Transcript

Assistant to the Secretary of Defense Hoffman Updates Reporters on DOD Operations

May 15, 2020
Jonathan Rath Hoffman, Assistant to the Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs

ASSISTANT TO THE SECRETARY OF DEFENSE JONATHAN RATH HOFFMAN: Good afternoon. Thank you all for being here today.

It's with great sadness that we acknowledge the loss of an American hero in Medal of Honor recipient Ronald Shurer, who passed away this week. 

Staff Sergeant Shurer was inspired to serve his country by events of September 11th, 2001. On April 6th, 2008, while serving as a senior medical sergeant in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, Staff Sergeant Shurer provided medical aid to his -- his teammates while facing enemy fire for over six hours. He will be remembered for his courage. Our thoughts are with him and his family.

On the continued fight against COVID, in another positive sign, the USNS Mercy is departing from Los Angeles today after successfully providing support to the city while COVID-19 cases were surging. The Mercy's departure is a welcome sign of progress.

As you saw earlier today, President Trump announced Operation Warp Speed and would -- and as part of that, named General Perna to be the chief operating officer for the effort to develop, manufacture, and distribute vaccines to counter coronavirus.

I'd also like to share the names of other senior -- senior individuals within the Department of Defense, subject matter experts who have been identified to support the effort.

So for -- for diagnostics, Major General Lee Payne, the assistant director of combat support at the Defense Health Agency; for therapeutics, Dr. Sean Biggerstaff, acting director of research and development at DHA; for vaccines, Dr. Matt Hepburn, joint project lead (CBRN) defense-enabling biotechnologies; for production and distribution, Stacy Cummings, principal deputy assistant secretary of defense for acquisition enablers; and security and assistance, Andrew Kilianski, chief intelligence officer for CBRN defense. So they'll be working with the HHS teams on those joint mission assignments under the leadership of General Perna and -- and Dr. Slaoui.

Finally, tomorrow we celebrate Armed Forces Day across our nation. This year's celebration marks 70 years since the first Armed Forces Day was proclaimed in 1950. We want to join everyone in thanking and honoring all the 1.4 million active-duty and 1.3 million Guard and Reserve personnel serving in our armed forces. The brave men and women of the U.S. military are among our nation's best, and we thank them for their sacrifice and commitment to service, particularly those who are serving on the front lines in the battle against COVID these days.

So with that, I will take your questions. All right, so we'll go to the phones for Lita.

Q: Hi. Thanks.

Two things.

One, there were five sailors on the Roosevelt that have retested positive. What does this tell you about, sort of, the testing and the ability for the military to get its troops, and particularly sailors, back on the job as -- as you go forward?

And secondly, just on the -- a quick one on the Mercy. As you look ahead to the fall, when there may be another resurgence of the virus, do you expect that the Mercy and the Comfort would be used in the same way? Or are there lessons learned that suggest maybe the ships themselves weren't used a lot, but that other types of military medical personnel are of greater use?

Thanks.

MR. HOFFMAN: Sure.

So with regard to the -- the Teddy Roosevelt, I think we would -- we would all acknowledge that this has been a learning process. And so the department, and particularly the Navy, have learned much over the last few weeks on how to confront outbreaks on ships. Fortunately, this has only affected at this time two ships, and as we saw with the USS Kidd, maybe those lessons learned allowed the Navy to move very quickly.

But it also shows us that what we've -- what we've known for a long time is that this is a very stubborn infectious disease; that we've taken steps, and walking through the steps that the Navy has taken include removing those who are symptomatic, removing those who have close proximity to people who are symptomatic, testing the entire crew, cleaning the crew, quarantining the crew, and then putting people back on the ship.

The good news is that in this case you had a few individuals who showed symptoms. Because of the medical testing and the medical surveillance that we've put in place, they quickly were alerted, the medical crew on the ship. They were tested. They were removed from the ship and quarantined. That we did tracing to identify others who had been -- were near them and tested them, and then did the same to identify others who were near them. So a process was put in place to quickly address the issue.

