tv Defense Secretary Joint Chiefs Chair Hold Briefing CSPAN July 22, 2021 1:19am-1:53am EDT
of congress and the biden administration. >> defense secretary lloyd austin and general mark milley, 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 interpreters to the united states. new reporting that general milley feared former president would carry out a coup after losing the election. >> thanks to all of you for coming today. i would like to start by talking briefly about my trip later this week to our priority theater of operations, the indo pacific. then i will add a few words on afghanistan, which is on all of our minds here. i would like to start by saying
i am looking forward to my second trip to the region as secretary of defense. this time we are headed to east asia and i am glad to have the opportunity to engage in person with leaders there. i am looking forward to making keynote remarks in singapore about how we are strengthening one of our unmatched chief of assets in the region, our network of allies and partners. i will follow up with stops in vietnam and the philippines, where i will meet with my counterparts and other leaders, so it is going to be a busy trip. there are no shortage of national security interest that we and our partners share in this region, and i will be carrying a few key messages and agenda items. the first is that the united states remains a reliable partner, a friend who shows up
when it counts. we have been there to maintains debility -- to maintain stability and let sovereign states make their own choices. today we have moved urgently to help partners tackle covid-19 and to build back even stronger afterward. i will continue to make the case for a more fair, open, and inclusive regional order and for our shared values to ensure that all countries get a fair shake. we don't believe anyone country should be able to dictate the rules or, worse yet, throw them over the transom. i will emphasize our commitment to freedom of the seas. i will make clear where we stand on unhelpful and unfounded claims by china in the south china sea. finally, i will be working closely with our partners about
how we are updating and modernizing our capabilities and their own capabilities to work together to tackle changing forms of aggression at coercion we are all seeing. i will be talking with our friends about how we will work to pursue our new vision of integrated deterrence. let me talk about where we are on afghanistan. i am proud of the professionalism our forces have displayed. power drawdown continues in a safe and orderly manner and we are on track to finish by the end of august. the president has made a decision that we are going to get it done right and we have four ongoing key tasks. we remain committed to protecting our diplomatic presence in afghanistan at providing funding to the afghan national defense and security forces and advising afghan security ministries and
preventing the reemergence of transnational terrorist organizations. we have added a fifth urgent task, working closely in support of the state department as they relocate brave afghans and their families who have provided exceptional service during our long lesson -- long mission. these are friends of the united states who have done exemplary and courageous work and we take our obligations to them and their families very seriously. we will be hosting the first group of afghans at fort lee in virginia. we expect them to arrive soon and likely stay there a short while as they complete paperwork. we are working on several overseas locations to host other individuals not as far along in the visa process as the first group. some locations belong to us and
some are in third countries. when we can provide more details, we will. this is a priority for the administration. not only do we in the department of defense have a responsibility to these brave men and women, so too do we have a responsibility to support the state department as it carries out the president's directive. even though our mission in afghanistan is not over, i would be remiss if i did not take the opportunity to honor the american and allied troops who have served bravely over the last two decades of war and those who gave their lives. we owe them and their families a debt we can never repay. these are difficult times for them and we will never forget all they gave for their country. for more context on where we are in afghanistan, let me pass this over to the chairman.
