Pentagon 1.18.24 https://youtu.be/CYufgBUVV2k
Идрис Али, “Рейтерс”: Можно ли теперь сказать, что США воюют с Йеменом? И, во-вторых, есть сообщения, что американский БПЛА MQ-9 был сбит над Ираком вооруженными формированиями, поддерживаемыми Ираном. Вы следите за такими вещами? Сингх (зам. пресс-секретаря Пентагона): Спасибо, Идрис. Сначала отвечу на второй вопрос. Я видела эти сообщения. Пока ничего не могу вам сказать, так что мне еще придется вернуться к этому вопросу. Я просто видела эти сообщения, но добавить нечего. По первому вопросу: нет, мы не хотим войны. Мы не думаем, что находимся в состоянии войны. Мы не хотим региональной войны. Хуситы продолжают обстреливать крылатыми ракетами, противокорабельными ракетами невинных моряков, коммерческие суда, просто проходящие через зону, на которую приходится, как вы знаете, от 10 до 15% мировой торговли. США… мы и наши партнеры защищаемся. Мы точно не хотим, чтобы это переросло в региональную войну, и мы не хотим, чтобы это продолжалось, поэтому вы видели действия, которые мы предприняли. И, как ранее заявил секретарь, мы продолжим эти действия, если будет нужно.
Лара Селигман,”Политико”: В продолжение вопроса Идриса. Вы сказали, что мы не воюем с хуситами, но если — этих ответных бомбардировок было уже пять… Если это не война, не могли бы вы объяснить нам это немного... подробнее? Если это не война, то что такое война? Сингх: Конечно, Лара, конечно. Отличный вопрос, я просто не ожидала, что вы сформулируете именно так. Послушайте, мы... мы не хотим войны. Мы… мы не воюем с хуситами. Что касается определения, я думаю, что будет более четкое заявление Соединенных Штатов. Но опять же, то, что мы делаем, и действия, которые мы предпринимаем, носят оборонительный характер. Я хотела бы еще раз сказать, что хуситы совершили уже более 30 нападений на представителей 50 стран, проходящих транзитом через Красное море. Я могу только еще и еще повторять, что мы не стремимся к войне с хуситами, но мы предпримем действия по самообороне, если нам понадобится защитить наши войска, защитить коммерческое судоходство и обеспечивать свободу судоходства в международных водах.
DEPUTY PRESS SECRETARY SABRINA SINGH: Hello. Good afternoon, everyone. Just a few items here at the top and then happy to jump into questions.
As part of our ongoing multinational efforts to protect freedom of navigation and prevent attacks on U.S. and partner maritime traffic, this morning, U.S. Central Command forces conducted strikes on two Houthi anti-ship missiles that were aimed into the southern Red Sea.
Also, last night, the U.S. Central Command conducted strikes on 14 Houthi missiles at over a dozen locations. These missiles on launch rails presented an imminent threat to merchant vessels and U.S. Navy ships in the region and could have been fired at any time.
The defensive actions this morning and last night were taken in accordance with the standing orders of the Secretary and the President, reflecting the inherent right to defend ourselves from attack or threat of imminent attack.
In addition, our actions will degrade the Houthis' capabilities to continue their reckless attacks on international and commercial shipping in the Red Sea, the Bab-el-Mandeb Strait, and the Gulf of Aden.
The U.S. and the international community call on the Houthis to cease their unlawful attacks on commercial shipping vessels and to respect the international community's right to freely and safely navigate international waters.
Switching gears, it's important to remember that the department continues to operate under a Continuing Resolution. We urge Congress to pass a full year appropriations in addition to our urgent request -- our urgent supplemental funding request in order to strengthen national security and support for our allies and partners.
As you know, the last presidential drawdown package for Ukraine was December of last year. It's crucially important that Ukraine has the resources that it needs, including air defense and artillery capabilities, to defend itself against Russia's brutal invasion. And as the President has said, Congress's continued failure to act endangers the United States's national security, the NATO alliance, and the rest of the free world.
