Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin is warning that troop readiness and retention is at risk as the Army’s chief recently stepped down, leaving the military’s two ground combat forces without Senate-confirmed leaders for the first time in history. Austin said Friday that the Senate’s failure to confirm the services’ new leaders is disruptive to the force and could impact relationships with allies and partners around the globe. The confirmation of the next Army chief and Marine commandant are among more than 300 nominations that are stalled by a Republican senator over the Pentagon’s policy to pay for travel when a service member has to go out of state to get reproductive care.
The U.S. military is considering putting armed personnel on commercial ships traveling through the Strait of Hormuz, in what would be an unheard of action aimed at stopping Iran from seizing and harassing civilian vessels. That's what five American officials told The Associated Press on Thursday. If implemented, it would be an extraordinary step by the Pentagon as it grapples with a renewed effort by Iran to harass and seize ships traveling in the strait, through which 20% of all the world’s crude oil passes. Iran’s mission to the United Nations did not immediately respond to a request for comment from the AP about the U.S. proposal.
New lawsuits claim that the U.S. Defense Department and the Department of Veteran Affairs are making it difficult and sometimes impossible for veterans to get infertility treatments. Multiple lawsuits were filed Wednesday in federal courts in New York and Boston seeking to hold the United States accountable for creating obstacles to health care access for a population that advocates say has a higher rate of infertility than the population at large. The lawsuits seek to obtain in vitro fertilization coverage for military service members and veterans who don't fit the Veterans Affairs definition of infertility as pertaining solely to married, heterosexual couples.
The Pentagon is pulling 1,100 troops from the U.S.-Mexico border that it had deployed in response to a surge in migrant crossings. A defense official, on the condition of anonymity, told the Associated Press on Tuesday the details ahead of an announcement. The active duty troops were sent to the border in May amid fears that the end of COVID-19 immigration restrictions was going to result in a crush of migrants attempting to cross into the United States. But immediately after Title 42 expired, the number of encounters dropped sharply, and have stayed low, according to Customs and Border Protection data.
The Senate has passed a massive annual defense bill that would deliver a 5.2% pay raise for service members and keep the nation’s military operating. The Senate sidestepped more divisive policy matters to move the bill forward with an overwhelmingly bipartisan vote. The Senate's bill sets up a clash with the House, which passed its own version of the annual defense bill along party lines after repeated clashes over social issues like abortion access and diversity initiatives. The Senate bill authorizes $886 billion in defense spending for the coming year, in line with President Joe Biden’s budget request. Congress will have to allocate the funding later during the appropriations process.
The White House has nominated a career airlift and cargo pilot with key deployments in Afghanistan and Europe to serve as the Air Force's next top general. In a notice to Congress posted Wednesday, the White House nominated Gen. David W. Allvin to serve as the service's next chief of staff.
President Joe Biden has chosen Adm. Lisa Franchetti to lead the Navy. If confirmed, she will be the first woman to be a Pentagon service chief and the first female member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Biden’s decision to tap Franchetti goes against the recommendation of his Pentagon chief. But Franchetti, the current vice chief of operations for the Navy, has broad command and executive experience. She was long considered by insiders to be the top choice for the job. In a statement Friday, Biden noted the historical significance of her selection and said “throughout her career, Admiral Franchetti has demonstrated extensive expertise in both the operational and policy arenas.”
The Pentagon is announcing a new $1.3 billion package of long-term military aid to Ukraine on Wednesday, including four air defense systems and an undisclosed number of drones. The new assistance comes on the heels of a meeting Tuesday by defense and military leaders from around the globe to discuss ongoing efforts to give Ukraine the weapons it needs in its battle to retake territory seized by Russian forces. The new aid is being provided under the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative. It includes money for four National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile System, or NASAMS, and munitions for them.
The U.S. is sending additional fighter jets and a warship to the Strait of Hormuz and Gulf of Oman to increase security in the wake of Iranian attempts to seize commercial ships there. The Pentagon says the USS Thomas Hudner, a destroyer, and a number of F-35 fighter jets will be heading to the region. Defense officials last week announced the deployment of F-16s to the area over the past weekend and there have been A-10 attack aircraft there for nearly two weeks in response to the Iranian activity. The latest deployments come after Iran tried to seize two oil tankers near the strait early this month, opening fire on one of them.
The House has passed a sweeping defense bill that provides a pay raise for service members but strays from traditional military policy with Republicans add-ons blocking abortion coverage, diversity initiatives at the Pentagon and transgender care.
The Army officer tapped to be the service’s next chief of staff is outlining his plan to fix what he described as the service’s top challenge — rebuilding recruiting — as it becomes clear the Army will again fall short of its enlistment goal. Gen. Randy George, vice chief of staff of the Army, told the Senate Armed Services Committee on Wednesday that the service is looking at short and long-term ways to improve how recruiters are chosen and deployed. He wants to better tailor marketing to attract young people. George’s confirmation is uncertain at best, due to a Senate dispute over military nominations.
President Joe Biden’s pick to serve as America’s top military officer is warning senators of the difficulties posed by any potential conflict in Asia and describing how he would use lessons learned from the Ukraine war to help the U.S. military prepare. But Air Force Gen. CQ Brown Jr. may not be able to apply those lessons anytime soon. His nomination to be the next chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff is among more than 260 that are being stalled by a Republican senator in protest over Pentagon policy that pays for travel when a service member has to go out of state for an abortion or other reproductive care.
The U.S. Marine Corps is without a confirmed leader for the first time in a century as Gen. David Berger stepped down as commandant and a Republican senator is blocking confirmation of his successor. Berger took over in July 2019, and must leave the job after four years. Gen. Eric Smith, the assistant commandant, has been nominated to be the next leader, but will serve in an acting capacity because he hasn’t been confirmed. Sen. Tommy Tuberville of Alabama has stalled all senior military nominations because he disagrees with Pentagon policy that funds travel for service members to go out of state for an abortion or other reproductive care.
The Pentagon is announcing its plans for tightening protections of classified information following the explosive leaks of hundreds of intelligence documents that were accessed through security gaps at a Massachusetts Air National Guard base. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has directed that all secure rooms where classified information is stored and accessed get increased levels of physical security, additional controls to ensure documents aren’t improperly removed, and electronic device detection systems. The security upgrades come as a lone airman, Jack Texeira, is accused of leaking highly classified military documents in a chatroom on Discord, a social media platform that started as a hangout for gamers.