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State Department says 129 American citizens have left Afghanistan since end of US evacuation mission

WashingtonExaminer
WashingtonExaminer
 2021-10-15

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‘CHARTER FLIGHTS HAVE BEEN ROUTINE’: The State Department says since the U.S. military airlift ended Aug. 31, private charter flights have been able to safely evacuate 129 additional U.S. citizens and 115 lawful permanent U.S. residents from Taliban-ruled Afghanistan.

Spokesman Ned Price disputed a report in the Wall Street Journal that the U.S. planned to resume regular evacuation flights “before the end of the year.”

“The idea that charter flights wouldn’t resume until later this year doesn’t, of course, comport with reality,” Price said at yesterday’s press briefing . “So, to be very clear, the charter flights have been routine. Our goal is to make them even more routine, to lend a degree of automaticity to these operations.”

Price said a charter flight that had Americans on board departed Kabul as recently as last Monday and that there “have been a number of charter flights in recent weeks.” On Tuesday, Price said, “several thousand” Afghans had also made it out of the country.

REOPENING KABUL AIRPORT: The U.S. hopes that regular commercial services can be restored to the Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul. “Ultimately, our goal is to see to it that Afghanistan has a functioning commercial airport,” said Price.

“We have been able to make good use of charter flights, including working with our Qatari partners in recent weeks,” he said. “But our broader goal, of course, is to see Kabul International Airport reopen to commercial traffic so that those who wish to depart Afghanistan have additional options to do so.”

But Price said there is no plan to resume military flights. “The idea that we are restarting evacuation flights, á la what we had prior to August 31st, is not accurate.”

‘A POSITIVE STEP’: The fact that the Taliban have allowed Qatar Airways charter flights to depart with Americans and Afghans is seen as “a positive step” in upholding the Taliban’s commitment to free passage, but the U.S. and its European allies are seeking a firmer commitment.

“We are not satisfied, and we are continuing to press the Taliban to see to it that U.S. citizens, that lawful permanent residents, and those Afghans to whom we have a special commitment are able to depart the country if they so choose,” said Price, noting that a senior U.S. delegation met with senior Taliban officials in Doha over the weekend. “Free passage, freedom of movement, was key to that agenda. It has been key to every single one of our engagements with the Taliban in recent weeks, because it is of paramount importance to us.”

STILL, AMERICANS LEFT BEHIND: “We have also been in constant touch with Americans in Afghanistan who have expressed an interest in departing,” Price said. “We reach out to them, we determine their status, we determine their intent, we determine what travel documents they may or may not have on them, and we in turn then work with our partners on these charter operations to facilitate their departure, if they so choose.”

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HAPPENING NEXT WEEK: Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin departs on a trip to Europe, with stops in Georgia, Ukraine, and Romania.

On Thursday and Friday, Austin will be in Brussels, Belgium, to attend the first NATO defense ministerial since the U.S. ended the NATO mission in Afghanistan.

TEXAS BE DAMNED: Texas Gov. Greg Abbott's executive order , which bans any entity in Texas from mandating COVID-19 vaccinations, does not apply to employees of defense contractors performing work for the federal government, the Pentagon asserted Thursday.

In a written response to a question posed at Tuesday’s Pentagon briefing, the DOD press office issued a statement with a web link to the Biden administration rules for federal contractors, which said federal laws take precedence over state laws.

Here’s the relevant Q&A:

Q: Does this clause apply in states or localities that seek to prohibit compliance with any of the workplace safety protocols set forth in the Task Force Guidance for Federal Contractors and Subcontractors?

A: Yes. These requirements are promulgated pursuant to Federal law and supersede any contrary State or local law or ordinance. Additionally, nothing in the Task Force Guidance shall excuse noncompliance with any applicable State law or municipal ordinance establishing more protective workplace safety protocols than those established under the Task Force Guidance.

GUILTY AS CHARGED: Marine Lt. Col. Stuart Scheller pleaded guilty and so was found guilty at his court-martial yesterday on charges he showed “contempt towards officials," "disrespect toward superior commissioned officers," and "failure to obey order or regulation,” when he posted videos criticizing senior leaders for the chaotic evacuation mission in Afghanistan.