So, as I said, it's a stubborn disease. We're learning a lot. We're taking every step possible to get the ship fully cleaned and fully ready. 

I'll just note, as we've said from the start with regard to the T.R. is that -- and that the -- Chairman Milley said up here a number of times -- that the -- the T.R. could be at sea tomorrow if it were called upon and would be able to fight through this outbreak. But we do want to get to a place where there is zero infections on the ship and the entire ship's complement is back at sea, and that may take a little more time.

With your second question with the Comfort and Mercy, we saw at the beginning of this outbreak a demand from the state and locals for additional support. And in the case of the Comfort and Mercy, we had New York and Washington state and California and a couple other places that were all clamoring for what they thought was the need, which was going to be additional bed space. And so the Comfort and the Mercy had the benefit of having 1,000 beds, as well as doctors to support those, so it brought a full -- fully fledged hospital.

As we went through the process, we've seen the demand signal shift from a fully formed hospital with doctors and nurses to potentially just additional beds and then addition -- then to just doctors. So we'll look at the lessons we learned from that. We have adjusted, we've modified and we'll look and see what the next potential wave looks like.

So I can't predict what -- what any type of follow-on may be, I have no ability to do that, but I do know that the Comfort and the Mercy will be prepped and ready and the crews will be prepared to deploy if called upon by FEMA, HHS, and the governors and mayors of the country to assist. All right? We'll go to the next one. Tom?

Q: So Jonathan, Jennifer Santos was removed abruptly from her job as Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Industrial Policy. She worked closely with industry on the Defense Production Act. No explanation was given why she was moved. Apparently Ellen Lord, her boss, didn't know about it and people are saying the order came from the White House to remove her.

Can you walk us through what happened with that?

MR. HOFFMAN: So I'll just start with the assertion that Ellen Lord was not aware of this. I -- I spoke with Ellen about this. Ellen was aware of a change that was being made. The decision was made to have Jen move to a position in the Navy, they had a need for someone to assist Hondo Geurts with his role as the head of acquisition in the Navy. She had some capabilities and skills that they thought would be helpful.

It was an opportunity for Jennifer to move into a new position there and it also provided us an opportunity as we move forward with this Operation Warp Speed to potentially identify somebody with a different set of background in manufacturing to work with industry as we move forward in some of the efforts we're going to have to undertake in these coming months.

Q: So this is all about the Navy's need, that's why she was moved over?

MR. HOFFMAN: I think there's a -- I just listed a few different reasons why. So -- all right? So we'll go back to the phones. Go to Travis Tritten, Bloomberg.

Q: Hi, can you hear me okay? Hello, Jonathan, can you hear me?

MR. HOFFMAN: Yes we can, Travis.

Q: Okay, thank you.

I wanted to ask you about the Chief Management Officer. There was a -- an assessment that came out by the Defense Business Board and you said last week that it was just one input. Essentially it found that the position has been ineffective.

I'm wondering if DOD has completed an internal assessment of the Chief Management Officer position and what it has determined on whether it has been effective or ineffective? Thank you.

MR. HOFFMAN: The Secretary has directed a -- to the staff to conduct an assessment of the Office of the Chief Management Officer, as stipulated in the F.Y. '20 NDAA. So that staff assessment will take into consideration the findings of other independent reviews, including the review conducted by the DBB.

The report of the Secretary's assessment will be delivered to Congress when it's completed. I don't have a timeline on that but I expect that will be an informative review.

And one thing I just want to make sure everybody is clear of is whether the Office of the Chief Management Officer has undergone change and whether additional modifications or changes are necessary, the one thing that's been clear is that Lisa Hershman's been excelling in that position, has been a real benefit to the Department in working through transformation and on many of the issues that she has been tasked with.

So appreciate all of the work that she's been doing and continue -- will continue to be doing. Jennifer?

