BRIGADIER GENERAL PAT RYDER: Good afternoon, everyone. I have quite a few things to cover up front and then I’ll be happy to take your questions. Today, Secretary Austin signed a memo directing the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and readiness to oversee implementation of a number of initiatives designed to ensure reproductive health care access for our service members and their family members. And to bring clarity to DOD policies in the wake of the Supreme Court decision in Dobbs v. Jackson, Women’s Health Organization. The memo will be available on our defense.gov website and underscores the secretary’s top priority of taking care of our people and ensuring their health and wellbeing.
As evidenced by the numerous operations the U.S. military conducts and supports around the world on any given day, our service members and their families are our key war fighting advantage and our greatest source of strength. It is well understood by those wearing the uniform of our nation’s armed forces that frequent and sometimes unpredictable travel or moves are often required to meet operational training or staffing requirements. As Secretary Austin’s memo highlights, such moves should not limit their access to reproductive health care. Following the Supreme Court’s decision, Secretary Austin and other DOD and service leaders received significant feedback from many service members about the complexity and uncertainty they now face in accessing reproductive health care, to include abortion services.
The decision also raised questions about potential legal and financial risks for DOD health care providers as they carry out their lawful federal duties. The practical effect of the recent changes is that service members may be forced to travel greater distances, take more time off work, and pay more out of pocket expenses to access reproductive health care, all of which have readiness, recruiting and retention implications for America’s armed forces. Secretary Austin and the department took a thoughtful and deliberate approach in developing the actions outlined in the memo issued today. In his statement following the Dobbs decision, Secretary Austin stated that, quote, “The Department is examining this decision closely and evaluating our policies to ensure we continue to provide seamless access to reproductive health care as permitted by federal law,” end quote.
Within days of the Dobbs decision, the department issued guidance to reassure the force that the department would continue to provide federally authorized health care and will take action to increase access to contraceptive services. In the ensuing time a department-wide multidisciplinary team reviewed current policy; analyzed the impacts of the Dobbs decision on recruitment, retention and readiness; considered outside studies, such as a recently published Rand report; and heard input directly from service members to assess the impact of the Dobbs decision. Secretary Austin convened his most senior leaders, to include the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, service secretaries, service chiefs, and service — service senior enlisted leaders, to hear their inputs and perspectives on how to support the force. Ultimately, the range of actions outlined in the secretary’s memo, which will be completed no later than the end of the calendar year, will ensure that we recruit, retain and maintain the readiness of our nation’s highly qualified fighting force. DOD will continue to closely evaluate our policies to ensure that we provide seamless access to reproductive health care as appropriate and consistent with federal law.
Additionally, today, the department released the Annual Report on Suicide in the Military for Calendar Year 2021. Secretary Austin has said that while he’s encouraged to see a decrease in the suicide rate in our active component, we recognize we have more work to do. Every death by suicide is a tragedy that impacts our people, our military units and our readiness. The secretary remains committed to tackling suicides within the force and improving the quality of life for service members and their families, to include addressing stigma as a barrier to seeking help. As he has said many times, mental health is health.
The secretary is appreciative of the efforts made throughout the department, but remains laser focused and committed to a comprehensive and integrated approach to suicide prevention. The department is standing up a dedicated prevention workforce to strengthen our efforts to address suicide and other challenging areas. The scale of this workforce is unprecedented and reflects our commitment to making lasting change. The report and the accompanying statement from Secretary Austin are available online now at defense.gov.
Switching to some important U.S. Air Force news, the air force plans to reveal the nation’s newest strategic bomber aircraft, the B-21 Raider, Dec. 2 during an unveiling ceremony hosted and sponsored by the Northrop Grumman Corporation at its production facilities in Palmdale, California. The U.S. last introduced a new bomber over 30 years ago. The B-21 Raider will provide our nation with a formidable combat capability that can be deployed across a range of operations in the highly contested environments of the future. The B-21 is a long range, highly survivable, penetrating strike stealth bomber that will incrementally replace the B-1 and B-2 bomber aircraft, becoming the backbone of the U.S. Air Force bomber fleet. Please note that the unveiling ceremony will be by invitation only, and Northrop Grumman will determine and distribute the invitations.
