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tv   Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Milley Defense Secretary Esper Hold Pentagon...  CSPAN  October 28, 2019 2:10pm-2:31pm EDT

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>> good afternoon, everyone. as president trump announced yesterday, u.s. special forces conducted a raid saturday night resulting in the death of abu balker al-baghdadi, the lead over isis. this was the culmination of a multiyear effort to find him, capture and kill him. baghdadi and the thugs who follow him are responsible for some of the most brutal attack os our time. isis is now deprived of their inspirational leader following the fall of their physical caliphate earlier this year. i want to thank our brave servicemens who took part in this raid along with those who support ofed the mission therest that guarantee of success in an operation with this level of difficulty and president trump knew this when he made the difficult decision to order this
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raid, confident in the expertise of our forces. our servicemens conducted themselves with incredible skill and professionalism and executed the raid in all its facets brilliantly. not a single united states servicemen was killed in this high-risk operation. despite baghdadi's death, the security situation in syria remains complex. multiple state and non-state actors continue to vie for control of territory and resources within the country. as we have learned from our recent history in the middle east, it is very easy to get drawn into continued conflict if our objectives are not clear. acting as a police force-out to solve every dispute is not our mission. our mission in syria today remains the same as it was when we first began operations in 2014. to enable the enduring defeat of isis. our rerecent repositioning of forces within the country is intended to posture us to continue this mission and give the president options while returning the balance back home
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to the united states. those who remain will continue to execute counterterrorism operations while staying in close contact with the syrian democratic force who was fought alongside us. additionally, the united states will retain control of oilfields in northeast syria. t the height of baghdadi's reign, these provided isis with the bulge of resources used to fund its terror. u.s. forces will remain positioned in this strategic area to deny isis access to those vital resources and we'll respond with overwhelming military force against any group that fleten this is esafety of our forces there. these oilfields also provide a critical source of funding to the s.d.f. which enables their ability to secure isis prison camps and conduct operations against isis, among other things. last week i was in brussels for the nato defense meeting and i spoke with allies about the situation in sir yasm i reiterated our commitment to the
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defeast isis and called on other nations who have much at stake to offer their support to help mitigate the ongoing security crisis. turkey continues to bear responsibility for the consequences of their unwarranted incursion which brought further instability to the region. a number of allies have expressed their desire to help with the implementation of a safe zone along the syria-turkey border. the united states remained focused on our core mission and continued to work closely with the defeat icisco ligs as we implement the next phase of the campaign. baghdadi's death will not rid the world of terrorism or end the ongoing conflict in sir yasm but it will certainly send a message to those who would question america's resolve and provide a warning to terrorists who think they can hide. the united states, more than any other nation in the world, possesses the power and the will to hunt to the ends of the earth those who wish to bring harm upon the american people. saturday's operation is just one example of the incredible to
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determination and great skill of the united states military. i'll now ask the general to provide military detinals the operation. >> good afternoon, as the secretary stated, united states special operations forces under the congressman and control of united states scral command, general frank mckenzie, conducted a counterterrorism operation which resulted in the death of the founder of isis, al-baghdadi. the target location was identified near the turkish border. in order to reduce the risk to u.s. forces and prevent miscalculation and escalation, an action consistent with operations in the past we coordinated with appropriate militaries and other organizations in the region to establish decon flix mechanisms. during the mission, u.s. forces were infiltrated by helicopter
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and once on the optive secured the target compound. the assault force was engaged in small arms fire and the threats were quickly eliminated. our forces isolated the compound and protected noncombatants. while cheering -- clearing the objective, u.s. forces discovered al-baghdadi in a tunnel, they closed in and it ended when he debt nailted a suicide vest. he was remains were transported to a secure facility to confirm his identity with d.n.a. testing and the disposal of remains has been done, is complete, and was handled appropriately. the success of the complex operation is an incredible testament to the professionalism of the men and women of the joint force and their courage and bravery. they put themselves in harm's way time and time again to protect our great country . the secretary and i will now take questions. reporter: mr. secretary, you mentioned the oilfields and securing the oilfields in the
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east in syria. as the deployment of reinforcemented you announced last week begun? could you describe more fully what you intend to do there? >> we have begun deploying and repositioning additional assets into the vicinity. as i said, it includes mechanized and other forces. that will continue until we believe we have sufficient capability to ensure isis and other destabilizing actors are denied access to that oil facility. >> have you had any indications of any challenges to your presence there? >> not at this time. reporter: do you have video of baghdadi's final moments and also are you partnering with the kurds again on the ground? can you explain how difficult this appropriation would have been if you didn't have troops or bases on the ground in syria and iraq? >> we do have video and photo, we're not prepared to relose those. they're going through a declassification process.
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what you'll see in coming day, we'll set up operational and tactical level briefings by central command and you'll be provided video and photos of that >> how difficult would it have been to carry out this operation if you didn't have troons the ground? >> from an operational standpoint, the united states military can strike any target, anywhere, any time. >> i was going to say the same thing. we have incredible reach. we can strike anybody, any time, anywhere. the terrorists should be aware of that they should have seen that thousand after us doing this multiple times. and with regard to your question regarding the s.d.f., we stay in continuous contact with them. reporter: i wonder if you could clarify, first, what was used to destroy the compound? what kind of ordinance was used to destroy the compound. also you mentioned you have video, do you have video from inside the tunnel itself and were you able to get that because they were wearing video or did you have something else? and one more.
