Pentagon Spokesman Discusses Variety of Topics With Reporters

There will be grave consequences for Turkey should the country go ahead with buying the Russian S-400 anti-aircraft missile system, chief Pentagon spokesman Charles E. Summers Jr. said here today.

If Turkey goes ahead with plans to purchase the $2.5 billion Russian system, the United States will withhold F-35 aircraft and Patriot Missile batteries earmarked for Turkey, Summers told reporters at the Pentagon.

U.S. officials have long said the Russian system is incompatible with NATO systems, he added, and that it represents another effort by Russia to disrupt the alliance.

Summers said the Defense Department continues to pursue the National Defense Strategy in transforming and improving the way it does business. “As always, Acting Defense Secretary Patrick M. Shanahan’s priority remains executing the National Defense Strategy’s three lines of effort: lethality, alliances and reform. We have made some exciting progress along those [lines of effort],” he said.

He cited DOD’s proposal to create the U.S. Space Force as an advance in lethality. Building the sixth U.S. armed force will allow the United States to continue to “be the best in the world in that domain,” Summers said.

Building Alliances, Reforming the Department

Shanahan traveled to the Middle East, Central Asia and Europe last month to build alliances, participating in the NATO defense ministers conference in Brussels and co-chairing a Defeat-ISIS coalition meeting in Munich.

“On reform, the department released its new artificial intelligence strategy in line with the White House executive order that created the American Artificial Intelligence Strategy,” Summers said. More recently, Summers said, the department has been focused on the president’s upcoming fiscal year 2020 budget request, which will be made available to the public [March 12]. “The department has prepared a strategy-driven budget that will allow DOD to build on the successes derived from the fiscal 2018 bipartisan budget act,” he said.

Summers also commented on a Maryland court’s a ruling yesterday on transgender service. “Transgender service members that are currently serving may continue to serve,” he said. People with gender dysphoria who have had medical treatment will not be allowed to join, he added.

Summers said no decision has been made yet about how DOD money will be reprogrammed for use by the Department of Homeland Security. Discussion on this issue continue inside the department and with other federal agencies, he said.