The Largest Security-Cleared Career Network for Defense and Intelligence Jobs - JOIN NOW

Military

U.S. Department of Defense
Press Operations
News Transcript

Presenter: Pentagon Press Secretary Peter Cook December 08, 2015

Department of Defense Press Briefing by Pentagon Press Secretary Peter Cook in the Pentagon Briefing Room


PETER COOK: Afternoon, everybody. Sorry I'm a little late.

Q: (inaudible) be good.

MR. COOK: Pressure's on. Thank you, Bob.

Got a couple of announcements and some schedule information off the top before I take your questions.

First, I want to address allegations from the Syrian regime that coalition aircraft struck a Syrian army position in the Syrian town of Ayyash on December 6th.

I want to reiterate once again that these claims are completely false. There were no coalition airstrikes near Ayyash on that day, and the closest coalition airstrike on December 6th was approximately 59 kilometers southeast of Ayyash, against ISIL-controlled oil wellheads.

Any suggestion we had something to do with the airstrike in question is completely inaccurate. The coalition maintains exacting procedures and strict protocols to be precise in its airstrikes against ISIL. Bottom line: we know what we hit, and coalition aircraft did not strike that target.

Second, I want to provide you a statement from Secretary Carter on the state of the omnibus spending bill negotiations that -- you'll get that statement after this briefing in -- in -- on paper.

'At a time when our security environment demands a dynamic and agile military, it is vital that negotiations on Capitol Hill arrive at an agreement to fund all of government for the remainder of the fiscal year, consistent with the funding levels set in the budget agreement achieved earlier this year.

'Further delaying such funding will do real harm. As I have said before, a continuing resolution is a straitjacket for the Department of Defense. It prevents us from fielding a modern, ready force in a balanced way, while embracing reform to ensure that every taxpayer dollar is well spent.

'It harms our ability to ensure the lasting defeat of ISIL and to confront the many complex national security challenges around the world. Failure to act sends the wrong message to our troops, our allies and our enemies.

'There will be ample opportunities for extraneous policy fights in the future, but at this time, Congress must set aside such fights and prioritize our security by funding all of government.'

Now, turning to the secretary's schedule, tomorrow, Secretary Carter will testify before the Senate Armed Services Committee for the sixth time this year, alongside Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Paul Selva. Chairman Dunford, as you know, is currently overseas visiting our troops, which is why he will not be able to participate in that hearing.

The secretary is looking forward to sharing his views on the counter-ISIL fight and updating the committee on the progress in that fight since his last testimony to the committee six weeks ago. He also testified, as you all will recall, in front of the House Armed Services Committee just last week.

The secretary will also highlight the importance of budget certainty to the Department of Defense and ensuring our national security at this particular moment in time.

Also tomorrow the secretary will welcome Indian Minister of Defense Manohar Parrikar to the Pentagon for an informal dinner. That will be followed by a bilateral meeting on Thursday in which they will discuss ways to deepen the long-term strategic partnership between our nations.

That meeting will be followed by a joint press availability here in the Pentagon briefing room. The secretary and the minister are also scheduled to then travel to Norfolk where they will fly out to the USS Eisenhower and view flight operations on the Eisenhower.

And on Friday, Secretary Carter will welcome United Kingdom Secretary of State for Defense Michael Fallon back to the Pentagon for a bilateral meeting, followed by a joint press availability again here in this room.

In March, Secretary Fallon was the first foreign defense minister hosted by Secretary Carter after taking office and Secretary Carter visited Secretary Fallon in London in October. They will discuss new collaboration opportunities following the release of the U.K. Strategic Defense and Security review.

They will also discuss the progress of the counter-ISIL fight, especially following the U.K. vote in parliament, authorizing airstrikes in Syria. As the secretary has previously stated, the United States is grateful to Secretary Fallon and Prime Minister Cameron for their leadership on this vote.

And for the U.K.'s expanded role in the campaign to defeat ISIL. And with that, I am happy to take your questions.

Bob?

Q: Peter, there have been reports that the Russians notified the U.S. through the MOU system in advance of some additional round of airstrikes in Syria today. Can you tell us what you know about those strikes and what the targets were?

MR. COOK: I can confirm for you that we did get notification of the airstrikes that were conducted by the Russians but I can't characterize -- I'll let the Russians speak for themselves as to what they're intended targets were.

Q: Did they say anything about the platforms they used? Aircraft? Ships? Submarines? Anything like that to describe what the (inaudible)?

