House debate begins on defense bill that would investigate Afghanistan failures, expand draft to women, and reform military sexual assault laws

·15 min read

AFGHANISTAN POSTMORTEM: A lot has happened since the Senate Armed Services Committee passed its version of the 2022 National Defense Authorization Act in July, and as the House version heads to the floor for debate, new amendments include a proposal to create in an independent commission to investigate what went wrong in Afghanistan — not just last month’s chaotic withdrawal, but over the entire 20 years of the war.

“Regardless of how you feel about the war in Afghanistan, I think we were all horrified by the disastrous withdrawal,” said Alabama Rep. Mike Rogers, lead Republican on the Armed Services Committee, on the House floor yesterday. “This bill includes over 20 provisions to provide accountability and to get us answers to the questions we’ve been asking for months.”

The call for accountability is expected to win bipartisan support with amendments expected to require a full accounting of military equipment left behind that is now in the hands of the Taliban and details of the Biden administration plan to continue counterterrorism missions against ISIS-K and al Qaeda in Afghanistan without U.S. troops on the ground.

‘LASER-FOCUSED’ ON CHINA: The $740 billion annual defense bill represents a $25 billion increase over what the Biden Pentagon proposed, with much of the increase aimed at countering China and Russia.

“Russia and China are rapidly modernizing their militaries. China is outpacing us with advancements in emerging technologies and weapon systems,” said Rogers. “And we know China isn’t building these capabilities purely for defense.”

“H.R. 4350 is laser-focused on preparing our military to prevail in conflict with China. It makes critical investments in new systems capable of surviving in contested environments,” he said.

SUBJECTING WOMEN TO CONSCRIPTION: Among the bill's provisions is a requirement for women to register with the Selective Service, the same way men do, even though the U.S. military hasn’t had a draft since the 1970s. The provision is in the Senate version too, so it’s expected to make it into the final law.

Also in the House version of the NDAA are changes to the military justice system that would put decisions of whether to prosecute sexual assaults and related crimes into the hands of professional prosecutors instead of military commanders.

The bill also would reinstate the 10-year cooling off period before a retired senior officer could serve as defense secretary and raise the bar for granting a waiver to the rule by requiring a three-fourths vote in both the House and Senate.

The Armed Services Committee is maintaining a “dynamic floor tracker,” which will display the amendments as they are considered along with the outcomes. You can find that here.

HOUSE BILL WOULD MAKE IT HARDER FOR RECENTLY RETIRED GENERALS TO GET A CONGRESSIONAL WAIVER TO SERVE AS DEFENSE SECRETARY

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HAPPENING TODAY: Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin welcomes Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison to the Pentagon at 9:30 a.m. Morrison met with President Joe Biden at the United Nations in New York yesterday and is due to attend a meeting of the leaders of the “Quad” countries, including Japan and India, at the White House on Friday.

“The United States has no closer or more reliable ally than Australia. Our nations have stood together for a long, long time,” Biden said yesterday, citing the new AUKUS partnership between Australia, the U.K., and the U.S., which he said will “advance our vision of a free and open Indo-Pacific.”

ALSO TODAY: The House Veterans' Affairs Committee has a 10 a.m. hearing on suicide prevention, and its Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee has a 2 p.m. hearing on a number of bills aimed at protecting the rights of LGBTQ service members and veterans. See details in the calendar section below.

MILLEY MEETS RUSSIAN CHIEF: As part of his routine consultations with foreign military leaders, Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Mark Milley met in Helsinki, Finland, with Gen. Valery Gerasimov, chief of Russian General Staff.

“In accordance with past practice, both have agreed to keep the specific details of their conversation private,” said Milley’s spokesman, Col. Dave Butler, who said the talks were “aimed at improving military leadership communication between the two nations for the purposes of risk reduction and operational deconfliction.”

The Joint Staff did release a picture of the two grim-faced generals standing side by side.

BIDEN PROMISES ‘NEW ERA OF RELENTLESS DIPLOMACY’: In his first address to the United Nations as president, Joe Biden said U.S. is not seeking “a new Cold War” with China, called the use of military force a last resort, and promised, “a new era of relentless diplomacy, of using the power of our development aid to invest in new ways of lifting people up around the world.”

