Pentagon briefing notes Dec. 8, 2015

Pentagon briefing notes Dec. 8, 2015

By Loree Lewis   

Pentagon press secretary Peter Cook briefed reporters. He said that a claim by the Syrian government that U.S.-led coalition aircraft bombed a Syrian government base is "completely false."

NOTE: IS, ISIS, ISIL and DAESH all refer to the Islamic State militant group.

Syrian Regime allegations that Coalition aircraft hit Regime post

Cook reiterates that a claim by the Syrian government under Bashar al-Assad that U.S.-led coalition aircraft bombed a Syrian government base is “completely false.” He said there were no coalition strikes near the base in Ayy­ash, “and the closest coalition airstrike on Dec. 6 was approximately 59 km southeast of Ayy­ash against ISIL controlled oil wellheads.”

“The coalition maintains exacting procedures and strict protocols to be precise in it’s airstrikes against ISIL. Bottom line, we know what we hit and a coalition airstrike did not hit that target.”

Omnibus spending bill, the continuing resolution that is funding the federal government is set to expire Dec. 11

Defense Secretary Ash Carter called Congress to pass a 2016 government spending bill before this upcoming Friday deadline instead of a short term spending bill.

“At a time when our security environment demands a dynamic and agile military, it is vital that negotiations on Capitol Hill arrive at an agreement to fund all of government for the remainder of the fiscal year, consistent with the funding levels set in the budget agreement achieved earlier this year,” Carter said in a statement.

“Further delaying such funding will do real harm. As I have said before, a continuing resolution is a straitjacket for the Department of Defense,” said Carter. “It prevents us from fielding a modern, ready force in a balanced way, while embracing reform to ensure that every taxpayer dollar is well spent.

“It harms our ability to ensure the lasting defeat of ISIL and to confront the many complex national security challenges around the world. Failure to act sends the wrong message to our troops, our allies and our enemies,” Carter said.

Russian airstrikes in Syria Dec. 8

Reports published quote Russia’s Defense Minister as saying Russia launched missiles from Submarines in the Mediterranean and carried out airstrikes in Syria.

The U.S. “did get notification” of these actions through a back up communication channel laid out in the airspace deconfliction memorandum of understanding agreed to by the U.S. and Russia. This channel, per the MOU, is meant to deconflict aircraft, but the Russians used to for this notification in this instance because it is a reliable way to contact the U.S.-led coalition, cook said. Cook said Russians told them the strikes would come from “bomber aircraft and cruise missile.” Cook will “not characterize” how the cruise missile was launched, refusing to confirm or deny if the missiles came from a submarine.

Muslims in the armed services

There are “certainly” Muslim citizens serving the the U.S. armed services. Cook said he is not aware of “any particular” sensitivity training, considering ongoing inflammatory rhetoric occupying the political sphere.

“The Untied States doesn’t have any issue, and certainly the Department of Defense, anything that creates tensions and creates the notion that the United States is at odds with the Muslim faith and Islam would be counter productive to our efforts right now, and totally contrary to our values.”

“We are partnering right now with Muslim nations, we have troops serving that follow the Muslim faith. Without wading into politics, again, anything that tries to bolster the ISIL narrative that the United States is somehow at war with Islam is contrary to our values and contrary to our national security.”

Iranian ballistic missile test Nov. 21

Following reports that Iran carried out a medium range ballistic missile test near Chabahar, violating UN security council resolutions, Cook said the DoD is “aware of the reports.”

“We’re conducting a serious review of the reported incident, but don’t have more details to share specifically at this time.”

U.S. building new airbase in Iraqi Kurdistan?

Kurdish Daily News reported that “the U.S. preparing an airbase in northeastern Syria as a conduit of supplies for the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) coalition fighting ISIL.”

Cook said that he would not discuss the anything to do with U.S. special forces “that might jeopardize their operational security.”

U.S. sent more weapons to the Kurds?

Cook said he would “not get into further deliveries of ammunition at this point.”

“We have been providing,a s you know, more support for opposition forces in Syria right now that are taking the fight to ISIL…We are going to continue to enable capable motivated forces that willing to take the fight to ISIL, and one of the ways we’ve been doing that is with ammunition and equipment.”

1986 Goldwater-Nichols Act under review

The Goldwater-Nichols Act, which reworked the command structure of the United States military, is under review.

“The secretary feels [it] is important to take a look at the department and the structure right now within the DoD and to make sure that we’re doing things as efficiently as possible.”

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