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 Maj. Gen. Pat Ryder Holds a Press Briefing

MAJOR GENERAL PAT RYDER: All right. Well, good afternoon, everyone. Just a few things here to pass along and then we'll get right to your questions. Secretary Austin hosted Ukrainian Minister of Defense Rustam Umarov at the Pentagon today and reaffirmed the unwavering support of the United States for Ukraine in the face of Russian aggression.

During the meeting, Secretary Austin highlighted that the US will soon announce a new security assistance package for Ukraine valued at approximately $2.3 billion. The package will be a combination of Presidential drawdown authority and Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative funding, which will provide a significant number of urgently needed air defense interceptors to protect Ukrainian cities and civilians from Russia's unrelenting aerial attacks, as well as artillery and anti-tank weapons to support Ukraine's needs on the front lines.

In addition, Minister Umarov provided Secretary Austin with an update on dynamics on the ground in Ukraine, as Ukraine's forces bravely continue to fight Russian aggression. A full readout of the meeting will be available later today on the DOD website and additionally, we'll have more details to provide in the near future regarding the security assistance package.

Looking ahead to next week, Secretary Austin will participate in the upcoming NATO summit in Washington from July 9 through 11. The summit marks the 75th anniversary of NATO and the secretary will join President Biden in celebrating this milestone while advancing key policy priorities. These include ensuring the implementation of new NATO plans for credible deterrence and defense, enhancing long-term support for Ukraine and fostering its future NATO membership.

During the summit, Secretary Austin will be engaged on discussions to ramp up transatlantic defense industrial production, ensure adequate defense investments from allies and the deepening of practical cooperation between NATO and its Indo Pacific partners to include Australia, Japan, New Zealand and the Republic of Korea.

Since its creation 75 years ago, NATO has been the greatest defensive alliance in human history. Next week's summit underscores the US's wavering commitment to NATO and the alliance's critical role in maintaining global security and stability. Finally, the US Third fleet is hosting the 29th annual rim of the Pacific exercise in and around the Hawaiian Islands,

June 27th through August 1st. RIMPAC is the world's Premier joint and combined maritime military exercise.

This year, 29 nations, 40 surface ships, three submarines, 14 national land forces and over 150 aircraft and more than 25,000 personnel are scheduled to participate. The theme of RIMPAC 2024 is “Partners: Integrated and Prepared.” This year's iteration features a wide range of integrated capabilities from disaster relief to maritime security operations and from sea control to complex all domain warfighting, all to prepare multinational partners towards operating collaboratively to enhance our collective capabilities towards defending a free and open Indo-Pacific.

For further questions, I would refer you to Indo-Pacific Command Public Affairs. And with that I'll be glad to take your questions. We'll go to Associated Press, Lita.

Q: Thanks, Pat. Two things. One, can you give us an update on the pier and plans to reattach it? And then as a follow up on the secretary's visit today, can you say whether there was any discussion about loosening restrictions on the use of long range weapons? That's obviously one of the things that President Zelenskyy has asked about just as recently as Sunday, sort of urging Western nations to loosen restrictions.

Did that come up during his meeting with the minister? Was there any, I guess, any forward movement on that? And one little, tiny thing. I'm a little confused. He said he was sort of talking about announcing; didn't his comments sort of already announce it?

GEN. RYDER: OK. Well, we'll start with the pier first. You asked how the pier is. The pier is great. The pier is still in Ashdod, has not been re-anchored. We're continuing to monitor weather conditions right now. So pending those, we'll be able to provide updates in the near future in terms of potential re-anchoring date.

But as of right now, again, due to weather conditions, it remains in Ashdod. As far as the discussion today with the minister, again, we'll have a readout for you. Don't have any specifics to provide on that front, other than to say our policy as it relates to the use of long range weapons into Russia has not changed, which is again, our policy is that the long range weapons that we provide to Ukraine are for use inside Ukraine sovereign territory.

Q: Well, except that they did loosen the restrictions a bit a couple of weeks ago.

GEN. RYDER: In terms of counterfire across the border, what you were asking was the restrictions or the request to use those types of capabilities to do deep strike inside, you know, offensive attacks that the policy hasn't changed in that regard.

