Overnight Defense: US offers to help with ship stuck in Suez Canal | DC Guard chief tapped to lead House security | More troops accepting COVID-19 vaccine

Overnight Defense: US offers to help with ship stuck in Suez Canal | DC Guard chief tapped to lead House security | More troops accepting COVID-19 vaccine
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Happy Friday and welcome to Overnight Defense. I'm Rebecca Kheel, 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: U.S. help is coming for the big boat.

White House press secretary Jen PsakiJen PsakiBiden 'confident' meeting with Putin will take place soon Sinema urges Biden to take 'bold' action at border: 'This is a crisis' The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by ExxonMobil - More states are passing voting restrictions MORE said Friday the United States has offered to help Egyptian officials dislodge the Ever Given cargo ship that has been stuck sideways and blocking traffic in the Suez Canal since Tuesday.

"As part of our active diplomatic dialogue with Egypt, we've offered U.S. assistance to Egyptian authorities to help reopen the canal. We are consulting with our Egyptian partners about how we can best support those efforts,” Psaki said at a briefing Friday afternoon when asked about the situation. "Those conversations are ongoing.”

Defense connection: Psaki did not elaborate on what form of the assistance the United States is offering.

But CNN reported the U.S. Navy plans to send an assessment team of dredging experts to the site as soon as Saturday.

A Pentagon statement similarly only said help has been offered without providing specifics.

“We have offered, and stand ready to assist Egypt, and will look to support any specific request we receive,” Pentagon spokesperson Cmdr. Jessica L. McNulty said in a statement. “We continue to monitor and assess the situation, but have nothing to provide on any potential specific support at this time.”

Read more here.



House Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiBiden to meet with 6 GOP senators next week Five takeaways on a surprisingly poor jobs report On The Money: Weekly jobless claims fall to 498K, hitting new post-lockdown low | House to advance appropriations bills in June, July MORE (D-Calif.) has chosen the current head of the D.C. National Guard, Maj. Gen. William Walker, to be the House’s new sergeant-at-arms, she announced Friday.

“It is my honor to appoint District of Columbia National Guard Major General William J. Walker to serve as the 38th Sergeant-at-Arms for the House of Representatives,” Pelosi said in a statement. “Throughout his long, dedicated career in public service, General William Walker has proven to be a leader of great integrity and experience who will bring his steady and patriotic leadership to this vital role.”

History made: Walker will be the House’s first Black sergeant-at-arms.

“His historic appointment as the first Black American to serve as Sergeant-at-Arms is an important step forward for this institution and our nation,” Pelosi said in her statement.

Context: The sergeant-at-arms job was open after former House Sergeant-at-Arms Paul Irving resigned in the wake of the Jan. 6 Capitol attack.

Walker himself made waves with testimony about the Pentagon’s response to the attack at a Senate hearing earlier this month.

At the hearing, Walker testified that ahead of Jan. 6, he had “unusual” restrictions placed on his ability to immediately activate his troops in the event of an emergency.

He also testified it took three hours from the time he received a frantic call from the Capitol Police chief asking for help for him to get approval to deploy from senior Pentagon leaders.

Read more here.



More military members and civilians are accepting COVID-19 vaccines after initially opting out, Defense officials told reporters on Friday.

“We’re seeing individuals who may have initially been wary about the vaccine now come forward and ask for it. I expect that trend to continue,” Defense Health Agency Director Lt. Gen. Ronald Place told reporters at the Pentagon.  

More than 600,000 service members, or 30 percent of the force, have received at least one dose of the vaccine, but roughly 60 percent of the force has not yet been offered it as they are in the final tier of eligibility, similar to most U.S. jurisdictions, Place said.

Third time’s the charm?: Place added that some military members or civilians are asked three or four times before they decide to get the shot.

“Once you’ve been contacted, you’re forever eligible,” Place said.

Background: Place’s comments come about a month after a Joint Staffer member revealed a third of service members had decided not to receive a COVID-19 vaccine when offered.

The Pentagon has since insisted that those numbers aren’t certain as it does not gather data on how many of those offered have turned down the vaccine and that the officer in question was citing broad data on vaccine acceptance rates that “mirror” trends in American society.

Read more here.



Defense Secretary Lloyd AustinLloyd AustinOvernight Defense: Former Navy secretary reportedly spent .4M on travel | Ex-Pentagon chief Miller to testify on Jan. 6 Capitol attack | Austin to deliver West Point commencement speech White House posts visitor logs for first time since Obama Overnight Defense: US may keep training Afghan forces in other countries | Defense chief tight-lipped on sexual assault decision | 'Swift' return to Iran deal possible, US says MORE will participate in a wreath laying ceremony at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial at 10 a.m. Livestream at defense.gov/live

Deputy Defense Kathleen Hicks will provide pre-recorded keynote remarks and several military officers will participate in the U.S. Institute of Peace’s "Empowered Women Help Create A More Peaceful World” webinar at 11 a.m. https://bit.ly/3rtr6QR

Former Defense Secretaries Chuck HagelCharles (Chuck) Timothy HagelOvernight Defense: Navy medic killed after wounding 2 sailors in Maryland shooting | Dems push Biden for limits on military gear transferred to police | First day of talks on Iran deal 'constructive' 140 national security leaders call for 9/11-style panel to review Jan. 6 attack Trump Afghan pullout deal unachievable, says ex-Pentagon leader MORE and Leon Panetta, Director of National Intelligence Avril HainesAvril HainesWill Biden provide strategic clarity or further ambiguity on Taiwan? States step in as Congress fails to fight foreign influence Senators introduce bill to increase US technology competitiveness against China MORE, Sen. Tammy DuckworthLadda (Tammy) Tammy DuckworthSu's track record make her an excellent pick for Labor Department post Senate passes bipartisan B water infrastructure bill Senate panel advances Biden's Postal Service nominees MORE (D-Ill.), Rep. Adam KinzingerAdam Daniel KinzingerThe Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by ExxonMobil - Florida's restrictive voting bill signed into law Cheney fight stokes cries of GOP double standard for women Kinzinger hits GOP on 'operation #coverupJan6' over Cheney ouster plot MORE (R-Ill.), Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Charles Brown, Army Chief of Staff Gen. James McConville and former under secretary of Defense for policy Michèle Flournoy will participate in The Hill's Future of Defense Summit at 12:30 p.m. RSVP for event reminders: https://futureofdefense.splashthat.com/



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