MR. COOK: Yes. At this point Bob, I know that we did receive advanced notification of -- my understanding would be bomber aircraft and cruise missile strikes. But again, I'll leave it to the Russians to characterize their intended targets, but we did receive notification from the Russians ahead of time.

Q: Could a submarine launch the cruise missile?

MR. COOK: I'm not going to get into details. My understanding is they did give us the advanced notice that there would be strikes in terms of the level of detail, I don't have that information directly in front of me.

Q: (inaudible).

MR. COOK: I don't know that they provided specific information on the platforms.

Q: Do you know what they used? Did they use a submarine?

MR. COOK: Bob, I'm not going to characterize. I don't have that information right now in front of me.

Courtney?

Q: How many times have the Russians now notified the U.S. or the coalition in advance? Is this a third one or have there been more that we don't know?

MR. COOK: Courtney, I'll double check. I don't have the specific number right here but it is a handful of times as I understand it. So, but I don't know if that exact number is right.

Q: And then, can I ask you something else on a different subject? Are you aware whether the U.S. military has any Muslims serving in Iraq or serving in the fight against ISIS?

MR. COOK: I can take that question. We certainly have Muslims serving in uniform right now. I can't say -- again, we'll take that question and try to find an answer for you.

Q: I just -- I ask the question because there's been a lot -- I'm sure you've seen. There's been a political discussion about Muslims in the United States and I'm just wondering if there's been any impact on the U.S. military, given the fact that I think there's about 5,800 or 5,900 serving in uniform in the actives and the reserves?

Has there been any impact? Is there any -- is the military going to take any steps to -- for new sensitivity training to ensure that there's no issues with the Muslims serving? I mean, is there -- has there been any impact on the military based on all of this, you know, new political talk?

MR. COOK: There are, as I said before, there are Muslims serving patriotically in the U.S. military today, as there are people of many faiths. I'm not aware of any particular new training as a result of this. We'll check and see if there are Muslims specifically serving in those particular areas that you mentioned.

But I would just make the larger point that -- that we don't have -- the United States doesn't have any issue, and certainly the Department of Defense, anything that creates tensions and creates the notion that the United States is at odds with the Muslim faith and Islam would be counterproductive to our efforts right now, and totally contrary to our values.

And so I'm not aware of any particular effort, given the politics right now, to try and work with Muslims in the U.S. military any different than we would normally.

Q: Are you at all concerned that this rhetoric will have any impact on Muslims serving in uniform?

MR. COOK: I certainly hope it doesn't. And this is certainly something that there are, again, men and women in uniform today of the Muslim faith who are serving this country patriotically, as there are men and women of a whole host of faith. And anything that tries to challenge American values on this would be certainly something of concern to the Department of Defense, as it would be across the country.

We're no different. We represent the country and the issues that are out there and the tensions that are out there are certainly things that we would be concerned about if they stem from the political world or otherwise.

Q: Peter, can I follow up on that?

MR. COOK: Yes?

Q: I just want to make I understood what I think you said to Courtney twice now. If you take her question, well meaning though it was -- that's not her question -- but you -- you just said that you will look -- unless I misunderstood you -- that you will look into whether people in the United States military of the Islamic faith are serving in certain areas of the world.

I'm not aware that the Pentagon ever categorizes people or defines people in the military where they serve by what their faith is. It would seem to me that that, if you're going to answer that question --

MR. COOK: Barbara, you're absolutely correct.

(CROSSTALK)

Q: -- significant new ground here --

(CROSSTALK)

MR. COOK: We're -- we don't -- there are -- there are people serving in the U.S. military who have self-identified themselves as members of the Muslim faith.

Q: Of course. And they do that for purposes of if they become wounded, if they are killed in action so their spiritual needs can be seen to. But you just said to Courtney you will take the question where people of the Islamic faith are serving in the U.S. military. How are you -- why would you do that?

MR. COOK: Her question -- her question was specifically, has there -- is there some special sensitivity training as well.

Q: (inaudible) -- unless I completely misunderstood Courtney's question, and please tell me if I did, she asked you if people -- if there are people of the Islamic faith serving in Iraq or ISIS -- in the fight against ISIS. You would be breaking significant new ground here today is you were going to answer that question --

(CROSSTALK)

MR. COOK: Let's -- I took -- you make a good point, that there are people of the Muslim faith who are serving right now in uniform. I don't know if they are serving in the Middle East right now. And we don't -- and we don't -- again, the only reason we allow people to self-identify in surveys whether or not they are people of Muslim faith.