So yet again, we urge Congress to send a strong message of support to Ukraine and our partners around the world by approving this additional funding.
And last item here, acting Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Ms. Sasha Baker hosts Australia's Secretary of Defense Mr. Greg Moriarty to discuss key aspects of the U.S.-Australia strategic partnership. Their meeting will reaffirm the strong and enduring alliance between the two nations, who are both committed to addressing current and future security challenges in the Indo-Pacific region and beyond.
And with that, I'd be happy to take your questions. Yeah, Lita?
Q: Hi. Thanks, Sabrina. Two things. One, can you update us on the Secretary? Is he still working from home? And is there an expected release time when he will be able to come back to the Pentagon?
And then -- do you want to do that? Then I have a follow-up.
MS. SINGH: Sure. Of course. So the Secretary remains working from home. He's been participating in meetings since -- I mean, since he's returned to -- resumed full authorities but has been participating in meetings here in the building, joining remotely, either by phone or by video.
I don't have a date of when he'd be back in the Pentagon but I know we're certainly wishing him a speedy recovery and I'm sure he's wanting to come back as soon as he can.
Q: And then secondly, on these strikes on the Houthis...
MS. SINGH: Yeah?
Q: Other than the very first, initial barrage that was U.S. and Brits last Friday, these have all been U.S. strikes. Is the U.S. now sort of unilaterally going its own on all of these strikes? Why has there been no allied participation at this point?
MS. SINGH: Well, I mean, the last time we had allied participation wasn't that long ago, it was just a week ago. We've taken these strikes because they are inherently defensive in nature. The Central Command Commander has the right, when he sees a threat posed to our forces or commercial shipping, to take the action that he needs, which is why you saw the strikes just yesterday and early this morning of what appeared to be missiles that were getting ready or preparing to launch into the Red Sea.
We always work with our partners and have -- certainly inform them of when we are conducting any operations. These are -- just happened to be ones that have been done by the United States. But of course, not forecasting future operations, but the multilateral coalition that came together last Thursday was something that was unique to that day, but that doesn't preclude anything from going forward.
Q: And what was used in these latest strikes today?
MS. SINGH: The latest strikes from -- you mean from the one this morning?
MS. SINGH: So it was Navy fighter aircraft that was used, F-18s. Yeah.
Q: Thanks, Sabrina. So President Biden said this morning, in response to a question about whether the strikes are actually working against the Houthis, he said "when you say working, are they stopping the Houthis? No. Are they going to continue? Yes."
Does the Pentagon agree with the President's assessment that these strikes are not stopping the Houthis? And what is the overall strategy here, apart from kind of just preemptively striking them when they appear to launch a missile, for example, or -- or preparing to launch a missile?
MS. SINGH: Well, I think -- and also, I believe the National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan also spoke to a little bit about this this week -- we never said that the Houthis would immediately stop. That is something that they will have to make that decision and that calculation to do.
It's in their best interests, I think, to stop. You've seen that we've been able to degrade and severely disrupt and destroy a significant number of their capabilities since Thursday. But it's really on them when they decide that they want to stop interrupting commercial shipping, innocent mariners that are transiting the Red Sea.
We also expected that there would be some type of retaliation from our first - or our initial strike on -- last week on January 11th. So we are expecting that, but we've seen a lower scale retaliatory, like, one or two missiles going into the Red Sea, nothing like what we saw the previous Tuesday, where that was that largest barrage that we've seen from the Houthis.
Q: (inaudible) that is because of (inaudible) U.S. (inaudible) infrastructure that they're not launching its large barrages because they simply can't?
MS. SINGH: I can't say that they can't, but they certainly have less capabilities than they did yesterday or the day before that. Our initial assessments are that we've been very successful in that we've been able to destroy pretty much all of the targets that we hit. So again, that's like -- that's one less capability, that's one less missile that they're able to use tomorrow. And so it's really up to the Houthis and their own calculations on the actions that -- if they are going to continue. But we will continue to respond if we need to.
MS. SINGH: Sure.
