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WATCH: Pentagon gives news briefing after U.S. launches airstrikes in Syria

US Responds To Attack On Coalition Forces: Central Command Conducts Precision Strikes in Eastern Syria, Austin & Milley Testify on Presidents Budget and Unveil Plan for Military Force and Families

  • US Central Command conducted precision strikes in Eastern Syria against facilities used by groups affiliated with Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps in response to an attack that killed a US contractor and wounded five US service members and one additional US contractor
  • Secretary Austin and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Mili testified before the House Appropriations Sub Committee on Defense to discuss the President’s FY2024 budget
  • Secretary Austin unveiled a comprehensive plan to improve the lives of military force and their families which includes universal pre-kindergarten, dependent care flexible spending accounts, parental leave benefits, expanded spouse eligibility for career advancement account, financial assistance for professional licensees for military employees
  • US Central Command will conduct a review to assess what happened during the attack against coalition forces in Syria and take a look at any other mitigating actions needed
  • US retaliatory strikes were conducted with focus on defeating ISIS mission without seeking escalation with Iran
  • Department of Defense holds Iran responsible for sponsoring these attacks.

US-Iran Conflict Escalates as USNROK Joint Embassy Field Shell 23 Completes; North Korean Nuclear Test Sparks US Response

  • The United States does not seek a wider conflict with Iran, however they reserve the right to appropriately respond if their forces are threatened
  • General Corrillo was testifying on the hill prior to the attack, however it is unknown if he was aware at that time
  • The drone of Iranian origin did not fire any weapons, but crashed into the base
  • USNROK joint embassy Field Shell 23 officially finished, though there is no information available at this point in time
  • North Korea issued a press release about a nuclear underwater explosion test and the US is taking their destabilizing activity seriously
  • US and South Korea plan to continue conducting exercises and exchanges to improve interoperability.

DoD Takes Action: Missile Defense, Iranian Drone Attack, Syria Contractors, Trumps Thailand Transit, and North Koreas Underwater Tacos Cabecos

  • The Department of Defense is taking missile defense seriously
  • The DoD believes the origin of the drone attack was Iranian made and linked to Iran-backed IRGC groups
  • The department refuses to provide numbers for contractors in Syria but affirms they are working with various contractors around the world
  • There are no DoD equities related to President Trump’s transit to Thailand and they are not changing any postures
  • They are concerned but have no specific information regarding North Korea’s potential employment of underwater Tacos Cabecos
  • Lastly, the department is researching defensive missile technologies and improving ICBM perception capabilities.