So you make a good point, Barbara, and I should be more clear in my answer that -- whether the question -- I'm going to try and answer your question about the sensitivity training, if there's something out there being offered.

But I can't necessarily come up with a final answer about numbers of people of certain faith serving right now. That -- that's -- you make a good point, and I -- I should clarify -- that's a mistake on my part -- that we can't give you that -- that answer, because it's not something that -- that we would keep track of or provide that information.

So, but I will -- I will try and clarify whether or not there's any effort to proactively reach out to those of a -- who do follow the Muslim faith in terms of whether or not there's some sensitivity training.

I'm not aware of any, and I'm not tracking any, but I will at least ask that question. But you make a good point. Thank you, Barbara.

Q: Let me follow up with the part I was really planning to ask about. Two things: this whole question of -- of banning people of the Islamic faith from coming into this country -- what -- the White House has already come out against it. Secretary Kerry has already come out against it.

If there was something like that, what impact does that have on the United States' war against ISIS? Does it make it harder for you to prosecute the war, to have coalition partners? Does it make the United States more or less secure?

And what does it -- what does it mean for troops of the Islamic faith, who may, then, not even be allowed to have their own families come into this country to visit them? So there would be a -- quite a significant potential impact.

MR. COOK: Barbara, as you said, we are partnering right now with -- with Muslim nations. We have troops serving that follow the Muslim faith. And, again, without wading into politics, anything that tries to bolster, if you will, the ISIL narrative that the United States is somehow at war with Islam is contrary to our values and contrary to our national security.

We are, as I mentioned, working with Muslim nations right now. We want to, in essence, take the fight to ISIL with the help of -- of Muslims and others around the world. And anything that -- that somehow challenges that, we think would be counterproductive to our national security.

Q: So you (inaudible) -- this department and the secretary of defense and the chairman are opposed to a ban?

MR. COOK: Again, Barbara, I'm not going to get into domestic politics. I can just tell you --

Q: Well, the White House said it was, and the State Department said it was.

MR. COOK:...well, we think -- again, I'll just reiterate what I said. Anything that bolsters ISIL's narrative and pits the United States against the Muslim faith is -- is certainly not only contrary to our values, but contrary to our national security.

Yes -- (inaudible)?

Q: Peter, on November 21st, Iran carried out a medium-range ballistic missile test in Chabahar, in southeast Iran. This is in breach of two U.N. Security Council resolutions.

First of all, can you provide us with any details about that missile launch? What did you see? Was it a success? And is the Defense Department concerned about this second Iranian ballistic missile test in two months?

MR. COOK: Jennifer, I can tell you we are aware of the reports that Iran did conduct a medium-range ballistic missile test in recent weeks. We're conducting a serious review of the reported incident, but we don't have more details specifically to share at this time on that. I'm not going to get into intelligence.

We will continue to work closely with our allies and partners to address Iran's missile development activities, including by promoting implementation of the requirements of relevant Security Council resolutions.

Q: Do you consider this a breach of U.N. Security Council resolutions?

MR. COOK: I'm not going to characterize it further. We're conducting a serious review of this incident as it's been reported and we'll provide the details on that when it's complete.

Yes?

Q: I have a couple of questions. First, the Kurdish officials and -- (inaudible) -- Turks in Syria claim that the U.S. military engineers are --

MR. COOK: In where? I'm sorry.

Q: In Syria. The U.S. military engineers are working with the Kurds in Syria renovating air fields, so this will be used for the -- the U.S. special forces to -- to help the Kurds there. You know, (inaudible) there any --

MR. COOK: I'm not going to discuss the U.S. special forces that -- that we have plans to operate in Syria. I'm not going to discuss anything about their position or deployment or anything that might jeopardize their operational security.

Q: OK. Also, the Kurdish officials -- Kurdish Regional Government -- Peshmerga officials said U.S. has sent new weapons and ammunitions to the Kurds and they're in -- in Kuwait at the moment. Can you update us on, you know, what kind of weapons and ammunitions -- (inaudible) -- to the Kurds?

MR. COOK: I'm not going to get into further deliveries of ammunition at this point. We have been providing support, as you know, for opposition forces in Syria right now that are taking the fight to ISIL and -- again, we don't have anything more to update at this time. We're going to continue to enable capable, motivated forces that are willing to take the fight to ISIL, and one of the ways we've been doing that is with ammunition and equipment and -- as we documented previously, but I don't have anything more to announce at this time as to -- to any additional -- any additional shipments.

