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Senators want to know if the next Joint Chiefs chairman can stand up to Trump

In a confirmation hearing that covered everything from budget to national security threats to sexual assault prevention, two senators used their time to level with the nominee for the next chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff: How far are you willing to go to keep the president from doing something dangerous? Army Gen. Mark…

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Senators want to know if the next Joint Chiefs chairman can stand up to Trump

In a confirmation hearing that covered everything from budget to national security threats to sexual assault prevention, two senators used their time to level with the nominee for the next chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff: How far are you willing to go to keep the president from doing something dangerous?

Army Gen. Mark Milley, currently the chief of staff of that service, told both that he would be willing to resign rather than follow an “illegal, unethical or immoral order.”

“We are not going to be intimidated into making stupid decisions,” he said. “We will give our best military advice regardless of consequences to ourselves.”

Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley, Army Secretary Mark Esper and Sergeant Major of the Army Daniel Dailey cut the Army birthday cake during the 243rd Army Birthday Ball on June 16, 2018. (Zane Ecklund/Army)

“There’s no more responsibility in your career than you’ve had to make that statement,” Sen. Angus King, I-Maine, responded.

In his opening statement, Milley put a twist on the “great power competition” narrative that has dominated so much of the U.S. national security rhetoric lately.

“Our goal should be to sustain ‘great power peace,’ that has existed since World War II, and deal firmly with all those who might challenge us,” he said.

There are concerns about whether that will endure, Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I., said, under President Donald Trump.

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“It had been my hope that as the president became more accustomed to the gravity of the office, he would over time become more conscientious and thoughtful with his comments,” Reed said. “Unfortunately, that has not been the case. Instead, our foreign policy continues to discount the value of long-time alliances and careens from one crisis to the next — oftentimes driven by the president’s personality, and an apparent affinity for leaders who do not share our core American values, such as liberty, due process and freedom of the press.”

Milley’s promotion to the Defense Department’s top uniformed job comes as much of the senior leadership is in churn, with Army Secretary Mark Esper serving as acting defense secretary, and a nomination for an Air Force general to be vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff under scrutiny as a past sexual misconduct investigation comes to light.

This, after the presumptive next defense secretary withdrew his nomination in late June after leaks of court records from his contentious divorce a decade ago.

“In order to protect their freedoms, the American people entrust us with the nation’s most valued resource: their sons and daughters,” Milley said. “These men and women are the best military in the world, and our adversaries should not test that proposition.”

Lawmakers from both parties were vocal about their support for Milley, both because of his testimony and because of his career. None voiced concerns over confirming him.

“Hopefully, the military advice that you will provide [Trump] will alleviate miscalculation and unintended consequences,” Reed added.

Milley’s tenure as the Army’s top officer has been marked by massive changes: a new fitness test, the founding of the security force assistance brigade, overhauls to noncommissioned officer promotion and education, a new program of instruction at basic training, the founding of Army Futures Command, the first generation of women to serve in direct combat units, and what turned out to be a temporary repeal on the ban against openly transgender service members.

There have also been controversies. In late 2017, Milley found himself defending a decision to move waiver authority for accessions barriers like past drug use or self-mutilation from Army headquarters down to Army Recruiting Command, amid accusations that the Army was lowering standards for enlistment.

The accessions issue came up under questioning from Sen. Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, on the Trump administration’s orders to ban transgender Americans from serving in the military.

The guidance came down in summer 2017, almost a year after the DoD began implementing a framework for transgender service members to declare their gender identity openly and begin a personalized transition process, if they chose.

They have been grandfathered in, but Trump’s move prevented the military from putting a complementary accessions policy into practice.

Now, transgender Americans are only able to join the military if they’ve not been treated for gender dysphoria ― or if they have, they’ve been “stable” for more than three years ― and if they have not begun a medical transition, including hormones and surgery.

In effect, that narrows the window only to those who have been completely closeted, have not taken steps to transition to their preferred gender identity and/or have resolved any psychological issues without transitioning ― a large part of the treatment plan for gender dysphoria ― and requires they not begin a transition while they serve.

This policy is in addition to rules the services already have against enlisting and commissioning those who are currently being treated, or have a recent history of, any kind of anxiety or depression.

“First of all, it’s not a ban, because a person from civil society can try to come into the military and become a soldier, sailor, airman, or Marine,” Milley said. “When they enter into the process, they’ll go through medical and physical exams, etc.”

