John F. Kirby, Assistant to the Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs, held a press conference on 26 April. The full transcript is here, and key messages included:
- Expressed the Department’s condolences for the Indonesian Navy’s loss of 53 sailors aboard the KRI Nanggala-402 submarine in the Bali Straits.
- Expressed the commitment of the Department of Defense, expressed in Secretary Austin’s statement of yesterday, to assist India in its effort to combat coronavirus. DoD is working with other U.S. Department and Agencies to deploy testing, oxygen, PPE, and other equipment to support India’s front line health care workers. The US will work with other, like-minded allies and intends to make delivery of supplies within the next few days.
- Secretary Austin will be meeting with combatant commanders this week to understand their capabilities and challenges. This includes meeting with the Cyber Command, NSA, Space Command, and INDOPACOM, and the Strategic Command.
- Following a thorough U.S. Government safety review, it has been determined that the pause in the use of the Johnson & Johnson Covid vaccine should be lifted. DoD has 100,000 doses at OCONUS sites and use of these doses are resuming with recipients briefed accordingly.
- Continued U.S. support to Afghanistan forces will be primarily financially based. This will include supporting contractual requirements on maintenance. There will likely be an increase of US posture in Afghanistan to support a safe and orderly withdraw of U.S. forces.
- The U.S. has seen the departure of some Russian troops off the border wth Ukraine, but it is too soon to tell and take at face value Russian claims.
- The Pentagon does not expect a decay in the U.S.-Turkey security relationship base on President Biden’s comments over the weekend. Turkey is an important NATO ally. We continue have lots of opportunities to work at that relationship.