Defense and national security – The United States will send more weapons to Ukraine

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said on Wednesday that the United States would send four more High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS) to Ukraine as part of an upcoming security assistance program. .

We will break down the announcement. Additionally, we’ll talk about the Senate Armed Services Committee urging the Pentagon to end its efforts to root out extremism in the military in its version of the annual National Defense Authorization Act.

It’s Defense and National Security, your nightly guide to the latest developments at the Pentagon, Capitol Hill and beyond. For The Hill, I’m Jordan Williams. A friend sent you this newsletter? Subscribe here.

More weapons headed to Ukraine

The United States will send four additional High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS) to Ukraine as part of another security assistance program to be announced later this week, the secretary told defense. Lloyd Austin said Wednesday.

In his opening remarks at a virtual Ukraine Defense Contact Group meeting, Austin said the incoming package will be the 16th removal of weapons from the Pentagon’s inventory since August 2021.

The usefulness of HIMARS: The United States first sent HIMARS around early June to allow the Ukrainians to more accurately strike targets from greater ranges inside Ukraine. American and Ukrainian officials have touted their effectiveness on the battlefield.

Speaking to reporters later Wednesday, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley said more than 200 Ukrainians had been trained on the systems.

The systems in the next package would bring the number of launchers the United States has sent to 16. The United States has sent 12 so far, recently sending four as part of a $400 million assistance package announced on July 8.

Other countries are mobilizing: In his remarks, Austin touted other countries that have stepped up support for Ukraine, such as the UK sending its own MLRS systems and Poland agreeing to transfer three battalions of 155mm self-propelled howitzers.

The Pentagon chief also thanked Norway for working with the United States to transfer two National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile Systems, also known as Norwegian Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile Systems.

Read the full story here.

Austin and Milley warn Iran to help Russia

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley have warned Iran against helping Russia, fearing Tehran will send drones to aid Moscow in its invasion in progress from Ukraine.

“We would advise Iran not to do that,” Austin said at a joint press conference alongside Milley.

“We think it’s a very, very bad idea, and I’ll leave it at that,” he added.

White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan said last week that the United States believed Iran was preparing to supply hundreds of drones to Russia on an “accelerated schedule” and that Tehran was was preparing to train Russian forces to use drones this month.

Russian President Vladimir Putin visited Iran on Tuesday, where he met Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. The Iranian official praised Putin for sending troops to Ukraine, saying that if Moscow hadn’t, he would face NATO attacks, the Associated Press reported.

Learn more here.

Senate wavers over Pentagon extremism

The Senate Armed Services Committee signaled its opposition to Department of Defense efforts to combat extremism in the military in a report on its version of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for the fiscal year 2023.

The committee released the text of the bill this week, after voting 23-3 to push the measure forward last month.

  • What the measurement says: In the accompanying report, the committee states that “the vast majority of service members serve with honor and distinction, and that the narrative surrounding systemic extremism in the military tarnishes the men and women in uniform.”
  • “The committee believes that devoting additional time and resources to combating exceptionally rare instances of extremism in the military is an inappropriate use of taxpayer funds and should be immediately halted by the Department of Defense,” the report continues. .

The wording of the bill’s report was approved by a 14-12 vote, with Sen. Angus King (I-Maine), who generally caucus with Democrats, joining all Republicans voting in favor of the language.

The Pentagon’s extremism work: Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin ordered a force-wide “resignation” to counter extremism in February 2021, amid revelations that some defendants charged in connection with the 6 January 2021 against the US Capitol had a military connection.

  • The committee’s language cites a report by the Pentagon’s Countering Extremist Activity Task Force released in December, which says available data shows that instances of prohibited extremist activity among service members are rare.
  • However, this report also indicates that even a small number of cases could pose problems for the entire army.

A few caveats: The wording of the committee report is not legally binding. Even then, it remains to be seen whether such language will be included in the final version of the defense bill to be negotiated between the House and Senate in conference committee.

Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) proposed an amendment similar to the House version of the NDAA, which would express the sentiment that stamping out extremism was not a “top priority” of the Pentagon. The House Armed Services Committee defeated this amendment in a party line vote.

The Democratic-led House included an amendment to require government officials to prepare a report on white supremacy and neo-Nazi activity in the military and law enforcement.

Read the full story here.

The secret services deliver a single text from January 6

The only text message the Secret Service gave to the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol was a call from then-Capitol policeman Steven Sund asking for help.

Lawmakers on the panel are increasingly confused and angered by the lack of messages from the Secret Service after they subpoenaed the cases following a letter from a government watchdog saying the messages had been ” erased” during a device replacement program.

“That’s all we have,” Rep. Stephanie Murphy (D-Fla.) told The Hill.

A source close to the Secret Service previously told The Hill that Sund contacted the Secret Service on January 6 asking for help.

“This message was captured and delivered,” the source said.

Learn more here.

THE APPOINTMENT FOR TOMORROW

  • The Aspen Safety Forum will continue at 10:45 a.m.
  • The Senate Armed Services Committee will hold a nomination hearing at 9:30 a.m.
  • The Sente Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs will hold a nomination hearing at 10:15 a.m.
  • The National Defense Industrial Association will hold its International Division quarterly meeting at 1 p.m.
  • The House committee investigating the January 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol will hold its prime-time hearing at 8 p.m.

WHAT WE READ

That’s all for today! Check out The Hill’s defense and national security pages for the latest coverage. Until tomorrow!

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