Defense and national security overnight – Austin demands vaccine for guards

Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin testifies

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Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin on Tuesday demanded that all members of the National Guard get vaccinated against the coronavirus.

We’ll have more on that today, details of the President’s bills signed for veterans and the US warning of escalating tensions between Russia and Ukraine.

For The Hill, I’m Jordan Williams. Email me with advice at [email protected]

Let’s go.

National Guard ordered to be vaccinated against COVID-19

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin wrote a note on Tuesday ordering all members of the National Guard and Reserve to get vaccinated against COVID-19 or lose their pay.

The memo comes as the Pentagon clashes with the Oklahoma National Guard over the warrant.

Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt (right) asked Austin on Nov. 2 to exempt his state’s National Guard from the mandate. Soon after, he appointed a new adjutant general to his state guard and asked him to write a note stating that he would not carry out the vaccination warrant.

Austin rejected Stitt’s request on Monday, but Tuesday’s memo is now clear about the consequences of refusing the vaccine and how they will be implemented.

What Austin said: “Unless otherwise specified in accordance with department policy, all members of the National Guard must be fully immunized against COVID-19 within the time limits set by the military or air force, as the case may be, or must be vaccinated afterwards, in order to participate in the exercises. , training and other duties conducted under Title 32, US Code, “Austin wrote.

If members of the service do not comply, “no funding from the Ministry of Defense may be allocated for payment for tasks performed” and “no credit or excused absence will be given to members who do not participate in exercises, at training or other tasks ”.

Austin also ordered the secretaries of military branches and the Pentagon’s chief of staff to issue policies and implementation guidelines for members of the Guard and Reserve, to be released no later than December 6. published

Next deadlines: Austin first made vaccinations mandatory in late August, but left each military service to set its own deadlines.

The Air Force has set a December 2 deadline for Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve personnel, while the military has set a June 30 deadline for his reservists and his guards

Read the full story here.

Biden signs four bills to help vets

President Biden on Tuesday signed four bipartisan bills aimed at addressing disparities in benefits, creating recruiting programs and addressing the maternal health crisis for veterans and the military.

What are the invoices? A bill led by Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.) Will require the Government Accountability Office to conduct a study to assess whether there are disparities associated with race and ethnicity among veterans’ benefits.

A second bill, the Hire Veteran Health Heroes Act, directs the Department of Veterans Affairs to create a program to recruit military medical personnel who have less than a year of service to work in federal health professions.

The third bill, Colonel John M. McHugh’s Survivors Equity Tuition Act, is intended to help reduce education costs for surviving spouses and children of military members.

The final bill, Protecting Moms Who Served Act, sponsored by Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Commissions the first comprehensive study into the extent of the maternal health crisis in the United States among veterans, with an emphasis on racial and ethnic disparities.

The measure authorizes $ 15 million for the Department of Veterans Affairs Maternity Care Coordination Program to help coordinate between VA and non-VA facilities in the delivery of maternity care, facilitation of ” access to resources and offer courses on parenting, nutrition, breastfeeding, breastfeeding, and breast pumping.

Who attended the signing? Biden was joined by a room full of Senators and House members. Also in attendance were Vice President Harris and Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Dennis McDonough.

What Biden said: “We have many obligations, but we have only one truly sacred obligation and that is to prepare those we send in danger, to care for their families when they are gone and to take care of them. and their families when they are at home. It is a lifelong commitment, a lifelong commitment that the nation owes to each of our veterans, ”said the President.

Read the full story here


The United States on Tuesday warned of “serious consequences” if Russia escalates its conflict with Ukraine as Russian President Vladimir Putin continues to mobilize troops on the Ukrainian border.

Speaking to reporters ahead of a meeting with NATO officials in Riga, Latvia, Secretary of State Antony Blinken warned that “any further aggression would have serious consequences.”

“Any escalating action on the part of Russia would be of great concern to the United States,” he continued. “We will be consulting closely with NATO allies and partners in the coming days (…) to see if there are any other steps we should take as an alliance to strengthen our defenses, strengthen our resilience , strengthen our capacity. “

Other NATO ministers warn Russia: The comments are only the most recent as NATO is increasingly concerned about Russia invading Ukraine like when it annexed the Crimean Peninsula in 2014.

Russia, for its part, has repeatedly dismissed any fear of invasion and instead accused Ukraine of having aggressive intentions.

Several NATO foreign ministers also warned that any effort to destabilize Ukraine would be costly.

German Foreign Minister Heiko Mass said that NATO “will together send an unequivocal message to the Russian government: NATO’s support for Ukraine is uninterrupted and its independence, territorial integrity and sovereignty are not to be discussed, ”according to the Associated Press.

UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss also bolstered alliance support for Ukraine

We’ve seen this Kremlin playbook before when Russia falsely claimed that its illegal annexation of Crimea was a response to NATO aggression, ”Truss said in a statement. “NATO is an alliance forged on the principle of defense, not provocation. Any suggestion that NATO provokes the Russians is clearly false. “

“Any action by Russia aimed at undermining the freedom and democracy enjoyed by our partners would be a strategic error,” she continued.

Read the full story here

Biden’s New Pick for Pentagon Arms Buyer

President Biden

President Biden

President Biden on Tuesday appointed former Air Force procurement chief Bill LaPlante as Deputy Secretary of Defense for Acquisitions and Sustainment.

LaPlante, who currently heads the nonprofit Draper Lab, has reportedly been filling a vacancy since Ellen Lord resigned on Jan.20.

The president had previously chosen Defense Innovation Unit director Michael Brown for the post, but Brown withdrew his appointment in July amid an investigation by the Inspector General into his tenure as head of the incubator of emerging technologies of the Pentagon.

About LaPlante: LaPlante was Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition Technology and Logistics from 2014 to 2017. After leaving that role, he became Senior Vice President of National Security Sector at MITER.

While working in the procurement of weapons, LaPlante insisted on fixing a cumbersome military acquisition system that was struggling to keep pace with changing technology.

He has often advocated using more technology in military programs to provide new weapons and technology to combatants.

Read the full story here.



That’s all for today! Discover The Hill’s defense and national security pages for the last cover. See you on Wednesday.

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