Overnight Defense

Defense & National Security — Veteran candidates saw big gains in midterms

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At least 81 veterans running for a Congressional seat in the 2022 midterms won their respective races, the largest group of individuals who have served in the military and have won office in a decade.   

We’ll detail the results and races still being watched that are too close to call, plus Russia’s retreat from Kherson. 

This is Defense & National Security, your nightly guide to the latest developments at the Pentagon, on Capitol Hill and beyond. For The Hill, I’m Ellen Mitchell. A friend forward this newsletter to you? Subscribe here.

How veterans did in the 2022 midterm elections

The election results are all but in for the 196 veterans running for Congress this cycle, with at least 81 winning their respective races as of Friday. 

The total marks the largest group of individuals who have served in the military and have won office in a decade.   

The numbers: When added to the 12 incumbent senators who are veterans and were not up for reelection this year — and considering one undecided race in New York that involves two former service members going up against each another — that means at least 94 lawmakers with prior military experience will be a part of the
118th Congress starting January. 

Though 11 races involving former service members are still to be called, the current tally means more veteran lawmakers will serve in Congress starting in 2023 than any other time in the past 10 years. The figure just squeezes past the 91 members with prior military experience who served at the start of the 117th Congress two years ago. 

Climbing higher?: What’s more, that number of 94 could rise to closer to 100 — nearly 20 percent of Congress — as several undecided races seem to be leaning in favor of veteran candidates. 

The last time more wins happened was in 2012, when 84 veterans won a Congressional seat.   

Why the uptick?: This election cycle saw a major surge of veterans from the wars of the 1990s and those following the attacks of 9/11, with one in five individuals on the November ballots having served, according to Pew Research Center.  

The uptick in veterans in Congress has been building for some time, “as Iraq and Afghanistan vets have been running and winning in increasingly large numbers,” Seth Lynn, a University of San Francisco adjunct professor and founder of Veterans Campaign, told The Hill. 

Races still being watched: Veteran-involved contests that are yet undecided include the battle for a U.S. Senate seat in Arizona between former astronaut and Navy pilot Sen. Mark Kelly (D-Ariz.), and Blake Masters, a venture capitalist.   

In New York’s 22nd congressional district, Republican Brandon Williams, formerly in the Navy, hopes to beat Democrat Francis Conole, a U.S. Naval Academy graduate and Iraq War veteran. The race has been too close to call as of Friday.   

Read the full story here 

Russia: Troop withdrawal from Kherson is complete

The Russian Defense Ministry announced on Friday that it had successfully withdrawn its troops from Kherson, Ukraine. 

“In Kherson direction, today, at 05.00 am [Moscow time], units of the Russian forces finished their redeployment to the left bank of Dnepr river,” wrote the ministry in a report

Earlier: The Russian military announced its intentions to retreat from Kherson earlier this week, saying it was unable to supply all of the soldiers stationed in the city. 

Skepticism high: However, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky expressed skepticism that Russian troops would withdraw from Kherson, which they have occupied since late February, without incident. 

“Actions speak louder than words,” said Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak in response to the withdrawal announcement. 

“We see no signs that Russia is leaving Kherson without a fight. … [Ukraine] is liberating territories based on intelligence data, not staged TV statements.” 

Read the rest here 


  • The Stimson Center will host a discussion on “Ukraine and the Future of Air Warfare,” at 10 a.m. 
  • The George Washington University Elliott School of International Affairs will hear fromAssistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs Karen Donfried, who will talk about “the challenges of the war in Ukraine and her vision for the future,” at 12 p.m. 
  • The Brookings Institution will host a conversation on “U.S. Defense Innovation and Great Power Deterrence,” at 2 p.m. 
  • The Institute of World Politics will hold a talk on “The Ukraine War and the Caucasus: Is Russia Losing Both?” at 3 p.m. 
  • The Stimson Center will host a webinar on “Military Operations Other Than War in China’s Foreign Policy,” at 7 p.m. 


That’s it for today! Check out The Hill’s Defense and National Security pages for the latest coverage. See you next week!


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