Transcript

Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III Briefs Reporters on Defensive Precision Strike

Feb. 25, 2021

SECRETARY OF DEFENSE LLOYD J. AUSTIN III: I know that -- that Mr. Kirby has provided you with information on the strike that we conducted this evening and there's not much more that I will be able to add at this point, other than the fact that we're confident that the target we went after we know it was hit, and we're confident that that target was being used by the same Shia militia that -- that conducted the -- the strikes.

And so you'll get more information in terms of the effects of the strikes, as times goes by, but I just wanted to make sure that I gave you that viewpoint from me, that level of confidence that there is connectivity.

And -- and so, we're very deliberate about our approach, as you would expect us to be. We allowed and encouraged the Iraqis to investigate and develop intelligence, and that was very helpful to us in refining the target.

And let me just finally say that I'm really proud of the men and women in our force who carried out the strike. As you would expect, they performed in a very professional manner, and we're grateful for their service.

Q: Can you say why this was important to do, Mr. Secretary? And was this your recommendation?

SEC. AUSTIN: It was my recommendation. We've said a number of times we will respond and -- you know, on our timeline. Once again, we want to be sure of the connectivity, we want to make sure that we had the right target.

Q: When did the president authorize the strikes? When did the president authorize the strikes? Were you on the phone with him?

SEC. AUSTIN: It was today, yes. 

Q: It was today? Was it this morning when you were delayed?

SEC. AUSTIN: Yes, it was this morning.

Q: Where were you (inaudible)...

SEC. AUSTIN: That's all I'm going to say.

Q: All right. Thank you.