DOD Briefing from Bahrain on Somali Piracy Aboard the S/V Quest

DOD News Brief­ing with Vice Adm. Fox via Tele­phone from Bahrain on Soma­li Pira­cy Aboard the S/V Quest
COL. DAVID LAPAN (Deputy Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense for Media Oper­a­tions): Admi­ral Fox, it’s Colonel Dave Lapan here at the Pen­ta­gon. How do you hear me?
ADM. FOX: I hear you loud and clear; how me?
COL. LAPAN: Okay, sir, we have you loud and clear.
Good morn­ing, all, here at the Pen­ta­gon. And good after­noon to Admi­ral Fox in Bahrain, we have with us today to talk to you briefly about the inci­dent involv­ing the Sail­ing Ves­sel (S/V) Quest. Vice Admi­ral Mark Fox is the com­man­der of U.S. Naval Forces Cen­tral Com­mand. He also serves as com­man­der of the U.S. Navy 5th Fleet and com­man­der of the Com­bined Mar­itime Force.

Again, as I men­tioned, Admi­ral Fox is speak­ing to us from his head­quar­ters in Bahrain. He will make a brief open­ing state­ment and then take your ques­tions. With that, sir, I will turn it over to you. 

ADM. FOX: Thank you, and good morn­ing. I’m Vice Admi­ral Mark Fox. I am com­man­der of the U.S. Naval Cen­tral Com­mand and U.S. 5th Fleet. I’m speak­ing to you today from Man­a­ma, Bahrain, in my headquarters. 

As many of you already know, the four Amer­i­cans who were being held onboard the Sail­ing Ves­sel Quest were killed ear­ly this morn­ing by their cap­tors. I want to express my deep­est con­do­lences to the fam­i­ly — fam­i­lies of the crew of the Quest. The loss of our fel­low Amer­i­cans is a tragedy. 

We are in the process of inves­ti­gat­ing and piec­ing togeth­er the events that led to their deaths. And here’s what we know right now. On Fri­day, Feb­ru­ary 18th, at about 4 p.m. local time, the Roy­al Dan­ish Navy Ship Esbern Snare report­ed to the 5th Fleet Mar­itime Oper­a­tions Cen­ter that its heli­copter had iden­ti­fied a U.S.-flagged, pri­vate­ly owned yacht that may have been pirat­ed. The Sail­ing Ves­sel Quest was approx­i­mate­ly 190 nau­ti­cal miles south­east of Masir­ah Island, Oman, when it was pirated. 

The com­man­der of the U.S. Cen­tral Com­mand direct­ed for forces, pre­dom­i­nant­ly U.S. Navy ships and air­craft oper­at­ing in the 5th Fleet area of oper­a­tions, to inves­ti­gate the scene. Four U.S. Navy war­ships respond­ed to the effort to recov­er the yacht: USS Enter­prise, an air­craft car­ri­er; Guid­ed Mis­sile Cruis­er Leyte Gulf; and Guid­ed Mis­sile Destroy­ers Sterett and Buckley. 

The U.S. Navy war­ships found and shad­owed the Quest, made con­tact with the pirates via bridge-to-bridge con­tact, talked to the ship’s mas­ter and ver­i­fied the sta­tus of the hostages, that were safe at the time, and began a series of nego­ti­a­tions. On Mon­day, Feb­ru­ary 21st, two pirates board­ed USS Sterett to con­tin­ue nego­ti­a­tions, and they remained onboard Sterett overnight. 

At 8 this morn­ing local time, a rock­et-pro­pelled grenade was fired from the Quest by the pirates towards the Sterett. The Sterett was approx­i­mate­ly 600 yards away from the Quest. 

Imme­di­ate­ly there­after, gun­fire also erupt­ed inside the cab­in of the Quest. Sev­er­al pirates appeared on deck and moved up to the bow with their hands in the air in surrender. 

U.S. naval reac­tion forces closed in on the Quest in small boats and board­ed the yacht. As they respond­ed to the gun­fire, reach­ing and board­ing the Quest, the U.S. sailors dis­cov­ered that all four hostages had been shot by their captors. 

Despite imme­di­ate steps to pro­vide life-sav­ing care, all four of the Amer­i­can hostages died of their wounds. 

The U.S. sailors also found two pirates already dead on board. While clear­ing the ves­sel, two addi­tion­al pirates were killed. The remain­ing 15 sus­pect­ed pirates are in U.S. custody. 