Milley referred to “gender dysphoria,” a psychological disorder characterized by the anxiety and depression that can come from feeling like your body doesn’t match your gender identity.

According to the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, gender nonconformity in general is not considered a psychiatric condition.

Technically, anyone can meet with a recruiter and begin the process, but as Milley pointed out, they would need a waiver to join. Whether any waiver would be approved under the narrow parameters for transgender accessions remains to be seen.

Asking if DoD would be implementing this policy if it weren’t for Trump’s explicit demand, Milley deferred to standards.

“I think that, in my view, we’re a standards-based military … and we’re concerned about the deployability and the effectiveness of any of the service members,” he said. “If you meet the medical, the behavioral health, the conduct standards, and the physical standards, etc. — then it’s my view that you should be welcomed in.”

In congressional testimony last year, Milley said he hadn’t heard of an instance of an openly serving transgender soldier causing a readiness issue in his or her unit.

“I don’t believe there’s anything inherent in anyone’s identity to prevent them from serving in the military. It’s about standards. Not an identity,” he added.

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UK’s newest carrier ― with Marine Corps F-35s onboard ― joins Islamic State fight, stirs Russian interest

Britain’s newest aircraft carrier, HMS Queen Elizabeth — with 10 Marine Corps F-35s onboard — is helping to take on the “lion’s share” of operations against the Islamic State group in Iraq, U.K. naval commanders said. It has also piqued the interest of Russian warplanes, who try to keep tabs on those cutting-edge F-35 jet…

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UK’s newest carrier ― with Marine Corps F-35s onboard ― joins Islamic State fight, stirs Russian interest

Britain’s newest aircraft carrier, HMS Queen Elizabeth — with 10 Marine Corps F-35s onboard — is helping to take on the “lion’s share” of operations against the Islamic State group in Iraq, U.K. naval commanders said. It has also piqued the interest of Russian warplanes, who try to keep tabs on those cutting-edge F-35 jet in a “cat-and-mouse” game with British and U.S. pilots. Speaking aboard the 65,000-ton carrier on its first-ever deployment, Commodore Steve Moorhouse said the UK is carrying out most of the missions to wipe out the remnants of the Islamic State in Iraq as the U.S. focuses on its withdrawal from Afghanistan. “At the moment, we’re taking on the lion’s share of that operation over Iraq, which is a fantastic, say, feather in our cap. But an achievement that ‘A’, we’re trusted and ‘B’, that we’re able to do that,” Moorhouse told reporters Sunday. It’s the first time that a UK aircraft carrier is supporting live military operations on the ground in more than two decades, projecting British military power on a global scale. Moorhouse said the carrier offers the UK flexibility in how to conduct military operations abroad and “keeps those that wish to cause us harm … on their toes.” He said the eastern Mediterranean has become more “congested and contested” over the past decade in light of the heavier Russian military presence in Syria, which is resulting in regular encounters with Russian ships and warplanes. People line the shore to watch as tug boats maneuver the 65,000-tonne British aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth into Portsmouth Harbour in Portsmouth, southern England, in August 2017, as it arrives at for the first time in her home port. (Ben Stansall/AFP via Getty Images) “We’re rubbing up against Russian activity, not in a you know, in a dangerous or aggressive manner, but you’ve just got other people out here playing in what is a fixed piece of water and airspace,” said Moorhouse, adding that a Russian warship has come within 16 miles of the carrier. The commodore