Today's D Brief: Afghan pilots' fate up in the air; USAF minority recruiting takes a hit; Top Army PAO suspended; And a bit more.
A “large portion” of the U.S. Air Force’s C-17 fleet is reportedly out of service for repairs following hundreds of emergency evacuation flights out of Kabul as Afghanistan fell to the Taliban. Out of the U.S. military’s 387 flights, “330 were flown by C-17 Globemaster III aircraft and those planes carried out 79,000 of the more than 124,000 evacuees,” the Wall Street Journal’s Nancy Youssef reports.
One reason this matters: President Joe Biden nominated Air Force Gen. Jacqueline Van Ovost, who is currently in charge of Air Mobility Command, to lead the U.S. Transportation Command. Her drama-free confirmation hearing already happened this morning before the Senate Armed Services Committee, which flagged no significant opposition to her likely new job.
Elsewhere, U.S. officials are trying to biometrically ID Afghan pilots who escaped to Tajikistan as Kabul was falling in mid-August, Reuters reported Wednesday from Washington. More than 140 of them are “detained at a sanatorium in a mountainous, rural area outside of the Tajik capital, Dushanbe, waiting and hoping for over a month for transfer by the United States.” More than a dozen other Afghans are reportedly in more relaxed conditions in Dushanbe.
FWIW, “A Tajik government source familiar with the situation blamed delays by the United States and Canada to issue visas.” More here.
Two Afghan refugees at Wisconsin’s Fort McCoy are facing a slate of charges, including domestic abuse and sex crimes against a minor, Fox News reports from the Department of Justice’s Western District of Wisconsin (charges here).
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Welcome to this Thursday edition of The D Brief from Ben Watson with Jennifer Hlad. If you’re not already subscribed to The D Brief, you can do that here. On this day in 1962, the “Jetsons” premiered in full color on ABC. The show was poorly watched in its first season, and was soon bumped to Saturday mornings—where it eventually thrived and became the icon it’s remembered as today. Review various “Jetsons” technologies that we more or less use today via this nine-minute video from AJ+.
The U.S. Army’s top public affairs officer was suspended after an alleged 97 percent of people who responded to a command climate survey for her office reported workplace hostility, “a key indicator of potentially toxic leadership issues,” Army Times reported Wednesday evening.
Brig. Gen. Amy Johnston had been the Army’s chief of public affairs since April 2019. “The data also revealed a morale crisis. Roughly two-thirds of soldiers and civilians at [the Office of the Chief of Public Affairs] reported low morale in the survey, with only 8 percent saying they had high morale,” Winkie and Myers report.
But that’s not all. “Twenty-one percent of respondents said there was sexual harassment present at OCPA, and 26 percent reported they’d seen racial harassment.” More, here.
President Biden’s Special Envoy to Haiti, Ambassador Daniel Foote, just resigned. PBS News’s Yamiche Alcindor shared Foote’s resignation letter on Twitter, in which he wasted no time citing America’s “inhumane, counterproductive decision to deport thousands of Haitian refugees” as the chief reason for his departure.
The U.S. military is helping “arrange contracted commercial flights” to move migrants to processing sites, Military.com reported Wednesday, citing a request to the Pentagon from the Department of Homeland Security. “The Pentagon and Transportation Command will provide the flights to move the migrants to CBP on a reimbursable basis, and the mission has a deadline of Oct. 20,” according to Press Secretary John Kirby. More here.
Did you know the U.S. has a migrant holding facility at Gitmo? NBC News learned about it Wednesday after spotting a contracting notice—updating a deal first signed in 2002—and posted Sept. 17, 2021. According to the notice, the facility is known as a Migrant Operations Center and it “has a capacity of 120 people.” But whoever takes this new contract, “shall be responsible to maintain on site the necessary equipment to erect temporary housing facilities for populations that exceed 120 and up to 400 migrants in a surge event.”
What drew NBC’s attention: A note near the bottom of the posting specifying that “At least 10% of the augmented personnel must be fluent in Spanish and Haitian Creole.” This led NBC to speculate the facility was specifically for Haitian migrants, which the Department of Homeland Security said was untrue in a statement to NBC. Rather, the Guantanamo MOC has often been used as a temporary facility for migrants picked up at sea—and Gitmo is almost as close to Haiti as you can get on the island of Cuba. Read on, here.
In what’s believed to be a first for its location, the U.S. military in Hawaii recently shot down cruise missiles with Patriot missiles, Yahoo News reported Wednesday.
For the record, “The Sept. 1 live-fire test of PAC-2 interceptors from the Pacific Missile Range Facility on Kauai was not intended as a defense-of-Hawaii scenario, and in fact followed a simulated Patriot launch during an exercise near Okinawa, Japan, and the actual firing of two Patriots in July during exercise Talisman Sabre in Australia.”
Lastly today: Biden, Macron make amends and agree to talk more closely in the future, according to a joint statement the two leaders released after chatting by phone Wednesday.
Next up: The two will meet in Europe at the end of October, and the “French Ambassador will return to Washington next week,” according to the statement.
Related reading: “Biden Just Gave France Something More Valuable than a Submarine Contract,” writes Defense One Executive Editor Kevin Baron.