Q: Jonathan, what's the super-duper missile that the President just referred to in the White House at the Oval Office?

MR. HOFFMAN: I'm going to have to refer you back to the -- the White House on that. I don't have any information to give you on that. Do you want to try a different one since that was kind of...

Q: Can you update us on the Fort Detrick vaccine? Is it in the lead right now in terms of the aid vaccines that we are hearing about? Where are they in their trials?

MR. HOFFMAN: So I can't give you any specific information in comparing it to others. I know that they're moving rapidly through the process. I think we're intending to try to get a briefing for you guys with some of the team that's going to be working on -- that has been working on vaccines and therapeutics. I think we've talked with them a couple of weeks ago or maybe a month ago -- to get them back in here and give you far more information.

Much of the work that they're doing is going to fall under the Operation Warp Speed, that's being undertaken and so the work that they're going to do is going to inform that and work as one of the many -- the many different types of vaccines that are under consideration. Barbara?

Q: I wanted to ask you about a couple of things the Secretary said and something you just said about the vaccine. First, can you tell us why Warp Speed needs an intelligence officer -- you mentioned that -- why -- whose expertise I think you indicated was chemical, biological, and radiological. Why would you need the intelligence officer? Does this suggest that some of the work on the vaccine will be classified as opposed to just industrial sensitive?

And I wanted to ask you also about what the Secretary said at the White House, and I'm quoting him. He said "we will deliver by the end of this year a vaccine at scale to treat the American people and our partners abroad."

He's very definitive that it will be by the end of this year, which is 28 weeks from now. What makes Secretary Esper -- what evidence does he have, what does he know that makes him able to be, himself, absolutely definitive that there will be a safe and effective vaccine 28 weeks from now?

MR. HOFFMAN: So on the first one, I will -- I'll have to get back to you with some more detail on the role of each individual on the task force but I think one of the things we would look at is we do want to make sure that we -- we're protecting the -- the research, we're protecting that information so that we can move through the process.

And I think we've seen reports of efforts to -- by adversaries to muck with our research and development. And that runs risks of having information manipulated or corrupted, so we need to protect that. I think that would be one aspect of having a very highly informed person who is talented in that realm but I can get you some more information on that, Barbara.

Q: ... so you are saying that the Chinese have made efforts to hack into American vaccine information?

MR. HOFFMAN: I can get you some more information on the role of that individual. So on the -- on the second part with the Secretary's confidence, I think it's fair for the Secretary to be confident that when the President tasks and Congress and the American government, the entire American people are behind an effort, that will be successful.

I don't think that there is any reason to doubt that we can -- using all of the medical capabilities at the hands of the federal government, industry, the private sector, research institutions, all of everybody working together, along with the capabilities of the military on the logistics side to deliver and manufacture that, that we won't be successful.

I think the Secretary is showing optimism and confidence in it and I think that's what the American people want to see from the government right now, is an effort to move toward that goal and be successful. All right, we'll go back to the -- the...

Q: Jonathan, can I follow up on that? The Secretary was very specific -- by the end of the year.

MR. HOFFMAN: We set a goal. So our goal -- the goal of the -- the operation is that by...

Q: ... a goal is different from a -- he was specific, we will have it by the end of the year...

MR. HOFFMAN: Well I think what you look at what the goal is and then you work backwards from there. What do we need to do to obtain that goal? What resources –
Q: … He’s not saying “Goal.” He’s saying, “We will have it by year’s end.”

MR. HOFFMAN: Once again, you set a goal. And then you work back from there. You say, What do we need to do to obtain that goal? So, a goal -- when you set a goal and then you say what are the resources we need? Who are the people we need? What's the team we need? And then you put that to it. 

So we're looking at this as a problem that can be solved by collaboration, by putting the right people, working with industry, working with the best scientists in the world, working with the best logistician in the world, and then applying all of that to it. 

So it's a matter of how quickly you want to do it, and how many resources you're willing to put to it. And that's the -- that's what the secretary has confidence in. That, given that goal, we've identified the steps that need to be -- that need to be taken. 

