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Department of Defense Press Briefing by Pentagon Press Secretary Peter Cook in the Pentagon Briefing Room


      PETER COOK:  Afternoon, everybody.  Got a couple of quick scheduling notes up top here before I take your questions.


      As you know, today, President Obama presented retired Army Lieutenant Colonel Charles Kettles with the Medal of Honor at the White House for her heroism back in May of 1967 during the Vietnam War.  Tomorrow, Secretary Carter will host a ceremony here at the Pentagon to induct Lieutenant Colonel Kettles in the Pentagon's Hall of Heroes.


      On Wednesday, Secretary Carter will host colleagues from more than 30 nations at Joint Base Andrews for a ministerial meeting on the campaign against ISIL.  And as you know -- there --additional meetings of officials from coalition nations are happening this week -- additional meetings, including a session involving both foreign and defense ministers that will be hosted by Secretary Kerry at the State Department.  Secretary Carter is looking forward to that discussion as well.


      The secretary is eager to share information on the status of the campaign, to discuss next steps in the military plan and to identify with members of the counter-ISIL coalition the next steps we can take to accelerate military progress in that campaign. 


      And that progress has continued over the weekend.  Members of the Syrian Arab Coalition freed additional territory in the city of Manbij in the face of determined resistance from ISIL.  Those forces captured Manbij Hospital, which is being used by ISIL as a command and control center. 


      The hospital was contested for some time and it was a significant challenge for these forces operating in Manbij to expel ISIL from the building without doing major damage.  They have succeeded in that effort, and so once the city is secured, the hospital will be returned to local civilian control so it can once again serve city residents.


      Meanwhile, in Iraq, security forces continue to clear territory near the Qayyarah West Airfield in preparation for operations to eject ISIL from Mosul.  They've cleared additional territory in the vicinity of the airfield and on either side of the Tigris River.  And this is another significant step forward for Iraqi security forces, again, in a crucial part of the campaign against ISIL.


      And with that, I'd be happy to take your questions.  Idris.


      Q:  Peter, quick question.  Has the defense secretary spoken with his Turkish counterpart after the attempted coup?  And if he has, you know, what was discussed?


      MR. COOK:  He has not spoken directly with the minister of defense.  As you know, the Turks have been invited to participate in Wednesday's meeting.  He spoke recently with the minister of defense at the Warsaw Summit.  They had an excellent bilateral conversation then and he looks forward to talking with the minister in coming days.


      Q:  Could you give an update on the Incirlik Air Base?  I believe power has still not been restored?


      MR. COOK:  Yeah.  My understanding, power has not yet been restored, but our operations there do continue.  And we're going to continue to take whatever steps we need to, to try to mitigate any impact that there could be on the campaign itself.


      Q:  Do you know why the power was first cut off and how much longer it would take?


      MR. COOK:  My understanding is that the power issue is something that is outside the walls of the base itself.  So, I'll leave it to the Turkish officials to describe to you what's happening with -- in terms of the effort to restore power and what led to the outage in the first place.




      Q:  Could you talk to the -- a little bit about the operations going on there, the counter-ISIL operations in terms of what types of airplanes -- are F-16s still operating out of there?


      And you know, roughly, how crucial is Incirlik to the kinetic aspects to the campaign?  They were quite crucial last year.  Are they less crucial now, or -- just give a sense of that.


      MR. COOK:  Tony, we've talked to, in the past, about some of the platforms there.  I'm not going to get into specific numbers of aircraft, but we've had refueling aircraft.  We've also had attack aircraft as well. 


      And Incirlik is obviously an important part of our military campaign.  And we've used it very effectively.  And we appreciate, of course, the Turks’ willingness to allow us to fly operations out of there, the coalition as a whole.  It's not just U.S. aircraft.


      And it will continue to be an important part of the campaign.  We were able to conduct the campaign previously, without having Incirlik.  We have the ability to adjust our operations in such a way that we can account for problems or -- or delays there.


      And so, we will adjust, as we need to, to make sure we keep the pressure on ISIL, that we keep our operations going.  And we are very thankful the -- that the coalition is able to -- to adjust in other ways should there be any sort of delay or some sort of impact on our operations going forward.


      Q:  Can I -- given all of the chaos over -- on Friday, were at any point U.S. conventional munitions, or so-called special munitions that arms control advocates talk about endangered in the base in terms of being taken by the coup plotters and the coup participants?


      MR. COOK:  Tony, I will just say, broadly, that we've taken appropriate steps to maintain the safety and security of our personnel, our civilian and military personnel, their families and our facilities.  And we will continue to do so.


      Q:  Just a quick one on Afghanistan?  Two weeks ago, the president announced a retention of an additional 2,900 troops.  This building has yet to come up with the incremental cost of what those 2,900 will cost.


