US announces new $150 million package for Ukrainian forces

F.P. Report

WASHINGTON: Pentagon Press Secretary John F. Kirby on Saturday has said that the department is announcing a new $150 million package as part of the Ukraine security assistance initiative to help Ukraine’s forces preserve their country’s territorial integrity and to improve interoperability with NATO.

This he said during a press briefing, Kirby said that the package includes capabilities such as two counter-artillery radars, some counter unmanned aerial systems, and secure communications. It will compliment the $125 million package that we announced back in March. This package is made possible after the Department of Defense in coordination with the State Department was able to certify that Ukraine has made sufficient progress on defense reforms this year, as required by the National Defense Authorization Act.

The department continues to encourage Ukraine to enact reforms that are in line with NATO principles and standards to advance its Euro-Atlantic aspirations. Just to remind, the United States has committed more than $2.5 billion in security assistance to Ukraine since 2014 and will continue to strengthen our strategic defense partnership, including through the provision of defensive, lethal assistance. We’ll post the full announcement on after the briefing.

In accordance with President Biden’s January 20th proclamation, the department has developed a plan for redirecting funds and repurposing contracts that are connected with the border barrier construction. We announced, as you know, on April 30th the cancellation of all border barrier construction projects paid for with funds that were originally designed and meant for other missions and functions.

So the Deputy Secretary has approved a plan to use the $2.2 billion in unobligated military construction funds that were previously made available for border barrier construction to restore funding in this fiscal year for 66 projects in 16 countries, 11 states and three territories.

The decision to restore this funding was based on operational and component priorities. You can see our – her memo on now, the – I – it’s – it’s up on the website, and if you look at the – the attached memo, you’ll see the whole list of – of projects that – that’ll be restored.

On DEFENDER-Europe 21, it wraps up this weekend. We’ve been talking about it a lot over the last few weeks. Tomorrow, the U.S. Army’s 2nd Cavalry Regiment will begin a four day road march, traveling through Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech Republic as they redeploy to Germany.

Sunday is the final day of DEFENDER-Europe 21, with the completion of the command post exercise, and that will include a distinguished visitor media day hosted by NATO’s Multinational Corps Southeast in Bucharest, Romania and will be attended by the Commanding General of U.S. Army Europe and Africa.

Since the first day, DEFENDER-Europe 21 demonstrated our forces’ ability to serve as the combined joint forces land component commander and command and control large scale ground combat operations across multiple theaters, in support of NATO and our own National Defense Strategy.

On behalf of everybody here at the department, the Secretary would like to say thank you to all our men and women, allies and partners, who played a critical role in making this year’s DEFENDER-Europe 21 such a success.

On other exercises, NORAD exercise Amalgam Dart 21-1 began yesterday and continues through June 18th. Amalgam Dart occurs along North America’s northern approaches and will have American, Canadian and allied participants. It will involve a live fly component on the 14th and 15th of June, with U.S. and Canadian fighter and support aircraft.

The Amalgam Dart exercise series is a multi-NORAD region activity to enhance Canadian and American air asset interoperability in the execution of NORAD’s aerospace warning and aerospace control missions in the defense of Canada and the United States.

In recent years, NORAD has been developing its Arctic defense capabilities by using training opportunities such as this exercise to improve its capability and capacity, by leveraging Canadian, American, as well as allied assets to defend our northern approaches.

While answering to a question, Mr Kirby said that we’ve identified approximately 30 cases of myocarditis among the more than 3.6 million doses that we have administered. We take each one seriously and we’re working closely with the CDC and other federal partners, academic, medical professionals as well to ensure that we evaluate all cases consistently.

We know that medical events developing or worsening around the time of the vaccine does not necessarily mean that the vaccine was involved, but as the CDC has noted, evaluations of this important topic are ongoing and again we support that. We remain extremely confident in the vaccines themselves, and we continue to encourage people to take them.

Similarly answering to another question on Taliban attacks in Afghanistan, Kirby said that obviously we’re focused on connecting a safe and orderly retrograde, that’s the mission that we’ve been given. And we will transition to a new relationship with the Afghan forces, one that helps them defend their country and their citizens but will be done through financial support and some over the horizon logistical support. But I can’t confirm those reports.

He added that the secretary’s been very clear that the violence is still too high in Afghanistan, and we all want to see that violence come down, and we still continue to believe that the best way forward in Afghanistan is a political negotiated end to this war, and an Afghan led process to do that. But again, I can’t confirm the operation reporting that you’ve got there.