Finally, this morning Secretary Austin met with Indonesian Minister of Defense Prabowo here in the Pentagon; the leaders discussed opportunities for further alignment between the United States and Indonesia, as the two countries pursue a shared vision of a free and open Indo-Pacific, as well as issues of global concern. Secretary Austin expressed appreciation for Indonesia’s leadership role within ASEAN, in the Indo-Pacific and around the world. A full readout of the meeting is posted to our website. Additionally, the secretary spoke on the phone yesterday to Turkey’s Minister of Defense Minister Hulusi Akar. The two leaders continued their dialogue from last week’s meeting at the NATO defense ministerial. And I would refer you to yesterday’s full readout also posted on our website. And with that, I will take your questions, starting with Tara, AP.
Q: Hey, Pat. Two questions for you. First, the White House said this afternoon that there’s evidence now that Iran actually has troops on the ground in Crimea, supporting Russia’s invasion. Has the Pentagon seen evidence of this? And do you have further comment that you can make about the drones — the continued Iranian drones that seem to be striking in Ukraine?
And then secondly, on the Dobbs memo today. Could you talk a little bit first about the timing of the memo, we are just a few weeks away from the midterm elections. And abortion has become such a central topic of this election. For the service members who are at bases across the U.S., how does this memo really protect them if they seek abortion care services? But first they have to go through one chain of command then another chain of command then another chain of command? How are you really going to protect their privacy and ensure they get the access they need?
GEN. RYDER: Sure. On the — on your first question, yes, we do assess that Iranians have been on the ground in Ukraine to assist Russia with the drone operations there. And so, in terms of what that means, obviously, again, we continue to see Iran be complicit in terms of exporting terror, not only in the Middle East region, but now also to Ukraine. And so, I think that speaks for itself.
In terms of the Dobbs memo in regards to the timing. As I mentioned in my opening comments, the department took a very deliberate and thoughtful approach. We commented on — on the decision as soon as it was made and have been working very hard over the last few months to come up with an approach that’s going to address service member concerns and help clarify DOD policies. I think that the fact that taking care of our people continues to be the number one priority. There is no timeline in terms of — we can’t work fast enough when it comes to taking care of our people.
And so, as I mentioned, we, following the Dobbs decision, we put together a DOD wide, multidisciplinary team that analyzed all of the different aspects. We sought feedback from service members to address their concerns. And then, as the secretary’s memo highlights, in the time before the end of the year here, we’ll continue to work on policies that do address how we can best create a uniform policy in regards to service member privacy, and making sure that they have the information they need to make informed decisions.
Q: Just two quick follow-ups; on Iran is kind of gone — considering any steps to take or any further sanctions against Iran because of their support. And then, could you just address specifically how to protect service members at local bases as they try and go through their chain of command?
GEN. RYDER: Sure. So, on Iran, so switching, flip — flipping back and forth here between Iran and — and the memo here. But on Iran, from a DOD perspective, our focus continues to be on supporting the Ukrainians in their fight. I know you’ve heard NSC, and State Department talk about actions that the U.S. government is taking, particularly on a diplomatic and economic track when it comes to potential sanctions, again, against Iran. And so, I’ll — I’ll defer you to them to speak about that. But again, in the meantime, from a DOD perspective, we’re going to continue to work with the Ukrainians, with our allies and our partners, to get security assistance to them as they continue to fight and to defend their country.
On Dobbs, in terms of the service member. A — again, I think the memo makes very clear that we want to establish policies and procedures so that there is uniformity, that there is clarity on what service members rights are when it comes to privacy. It also makes very clear that it’s incumbent upon commanders to be mindful not only of the readiness of their units, but also of the privacy and the wellbeing of the service members, to include their privacy. And so, what you’ll see, with more to follow, is how we will implement those decisions in a way that is applicable to all service members across the Department of Defense. Thank you.
All right. Let’s go back here. Yes, sir.
Q: Oh, thank you. I’d like to follow on drones; my audience is in Ukraine. And you know, people are really terrified about this drone strikes on the civilian infrastructure. So, I’d like to ask you two questions, please. Firstly, Russia is denying that the drones are Iranian. So, based on the information you got, can you confirm that the drones are Iranian? If not, is it generally any way to, you know, confirm that they were made in Iran and given to Russia? Was the (inaudible) talks between Pentagon and the Ukrainian minister of defense, maybe just for the cooperation to confirm that or to make an investigation?
And secondly, speaking about minimizing the danger. Are there any tools which are on the way or may be included in the next packages for Ukraine, that may, you know, decrease the risk of using the drones in Ukraine?