      Do you have a figure?  And if not, why can't they come up with a dollar figure at this point?


      MR. COOK:  Tony, it's a conversation that I know we're continuing to have and will have on an ongoing basis with Congress, of course, which authorizes that money.  And when we've got more for you, we'll let you know.


      Q:  Why can't you come up with a figure, though?  I mean, it's -- this is pretty by rote over the last decade about how much per troop cost in Afghanistan.


      MR. COOK:  Tony, as you know, these -- we want to be precise in our figures.  We want to make sure we provide the most accurate information to members of Congress and to the -- the national security team as to exactly what this is going to cost and the best way, most efficient way, to fund those needs.


      We are confident that we will get the support of Congress for this effort.  We have in the past.  This has been an effort in Afghanistan that has won bipartisan support in the past.  And we'll have those conversations with Congress at the appropriate time.


      Q:  You agree, though, they need a number in order to give you support, right?


      MR. COOK:  Absolutely.  And -- and we're -- we'll have that conversation with them with the best information we have at the appropriate time.


      Q:  Fair enough.


      MR. COOK:  Tara.


      Q:  (Inaudible) accused of harassing U.S. military personnel on base.  And for the Turkish military officials, some of whom have been rounded up in the last few days from Incirlik.  Were any of those officials people that the U.S. was coordinating the counter-ISIL strikes with?


      MR. COOK:  First of all, I think it's fair to say that the attempted coup was a surprise to -- to us as it was to people in Turkey and elsewhere.  And with regard to your other question, I'll leave to the -- to the Turks to describe who was involved and who was not involved.


      But I think it's fair to say that there are -- we have excellent close relations with the Turkish military.  We will continue to have close relations with the Turkish military.  And as for who was involved and who was not involved, I leave that, again, to the Turkish authorities to describe.


      Q:  What were the first indications for the military personnel on base that a coup was happening and what were the immediate actions taken for the personnel and the aircraft there?


      MR. COOK:  I -- I don't have a media readout for the tick-tock as to what was happening.  Obviously there were news reports in Turkey itself of events that were playing out and so I -- I do not know the first inclination that our folks had that something was going on, but obviously they had publicly available information over the news media in Turkey that something was happening.


      Q:  In between the two bases were there still about 2500 U.S. personnel in Turkey?


      MR. COOK:  The number between -- between the two is -- our number has not changed.  There hasn't been any additional people, but I think our overall number is larger than that and has been for some time.  So it's -- it's more than 3,000 people.




      Q:  In the answer to Tony's question -- when he asked about, I think his words are "the chaos on Friday night," you said that the U.S. has taken appropriate action to secure everything. 


      Maybe not a tick-tock, but can you tell us any single action -- military action that you had to take, that the department had to take, to ensure the security of U.S. weapons, aircraft, personnel? 


      Did anything happen additionally since Friday night to secure all of that?


      MR. COOK:  Barbara, as I just repeat, we took the appropriate steps.  I can tell you that we did elevate our force protection level at our facilities in Turkey.  I'm not going to walk through exactly what that entails, but we took the appropriate steps to make sure our people were as safe as possible.


      We've gone though an accountability review right now and all of our people are accounted for, for example, and that took us some time to account for both our EUCOM and CENTCOM personnel.


      Q:  So if I could just follow up on a couple of points.  What is your current -- your current assessment of central command and control by the Turkish military over Turkish forces?  What -- not -- not their view.  Your view.  Do you believe they are in full control of their military?


      MR. COOK:  I'm going to leave the Turkish authorities to describe their current command and control.  The Turkish government is in charge.  And I'll defer to the Ministry of Defense of Turkey to describe their current situation.


      But we are continuing to have -- operate within Turkey.  And we are continuing to -- to engage with the -- the Turkish military. Obviously there's been a significant amount of -- of turmoil in that country and -- and so I'm going to defer those questions to the Turks.


      Q:  But with respect, Peter, with -- you know, more than 2500 U.S. troops in Turkey, dozens of warplanes, special weapons, certainly there must be some assessment for the secretary of defense about the command and control that the Turks have over their military.


      Can you give us any indication of what the U.S. Defense Department thinks about this at the moment?


      MR. COOK:  We continue to operate, Barbara, in Turkey.  And we continue to engage with the Turks and that will continue.  And again I'm going to leave the situation in terms of the turmoil in Turkey and the questions that were raised with the events on Friday.  I'll leave that to the Turks.  But we continue our operations in Turkey and we're satisfied that our forces and our people with the proper precautions will continue to be safe in Turkey.


      Q:  It doesn't sound like you're saying, and I'm sorry I have one very other quick follow-up.  It doesn't sound like you're willing to say that you have faith and confidence that the Turkish military right now is in full control of their military force.


