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Deputy Pentagon Press Secretary Sabrina Singh Holds a Press Conference

DEPUTY PRESS SECRETARY SABRINA SINGH: Hey. Hi, everyone. Good afternoon. Just a few things here at the top, and then happy to jump in and take questions.

So on Monday, Secretary Austin will depart for Germany where he and the Chairman, Chairman C.Q. Brown, Jr., will host the 20th meeting of the Ukraine Defense Contact Group at Ramstein Air Base. The Secretary and the Chairman will join ministers of defense and senior military officials from nearly 50 nations around the world to discuss the ongoing war in Ukraine and reiterate that the United States and this coalition continue to stand with the people of Ukraine, and that we will not let Ukraine fail in its war to defend themselves against Russian aggression.

Separately, Secretary Austin today announced that Dr. Radha Plumb will serve as the department's next chief digital and artificial intelligence officer. Dr. Plumb currently serves as the Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for acquisition and sustainment, and during her time, has worked to address critical acquisition matters in defense of our nation, including maintaining and strengthening a robust national security industrial base and supply chains. Dr. Plumb's expertise will enhance the CDAO's innovative efforts and help accelerate the department's adoption of data, analytics and A.I. to generate decision advantage.

On behalf of the department, we also want to thank Dr. Craig Martel for serving as the first CDAO over the past two years. Dr. Martel and the CDAO team brought together diverse talents and cultures of four organizations to advance data, A.I. and analytics for America's national security and deliver tangible results in a short period of time.

Also today, Secretary Austin and Latvian Minister of Defense Andris Spruds met here at the Pentagon, where they discussed regional bilateral defense issues, NATO's deterrence capabilities and the situation in Ukraine. They highlighted the importance of alliance unity, defense production and Latvia's increased defense spending and contributions to NATO. The meeting underscored a continued U.S.-Latvian cooperation ahead of the 75th anniversary NATO Summit here in Washington, D.C. later this year.

Shifting gears, I just want to take a moment today to highlight the inclusion of the Compact of Free Association Amendments Act of 2024 in the minibus funding package that President Biden recently signed. As a result, our national security priorities in the Pacific and economic assistance to the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of the Marshall Islands and the Republic of Palau, will now extend well into the 2040s. The compacts ensure that the United States, and only the United States, can maintain a military presence in the freely-associated states. Also because of the compact, citizens from these three partners are able to serve in the U.S. military, which they do at high rates, and we're incredibly grateful for their service.

As you heard the Department earlier this year, extending the compacts was one of the most important things Congress could do to help drive our Indo-Pacific strategy, and thanks to the leadership of this administration, hard work across the interagency and a strong bipartisan majority in Congress, we got it done together.

Also in the Indo-Pacific this week, in Thailand, the 15th iteration of Exercise Hanuman Guardian began with 2,000 soldiers of the Royal Thai Army and U.S. Army Pacific. A.G. '24 is designed to enhance Stryker-centric training, long-range artillery, bilateral aviation, medical and battle staff capabilities. A strong, forward-looking U.S.-Thai defense alliance helps foster a free and open Indo-Pacific region where all countries enjoy peace and prosperity. And for more information, I would direct you to Army Pacific Public Affairs.

And finally, Secretary Austin will go to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center tomorrow afternoon for a scheduled routine follow-up appointment with his doctors. The Secretary continues to recover well from his medical treatment earlier this year, and you can expect that he'll be conducting these types of follow-on checkups from time to time. We will be sure to keep you updated regarding any significant developments as appropriate.

And with that, I'm happy to take your questions. I think we have Lita Baldor, A.P., on the phones with us right now.

Q: Hi, Sabrina. Thank you very much. Just two quick things on Haiti. General Richardson this morning talked about plans for a NEO (non-combatant evacuation). Can you say what, if anything, the Pentagon is doing right now to prepare for any potential NEO? And has there been any request yet for the Pentagon to do anything?