“U.S. military power must be our tool of last resort, not our first, and it should not be used as an answer to every problem we see around the world,” Biden said. “Indeed, today, many of our greatest concerns cannot be solved or even addressed through the force of arms. Bombs and bullets cannot defend against COVID-19 or its future variants.”

You can read his full speech here.

AIR FORCE IG TO LEAD DRONE STRIKE PROBE: The Air Force announced yesterday that Lt. Gen. Sam Said, Air Force inspector general, will head up the investigation of the deadly Aug. 29 drone strike in Kabul that killed 10 innocent civilians, including seven children.

The three-star general will report to Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall.

AIR FORCE SECRETARY SELECTS INVESTIGATOR FOR BOTCHED AFGHAN DRONE STRIKE

NEW SPACE FORCE UNIFORMS: No sooner did Chief of Space Operations Gen. John "Jay" Raymond unveil the new prototype dress uniform for the Space Force than the jokes and inevitable comparison to various sci-fi uniforms began on Twitter.

In a tweet, the Space Force called the uniform, which features a diagonal row of six buttons, “modern, distinctive, and professional.”

But on Twitter, comparisons were quickly made to versions of the uniforms worn in one of the Star Trek movies and Battlestar Galactica.

LATEST NAT SEC NOMINEES: The White House released the names of four more nominees to serve in key national security roles. They are:

  • Carrie Ricci, to be general counsel of the Army.

  • Douglas Bush, for assistant secretary of the Army for acquisition, logistics, and technology.

  • Ashish Vazirani, to be deputy undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness.

  • Shannon Corless, for assistant treasury secretary of terrorism and financial intelligence.

You can read their bios here.

CLICK HERE TO READ MORE FROM THE WASHINGTON EXAMINER

The Rundown

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Washington Examiner: FBI worried about Haqqani terrorist holding key Taliban government post

Washington Examiner: Turkey signals support for Taliban-led Afghanistan

Washington Examiner: Three percent of Afghan evacuees already in US have special visas: DHS

Washington Examiner: House Republican suspects US drone strikes killing civilians are 'a bit of a rule, not just the exception'

Washington Examiner: Air Force secretary selects investigator for botched Afghan drone strike

Washington Examiner: 'Feels like another country': Shocking scenes from the Del Rio migrant tent camp

Washington Examiner: Del Rio congressman furious after call with Mayorkas: 'You can't bull**** me'

AP: Qatar’s ruler urges world leaders not to boycott Taliban

Reuters: U.S. Says Meeting With European Partners Including France Canceled Due To Scheduling Issues

AP: Iran’s president, criticizing US, likens sanctions to ‘war’

Washington Post: Future of nuclear talks with Iran remains uncertain as Tehran expands enrichment activities

Washington Post: Kim Jong Un shift from nuclear push to economy intensified internal debates in country, report says

Washington Post: Long Odds For Al-Qaeda Resurgence, Analysts Say

AP: Afghanistan girls soccer team given asylum in Portugal

Long War Journal: Influential Taliban commanders added to Taliban government

Long War Journal: U.S. targets suspected al Qaeda leader in Idlib, Syria

Breaking Defense: Russia, PRC Intercept U.S. Aircraft ‘Multiple Times A Day’ In Pacific: PacAF

Air Force Magazine: Space Force Takes Shape With More Guardians, New Training, and Transferring Missions

Air Force Magazine: Space Force Uniform Prototype Has Diagonal Buttons, PT Uniforms Are Black and Gray

Defense One: Trump’s Red, White & Blue Air Force One Paint Job is Not Final, General Says

Air Force Magazine: ‘Unsatisfied’ with Hypersonics Progress, Kendall Questions USAF’s Strategy

19fortyfive.com: Is the U.S. Air Force Having Trouble Building Hypersonic Missiles?

19fortyfive.com: B-21 Raider Stealth Bomber Update: 5 Planes in Final Production

19fortyfive.com: Can China's J-20 Stealth Fighter Really Kill an F-22 or F-35?

