May 2, 2022
Senior Defense Official Holds a Background Briefing
Senior Defense Official
SENIOR DEFENSE OFFICIAL: Okay, good afternoon, everybody. Happy Monday to you. We'll get started again, "senior defense official" while on background.
Day 68, we've observed now more than 2,125 missile launches since the start of the invasion. Just go through a little bit here. I know all of you are more interested in the operational stuff, so I would just tell you that we continue to see minimal, at best, progress by the Russians in the Donbas. They've had some minor gains east of Izyum and Popasna in the Luhansk Oblast. But what we saw there in Popasna is not unlike what we've seen in other hamlets in the Donbas. They'll move in and then declare victory, and then withdraw their troops, only to let the Ukrainians take it back. So there was a lot of back-and-forth over the last couple of days, and again, so I would say minimal progress at best in the Donbas. They are still, for all the lessons they are trying to learn, they're still suffering from poor command-and-control, low morale in many units, less-than-ideal logistics. They still have not solved all their logistics problem, and quite frankly, there's a casualty aversion, a risk and casualty aversion that we continue to see by the Russians now, not just in the air, but on the ground. So very, very cautious, very tepid, very uneven work by them on the ground, and in some cases, quite frankly, the best word to describe it would be anemic.
I do want to highlight, if I could, Kharkiv, which we've not talked about in a long time. The Ukrainians have maintained, obviously, their dominance of Kharkiv, and the Russians have been basically around the city. We haven't really talked about it in a while, but it has continued to come under air assault largely through strikes for sure, but the Ukrainians have been doing an able job over the last 24/48 hours of pushing the Russians further away, and they have managed to push the Russians out about 40 kilometers to the east of Kharkiv. They're pushing them back, so back into areas of the northern Donbas region, but away from Kharkiv, so an incredible effort there that, again, hasn't gotten a lot of headlines and hasn't gotten a lot of attention, but it's just another piece of the stiff Ukrainian resistance that they continue to demonstrate.
And again, to remind, Kharkiv's important to the Russians because it sits at the very northwestern sort of lip and edge of that Donbas region, and as they wanted to, you know, they were obviously hoping to get Kharkiv and hold it so that they could have that ability to continue to push down from the north, and the Ukrainians are making it difficult for them to do that.
No significant, no changes to really talk about in terms of the south, including Mariupol. Mariupol continues to get hit with the standoff air attacks. We continue to see them using dumb bombs in Mariupol, and of course, they're continuing to launch strikes in the Donbas region, the JFO specifically. So no major changes there.
I can't speak with great specificity about the evacuation from Mariupol. We see the same reports that you do, and I don't have I don't have an update on how fast or how slow. We do have indications that some folks have been evacuated, but I would refer you to the Ukrainians to speak to that with a lot more specificity than we can, and I apologize for that.
No real changes to report to you in the in the maritime domain; pretty much maintain that their surface vessels are staying close to Crimea. There's some small efforts in the Sea of Azov. We see with small ships to try to help resupply, but nothing that's different than what we've seen in the past, so just not a whole lot to report to. I've seen the press reporting about the drone attack on these patrol boats. We cannot confirm that, but we've seen the videos, same as you, but we're not in a position to be able to confirm that that attack actually happened and had those effects.
And I would say the same with General Gerasimov. I'm pretty sure you're going to ask me about that. What we can confirm is that we know that for several days last week he was in the Donbas. We don't believe that he's still there, that he's left and he's back in Russia. We can't confirm reports that he was injured. I've seen the speculation on that. We are in no position to confirm that. We can't refute it, but we certainly can't confirm it. And as for why he was there, again, I think you'd get a much better sense of what his temporarily duty orders were from President Putin, but it's certainly possible that his trip was of a manner of oversight in trying to gauge for himself what was going on in the Donbas. But what he came away with, what he learned, what he transmitted to his commanders, if anything, we just don't know. But we can confirm that he was in the Donbas.
All right, so let me get back to security assistance. I can now confirm that 80 percent of the M777 howitzers have been transferred to the Ukrainian military. That's 80 percent of the total, the total 90, so more than 70 of them have now been transmitted to Ukraine. As for the 155 ammunition, about half of it, you know, we if it put both PDA-7 and -8 together, you're up over 140,000 rounds was committed, and about half of that is now in Ukrainian hands, with more coming every single day.