There were no report­ed injuries to U.S. naval per­son­nel or any dam­age to U.S. ships. 

We’re in the process now, in con­junc­tion with the FBI, in con­duct­ing an inves­ti­ga­tion into the events that led to the trag­ic deaths of the hostages. Our thoughts go out to their families. 

And at this point, I’ll be pre­pared to take your questions. 


Q: Admi­ral, Jim Mik­laszews­ki with NBC. Is there any indi­ca­tion what­so­ev­er, either from the hostages [sic: two pirates] on board the Sterett, or in the bridge-to-bridge com­mu­ni­ca­tions, as to what may have trig­gered the shoot­ing of the hostages? And how do you account for the two pirates found dead aboard? Was that pirate-on-pirate as a result of the shoot­ing of the hostages? Can you pro­vide any details? 

ADM. FOX: (Off mic) — spec­u­lat­ing on that. There were ongo­ing nego­ti­a­tions that had con­tin­ued for a num­ber of days. And this morn­ing, with absolute­ly no warn­ing, is when the rock­et-pro­pelled grenade was fired and the gun­fire erupt­ed on board the yacht. And all I can tell you fac­tu­al­ly is that there were two dead pirates when we came on board the vessel. 

Q: (Off mic) — wounds, Admiral? 

ADM. FOX: Yes. 

Q: This is David Mar­tin with CBS. Do you know if the four Amer­i­cans were armed or had weapons on board their yacht? 

ADM. FOX: I do not know if there were any weapons on board the yacht from the peo­ple that had owned the yacht. I do not know that. 

COL. LAPAN: Tony. 

Q: Sir, Tony Capac­cio with Bloomberg News. Before the gun­fire this morn­ing, how would you describe the nego­ti­a­tions? Were they tense or pro­ceed­ing apace, and were you sur­prised by what hap­pened today then? 

ADM. FOX: You know, I can’t give you a char­ac­ter­i­za­tion. The intent always had been that this would be a nego­ti­at­ed process and not ever going to a point where we actu­al­ly had gunfire. 

So I can’t give you a char­ac­ter­i­za­tion right now. I’d remind you also that this is an active, ongo­ing inves­ti­ga­tion that’s being con­duct­ed by the FBI that we, the U.S. Navy, are help­ing with. And so it’s a crime scene. And quite hon­est­ly, I don’t have any infor­ma­tion about the tenor or the tone of those nego­ti­a­tions. Q: Broad ques­tion — was the — were the pirates launched by one of these moth­er ships that you’ve warned about is the new trend in pirat­ing in that region? 

ADM. FOX: We assessed that there was a moth­er ship. I — right now, the details of that are still some­what sketchy, but we do assess it to have been a pirat­ed — or a moth­er ship that pro­duced the pirates that actu­al­ly went on board the yacht. 

COL. LAPAN: Yochi? 

Q: Admi­ral, this is Yochi Dreazen from Nation­al Jour­nal. You men­tioned that when the board­ing ves­sels from the U.S. approached the Quest, that there was a fur­ther exchange of gunfire. 

Are you absolute­ly pos­i­tive that the four Amer­i­can hostages were already dead and were not killed in that exchange of gunfire? 

ADM. FOX: [Dur­ing the board­ing phase] there was no gun­fire by the board­ing team what­so­ev­er — there was no ordi­nance expend­ed by the board­ing team. The gun­fire that occurred was the RPG, the rock­et-pro­pelled grenade, that was fired [by the pirates] at Sterett. And then as they came on board, there were two dead pirates. There were hostages who had been injured, but – (inaudi­ble) —

Q: — Got it. And then the two pirates who were killed dur­ing the clear­ing, that was enough after the bod­ies of four Amer­i­cans were found that there was no pos­si­bil­i­ty the Amer­i­cans could have been injured or hurt in that operation? 

ADM. FOX: That’s cor­rect. [Dur­ing the clear­ing phase] the two pirates that were killed there­after — one was killed with a firearm; we killed him with a gun, and there was anoth­er pirate that died from a knife. 

Q: Did­n’t he just say he killed one? We’re confused. 

Q: Yeah, we are. 

Q: You said that no gun­shots were fired, but then you just said that you killed one pirate and the oth­er died from a knife wound. Could you — did U.S. forces shoot any pirates? 

