Defense and national security – Austin huddles with his counterparts on Ukraine

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Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has met with senior military officials from more than 40 countries to discuss Ukraine’s war against Russia. We’ll break down the highlights.

Additionally, a new report from a Senate subcommittee alleges that a contractor is abusing service members living in his accommodation.

It’s Defense and National Security, your nightly guide to the latest developments at the Pentagon, Capitol Hill and beyond. For The Hill, I’m Jordan Williams. A friend sent you this newsletter? Subscribe here.

US defense chief rallies European counterparts

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin met with senior military officials from more than 40 countries at Ramstein Air Base in Germany.

The meeting comes as the Russian invasion enters its third month and Moscow launches an effort in the eastern part of the country.

Austin and his counterparts discussed aid to Ukraine, progress in the conflict, and Ukraine’s military needs after the war.

Will be a monthly event: The Pentagon chief also told reporters after the meeting that he would meet monthly to discuss Ukraine’s self-defense and “continue to build on our progress,” with in-person, virtual or mixed gatherings. .

The allies intervene: Austin said officials returned from the meeting determined to help Ukraine win the war and strengthen for future conflicts, noting that Germany pledged 50 Cheetah anti-aircraft armored vehicles earlier on Tuesday and that Canada announced on the same day that it would also send armored vehicles.

The news follows the British government’s announcement on Monday that it would donate a small number of Stormer armored vehicles equipped with anti-aircraft missile launchers, Austin added.

“This is significant progress. We see more every day. And I applaud all the countries that have stood up and are rising to meet this demand. But we have no time to lose,” he said.

The invasion threatens international security: Following the consultative meeting, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Mark Milley, told CNN that the “global international security order” established after World War II was threatened by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine”.

“If this remains unchanged, if there is no response to this aggression, if Russia gets away with it at no cost, then the so-called international order goes away, and if this happens, then we we are entering an era of seriously heightened instability,” Milley told the outlet.

“What is at stake is the global international security order that was put in place in 1945,” he added.

Russia draws US rebuke after raising nukes

Russia’s most recent threats to escalate its attack on Ukraine into a nuclear conflict are “unnecessary” and “irresponsible”, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said on Tuesday.

“You’ve heard us say many times that this kind of rhetoric is very dangerous and unnecessary,” Austin told reporters after meeting with military leaders from more than 40 countries at Ramstein Air Base in Germany.

“Nobody wants to see a nuclear war happen. It’s a war where all sides lose, and so the clanking sabers and…dangerous rhetoric are clearly unnecessary and something we won’t engage in.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov a day earlier he said the threat of nuclear war “must not be underestimated” and that “the danger is serious”.

The comments were a response to the United States and other NATO countries providing billions of dollars in aid and weapons to Ukraine, which Lavrov called “pouring oil on the fire” in the conflict.

Learn more here.

STINGER DEADLINES

Raytheon Technologies, the maker of thousands of Stinger missiles sent to Ukraine amid its war with Russia, will not be able to quickly produce more weapons due to lack of parts and materials, the CEO of the company said on Tuesday. the society.

What is happening: Raytheon won’t be able to ramp up production of Stingers anti-aircraft systems until at least 2023, as the company must “redesign some of the missile and homing electronics” as some components are no longer commercially available, CEO Greg Hayes told investors during an earnings call Tuesday.

This overhaul “is going to take us a bit of time,” Hayes said.

Additionally, Raytheon’s production line can only build a limited number of Stingers and will require a significant commitment from the US government to fund a large increase in production, factors that mean missile assembly will not be accelerated. before next year at the earliest, he predicts.

The elephant in the room: The United States has sent more than 1,400 Stingers, portable systems that can be used to shoot down planes and drones.

European nations also pulled hundreds of Stingers from their stockpiles for Kyiv.

But until the war, the military had decided to retire the Stingers, instead moving towards a new man-portable anti-aircraft missile to be built by 2028.

This drawdown means a slower schedule to replenish stocks.

Learn more here.

Panel alleges contractor abused military families

One of the Army’s largest private housing contractors continued to abuse service members living in its accommodations even as the contractor was under investigation, a Senate panel has found.

The Senate Permanent Investigations (PSI) Subcommittee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs says the Balfour Beatty communities continued to engage in many of the same misconduct after 2019, even when they knew they were doing the wrong thing. under investigation by the Department of Justice.