And separately, can you tell us if there's any actual planning or preparations going on right now at Guantanamo for any possible migrants to flow there?

MS. SINGH: Thanks, Lita, for your questions. I think you're referring to the General Richardson's testimony on the Hill.

So right now, the embassy in Port-au-Prince remains open. We did enhance our security posture there over the weekend and earlier this week, but the embassy continues to remain open at this time. As you can appreciate, we are a planning organization, but that's not something that, you know, we are planning for right now. I would direct you to the State Department for further guidance or more answers to your questions about the embassy, specifically. But again, our mission right now with the personnel that are on the ground is to shore up security at the embassy, and we were able to remove some nonessential personnel, but that's our main focus at this time.

In terms of any requests at Guantanamo Bay, we are certainly in touch with the Department of Homeland Security, with the State Department. I don't have anything to preview right now at this time, but should that change, we'd certainly keep you updated.

Yes, Jen?

Q: Sabrina, the Army found $300 million and spare change for weapons to Ukraine. Are the other services going to find something similar? And will we hear about those weapons this week?

MS. SINGH: If there is a — any other contracts that come in under bid, we would certainly let you know, but this does happen but it was a unique circumstance. And given what's happening on the battlefield in Ukraine, the fact that they are having to, you know, fortify their defensive lines and having to give up some territory in order to do that, the Secretary, the President felt that it was important to use this — you know, these contracts that came in under bid in order to supply a PDA package, an emergency one.

Q: But it's only the Army that had these contracts that were under bid?

MS. SINGH: It's only the Army right now. Again, if there are any other contracts that come in under bid, we'd certainly keep you updated.

Q: And has the administration finally decided to provide ATACMS, the longer-range weapons, to Ukraine, given the delay of five months of weapons that they need?

MS. SINGH: Yeah, I don't have anything to announce from here today. I think we — on our website, on, you can see a breakdown of some of the items that are included in the package, but I just don't have anything more to speak to at this time.

Joseph, yeah?

Q: Thanks. Two questions, one on the Houthis. This morning, the White House — earlier today, the White House said that there's no indication that they have had access to a hypersonic weapon.

MS. SINGH: Yeah.

Q: And do you guys, you know, agree with that assessment? One. But two, are you concerned, is the department concerned that these strikes that the U.S. has been carrying out since January have not deterred them from their attacks in the Red Sea? One. And two, if are you guys concerned that these attacks may have, you know, forced the Houthis to look at expanding their capabilities in different manners?

MS. SINGH: So on the first one, I think you're referring to reports out there that they have used a hypersonic, and I can tell you that that is inaccurate. We have no indication that they even have that capability.

Second, to your point on just deterrence in the region, I mean, again, look, we are going to continue to conduct these dynamic strikes. We feel confident that we continue to degrade the Houthis' capabilities.

But we know that they have — they still continue to get access and are provided weapons and capabilities and support by Iran. That support continues. We haven't seen that lag in any way. And we know that they have these sophisticated weapons and systems.

But we're going to continue to support what we're doing through Operation Prosperity Guardian to make sure that commercial ships can continue to transit that very important waterway, which is the Red Sea, and we're also going to defend our interests while doing so.

Q: Is the Department looking at increasing not capabilities but efforts to cut the re-supply of these weapons from Iran?

MS. SINGH: We continue to look for ways. I mean, you've seen CENTCOM lead some interdiction efforts, but, you know, there are other ways that Iran is able to supply the Houthis. But we continue to monitor how they get weapons. But beyond that, I wouldn't get into a further intelligence assessment.


Q: ... CNN reported, I think yesterday, that the U.S. military has finished an additional review of the Abbey Gate bombing that killed 13 American service members. Can you share anything about that investigation or the results of it?

MS. SINGH: I don't have anything to share at this time. That is the additional review that CENTCOM led. I believe they will be briefing families. So I'm not going to get ahead of that. Once that's concluded, of course we will share the results.

Natasha? Yeah.

