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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. Just a few things at the top, and I'll get right to your questions.

So as you're aware, Secretary Austin hosted the 22nd Ukraine Defense Contact Group meeting yesterday, where he highlighted the urgent need to support Ukraine amid a challenging and dangerous fight against a new Russian offensive. He underscored the extraordinary courage of Ukrainian defenders and the critical role of the some-50 nations that comprise the Contact Group in providing essential capabilities to the defense of Ukraine through eight separate capability coalitions. The secretary also emphasized the importance of ongoing assistance and coordination to ensure Ukraine's long-term security, as well as our continued laser focus on Ukraine's near-term battlefield requirements.

Separately, earlier today, Secretary Austin hosted Finnish Minister of Defense Antti Hakkanen here at the Pentagon for a bilateral discussion on the strong defense relationship between the U.S. and Finland. The two leaders reaffirmed their commitment to NATO's collective defense and addressed current European security challenges, particularly Russian aggression. Secretary Austin praised Finland's role in regional security and within NATO, and both leaders committed to deepening our strategic partnership to ensure regional stability. Readout will be posted to the DOD website later today.

GEN. RYDER: Looking further ahead into the week, Secretary Austin will travel to Annapolis, Maryland, on Friday, where he'll provide the commencement address to the U.S. Naval Academy's 2024 graduating class of our newly-appointed U.S. Navy ensigns and Marine Corps second lieutenants. The commencement ceremony - ceremony will be live-streamed on

And switching gears to a couple of operational updates. To date, over 569 metric tons of humanitarian assistance has been delivered across the temporary pier, or JLOTS, to Gaza for further distribution by humanitarian partners, with more aid on the way. This humanitarian assistance has been donated by the United States, United Kingdom, UAE, European Union, and many other partners.

And as you've heard us say previously, the pier's a temporary solution and contribution as part of a broader international effort to surge humanitarian assistance to Gaza to meet the urgent needs of the Palestinian people. As JLOTS operations continue, we'll be sure to provide updates as appropriate on this important international humanitarian endeavor.

And finally, four U.S. Air Force B-52 Stratofortress aircraft and deployed airmen began a routine bomber task force deployment to the U.S. European Command area of operations this week. Operating out of the UK's RAF Fairford, these aircraft deployed from Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota will provide numerous training and operational opportunities alongside NATO allies and regional partners.

This deployment underscores the U.S. commitment to NATO's collective deterrence and defense of the Euro-Atlantic region against hostile actors. The bomber task force in Europe is part of a large - is part of Large Scale Global Exercise 2024, which enhances U.S. Joint Force's training with allies to address global security challenges - excuse me. For further questions, I'd refer you to U.S. European Command Public Affairs.

And also, I'd like to thank Air & Space Forces Magazine for watching our left flank over here. Thanks, Chris.

And with that, we'll go ahead and go to AP first.

Q: Thanks, Pat.

GEN. RYDER: All right.

Q: Over here on the other flank.


Some of the aid that has come off the pier, there was difficulty in getting it distributed over the last couple of days. Some of the trucks were overrun by people trying to pull the aid off, et cetera. Is the U.S. concerned that some of that aid is not actually getting to the warehouses and thus to the distribution point? Any - are you aware of any steps that either the U.S. or allies and other coordinators on the ground are taking in order to kind of improve this process at this point?

GEN. RYDER: Yeah, thanks, Lita. So actually, yes, a - a - a few updates on that front. So there have been discussions between the U.S., Israel, United Nations, as well as joint efforts to identify alternative routes for the safe movement of staff and cargo.

And so movements from the temporary facility from the - the assembly area, they have resumed today. And so we do anticipate that assistance will be distributed in the - the coming days here, of course conditions permitting.

And so, you know, as we move forward on this, the - the safety and security of - of all the humanitarian assistance organizations is going to continue to be critical, and we'll continue to work closely with the international community on that front.

Ultimately, the goal of course is to get this - this humanitarian assistance to the Palestinian people who need it most.

Q: Just a quick follow - I just wanted to make sure, on the 569 that you gave us, is that as of today or yesterday?

GEN. RYDER: That is as of this briefing. I know that more aid's coming. So there - there may be updated numbers later today, but that's as - as a - what I have as of coming into this briefing right now.

Yep, Natasha?

Q: Thanks, Pat. So originally, the plan was to, I mean, according to senior military officials who were briefed on this, start off by getting roughly 90 trucks per day of aid into Gaza and then scaling up to ultimately 150 trucks per day, but it seems that as of today, only about 26 total trucks have gotten in since Friday, including 14 yesterday, and some of them of course had been intercepted. So why are more trucks not making it across the causeway into Gaza at this point?

