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tv   Defense Press Secretary Holds Briefing  CSPAN  January 25, 2022 1:14am-2:00am EST

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to find them all on the c-span now mobile app or wherever you get your podcasts. >> at the pentagon, press secretary john kirby announced the 8500 u.s. troops are now on heightened preparedness to deploy in light of escalating tensions between russia and ukraine. he answered reporters questions for nearly 45 minutes. ly 45 minutes.
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>> the department >> good afternoon, everybody. just one thing here at the top, as you are all aware, the united states is deeply concerned about the current situation in europe. we remain keenly focused on russia's unusual military activities near the ukrainian border, including in belarus. and consulting extensively with our transatlantic allies and partners. the department continues to support diplomatic efforts to de-escalate the situation. now, as the president has said, even as we continue to prioritize diplomacy and dialogue, we must also increase readiness. in support of its obligations to the security and defense of nato and the security of its citizens abroad, at the direction of the president and following recommendations made by secretary austin, the united states has taken steps to heighten the readiness of its forces, at home and abroad, so that they are prepared to respond to a range of contingencies, including support to the nato response force, if it is activated. as you have heard me describe many times, our commitment to the security of nato allies and the article 5 commitment are ironclad. as the president has also made clear, the united states will act firmly in defense of its national interests in response to actions by russia that harm us, our allies, our partners. as part of that commitment, the department of defense maintains
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significant combat capable forces forward in europe to deter aggression and enhance the ability to defend allies and defeat aggression if necessary. and -- the united states also has a commitment to provide forces to the nato response force. otherwise known as the nrf, in the event that nato should activate that construct. nato is a multi national force. that the alliance can deploy on short notice wherever needed. all dickie -- altogether the nrf comprises 40,000 multinational troops. within the nrf is the very high readiness joint task force. this nrf element, that is about 20,000 strong includes a multinational lamb brigade of 5000 troops, and special forces
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components. i want provide some facts that will reinforce our commitment to nato and the response force and increase our readiness. secretary austin has -- which increases our readiness to provide forces if nato chooses to activate the nrf. all told, the number of forces that the secretary has placed on heightened alert comes up to about 8500 personnel. we will continue to provide updates in coming days about these decisions. specifically this will ensure that the united states and our commitment to the nrf, is consistent with their readiness for rapid deployment again if activated.
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in the event of nato's activation of the nrf or a deteriorating security environment the united states would be in a position to rapidly deploy logistics, aviation, medical, transportation, and additional capabilities into europe. again i want to reinforce the as of now the decision has been made to put these units on higher alert and higher alert only. no decisions has been made to deploy any forces from united states at this time. and higher alert, some cases, some of these were on heightened posture or ready to deploy posture and the secretary decided to make it even more, shorten the tether even more. units would go from 10 days prepare to deploy and are now at five days. that is not the case for every unit being notified. some are simply more ready and are posture that way than
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others. the idea is that all of these units that he is putting on prepared to deploy would be ready to go on a shortened timeframe. no final decision has been made to deploy. the secretary will continue to consult with the president and we will maintain close coronation with allies and partners. making decisions to -- as always we will remain in close coronation with allies and partners. as we continue to review our force posture and make decisions regarding potential movement of forces in europe. with that, we will start taking questions. bob, i think you're on the line. >> yes, thank you john. of the 8500 troops that you mentioned, are those u.s.-based only?