Nearly all of the radars that were committed have been transferred to Ukraine, and as for flights coming in and flights going out, on PDA-8, I can tell you that, over the last 24, there were 13 flights arriving in the region from the United States and, no, I'm sorry, 14 flights, my bad, 14 flights over the last 24, and in the next 24 hours, we are looking at about 11 more flights from CONUS to go into the region. And that's not all at one location into the region.
And then from other nations, in the last 24 hours, there have been 23 deliveries via airlift from five separate different nations received, again, at locations in the region, outside Ukraine. So 23 deliveries from five separate nations. So that flow is still happening and it's making a difference.
On the training front, we can now report that more than 170 Ukrainian military soldiers have been trained at more than one location on the M777, and there's another 50-plus that are scheduled to graduate today. So when they do graduate today, in fact, they may have already graduated today, you know, that puts us up over 200 Ukrainian artillerymen trained on the M777.
And there's more of that coming. In fact, tomorrow, there'll be another 50-plus Ukrainians will be arriving at one of the training sites to begin their training later this week. I think I'll leave it at that.
And just yesterday, 20 Ukrainian soldiers commenced a week-long training course on the Phoenix Ghost UAS. So the training continues and it's having an impact.
And with that, we'll take questions. Lita?
Q: Hi. Thanks.
One attempt on the Gerasimov rumblings. Are you able to say whether or not there's any truth to Ukraine forces trying to hit where he was or hitting where he may have been?
And second, as the diplomats start to move back to Lviv and, potentially in the future, Kyiv, will there be Marines put back in as to as a security detail or will that be handed off to some other force?
SENIOR DEFENSE OFFICIAL: Yeah, on Gerasimov, I really don't have anything more, Lita. I've given you guys everything that I'm comfortable sharing because of what we just don't know. So I'd refer you to the Ukrainians to speak to their kinetic activity in the Donbas but I can't confirm, I can't confirm any specific strikes that occurred and what the targets were.
On the Marines, look, I mean, the State Department is just beginning, you know, going back to these sort of day trips and there's no U.S. Marine force protection element to that, there's no U.S. military force protection element to that.
But as I've said before, as we've said before, you know, as the State Department makes their plans and makes their decisions about a more permanent footprint, clearly, we will be having active discussions with them about force protection requirements, and then we'll go from there, but no decisions have been made about a return to U.S. Marine security for the embassy or for our diplomats.
Right now, they're making these day trips and there's no U.S. military, there's just certainly no Marine Corps or U.S. military component to that.
Okay, I think that's it.
Q: Yeah, the -- British intelligence is saying that roughly 25 percent of the Russian BTGs are combat ineffective. Would you guys agree with that estimate, and if not, do you have another number?
SENIOR DEFENSE OFFICIAL: I have not seen indications that give us, you know, that specific number, so I can't speak to the number that the Brits put out there. We assess that they've got 93 now total operational BTGs in Ukraine, and as I've said before, we have to be mindful of what we say when we say "operational."
Not all of them are as ready as others. They continue to suffer losses, both in terms of gear and people, and some BTGs are simply not as ready as others. But I can't corroborate the number of 25 percent ineffective.
I also don't know by what criteria the Brits are labeling a BTG as ineffective. So I don't have the metrics they're using to make that determination. We would assess clearly that not all of those operational BTGs, while operational, i.e. in the fight, are at the same level of combat readiness they were before going into Ukraine and we know that they have suffered losses, you know, since being in Ukraine.
So that's the best I can do, Tom. It's an honest answer.
Q: Got it. And as far as any Russian units moving up north from Mariupol or that area, any sense?
SENIOR DEFENSE OFFICIAL: We have continued to see them move forces north out of Mariupol but I can't enumerate that, I don't know. But we have seen, even over the last couple of days, a continued, you know, move north away from Mariupol, from a lot, I would say the majority of the battalion tactical groups. And they had about a dozen that were dedicated to Mariupol move away.
Largely, the efforts around Mariupol for the Russians are now in the realm of airstrikes.
Q: Okay. And I'm sorry, you said, of the 12, any sense how many moved north, ballpark?
SENIOR DEFENSE OFFICIAL: I don't have, I couldn't give you a number. I don't have that.
Q: Okay, thanks.
SENIOR DEFENSE OFFICIAL: Yep.
Q: Following up on the readiness of the Russian forces, if you don't mind, last time you assessed that they were at 75 percent capacity. Do you still assess the same percentage or they are lower?