      MR. COOK:  We don't have any indication that the Turkish military does not have control.  We will continue to work closely with Turkey.  This is a NATO ally, Barbara, as you know.  This is a member of the ISIL coalition.  And we look forward to a continued working relationship with the Turks.


      It's been a good relationship.  Obviously one that has helped in the counter-ISIL campaign.  It's one the Secretary was very engaged with in Warsaw with his counterpart -- had a very good and productive meeting with his Turkish counterpart.  Where they talked about the next steps in the counter-ISIL campaign in particular.  And we don't see any reason why that can't continue.


      Q:  Can I just have one quick one on another subject.


      MR. COOK:  This is the last one and then I've got to go to others.


      Q:  I promise, I promise.  So we've had two back-to-back shootings in the United States with people who had prior U.S. military service.  No one I know suggests their military service played any role in their criminal actions.  But that said two back-to-back ones and people are curious about all of this.  Is there any indication that the Department might be thinking about reviewing how it conducts mental health assessments either coming in during service or leaving service?


      MR. COOK:  Barbara as you said at the top of your question, I'm not aware of any information that their military service necessarily played any role in the tragic events that have played out in Baton Rouge and in Dallas.  And in fact you can look at the victims in those instances and they're people who served in the U.S. military as well.


      So I'm not aware of a connection here at this point.  And I don't want to suggest that there is one.  So in light of that, again I'm not sure I have an answer to your question here.  I'm not sure of the need for us to review of something because I'm not aware that any connection's been made.  Christina?


      Q:  Thanks Peter.  When you say operations do continue in Turkey, does that mean all planes that were flying before are flying now?  Are you just talking specifically about all air operations have full air operations continue?


      MR. COOK:  I'm not aware of any impact on specific aircraft.  We've been able to recover our aircraft and there have been additional takeoffs as well.  Remember this is part of a wider air campaign that involves multiple locations.  And this is a situation where we will continue because the power situation to look at very closely to see if we need to make adjustments.  The good news is, thanks to our partners, our coalition members and our flexibility we are able to make adjustments as we did over the weekend, to account for changes going forward.


      Q:  When you say recovery, you mean just take full control over the aircraft?


      MR. COOK:  I mean planes landing.  So --


      Q:  OK.


      And then just from Tony's question, when you talk about a number for the extra additional Afghan troops, does that mean that there will be some sort of request that number will be tied to?  Or are you working within the budget to find--


      MR. COOK:  These are -- these are the questions that we're looking to -- we're talking with our partners within the administration, other agencies as well -- OMB, of course -- and a conversation we're going to have with Congress on the most efficient and best way to -- to fund those forces.


      But we are -- remain confident is that this is a mission that has been funded previously by bipartisan Congresses in the past and we expect that that will be the case going forward.




      Q:  I'm not sure I -- help me understand what the actual impact was of this attempted -- failed military coup.  I -- I know you've -- you've basically described that you're back up and running and things are going, but to what extent did it affect the operations?  Were there sorties that were canceled, that had to be transferred to other -- you know, what was -- what was the impact, however minimal, on operations in Incirlik?


      MR. COOK:  Jamie, just broadly, there was a period of time when we were not able to fly, when the Turkish air space was closed to military aircraft.  That did affect our plans for the day, our tasking order for the day.  So in some cases, we had to look for aircraft at other locations to conduct certain missions.


      This is all tied together.  This is all carefully linked together, carefully planned, yet there are some redundancies and we are able to adjust.  But clearly, it would be our preference to be able to conduct operations without any risk of a -- of a delay or inefficiencies at Incirlik.  That was not the case this weekend for a portion of the time and we had to adjust.


      Q:  Is there a limit to how long you can operate just on internal power with generators if -- if the external power doesn't come back on?


      MR. COOK:  As I said, there are redundancies.  This is -- this is something we do plan for and we'll continue to assess the situation if it reaches a point where we decide that we need to make other adjustments because we do not see power being restored in a -- in a quick enough fashion, then we will adjust accordingly.


      We are hoping to have power restored and to maintain operations at Incirlik, but we will adjust as needed.


      Q:  And -- (inaudible) -- just a quick follow-up.  There have been some reports of anti-American sentiment in -- in the wake of -- of the events of the weekend.  Are you concerned at all about the security of U.S. personnel or families or dependents?  And are there still dependents at the bases in Turkey?


      MR. COOK:  My understanding is that there are about 100 dependents that are in Turkey.  As you know, there was the ordered departure of most of our dependents, particularly tied to Incirlik, previously.  And Jamie, force protection, you've heard it from me before, is job one for us everywhere in the world we operate, including here at home and will continue to be -- be so. 


      So -- but we are confident that the measures we have in place and the support we're receiving from the Turkish government is adequate to address any security concerns we have at this time and we'll continue to watch it very, very closely, as you would expect we would.