Q: Thanks, Sabrina. Can you give us an update on the Besson? Has it arrived in the Eastern Med yet to start those efforts to construct the pier and the causeway?

And also, do you have any more updates on kind of how this operation is going to look, in terms of the security that's going to be, you know, in Gaza helping with the distribution of the aid once this is all up and running, or anything else you can tell us about how this is going to actually look once it's set up?

MS. SINGH: Yeah, so in regards to the Besson, I'm not aware that she's on station yet. I believe most of the ships are — have left or will be departing in the coming days. Again, as we announced — I believe it was last Friday General Ryder was up here announcing our efforts to establish this floating pier from — when he announced, it was going to be approximately 60 days. So doing the math, it's just over 50 days now, and that's for when ships will actually arrive on site and be able to construct this floating pier, but I'm not aware that they're there yet.

In terms of your second question on aid distribution — I think that's — yeah...

Q: ... (inaudible).

MS. SINGH: Right. So still working through that. We are in, of course, communication with the IDF, with other partners in the region on what aid distribution would look like, what security around this floating pier would look like.

I don't have an update for you at this time just yet. When we get closer to announcing something, we'll certainly keep you updated.

Q: ... and shifting gears for one sec, the Department of Defense today announced that they were examining that balloon that was found by fishermen off the coast of Alaska.

MS. SINGH: Yeah.

Q: Do you have any updates on when that review might be complete or any preliminary indications of what the balloon was — for example, if it's a spy balloon?

MS. SINGH: No indications yet. It's something that, you know, the department is reviewing right now, at this time, and, you know, being able to exploit some of the details of what we're finding. But I just don't have more information at this time. When we are ready to share that, I'm sure we will.


Q: Thanks, Sabrina. So as far as the Navy's amphibious ability is concerned, the USS Boxer has been delayed from deploying for several months now. I think just in the last few days, the USS Wasp, which is undergoing a maintenance period, had to limp back into port. You know, and this is all happening as we're talking about a possible NEO in Haiti.

So, I mean, very broadly, I guess my question is does Secretary Austin have faith in the Navy's ability to maintain its fleet of amphibious ships?

MS. SINGH: The Secretary absolutely has confidence in the Navy. I would direct you to the Navy for, you know, more updates on specific ships. I just don't have that in front of me. But the Secretary is very confident in the Navy and its abilities to be able to conduct whatever mission is tasked, that they're able to do it.

Q: And have — just a quick follow-up — so have there been any impacts on any of the recent missions as a result of maintenance issues with the Navy?

MS. SINGH: For more maintenance details, I would direct you to the Navy, but not to my knowledge.

Q: Thanks.

MS. SINGH: Janne?

Q: Thank you, Sabrina. Nice to see you. And regarding in the Freedom Shield, the U.S. and South Korea military joint exercises, and why were U.S. strategic assets not allowed to participate in this exercise?

MS. SINGH: I'm not aware of the exercise that you're referring to. I'd refer you to...


MS. SINGH: I'm not sure — I'd refer you to INDOPACOM for more — for more information on that. Yeah.

Q: ... one on Ukraine — the Ukraine government announced that most of North Korean weapons used by Russia were defective. Is North Koreans still supplied by the — do you think that North Korea's still supply these weapons to Russia?

MS. SINGH: I can't speak to their effectiveness. We haven't done an assessment of that. But what I can tell you is that we know that Russia continues to look to partners, like North Korea, like Iran, to seek more weapons in its ongoing war with Ukraine.

How effective those are, I just don't have an assessment for you, but it's very clear that Russia has further isolated itself on the world stage, and going to these allies to — or going to these partner countries that, you know, Russia seeks relationships with is — certainly stands in stark opposition to what the United States has convened, which is the Ukraine Defense Contact Group, which has, you know, almost 50 countries and allied nations, part of that helping support Ukraine.

Q: On the 155mm artillery shells, do you still want South Korea provide 155mm to surge to Ukraine?

