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Overnight Defense: Afghanistan withdrawal more than halfway done | Senate report details intelligence failures before Jan. 6 | Pentagon shuttering most mass COVID-19 vaccination sites

Overnight Defense: Afghanistan withdrawal more than halfway done | Senate report details intelligence failures before Jan. 6 | Pentagon shuttering most mass COVID-19 vaccination sites
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Happy Tuesday 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: The U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan is more than halfway done.

So reported U.S. Central Command (Centcom) on Tuesday in its weekly update on the progress of the withdrawal, which said the command “estimates that we have completed greater than 50 percent of the entire retrograde process.”

The progress includes shipping out about 500 cargo planes worth of material and giving more than 13,000 to the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) for “disposition.”

Centcom for the first time noted the equipment given to the DLA so far is mostly “federal excess personal property” and not “defensive articles” nor “major equipment.”

Less information to come: Up until Tuesday’s release, Centcom had been putting out ranges of the progress of the withdrawal, declining to get more specific out of security concerns.

But now that the withdrawal is more than 50 percent done, Centcom said in Tuesday’s release it won’t be updating the percentage at all going forward because of “operational security reasons and to preserve force protection.”

What’s next: Even as the withdrawal continues apace, questions remain about how the United States will tamp down on terrorist threats emanating from Afghanistan without a troop presence.

Speaking at a Center for New American Security event Tuesday, Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen Hicks said the department expects to provide President BidenJoe BidenObama: Ensuring democracy 'continues to work effectively' keeps me 'up at night' New Jersey landlords prohibited from asking potential tenants about criminal records Overnight Defense: Pentagon pulling some air defense assets from Middle East | Dems introduce resolution apologizing to LGBT community for discrimination | White House denies pausing military aid package to Ukraine MORE with options this summer for so-called “over the horizon” capabilities.

“We are working through all of that right now,” Hicks said. “We have to take into account regional aspects and allied approaches. We will have, over the course of this summer, proposals to give to the president in terms of what that over-the-horizon capability should be.”

War reports: Meanwhile, the White House on Tuesday formally sent Congress the national security waiver to get around restrictions on withdrawing from Afghanistan that were in last year’s defense policy bill.

And the White House also released the annual war powers report on U.S. military operations around the globe. As was started during the Trump administration, the latest report does not have specific troop numbers for Afghanistan, Iraq or Syria.

Read more here.

 

SENATE REPORT FINDS INTEL FAILURES AHEAD OF JAN. 6

A pair of Senate committees on Tuesday released their much-anticipated report on the Jan. 6 Capitol attack.

The 127-page report outlined a spectacular series of intelligence and communication failures leading up to the attack.

The joint effort from the Senate Rules Committee and Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee blames bureaucratic delays in getting assistance to Capitol Police officers getting “chaotic, sporadic, and, according to many front-line officers, non-existent” instruction from commanders. 

About the Guard: The report also outlines the degree to which the Capitol Police Board — consisting of the House and Senate sergeants-at-arms along with the architect of the Capitol — were split over whether to call for National Guard assistance. 

“Capitol Police Board members also disagreed as to whether unanimity was required to approve a request from USCP for assistance from the District of Columbia National Guard,” the report noted, adding that the group “did not appear to be fully familiar with the statutory and regulatory requirements for requesting National Guard support.” 

Once the request for National Guard assistance made it to the Pentagon, Defense Department officials told lawmakers that its hesitance to use a quick reaction force to respond to events was “informed by criticism it received about its response to the civil unrest after the murder of George Floyd.”

Recommendations: Among the defense-related recommendations in the report is to allow the Capitol Police chief to request National Guard assistance in emergencies.

The report also recommends the Pentagon develop standing “concept of operation” scenarios and contingency plans for responding quickly to civil disturbance and terrorism incidents and that the National Guard practice mobilizing members from neighboring states to immediately respond to emergencies.

Other Guard-related recommendations include enhancing communications between Pentagon and National Guard officials, clarifying the chain of command to prevent delays in authorizing a National Guard deployment and, if a quick reaction force has been approved for an event, ensuring it’s staged so that it can actually quickly respond.

One thing that’s not in the report is the idea of a permanent National Guard quick reaction force to respond to emergencies in D.C., something that was in the Capitol security bill passed by the House last month.

Read more here.

 

PENTAGON WINDING DOWN MASS VAX MISSION

By the end of Tuesday, all but five of the mass COVID-19 vaccination sites the Pentagon opened with FEMA will be closed as the demand for the shot slows down, the Defense Department’s top spokesperson said.

Earlier this year, as many as 35 mass vaccination sites were operated by thousands of active-duty and National Guard troops, but the number has since dropped to eight with three of those locations to close by Tuesday’s end, Pentagon press secretary John Kirby told reporters. 

The vaccine centers, in coordination with FEMA and state and local officials, “will be mission-complete or will begin reducing personnel as the sites reassess the size of the DOD vaccination support teams needed,” Kirby said.

The sites have helped administer more than 16 million vaccines, he added.

Read more here.

 

ON TAP FOR TOMORROW

Defense Secretary Lloyd AustinLloyd AustinOvernight Defense: Pentagon pulling some air defense assets from Middle East | Dems introduce resolution apologizing to LGBT community for discrimination | White House denies pausing military aid package to Ukraine Pentagon pulling 'certain forces and capabilities,' including air defenses, from Middle East US officials: Iranian ships changing course away from Venezuela MORE will speak at the Pentagon’s annual LGBT Pride Month celebration at 9:30 a.m. https://bit.ly/2RzwlCC

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee will hold a hearing on U.S. policy in Belarus with testimony from the U.S. ambassador-designate to Belarus at 10 a.m. https://bit.ly/3gmfWJZ

A House Foreign Affairs Committee subpanel will hold a hearing on democratic values in the Indo-Pacific with testimony from State Department officials at 11 a.m. https://bit.ly/35eIujP

Gen. Tod Wolters, commander of U.S. European Command will speak at an Atlantic Council online event at 2:15 p.m. https://bit.ly/2Sjm5Pi

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee will hold a confirmation hearing for the nominees to be ambassadors to Somalia, Lesotho, Angola, Algeria, Congo and Cameroon at 2:30 p.m. https://bit.ly/3w5MuPg

The Senate Intelligence Committee will hold a confirmation hearing for the nominees to be director of National Counterterrorism Center and inspector general of the CIA at 2:30 p.m. https://bit.ly/3xcV9Qd

Army Chief of Staff Gen. James McConville, and Gen. John Murray, commanding general of Army Futures Command, will speak at an American Enterprise Institute web event at 3 p.m. https://bit.ly/3ggmA4M

A House Armed Services Committee subpanel will hold a hearing on the budget request for military readiness with testimony from the vice chiefs of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Space Force at 3 p.m. https://bit.ly/2T9nqsa

A Senate Armed Services Committee subpanel will hold a hearing on missile defense programs with testimony from defense officials and outside experts at 4:30 p.m. https://bit.ly/3uZsrRj

 

ICYMI

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-- Defense News: Delivery of new Air Force One planes could be delayed until 2025

-- Associated Press: German military to ship surplus beer back from Afghanistan