Q: One more on Turkey, did Turkey inform you guys on deployment of its forces near Mosul? Also, to what extent that will complicate, you know, the -- the coalition effort to counter ISIL? Because Baghdad's really not happy. The Kurds (inaudible), you know, the Turks to be there. What's your position on that?

MR. COOK: This was not something done within the coalition. This is something that we leave to the -- to Turkey and to the government of Iraq to resolve. They've had conversations about this deployment and obviously, the Iraqis have raised their concerns about it and we're encouraged by the fact that there is an ongoing conversation between Iraq and Turkey over that specific deployment and -- and hopeful that they'll be able to work out whatever differences there are over that deployment.

Q: So are you saying Turkey acted on its own without letting you know?

MR. COOK: Turkey -- again, this is something between Turkey and the government of Iraq -- the sovereign nation of Iraq, and I think the Iraqis have made clear their position on it and we just encourage both sides to resolve their differences here, whatever disagreements there may be.

Down here.

Q: (inaudible) -- Department of Defense announced -- has been announced already on the -- (inaudible) -- this army to put out -- (inaudible) -- on -- (inaudible) -- South Korea next year, 2016. Do you have any -- (inaudible)?

MR. COOK: I -- I don't have details for you on this. I don't know if this is something that you've seen reported in -- in South Korea today, but I'm happy to take that question and find out if there's something more we can add to that.

Q: Thank you.

MR. COOK: Sure.

Yes, Laurent

Q: I would like to come back to the Russian strikes --

MR. COOK: Yes.

Q: -- in Syria. With all these recent strikes, do you have the sense there is an evolution in the targeting by the Russians, that they are targeting more ISIL and a bit less the other rebel groups?

MR. COOK: My understanding is that the vast majority of the Russian strikes still remain aimed at opposition groups and are not taking place in ISIL-controlled territory. We've seen, again, some evidence of -- that the Russians have been willing to strike in ISIL-controlled territory in recent weeks as well, and we would once again encourage the Russians to keep their focus on ISIL. That would be the most productive use of -- of Russian activity right now.

Q: Is that what today's strikes were?

MR. COOK: I don't know the targets.

Q: (inaudible) -- general idea?

MR. COOK: I don't have a general idea. I just know that we were given advanced notice that they would be carrying out strikes.

Q: (inaudible) -- that they don't give advance notice every single day or two? Is it a different location? Or is it a different platform? Or what -- what's the difference between -- (inaudible)?

MR. COOK: The memorandum of understanding is, again, basically to avoid mid-air engagement and the threat of miscalculation or misunderstanding between our aircraft in the air. And the advance notice that they provided is an additional measure of safety that the Russians have provided to us in certain instances, and we appreciate that.

Anything that can be done to make sure that our air crews remain as safe as possible, coalition air crews, we think is a worthwhile thing. It's in the spirit of the memorandum of understanding. But the -- the specific warnings about incoming missile strikes are separate and apart from the memorandum of understanding itself.

So, again, we're talking about engagements with aircraft. That's the primary focus of the memorandum of understanding. And by and large, again, that has worked effectively to keep our air crews at a safe distance from Russian air crews.

Q: So the difference today was that it was cruise missile strikes, basically? Is that -- that why they got the -- (inaudible) -- notification -- (inaudible)?

MR. COOK: That's -- I think that's a fair way to look at it. That's one of the factors certainly that makes this different from the normal day-to-day operations and the communications we're having with the Russians regarding the MOU.

Yes?

Q: Are steps being taken right now to petition Congress to change the Selective Service for women in the wake of the secretary's announcement last week about all front-line positions being open to women? Is the Defense Department working to take steps and to help Congress change the law so that women and men at age 18 will have to apply for -- register for Selective Service?

MR. COOK: Jennifer, I think as you know that the -- we did provide a legal analysis to the Congress, but this is an issue that's a legal issue. It's a matter of litigation, as the secretary pointed out, and ultimately it's going to be the Justice Department and not just the Department of Defense, Congress and of course the White House that ultimately determines how this is going to be resolved from a legal standpoint.

So we did provide that legal analysis, which is on our website as well.

Q: And the secretary would like to see that changed -- (inaudible) -- the Selective Service which omits women at this point?

MR. COOK: The secretary, as he said the other day, this is a legal matter that's going to be decided elsewhere. And we provided our legal analysis on the situation to date.

Yes?

Q: To come back to the Russian airstrikes, as you mentioned, most of them have been at opposition groups as opposed to ISIL. Do you have a sense for how much Assad's military, his army has been able to capitalize on that and how much terrain has been retaken as a result of these airstrikes or in coordination with the Russian airstrikes?