The panel, chaired by Sen. Jon Ossoff (D-Ga.), released a report detailing the allegations and held a hearing with testimony from military and company officials.

If Balfour sounds familiar: Balfour, who runs housing communities at 55 military bases across the country, finally pleaded guilty to defrauding the military late last year.

He was ordered to pay more than $65 million in December 2021 after pleading guilty to defrauding the Army, Air Force and Navy by submitting false reports to obtain performance bonuses between 2013 and 2019.

The report: The 51-page report comes after PSI investigated the allegations for eight months. The panel focused its investigation on Fort Gordon in Georgia and Sheppard Air Force Base in Texas.

Among other things, the report found that Balfour staff frequently ignored or delayed responding to urgent requests from military families to remedy conditions such as mold and leaking roofs at Fort Gordon. In several cases, these delays led families to seek care for skin conditions and respiratory symptoms.

The panel also found inaccuracies and omissions in Balfour’s internal work order database, which the military services use in part to determine company performance fees.

The panel hears from service members: Two U.S. military personnel, a military spouse and a military housing advocate testified before the panel on Tuesday to discuss their experiences with Balfour.

Captain Samuel Choe, who is currently stationed at Camp Humphreys, South Korea, flew in to share his experiences living in a Balfour-run home at Fort Gordon from 2019 to 2021. He alleged the company had ignored mold growth in her home, causing her 8-year-old daughter to live with severe eczema.

Technical Sergeant. Air Force Jack Torres testified that Balfour repeatedly ignored the mold growing in his home and said he was moved twice because his concerns were not taken seriously.

Balfour defends himself: In a separate panel, company representatives Richard Taylor and Paula Cook confronted the testimony they heard and defended the steps Balfour has taken to improve under the $65 million settlement. .

Taylor, who is president of operations, renovation and facility construction at Balfour, told the panel that while things can go wrong, he rejects the idea that the issues detailed in the panel report are systemic. .

“What’s important to us is that we understand where our shortcomings are and take steps to correct those shortcomings,” he said.

THE APPOINTMENT FOR TOMORROW

  • President Biden will attend the funeral of former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright at 11 a.m.
  • Defense One will host an event titled “The Path to Marine Corps Modernization” at 1 p.m.

HOME:

  • Armed Services Committee holding a hearing on the Air Force budget at 10 a.m.
  • The Transportation Subcommittee on the Coast Guard and Marine Transportation will hold a budget hearing at 10 a.m.
  • The Budget Committee will hold a hearing on the DOD’s 2023 budget at 10:30 a.m.
  • Appropriations Committee to Hold Closed Hearing on NSA and Cyber ​​Command Budget at 10:30 a.m.
  • The Armed Forces Subcommittee on Tactical Air and Ground Forces will hold a hearing on the “Department of Defense’s Fiscal Year 2023 Budget Request for Tactical Aircraft and Fixed-Wing Trainer Programs” at 2 p.m. time.
  • The veterans’ subcommittees on Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs and Oversight and Investigations will hold a hearing at 2 p.m.
  • The Energy and Water Development Appropriations and Related Agencies Subcommittee will hold a hearing on the “Fiscal Year 2023 Budget Request for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Bureau of Reclamation” at 2:30 p.m.
  • The Armed Forces Subcommittee on Sea Power and Projection Forces will hold a hearing on the “Department of the Navy Fiscal Year 2023 Budget Request for Sea Power and Projection Forces” at 4:30 p.m.

SENATE:

  • The Armed Forces Subcommittee on Emerging Threats and Capabilities will hold a hearing on “United States Special Operations Command’s efforts to maintain Special Operations Forces readiness” against future threats at 2 p.m.
  • The Armed Forces Personnel Subcommittee will hold a hearing at 3 p.m. on “Military and Civilian Personnel Programs” for the 2023 budget
  • The Appropriations Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs will hold a hearing on the State Department’s budget at 2 p.m.
  • The Foreign Relations Committee will hold a closed hearing on “recent developments in China’s nuclear capabilities” at 2:30 p.m.
  • The Veterans Affairs Committee will hold a nomination hearing at 3 p.m.
  • The Armed Forces Subcommittee on Strategic Forces will hold a hearing on “Department of Energy Atomic Energy Defense Activities and Department of Defense Nuclear Weapons Programs” in Budget 2023 at 4:30 p.m. .

WHAT WE READ

That’s all for today! Check out The Hill’s Defense and National Security pages for the latest coverage. Until tomorrow!

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