ADM. FOX: And let me — let me clar­i­fy this for just a sec­ond. There were no gun­shots fired from the board­ing team as they board­ed — none. And then as they were clear­ing the ves­sel, they did kill one pirate as they were clear­ing it, and then there was anoth­er pirate that was — that was killed in a knife fight. Q: How far off the coast of Soma­lia did this occur? 

ADM. FOX: This is approx­i­mate­ly — if you’ve got a map before you, it’s approx­i­mate­ly mid­way between the island of Soco­tra and the north tip of Soma­lia. It’s a lit­tle bit — if you — if you had an equidis­tant point between Soco­tra and Soma­lia, it’s just a lit­tle bit on the clos­er side to Somalia. 

Q: Could I get fur­ther clar­i­fi­ca­tion? The pirate — after the board­ing team was onboard, was the — did a U.S. mil­i­tary sailor, who­ev­er it was, shoot and kill a pirate, and stab and kill anoth­er pirate? 

ADM. FOX: There were two pirates that were dead onboard the ves­sel when they board­ed. As they were clear­ing it below decks, there were two more pirates who were killed in the clear­ing process by the board­ing team. 

COL. LAPAN: Andrew. 

Q: Admi­ral, can you just con­firm how many — it sounds to me like you had 19 pirates total on the ship, two sets of two dead and 15 now in cus­tody. And also, could you give us a lit­tle bit more detail on who this board­ing team was? I mean, who left the Sterett and went over to the Quest — I mean, how many? Were they sailors? Were they SEALs? How many were there? How many board­ed the ship? Just give us a lit­tle more detail on that. 

ADM. FOX: I can’t give you the spe­cif­ic num­bers. They were U.S. spe­cial oper­a­tions forces. 

Q: And how did they — did they board? Was this by a small boat, or was this by helicopter? 

ADM. FOX: They board­ed by small boat. 

Q: And 19 pirates: Is that accurate? 

ADM. FOX: Nine­teen total pirates were on board; four are dead; 15 remain. 

Q: But two — were two of those still on the Sterett doing negotiations? 

ADM. FOX: Yes. 

Q: Admi­ral, what was the time lapse between the gun­shots aboard the yacht until the board­ing team reached the yacht? 

ADM. FOX: Well, the time dis­tance of the time for small boats to come over, it was — the Sterett was about 600 yards away. So there was some — there was a rock­et-pro­pelled grenade that was fired towards Sterett, and then there was the sound — the reports of gun­fire from the yacht. And so there was a time dis­tance of some peri­od of time to get the small boats from Sterett over to the — over to the yacht. 

Q: So there was no U.S. res­cue oper­a­tion under way at the time? 

ADM. FOX: That is correct. 

COL. LAPAN: Justin. 

Q: Sir, it’s Justin Fishel from Fox. So is it safe to say these were Navy SEALs that board­ed the ship? And why do you sup­pose those two pirates were already killed? 

ADM. FOX: You know, that would be — first of all, they were U.S. spe­cial oper­a­tions forces. 

And it would be spec­u­la­tion on my part to tell you how I thought they died. There was obvi­ous­ly gun­fire inside the cab­in of the yacht. And it took the — ulti­mate­ly it injured the hostages in such a way that they were fatal­ly injured, and so I can pre­sume that inside the cock­pit of the — of the ves­sel was a lot of small-arm fire that — but that would be part of the ongo­ing investigation. 

Q: Can you say what kind of weapons the pirates had, just so we know? 

ADM. FOX: I don’t have any specifics on that. I’d seen an ear­ly report where we had seen — they obvi­ous­ly had an RPG because they fired it at the Sterett, and then there were also, you know, the typ­i­cal things that we see are, you know, the pirates with AK-47s and small arms. 

COL. LAPAN: Carlo. 

Q: Car­lo Munoz with Defense Dai­ly, sir. A quick ques­tion on the moth­er ship. One, is there any addi­tion­al infor­ma­tion on the loca­tion of that ship? And once that’s fixed, are there any plans to pur­sue oper­a­tions against the pirates on that ship? 

ADM. FOX: At this point I don’t have any­thing to add to that. And in fact, there is — there is ongo­ing efforts going on that I — that I’m — I won’t go into. But the moth­er ship, we do assess, as I said, that the 19 pirates went onboard the yacht from a moth­er ship. 