I had the opportunity to talk with General Perna yesterday for a little bit about this, and he laid out some of the steps that, when you start looking at it, you work backwards. You say, here's where we need to be on the -- in January of 2021, what are the different type of steps we need to take? 

And then start breaking it down and saying, all right, do we need to build up our manufacturing? OK, what does that mean? We've got to look at the facilities, we've got to look at the -- we've got to look at the facilities, we've got to look at the distribution, and all these different parts of it. And then you start to incrementally attack it. 

Q: I understand that, but again, how can you be specific of a date, certain? I understand all the effort being put into it, but how can you -- how can anybody say at this point, by year's end? 

MR. HOFFMAN: Tom, you set a goal, you have confidence that you're going to put the resources to it to obtain that goal. And I think that's what the secretary and that's what the president are saying, is that we have a goal, we've got the team together, we've committed to putting the resources to it, and we're going to obtain that goal, OK?

All right, let's go back to the phones. Go to Idrees Ali.

Q: Hey, Jonathan. So whenever the Secretary and other military leaders go to the White House, I presume they're being tested by the White House testing system, which is the Abbott testing system. But there was some research that came out earlier this week, showing that up to 50 percent of the results could be false negatives. 

So I'm just wondering, when Secretary Esper and other military leaders go to the White House, given that they could be false negatives, why not wear a mask? I'm just trying to -- is there some harm in wearing a mask when they go there? Can you sort of explain that, please? 

MR. HOFFMAN: I think we've seen that the department's been pretty forward-leaning, ahead of the curve since the start on measures to counteract the coronavirus. And what we look at is that this is an effort to mitigate risk. And so by mitigating risk, you look at the different measures that we've taken -- social distancing, wearing masks when social distancing isn't possible. 

We've got people telecommuting, we've been doing VTCs, we've separated senior leaders, we've been quarantining people who are exposed, we do tracing, we do regular testing, and then we do screening of people for symptoms. So there's a whole bunch of different things we do to get to that point. 

With regard to the White House, you have a system where testing takes place, generally they're maintaining their distance socially, and then sometimes they wear masks and sometimes they don't. So I think that they're taking the steps to mitigate the risk in an environment. In a meeting where everyone has just been tested, the risk is somewhat diminished. 

So that would be my response to you, but we've provided guidance and the leaders have been following it. But generally, there are cases where you are able to maintain social distance, and so you may choose not to wear a mask. It's a decision that is being made at different times based on the event.

I'm not wearing one right now because I'm up here at the podium, and it would make it very difficult to communicate with you. Many of you are, some of you are not. But we're all socially distanced. So we're taking advantage of that, it's mitigating the risk, and that's what we're going to have to continue to do. 

We cannot drive -- we cannot adopt a posture where we just stop doing everything that may result in any communication of coronavirus. We're not going to shut down the Pentagon, we're not going to shut down the Department of Defense, we're not going to stop doing events, so we're just going to take a series of mitigation steps. 

All right, we'll go back to the phone as well. So David Martin.

Q: Thank you. The president keeps using the term, "mobilize the military" for this Operation Warp Speed, and that mobilize is usually meant to refer to calling up the Reserves or calling out the National Guard. So what kind of military mobilization is envisioned here, other than the assignment of these officers to Operation Warp Speed?

And also, where is Operation Warp Speed going to be headquartered? Is General Perna going to continue to work from the headquarters of the Army Materiel Command, or is he going to move to Washington or what? 

MR. HOFFMAN: The first part of that, I think the president is using mobilize in the colloquial sense of putting the Army or putting the military onto a task. And we're mobilizing our resources, we're mobilizing our know-how, our knowledge, our leadership, our logistical backgrounds, to address that. 

So I think the president, I don't want to speak for him, but I think that it was understood as the use of the colloquialism -- colloquial terms of mobilizing the military. 