Q: To what extent are they continuing to be resupplied by the Iranians? How -- how often is that happening?
MS. SINGH: So I won't be able to get into an intelligence assessment on how often, but we know that the Houthis, along with other militant groups, are, you know, funded, equipped, supported by Iran, but I don't have necessarily a daily, you know, schedule to read out on how often they're resupplied.
As you saw earlier this week, Central Command announced that we interdicted a ship that was likely heading towards Houthi-controlled territory in Yemen that had housed or was carrying warheads, other weapons and capabilities that they've been using to launch weapons into the Red Sea. So while I can't give you more of a timeframe of how quickly they're -- they're being resupplied, we certainly know that Iran is supporting them.
Q: Thank you, Sabrina. So in light of President Biden's statement today that these strikes will not stop the Houthis, what is the strategic aim of the Pentagon? Do you acknowledge that the -- the Pentagon is not able to stop the Houthis?
MS. SINGH: Well, I wouldn't say we're not able to. I mean, we are taking defensive strikes, or they're defensive in nature, because we do not want to see commercial shipping, innocent mariners continue to be targeted and our U.S. forces. So that's why you saw the action that we took earlier this morning and late yesterday to degrade and destroy their capabilities. But when the Houthis decide to stop, that's really going to be a decision that they make.
And again, I mean, a completely valid question, but 10 to 15 percent of the world's commerce is flowing through the Red Sea. Over 50 nations have been impacted, many of which have no connection or you know, affiliation with the -- with the Middle East. But the cost that the Houthis are -- you know, continuing to occur to commercial vessels not only impacts the region; it impacts the entire world. So that's a calculation that the Houthis are going to have to make, if they're going to want to continue going down this path.
Q: And -- and up until last Tuesday, when that complex...
MS. SINGH: Yeah.
Q: ... attack happened, the Pentagon wasn't able to assess whether all the missiles and drones that the Navy was able to intercept were actually targeting the Navy. Now, suddenly, the Pentagon is very confident that all of these strikes against Houthi assets, these assets are actually a threat to the Navy. How -- how did you make that switch in assessment? Are you deploying new capabilities to be able to detect these threats?
MS. SINGH: I think, just taking apart that question a bit, I think what you're implying in the question is that every single missile launched, what you're saying was that the Houthis were targeting U.S. ships. We don't know that to be the case. In some cases, in the Red Sea, it's a very narrow waterway. Multiple ships are in the area. We can't always assess that the U.S. was the target of that intended missile.
So I take a little issue with the premise of that. But we took the actions that -- that Central Command took last night was to destroy missiles that could be launched, and that were preparing to launch either towards U.S. Navy ships that are in the region, that are in that waterway, or other commercial vessels. It wouldn't say that there's been a change in assessment or anything like that. They took the action that they did because these missiles were going to launch and could cause harm to innocent mariners.
Q: And just one last...
MS. SINGH: Sure, of course.
Q: Do you -- does the Pentagon expect the Houthi -- Houthis to carry on with their attacks in the -- in the near future in the region?
MS. SINGH: Well, I can't speak for the Houthis. We...
Q: From a capability point of view.
MS. SINGH: They still retain some -- I mean, they still retain some capabilities. They've been degraded in some areas. You know, we -- we saw that they launched attacks as recently as yesterday, but I can't predict when they'll continue to launch or -- or how long they'll continue this trend for. All we can say is that we continue to urge them to stop. They're interrupting the economy. They're disrupting just commercial vessels from transiting the Red Sea. Innocent lives are being put at risk. And so we can only continue to urge them both, you know, publicly here and through other channels to stop these reckless attacks.
I'm just going to go to the phones, and then I'll come back into the room. Liz Friden, Fox?
Q: Thanks, Sabrina. Do you have an update on -- on how many attacks have been launched on U.S. forces in Iraq and Syria?
MS. SINGH: Sure, give me one second. Liz, to date, there have been approximately 140 attacks on U.S. troops in Iraq and Syria. They have 57 attacks -- attacks in Iraq and 83 attacks in Syria.