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Hey. Good afternoon, everybody. Just a few things to deliver up top, and we'll get right to your questions here. So first of all, I'd like to take a moment to recap recent operations in the US Central Command area of responsibility. Per our DOD statement last night, a US contractor was killed yesterday and five US service members, and one additional US contractor were wounded after a one way unmanned aerial vehicle struck a maintenance affility on a coalition base near Osaka and northeast northeast Syria at approximately one thirty eight PM local time. Secretary Austin at the direction of president Biden authorized US Central Command Forces to conduct precision strikes into Eastern Syria against facilities used by groups affiliated with Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. The air strikes were conducted in response to yesterday's attack as well as a series of recent attacks against coalition forces in Syria by groups affiliated with the IRGC. In terms of airstrike details to US Air Force F fifteen e fighter aircraft assigned to US Air Force's central, and based in the CENTCOM area of responsibility struck two IRGC affiliated facilities at approximately seven forty PM eastern time or two forty AM local. The facilities were located near DARZER in Eastern Syria, and we're continuing to assess the outcome of the strike's initial indications are that the facilities were destroyed. In regards any militant casualties were still assessing. These precision strikes were intended to protect and defend US personnel, and the US took proportionate and deliberate action intended to limit the risk of escalation and minimize casualties. As secretary Austin said in his statement, no group will strike our troops with impunity. Again, secretary Austin along with the Department of Defense offer our thoughts and prayers to the family and colleagues of the America contractor who was killed and with those who were wounded in the attack. Our forces deployed in Syria continue to conduct their important mission in support of the Internet National Coalition to ensure the enduring defeat of ISIS. Separately, secretary Austin and chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, General Mili test fired yesterday before the House Appropriations Sub Committee on Defense to discuss the president's fiscal year twenty twenty four budget. Next week, both leaders are scheduled to testify before the Senate Armed Services Committee and the House Armed Services Committee on DOD's budget posture and our future year's defense program. Again, the secretary and the chairman look forward to working with Congress to provide our service members serving around the world with the resources that they need to accomplish DoD's mission. Strengthen America's national security for the twenty first century and beyond. Finally, on Wednesday, secretary Austin unveiled comprehensive plan aimed at improving the lives of our dedicated military force and their families. The new plan consists of six additional actions address essential needs in education, childcare, parental leave, and career advancement. The Department of Defense is committed to working with Congress and other stakeholders to ensure the successful implementation of these measures. The plan directs the implementation of the following. Universal pre kindergarten at DoD Education Activity Schools, dependent care flexible spending accounts for service members, promoting awareness of new military parental leave benefits, improvements to the exceptional family member program, expanded spouse eligibility for career advancement account, financial assistance, and continuing efforts for portability for professional licensees for military employees. Secretary Austin and the Department of Defense are dedicated to enhancing the quality of life for our service members and their family through these new measures. The DoD will collaborate with Congress and State Partners to ensure the successful implementation and ongoing support of these initiatives. The memorandum and additional information can be found on the DoD website. And with that, I will take your questions. We'll start with AP, Lita Beldur. Thanks, Pat. A couple of things. Just one quick clarification in the counter strikes. The U. S. Hit three or two? Was it three strikes or two strikes? Two two different facilities. So two strikes. Two strikes. Okay. And then secondly, can you talk a little bit about the protection at the base where the Iranian drone hit. My understanding is that there was some either lacking protections there. Can you say whether or not any of the radars or aerostats or anything that are there either failed or were not operating. Is there adequate protection there now? How did the drone pierce the security of that base? And then I have one follow-up. Sure. So first of all, broadly speaking, for operation security reasons, I'm not gonna get into the specific in terms of the types of force protection capabilities we have in our facilities other than to say we take force protection very very seriously. I will say, as it pertains to radar, my understanding is that there was a complete site picture in terms of radar. All that said, as is the case in any type of attack, US Central Command will conduct a review to assess what happened and take a look at what if any other type of mitigating actions need to be taken. But it would obviously be premature to talk about that? And then you're following. Just a quick follow-up on the actual situation now. Obviously, the U. S. Was struck again, green villages hit again in response to