gen. milley: i appreciate your comments and leadership. good afternoon to everyone. i want to extend a thank you to all of you because you are a reminder that freedom of speech is alive and well at freedom of the press is a principal in our constitution. last week i traveled to norfolk to attend a ceremony recognizing new operational capability, the first and only nato had orders on u.s. soil, which is part of a vital network of strategic alliances and partnerships that enable us to protect u.s. military strength around the world. we also talked about the changing character of war, the geostrategic challenges that we will face in the future. last week the secretary and our honored to welcome home general scott miller from afghanistan. i want to publicly thank him one more time for his incredible
leadership as the longest serving commander in afghanistan. twice wounded in combat, scott miller is an american hero. he is representative of the more than 8000 service members who have served in afghanistan across the last two decades, and we should always remember their faithful service. general miller and his team, along with centcom and many others, have paved the path for a safe and orderly transition. the volume of movement has been extraordinary. 984 airlift over less than three months have enabled us to reach almost 95% completion on the retrograde. we also moved 9000 people, civilian and military. all the military operating bases outside kabul have been fully transferred to the afghan ministry of defense and afghan
security forces. a small contingent of predominantly military personnel at some civilians and contractors along with the department of state remained in afghanistan to provide security and bolster our diplomatic presence in kabul. the forces are key to achieving the five tasks the secretary laid out. a major component of sustaining a diplomatic presence is to maintain a functioning and secure airport in kabul. we continue to dedicate security resources to that, to secure the embassy, the international zone, and the international airport in kabul, for our diplomats and continued support to the government of afghanistan. the afghan security forces have the capacity to sufficiently fight and defend their country and we will continue to support the afghan security forces in
accordance with guidance from the president and secretary of defense. the future of afghanistan is in the hands of the afghan people and there are a range of possible outcomes. i want to emphasize -- i have said this before -- a negative outcome, a taliban military takeover, is not a foregone conclusion. we will monitor the situation and make adjustments as necessary. we are always going to maintain the capability of self-defense. we possess the military means and have several options to fully protect our forces in afghanistan and throughout the region. in centcom, the uss ronald reagan carrier strike group is on station. a package of long-range bombers and troop formations are postured to quickly respond if necessary. we will always protect our nation. we maintain an agile
counterterrorism capability that is effective now to detect and address any terrorism threat to the united states. in addition to our mission in afghanistan, we continue to defend this country from other threats. we are monitoring north korea, russia, iran, watching china while maintaining strategic deterrence. the department of we are making sure there is no and keep a watchful eye on haiti and cuba. we do all those things serving at home, as well. and i want to recognize the great efforts of our national guard and active duty soldiers fighting wildfires in pacific northwest. as of tuesday morning, california and nevada national guard c-130 units are operating near sacramento california and and provided fire retardant.
we will continue to provide support. our joint force is incredible because of the skill and determination of our men and women and their leaders and no task that they cannot accomplish. i look forward to your questions. reporter: i have a question for each of you, secretary austin, both you and general milley mentioned that the united states is providing supporting afghan forces through financial assistance and remote logistical assistance but given the security there and the afghan and taliban and wondering in your view they should do more to prevent a collapse of the government and pose a question to the general. you are portrayed in books published as having sounded the alarm about the possibility of president trump manufacturing a
crisis involving the military either domestically or overseas after january 20. would you now set the historical record straight and were you concerned about the possibility of a coupe? secretary austin: thanks for your question there, we are doing a lot to support the afghan military and the afghan leadership as we speak. speak. we talked a lot about the fact that we are going to stand up and provide assistance and we talked a lot about the fact that we are going to stand up and provide assistance and stood up in qatar that is operational now. we have provided -- begun the provision of the aircraft that we mentioned to you earlier that we are going to provide on
friday, three newly refurbished 60's in kabul and will see a steady drumbeat of that support going forward. forward. we talked about setting up a note to be able to conduct over -the-horizon strike and that is in place. after august, our focus is on those threats that present -- those elements that present a threat to the united states of america. so it will be a counterterrorism focus there. so -- and that's currently where we stand and have not changed that. we remain committed to helping the forces and government going forward and we are doing what we said we are going to do in terms
of putting the pieces in place to ensure we provide that support. governor o'malley: there is a lot of interest in these books quoting me et cetera. i'm not going to comment what is in those books. i always personally the best military professional advice to president trump and president biden and i do that to the national security council and i am going to say, we always adhered to best professional advice. we did it all the time. the other thing that i think is important to note here is that i and the other members -- all of us in uniform, we take an oath to a document, an oath to the constitution of the united states and not one time did we