GEN. RYDER: Yeah, so a couple things, Natasha. So first of all, I would emphasize, you know, a key point that you just made - that is aid is flowing in, and that's additional aid for the people of Gaza. And so that's a - that's a very good thing.

The second thing is I would highlight, you know, again, for additional context, this is - it's just over three days since JLOTS first went operational and we've already been able to push, as I mentioned, over 596 metric tons of aid for onward delivery into Gaza, more on the way. And again, it's also important to remember that this is a combat zone and that it is a complex operation.

And so, we know, we've been very clear from the beginning that we're going to take a crawl, walk, run approach to make sure that we are implementing this system in a way where we're working out the - the processes, the procedures, and - in - including taking into account the security conditions.

So I think you're going to see, as we work together, the amount of aid increase and the ability to get it distributed increase. But we never said it was going to be easy. I mean, again, the circumstances that we're dealing with here are - are challenging.

But the bottom line is that we're - we're taking action now and we're focused on what we can do to help save the lives of - of those in Gaza who need this aid. And so that's what we'll continue to stay focused on.

Q: Aid kind of waiting to flow across the causeway? Is the - is - is the - is DOD essentially holding back the number of trucks because there’s not the logistical ...

GEN. RYDER: No. So aid - aid - as - you know, as you - as we've talked about, aid will go - be delivered to the floating pier, then transported via logistics support vessels, delivered to the causeway and then put into assembly areas on shore, and that's where NGOs pick up that aid and then further distribute it.

So to my knowledge, there's no stoppage. Again, as we've mentioned, this is going to be a crawl, walk, run approach and you're going to see those numbers increase in the days ahead.

Let me go to Lara and then I'll come to Tom.

Q: Thank you. I just wanted to follow up on Lita and Natasha's questions. So you say that aid is continuing to flow through but it's - it's sort of at this very small, slow pace. So is there a backlog somewhere? Like, is aid coming into the marshaling area and then getting stuck there for a while, or can you explain to us where all this aid is right now?

GEN. RYDER: The aid is in the assembly areas on shore, right? So it's - it's taken - the - so the military - the U.S. military is delivering it to the causeway. It's then taken by non-U.S. contractors, driven over onto shore, put into an assembly area, which is where the NGOs that are supporting this effort pick it up and take it for onward distribution.

But as I mentioned, you know, via some discussions that have happened, again, as we work out processes and procedures, alternative routes for the safe movement of that cargo have been established, and aid is now being taken from those assembly areas to - to warehouses for further distribution throughout Gaza.

Q: So when you say that 569 metric tons have gotten in, do you mean that they've gotten out?

GEN. RYDER: That's what we've brought to - that's correct. That's what we have delivered onto the shore for further distribution elsewhere throughout Gaza. OK?

And let me go to Tom and then we'll ...

Q: ... 569, can you give us a breakdown, how many trucks that is? And also, how many trucks were sort of overwhelmed by people just grabbing the humanitarian aid?

And finally, on the causeway itself, who's providing security for that causeway? Is it the Israelis? Is it private security? Who is - who is that (inaudible)?

GEN. RYDER: Yeah, so a couple things there, Tom. So first of all, you know, I - I would - I would caution you around getting focused on the number of trucks that are going back and forth from an LSV to the shore, right? I mean, it's a continuous circuit. So, the focus is on the amount of aid. The amount of trucks is irrelevant to the amount of aid that's going to be delivered out into the communities.

And again, let's differentiate between the trucks that are taking it from the end of the causeway to the assembly area. It's two different things. Once it gets to the assembly area, it will be loaded onto trucks, and that is managed by the NGOs that will then take it off to other warehouses throughout Gaza for further distribution. So, there's that piece.

So, talking about over 596 metric tons. That is what the U.S. military has been able to deliver to the end of the causeway and then taken by contractors into the assembly area. In terms of security, so, it's a multi -- I'm not going to get into super specifics here, but it's multi-pronged. You've got the Israelis, of course, providing security on the shore, also at sea.

And you also have, you know, U.S. military personnel that are able to defend themselves if they needed to, although they're not obviously going onto the shore. And then you also, in the -- in the maritime area there have U.S. destroyers that are also patrolling and able to provide security. So, it's a -- it's a multi-step process there in terms of providing security.

Q: Getting back to the metric tons, it would be helpful, I think, if we do apples and apples, if you're talking 90 trucks and you're going to go up to 150, it would just be helpful for everybody, I think, if you just say 40 trucks got in today --

GEN. RYDER: Yes, I think what you're, again, so look, as the amount of aid increases into the deliver the causeway and you start to ramp up the number of trucks that are taking the aid off the end of the causeway and delivering it to the assembly areas, I mean, that's an interesting factoid, but it doesn't change what the ultimate endeavor here is, which is to get humanitarian assistance to the people of Gaza.