MR. COOK: Well, it's -- I don't have precise numbers for you in terms of geography things like that. But I think it's pretty clear that the -- that the Assad regime has -- certainly its military has been bolstered by the Russian efforts and again, it's anything that helps the Assad regime and its efforts to stay in power, we think, is counterproductive to the end results of trying to end the Syrian Civil War.

And so, that's been our position from the start. They clearly have benefited from having the support of Russian air power but I can't characterize specifically how much ground they've taken as a result, but they've clearly been bolstered by it.

Yes.

Q: Peter, Austin Wright, Politico. Can you give us just some more information on Secretary Carter's Goldwater-Nichols review? What's the scope of it? Who specifically both here in the Pentagon and outside people, is he meeting with on this? What's the timeline and what's the final product going to look like?

MR. COOK: The review has just begun. But this is something that the secretary feels is important to take a look at the department and the structure right now within the DOD and to make sure that we're doing things as efficiently as possible.

There are a host of things on the table for review. He's getting input from the services, from the service secretaries, from outside the building as well, people who have experience in these matters. And he wants recommendations.

I don't have the exact timeline for you but I know he's looking early into next year to have some recommendations to move forward. I know Congress is looking at some of these issues as well and the secretary welcomes the interest of Congress.

But this is something that he's initiated here within the department itself, to take a hard look at how things are structured right now. Whether or not things could be done differently in the spirit of Goldwater-Nichols and the changes that resulted from that many years ago.

Q: And would the end result be legislative proposals or things that he thinks he can do under his authority or for something else?

MR. COOK: I'd imagine at this point, and again, we're waiting for the recommendations to come back. But, the secretary thinks there are things that he can do on his own again. If these are changes that make sense and again, withstand his own review of whatever recommendations come forward, but obviously this is something that is substantial would require, potentially, action from Congress and Congress is also looking at these issues, both the House and the Senate Armed Services Committee.

And so, I think you can expect, probably at the end of the day, probably a mix of both. Initiatives that he can carry out here on his own and things that might require some Congressional action.

Yes.

Q: Who is currently in control of the Sinjar City in Iraqi? Sinjar? Yes.

MR. COOK: I don't have the operational details right here right now. I understand, obviously we've spoken from here about cutting off highway 47 and the actions of the opposition forces there. The forces that took that area from ISIL and the effort to try and cut off connection between Mosul and Raqqa. That's been effective, it's made a difference in the campaign right now.

But there's still areas of fighting happening in that immediate area. My understanding is that the forces that took Sinjar still have significant control over the area but I don't have all the operational details at this particular moment as to what's changed in the past few days.

Q: There are ripples that some PKK elements have taken over some government buildings in Sinjar City. Could you?

MR. COOK: I don't have information on that to confirm that for you.

Q: (Inaudible).

MR. COOK: Sure, I'm happy to take your question.

Yes.

Q: Back to Russia. Has the U.S. used the MOU to raise any more concerns of any close calls over the -- have there been any instances like that?

I'm asking because, within in the past couple days, Russia released a video that purports to show a Reaper drone in the skies over Syria. Has that been a concern? Are you aware of that?

MR. COOK: I'm not aware of any particular issues that have come up specifically in -- in recent days regarding close calls at this point. As I said, in large measure, the MOU has achieved its stated purpose, which is to keep our crews a safe distance, and without any risk of miscalculation or an accident in the skies.

And so I'm not aware of the specific video they posted. But by and large, the MOU has served its purpose, and we're pleased with that, and we expect that, going forward, it will continue to keep our air crews safe and keep them at a safe distance from Russian aircraft.

Luis.

Q: Peter, the expeditionary targeting force -- has that all been worked out with the Iraqis? There seems to be some indications that potentially there still needs work to be done -- legally, I guess -- about getting this force inside Iraq, from the government of Iraq side. Is that the case?

MR. COOK: Luis, I know that the expeditionary targeting force was something that -- we've been in consultation with the Iraqis for some time now about exactly their deployment. We're coordinating closely with the Iraqis.

I'm sure there are -- there are some issues that will be ongoing in terms of our discussions with them about their use and implementation, but nothing that we feel stands in the way of -- of them getting down to business.

And their business will be to go after ISIL, in -- again, in coordination and in consultation with the Iraqi government. But I'm not aware of anything at this point that's going to stand in the way of their -- of their moving forward with operations.

