so well physically. And so I stayed at Walter Reed for additional time, for additional treatment, including physical therapy for some lingering issues with my leg.

Now, I'm offering all of this as an explanation, and not an excuse. I am very proud of what we've achieved at the Department over the past three years, but we fell short on this one.

As a rule, I don't talk about conversations with my boss. But I can tell you I've apologized directly to President Biden, and I've told him that I'm deeply sorry for not letting him know immediately that I received a heavy diagnosis and was getting treatment. And he has responded with the grace and warm heart that anyone who knows President Biden would expect. And I'm grateful for his full confidence in me.

And finally, I also missed an opportunity to send a message on an important public health issue, and I'd like to fix that right now.

I was diagnosed with a highly treatable form of cancer, and a pretty common one. One in eight American men will get prostate cancer, and one in six Black men will get it.

And so I'm here with a clear message to other men, especially older men: Get screened. Get your regular checkups. Prostate cancer has a glass jaw. If your doctor can spot it, they can treat it and beat it. And the side effects that I experienced are highly, highly unusual.

So you can count on me to set a better example on this issue today, and for the rest of my life.

And again, I want to thank everyone for their well wishes and their great support.

And with that, I'll take your questions.

STAFF: Thank you, Mr. Secretary. First question will go to Associated Press, Lita.

Q: Thank you. Thank you, Mr. Secretary. You said that you never directed anyone to keep this from the White House. Did you direct your staff or others to keep it from the public and from other senior staff members? And if you did not, has anyone been disciplined for doing something that you did not tell them to do?

And then just quickly on Iraq and -- and Syria. What is your response to the K-H statement today that they are postponing or not doing any more attacks? Thank you.

SEC. AUSTIN: Good morning, Lita. The answer to your question on whether or not I directed my staff to conceal my hospitalization from anyone else, the answer is no.

In terms of my -- my response to K-H's statement, we always listen to what people are saying, but we watch what they do. And -- and again, actions are everything, so we'll see what happens in the future.

STAFF: Okay, next question will go to Fox, Jennifer.

Q: Sir, during that time that you were in the Intensive Care Unit, there was a air strike carried out, a drone strike against a -- an Iraqi leader of a militia. How is it that -- do you regret that the authorities were not clear at that point? And what can you explain about what was going through your mind at that time?

And then separately, there's been a lot of telegraphing about targeting and responding to the drone strike, so much so that the Iranian proxy leaders have left the country. Some are back in -- in Tehran. Has there been too much telegraphing, or is the point not to kill any Iranian commanders?

SEC. AUSTIN: Regarding the strike on the 8th, Jen, that strike was -- was planned and I -- I had made recommendations to the president on -- on -- on actions that we should carry out, and -- and president made a decision, and based upon that decision, authorities were pushed down to the Central Command commander. And as you know, a strike like that, you can't pick the precise time when that strike's going to take place. You want to minimize collateral damage. You want to make sure that you have everything right. And so the subordinate commander had the controls on that particular strike. So that -- I was very much involved in the -- in the -- in planning and the recommendations for that, and we knew that that would take place within a matter of days.

In terms of telegraphing about strikes and whether or not people leave or would have left, you know, I won't speculate on -- on any of that. I will just tell you that, you know, we will have a -- a multi-tiered response, and -- and again, we have the ability to -- to respond a number -- in a -- a number of times depending on what the situation is.

STAFF: Okay. Let's go to Reuters, Phil.

Q: What did your deputy know about your condition? And -- and when did she know it?

SEC. AUSTIN: You know, Phil, I -- I think in terms of what she knew and didn't know, I think we should probably let the -- that come out of the review. I think I won't -- I won't speculate on what she knew and did not know based upon what information was passed to -- to her. Again, I think the details of that will come out of one or both of those reviews.

STAFF: Okay. Gordon?

Q: Mr. Secretary, you said you didn't direct your staff to hide this truth or -- or lie, but did you create a culture of secrecy that then -- the staff kind of interpreted your -- your desires or your intentions when it came to getting sick?

SEC. AUSTIN: Yeah, I -- you know, I -- I -- I don't think I've created a culture of secrecy. I think there will be security officers, there will be other staff members who -- who may perceive that they're doing things in my best interest, and, you know, I can't -- I can't predict or -- or determine or ascertain what those things may be.

