Just in: “Moon, Trump agree to foster inter-Korean dialogue for restart of denuclearization talks.” That’s the headline — there’s nothing more yet — on a dispatch from South Korea’s Yonhap news agency. But it follows a Thursday phone call between presidents Donald Trump and Moon Jae-in. “Details of the talks were not immediately available, but they followed a recent rapprochement between the divided Koreas that Moon said must lead to dialogue between the United States and North Korea,” Yonhap reported.
“The brutality of this will be beyond the experience of any living soldier.” That’s how U.S. Army Chief, Gen. Mark Milley described the results of a recent classified exercise to see how a war with North Korea might begin to play out, the New York Times reported Wednesday evening.
Also in attendance: Gen. Tony Thomas, the head of Special Operations Command.
A short list of some of the bigger problems highlighted:
- “the Pentagon’s limited ability to evacuate injured troops from the Korean Peninsula daily — a problem more acute if the North retaliated with chemical weapons.”
- “Large numbers of surveillance aircraft would have to be moved from the Middle East and Africa to the Pacific”
- “Roughly 10,000 Americans could be wounded in combat in the opening days alone. And the number of civilian casualties, the generals were told, would likely be in the thousands or even hundreds of thousands.”
Lest we get too far ahead of ourselves, the Times writes “Pentagon officials cautioned that the planning does not mean that a decision has been made to go to war over President Trump’s demands that North Korea rein in its nuclear ambitions.” However, “Already, ammunition has been pre-staged in the Pacific region for ground units.”
And the South Korean input on all this? That’s more of a rhetorical consideration so far, according to the Times. “But Trump administration officials still insist that the United States will not sit with North Korea unless Pyongyang agrees to open negotiations on its nuclear program, a condition the North has rejected. And so the planning continues.”
Next steps? Mattis and his combatant commanders will hold a “larger meeting” in April, “expected to heavily focus on North Korea. Special Operations forces have been briefed on some details of a plan that is separate but related to a potential strike on North Korea, officials said.” Much more — including a deeper look at the “wide range of military capabilities and missions” under consideration — here.
From Defense One
National Security Pros, It’s Time to Talk About Right-Wing Extremism // Peter W. Singer: We have been too quiet about a threat that is regularly killing our fellow citizens.
The Pentagon Just Revealed How Much It Spends Helping Foreign Militaries // Tommy Ross: DoD’s first-ever summary of 27 security-cooperation programs deserves praise. Now tell us more.
AI Experts List the Real Dangers of Artificial Intelligence // Dave Gershgorn: Every AI advance by the good guys is an advance for the bad guys, too.
Pentagon’s $1 Billion Cloud Deal May Signal New Era in Government Buying // Frank Konkel: Congress wants the Defense Department to buy technology faster. Now it’s beginning to do just that
Welcome to this Thursday edition of The D Brief by Ben Watson and Bradley Peniston. Email us. And if you find this useful, consider forwarding it to a friend or colleague. They can subscribe here for free. OTD1950: Manhattan Project scientist Klaus Fuchs is convicted of spying for the Soviet Union.
Putin: Russia developing nuclear arsenal “immune to interception.” In his annual state-of-the-nation speech, Russian President Vladimir Putin touted several under-development weapons, the UK’s Sky News reports. Putin said these include a high-speed cruise missile, tested late last year, with “unlimited range” and the ability to “penetrate any missile defense”; and a high-speed, nuclear-armed underwater drone that can target aircraft carriers or coastal facilities; Sarmat, an ICBM that can carry more warheads farther than its predecessor; and Avangard, “which Mr Putin described as an intercontinental hypersonic missile that would fly towards targets at 20 times the speed of sound and strike ‘like a meteorite, like a fireball.’ More, here.
How RT spun it: “Missile defence useless against our new technologies,” here.
Quick take from James Acton, co-director of the Carnegie Nuclear Policy Program: “Even without these new weapons, Putin had a guaranteed capability to turn US into smoking radioactive rubble, irrespective of future missiles defense deployments. However, new weapons will make the nuclear competition more difficult to manage and increase risks.”
