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

MAJOR GENERAL PAT RYDER:  All right, well, good afternoon, everyone.  I know it's surprising, but got quite a bit to cover today, so I'm going to jump right in, and I'll get to your questions.

Earlier today, the department's Office of Strategic Capital announced the release of its first investment strategy.  Secretary Austin launched the Office of Strategic Capital in December 2022, to attract and scale private capital in support of national security.  The investment strategy identifies priority component technology industries and describes how the OSC will catalyze private investment in these industries.  It presents a guiding framework for OSC programs to complement existing Department of Defense and U.S. government programs.  And to read more, I'd ask you to visit the department's website.

Additionally, the department publicly released today the first volume of the All-domain Anomaly Resolution Office's Historical Record Report, which reviews the record of U.S. government pertaining to unidentified anomalous phenomena, or UAP.  In completing this report, AARO reviewed classified and unclassified archives dating back to 1945, conducted dozens of interviews and partnered with officials across the DoD and the interagency.  To date, AARO has found no verifiable evidence for claims that the U.S. government or private companies have access to, or have been reverse-engineering extraterrestrial technology.  AARO has found no evidence that any U.S. government investigation, academic-sponsored research or official review panel has confirmed that any siting of a UAP represented extraterrestrial technology.  You can read the unclassified version of the Historical Record Report, Volume 1 on or on the AARO website at

In other announcements, as many of you are aware, throughout his tenure, Secretary Austin has prioritized the development and rapid fielding of capabilities to counter the urgent and growing threat posed by uncrewed weapon systems.  This week, the secretary directed the establishment of a Warfighter Senior Integration Group to focus department-wide efforts to address this urgent operational challenge.  This warfighter SIG will bring together the department's senior-most leaders to drive solutions that support U.S. warfighters throughout our combatant commands.  The group will help identify needed capabilities and associated solutions for rapidly delivering across all domains with near-term focus on countering uncrewed aerial systems.  As evidenced by the successes of other warfighter SIGs such as those for Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan, as well as the SIG Ukraine stood up in 2022, the establishment of this new warfighter SIG will bring the cross-department attention and speed the threat now demands.  We look forward to the action in this formal drive and where possible, will provide details on its work in the coming months.

Separately, I have an update on the V-22's return to flight. Naval Air Systems Command issued a flight clearance today for the V-22 Osprey, lifting the aircraft's grounding.  The decision followed a meticulous and data-driven approach, prioritizing the safety of our aircrews.  It was accomplished in close coordination with the U.S. Air Force-led investigation, which identified the material failure that led to the mishap.  The grounding provided time for the services to conduct a thorough review and formulate risk mitigation controls to safely return the V-22 to flight operations.  I would refer you to NavAir and the respective services for additional information.

We do want to express again our condolences to the family members and loved ones of the eight airmen we lost in the November CV-22 tragedy in Japan.  We'll not forget those servicemembers as we apply lessons learned from that day, and our nation's servicemembers and their families make extraordinary sacrifices to safeguard our freedom and our security, and in return, we owe them an unwavering commitment to their safety and well-being.

Shifting gears to the Middle East, U.S. Central Command forces conducted their fourth airdrop of critically needed meals into Gaza this morning.  A U.S. Air Force C-130 delivered 11,500 meals today, bringing the total meals airdropped by the U.S. to over 124,000 to date.  These humanitarian airdrops contribute to ongoing U.S. government efforts to provide lifesaving humanitarian assistance to the people of Gaza, and are part of a sustained effort to get more aid into Gaza.  Of note, press reports that U.S. airdrops resulted in civilian casualties on the ground are false, as we've confirmed that all of our eight bundles landed safely on the ground.

In addition to U.S. military humanitarian airdrops and the U.S. government's efforts to continue sustaining and expanding assistance going in by land, as President Biden announce last evening, the Department of Defense will undertake an emergency mission to establish a temporary pier in Gaza, working alongside like-minded countries and partners.  And I'll provide an overview of the concept, and then will be happy to take your questions.

Can I ask our control room to post the diagram we have on this?

Now, to carry out this mission, the department is moving quickly to deploy its joint logistics over-the-shore capability to provide an expeditionary pier to enable the delivery of humanitarian assistance to Gaza.  JLOTS is a unique capability maintained by the Department of Defense whereby U.S. Army and U.S. Navy forces are organized, trained and equipped to conduct joint ship-to-shore operations where fixed port facilities are inadequate or unavailable.  Simply put, they'll establish a temporary offshore maritime pier that allows for shipping vessels to transfer cargo to smaller vessels to transport and offload cargo to a temporary causeway for the delivery of humanitarian aid to Gaza.

