Overnight Defense: Pentagon endorses military sexual assault protest | $900M in security assistance to be withheld from Pakistan | House Foreign Affairs chair to retire

Overnight Defense: Pentagon endorses military sexual assault protest | $900M in security assistance to be withheld from Pakistan | House Foreign Affairs chair to retire
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THE TOPLINE: The #MeToo movement came to the Pentagon's doors Monday, and officials said the department endorsed the protest.

The Hill's Ellen Mitchell reports:

The Department of Defense (DOD) on Monday endorsed a demonstration against military sexual assault held earlier in the day in front of the Pentagon.

Roughly 40 military veterans, service members and supporters attended the #MeTooMilitary demonstration Monday morning at the Pentagon Metro Station. The group demanded accountability from Pentagon leaders on the handling of military sexual assault and harassment, according to Service Women's Action Network (SWAN), one of three nonprofit groups that helped organize the gathering.


"No one should have to tolerate harassment as part of their military service," Pentagon spokesman Army Col. Rob Manning told reporters after the rally.

Asked if the department supports the objectives of the protesters, Manning replied, "Yes."

Speakers at the event included retired Col. Don Christensen, president of Protect Our Defenders; Monica Medina, a former special assistant to former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta; and Heath Phillips, a survivor of military sexual trauma.

Pentagon staff, including chief spokeswoman Dana White, walked outside toward the end of the gathering to express their support.

"The DOD continually works to eliminate sexual harassment and assault from the military," Pentagon spokesman Marine Corps Maj. Adrian Rankine-Galloway said in a statement to The Hill.

Read the rest here.


PENTAGON FREEZES $900M FOR PAKISTAN: The Pentagon on Monday gave more details of what the Trump administration's decision to suspend security assistance to Pakistan entails.

Also Via The Hill's Ellen Mitchell

The Pentagon on Monday announced it was withholding $900 million in security assistance for Pakistan.

The fiscal 2017 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) provides up to $900 million for Pakistan in Coalition Support Funds (CSF) between Oct. 1, 2016, and Oct. 1, 2018.

"That amount has been suspended, not cancelled or reprogrammed, as we continue to hope that Pakistan will take decisive action against the terrorist and militant groups that we seek," Pentagon spokesman Lt. Col. Mike Andrews said in a statement to The Hill.

Of the $900 million, $400 million can only be released if the department "certifies the Pakistan government has made significant progress against the Haqqani network," Andrews said.

The Trump administration last week suspended security assistance to Pakistan -- including military equipment deliveries, transfers of security-related funds and reimbursements for counterterrorism operations -- due to its failure to combat terrorist networks within its borders. The cuts are estimated to be worth up to $2 billion in Pentagon and State Department dollars.

Read more here.


HOUSE FOREIGN AFFAIRS CHAIR TO RETIRE: Another House Republican chairman is retiring at the end of their term, The Hill's Cristina Marcos reports.

House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed RoyceEdward (Ed) Randall RoyceBottom line Bottom line California was key factor in House GOP's 2020 success MORE (R-Calif.) announced Monday he will retire at the end of the year.

Royce is now the eighth House panel chairman to opt against seeking reelection in 2018.

He would have potentially faced a tough path to reelection given that his district has become more competitive. Democratic presidential nominee Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonRepublicans seem set to win the midterms — unless they defeat themselves Poll: Democracy is under attack, and more violence may be the future Popping the progressive bubble MORE won it by about 9 points in 2016 even as Royce, who has served in the House since 1993, won reelection by 14 points.

He also would have had to return to the House as a rank-and-file member and relinquish his Foreign Affairs gavel due to the GOP's rules limiting chairmen to three consecutive terms.

"In this final year of my Foreign Affairs Committee chairmanship, I want to focus fully on the urgent threats facing our nation, including: the brutal, corrupt and dangerous regimes in Pyongyang and Tehran, Vladimir Putin's continued efforts to weaponize information to fracture western democracies, and growing terrorist threats in Africa and Central Asia," Royce said in a statement.

"With this in mind, and with the support of my wife Marie, I have decided not to seek reelection in November."

The Hill's Cristina Marcos has the story here.


TRUMP NEARS PLAN TO BOOST ARMS SALES: The Trump administration is finishing work on a plan that would call for U.S. military attaches and diplomats to play a bigger role in advocating for arms sales, according to a Reuters report Monday.

As soon as February, President TrumpDonald TrumpJan. 6 panel faces double-edged sword with Alex Jones, Roger Stone Trump goes after Woodward, Costa over China Republicans seem set to win the midterms — unless they defeat themselves MORE could announce a "whole of government" approach to increase arms sales that would also ease export rules on U.S. military exports and give greater weight to the economic benefits for American manufacturers in the approval process, according to the report.

Under the plan, military attaches and diplomats would be called to "to act essentially as a sales force for defense contractors," according to Reuters.

The Hill's Mallory Shelbourne has more in the report here.



A Senate Foreign Relations Committee subpanel will discuss the oversight and response to the attacks on U.S. diplomats in Cuba at 10 a.m. in Dirksen Senate Office Building, room 419. http://bit.ly/2m2jyFc

The House Homeland Security Committee will hear from border security agents on a wide range of security issues at 10 a.m. in the House Visitor Center, room 210. http://bit.ly/2qw96Lq

Former Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken will speak on "What to Worry About in 2018" at the Council of Foreign Relations at 12:30 p.m. Tuesday in Washington, D.C. http://on.cfr.org/2CGOhlw

A House Armed Services Committee subpanel will hear from outside experts on China's pursuit of emerging and exponential technologies at 2:00 p.m. Tuesday in Rayburn House Office Building, room 2118. http://bit.ly/2CG6nnB



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