Overnight Defense: White House to reveal drone death toll

THE TOPLINE: Following years of criticism, the Obama administration plans to start revealing the number of people killed by U.S. drone strikes.

The announcement came Monday from Obama's counterterrorism and homeland security adviser.

The Hill's Kristina Wong has the story:

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The Obama administration will disclose how many people have been killed by U.S. drone and counterterrorism strikes since 2009.

"Going forward, these figures will be provided annually," Lisa Monaco, Obama's counterterrorism and homeland security adviser, announced Monday at the Council on Foreign Relations.

She called it the 'best thing to do' to help maintain the legitimacy of U.S. counterterrorism operations.

'This is a reflection of the president's commitment to transparency,' Monaco added."

Read more here.

 

US STRIKES TERROR GROUP IN SOMALIA: In other drone-related news, the Pentagon announced Monday that it carried out an airstrike in Somalia over the weekend.

The strike at an al-Shabab training camp killed more than 150 fighters. It was carried out Saturday by unmanned and manned aircraft.

The fighters posed an "imminent" threat to U.S. and African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) forces, Pentagon spokesman Peter Cook said in a written statement.

For more on the strike, click here.

 

FORMER PETRAEUS ADVISER BASHES TRUMP: Add another name to the list of people bashing Republican presidential frontrunner Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpDems flip Wisconsin state Senate seat Sessions: 'We should be like Canada' in how we take in immigrants GOP rep: 'Sheet metal and garbage' everywhere in Haiti MORE over his statements on torture: Army Col. Peter Mansoor.

The Hill's Kristina Wong has an interview with Mansoor where he predicts a "shit storm" if Trump were to follow through on torture orders.

Here's a bit of the interview:

Retired Army Col. Peter Mansoor, who served as David Petraeus's right hand in Iraq, says Donald Trump would be a "foreign policy disaster for the United States."

"He'd be a loose cannon who would shoot from the hip. He would endanger America's status in the world, he would dismay our allies and empower our adversaries," Mansoor said in an interview with The Hill. "Other than that it'd be a great idea to have him as president."

Mansoor served 26 years in the Army, including as executive officer to Petraeus during the Iraq surge.

Mansoor is one of more than 100 signatories of an open letter by leading Republican defense experts who oppose Trump's candidacy. He's notable as one of several military veterans signing the letter.

Read the rest here.

 

SENATORS QUESTION PENTAGON WATCHDOG: The leaders of the Senate Armed Services Committee are questioning the accuracy of a special inspector general's scathing reports about the Pentagon's reconstruction efforts in Afghanistan.

"We believe that there is a risk that the special projects work may not be as accurate, objective and complete as the work that is being conducted using published professional standards, as is the case with the CNG [compressed natural gas] station report" Sens. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainMcCain rips Trump for attacks on press NSA spying program overcomes key Senate hurdle Meghan McCain says her father regrets opposition to MLK Day MORE (R-Ariz.), the committee chairman, and Jack ReedJohn (Jack) Raymond ReedLawmakers, political figures share their New Year's resolutions for 2018 Congress must provide flexible funding for owners of repeatedly flooded properties Senate panel moves forward with bill to roll back Dodd-Frank MORE (D-R.I.), ranking member, wrote in a letter to Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) John Sopko.

"To avoid misrepresenting the quality and rigor of the work to those who might use it, such as policy makers in Congress, we think it is important to understand what policies and procedures the Office of Special Projects is following to ensure quality, and how those processes were applied in the drafting of the CNG report," they added.

At issue is SIGAR's Office of Special Projects. Last year, the office issued a headline-grabbing report that said a Pentagon task force spent $43 million building a compressed natural gas station in Afghanistan.

Read more here.

 

NEW JOB: Thomas Mahnken joined the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments on Monday as its president and CEO. From 2006 to 2009, Mahnken was the deputy assistant secretary of Defense for policy planning. He has served as an officer in the U.S. Navy Reserve for more than 20 years, including tours in Iraq and Kosovo. Before joining CSBA, he taught strategy at the U.S. Naval War College and Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies.

 

ON TAP FOR TOMORROW:

The Senate Armed Services Committee will hold a hearing with Gen. Lloyd Austin, commander of U.S. Central Command; Gen. David Rodriguez, commander of U. S. Africa Command; and Gen. Joseph Votel, commander of U.S. Special Operations Command, 9:30 a.m. at Dirksen G50.

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee will hold a hearing on reauthorizing the State Department at 10 a.m. at Dirksen 419.

A Senate Armed Services subcommittee will hold a hearing on Air Force modernization at 2:30 p.m. at Russell 222.

Another Senate Armed Services subcommittee will hold a hearing on military personnel at 2:30 p.m. at Hart 216.

 

ICYMI:

-- Report: US, Iran huddled prior to Iraq War

-- Paul to force vote on blocking military equipment sale to Pakistan

-- Senate GOP aims to streamline key veterans program

-- Survey: Voters would cut defense spending by $12B

-- Military hits snag in Silicon Valley recruitment

 

Please send tips and comments to Kristina Wong, kwong@thehill.com, and Rebecca Kheel, rkheel@thehill.com 

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