So, the real key statistic here is how much aid is being brought onto the shore, and then ultimately delivered throughout Gaza via the NGOs to the people of Gaza. So, again, we'll continue to keep you updated on that front. I think what you'll see again is as this pier, you know, continues to move towards full operational capability, you'll start to see more aid coming in, and you'll start to see the numbers increase in terms of the amount of aid that's brought into the assembly areas.

Q: And lastly, on the truck issue, how many were overwhelmed by Palestinians grabbing at stuff, do you know?

GEN. RYDER: You know, I've seen the reports about civilians along some of the transportations routes out in Gaza. Again, importantly not -- this is not in the causeway, it's not in the assembly areas, it's out in Gaza. Once it left that maritime marshaling area, I think we can all agree that that demonstrates the importance of making sure that we can continue to get aid into Gaza, not only by maritime routes but also by land routes and the desperation that's out there.

So, again, as I mentioned earlier, there's been discussions today to look at how we can get that aid, how the NGOs can get that aid out into where it's needed most. So, but to answer your question, I don't have the specific numbers. Liz?

Q: Thanks, Pat. Israeli officials seized camera equipment belonging to the Associated Press. They said the AP violated a new media law. Does the U.S. support that move?

GEN. RYDER: Of course not. I mean, I've seen those press reports. You know, we obviously support a free and independent press being able to do its job to tell the world the news about what's happening. And so, no.

Q: Does Secretary Austin talk about this with his counterpart?

GEN. RYDER: I'm not going to get ahead of any discussions that we have, but again, from a DoD standpoint, we've been very clear on our support for a free and independent press. Yes, sir. Since you were holding down the fort over here.

Q: Proud to be joined by all my colleagues. Now that JLOTS is in place, is the plan to continue U.S. airdrops for a period of time? The airdrops have been primarily in northern Gaza along the shore where JLOTS is generally in place. So, will there be any adjustments to the airdrops, such as new drop zones, to reach different parts of Gaza? Is that under consideration?

GEN. RYDER: Yes, I don't have any announcements to make in terms of changes today, Chris. I mean, certainly, as you highlight, air drops are an option that we have used and are using, but I don't have any announcements to make in terms of any shifts in that. If we do, obviously keep you posted.

Q: But that's, for the time being, that's planned to keep going? The airdrops?

GEN. RYDER: Yes. I mean, again, it's an option that we have available to us, and we've done airdrops. Again, whether that continues well into the future, I will keep you posted. OK, let me just go to the phone here real quick. Idrees from Reuters?

Q: Hey, Pat, a couple of questions. Firstly, just so it's clear, how many tons of aid have been delivered from the marshaling area to the UN, and how many tons remain in that sort of holding area off the pier?

And secondly, in these discussions, have you talked about any potential sort of protection, whether it's armed guards or otherwise, for the convoys? Because presumably, these new routes will be figured out given the desperation of people in Gaza and might be overwhelmed again. So, has there been any other talks other than just changing the route?

GEN. RYDER: Yes, thanks, Idrees. So, as it relates to the aid deliveries by the NGOs that are supporting this, I'd really have to refer you to USAID. I just don't have those statistics with me right now. As mentioned, I am tracking, we are tracking, that movements have begun to put some of that aid into warehouses, for onward distribution within Gaza.

So, again, I would have to refer you to USAID on that front. And then similarly, as it relates to providing security for those NGOs, that again is a topic that really comes down to the preferences of those NGOs. As I mentioned, there continue to be ongoing discussions with Israel, with the UN and the groups involved in terms of how best to support them when it comes to ensuring that aid can be distributed. And as I mentioned, one of those approaches is using alternative routes.

But it's really best for them to talk about their preferences in terms of how they prefer to have security as they conduct their routes. Again, obviously, U.S. military is not involved in that particular piece. In terms of escorting, we don't have any forces on the ground, but obviously something that we're continuing to monitor. But again, I'd refer you to USAID on that one. Let me go to Jeff Schogol, Task & Purpose.

Q: Thank you. Just a quick clarification first. 569 or 596 metric tons? And the second is, an expert has said that the Russians now have 510,000 troops involved in the war with Ukraine. The expert is from the Royal United Services Institute. I'm wondering, can DoD confirm that number or say that's about right, 510,000?

GEN. RYDER: Yes, thanks, Jeff. So, to clarify, it's 569 metric tons. If I said 96, I apologize. It's 569. And then, I'm sorry, can you say your second question again?

Q: Sure An expert with the Royal United Services Institute has estimated the Russians now have 510,000 troops involved in the war in Ukraine, which is much more than was part of the initial invasion. Can DoD say is that figure, does that sound right?