insisted that Russian, British and U.S. pilots have a “healthy respect for one another” and their conduct has been “absolutely professional” since the aircraft carrier started anti-IS operations on June 18. Get the Marine Corps Times Daily News Roundup Don’t miss the top Marine Corps stories, delivered each afternoon (please select a country)United StatesUnited KingdomAfghanistanAlbaniaAlgeriaAmerican SamoaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBoliviaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBrunei DarussalamBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaCape VerdeCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo, The Democratic Republic of TheCook IslandsCosta RicaCote D’ivoireCroatiaCubaCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands (Malvinas)Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambiaGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuamGuatemalaGuineaGuinea-bissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and Mcdonald IslandsHoly See (Vatican City State)HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIran, Islamic Republic ofIraqIrelandIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKorea, Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People’s Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic ofMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMarshall IslandsMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMicronesia, Federated States ofMoldova, Republic ofMonacoMongoliaMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNetherlands AntillesNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorthern Mariana IslandsNorwayOmanPakistanPalauPalestinian Territory, OccupiedPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalPuerto RicoQatarReunionRomaniaRussian FederationRwandaSaint HelenaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and The GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbia and MontenegroSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and The South Sandwich IslandsSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwan, Province of ChinaTajikistanTanzania, United Republic ofThailandTimor-lesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUnited States Minor Outlying IslandsUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuelaViet NamVirgin Islands, BritishVirgin Islands, U.S.Wallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabwe Subscribe × By giving us your email, you are opting in to the Marine Corps Times Daily News Roundup. “But there is a reality when you buy yourself a fifth-generation aircraft carrier and you take it around the world … people are interested in it,” he added. Capt. James Blackmore, who commands the eight British F-35 jets and the 10 helicopters aboard the carrier, said UK and Russian pilots have come within “visual distance” of each other. “It’s that cat-and-mouse posturing, it’s what we expect in this region of world. And as you can imagine, it’s the first time for F-35s into the eastern Mediterranean,” said Blackmore. “So, of course Russia wants to look at what they’re like, they want to look at what our carriers are like.” The state-of-the art F-35, armed with air-to-air missiles and laser-guided bombs, is being used over Iraq to look for other aircraft or unmanned drones, support troops on the ground as well as to carry out surveillance with its sophisticated sensor and radar systems. “It’s a fifth-generation aircraft with a hugely, hugely capable radar and sensor suite, and that’s what it brings. So it’s the eyes and ears that it’s offering out there,” said Moorhouse. The HMS Queen Elizabeth and its support ships, which include the U.S. destroyer The Sullivans, will remain in the eastern Mediterranean for two to three weeks before moving through the Suez Canal to continue with a 7 1/2 -month deployment to India, South Korea and Japan. The carrier also has 10 U.S. F-35 jets from the Marine Corps’ Fighter Attack Squadron 211 aboard that carry out operations under British command.