      Q:  Peter, the Turkish defense minister, will he still be attending the counter-ISIS meetings at Andrews?


      MR. COOK:  I'll leave that to the Turks to describe -- I know that they've been invited and we expect the Turks will be represented in some way.


      Q:  You mentioned that the U.S. military's been able to bounce back since the coup against the ISIS war, but are -- is the secretary concerned that Turkey -- this is actually a step back for them, that they will not be able to support the coalition in ways they had previously?


      MR. COOK:  Well, the secretary certainly -- again, he had, as I said, extensive conversation with his Turkish counterpart in Warsaw, talked about a number of issues, including the counter-ISIL campaign--


      Q:  (off mic.)


      MR. COOK:  Absolutely.  We don't have any indication at this point that -- that the discussions that he had there in the -- and the -- the outlook that the two shared with regard to the fight against ISIL won't continue.  But I'll leave it to the -- to the Turkish minister of defense to describe their own activities and actions going forward.


      Q:  Why hasn't the secretary spoken to his Turkish counterpart since this coup attempt?


      MR. COOK:  There's a lot going on in Turkey right now, as you know.  A lot of things within the country itself, within the government itself. 


      And the secretary is absolutely looking forward to engaging with the minister of defense and looks forward to doing so in the near future.  It just -- it hasn't happened at this time.  But there's no significance to that, other than they just have not spoken.


      Q:  And can you tell us about the secretary's initial reaction to the coup attempt?  Did he watch this on TV like everybody else, or does he think there's some kind of intelligence failure on the part of the U.S. military that this couldn't have been -- he didn't have a heads-up, an was he getting regular reports from his intelligence units?


      MR. COOK:  Well, absolutely the secretary was being regularly informed about what was happening.


      But I think it's fair to say that the -- that the secretary was surprised by -- by the activities on Friday, as others in the U.S. government were.  And obviously, this was a cause for concern, and he was getting regular updates on what was happening.


      Of course, primary concern for us in this situation is, as we've been talking about, our service members and our civilians.  And so, he was making sure that every step that could be taken was being taken to ensure their safety.


      Q:  And lastly, switching gears over to Iraq, the firebrand Shia cleric al-Sadr has threatened U.S. troops.  Is the secretary concerned that the war in Iraq is now expanding to include these Shia militias, now that this fatwa, or whatever you want to call it, has been extended to U.S. forces?


      MR. COOK:  I'll go back to what I just said about force protection.


      Obviously, it's a concern if anyone's threatening U.S. forces, but it's something we prepare for.  We've worked very closely with the government of Prime Minister Abadi.  WE are working at the invitation of the Iraqi government, working hand-in-hand in our train, advise -- advise and assist mission.


      And we'll continue to do that, and we'll take every step we need to protect our people, if needed.  And we're more focused, quite honestly, on the good work being down by the Iraqi Security Forces right now, the progress they're making with the help of the United States and other members of the coalition.


      We're making good progress, they're making good progress.  And that's where our focus is.


      Q:  Is there any worry in this building that the war in Iraqi could be expanding?


      MR. COOK:  There is a hope that the war against ISIL is expanding, and there is a sincere interest -- and you'll see it reflected Wednesday at this meeting -- that that effort will accelerate, and -- and everything we've seen from our recent visit to Iraqi indicates that that's the focus of Prime Minister Abadi, and it should be the focus of everyone in Iraq as well, if they want to get rid of the common threat that ISIL poses to the people of Iraq.


      Yes, Paul.


      Q:  I was just wondering if -- and this is a follow-up on Tony's question -- if any -- if the U.S. has stepped up security at any -- of any of the weapons that may be stationed at Incirlik, or whether the events over the weekend have caused any re-think on whether it's appropriate to have those kind of weapons there?


      MR. COOK:  I'm not going to talk about our strategic assets anywhere in the world.  As you've heard me say, we've taken the prudent steps that need to be taken to make sure that our people, our facilities, their families are protected and -- in the safest place possible.


      And we will continue to do what we need to, to make sure that happens.


      Q:  Peter, you said that the secretary has not had a conversation with his Turkish counterpart.


      Have there been any communications that initiated or received from mil-to-mil channels between the Defense Department and the Turkish military?


      MR. COOK:  I think it's fair to say there have been conversations.  I'm not going to read out each and every one.  Obviously we have a permanent presence in Turkey itself, but, Andrew, at the same time, there's been a lot going on in Turkey and I think -- I think it's fair to say that Turkish officials have been fairly busy with accounting for what's happened the last few days and so --


      Q:  Can you read out any?  I'm just -- in general, like -- what those communications -- have they been about operations at the base, have they been about the -- the existing authorities that we have and continue to exercise?  What -- what -- what in -- in general, what are the substance of those communications?


