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07 Jan 21. Statement by Acting Secretary of Defense Christopher Miller on Yesterday’s Violence at the Capitol. “Yesterday’s violence at the Capitol was reprehensible and contrary to the tenets of the United States Constitution. In the midst of this tragedy, I was proud of the professionalism of our Department of Defense personnel. I want to specifically recognize the service of the District of Columbia National Guard. They performed with honor, integrity, and alacrity to protect people and property from unlawful acts.
“Our Republic may have been disrupted yesterday, but the resolve of our legislators to conduct the people’s business did not waver. Due to their efforts, supported by local and federal law enforcement and the National Guard, the attempts of those who tried to stop our government from functioning failed.
“I strongly condemn these acts of violence against our democracy. I, and the people I lead in the Department of Defense, continue to perform our duties in accordance with our oath of office, and will execute the time-honored peaceful transition of power to President-elect Biden on January 20.” (Source: US DoD)
07 Jan 21. Capitol in chaos: what the national security community needs to know. Washington was plunged into chaos Wednesday, as a pro-Trump mob invaded the U.S. Capitol in an attempt to disrupt the certification of Joe Biden as the next president. As a result, thousands of national guardsmen are moving towards D.C., while lawmakers are calling for Trump to be impeached or removed from office under the 25th Amendment.
Many of these actions have ramifications for the national security community. Here are the key events Defense News has been tracking.
This list, with the newest items up top, will be updated as events require. The most recent update was at 10:05 p.m. EST, Jan. 7.
Thursday, Jan. 7
– 10:05 p.m. Rob Greenway, a top adviser to President Donald Trump on the Middle East, is expected to step down Thursday as part of an exodus at the National Security Council following Wednesday’s storming of Capitol Hill by Trump supporters, an official with knowledge of the situation told Defense News.
In all, Greenway’s departure means at least six staffers at the National Security Council will have resigned since Wednesday. They include the senior director for Africa, Erin Walsh; the head of the NSC’s bureau tracking weapons of mass destruction, Anthony Ruggiero; the top Europe and Russia advisor, Ryan Tully; Mark Vandroff, the NSC’s senior director for defense policy and Matt Pottinger, the deputy national security adviser.
– 4:15 p.m.: President-elect Joe Biden is pressuring Congress to quickly confirm his nominees for national security roles, but it emerged that the congressional calendar won’t permit his pick for defense secretary, Lloyd Austin, to be in place on Inauguration Day. Lloyd would need a waiver for the job because he recently retired from the military as a general. It’s unclear who would immediately fill the role, and the incoming administration hasn’t announced its plans.
However, the Senate Armed Services Committee has announced a Jan. 19, 3 p.m. confirmation hearing for Austin, which will start the formal process.
– 3:59 p.m.: Boeing is circulating a statement from CEO Dave Calhoun on the presidential transition, reported Jon Ostrower, the editor of The Air Current.
“Boeing proudly serves a vital role with our U,S. government customer in defending democracy here and around the world,” Calhoun stated. “The vote of the people and the peaceful transition of government are core to our democracy. Our company has a long history of working with elected officials over many years. In the spirit of bipartisanship, we encourage them to work with President elect Biden to unify our nation.”
– 3:54 p.m.: Energy secretary Dan Brouillette condemned “politically-motivated violence,” but said he will not be leaving office before Jan 20., according to a statement obtained by Politico. As energy secretary, Brouillette has oversight of the National Nuclear Security Administration, which manages America’s nuclear warheads; the NNSA has been under acting leadership since agency head Lisa Gordon-Hagerty resigned after clashing with Brouillette.
– 3:11 p.m.: In a statement released by the Pentagon, acting defense secretary Chris Miller called yesterday’s violence “reprehensible and contrary to the tenets of the United States Constitution.
“In the midst of this tragedy, I was proud of the professionalism of our Department of Defense personnel. I want to specifically recognize the service of the District of Columbia National Guard. They performed with honor, integrity, and alacrity to protect people and property from unlawful acts,” Miller wrote. “I strongly condemn these acts of violence against our democracy. I, and the people I lead in the Department of Defense, continue to perform our duties in accordance with our oath of office, and will execute the time-honored peaceful transition of power to President-elect Biden on January 20.”
– 3:10 p.m.: Defense News has learned that Mark Vandroff, senior director for defense policy at the National Security Council and a retired Navy captain, has resigned. In his resignation letter, Vandroff did not specifically say why he was resigning, and the official declined to comment to reporters.
– 3:05 p.m.: Trump’s former National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster tweeted that “President Trump and other officials have repeatedly compromised our principles in pursuit of partisan advantage and personal gain.” McMaster, a retired Army general officer who worked for Trump for roughly a year, added that “Those who engaged in disinformation and demagoguery in pursuit of self-interest abdicated their responsibility to the American people.”