MS. SINGH: We support any partner or allied country that would support Ukraine in whatever security assistance it needs. 155mm rounds are certainly something that we know Ukraine needs on the battlefield.

And since you gave me the opportunity, I'm going to take it to make a plug for Congress to pass our urgent supplemental request that we still don't have. And as you know, we've provided an emergency $300 million package just earlier this week on Tuesday, but that is not sustainable. Obviously, that was something that contracts came under bid, and we were able to provide an emergency PDA to Ukraine. But we really need Congress not only to fully authorize and fund this department with our FY '24 budget request; we need the urgent supplemental request also funded, and we're heading into FY '25 budget season, so we're also going to need that funded.


Q: Hey, can (inaudible). Speaker Johnson has suggested to make this assistance to Ukraine a loan or lend-lease type of program. Does the Pentagon think that that's a viable option?

MS. SINGH: Look, I know negotiations are ongoing in Congress. I'm not going to get ahead of those. Right now, what we need is a supplemental. A nation like Ukraine that's going through a war, I think it's going to be very hard, obviously, for a country like that to, you know, repay these loans, but that's something that would have to obviously be worked out with not just the Department of Defense, but the State Department, with the White House. So I'll just leave it at that.

Q: And then one more follow, and then I do have a question, too, but...

MS. SINGH: Sure.

Q: When you you told Lita, you said we were a planning organization. But a NEO is not something we are planning for right now. You were referencing the NEO. Did you mean that the Pentagon is not planning for a NEO right now? Or did you mean that the State Department has not tasked the Pentagon with executing a NEO right now?

MS. SINGH: We have not been tasked with executing a NEO. Again, the embassy is fully up and running right now, open in Port-au-Prince. Yes, we have installed additional security personnel there to reinforce our security posture there, but that's all they're doing, is just securing the embassy. We plan for a range of contingencies. I don't have anything more to share today.

Q: OK, and then my last question is on Turkey's president. President Erdogan has said that Ankara is going to be able to hopefully recoup $1.4 billion that it paid for the F-35s. It was blocked from buying those. Can you provide us any sort of update on that? Can you confirm that that will happen? What's going on with those talks now between Turkey and the U.S.?

MS. SINGH: I don't have any update on that. I'd direct you to the State Department.

Yeah? Yes.

Q: Me?

MS. SINGH: Over to you. Yes. Yeah. Unless you don't have a question.

Q: Regarding U.S. forces in Syria, is there any change in their positions?

MS. SINGH: No, there's no been no posture changes.

Q: A follow-up. So there's no plant to withdraw from Syria?

MS. SINGH: I have no updates to announce. There's been no changes to our force posture in Syria or Iraq.

Q: You know, I'm asking this because according to some reports, Russia and Syrian governments are coordinating to (inaudible) that others with Iraq.

MS. SINGH: Yeah, I cannot confirm those reports. Again, our posture hasn't changed. Our mission in Syria and Iraq remains to ensure the continuing defeat of ISIS. I have no posture changes to announce today.

Yeah? Go ahead.

Q: Thank you, Sabrina. So I asked about this on Tuesday, and I thought maybe we could just get some more clarity. So in terms of the port, the temporary port that's being constructed, it would seem from the perspective of the U.S. taxpayer who's funding that and the civilians in Gaza who now have to wait 60 days to get the aid, that it would seem more logistically to make sense to use a port either in Egypt or Israel and bring the aid through. So why are we constructing a port instead of doing those two things?

MS. SINGH: Yeah, no, I appreciate the question, and you're not going to get much more of a different answer than you got on Tuesday. But to clarify, this is a floating pier with a causeway. And in terms of other access points, this is what the U.S. military deemed as the most efficient way to get aid in with our capabilities, and that's why that decision was made.


Q: More efficient than, you know, how could it take 60 days to get, you know, items from Israel and just drive them down?

