Overnight Defense: US, India to share satellite data | Allegations of racism at Virginia Military Institute | Navy IDs 2 killed in Alabama plane crash

Overnight Defense: US, India to share satellite data | Allegations of racism at Virginia Military Institute | Navy IDs 2 killed in Alabama plane crash
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Happy Monday and welcome to Overnight Defense. I'm Ellen Mitchell, and here's your nightly guide to the latest developments at the Pentagon, on Capitol Hill and beyond. CLICK HERE to subscribe to the newsletter.

THE TOPLINE: The United States and India are set to sign a military agreement to share sensitive satellite intelligence, India’s defense ministry said on Monday.

Defense Secretary Mark EsperMark EsperCORRECTED: Overnight Defense: COVID-19 stymies effort to study sexual assault at military academies | Biden, Saudi king speak ahead of Khashoggi report Female generals' promotions held back over fears of Trump's response: report Overnight Defense: Army details new hair and grooming standards | DC National Guard chief says Pentagon restricted his authority before riot | Colorado calls on Biden not to move Space Command MORE — who is in New Delhi along with Secretary of State Mike PompeoMike PompeoHouthis: US sanctions prolonging war in Yemen China plays the Trump card, but Biden is not buying it Trump: 'I can't imagine' any Republican would beat me in 2024 primary if I run MORE for security talks meant to counter Chinese influence in the region — met with his Indian counterpart, Rajnath Singh, and discussed the Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement (BECA) for geo-spatial cooperation, according to the Indian Ministry of Defense.

“The two ministers expressed satisfaction that agreement of BECA will be signed during the visit,” the ministry said in a statement.

Context: The agreement is expected to be signed following formal talks Tuesday, which come as tensions between India and China are on the rise.

New Delhi and Beijing are in the midst of a military standoff over the two countries' disputed Himalayan border, where a clash between soldiers in June caused at least 20 casualties, the first deadly incident between the two nations at the border in decades.

The United States also has had worsening ties with China over the past several years stemming from Beijing’s handling of the coronavirus, its aggression in the South China Sea, its new security law in Hong Kong and a trade war between Washington and Beijing.

What the agreement would do: The BECA would give India access to topographical, nautical and aeronautical intelligence needed for targeting missiles and armed drones, Reuters reported.

It would also allow for the sharing of sensitive information and communications to better use the billions of dollars in weapons that U.S. companies have sold India in the past decade.

Following Esper’s meeting with Singh, the Indian defense minister tweeted that talks “were fruitful,” and “aimed at further deepening defence cooperation in a wide range of areas.”

Pompeo’s next steps: Pompeo, meanwhile, is to meet with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Indian Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar and “other government and business leaders on ways to advance the U.S.-India Comprehensive Global Strategic Partnership,” according to the State Department.

He will then travel to Sri Lanka, the Maldives and Indonesia, which recently rejected a U.S. request to allow its spy planes to land and refuel in the Southeast Asian country.

Sri Lanka and the Maldives, meanwhile, are home to several Chinese-funded and built road, rail and sea infrastructure projects, which put the tiny island nations in Beijing’s debt. The projects are part of President Xi Jinping’s “Belt and Road Initiative” to link China to the rest of the continent and beyond, alarming the United States.

VIRGINIA MILITARY INSTITUTE SUPERINTENDENT RESIGNS AFTER ALLEGATIONS OF RACISM AT SCHOOL: The superintendent of the Virginia Military Institute (VMI) resigned on Monday after allegations of racism prompted the governor to launch an investigation into the school, according to the Board of Visitors.

Retired Gen. J.H. Binford Peay, 80, tendered his resignation to the board which “accepted it with deep regret,” wrote its president, John Boland.

What prompted it: Gov. Ralph Northam (D) last week ordered an independent investigation into allegations of an “appalling culture of ongoing structural racism” at VMI after The Washington Post detailed first-hand accounts at the Lexington, Va., school. 

Northam, who graduated from VMI in 1981, signed a letter ordering the investigation that was also signed by Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax (D), Attorney General Mark Herring (D) and several state House and Senate leaders. 

The investigation was launched after the Post reported several allegations, including a student's lynching threat, a teacher reminiscing about the Ku Klux Klan and instances of people openly expressing admiration for the Confederacy, which was fighting to preserve slavery.

The school board’s response: Boland responded to Northam at the time, saying in a letter that he welcomed the review and was confident that it would find that “systemic racism does not exist here.”

Peay also issued a letter last week, asserting that he did not believe systemic racism existed at the U.S.’s oldest state-supported military college, which was founded ahead of the Civil War in 1839.

Peay, who had been superintendent since 2003, wrote in his resignation letter that Northam and “certain legislative leaders had lost confidence in my leadership.”