I just know what I said and -- and did not say. And of course, you know, I -- I have a great staff and -- and they always want to and tend to do the right things. But in terms of what one -- one may or may not have perceived at any one point in time, I won't speculate on that, so.

STAFF: Okay. Let's go to ABC.

Q: Hi, sir. Thank you for doing this, and I think on behalf of all of us here, we wish you a speedy recovery.

I'd like to ask you about the current situation in the Middle East. The -- the message has been deterrence, deterring the attacks by -- by the Houthis, deterring the attacks by the militias. Has deterrence failed? And as you are going to retaliate at a time and place of your choosing, is that not an escalation, particularly given all the rhetoric with Iran?

And a -- a question on your recovery, sir -- at any point, did you feel that you -- you're in a situation and it caused you to consider possibly resigning, given all of the political attention that -- that had developed as a result of it?

SEC. AUSTIN: In terms of resignation, the answer is no.

In terms of -- of escalation in the Middle East, you know, our -- our goal was to make sure that -- that we contain this crisis in -- in -- in Gaza and -- and that we prevented things from -- from spreading to a wider -- wider conflict.

Now, there's a lot of activity in the region but there's always been a lot of activity in the region. And -- and you know well that Iranian proxy groups have been attacking our troops even well before October 7th. And you can go -- we can go back and count the numbers of attacks before October 7th and -- and they're not insignificant.

There -- there are things that are ongoing now -- well, things that are not ongoing. You know, we -- we don't see a -- a conflict -- an all-out conflict between Israel and Lebanese Hezbollah. And so I think managing that I think is a -- a -- has been artfully done.

And -- and so, you know, we remain in contact with our Israeli counterparts and make sure that that doesn't blossom into a -- a -- a war at another front. We don't see Israel engaged in -- in a conflict with other countries in the region. We're not at war with -- with Iran. And yeah, the Houthis continue to do some things that are very irresponsible and illegal.

And -- and so our goal is to make sure that we take away -- we continue to take away capability from the Houthis to do what they've been doing. And this is not a -- this is not a U.S. issue, this is an international issue, you know?

We're going to either be serious about the freedom of navigation and -- or -- or we're not. And -- and -- and so as we look at partners like the UK and so many others that have joined us in this effort, this is about freedom of navigation. There are others in the world that are watching this to see how -- how serious we are about this, and we are serious. And again, our partners and allies are serious about it as well.

This is costing countries and companies significant amounts of money as -- as they had to redirect commercial traffic around. But the Houthis, I mean, their activity needs to come to a halt and we would call upon Iran to -- to quit -- or to cease supplying the Houthis with -- with these advanced conventional weapons that they've used to attack ships in the -- in the Red Sea and the Bab-al-Mandab.

STAFF: Okay, let's go to Helene.

Q: Sir, commiserations on your illness, and the -- and it's good to see you back on your feet.

SEC. AUSTIN: At least on one foot.

Q: On one foot. You said that you never directed your staff to keep the news of your hospitalization from the -- from anyone. Did any senior members of your family or your wife direct people to keep this a secret?

SEC. AUSTIN: To my knowledge, no members -- well, I don't know -- I don't know what anyone on my -- on my staff may have said but at that -- I think these things will come out in the -- in the review. And so rather than speculate, I -- I think we should -- we should let that -- the facts come out as the review is done, so.

Q: Can I ask you one more --

SEC. AUSTIN: Sure -- sure.

Q: -- question about you -- it -- it -- it -- you mentioned during your opening statement that this was an opportunity to talk about prostate cancer, especially to the black community. I wondered though do you have any regret that your silence on this reinforces a culture of secrecy among back -- black men about prostate cancer?

SEC. AUSTIN: Yeah -- and you mentioned that -- and it's probably not the -- an issue of secrecy as much as it's a issue of privacy. And this is -- this is a very -- cancer, period, is -- is very private and there may be cancer survivors amongst -- amongst us in this room right here -- and I know there is at least a couple -- there are at least a couple. But -- but you know how -- how private that -- that is and -- and you know what the initial diagnosis feels like.

And -- and so among the black community though, it's -- it's even more a -- a thing that -- that people want to -- want to keep private. And -- and again, it's more about privacy than secrecy. In my case, I should have informed my boss. I did not. That was a mistake. And -- and again, I apologized to him for not doing so.

STAFF: Let's go to NPR.

