Happy Tuesday 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 Pentagon on Tuesday axed a $10 billion cloud computing project after it became sidelined by a legal battle involving Amazon and Microsoft.
Both companies, however, will likely win deals from a new, multibillion-dollar, multivendor effort to create the Defense Department’s cloud capability.
“Today, the Department of Defense (DoD) canceled the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) Cloud solicitation and initiated contract termination procedures,” the department said in a statement.
The reasoning: The Pentagon cited “evolving requirements, increased cloud conversancy, and industry advances,” as the reason for the termination, saying JEDI “no longer meets its needs.”
“JEDI, conceived with noble intent and a baseline now several years old, was developed at a time when the department’s needs were different and our cloud conversancy less mature,” Pentagon acting chief information officer John Sherman told reporters on a media call.
“In light of new initiatives along with changes in DOD and user requirements to leverage multiple cloud environments for mission needs, our landscape has evolved and a new way ahead is warranted,” he said.
The background: Amazon for more than a year has contested the $10 billion contract awarded to Microsoft in October 2019.
But when Microsoft was awarded the deal, Amazon, considered the front-runner in the competition, filed a lawsuit alleging the Trump administration interfered in the process. The company accused the administration of “improper influence,” claiming it unfairly steered the contract away from Amazon Web Services due to former President TrumpDonald TrumpJan. 6 committee chair says panel will issue a 'good number' of additional subpoenas Overnight Defense & National Security — Presented by AM General — Pentagon officials prepare for grilling Biden nominates head of Africa CDC to lead global AIDS response MORE's frequent criticism of the company and its CEO, Jeff BezosJeffrey (Jeff) Preston BezosWhy Democrats opposing Biden's tax plan have it wrong Equilibrium/Sustainability — Presented by The American Petroleum Institute — Climate change turning US into coffee country Foundations pledge billion in record funding for biodiversity MORE.
Microsoft and the Pentagon attempted to get work underway on the contract, but the U.S. Court of Federal Claims put a pause on the activity last year.
Then in April, the court decided not to dismiss a protest lawsuit filed by Amazon, and the DOD then announced it would review the project.
Looking ahead: The Pentagon will now look to a new cloud effort, the Joint Warfighter Cloud Capability (JWCC), a multicloud/multivendor contract launched Tuesday.
“The JWCC’s multicloud environment will serve our future in a way that JEDI’s single award, single cloud structures simply cannot do,” Sherman said.
There can only be two?: But defense officials will only solicit proposals from Microsoft and Amazon Web Services, “as available market research indicates that these two vendors are the only Cloud Service Providers (CSPs) capable of meeting the Department’s requirements,” according to the Tuesday statement.
A caveat: The Pentagon included the caveat that “over the next roughly three months” it will conduct additional market research and speak with all five U.S. companies that could provide cloud service on such a massive scale, known as “hyperscale providers,” to determine whether any of them could also meet the requirements, Sherman said.
If so, then “we will extend solicitations to them as well,” he said, adding that later Tuesday he will personally reach out to leaders at the five companies: Microsoft, Amazon, Google, Oracle and IBM.
PENTAGON DEFENDS BAGRAM EXIT
The Pentagon on Tuesday defended its departure from Bagram Airfield after reports emerged that the U.S. left in the dead of night, shutting off electricity without coordinating a handover and temporarily leaving the base to looters.
Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said he had seen the press reports but insisted there was “coordination with Afghan leaders, both in the government, as well as in the Afghan security forces, about the eventual turnover.”
“As you know, it was the seventh and the final base that we turned over to the Afghan National Security Forces. You don't do that in a vacuum, and this wasn't done in a vacuum,” Kirby told reporters at the Pentagon.
What happened: The Associated Press earlier on Tuesday reported that when the U.S. military left Bagram early Friday they did so by shutting off the electricity and leaving in the dark, without notifying the base's new Afghan commander.
The commander reportedly discovered the absence more than two hours later. Before the Afghan army could take control of the airfield — from which U.S. forces have fought the war in Afghanistan for the past 20 years — it was invaded by a small army of looters, Afghan military officials told the AP.
The U.S. military also reportedly left behind thousands of civilian vehicles, most without keys to start them, hundreds of armored vehicles and small weapons and the ammunition for them.
Unclear on who was told: Kirby said the final conversation and coordination about the turnover at Bagram occurred about 48 hours prior to U.S. troops leaving.
