1. Trump Considering Retired Marine Generals for Defense, State
President-elect Donald Trump is considering retired Marine generals for secretary of defense and secretary of state. While he still wants retired Marine Gen. James Mattis at the Pentagon, the delayed announcement has some speculating that Trump may be weighing others for the job or that Mattis -- who would require a congressional waiver -- may not want it. Even so, the former head of Central Command has apparently convinced Trump to rethink his position on waterboarding. And after a key aide attacked former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney on the Sunday talk shows, Trump is also mulling retired Gen. John Kelly for secretary of state, according to The Associated Press. Retired Army Gen. David Petraeus is also under consideration for secretary of state. Meanwhile, Trump is considering the retiring Rep. Jeff Miller of Florida and former Sen. Scott Brown of Massachusetts for VA secretary, Politico has reported.
2. After Castro's Death, Will Trump Expand Guantanamo?
Trump seemed to welcome the news on Friday that Cuban dictator Fidel Castro, 90, died after ruling the Caribbean nation for nearly half a century and playing a major role in the 1962 Cuban missile crisis, tweeting, "Fidel Castro is dead!" President Barack Obama campaigned on a pledge to close the military prison on Guantanamo Bay, and while he reduced the number of inmates there from about 240 to about 60 (with 20 more cleared to be expatriated), his efforts to shutter the detention center were repeatedly defeated by lawmakers in Congress, according to Fox News. Trump, on the other hand, has vowed to increase the size of the facility, saying in April, "we're gonna load it up with some bad dudes, believe me, we're gonna load it up," the network reported.
3. Lawmakers to Review Force Levels in Iraq, Afghanistan
Rep. Vicky Hartzler, a Republican from Missouri and chairwoman of the House Armed Services Committee's Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee, will hold a hearing at 10 a.m. Thursday to study U.S. force levels in Iraq and Afghanistan. Some 5,000 American troops are serving in Iraq to help Iraqi and Kurdish forces battle militants affiliated with the Islamic State. The U.S. plans to keep some 8,400 U.S. service members in Afghanistan next year. Watch for retired Army Gen. Carter Ham, among those testifying, to argue for bigger military footprints in both countries. It's unclear whether the discussion will touch on Syria, where roughly 300 American troops are serving and where Senior Chief Petty Officer Scott Cooper Dayton was killed by a roadside bomb on Thanksgiving, becoming the first U.S. service member to die in the fight against ISIS in the country.
4. Senators to Scrutinize Navy's Troubled LCS Program
Sen. John McCain, a Republican from Arizona and chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, plans to grill senior Navy and Pentagon officials on the status of the service's troubled Littoral Combat Ship program during a hearing of the panel set for 9:30 a.m. Thursday. The USS Montgomery, an Independence-class trimaran made by Austal, this month sustained a second crack to its hull. The incident was the latest setback for the $36 billion acquisition effort. Out of eight vessels delivered to the Navy, five have either sustained damage or encountered engineering problems. More information on the hearing is here.
5. Pentagon Leaders to Attend Reagan Defense Forum
Defense Secretary Ashton Carter and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford will be among the several hundred defense experts attending the annual Reagan National Defense Forum, set to run all day Saturday at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California. Dunford will give the keynote address beginning at 12:15 p.m., while Carter will provide closing remarks beginning at 5 p.m. The theme of this year's event is "Peace Through Strength: National Defense and the New Administration." Panelists will discuss a number of issues, from the presidential transition to strategic deterrence to cyberattacks. The full agenda is here.
-- Editor's note: This story was updated to correct the number of troops authorized to operate in Syria in the third paragraph.
-- Hope Hodge Seck and Richard Sisk contributed to this report.