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he name of the canine, please. >> so ordinance used, multiple d.b.u.'s, lude the hellfires and many others. we used a variety of munitions. the bombs were used at the tail end in order to destroy the compound which you saw on various videos. your second question about the video, i'm not going to classify the video, what we do have and don't have at this time. i've seen a lot, i'll wait until everything is appropriately declassified in the coming days and we'll make sure you're provided that. we're not releasing the name of the dog right now. the dog is still in theater. the dog, the military working dog, performed a tremendous service as they all do in a variety of situations. slightly wounded. fully recovering.
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but the dog is still in theater, returned to duty. we're not going to release just yet foers to names of dogs or anything else. protecting the dog's identity. >> was he buried at sea? > his remains were disposed of appropriately in accordance with our s.: o.p.'s. >> was this dag gaw -- baghdadi's headquarters or was he just passing through? and was his headquarters, how much material did you take away? >> there was material taking away. i don't want to characterize exactly what or how much yet until it gets exploited properly of as a matter of course we always do sensitive site exploitation on any objective anywhere. as to whether it's his headquarters, it's an area in which he was stayingen a consistent basis. reporter: what about prisoners? you took some, how many and
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whose custody are they in now? >> they're in our custody in a secure facility. >> can you tell us how many? >> there were two adult males taken off the objective alive. they're in our custody. >> thank you for your time today. i wanted to look at the who's next -- what's next aspect. the president alluded to materials being collected from the site itself. can you in any way elaborate on what's een collected, happening now? >> that information needs to be exploited properly for followup missions. >> and we'll continue the mission. the mission is to ensure the endure degree feet of isis in the region, that's our mission. >> followup, please. we've seen reporting that this raid launched from al-assad, from erbil, can you clarify?
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we won't discuss the location from where it took place, it took place from somewhere in the region. >> back to the question on the lfields and military role in oil field mission if i may. you're going to protect them again and keep control against isis and other potential adversaries. do your -- does it include the possibility in your view that u.s. troops are prepared to deny access to the oilfields to either russian or syrian forces? is that part of your mission to specifically deny them access? and my follow-on to that is how do you know when you -- what do you need to see to know you're done with the oil field mission? presumably you're not keeping troop there is absolutely forever. how do you know when you're done? what do you need to see?
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>> the question you're asking is about purpose and end state and then the ways would be the military question. i'm going to punt over to the secretary specifically for that. but the military task we have been given is to secure, continue to secure the area along the triborder area we'll continue to do that and secure the conoco oilfields around the area. that's in the vicinity of the valley that you're familiar. with the fundamental purpose of securing those oilfields is to deny them access to isis in order to prevent isis from resurgence because we are still committed to the counterisis campaign and we don't want them to resurge. they get a lot of revenues from that but i'll let the secretary talk about that >> specific question is within what you want to do in the oilfields does that include denying access, preventing russian or syrian forces which
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now change the battle span? >> the short answer is yes it presently does. in that case we want to make sure s.d.f. does have access to resources in order to guard the prisons, in order to arm their own troops, in order to assist us with the defeat isis mission. so that's our mission is to secure the oilfields. >> you just said you'd deny russia and the regime. >> general, president trump described yesterday, baghdadi whimpering and crying before he died. can you elaborate or confirm those details. >> the secretary was asked the same question yesterday. i know the president had planned to talk dun to the unit and unit members but i don't know what the source of that was. i assume it was talking directly to unit members. >> you haven't talked to any unit members who described that to you? >> i have not talked to unit members, no, that's correct. i talked to the commander of sent come duh but not down to the unit members.
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>> last question. >> the s.d.f. commander said there was an s.d.f. member that was part of this raid. he's talked about the intelligence that the s.d.f. provided put aing a person inside with isis. can you confirm those details on your end? also on the oilfields can you talk about the overall picture in syria now after the last couple of weeks, putting more people in to protect oil fields are there going to be more troops in syria than there were before? >> i'll take the second question first and let the chairman answer the first one. look, we're, as i said, we're reinforcing our position at car-azr, that area. we were given the earlier directive to retain forces at the garrison. at the end of the day we'll be sending troops home. the president made a commitment to do that. in the meantime we'll reinforce and make some other moves to ensure that we can accomplish that mission of securing the oilfields in order to deny access to isis.
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>> so there'll be more going in than coming out? >> at the end of the day my expectation is that it'll be fewer than what we had before and they'll be going home. >> remind me of the first question? >> the s.d.f. commanders. >> this was a u.s.-only operation for personnel that were on the objective. i know what you're referring to, there was a comment in the media that the s.d.f. had soldiers or troops or one person or something on the objective with our forces. i'm not going to comment on what may or may not have happened with the s.d.f. on the objective. the actions on the objective. the aircraft coming. in aircraft overhead. soldiers conducting assault was a u.s.-only operation. >> thanks, guys. [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2019] [captioning performed by the
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