PETER COOK: Hi,
everyone. Afternoon, everybody. Got a brief statement and then I'll
turn to your question.
This afternoon, Secretary Carter will be meeting with German
Minister of Defense Ursula von der Leyen to discuss the next steps in the
counter-ISIL coalition and other areas of cooperation between our two nations
and militaries. This meeting builds on the discussions the secretary and
the minister had last month in Brussels at the NATO and counter-ISIL
ministerials, as well as the meeting in Paris with several of our key allies in
the counter-ISIL fight.
Germany is a stalwart ally which has made important
contributions to the fight against ISIL, the effort to bolster NATO's eastern
and southern flanks and NATO's mission in Afghanistan. The secretary will
discuss many of these issues in detail with Minister von der Leyen and will
also thank her for her personal efforts to lobby for an increase in German
defense funding consistent with the commitment that all NATO members made in
Wales to commit at least 2 percent of GDP to defense.
We'll have a readout for you of this meeting when it wraps up
later on this afternoon.
And later today, the secretary will meet with President Obama
in the White House for a regularly scheduled meeting to discuss a range of
Department of Defense issues. And tomorrow, the secretary's going to
travel to Quantico to observe training exercises and meet with Marines at
And with that, I'm happy to take your questions.
Q: Peter, two things. One, is there Pentagon
reaction to Iran launching -- firing off several short- and medium-range
missiles which was announced by their official agency? And also, this
morning during the hearing on the Hill, the generals were asked about plans to
re-take and to hold Raqqah. And I believe it was General Votel who told
them that there is no plan to re-take Raqqah and no plan to hold Raqqah.
And I'm wondering if you can sort of explain the thinking on
this, because we've been hearing about sort of strategies all along.
MR. COOK: Yes, let me start first with Iran.
We are aware of and following closely the reports that Iran
has conducted ballistic missile tests. If these are in fact confirmed,
the United States does plan to raise these issues at the U.N. Security Council.
And so again, it highlights a continuing issue that we would have with
the Iranians and again, this is an issue of concern to us.
So -- but this is something that we'll evaluate along with our
colleagues at the Security Council and continue to assess exactly what --
what's taken place there.
We believe these -- we believe these tests are inconsistent
with U.N. Security Council resolutions.
Q: So you're saying the U.S. has not yet confirmed
whether or not they've taken place?
MR. COOK: We haven't confirmed all aspects of what's
taken place. We're looking closely at the situation. But again, if
confirmed that these tests were carried out, we believe this is, again,
inconsistent with U.N. Security Council resolutions.
And on your latter point, I didn't actually see the hearing
myself, because I was in a meeting today. So I'm not sure exactly what
the exchange was. But I think it's -- the secretary has made clear of our
intent and our strategic plan all along with regard to taking on ISIL is to
defeat ISIL and the parent tumor of ISIL in Iraq and Syria, and targeting
specifically Mosul in Iraq and Raqqah in Syria.
And that plan is crystal clear, and the strategic approach is
of course to support local forces on the ground to the extent we can. And
that is our approach, and the effort will be to isolate Raqqah specifically.
Now, while the exact specifics of that plan may not be ready for us to
walk through right now, certainly our strategic approach and our ultimate goal
to defeat ISIL in Raqqah and to collapse the power it has over that so-called
capital of their caliphate, will be abundantly clear over time.
Q: Well, should we interpret this as it's too soon to
develop a military plan? Or that the U.S. doesn't really have much say in
what this plan will be because it will be coordinated and done by the Syrians?
MR. COOK: Well, again, we're going to be counting on
local forces, but you can be sure that we'll be working closely in developing
that plan and moving forward with that plan. And the ultimate goal here
is not in doubt. And the ultimate goal is to remove ISIL not just from
Raqqah, but from Syria and from Iraq. And that plan is moving forward.
That campaign plan is being implemented as we speak.
And we feel confident that it's a question of when, not if,
they're removed from Raqqah.
Q: Does the Pentagon believe that those ballistic missiles
fired by Iran pose a threat to U.S. troops?
MR. COOK: Again, we're looking at this situation right
now, and if confirmed, we believe it is a violation -- it's inconsistent with
U.N. Security Council resolutions, and this highlights an area of concern for
us, Jennifer, and why even though there's the -- the nuclear deal, that there
are still issues on the table with regard to Iran that we remain very concerned
about and will continue to work with our partners to try and address those
malign activities – this being -- just one.
Q: But is it a threat to U.S. troops?