      MR. COOK:  Again, I'm not going to read out all those conversations, but you know what we're trying to do with Incirlik in terms of trying to restore power to the base.  We've been in conversations specifically about the takeoffs and -- and landings, the recovery of our aircraft at Incirlik. 


      So it's been operational.  It's about safety and security and -- and we'll have ample opportunities to talk with our Turkish counterparts going forward.


      Q:  (Inaudible) just one more -- if there's any concern  that the authorities that we've worked out with them over the past 18 months, in terms of using facilities and airspace and all that, is there -- is any of that under new discussion?  Is there any concern in the building that -- that somehow the arrangement that we've had for the past few months may be under reconsideration?


      MR. COOK:  I'm not aware of any.  Again, the secretary just had an excellent conversation with the Minister of Defense for Turkey about our operations there and about our collaboration together.  And we look forward to continuing that conversation.


      Q: Quick follow-up on Andrew's questions.  If the –electricity’s still out, how are -- how's the U.S. side of it able to light runways and things?  Are you using backup generators for taxi way lights, for the tower--?


      MR. COOK:  We have -- we have backup power source.




      Q:  Peter, you know that the events in Turkey started at 10:00 in the p.m. in -- on Friday and then EUCOM issued a Force Protection Condition level Delta Saturday morning a.m. around seven, eight or something.  What triggered, you know, this decision at -- Saturday morning when the coup was nearly over?


      MR. COOK:  I think they were taking -- we were already -- we have excellent force protection to begin with and I'm not even sure the exact timeline you mapped out, but I know that EUCOM commanders were doing what they thought was appropriate in light of the uncertain situation to protect our people at -- in every way that they could. 


      And -- so -- those -- that decision, if it was made on -- at that particular time, just reflected the European -- EUCOM's decision on what the most appropriate step would be in terms of security for our people.


      Q:  And also the -- the commander -- one of the senior commanders in the -- in Incirlik Air Base was allegedly involved in this coup attempt, and  two of the tankers were launched from the air base were refueling coup-linked aircraft over -- (inaudible) -- Istanbul.  Was the -- United States aware of this aircraft flying from Incirlik to –refuel the coup aircraft?  And also, did you have --


      MR. COOK:  If you are suggesting that a coalition aircraft did a refueling, that is not correct.


      Q:  Turkish tankers flying from Incirlik were refueling the coup?


      MR. COOK:  I'm not aware of those details.  But again as you know probably better than most, this is a Turkish air base where we are guests.  We are tenants and there are Turkish air operations at Incirlik.  And so I leave it to the Turks to describe what activities on the part of their aircraft.


      Q:  The U.S. military was concerned in terms of the chaotic situation over there?


      MR. COOK:  We were of course concerned enough that we elevated our force protection.  So this was clearly a situation of unrest in Turkey that was a cause of concern for us.  We took steps to protect our people and our facilities.  And I think that was the appropriate thing to do in light of the circumstances.


      Q:  So you don't think that the force protection measures that were upgraded taken like a little bit late?


      MR. COOK:  As you know, force protection is something we take very seriously.  We already had taken steps.  We had an ordered departure of dependents some time earlier.  So we have taken steps to make sure our people are as safe as possible.  And I'm not going to second guess the EUCOM commanders for elevating the force protection level to an even higher level in light of what had taken place in Turkey.


      Yes, Janne.


      Q:  Thank you, Peter.  Peter, China currently joined ongoing -- (inaudible) -- military exercises in Hawaii.  China because the Chinese don't want to join any exercise with the United States because of the U.S. -- (inaudible) -- deploying -- (inaudible)?


      MR. COOK:  I don't have the full read out here.  But my understanding was there were Chinese naval ships participating in RIMPAC this year.


      Q:  Who's leading these operations -- (inaudible) -- operations?


      MR. COOK:  I'm sorry?


      Q:  Who, who --


      MR. COOK:  Who is leading it?


      Q:  Yes.


      MR. COOK:  Well you know there are multiple nations involved here.  But this is a US-led exercise.  But there are multiple countries involved if you want I can get the full number.  But it's substantial.  If you bear with me I might even have it right here.  I don't have it, but I'm happy to get it.


      But it's multiple nations and it's an exercise, as you know, the biggest we do in that part of the world.  And one that's been a big success in terms of promoting interoperability between ourselves and other countries in the region.  And again an opportunity for us to work with the Chinese military in a way that hopefully improves understanding and our mil-to-mil relationship.


      Q:  So how long do they take, these exercises -- (inaudible)?


      MR. COOK:  Yeah.  I'll double check the exact timing of it.  But it's an extensive, it lasts for multiple days.  And I'm happy to get those questions and have it fully answered for you.


