Overnight Defense: Armed Services panel pushing ahead in McCain's absence | Debate rages over fate of ISIS leader | Afghan civilian deaths hit new high | Pentagon misses out on $33.6B in savings

Overnight Defense: Armed Services panel pushing ahead in McCain's absence | Debate rages over fate of ISIS leader | Afghan civilian deaths hit new high | Pentagon misses out on $33.6B in savings
© Greg Nash

THE TOPLINE: Senate Armed Services Chairman John McCainJohn Sidney McCainTo woo black voters in Georgia, Dems need to change their course of action Senate panel again looks to force Trump’s hand on cyber warfare strategy Senate panel advances 6B defense policy bill MORE (R-Ariz.) is back home in Arizona for the week recovering from surgery, but the committee is pressing ahead with two confirmation hearings regardless.

The committee announced Monday that Sen. Jim InhofeJames (Jim) Mountain InhofeFive takeaways on the canceled Trump summit with Kim Senate panel unanimously approves water infrastructure bill Defense bill moves forward with lawmakers thinking about McCain MORE (R-Okla.) will chair the proceedings in McCain's absence.

The committee has two previously scheduled confirmation hearings Tuesday. One is for Gen. Paul Selva to be reconfirmed as vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The other is for four Pentagon positions.

Read more here.


DEBATE ON ISIS LEADER INTENSIFIES: A week after a leading monitor group said it confirmed the death of the leader of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), a Kurdish counterterrorism official says otherwise.

The Pentagon, meanwhile, says it still can't confirm one way or the other.


The Hill's Ellen Mitchell reports:

The Pentagon could not confirm on Monday new reports that the leader of the ISIS is still alive, following reports of his death last week.

A top Kurdish counterterrorism official told Reuters on Monday that he was 99 percent sure that ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was alive and south of Raqqa in Syria.

"Baghdadi is definitely alive. He is not dead. We have information that he is alive," Lahur Talabany told Reuters.

But Pentagon spokesman Jeff Davis told reporters that it has "no information one way or the other about Baghdadi's whereabouts or his status."

Read more here.


AFGHAN DEATHS HIT NEW HIGH: Worsening suicide attacks contributed to another grim, record-setting period for civilian casualties in Afghanistan, the United Nations said Monday.

Between Jan. 1 and June 30, 1,662 civilians were killed, an increase of 2 percent over the then-record-high number of civilians killed during same period last year.

"The human cost of this terrible conflict in Afghanistan -- loss of life, destruction and immense suffering -- is far too high," Tadamichi Yamamoto, the secretary-general's special representative for Afghanistan, said in a statement. "The continued use of indiscriminate, disproportionate and illegal improvised explosive devices is particularly appalling and must immediately stop."

The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan's (UNAMA) latest midyear report comes as the Pentagon deliberates on a new strategy for the United States in the country, including whether to send thousands more U.S. troops to break what top generals have described as a stalemate against the Taliban.

Read the rest here.


WATCHDOG SAYS PENTAGON MISSED OUT ON $33.6B IN SAVINGS: A new inspector general report says the Pentagon may have missed out on more than $33 billion in savings by ignoring recommendations the watchdog made.

Via The Hill's Ellen Mitchell:

In a 458-page document released last week, the Defense Department's Inspector General's (IG) office found that 1,298 recommendations it made from 2006 to March of this year remain open.

Of the total recommendations, "58 have associated potential monetary benefits," the report said. But it added that the IG office and the military services "have not agreed on an acceptable corrective action" to meet those recommendations.

Should the Pentagon implement all 58 recommendations, it could save some of the $33.6 billion, but too much time has passed to save all of it, writes Glenn Fine, the acting inspector general.

Read more here.



The Senate Armed Services Committee will consider the nomination of Gen. Paul Selva to be reappointed as the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff at 9:30 a.m. at Dirksen Senate Office Building, room G-50. http://bit.ly/2v7fgzX

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee will hold a confirmation hearing for several ambassadorships and State Department positions, including Callista Gingrich to be ambassador to the Vatican, at 10 a.m. at Dirksen 419. http://bit.ly/2u2kwWW

The Senate Armed Services Committee will consider the nominations of the Pentagon's deputy chief management officer; undersecretary for acquisition, technology and logistics; assistant secretary for energy, installations and environment; and Air Force undersecretary at 2:30 p.m. at Dirksen G-50. http://bit.ly/2t54HMu

A Senate Armed Services subcommittee will hear from Reagan-era Pentagon officials on options for achieving a 355-ship Navy at 4 p.m. at the Russell Senate Office Building, room 222. http://bit.ly/2uoTgTt



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-- The Hill: Government debates need for military Space Corps

-- Washington Post: Foreign-born recruits, promised citizenship by the Pentagon, flee the country to avoid deportation

-- Reuters: Afghan forces retake district in southern province of Helmand


Please send tips and comments to Rebecca Kheel, rkheel@thehill.com, and Ellen Mitchell, emitchell@thehill.com

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