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

Official websites use .gov

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

Secure .gov websites use HTTPS

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

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

MAJOR GENERAL PAT RYDER:  All right.  Well, good afternoon, everyone.  Thanks for your flexibility in timing today.  Just a few things at the top and then we'll get right to your questions.

I am pleased to announce today that the Joint Task Force-Red Hill in Hawaii has completed its defueling mission at the Red Hill Bulk Fuel Storage Facility, and that Secretary Austin has approved the transfer of command and control of the Red Hill Facility to the United States Navy.

Joint Task Force-Red Hill, commanded by Vice Admiral John Wade, completed their mission to safely and expeditiously defuel the Red Hill Bulk Fuel Storage Facility roughly six months ahead of schedule from the original defueling plan.

Rear Admiral Stephen Barnett, now dual-hatted as Commander of the Navy Region Hawaii and Commander of Navy Closure Task Force, will have overall responsibility for the final steps to ensure the safe closure of Red Hill.

As you may recall, in March 2022, Secretary Austin directed the defueling and permanent closure of the Red Hill Facility and established Joint Task Force-Red Hill to lead the defueling efforts and maintain command and control of Red Hill Bulk Fuel Storage Facility.

Last fall, the Secretary directed a conditions-based transition of command and control from the Joint Task Force to the Navy Closure Task Force, with the Navy assuming responsibility for Red Hill upon completion of the defueling mission.  On March 14th, Secretary Austin convened all key stakeholders to verify that all conditions for the transition, to include final transition review and safety measure turnover, had all been met. 

Joint Task Force-Red Hill and Navy Closure Task Force-Red Hill will hold a transfer of authority ceremony later today at the Battleship Missouri Memorial at 4 pm local time in Hawaii, 10 pm Eastern Time.  This ceremony will mark the official transfer of authority from JTF-Red Hill to the newly established Navy Closure Task Force-Red Hill as they assume full responsibility for the facility and its closure. 

And between mid-January and the end of March, the Navy Closure Task Force-Red Hill was fully integrated with the JTF-Red Hill team to ensure continuity of mission for safety, security, and community engagement.

The Department of Defense and the United States Navy remain deeply committed to protecting the public's health and preserving the environment.  The Navy will continue its work to safely close Red Hill while protecting the safety of the surrounding community and being responsible environmental stewards in Hawaii.

The transfer of authority ceremony will be broadcast live on

Switching gears, nearly 2,000 Marines and sailors arrived in Australia's Northern Territory this week to begin the 13th annual iteration of Marine Rotational Force-Darwin, which strengthens the Australia-U.S. alliance and our combined capabilities.

Over the next six months, MRF-Darwin will conduct a series of exercises and training events with the Australian Defense Force and other regional allies and partners to establish a forward-postured crisis response force, enhance interoperability between our forces, and contribute to a more stable and secure Indo-Pacific.

For more information, please contact the U.S. Marines.

And finally, as you may have seen earlier today, DOD's Chief Information Office released its Defense Industrial Base Cybersecurity Strategy.  Spanning Fiscal Years 2024 through 2027, the DOD's Defense Industrial Base Cybersecurity Strategy provides a path forward for the department's internal and industry-facing cybersecurity activities.

This strategy's vision, mission, goals, and objectives support the directives and priorities of the National Defense Strategy, the 2023 National Cybersecurity Strategy, and the 2023 DOD Cyber Strategy.  You can read more about this on

With that, I'll be glad to take your questions.  We've got Associated Press on the phone, so let's go with Lita Baldor, AP first.

Q:  Hi.  Thanks, Pat.  Today, General Brown said that some of the weapons that Israel has asked for and wants have not been provided by the United States, that they have asked for things that either the U.S. doesn't have the capacity to give over or doesn't want to give. 

Can you add a little — any more to that?  Like, what types of weapons have the — has the United States not provided to Israel that it wanted?  And is it largely due to, you know, risk and what's available, or are there other things, such as conditioning that on progress in humanitarian efforts, that — that sort of keyed into that?

GEN. RYDER:  Yeah, thanks very much, Lita.  As — as you know, we have a very longstanding security relationship with Israel.  And certainly, after October 7th, we worked very hard to — to rush security assistance to Israel in support of their efforts to defend themselves against attacks from Hamas and future terrorist attacks. 

And when it comes to the provision of security assistance, to include weapons and weapons systems, obviously I — I don't want to get ahead of those conversations.  Those are always ongoing conversations.  But through programs like foreign military finance, foreign military sales, again, it — it's part of our efforts — longstanding efforts to ensure Israel's qualitative military edge.

But to — to get to your specific question, I just — I don't have any information to provide beyond that.  Thank you.

Let me come in the room here.  Haley?

Q:  Thank you.  I'm hoping just to get a — updates on a few things.  One, on the Benavidez, on the Army assets heading to Gaza, if those are still expecting to arrive on time or sort of when we can expect that?

And then also, on the additional Abbey Gate review, on sort of when that release will be coming?

And then anything you have — I know Congress is out — but any update you have on conversations Secretary Austin has had on the supplemental with lawmakers, any talks he's having with them?

