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A Department of Defense watchdog (DOD) will launch a new review of how the military selects candidates for extremism.

We’ll also explore the steps the Navy will take to empty the tanks of an underground fuel storage facility after a leak in November that contaminated drinking water and U.S. demands to de-escalate Russia with Ukraine.

For The Hill, I’m Jordan Williams. Email me with advice at [email protected]

Let’s go.

Pentagon inspector general launches review

The Office of the Inspector General of the Department of Defense (DOD) will review how the military selects candidates for extremist behavior.

“The objective of this audit is to determine whether military service recruiting organizations have screened candidates for the behavior of supremacist, extremist and criminal gangs, in accordance with DoD and military service policies and procedures,” said a memo from the watchdog, dated January 3.

The audit is expected to begin this month and will be carried out in the Army, Navy, Air Force and the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for personnel and readiness.

New rules on extremism: The Pentagon itself began investigating the issue of extremism in the military last year after the Jan.6, 2021 attack on the Capitol.

The DOD last month released a new set of rules aimed at tackling extremism within its ranks. Among the rules, service members cannot actively engage in extremist activity and could be punished for defending extremist content online.

Members of the military are not explicitly prohibited from belonging to extremist organizations under the new directive. However, advocating for the overthrow of the government, fundraising for extremist groups, and “liking” or reposting extremist content online is not allowed.

Link to the January 6 riot: Dozens of the more than 700 defendants who were indicted in connection with the riot had current or previous ties to the military, with a December CBS report concluding that 81 defendants had military ties.

After the riot, the Secretary of Defense Lloyd AustinLloyd AustinOvernight Defense & National Security – US and Russia sit face to face. ordered a force-wide “retreat” to address the issue. In April, the Pentagon moved in favor of screening procedures to eliminate extremists, including the military services updating their membership screening questionnaires to gather specific information on current or extremist behavior.

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Navy to Comply with Hawaii Facilities Order

The Navy will comply with an emergency order to empty the tanks of a fuel storage facility following a leak in November.

The Hawaii Department of Health finalized the order last week to empty underground tanks at the Red Hill Bulk Fuel Storage Facility at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam. The Navy had 30 days to appeal the order, which was first issued on December 6.

Rear Admiral Blake Converse, deputy commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet, told the House Armed Services subcommittee on readiness on Tuesday that the Navy would comply with the order.

“Yes, we have received the emergency order issued by the Hawaii Department of Health, and we are taking action because it is a legal order to follow,” Converse said.

About the order: The Navy was ordered to submit a plan to safely empty the tanks at the facility and install water treatment systems on the contaminated well.

As of Friday, Pacific Fleet Commander Samuel Paparo issued guidelines to begin efforts to comply with the order, Converse said, adding that the Navy had started to comply with “many facets” of the order sooner thanks to the directives of the Secretary of the Navy.

Converse said he was unsure whether the Navy would challenge the order later.

Navy officials face lawmakers: Converse and several other Navy officials testified before the readiness panel specifically about the November release.

The leak may have been due to operator error, Converse said, adding that the Navy is investigating whether the incident is related to an earlier spill on May 6. The Navy has already spent “well over” $ 250 million after the spill, Converse told the panel.

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The US envoy to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) said on Tuesday that the United States and its allies wanted Russia to take concrete steps to ease tensions on the Ukrainian border, fearing that Moscow is not ready to launch a full-scale invasion of the former Soviet state.

U.S. Ambassador to NATO Julianne Smith said the United States expects Russia to withdraw the forces it has massed on the Ukrainian border and commit to engaging in the Minsk Accords, the 2014 diplomatic protocol intended to end the fighting in eastern Ukraine.

“We want to see the full implementation of the Minsk agreements with Russia withdrawing its forces. But if Russia continues the confrontation, there will be serious consequences, ”Smith told reporters at a briefing from Brussels, ahead of a NATO-Russia council meeting scheduled for Wednesday.

“Prepared for conversation”: Smith’s comments come a day before the United States and its allies took part in a NATO-Russia council meeting. The meeting is the second of three engagements taking place in Europe this week and in response to what the United States and its allies say are Russian threats to Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.

Smith said the United States and its NATO allies are heading to Wednesday’s meeting “prepared for conversation” and in step with a commitment to dialogue, but are determined to impose consequences on Russia if it does launch. a new aggression inside Ukraine.

These include sanctions against Russian financial institutions, export controls targeting key industries, strengthening the position of NATO forces in Allied territory in Eastern Europe and increased security assistance to Ukraine.

“I think we all feel like we’re ready for tomorrow’s conversation,” Smith said, but stressed that “no one has a crystal ball, and we’ll have to wait and see what the outcome of the NRC tomorrow. ”

The United States, led by Assistant Secretary of State Wendy Sherman, met Russian officials on Monday in a bilateral dialogue in Geneva called the Strategic Stability Dialogue.

Sherman will lead the US side in NATO-Russia talks on Wednesday and join the US Ambassador to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe for a third meeting with Russian officials on Thursday.

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High-value prisoner of Gitmo cleared for transfer

Guled Duran, held at Guantánamo Bay since 2006 without charge, was cleared for transfer in November, making him the facility’s first high-value prisoner recommended for release, The New York Times reported.

Duran’s attorney told The Times his client was briefed on the Guantánamo Bay Periodic Review Board’s decision on Monday.

According to a document obtained by The Times verifying Duran’s transfer authorization, “continued detention of the right of war is no longer necessary to protect against a significant and continuing threat to the security of the United States.”

He added that “vigorous efforts will be made to identify an appropriate transfer location … outside the United States, subject to appropriate safeguards and humane treatment.”

About Duran: Duran, from Somalia, was detained in Djibouti in 2004 and spent more than two years in CIA detention before being sent to Guantánamo Bay, where he has been held without charge since September 2006.

Duran is one of 39 detainees still detained at Guantanamo. The Biden administration has transferred one detainee so far.

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representing Ilhan omarIlhan Omar McCarthy says he will take committee places away from the Dems if the GOP wins the House. Should we expand the House of Representatives? That’s what the founders thought. (D-Minn.) Wrote an op-ed published Tuesday in Teen Vogue calling for the closure of the Guantánamo Bay detention center 20 years to the day it opened.

The Minnesota representative wrote that she preferred not to call January 11 an “anniversary” because it involved a celebration.

“Today is a day to reflect and take action,” Omar wrote.

“I reflect on what dozens of men lost when the United States tortured them, systematically dismantling their identity and their humanity. I reflect on what the families of the victims of the September 11, 2001 attacks lost – any possibility of fair and impartial justice – when the United States decided to trade decency and the rule of law for torture and indefinite detention. And I reflect on our refusal to hold anyone responsible for these acts, ”she wrote.

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