Now, we're in the process of identifying, sourcing and in some cases, preparing forces to deploy, but I can confirm that elements of the Seventh Transportation Brigade Expeditionary out of Joint Base Langley-Eustis in Virginia have been tasked to support. 

Importantly, there will be no U.S. forces on the ground in Gaza.  The DoD maintains the ability to provide unique capabilities from offshore without a U.S. military presence within Gaza.  We're coordinating with other nations to assist with operating the causeway and distributing aid into Gaza.  The concept that is being planned involves the presence of U.S. military personnel on military vessels offshore, but does not require U.S. military personnel to go ashore.

In terms of security on the ground, we're continuing to plan and coordinate with partners in the region.  And as for aid distribution, we'll have more details in the future, but we are coordinating with ally and partner nations, the U.N. and humanitarian NGOs on the way ahead for distribution of assistance into Gaza.

Finally, in terms of timing, we're working to set this up as quickly as possible, but we expect that it will take several weeks to plan and execute.  Once operational, the actual amount of aid delivered will depend on many variables, and will likely scale over time.  However, we expect that deliveries via JLOTS could provide more than two million meals to the citizens of Gaza per day.

And with that, be happy to take your questions.  Let's start with A.P., Lita Baldor.  Or, I'm sorry, Tara Copp.

Q:  Thank you.  All right, a bunch of questions on JLOTS.  We see pictures of there both being a pier, but looks like it's going onto a beach or a dock.  Are you saying that there'll be a dock offshore and there'll be a separate pier?  Are these two different structures, or is it just one structure?

GEN. RYDER:  Yeah, thanks, Tara.  So going to achieve a lifelong dream here and use a laser pointer from the podium.  So let me just kind of walk you through the broad concept, with the caveat that we're still conducting planning on this.

But in essence, what you'll have here is a floating pier that is off shore, that will be able to receive commercial vessels that have aid.  That aid will be offloaded onto the floating pier and then transloaded onto joint — or Navy support vessels, what we — what we call logistics support vessels, LSVs.

Those vessels will then take it to the floating causeway.  For example, you can see here — and then offloaded onto the causeway — in this case, which essentially is approximately 1,800 feet, or 500 meters, long, and it's two-lane, and then transported onto land and then distributed into Gaza.

The ability to do this without putting forces on the ground is due to the fact that the causeway is essentially — it's modular, built at sea, and then essentially driven into the ground from off shore.  Again, as I mentioned, we'll be working with partners in the region to of course, you know, be on the receiving end of that and to work through the security details, but at no time will we require U.S. forces to actually go on the ground.

And so then, you know, among other places, Cyprus has been highlighted as a place where aid can be loaded onto ships and then taken to the floating pier, transloaded onto these logistics support vessels, transported over to the causeway, and then, again, transported into Gaza.

The other option that we have available to us as well is from the floating pier, not only via the logistics support vessels but also via a barge capability that can take it — take additional aid to the floating causeway.

Q:  OK.  And then just two follow-ups.  Has Israel insisted on any restrictions on this pier, such as no one can leave through the pier or no one can come on shore?  Will Israel be providing security on the pier? 

GEN. RYDER:  Again, we're working through the details right now with partners in the region, to include Israel, in terms of the security aspect.  And then as I mentioned in the topper, working with ally and partner nations, working with the UN, working with NGOs to discuss the actual aid distribution piece.

You know, to be clear, it will not be U.S. military personnel that are transporting the aid off of the causeway into Gaza.  Our role will be essentially to provide the service of getting it to the causeway, at which point it will be then distributed.

Q:  (Inaudible) but what I meant on the restrictions is — is Israel putting any restrictions on what can come through this pier?

GEN. RYDER:  I'm not — I'm not tracking any.

Yep, let me go to Phil and then I'll go to (Luis).

Q:  So I — can you help — help me understand how is it that the military is going to build this causeway going ashore but never get off — onto the beach to drive it into the ground, for starters?

GEN. RYDER:  Yeah.  So again, if you look at the causeway here, again, that's built out at sea, and then essentially just imagine, you know, pushing it, propelling it into the shore.  And once it's ashore, it's anchored on the shore.  And again, we'll be working with regional partners to conduct that aspect, but no U.S. forces will get off of it ...


Q:  ... but U.S. forces are the ones who would anchor it...

GEN. RYDER:  Correct, but again ...

Q:  ... you are going to accept the restriction where you won't do this ...


GEN. RYDER:  That's correct.