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are they intended only for deployment as part of the activation of the rapid response force or might they be sent for other reinforcement purposes in eastern europe? lastly, why did the secretary and president decided to do this now? what is changing the last two days? on friday, you mentioned that the u.s. was prepared to reinforce eastern europe if there were a russian incursion only. >> i think are numbered all three, so let me try. first, yes. up to 8500, i want to stress it is up to 8500. no decision to deploy has been made. this is getting units on advanced heightened alert. up to 8500, that i talked about are all u.s.-based. i'm sorry, bob your second
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question? >> are the intended only for the nato rapid response force or something else? >> the bulk of them are intended for the nato response force, the vast majority. as a set of my opening statement the secretary wants us posturing to be ready for any other contingencies as well. the bulk of them are aligned for the nato response force. your other question was on timing, we have been watching this very closely, i said at the top. it is very clear that the russians have no intentions of de-escalating right now. because not everyone of these units that we are notifying are in -- all of them are not in a heightened state of alert, it made prudent sense for the secretary to give them as much time to prove the -- two prepare to be any shorten tether.
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the nato response force has not inactivated. it is a nato call to make. we have contributions to the response force, as do other nations. it is 40,000 some on strong. our contributions do not come near the 40,000 number. for our part, unilaterally, we want to make sure that we were ready in case that called should come. that is making sure that the units we contribute to it are as ready as they can be on a shortened notice as possible. >> three quick things. what specific military capabilities do these u.s. troops bring to europe? these 8500. second, can you say with some specificity what is the exact mission for these troops? what will your measure of success be? how will you know when the
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mission is accomplished? >> on capabilities, i touched on this in the opening statement. when we are able to identify the units for you we will do that. the reason i do not have specific units today is because the units are being notified as well as family members. as you can understand we do not want to get out ahead of that notification process. broadly speaking, as i mentioned at the top, these would be additional brigade combat teams, logistics, medical, surveillance, reconnaissance, transportation, maybe even some additional capabilities after that. when we can identified for you the units i think you will see they cover the broad scope of those capabilities. missions have not been assigned. the ready response force has not been activated. so there is not a mission per se.
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this is about the secretary wanting to get ahead of the potential activation and making sure the units have time to prepare if and only if they are deployed. when we know success? there has been no activation. there has been no mission assigned. it would be difficult for me to give you an up check or down check of what equates success. what this is about, his reassurance to our nato allies. we have been talking about that for quite some time. that will be ready, prepared, to help bolster our allies capabilities that they might need. we are going to do it lockstep with them in the alliance. this is really about reassuring the eastern flank of nato and also about, i kind of covered this, proving how seriously the united states takes our commitment to nato and to the
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article five commit inside of nato. >> how do you know when your military goals are achieved? >> there has been no mission to sign right now. there is -- this is about getting troops ready. what we are trying to achieve is a couple of things. we would like to deter vladimir putin and the russians from another incursion. number two, to make sure we are bolstering and staying unified with the alliance. that the alliance stays strong. the large oak of the reason for this -- bulk of the reason for this prepared order. those are two big outcomes here. no missions have been assigned to these troops, no deployment orders have been sent to them. the secretary has ordered them to be ready to go, in some cases
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a much shorter tether than they had before. >> can you rule out sending u.s. troops to ukraine? >> i think the president has already spoken to that. we already do have advisors and trainers in ukraine. they still there at their work. >> if you are not willing to send troops to ukraine, what makes you think this is going to deter vladimir putin? >> i think there is a whole package of things administration is looking at two deter vladimir putin from another incursion. including severe economic consequences. this is about sending a strong message that we are committed to nato and we are committed to ensuring our allies have the capabilities they need in case they need to defend themselves. >> is this a new a umf to send our troops? >> i am not aware of any such
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requirement at this point. we are one of many nations contributing to nato. this is very much in keeping with the policies and procedures that have been laid down for activation of the nrf. if it is activated, it has not been. >> these 8500 ground forces, would they go to the eastern flank? have you put any units in europe? >> i think, again, yes the bulk of them would be considered ground forces, david. as for europe, as i've said before, there are lots of force capabilities already on the european continent under general walters and i am absently not ruling out the possibility that there will be intra-theater
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moves as well inside of europe to bolster nato allies on the eastern flank. that kind of get to your second question. we are still in consultation with the allies about what they might need. i do not have any decisions to read out in terms of specific locations. we have certainly made it clear to the eastern flank allies that we are prepared to bolster their capabilities if they needed. again, i want to go back to a core foundation here. the bulk of the troops i am talking about today, are intended for the nato response force, the vast majority of them. that response force can only be activated by the alliance, it has not been. it is our contribution to the response force and we want to make sure they are ready to go. no deployment orders have been set. no missions have been assigned. this is about getting folks
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ready to go if they are needed. >> once they are assigned to the nato risk -- response force to be going unilaterally on behalf of the nine states -- >> i cannot do that right now courtney, it really depends on the need. we are still in consultation with allies about needs. i would be reticent to give you a hard number right now. we are in active discussions with our allies about any additional capabilities they might need on top of or outside of the nato response force. >> does that include some of these intra-theater moves that you are talking about? there could be movement within you,, -- ucom that would not be part of the nato response force. >> yes. >> has been any consideration to pull it troops out of ukraine?
