Today's D Brief: Guardsmen staying in DC; Trans ban reversed, again; Saudi widens US access; WH focus on sexual assault; And a bit more.
Post-insurrection security snapshot for DC: On Monday we learned several thousand National Guard troops will remain in the nation’s capital through the middle of March. That’s what U.S. Army and National Guard officials told reporters after acting Army Secretary John Whitley approved the request to keep troops in Washington, D.C., well after the inauguration of President Joe Biden last week.
Twenty-one states’ Guard troops are supporting D.C. and federal law enforcement — including the U.S. Park Police, U.S. Secret Service, U.S. Capitol Police and the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department — under authorization from Title 32, U.S.C., Section 502(f). Their support ranges from crowd control assistance to medical help and a variety of logistics taskings. The soldiers remaining in town will have “civil disturbance” gear, and some will be armed “if necessary,” Army officials said Monday. The latest planning figures have about 7,000 Guard troops staying around D.C. through the end of January.
Some 5,000 Guard troops are staying on through mid-March to help the Capitol Police; the D.C. National Guard is leading those coordination efforts. Another 650 will help the Secret Service; 550 will support the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department; and 500 more will assist the U.S. Park Police through mid-March.
Rewind: See for yourself why it looks like Trump’s insurrection. Observe the quite “direct connection between what President Donald Trump communicated to his supporters and their actions in laying siege to the U.S. Capitol” on Jan. 6, via a 10-minute reel of rioters’ videos and their own words collected and posted Monday by Justin Hendrix of the Tech Policy Press.
No time for a 10-minute video? Hendrix elaborates in an op-ed co-authored with former DOD counsel Ryan Goodman, published Monday in Just Security.
Why this matters: “The videos, along with other information in the public record, provide strong evidence of a causal link between Trump’s messages to his supporters and their dangerous, illegal conduct,” Goodman and Hendrix write. What’s more, “The collection of videos, viewed chronologically, also shows the ways in which Trump placed the life of Vice President Mike Pence, among others, in grave danger.” More here.
A 30-year-old Marine veteran faces four felony charges for allegedly assaulting police officers with a hockey stick and a “sharpened pole” during the Jan. 6 riots, The Daily Beast reported Monday. According to prosecutors, the veteran’s “actions on January 6 were among the most violent of all participants.”
FWIW: He had served five years ending in 2019, he never deployed, and he was not an infantry Marine, Task & Purpose reports this morning.
Today’s schedule: Just after noon, we’re expecting to hear from President Biden’s Domestic Policy Advisor Susan Rice today for the first time in her official role. She’s slated to attend the White House’s daily presser at 12:30 p.m. Shortly afterward, Biden is poised to unveil his administration’s “racial equity agenda” at 2 p.m. ET.
- Speaking of equity, Biden signed an executive order Monday that once again allows transgender troops to serve openly, Defense One’s Marcus Weisgerber reports. And more robust protections for transgender troops could be coming soon. Rep. Jackie Spier, D-Calif., said she would introduce legislation to the fiscal 2022 National Defense Authorization Act to “to secure a permanent policy of nondiscrimination for our armed forces.” Continue reading here.
- And on Monday, Biden directed the Pentagon to send him their best plans and practices to address one of the most pervasive and lingering problems for U.S. troops: sexual assault and harassment within the armed forces. Defense One’s Kevin Baron unpacks that order, here.
Also this afternoon: President Biden will update the country on its COVID-19 mitigation measures. That’s slated for 4:45 p.m. ET, according to Biden’s public schedule.
By the way: Thousands of U.S. military troops could be called up to help with the nationwide vaccination effort, CNN reported Monday. “One official, when pressed for an estimate, said that as many as 10,000 troops could be deployed as part of the effort.” Continue reading at CNN, here.
From Defense One
Saudis Expanding US Military Access to Airfields, Port, to Counter Iran // Katie Bo Williams: The year-old initiative is intended to give CENTCOM “more options” in a fight, general reveals.
Biden Orders New Review of Sexual Assault Policies in Military // Kevin Baron: Combatant commanders are to send plans and best practices within two weeks.
‘The Ban Should Never Have Been Imposed’ // Marcus Weisgerber: Former Army Secretary Eric Fanning says it’s time for Congress to pass a law that protects transgender servicemembers.
Sikorsky and Boeing Unveil New Helicopter that Could Replace Army Black Hawk // Marcus Weisgerber: The coaxial helicopter is based on the companies’ Defiant prototype.
The Forgotten People Fighting the Forever War // Jessica Donati, The Atlantic: A devastating incident in Afghanistan shows the perils of relying on Special Operations alone to fight the nation’s battles.
Welcome to this Tuesday edition of The D Brief from Ben Watson. Send us tips from your community right here. And if you’re not already subscribed to The D Brief, you can do that here. On this day in 1972, a McDonnell Douglas DC-9-32 passenger aircraft flying out of Copenhagen, Denmark, was blown apart at 33,000 feet when a suitcase bomb detonated in the luggage compartment as the plane flew over the present-day Czech Republic. Twenty-seven of the 28 people on board were killed; the amazing lone survivor was 22-year-old flight attendant Vesna Vulović, who fell more than six miles to the ground, and is credited with the world record for surviving the highest fall without a parachute. She was discovered and kept alive by a villager named Bruno Honke, who had been a medic in the Second World War.
Afghan officials say the Taliban have spent the last nine days “not willing to engage in talks to end the conflict and save lives,” according to Afghanistan’s Tolo News. But that hasn’t kept President Ashraf Ghani from continuing to engage in key discussions on peace talks, including with former president Hamid Karzai and former jihadi leader Abdul Rab Rasoul Sayaf — as well as the head of the High Council of National Reconciliation, Abdullah Abdullah.
Indeed, President Ghani’s national security advisor Afghan National Security Adviser Hamdullah Mohib claimed “there are credible intelligence reports that the Taliban were preparing for war,” according to Tolo.
Said Afghanistan’s military chief, Gen. Mohammad Yasin Zia: “If [the Taliban] claim to be Afghans, then they should denounce war and violence.”
With a U.S. carrier nearby, China says its military will conduct exercises in the South China Sea this week, Reuters reports.
Meanwhile, the Taiwanese air force today “simulate[d] a war scenario, showing its fleet’s battle readiness after dozens of Chinese warplanes flew into the island’s air defence zone over the weekend,” Reuters reports separately this morning.
The GOP welcomed nine new members to the House Armed Services Committee on Monday, Politico’s Connor O’Brien reported. The new crew includes:
- Ronny Jackson and Pat Fallon of Texas;
- Jerry Carl from Alabama;
- Mike Johnson of Louisiana;
- Mark Green from Tennessee;
- Stephanie Bice of Oklahoma;
- Blake Moore from Utah;
- Lisa McClain from Michigan;
- And Scott Franklin of Florida.
Finally today: Gray zones on the high seas. The U.S. Navy’s Norfolk-based 2nd Fleet Vice Admiral Andrew Lewis joins a virtual panel discussion all about “Defending the seas: Gray-zone threats in the maritime domain” at the American Enterprise Institute think tank in Washington, D.C. Lewis will be joined by the Chief of the Royal Swedish Navy, Ewa Skoog Haslum, in a discussion moderated by AEI’s Elisabeth Braw. That began at 10:30 a.m. ET. More here.