– 2:48 p.m.: Aerospace Industries Association (AIA) president and CEO Eric Fanning issued a statement the reads, in part, “We condemn—in the strongest terms—yesterday’s violence and those who incite such violence. Ensuring the peaceful transition of power is a hallmark of our democracy. We must remain committed to this as a nation.” AIA is one of the largest defense trade associations.
– 2:09 p.m.: Top Democrats in the House and Senate have joined a growing call for President Donald Trump to be removed from office — by either his Cabinet invoking the 25th Amendment or Congress impeaching him. The list so far includes incoming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.; Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and House Armed Services Committee Chairman Adam Smith, D-Wash., with Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., as the lone Republican so far.
– Bloomberg reported that national security adviser Robert O’Brien plans to stay through the end of the administration. There had been numerous reports Wednesday evening that O’Brien, who has held that position since September 2019, was considering resigning.
– National Defense Industries Association head Hawk Carlisle issued a statement that the “despicable acts of yesterday’s mob, egged on by irresponsible rhetoric, is anathema to those values and the foundational document that has made America the shining city on the hill that has beckoned millions to a better way of life.” Carlisle, a retired U.S. Air Force general, added that “America and Americans are better than this. NDIA and its members are dedicated to being part of the solution while continuing to be at the heart of the defense of this great nation, its people and the values we hold dear.”
– The deputy assistant secretary of commerce for intelligence and security, John Costello, who is a member of the Cyberspace Solarium Commission, announced his resignation. Costello worked on cybersecurity issues and stated that President Donald Trump “incited” the “violent sedition” against Congress.
– Gen. Stephen Townsend, the head of U.S. Africa Command, issued a message, apparently aimed at forces in the command, that “America has withstood much greater and graver challenges in the past” and that the American people expect the command to “stay steady” on its mission. It is unusual for a combatant command to issue a statement on domestic political issues.
– In a Twitter thread, Lt. Gen. Clint Hinote, the head of the Air Force’s strategy office, stated that “To be clear: It is my personal opinion that we are in danger of losing our republic. Real danger.” He also stated that “As bad as 9/11 was, I feel that our situation today is worse.”
Wednesday, Jan. 6
– The majority of House Republicans still chose to reject electoral votes from Arizona and Pennsylvania, including incoming House Armed Services Committee ranking member Mike Rogers, R-Ala., who had previously condemned the violence at the capitol.
– In an astounding statement from an industry group, the head of the National Association of Manufacturers called for Vice President Mike Pence to “seriously consider working with the Cabinet to invoke the 25th Amendment” and remove Trump from power. The association, which represents more than 14,000 companies around the country, previously worked with President Donald Trump on a number of industrial issues. Among its board members are representatives from Raytheon, Boeing, Textron Aviation and the Ball Corporation.
– Deputy national security adviser Matt Pottinger resigned Wednesday evening, per multiple reports. A former journalist and China expert, Pottinger served on the National Security Council for the entirety of President Donald Trump’s term, and was viewed in national security circles as a rational actor who worked to keep the interagency process working. In a tweet, national security adviser Robert O’Brien praised Pottinger as having served “with distinction.”
– Former Defense Secretaries Jim Mattis and Mark Esper condemned both Wednesday’s attack on the Capitol building by rioters and President Donald Trump for his role in the violence. “Today’s violent assault on our Capitol, an effort to subjugate American democracy by mob rule, was fomented by Mr. Trump,” Mattis said in a statement. Esper, who replaced Mattis and was also fired by Trump, called the attack on the Capitol “appalling and un-American.”
– Georgians elected Jon Ossoff to the U.S. Senate, giving the Democratic Party control of Congress and the White House for the first time in a decade. Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I., is poised to lead the Senate Armed Services Committee, among other leadership changes. (Source: Defense News)
07 Jan 21. Defense Officials Detail National Guard Response to Capitol Attack. Once the reality of the assault on the U.S. Capitol became apparent, National Guard troops responded appropriately and with alacrity, DOD officials said in a phone briefing today.
“Yesterday was a horrible and shameful day here in the capital, and the nation at large,” Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy said on the call. “The District of Columbia asked the Army for help, and our National Guard responded.”
McCarthy, Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Rath Hoffman and Kenneth P. Rapuano, the assistant secretary of defense for homeland defense, put the timeline of the National Guard response in perspective during the call.
D.C. officials knew of the planned protests and had requested some assistance to help when the “first amendment demonstrations” were planned for January 5 and 6, McCarthy said. Based on this request, officials called up 340 National Guardsmen to help in the peaceful protests. The guardsmen were assigned mainly to traffic control, Metro crowd control, some logistics support and a 40-member quick reaction force to be based at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland.
“No other requests were made,” the Army secretary said.