Great. Idrees Ali, Reuters.
Q: Hey, Sabrina. Is it now fair to say that the U.S. is at war in Yemen? And secondly, there are some reports about a U.S. MQ-9 being shot down over Iraq by Iranian-backed militia. Is that something you're tracking?
MS. SINGH: Thanks, Idrees. And to your -- I'll take the second -- the last one first. I have seen those reports. I don't have anything for you on that, so I'd have to circle back with you. I just, I've seen those reports, but don't have anything to add.
In terms of your first question, no, we don't seek war. We don't think that we are at war. We don't want to see a regional war. The Houthis are the ones that continue to launch cruise missiles, antiship missiles at innocent mariners, at commercial vessels that are just transiting an area that sees, you know, 10 to 15 percent of world's commerce.
The U.S. is -- what we are doing with our partners is self-defense. We certainly don't want to see this widen out to a regional war and we don't want to see this continue, which is why you have seen the action that we've taken. And as the secretary has stated before, we will continue to take that action if we to.
I will come back in the room. Yeah, Konstantin?
Q: Thank you. Just a follow-up on the -- the question of the Houthis' capabilities. I -- is the Pentagon's assessment that they are sophisticated enough to target a specific ship, you know, meaning, you know, if a U.S. destroyer is escorting some merchant ships along Yemen or the Red Sea, is the Houthis' targeting capability sophisticated enough to differentiate between a U.S. warship and a merchant ship?
MS. SINGH: Well, I don't think we should rule out that they have very sophisticated capabilities. In terms of their precision in targeting, we have seen that these are not precise missile launches. They often land -- you know, they often land in the area where there are many ships. We can't say that, you -- you know, sometimes we can't say who exactly or what ship they are exactly targeting.
So I think there is some imprecision when it comes to the actual targeting of a specific vessel, but again, it still puts many, many lives and many, many ships at risk when you have a ballistic missile traveling that way, that a commander is forced to make a decision in that moment to shoot it down in the vicinity of however many ships are transiting such a narrow waterway.
Q: Well -- right. And so I guess to follow up on that, I mean, is the -- you know, given that imprecision, is the distinction of, you know, the Houthis meant to target a U.S. destroyer or not sort of meaningless?
MS. SINGH: No. I mean, we can do our assessment, and sometimes I -- we believe the assessment is an intended target of whichever MV commercial ship is transiting or sometimes we assess that it is a U.S. destroyer that's in the region or one of our partners in the region.
Again, I don't think we've seen exact precision, but it is -- when we give our assessments and when we read those out to you, it is our assessment that -- of what the target was. Yeah.
Hey, Missy, yeah?
Q: How are you? I know that you guys have said that -- or Pat said yesterday that you may not be able to give precise information about their -- the reduction in their military capability or missile stockpile, but can you guys give any information about casualties? Cause that is something that has been given and information that's been given in the past.
MS. SINGH: In terms of casualties, we have not assessed that there have been any civilian casualties. I can't give you an assessment just yet on any militant casualties. That's some -- that's something that's still ongoing.
Q: Can you give (us ?) eventually? Cause -- cause that -- cause DOD has provided that information in the past for certain kinds of strikes.
MS. SINGH: It's something that we're continuing to assess, and if we can and -- and are able to, you know, conclude that there have been casualties, we will read that out.
MS. SINGH: Yeah, of course.
Yeah, Brad, in the back?
Q: Yeah, so Congress is calling for a briefing on the Secretary's hospitalization. Is the Secretary committed to sitting down with lawmakers for a briefing or a hearing, like, sometime soon?
MS. SINGH: Well, we'll always work with Congress in addressing what they need, whether that's a briefing or a hearing, whatever it might be. We're always, you know, in touch with our congressional partners. And just, I think, yesterday, we responded to a few letters from lawmakers. So we're always in touch with the Hill but I have nothing to announce or read out, in terms of anything that's scheduled. Great.
I'm going to go back to the phones here. Lara Seligman, Politico?