Q:  Oh, and then is — Israel would be asked to provide immediate security, but you had suggested there might be other partners. 

GEN. RYDER:  Again, we're working through the coordination and planning of this right now, working with partners in the region, to include Israel, in terms of who will provide - the specific security.  Again, we'll have more details to provide in the future, but that is the concept.

Q:  Is it Israel's decision about who provides security, or is it ...

GEN. RYDER:  Well, look, we're working with partners in the region.  I'll just keep it that broad at this point.


Q:  Can you tell us how large of a deployment this will be for, you know, the — all the components of JLOTS?  How long will it take them to begin operating?  How long will it take them to transit this location?  And in addition to the ground security element, will there be a maritime security element for all of the forces that will be located offshore?

GEN. RYDER:  Yeah, so on — on your first question, we anticipate that it'll take over 1,000 U.S. forces to participate in building this capability.  As far as timeframe, as I mentioned, several weeks, likely up to 60 days in order to deploy the forces and construct the causeway and the pier.  But again, we're starting immediately, in terms of putting things into motion on that front. 

And then as far as security goes, for OPSEC reasons, I'm not going to get into specifics, other than to say security is taken into account for these capabilities.  And so that's something that we of course will provide for our forces (inaudible).

Q:  (Inaudible) partner nations on the ground, but you're talking about operational security, you can't discuss what will be (inaudible).

GEN. RYDER:  Right.  I mean, we will — these forces will have the capability to provide some organic security.  I'm just not going to get into the specifics of that.


Q:  Pat, how much will this cost?  And if Israel is going to be engaged in the security on land, why not just open the existing — there are forts just north of Gaza — Ashdod, Ashkelon — and there are entrances into Gaza.  Why not just use those existing ports and have Israel look at what's going through and bring it in?  It seems like this is a lot of work for 60 days out when there are people starving, frankly.

GEN. RYDER:  Yeah, I — well, as I highlighted at the top, I mean, this is part of a full-court press by the United States to not only focus on working on opening up and expanding routes via land, which of course are the optimal way to get aid into Gaza, but also by conducting airdrops.  And now, as the President has said, not enough aid is getting in.  And so this is a capability that we have, it's a capability that we are going to execute and enable us to get — like — as I said, upwards of two million meals in a day.

Q:  And why was the latest airdrop so small, 11,000 meals?

GEN. RYDER:  Look, these are going to vary over time, just depending on the mission and the aircraft that are available.  So you're — you will see those continue to fluctuate.

Q:  ... on the UFO report, this is an internal investigation required by the Congress.  Why will Americans believe that the Pentagon has investigated itself and found that there's no evidence of alien life?

GEN. RYDER:  Well, look, the AARO Office used a very rigorous, analytical, scientific approach to investigate all past U.S. government efforts, all claims by interviewees.  They were granted access at the highest levels to all information.  No — none of the agencies that they spoke with prevented them from getting any of the information that they needed to do. We understand that this is something that is you know, a great interest to a significant number of people and organizations. And so they took this very seriously. They followed the evidence wherever it led them. And you know, I think the results speak for itself.


Q:  Thank you. You had said that reports that an airdrop over Gaza had killed people are false. How did DoD determine that its food drops all landed safely. And is DoD using C-17s at all or is it just using C-130s?

GEN. RYDER:  We have only used C-130s for our airdrops. And in terms of this particular airdrop, I would just note that the data miner alert that went out on this was five minutes before the airdrop actually occurred. So pretty confident that it wasn't us. And we also maintain the capability to observe our bundles actually hitting the ground.

Q:  Do you know, was anyone actually killed? The Gaza Health Ministry saying five people are killed? Is this something DoD can confirm?

GEN. RYDER:  I cannot. Thanks.


Q:  Thank you. So on the — on the pier, it seems like you're taking no boots on the ground awfully literally. Since they will be — the troops will be pretty close. They'll be in the water surrounding Gaza, right. So how far exactly — how far will they actually be from the shore?

GEN. RYDER:  I don't have a foot count for you but again they're not going to go on the shore is the bottom line.

Q:  Oh and also is it — is it actually servicemembers that are going to be constructing the pier or is it contractors?

GEN. RYDER:  This is a U.S. military capability. So again, you know, we'll have much more detail to provide, but as I mentioned at the top here the 7th Transportation Brigade (Expeditionary) maintains this capability. And so there will be an active military component to it.

Q:  And then really quickly just on the situation in Haiti, DoD can you provide any information on what kind of support DoD is lending to the situation there?