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Humans now testing the Army’s catch-all COVID vaccine

A kind of catch-all vaccine that could protect against current and future strains of the coronavirus that sparked the COVID-19 global pandemic has already been tested by Army scientists on mice, monkeys, horses, hamsters and even sharks. Early human testing has begun and researchers expect the first data sets on immunity in the coming weeks.…

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Humans now testing the Army’s catch-all COVID vaccine

A kind of catch-all vaccine that could protect against current and future strains of the coronavirus that sparked the COVID-19 global pandemic has already been tested by Army scientists on mice, monkeys, horses, hamsters and even sharks. Early human testing has begun and researchers expect the first data sets on immunity in the coming weeks. This effort is a new approach to handling viruses, finding ways to defeat families of viruses rather than a specific strain. And that’s important because medical experts worry that the next pandemic-triggering virus could be more contagious than COVID-19 and far deadlier. “We know it’s safe and tolerable but we don’t know yet the immunity it confers,” said Dr. Kayvon Modjarrad, director of the emerging infectious diseases branch at Walter Reed Army Institute of Research. He spoke during the Defense One 2021 Tech Summit on Monday. Modjarrad said that the results so far in animal studies have shown high immunity. If even a fraction of that is present in humans, their current vaccine would be a good option for a next-generation vaccine to combat coronavirus, regardless of the strain. Their broad-spectrum coronavirus vaccine could also serve as a “booster” shot for soldiers that would offer longer and more durable protection against future variants, Modjarrad said. The push is an effort to produce robust vaccines that target a family of viruses, rather than past efforts which pursued specific immunization against certain strains. That method is too slow to meet the types and volume of viruses that humanity may face in the coming years. Sign up for the Army Times Daily News Roundup Don’t miss the top Army stories, delivered each afternoon (please select a country)United StatesUnited KingdomAfghanistanAlbaniaAlgeriaAmerican SamoaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBoliviaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBrunei DarussalamBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaCape VerdeCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo, The Democratic Republic of TheCook IslandsCosta RicaCote D’ivoireCroatiaCubaCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands (Malvinas)Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambiaGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuamGuatemalaGuineaGuinea-bissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and Mcdonald IslandsHoly See (Vatican City State)HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIran, Islamic Republic ofIraqIrelandIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKorea, Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People’s Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic ofMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMarshall IslandsMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMicronesia, Federated States ofMoldova, Republic ofMonacoMongoliaMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNetherlands AntillesNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorthern Mariana IslandsNorwayOmanPakistanPalauPalestinian Territory, OccupiedPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalPuerto RicoQatarReunionRomaniaRussian FederationRwandaSaint HelenaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and The GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbia and MontenegroSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and The South Sandwich IslandsSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwan, Province of ChinaTajikistanTanzania, United Republic ofThailandTimor-lesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUnited States Minor Outlying IslandsUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuelaViet NamVirgin Islands, BritishVirgin Islands, U.S.Wallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabwe Subscribe × By giving us your email, you are opting in to the Army Times Daily News Roundup. An Army specialist assigned to Baumholder, Germany, receives her first dose of the COVID vaccine. (Army) “We’re chasing the wrong curve of the virus after it emerges,” Modjarrad said. The goal is to have a vaccinated population before a virus can make an impact. “We’ll get to the point where we can stop the virus in its tracks before a pandemic,” he said. There have been at least six “notable variants” of the coronavirus detected so far in the United States since the pandemic first arrived in early 2020, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Modjarrad spoke along with Dr. Dimitra Stratis-Cullum, program manager for transformational synthetic-biology for military environments with the Army’s Combat Capabilities Development Command. Stratis-Cullum’s work focuses on making synthetic materials that can be used for a host of applications. Her work over the past year has focused on making medical diagnostic items, but also jumped very early into building methods for testing plasma of convalescent COVID-19 patients that could be used to help others recover. Through CCDC and ARL, her team continues to build an “immunity library” so that first responders can quickly screen any type of disease they encounter and be prepared with the right kind of tools and approaches when they arrive at a location. Stratis-Cullum’s group is partnered with Modjarrad’s team in finding where and how the coronavirus “binds” to a receptor in the body. By developing synthetic methods to prevent the binding in the first place, they hope to keep the virus at bay even if it enters the body. One of the ways in which Modjarrad’s group has approached the problem is to use a nanoparticle vaccine that uses ferritin, which has been effective against the current COVID-19 virus and another coronavirus from 2003, the SARS-CoV-1. The ferratin iron-carrying protein somewhat resembles a sphere like a soccer ball, Modjarrad said. The structure has 24 faces on its exterior. Scientists can place any type of virus particle they want the human body to recognize on those faces. Then the immune system reacts to it because it resembles the actual virus that the system will face if exposed. And, by having so many options, researchers can target specific structures in the virus they’re studying to be carried by the nanoparticle to the body. They can mix and match parts that are core to the coronavirus and will be part of any strain that could emerge, he said. The body then has had a chance to identify from the vaccine what it needs to defeat any future virus it might encounter.

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Top US general ‘shocked’ by report on AWOL guns, mulls fix

Shocked by an Associated Press investigation into the loss and theft of military guns, the Pentagon’s top general signaled Thursday that he will consider a “systematic fix” to how the armed services keep account of their firearms. The AP’s investigation reported how some of the missing guns have been stolen and later used in violent…

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Top US general ‘shocked’ by report on AWOL guns, mulls fix