Q: Hi. Thanks, Sabrina. Just a follow-up on Idrees' question. You said that we are not at war with the Houthis, but if -- you know, this tit-for-tat bombing -- we've bombed them five times now. So if this isn't war, can you just explain this a little -- a little bit more to us? If this isn't war, what is war?
MS. SINGH: Sure, Lara, sure. Great question, I just wasn't expecting it phrased exactly that way. Look, we are -- we do not seek war. We are -- we do not -- we are not at war with the Houthis. In terms of a definition, I think that would be more of a clear declaration from the United States. But again, what we are doing and the actions that we are taking are defensive in nature. I would -- I -- turn back to the fact that there have been over 30 attacks by Houthis on 50 different nations that are transiting the Red Sea at this time.
I can only repeat so many times that we do not seek war with the Houthis but we will take self-defense actions if we need to protect our troops, to protect commercial shipping, and to ensure that freedom of navigation is still allowed through international waterways.
I'll take another question from the phone here. Jared Szuba, Al-Monitor?
Q: Hi, Sabrina, thanks. Just following up on the previous questions on the -- the Houthi engagement -- or engagement with the Houthis and their materiel there. The -- you just mentioned the actions that we're taking -- or the U.S. is taking are -- are defensive in nature. They're also preemptive. I mean, is it fair to characterize this as a sort of conflict of attrition, in terms of Houthi supplies here? I mean, what is the -- the end goal here? Is -- the department seeking to sort of leave the Houthis with nothing left to strike commercial shipping in the end of this?
MS. SINGH: Thanks, Jared. The end goal is for these attacks to stop, for us to deter Houthi strikes, again, from commercial shipping that has been transiting the Red Sea for many, many decades and should be allowed to continue freely without harassment or without fear of bombardment from Houthi-controlled areas in Yemen.
So the ultimate goal is for these attacks to stop. It's up to the Houthis to decide when that occurs. It's their decision to continue to launch these attacks, but again, what they have available to them, the systems, the capabilities that they had available to them yesterday are not the same ones that they have available to them today.
So we're going to continue to take the action that we need to disrupt and degrade the Houthis' availability -- or ability, I should say, to attack, whether it's U.S. personnel or others that are transiting that Red Sea and Gulf of Aden area.
I can go back in the room. Yeah?
Q: ... very much. First, can you -- can you be any more specific than -- with the damage that's been done to the Houthis' capabilities beyond significant?
And then also, you've talked about taking defensive measures, you want the attacks to stop, and deterrence, but it seems like the Houthis so far have not been deterred. So does the Pentagon have any -- any assessment or any plan on how to change the Houthis' calculus and what it will take for the Houthis to be deterred (inaudible)?
MS. SINGH: I think -- I mean, I appreciate the question. I think I've answered that one. Again, it's -- it's up to the Houthis to decide when they want to stop. How much cost are they willing to incur every single time that we disrupt and degrade their capabilities? How much cost are they willing to incur every time they disrupt commercial trade that doesn't just impact that region, the Middle East, but all around the world?
That's really a calculation that they have to make. We can't make that for them. We can continue to urge publicly and privately that these attacks stop, and again -- and reiterate that we always reserve that right to self-defense and will protect our forces where they are located in the Red Sea or all around the world.
In terms of your -- I think you're asking about -- your first question was on BDA. I mean, I think at the top, I said that we assess that our strikes last night destroyed -- or had the intended impacts that it was -- that it was intended -- sorry, that was a bit of a word jarble there -- that it had the intended impacts, with almost all of the missile launchers destroyed.
Q: If I could follow up? If it's up to the Houthis to decide when to stop the attacks, how is that -- how is the U.S. creating any sort of deterrence? If they -- if -- if the U.S. isn't willing to do more to change the Houthis' calculus, where does the deterrence come in?
MS. SINGH: Well, again, I think you are seeing us do more. We are continuing to -- we -- on last Thursday, you saw us take action with coalition partners. Since then, you've seen us take subsequent action and follow-on actions.