      Q:  Thank you very much.


      MR. COOK:  OK.  Yes?


      Q:  With the reported arrest of the Turkish Commander at the Air Base can you give us a timeline of how that transpired and whether there was a period in which the U.S. military presence had no interlocutor there at the base?  How did it cope with that?


      MR. COOK:  I'll leave it to the Turkish authorities to describe if there was an arrest made by Turkish law enforcement.  I'll leave it to them to describe.  We have as you know a presence that's been at Incirlik for some time.  And I'm not aware of any problems we had in terms of engaging and understanding what was going on.


      We've been able to arrange for resumption of flight operations.  We've been able to again have these conversations about trying to restore power to the base.  So obviously there were events in Turkey that were playing out over time on Friday and there were questions being raised about several aspects of the Turkish government and what was happening.  And so obviously, our folks had questions, but we're satisfied now that our people are safe and accounted for.  And our operations -- again, we're hoping to maintain them as we were before this took place.  We are still working to be able to do that.


      Q:  Were any munitions moved off of the base?


      MR. COOK:  I'm not going to get into any discussions about our -- the safety precautions, security precautions we took.


      Q:  Any shots fired at the base?  Any signs of violence of -- on the Turkish side of the base?


      MR. COOK:  I'm not aware of any and -- so.


      Q:  Last week, did the U.S. take any action?  As my colleague over here cited, you know, possible Turkish involvement from the base to support the coup.  Did the U.S. do anything to try to halt that?


      MR. COOK:  I'm not aware of -- I'm not aware of every allegation that's been depicted here as to what the activities of the Turkish -- remember, this is a Turkish air base in which we occupy a portion of that air base.  So I'm going to leave it to the Turks to describe the activities and actions of their personnel on that base.




      Q:  I want to follow-up on a couple of questions on Turkey.  I'm having a hard time understanding how the U.S. is going about asserting force protection.  You've said there are 3,000 personnel there, including 100 dependents.  You said the U.S. was caught by surprise by the attempted coup.  The power's been cut off.  There's been some sort of -- there have been reports of an arrest there.


      I'm having a hard time understanding how the U.S. is making an assessment of force protection at Incirlik when the secretary hasn't called his Turkish counterpart.  I just don't understand how you're making those assessments when you clearly didn't have the intelligence in place to know that this attempt was going to start.


      How are you making these assessments?  And then Tim's questions you weren't able to answer about things -- about whether shots were fired, anything.  Can you walk me through how the U.S. is actually making its assessments on force protection if it's not even engaging its Turkish counterparts in terms of what happened?


      MR. COOK:  It's a daily conversation, regular conversations, Nancy, between the commanders, EUCOM and CENTCOM as well with folks on the ground at the base who have the best view of what's happening at that particular moment in time.  They receive regular updates.  The secretary was updated as well.


      And again, remember, this is a base that is a Turkish air base where they provide the perimeter security and there is further security within that base for our personnel.  And we were taking the appropriate steps to make sure people our safe and we're satisfied that that was done.  Everyone's been accounted for, which we're pleased with, and we'll continue to have a conversation with the Turks about maintaining the safety and security of our people going forward, which is incredibly important to us.


      Q:  But at what level is the conversation happening between the United States and the Turks?  And who precisely briefed the secretary on the security situation at Incirlik?


      MR. COOK:  I'm not going to provide you the names of the people the secretary spoke to regarding this, but you can be sure that his top commanders--


      Q:  (inaudible) -- some level of what levels we're talking about.


      MR. COOK:  He has regular conversation with his commanders, including General Scaparrotti at EUCOM, General Votel at Central Command.  There have been conversations, again, with commanders at the base itself and our other personnel within Turkey.  And of course, very close conversations with the president's entire national security team.


      As you know, secretary -- the secretary of state's spoken to the -- the foreign minister.  So we've had conversations.  We've had a clear assessment of what the situation is now with regard to safety and security of our people.  And that was our primary concern throughout this entire process, was making sure our people in our facilities were safe and their dependents as well.


      Q:  And then can I go back to Barbara's question, please, on these shootings that have happened in the United States now, two of them involving veterans of the United States military?


      It was reported in the Dallas morning news that Micah Johnson, the man involved in the Dallas attack didn't receive the kind of support he needed from the Army as he left, that he hadn't heard from leadership.


      And I'm just curious, you mentioned earlier that you didn't feel that there was a need to do any sort of additional investigation, because there was nothing to believe that one's military -- their military careers contributed to these shootings.


      I'm curious if at a service level, if there is anything being investigated in terms of post – post-service care?  If there's any sort of assessment going on at the service level.  When you said that there wasn't any need to investigate, is that at an OSD level, or is that at a service level as well?