With regard to where the force is going to be, the Warp Speed team is going to be located -- and my understanding is that they're going to be working out of HHS, that they've identified office space there. I believe General Perna mentioned this in the interview that he had with The New York Times yesterday, that he and Dr. Slaoui will be collocated over there and working from HHS. 

All right, next one, Luis Martinez, ABC.

Q: Hey, Jonathan. Travis actually asked the question about when we could expect the new regulations, the new changes -- you know, the health condition status for the Pentagon and DOD-wide, so I'd like to ask that and then I have a follow-up. 

MR. HOFFMAN: OK. So with regard to the Pentagon, one thing I would just start with is we're not reopening the Pentagon, the Pentagon's never been closed. We're not reopening the department, the department's never been closed. 

What we will do is, we will begin to ramp up the number of individuals and the number of offices that are here. That's going to take place over a number of weeks. What we have to look at is what's happening in the District and in Northern Virginia, so we've still got to rely on what is the governor of Virginia saying, what is the mayor of D.C. saying, what is the governor of Maryland saying. Take that into account. 

There's a number of different things we've got to look at in terms of the ability of our workforce. So mass transportation, daycare, schools, hospital availability. So these are all things we want to make sure are in place. So there's a planning process that WHS is undertaking right now to reach that conclusion. They have a plan and the framework that's out there is conditions-based. I've looked over it, and it's in a -- it's in a good place. 

Hopefully, that -- we will be making an announcement on that relatively soon, but that is -- that's up for review right now, within the department, and people are taking a look at it. 

You had a follow-up? 

Q: Yes. And so that also includes the broader HPCON status, correct? And...

MR. HOFFMAN: So that – taking a look at it, two separate things. So, one is going to be looking -- we have a -- inside DOD, we have WHS, which runs the Pentagon reservations, so the Mark Center and other DOD-leased facilities within the NCR and the Pentagon building itself. You can kind of treat that as a -- as its own command in the sense that they have to look at the conditions here locally. 

The second part, I think what you were talking about is our larger FORCECON review of how the rest of the department around the country and around the world is going to open. So that's undergoing. That's obviously going to be a little bit more complex because we've got to look at individual states, individual localities. But we do have the framework of what that is. So looking at, what have local and state officials directed, the availability of hospital care and the availability of testing, and then for the commanders to look at their mission assignments and what -- how open do they need to be to conduct their missions? So that framework's out there. That's also out for review, and we expect to have an announcement on that in the coming weeks.

All right, we'll go next to Paul Hanley, AFP.

All right, we'll go to Courtney Kube, NBC.

Q: Hi, thanks. On -- another one on Operation...

(CROSSTALK)

MR. HOFFMAN: Go ahead, Courtney.

Q: Sorry. Another one on Operation Warp Speed. If -- the president has said now once or twice that he intends to use the military to distribute the vaccine once it's available, and I'm wondering even so -- went so far the other day as to say that this was -- they're planning for that. Is that going to be active duty or National Guard or a combination of both? And can you give us a sense about where that planning is, what that's going to look like?

MR. HOFFMAN: I don't have an answer for you at this time. I think that that is something that General Perna and his team will be able to provide updates to. But he's the one who's handling it. That's what he's been hired to do. That's what he has a great wealth of experience doing. And so he's going to be coming up with the plan on how to do that and what resources to use, whether that is active duty or National Guard or some combination of both, and given the great role the National Guard has clearly already played in the COVID response, it's something that they're well-conditioned to do. But I'll have to get back to you after talking to General Perna on where they are and the planning on that, and when he's going to be ready to talk about what those plans are.

All right, did I hear Paul there?

Q: Paul Hanley, yeah.

MR. HOFFMAN: Go ahead, Paul.

Q: I'm wondering if you could give us an update on troop withdrawals from Afghanistan and say whether the -- you view the Taliban as sticking to their agreement in this process. And -- excuse me -- secondly, does the Pentagon expect the schools on bases for dependents to be open in September?