GEN. RYDER:  So what I can tell you Laura is, we're exploring contingency options to ensure the security of our personnel at the embassy. No decisions have been made at this time about potential deployments. I know there's been some press reports about a Fleet Antiterrorism Security Team.

What I can tell you is that DoD will not send troops to Haiti to support Haitian national Police security operations. We have no intention of intervening. And we are not providing assistance to help the prime minister return to Haiti at this time.


Q:  What was the – on JLOTS - when was the last time this system was used in an operational setting?

GEN. RYDER:  The last employment was last year as part of Exercise Talisman Sabre so relatively recently.

Q:  And I mean can you speak at all as to what the DoD is assessing our risks to this plan or points of concern?

GEN. RYDER:  Well, I don't want to get into you know, potential vulnerabilities. Obviously a complex operation here, all the things that we're going to work through. I think the key aspect here is that again we're working alongside partners and allies in the region, as well as NGOs to help implement this.

But certainly one of the key things that we're going to be focused on is the security of our personnel, and also working with partners in the region to ensure that aid that is delivered can be distributed in a safe and secure way. Thank you.


Q:  Thank you, General. You've been supporting Israel from the beginning unconditionally. What is the exact disagreement that makes you to drop aid and send it by sea instead of sending them through the land since it's the same operation and it has the same security concerns. I mean if they trust you with the help that you are sending to them through the sea and air, why don't they let them just go through the border? OK.

GEN. RYDER:  Yes. I'm not going to speak for Israel. As I've highlighted. And the president has said, not enough aid is getting into Gaza. We continue to speak with our Israeli partners and others in the region about increasing the number of options for aid to get into Gaza via land but we're also not going to wait around.

And so this is why you see us doing air drops. And this is why you see us now implementing this capability. Thank you.

Let me go over to Nancy.

And then I'll go to the phone.

Q:  How much will the mission cost and who will command it?

GEN. RYDER:  Nancy, I don't have a cost estimate right now. Again that's something we can come back to you on. This will be operated under the command and control of Central Command. Again we'll have more details in terms of the specific (inaudible).

Q:  Will be sort of on — who will be the Commander on the ground rather than the Combatant Commander?

GEN. RYDER:  I don't have that for you right now. But again we'll keep you updated.

Q:  You said 60 days. And I'm trying to understand is that 60 days from when all these issues are sorted out or is it (inaudible)...

GEN. RYDER:  No. From now.

Q:  ...  from now.

And conservatively Gaza needs 6.6 million meals a day. U.S. provided 11,500. It's a gap. And I want to know if there's any sort of effort between now and when this pier is built to increase the amount of aid going into Israel through these kinds of military operations given that the need is imminent and that many will not — cannot survive 60 days at this clip so.

GEN. RYDER:  Sure. Yes. I mean to your point, I mean it is dire urgent need which is why you see the department contributing in this way as part of a broader overall U.S. government effort and part of an international effort.

As we highlighted in our readout last night and Secretary Austin's call with Minister Galant, part of the discussion was looking at increasing the aid routes into Gaza. And so those conversations continue not only at the Department of Defense but also the Department of State. And USAID of course is leading the charge on that front.

We want to see the amount of aid going via land increase significantly. And we understand that that is the most viable way to get aid in. But in the meantime as I highlighted we're not going to wait around. We have the capability to conduct this via airdrops. And we're doing that.

And I'm certain that every single bit of aid helps. And it's saving someone's life on the ground. This will be another capability that will allow us to work with the international community to get additional aid in.

Q:  But if I'm hearing you correctly there won't be a major change in the number of airdrops between now and when the pier would be configured?

GEN. RYDER:  So, I'm not going to get into the specifics on timing other to say that you know we’re going to continue to do those for as long as we’re able to, again recognizing that there are other avenues that will enable us to get more aid in more quickly.

Let me go to the phone. And I'll come back to the room here.

Helene Cooper, Q:  from New York Times?

Q:  Hi? Phil already asked my question. Thank you.

GEN. RYDER:  Thanks Helene.


Q:  (inaudible). Just to clarify a little bit more on this floating peir. So does this mean that there will be no food deliveries by sea at all for at least 60 days? Also to include the efforts led by you know, the European Union and so this whole multinational approach, the first time of any aid going to the shore, will be in a maximum 60 days?

GEN. RYDER:  So Tom, I can only speak for the U.S. Department of Defense and this particular capability. As you highlight, I am aware that there's a European effort. I'd refer you to them in terms of their timelines and their mechanisms by which they're looking to deliver aid.

What I'm talking to is the specifics as it relates to the temporary pier that DoD has been tasked to support.