      MR. COOK:  I -- my point to Barbara was that, in terms of a direct connection between their military service and what has taken place, I'm not aware of a direct connection.  That's the only point I was making there.


      Q:  Right.  But you said subsequently that you didn't -- there was no need for an investigation, given that there was no link that that could be seen.


      And I'm just curious:  is that at an OSD level or is that at a service level that that determination's (inaudible)?


      MR. COOK:  As you know, Nancy, these people were beyond their active duty service with the Department of Defense.  And so, there's limits as to our contact with these people.


      Of course there was a relationship with the VA.  And so, I'm not aware of a specific situation or the specifics of this case in which they had asked for direct contact with -- with us or that this had been an issue.


      So, if it was, then I would refer you to the Army.  Or in this case, the Marine Corps.  But they've provided you the information they can on the active duty service of these individuals and the Reserve service, as well.


      Tony, and then --


      Q:  A quick Cleveland question.  Is the -- is the Pentagon providing any support to the GOP or the Democratic Conventions?  Any like intelligence or logistics support?


      MR. COOK:  Tony, let me take that question and get back to you.  I -- I don't have a great answer for you right here.  I want to make sure I can answer that as authoritatively as possible.


      Yes?  I'm sorry, I don't know your name.


      Q:  Tim Johnson from McClatchy Newspapers.


      MR. COOK:  Tim, nice to see you.


      Q:  Nice to see you.  I -- you know, I -- I have to say I'm pretty surprised at this -- at least the sensation that I get is that there was very little contact at upper levels between Turkey and the U.S. government, certainly the Pentagon, in the first, what, 72 hours after this coup.


      Can you describe any contact how --


      MR. COOK:  I -- I -- again, I'm not going to read out the conversations at all of the commanders, who have regular contact with their Turkish counterparts, whether it be through EUCOM or Central Command.


      There were conversations happening.  I'm not going to provide you and cannot provide you the tick-tock and detail on each and every one of those conversations.


      But you can be sure, we were trying to find out exactly what was happening using all of the resources at our disposal to do that.  And that included mil-to-mil conversations to make sure we knew what was happening on the ground and to make sure our people were safe and that that was being done.


      I just cannot detail each and every one of those to you.  I can provide you a picture of the information the secretary was getting.


      But I can assure you, from meetings that I participated in and -- and others that took place that there was an active effort to find out exactly what was happening, to find out the status of our personnel and to make sure that everything possible was being done to make sure our people were safe, and that this situation, that we had a good grip on this situation -- which was, as I said at the top, was a surprise to us.


      Q:  Yeah.  Was there any reason why the secretary of defense didn't pick up the phone -- pick up the phone and call his counterpart?


      MR. COOK:  Again, we were -- had commanders on the ground, who were responsible for this area.


      And it was, at that time, the decision -- they were in the best means to have an understanding of what was happening at that time.  And that's what they did. 




      Q:  Quick follow-up.  All personnel have been accounted for.  Can you assure the public that all U.S. weapons, small arms, ammunition, aircraft, have also been secured and accounted for?


      MR. COOK:  As I said before, we've taken all the appropriate steps we feel we needed to take to ensure the safety of our people, dependents, military and civilian personnel, as well as the facilities.  So.


      Q:  What about the weapons?


      MR. COOK:  We've taken all those steps that we need to take to make sure that everything that we control in Turkey is safe and secure. 




      Q:  OK.  The one thing -- can you go back?  You've mentioned the power supply several times, and I'm not sure I really do understand. 


      If you -- and if you can't say timeframes, but if you have to stay on generator power, does that itself become a limiting factor in continuing full -- trying to get back to full operations and continuing full operations?  In other words, does there come a point when you have to be back on the commercial power system, or you can't really get back to full operations? 


      Is lack of power -- is the reliance on generator power a limiting factor?


      MR. COOK:  I don't believe it's a limiting factor right now.  But I think, Barbara, I think it's safe to say over time that it could become a limiting factor.  But at this moment, I'm not aware that it is.  The concern would be if it were a protracted period of time, then we would potentially have to make adjustments.


      Q:  And the -- one last question.  You've said a couple of times that the secretary was surprised by the coup Friday night. 


      What -- I don't even know how to ask it.  I mean, a coup -- a military coup in a NATO country where the U.S. maintains a very sophisticated stockpile of weapons, and the secretary of defense genuinely surprised. 


      How is this anything other than a significant failure in military intelligence?  Because there were over 3,000 Turkish personnel involved in it.  It wasn't like one random act. 


      How -- how does he view this?  I can't imagine he's too happy about being surprised by this.  So, how does he view this as anything other than a failure in intelligence?


      MR. COOK:  As you said, I think it was not just the Department of Defense, but others who were surprised by the events that played out on Friday.  And there will be I'm sure an effort to assess if there was -- should have been more information that we should have obtained previously. 