GEN. RYDER: Yes, sure. So, to answer your first question, I mean, we know that these drones are from Iran. And, you know, as you as you look at some of the public — public comments that have come from Iran, I think, as evidenced by the drones themselves, as evidenced by the fact that they continue to export terror, as I mentioned, not only in the Middle East region, but in Ukraine. It’s good, it’s obvious that they’re lying. And — and so again, the secretary has spoken recently to the Ukrainian minister of defense. He’s spoken to our partners and our allies about what it is that we can continue to do to support Ukraine, in areas like air defense; we’ll continue to have those conversations not only on air defense, but what other capabilities that Ukrainian forces need in the days ahead. But again, it’s just indicative of the kinds of rhetoric that you hear coming from Iran, and from Russia, trying to say that these are not Iranian drones when they clearly are. Thank you.
Q: Thank you. I have two questions of Korea. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Milley (inaudible) upon the extended deterrence at the same meeting yesterday at the Pentagon. And South Korea. (inaudible) South Korea and United States. What is the detail of that extended deterrence?
GEN. RYDER: Yes, thanks very much, Janne. So, I know that Joint Staff provided a readout of the — of the meeting, and so I refer you to them, they should be able to give you some details on that.
Q: You know, do you think extended deterrence is enough to defend against the North Korean nuclear attack? Or do you need tactical nuclear (inaudible) in South Korea, which is not yet nuclear?
GEN. RYDER: Well, again, I don’t want to get into hypotheticals. Clearly, we have a long-standing defense relationship with the Republic of Korea, we have a significant U.S. force presence on the peninsula. The United States, the Republic of Korea, and other allies and partners in the region to include Japan, conduct regular exercises to ensure that our forces have interoperability that we can work together with the idea to defend one another’s interests and our territorial integrity, as well as deter a potential attack. So, our focus will continue to be on working together with the Republic of Korea and with our allies and partners in the region to preserve not only free and open Indo-Pacific, but also regional stability and security. Thank you.
GEN. RYDER: Yes, Nazeer?
Q: Thank you, sir. Two weeks ago, General Qamar Bajwa, Chief of the Staff of Pakistan, was here. Any new discussion about Afghanistan and also what rule Pentagon playing now in Afghanistan, because Taliban kill people every day and (inaudible) it and then kill them and especially in Panjshir province.
GEN. RYDER: Yes, thanks for the question. In terms of the recent visit by the chief of the army staff. We did issue a readout on that. So, I would refer you to that in terms of the — the nature of those discussions. I don’t have anything new to provide in terms of the Department of Defense and Afghanistan. Obviously, we continue to keep an eye on that region of the world. But I don’t have any new announcements to make in regards to that country. Thank you so much.
Q: Thanks, Pat. On the drones, is there any indication that Iranians in Crimea have taken a direct role in operating the drones that have struck Ukraine, or is it your understanding that their more an advisory or training capacity? And secondly, the Washington Post reported that the U.S. has actually looked at wreckage of some of these to confirm that they are, indeed, Iranian drones. Can you confirm the level of evidence that the U.S. has seen that leads you to conclude that?
GEN. RYDER: Yes, thanks. On your — on your last question. I’ve seen those press reports. I don’t have any information to provide on that. In terms of the role of Iranian military personnel on the ground, again, our understanding is that they’re on the ground in Crimea, assisting Russian military personnel as they conduct these drone operations in Ukraine.
Q: …but not a direct, they’re not directly operating the drones.
GEN. RYDER: My understanding is that it’s the Russians who are flying the drones. So, yes, they are assisting the Russians in that those operations.
Yes, sir. Sir.
Q: Have two on Ukraine for you. Zelenskyy said today that — in an evening address — that their – Russia had placed explosives in the Kakhovka dam and could be aiming to flood Kherson. Do you have any info on that? And then second, there’s been some discussion of a threat of a new offensive from Belarus. Is that — is that an actual threat in your view? Or is that maybe more of a feint designed to pull forces from — from the East to another area?
GEN. RYDER: Yes. So — So, on your first question, I don’t I don’t have anything on that. Specifically, we have seen in the past where Russia has struck civilian infrastructure targets like dams, in an attempt to flood various areas. But — But I don’t have anything specific on — on what you’ve asked about. In terms of Belarus, it is an area that we continue to keep an eye on. We don’t currently have any indications of a potential imminent military action on that front, but we will keep a close eye on it and in the future.
