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Lloyd Austin

October 6, 2021

Pentagon officials say national security at risk

Top Pentagon officials, including Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, warn that a default on the national debt would threaten national security and harm military members and families.

“If the United States defaults, it would undermine the economic strength on which our national security rests,” Austin said. “It would also seriously harm our service members and their families because, as Secretary, I would have no authority or ability to ensure that our service members, civilians, or contractors would be paid in full or on time.”

Six former Defense secretaries sent a separate letter to Congress on Wednesday echoing the same concerns. The group implored legislators “to work together to raise the statutory debt limit and avoid catastrophic consequences for the Defense Department, our military families, and our position of leadership in the world.”

In July, the US reached its borrowing limit, and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen warned that leadership must raise the debt ceiling by Oct. 18 or risk a historic, catastrophic default.

Austin outlined what’s at stake in the event Congress fails to act, including the benefits “earned by and owed to 2.4 million military retirees and 400,000 survivors.”

The group of six former Pengaton chiefs says if the US fails to pay its millions of service members, “we will not have a highly capable military to fight and win the nation’s wars.”

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Pentagon chiefs say debt default could risk national security

October 3, 2021

Military suicide rate on the rise

The rate of suicides in the US military spiked 15 percent last year, new data shows.

Last year saw 580 suicides compared to 504 the previous year. The Army National Guard experienced the most significant increase by about 35 percent.

“The findings are troubling,” Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said. “Suicide rates among our service members and military families are still too high, and the trends are not going in the right direction.”

John Kirby, the Pentagon’s press secretary, said that the Defense Department could not fully explain the dramatic increase.

“It’s difficult to denote specific causality with suicide on an individual basis, let alone on an institutional basis,” Kirby said. “And I think that’s why it’s so difficult for us to speak to it with any specificity, except to say we take this very, very seriously.”

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Military suicides rise 15% as senior leaders call for action

September 29, 2021

Biden administration infighting: officials point fingers over Afghanistan botch

Top Pentagon officials pointed fingers at the State Department for not starting civilian evacuations from Afghanistan sooner while referring to the withdrawal as “chaotic” during a congressional hearing on Wednesday.

The withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan concluded on Aug. 31. Though over 124,000 individuals made it out of Kabul, at least 100 US citizens and thousands of Afghan allies remain in the country.

The House Armed Services Committee pressed Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin on why evacuations didn’t begin sooner, and he said it was a “State Department call.”

“We certainly would have liked to see it go faster or sooner,” Austin said. “But, again, they had a number of things to think through as well.” 

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley later described the evacuation efforts as “chaotic.” Milley emphasized that the “noncombatant evacuation” was not handled by his department.

“That’s a different operation,” Milley said. “And I think, that, in the first two days as we saw, were not only chaotic, but violent and high-risk.”

Milley referred to the 20-year war as a “strategic failure” for the US and warned that the Taliban still poses a threat.

“The Taliban was and remain a terrorist organization and they still have not broken ties with al Qaeda,” Milley testified. “I have no illusions who we are dealing with.” 

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Pentagon leaders blame State Department for chaotic Afghanistan evacuation of civilians

September 10, 2021

Defense secretary: the world was ‘hopeful’ the Taliban would be ‘inclusive’

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said that the world was optimistic that the Taliban would form an “inclusive” government, but there isn’t any indication they’re going to follow through.

The Taliban previously claimed that they would aim to have an “open, inclusive Islamic government.”

“You know, I think the whole international community was hopeful that they would be inclusive as they kind of said they would be weeks and months ago, but we’ve not seen evidence of that early on,” Austin said.

The Taliban recently announced its new government members, which consist entirely of men. Sirajuddin Haqqani, the new acting interior minister, carries a $10 million bounty from the FBI. The Associated Press reported the belief is that Haqqani is holding at least one American hostage.

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Austin: No evidence Taliban being ‘inclusive,’ says ‘I don’t look favorably’ on wanted terrorist in government

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