19fortyfive.com: Supercavitating Torpedo: The One Weapon the U.S. Navy Can't Match

Forbes: Building Burke Destroyers To 2030 (And Beyond) Is The Only Practical Way To Bolster Surface Fleet Firepower

Calendar

WEDNESDAY | SEPTEMBER 22

8:30 a.m. National Harbor, Maryland — Air Force Association “2021 Air, Space & Cyber Conference,” with Gen. John. Hyten, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; Gen. Tod Wolters, commander, U.S. European Command, and Supreme Allied Commander Europe; Gen. Mark Kelly, commander, Air Combat Command; and many others. Full agenda at https://www.afa.org/events/airspacecyber2021/agenda

8:45 a.m. National Harbor Marina, Sunset Room — Defense Strategies Group “Critical Infrastructure Security Summit,” with David Frederick, executive director of the U.S. Cyber Command; and David Mussington, executive assistant director for infrastructure security at the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency. https://infrastructure.dsigroup.org

9 a.m. — Center for Strategic and International Studies Europe, Russia, and Eurasia Program webcast: “Russia's Strategic Role in Afghanistan and Central Asia.” with Pavel Baev, research professor, Peace Research Institute Oslo; Erica Marat, associate professor and chair of the Regional and Analytical Studies Department, National Defense University; Heather Conley, senior vice president for Europe, Eurasia, and the Arctic; and director, Europe, Russia, and Eurasia Program, CSIS. https://www.csis.org/events/russias-strategic-role

9 a.m. — Henry L. Stimson Center virtual discussion: “ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) and the Return of Geopolitics to the Indo-Pacific,” with Alice Ba, professor in the University of Delaware's Department of Political Science and International Relations; Kavi Chongkittavorn, senior fellow in Chulalongkorn University's Institute of Security and International Studies; Amitav Acharya, UNESCo chair in transnational challenges and governance, and professor in American University's School of International Service; and William Wise, nonresident fellow and chair of the Stimson Center's Southeast Asia Forum https://stimsoncenter.zoom.us/webinar/register

9 a.m. — German Marshall Fund of the United States virtual discussion: “Building a Stronger U.S.-Ukraine Strategic Partnership,” with Olena Tregub, secretary general of the Independent Defense Anti-Corruption Committee; Mykhailo Zhernakov, head of the board at the DeJure Foundation; Kostyantyn Krynytskyi, head of the Center for Environmental Initiatives Ecoaction's Energy Department; Igor Burakovsky, head of the Institute for Economic Research and Policy Consulting; Olena Prokopenko, GMFUS visiting democracy initiatives fellow; and Jonathan Katz, GMFUS senior fellow. https://www.gmfus.org/event

9:30 a.m. — Center for Strategic and International Studies virtual conference: “The Nuclear Policy Trilemma: Balancing Nuclear Modernization, Alliance Management and Effective Arms Control in a Competitive Security Environment," with former Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Rose Gottemoeller, lecturer at Stanford University's Center for International Security and Cooperation. https://www.csis.org/events/nuclear-policy-trilemma

10 a.m. — House Veterans' Affairs Committee hearing on "Veteran Suicide Prevention: Innovative Research and Expanded Public Health Efforts,” with Kameron Matthews, assistant VA undersecretary for health - clinical services in the Veterans Health Administration; Matthew Miller, executive director of the Suicide Prevention Program in the Veterans Health Administration; Lisa Brenner, director of the Rocky Mountain Mental Illness Research Education and Clinical Center For Suicide Prevention in the Veterans Health Administration; Tammy Barlet, deputy legislative director of Veterans of Foreign Wars; Kaitlynne Hetrick, associate for government affairs of the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America; Jennifer Silva, chief program officer for the Wounded Warrior Project; Bill Smith, chairman of the National Indian Health Board; Nicholas Armendariz, veteran; and Rajeev Ramchand, co-director of the RAND Epstein Family Veterans Policy Research Institute and senior behavioral scientist for the RAND Corporation. http://veterans.house.gov Livestream at https://www.youtube.com/channel

10:45 a.m. — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., photo opportunity with Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison ahead of a bipartisan leadership meeting. Livestream at https://www.facebook.com/NancyPelosi/