Q: Mr. Secretary, you went to the hospital on December 22nd. Was your staff aware that you'd gone to the hospital? And if so, why didn't they tell the White House? You went back to the hospital on January 1st and an aide told the dispatcher "when the ambulance arrives, no lights, no sirens." Did you direct the aide to say that?

SEC. AUSTIN: I asked my assistant to call the ambulance. I -- that did not direct him to do anything further than just call the ambulance. And so what he said and why he said it, I think that should come out in the -- in the review as well, so.

Q: What about December 22nd, when you went to the hospital the first time, was your staff aware? And if so, why didn't they tell the White House?

SEC. AUSTIN: When -- when I went to the hospital on December 22nd, it was -- I went in for that procedure. My duties were transferred to the deputy. That was planned. And -- and I decided to stay in the hospital overnight -- didn't have to. Decided to stay there overnight because of the anesthesia that was involved. And then, the next day, later in the afternoon, early evening, we transferred authorities back.


STAFF: Peter?

Q: Mr. Secretary, first of all, we wish you good health, and thank you for taking our questions. We hope you have a quick recovery.

I have two questions. I'll start with the first one, on your hospitalization. You were hospitalized for days before you informed the White House or the commander in chief of your condition. In your absence, anyone else within the military chain of command would have faced reprimand or even dismissal.

Why shouldn't that same standard apply to you, sir?

SEC. AUSTIN: Well, let me just say that -- thanks for the question -- that -- that we didn't get this right. And as I said, I take full responsibility for -- for the department's actions.

In terms of why, on the second notification was not made to the White House, that information was available. I'm not sure, at this point, what exactly happened. But I think details will -- will play out as a review is conducted.

Q: I'd like some follow-up about the situation overseas right now and deliberation in regards to strikes. There have been more than 160 strikes on American targets across the region, as you noted, since October.

Why has the U.S. waited until American service members were killed to escalate its response?

SEC. AUSTIN: Well, as you know, we've responded a number of times and taken out -- first of all, their attacks, many of them, most of them are going to be ineffective. Many -- and most of them, we're going to defend ourselves against.

And whenever we conduct a strike, we're going to hit at what we're aiming at. We're going to take away capability. We're going to -- we're going to do what we're desiring to do.

And so this particular attack was egregious, in that -- you know, the attack was on the sleeping area of one of -- of our base. And again, we have -- we've -- Kata'ib Hezbollah and other elements continue to attack our troops and -- and, again, I think, at this point, we should -- it's time to take away even more capability than we've taken in the past.

And in terms of the -- you use the term "escalation." We've not described what our -- what our response is going to be. But we look to hold the people that are responsible for this accountable. And we also look to make sure that we continue to take away capability from them as we go forward.

STAFF: Let's go -- let's go to the next question. Washington Post, Missy?

Q: Welcome back, Mr. Secretary.

What -- first of all, the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, one of the main oversight committees for this building, has asked if you will come testify on a specific date. Will you do that?

And, secondly, on the Middle East, what's your response to the criticism that the United States is, sort of, playing into the hands of the Houthis because the U.S. response is elevating their status; they've demonstrated their ability to withstand years of bombing in the past; and more broadly, playing into the hands of the Iranians that support the Houthis and the other groups, when the goal of President Biden and the United States has been to prevent increased violence in the Middle East, and now the United States is taking part in actually increasing it? Thanks.

SEC. AUSTIN: Missy, what was the first part of your question?

Q: Will you testify at Chairman Rogers' --

SEC. AUSTIN: Yeah, okay.

Yeah, so Congress had -- had some very relevant questions that they've asked us, and we will continue to -- to answer those questions. We'll continue to work with Chairman Rogers' office to -- to -- to address add- -- any additional questions or issues that he might have. And again, we'll stay in touch with Chairman Rogers' office as -- and -- and -- you know, as things play out, so --

Q: And sorry,about the Middle East.


Q: Are you planning to hand over the Houthis and Iran, more generally?

SEC. AUSTIN: Well, Missy, you know, if you take a look at what -- what the Houthis are doing, I mean, they're -- they're attacking commercial shipping. You know, initially, they said that they're attacking commercial shipping because these ships were supporting Israel. They've attacked the ships that -- that -- that are -- that have the interest of some-50 countries that are not supporting Israel.