GEN. RYDER: Yes. Thanks, Jeff. So, I don't have a specific number to provide, other than to say that we do know that there's tens of thousands of Russian forces inside Ukraine, continuing to, you know, depending on where they're located, down near Kharkiv, of course. They have -- are conducting a renewed offensive, making some small gains, and then, of course, forces along that whole forward line of troops. But I'm just not able to provide a specific number for you. Thank you.

Let me come back into the room. Yes?

Q: Thank you. Staying in the region, can you please confirm, General, that the United States military was asked to assist with the Iranian search and rescue operations on Sunday?

GEN. RYDER: So, I'd have to refer you to, yes, I'd have to refer you to State Department on that. I know from a DoD standpoint, we were not requested to provide any support.

Q: (inaudible)

GEN. RYDER: No. So, I'd refer you to State. I believe they had some comments to that effect, but I don't have anything…

Q: If I can have a follow up. The fact that it was a Turkish surveillance droid of a NATO country that ended up locating the crash site of the Iranian presidential helicopter. What does that say, do you think, about Iran's capabilities in the region that they couldn't even locate their own presidential helicopter?

GEN. RYDER: Yes, I mean, I appreciate the question. I'm not going to comment on what their search and rescue capabilities are or not. You know, certainly, it's not unusual to request assistance from neighbors in these types of situations. And so, I'd just leave it there.

Let me go to Janne, and then I'll come back to inside the room.

Q: Thank you, General. On Russia and China, Russian President Putin and the Chinese President Xi Jinping said during their meeting last week that they oppose threatening actions in the military field by the United States and its allies. And the Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov said again today that United States and its allies are escalating tensions on Korean Peninsula, provoking confrontation with North Korea. How will the Pentagon reaction to this?

GEN. RYDER: Well, you know, I'm not going to comment on anything said by the Russian foreign minister. What I will do is highlight that the peace, security and stability that the U.S.-ROK alliance has brought to the region and beyond, despite the provocations and rhetorical threats that are emanating from the DPRK, really are testament to the relationship that our two countries have, and towards the efforts that the U.S., ROK, Japan and other allies and partners in the region have really done over many, many decades to uphold stability and security throughout the region.

So, we're going to continue to work with our allies towards that end. And when it comes to our mutual defense, we'll continue to work with both the ROK and the Japanese governments to address any threats that are posed by the DPRK. And of course, as we've always said, that we encourage the DPRK to return to substantive discussions on identifying ways to manage those risks and to create a lasting peace on the Korean Peninsula.

Q: General, how can you say about President Putin and President Xi Jinping, who do not point out North Korea's continued missile launch and dangerous behavior?

GEN. RYDER: You know, again, I - I think the - the relationship that we see developing between North Korea and Russia is certainly concerning, and I - and I think we see in many ways, you know, Russia looking to - to help bolster its ability to conduct its illegal and aggressive campaign in Ukraine.

And so, you know, I just think it's indicative of the situation that they find them - themselves in, but again, what we're going to stay focused on is regional security and stability, not only in the Indo-Pacific region but also throughout Europe.

And we're going to work with our likeminded allies and partners to prevent broader conflict and again try to send the strong signal that the kind of bullying and provocative behavior that we've seen from Russia as it relates to Ukraine is not acceptable.

All right, let me move on. Konstantin?

Q: Thanks, Pat. So to - to your point about sort of the JLOTS trucks and making apples-to-apples comparisons, can you say on average how much - one truckload, how many tons that is, just so that we can get a sense of - and then the 569 metric tons, are you able to estimate how many people that'll - that aid is able to feed?

GEN. RYDER: Let me take those questions for you. I - I don't have them in front of me. Thanks.


Q: Yeah, early on - two points. Early on, you - when we announced - when the United States announced JLOTS from the podium, it was said that between 90 to 150 trucks equivalence. That would ramp up to - or be the same as two million meals a - a day. Are you stepping back from the - those comparisons that you've made, based on your new comment today ...

GEN. RYDER: No. Because what we're talking about here is a capability. And again, I think if we, you know - and again, I mean, I fully understand the interest in the statistics, and, you know, that - and that - that all makes sense. And - and again, we'll continue to provide that information.

But if we take a step back here and look at the - the forest for the trees, this is a capability - it's essentially another avenue by which we can get aid into Gaza. You know, despite all of the challenges as it pertains to land routes and - and land crossings, it provides another mechanism by which the international community can get aid into Gaza. And so that is - that is the - the strategic goal here, right, is to be able to facilitate the delivery of that aid.

And so as it - as it relates to JLOTS, what we're talking about - it - it has the capacity to do that. And so as we continue to work with the international community and receive additional aid and start to be able to - to get that outward, I think you'll see those - those numbers go up.

Q: But - but - but reaching the 90 to 150 that you said from the podium or ...

