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tv   Defense Secretary Joint Chiefs Chair Hold Briefing  CSPAN  July 21, 2021 9:35pm-10:08pm EDT

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you think this is just a community center? know, it's more than that. comcast is partnering with a thousand community centers to create wi-fi enabled buildings so students from low income families get the tools they need to be ready for anything. comcast supports c-span as a public service along with other television providers giving you a front row seat to democracy. defense secretary lloyd austin n and general mark meli the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff briefed reporters today at the pentagon. they talked about the afghanistan troop withdrawal and efforts to relocate the military's afghan interpreters to the united states. and also a new book reporting that general millie feared president trump would carry out a coup after losing the election. >> thanks to all of you for coming today. i'd like to start by talking
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briefly about my trip later this week to our priority theater of operations which is of course the indo pacific and then i will add a few words on afghanistan which is very much on all of our minds here and i'd like to start by saying i'm looking forward to my second trip to the region as the secretary defense. this time we are headed out to southeast asia and i'm glad to have the opportunity to engage in person with leaders there. especially looking forward to making keynote remarks and singapore about how we are strengthening one of our unmatched strategic assets in athe region which is our powerl network of allies and partners. i will follow that up with stops in vietnam and the philippines where i will meet with my counterparts and other leaders. so it's going to be a busy tripo
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there is no shortage of national risecurity interest that we and our partners share in this dynamic region. and i will be carrying a few key messages and agenda items. the first is simply that the united states remains a reliable partner. a friend who shows up when it counts. we've been there to maintain stability and left sovereign stability and what sovereign states in the region make their own choices and today we've moved to help our partners tackle covid-19 and to build back even a stronger afterwards. i also continue to make the case for a more fair open and inclusive regional order and for our shared values to ensure all countries get a fair shake. we don't believe any one country should be able to dictate the
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rules or she throw them over and in this regard i will emphasize the commitment to freedom ofr te seas and make clear where we stand on some ellen helpful claims by china in the south china sea. and finally, i will be working closely with our partners about how we are updating and modernizing our capabilities and their capabilities to work together to tackle some changing forms ofn aggression and coercin that we are seeing and i will be talking with our friends how we will work hand-in-hand to pursue the new vision of integrated deterrence. let me brieflyet talk about whee we are on afghanistan. i'm very proud of the professionalism the forces have displayed and the drawdown continues in a safe and orderly manner and we are still on track to finish up by the end of
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august. we have for ongoing tasks. we remain committed to protecting the diplomatic presence in afghanistan and to provide funding to the afghan national defense security forces and to advise afghan security ministries and to preventing the reemergence of transnational terrorist organizations. and we have added a fifth urgent task and that is working closely and urgently in support of the state department as they have provided such exceptional service during our long mission. these are friends of the united states have done exemplary and courageous work. we take our obligations to them and their families very seriously. you have seen we will be hosting the first group on fort lee and virginia and we expect them to arrive soon and most likely will
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stay there only for a short while as they complete their paperwork. we are also working on several overseas locations to host other individuals, not as far along in the process suggest the first group. some of these locations belong to us and some are in third countries and we can provide more details about which p onese will use we certainly will. this is a priority for the administration and not only do we in the department of defense have a responsibility to the bravey men and women and their families, so also do we have the responsibility to support the state department as it carries out the president's directive and of course even though the mission in afghanistan is not over, i would be remiss if i didn't take the opportunity to honor the american and allied troops who served bravely the last two decades of war and those who gave their lives
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there. we owe them and their families a debt we can never repay. we know these are difficult times for them and we will never forget all that they gave for their country so now for more context on where we are in afghanistan let me pass this over to the chair man. a. >> i appreciate that and your comments and leadership. good afternoon to everyone. i want to extend a thank you to all of you because you are a reminder freedom of speech is alive and well and freedom of the press is in our constitution. last week i traveled to attend a ceremony recognizing a new operational capability with joint force command which is part of a vital network of strategic alliances and partnerships that enable us to protect throughout the world and