MR. COOK: Again, I'm not going to get into hypothetical
situations here, Jennifer. We see this --
Q: It's not hypothetical. They carried out a
ballistic missile test.
MR. COOK: We see this as inconsistent with their own
obligations within the U.N. Security Council, the resolutions that are on the
books, and so we consider this obviously something very serious that we're
taking seriously, and again, going to address it with our -- our colleagues at
the U.N. Security Council.
Q: And has the secretary presented to the president a
plan to target ISIS in Libya?
MR. COOK: Again, the secretary continues, with the rest
the national security team, to assess the ISIL threat in Libya and elsewhere
beyond Iraq and Syria, continues to talk with top military officials here,
including Chairman Dunford, about the options that are available to the United
States. We have been willing to strike ISIL in Libya and we demonstrated
that willingness and will continue to -- to, again, assess the options that are
available to us to try and deal with the metastasis of -- of ISIL in Libya and
anywhere else it -- it pops up. And those are consultations that the
secretary will continue to have with the president.
Q: Is the plan presented in the New York Times today, is
MR. COOK: Again, I'm not going to get into private
deliberations between the -- the secretary and the president of the United
States, but the secretary has made clear and I think he and the chairman did in
their briefing last week about their concerns about ISIL in Libya and elsewhere
and the steps that the United States is willing to take to try and address that
Q: General Votel today said that if a high-value target
is captured on the battlefield, one who would require long-term attention, he
doesn't actually know where that value target would be kept for interrogation
because of a lack of policy. Could you talk to us a little bit about what
happens if another high-value target is captured? Will it be turned over
to Iraq? Since they're not going to Gitmo, where would they go?
MR. COOK: Tara, I'm not going to talk -- let me talk in
-- in broad terms, here. We've said previously that if there are people captured
on the battlefield, that there would be every expectation that they would be a
short-term detention. We'd work with the local authorities in those
circumstances and people will be evaluated on a -- on a case-by-case basis.
But that would be the expectation at this time.
Q: But General Votel was asked specifically about a
long-term detention where someone has to be kept for intelligence gathering
purposes or there's no better option of what to do with them. What --
what is the option for the U.S. at that point?
MR. COOK: So again, just getting back to -- if you want
to refer back to what we've talked about with regard to the plan to responsibly
close Guantanamo Bay, we've always said that any future detainees would be
evaluated on a case-by-case basis at that point. And there are options
available beyond Guantanamo Bay, but I'm not going to get into hypotheticals
And again, I think the -- the larger message -- and again, I
didn't hear that exchange with -- with General Votel, but we've said that the
expectation would be that if there are any detainments in, for example, the
ISIL fight that they would be of a short-term nature.
And we have one recent example with regard to Umm Sayyaf and
what happened in that instance. And we would expect that that would be
consistent with what would happen in other cases.
But again, they'll be evaluated on a case-by-case basis and
that's consistent with what we outlined when we release the plan to responsibly
close Guantanamo Bay.
Q: General Austin said that the report on the detention
of the U.S. sailors by Iran has been completed and that Admiral Richardson has
it. Is that report going to be released publicly? And can you give
us any update on what they're looking at in that report?
MR. COOK: My understanding is that this review -- this
report is still under review by the Navy. The Navy specifically -- this
is a Navy command investigation. They haven't -- it will be up to the
Navy to determine the release for that. So I'll ask you to check with the
Navy, but I expect people will have -- we'll eventually be able to get details
from that report to the extent possible.
But again, this is a Navy review that's still underway.
My understanding it has not yet been finalized. And so I'll send you
to the Navy for the most up-to-date information on where that stands
particularly with regard to the CNO's handling of it.
Q: Thank you, Peter.
On Somalia. The strike, now that we've had an additional
-- that you guys have had an additional 24 hours, is the number still about 150
fighters that has been estimated killed in the strike? And also, there
have been some reports that commanders -- Al-Shabaab commanders were at that
ceremony. It appeared to be a graduation ceremony. Can the United
States military confirm that there were any high-level commanders at this
MR. COOK: I'm not able right now to provide more details
on the exact final assessment of this. I'll say that this was, we
believe, a very successful strike and a strike that's going to have a direct
impact on Al-Shabaab and the ability of that group to pose a threat not only to
AMISOM forces, but to United States forces as well in Somalia.
But we believe it was a very successful strike.
Q: Thank you, Peter.
(inaudible) -- finally -- (inaudible) -- talks continues in
South Korea. What is the -- (inaudible) -- you have?