Q: Is Crimea considered --

GEN. RYDER: -- Crimea is a part of Ukraine.

Q: So they can use the long range weapons inside Crimea?

GEN. RYDER: That's part of Ukraine, correct. And then in terms of the secretary's comments, again I'll let them speak for themselves. I mean given that the minister was here and given that we expect a more fulsome announcement in the near future, it provided an opportunity to highlight, you know, not only our support for Ukraine, our continuing support for Ukraine, but also the fact that we will have this package out on the street soon as we continue to try to rush security assistance to them.


Q: General Ryder, does Secretary Austin think that Ukraine should be allowed to join NATO?

GEN. RYDER: I think you've heard Secretary Austin and others say that that Ukraine's future is in NATO and so it's not a US decision whether or not to let Ukraine into NATO. It's a NATO alliance decision, so 32 countries, but certainly the things that we are doing now are to -- and you've heard others say this -- is build a bridge for Ukraine to come into NATO. And so part of that is working with them in terms of looking at their military and their defense capabilities, not only to ensure that they can sustain those into the future, but also to build interoperability in for the day when they are a member of NATO.

Q: If the NATO leaders next week at the summit decide to allow Ukraine into NATO, the US would support that?

GEN. RYDER: Well, again, I'm not going to get ahead of what NATO may or may not announce other than to say, you know, we've been very clear that we see that Ukraine's future is in NATO.

Q: And can I follow up on the threat to US bases in Europe? Is the threat a potential terror threat linked to the NATO summit?

GEN. RYDER: So again, there is no single threat as I understand it. As it relates to EUCOM's efforts to step up vigilance, it's a combination of factors. Again, military commanders around the world have the authority to take appropriate and prudent measures to ensure the safety and security of our forces. But again, as I understand it, this is not necessarily based on a single threat, but out of an abundance of caution.

Let me go to Jim and then I'll come here.

Q: General, just real quick, you said that they talked about the dynamics on the ground in Ukraine. Have the dynamics changed? What did the ministers tell the secretary about the -- about the situation there?

GEN. RYDER: Again, Jim, you know, we'll get you a fuller readout here. But, you know, what we continue to see on the ground is it remains a tough fight. Russia continues to attempt to take ground, but the Ukrainians have done a good job of holding the line. Again, for context, in the seven months that we were working to get additional security assistance and supplemental funding for Ukraine, the Russians made an effort to try to push and take Ukrainian territory and really did not accomplish that much in terms of the amount of geography that they were able to take.

So what we see now is the Ukrainians in large part empowered by the security assistance that's being rushed in to include ammunition or now, continuing to hold the line. We'll continue to support them in their efforts to defend themselves.

Q: Talk about counter offensives?

GEN. RYDER: Again, we'll get you a readout, but I'm not going to get into talking about potential future operations or, you know, refer you to Ukrainians to talk about their operations, sir.

Q: Thanks, General. I go back to the pier. The marshall area was full according to the information that you gave us last week is almost full and WFP said that they already transferred the sensitive aid material that could be ruined under the open air to their depots inside the area somehow. Do you have any latest on the situation there because the WFP says that the security condition is not still yet at the level that they want?

Have you ever contacted your IDF counterparts about that? The Israeli defense minister was here a week before. So any talks about providing security for this aid to reach the Gazans?

GEN. RYDER: Yeah, so a few things there. So first of all, for specifics, I would refer to you -- refer you to the World Food Program and USAID. As I understand it, the World Food Program has begun to take some of that aid out of the marshaling area to onward warehouses and distribution centers. But for the details on that, I'd have to refer you to them.


Q: The IDF, do you have any talks with them to provide security for the aid?

GEN. RYDER: Well, as you know, we've established a coordination cell that is comprised of humanitarian organizations, IDF, US forces that are managing the pier. And again, as I understand it, World Food Program is also discussing security with the IDF. But ultimately this is a question for humanitarian organizations to determine of what level of security

support do they require and need, recognizing that they are not combatants on the battlefield in the middle of a combat zone attempting to deliver humanitarian assistance.