“Obviously, for operational security reasons, we didn't go into the exact hour at which all U.S. forces would leave Bagram,” he said.
He added that while he can't speak for the level of information that went down the Afghan chain of command, “Afghan leaders, civilian and military, were appropriately coordinated with and briefed about the turnover” of the base, including a walk-through of facilities with “senior Afghan leaders.”
When asked which senior Afghan leaders U.S. officials had coordinated with, he referred questions to the staff of Army Gen. Scott Miller, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan who is preparing to turn over his command to U.S. Central Command head Gen. Frank McKenzie.
What was left exactly?: Kirby also confirmed “there were some vehicles obviously left behind and some turned over to Afghan officials,” but said it was not uncommon compared to turnovers of other facilities in the country. In addition, throughout the drawdown, “a few hundred small arms and ammunition were transferred” to the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces.
Related stories from The Hill:
-- Top US commander in Afghanistan: Must not 'turn our backs' following troop removal
-- Taliban overtake districts in northern Afghanistan
-- US military: Afghan withdrawal 'more than 90 percent' done
-- Taliban spokesman says peace talks will be 'accelerated in the coming days'
-- Hundreds of Afghan security forces flee into Tajikistan following Taliban advance
FROM THE WEEKEND: MILITARY BRACES FOR SEA OF CHANGE ON JUSTICE REFORM
As lawmakers gear up for defense bill season, it appears all but certain change is coming to the military justice system in an effort to tackle sexual assault.
The only question remaining is just how broad lawmakers will go.
Biden administration officials, up to President BidenJoe BidenFord to bolster electric vehicle production in multi-billion dollar push Protesters demonstrate outside Manchin's houseboat over opposition to reconciliation package Alabama eyes using pandemic relief funds on prison system MORE himself, have endorsed taking the decision to prosecute sexual assault and related crimes out of the chain of command.
But dozens of lawmakers, led by Sen. Kirsten GillibrandKirsten Gillibrand11 senators urge House to pass .5T package before infrastructure bill Hochul tells Facebook to 'clean up the act' on abortion misinformation after Texas law Democratic senators request probe into Amazon's treatment of pregnant employees MORE (D-N.Y.), want to take almost all major crimes out of the chain of command, saying only changing how sex crimes are prosecuted could create a two-tiered justice system.
Despite their growing numbers, those lawmakers are facing strong headwinds from the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the leaders of the Senate Armed Services Committee, who argue going too far with military justice reform could have detrimental effects on “good order and discipline.”
ON TAP FOR TOMORROW
The Naval Surface Warfare Center will hold its Biannual Nuclear Triad and Advanced Conventional Strike Symposium, with Navy Vice Adm. Johnny Wolfe, director of Strategic Systems Programs, at 8:45 a.m.
Rep. Mike TurnerMichael Ray TurnerLawmakers, Biden official call for bipartisan action on opioid addiction The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Alibaba - Government shutdown fears increase as leaders dig in GOP hopefuls fight for Trump's favor in Ohio Senate race MORE (R-Ohio) will speak at a Hudson Institute virtual discussion on “U.S. Nuclear Forces and Missile Defense Programs,” at 12 p.m.
The Henry L. Stimson Center will hold a virtual discussion on “Exploring the United Kingdom's Approach to Nuclear Security, at 12 p.m.
The Center for Strategic and International Studies will hold a virtual discussion on “The U.S. Legacy in Afghanistan: Past, Present, and Future,” with Carter Malkasian, former special assistant in the Office of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; and Gina Bennett, senior counterterrorism adviser at the National Counterterrorism Center, at 1 p.m.
The Intelligence National Security Alliance will hold its “Wednesday Wisdom” virtual discussion with Navy Rear Adm. Mike Studeman, intelligence director at the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, at 4:30 p.m.
-- The Hill: Saudi deputy defense minister meeting with Biden officials
-- The Hill: Biden administration seeks reversal for deported veterans
-- The Hill: Iran notifies nuclear watchdog of uranium enrichment plans
-- The Hill: Dem lawmaker calls for hearings on UFOs
-- The Hill: US urges Iran to avoid 'provocative' steps amid new uranium enrichment
-- The Hill: Iran says damage was limited in sabotage attack at nuclear site
-- The Hill: Iraqi militia leader vows retaliation for deaths in US strike
-- The New York Times: Taliban Try to Polish Their Image as They Push for Victory
-- Military Times: Lawmakers say DOD undercounts civilian casualties