Overnight Defense: Key Pentagon officials staying on through transition

Overnight Defense: Key Pentagon officials staying on through transition
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THE TOPLINE: Several senior Pentagon officials have reportedly been asked to stay on temporarily, through the Trump administration's initial weeks, to ensure the U.S. military can react instantly in the case of a crisis. 

Keeping these key personnel in place will ensure there are senior officials at all times authorized to carry out key functions in the event of an emergency, a Pentagon official told CNN.

The officials are being asked to stay until appointees can be confirmed by the Senate and take office, which could last as long as three months. 

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Deputy Defense Secretary Robert Work was asked by retired Marine Gen. James Mattis, Trump's pick for Defense secretary, CNN reported. Work would step in as acting Secretary of Defense if a crisis occurred before Mattis is confirmed. 

Other officials reportedly being asked to stay on include Robert Speer, assistant secretary of the Army for financial management and comptroller, as acting secretary of the Army; Sean Stackley, assistant secretary of the Navy for research, development and acquisition as acting secretary of the Navy; Lisa Disbrow, under secretary of the Air Force as acting secretary; and Robert Scher, assistant secretary of defense for strategy, plans and capabilities, who's been asked to stay on to work on special projects. 

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GOP HOUSE ARMED SERVICES MEMBERS: Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), the daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney, will serve on the House Armed Services Committee, Chairman Mac Thornberry (R-Texas) announced Tuesday. 

Other new GOP members include: Reps. Scott DesJarlais (Tenn.); Ralph Abraham (La.); Trent Kelly (Miss.); Mike Gallagher (Wis.); Matt Gaetz (Fla.); Don Bacon (Neb.); and Jim Banks (Ind.).

"The Armed Services Committee has a unique and solemn role in Congress' first responsibility, which is defending the country. I am grateful that these Members are willing to dedicate their talents to rebuilding and reforming America's Military," Thornberry said in a statement.

176 RETIRED GENERALS URGE TRUMP NOT TO TORTURE: A group of retired military officers is telling President-elect Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump says he doesn't want to use 'adversary' to describe Russia Comey urges Americans to vote for Democrats in midterms Roby wins Alabama GOP runoff, overcoming blowback from Trump criticism MORE not to bring back torture for terrorism suspects, The New York Times reported.

The Times reported that 176 retired officers, including 33 four-star generals and admirals, sent a letter to Trump him against bringing back waterboarding and other torture methods.

In the letter, the officers cited their "six thousand years of combined experience." 

The Hill's Rebecca Savransky has more here

AND IF TRUMP ACTUALLY ORDERED TORTURE...: A prominent GOP national security expert said Tuesday he believes retired Marine Gen. James Mattis would disobey President-elect Donald Trump if he is ordered to waterboard suspected terrorists as Defense secretary.

"[Mattis] would refuse to comply," said Eliot A. Cohen, a former senior George W. Bush administration official, testifying to the Senate Armed Services Committee two days before Mattis is set to appear before the panel for his confirmation hearing. 

Although Cohen's comment that Mattis would refuse the order drew surprise from some committee members, it underscored the view of lawmakers and members of the national security establishment who hope Mattis will be a voice of reason within the administration on the issue.

The Hill's Kristina Wong has more here

ON TAP FOR TOMORROW: 

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee is slated to hold a hearing on the nomination of Rex Tillerson to be secretary of State at 9 a.m. at the Dirksen Senate Office Building, room 106. http://bit.ly/1dKW5dv
The Senate Intelligence Committee will have a confirmation hearing for Rep. Mike Pompeo to be CIA director at 10 a.m. Wednesday at the Hart Senate Office Building, room 216. http://bit.ly/2hZ880x

 

ICYMI: 

-- The Hill: Senators roll out Russia sanctions bill after election meddling

-- The Hill: GOP chairman asks Obama to 'immediately halt' all Gitmo transfers

-- The Hill: Kerry: 'Obama never retreated from his red line' in Syria

-- Reuters: U.S. may hold fire on North Korea ICBM test to get intel, if no threat

-- NBC: No more Guantanamo releases to be sought under Obama