MR. COOK: I don't have any additional information on the
talks themselves. I can take that question and try and find out if
there's an update for you. You know, obviously, the nature of those talks
that are underway between our ally, South Korea, and the United States.
Q: So North Korea continues to threaten preemptive
strike against Washington and Seoul. What is the U.S. preemptive strike
operation plan-- (inaudible)? Is this contingent -- (inaudible) -- using
operation -- (inaudible) -- North Korea?
MR. COOK: I'm not going to discuss contingency or
operational plans here. Obviously, we have -- maintain our commitment to
South Korea, our iron-clad commitment to the South Koreans. We've
demonstrated that. We've got exercises ongoing right now with South
Korea. So I think that's testimony to the kind of -- the kind of
commitment we have to South Korea and its security and its defense. And
so I'm not going to get into operational plans specifically.
Yes, very loud in the back. Joe?
Q: Thank you.
Back to Libya. Do you know if the secretary has
submitted a plan for the president in order to widen the operations against
ISIL in Libya, to target -- target mainly 30 to 40 camps in that country?
MR. COOK: So, Joe, again, I'm not going to -- somebody
asked a question -- I'm not going to get into discussions that the president
and the secretary may be having. I'm just going to reiterate what the
secretary has said to you all previously, in that the United States -- the
Department of Defense continues to watch the situation in Libya very closely;
watch the metastasis of ISIL in Libya.
We believe that the ISIL in Libya does pose a threat that
merits significant scrutiny by the United States. We have demonstrated a
willingness to take out ISIL leadership in Libya.
We'll continue to -- to watch the situation very carefully,
and as the secretary and the -- and the chairman said here previously, this --
this metastasis in ISIL and elsewhere is part of our campaign against ISIL.
It is not just Iraq and Syria, and we're going to continue to consider all
options necessary to be able to address that threat and we've demonstrated that
previously. We'll do so in the future.
Q: Could you confirm the New York Times number that ISIL
numbers in Libya are around 6500 militants?
MR. COOK: I -- I'm not going to confirm that number.
I think we've had different numbers previously. If I recall, there
was number 5000. I mean, I can take that question, see if we have an
update, but I'm not going to confirm the number that -- that you read in the
MR. COOK: My recollection is just a few weeks ago, that
that was a public number that we discussed. So let me take that question,
see if we can give you an update, but that's -- my understanding was the -- the
number was around 5000.
MR. COOK: Yes.
Q: In the past, you said that you'll take questions and
we haven't gotten an answer. A few weeks ago, you said you would tell us
ISIS strikes in Afghanistan. We haven't gotten that. So when you
say you're going to take the question, can you give a sense of when we can
expect an answer on some of the -- if I could finish, please -- on past
questions that were asked for and on Joe's question on Libya, because we've had
a problem --
MR. COOK: We'll -- we'll try --
Q: -- getting answers to those questions.
MR. COOK: We'll try and get an answer for you as quickly
as we can.
Q: But on the specific one on Afghanistan and Libya, can
you give us a sense on when we could expect that answer?
MR. COOK: We'll try and get an answer for you as quickly
as we can. Okay?
Q: From -- (inaudible) – French (inaudible) television,
we have some reports with what happened in Somalia, that some French military
work with you on this operation. Could you confirm that?
MR. COOK: I'm not going to get into anything beyond what
we've said already publicly about this strike, and again, what we believe to be
a successful strike against an al-Shabaab unit in a training facility that we
think posed a threat, again, to -- to forces in the region, including U.S.
Q: Are you concerned about what happened in Tunisia
yesterday with some people coming from Libya going to Tunisia?
(inaudible) -- to the French that were from ISIL?
MR. COOK: As I mentioned previously, we worry about
ISIL's spread throughout the world, and whether it's in Libya or posing a
threat to Tunisia, of course we're -- we're concerned by that. And we'll
want to carefully monitor exactly where ISIL spreads.
Q: Last question, Lisa Monaco this week in New York
declared a report was going to be released about the number of civilians killed
by drones. What do you have to say about that?
MR. COOK: I'll let Lisa Monaco's comments speak for
itself. I think she spoke yesterday. I think the White House has
addressed this as well. And obviously, this is a decision coming from the
White House and we -- we support that decision, so.
