Overnight Defense & National Security — Nation marks 1 year since Capitol riot

It's Wednesday, welcome to Overnight Defense & National Security, your nightly guide to the latest developments at the Pentagon, on Capitol Hill and beyond. Subscribe here: thehill.com/newsletter-signup. 

We’ll reveal what’s expected in his speech, plus details on the disciplinary hearings in the deadly 2020 sinking of an amphibious vehicle and recent attacks on bases housing U.S. troops in Iraq. 

For The Hill, I’m Ellen Mitchell. Write me with tips at emitchell@thehill.com

Let’s get to it. 


Biden to push for unity in Jan. 6 speech

President Biden will speak Thursday during the one-year anniversary of the Jan. 6 riot about the responsibility he believes former President TrumpDonald TrumpKinzinger welcomes baby boy Tennessee lawmaker presents self-defense bill in 'honor' of Kyle Rittenhouse Five things to know about the New York AG's pursuit of Trump MORE had in the Capitol attack, according to the White House.  

During Wednesday's daily briefing, White House press secretary Jen PsakiJen PsakiRussia: Nothing less than NATO expansion ban is acceptable Biden huddles with group of senators on Ukraine-Russia tensions White House: Blood donation restrictions 'painful' amid mass shortage MORE was asked if the president would address Trump's role in the riot. She responded, "yes."  

'Chaos and carnage’: “I would expect that President Biden will lay out the significance of what happened at the Capitol and the singular responsibility President Trump has for the chaos and carnage that we saw,” Psaki told reporters. 

“And he will forcibly push back on the lie spread by the former president in an attempt to mislead the American people and his own supporters, as well as distract from his role and what happened,” she added, referring to the former president’s repeated, unsupported claims that the 2020 election was "stolen" from him.  

Recognizing law enforcement:  Biden and Vice President Harris will speak on Thursday morning at the Capitol, one year after Trump supporters stormed the building in an effort to halt the certification of Biden's 2020 victory. 

The White House previously said that Biden will mark the anniversary by underscoring the historical significance of the day, recognizing the bravery of law enforcement and outlining the work the country must still do to strengthen its democracy. 

A push for unity: Biden also plans to draw from one of the major themes he ran on during the 2020 presidential campaign: unity.  

Psaki said that Biden will offer a forward-looking message about how to strengthen democratic institutions and bring Americans together.   

“The president is going to speak to the truth of what happened,” she said. “He will also speak to the work we still need to do to secure and strengthen our democracy and our institutions, to reject the hatred and lies we saw on January 6, and to unite our country.” 

Read the full story here. 

Marines holding hearings over deadly sinking

The Marine Corps this week is holding disciplinary hearings for two leaders involved in a deadly sinking of an amphibious assault vehicle off the Southern California coast in 2020. 

Lt. Col. Michael Regner, the former commanding officer of Battalion Landing Team, 1st Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment, on Tuesday is facing a board of inquiry on the accident at Camp Pendleton, Calif., according to the Marine Corps. 

The hearing was first reported by the San Diego Union-Tribune. 

Another hearing: Also at Camp Pendleton, an administrative separation board will gather to scrutinize the unnamed former platoon sergeant of the Bravo Company platoon, which was involved in the deadly accident. 

The accident: Eight Marines and one Navy sailor were killed on July 30, 2020, when their vehicle quickly sank in 385 feet of water off the coast of San Clemente Island while training with the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit. 

The vehicle — which can weigh roughly 26 tons and was carrying 16 people — sank after it began to take on water while traveling from the island to its transport dock ship after an exercise.  

A damning investigation: A Marine Corps investigation later found that the vessel was one of several that experienced mechanical problems on the island and as it tried to return its transmission failed. Water then began to fill the vehicle, but its commander waited too long to order service members to evacuate. 

The investigation also found that Regner — who was relieved from command in October 2020 as a result of the accident — should have known the vehicles were unsound and should not have been used in the ocean.   

Read the full story here 


Base housing US troops hit with rocket attack  

Iraqi and U.S. militaries said a Katyusha rocket struck a base housing U.S. troops at Baghdad's international airport on Wednesday, but no injuries were reported.  

Officials said in a statement that a rocket launcher with one rocket was found in a residential district in western Baghdad, according to The Associated Press. 

The report added that the district has been used in the past by Iran-backed militias to fire rockets at Baghdad’s international airport. 

Three attacks in three days: The latest Iraq attack is the third such one in three days, beginning on Monday with an attempted drone attacks on U.S. forces. 

That was followed by an attempted drone attack on the Ain al-Asad air base west of Baghdad on Tuesday. 

In both cases, the drones were shot down.  

U.S. officials believe that attacks on American forces are likely to rise in the days after the second anniversary of the U.S. airstrike that killed top Iranian general Qassem Soleimani, which took place on Monday.   

Who is responsible?: The attacks were mostly likely carried out by Iran-backed militias, Pentagon press secretary John KirbyJohn KirbyOvernight Defense & National Security — White House raises new alarm over Russia Russia sends troops to Belarus for war games Russia removing staff from Kyiv embassy: report MORE told reporters later on Wednesday. 

Kirby said the anniversary of the Soleimani strike could be the reason for the uptick in attacks, as could the U.S. decision to keep troops in Iraq even though it ended its combat mission in the county. 

About 2,500 U.S. troops remain in Iraq in an advisory role.   

Read the full story here. 





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