MR. HOFFMAN: So I'll take your last question first. I think that's part of that review that we're looking at, and it's going to be conditioned on a number of things, like I said: What is -- what have the state and local governments directed? How do we interact with them on that, so that if they have a force condition or a health condition that they've set, how do we interact with them and ensure that we're working closely with them to make sure our people are protected? Because with schools, you may have people coming off the base that need to attend, as well. And then looking at where the need is from the unit, as well. So that's part of that decision that's undergoing review, and that process right now, so don't have an update for you.

With regard to the troop withdrawal, we're still moving forward with the force reduction levels that we're committed to. This has been a number, getting down to 8,600, that we -- that General Miller proposed back, I believe, in the fall, when we were in Afghanistan, I think it was October. And we've been moving forward with that since then and -- or sorry, since the agreement was signed. And so that is still going forward, and we expect to meet that within the timeline laid out under the agreement with the Taliban. So -- but I have no update for you on what the actual number is today.

And then finally, with regard to the questions on the agreement itself, I'd just refer you to Ambassador Khalilzad’s comments. I think he gave a press conference this morning where he dove into a lot of detail on that. He is a far more knowledgeable person on this topic than I am, and I think it's a – I would suggest you would be better-served looking to his comments this morning.

All right, we'll go to Missy Ryan.

All right, we'll come back in the building. Mike?

Q: Yeah, you said that the Mercy and the Comfort are being -- are going back for refit and to get prepared. But at this point, I can – can you confirm that there is no other follow-on mission plan for these ships at this point, right?

MR. HOFFMAN: Right now, we have not received a tasking from FEMA for a follow-on mission for the Comfort or Mercy. 

Meghann. 

Q: So I want to follow up on Idrees’ question ...

MR. HOFFMAN: Sure.

Q: ... about social distancing mask policy. So it's not a question, really, of whether the department and officials are following that here because they very much are. But it seems like when General Milley and Secretary Esper get to the White House, because they have done a rapid test, they set that aside. But now, knowing that that rapid test has such a high failure rate, have they reconsidered that policy, maybe social distancing or wearing a mask when they're with the president or at the White House, knowing that they're setting the example for the rest of this department and the force?

MR. HOFFMAN: So first I would say on the testing, I'm going to have to refer to the doctors on that one. I think I've seen some pretty conflicting reports as to what the accuracy of the testing is. So that is the testing that the doctors have identified and that is being used. We're relying on it, but we're also taking other measures. So I think there's -- there was a great kerfuffle about the meeting last Saturday. When you looked at the photos, the individuals at the table were seated five-ish, six-ish feet apart around the table. I think they were taking those social distancing measures in good faith. There may be moments where you're entering or leaving a room where you haven't put your mask back on yet, where there may be some sort of closer contact. 

But it -- it's a risk mitigation, and I think that in an effort where you're going into an environment where everybody's just been recently tested, you have confidence in the testing system and you're maintaining social distance, you're taking steps to reduce the risk. And I think that -- that that's a reasonable place to be for the Secretary and for the other senior leaders. 

All right. We'll go back to the phones. A couple more. Tara Kopp.

Q: Hey, Jonathan. Thanks for doing this. 

I wanted to put in a request first to see if the five DOD members with DHA and the other agencies could come into the briefing room just to tell us what their specific roles are; specifically, you know, learning the logistics, learning the vaccine development. So just putting that request in at the top.

And then secondly, what I don't see there is oversight, and I'm wondering if there've been discussions within the building to -- will this just be another DOD I.G. mission added on to -- for all of the contracts have been vetted, for all of the efforts underway, will that become an added DOD I.G. overview responsibility?