An earlier controversy: The longtime head of the school had also gotten pushback this summer when he said the school will not remove Confederate monuments or rename buildings named after Confederate leaders.

In a seven-page letter to the school’s community released in late July, Peay said that officials agree "we want to erase any hint of racism at VMI, in our communities, and in our country," but that the school has a past “intertwined with the history of Virginia and the Civil War.”

He also defended Confederate Gen. Stonewall Jackson, who is depicted in a campus statue, as a "military genius.”

NAVY IDENTIFIES TWO KILLED IN PLANE CRASH IN ALABAMA: The Navy has identified the two service members killed Friday in a T-6B Texan II plane crash in Alabama.

Navy Lt. Rhiannon Ross, 30, of Wixom, Mich., and U.S. Coast Guard Ensign Morgan Garrett, 24, of Weddington, N.C., were killed when their two-seat trainer aircraft crashed into a house in a residential area of Foley at approximately 5 p.m.

Ross, an instructor pilot, and Garrett, a student aviator, had taken off from Naval Air Station Whiting Field, Milton, Fla., for a routine training flight. 

“Their spirit, friendship, and devotion to their country will not be forgotten,” the Navy said in a statement.

No civilians were injured as a result of the crash and the Navy “is working with local authorities to investigate the incident.”

FROM THE WEEKEND — GUANTANAMO SHOWS NO SIGNS OF CLOSING: Four years ago, President TrumpDonald TrumpHouse passes voting rights and elections reform bill DEA places agent seen outside Capitol during riot on leave Georgia Gov. Kemp says he'd 'absolutely' back Trump as 2024 nominee MORE pledged to “load up” the Guantanamo Bay detention facility with “bad dudes.”

But in the ensuing years, the facility’s population has not grown. Indeed, the Trump administration recently celebrated bringing two of the most notorious alleged ISIS fighters to the United States for trial — the type of “bad dudes” Trump spoke about during the 2016 election.

Meanwhile, the infamous detention center has all but disappeared from either party’s talk on the campaign trail as the facility nears 20 years of operations.

“For the 40 men who are there, four more years of their lives have passed with no improvement,” said Daphne Eviator, Amnesty International USA’s director of security with human rights. “But in terms of the news cycle, there hasn't been a change so people just tend to forget about it.”

Some background on the detention center: Trump inherited 41 detainees at the naval base in Cuba that President George W. Bush first started sending terrorist suspects to in 2002.

President Obama had pledged to close the facility during his tenure, signing an executive order on his second day in office to close it within a year. But that order went unfulfilled after Congress banned transfers to the United States, on which Obama’s closure plan relied.

Of the 41 detainees left by Obama, five were cleared for transfer to other countries. But they didn’t make it into Obama’s final flurry of transfers out for a variety of reasons.

Since Trump took office, none of those five have been released from Guantanamo. One other detainee was transferred out in 2018 as part of a plea deal he made in 2014.

Seven of the remaining detainees have been charged by military commissions, and two have been convicted. Among those awaiting trial are five 9/11 suspects and the USS Cole bombing suspect.

The Hill’s Rebecca Kheel has more here.


The Atlantic Council will hold a webinar on "the future of the U.S.-ROK alliance in an era of great power competition,” with Rep. Ted YohoTheodore (Ted) Scott YohoOcasio-Cortez: 'No consequences' in GOP for violence, racism 7 surprise moments from a tumultuous year in politics Why AOC should be next to lead the DNC MORE (R-Fla.); former Deputy Assistant Treasury Secretary Robert Dohner; and former Korean Minister for Trade Taeho Bark at 7:45 a.m. 

Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Charles Q. Brown; Joint Chief of Staff Vice Chairman Gen. John Hyten; and Air Force Gen. Glen VanHerck, commander of NORAD and USNORTHCOM; will speak at the National Defense Industrial Association and Texas A&M University’s virtual symposium on "Joint All-Domain Command and Control and All Domain Warfare,” beginning at 10 a.m. 

Booz Allen Hamilton will host a panel of Navy and Army officials to discuss how human-machine teaming can help provide superior situational awareness and communication at 12 p.m. 

The Center for Strategic and International Studies will hold a webcast on “Opening Doors: Embracing Diversity in National Security,” at 1 p.m.  

The Heritage Foundation will hold a webcast on “The Fight to Get a COVID-19 Vaccine: The Inside Story of the Administration’s Operation Warp Speed,” with Army Gen. Gus Perna, chief operating officer for Operation Warp Speed; and Matthew Hepburn, M.D., head of vaccine development, Operation Warp Speed, at 3 p.m.  


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-- The Washington Post: Iraq War soldier Alwyn Cashe’s long-awaited Medal of Honor delayed in Senate amid Supreme Court fight