Shocked by an Associated Press investigation into the loss and theft of military guns, the Pentagon’s top general signaled Thursday that he will consider a “systematic fix” to how the armed services keep account of their firearms. The AP’s investigation reported how some of the missing guns have been stolen and later used in violent street crimes, while many others have vanished without a clue from the military’s enormous supply chains. In all, AP identified at least 1,900 guns that the four armed services recorded as lost or stolen during the 2010s. Most came from the Army. Because some of the service branches provided incomplete data — or none at all — that total is a certain undercount. “I was frankly shocked by the numbers that were in there,” Gen. Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told the Senate Appropriations Committee at a hearing Thursday. In a statement, Milley’s spokesman said the chairman would explore overhauling how the services track and secure weapons. Milley “would like to consider a systematic fix in the future where the accountability of weapons and the ability to track and query these numbers is simplified and accurate,” said Col. Dave Butler. Later Thursday, an Army spokesman said the military branch with the most guns would also fill gaps in how it accounts for lost and stolen weapons. “The Army staff met today to develop a way forward to fix this problem and we will provide more information as this effort evolves,” said Lt. Col. Brandon Kelley. Sign up for the Early Bird Brief Get the military’s most comprehensive news and information every morning (please select a country)United StatesUnited KingdomAfghanistanAlbaniaAlgeriaAmerican SamoaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBoliviaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBrunei DarussalamBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaCape VerdeCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo, The Democratic Republic of TheCook IslandsCosta RicaCote D’ivoireCroatiaCubaCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands (Malvinas)Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambiaGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuamGuatemalaGuineaGuinea-bissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and Mcdonald IslandsHoly See (Vatican City State)HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIran, Islamic Republic ofIraqIrelandIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKorea, Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People’s Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic ofMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMarshall IslandsMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMicronesia, Federated States ofMoldova, Republic ofMonacoMongoliaMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNetherlands AntillesNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorthern Mariana IslandsNorwayOmanPakistanPalauPalestinian Territory, OccupiedPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalPuerto RicoQatarReunionRomaniaRussian FederationRwandaSaint HelenaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and The GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbia and MontenegroSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and The South Sandwich IslandsSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwan, Province of ChinaTajikistanTanzania, United Republic ofThailandTimor-lesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUnited States Minor Outlying IslandsUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuelaViet NamVirgin Islands, BritishVirgin Islands, U.S.Wallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabwe Subscribe × By giving us your email, you are opting in to the Early Bird Brief. Col. Cathy Wilkinson, media relations chief with Army public affairs, said in a statement: “The Army takes weapons accountability very seriously. While we have stringent physical security measures, we have more work to do to ensure that our property accountability and criminal reporting systems are seamlessly linked together. The Army staff met today to develop a way forward to fix this problem and we will provide more information as this effort evolves.” Four senators have publicly expressed concerns since AP published Tuesday. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., was the latest to question military officials during a Capitol Hill appearance. Citing a case in which automatic assault rifles were stolen from an Army base and sold to a California street gang, Feinstein asked Milley at Thursday’s hearing what the military is doing to ensure “there are no problems like this and that weapons are well secured.” Milley responded that he had asked the leaders of each armed service to do a deep dive on their numbers. He said the initial information they have given him suggests the number of missing weapons is “significantly less” than what AP reported. The AP derived its figures from records provided by the service branches, including criminal investigations, lost property forms and data from small arms registries, as well as internal memos AP obtained. “I need to square the balance here. I owe you a firm answer,” Milley told Feinstein. His spokesman, Butler, elaborated: “Although we can’t yet verify the numbers reported by AP, the chairman believes this is another example of the free press shining a light on the important subjects we need to get right.” Top officials with the Army, Marines and Secretary of Defense’s office have said missing weapons are not a widespread problem and noted that the number is a tiny fraction of the military’s stockpile. Before publication of the AP’s investigation, Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said in an interview that the armed services can account for 99.999% of their several million firearms. “Though the numbers are small, one is too many,” Kirby said. Lawmakers’ focus so far had been a new reporting requirement, not systematic reform. Chart compares the number of unaccounted for U.S. military weapons from 2010-2019 by type of weapon The Pentagon used to share annual updates about stolen weapons with Congress, but the requirement to do so ended years ago, apparently in fiscal year 1994. In more recent years, the Office of the Secretary of Defense has decided when to advise lawmakers of “significant” losses or thefts. No such notifications have been made since at least 2017, the Pentagon said. Among the several hundred missing firearms that AP identified during subsequent years was a stolen Army pistol that authorities linked to shootings in New York. Other cases included weapons parts that an Army insider brought to the Texas-Mexico border to sell. On Thursday, Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., said he planned to write a “mandatory reporting requirement” into the National Defense Authorization Act that Congress is drawing up this summer. In a letter to Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, Blumenthal also asked that the Department of Defense’s Office of the Inspector General conduct “a thorough review” of policies and security procedures. Describing themselves as very concerned by AP’s findings, Sens. Tim Kaine, D-Va., and Thom Tillis, R-N.C., have said they would be looking into questions raised by the reporting. The AP’s investigation, which began in 2011, is the first public accounting of its kind in decades, in part because neither the Department of Defense nor the armed services are required to tell the public about AWOL weapons. The Army, the largest of the military services and one with more than 3 million firearms, and Air Force could not readily provide data to the AP on how many weapons were lost or stolen from 2010 through 2019. Hall reported from Nashville, Tennessee; LaPorta reported from Boca Raton, Florida; Pritchard reported from Los Angeles. Also contributing was Robert Burns in Washington.

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