Q:  Is the U.S. a part — is the U.S. apart of those international efforts.

GEN. RYDER:  Yeah.  So, I — on that front, again, I'd refer you to USAID, State Department.  I'm only going to talk to the DoD aspects of it right now because I just don't have those details.

Q:  Can you talk at all about the food coming in, like who's going to be providing that and putting that onto the ships which will then go to the floating pier?

GEN. RYDER:  Again, much more to follow, but as I understand it, you know, this is part of an international effort.  You saw a statement come out earlier today from multiple nations, in terms of how this could work.  And so we will be a part of that effort.  Our role in this is going to be helping to facilitate the delivery of that aid into Gaza.

Yes, sir?

Q:  Just to clarify (inaudible) are you saying that five people were killed, just not by U.S. airdrops, by someone else's airdrop?

GEN. RYDER:  Look, I can't confirm those deaths.  I've seen those press reports.  What I'm telling you is that the reports that the U.S. — that our airdrops were responsible for any deaths are false.  We were not.

Q:  (Inaudible) we're seeing pictures of (inaudible) packages to the ground.  The — those — were those yours?

GEN. RYDER:  They were not.

Q:  On distribution, who will distribute the aid once it is — it has — has — has gone off the (inaudible) causeway or the pier or ...

GEN. RYDER:  Again, as I highlighted at the top, we are talking with allies and partners, the United Nations and other NGOs involved in humanitarian assistance, in terms of how that process will work and how that aid will be distributed.

Q:  Have you received assurances from the Israelis that they will not fire upon Palestinians as they seek to retrieve the aid?

GEN. RYDER:  Look, we're — you know, our focus is on delivering the aid.  I'm not going to speak for the Israelis.  Obviously, the focus is to make sure that we're going to get the aid ...


Thank you.


Q:  Thank you, General.  I want to ask you about Osprey aircraft.  So is the Pentagon confident that the — you can gain the support from the Japanese public on the safety of those (inaudible)?

GEN. RYDER:  Yeah, thanks, Ryo.  So the United States and Japan have been in close coordination throughout this entire process at multiple levels, to include the specific timeline on the return of flight of Osprey operations in Japan.

As I highlighted at the top, the safety of our service members, our allies, and the communities that they're operating in is of paramount importance to us.  It — and so we have, again, been very grateful for the support of Japan through this process, as well as very transparent with Japan in terms of the steps that we're taking.

Q:  Does the Secretary intend to speak with the Japanese Defense Minister to convey this commitment to safety before returning the aircraft to flight?

GEN. RYDER:  Yeah, thanks, Ryo.  I don't have any calls to read out at this time.  I can tell you that U.S. Forces Japan, again, has been in frequent contact to communicate the department's and the Secretary's commitment to safety.  Thank you very much.


Q:  Pat, two.  What's the name of this mission?  Did you say already?

GEN. RYDER:  Courtney, there's no name at this time.  If that changes, we'll be sure to let you know.

Q:  OK.  And then just following on — on Ryo's question, I wonder if — does — is the Secretary confident in the Osprey aircraft, that it's safe?

GEN. RYDER:  I think the Secretary is confident in the steps that have been taken to return it to flight.  And so again, as I highlighted, you know, safety is the most important thing.  He recently had the opportunity to receive an update from the service secretaries and chiefs on the steps that are being taken, and again, is confident in their decision.

Q:  And so — so Secretary Austin believes the Osprey is a safe aircraft for military members to fly?

GEN. RYDER:  Correct.  Thank you.


Q:  Hi, I'm Mallory Shelbourne with USNI News.  What kind of lift do you need to get these forces over there to execute this mission?  And where do the CBs fit into this?

GEN. RYDER:  So, it will require a variety of sealift.  Again, we'll have much more information for you in the future.  Part of this is working with Military Sealift Command to get these capabilities, but as I'm sure you can appreciate, multiple vessels from across the world that will come together.

In terms of the CBs, I don't have an answer for you on that, other — you know — so again, if we have any updates, we will be sure to provide it.

Q:  Just a follow-up — so will — is it possible it'll have to reactivate some sealift vessels to get forces over there?  Is that ...


GEN. RYDER:  I’m not tracking that that's the case.  I think we have what we need within the inventory, obviously as a capability that we maintain and have demonstrated.  And so, they should be good to go.

Q:  (Inaudible)?

GEN. RYDER:  Well, the unit is based out of Joint Base Eustis — Langley-Eustis.  So ...

Q:  ... it's not the East Coast of ...

GEN. RYDER:  Correct.