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>> there has been no decision about moving trainers that are in ukraine out. as i've said many times, we are cost of a looking at the situation and will do what is right for the safety and security that is paramount for us. as of right now they are still on the ground in ukraine conducting their missions. when that changes, we will certainly let you know. >> they have the change number, right? >> yes ma'am. let me go to the phone, there are lots of questions, will get to the mall. -- them all. >> centcom just put out a statement about a ballistic attack against yes it emirates -- arab emirates. are they treating it a potential effect -- attack on u.s. forces? >> i do not want to get into
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intelligence assessments. obviously this just happened, early monday my -- morning. so clearly we have troops that held offer -- there so we are looking at the possibility that it is directed at our forces. we take it seriously, you saw the centcom statement. we responded to the ballistic missile attack. we will be in close coordination with our variety partners to assess what happens and what we need to do going forward. i cannot specifically tell you what the intent of the attack was, but we have to assume, it would be us -- force for us to not assume that there was a threat to our people. you soften the results that we
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took that threat seriously. -- you saw for yourself that we took that threat seriously. >> i have a quick check -- question about china. the u.s. navy has large scary -- scale military exercises with japan. >> we engage with joint operations to include maritime communications, anti-summer, air warfare replenishment at sea, the whole scope when we operate at sea particularly when we have the opportunity, and is not unusual for us to take advantage of the opportunity when you have two aircraft carriers in the same body of water to exercise together.
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look, i will reiterate, all the training will be conducted in accordance with international law and international waters. >> i have two questions. when is north korea and the other is south korea and china. the south korea nation intelligence mentioned the possibility of north korean icbm fire and she pointed at -- pointed that is intended to pressure the nine states -- united states. what do you think of the imminent test fire the north korean icbm? >> i will not get ahead of test fire launches that have not happened yet. we have very clear over our
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concerns of the advancing nuclear can -- ambitions of pyongyang. we continue to an -- condemn it and asked them to abide by international law and security council resolutions and find ways to de-escalate the tensions. i will speak to my state department colleagues, we will sit down with them without preconditions. they have shown no desire to move that forward. >> china justifies north korea's missile publications. do you think china's continued support for north korea provocations as part of -- >> you have to ask their president that. china is a direct neighbor of north korea. they have influence in
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pyongyang, we know that, they know that, pyongyang knows that. we continue to call on china to use the influence of the has to support the international community and u.n. security council resolutions that china themselves have signed up for to help get them enacted and to support the sanctions. support them and enforce them in a comprehensive, cohesive way that the chinese have not always done. i will go to you, nancy. >> just a couple clarifying points. is there a time limit? is it open ended, if it is, with the secretary issue another order? >> it is telling a unit, in this case several units to be prepared to deploy on a shorter tether than whatever was before.