COL. LAPAN: Phil. 

Q: Admi­ral, Phil Ewing with Politi­co. I want­ed to clar­i­fy one small detail. 

Were the pirates who were aboard the Sterett in com­mu­ni­ca­tion with their pirate col­leagues on the yacht at the time when this all went down? Could they have sent them a mes­sage because they were dis­pleased about what­ev­er they had been told? 

ADM. FOX: I can’t tell you that. I hon­est­ly — I hon­est­ly don’t know. 

Q: Sir, it’s Jim Gara­mone with AFPS. What are you going to do with the 15 pirates that you’ve captured? 

ADM. FOX: Well, they will be — they’re cur­rent­ly in our cus­tody on board one of our ships, and we will go through the appro­pri­ate process­es to ulti­mate­ly bring them to a judi­cial process and hold them — hold them account­able for their activities. 

Q: Two quick ques­tions. On the issue of the tim­ing — so the Amer­i­can hostages died — just to be total­ly clear, they died before the team board­ed. So there was a gun­shot, they were injured, then the team board­ed, and then they died from those pre­vi­ous wounds, not after that? And then the sec­ond thing is, this is the dead­liest inci­dent involv­ing U.S. hostages tak­en by pirates that you know of, correct? 

ADM. FOX: It is. It is the dead­liest inci­dent that I can think of in terms of activ­i­ties with the pirates. When our team got on board the yacht, there were hostages who were still alive, and we applied and gave first aid imme­di­ate­ly to them, but they were fatal­ly injured. 

COL. LAPAN: Luis. 

Q: Admi­ral, it’s Luis Mar­tinez with ABC. How long — how long a peri­od were those two pirates aboard Sterett? How long had they been there? At what point were they tak­en aboard? Were there nego­ti­a­tions to take them aboard, or did they vol­un­teer to go aboard? 

ADM. FOX: I’m sor­ry, can I get you to repeat that question? 

COL. LAPAN: Admi­ral, I’ll give it here from the lectern. The peri­od of time at which the two pirates aboard Sterett — when did they come aboard? Did they vol­un­tar­i­ly come aboard as part of the negotiations? 

ADM. FOX: The two pirates that came aboard Sterett came on board on the 20th — no, I’m sor­ry, on Mon­day, the 21st was when the two pirates came on board the Sterett, and they remained overnight and remained for the remain­der of the evolution. 

Q: Char­lie Keyes, CNN. Thanks for talk­ing to us, Admi­ral. Can you just tell us as much as you can — I know you did­n’t — avoid­ed it ear­li­er — how many U.S. forces were involved in this final oper­a­tion? And also, can you give us any­thing — a broad­er pic­ture about the nego­ti­a­tions, in terms of were there ini­tial demands made? 

ADM. FOX: I don’t have specifics on the ini­tial demands. It was clear that the pirates want­ed to get the yacht to Soma­lia. It was very clear that they want­ed to make — you know, to bring the hostages into Soma­li ter­ri­to­r­i­al waters, if noth­ing else. And so I don’t have any oth­er infor­ma­tion of the demands of the pirates, oth­er than the fact that they were — they were track­ing con­sis­tent­ly from the point near Masir­ah Island — I mean, you know, over there towards Oman when the ves­sel was pirat­ed, and they were mak­ing a south­west­er­ly flow towards Somalia. 

COL. LAPAN: And — 

Q: I’d like to fol­low up, Admi­ral — oh, I’m sorry.

COL. LAPAN: Just — and any­thing you can give us about the num­ber of U.S. forces involved in the final part of this operation. 

ADM. FOX: [USS] Leyte Gulf, USS Sterett and [USS] Enter­prise were the three U.S. ves­sels that were clos­est to the inci­dent at the time this morn­ing that this went down. 

Q: Yeah, if I could — if I could fol­low up, Admi­ral, did at any time the U.S. nego­tia­tors make it clear to the pirates that they would not be per­mit­ted to go ashore in Soma­lia? And dur­ing the course of the nego­ti­a­tions, was there any indi­ca­tion of divi­sion or con­flict among the pirates them­selves about what to do with these hostages? 

ADM. FOX: You know, those are details of the nego­ti­a­tion that I quite hon­est­ly don’t have in terms of the inter­ac­tions between the nego­tia­tors and the pirates and the way that those were char­ac­ter­ized. That’s just detail that I don’t have. I’m sorry. 