GEN. RYDER: I mean, has the capacity to do that, right? So, I mean, that's, again, what we'll work towards. And - and of course, you know, as more aid comes in, we'll - we'll do that. Obviously, you have to pick up the aid from Cyprus and - and that aid has to be there.

And so again, as we continue to work with the international community and - and partners that want to use that avenue of approach, so to speak, it'll have the capacity to do that.

Q: The other topic - at the United Nations - U.S. representative of the United Nations talked about how last week, Russia launched an anti-satellite weapon, potentially the same altitude as an American satellite. Is this a concern? Can you confirm that information that was presented at the United Nations? And what is - what is the message, if you have a comment?

GEN. RYDER: Yeah, so it - it - and what I'm tracking here is on May 16th, as you highlight, Russia launched a satellite into low Earth orbit that we - that we assess is likely a counter-space weapon presumably capable of attacking other satellites in low Earth orbit.

Russia deployed this new counter-space weapon into the same orbit as a U.S. government satellite. And so assessments further indicate characteristics resembling previously deployed counter-space payloads from 2019 and 2022. And so, you know, obviously that's something that we'll continue to monitor.

Certainly, we would say that we have a responsibility to be ready to protect and defend the domain - the space domain and ensure continuous and uninterrupted support to the Joint and Combined Force. And we'll continue to balance the need to protect our interests in space with our desire to preserve a stable and sustainable space environment.

Q: Does it pose a threat to that government satellite - the U.S. government satellite right now?

GEN. RYDER: Well, it's a counter-space weapon in the same orbit as a U.S. government satellite, so.

Yes, sir?

Q: Yesterday, we heard from the Secretary on his views about striking targets in Russia with American weapons, but can you explain why Ukrainians cannot use those capabilities to strike back and respond to these attacks that come from Russian territory? I mean, we know that the Pentagon does - doesn't support that, but what's the reasoning behind this approach?

GEN. RYDER: Well, you know, look, as - as the Secretary highlighted, you know, our policy hasn't changed. We are focused on providing Ukraine with capabilities that it needs to defend itself within Ukraine - Ukrainian sovereign territory.

And so, you know, we understand that. We're going to continue to have those conversations with our Ukrainian partners, as well as our international allies and partners, when it comes to the kinds of capabilities, to include air defense, that Ukraine needs to defend itself. So I'm - I'm just going to leave it there.

Q: (Inaudible) Secretary also said that aerial dynamic is a little bit different. So, could you please clarify this commentary? Does this mean that restrictions do not apply to aerial defense in Ukraine - basically can strike targets that are in Russian territory of those aerial defenses?

GEN. RYDER: Yeah, so, you know, again, as the Secretary highlighted, I'm - I'm not going to get into picking apart a bunch of different scenarios. Again, the strategic intent here is enabling Ukraine to defend itself and defend its sovereign territory.

And so, you know, if - if and when we have anything to - else to provide on that, we certainly will, but I'm just going to leave it there.

Yes, sir?

Q: Thank you very much, General. My first question is about this lady, Dr. Aafia Siddiqui. She has been in the U.S. prisons for last 15 years. She was accused of killing U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan but no U.S. soldier was killed. A U.S. lawyer, British-American lawyer, Clive Stafford, met - went to Afghanistan just last week to provide some more evidence that she had no role - or she - she's innocent. The lady's half dead. I've been raising voice for her release. Can Secretary look into this lady's issue and - because I feel like this - this whole bureaucratic issue is hurting her release.

GEN. RYDER: Yeah - no, I appreciate the question. I'm familiar with the (Sadiqi ?) case but I'd have to refer you to the Department of Justice for any questions on that.

Q: One more ...

GEN. RYDER: And if you can keep it short, please.

Q: The - Pakistan and the U.S. recently had a - security talks. In the handout they released was - the last two words were "global security and fight against ISIS." On this podium, when General McKenzie was here, I had asked him six years ago, seven years ago, that ISIS fighters were coming to Pakistan -- I mean to Afghanistan and that whole (inaudible) region.

Do you see a new level of global terrorism again rising from that region in the shape of ISIS now?

GEN. RYDER: Well, I mean, ISIS-K has been a threat in the region for a while. It's one of many terrorist groups that we know operate throughout that region. And of course, the U.S. and Pakistan have a counterterrorism cooperation effort that's been longstanding.

And so, certainly, as it relates to regional threats like ISIS or other terrorist groups, we'll continue to work with our Pakistani partners to confront and address that issue. I think it's just one of those things that we have to continue to take seriously.

And the last thing I'd say is, if you look at our national defense strategy, it recognizes the fact that countering violent extremist organizations like ISIS will continue to be an important part of our national defense strategy.

Let me go to Joseph, and then I'll come to Fadi.