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in some cases was 10 days, notice five -- now it is five. there is no time limit on the preparation order. we do not know if or when they would be activated and deployed. to courtney's question, i want to stress again that the vast majority, that comprise our contribution to the nato response force, there are some that we are advancing their alert posture that is simply unilateral. that we would consider sending and our own in concert with allies. you will have to talk to the folks are going to host them and make sure that there is ok. there is not a specific time limit assigned right now. it is something that the secretary is going to continue to look at. certainly, if not weekly, daily to make sure that it is the appropriate tether to have these trips on. >> you mentioned that it would
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be in support of nato mission. is there any point they would be under a nato commander or with the general be wearing a different hat potentially when he takes get -- takes command of them? >> i cannot get into it, it has not been activated. ultimately they would all be reporting up underneath him, what the exact chain of command is difficult to say when they have not been activated. let me go back here. kelly, from news nation. >> i know we kept talking here that diplomacy -- with the u.s. preparing to send troops to the allies of the eastern flank, is this further aggravating russia? is this moving on from a
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diplomatic effort to prepare for an invasion? >> we are telling these units to be ready to go on a shorter timeline than they were before. we are not deploying them now. we are not saying diplomacy is dead. you heard secretary blinken talk about this on sunday on many outlets. he still believes there is room for discussion and dialogue. i said that myself and my opening statement. we absolutely still believe there is time and space for that. frankly, the department of defense fully supports that as being the way forward. to be a solution that de-escalate tensions. it would be irresponsible, given the indications that we have, that there is no intent by the russians to de-escalate. given that it takes a matter of time to get units more ready to go on a shorter timeline, it would be a responsible if we do not think about making sure they had plenty of time to repair --
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prepare. that is all we are doing at this point. >> can you hear me? >> i gotcha. >> to activate some like this you probably need something like the air force in place. have you increased the number of tankers throughout europe? do you anticipate that there could be a bomber task force deployment in the near future? >> i refer you to ucom for things about bomber task force. i do not have anything to talk about that today. this is about placing units on a heightened alert. it does not mean they are jumping on great tales tomorrow and leaving. obviously, if there is a need for additional air transport we will deal that. transportation command is tracking these prepare to deploy
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orders and will be postured as appropriate support if needed. that is if needed. all we're doing at this point is placing units on a heightened alert posture. >> is nato -- in support of its eastern members as well as ukraine, is that support more complicated today because of general waters and ucom has prepared not one but several folder gaps? >> i'm gonna try repeating your question, i'm not sure i totally got it. are you talking about evacuation routes of americans leaving ukraine? >> can usually know? -- can you hear me now? let me repeat it. are the preparations by nato more complicated now to support it eastern members and ukraine,
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because unlike the cold where -- war where there was one full the gap there is no than one folder cap. >> without getting into historical comparison, it is usually not useful to go back into history and try to find exact comparisons. the actions that russia appears to be taking, to threaten its neighbor further, and to violate, potentially violate ukraine's territorial integrity certainly makes things more tense on the european continent a large. what i can tell you, is that we remain committed to the alliance, and we absolutely remain committed to bolstering the capability of nato's eastern flank to the degree that they desire. that extra support.