Q: So there are still discussions underway with the Iraqis about this force?

MR. COOK: Yes, but just as there's discussions with Iraqis right now about U.S. forces in Iraq on a range of -- in a range of areas. So this will be an ongoing discussion.

We're trying to find the best way to partner with the Iraqi forces, as -- as well. And so this is part of -- part of the coordination and -- and communication that we always anticipated would be part of the -- the ETF going forward.

Q: When will it go into Iraq, though?

MR. COOK: I'm not going to provide those details, Bob.

Q: (inaudible) -- this year, next year?

MR. COOK: I -- soon. We -- we hope to have these forces in a position to carry out their work as -- as quickly as possible. And, again, we -- their job -- their mission will be to put even more pressure on ISIL, and particularly ISIL leadership, and to wonder on a daily basis exactly where -- who might be knocking on their door.

Q: So they -- (inaudible) -- they have been resourced? The -- the forces have been identified who are going to go, even if you aren't going to say when? They've actually -- the U.S. military has actually identified who's going to go?

MR. COOK: I'm -- I'm not going to get into the particular details, but we are -- these forces will be ready to carry out their mission. We're confident of that. We're working closely with the Iraqi government, and -- and if we've got more details to provide, we will.

But at this time, I'm not going to -- (inaudible) not going to share more about who they are, that sort of thing -- where they're going and what they're going to be doing immediately.

So, yes?

Q: Any update on Ramadi? There are reports that the Iraqi security forces were able to finally move into the city.

MR. COOK: I do have some information on Ramadi. I know that the Iraqi security forces have reported to us that they have cleared the Tamim neighborhood in Ramadi. This is a neighborhood that overlooks downtown and provides an important tactical advantage.

This is still a highly contested area, and there have been some advances by the Iraqi security forces in Ramadi, but this is an ongoing fight. And we're obviously watching very, very closely to see the progress that they make.

Q: Do you think Ramadi is on the verge of falling? Or would you say that -- (inaudible)?

MR. COOK: I'm not going to make predictions. This has been a long, hard fight. And at this point, we're encouraged by what we're seeing from the Iraqi security forces. This development regarding -- (inaudible) -- is -- is helpful, but this was -- the ISIL forces there were able to -- to entrench themselves. There's a lot of IEDs. There are a lot of threats for the Iraqi security forces moving in there.

And this has taken some time. We expect it's going to take some additional time, but we're encouraged by what we're seeing on the ground.

Yes?

Q: The Iraqi forces in the lead there -- are they the forces that were trained by the U.S.? Or are they -- are they other Iraqi security forces? Do you know?

MR. COOK: My understanding is it's a mix, but there certainly are some forces that were trained by the U.S. But I can't say that it's the entire contingent.

So, I've got time for, like, one more.

Yes?

Q: Thanks, Peter.

Through which channel did Russia give the U.S. a heads up about the cruise missiles, if it's not the -- through the, you know, designated channel for airspace de-confliction?

MR. COOK: It was through one of the communication lines, as I understand it, that we do have. That's the backup communication line. So they did it through the MOU channel, even though, again, this kind of notification is not specifically part of the memorandum of understanding. So it's -- it's our direct line. It's their best way to reach us with something like this.

Q: And then also, two former top defense officials testified today, Michele Flournoy and Michael Vickers, they said the U.S. is not where it needs to be in the fight against ISIS. Vickers said he doesn't believe that the U.S. is winning.

Do you agree with those remarks? What's your response to those remarks?

MR. COOK: Well, the secretary will be up there testifying tomorrow. You can hear what he has to say about where the fight against ISIL stands. And I think you'll hear from the secretary at that point, as you have in recent days, that there is more to be done. But we are intensifying and accelerating our campaign. He's going to detail exactly some of those steps we're doing, steps that have been in play since before the attacks in Paris. And I think the secretary will be able to characterize well for members of the committee exactly where we stand, what we're doing, and where progress still needs to be made as well.

Q: So he may announce some steps tomorrow?

MR. COOK: I think stay tuned. We'll -- you'll hear what the secretary has to say, but I think, as you heard in the House testimony, there -- we are moving on multiple fronts to apply pressure to ISIL. And that effort is going to continue, and we're continuing to look for every opportunity to try and -- and put even more pressure on them. And we're looking for those opportunities, and the secretary will speak to that tomorrow.

OK? Thanks, everyone.

http://www.defense.gov/News/News-Transcripts/Transcript-View/Article/633414/



NEWSLETTER
Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list