So those conversations are of course always ongoing. If your question is whether or not, you know, the US is planning to put boots on the ground and provide security, the answer is no. So I'll just leave it there.

Q: And can you characterize the amount of aid that's sitting in Cyprus? And then also does either Cyprus or the amount of aid in Cyprus or at the end of the pier, does that factor into the decision about whether or not you return it and reattach it?

GEN. RYDER: So I would refer you to USAID since they ultimately manage the amount of incoming and outgoing aid in terms of how much is in Cyprus. And as always, you know, when you take a step back and you look at the big picture here in terms of what is it that the international community is trying to do, It's trying to get aid into Gaza for the people of Gaza.

The maritime corridor is one aspect of that and so lots of different variables, you know, will be considered in terms of how best to get that aid in. Right now, the maritime corridor affords a way to get aid in. So as long as that's useful, that will be something that we continue to look at. And I'll just have to leave it there.

Q: So there are plans to reattach the pier as of now?

GEN. RYDER: As I mentioned right now, looking at the weather states, I can't give you a date on when that would occur, but it's something that we're monitoring. So, you know, I'll keep you posted on that. Let me go to the phone here and I'll come back into the room. Let me go to JJ Green, WTOP.

Q: Thanks, General Ryder. Talking with some US allies and NATO partners today and in the -- in the last week or so as they prepare for the NATO summit coming up, they've repeatedly talked about their concern as recently as today that they think Russia is likely preparing for an attack on a NATO country within the next three to five years.

So what, if anything, can the Pentagon say about how it views that potential threat? And I know you're not trying to scope out how you're going to deal with possibilities, but how does the Pentagon view Russia's increasingly aggressive acts and possibly plans to deal with this thing? If it happens?

GEN. RYDER: Yeah, thanks, JJ. Well, I mean this is why Russia is taking into account in our National Defense Strategy. It's very clearly outlined as an acute threat as evidenced by its action actions in places like Ukraine and other malign activity that we've seen Russia being associated with over the last, you know, several years.

So I would refer you to the National Defense Strategy in terms of the kinds of things that we're doing. But there's also you know our relationship with allies and partners around the world to ensure deterrence, the NATO alliance being one of those things. It's a collective defense focused on, on ensuring that it's very clear that we're going to support one another's security to deter the type of aggression that we're seeing in places like Ukraine.

So leave it there. Let me go to Nancy.

Q: Thank you. General, in light of the Supreme Court ruling, has the Pentagon assessed that now any order given by the president to US service members is lawful?

GEN. RYDER: So, you know, what I would say is, as always the case with any decision or order. We have legal counsel. Lawyers are available throughout the Department of Defense to advise military leaders regarding the legal or prudential impacts of orders as well as the legal effects and consequences of such orders could have.

So that's going to enable any leader regardless of, you know, the decision or the order that they're contemplating to make informed legal and ethical decisions. As it pertains to potential orders in the future or scenarios. I'm just not going to get into hypotheticals.

Q: Is the Pentagon doing a review of this because, the way the ruling is written, it would appear that if all official acts are protected from immunity, it's hard to understand a scenario that could be ruled as any order is illegal or even immoral at this point. Is it not -- is there any sort of official review then given the complexities of all this?

GEN. RYDER: Yeah, I mean, I appreciate the question, but again, I'm not -- I'm not going to get into a thought exercise other than to say that we like always have the benefit of legal counsel, training on ethics standards, and any leader that is contemplating a decision or an order has the benefit of seeking that counsel to make an informed ethical and legal decision.

So again, while I appreciate the question, I'm, you know, not going to get into hypothetical scenarios.

Q: I'm never interested in thought exercises. So what I'm trying to understand though, is there any kind of formal review or is it now being left to the discretion of individual commanders?

GEN. RYDER: Yeah, not -- not that I'm aware of.

Q: OK.

GEN. RYDER: OK. Natasha.