MS. SINGH: Well, we fully support the entry ports on the crossings like on land to allow aid to flow more freely in. That's something that we continue to pressure. You've seen that in some of the Secretary's readouts with Minister Gallant, that we continue to want to see humanitarian aid increase into Gaza. The best way to do that is by land options. Those are clearly, you know, not viable at this time. And so at the direction of the president, he directed more aid to flow into Gaza, to the Palestinian people, so we started conducting airdrops, and now, we're conducting a floating pier.

Q: To go further then, (inaudible)...

MS. SINGH: Yeah, can I...

Q: ... why not demand that — from the government of Israel, who we're, you know, paying billions to support their war?

MS. SINGH: We have very direct conversations with the IDF and at all levels of government with the Israeli government.


Q: Yeah, thank you, Sabrina. The President essentially opposed the Japanese companies sponsored by U.S. Steel the morning. So does the Pentagon assess that Japanese investment in the U.S. could be a national security concern for the United States?

MS. SINGH: I don't have anything more for you on that, Ryo. I'm sorry. I'd direct you to the White House. I know they spoke to this earlier today.

Q: As I understood, it's the Pentagon called for more integrated defense supply chain with allies and partners.

MS. SINGH: Yeah.

Q: So how concerned is the Pentagon that the U.S. opposition to this steel deal with Japan could have broader negative impact on the Pentagon's incentives to increase the defense industrial cooperation with Japan?

MS. SINGH: We certainly value our relationship with the Japanese government. We work closely with them, whether it be in exercises or in other ways, through commercial economic aspects. For this specific question, when it comes to this deal that you're referencing, I just don't have more information for you on that. That's sort of out of the Department of Defense. I'd refer you to the White House.

Yeah, Tom?

Q: Thanks, Sabrina. Following up on the Haiti evacuations...

MS. SINGH: Sure.

Q: ... of nonessential U.S. personnel from the embassy, there was, over last couple days, also the evacuation of private U.S. citizens from more remote parts of Haiti helped — facilitated in part by the U.S. military. I'm wondering, to the best of your knowledge, how does that work? In other words, who comes to the Pentagon and asks for that support? I know you guys don't initiate that. That would — I couldn't figure that out. I couldn't find that out. How does that work, please?

MS. SINGH: So I'm not tracking any citizens within Haiti that need — like, from further remote parts that needed evacuation. That's something that, like, if you are an American citizen in a country that needs, whether it be assistance, that would go through the State Department. But the personnel that left with some of our servicemembers were embassy personnel, nonessential personnel.

Q: Your — it's to your understanding that the military has not helped evacuate — we're not talking about embassy people or those associated with the embassy.

MS. SINGH: Right.

Q: To your understanding, the military has not evacuated any other...

MS. SINGH: My understanding, that's correct.

Q: OK.

MS. SINGH: It's just embassy personnel.

Q: Thank you.

MS. SINGH: Yeah.

(inaudible), yeah.

Q: (inaudible). I have questions on Osprey.

MS. SINGH: Sure.

Q: Yesterday, U.S. Forces Japan resumed Osprey flights in Japan. First, do you know if the U.S. military resumed Osprey flights somewhere other than Japan after they lifted grounding?

MS. SINGH: I don't. I would direct you to the services to speak to that, on where other flights have taken off from.

Q: And secondly, in local communities in Japan, there are such concerns that there is not enough efficient explanation about the cause of the Osprey crash last year. So what would be your response to such concerns?

MS. SINGH: Well, the Secretary had a call with his Japanese counterpart yesterday, and I think we've put out a readout of this. At the end of the day, this was a decision that the services made, that these Ospreys are able to fly. The Secretary has confidence in the services' ability to conduct an investigation into what happened but also on the ability for our service members to fly these Ospreys.

And so I would refer you to the services to speak more broadly on, you know, any in-depth investigations or incidents that you're referring to, but the Secretary certainly has confidences in NAVAIR and what they were able to do.

I'm going to go the phones and then I'm happy to come back in the room. Jeff Schogol, Task & Purpose?