Q: General Ryder, one on Russia and one on Gaza. The Russian, and I'm sorry if I missed this earlier, but the Russians announced that they had started tactical nuclear weapons exercises today. You guys have any comment on that? Is there any heightened concern that they could be potentially used nuclear weapons in the near term?

And then secondly, can you talk about or elaborate on any updated plans the Israelis have provided you with potential larger scale or large-scale invasion of Rafah?

GEN. RYDER: Yes, on the Russian exercises, I don't have anything additional to provide. Again, you know, we've seen that rhetoric, in terms of the threat to use nuclear weapons. It's irresponsible, inappropriate, and I'll just leave it there. As it relates to Rafah, to my knowledge, the Israelis have not provided us with a more detailed understanding, although those conversations continue.

As you know, Mr. Sullivan, the national security advisor, was recently in Israel. But to my knowledge, don't have any additional information on that front. And what we do see in Rafah continues to be a limited operation near the Rafah gate.

Q: Is there any concern that the decision by the ICC could impede on any potential travel by Israeli officials here?

GEN. RYDER: I'm not tracking any concerns in that regard. Fadi?

Q: So, thank you, General. I believe you said this operation, the causeway, it's three days. Right?

GEN. RYDER: March 17 was the first day of --

Q: (inaudible) on Friday, so today is Tuesday night in the region. So, it's been five days.

GEN. RYDER: See, that's what happens when you work here at DoD. I don't even know what day it is.

Q: Five hundred….

GEN. RYDER: But thank you for pointing that out.

Q: 569 metric tons. Is it, am I accurate to say zero has been delivered to the people of Gaza so far?

GEN. RYDER: You'd have to check with the World Food Program. I know that aid is getting in, but it's not accurate that no aid has been delivered. You know, we've been doing air drops. We've been helping to facilitate aid coming over the land crossings, but the causeway has been able to get over 569 metric tons of aid into Gaza for onward delivery. So, yes, very shortly, I think you'll see aid starting to be delivered.

Q: (inaudible) that has been delivered, right? As of today.

GEN. RYDER: As of today? I do not believe so.

Q: OK. And is Israel -- you said Israel is cooperating on this, trying to help. But it seems from what you said, the desperation of people created security issues for the distribution of aid from the assembly area. And that desperation is related to the fact that Israel is shutting down aid routes. Right?

GEN. RYDER: So, we're shifting from questions to editorializing. I'm going to go ahead and go to somebody else.

Let's go to Tom Watkins, The National.

Q: Thanks. Thanks, General. Yes, a couple of questions, if I may. So, NBC and the New York Times reported that there was very nearly a transfer of 11 or 12 detainees from Gitmo. But then October the 7th happened. Are you able to confirm that? And then my second question is, does Secretary Austin have any reaction to the ICC prosecutor seeking the arrest warrant for Yoav Gallant? And has the secretary spoken to him since that was announced?

GEN. RYDER: Yes. Thanks, Tom. On the Guantanamo question, obviously saw those press reports. I'll have to take that question for you. The secretary has not spoken to his Israeli counterpart, although, as you know, they speak frequently. So, I would anticipate that he'll have the opportunity to speak to him soon. Don't have anything to announce right now, but certainly we'll provide a readout as it relates to that conversation.

GEN. RYDER: Alright. I'll come back into the room. Yes, sir?

Q: Thank you, General. A couple of questions on Iran. Do you have any information about exactly what caused the Iranian president's helicopter crash? And secondly, do you expect any foreign policy change from Iran, especially from supporting these policies?

GEN. RYDER: So, no, we don't have any insight into what caused the helicopter crash, as was highlighted yesterday. We know that it's under investigation. So, I'd have to refer you to the Iranian authorities for any outcomes as it relates to that. And I'm sorry, your second question?

Q: Yes. Do you expect any foreign policy change from Iran, especially from supporting various prophecies in Iraq and Syria (inaudible)?

GEN. RYDER: I'm not tracking any changes in terms of our current foreign policy as it relates to Iran. Liz?

Q: It's a follow-up on Loui's question from earlier. Did Russia communicate with the U.S. at all that it was going to launch the anti-satellite weapon? And has there been any communication since?

GEN. RYDER: I'm not aware of any communication, but I'll have to take that question. As you know, there's a process by which there are launches are conducted, so I'll have to take that question. Natasha?

Q: I just have a follow up on the pier. Again, I'm trying to understand. So, last week, Admiral Hooper, and then previously, he had said that the goal was originally to start with 500 tons of aid moving across the causeway per day. We know that it's been, what, four or five days now? It's been a total of 569 tons. None of it, according to what you just said, that you believe it has actually been delivered to the Palestinians yet?