Remember the aerostat-based cruise-missile shield? From 2015: “Pentagon Building Cruise Missile Shield To Defend US Cities From Russia.”
FWIW: STRATCOM’s Gen. Hyten says it’s taking too long to acquire space-based missile defenses, Military Times reported Wednesday.
Russia’s Fancy Bear hackers strike again, this time in Deutschland.
Visualized: Here is a map that “fits the entire Russian economy (as measured in GDP) into Western Europe,” shared by German demographer, Simon Kuesternmacher. “Whatever economic data I look at I’m surprised by how weak Russia appears,” he said.
Ukraine says it will receive new weapons from the U.S. in a “few weeks,” Reuters reported Wednesday.
Background: “Russian officials have said the decision to supply weapons to Ukraine is dangerous as it would encourage Kiev to use force in the eastern conflict zone. The United States says the weapons it plans to supply, which include Javelin anti-tank missiles, would help stabilise the situation and cannot effectively be used to take territory.” A tiny bit more, here.
Afghanistan’s president wants a ceasefire as part of his plan for peace, a plan that also includes an offer of amnesty to the Taliban. President Ashraf Ghani’s pitch on on Tuesday “called for a cease-fire and prisoner release and offered insurgents who renounce violence and recognize the Afghan government a place in the country’s political institutions,” the LA Times reported Wednesday from Kabul.
Said Ghani: “A ceasefire should be held, the Taliban should be recognised as a political party and trust-building process should be initiated… Now the decision is in your hands, accept peace… and let’s bring stability to this country.”
A bit more from AFP: “Ghani disclosed the framework at the Kabul Process, a regional conference in the Afghan capital focused on bringing peace to the country. He called for a truce, after which the Taliban could become a political party and contest elections.”
It is a notable move considering the Taliban recently expressed their openness to reach “a peaceful resolution” on the war in Afghanistan It’s notable as well because the Taliban said their pre-condition for talks included foreign soldiers leaving the country — an offer Ghani did not extend Tuesday.
How this is going over in Afghanistan: Not very well, but few things do. “Ghani’s peace effort is also beset by problems in his government, an unwieldy coalition that includes former warlords and ethnic militia leaders who have challenged his authority.” Read the rest, here.
“Major data breach” at Marine Forces Reserve affects more than 21,000 people, Marine Corps Times reported Wednesday.
Wha- happened? An “unencrypted email with an attachment containing personal confidential information was sent to the wrong email distribution list Monday morning…That email was a roster sent out by the Defense Travel System, or DTS.”
Included in that “compromised attachment” were “truncated social security numbers, bank electronic funds transfer and bank routing numbers, truncated credit card information, mailing address, residential address and emergency contact information.”
Where to go from here: “The Marines are still analyzing the extent of the spread of the sensitive data and plan to implement future changes to better safeguard personally identifiable information… However analyzing the full impact could prove to be a Sisyphean task. Once the data moves outside of the Marine domain there’s no telling how far it could spread.” More here.
Just a few short days after China’s President Xi was cleared for what could be a long presidency, his country banned the word “disagree” on the popular microblogging site, Weibo. That, according to Vox, was just one of the many terms recently banned in China. Others include “my emperor,” “to board a plane,” and “lifelong control” — as well as “references to George Orwell’s dystopian novels Animal Farm and 1984, which describe worlds where authoritarian leaders strictly control the populations under them.” Read more, here. Or catch the full list, here.
Is China getting a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier? It would seem so, the South China Morning Post reported Wednesday. Their jump: “China Shipbuilding Industry Corporation (CSIC), which refitted China’s first aircraft carrier and built its second, did not specify which vessel it was referring to, but a statement on its website on Tuesday was the company’s first confirmation that a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier was in the works.”
But that’s (maybe) not all: “CSIC also said it was working on a new type of nuclear submarine, submarine artificial intelligence combat systems and a ‘comprehensive electronic information system’ for maritime battles.” More here.
ICYMI: CNAS’ Elsa Kania unpacked an earlier report about China’s shipboard AI efforts, here.