Q: Thank you. Is the United States sending ships, aircraft, and other assets to the Caribbean in case they are needed?

MS. SINGH: Yeah, Jeff, at this time, right now, we are not. Of course, if asked by DHS or the State Department, if we need to, we can certainly surge assets to any region that might need help. But at this time, again, our focus — I think you're referring to Haiti — our focus right now is just on making sure that our personnel in the embassy are safe, and that's why you've seen an increase in our security posture there.

OK, and I'll take one more from the phone. Heather, USNI?

Q: Hi, thanks so much. Just to follow up on the Red Sea, with (inaudible), you — in terms of the — what the Houthis have been doing, we now have had ships sink, three people killed, and then another attack with about 28 different drones. So it seems like it's escalating. So in terms of the deterrence, I know that you said you're continuing to work on it, but is the U.S. concerned that its deterrence is not working?

And then a quick question about weapons being sent to Israel. Given that there's been so many casualties among civilians, has the U.S. and the Department of Defense, you know, said, "hey, you know, Israel, we're no longer going to be sending you these weapons unless you start being better about not killing innocent civilians"?

MS. SINGH: Thanks, Heather, for the question. So right now, the Department's priorities still continue to be supporting Israel in its fight against the terrorist organization Hamas. So that does include security assistance, and that is through FMF and FMS.

But as you are seeing, this department is working around the clock to also provide humanitarian aid to Palestinians in Gaza, whether that be through aid drops — and I think I want to say we're — we had our 10th one this morning — and then of course the floating pier that we will be setting up that will be off the coast of Gaza, that will be able to get — whether it be meals, water, whatever else the people need, be able to flow that into Gaza at a more regular rate.

In terms of your question on the Red Sea, again, we're under no impression that we have completely wiped off the map all of the Houthis' capabilities. We know that they continue to have a robust arsenal, they continue to threaten commercial shipping.

I would put the question back onto you though and you know, when you're thinking about this, is that every time the Houthis strike a commercial ship or threaten that passageway, they are endangering commerce in the region, they are putting at risk 12 to 15 percent of the world's commerce that flow through. That doesn't just impact the United States, that doesn't just impact Israel, that affects the entire world, including the people in Yemen.

And so like you mentioned with the Rubymar that was recently — that they did hit and that was (sunk), that was carrying pounds and pounds of fertilizer, not to mention oil that is now leaking out into the Red Sea that's going to cause an environmental disaster right in their backyard.

So it's up to them to make the calculation on when they decide to stop these attacks. I can tell you that the United States military, in conjunction with our partners and allies, will continue to hold the Houthis accountable.

Yes, Jen?

Q: Sabrina, is it your assessment or the Pentagon's assessment that the Iranian spy ship that is back in the Gulf of Aden is assisting with the targeting that the Houthis — when they fire these missiles or drones? And if so, is it a legitimate target?

MS. SINGH: Yeah, I'm not going to get into our intelligence assessments. This ship has been there for many years, long before this conflict, you know, sort of started in the Red Sea. It's a ship that, you know, rotates out with other Iranian ships. They obviously have equities in the region.

So we're fully aware of its ability to operate there, but beyond that, I just wouldn't be able to speak to that.

Q: ... aside from Djibouti after the U.S. and Britain started attacking Houthi sites in Yemen ...

MS. SINGH: Yeah.

Q: ... it left, it returned. Is it involved with — is it a legitimate target?

MS. SINGH: Yeah — no, I appreciate the question, I'm just not going to get it — further into that. Thank you, Jen.

Yes? And then come back over here.

Q: ... you, Sabrina. So completely different topic. Last month, I asked you about Sentinel, the Air Force program that's under review. The 2025 budget includes funding for this program. So is that, like, getting ahead of the review? Is that saying the program's already cleared?

MS. SINGH: I would direct you to the Air Force for more specifics on that. I just don't have that in front of me. I just don't have anything to add. Yeah.

Yes, last question?