Q: Thanks, General Ryder. Can you give us an update on the F-16 training for the Ukrainians? Where that stands at this point? How many have graduated, if any? And whether there's going to be another tranche going in for training? And then on the question of American contractors going into Ukraine, has a decision been made yet on whether that's going to be facilitated or allowed by the Biden administration in terms of DOD contracts for American firms that want to go in and help?

GEN. RYDER: Yeah, on your latter question, Natasha, again, you know, aware of the press reporting out there, and I'm just not going to comment on internal discussions or proposals that may or may not be under consideration. As it relates to the F-16s, I'm tracking that there's currently over a dozen pilots training on the F-16 in both Denmark and the United States.

For operational security reasons, I'm not going to be able to get into the specific numbers of pilots at those locations and the training timelines. But as you'll recall, you know, the training is tailored to the pilots, and it will continue to depend on student experience. Their English language skills, their, you know, flying experience, whether they go through basic flying training or to advanced, you know, F-16 fighter training.

And so the Air Power Coalition -- Capability Coalition that has been put together by the UDCG continues to look at that -- at this holistically and take into account Ukraine's needs. That's the alarm, sorry, guys, that's all the time I have [laughter] Takes into account, you know holistically not only the training aspect, but the logistics, sustainment, and maintenance aspects of this.

So making sure that when the capability is provided to Ukraine, it's something that they are going to be trained and ready to execute in a safe, effective manner. So a lot of work continues to go into that effort. And I'm sure we'll have much more to provide in the near future.

Q: [off-mic] on track to finish and be completed for at least some of the pilots and have some of the capabilities actually moved to Ukraine this year?

GEN. RYDER: So as I understand, I mean some of the pilots have already graduated and, you know, have gone on to follow on training in Europe. But again, you know, I'll let Ukraine talk to the specifics of where their pilots are and what their status is. But again, right now, the initial deliveries of F-16s, as you're tracking, are set to take place sometime this summer.

So again, we'll have more to provide in the future on that. Yes, sir.

Q: Thank you. Could you please clarify when this newest military aid package to Ukraine will be announced? Is it going to be coming days? During the NATO summit?

GEN. RYDER: Soon. [laughter] That's a specific as I can get for you right now. But, you know, again we'll keep you updated on that and I appreciate, you know, the interest. We'll definitely get you more details here in the near future.

Q: You also spoke about more Patriot interceptors. Should we expect also that you guys will transfer more Patriot systems to Ukraine in addition to interceptors?

GEN. RYDER: So I don't have anything to announce beyond, you know, what we highlighted earlier. Again, air defense is a capability that we recognize Ukraine needs and so we're working with allies and partners throughout the world to identify capabilities and get those to them as quickly as -- as possible. Let me take a couple more from the phone here.

Jeff Seldin, VOA.

Q: General, thanks very much. Earlier today, CSIS issued a report looking at satellite imagery showing four likely Chinese listening stations in Cuba, including one not far from Guantanamo Bay that had not been previously reported. Does the Pentagon have any reaction to, to this report to these facilities or to -- and what's the assessment of China's activity in Cuba in terms of expanding its surveillance capabilities?

GEN. RYDER: Yeah, thanks Jeff. I did see the report, you know, not going to necessarily get into commenting or confirming the specifics in there. I will say that as always, we're confident that we can continue to meet our security commitments both at here -- both here at home and in the region. As you may have heard us say or the White House say, you know, almost a year ago, they've been tracking that these activities have been going on for decades.

The PRC had completed an upgrade of its facilities in Cuba in 2019. We know that the PRC is going to continue to try to enhance its presence in Cuba and we will continue to keep working to disrupt that. So we're continuing to monitor this closely, taking steps to counter it, but that's all I've got on that, and I will just leave it there, Jeff.

Let me go to Jeff Schogol, Task and Purpose.

Q: Thank you. According to media reports, three US service members in Okinawa have been charged with sexual assault since December. Has the secretary been briefed on this? Has he spoken with his Japanese counterpart on this? And have these alleged incidents affected the alliance at all?

GEN. RYDER: Yeah, thanks Jeff. So the secretary is of course tracking this closely. I will say that the alleged behavior of those members does not reflect the core values of the US military nor does it represent the conduct of the overwhelming majority of Japan based personnel that we have forward deployed. And so we are closely working with the local communities to address their concerns regarding these cases.