violate that. the entire time from the time of commissioning to today, i can say that every one of us maintained our oath to that document, the constitution and everything contained in it and maintain the tradition. and we also maintain the tradition of an a political military. we did that then and do it now and will do it forever. secretary austin: i would like to add a comment to that. i have known the chairman for a long time. we fought together and served in the same units and i'm not guessing at his character. he doesn't have a political bone in his body. and i clearly have tremendous faith and confidence in the chairman. what i want to make sure we do is maintain our focus on the
threats ahead, maintain our focus on facing challenge with china and all the things that we are trying to do to make sure that this force is ready to meet the challenges of the future. >> in afghanistan, are you concerned that the taliban is imagining ground and al qaeda will strengthen enough? if so, can you give us how long the estimates are that they will have that capability. general milley, you have not denied the recent reporting that has been out there including some of the comments and actions and the american public, [indiscernible] reporter: so looking back now, i know you said you didn't violate, looking back now, weren't you too political at the
time? and are you concerned about the message that sends to the rank and file? secretary austin: on your first piece and whether or not we are concerned about al qaeda coming back, that is something we are watching closely currently and we will continue to keep an eye on. our major focus is to make sure that violence, terrorism, cannot be exported from afghanistan to our homeland and so we'll maintain the capability to not only observe that, but also address that if it does emerge. taliban early on committed to not providing a safe haven for al qaeda. we expect for them to meet that commitment. if they want legitimacy, that is something they will have to consider. that is one way to earn it.
we'll see what happens. but most importantly, we will maintain the over-the-horizon threat if it emerges. my rough estimate is it would take two years to develop that kind of capability and there was a medium risk. i have not changed my assessment there, but again a number of things that could happen that could speed it up a bit. governor o'malley: i'm not going to comment on any books. but i want you to know and america to know, that the united states military is an apolitical institution and our oath is to the constitution and the military did not and should not get involved in domestic politics. we don't arbitrate elections. it is not the job of the
military. we are an apolitical institution. reporter: are you concerned that they comments are putting you more in politics than you should be? secretary austin: let me make a comment here. it is important to me that this department remain apolitical. and so we are going to do everything within our power to make sure that our troops, our leadership, both civilian and military remain focused on the task at hand and understand that they are not part of the political apparatus there. so we will remain apolitical. >> closer to home, you have a gap in leadership among -- [indiscernible]
michael brown pulled out last week. how concerned are you? is it important? difference in the departments. how concerned are you and he suggested to the white house a new candidate. and general milley, another book question, you talked about the afghan capability to defend themselves. 300,000, we spent $74 billion and facing taliban. and in laymen's language what is the superiority, why is it appear that the taliban is winning. secretary austin: regarding the numbers of people that we have had confirmed thus far. certainly, we would like to see more that the deputy secretary
and i and all of my leadership remain focus on each and every day and continue to work with the white house to make sure that we have quality and qualified applicants to fill these seats. we have six that have been confirmed so far and 10 that are waiting for a vote. and five more that are in committee. so the process continues to work. and i think what you'll see when the confirmations do occur that they will be experienced, quality people that will add a lot of value. and of course, i'm concerned about the a.n.s. position that you mentioned and absolutely will make another nomination and provide another name to consider -- for the white house to consider. that is an ongoing process. when we do get that person, it will be the best person available.
again, i consider that job to be very, very important. but we will continue to work with the white house on those issues. governor o'malley: tony, you know as well as anyone else, war is not about numbers. you cited some correct newspapers. the forces, they are well equipped and well trained over the years, past 20 years. and to our allies. but there are numbers that determine outcomes and one is will and leadership. and this is going to be a test now of the will and redistribution of the afghan security forces and government of afghanistan. you talked about the taliban is winning. there is a narrative that the taliban is winning. they are dominating the
airwaves. as of today, it is about 212 in that range, the district centers are in taliban control. you got 34 provincial capitals in afghanistan and none of them have been seized as of today by the taliban, although the taliban is putting pressure on the outskirts, 17 of them, in fact and what they are trying to do is isolate the major population centers and trying to do it to kabul. and roughly speaking, a significant amount of territory has been seized by the taliban. strategic momentum seems to be with the taliban. the part of this is giving up and they are giving the approach and most of the population leaves in the city of kabul.