And -- and so this is -- this is an international crime and -- and this is something that we have to do about. And I -- in terms of elevating the status of the Houthis, I think we have to do something about that. This is not elevating their status; this is about preventing them from having the ability to do what they've done in terms of attacking ships and trying to sink ships that have nothing to do with -- with -- with the Israeli conflict.

STAFF: Let's go to CBS, David.

Q: Mr. Secretary, we all saw a golf cart out in the hallway. Is -- is -- is that how you're getting around now? And how confident are you that your recovery is going be complete enough to allow you to continue in what everybody recognizes as a very demanding job?

SEC. AUSTIN: Yeah, well, nobody recognizes that more than me. But that's the first time I used that golf cart, by the way, and -- but I think it's pretty neat. My leg will continue to prove -- improve. The doctors are confident that it will. The -- my P.T. specialist, who I think is a sadist, is -- you know, he continues to work me hard and -- and -- and he has confidence, as well. It'll just take time because of the nature of the -- of the -- of the injury.

Q: Do you know how much time?

SEC. AUSTIN: No, they -- they can't put a number on the -- in terms of days or -- or -- or weeks, but -- but it'll be incremental improvement. I won't be ready for the Olympics, but -- but I'll -- I'll improve, so --

STAFF: Let's go to AFP.

Q: Thank you, Mr. Secretary. Does the U.S. need to escalate its military actions or do something new or unprecedented in order to deter Iran and its proxies? And -- and if so, how can that be done without -- or without sparking a broader conflict?

SEC. AUSTIN: I think everyone recognizes the -- the -- the challenge associated with making sure that we hold the right people accountable, that -- that we do everything necessary to protect our troops and that we manage things so that it -- they -- they don't escalate. I don't think there's any -- any set formula for doing this. I do think, though, that -- that in everything that we do as we work our way through our decision-making process with the National Security Council, we're -- we're -- we're managing all of that, looking at all of that and -- and we're using every instrument of national power to -- to address various issues.

So -- so I think -- I mean, there -- there are ways to -- to -- to manage this so it doesn't spiral out of control, and that's been our focus throughout, so --

STAFF: Let's go to Al Jazeera, Fadi.

Q: Thanks. Speedy recovery, Mr. Secretary.

I'm -- I have two things. In -- back in December in your speech at the Reagan Library, you told Israeli leaders they have to protect civilian lives in Gaza. Since that speech, 12,000 more Palestinians have been killed. We're now at 27,000 killed.

Why are you still supporting this war when this government that is the most extreme in the history of Israel, led by someone who refuses to recognize any political right for the Palestinians, and with elements that are calling for ethnic cleansing and displacement of Palestinians? Do Palestinians have the right to dignity, as you said in Angola when I was with you on the trip? You said the future belongs to those who protect dignity, not trample it.

SEC. AUSTIN: Yeah. I -- I said that in the speech at the Reagan Forum. I've said that to my counterpart, Minister Gallant, every time that I talk to him, and I talk to them every week. And I -- I emphasize the importance of protecting civilian lives. I also emphasize the importance of -- of providing humanitarian assistance to the Palestinians. It's critical. It's -- it's really important.

This is -- there's no question that this is a tough -- this has been a tough conflict but we're -- as I said earlier, we are starting to see the Israelis kind of shift their stance and -- and change their approach to a more focused and a controlled -- well, not -- "control's" probably not the right word, but a more focused effort focused on a discreet set of objectives.

And so I think, you know, we -- we talked to them about that weeks ago and they said they were going to do that, and they are doing that, but I will continue to emphasize -- and I know Secretary Blinken and President Biden will continue to emphasize the importance of addressing the issue of the Palestinian people. It -- it's critical. And, you know, we're doing more but -- but we're not doing enough, so.

STAFF: Time for a few more. Let's go to CNN.

Q: Secretary, allow me to join my colleagues in wishing you a speedy recovery. The 30 day review was due in a matter of days now, I think less than a week, if I'm not mistaken. Do you commit to making that review public?

And second question, has your Chief of Staff Kelly Magsamen offered her resignation or have there been discussions about her resignation in the wake of the failure to notify?

SEC. AUSTIN: I commit to being as -- as transparent as possible and -- and sharing as much as possible. Oren, you'll understand that because this is a command and control of policies of -- of our government here, there'll be elements of this that are classified, but we're committed to sharing as -- as much as possible as soon as possible.

