Politics Overnight Defense: Afghanistan withdrawal process 2 to 6 percent complete | Wisconsin National Guard member charged in Capitol riot

02:55  05 may  2021
02:55  05 may  2021 Source:   thehill.com

EXPLAINER: What remains as US ends Afghan 'forever war'

  EXPLAINER: What remains as US ends Afghan 'forever war' KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — After 20 years, America is ending its “forever war” in Afghanistan. Announcing a firm withdrawal deadline, President Joe Biden cut through the long debate, even within the U.S. military, over whether the time was right. Starting Saturday, the last remaining 2,500 to 3,5000 American troops will begin leaving, to be fully out by Sept. 11 at the latest. Another debate will likely go on far longer: Was it worth it? Since 2001, tens of thousands of Afghans and 2,442 American soldiers have been killed, millions of Afghans driven from their homes, and billions of dollars spent on war and reconstruction.

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

a man wearing a uniform: Overnight Defense: Afghanistan withdrawal process 2 to 6 percent complete | Wisconsin National Guard member charged in Capitol riot © The Hill Overnight Defense: Afghanistan withdrawal process 2 to 6 percent complete | Wisconsin National Guard member charged in Capitol riot

THE TOPLINE: The U.S. military has completed about 2 percent to 6 percent of the process of entirely withdrawing from Afghanistan, U.S. Central Command (Centcom) said Tuesday.

Moving out: Progress on the withdrawal includes moving about 60 C-17 cargo planes worth of material out of Afghanistan, Centcom said in a news release.

'It's an impossible situation': Democrats link arms with Biden on Afghanistan -- and brace for the worst

  'It's an impossible situation': Democrats link arms with Biden on Afghanistan -- and brace for the worst Most congressional Democrats are backing President Joe Biden's decision to withdraw US troops from Afghanistan this year, though many harbor nagging concerns that the gains won over the last 20 years will be erased and the Taliban will retake control after American troops are no longer there. © Thomas Watkins/AFP/Getty Images In this photo taken on June 6, 2019, US soldiers look out over hillsides during a visit of the commander of US and NATO forces in Afghanistan General Scott Miller at the Afghan National Army (ANA) checkpoint in Nerkh district of Wardak province.

In addition, about 1,300 pieces of equipment have been given to the Defense Logistics Agency for destruction and the U.S. military officially gave control of its New Antonik base in southern Helmand province to the Afghan National Army.

Few other details: Centcom, which said it plans to release weekly updates on the progress of the withdrawal, "will only be providing an approximate range of the percentage of the exit process that is complete" because of concerns about operational security, according to the release.

The aim: President Biden last month ordered all U.S. troops to be out of Afghanistan by Sept. 11, the 20th anniversary of the terrorist attacks that sparked America's longest war, with the withdrawal officially kicking off last week.

Formal start of final phase of Afghan pullout by US, NATO

  Formal start of final phase of Afghan pullout by US, NATO KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — The final phase of ending America's “forever war” in Afghanistan after 20 years formally began Saturday, with the withdrawal of the last U.S. and NATO troops by the end of summer. President Joe Biden had set May 1 as the official start of the withdrawal of the remaining forces — about 2,500-3,500 U.S. troops and about 7,000 NATO soldiers.

Amid the pullout, the Taliban has threatened to resume attacks on U.S. and coalition troops that it largely refrained from after signing a deal with the Trump administration last year that set a withdrawal deadline of this past Saturday.

More stories from The Hill on the withdrawal:

-- If Taliban regains power, they would roll back rights for women: US intelligence

-- Taliban launches massive offensive after missed deadline for US troop withdrawal

-- Afghan president: 'Critically important' for US, NATO to fulfill security funding commitments


A member of the Wisconsin National Guard has been charged in connection to the deadly Jan. 6 riots at the U.S. Capitol.

Abram Markofski was arrested Monday and faces four charges in relation to the riots, the Department of Justice said.

A spokesperson for the Wisconsin National Guard confirmed to The Associated Press that Markofski joined the Guard in 2019 and is a private first-class in the 1st Battalion, 128th Infantry.

Congress demands answers on Afghanistan withdrawal

  Congress demands answers on Afghanistan withdrawal By law the defense secretary must submit a detailed report to Congress regarding the effects of withdrawal on key U.S. interests. Under the law, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin is required to submit the report when the total number of forces in Afghanistan drops below 2,000 troops.The United States is likely to hit that mark quite soon. There are roughly 2,500 service members in Afghanistan now - and that number may come down quickly.

A new effort: Markofski's arrest comes as the Pentagon seeks to weed out extremism in its ranks. More than 400 people have been arrested in connection with the riots. According to ABC News, at least 52 are active or former military, law enforcement or government service employees.

While the military has been dealing with the issue for a long time, the presence of current and former military personnel during the Jan. 6 riots made the issue more pressing.

Details of the case: According to an FBI affidavit, Brandon Nelson, who was with Markofski, said the two traveled together from the Madison, Wis., area to Washington, D.C., on Jan. 5 for the "Stop the Steal" rally that preceded the riots.

Nelson told agents that the men entered the Capitol after the rally, adding that police officers were guiding people in. Nelson said the two were in the Capitol for about 40 minutes.