Yes, sir. Kasim.
Q: General, on Washington Post story about the U.S. officers and generals being employed by Saudis and Emiratis. The Washington Post’s recent report says that U.S. military veteran advisors helped and facilitated the UAE s involvement intervention in Yemen and Libya. Were you aware of this fact?
GEN. RYDER: Well, I’ve certainly seen the story. In terms of the activities or actions of retired individuals, they’re – they’re private citizens, so I don’t have any particular comment to provide.
Q: But they are coming up with the experience they had from U.S. military. And then they go out and involved — get involved in a conflict that is extremely controversial, like in Yemen, and in Libya as well. So, there is no rules, no principles that prevent these types of engagements?
GEN. RYDER: So, what I would say is that, you know, in terms of private citizens, once you leave the Department of Defense, you’re free to seek employment, as you deem fit. However, you know, we do have certain rules in terms of what military members, former DOD personnel, or retirees are required to do, which gets into the areas of safeguarding protecting classified information, ensuring that you are receiving appropriate authorization to work for foreign governments through individual service legal processes. So, ultimately, at the end of the day, it’s incumbent on those individuals to follow those processes, which are well known and well briefed. But again, in regards to individual — individuals who may or may not work for companies or countries outside the Department of Defense, I’d have to refer you to them.
Q: Regulation questions, like when some people go, OK, classified information is one point. How about in getting involved in, like wars waged by the countries that they are being employed by anything? Is there anything on that?
GEN. RYDER: Again, we have, you know, we have well established rules in terms of what U.S. citizens and former DOD personnel are authorized and not authorized to do. And so, those — those rules are briefed to those individuals as they depart the Department of Defense. But again, I’m not going to get into, you know, talking about any specific individual case, I’d refer you to those individuals, but thank you.
All right. Yes. ma’am.
Q: Yes, so North Korea has become more aggressive in the past year, especially the past month. Is there any plan on putting — making North Korea or North Korea, South Korea, a nuclear country also.
GEN. RYDER: So, from a policy standpoint, we’re still committed to denuclearization of the entire peninsula.
Q. There’s no discussion here in the Pentagon…
GEN. RYDER: Our focus is on providing a strategic deterrent capability to the Republic of Korea and to our allies and partners in the region. Thank you.
Sir, and then I’m gonna go to the phone here.
Q: Thank you, General. General, regarding to the Iranian drones again. How much do you believe these drones will impact the battleground in Ukraine, especially against the Ukrainian forces? And is there any particular assist from DOD to Ukraine, besides sanctioning Iran drone industry to combat these drones?
GEN. RYDER: Sure. Well, as I — as I mentioned, from a Department of Defense standpoint, our focus is on working with Ukraine, our international allies and partners, to provide Ukraine with the support that they need, which has included counter-UAS systems, and air defense systems. If you go to our website, you can see the whole list of capabilities that we provide. And we’re committed to continuing to keep that dialogue open through forums like the Contact Group, to ensure that Ukraine is getting what they need to defend their country. In terms of the impact that the drones are having, I think you may have heard me previously say that, in many ways, these drones are used to — as psychological weapons used to create fear. And — but from an operational, from a strategic standpoint, it still doesn’t change the fact that Russian forces on the ground continue to lose territory or at best hold ground. Thank you.
All right. Let me go out to the phone here. I’ve been remiss. Ryo, from Asahi News?
Q: Hi. Thank you for taking my question. Can you hear me?
GEN. RYDER: I can hear you.
Q: Thank you. My question is about China and Taiwan. Yesterday, U.S. Navy’s Chief of Naval Operations, Mike Gilday, talked about the China’s invasion of Taiwan, and said could, when we talk about 2027 window that has to be 2022, or potentially 2023 window. To my question, is how do you see his remark? And how imminent does DOD think that possibility of China’s invasion of Taiwan? Thank you.
GEN. RYDER: Thank you very much. Well, I’d allow Adm. Gilday to speak for himself — himself. Obviously, from a U.S. Department of Defense standpoint, we’ve said many times that China continues to be the pacing challenge. We are concerned about their coercive and provocative behavior in the region. And our focus is on working with allies and partners in that region, to ensure that the Indo-Pacific remains free and open and secure and stable. And so, we’ll continue to stay focused on that. Thank you.
Let me go with Khushboo from South China News.