those were the U. S. Retaliatory restricts. Are things escalating there? Can we expect more? Is this turning into a far more escalatory situation in Syria for the troops? Sure. And as you highlight this morning at approximately eight:five a. M. Local time, which would have been one:zero five AM eastern time. We had ten rockets that targeted coalition forces at green village in northeast Syria The attack resulted in no injuries to US for coalition personnel and no damage to equipment or facilities. In terms escalation. Look, again, our focus in Syria is on the defeat ISIS mission, and that will remain our focus. We do not see conflict with Iran. We don't seek escalation with Iran, but the strikes that we took last night were intended to send a very clear message that we will take the protection of our personnel seriously and that we will respond quickly and decisively if they're threatened. We go to Fadi. Thank you, general. I have two questions. So according to the DoD, the intelligence assessment is this UAV to be of Iranian origin. The groups that were targeted by the U. S. Are affiliated with Iranian revolutionary guard. One American citizen was killed, six more were injured. Do you and the Department and the Secretary of fans hold Iran responsible for the death of an American citizen. Look, we know that these groups are sponsored by Iran. So Iran certainly plays a role in terms of ensuring that that this type of activity doesn't happen. So is it Ron responsible for the death of an American that is it or not? Look, Iran certainly, again, backs these groups, and by default, therefore, has a responsibility to sure that they're not contributing to insecurity and stability, but clearly they continued to do that. Thank you, Jennifer. Let me let me go question. Make it quick. So yesterday, General Corrillo was on the health delivering his testimony. According to the DOD statement, the attack happened at one hundred and thirty eight local type. So that was before prior to his testimony. When he delivered his testimony on the hill, did he know about the attack? And if so, why didn't he inform the own responsibility? Yeah. I'd have to refer you to general Corrillo. Thank you, Jennifer. General writer, what kind of drone was this Iranian drone? And how how fast was it flying when it came towards the base? And did it in the end actually crash into the base or did it fire its missiles at race. Yep. Thanks, Jennifer. So we're still assessing some of those pieces. I don't have that information to provide side. Other than we are very confident that based on the forensics, based on the intelligence analysis that we've done, that it was of Iranian Origin. Did it crash into the facility or fire a weapon at the facility? It did not fire a weapon to my knowledge. So if you say the radar was working. And if you were tracking it and drones don't fly that quickly, how is it that it was able to crash into the base. And and you say that you're protecting those bases. Look, again, this is a dangerous part of the world. The work that we do is inherently dangerous. That's why have the military in these types of places conducting these type of operations. We've seen rocket attacks, mortar attacks, the past from these kinds of groups. Again, CENTCOM will do an assessment in terms of of the attack, but the fact is that these IRGC backed groups conducted this attack and unfortunately we had an American kill. Why wasn't there a contingency to shoot down the drone if it was coming into the base. Again, look, we take a variety of measures to safeguard our people. But again, it's an inherently dangerous place And again, we'll look into the details of the actual tech. Thank you. Go to Janie. Thank you, general. I have two questions. No security announced that it had conducted a nuclear under water explosion test, and the Kingdom said that he would do less ponder aggressively choose U. S. And South Korea. How will the U. S. React to this? Yeah. So I'm I'm aware that North Korea issued a a press release about this supposed capability. I've seen the press reports, but I don't any further information to provide on that. We're not concerned about Kimzoans. But we're always concerned about any type of destabilizing activity by North Korea. And so again, it's something we take very seriously. But as it pertains to the North Korean press release, you know, I don't have anything for that provides. Chairman of the joint chiefs of staff general, mainly where they're visitors, so Korea soon. Does he have any plans to visit DMD, Pamun Jones? I don't have anything to read out today in terms of General Millie's upcoming visit. So I'd refer you to to join Seth. I think he was busy. Yeah. I don't wanna speculate. But thank you. Let me go to Orin. Following the ten rockets that were fired at Greenville, do you believe it was the same group that carried out, the same group or the same militia that carried the rocket attack and the drone attack. Do you plan to respond to those rockets? And what will it take? Do you believe to restore deterrence there? Yeah. Sure. So our our current assessment is that these these rocket attacks were conducted by our IRGC affiliated groups that this rocket attack was done in an effort to retaliate from last night's attacks. Again, they did not cause any damage at the coalition facility. As far as any type of future action, I'm not gonna talk about or preview potential future operations other than to say, we will always reserve the right to respond appropriately. If our forces are threatened. Thank you. Yes, sir. Are you not concerned that they will be an all out war with Iran due to