Q: And your Chief of Staff, has she offered her resignation?

SEC. AUSTIN: She has not, so.

STAFF: Okay, let's go to PBS, Nick.

Q: Mr. Secretary, I've seen what you're going through up close among loved ones, so again, we wish you a full recovery. And -- and I know it's possible, so thank you.

You've described this as a gut punch, your instinct to privacy, but if I could just ask you bluntly, you had nearly a month between the time you learned of your cancer and time that this came out to inform the President. How could you possibly think that it was okay not to tell him, if I could be blunt?

And just a small question on Iran and the Middle East -- what do you believe Iran knew operationally about the attack in Jordan? And -- and how important is that when it comes to the U.S. response?

SEC. AUSTIN: So when the diagnosis was made, doctor highlighted that you have a finite window of time to actually get this done. If you go beyond that -- that window, then -- then you'll have a problem. Christmas holiday's coming up for me to be out -- as little impact on -- on what we're doing in the department. Christmas was a time for me to -- to take a look at getting that done. It was a tough decision for me and I did not decide until, you know, very close to when that procedure was done to actually do the procedure.

In terms of informing the President, again, I -- I admit that that was a mistake, to not talk to him about that early on. When you're the President of the United States, you've got a lot of things on your plate. And so putting my personal issue on the -- adding -- and adding to his -- all the things that he's got on his plate, I just didn't feel that that was -- that was a thing that I -- I -- I should do at the time. But again, I recognize that that was a mistake and I should have done that differently, so.

STAFF: Okay --

Q: -- Iran knew about the attack in Jordan or how operationally it was involved?

SEC. AUSTIN: You know, we believe that this was done by an element of what is known as the Axis of Resistance, and these are Iranian proxy groups. And how much Iran knew or didn't know, we -- we don't know, but it really doesn't matter because Iran sponsors these groups, it funds these groups, and in some cases, it -- it trains these groups on advanced conventional weapons. And so, you know, I -- and again, I -- I think without that facilitation, these kind of -- kinds of things don't happen.

STAFF: Okay, let's go to FT and then Politico to close it out.

Q: Thank you, Mr. Secretary. Have you seen any sign that China has been successful in pressuring Iran to rein in the Houthis in the Red Sea?

SEC. AUSTIN: We -- we have not. Again, what -- what's happening in terms of close communications between -- between leaders, you know, we -- we don't know but -- but we've not seen any visible evidence that they are -- they are encouraging or pressuring Iran to cause the Houthis to -- to back off of what they've been doing.

STAFF: Okay, final question?

Q: Good to see you, Mr. Secretary I also hope you make a speedy recovery. I have two questions.

First of all, do you regret not personally telling the deputy the details the two times you -- that you were in the hospital and the authorities were transferred to her? Do you think that she had a right to know?

And then I have a question on the Middle East as well.

SEC. AUSTIN: As you heard me say in my opening statement, I apologized to all my colleagues and -- and also the American people that -- that I wasn't as transparent as I -- I probably should have been upfront, so.

Q: And then my second question, is there any discussion right now of withdrawing troops from either Syria or Iraq, especially given what has happened in the last couple of weeks?

SEC. AUSTIN: What's happened in the last couple of weeks is not driving us to consider withdrawing troops from Syria. There are ongoing discussions with the Iraq -- Iraqi leadership about -- about our future footprint in Iraq, and I think that's -- that's been fairly well publicized. The High Military Commission, we've taken the first steps in -- in conducting those meetings. And so that will play out over time, so.

Q: -- discussions about withdrawing troops from Iraq?

SEC. AUSTIN: That -- it -- it -- it'll include discussions about our footprint going forward for sure.

STAFF: Thank you very much, Mr. Secretary. Ladies and gentlemen, that's all the time we have for today. Thank you very much.

SEC. AUSTIN: We're still doing the forensics, Jen, but most -- most of the drones in the -- in the region have -- have a connection with Iran, so.

Q: (Inaudible) response? Why not (inaudible)?

SEC. AUSTIN: You know, I don't think the -- the adversaries are of a one and done mindset. And so they have a lot of capability, I have a lot more. And -- and so, you know, we -- we're -- we're -- as I said earlier, we're going to do what's necessary to protect our troops and our interests, so.


STAFF: -- thank you very much, ladies and gentlemen. Appreciate it. Thank you.


Q: -- not an escalation?