MR. HOFFMAN: I don't have a question -- I don't have a -- I'm sorry. I don't have an answer for you on that one, for the second part. We'll take the first suggestion under advisement, and I will talk with the team and then talk with the HHS team. And knowing that this is a White House task force that's being put together, I'll definitely have to circle with them. But the I.G.'s always going to play a role. He's a -- he's one of the very valued teammate here at the department, checking on how we are conducting things. I'm sure that there will be some role for him continued throughout the COVID experience. I don't know exactly what that will be with regard to this task force, but I can check into that for you. OK? 

Go ahead.

Q: Thank you, Jonathan. The coronavirus – coronavirus security issues, can you tell us what recently has U.S. and Korea, Japan security cooperation meetings? What was the topic of these meetings?

MR. HOFFMAN: So the -- the recent meetings in Japan, what was the topic?

Q: Yes (inaudible).

MR. HOFFMAN: I mean, I -- I'm not going to get into the specifics of any meeting but generally, we continue to discuss our need to work collaboratively in this environment. There are a number of threats in the region, North Korea obviously being first and foremost in their region, but also how is the COVID adjusting the outlook and how we respond?

We obviously do a lot of joint training, we do a lot of joint exercising with Japan and Korea, we do a lot of -- we have thousands -- tens of thousands of American soldiers and sailors and airmen based in Japan and Korea -- in South Korea and so it's important for us to continue to contact -- stay in contact with them about how we're doing that and how we're doing that safely.

Q: How much do you know about the current situation of the North Korean coronavirus?

MR. HOFFMAN: I'm not going to get into intel matters about what we do and don't know on that. I think it's safe to say that it would be highly unusual if there was one place in the world that didn't have coronavirus.

Q: ... (inaudible) will the U.S. and South Korea joint military exercises going to normal? I mean ... 

MR. HOFFMAN: That they're going to normal, is that the question?

Q: Yeah.

MR. HOFFMAN: So we have not fully restored all of our exercises in the face of this. There's a lot of -- that has to take place before we can do that but I will say that USFK has continued to do maneuvering, to do table top exercises, they've been flying, they've been maneuvering, they've been working with the Republic of Korea military throughout and will continue to do so.

All right, we're going to go back to the phone for just a couple more questions before we wrap up. So, Paul Shenkman.

Q: Yeah, hi, thanks for doing this. What is the current status of the Patriot missile battery withdrawals from Saudi Arabia? And I saw the justification for removing them but how do you respond to the perception that the U.S. is backing away from a support for Saudi Arabia?

MR. HOFFMAN: So we're not going to talk about specific timelines on the movement of any of our air defense assets into or out of any particular region and I don't believe that -- that that has -- is something we have been talking about on this.

I'll just say we have robust capabilities in theater to address multiple threats and we have the ability to augment those resources on short notice. So we continue to work with the international community and the Saudi Armed Forces to actually strengthen their air defense forces as well so that they can have a greater role in air defenses for the Kingdom.

What -- I didn't catch the second part of your question.

Q: I've seen the justification for why the U.S. was planning to withdraw them so it could address, I think it was threats from Russia or China elsewhere, so how do you respond to the perception that this represents the U.S. backing away from its support or commitment to Saudi Arabia?

MR. HOFFMAN: So once again -- so we're not going to talk about the movement in or out of any area of our air defenses. I'll just say that we have a longstanding relationship with Saudi Arabia. That is clearly not in question, whether we're moving forces in or moving them out. That's counterterrorism, that's maritime security, that's air defense and we remain committed to that.

And at the same time, we -- we are -- as everyone in this building that's seen us over the last few months, we are aggressively addressing our global force posture, whether that's in CENTCOM, AFRICOM, INDOPACOM, we're looking at where we need our forces and where is the best place to have them, all with the goal toward turning and looking toward the Indo-Pacific and the ability for us to shift and reprioritize in accordance with the NDS.

So that's kind of a long answer of saying we always adjust our forces and just because we've had forces in one place for a period doesn't mean we'll always have them there. And then we'll go do a couple more questions and then we will -- we'll wrap it up.

So Abraham Mahshie, Washington Examiner.