So, is the reason why that initial 500 tons of aid per day is not being moved across the causeway because we're not seeing any of it be delivered yet? That stuff that we are moving to the Palestinians, and so, we're kind of holding back? Or is there another reason why you haven't met that 500 tons per day goal yet?

GEN. RYDER: So, aid is taken to Cyprus, where it's loaded onto ships. So, the aid is coming from, as I mentioned, many different countries. That aid is then put onto larger ships and taken to the floating pier. So, again, part of that is going to be the amount of aid that is available to load onto those ships taken to the floating pier and then transloaded to the causeway.

And so, again, I think you're going to see, as this process works out, as more aid is delivered to Cyprus, you're going to see the amount of aid that's brought into Gaza increase. And to the point earlier, again, understanding that this is a multi-prong international effort, this is a one aspect of getting international aid into Gaza. It's not the only delivery mechanism by which to get aid into Gaza.

And so, we're going to continue to make this a viable avenue of approach to be able to get aid to humanitarian organizations that will then provide that for outward delivery. Again, as was highlighted earlier, some of that initial aid that was brought in, as it was being taken along a transportation route, was intercepted by some people who took that aid off those vehicles.

Subsequently, there's been discussions by which to ensure that there's alternate routes so that it can be delivered to warehouses. Again, fully appreciating the desperation, but also fully appreciating the fact that it is very important that this aid get to the people who need it most. That's going to continue to be the focus.

So, I understand, you know, the focus on why is this not working? Or why is that not working? But what we're focused on is how we can work to ensure that the Palestinian people get the aid. So, that's what we're going to stay focused on. There's always, in any operation of complexity, there's going to be challenges and hurdles that have to be overcome. That's what we specialize in overcoming, and that's what we're going to do.

So, again, appreciate the questions, appreciate the skepticism, but we're going to make it happen, and we're going to get this food to the Palestinian people. Laura?

Q: Sorry to harp on the same point, but.

GEN. RYDER: Please, harp on the same point.

Q: So, you're saying, you said that some of the trucks got intercepted after they were taken from the marshalling area?

GEN. RYDER: Correct.

Q: You said you were looking at alternative routes to distribute aid from the marshalling area, but I just don't understand why, what's the problem before the getting to the marshalling area?

GEN. RYDER: There's no problem getting to the marshalling area.

Q: So, why had there only been 569 metric tons of aid delivered to the marshalling area?

GEN. RYDER: That's how much aid has been delivered to the end of the pier to be brought into the marshalling area.

Q: So, was there less aid flowing through Cyprus than you thought there would be?

GEN. RYDER: I don't have a flowchart that shows what aid is expected and what's not. All I know is we're going to continue to push aid, and as I mentioned, more is on the way. So, you're going to see those numbers increase. But I guess my question for you is, I mean, yes, I'm not going to get into rhetorical questions.


Q: I just -- I think where our disconnect, I think, is, just so you can take the question and figure it out later, is the 90 to 150 trucks a day was kind of the metric everyone was focused on from Admiral Cooper and everyone early on, and now you guys sort of shifted to metric tons a day. And we're trying to equate. Is that -- is that 90 trucks per day?

How many -- how many -- and that's why, because we didn't know if that 569 metric tons would have gotten in. Whether that equates to whether you're falling short or meeting or whatever those initial goals of the 90 to 150 trucks. Unfortunately, that was the metric we got early on. And now, with the metric tons, we're trying to figure out how those two equate. I think that's just the question.

Q: And adding to that, too, is somebody must know how many trucks have gone along that causeway into the marshalling area. That's a number somebody should have.

Q: Because we're reporting x number of trucks left. And I think people are equating the number of trucks that go on and off the pier filled with aid to the number of trucks leaving the marshalling area. That's not the same trucks, and it's not the same size trucks, if I'm not mistaken. So, it would be inaccurate to say the number of trucks going on and off the pier is the same as the 10 or 11 trucks that left the pier or left the marshalling area and left. Is that accurate?

GEN. RYDER: Correct. Correct. And again, look, we'll continue to keep you updated on this. I understand the intense interest in it, and we'll continue to provide you as many statistics as we can. But again, looking at the forest through the trees here is about getting aid to the people of Gaza, and that's what we'll continue to focus on doing, no matter how many trucks are driving on or off the causeway. Courtney?

Q: Question about the trucks.

GEN. RYDER: Yes, please. Keep on trucking.

Q: The trucks that you mentioned that were intercepted, who was responsible for the security of those at the time?

GEN. RYDER: Again, you know, when it - when it comes to the security of NGOs, that's a decision that they all make internally. So I really can't speak to them or - or what specifically was on that - on that convoy, but - but again, broadly speaking and as I'm sure you can appreciate, I - I'm - I'm just not able to go into details in terms of the tactics, techniques, and procedures.