the continued exchange fire between the proxy groups and also they are attacking your bases in Syria. Yeah. Look, so so first of all, we don't see conflict or war with Iran. Our focus in Syria is on the enduring defeat of ISIS. You know, unfortunately, what you see in this situation are these Iranian backed groups, not only in Syria, but conducting operation in the Strait of Hormuz, in the Gulf, in Iraq, conducting destabilizing operations that are meant to export terror and instability you know, Iran sending drones to to Russia. And so, again, the United States and our coalition and our allies partners were focused on trying to ensure stability, security in these regions, and that will continue to be our focus we do not seek a wider conflict. And so we will that said, if our people are threatened, we will continue to respond appropriately and proportionately. Not the first time and they did it many more times and they did it today as well. Will there be any additional response from the U. S. Of these groups Yeah. I think that you answered that. Right? So, again, I'm not gonna preview any potential for future actions other than, again, say that we will take appropriate action if our forces are threatened. Okay? Yes, sir. Yesterday, USNROK is joint embassy to size named the field, shell twenty three, officially finished how do you assess the outcome of this exercise? Yeah. Thanks for the question. Unfortunately, I don't have any information on the exercise at this point in time, but refer to USFK that could give you a good readout. So do you plan to do more additional such a large scale twenty minute sight between US and South Korea? So I don't I don't have any specific exercises to to highlight here today other than to say that we very much value our relationship with South Korea and that I'm confident we will continue to conduct a variety of exercises, exchanges, partnerships in order to improve interoperability and sure that we're working together to to ensure security and stability in the region. Thank you. Let me go to Kasem. General, I have a clarification question and then I have separate. With respect to Iran, back groups. In the past, in the past strikes, we wouldn't hear attributions from the DoD. And you are now very specifically mentioning Iran, Iran backed on a IRGC in this statement. Is this what what is the reason behind that? Is this something new? Yeah. I I can't speak for the past all I can speak to is the information that we have, which is our intelligence community assessed that the origin of this drone was Iranian made. And that the groups conducting this attack are affiliated with the IRGC. The other question about the contractors The contractors killed. What was his job? One? And then how many contractors do you have in Syria? Do you have a ballpark number for us? Yes. So I'm not going to provide any numbers. As you know, we work closely with a variety of contractors around the world conducting a variety of of missions. In terms of the organization of this particular contractor, as a matter of policy, that is something that we will defer to the individual's company to highlight or provide. And so I'm not going to be able to provide any additional details on that. Okay. Let's see here. Yes, sir. Thank you taking my question. So because Thailand is pretty tight based to the US next week. So it is expected there will be Chinese backlash. So does Pentagon going to respond some actions like changing the deployment or build up military around the area of Taiwan. Yes, sure. On the transit of the president, that's really something for state department to address or to my knowledge really no DoD equities associated with that nor are we changing any postures that I'm aware of. So thank you. Time for one more. Yes, ma'am. Thank you for taking my question. I have a follow-up question on North Korea's announcement yesterday. How much are you worried about North Korea's future employment of underwater at Taco Cabeco specifically? Yes, again, to my knowledge, you know, what we've seen right now is a press release coming from North Korea about this supposed capability. We've seen the press reports, but I don't have any specific information to provide on that particular aspect. Again, more broadly speaking, we constantly maintain awareness and observe and and are concerned about any destabilizing activity by North Korea. And so we'll continue to consult closely with our allies and our partners in the region to a tour aggression and ensure that we can continue to maintain security and stability in the region. Alright? The last question. Yes, sir. Thank you, general. So Pepe DeBazio, he's the former director of the Office of Missile Defense policy. Earlier today, he was at the CSIS, and he said there's kind of a lack of political will and defensive missile technologies. Did you hear a comment on that? I did not see that, so I I don't wanna comment on it. Is it by administration pursuing, you know, research in that area to intercept hypersonic missiles, for example, in improving ICBM perception capabilities? Yeah. I mean, look, broadly speaking, missile defense is something that the department takes very seriously for obvious reasons. I don't have specifics to provide you certainly we can get with you offline. But when you look at the kinds of capabilities, the kind of missile capabilities that countries like China are developing, or the use of missiles in the war in Ukraine. Missile defense continues to be a very important aspect of our portfolio and something that we'll continue to take a closer look at. Thank you. Thank you very much everybody. Appreciate it.