SENIOR DEFENSE OFFICIAL: Yeah, we would say still about 75 percent of their available combat power is still available to them.
Q: Thank you.
SENIOR DEFENSE OFFICIAL: Yeah.
Let's see. Capaccio?
In light of the President's trip tomorrow to Alabama to the Javelin plant, can you give us an update in terms of the latest number of U.S. Javelins both committed to Ukraine and actually delivered?
Plus, does the DOD have any numbers of how many Javelins donated by our allies we've sold to have been sent to Ukraine?
SENIOR DEFENSE OFFICIAL: I couldn't give you the last one, Tony, I mean, you'd have to go to those countries. I can't speak for exactly how many. Let me see if I have got...
Q: There's both committed and actually delivered is what I am looking for. I think everybody on this call would be interested in that too given this -- given the trip tomorrow.
SENIOR DEFENSE OFFICIAL: Yes, I know. I've got it. You know, I usually get the since-the-invasion number, but I don't have it today.
SENIOR DEFENSE OFFICIAL: Not sure why.
Q: Maybe you can get it by the end. Okay.
SENIOR DEFENSE OFFICIAL: As of Friday I know for a fact on Friday it was more than 5,000 Javelins since the beginning of the invasion that have made it into Ukraine. We don't count the committed number.
SENIOR DEFENSE OFFICIAL: But at least, I don't have that as a summary, but I know more than 5,000 have made it in. That was as of Friday. I'll try to check and see if we have an updated number. Interesting, I usually get that number every day and I just don't have it right now.
Maybe Switchblades, also, you said last week that the first 100 of the 700 Switchblades that had been committed had been delivered to Ukraine. Can you give a sense of the contracting status of the rest of the 600 of them?
SENIOR DEFENSE OFFICIAL: I don't have that. And we're still counting 100 in there. But I don't have the contracting update.
Q: Okay. If you could do that at some point, that'd be good.
SENIOR DEFENSE OFFICIAL: All right. Courtney?
Q: My question has been answered, thank you.
SENIOR DEFENSE OFFICIAL: Ma'am.
Q: Hey, I was just wondering if you have any update on Russian air defenses that they might brought into the Donbas or just on how contested that airspace is at this point, just if you're seeing anything there.
SENIOR DEFENSE OFFICIAL: I mean, most of their air defenses, Jack, are coming from inside Russia. They haven't placed a preponderance of their air defense in Ukraine. Most of it comes from outside the country. And it's still very contested airspace. And, again, proof of that is the manner in which when there is fixed-wing manned aircraft strikes, they don't spend much time in Ukrainian airspace. They get as close as they need to get to, to drop, and now that they're dropping more dumb bombs, they've got to get much closer. And then they deliver their payload and they go back. And they go back home into Russia.
So it's still pretty contested. The Ukrainians continue to be very nimble in how they use both short and long-range air defense. And they have proven very effective at moving those assets around to help protect them, but also to be more effective against the Russians and to continue to force the Russians to be risk-averse when it comes to their own air operations inside Ukraine.
And have the Ukrainians outfited -- re-outfit any more MiGs since we last spoke? I remember you said 20 in the last update.
SENIOR DEFENSE OFFICIAL: Yeah, I mean, I don't want to give their order of battle but they are basically at the same number of fighters and fighter bombers, fixed wing, total, that we talked about a couple of weeks ago. The there's been no significant change from the last time we talked about that.
Just a clarification: Is it fair to say that because of the drawdowns, you're running a little low on Stingers and Javelins? And is that why the President's going down to the facility? Are there shortages?
And second, how many Russian generals would you say, can you confirm have been killed so far?
SENIOR DEFENSE OFFICIAL: We can't confirm a number of Russian generals killed. I mean, I've seen numbers all over the place and the Ukrainians are certainly talking about that. We know that there have been senior leaders, Russian generals, who have been killed but we're staying away from an exact number because we just don't have, again, we just don't have the fingertip feel on that.
We are not at a point in our inventory of systems that we are concerned about our readiness. I would remind that our readiness, our combat readiness isn't wholly dependent upon the Stinger and the Javelin. We have other ways of getting it at armor threats. So our need for Javelins is probably, you know, not as great proportionately as Ukraine's.