There has been a discussion to look at alternate routes to ensure the safety of the - the staff and the - and the cargo that's being delivered, and I - I just have to leave it there.

Q: No, I - I ask cause I - I - I was under the impression that - that until it got - that the - the Israeli Defense Forces were responsible for security of the humanitarian aid up to a certain point, including the delivery to the warehouses, but is that - that's not the case?

GEN. RYDER: I'll - I'll have to check on that. Thank you.

All right, Ellie?

Q: Initially, when you talked about the alternative routes, you said movements from the temporary facility resumed today. Is the temporary facility that you're talking about the marshaling area?

GEN. RYDER: Yes, the marshaling area.

Q: And then resumed. How many days were they not moving?

GEN. RYDER: It was just - well, just the last couple days. So they've resumed today. Two days.

OK, Fadi?

Q: Thanks for shutting me down before - for the opportunity again...

GEN. RYDER: ... no, that's alright. I apologize. Go ahead.

Q: No, no apology. Just hurt my feeling.

GEN. RYDER: Mine too - mine too.

Q: What I'm getting at is this was supposed to supplement the aid effort, and it seems the fact that the crossings are close is - is not helping the situation. As you said, desperate people intercepted some of the trucks, which created this delay.

Can you highlight or update us on the latest effort by the department, by the Secretary, with the Israeli counterparts, on the land routes? And where are you in that effort right now? Are you hopeful that we will see the crossing into Rafah, Kerem Shalom, areas open and functioning fully soon?

GEN. RYDER: So this is a - is an ongoing effort, not only with the Department of Defense but across the U.S. government, in terms of talking with the Israelis and other partners in the region to maximize the throughput of aid through the land crossings, to include Rafah.

And so, you know, I can assure you that that is a conversation that the Secretary has had with his Israeli counterpart and will continue to have, as well as other partners in the region - you know, most recently, as - as he mentioned, our - his Egyptian counterpart.

So we fully appreciate and recognize that land routes are the optimal way to get aid. And to answer your question, am I optimistic? You know, I'm an eternal optimist, so I will remain optimistic that we will be able to see the Rafah gate open and that we'll continue to see aid getting in.

And - and along those lines too, I mean, this kind of gets back to the - the reality of, again, we're talking about a combat zone here with many people in a - in a challenging and desperate situation. And so in the same way that, you know, logistically there have been challenges with the land routes, you know, going forward, even - even with air routes, there's always logistics - logistical challenges.

And so, you know, we shouldn't be surprised from time to time as the JLOTS goes forward that there are going to be challenges, but again, as we've done elsewhere, we will find a way to make it happen and we will find a way to get aid over the maritime corridor and to the people in Gaza.

And - and so again, this is not a - a sole U.S. military effort, it's an interagency effort, it's an international effort. And we understand the desperate need of the Palestinian people right now, and we're going to continue to work to get them what they need.


Q: On Monday, Taiwan's new President Lai was in (inaudible) China (inaudible) stop major threats against Taiwan. Since China's increased (inaudible) President Lai as a troublemaker, how much are you worried about the risk of escalation in the Taiwan Strait on the occasion of the (inaudible)?

GEN. RYDER: Well, thanks, Ryo. As you've heard us say, we've urged the PRC not to use the election as a pretext for escalation. And so, you know, we have seen - as I've mentioned previously and as you - you and I have discussed, you know, we've seen them - used increased naval activity as a pressure tactic, to include in the South China Sea.

We remain concerned about those kinds of activities. We've raised that directly with the PRC. But we're going to continue to remain committed to open channels of communication to prevent potential miscalculation or risks.

And ultimately, at the end of the day, we're going to continue to be committed to work to ensure that Taiwan maintains a self-sufficient self-defense capability in accordance with the Taiwan Relations Act. Thank you.

We'll take the last question. Yes, sir?

Q: Thanks, Pat. I - just to follow up on the ...

GEN. RYDER: If you say "trucks," I swear I'm coming across this podium.


Q: Did the U.S. military have advanced notice of that launch in any way?

GEN. RYDER: Again, I think that's - the - the question was asked earlier, in terms of, you know, Russian requirements to do any type of launch notifications. You know, I'm - I'm going to have to take that question.

Q: So…

GEN. RYDER: Now - and if you're asking specifically about payloads and things like that, I'm just not going to get into intelligence about ...

Q: ... you knew there was some type of launch?

GEN. RYDER: Well, what I'm saying is that, you know, typically when there - when there are launches into space, there are requirements in terms of notifications - international notifications, notifications to airmen, things like that. The - so the question is did we have advanced notice of that launch? As it relates to payloads and - and what we know about and what we don't know about, i.e. intelligence, that - that is not something I can get into.

All right, thanks very much, everybody. Appreciate it.