Night defense: NATO expands troops in Iraq


Happy Thursday and welcome to Overnight Defense. I’m Ellen Mitchell, and here’s your nightly guide to the latest happenings at the Pentagon, on Capitol Hill, and beyond. CLICK HERE to subscribe to the newsletter.

THE TOPLINE: NATO expanding troops in Iraq

NATO expand your security training mission in Iraq by thousands of troops following a Deadly rocket attack on a military air base earlier this week.

The 30-member alliance will increase its staff in Iraq from 500 to around 4,000, a move to prevent the war-torn country from becoming a breeding ground for terrorists, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg announced Thursday. .

“ISIS still operates in Iraq and we must make sure they cannot return,” Stoltenberg told reporters at the end of a two-day virtual meeting of NATO defense ministers.

What does the increase mean: He said NATO’s efforts will now include more Iraqi security institutions and areas beyond Baghdad, although its presence “is based on conditions and increases in troop numbers will be incremental.”

He added that the Iraqi government had requested the expansion of the mission, which will begin in the coming months.

The forces are already there: NATO has been in Iraq since 2004 to train Iraqi security forces. Its current training mission, which began in 2018, is intended to help Iraqi forces prevent ISIS from resurfacing.

The increase in NATO troops could possibly ease pressure on US forces in Iraq, where there are about 2,500 troops for a separate alliance mission.

Will the United States also increase ?: A senior defense official told reporters earlier this week that the Pentagon “welcomes NATO’s increased focus on Iraq,” but did not say whether the United States would add more troops to the training mission.

Response to attack: Plans to expand NATO’s presence follow Monday’s rocket attack at Erbil International Airport, a military airbase in northern Iraq, which killed a civilian contractor and injured nine people, including a service member. U.S.

The militant Shiite group Saraya Awliya al-Dam took credit for the attack, although the Biden administration has not publicly confirmed who is responsible for the attack.

The State Department promised Wednesday “consequences for any group responsible for this attack.”

Suspended Army War College Principal Faces Sexual Misconduct Investigation

The suspended head of the Army War College is be investigated for allegations of sexual misconduct, numerous media reported Thursday.

Major General Stephen Maranian “was suspended from his duties on an accusation of inappropriate contact unrelated to his current position,” Army spokeswoman Cynthia Smith said. Military.com said in a statement.

Special agents from the Army Criminal Investigation Command are investigating the allegation, Smith added.

More details: Reported task and purpose that Maranian is being investigated for alleged abusive sexual contact with an Army civilian, and that a military protection order was issued against him on February 9, the day it was suspended.

“No further information will be released at this time to protect the integrity of the investigative process,” Smith said. “These are allegations at this time, and MG Maranian is presumed not guilty until proven otherwise.”

A long time problem: The Army for years has fought to reduce harassment and sexual assault within the ranks, an effort that intensified after an independent review at Fort Hood in Texas. who found leadership flaws permitted widespread and uncontrolled sexual assault and violence.

New promises: Secretary of the Army John Whitley, the service’s top civilian leader, called on the force last week to combat “corrosive behavior,” including discrimination, extremist views and sexual harassment.

And secretary of defense Lloyd AustinLloyd AustinOvernight Defense: One-third of service members reject coronavirus vaccine | Biden to Take Executive Action in Response to Solar Winds Hack | US and Japan Reach Cost-Sharing Agreement Biden Talks to Netanyahu for First Time Since Taking Office Promotions of Female Generals Halted Out of Fear of Trump’s Response: MORE Report during his nomination hearing he vowed to “fight hard to end sexual assault.”

Biden shifts focus of Saudi leaders

President BidenJoe BidenFeds Investigates Cuomo’s Handling of Nursing Home Outbreaks Night Defense: One-Third of Service Members Refuse Coronavirus Vaccine | Biden to Take Executive Action in Response to Solar Winds Hack | US and Japan Reach Cost-Sharing Agreement On The Money: Biden Faces Backlash From Left Over Student Loans | Where are the things on the COVID-19 relief measure | Retail Sales Rebound MORE is shift America’s focus to Saudi Arabia by stepping away from the priority diplomatic access granted to certain Saudi officials during the Trump administration, which gave the kingdom a prominent role in US policy in the Middle East.

Biden is expected to speak at some point with King Salman of Saudi Arabia, signaling a degradation in relations with the kingdom’s day-to-day ruler, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, a huge figure on the world stage.