Q: Peter, last month at the Economic Club, the secretary
said that we're running low on some of the munitions that are used against ISIL
the most and that he was requesting more money in the -- in the budget request
for this munitions. But that money wouldn't be available until next
fiscal year, and so I'm wondering if -- if there will be any need for either
reprogramming a request or a request for emergency appropriations to -- to get
MR. COOK: Austin, I'm not aware of any request at this
particular moment in time for reprogramming and that -- the situation, as I
understand it, no need at this -- at this point for -- for funds to be
redirected, but obviously, this is a situation we'll watch carefully, and if
that changes, we'll work with Congress and try make those -- those adjustments.
But I'm not aware of any request at this moment right now.
Q: Let me review the bidding on North Korea a second.
There's been the threats, new rhetoric. What is the latest DOD
assessment on their capability to miniaturize a warhead, integrate a warhead,
and fire an ICBM at the United States?
MR. COOK: Tony, our position has not changed. The
United States has not seen North Korea demonstrate a capability to miniaturize
a warhead. And again, with regard to the ballistic missile threat, we
still feel confident that we can deter and respond to a -- to a missile threat
from North Korea. Nothing has changed.
Q: Nothing has changed. The rhetoric has heated
up, but your assessment hasn't changed.
MR. COOK: Our assessment has not changed.
Q: (inaudible) -- demonstrated a capability to mate a
miniature warhead on an ICBM that could hit some part of the United States?
MR. COOK: Again, Tony, our position has not changed.
And -- but neither has our planning for that threat. We continue to
do everything we need to do, working with our allies and partners in the
region, to respond to the North Korea threat and to be prepared for -- for any
And as a result of that, you continue to see their operations.
We're doing joint exercises with the South Koreans. We've continued
to maintain our posture in the region and remain confident in our capabilities
to be able to respond to the North Korea threat.
Q: But the North Korea threat, it is fair to say that
you consider it saber-rattling, since they don't have an operative nuclear
missile that could hit the United States?
MR. COOK: We see what they're doing in North Korea, and
the rhetoric, and we see that it's not certainly enhancing stability on the
Q: I want to shift to California one second. They
MR. COOK: They're different places.
Q: Yes, not to hit it, but to ask about it.
The secretary was out there last week, again, talking to
Silicon Valley on the DIUx initiative that he's so hot on. Did he get any
blowback from Silicon Valley entrepreneurs expressing concern about the FBI's
pressuring of Apple on the phone episode instilling fear or doubt in them that
they should not get involved with the Pentagon while that's going on, while the
FBI issue is going on?
Was there some blowback that he's heard?
MR. COOK: I think the secretary addressed this publicly
at RSA. And has spoken about this at length. And I think the
secretary is, you know, keenly aware that there have been challenges in the
relationship between Washington, the government, and the technology community.
And the secretary feels like one of the things he can do as secretary, as
someone who has a technology background, is to break down some of those
barriers, talk directly with some of the people in the technology community.
And particularly talk about our mission here at the Department
of Defense, and how the technology community has played an integral part in the
defense of this nation and can do so going forward as well. And so, as
opposed to blowback, I think what the secretary heard in the engagements he had
out there he felt were positive. And reinforced the notion that the
technology community and the Department of Defense and the federal government
overall have a common interest in the national security of the United States.
Q: (inaudible) -- about the South China Sea. And
besides sending warships to the South China Sea, what else can the U.S. do to
resolving the -- for resolving the problem?
MR. COOK: Well, I think the United States continues to
do a lot of things. And one thing is to continue to provide a pillar of
stability in that part of the world with our presence, with our alliances and
partnerships in the region. This is an area of significant importance to
the United States, given the economic flow through that part of the world;
given our, again, alliances and friendships in the region.
And we'll continue to play an active role in the region, and
looking out, again, for not only U.S. interests, but the interests of our -- of
our allies and partners in that part of the world. And I think those
engagements are just one of the things you can expect going forward -- more
engagement between the United States and other countries in the region.
Q: Any comment on the new Chinese military budget?
MR. COOK: No. Let me move over here.
Yes? Sorry. Gary, how are you?
General Austin, this morning, said that he submitted a request
for additional capability for Iraq and Syria. He wouldn't say what it
was, but he said it would allow him to do more intelligence gathering on the
ground, it would allow more train and assist training on the ground and it --
he also talked about -- it would allow him to do extra special ops operations
there. Has the secretary of defense received that request yet? What
does he think of it? And when will we learn about it?
MR. COOK: The secretary, of course, is in active
conversation with -- with Lloyd Austin and with his CENTCOM commanders and the
commanders in the field, and they are talking all the time, Gary, about what
might be needed to further accelerate this campaign. And that's an ongoing
conversation that the secretary is having with his commanders, including
General Austin and --
MR. COOK: Yes, there have been specific discussions
about what might be needed to further accelerate the campaign. The
secretary has talked about this. We're looking for opportunities to try
and speed this campaign up, working with our coalition partners, working with
local forces on the ground and so he's had those conversations with General
Austin and will continue to have those conversations.