Markofski also told agents that the men were inside the Capitol, but didn't say that officers were guiding people in. Instead, he said that an officer inside said, "I can't make you guys leave. However, for your safety, you should leave."

Afghans fear US withdrawal could stifle progress as Taliban wait in the shadows

  Afghans fear US withdrawal could stifle progress as Taliban wait in the shadows It’s been almost two decades since the United States declared a war on terror. President Joe Biden announced withdrawal of all U.S. troops from Afghanistan by Sept. 11. Yet, the Taliban is stronger than any time since their fall in 2001. As troops return home, the group's power has raised concerns not only of terror reaching Americans at home but more so among the Afghans who are living under the group's shadow government, which controls large swaths of the country.

The charges: Markofski and Nelson have been charged with entering and remaining in a restricted building or grounds; disorderly and disruptive conduct in a restricted building or grounds; violent entry or disorderly conduct; and parading, demonstrating or picketing in a Capitol building.

Read more here.


Donald Trump's hearty endorsement of pulling U.S. troops out of Afghanistan by September has undercut efforts by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) and other key Republicans to question President Biden's strategy.

More broadly, the former president has focused the nation's attention on China as the United States's premier national security concern, putting pressure on Senate Republicans to support legislation Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) plans to move to respond to Beijing's growing influence and power.

McConnell's move: McConnell is the most powerful Republican leader in Washington, but he doesn't have the same unrivaled platform that he did when he was in the same position - head of the minority opposition in Washington - at the start of former President Obama's tenure.

McConnell has seized on Biden's announcement that he will withdraw all U.S. troops from Afghanistan as a prime example of him talking like a centrist but governing from the left.

Did agents raid home of wrong woman over Jan. 6 riot? Maybe.

  Did agents raid home of wrong woman over Jan. 6 riot? Maybe. ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — “We’re looking for Nancy Pelosi’s laptop,” FBI agents told Marilyn Hueper after briefly handcuffing her. Hueper shot back: “That still doesn’t explain why you’re in my home. Or in Homer, Alaska.” The search for the House speaker’s laptop had taken a U.S. Capitol Police officer thousands of miles away from home for an FBI raid on Hueper’s home, looking for something stolen during the Jan. 6 insurrection — and the person who did it.The agents would walk out of Hueper’s home with iPads, cellphones and a pocket-sized copy of the Declaration of Independence. They took a laptop, but it wasn’t from Pelosi’s office.

The GOP leader has warned that Biden has ordered "a hasty total withdrawal from Afghanistan" that will "leave coalition partners and vulnerable Afghans high and dry."

Trump's undercut: But Trump has undercut the messaging from Senate Republican leaders, opening the way for other Republicans to express support for Biden's decision or at least publicly question the wisdom of keeping U.S. troops in Afghanistan beyond the fall.

Read the rest here.


Brookings Institution will hold a webinar on "China's Arctic Activities and Ambitions," at 10:30 a.m.

U.S. Strategic Command head Adm. Charles Richard will speak at the Center for Strategic and International Studies at 10:30 a.m.

The House Armed Services Committee will hold its "Member Day" hearing, in which committee members testify on their national defense priorities for the Fiscal Year 2022 National Defense Authorization Act and offer legislative proposals as amendments when the full House considers the bill, at 11 a.m. in Rayburn House Office Building, room 2118.

U.K. Ambassador to the United States Karen Pierce will speak at a Woodrow Wilson Center webinar on "Global Britain: The Future of the Kingdom's Security, Defense, Development and Foreign Policy," at 11:30 a.m.

Army Chief of Staff Gen. James McConville and acting Army Secretary John Whitley will speak at a House Appropriations Defense subcommittee hearing on "Fiscal Year 2022 United States Army Budget, at 12 p.m.

A House Armed Services subpanel will hear from Defense and State Department officials on "Creating a Framework for Rules Based Order in Space," at 3 p.m.

Counting the costs of America's 20-year war in Afghanistan

  Counting the costs of America's 20-year war in Afghanistan DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — America’s longest war, the two-decade-long conflict in Afghanistan that started in the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, killed tens of thousands of people, dogged four U.S. presidents and ultimately proved unwinnable despite its staggering cost in blood and treasure. This final chapter, with President Joe Biden’s decision to pull all American troops from Afghanistan by the 20th anniversary of the terrorist attacks, has prompted a reckoning over the war’s lost lives and colossal expenditure.


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-- The Hill: Opinion: Ukraine and Russia: NATO should clarify its deterrent approach, while it still can

-- Military.com: Pentagon's Watchdog to Investigate Military's Response to UFOs

-- Stars and Stripes: After nearly three years in Mexico, combat veteran's wife to reunite with family in the US

U.S. Tells Embassy Staff to Leave Afghanistan Unless Job Needs Them to Physically Remain in Kabul .
U.S. State Department: "U.S. Embassy personnel are restricted from traveling to all locations in Kabul except the U.S. Embassy and other U.S. government facilities unless there is a compelling U.S. government interest in permitting such travel that outweighs the risk."The Tuesday order came as the U.S. is preparing for a full troop withdrawal of Afghanistan by September 11 under President Joe Biden's decision and also added that U.S. citizens who wish to leave Afghanistan should "leave as soon as possible on available commercial flights.

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