GEN. RYDER:  Sure.  On — on the Abbey Gate review, I don't have a date to provide.  Certainly, we'll — we'll keep you updated on — on that front, as will U.S. Central Command.

When it comes to the joint logistics over the shore capability and the Benavidez and the other ships associated with that effort, to my knowledge, everything's on track so far.  We talked about the fact that that — we anticipate that that capability will be operational within 60 days.  So we're, you know, almost halfway there.  But again, we'll certainly keep you updated on that front.  But again, right now, based on the information I have, everything is proceeding according to schedule.

In terms of the secretary's engagement with the Hill, you know, I don't have any specific calls to read out to you now, other than to say he and the department writ large can continue to remain actively engaged with Congress and to work with Congress to try to get the supplemental passed. You've heard us say, you've heard the Secretary say many, many times that it is vital that we have that additional financial support for multiple reasons, not the least of which is to continue supporting Ukraine in their fight.

Thank you.


Q: Niger said yesterday that the U.S. would, at some point, soon present a plan for the disengagement of American troops from the country. So is such a plan in the works? And do you have any update on the status of U.S. forces there or their future in the country?

GEN. RYDER: Yeah. Thanks, Will. I did see that article. I think you're familiar with the outlet that it ran in. I really don't have anything on that. To my knowledge, you know, they're continue to be ongoing discussions at this time. We'll, of course, keep you updated if there's anything new. There's been no decisions made at this stage on the movement of U.S. forces. And we're still working to get clarification from the CNSP in that regard. So we'll keep you updated.

Let me go to Tom and then —

Q: Thanks, Pat. Two quick follow ups. One is, what led to the six months early action on Red Hill? You said they moved six months in advance. And my second question is, has there been any more clarity on who will be the NGOs that the U.S. will be working with once the pier is constructed in Gaza? Who will be taking the aid from any more — on Tuesday, Sabrina was unsure. It's an ongoing thing. I realize any more clarity on that. Thanks.

GEN. RYDER: Yeah. Thanks, Tom. On your first question, I just — I think it's a real testament to the effectiveness of Joint Task Force Red Hill. The team led by Vice Admiral Wade. And their commitment and dedication to taking this task very seriously for all the obvious reasons, not the least of which is the public interest in ensuring that we're doing right by the state of Hawaii and the people of — in Hawaii. And so, you know, they worked expeditiously to do it as safely as possible. And so, you know, obviously, we're very glad to see that things have moved along quickly and are confident that the Navy Closure Task Force Red Hill will continue that tradition.

In terms of the, NGOs and the efforts to receive and distribute aid, as Sabrina highlighted, that work is still ongoing. USAID has the point when it comes to — and State Department have the point when it comes to working with NGOs in that regard. Certainly, the DOD is part of those conversations. I just don't want to get ahead of the process right now. But as I mentioned to Haley, we'll be sure to keep you updated.

Q: You did the — to answer — anticipate my question. So USAID is going to be the — essentially, the point agency to deal with that end of the operation?

GEN. RYDER: Well USAID is the point for the United States government when it comes to working with NGOs and humanitarian assistance as it relates to Gaza. So certainly, we're working with State and AID on that front. And again, we'll keep you posted. Yes, sir?

Q: Yes, Daniele Compatangelo for the Italian television. So there's been for many years in Europe there's been ongoing talks about creating a military force to protect Europe himself [sic] towards Russia and attacks, although being part of NATO. Europe appreciate what Biden — President Biden been doing all those years to straighten the alliance. But what would answer from the Pentagon if Europe would have their own military force to protect themselves? Some states in Europe brought that up lately.

GEN. RYDER: Well, I mean, that's certainly a question that Europeans in the European Union would need to respond to. As you know, the United States has been committed to working with European nations to include NATO for a very long time when it comes to European security. I think we all have a vested interest in a secure, stable, peaceful, prosperous Europe as evidenced by the last 75 years. But when it comes to those kinds of decisions, those kinds of policy decisions, I just don't want to get into hypotheticals at this point. And so I'd refer you to the EU on that.

Let me go to the phone here. Jeff Schogol, Task & Purpose.

Q: Thank you. So the defueling mission at Joint Task Red Hill is done. Does that mean all the petroleum-based substances are no longer in storage or that they still have to clean up sludge and other residue in order to make it completely clean?

GEN. RYDER: Yeah. Thanks, Jeff. So, you know, right up front, the department will remove every single drop of fuel from the facility as we've been directed to do. And so what Joint Task Force Red Hill has done is they've removed all the fuel in the bulk fuel storage facility that could be accessed by either gravity flow or other nondestructive means. And so there is a small quantity, approximately 4,000 gallons of known residual fuel that remains in the facility. And so Navy Closure Task Force Red Hill, they are best situated to remove this known residual fuel as it can only be removed by what's known as destructive means. And so, in other words, thermal oxidation, you know, essentially, in layman's terms as I understand it, you know, burning it out.

