The D Brief: Afghans headed to Virginia; DoD’s space norms; China’s cyber evolution; ‘Pandemic of the unvaccinated’; And a bit more...
Finally, a place for Afghan interpreters to go. Fort Lee in Virginia will be the first, albeit temporary, U.S. home for people who helped U.S. forces and now fear for their lives as the Taliban seize more territory, Pentagon officials said Monday. “The new arrivals will be housed in a mix of single dorm rooms and family housing units at Fort Lee, and perhaps at other military installations if more space is needed,” Defense One’s Tara Copp and Jacqueline Feldscher report.
Pentagon spox John Kirby: “We’re going to give these people a safe place to stay for a few days while they finish the processing that they have to finish before they can then be resettled elsewhere in the United States.”
The first chartered flights of Afghan helpers and dependents are expected this month, Kirby said, adding that so far about 700 interpreters and 1,800 of their dependents have been cleared for evacuation to the United States. Read on, here.
From Defense One
First Wave of Afghan Interpreters Head to Fort Lee // Tara Copp and Jacqueline Feldscher: Arriving families will stay for the moment in barracks or other housing; the State Department will pick up their food and medical costs.
What Is Happening to Our Apolitical Military? // Kori Schake, The Atlantic: Remarks by America’s most senior military officer mark the latest step in the continued erosion of relations between the armed forces and their civilian leaders.
Clarity on Afghanistan, Confusion on Iraq // Mark Kimmitt: Biden gave us clarity on Afghanistan and it’s time he does the same in Iraq.
Welcome to this Tuesday edition of The D Brief from Bradley Peniston with Jennifer Hlad. If you’re not already subscribed to The D Brief, you can do that here. OTD1969: Americans first landed on the Moon; NASA plans to repeat the feat in 2024.
Pentagon pledges to abide by space norms. SecDef Lloyd Austin has signed a one-page memo ordering DOD to operate in space “with due regard to others and in a professional manner,” to “limit the generation of long-lived debris,” to “maintain safe separation and safe trajectory,” and a few other things. Breaking Defense’s Theresa Hitchens obtained a copy of the July 7 memo, which Doug Loverro, former head of DOD space policy, said is “the first time, to my knowledge, that the DOD has released an unclassified statement about norms.” Read on, here.
Russia: We test-fired a hypersonic missile from a warship. “The Admiral Gorshkov frigate has successfully test-fired the Tsirkon hypersonic missile against a surface target at the range of over 350 km and the flight speed reached 7 Mach,” the TASS state media agency said Monday.
UK to “permanently assign” two warships in Asia-Pacific region. The announcement comes as a flotilla built around the Royal Navy’s Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier heads to Japan for a visit. "Following on from the strike group's inaugural deployment, the United Kingdom will permanently assign two ships in the region from later this year," Britain's Defence Minister Ben Wallace said in a joint announcement in Tokyo with his Japanese counterpart, Nobuo Kishi.
Officials did not name the two ships, which will have no permanent homeport, Reuters reports.
“How China Transformed Into a Prime Cyber Threat to the U.S.” is the headline on a New York Times piece that traces the evolution of Beijing’s network warriors. “What we’ve seen over the past two or three years is an upleveling” by China, said George Kurtz, the chief executive of the cybersecurity firm CrowdStrike. “They operate more like a professional intelligence service than the smash-and-grab operators we saw in the past.” More, here.
Bipartisan bill seeks to reassert lawmakers' sway over conflicts, arms sales. “The bill aims, for the first time, to define what type of ‘hostilities’ require a president to seek congressional approval before committing military resources; establish expiration dates for national emergencies and military authorizations; and automatically curtail funding for any operation a president continues without explicit congressional support,” writes the Washington Post, calling the bill “an across-the-board effort to claw back national security power from the executive branch.” Read on, here.
Fort Knox will punish about 40 unvaccinated soldiers who were caught going into buildings without masks. “The reprimands are among the first publicly-acknowledged punishments for U.S. troops who have declined the COVID-19 vaccine but failed to wear masks,” Army Times reports.
The Defense Department in May lifted the mask mandate for fully vaccinated people, though Ft. Knox rules state that anyone without a mask could be asked for proof of vaccination. “In just a matter of hours last week, during random inspections, senior Fort Knox leaders identified several dozen unvaccinated individuals attempted to enter on-post facilities such as the Shoppette and Post Exchange without masks,” Fort Knox spokesperson Kyle Hodges told Army Times. “These unmasked individuals failed to provide proof of vaccination.
COVID cases, hospitalizations, and deaths are up across the United States. There are an average of about 26,000 new cases per day, up 70% from the previous week, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Rochelle Walensky said Friday. Hospitalizations are up 36%, and deaths are up 26%, to an average of 211 per day.
Axios: “This is happening almost exclusively to people who aren’t vaccinated, and it’s worse in places where overall vaccination rates are low.” Walensky: “This is becoming a pandemic of the unvaccinated.”
Meanwhile, the Delta variant of the coronavirus continues to spread quickly across the globe. It was first identified in India, where the death toll from the pandemic is now expected to exceed three million, the New York Times reports.
The South Korean military is dealing with its worst outbreak of the virus; the country is evacuating the entire crew of a navy destroyer at sea after hundreds tested positive for COVID-19, the New York Times reports.
Lastly today: A look at the Army athletes who will compete at the Tokyo Olympics, scheduled to open on Friday. Among them is modern pentathlete Sgt. Amro Elgeziry, who will compete under the U.S. flag in his fourth Olympics. He competed in 2008, 2012, and 2016 for his native country of Egypt. Army Times has more, here.