Today's D Brief: Anti-extremist stand-down ordered; Troops to staff vax centers; Nuke-deal standoff; Trespasser at Andrews; And a bit more.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin on Saturday signed the “stand-down” for extremism memo previewed last week — an unusual safety consideration taken in the wake of the very unusual insurrection at the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington, D.C., 33 days ago.
What this means: Military “commanding officers and supervisors at all levels” must pick one day in the next 60 “to discuss extremism in the ranks with their personnel,” according to the Pentagon. It's known officially as Department of Defense Instruction 1325.06 and entitled “Handling Dissident and Protest Activities Among Members of the Armed Forces.”
Reminder why this is happening: “January 6, I think, really not just shocked the nation, but it certainly had an electric effect here at the Department of Defense in terms of the notion that anybody active duty, let alone in the veteran community and active duty could be involved in that,” Pentagon spokesman John Kirby told reporters Thursday. (For more on that concerning angle, NPR reported on Jan. 21 “Nearly 1 In 5 Defendants In Capitol Riot Cases Served In The Military.”)
For commanders reluctant or unsure where to begin, that DoDI 1325.06 “provides the core tenets to support such discussions,” the Defense Department said in a message to reporters this weekend. “Leaders have the discretion to tailor discussions with their personnel as appropriate, but such discussions should include the importance of our oath of office; a description of impermissible behaviors; and procedures for reporting suspected, or actual, extremist behaviors” in line with the new policy.
Austin also ordered 1,110 active duty troops to help administer COVID-19 vaccines at five Federal Emergency Management Agency vaccinations centers.
At each of the five sites, we can expect:
- 15 service members for command and control;
- 80 for administering vaccinations;
- 15 registered nurses;
- 57 clinical staff;
- and 55 general purpose personnel, per a DoD news release.
The U.S. Navy ID’d a 26-year-old sailor who died Thursday from COVID-19. RIP Information Systems Technician (Submarines) 2nd Class Cody Andrew-Godfredson Myers, who "was assigned to the blue crew of the Georgia-based ballistic missile submarine Tennessee," according to Navy Times.
ICYMI: “The Navy also announced Friday that Chief Quartermaster Herbert Rojas, a 50-year-old staff instructor at Recruit Training Command Great Lakes, Illinois, died Tuesday at his home of COVID-related complications.” More from Navy Times, here.
A second vaccination round has started aboard the Navy’s only forward-deployed carrier. That would be the Ronald Reagan, based in Japan, whose sailors began to get their first shots on Jan. 7. A bit more, here.
Countrywide, about 1.4 million people are getting vaccinated every day, the New York Times reports. Daily new cases are down about one-third over the past two weeks, but: “Deaths remain persistently high, with more than 100,000 announced already in 2021” and a total of more than 463,000. “Worrisome variants from overseas continue to emerge in more states. And case levels, though falling, remain higher than at any time before Election Day.”
Today for POTUS46: Vaccination logistics. President Biden has scheduled a visit to Glendale, Arizona’s State Farm Stadium vaccination site. That’s slated for 2:30 p.m. ET, and you can catch it live, here.
Already today: CENTCOM’s Marine Gen. Frank McKenzie spoke at an annual conference hosted by the Middle East Institute. McKenzie delivered the keynote via livestream at 9:15 a.m. ET.
BTW: SecDef Austin called up Afghan President Ashraf Ghani on Saturday. There wasn’t much that was terribly surprising out of the Pentagon’s readout. In that, Austin is still pushing “for a negotiated settlement to end the war,” and he “reaffirm[ed] the United States’ commitment to an enduring U.S.-Afghan partnership, emphasizing the strength of the defense relationship.” Tiny bit more, here.
From Defense One
Biden Extends Ban on Turkey Buying F-35 Stealth Fighter // Marcus Weisgerber: Pentagon spokesman urges Ankara “not to retain” an advanced Russian air-defense system.
Defense Business Brief // Marcus Weisgerber: Big arms shows are back; A Boeing CEO’s second act; Hicks on industry consolidation; and more...
House Lawmakers Split Oversight of Cyber, Intel // Mariam Baksh, Nextgov: Seven Armed Services Committee subcommittees will help oversee the vast Defense Department.
Counterinsurgency Isn’t the Answer // Andrew Exum, The Atlantic: Be wary of those who seek to apply the lessons of our campaigns abroad to our political challenges at home.
Welcome to this Monday edition of The D Brief from Ben Watson and Bradley Peniston. 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 1959, the so-called “father of the CIA,” William Donovan, passed away at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. He was 76.
POTUS46 will reverse POTUS45’s designation of Yemen’s Houthis as a terror group. The New York Times reported Friday that Congress has been alerted to the upcoming policy change, which reverses Donald Trump’s late-term attempt to punish Iran, a key Houthi sponsor.
Why this matters: “Critics said the designation would exacerbate what the U.N. calls the world’s worst humanitarian crisis by hindering aid shipments to a population on the brink of famine,” the Associated Press reports.
- CSIS’ Jon Alterman made a similar case against Trump’s designation back in November. Read that, here.
How at least one Iran hawk is interpreting this decision: “Make enough of a humanitarian nightmare in the territory Iran is helping you conquer, and the U.S. will prioritize the humanitarian nightmare over the terrorist activity that helped create it,” Jonathan Schanzer of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies wrote on Twitter.
The Saudis say they destroyed four armed Houthi drones the group allegedly sent toward KSA on Sunday, Reuters reports.
The U.S. State Department was quick to pounce on the allegations. Spokesman Ned Price said Sunday “the United States is deeply troubled by continued Houthi attacks” and called on the group to “immediately cease attacks impacting civilian areas inside Saudi Arabia and to halt any new military offensives inside Yemen.” Tiny bit more from Foggy Bottom, here.
Rhetorical nuke-deal standoff. Biden, who says he’s open to returning to the 2015 deal that drastically limited Iranian nuclear enrichment, said on Sunday that he won’t lift sanctions until Iran stops enriching uranium. But Iran’s Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said the same day that his country won’t stop until the sanctions are lifted. NPR, here.
Tough talk: The U.S. will stand up to China when it comes to human rights and democratic values in Xinjiang, Tibet, and Hong Kong, Secretary of State Antony Blinken told China’s top diplomat in a Friday phone call, the State Department said. Blinken also pressed Yang Jiechi to not support the coup in Myanmar, Reuters reports.
Meanwhile, China has formally arrested an Australian journalist who was detained last August on unclear national security-related charges, the New York Times reports.
From the region: Tens of thousands of people are demonstrating against the coup in Myanmar, where protests continued for a third straight day, BBC reports.
Back stateside, the Biden admin will review Trump-era deportations of veterans and military spouses, McClatchy news reports this morning. According to the White House, “The administration’s immigration enforcement will focus on those who are national security and public safety threats, not military families, service members or veterans,” Assistant press secretary Vedant Patel told McClatchy. “The federal government in conjunction with the Department of Homeland Security will take further review of removals of veterans and their family members.” Story here.
Lastly today: The U.S. Air Force is investigating its base security across the globe after a 36-year-old man somehow entered not just the flightline at Maryland’s Joint Base Andrews, near D.C., but he then managed to board a C-40 aircraft before being detained by security. The event happened on Thursday.
How in the world did he get that far? Unclear just yet, but service officials have decided to suspend a “Trusted Traveler” program, which allowed “valid cardholders with escort authority to vouch up to 10 people in their vehicle,” Military Times reported. More here.
NEXT STORY: House Lawmakers Split Oversight of Cyber, Intel