COL. LAPAN: Go ahead. 

Q: Thank you. Shaun Tan­don with AFP. On a dif­fer­ent note, I was won­der­ing if you could say a lit­tle bit about the vic­tims, if you can iden­ti­fy all four of them by name and just say, were you in con­tact with their fam­i­lies through­out this? 

ADM. FOX: Stand by for just one moment. 

First of all, the vic­tims’ fam­i­lies and next of kin have been noti­fied. The Amer­i­cans that were on the yacht were Scott Adam, his wife Jean, of Mari­na del Rey, Cal­i­for­nia; and then the oth­er two Amer­i­cans were Phyl­lis Mack­ay and Bob Rig­gle, both of Seat­tle, Wash­ing­ton. The own­er of the yacht was Scott Adam and his wife Jean. COL. LAPAN: Tony. 

Q: Sir, Tony Capac­cio again with Bloomberg. I had a cou­ple quick ques­tions on whether Amer­i­cans are going to be shocked — or will be shocked by these killings today — but how many — rough­ly how many peo­ple from oth­er nation­al­i­ties have been killed by pirates over the last year or two, to put this in perspective? 

ADM. FOX: Let me think for just one sec­ond and I’ll give you an answer. 

Q: In this cal­en­dar year, in the last year. 

ADM. FOX: In cal­en­dar year [2010], there have been less than 10 fatal­i­ties asso­ci­at­ed with pirate activ­i­ty in this region, not all in one inci­dent. Q: What about in 2010. 

ADM. FOX: You know, I’m going to have to — I’m going to have to pull a string to see how much — in terms of how many peo­ple in 2010 were — how many fatal­i­ties. We can get that infor­ma­tion for you, but I don’t have it at my fin­ger­tips right now. 

[Update: U.S. Naval Forces Cen­tral Com­mand states that to date in 2011, two peo­ple have died dur­ing pira­cy actions in their area of respon­si­bil­i­ty. In 2010, less than 10 peo­ple died dur­ing pira­cy actions. Data regard­ing nation­al­i­ty is released by indi­vid­ual countries.] 

Q: Did a U.S. sol­dier or a Spe­cial Oper­a­tions sol­dier actu­al­ly kill the pirate with a knife in a knife fight? 

ADM. FOX: A pirate was killed by a Spe­cial Oper­a­tions Force mem­ber with a knife on the ves­sel. While they were clear­ing, they were in close com­bat. They were clear­ing the inte­ri­or of the vessel. 

Q: (Off mic) — the two pirates who had been aboard the Sterett, are they also in U.S. cus­tody along with the oth­er 15? And sec­ond­ly, I know that in the past there’s been legal uncer­tain­ty about what kind of crimes you might be able to bring against pirates. In this par­tic­u­lar case, is this being inves­ti­gat­ed as an act of mur­der of Amer­i­can citizens? 

ADM. FOX: I’ll leave the way that the char­ac­ter­i­za­tion of the — of the inves­ti­ga­tion to lawyers and to the FBI. These are Amer­i­can cit­i­zens. There are four dead Amer­i­can cit­i­zens that died as the result of pirate activ­i­ty on their yacht. And so — and the answer to your ques­tion of all of the 15 pirates are now being held togeth­er. And they’re both — they’re all on a — on a U.S. war­ship right now. And as I said, we will be going through the due dili­gence process here of tak­ing all the appro­pri­ate steps to take them to justice. 

Q: It was 15 total or it was 15 and then two more from the Sterett, so 17 total? 

ADM. FOX: There were — there were 19 total pirates on the sail­boat. Two came off the Sterett, leav­ing 17. And then there were four dead. 

COL. LAPAN: Charlie. 

Q: Char­lie Keyes, CNN. Sir, talk­ing to a friend yes­ter­day of Scott and Jean Adam, he described how this was a life-long dream of theirs to sail around the world. He said that they were aware of the risks. What do you say to oth­er Amer­i­cans con­tem­plat­ing such an adventure? 

ADM. FOX: Well, I think it’s pru­dent to lis­ten to the warn­ings of the inter­na­tion­al mar­itime orga­ni­za­tions that talk about the dan­gers of this area. You know, you’ve got a — there’s a huge vol­ume of mar­itime activ­i­ty that goes on around here. And we have seen a grow­ing — a grow­ing prob­lem here in terms of the pirate activ­i­ty off of the coast of Soma­lia. It orig­i­nal­ly was just in the Gulf of Aden. We’ve done a pret­ty good job of set­ting up an inter­na­tion­al­ly rec­om­mend­ed tran­sit cor­ri­dor for mer­chant ships that we patrol very care­ful­ly routinely. 