From the region: Japan wants to use anti-ship cruise missiles to help “seal one of the major routes the Chinese navy would need to break out into the western Pacific in the event of a conflict,” The Diplomat reports this morning. “Government sources told the Asahi Shimbun proposals are being developed to deploy a battery of Type 12 anti-ship missiles to Okinawa-jima. The same anti-ship missiles, along with air-defense missiles, are already set to be deployed to three other of Japan’s southwestern islands, Miyako-jima, Ishigaki-shima, and Anami-Oshima.” More here.
Related: Is it “Time to Let Taiwan Join the Pacific Partnership?” Joseph Bosco, a former China desk director at OSD, thinks so — and makes his case in The Diplomat, here.
America’s Syrian partners in the war on ISIS are thinning out, The New York Times reports. Why? Turkey’s war on Kurdish-held Afrin, in northwestern Syria.
The big worry: This development “threatens not only to slow progress against several hundred Islamic State fighters who are hiding along the Euphrates River or in nearby deserts, but also could allow battle-hardened foreign fighters to escape deeper into western Syria and eventually into Turkey or Jordan — and possibly to return home to Europe or Africa to commit mayhem there, American commanders and analysts said.” That and more, here.
The Pentagon wants $21.2B for classified intelligence programs, Defense News reported Wednesday. “The department announced Tuesday that its fiscal 2019 budget request for the Military Intelligence Program will be $21.2 billion.”
For some perspective, “In the early part of the decade, the MIP dropped from a high of $27 billion in FY10, hitting its low point in FY15 at $16.6 billion, according to numbers maintained by the analytics group Avascent. But it has steadily increased since then, with the Pentagon receiving $17.7 billion in FY16 and $18.5 billion in FY17; the Pentagon has requested $20.7 billion in FY18 and now $21.2 billion in FY19.” A bit more, here.
Three U.S. senators want to end America’s involvement in the Yemen war: Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., Mike Lee, R-Utah, and Chris Murphy, D-Conn. The men “unveiled plans… to take advantage of a provision in the 1973 War Powers Act that allows any senator to introduce a resolution on whether to withdraw U.S. armed forces from a conflict not authorized by Congress,” Reuters reported.
Said Sanders: “If you look at the War Powers Act, what America is currently involved in constitutes a military action. That’s pretty clear… We believe that, as Congress has not declared war or authorized military force, this conflict (in Yemen) is unconstitutional and unauthorized.”
Forecast: “While members of both parties have criticized the Yemen intervention, it’s unclear how Sanders and Lee’s resolution could get a vote,” the Washington Post adds. “On Wednesday, they said frankly that they would try to move it through the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, where it could be tabled, ending the debate. But broader efforts to rethink or cancel the entire AUMF have gotten nowhere; a focus on Yemen, they argued, could break the logjam.” More here.
Efforts to arm teachers may have hit a brief speedbump. That after 53-year-old Jesse Randall Davidson, who taught social studies at a high school in Dalton, Ga., “barricaded” himself inside his room shortly before lunch on Wednesday, and evidently fired at least one shot while allegedly not allowing students to enter his classroom, Fox News reports.
The charges facing Mr. Davidson: “aggravated assault, carrying a weapon on school grounds, terroristic threats, reckless conduct, possession of a gun during commission of a crime and disrupting public school.” More to that thank-God-no-one-was-shot story, here.
And finally today, we turn a bit south of Dalton, Ga., to Miami, Fla. It was there that “an 80-pound inflatable raft [came] crashing through the roof” of Miami resident Luce Rameau’s home late Wednesday evening.
Wait, what? Yes, Ms. Rameau thought it was a bomb — look at the pictures for yourself in this video; hard to blame her. What it actually was was an inflatable raft that had somehow become detached from a Canadian Air Force CH-146 Griffon chopper, in the region to “take advantage of the warmer weather” for exercises. Luce admits she was very lucky; and Canada’s AF’s vowed to help her out “with accommodations and other support” while they investigate what exactly happened that warm evening in south Florida. Read the rest here at the Miami Herald