Scheller told the court that he knew he was disobeying orders by showing disrespect but wanted to call out the "incompetence” of the leaders. He also said after posting the videos that his wife left him and fellow Marine officers turned their backs on him.

Scheller will be sentenced today.

REPS. GREENE AND GOHMERT APPEAR AT ‘BRAVE’ STUART SCHELLER'S COURT-MARTIAL HEARING

NEW PRECISION MISSILE EXCEEDS OLD LIMITS: Freed from the constraints of the now-defunct 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces treaty, the U.S. tested a new land-based missile that flew farther than 300 miles, according to maker Lockheed Martin.

The Precision Strike Missile , fired from an Army High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS) launcher at Vandenberg Space Force Base, “completed its longest flight to date, exceeding maximum threshold” of 499 kilometers (310 miles), according to a company press release .

The INF treaty with Russia, which the U.S. withdrew from during the Trump administration, prohibited ground-launched ballistic and cruise missiles with ranges of 500 to 5,500 kilometers. (310 to 3400 miles), whether they were nuclear or conventional.

The U.S. withdrew from the Cold War-era treaty because it did not apply to China, which has been rapidly building and deploying intermediate-range missiles, and because Russia was routinely violating it.

NEW HIGH-TECH GOGGLE TEST DELAYED: The Army’s Integrated Visual Augmentation System, or “IVAS,” is a mixed reality headset that uses augmented thermal images to allow soldiers to see at night as if it were daytime.

SEE: ​​ARMY UNVEILS $22 BILLION GOGGLE DEAL WITH MICROSOFT

An operational test of the system was scheduled for this month, but in a statement, the Army says it has decided to shift the test and fielding of the system until later in this fiscal year.

“The Army is fully committed to its partnership with Microsoft to advance specific technologies to meet operational requirements and maximize warfighter impact,” the statement said. “This decision allows the Army and Industry team to continue to enhance the IVAS technology platform.”

“The Army intends to continue developing and fielding this revolutionary, first-of-its-kind technology in FY22.”

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The Rundown

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Washington Examiner : Army chief pushes back on former software chief’s claim US lost the technology battle to China

Washington Examiner : Navy sets guidelines for sailors who refuse COVID-19 vaccine

Washington Examiner : Air Force says it successfully tested new 5,000-pound bomb designed to take out bunkers

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Washington Examiner : Greece underscores 'threat of war' with Turkey at signing of defense pact with US

Washington Examiner : Heritage Foundation names next president

Washington Post : Marine officer pleads guilty to disrespecting senior officials, says his life spiraled down after posting viral videos

Defense One : U.S. Navy Lists Consequences For Sailors Who Refuse COVID Vaccination

AP : China, Russia Launch Joint Naval Drills In Russian Far East

Air Force Magazine : Contractor Employees Who Object to Vaccines May Not Get Much Backup

Air Force Magazine : C-17 Pilot is Biden’s Nominee for USAF Installations Czar

Air Force Magazine : Bidder Maxar is Protesting SDA’s Request for 126 SmallSats

Reuters : Analysis: N.Korea Threatens To Upstage S.Korea Defence Expo With Duelling Military Show

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19fortyfive.com : Opinion: What Should a $100 Billion Japanese Military Look Like?

Calendar

FRIDAY | OCTOBER 15

9 a.m. — The Middle East Institute virtual Middle East Futures Forum panel discussion on "Cybersecurity and Cyber War." https://www.mei.edu/events/middle-east-futures-forum

10 a.m. — Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman delivers the keynote address at TruCon 2021 , the Truman Center for National Policy annual conference in Washington, D.C. https://tfaforms.com/4928650

1 p.m. — Woodrow Wilson Center Kennan Institute for Advanced Russian Studies virtual discussion, “Global Perspectives: UK-Russia Relations,” with Andrew Monaghan , senior associate fellow at the Royal United Services Institute London; and Matthew Rojansky , director of the WWC Kennan Institute https://www.wilsoncenter.org/event

12 p.m. — Hudson Institute virtual discussion: “From Princeton to Iran's Evin Prison,” with Xiyue Wang , fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and Ph.D. candidate at Princeton University; and Josh Block , adjunct fellow at Hudson. https://www.hudson.org/events/2026-virtual-even

