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Media Availability by Acting Secretary Shanahan Prior to an Honor Cordon Welcoming Albania’s Minister of Defense Olta Xhaçka to the Pentagon

April 18, 2019
Acting Secretary Of Defense Patrick M. Shanahan

ACTING SECRETARY OF DEFENSE PATRICK SHANAHAN:  Courtney said today's the day that I should come out and talk.

(UNKNOWN):  (inaudible) Because it's a nice day.

SEC. SHANAHAN:  Right?  Yeah, yeah.  That's right.

(CROSSTALK)

Q:  Can you help us a little bit on the North Korea test?  Has the U.S. determined that anything at all was launched yesterday, even if it was something small and --

SEC. SHANAHAN:  I'm not going to go into the detailed intelligence.  But the way I'd characterize it is, it's not a ballistic missile.

And then also, there's no change to our posture or to our operations.

Q:  So you are confirming that there was a test of some kind.

SEC. SHANAHAN:  There was a test, yes.

Q:  It's just that it wasn't of significant altitude to --

SEC. SHANAHAN:  It's not a -- it's not a ballistic missile.  Okay?

Q:  You're specifically using the word "test," rather than "launch."

SEC. SHANAHAN:  I mean, how -- how about “launch”?  I can use “launch.”

Q:  Did they actually fire something?  That's what we're all trying to figure out, or whether it was some kind of a ground test.

SEC. SHANAHAN:  I think the way you want to look at it, it wasn't a ballistic missile, all right?

Q:  But they did launch something, just not that big?

SEC. SHANAHAN:  You could use “shoot,” “launch,” “test.”

Q:  Test.

SEC. SHANAHAN:  I mean, they're very synonymous terms.  

Q:  Well, sir, was -- it -- was it more than components?  Was it a finished piece of ordnance?

SEC. SHANAHAN:  It was not ballistic.

Q:  Was it more than components?

SEC. SHANAHAN:  What else would you guys like to --

Q:  Was it new?

SEC. SHANAHAN:  (inaudible)

Q:  I mean, was it some kind of a new capability or technology that shows any kind of new progress or concerns, or -- that you can share?

SEC. SHANAHAN:  No change to our operation or posture.

And I'm not being, you know, cagey here.  It's just that what's important is, it wasn't ballistic.

Q:  And -- and did it -- did it --

SEC. SHANAHAN:  Jeffrey?

Q:  Does the Defense Department have the ability to counter the reach of the GRU [Eds: (sic) G.U. is the Main Directorate of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation, formerly known as GRU], as shown in the Mueller report?  Are you better than the GRU?

SEC. SHANAHAN:  I haven't read it. Can you tell me more about what was in the Mueller report?

Q:  They broke -- broke into personal computers, government computers, corporate computers, and (inaudible) to disseminate a lot of information seemingly at will.  Is this something that concerns the Defense Department, at just how capable the Russians are at cyber warfare?

SEC. SHANAHAN:  I'd need to look at the specifics of the report. We're -- you know, the Russians present a risk.  I mean, my job is to manage the risk.  We have tremendous capability at Cyber Command and the NSA.

Q:  Can we ask you a question about the Albanians?  So -- from the Voice of America.

SEC. SHANAHAN:  Hi.  Welcome.

Q:  Mr. Secretary, what do you expect --

SEC. SHANAHAN:  Are we -- are we okay on time (inaudible)?

Q:  -- from Albania in terms of military collaboration?  Would we expect more from Albania?

SEC. SHANAHAN:  Yes.

Q:  I know that you have a base there, a new one.

SEC. SHANAHAN:  Right.

Q:  NATO.

SEC. SHANAHAN:  Mostly, our conversation today will be about the contributions Albania's making and where we can best place those resources, and how to participate with the U.S.  We'll also talk about the important capabilities that the Albanians must develop.

So part of the minister's visit here was to New Jersey to look at partnering with the National Guard, and this is with respect to helicopter maintenance.  But we'll talk more about what's the right U.S. participation.

(CROSSTALK)

Q:  Did you make your progress yesterday in your discussions with the Turks?

SEC. SHANAHAN:  I did, yeah.

Look, Minister Akar -- they are a strategic partner, right?  There will always be challenges to navigate, and that's why we took the time, since he was in town, to sit down together and I like seeing him.  This was one of those, you know, meetings, where there were no notes.  It's like, "Okay, where are we stuck?  How do we get unstuck?"  And I mentioned this.  We stay focused on interests, not positions?  Okay.

(CROSSTALK)

SEC. SHANAHAN:  I told him I'd be happy to come visit him when we deliver the Joint Strike Fighter.