And so pirate activ­i­ty in the Gulf of Aden has actu­al­ly gone down. But what’s hap­pened is because of a rel­a­tive­ly less than — less-than-nor­mal strength mon­soon sea­son for the last few months and then also because of this moth­er ship activ­i­ty, the pirates have been able to go for long dis­tances out to sea, up to 1,3(00), 1,400 nau­ti­cal miles away from Soma­lia. So there’s pirate activ­i­ty that’s gone all the way up into the North Ara­bi­an Sea, off of the coast of India, down to Mada­gas­car and so forth. 

The warn­ings are issued to mariners about where pirate activ­i­ty goes on. There are real-time warn­ings that we put out. And so there’s a due dili­gence piece in terms of going to sea and oper­at­ing and tak­ing heed of all of the warn­ings and so forth. 

Our job, of course, is to main­tain free move­ment of inno­cent pas­sage on the sea. And so the scope of the dis­tances that are involved here — the entire East Coast of the Unit­ed States east of the Mis­sis­sip­pi could fit into the Soma­li Basin/Indian Ocean area. I mean, we’re talk­ing 1,3(00), 1,400 nau­ti­cal — 1,500 nau­ti­cal miles. And so it’s a vast, vast area. 

We cur­rent­ly have 34 ves­sels, war­ships, that are patrolling in this area, under 15 dif­fer­ent flags, as we speak. And that num­ber will vary. There’s an EU [Euro­pean Union] counter pira­cy task force, there’s a NATO counter pira­cy task force, and then I’m in com­mand of a counter pira­cy task force. We each take — we work well togeth­er and coop­er­ate and share our resources and our infor­ma­tion. But even with the vast dis­tances that are involved here, you know, there’s a lot — there’s a lot of places where we are not. 

Q: What role did UAVs play in help­ing track the Quest? And in gen­er­al, what role are they play­ing to cov­er these vast distances? 

ADM. FOX: As we track this par­tic­u­lar instance, we devot­ed UAV assets from var­i­ous places in this region to give us infor­ma­tion about the move­ment, and then that of course once we got our ves­sels on site there, then we also had our own organ­ic sur­veil­lance as well. 

Q: Were those the ScanEa­gles you used? 

ADM. FOX: I don’t think — I don’t think we used any ScanEa­gles in this par­tic­u­lar case. But that would be — I don’t think so. 

COL. LAPAN: David and Justin and Luis, and we’ll wrap it up. 

Q: Dave Mar­tin with CBS. Was there a spe­cif­ic warn­ing out about the — that cov­ered the area in which the yacht was taken? 

ADM. FOX: Yes. Yes, there were explic­it warn­ings to mariners about the regions, the dan­gers and the pirate activ­i­ty in this area. 

COL. LAPAN: Justin. 

Q: Just to be clear — and Mik may have asked you about this, but before the shoot­ings took place, dur­ing the nego­ti­a­tion process, was there ever a cash ran­som offered to the pirates? 

ADM. FOX: I — you know, I can’t tell you what went on between nego­tia­tors and the pirates. And I can’t com­ment on that because I don’t have any infor­ma­tion on it. 

COL. LAPAN: Luis, last one. 

Q: Admi­ral, again, going back to the RPG that was fired at the Sterett, was that when the Sterett arrived? Was it after the two pirates were on board? What was the time­line between the fir­ing of the RPG and the shots that you heard on board the yacht? 

ADM. FOX: The way the report I read described it was, there was an RPG fired at Sterett. It missed. The Sterett was about 600 yards away. And after the RPG was fired, there was gun­fire — the sound of gun­fire com­ing from the yacht, but near — not simul­ta­ne­ous but sequen­tial. An RPG fired, fol­lowed almost imme­di­ate­ly by small-arms fire. 

COL. LAPAN: All right, Admi­ral. Thank you very much for your time and the infor­ma­tion you’ve pro­vid­ed to us. I’m sure we’ll be in touch with you PAO for any fol­low-up questions. 

ADM. FOX: Thank you very much. 

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs) 

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