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it is not about, i do not think anybody wants to see another war on the european continent. there is no reason it has to occur. this can be solved very easily by the russians de-escalating, by moving some of these forces away. that they have not done. nato, as a defensive alliance, and it is a defensive alliance, has a responsibility to its members to make sure that they are able to defend themselves if needed. that is the spirit in which the secretary has made these early heightened alert decisions. >> a point of clarification, if nato is a defensive alliance and these troops, if they are activated, are defensive and therefore frontline nato states, how will this protect ukraine? how's a stop putin from going into ukraine? >> it is designed to reassure
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our nato allies. >> how does it protect ukraine? >> it sends a very clear signal to mr. pruden, that we take our responsibilities to nato very seriously. we are also working inside the international community to implement severe consequences for vladimir putin if you were to go into ukraine. those are largely economic consequences. i get where your question is, i am trying to be very clear. to get to barbara's question about what success looks like. we do not want to see another incursion into ukraine. we are using lots of levers to communicate why that would be a dad thing for russia to do. number 2, 9 insignificant number two, to make sure dado stays unified and our allies -- make
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sure nato stays unified. that is what this is about. >> is there a process by which this nato sponsor force is activated? is it a meeting, political decision, or is it a tactical know terry decision -- tactical military decision? >> it is a nadir decision. at -- nato decision. i assume it is one where all the allies are consulted and it is a political military thing. i think i better just refer you to nato on the specifics of it. about how they activate the nrf. i'm going to refer you to nato. >> two questions, one, what kind
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of action would spark an order to deploy? what would be seen that could lead to a deployment? >> as i've said, a vast majority of these troops that we have put on prepare to deploy our to support the nrf. nato response force. what would engender a and -- deployment order to them would be a decision by nato to activate the nrf. it is a nadir decision. -- nato decision. this is our contribution to the nato response force. i would prefer you speak to nato about how and what a decision is made in the circumstance they make it. our job is to make sure that if they do we are ready to go. >> you have said a couple of times that the russians show no signs of de-escalation.
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are they escalating? are they adding any more forces, equipment, from a week ago, from two weeks ago? has their presence on the border and large or change in a qualitative way that is escalatory? >> yes, it is gotten bigger. absolutely. >> any details any details? >> i would refer you to the russian defense. they have added more groups to the border and in belarus. not only have they shown no signs of de-escalating, they are adding more force capability. >> the nato response force, the assumption is that it could be activated in advance of innovation -- of an invasion?
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>> that is an alliance call. >> these troops could be called up and sent forward? >> i would refer you to brussels, that is a decision for them to make in the criteria for activating it is for them to speak to, not for us. i do not know the specifics, is an existing response force. when it was established, it was not established specifically for the purposes of russia invading crane again. i do not know if there is a specific limitation where can only be activated. that would be an alliance decision, that would be a discussion inside nato and the political leadership of nato. what we are trying to do is that if it is, whenever that is, it is ready to go.
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>> for the u.s. troops that might deploy, while they may get some kind of extra pay for deployment, can you find out for us whether or not they will get any kind of hazard pay i.e. combat pay since they're going into an -- a situation where they have clear hostile intent. >> i have no idea today. >> thank you. >> thank you for taking my question, thank you for doing this. you talked about troops being on high alert, what kinds of equipment is being ready to participate in the nrf, as nato builds a land, air, maritime force. does the department have any plans for industry to search production or equipment that is already approved for sale to european allies like the f-35 from finland?
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>> if you want military sales yet to talk to the state department. as for the kinds of, i guess you're asking about systems, as i said these are brigade combat teams, logistics personnel, medical aviation, aviation support, all the kinds of logistical sustainment support that would go to keep these forces in the field for an extended. of time. transportation. command-and-control capabilities , communication capabilities, as well as the systems themselves. i think a lot more specificity will be cleared once we can identify for you the units. we are just not able to do that today because unit notification is ongoing and i think you can understand you would not want them to find out from me on the podium that they are being put it out -- put on a shorter tether.
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we want to do out the right way. specific answers to your question will become a lot more clear. >> thank you very much are doing this, can you give an update on forces fighting with isis extending to a six-day? are they firing on and in gazing -- engaging with isis on the ground? is the pentagon reviewing its force posture in syria? what impact does the attempted ongoing crew there have with king move faso's military there? >> i am not aware of any impact right now, so let me just take that question. on coalition support for the syrian democratic forces,
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ongoing efforts to deal with this prison break, and i would refer you to oir for more detail. we have helped provide real-time surveillance during the event. we have conducted a series of strikes through this days long operation to include the precision targeting of isis fighters that are attacking. we have provided limited ground support, strategically positioned. putting bradley fighting vehicles across access points to help block as obstacles. there has limited -- there has been limited ground support. tony. >> two quick questions. are the 8500 a blend of active-duty and national guard were all national guard?
