President Trump wants more “drone strikes and commando raids outside conventional battlefields,” The New York Times reported Thursday, citing “officials familiar with internal deliberations.” The changes could expand where American special forces conduct their shadow wars into “countries where Islamic militants are active but the United States has not previously tried to kill or capture them.”
So, where else? “Africa, Asia and the Middle East where terrorists operate,” the Times writes. “The move would also grant a C.I.A. push for permission to expand its program of covert drone strikes, which has included occasional attacks in Yemen and Syria but has largely centered on the tribal region of Pakistan, to Afghanistan — until now the exclusive purview of the military.”
If the changes move ahead as described by the Times, the next challenge “will be establishing governing principles that limit the pace of strikes… since there are few countries outside of hot warzones that will give the United States blanket approvals for unfettered drone campaigns,” writes Luke Hartig of the think tank New America. (Hartig’s previous jobs: Senior Director for Counterterrorism at the National Security Council, and deputy director for counterterrorism operations in the Office of the Secretary of Defense.”
His BLUF, at this stage: “Continued scrutiny will be required to understand if our country’s progress in this space continues or is undermined by the President’s bravado and sense of knowing more than the experts.” Read on, here.
From Defense One
Swiss Researchers Invent Way to Let Mini Drones See in the Dark // Patrick Tucker: Future drones will see as the human eye does, helping to navigate dark rooms.
‘Cyber Defense Is Very Much About Political Decisions’ // Caroline Houck: When European defense ministers played a tabletop cyber defense exercise, things got hard very quickly.
Global Business Brief // Marcus Weisgerber: What got people talking at Air Force Association’s big show; Q&A with Saab CEO; Mattis wants to improve relations with industry, and a lot more.
Welcome to Friday’s edition of The D Brief by Ben Watson and Bradley Peniston. OTD1939: German and Soviet troops celebrate their invasion of Poland with a parade. Have something you want to share? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. (And if you’re reading this on our website, consider subscribing. It’s free.)
Trump pursues his own sanctions on North Korea. By way of a new executive order the president signed Thursday, the White House aims “to further choke off [North Korea’s] trade with the outside world, in what some experts described as perhaps the most sweeping set of punitive economic measures enacted by the United States in many years,” The New York Times reports.
What’s new? “…international banks [are now barred] from the American market if they facilitate transactions with North Korea, targeting not just what are called correspondent accounts… but blocking all assets in the United States held by such a bank. [The executive order] also punished those doing business with major North Korean industries including textiles, fishing, information technology and manufacturing and imposed a 180-day ban on foreign-owned aircraft and ships entering the United States after leaving North Korea.”
Notes the Times: “The move suggested that for now, at least, the president was still committed to applying economic pressure rather than military action.” Read on, here.
Kim’s rare video message. In what the BBC calls “an unprecedented personal statement,” North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un said on Thursday Trump would “pay dearly” for Tuesday’s UN speech where the president of the United States threatened to “totally destroy” North Korea if the U.S. was forced to defend itself.
The rhetoric of projection: Some of the things Kim accused Trump of include being a “gangster fond of playing with fire” and exhibiting “mentally deranged behavior.”
Kim also insulted China: “The Chinese media had better watch how the DPRK smashes the hostile forces’ arrogance and highhanded practices, rather than kowtowing to the ignorant acts of the Trump administration.”
Is North Korea planning an H-bomb test over the Pacific? That’s what Pyongyang’s foreign minister Ri Yong Ho floated Thursday at the UN. “In my opinion, perhaps we might consider a historic aboveground test of a hydrogen bomb over the Pacific Ocean,” he said in an interview with South Korean news.
Notes the WSJ: “The last aboveground nuclear detonation in the world was China’s atmospheric test of a hydrogen bomb on Oct. 16, 1980.” More here.