MONDAY | OCTOBER 18

2 p.m. — Atlantic Council Scowcroft Center Zoom event: “Maximizing Military Power through Minimizing Bureaucratic Barriers,” with retired Marine Gen. James Jones and retired Marine Maj. Gen. Arnold Punaro ; moderated by Missy Ryan , Washington Post staff writer and Pentagon correspondent. https://www.atlanticcouncil.org/event/maximizing-military-power

3 p.m. — Missile Defense Advocacy Alliance virtual discussion: “Air to Air Missile Defense,” with Brig. Gen. Paul Murray , deputy director of operations, NORAD; Brig. Gen. Christopher Niemi , director of strategy, plans, programs, and requirements, PACAF; Col. Jason Nalepa , commander of the 173rd Operations Group, Oregon Air National Guard; retired Lt. Gen. Ty Thomas , Missile Defense Advocacy Alliance; retired Rear. Adm. Mark Montgomery , board member, Missile Defense Advocacy Alliance; and Riki Ellison , chairman and founder, Missile Defense Advocacy Alliance. https://missiledefenseadvocacy.org/advocacy/events Livestream at https://www.youtube.com/channel

TUESDAY | OCTOBER 19

10 a.m. — Defense One and NextGov Network Modernization Summit with Rep. Adam Smith , chairman, House Armed Services Committee; Michele Flournoy , co-founder and managing partner, co-founder, WestExec Advisors, Center for a New American Security; and Michael Spirtas , associate director, senior political scientist; International Security and Defense Policy Center, RAND Corporation. https://events.defenseone.com/network-modernization-summit

10 a.m. 1740 Massachusetts Ave. N.W. — The Foreign Policy Institute at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies book discussion: Here, Right Matters: An American Story , with author retired Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman , former White House National Security Council member; and Kent Calder , interim dean, Johns Hopkins SAIS. https://jh.zoom.us/webinar/register

12 p.m. — George Mason University National Security Institute event: “The National Security Implications of Antitrust: America's Adversaries,” with Maureen Ohlhausen , section chair of antitrust and competition law, Baker Botts L.L.P.; Matt Perault , professor, University of North Carolina’s School of Information and Library Science; Alex Petros , policy counsel, Public Knowledge; and Jamil Jaffer , founder and executive director, National Security Institute. https://nationalsecurity.gmu.edu/the-national-security-implications

2 p.m. — American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research web event: “Does the US need a national cybersecurity strategy?” with James X. Dempsey , senior policy adviser, geopolitics, technology, and governance, Cyber Policy Center, Stanford University; James Andrew Lewis , director, Strategic Technologies Program, Center for Strategic and International Studies; Sujit Raman , partner, Sidley Austin LLP; Diane Rinaldo, senior vice president, Beacon Global Strategies; and Shane Tews , nonresident senior fellow, AEI. https://www.aei.org/events/does-the-us-need-a-national-cybersecurity-strategy

WEDNESDAY | OCTOBER 20

9 a.m. NATO Headquarters, Brussels — NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg briefs reporters ahead of the meeting of the NATO Ministers of Defense, which will take place Oct. 21-22. https://www.nato.int/cps/en/natohq/news

1 p.m. — Center for Strategic and International Studies International Security Program on the future of the National Guard, with Lt. Gen. Jon Jensen , director of the Army National Guard; and Mark Cancian, CSIS senior adviser. https://www.csis.org/events/conversation-ltg-jensen-director-us-army-national-guard

THURSDAY | OCTOBER 21

9 a.m. — Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin attends the meeting of NATO Ministers of Defense in Brussels, Belgium. https://www.nato.int/cps/en/natohq/news

MONDAY | OCTOBER 25

10 a.m. 300 First St. S.E. — Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies in-person Aerospace Nation breakfast event with Gen. Mark Kelly , commander, Air Combat Command; and retired Lt. Gen. David Deptula, dean, Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies. RSVP: awaldo@afa.org


QUOTE OF THE DAY

“The Army needs soldiers who can code under pressure and in the dirt.”

Army Chief of Staff Gen. James McConville, speaking this week at the Association of the U.S. Army convention about the need to retain and recruit soldiers who can develop software.

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