Q:  And the (inaudible) pre-position them?

GEN. RYDER:  There are aspects that are already in the region.  So again, it will be a coalescing of capabilities to accomplish this specific capability.

Q:  (Inaudible) of its kind?  Do we have just one of these pier systems or do we have multiple?

GEN. RYDER:  Yeah, so I'm not — for OPSEC reasons, Tara, I'm not going to go into the specifics, other than to say it's a unique capability.

And let me go to Jared here.

Q:  Pat, I just wanted to clarify to make sure I understood this correctly — have you received any commitments from any other nations on the security or the military aspect of this, in terms of supporting this effort, or is the military component of this strictly unilateral by the U.S.?

GEN. RYDER:  Well, as I mentioned, we're working with partners in the region.  I'm not going to speak for them at this point in time.  I'll let them speak for themselves, but again, we'll be sure to keep you updated. 

We fully recognize that there's a lot of interest in terms of, you know, the concept and how it will be executed, and specifically with security on the ground and aid distribution, but we are confident that we will be able to execute this mission, again, in a way that prevents us from putting boots on the ground in Gaza, while at the same time ensuring that we can deliver and distribute aid securely and safely.


Q:  Thanks.  I had one follow-up on Ospreys.  Could you please confirm if any DoD officials or military officials traveled to Japan prior to this announcement to explain the U.S. plan to resume the flights of Ospreys?

GEN. RYDER:  Yeah, so I'd refer you to NAVAIR on the specifics, in terms of the extensive effort that went into ensuring that — when the decision was made to return to fly, that it was done safely.  I can tell you broadly that yes, you know, there has been a number of officials, as I understand it, that have, again, communicated and traveled to Japan as part of this process, to include the investigation that I referenced.

Q:  (Inaudible) any specific timeline to resume the flights of Ospreys deployed in Japan?

GEN. RYDER:  Yeah, so that — that's really a question for the services.  That's a decision that they will make.  So I'd refer you to them.

Q:  One clarification on your answer to Jared.  I just want to be sure, when you guys talk about there's no boots on the ground in Gaza, I mean, is this a semantics thing and they're going to be civilian Americans moving this stuff up — ashore?

GEN. RYDER:  Look, as I understand it, Courtney, I mean it literally.  No U.S. forces on the ground.

Q:  ... civilians too?  I — I just — I just — cause I'm ...


GEN. RYDER:  ... I'm not tracking any U.S. military or DoD personnel going on the ground in Gaza.  Again, you know, you drive the causeway into the beach.  There'll be others on the receiving end to secure it, to provide the security, to ensure that aid is distributed.  Our forces will stay, you know, either on the causeway or operating those vessels out at sea, to include the floating pier.  OK?


Q:  (Inaudible) why Israel is holding up the ground convoys filled with aid is that they say that they don't want the aid to go to Hamas.  Does that risk remain with this maritime solution, or is this somehow more acceptable to the Israelis?  And will they be inspecting any of the aid from Cyprus?

GEN. RYDER: So, Anne, again, much more to provide in the days ahead. But as part of this, concept, you know, a consideration is the screening aspect of aid being loaded onto any vessel, you know, which would be standard procedure. And so, we'll be working through all of that. In terms of Hamas receiving aid, you know, again, we're going to work with NGOs, the UN and others, when it comes to the aid distribution piece, and do everything we can of course.

You know, without being on the ground to ensure that aid doesn't go to Hamas. But I think the key point here is that if Hamas truly believes that the people, the Palestinian people are suffering, then why would they want to take this aid and use it for themselves to support their terrorist organization? Or do they truly care about the Palestinian people and want this aid to get to them? So, one would hope that this aid will get to the people that are most deserving and in need.

Q: Just to confirm that that risk remains the same whether these aid convoys come through via ship or ground?

GEN. RYDER: Well, it's a combat zone, right? And you've got active combat operations going on with Hamas near. I mean, to your point, we've seen reports in the past about Hamas taking aid as well as criminal elements that are attempting to hoard. But this mission is about getting aid to Gaza, and then working with others for the delivery and distribution.

Q: Does the DoD anticipate that Hamas will try to fire on them, on the operation (inaudible)?

GEN. RYDER: Look, I mean, that's certainly a risk, again, but if Hamas truly does care about the Palestinian people, then again, one would hope that this international mission to deliver aid to people who need it would be able to happen unhindered.  Tony?

