Transcript

Media Availability with Acting Secretary Shanahan before Enhanced Honor Cordon with NATO Secretary General Stoltenberg

Jan. 28, 2019
Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick M. Shanahan

ACTING SECRETARY OF DEFENSE PATRICK SHANAHAN:  We’re going to have a nice meeting with the secretary-general today. 

Q:  Do you expect to be discussing Afghanistan?  And what can you tell us about everything we're hearing about your planning for some changes in -- in Afghanistan?  
SEC. SHANAHAN:  We're going to -- I'm going to share with the secretary-general all the things that are going on here in the department, and also things that are going on in the State Department.  
So a lot of this is really making sure we stay in tight coordination with our coalition partners... 

Q:  Can you -- can you tell us anything about the department's planning for potential troop withdrawals or troop drawdowns in Afghanistan? 
SEC. SHANAHAN:  I'm going to -- I'm going to wait until after -- after the meeting.  But we might have a chance this week to talk about some of that.  

Q:  Last -- last year at this time, NATO launched a winter offensive in Afghanistan for the first time in the war.  And this year, a year later, it's the Taliban that has a winter offensive.  What changed so dramatically to shift the focus like that?  
SEC. SHANAHAN:  Well, I was going to say that hopefully later on this week, when we get together, we can talk about some of the encouraging conversations that are going on with the Taliban.  

(CROSSTALK) 

Q:  OK. 

Q:  Have you been briefed on the talks with Zalmay Khalilzad?  What the agreements are about this basic framework?  
SEC. SHANAHAN:  I have had... 

Q:  Can you tell us some of the basics of it?  
SEC. SHANAHAN:  I'd say, really, the -- the takeaway right now, it's encouraging.  And we'll let Secretary Pompeo and the ambassador will be the spokespersons for that.  

Q:  But have you been tasked...

SEC. SHANAHAN:  All right, I'm going to run over here.  All right.

(CROSSTALK) 

Q:  Have you been tasked yet to prepare for a full withdrawal, or no?

SEC. SHANAHAN:  I have not.   

Q:  OK.  Thank you.