China’s reax: “We urge the DPRK not to go further along a dangerous direction,” said Foreign Minister Wang Yi on Thursday. “And we call upon all parties to play a constructive role in easing tensions. There is still hope for peace and we must not give up. Negotiation is the only way out, which deserves every effort. Parties should meet each other halfway, by addressing each other’s legitimate concerns.” That, via Reuters, here.
Disinfo on the Korean Peninsula — by way of Facebook and text messages. “Several U.S. servicemembers or their family members received fake messages saying an evacuation order had been issued for the Korean Peninsula,” Stars and Stripes reported Thursday. But within an hour, U.S. Forces Korea issued a notice alerting folks the evacuation order was a hoax. “Cyber personnel” are reportedly investigating the incident, according to S&S.
And if something similar appears to happen again, USFK recommended reporting “the messages to U.S. Army counterintelligence on these hotlines: 0503-323-3299 or 010-3100-0171.”
For what it’s worth: For the first time in two years, South Korea is sending aid to the North, via the UN — about $8 million worth for “children and pregnant women,” Stripes reported separately Thursday.
Iran says, “Hey, everybody — we’ve got a new ballistic missile!” The medium-range missile, called the Khorramshahr, “has a range of 1,240 miles and is capable of carrying multiple warheads,” NBC News reports after Tehran included it in a parade that also featured tanks and submarines. “The parade was one of many across Iran on the first day of the annual week-long commemoration of Iranian forces during the 1980s Iraq war.”
Iran’s message to the world with this parade: “We will promote our defensive and military power as much as we deem necessary,” President Hassan Rouhani told the crowd at the parade. “We seek no one’s permission to defend our land… The great nation of Iran has always pursued peace and security in the region and the world, and has always defended the oppressed people of the world. We will defend the downtrodden people of Yemen, Syria, and Palestine whether you like it or not.”
BTW: Iranian centrifuges are still breaking during Tehran’s uranium enrichment test, and “more often than expected,” according to a new report from the Institute for Science and International Security.
According to Reuters, “By August, Iran had tested eight advanced IR-8 centrifuges although the deal limits it to one at most, the report said, adding that Iran also operated between 13 and 15 interconnected IR-6 machines, which the deal restricts to 10. However, according to the report, all but one of the IR-8s and many of the IR-6s broke because carbon fiber components failed.” Read on, here.
‘Why would we risk letting Iran out of its nuclear shackles now?’ One of the architects of sanctions on Tehran finds the debate over the 2015 Iran deal somewhat baffling. Read on, here.
An independent look at America’s options for replacing its own ICBMs. As Pentagon strategists grind away on a new long-range plan for the U.S. nuclear arsenal, as ordered up by the White House in April, CSIS’ Todd Harrison and Evan Linck offer their own analysis. In a report released Friday, they explore the strategic, operational, and financial tradeoffs between four main choices. Find the 42-page report, well worth reading, here.
ICYMI: Wanna know exactly (most probably, anyway) where Russia launched its ICBM earlier this week? Take a look.
Marines look to put long-range, precision firepower on amphibs. “If the enemy has a capability to shoot my large ship or my destroyer or my carrier from a couple hundred nautical miles away – or maybe longer – I’ve got to do something about that,” Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Robert Neller said Wednesday at the annual Modern Day Marine expo in Quantico, Virginia. “You’re going to see precision fire delivered off amphib ships, whether it comes out of tube guns or rockets or delivered from unmanned systems.” More from Military Times, here.
Lastly this week: Bring on President Trump’s desired July 4 military parade, writes Alex Kingsbury of the Boston Globe. His quick sell: “Maybe such a display is exactly what Americans need — just not for the reasons Trump imagines. American should take a look — a close look — at what they’ve bought.”
But his main point has a bit more bite: “Tanks rolling past the White House this summer would indeed be watched in foreign capitals. But they would also be watched by a domestic audience that’s viewed actual war as a distant abstraction for far too long.”
Notes Doctrine Man: “Those of you stationed in the DC area might want to file for leave next 4th of July.” Read the rest of Kingsbury’s take, here.