The Javelin line is still open and I'm not going to speak for the President or what he's going to see or say tomorrow but the Javelin's not -- line is still open, and as you know, we met with executives what, two weeks ago or so to talk about that production line and how to make sure it's -- it remains healthy, not just for us but for Ukraine.
The same thing with Stingers. The Stinger line was still open for a customer, not the United States. We had not been buying them but we are working, again, with the contractor to see what has to be done to continue to keep that line going at open, because it has proven to be an important piece of Ukraine's self-defense.
But again, I'm not going to get into the numbers that we have. I just won't do that. I don't think that's a good thing to have out in the public, exactly what our own inventories are. So we're going to continue to protect that information.
But we are comfortable that our readiness has not been impacted by the series of presidential drawdown authorities that we've executed on. As I think you know, we have to do a risk assessment with each one, and we've done that, and we're comfortable that we're still able to meet all our readiness requirements.
But look, we also aren't taking that for granted, and that's why we met with those CEOs, that's why we're having discussions with the Defense Industrial Base about what this thing looks like going forward, to make sure that we don't get into a position where our own inventories and our own readiness is impacted by this.
Q: Sorry, just one follow up, there's also a report that Putin is going in for cancer surgery and that he may hand over the reins to a former FSB General. Is there any truth to that?
SENIOR DEFENSE OFFICIAL: I have not seen any information at all on that. Cannot confirm that.
Q: Thank you.
SENIOR DEFENSE OFFICIAL: Jeff Schogol? Oh, I'm sorry, Barbara Starr? I'm sorry.
Q: Right. Can I have a couple of quick updates -- and I'll just pitch them all at once?
To follow up on Jennifer's question, isn't it the case that the CEO (inaudible) not senior executives from both the company that produces Stinger and the company that produces Javelin -- I'm told the Pentagon is -- that there are going to be supply chain issues to get modern parts, including microchips, especially for the Javelin. So I'm wondering about that.
Second, can you bring us up to date -- you mentioned a few weeks back that you were talking to the Ukrainians about trying to get them fuel supplies because so many of their fuel depot points had been hit. And is there any -- anything new on the U.S. potentially providing anti-ship weapons to the Ukrainians or is that pretty much in the UK portfolio at this point?
SENIOR DEFENSE OFFICIAL: The defense contractors absolutely talked about their own supply chain concerns that is one of the reasons why we met with them and we're going to continue to talk to them about those challenges.
On the fuel, I don't have an update for you, Barb. I'd have to check on that. I know we had been providing some fuel assistance but I haven't been tracking that every single day, so I don't know where that is.
And on the --
SENIOR DEFENSE OFFICIAL: I can't hear you.
Q: I'm so sorry. Can we get an update on that?
SENIOR DEFENSE OFFICIAL: Yeah, I just said I'm happy to look at that.
SENIOR DEFENSE OFFICIAL: And on the anti-ship, I mean, look, we've provided some training on some unmanned coastal defense vessels and we believe that they will certainly help with Ukrainian coastal defense.
They have their own ability to manufacture anti-ship cruise missiles, the Neptunes. That is a Ukrainian product and they can still produce those.
And then other nations, you mentioned the Brits, other nations have also offered them some additional maritime kinetic capabilities. And, you know, those countries can speak to that, but we're obviously working across with allies and partners to flesh out their coastal defense capabilities.
Q: Thank you.
SENIOR DEFENSE OFFICIAL: Jeff Schogol -- yep -- Jeff Schogol?
Q: Thank you.
I just wanted to clarify about the Phoenix Ghost. Can the Defense Department whether it was designed specifically for the terrain in Ukraine or for the terrain in Central Europe?
And also, the CEO of Raytheon said that his company won't be able to start building Stingers again until fiscal 2023 because a lot of the electric components are obsolete and the companies that made them have gone out of business. It sounds like you're saying that there's still a way to produce Stingers with these obsolete components. Am I hearing you correctly?
SENIOR DEFENSE OFFICIAL: Jeff, I'm not going to speak for a defense contractor. What I've told you is we're having discussions with them about trying to keep these lines open and to be as helpful to the Ukrainians as we can, but I am the last person that should be talking about defense contractor capabilities. You should talk directly to them.
All I've said is we know there's still a demand signal and we are talking to defense contractors about what that could look like going forward. I'm not inferring or implying anything additional with respect to their components and how they're going to meet the demand.
And then what was your other one, Jeff?