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during those discussions we also talked about the changing geostrategic changes and challenges we are going to face in the future and also last week we were honored to welcome home general miller from afghanistan and i want to publicly thank him one more time for his incredible leadership as the longest-serving commander in afghanistan twice wounded in combat over the years, scott miller is an american hero and first order. r he is representative of the more than 800,000 service members wha served in afghanistan across the last two decades and we should always remember their service. general miller and his team along with centcom and others in the joint force paved the path for the safe, orderly and responsible transition and the volume of the movement involved in this operation has been extraordinary. 984 airlift's over the last less
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than three months and enabled us to reach 95% completion on the renter rate to include equipment we also moved 9,000 people both civilian and military. furthermore all the military operating bases outside of kabul have been fully transferred to the ministry of defense and afghan security forces. a small contingent of predominantly military personnel but some civilians and contractors along with the department of state remain in afghanistan to provide security and bolster our presence in kabul. the forces are key to achieving the tasks the secretary laid out comments. a major component of sustaining a diplomatic presence in kabul is to maintain a functioning and secure airport. we continue to secure the embassy and international zone
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and for our diplomats and personnel and continued support to the government of afghanistan. the future afghanistan in the hands and i want to emphasize a negative outcome. we will continue to monitor the situation closely and make adjustments as necessary. additionally we will maintain the capability of self defense and we possess thens military means and have several options at our disposal to fully protect our forces in afghanistan and
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throughout the region. in centcom if needed the uss cap reagan streicher was on station with a package of long-range bombers, additional fighter-bombers and troop formations are postured to quickly respond if necessary. we maintain an over the horizon capability that is set up and effective now to detect and address any terrorism threat to the united states. in addition to the mission in afghanistan, we continue to defend from all kinds of other threats in monitoring russia, north korea, iran, we watched china maintaining the deterrents to safeguard the great power of peace. the department ensures no terrorists are able to launch attacks on syria or africa and we keep an eye on haiti and cuba and all these things while we serve here at home as well and i want to recognize the great efforts of the reserve component
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of the national guard and active-duty soldiers that are fighting wildfires in california and the pacific midwest and california and nevada national guard c-130 units are operating and have flown and provided a 4.5 million pounds. we will continue to provide support as required. the joint force is incredible because of the skill and determination and there's no task they cannot accomplish. thanks for the opportunity and i will look forward to your questions. >> i have a questionn for each f you. secretary alston, both of you mentioned a number of times they continue providing financial assistance and remote logistical assistance. given the tenuous state of
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security and the offensive i'm wondering if in your view of the theu.s. should do more beyond to prevent a collapse of the government and if i could pose the question to general millie also.. you are portrayed in a book as having signed the alarm in manufacturing a crisis involving the military either domestically or overseas. i wonder what do you now said to the record straight and were you concerned about the possibility of a coup and on what basis would that consist? >> thanks for your question. we are doing a lot to support the afghan military and leadership as we speak. we talked about the fact we are
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going to stand up to provide assistance and its operational now and we have begun the provision of the aircraft we mentioned earlier that we are going to provide on the friday, three new refurbished and we willl continue to see a steady drumbeat of that going forward. we talked about setting up the note to be able to conduct over the horizon strikes. the threat that presents, those elements that present a threat
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to the united states of america so it will be a counterterrorism focus. that's currently where we stand but we have not changed that. make no mistake we remain committed to helping the afghan security forces and afghan government going forward and we are doing what weng said we were going to do in terms of putting the pieces in place to provide that support. >> i know there's a t lot of interest. i'm not going to comment on what's in any of the books let me just say this i always provided the best military professional advice to whomever is the secretary defense and i do that for the national security council as well and i will speak also for this one time on behalf the same lies to
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them candid, honest and every singleio occasion we do that all the time everye time. the other thing that i think is important to note is that i and the other members, all of us in uniform take an oath to a document, an oath to the constitution of the united states and not one time do we violate that. the entire timeti from the timef commissioning to today i can say with certaintyt everyone of us maintain our oath of allegiance to the document. everything that is contained and we also maintain the tradition of civilian control of the military. we did that without fail andnt maintained the tradition of in a political military. we did that then and now and we will do that forever. >> i would like to add a comment i've known the chair man for a long time. we fought together.
