Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin III and Mark Milley, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, enter the Pentagon on Austin's first day in his new role on January 22, 2021.

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin III and Mark Milley, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, enter the Pentagon on Austin's first day in his new role on January 22, 2021. Sarah Silbiger / Getty Images

New SecDef; F-35 deals; More Pegasus orders; and more...

Three days after Lloyd Austin vowed to recuse himself for four years from decisions about Raytheon, the Senate voted 93-2 to confirm the retired Army general as the 28th Secretary of Defense. Sens. Mike Lee, R-Utah, and Josh Hawley, R-Mo., voted against Austin's nomination.

Austin, speaking at his Senate Armed Services Committee confirmation hearing the day before President Joe Biden’s inauguration, pledged to recuse himself from military decisions involving Raytheon Technologies for four years, two longer than required by ethics laws. Austin, who joined the board of United Technologies in 2016 and kept his seat during the company’s April 2020 merger with Raytheon, is believed to have already resigned from the board. (Federal regulations prevent a company from discussing board moves before it posts an updated Securities and Exchange Commission filing.) More of our Austin coverage is below, including who’s in charge at the Pentagon.

Fed protections, restored: An important story for government civil servants from our sister publication Government Executive: “Fulfilling a campaign promise, President Biden is expected to sign an executive order Friday afternoon rescinding a series of orders issued by former President Trump aimed at gutting federal employee unions and stripping federal workers of their civil service protections.” Read, here.

F-35 deals go through. An hour before Biden’s inauguration, the United Arab Emirates signed a deal to buy up to 50 F-35 stealth fighters and 18 MQ-9 Reaper drones, Reuters reports. It’s unclear whether the Biden administration will seek to block the sale. Speaking of the F-35, the U.S. and U.K. signed a deal that will allow Marine Corps jets to deploy on the HMS Queen Elizabeth Royal Navy aircraft carrier later this year.

Nuke treaty, extended. Less than 24 hours after moving into the White House, the Biden administration said it would extend the New START nuclear treaty with Russia for five years.

More Pegasi. The Air Force keeps buying KC-46 tankers. Just last week it placed a $1.7 billion order with Boeing for 12 tankers. This week, it placed a $2.1 billion order for 15 more. That brings the service’s total KC-46 orders to 94 of a planned 179.

No new GPS. Lastly, a new Government Accountability Office report has found the U.S. military will not install special, jam-resistant GPS receivers on F/A-18 Hornets, AV-8B Harriers and CH-53E Super Stallion aircraft due to development delays.

From Defense One

Trump Did Not Influence Military Contracts, Pentagon's Top Arms Buyer Says // Marcus Weisgerber

But he was interested in the new Air Force One's paint job.

Austin Pledges to Recuse Himself from Military Decisions Involving Raytheon // Marcus Weisgerber

The commitment is a huge win for Sen. Elizabeth Warren and other progressive Democrats pushing for stricter lobbying laws.

Trump Restricted Drone Imports In Final White House Days // Mila Jasper

The executive order encourages federal agencies to divest from unmanned aerial systems manufactured by China, Russia and Iran.

Here's Who Will Be Running the Pentagon When Biden Takes Office // Katie Bo Williams

Dozens named in the most comprehensive roster published to date of who will be running DOD when the president-elect is sworn in.

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