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o'er all that -- active-duty? >> the large portion is active-duty, tony. i cannot swear to you that there will not be reservist involved this -- in this as well. i will be clear once we can notify specific units. a vast majority will be active-duty. >> my apologies. >> how detailed a ground picture of russian forces along the ukraine does the pentagon at this point possess? is it possible the u.s. will know if in fact a invasion occurs in real time versus a bolt from the blue that catches
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everyone by surprise like pearl harbor? >> i would say we're watching it very closely. i -- we believe we have a pretty good sight picture of what they have there and what they continue to add both in terms of the western part of russia and belarus. we are watching this very closely and obviously, we are mindful of things that the russians could do that could potentially give us indications of some sort of eminent incursions. we are not there yet. we are watching for those indicators very closely. go ahead, louis. >> thanks, john. following up on what you said so far, no decisions have been made and the bulk of these forces are heading towards the nato rapid response force.
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are they mutually exclusive? can the president decides he wants these forces, now that they are on a shorter tether, to head to europe for some kind of unilateral purpose without having to await nato to even ring us up? -- bring this up? >> he is the commander in chief, he can make whatever force decisions you believe is most prudent. what he has decided, is that our commitment to nato, is paramount right now. that is why he approved secretary austen's recommendation that these additional units be put on a heightened alert. that is where we are right now, i will not speculate or hypothesize about future force deployment decisions the commander-in-chief might make. he has the purview to shape force posture decisions as he sees fits given the advice and
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recommendations he gets. i will take a couple of more. >> following up on a question from earlier. if you are talking about reinforcing nato's eastern front, the nato countries on russia's border, do they say they are threatened by russia's positioning ukraine that they need reinforcements? >> you would have to talk to each of those governments. we are in touch with them. by and large, i will not speak for other countries, they are equally concerned about what is russia -- what russia is doing. i would stress again. even in the event that we provide additional resources unilaterally, outside the nato response force, that is a possibility even from inside
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europe, it would be done with full consultation and coordination of a given ally partner nation. you do not just go walking into another country just for the sake of being there. it is a thing you do in coronation in consultation with them. to answer your question, in terms of whatever force deployments we might do, and might be at the request and support of a nation that did feel, for whatever >> sleep threo partner? >> it will not speak for other countries, but i believe they have spoken for themselves about the concerns that they have about teutons particularly aggressive moves here. we want to make sure one of the key criteria is here is we make it clear that we take the
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article five commitment to the nato very seriously. >> what effect does this decision have on the 8500 service members? are they stacking up gear, are they anticipating? >> you been notified today that some of these units are already just by nature of who they are and where they are on a shortened tether. you know that. what the secretary decided to do in many of these cases is shorten it even more. in some cases, 10 days you need to be ready to go to now five. it depends on the unit, but they will have to make whatever preparations they feel they need to make to be able to meet that a five day commitment. that does not mean that in five days from now they are going, it just means that they need to be
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ready to go in as little as five days if asked for. they will be doing all types of different things to get ready for that. they will depend on the unit. other is maintenance on vehicles and systems, whether it is getting some things pre-positioned and packaged up and ready to go. for forces involved, i am sure personal readiness that they need to do. that is another reason why i am not getting units today. the units are getting notified and we want to give them time to talk about this with their families so their families are ready for the potential. what is happening now is just getting them ready on a shorter tether. not all of the units are on such an advanced status and it will take them a little bit longer to get into a heightened alert posture. that is why we are doing it now
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so that they have ample time to prepare. today we are not talking about deployment orders. we have no deployment orders so far and i will >> on tuesday steny hoyer talks to politico about bidens legislative agenda and the 2022 midterm elections. watch live at 12:30 p.m. eastern on c-span, online at, or watch full coverage on our new video app c-span now. >> the small business administration inspector general testified on challenges facing the agency in the year ahead. the hearing runs two hours. [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its


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