Q: Sorry. I just wanted to clarify --
SENIOR DEFENSE OFFICIAL: The Phoenix Ghost was in development by the Air Force before the war in Ukraine, and as we began to look across the department at programs that were in various stages of development, we realized that some of the very things that we were developing the Phoenix Ghost to do would be very useful to the Ukrainians.
And so, we are getting them some Phoenix Ghosts and we're getting them trained on them. Now, right now don't have all 121 in there. They've got about a fifth of those in there. Actually, not even that.
But they've got a small proportion of the 121 are already in Ukraine. And we've got them some training on how to use it. But it was already in development, but as we looked at the capabilities of it, it was clear that it could be useful to them in the kind of fighting that they're doing in the Donbas.
Q: Is it an anti-armor weapon?
SENIOR DEFENSE OFFICIAL: It can be used for anti-armor capabilities, yes. David Martin?
Q: Well, you mentioned these anemic probes behind the Russians. Is it still the sense of the -- or the evaluation of the Pentagon that the Russian offensive has not yet begun? Or is this it? And, following up on Lita's question about the embassy, when that is open full-time, will the normal defense attaches and the people who deal with arm sales and military assistance and all that go into the embassy?
SENIOR DEFENSE OFFICIAL: We haven't made any final decisions about embassy manning right now. We're just not there yet. The State Department is working their way through this. We're going to have -- obviously, we'll stay in touch with them, work with them as they develop these plans. But we're not in a position right now to talk specifics about embassy manning from a military perspective.
And I've been saying for a long time that, yes, offensive operations in the Donbas has begun. And for a while they were doing shaping, then it was the balance of shaping and some minor operations.
But we believe that they are, in fact, conducting offensive operations. And, now at what scale? I mean, all I would tell you is that they are not making the progress that they had scheduled to make. That the progress is uneven and incremental. And even, as I said, anemic in many places.
And that's not just because of Russian planning or lack of or logistics or lack of. It's a lot of it, because the Ukrainians have really been resisting quite well. And I think I would just leave it at that.
Q: But is -- just you called it a -- you've been calling it a limited offense. Is it still considered a limited offensive or is it considered the best the Russians can muster under the circumstances?
SENIOR DEFENSE OFFICIAL: All I can do is tell you what we're seeing now, David, and what we're seeing, again, incremental, uneven progress by the Russians. I don't know what it's going to look like tomorrow. So, they are a clearly in the offensive mode now. That's what they are doing. But they are not being as successful as they expected to be.
Q: Hi. Thank you.
I have a question about BTG. Last month, senior defense official mentioned there are about 800 to 1,000 Russian soldiers in one BTG, and I was wondering if there is any update on the number of Russian soldiers in one BTG.
SENIOR DEFENSE OFFICIAL: No. I mean, it depends on the purpose of a BTG, and that's a BTG that's fully-manned, 800 to 1,000, and some are infantry, some are armor, some are artillery, you know, some are air defense. I mean, it's just the way they organize their military, and so there's not given number. So 800 to 1,000 for a fully-manned. And I would, again, offer to you that not all the BTGs of the 93 that are in there are all fully-manned because every day, they continue to suffer casualties and losses, so that's the best I can do.
Q: Hey. So a question on something you said last week. Any more explanation for some of the explosion in (inaudible), so breakaway region? And secondly, are you seeing any signs of Russia looking to invade either Moldova or the breakaway region next to it?
SENIOR DEFENSE OFFICIAL: No indications that invasions beyond what they've done in Ukraine are in the offing, and I don't have any additional information on the explosions in Moldova.
Q: Hey, thanks.
I wanted to clean up or clarify from Jack's question. When you're talking about the Russian air defense systems that they have placed, are you saying that you haven't seen many or any air defense systems, Russian air defense systems placed on the ground in Ukraine, and most are inside Russia?
SENIOR DEFENSE OFFICIAL: Most are inside Russia. I'm not saying they're all inside Russia. We, again, we don't have a fingertip feel of everything they're doing in every place. It is certainly our view that most of their air defense, or long-range air defense in particular, are outside of Ukraine, but they have used some air defense capabilities inside Ukraine.
The point is not where the systems are; the point is that the airspace is still contested, and that the Ukrainians have been effective in managing their own air defense capabilities in the Donbas and in the south. And right now, the Russian air activity and airstrikes are really on the JFO area and on Mariupol. They are still very capable of launching strikes, and a lot of them they're launching from inside their own territory.