But this is — and this is covered in the Navy's Closure plan. They will also — Navy Closure Task Force Red Hill will also remove the pipelines, as well as the sludge that is in the bottom of the tanks. They estimate there's approximately 28,000 gallons of sludge in the bottom of those tanks. And they'll remove any unknown qualities, or excuse me, quantities of residual fuel or related products in the facility until the bulk storage fuel facility is closed. Come back in the room here. Yes, sir?

Q: Thank you. I have a couple on Ukraine and ISIS. So with the newly approved budget, there is 300 million for the USAA program for Ukraine. Do you consider using those funds to procure additional items for Ukraine, like much needed artillery rounds, for example?

GEN. RYDER: Well, I, I think, you know, we've been very clear when it comes to Ukraine. First of all, we're going to continue to support them for the long haul. Second of all, we really need Congress to pass the supplemental budget. That is the route to ensuring that Ukraine has the support that it needs and the volume of support that it needs to continue the fight.

Q: And what about those 300 million now?

GEN. RYDER: In terms of?

Q: USAA program, like procure grounds, send them to Ukraine when there's this gap?

GEN. RYDER: Yeah. Again, I don't have anything further to provide you on that.

Q: One on ISIS, has the Pentagon adjusted its force pressure anywhere in response to emerging threats from ISIS or ISIS-K? And has the Pentagon shared any additional threat intelligence with any countries since the Moscow attack under duty to warn?

GEN. RYDER: Yeah. In terms of your last question on duty to warn, that's probably better addressed by the Director of National Intelligence or State Department. I don't have anything from a DOD standpoint. Clearly, our policy is duty to warn. So if we have information that we believe it needs to be shared to protect the lives of innocent civilians, we'll do that. And you've heard the White House talk about the fact that we did share that information with Russia why they chose to ignore it. I'd have to refer you to them. But clearly, this was an ISIS attack that took place in Moscow.

As it relates to ISIS, I think it's very important to understand that the Department of Defense has not taken its eye off of ISIS. When you look at our national defense strategy, it talks about counterterrorism, and it talks about the fact that we need to be prepared to address threats like ISIS, as evidenced by our ongoing efforts working with the international community in places like Iraq, and Syria, and elsewhere to ensure that there is not a resurgence of ISIS like what we saw back in 2014, 2015. Thanks. Constantine?

Q: Thanks, Pat. Can you confirm reports from earlier this week that the IDF has agreed to anchor the JLOTS pier to Gaza and provide a security bubble?

GEN. RYDER: I can't. Again, as I highlighted, we're continuing to work through the details. You know, certainly, Israel is an important partner in the region. And we'll continue to consult with them on that front. I just don't have any more details to provide right now.

Q: And just to follow up on that, is there — do you get the sense that we'll have those details before the pier is setup?

GEN. RYDER: Of course, yeah. I mean, but, you know, again, it's a matter of wanting to make sure that we get you a factual finalized information recognizing, you know, there are OPSEC considerations, but also the fact that, you know, once those trucks start rolling off the causeway with aid, it's going to be obvious. So we'll make sure that we get you that information. Time for a couple more. Yes, ma'am?

Q: Are MREs part of the aid package going for the Gazans? There was some discussion about this earlier today and whether there might be a need for additional nutritional content that's specific to developmental needs of the very young?

GEN. RYDER: Yeah. So it's a great question. So again, it's important to put the Department of Defense efforts into context. It's part of a broader U.S. and international effort to get aid into Gaza. And so the Department of Defense is one part of that bigger effort. And so MREs are a way that we can get nutrition, get meals to people who urgently need that support, recognizing that MREs obviously are made for militaries, right? And so they're very high in caloric content. They're very high in nutrition. But it's not the only type of aid that's going into Gaza. And it's not — it's, you know, clear that more aid needs to be getting in, which is why, again, USAID, State Department, DOD, working with the international community to do that. All right. Take two more. Yes, ma'am?

Q: Sir, I wanted to ask about, you mentioned the DOD CIO's release of the Defense Industrial Base Cybersecurity Strategy. How optimistic is the Secretary about the work that needs to be done from the Defense Industrial Base of insuring up there through cybersecurity practices, you know, not just traditional DIP companies, but, you know, smaller companies, non-traditionals and even (inaudible) company is?

GEN. RYDER: Well, I mean, you know, as you highlight, it's not just the big companies. It's also important to take care, you know, think about the subsidiaries, the subcontractors, the smaller companies. And that is a conversation that's always going on, right, recognizing the fact that you want industry to be free, to be innovative and creative, and have open systems where it makes sense. But at the same time, recognizing that within the bounds of privacy and propriety, we also don't want to do something that's going to potentially introduce vulnerabilities.

And so those are the kinds of conversations that happen at multiple levels and certainly something that the secretary is aware of and something that the department will take into account.

Q:  Thank you.

GEN. RYDER:  Thanks.

Q:  Thank you.  I'd like to ask about Ospreys.  Have you had any reports of trouble since the Osprey's flight suspension was lifted?  And is the investigation still going?

GEN. RYDER:  So to my knowledge the Air Force investigation is still ongoing.  I'd have to refer you to the services for specifics on the current status of their aircraft.  I'm not aware of any issues at this time.  But, again, I'd have to refer you to the individual services.

Thanks very much everybody.  Appreciate it.