Q: Was a top ISIS operative killed in Syria a few days
ago? There's some reporting out on that right now.
MR. COOK: Lucas, I don't have anything. If we have
an announcement with regard to our airstrikes and our targeting of particular
individuals, we'll let you know.
Q: And follow-up to Tony's question on North Korea, is
the Pentagon confident that if North Korea were to launch a ballistic missile
of any kind that the U.S. military could successfully knock it out of the sky?
MR. COOK: Yes. Over here.
Q: General Austin today during a hearing at the Senate
said also that some YPG groups are in cooperation with Russia and he also said
that those groups are also attacking -- have attacked certain U.S.-backed
opposition groups. We know that the U.S. is also supporting certain
factions of YPG in the northeast and even as a part of SDF, the U.S. special
forces are advising and assisting there.
To what extent you are concerned that this group is playing
between two powers, that's Russia and the United States, to make certain
political and strategic gain in northern Syria?
MR. COOK: I mean, I -- I think I'll echo -- I didn't see
General Austin's comments, but obviously, we would -- we would have concerns
about that collaboration with the Russians if it was doing harm to forces on
the ground that are taking the fight to -- to ISIL. We continue to -- to
support local, capable forces in Syria that are willing and share our interest
in destroying ISIL. And so we're going to continue to support those
groups -- those vetted groups that -- that we find can make a contribution to
So again, I -- I didn't hear exactly what General Austin said,
but it's consistent with our -- with our view from here at the Pentagon that we
would have concerns about that. Again, our focus is on defeating ISIL and
supporting those groups on the ground that are -- have demonstrated a
capability and a willingness to do so.
Q: So, I just want to be clear on the existing policy.
So, if there was a high-value operative that was picked up, say, a
Baghdadi for instance, or a Zawahiri, they would be held for a short period of
time, and then turned over to what would be the Iraqi government?
MR. COOK: Bill, I'm going to, again, I'm not going to
talk in hypotheticals right here. But we have said that if there are
detainees picked up in the ISIL fight, that the expectation would be that there
would be short-term detentions. We've had previous incidents of this.
And they would be handled -- turned over to the appropriate Iraqi
We've also said with regard to the closure of -- the
responsible closure of the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, that people
would be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. And so, that's where we are
right now; that there are options beyond Guantanamo Bay should that plan move
Q: But you're not -- you're not going to be able to talk
about those options?
MR. COOK: I'm not going to talk about hypothetical
situations. So, be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.
Q: Okay. One last thing.
MR. COOK: Yes?
Q: On the Somali strike yesterday. Imminent threat
was in there, I believe. And I was wondering if there was a specific
attack that perhaps, you know, was picked up? Was there anybody, you
know, at risk in the immediate area?
MR. COOK: Again, I'll go back to what I said earlier,
that we're confident that there was -- those forces posed an threat not only to
AMISOM forces in the region, which have come under attack from Al-Shabaab a
number of times in recent weeks, but also U.S. forces in the region working
And so we do believe there was a direct threat. And we
believe that this strike has been successful in reducing that threat.
Q: So, is it one of those things where there were 150
bad guys and they're probably going to do bad things? Or was it, like,
they're going to attack, you know --
MR. COOK: I'm not going to get into intelligence matters
from here. But again, we feel confident that there was a -- that this has
reduced a direct threat not only to AMISOM forces, but to U.S. forces in
Yes, over here?
Q: On the U.S.-Korean exercises?
MR. COOK: Mm-hmm.
Q: What are the point of those exercises -- the current
exercises that are ongoing between South Korea and the U.S.?
MR. COOK: These are annual exercises. And they are
meant to bolster our coordination and the security of South Korea; and to
demonstrate our ability to work together and to coordinate together. These
have happened in the past, and were scheduled for this time right now.
Q: Is there any difference between this year's exercise
and past years?
MR. COOK: They are consistent with what we've done in
the past. They are not a particular reaction, if you will, to the most
recent North Korea activities. But they, again, demonstrate our ability
to work directly with the South Koreans in the defense of South Korea.
And I think at this particular moment in time, again, they're a tangible
demonstration of the strength of our alliance, our ability to work together,
our ability to coordinate together.