Q: Hi. So, my question is, Nikkei Asia yesterday reported that the Biden administration is planning to co-produce weapons with Taiwan. Can you confirm this report? Or do you have any comments on this?
GEN. RYDER: Yes, thank you. I’d have to refer you to the White House for them and I don’t have any information on that. Thank you.
OK, back in the room. Yes, sir.
Q: So, has there been any notification from Russia regarding its grand nuclear exercise coming up?
GEN. RYDER: At this time, we’ve received no notifications. We do know that, you know, based on past precedent that the exercise likely will happen soon, but no notifications at this time. And you had a follow up?
Q: Yes. Does this facts kind of concern you? Because of the lack of commitment like this — does this signal the lack of communication between the U.S. and Russia on this matter or …?
GEN. RYDER: Again, it’s not unusual, in the sense that we might not receive a notification depending on the types of exercising that they’re doing. Certainly, it’s something we’ll continue to keep a close eye on. But, yes, that’s where we’re at right now.
Q: Thank you. I have two follow-ups on the Iranian drones. How many Iranians are in Ukraine helping to operate (inaudible)?
GEN. RYDER: Yes, I don’t have any numbers to provide.
Q: My second question is, are the Russians going to rely on this technology leading — leading into the winter?
GEN. RYDER: Rely on Iranian technology and drones?
Q: Iranian drones, yes.
GEN. RYDER: Well, so I think what you’re seeing here is the fact that when it comes to ammunition, when it comes to the types of capabilities that Russia has, to include precision guided munitions, we have said that we assess that those stocks are depleting. And so, they have been reaching out to countries like Iran, to North Korea, to seek additional ammunition. And in the case of Iran, clearly to seek drone capability. Whether or not they will continue to do that, you know, certainly something for Iran — or Russia to — to address, but we will keep an eye on that.
Q: That sort of answers my next question. Is — does the Pentagon assess that the Russians are asking for more drones from Iran specifically or more being sent — they’re on the way?
GEN. RYDER: I don’t have anything on that at the moment. But I will say that we wouldn’t be surprised if that were the case. Given their situation.
Q: B-1B strategic bomber deployed in Guam right now. Is this is a warning to North Korea?
GEN. RYDER: So, it’s not uncommon for us to have bomber task forces, which conduct operations around the world. Again, for two reasons: one, to send a very clear message that we will support our partners and allies around the world. And two, that we do have the capability to conduct global operations on any given day. So, to answer your question, it is meant to send a message — meant to send a message that the United States stands closely with its allies and partners to deter potential provocation. Thank you.
All right, let me go back into the phone, guys. Heather Mongilio from USNI News.
Q: Hi, thank you so much. Given the issues that are happening right now at Red Hill with the water main break — or sorry, at Joint Base Pearl-Hickam — Pearl Harbor-Hickam — the water main break, the issues on the limited aid with water issues there, and just overall in general, issues with water on military bases, what is the Pentagon doing to ensure that military properties have usable and safe drinking water?
GEN. RYDER: Yes, thanks, Heather. So, it’s kind of a broad question there. I mean, as it pertains to Hawaii, obviously, as we’ve talked about before, this is something that we take extremely seriously, it’s a top priority for the secretary, we’ve established a joint task force, as you know, led by Rear Adm. Wade. And so they will continue to work very, very hard to address the Red Hill bulk storage fuel facility issue there. As it relates to water around the world, at every base, obviously, you know, what I can tell you in general terms, is that this — that the health and self — the health and safety and wellbeing of our service members will always be a top priority. And we’re going to continue to work very, very hard to ensure that they have clean drinking water and safe accommodations, but I don’t have any specific policies or anything to announce today in that regard, other than this is something that we will always take very seriously. Thank you.
Let me go to Idrees from Reuters.
Q: Hi, Pat. Just to follow up on Adm. Gilday’s comments. So, does the Pentagon believe that China will try to retake Taiwan? Or take Taiwan next year or even this year? And has there been any shifting or new assessments on China potentially trying to take Taiwan in terms of timelines?
GEN. RYDER: Thanks, Idrees. So, I’m not going to — I’m not going to speculate. I think President Xi’s words speak for themselves in terms of what China’s aims are when it comes to Taiwan. From a United States standpoint, from a DOD standpoint, we still abide by a One China policy. And our focus is going to continue to be on working with our allies and partners in the region to preserve peace and stability. And we would call on all parties to do the same. Thank you.