      But we reacted as we did to the facts as we knew them, to the reality on the ground.  And that's where we are today.  And the secretary is focused on making sure our operations continue, that our people are safe and secure and that our relationship with Turkey, again, continue to progress.


      Q:  Is it an intelligence failure?


      MR. COOK:  I'm not going to label the events in Turkey any particular thing, Barbara.  This was obviously something that points to issues within Turkey itself that, I think, are best left to the Turks.


      Q:  Thank you.


      MR. COOK:  Yes, Lucas?


      Q:  Is it a -- did the U.S. lose an ally when the commander of the Incirlik Air Base was arrested?


      MR. COOK:  Our ally is -- NATO ally is Turkey itself.  So, I'm not going to get into the individual members of the military.  Our ally is Turkey.  Our relationship is with the country of Turkey.


      Q:  Did it bother the secretary, since Turkey is this NATO ally, a member ally, that our -- U.S. military's colleagues on the ground, while they were helping the United States and the coalition fight ISIS, they were also plotting a coup in their spare time?


      MR. COOK:  Again, Lucas, I'm not going to get into the goals or ambitions of individual members of the Turkish militarily.  I will leave that to the Turkish officials to -- to describe.


      Paul and then Jamie -- (inaudible).


      Q:  A quick follow-up on Barbara and Nancy's question about the shooters in Dallas and in Baton Rouge.  Has there been any effort on behalf of the Pentagon to look at -- it's not just Dallas and Baton Rouge, there have been other incidences where military veterans have been involved in shootings, the D.C. sniper, Washington Navy Yard, Fort Hood.  There's a number of other -- other examples of this, active or former -- former active duty or former military folks involved.


      Is there any effort on behalf of the Pentagon or any interest in looking into whether there is any connection here and there is anything that can be done to possibly mitigate that?  Or that is just not the -- (inaudible)?


      MR. COOK:  A couple things.  We are a very large organization, as you know, with literally millions of people who have served.  In the past, we -- in that sense that there are -- there are many people in this country who have served the U.S. military.  So I'd just make that broad point; we're a big organization.  Big organizations have, on occasion, people who have done bad things.  So we're not unlike other institutions.


      With regard to the specific question you have, I -- I'd have to take the question to see if there's ever been a formal review.  I'm not -- I'm not aware of one, but obviously, the -- the idea or the discussion that we've had and Secretary Carter and others have been part of it in looking at how service members transition from active duty to -- to non-active status. 


      Obviously, the relationship, the handoff between the active-duty Department of Defense to the Veteran's Administration, that's something that's been an ongoing conversation, something we've been very eager to try and -- and -- as has the VA in trying to make sure that that relationship is -- is as solid as possible and that transition is done as successfully as possible.


      And so in that broad context, I'm sure that's a conversation we've been having, but not necessarily because of these individual shootings.  It's something that was the right thing to do for our service members and I think that's what we're most concerned about. 


      So Jamie?


      Q:  Peter, I'm just -- I'm sorry, but I have to ask this question sort of straight out.  Tony referred to special weapons and Barbara referred to sophisticated weapons.  Arms control advocates allege that the United States has a small stock pile of nuclear weapons at the base in Incirlik and they say that given the instability in Turkey demonstrated by this attempted coup, that it would be prudent to remove those weapons and either bring them back to the U.S. or put them someplace else.


      What, if anything, can you say about that?


      Q:  Jamie, as you know, as a matter of policy, we don't discuss our strategic assets and -- but you know as well the kind of thought and care that we put into safely securing every part of the U.S. military and we're going to continue to do that.


      Last question.


      Q:  You say that while Secretary Carter is somehow briefed by his commanders on the ground and also the dialogue between -- military-to-military between Turkish military and the U.S. military was conducted through these commanders.  But -- I don't know how to ask it, but it may be a little bit straight out.


      But wouldn't it be a little bit kind of secretary to call his counterparts saying that, look, your country and your government faced something like this and I'm a little bit sorry for you, but that we, as the ally, NATO ally, we are committed to our security strategic partnership and so on?


      MR. COOK:  There were -- as you know, there were conversations between the secretary of state and the foreign minister, and the secretary has spoken recently to his counterpart.  He will be speaking with representatives from the Turkish government at this event on Wednesday that he knew was coming up and he's open to having a discussion at any point with the minister of defense.


      This was a, obviously, very unusual event.  There's been a lot of turmoil in Turkey.  There's been a lot of effort on the part of the Turks to try and -- and find out what's been going on, including, I'm sure, at the Ministry of Defense.


      So there's been a significant amount of engagement and there will be going forward and I'm sure the secretary and his -- and his minister counterpart will engage in conversation.


      OK.  Thanks, everybody.