Q: Okay, and then real quick on the Phoenix Ghost, are any of them now operating, since some of the Ukrainians have (inaudible) now inside Ukraine?
SENIOR DEFENSE OFFICIAL: You'd have to talk to the Ukrainians about that.
Q: Okay, thanks.
SENIOR DEFENSE OFFICIAL: Dan Lamothe?
Q: Hey, good morning.
Three quickies, I hope. First one: Have we had any Mi-17s that we've heard, or are they lower in the queue?
SENIOR DEFENSE OFFICIAL: None of the Mi-17s have been delivered into Ukraine yet, but that will begin to change very, very shortly.
Q: Okay, thank you. You've said 23 deliveries from five nations, and you said 14 deliveries by the United States. I'm assuming the 14 are a part of that 23.
SENIOR DEFENSE OFFICIAL: Fourteen from CONUS over the last 24 hours into the region, and there's more than one location in the region that we are flying in to. That's not Ukraine; that's transshipment sites. Fourteen over the last 24 hours, and then yeah, in the last 24 also, 23 deliveries via airlift from five separate nations also made it in to some of these transshipment sites, and that's from those nations. That's not U.S. aircraft.
Q: Okay, so that's in addition. And that -- and then third question: Kherson is something of a block -- black box at this point with -- with Russia having control and raising some troubling plans. Do you have an assessment you could offer on where Kherson and the surrounding areas stands today?
SENIOR DEFENSE OFFICIAL: You know, it's funny. I looked at that today, and there's really just been no significant changes over the last couple of days with respect to Kherson. Kherson was still shown as Russian occupied, but no major changes there. We're not seeing any move to advance out of Kherson towards Mykolaiv, and the Ukrainians we still assess hold Mykolaiv. And there's been some fighting in between, if you look at the map and you know, Mykolaiv sits to the northwest of Kherson. I mean, there's been some fighting between them, but no real progress. It's kind of been a bit of like elsewhere in the Donbas, it's been a little bit of back-and-forth.
Q: Thank you.
SENIOR DEFENSE OFFICIAL: All right.
Paul Hanley from AFP?
Q: Hi. A couple questions. When there's a fire reported in a defense manufacturing facility in Perm, Russia -- we don't know what the reason was -- for that was for. It seems like there's been a small series of fires in defense establishments deep inside Russia in the past few weeks. So are the Russians acting like they're under attack domestically? Are they shoring up security because they think there is a campaign of sabotage against them, do you -- or can you say anything about that?
SENIOR DEFENSE OFFICIAL: No, Paul, I'm afraid I don't have anything on that.
Q: Okay, a couple more quick things. Is the U.S. supplying HIMAR systems to Ukraine?
SENIOR DEFENSE OFFICIAL: No.
Q: And last thing: Do you know anything about a reported attempt on President Assad's life today?
SENIOR DEFENSE OFFICIAL: No.
Q: Okay, thank you. Struck out there.
SENIOR DEFENSE OFFICIAL: Sam LaGrone, USNI?
Q: Hey. There's been some open-source satellite imagery of key loads getting resupplied with Kalibr missiles that have popped up in the last week or so. Do y'all have any more clarity on kind of what their role is and how often they may be firing weapons? I think the last time, you said that it wasn't clear, but maybe since then you guys might have a little bit more information on that. Thanks.
SENIOR DEFENSE OFFICIAL: I don't have an update on how many Kalibrs have been fired from boats in the Black Sea. They are capable, as you know, Sam, of firing them. We do have had indications in the past that they have launched into Ukraine from boats, but I just don't have a good count for you, I'm afraid.
Q: Hey, thanks. I was looking for any kind of update you may be able to give on the Florida Guard unit and its role in the training. I know you gave some numbers of graduates. Were they responsible for all of those Ukrainians, or just a portion of them? And will they be training all of the new crop of Ukrainians that you said were coming in? And are they doing the training on the Phoenix Ghost, or is that somebody else who's doing that training?
SENIOR DEFENSE OFFICIAL: I don't know who's doing the Phoenix Ghost training. The Florida Guard is involved with some of this howitzer training, but not all of its being done by the U.S. You heard the defense minister of Canada, who was here last week, announcing that, in fact, Canadian soldiers had done. In fact, they did the original tranche of more than 50. The first training that was done on the howitzers was done by Canadians, again, outside Ukraine.
