China greets Trump with pomp; Russia says it will field a robot tank; The $6 trillion wars; Dempsey on 280-character tweets; and just a bit more…

By Ben Watson and Bradley Peniston

November 8, 2017

President Trump was met with jumping children, an honor guard and a marching band on his arrival to Beijing today in a ceremony the Associated Press called “elaborate even by China’s lavish standards.”

From the tarmac: “The president and first lady appeared pleased, smiling and accepting flower bouquets, with Trump at one point throwing his arms open and appearing to exclaim, 'Wow.' As Trump’s motorcade pulled away, the tempo increased, with children jumping up and down while they waved and chanted.”

What next? The president “plans to call on the Chinese leader to cut off oil exports to North Korea, at least temporarily; to close down North Korean bank accounts in China; and to send home tens of thousands of North Koreans who work in China,” the New York Times reports.

Meantime, the pomp continues. Trump was escorted by China’s Xi Jinping “to the Forbidden City, where the leaders and their wives sipped tea, listened to Chinese opera and toured the Ming and Qing-era treasures in a shrine to China’s imperial past, which the hosts had cleared of tourists for their guests.” More from the Times, here.

Trump pivots to Beijing from Seoul, hours after delivering a speech at the South Korean National Assembly Wednesday. Key elements of the text:

The surprise that wasn’t. The president had planned to visit the DMZ as a surprise to folks who took the White House’s bait when they said such visits are “cliché.” But dense fog reportedly led to that leg of the trip being nixed, AP reports. As well, “South Korean President Moon Jae-in was set to join Trump at the DMZ, but was diverted as well. The South Korean leader landed at an alternate site about a 20-minute drive from the DMZ, but that was not a possibility for Trump, given the logistics of moving his larger motorcade along streets that hadn’t been secured.”

Duterte’s preview — wrapped in a warning. Trump drops by the Philippines after his Beijing and Vietnam stops come to an end over the weekend. While there, Trump will attend the Association of South East Asia Nations summit in Manila. But Philippine President Rody Duterte said one thing he will not discuss is allegations of human rights abuses. “You want to ask a question, I’ll give you an answer. Lay off. That is not your business. That is my business. I take care of my country and I will nurture my country to health,” he told reporters seeking a preview before Duterte took off for an ASEAN summit in Danang, Vietnam. More from Reuters, here.

Last thing before Trump departs China: The government there is promoting spying as a family activity, Quartz reported Tuesday. The lede: “Last year, China’s authorities used Mr. Bean and Batman knockoffs to publicize the importance of safeguarding state secrets, as part of its first National Security Education Day. Now, a 10-minute long cartoon directed at children between the ages of seven and 12 demonstrates how—with the help of a grandparent—you can tell if someone in your family might be working for a foreign spy.” Context, cartoons and videos, here.

From Defense One

Russia Says It Will Field a Robot Tank that Outperforms Humans // Patrick Tucker: A colonel who runs a research directorate says the Nehreta did well in recent exercises at proving grounds outside Moscow.

Here’s How the US Army Should Arm Itself for New Threats // Brian Green, a former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense (Strategic Capabilities): Stop hoping for a funding bump and start making existing weapons work better together.

Welcome to Wednesday’s edition of The D Brief by Ben Watson and Bradley Peniston. Email us. And if you don’t subscribe already, consider subscribing. It’s free. OTD1950: First jet-on-jet dogfight. The U.S. Air Force pilot shoots down a MiG-15.

EU slated to sign joint defense pact next week. The purpose: “to fund and develop joint military hardware in a show of unity following Britain’s decision to quit the bloc,” Reuters reports. “The Permanent Structured Cooperation, or PESCO, could be the biggest leap in EU defense policy in decades and may go some way to matching the bloc’s economic and trade prowess with a more powerful military.” But there’s still quite a bit of fine print to work out considering the implications of Brexit and the fact that some EU members, “including Denmark, Portugal and Malta, have yet to commit themselves publicly.” More here.

Estonia's Internal Security Service arrested an alleged Russia's FSB agent involved in “computer-related crime” at their border in Narva over the weekend, according to a local report. “The Russian citizen is suspected of non-violent activities against the Republic of Estonia and the preparation of computer-related crime. The targets in his activities against Estonia were Estonian state agencies.”

Lithuania is on the verge of purchasing 200 U.S.-made L-ATVs from Oshkosh in Wisconsin. That’s the result of recent talks between U.S. SecDef James Mattis and his Lithuanian counterpart, Raimundas Karoblis, Lithuania’s MoD announced Tuesday. Details and photos, here.

Six trillion dollars. That’s how much the U.S. has spent on overseas wars since 2001, and that’s not counting another trillion or so that will go to veterans care and benefits in decades ahead. That’s the latest annual estimate by Brown University’s Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs. Military Times has a writeup, here.

PsyOps gets its name back. No more MISO. The justification — or at least one of them: “Given Russian disinformation, given this new world where the information fight is becoming more complex and nuanced, there’s a level of pride when I can say, I’m a PSYOP soldier in a PSYOP unit that has this lineage and did these kinds of things,” Lt. Col. Brad Carr, the director of information operations at U.S. Army Special Operations Command, told Army Times.

The Taliban say they have a special forces unit and they have photos to prove it, The Long War Journal reported Monday.  

The U.S. Army is trying to be more culturally sensitive. It’s part of the push to strengthen and raise the profile of America’s troops involved in advise-and-assist missions in places like Iraq and Afghanistan, the Associated Press reports from Fort Benning, Ga.

Libya’s “rogue general,” Khalifa Haftar, has a lobbyist in Washington, Legistorm reported Monday. He recently began a $120,000 contract with Grassroots Political Consulting to help clean his image. More here.

And finally: Marty Dempsey — yep, the former Joint Chiefs chairmanhas some thoughts as Twitter allows more and more people to use 280 characters in their tweets: “What if the world were listening?  Suggest that as we double the characters, we halve the anger, and open our minds twice as wide. #Leadership #RadicalInclusion”

By Ben Watson and Bradley Peniston // Ben Watson is news editor for Defense One. He previously worked for NPR's “All Things Considered” and “Here and Now” in Washington, D.C. Watson served for five years in the U.S. Army, where he was an award-winning combat cameraman and media advisor for southern Afghanistan's special operations command during the 2010-11 surge. // Bradley Peniston is deputy editor of Defense One. A national security journalist for two decades, he helped launch, served as managing editor of Defense News, and was editor of Armed Forces Journal. His books include No Higher Honor: Saving the USS Samuel B. Roberts in the Persian Gulf, now part of the Chief of Naval Operations' Professional Reading Program.

November 8, 2017