Q: (inaudible) I didn't hear it asked yet. Aid to Israel on precision guided munitions. This came up last week at the hearing. Ro Khanna, the congressman from California, threw out a figure of the 21,000 PGMs the U.S. has provided Israel. I asked his office where he got that, and he came back with a news story. But can you get a tally of some kind of rough tile of how many PGMs we've provided Israel since October 7? This comes up periodically. Lawmakers express outrage, but there's no hard data. I mean, I'm asking you five months into this if you can give broad figure.

GEN. RYDER: Yeah, thanks, Tony. I'm not able to provide a figure to you right now. Thanks. I'll take the question.

Q: I say this, though, it's probably going to sound dumb, but when Kabul fell, the U.S. and the Taliban reached an agreement to provide security for HKIA, although imperfect. Is it possible that one of the partners in this operation provides security could be Hamas?

GEN. RYDER: No. Yeah, I mean, Hamas is a recognized terrorist group and, you know, the United States is not going to work with Hamas to provide security. Konstantin?

Q: Thanks again, Pat. So, in terms of the ships involved in this operation, you mentioned working with military sealift command. Will the U.S. Navy and U.S. Navy destroyers, cruisers play a role in this operation at all?

GEN. RYDER: So, for this specific capability, Konstantin, the answer is no. Right? This is not a combat capability. This is, essentially, a bridging capability, so to speak, that enables the delivery of humanitarian assistance in this case. So, I just leave it there. Take a few more. Let me go to Jared.

Q: In terms of potential security partners on the ground, is the United States looking to work with elements on the ground that the Israelis have sought to work with in the past, contracting local businessmen? What (inaudible)?

GEN. RYDER: Yeah. So, I'm going to kind of keep it open ended right now, Jared, because I don't want to give you bad information. Again, we're going to work with multiple, look to work with partners in the region, to include Israel. But again, we'll have more details on that for you in the future. Sir?

Q: Building such a port takes some time. I mean, 60 days is a long period. Does that mean you don't expect a new solution to the Gaza conflict, or an agreement is far away?

GEN. RYDER: Well look, I think we can all agree that there's a significant need within Gaza for humanitarian assistance. As you've heard the White House say, they hope that a temporary ceasefire can be reached soon. Of course that would help enable the conditions for aid delivery. But regardless, there are people who need aid in Gaza, and that's probably not going to change anytime soon. And so, this capability will contribute to that effort. Let me go to Mike.

Q: Pat, the Navy has extensive amphibious capabilities. You know, it has LTACs that could drive right on the beach immediately. The reason the administration is going with this pretty rather complicated plan rather than something like that, like the amphibious movement, just because it doesn't want to have the picture of an American standing 10 feet off the waterline in Gaza?

GEN. RYDER: Yeah. I mean, the big difference, you're talking about like an LCAT, right? An LCAT drives onto the beach and then it has to back up. It'd be like taking an individual pickup truck to the beach every day with some humanitarian assistance. So, from a logistics standpoint, A, that's just not feasible. And what this essentially does is create a logistics distribution system that enables you to distribute, as I mentioned in my topper, upwards of 2 million meals. And do it in a way that you can wash, rinse, repeat, and the fact that you can get commercial vessels to come up to the floating pier and transload.

So, it's creating a system, it's a temporary system, but it's a mechanism by which we can start to rapidly get additional aid in a way that individual ships to the point that was made earlier, the airdrops are important and they're providing key aid to people right now. But we need to get more aid in. And so, this will be part of a broader effort to make that happen.

Q: (inaudible) for how long this is going back the (inaudible)?

GEN. RYDER: I can't imagine. I mean, again, this is going to be temporary. I'm not going to bound it right now. Our focus right now is on executing this mission and enabling aid to get in, but it's not intended to be a permanent facility, so to speak. And again, we're going to continue to look at options, as we highlighted and as the President highlighted, to ensure that aid can get in, via maritime route. And I understand other countries are looking at that as well.

Q: How long it will take to get from the east coast to this position? How long does it take to sail there?

GEN. RYDER: I don't have an answer for that, Jennifer. Again, what we anticipate is that from today, 60 days from now, this will be up and operating.

Q: Who will screen the drivers and the trucks coming onto the pier?

GEN. RYDER: Again, I don't have those details right now, but we'll keep you updated on that front. Let me go back to David, and then Luis.

Q: All of those ships there and the causeway are now in Virginia?

GEN. RYDER: I do not know the answer to that, David. I can tell you that, again, they're going to aggregate and come together to implement this capability.

Q: Can you expect them to start the planning from Virginia?