We are deeply troubled by the severity of the allegations and we regret the anxiety this has caused. Japan is one of our closest allies, and so we will continue to do everything we can to keep the lines of communication open on this. The respective units are working diligently with local authorities to investigate the allegations thoroughly while also ensuring due legal process under applicable laws and agreements.

So I'll just leave it there. Thanks, Jeff. Come back to the room here. Yes, Janne.

Q: Thank you, General. Two questions on North Korea and China. First question, North Korea launched another ballistic missiles into the east coast yesterday and North Korea claimed that it successfully tested multiple warheads last week. What is the Pentagon's reactions on this?

GEN. RYDER: Well, I think you saw that Indo-Pacific command put out a statement on that. Again, we continue to highlight the fact that this kind of destabilizing disruptive behavior is irresponsible. We continue to call on North Korea to return to diplomatic discussions. But in those particular launches, while there was no assessment that it posed a threat to the US or our allies or partners in the region is something that we will continue to take seriously.

Q: On China, according to The New York Times that China is purchasing farmland next to US military bases across the United States and it adds a strategic base monitoring US military unit and using it for intelligence activities. Do you think this is a threat to national security? And what action do the United States take against China?

GEN. RYDER: Well, you know, it is something that we continue to closely monitor. As you're probably aware, this is something also that the US government writ large has looked at to include through CFIUS. So I would refer you to Department of Commerce and Treasury for more questions on that. Thank you.

Q: Thank you, General. I have a question for the Italian Television. Looking at the NATO summit next week, is the secretary -- how's the secretary's planning to address the issues that we saw coming out with President Biden and the debate with the -- with the counterpart of NATO? What is he planning to do? Because the question might be asked if the president is still capable to take the proper decisions when it comes to the military abroad.

GEN. RYDER: Yeah, so I'm kind of reject the notion of the question.

Q: What can you say if you guys are planning, you know, like a plan or something, you know, like a script or something to say?

GEN. RYDER: Yeah, it's a ridiculous question. Secretary Austin will be there supporting President Biden, the President of the United States, at the NATO summit. Just leave it at that. Yes, sir.

Q: Going back to Nancy's question, so was there no anticipation or any, you know, preparatory like legal discussions about the ruling that could really complicate troops’ ability to defy what they might have previously known as an illegal or immoral order?

GEN. RYDER: Again, look, let's not conflate the Supreme Court deliberation and debate about presidential authorities and the Uniform Code of Military Justice and the access to legal counsel that military leaders have. On any given day on a variety of topics around the world, any commander or any leader can consult legal counsel to get an assessment on whether or not a decision or an order, regardless of what it is, is legal, ethical, moral and appropriate.

And that doesn't change. It doesn't change. As I'm sure you can appreciate, in a democracy where laws are written by humans and they're malleable and there's always going to be a variability to that, which is why you have legal counsel so that you can get advice on that. And so when it comes to the Department of Defense and prosecuting our duties to defend the country throughout the world, we're always going to have the benefit of informed legal counsel to make informed, ethical and legal decisions.

Yes, Ryo. I'll come back to you.

Q: Thank you, General. My question is on China and Taiwan. So on Tuesday, Taiwan said China's coast guard detained a Taiwanese fishing boat near a Taiwanese island. Do you have a comment on this incident? And also, do you think China has increased their coercive activities towards Taiwan in these days?

GEN. RYDER: I don't have a comment on the latter. I'd have to refer you to Taiwan to talk about the status of their fishing vessel. Again, look, broadly speaking, we've been very clear about PRC's aggressive activities in the South China Sea and beyond and we'll continue to work closely with our allies and partners to address that behavior.


Q: Yeah. Thanks. So on this line of questioning about the Supreme Court decision, I get what you're saying, that the Pentagon has lawyers available for commanders to consult,

but does the Pentagon feel that that is enough of a bulwark against a commander in chief that the Supreme Court has ruled to be pretty much immune from legal prosecution?