But I'll have to refer you to the Florida National Guard to speak to specifically what systems they're training on, if it's more than just the howitzers and how much they're doing. But they will be involved going forward. And I don't know who's training on the Phoenix Ghost.
Q: And if I could just follow up, you know, you've described the training as a train-the-trainers kind of program. I'm just wondering if there is any sense as to how many Ukrainians total might go through this training pipeline. How many need to be trained?
SENIOR DEFENSE OFFICIAL: Yes, it's going to be up to the Ukrainians, not us. These are their soldiers and they're now their systems. And we'll meet the demand signal as best we can. We're not setting a quota for them, guys. We're not telling them, hey, you have to have so many here on certain, certain date. I mean, this is their military, their equipment, their soldiers. They are very much deciding for themselves how much they want to train, because you know, you're talking about pulling soldiers out of the fight even though it is only for a few days at a time. Those are the decisions that only the Ukrainians can make, not us.
Q: Hey, thanks, for doing this.
I have two questions. One, have you seen any indication of why Russia is moving troops out of Mariupol? You said they're moving northwest, I believe, out of Mariupol, but can you tell us a little bit more about what the purpose is?
SENIOR DEFENSE OFFICIAL: Yes, the sense is that they obviously believe that they can afford to move those troops away from Mariupol. And as we talked about a while ago, one of the reasons why we think Mariupol is important to them, and there are several, is so that they can make a push to the north into the Donbas from the south. So it's, again, all of a piece of their efforts to encircle Ukrainian troops that are in the Donbas. They can push on those Ukrainian troops, the line of contact, from the east where they already had troops, like in Luhansk and that area, and Popasna and Kreminna, pushing to the west from the east with the troops they already had in the eastern Donbas. And they are trying to come in from the north behind the Ukrainians and from the south behind the Ukrainians to try to encircle them.
So we're already seeing, and much of the first part of this conversation was about the efforts that they're having with the northerly push to south from Izyum, which has been plodding, and as I said, anemic. And they are trying to gather some sort of momentum coming up from the south, coming up from, you know, release those BTGs out of Mariupol to come up from the south to, again, come in behind the Ukrainians. But they have not made much progress at all with that.
Okay. Last question to John Harper.
Q: Can I ask one more -- my other question?
SENIOR DEFENSE OFFICIAL: Go ahead.
Q: Sorry, just about the PDA, the Pentagon said the other day that it would be good for -- the money would be good for five months. Is that limit going to cause any issues for contractors for particularly for replenishing our stocks of the Javelins and Stingers and other weapons? I know that hits right up against the fiscal year.
SENIOR DEFENSE OFFICIAL: Yeah, so, again, I thought we answered this at the briefing but a couple of points here. When the president talks about five months he's talking about the whole $33 billion. Like, it's not just the security assistance for DOD, I mean, it's economic assistance, it's humanitarian assistance.
And we've also said we're going to be watching this in real-time and if we need to go back for more, we'll go back for more. But security assistance, you can't put a date certain on it and you can't say that, you know, that assuming Congress approves the $5 billion for PDA that we know it's going to make it for five months.
It's going to depend on the Ukrainian fight, that's going to depend on the absorption rate and the consumption rate of the material. And what we end up putting in those packages. So I think we need to be careful here about drawing some sort of, you know, circle on a date on the calendar and saying, well, that's when it runs out.
We just don't know right now. The focus is on making sure that we can continue to provide them material and weapons without interruption. And as you heard the president say, we're near the end of the current drawdown authority, we still have some left, but we're getting close to the end.
And we don't want there to be a gap, which is why we submitted the supplemental before we ran out of the current PDA authority so that there's no interruption. And that's really the goal is so that we can continue to have this flow going, again, as much as we can, as fast as we can.
But I would remind that when the five-month window, that's referring to the whole $33 billion and it was a best estimate by the government on that. It doesn't necessarily apply just for the security assistance.
Okay, John Harper, last question.
You mentioned the unmanned coastal defense vessels. Have -- will you -- can you say if any of those have been delivered yet? And can you say how many have been committed to Ukraine?
SENIOR DEFENSE OFFICIAL: No, and we're not going to talk about that, John. Thanks for asking that, but we're not going to get into the specific numbers on that. That's just not a capability we're going to do much talking about.
Okay, listen, you guys, appreciate it.
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