GEN. RYDER: I mean, we're moving out now to finalize the planning and execute this mission. As I highlighted, this is going to involve a number of units, many of whom are being notified about a prepared deploy. You do these things in phases. And so, I'm not going to have the specifics to provide today in terms of individual ship movements and timelines, nor would we put that out. We never talk about, you know, our ship timelines and when they're moving and where they're moving, other than to say, you know, within 60 days, this capability will be up and running.


Q: You mentioned it's 1 million meals a day. What is — how many trucks is that equivalent to? And is that foreseen it being 24-hour operations or is it just, you know, during daylight hour for safety reasons?

GEN. RYDER: Yeah. I mean, this capability obviously can be up and running 24 hours. Again, we'll work with our partners in terms of the aid distribution aspect in the timeline. So again, we'll have more to follow on that.

Q: I've had a lot of questions, and then you're taking a lot of them related to this. Can we kind of agree on a format in terms of how these will be answered? Can we get like a daily summary? Is there going to be something in another briefing given how important this mission is and one that the president announced? I would at least —

GEN. RYDER: Yeah. So part of part of the effort is, today, you know, giving you additional insight into how this system will work certainly in the days ahead as we get more information, we'll provide that. You know, we understand, again, the great interest on this. And so we will — as we get new information and as we have answers to your question, we'll provide this.

Q: (Inaudible) that it'd be done much as — during the Secretary's hospitalization that we were getting regular updates, given the importance of the mission?

GEN. RYDER: Again, you know, we will give you as much information as we can, recognizing the fact that, you know, there's going to be a lot of details in terms of the planning and the execution. And yeah, again, I understand the great interest and we will keep you updated on that front. Few more. Yes, sir?

Q: (Inaudible) Yesterday, General Kurilla during his hearing in the Senate, he said recently when he visits Rafah border, he found out there is 2,500 trucks loaded with aid are waiting to go inside Gaza. So first of all, how much you feel that has make difference if these trucks getting inside Gaza? And did Secretary Austin raise this issue, the Rafah border, with his Israeli counterpart during his calls yesterday?

GEN. RYDER: Yeah. I mean, it would obviously make a huge difference if those trucks could get into Gaza. And this is why you see State Department and others working with officials in the region to try to facilitate that process. And as I highlighted earlier, Secretary Austin did talk with his counterpart about the importance of opening up these routes and expanding the number of routes to ensure that aid could get into Gaza. I'll leave it at that. A couple more? Yes, ma'am. Let me go to you first and I'll come back to you.

Q: OK. So on the UAP report, the Pentagon concluded that there is no evidence of UAPs being off-world technology, but it also said the government setup programs to reverse engineer such technology. Why did the government plan to study off-world technology if it says it doesn't have any (inaudible)?

GEN. RYDER: Yeah. So, as you highlight, no verifiable evidence that any UAP setting represented extraterrestrial activity that the U. S. government or private industry has ever had access to extraterrestrial technology, or that any information was illegally or inappropriately withheld from Congress, and alleged hidden UAP reverse engineering programs either do not exist or were misidentified authentic National Security Programs unrelated to extraterrestrial activity or technology exploitation.

So what we found is that claims of hidden programs are largely the result of circular reporting by a small group, repeating what they heard from others, and that many people have sincerely misinterpreted real events or mistaken sensitive U. S. programs as UAP or being extraterrestrial exploitation.

Q: And this report is volume one. Should we be expecting more?

GEN. RYDER: Correct. Let's see here. There is another volume. Let me just look at my notes here real quick. Bear with me. Let me take that question for you. I'll come back to you. Yes, sir?

Q: Regarding (inaudible), how long Israel could continue its assault on Gaza if there were no more U.S. military aid shipments delivered to the country?

GEN. RYDER: Say that again?

Q: How long could Israel continue its assault on Gaza without more shipments of military aid from the U.S.?

GEN. RYDER: Yeah, I'm not going to get into Israel's readiness. I mean, I think that's a question for them to talk about. Look, our focus, as we've said from the very beginning, is supporting Israel's inherent right to defend itself. You know, again, to belabor the point, they were attacked by Hamas on October 7th. They are still under threat of terrorist attack by Hamas, an organization that has said their stated express purpose is to eliminate Israel as a country.

And so we're going to continue to support Israel on that front. But I'm — again, I'm not going to get into their readiness.

Q: So you were trying to convince a wavering congressman about sending more money and aid to Israel? To continue the assault on Gaza, would you have a — would you say, look, you have to do this now. Otherwise, Israel won't be able to defend itself anymore. I mean, would there be a timeframe? Would you have one to give up?

GEN. RYDER: Again, I'm not going to get into hypotheticals. All right. Thanks very much, everybody. Appreciate it.