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we've served a couple of times in the same units. i'm not guessing at this character. i think i clearly have tremendous faith and confidence in the chair man. what i want to make sure we do is maintain our focus on the threats ahead, maintain was facing our challenges with china and all the things we are trying to do to make sure to meet the challengess of the future. >> arere you concerned al qaeda will be able to move back in and strengthen and if so can you give a sense of how long the estimates are before they will have that capability? i know you don't want to talk about the book but you haven't denied any of the recent reporting that's been out there including the comments and some
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of the action. the american public and members of the military in denying it have no reasondi to believe it's anything but accurate. i know you didn't violate but looking back now, were you political at the time and are you concerned about the message that sends to the rank-and-file? >> according to the first piece and whether or not we are concerned about al qaeda coming back, that'sth something we are watching very closely currently and we will continue to keep an eye on. our major focus going forward is to make sure that it cannot be supported in afghanistan to our tahomeland so we will have the capability to not only observe that but also address that if it
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does emerge. the taliban early on committed to not providing a safe haven for al qaeda. we expect for them to meet the commitment and if they want to legitimacy there's something they will have to consider. that's one way to earn it. most importantly, weor will maintain the over the horizon capability to be able to address this threat or any threat if it emerges. you heard me say a while back that my rough estimate is it would do two years to develop a k.capability again a number of things that could happen to speed that up a bit or slow it down. i want you to know and i want
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everyone to know that the united states military is an apolitical institution. we were then and we are now in our oath is to the constitution, not any individual at all. the military did not and wouldnd not and should not ever get involved in domestic politics. we do not arbitrate that is the job of the judiciary and legislature it's not the job of the u.s. military. [inaudible] >> let me just make a comment here. it's important to me that this department remains apolitical and so we are going to do everything in our power to make sure that our troops and leadership both civilian and military remains focused on the task at hand and understand they
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are not a part of the political apparatus. we will remain apolitical. >> closer to home you have a leadership. michael brown pulled out last week. are the specifics important like the business of the department, how much, how concerned are you and have you suggested to the white house a new candidate and you talked about having the ability to defend themselves. 300,000 we spent facing about 75,000 taliban and in the language for the american
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people, given the superiority why does it appear that the taliban is winning? >> regarding the numbers of people that we've had confirmed thus far, certainly we would like to see more. this is something the deputy secretary and i and all of my leadership remains focused on each and every day and we continue to make sure that we have quality and qualified applicants to fill these seeds. we have six that have been confirmed so far and ten that are waiting for a vote and five more that are in committee. so the process continues to work. what you will see you when the confirmations occur is there will be experienced quality people that will add a lot of value and of course concerned
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about that position that you mentioned and absolutely will make another nomination and name to consider but that's an ongoing process and it will be the best person available. and again i considered that to be very important. we will continue to work with the white house on these issues. >> i would tell you a couple things. you know as well as anybody else it isn't just about numbers, so yes you site to do some correct numbers and the afghan security forces writ large, the police, army et cetera are equipped and trained. there's other factors that determine outcomes. the two most important is will
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and leadership. tthis is going to be a test for the will and leadership of the afghan people and government of afghanistan. right now we talked about the narrative of the taliban and there clearly is a narrative out there and they are propagating in an inevitable victory. they are dominating a lot on that sort of thing. i would tell you that as of today, more or less i guess it is about 212 in that range. the district centers are in the taliban control about half. you've got 34 provincial capitals in afghanistan. none of them have been seized as of today by the taliban. although they are putting pressure on the outskirts. seventeen of them in fact. but they try to do is isolate the major population centers. they try to do the same thing to cobble. to speak to the order of magnitude, a significant amount
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of territory has been seized by the taliban so the momentum appears to be strategic and sort of with the taliban. the afghan security forces are consolidating so part of this is they are consolidating because they are taking the approach and most of the population lives in the provincial capitals so right now as we speak they are adjusting forces to consolidate into the capital in cobble and it remains to be seen. we will find out the levels of violence whether it will go up or stay the same and there's a possibility to negotiate, there's a possibility of a takeover or any number of other scenarios, breakdowns and all kinds of things. we are monitoring very closely. i don't think the endgame is yet written. >> only time for a couple more.
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>> i wanted to ask both of you a question. mr. secretary, you first. could you explain in more detail your views on what you think the critical race theory should be as an important part of military education. i know you were asked about it and addressed it briefly but i would like to understand your views on that. and for you, general, you said to congress to understand rage and what it is that caused thousands to storm the capital and try to overturn the constitution of the u.s., what caused that? i want to find that out. ..
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>> people at academic institutions say that they have required this to beea required reading for their students and specific courses but because that's the caseme it does not mean this department embraces this theory and i stand by what i said earlier and i don't want to get distracted it will be diverse and inclusive it will be in
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the ranks of the military we are committed to that the department and thehe chairman is committed to that. that is what we will stay focused on. you not debate this theory or any other two defend this country and promote those values. >> i will not address any type of rage. those events will get sorted out and those commissions but
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i do think it is a profession not only understand foreign cultures and societies but we need to understand our own society as soldiers and airmen and marines that's important for the leadership. >> we said white rage. >> it's a complicated topic we don't have time to go into the new one samuel do that later. but right now is not a good time to do that it's too complicated. >> i have a question to both of you with that us freedom movement and then what about
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china's behavior? and with taiwan you mentioned those allies in the region such as japan and then to emphasize this. >> with the importance of freedom and navigation of the seas and the skies this is important not only to the united states of america but
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all of our allies and partners in the region and around the world. so that we have done and will continue to do is work at allies and partners to navigate the skies and the seas and in accordance with international law and so our emphasis will remain on and also one making sure we keep those alliances strong and allies and partners know they can count on us going forward. that's the message i will take. >> we're in the middle of that change as well and as we go forward, china is the pacing threat and directed by the
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secretary of defense and previous as well. so we care our knowledge et cetera militarily with china in mind and we will work very closely with japan and philippines and other partners in the region to make sure we have the proper capability. >> . >> sorry we have to go. runs
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an hour -- this runs an hour, ten minutes. >> the subcommittee >> the subcommittee will come to order. without objection the chair is authorized to declare the subcommittee and recess at

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