Ratio of ‘recalibrate’: The one-off emphasis that Biden will communicate with the Saudi king, a move outlined by the White House press secretary. Jen psakiJen PsakiOn The Money: Biden Faces Backlash from the Left on Student Loans | Where are the things on the COVID-19 relief measure | Retail Sales Rebound Healthcare Overnight: Biden Officials Announce Funds to Track Virus Variants | Senate Democrats Unveil Public Option Proposal | White House: Teacher Vaccines Not Required for Schools to Reopen Harris Says Teachers Should Take Priority for COVID-19 Vaccine MORE in an effort to “recalibrate” the relationship between Washington and Riyadh, it indicates that the president is taking steps toward his commitment to more vigorously confront Riyadh for its human rights abuses while continuing to work together on shared goals.

How Trump handled it: The crown prince played a prominent role in the Trump administration’s approach to the Middle East, allegedly exchanging WhatsApp messages with the former senior White House adviser and Trump’s son-in-law. Jared kushnerJared Corey Kushner LIVE COVERAGE: Democrats Focus On Trump’s Comments Before The Attack On Capitol Kushner, Ivanka Trump Reported Up To $ 0 Million In Outside Revenue Over White House Years Can Palestine Import Again? PLUS, helping pave the way for the Abrahamic Accords, opening relations between Israel and the African and Gulf nations.

But the crown prince also alienated Washington for its alleged role in ordering the murder and dismemberment of a Saudi journalist based in the United States. Jamal Khashoggi in Turkey in October 2018.

Trump notably downplayed the crown prince’s role in Khashoggi’s assassination in an effort to maintain strong bilateral ties, writing in an extraordinary statement that he “may have done so and may not have” had knowledge of the plot against the journalist who wrote for The Washington Post. .

Going back: Director of National Intelligence for Biden, Avril hainesAvril HainesBiden Wexton’s Cabinet Opportunity, Speier Calls for Renewal of Authorization Process to Detect Extremist Views Hillicon Valley: Senators Express Concern Over Response to Russian Attack | Huawei makes a legal move | Twitter sees a jump in user growth MORE, has pledged to declassify the US intelligence report on Khashoggi’s death that allegedly concluded that Crown Prince Mohammed personally ordered the assassination.

Biden administration officials have welcomed the Trump-era Abraham Accords as a positive development, but have already taken steps to reverse US support for Saudi actions that are seen as contributing to the atrocities of human rights.

Read the rest here.

ON TAP FOR TOMORROW

The House of Representatives Subcommittee on National Security Oversight will hold a hearing on “A Path to Peace in Afghanistan: Examining the Findings and Recommendations of the Afghanistan Study Group,” with the former senator. Kelly ayotteKelly Ann AyotteNight Defense: New START Extended for Five Years | Austin orders “stand down” to confront extremism | Panel recommends Biden delay withdrawal from Afghanistan Study group recommends Biden delay withdrawal from Afghanistan Night defense: Pentagon chief expels hundreds of advisory panels Defense selection analyzes obstacles to Trump’s transition | Aircraft Carrier Returning Home After 10 Month Deployment PLUS (RN.H.), and the former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Joseph Dunford, at 10:30 am

The President of the United States, Joe Biden, the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, and French President Emmanuel MacronEmmanuel Jean-Michel MacronZaid Jilani responds to NYT report on left-wing ideas creating confusion in France Get Europe’s help for China’s ‘strategic autonomy’ Macron won’t happen anytime soon MORE will participate in a virtual event of the Munich Security Conference on “A new transatlantic agenda”, at 11:15 am

The Hudson Institute will hold a virtual discussion on “The Future of US Marine Energy: A View from Congress” with Rep. Joe courtneyJoseph (Joe) D. Courtney South Carolina Republican tests positive for coronavirus hours after speaking in the House of Representatives, Representative Rick Allen tests positive for COVID-19 Connecticut Democrat diagnosed with COVID-19 MORE (D-Conn.), Chairman of the Subcommittee on Projection Forces and Maritime Power of the House Armed Services Committee; and Rep. Robert Wittman (R-Va.), rank member of the sub-panel, at 12 p.m.

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– The Washington Post: The Pentagon awarded Virginia a massive contract company that a US senator called ‘fraudulent’

– Military times: Concerns Raised About COVID-19 Vaccines reaching deployed troops

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