Q: Thank you, Sabrina. My question will be about the defense budget review that — published by the DOD. One specific part, especially a graphic, catch my attention. It's about 2024's budget, the Fiscal Year 2024. It says the supplemental's — under the supplementals, Ukraine has $44 billion of aid, which is fighting a nuclear power country like Russia with its tanks and planes and everything. On the other hand, the help to Israel is $10 billion, a quarter of that amount that you are spending for army that fights a conventional, proper army.

Can we — can you give us a breakdown of this amount? Is that including the annual $3 billion aid as well?

MS. SINGH: I don't have a breakdown in front of me. OMB — of course — that website has our budget breakdown, and you saw the Secretary and others testify on the Hill on FY '24. And of course, we still don't have that budget approved. Now we're moving to FY '25.

What I can tell you is that we can do many things at once. We can continue to support Ukraine with what it needs on the battlefield through security assistance, we can continue to support Israel, one of our longstanding allies, in its fight against Hamas. And one of the things that the budget of course is guided by our NDS, which of course always keeps an eye on our pacing challenge in the Indo-Pacific, which is the PRC.

But for a larger budget breakdown, look, I just don't have all of that in front of me. I would direct you to OMB's website.

Q: And for the ...

MS. SINGH: Sure.

Q: ... the aid ship that is going to Gaza, you just said south of Gaza — you will put the pier (sic) at the south of Gaza. Is that ...

MS. SINGH: I don't think I said a location. No I don't think I did. If I did, I did not intend to. We don't have a location yet. That's not something that we're going to speak publicly to yet. It's not a ship, just to correct you there. It's a pier that we'll be able to — it's a Trident pier that will of course be able to be, you know, basically breach into the beachhead, and then we'll have a floating pier further off-site that will allow for ships and cargo to basically go there and then be transited to that floating causeway. Yeah.

All right — yeah, one more question? Yeah?

Q: ... is the — is the U.S. military still conducting ISR operational flights over Gaza to help Israel?

MS. SINGH: We continue to work with the Israeli government in trying to free those hostages. One of the things that we were doing is flying some of that ISR. But beyond that, I just don't have more for you.


Q: ... the Department is currently doing?

MS. SINGH: I'm not going to speak to what we're currently doing, but we are of course assisting in any hostage recovery and rescue that we can do. One of the things that you heard us speak to at the very beginning was flying ISR, but I just don't have more for you on that.

And I'm sorry, I thought I had seen Anne, and then maybe your question got answered.

Q: ... follow-up earlier on ...

MS. SINGH: Sure.

Q: ... Marines in Haiti. I mean, if you can say anything more about their mission there? And sorry if this has been asked before, but has — the reason why the Marines aren't involved in an evacuation of U.S. citizens in Haiti, is there any reason for that, other than the White House has not asked? Is there any ...

MS. SINGH: That's not their mission right now. Their mission is to secure and, you know, make sure that our embassy personnel are safe. Obviously, the environment continues to change in Haiti. What we want to see here — and I know my colleagues at the State Department can speak to this much better — but we want to see, you know, governance restored, security restored in Haiti.

Until that happens, we also need to protect our personnel. That's just what they're doing. They're just there at the embassy. Should they be tasked with something different, of course they would be able to respond, but right now, their mission is just to secure that embassy.

Q: ... Do you know how many Americans are in Haiti right now, beyond the embassy personnel?

MS. SINGH: I don't. That would be something that the State Department might be able to help with.

All right, thanks, everyone.


Q: I just want to be absolutely clear on your response to me — to the best of your knowledge, no U.S. military personnel has helped evacuate any U.S. citizens beyond those at the embassy?

MS. SINGH: To the best of my knowledge, it has been embassy personnel that — non-essential personnel that have left. And of course I would direct you to SOUTHCOM for more information on, you know, our presence there. But again, the folks that are on the ground right now are just there to ensure the security of the embassy.

Q: Thank you.

MS. SINGH: All right, thank you.