All right, let me go to David Martin, CBS.
All right, Lara Seligman.
Q: Hey, Pat, thanks for doing this. Just to get back to North Korea. I wanted to ask if you had an update on the situation out in the Pacific with regard to potential preparation for a nuclear test. Have you seen anything new that would indicate North Korea is preparing for any kind of nuclear test soon? And then can you also give us an update on the Ronald Reagan and maritime picture out there, please?
GEN. RYDER: Sure. Well, as we’ve said, we continue to believe that North Korea is preparing for a potential future nuclear test. It’s something that we’re keeping a close eye on. I don’t have anything new to provide in that regard. But we’ll continue to stay very closely in touch with the Republic of Korea, with Japan and our other allies and partners in the region on that front. In regards to the Ronald Reagan, no updates to provide today from the podium. I would encourage you to reach out to the Navy, they may have more to provide on that.
All right. Let me take a couple more in the room here. Yes, ma’am. In the back?
Q: Thank you for taking my question. So, yesterday, CENTCOM released a photo of USS West Virginia ballistic missile submarine in the Persian Gulf. And I believe this is a very unusual disclosure. So, what is the message that U.S. is trying to send?
GEN. RYDER: Sure. Basically, again, it just demonstrates our commitment to our allies and our partners, in terms of our forward presence. It was not conducted in response to any specific regional activity or potential adversary. Thank you.
All right. And I’ll take Kasim and then we’ll…
Q: Just a follow up on Adm. Gilday’s comment. So, first, we heard Secretary Blinken coming out saying that China has been speeded up its invasion of Taiwan, and then Gen. – Adm. Gilday came out and saying that the window should be updated to 22-23. The question is, hasn’t — has the Pentagon changed assessment? Or are you standing on a different spot with these two high level officials?
GEN. RYDER: Yes, I think we’ve been very consistent in regards to the fact that China continues to be the — the pacing challenge for the department for all the reasons that we’ve talked about in terms of its coercive behavior, in terms of its actions in the Indo-Pacific region. And so, as a — as a department, as a nation, we’ll continue to abide by the One China policy, we’ll continue to support Taiwan as it relates to the Taiwan Relations Act and our responsibility to enable them to defend themselves. But I don’t have any new updates to provide.
Q: Are you on the same page with these two gentlemen?
GEN. RYDER: We’re all on the same page in that we agree that China continues to be the pacing challenge. Thank you.
Q: Another question on Iran and — and Ukraine, where — where are these drones being launched from in Ukraine? And is that within range of current Ukrainian capabilities to strike? And if not, does that create any increased impetus to get them that kind of — kind of capability?
GEN. RYDER: So, in terms of where the drones are emanating from, again, I don’t want to get into operational specifics. From here, from the podium at the moment, when I have an update to provide, I’ll certainly provide that to you. In terms of their effectiveness, and the Ukrainian’s ability to address them, I will say that it’s our assessment that the Ukrainians have been pretty effective in terms of shooting a lot of those drones down, I’m not going to be able to provide you with numbers on that, other than to say that, in that regard, they have not quite probably met Russian goals in terms of their ability to strike targets. That said, clearly, they have wreaked havoc and caused destruction and killed innocent civilians. And so, it’s a serious threat. And we’ll continue to work with the Ukrainians to provide them with the capabilities that they need.
And Barbara Starr, last question. Yes, ma’am.
Q: I want to follow up on the submarine. Nobody can recall the last time the Pentagon disclosed the location at any point in time of a nuclear ballistic submarine underway. Whether it was at that point when the press release was issued, is not my question. But you never – decades — you don’t talk about where your nuclear deterrent is in the Submarine Force. So, why did you decide to step over that line and do that now? What was the valid national security reason that you made this public announcement? Or was it basically to issue a press release, as a — as a public warning to Russia and Iran? What was the valid – real — nuclear national security reason to change decades of policy?
GEN. RYDER: Yes, thanks, Barbara. Again, the activity, as I mentioned, demonstrates our commitment to our allies and our partners in the region. In terms of the press release, I’d refer you to CENTCOM to address those questions. But again, folks shouldn’t read into this. This was an opportunity to highlight and demonstrate to the region and to the world, the kind of capabilities we maintain, and that we are going to continue to reassure our partners and allies that we have those capabilities and that we will support them. Thank you very much.
Thanks very much, everybody. Appreciate it.