I -- we can't -- we don't control the Houthis. The Houthis have to make the decision, the calculation that this is not worth it anymore. We will continue to reserve the right to self-defense to defend our forces but it is up to them at what expense do they want to continue to go down this path?
MS. SINGH: We don't want to continue to see this go. We want to ensure that mariners, that trade can continue to flow through the Red Sea, and that's what you're -- that's why you saw the Secretary in December announce the formation of Operation Prosperity Guardian, which is to ensure that commercial shipping can continue freely and openly of harassment from the Houthis. And then you've seen us since then, since -- I mean, as -- as recently as last week, take self-defense action.
So again, it's up to the calculation on the Houthis of when they want to stop.
I'll come right here. Yeah, Ryo?
Q: Thank you so much. Earlier this week, U.S. Forces Japan issued a statement that started with (inaudible) for the earthquake in Japan. How do you see the significance of this cooperation? And is U.S. Forces Japan ready for further assistance if requested by Japan?
MS. SINGH: So I think General Ryder might have announced that we are assisting. We -- we did receive a formal request of support. Two UH-60 aircraft from U.S. Army Aviation Battalion Japan are assisting Japanese Self-Defense Forces with the delivery of material for those that have been affected by the earthquake. This allows the Japanese Self -- Japanese Self-Defense Forces' aircraft to focus aviation efforts on transporting evacuees from affected areas.
So that's -- that's what we're doing right now. If we are -- receive another request for further support, of course we'll work with the government of Japan to -- to help accommodate that one.
Q: Sabrina, we've seen an uptick in these U.S. strikes following incidents where U.S.-owned, operated vessels were struck by either (inaudible) drones or missiles. Are these latest strikes in direct retaliation and direct response to those incidents?
MS. SINGH: In terms of which incidents? Like, just generally or the ones that have ...
Q: ... 24 hours, we've had two and then over the -- on -- earlier in the week.
MS. SINGH: These were self-defense strikes that -- as the Central Command Commander saw that these missile launchers were getting prepared to launch, he took the action that he needed to.
Q: So we should not be making it -- a direct connection between a particular Houthi ...
MS. SINGH: Not necessarily a tit-for-tat every single time. Again, the actions that you saw CENTCOM take early -- early this morning, late last night was in self-defense, because we saw that these missiles were getting ready to launch, they were on those launch rails. And as a matter of being an imminent threat to the Red Sea and to commercial shipping, the Central Command Commander made that decision to take that action.
Q: So does that mean that CENTCOM has been given the authority that whenever they see anything like that, that they will be continuing to carry out these types of actions?
MS. SINGH: The Commander has the right to take action when U.S. forces and -- or -- or when there is a need for self-defense, he does have that authority from the Secretary and the President. Yeah.
Q: Yeah, despite -- I mean, despite Prosperity Guardian, there's still a significant percentage of maritime traffic that's avoiding the area, going around (inaudible). Is there any thought in the future of sort of altering the strategy rather than directly have the warships escort these commercial vessels through the area, the chokepoint, rather than this (potentially ?) picket line that you have them set up as?
MS. SINGH: Changing the strategy in terms of what? I'm sorry, I'm not exactly understanding.
Q: ... escorting ...
MS. SINGH: We are doing some escorting of ships in the Red Sea where necessary. That is part of Operation Prosperity Guardian. Where we need or where we feel that ships do need an escort, that is something that they are doing, but their main focus of course is defending and ensuring freedom of navigation in those waters.
Q: (Inaudible) how do they get an escort? Do they have to radio ahead and say "we need an escort" or ...
MS. SINGH: Well, you have to -- part of -- part of the operation is -- is being in touch with the ships that are transiting through there. So of course there's communication with the Commander of Operation Prosperity Guardian and other ships transiting. There's -- there's, you know, advice given of places to avoid.
Admiral Cooper's spoken more about this, and I'm sure more eloquently than I am right now, but of course we're in touch with those ships that are transiting ...
Q: ... they call and -- and the -- and they ...