GEN. RYDER: Again, guys, I appreciate the line of questioning. I've provided you my response and I'm going to leave it at that.

Q: Well, I'll try one more time.

GEN. RYDER: OK. Go ahead.

Q: I guess what we're trying to understand is, you described it as a debate, but it was a decision by the Supreme Court and that decision was that official acts are immune. And I think what we're trying to understand is if the president, any order that he gives does not face any possibility of prosecution, then how come US service members could be charged for carrying out those acts?

So I think what would help us if there's a way to take the question or maybe consider having somebody from general counsel explain to us how they're thinking about it, because that's what we're trying to reconcile. Because the way you've explained it, a service member could follow exactly what the president told them to do and maybe face charges, and we're trying to understand why and under what circumstances.

GEN. RYDER: Yeah. I mean, again, I appreciate the questions, but again what I would tell you is, look, without getting into hypotheticals, every situation has to be assessed on its own merit depending on the situation, the context of the situation. And if you are a military leader, you're going to have the benefit of consulting counsel or policymakers in terms of whether an order or decision is legal, ethical or moral.

That won't change. And so again, I'm just going to leave it there.

Q: Can I just ask then, would you mind just taking our request and--

GEN. RYDER: I've answered the question.

Q: I understand that, but in the next few days or so, could we talk to someone even on a background level, to get a better understanding of how the department is thinking about this from a legal perspective?

GEN. RYDER: If we have any updates to provide, we'll definitely take that into consideration. Sir.

Q: Thank you very much. With the recent Houthi attacks in Red sea with more sophisticated weapons. So how much it is a big concern for the United States after the Gaza war to keep its Arab allies safe from the possible attacks from the Houthis? Because

we know there is a possible deal between the United States and Saudi Arabia that is a different [inaudible], but that is linked with the [inaudible] peace process.

So now what is the level of alertness for US in that region specifically?

GEN. RYDER: In terms of regional partners? Well, I mean, as you know, we maintain very robust relationships with partners throughout the Middle East and Central Asia region to address a variety of security concerns and threats to include the Houthis. And so as we've said for a very long time, we're focused on regional security and stability and whether it's through exercising, whether it's through diplomatic relationships, whether it's through economic relationships, working to ensure security and stability, and that's not going to change.

So that also includes addressing threats like the Houthis.

Q: One on military assistance by the United States towards Pakistan. From year 2018, we have seen that the military assistance towards Pakistan were totally, you can say there is no military assistance from 2018. Only from this administration, we have seen only the civilian assistance. And from 2018 what the US was claiming that Pakistan is not doing enough to counter al-Qaida and Taliban.

That was like key US demand from Pakistan, but now as US is not there at that time, US was there in the region. And now Pakistan is going after al-Qaida linked groups almost the TTP, the Pakistani Taliban group and other groups. At this time, with this administration, any consideration for military assistance for Pakistan or other coordination regarding the ongoing Pakistani counterterrorism operations?

GEN. RYDER: Yeah, so I don't have anything to announce. As we talked about last time, the US and Pakistan do share a security cooperation relationship, particularly focused on counterterrorism. We have a long history of working together in that regard. And so as opportunities present themselves in the future, I'm sure those conversations will continue to be ongoing.

But in terms of any new security assistance, I don't have anything to announce. All right. Last question. Yes, sir.

Q: Thank you, General. Some reports are claiming that [inaudible] will begin an offensive operation on Lebanon in the second half of July. Do you have any signs about this operation, maybe will be imminent? And what's your current concern about the possibility of border conflict?

GEN. RYDER: Yeah. I think, where we're still focused on is attempting to resolve these tensions through diplomatic means. And so that continues to be where Secretary Austin is

focused, and the US government is focused. And so whether or not there could be a conflict, I certainly hope not. I'm not going to speculate or get into hypotheticals, other than to say, again, we appreciate the fact that it's tense right now.

We don't want to see a situation where miscalculation could spiral out of control and cause a wider regional conflict. And so this is why it's important that we continue to focus on diplomatic resolution of the situation along the border. Thanks very much, everybody. Appreciate it.