Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) sparred Tuesday over allegations that the Pentagon is funding the “awakening.” We’ll break down the fight and also introduce you to President Biden’s nominee to lead the US Coast Guard.

This is Defense and National Security, your late-night guide to the latest happenings at the Pentagon, on Capitol Hill and beyond. For The Hill, I’m Jordan Williams. Did a friend forward this newsletter to you? subscribe here and see today’s full edition here.

Austin, Gaetz fight in budget hearing

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Rep. Matt Gaetz (right) had a heated exchange Tuesday over accusations that the military is pushing “awakening” and socialism, along with what the Florida congressman called “botched calls.” Recent Pentagon

How it started: In his questioning, Gaetz referred to an article published in the conservative Washington Free Beacon in February that reported that economist Thomas Piketty, whose work focuses on economic inequality, would lecture at the National Defense University on “the case of global justice and democratic socialism”. ” to fight China.

Austin said he was not aware of the conference Gaetz was talking about, prompting Gaetz to reply that he was “widely briefed.” The Florida Republican then asked the Pentagon chief if he agreed that socialism was not an effective way to combat China.

Gaetz then interrupted when Austin was responding, prompting the committee’s chairman, Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.), to scold Gaetz.

‘Blowing a bunch of calls’: Austin tried to seek clarity on the question, but then Gaetz turned to say that he noted that the US has been “dropping a lot of calls lately” on matters of strategy.

Gaetz noted that the United States had failed in its assessments that Afghanistan’s government could hold power for months after Washington withdrew forces and that Russia would quickly prevail in Ukraine if it invaded.

Embarrassed for your country’: “This is the most capable and most combat-critical force in the world. It has been and will be so in the future,” Austin said in response to Gaetz’s accusation that the United States is behind China and North Korea in cutting-edge technology.

“The fact that you are ashamed of your country?” he continued, leading Gaetz to accuse Austin of conflating his faults with those of service members.

“You said that Russia would invade Ukraine in 36 days. You said the Taliban would hold off for months. You totally screwed up those calls,” Gaetz said. “And maybe we’d be better at them if the National Defense University worked a little more on strategy and a little less on awakening.”

Why Austin was on Capitol Hill: Austin, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley and Pentagon Comptroller Michael McCord testified before the House Armed Services Committee on the Pentagon’s fiscal year 2023 budget proposal.

The Pentagon is seeking a budget of $773 for fiscal year 2023, absorbing the bulk of President Biden’s $813.3 billion national defense overall budget proposal.

Outside the meeting with Gaetz, Pentagon officials answered questions about how Washington is helping Ukraine fend off Russian invasion, hypersonic weapons and how inflation will affect the raises the Biden administration is proposing.

United States, United Kingdom and Australia will unite in hypersonic weapons

The United States, Britain and Australia pledged on Tuesday to work together to develop hypersonic missiles as part of a security pact between the three countries announced last year.

The cooperation: The leaders of the three countries said in a joint statement that they had committed to “commencing new trilateral cooperation in hypersonic and counterhypersonic, and electronic warfare capabilities.”

A fact sheet released by the White House said the group “will work together to accelerate the development of advanced hypersonic and counterhypersonic capabilities.”

About AUKUS: The United States, the United Kingdom and Australia launched the trilateral security partnership AUKUS in September to deepen cooperation in the Indo-Pacific. The pact is widely seen as an effort to counter China’s military advances and growing influence in the region.

As part of the partnership, the US and UK are helping Australia acquire nuclear-powered submarines. That element of the pact angered France when it was announced last year because it resulted in Paris losing a lucrative defense contract to deliver submarines to Australia.

Furthermore, the three countries are also cooperating on emerging technologies such as cybernetics, artificial intelligence and quantum technology.

Read the full story here.


The US military kept a successful test of a hypersonic missile secret for two weeks to avoid escalating tensions with Russia, a defense official confirmed to The Hill.

The hypersonic air-breathing weapon (HAWC) proof-of-concept, announced Tuesday, took place in mid-March as President Biden was preparing to travel to Europe. It also came days after Russian forces claimed to have used a hypersonic missile in Ukraine, the official said.

CNN was the first to report on the delayed announcement.

Launched from a B-52 bomber off the West Coast, the HAWC used a booster engine to accelerate the missile to Mach 5, five times the speed of sound, according to a Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) statement. ). The agency conducted the test in conjunction with the Air Force and Lockheed Martin.

The missile eventually “reached altitudes in excess of 65,000 feet and flew more than 300 nautical miles,” the statement said.

Read more here.

Biden Makes Historic Pick for Coast Guard Chief

President Biden nominated on Tuesday Admiral Linda Fagan being the chief of the Coast Guard and the first woman to lead a military branch.

The nomination was announced by Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, who said Fagan would become the 27th Coast Guard commander.

Mayorkas also announced that Vice Admiral Steven Poulin was nominated for the second highest position in the Coast Guard.

An ‘exceptional choice’: “President Biden has made an exceptional decision in nominating Admiral Linda F. Fagan to serve as Commander of the United States Coast Guard. Admiral Fagan is a tremendous leader, trailblazer and respected public servant who will lead the Coast Guard on its critical missions with honor,” Mayorkas said.

About Fagan: Prior to his nomination, Fagan had been in the Coast Guard for 36 years and was previously commander of the Coast Guard Pacific Area.

She has served on seven continents and is the longest serving officer in the field of maritime security.

“Within the Coast Guard and throughout the Department of Homeland Security, Admiral Fagan is admired as a role model of the highest integrity, and her landmark nomination is sure to inspire the next generation of women considering careers in the military. Mayorkas said. .

Read the story here.


  • The House Appropriations Defense subcommittee will host a closed-door hearing on “U.S. Africa Command” at 9:30 a.m.
  • The Senate Armed Services Personnel subcommittee will hold a hearing “to receive testimony on suicide prevention and behavioral health-related interventions at the Department of Defense” at 10 a.m.
  • Veterans Affairs Secretary Denis McDonough will testify before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Military Construction, Veterans Related Affairs and Agencies on the agency’s FY2023 budget request at 10:30 am
  • The House Veterans Affairs Committee will review pending legislation at 10:30 a.m.
  • The House Foreign Affairs Committee will hold a hearing on “Restoring American Leadership in the Indo-Pacific” at 10 a.m.
  • The House Armed Services Strategic Forces subcommittee will hold a hearing on “Strategic Forces National Security Space Programs for Fiscal Year 2023” at 2 p.m.
  • The Senate Armed Services Subcommittee on Emerging Threats and Capabilities will host a hearing “to receive testimony on the Department of Defense’s position to support and encourage innovation” at 2:30 p.m.
  • Senate Foreign Relations Committee will hold a hearing on treaties at 2:30 p.m.


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

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