they are adjusting forces to consolidate into the provincial capitals in kabul. and what remains to be seen, but after eed and whether it will go up or stay the same. there is a possibility of complete takeover, and all kinds of other scenarios. i don't think the end game is yet written. >> we have time for a couple more. reporter: a question following up on your recent testimony. mr. secretary, to you first, could you explain in more detail your views on when you think and under what circumstances critical race theory should be an appropriate part of military
education. you were asked about it in your address, but i would like to understand your views on that. general milley, in that hearing, you said to congress you wanted to understand white rage and what it is that causes thousands of people that attacked the capitol. i want to find that out. could you offer a more detailed explanation what led you to the conclusion of white rage and since you talked about it publicly before congress, in your view what is white rage and why and when should the u.s. military be concerned about that. thank. secretary austin: bash, you heard me say that the critical race theory is something that this department embraces.
you have also heard about a couple of people in academic institutions saying they have required this to be reading for their students in specific courses. but because that is the case does not mean that this department embraces this theory. and i stand by what i said earlier. and bash, i don't want to get addition tracted on the critical race conversation. this department will be diverse and it will be inclusive and we are going to look like the country that we support and defend. and our leadership will look like what's in the ranks of our military. and so commime committed to that. this department is committed to that. the chairman is committed to that and that's what we are going to stay focused on. we aren't going to debate the
merits of this theory or any theory but focus on creating the right force to promote our values. and i know that is important to you and in this room as well, bash. i thank you for that question. governor o'malley: i'm not going to address white rage or black rage or irish rage or english range. the events of january 6 happened and that will get sorted out. but i do think it's important not only understand foreign cultures and foreign societies, it's important we do that but we need to understand our own society and the society they are coming from and important for the leadership to study from. >> you said the words white rage.
secretary austin: on the importance of freedom navigation of the seas and the skies, this is really important not only to the united states of america, but to all of our aleyes and partners in the region and around the world. so what we have done and what we will continue to do is work with our allies and partners to make sure that we can navigate the skies and the seas to the agree in aaccordance with
international law. so our emphasis will remain on that and and keep those alliances strong and know they can count on us going forward. and that's the message i will take to the field. governor o'malley: to answer your question on taiwan. the geo strategic nature of the globe and we are in the middle and as we go forward, china is the threat for us and it has been directed now by the secretary of defense and the president. so we are gearing our capabilities, our program, our knowledge and skills, et cetera, militarily with china in mind. there is no question about it and we will work closely with japan, south korea, phillipines and australia to ensure that we
have the proper capability to deal with it whatever comes to us in the future. >> thanks very much. we got to go. sorry about that. >> c-span's "washington journal." every day, we take your calls live on the air on the news of the day. we discussed policy issues that impact you. coming up thursday morning, congressman warren davidson discusses president biden's and congressional democrats' spending plan. congressman john garamendi talks about wildfires in the west and the latest on the legislation to set national drinking water standards. watch "washington journal," at 7:00 eastern thursday morning. join the discussion with phone calls, facebook comments, texts,
and tweets. >> coming up thursday on c-span, the house returns at nine :00 a.m. eastern to consider legislation to expedite the visa process for afghan interpreters, contractors, and security personnel who worked with the u.s. government in afghanistan. on c-span2, the senate is back at 1030 a.m. to debate and vote on president biden's pick to lead the national security administration, which manages the u.s. new your warhead stockpile. at 10:00 a.m. eastern on c-span three, government officials testify about the use of digital financing by terrorists at a house homeland security subcommittee hearing. ♪
>> earlier today, president biden toward an electrical training center in cincinnati, ohio. pres. biden: where am i supposed to stand? >> anywhere you would like. pres. biden: what is your name? >> nicholas. pres. biden: good to meet you. okay. >> we have one of our poc motor control training labs. we use it with apprentices and groups of up to four, teaching the systems, manufacturing and industrial. it uses