In the midst of this tragedy, I was proud of the professionalism of our Department of Defense personnel. I want to specifically recognize the service of the District of Columbia National Guard.
Acting Defense Secretary Christopher Miller
But the peaceful protests turned into a mob rioting through the halls, chambers and offices of the U.S. Capitol. At around 2 p.m., requests came from D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser for more assistance. Acting Defense Secretary Chris Miller immediately called up 1,100 members of the D.C. National Guard.
At the same time, officials were collecting guardsmen at traffic points and Metro stations and returning them to the D.C. Armory to refit for a crowd control mission, the secretary said. They were tasked to support D.C. Metropolitan Police and Capitol Hill Police.
Guardsmen started flowing into the area of the Capitol soon after and reinforced Metro Police on the perimeter of the Capitol. This allowed the police and FBI personnel to clear the chambers and offices of the U.S. Capitol, McCarthy said. “By 7:15, both chambers and leadership offices were cleared, and members were able to return to business, and we began the planning for the following day,” he said.
At 6 p.m., acting Defense Secretary Miller authorized the mobilization of up to 6,200 National Guardsmen from Maryland, Virginia, New York, New Jersey, Delaware and Pennsylvania. These service members will flow into the city over the next few days and will help secure the peaceful transfer of power to President-elect Joseph Biden on January 20.
“Yesterday’s violence at the Capitol was reprehensible and contrary to the tenets of the United States Constitution,” Miller said in a written release from the Pentagon. “In the midst of this tragedy, I was proud of the professionalism of our Department of Defense personnel. I want to specifically recognize the service of the District of Columbia National Guard. They performed with honor, integrity and alacrity to protect people and property from unlawful acts.”
I strongly condemn these acts of violence against our democracy. I, and the people I lead in the Department of Defense, continue to perform our duties in accordance with our oath of office …”
Acting Defense Secretary Christopher Miller
The DOD is in support of the Justice Department, which is the lead federal agency in this situation. They relied on estimates of the Metropolitan Police and Capitol Hill Police. Those organizations, which had experience with pro-Trump groups in November and December, believed the request they made for personnel was adequate. “We don’t do domestic [intelligence] collection,” Pentagon spokesman Hoffman said. “We rely on Capitol Police and federal law enforcement to provide an assessment of the situation. And based on that assessment that they had, they believed they had sufficient personnel and did not make a request.”
Estimates of the crowd size were all over the map, Rapuano said.
Today, there are 741 National Guardsmen on the Capitol grounds. Guardsmen are also manning traffic checkpoints. They have also put up a non-scalable fence around the Capitol grounds. More guardsmen will arrive in the days ahead.
“Our Republic may have been disrupted yesterday, but the resolve of our legislators to conduct the people’s business did not waver,” Miller wrote. “Due to their efforts, supported by local and federal law enforcement and the National Guard, the attempts of those who tried to stop our government from functioning failed. I strongly condemn these acts of violence against our democracy. I, and the people I lead in the Department of Defense, continue to perform our duties in accordance with our oath of office, and will execute the time-honored peaceful transition of power to President-elect Biden on January 20.” (Source: US DoD)
07 Jan 21. Trump faces growing isolation after rioters’ assault on US Capitol. Schumer calls for president’s removal as several administration officials resign in protest. Current and former Trump administration officials have condemned the mob violence on Wednesday that briefly halted a vote to certify the presidential election results. Donald Trump faced increasing isolation over the mob attack on the US Capitol as several members of his administration resigned in protest over the president’s conduct, Facebook blocked him indefinitely and calls grew for his removal from office. Mick Mulvaney, Mr Trump’s former acting chief of staff, announced his decision to resign as Mr Trump’s special envoy to Northern Ireland on Thursday only hours after Congress certified Joe Biden’s electoral victory following disruptions by pro-Trump rioters. Mr Mulvaney told CNBC: “I called Mike Pompeo [US secretary of state] last night to let him know I was resigning from that. I can’t do it. I can’t stay.” He said others were also considering resigning. “Those who choose to stay, and I have talked with some of them, are choosing to stay because they’re worried the president might put someone worse in,” he added. Mr Mulvaney is the highest-profile of a string of resignations among Trump administration officials over the past 24 hours. Matt Pottinger, a deputy national security adviser, has also quit his post, according to a tweet from Robert O’Brien, the national security adviser. Several aides have also departed, including Stephanie Grisham, chief of staff to first lady Melania Trump, and Sarah Matthews, White House deputy press secretary, who said she was “deeply disturbed” by the events. John Costello, deputy assistant secretary of commerce for intelligence and security, also tendered his resignation on Thursday, citing the “unprecedented attack on the very core of our democracy — incited by a sitting president”. The White House did not respond to a request to comment.