And it should send a message to others that -- that we stand
by our South Korean allies and we do it -- and we practice -- it's not just
words. We actually actively work together with the South Koreans to make
Q: Could you confirm that more forces are involved this
MR. COOK: I'm not sure what the comparison is to years
past, but there are several thousands U.S. forces involved in these exercises
and I think that's consistent with where we've been in the past. I don't
have an exact head count difference. But again, this is an annual --
these are annual exercises that have happened previously. But again, at
this particular moment in time, they should once again show our resolve to
stand by our South Korean allies.
Q: Circling back to the China defense budget. If
my understanding is right, this building has continued to express concern about
the lack of transparency with the Chinese military budget, but just a few
moments ago, you said that there's no comment -- (inaudible). So, does
your no comment reflect a change of view?
MR. COOK: No. You're asking me about budget
numbers or the Chinese budget numbers. We have I think in the past
expressed our concerns about some aspects of the Chinese military and what
they're spending that money on. We're concerned about the militarization,
obviously, we're seeing in the South China Sea.
So -- but in terms of the specific dollar amounts, we have our
own budget to worry about here at this present moment. So, with regard to
that question before -- in terms of the dollar amounts, things like that -- as
you said, there isn't a tremendous amount of transparency so there's only so much
that we can say about that -- that budget.
But we have concerns about, again, China's activities and --
and its actions as much as we do about the budget itself, maybe more so.
All right. I've tired you all out. Back to the --
MR. COOK: This -- someone who hasn't had a question.
Q: I understand there's a big concern in the White House
because the spreading of Zika in Puerto Rico. Is there any specific
things that maybe DOD is going to do to support -- control this disease?
MR. COOK: Yes, we've already been asked by the White
House to offer our support to Health and Human Services, which is taking the
lead obviously in this country. Specifically, we've had research into
Zika in the past that we've been willing to share. And of course, we're
doing everything we can with regard to U.S. service members who could be in
areas that have been exposed to the Zika virus, making sure that they've got
all the protective measures in place that they need to try and protect
But beyond that, again, that's something we've been asked by
the White House to do, which we're happy to do. Those are the appropriate
steps for us to take at this point, but nothing's changed that I'm aware of.
Q: But are there any plans to deploy maybe brigades, medical
brigades to help control the (inaudible) or access the situation?
MR. COOK: Nothing that I'm aware of at this particular
moment in time. But obviously, if that changes, we'll let you know.
Yes, I'll come here, and then back to Tony.
Q: It's a question that the French people have at this
moment in their mind. What does the president think of the possibility of
Donald Trump becoming commander in chief?
MR. COOK: I think you've heard the secretary say that
the one place you won't hear the Department of Defense in this election year is
talking about presidential politics. And I think I'll take my cue from my
boss and not discuss the presidential race from this podium.
Q: Hard to trump that question.
MR. COOK: Nice, nice.
Q: All right. The services have compiled their
annual wish lists of if we had all the money in the world, this is what we'd
like to buy. The Marines have sent theirs up. The other services
are sending those up. Has the secretary actually reviewed them?
Does he have a view? And will he have his own list of what not to
fund going up to the Hill? Or his own view of it, his reaction?
MR. COOK: Tony, I am actually not 100 percent familiar
if he's been able to see each and every one of those lists.
I know that these were lists that were provided I think before
they were even shared with the secretary. I think the point to be made
here is that the secretary has presented a budget within the confines of the
budget agreement. It is a budget that he feels can carry out the
necessary priorities and needs of this department in preserving the national
security of the United States, within the confines of that budget, working very
carefully on the shape of that budget since we couldn't alter the size.
I think he's detailed at multiple locations already, including
up on Capitol Hill, why he's made the decisions he has, why he had to make
certain tough choices with regard to investments.
And so I think the secretary is going to be speaking to
Capitol Hill and members of Congress about the budget we presented and
defending the budget we presented, as opposed to a wish list of things that --
that we can't afford at this particular moment in time. He's had to make
difficult choices working with the services and I think he feels confident that
the budget he's put forward represents that best balance of those difficult
Q: (Inaudible) going to push back, though, on some of
these -- I mean, the Air Force cut five F-35s from their '17 budget, but on
their wish list, they put them back on there. So that's hardly a tough
MR. COOK: So again, Tony, the -- the document that is
most relevant is the budget plan that the -- that the secretary submitted to
Capitol Hill. That will be the document that drives our discussions with
members of Congress. And again, Congress has a say in this as well.
This is a conversation that the secretary's is looking forward to having
Okay. Thanks, everyone.