MS. SINGH: If we feel that they need it or if they feel -- or if we feel or our forces or forces within Operation Prosperity Guardian feel that there needs to be a bolstering of security around ships, they will be escorted. Yeah.
Did I see someone over here? Yes, all the way in the back.
Q: Just a -- a little bit of a different question regarding everything going on in the Middle East.
Since October, Iran-backed Hamas launched that massive attack against Israeli civilians and tourists from other countries, Iran-backed Houthis have attacked international shipping lanes dozens of times, Iran-backed militants have launched attacks on U.S. forces in Iraq and Syria, Iran has supplied Russia with weapons to use against Ukraine, and now Iran is launching strikes in Pakistan.
I was wondering what the Pentagon's message is to Iran? And is deterrence working?
MS. SINGH: So I think our message have -- has been very clear from the beginning. We know Iran funds, supports, equips, trains these groups, the very groups that you just listed out, in places throughout -- whether it be Iraq and Syria, in Lebanon, in -- in Yemen. We know Iran's hand is behind all of these groups.
And so our message has been very clear -- we don't seek a regional conflict, we don't want to see a regional conflict, and we certainly don't want what's happening in Gaza to spill out into a larger regional or wider-scale war.
We know tensions are high in the region. We've -- you know, we certainly acknowledge that. But we also have called on Iran repeatedly to stop, and that's what you're going to see us continuing to do. And we're meeting those words with actions.
That's why you've seen the strikes that we've conducted, you've seen the formation of Operation Prosperity Guardian in December, as a direct response to some of the actions that these Iranian-funded and militia groups are -- the activities that they're continuing to engage in.
So we are -- we are being very public with our message to Iran and we want these -- we -- we certainly want these attacks to stop, not only on our forces but on -- our forces in Iraq and Syria but our forces in the Red Sea and commercial shipping.
Q: Just a quick clarification. Initially, when Prosperity Guardian -- Guardian was sped up to -- it was specifically said that they were not doing escorts, that this was a broader effort to protect the ships in the region because of the amount of traffic that's going ...
Has there been a change? Have ships actually started requesting ...
MS. SINGH: I'm not aware of ...
Q: ... escorts or -- cause my understanding was, at least initially, they were not doing individual escorts. Have they started doing individual escorts?
MS. SINGH: No, I think Mike's question -- I'm sorry if I didn't phrase it as -- OK. They're not doing individual escorts. If -- if ships or a collective of ships need to be escorted through or have, you know, one of our ships follow them, I believe that's what's been -- been -- because you -- like you said, there's so much traffic, but it's not individual ships necessarily being escorted.
Q: OK. My understanding was that the ships are just going back and forth through the BAM to provide ...
MS. SINGH: Basically in -- securing the highways -- yeah, securing the waterways. No, that has not changed. Yeah.
OK, Fadi, I'll do one more and then we will wrap it up. Yeah?
Q: So when you -- you -- as you mentioned, the Houthis -- it's up to the Houthis to determine when to stop these attacks -- in fact, the Houthis, since the first attack and when they announced every single attack since then, they said when they're going to stop these attacks. It's when Israel stops its war on Gaza and lift the -- its siege on the people of Gaza. Does the Pentagon see this as unrealistic objective?
MS. SINGH: So appreciate the question, Fadi. Again, what's happening in Gaza is -- despite what the Houthis say, is very different from what they're doing. Fifty nations, some of which have no geographic location or connection to the Middle East, are being attacked by the Houthis. I mean, you have Chinese ships going through. You have Russian ships going through. You have all sorts of countries' ships, commercial vessels that are transiting this waterway that have nothing to do with what's happening in Israel and in Gaza.
So I understand what the Houthis are saying in terms of when they -- when -- you know, what they've put out publicly. But again, we have to remember that what's happening in the Red Sea, there is not that connection there. And so we will continue to urge them to stop. We will continue to -- continue to take action that we need to. And as it -- as a reminder, this is action with partners, whether it be through Operation Prosperity Guardian, or what you saw last week that was multilateral.
OK, I'm going to leave it there. Thanks, everyone.