Chad Wolf, acting secretary of homeland security, said in a statement on Thursday that while the events at the Capitol were “tragic and sickening”, he would remain in his position “to ensure the department’s focus remains on the serious threats facing our country and an orderly transition to President-elect [Joe] Biden’s DHS team”. Despite Mr Trump’s promise to leave office on January 20, Chuck Schumer, the top Democrat in the Senate, joined the chorus of calls in Washington or Mr Trump to be removed from office. “What happened at the US Capitol yesterday was an insurrection against the United States, incited by the president. This president should not hold office one day longer,” Mr Schumer said. “The quickest and most effective way — it can be done today — to remove this president from office would be for the vice-president to immediately invoke the 25th amendment. If the vice-president and the Cabinet refuse to stand up, Congress should reconvene to impeach the president,” he added.
Mr Trump also faced criticism from former officials, including William Barr, the ex-attorney-general who was once seen as among the president’s most loyal advisers. In a statement to the Associated Press, Mr Barr, who resigned last month, said Mr Trump’s conduct as demonstrators stormed the Capitol was a “betrayal of his office and supporters”, adding that “orchestrating a mob to pressure Congress is inexcusable”. Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg said the president’s Facebook and Instagram accounts would be blocked “indefinitely and for at least the next two weeks until the peaceful transition of power is complete”. “We believe the risks of allowing the president to continue to use our service during this period are simply too great,” he said. Facebook, along with Twitter, had temporarily locked Mr Trump’s accounts after the US president repeated false claims of election fraud during the unrest on Wednesday.
The outgoing president addressed his supporters in Washington on Wednesday morning, reiterating his false claim that the election was rigged and telling them: “We will never give up. We will never concede.” Hours later, several hundred rioters attacked and occupied the Capitol building, leaving four people dead and several others injured in the resulting turmoil. Members of Congress were forced to suspend a joint session to certify the results of the election, but later resumed and finally rubber-stamped Mr Biden’s victory early on Thursday morning. Mr Trump responded by promising an “orderly transition” to the incoming Biden administration. In a statement posted on the White House Twitter account, he added: “I totally disagree with the outcome of the election, and the facts bear me out.” Ilhan Omar, the progressive Democratic representative from Minnesota, said she was drawing up articles of impeachment against the president, while David Cicilline, a Democratic representative from Rhode Island, called on vice-president Mike Pence to invoke the 25th amendment. On Thursday, Adam Kinzinger, a representative from Illinois, became the first congressional Republican to call for the 25th amendment to be invoked. (Source: FT.com)
03 Jan 21. Statement by Acting Secretary Miller on Iranian Threats and the USS Nimitz. The following statement is attributable to Acting Secretary of Defense Chris Miller.
“Due to the recent threats issued by Iranian leaders against President Trump and other U.S. government officials, I have ordered the USS Nimitz to halt its routine redeployment. The USS Nimitz will now remain on station in the U.S. Central Command area of operations. No one should doubt the resolve of the United States of America.” (Source: US DoD)
18 Dec 20. USAF Opened Criminal Probe After a Lockheed F-35 Grounding. Air Force and Pentagon investigators opened a criminal probe of Lockheed Martin Corp. in 2016 over faulty coolant line tubing inside F-35 jets after 57 were either temporarily grounded or required production line fixes, according to officials confirming the previously undisclosed inquiry.
The U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Texas reviewed a criminal “product substitution” case developed by the Air Force Office of Special Investigations and the Pentagon Inspector General’s investigative arm but declined last December to prosecute, Linda Card, an Air Force spokeswoman, said in an email on Thursday.
Lockheed voluntarily agreed to replace the faulty tubing at a cost of $19m, the inspector general’s office disclosed in its new semi-annual report. “After Lockheed Martin repaid the U.S. Government and all criminal and administrative remedies were exhausted, the case was administratively closed” in June of this year, Card said.
The grounding in September 2016 became international news because it surfaced just seven weeks after the Air Force declared its first F-35 jets combat-ready. Service mechanics discovered “peeling and crumbling” insulation wrapped around lines that carry liquid to cool combat systems and computers.
If not fixed, the crumbling insulation could have lodged in lines connecting the aircraft’s wing and fuselage fuel tanks, causing potential overpressure or underpressure that might cause structural damage to the tanks. Lockheed had certified to the Pentagon that the tubes, produced by a subcontractor, met specifications.
Air Force Grounds ‘Combat Ready’ F-35 Over Coolant Line Flaw (2)
The case was kept open “until the parts were replaced on the affected aircraft and it was determined that the government was not charged for any of the costs associated with the use of the incorrect product,” according to Matthew Montgomery, a spokesman for the Defense Contract Management Agency.
Brett Ashworth, a spokesman for Bethesda, Maryland-based Lockheed, said the contractor “does extensive background checks on suppliers and those who do not meet their contractual obligations are removed from the program.” (Source: Bloomberg)
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