2 p.m. — House Veterans' Affairs Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee hearing on H.R.1596, the "Commission to Study the Stigmatization, Criminalization, and Ongoing Exclusion and Inequality for LGBTQ Servicemembers and Veterans Act"; H.R.5170, the "Securing the Rights our Veterans Earned (SERVE) Act"; H.R.2806, the "Honoring All Veterans Act"; H.R.4845, to establish an advisory committee on LGBTQ veterans; H.R.2385, the "Justice for Women Veterans Act"; H.R.3930, the "Voices for Veterans Act"; the "VA Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Access Data Improvement Act"; and the "Every Veteran Counts Act, with Harvey Johnson, deputy assistant VA secretary for resolution management, diversity and inclusion; Kshemendra Paul, executive director for data governance and analytics and chief data officer in the VA Office of Enterprise Integration; Jennifer Dane, CEO and executive director of the Modern Military Association of America; Lindsay Church, executive director and co-founder of Minority Veterans of America; Marquis Barefield, assistant national legislative director of Disabled American Veterans; Peter Perkowski, clinical instructor for the Veterans Legal Clinic in the WilmerHale Legal Service Center of Harvard Law School; and Victor J. LaGroon, director and chairman of the Black Veterans Empowerment Council. http://veterans.house.gov Livestream at https://www.youtube.com/channel

3 p.m. — Council on Foreign Relations virtual discussion with Korean Foreign Minister Chung Eui-yong and CNN’s Fareed Zakaria, on the peace process on the Korean peninsula, South Korea's role in the Asia-Pacific and on the global front, and the ROK-U.S. comprehensive partnership. Register at https://cfr.zoom.us

THURSDAY | SEPTEMBER 23

10 a.m. — Arms Control Association and the Chemical Weapons Convention Coalition virtual discussion: “U.S. Chemical Weapons Stockpile Elimination: Progress Update,” with Deputy Assistant Defense Secretary for Chemical and Biological Defense Brandi Vann; Irene Komelly, chair of the Colorado Citizens' Advisory Commission; and Paul Walker, coordinator at CWC https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register

11 a.m. — Counter Extremism Project webinar: “Future Terrorism And Security Challenges Emanating From Afghanistan,” with Edmund Fitton-Brown, coordinator of the ISIL, al Qaeda and Taliban Monitoring Team, U.N. Security Council; Sofia Koller, research fellow, German Council on Foreign Relations; and Guido Steinberg, senior fellow, German Institute for International and Security Affairs. https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register

12 p.m. — Washington Post Live virtual book discussion on Peril, with co-authors Bob Woodward, Washington Post associate editor; and Robert Costa, Washington Post national political reporter. https://www.washingtonpost.com/washington-post-live

1:30 p.m. — Center for Strategic and International Studies Defense-Industrial Initiatives Group and Aerospace Security Project virtual event “Investing Intelligently in Remotely Crewed Systems: Leveraging Capability for Future Conflict,” with Will Roper, former assistant secretary of the Air Force for acquisition, technology and logistics; Rebecca Grant, president, IRIS Independent Research; Todd Harrison, senior fellow, CSIS International Security Program; and Rose Butchart, associate fellow, Defense-Industrial Initiatives Group. https://www.csis.org/events/investing-intelligently-remotely-crewed-systems

2 p.m. — Middle East Institute virtual discussion: “Iran Facing Outward: Changing Politics, Military Doctrine, and Border Issues,” with former Afghan Interior Minister Ali Jalali, professor at National Defense University; Manochehr Dorraj, professor of political science at Texas Christian University; Mahmood Monshipouri, professor of international relations at San Francisco State University; and Fatemeh Aman, nonresident scholar at MEI https://www.mei.edu/events/iran-facing-outward

FRIDAY | SEPTEMBER 24

TBA — President Joe Biden hosts a meeting of leaders of the “Quad” at the White House, with Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, and Indian Prime Minister Narenda Modi.

TUESDAY | SEPTEMBER 28

TBA — Senate Armed Services Committee hearing: “Testimony on U.S. Withdrawal From Afghanistan,” with Lloyd Austin, secretary of defense; Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; and Gen. Frank McKenzie, commander, U.S. Central Command. https://www.armed-services.senate.gov/hearings


QUOTE OF THE DAY

“The new Taliban looks very much like the old Taliban, with terrorists on the United Nations Security Council's blacklist at its highest ranks. In fact, the leader of the Haqqani Network, a U.S.-designated terrorist organization, which maintains close ties to al Qaeda, and cooperates with ISIS-K, was named the acting interior minister. This means the Taliban official in charge of combating terrorism is on the FBI's most-wanted list.”

Ohio Sen. Rob Portman, speaking at a hearing of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee on Tuesday.

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Tags: National Security, Daily on Defense

Original Author: Jamie McIntyre

Original Location: House debate begins on defense bill that would investigate Afghanistan failures, expand draft to women, and reform military sexual assault laws

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