Q: Terrific, thanks so much for taking my question. Jonathan, I wonder if you could talk about the -- back to the DPA and the Santos dismissal just quickly. Is this a sign of a shift in strategy for obtaining medical equipment?

And then secondly, General Payne, I wondered if you could comment on his efforts to ramp up test kit production and test kit component production. We haven't really seen much in the way of Title 3 investment or purchases for test kits. Is he still going to be doing that? Can you give us an update? Thanks so much.

MR. HOFFMAN: Sure. So I -- one -- the first question with regard to Jen Santos, I wouldn't say it's moving in a new direction, it was just a personnel change that took place and we're going to take advantage of it to bolster the team of the Navy as well as try to find a different skillset within the ANS portfolio.

With regard to General Payne, our testing capabilities continue to increase. I think we've gone from having 15 testing sites to 80, we have the ability to do tens of thousands of tests a week, we're able to hit those and we've talked about up to tier zero, one, two, three, testing needs and we've got a regiment in place where we can actually conduct those as necessary. So we've had a pretty good success in getting there. 

With regard to DPA and procurement, we do have a number of different projects in which we've used those funds for, including the -- there is a -- one that was -- trying to find it right here, that we just did this week with regard to increasing our ability to buy PPE kits, for -- protective eyewear, gloves, gowns, masks and -- for medical personnel, $134 million for that, and a number of other ones. You've heard the ones about our decontamination unit that we helped with, the ability to increase swabs.

I don't have an update for you specific to how we've used DPA on the testing side but I think what we have seen nationwide is that the testing capacity and the testing infrastructure has grown organically as the demand has increased and so the industry has stepped up in that case.

But that's going to be something where we're going to continue to look at it. I do hope to have General Payne in here in the near future to give an update on testing. I think we were trying to get a couple details in place on our current testing plan before we did that so hopefully I'll have him in here soon.

All right, we'll do last question, Lara Seligman from Politico.

Q: Hi, Jonathan, thanks for doing this. I'm wondering if you could please tell us a little bit more -- any plans for lifting Secretary Esper's stop movement order? A -- I believe the -- right now, the date is June 30th. Is there any chance that it will be lifted before then?

And how will you go about doing this, especially as you navigate the different rules for social distancing, et cetera, in the different countries and the different states that we have bases in?

MR. HOFFMAN: So when he Secretary extended the order, he noted that there would be a 15-day review. And that has taken -- the first of those has taken place, and did not make a determination to modify or lift the order, and the order's still in place. At the same time, we haven't made a decision to extend it. 

As I laid out before on some of those measures we're going to look at for how we reopen -- or sorry, how we expand our operations throughout the department, the locations, ensuring that they are open within the local government and the state government, as well as looking at the capability to test and treat patients in those areas, that's all going to be part of that. 

So the stop movement order's all going to roll into that. So we can't move somebody from California to South Carolina if the sending state has issues or if the receiving state does. So we've got to balance all of that. 

I just want to note as well that even though we've had that stop movement order, there were a number of different waivers and exemptions that were tasked down to the -- or delegated down to the first general officer in the chain of command, to allow continued movement of necessary personnel. 

And we've seen that happen. So while there has been a decrease, we've continued to have personnel move around the world in a safe manner and around the country in a safe manner, oftentimes with some quarantining timeframes and screening process in place. 

So I just got off -- before I came here -- off a phone call where we were talking about what does that look like for the move season? How are we going to -- how are we going to staff up and how are we going to surge so that we can ensure that once we are able to move, we're able to meet that demand? 

So these are all things the department's looking at. We've got a great team of logisticians, we've got a great team of medical advisors who are all examining these, every day, and hope to have some updates and some changes in policy. But like everybody else, we're just trying to help flatten the curve and get to a place where we are in a better place to handle the outbreak. 

And then also, as announced by the president’s great announcement today -- having Operation Warp Speed and the goal of getting to 300 million vaccines by January of next year. 

So with that, thank you guys. Have a good weekend.