Trump might get his military parade. The president, who has long dreamed of a display of weapons and troops in Washington, D.C., reiterated his desire after watching France’s Bastille Day festivities in July. Now it might actually happen, reports the Washington Post. The “tipping point” reportedly came when Trump visited the Pentagon for a Jan. 18 meeting with top generals in the tank. “The marching orders were: I want a parade like the one in France,” said a military official who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the planning discussions are supposed to remain confidential. “This is being worked at the highest levels of the military.” Read on, here.
Trump spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders confirmed the reports, saying, “He has asked the Department of Defense to explore a celebration at which all Americans can show their appreciation.”
Added Pentagon spokesman Charlie Summers: “We are aware of the request and are looking at possible dates.”
Reax round-up: The Washington Examiner found at least one lawmaker who supports the idea, kind of, despite the budget negotiations and debates over national-defense spending that are consuming Congress. “Our focus is making sure our military gets what it needs to defend this great country,” said Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio. “Whether we need a parade or not, I’ll leave that up the commander in chief.”
Plenty of others poo-pooed the idea. (Sample from Air Force Reserve colonel and Rep Ted Lieu, D-Calif.: “Dear @realDonaldTrump: You know what would be more useful than asking the Pentagon to waste money on a big military parade? Basically anything.”)
Among retired officers? Here’s Mark Hertling, a retired three-star who was in Iraq when a Desert Storm victory parade marched in Washington in 1991: “I did an informal Twitter survey last night, very unscientific. But I will tell you, it was about 100 to 0 in terms of people, soldiers, former military saying they don’t want any part of these kind of parades. The reason for it is … there are resource issues, implications for logistics. It would be extremely expensive. It would tear up the streets,” he said on CNN. “You could get past all of those arguments and just say one thing: It’s not who we are as a military.”
And Lawfare’s Quinta Jurecic wondered, “What are the odds that this was leaked in order to prevent it from happening?”
From Defense One
Inside The World’s Most Radical Experiment in Women’s Rights // Gayle Tzemach Lemmon: The women’s movement in northern Syria is more like a women’s earthquake, in politics, governance, and the region’s security. The Marines Are Giving Quadcopters to Every Squad // Patrick Tucker: The Corps says new robots, tech, and video games will keep Marines on the tactical edge.
Mattis: New Sea-Launched Cruise Missile Is a Bargaining Chip // Caroline Houck: But don’t call the low-yield option a ‘tactical nuclear weapon’ — it’s still strategic, he says.
Pentagon Warns CEOs: Protect Your Data or Lose Our Contracts // Marcus Weisgerber: Deputy Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan says cyber security should be a top priority for its contractors.
How Long Did the US Government Know about Spectre and Meltdown? // Patrick Tucker: The largest CPU bug in history caught the Defense Department by surprise. Or not.
What ‘Buy America’ Looks Like at an Overseas Air Show // Caroline Houck: State Department officials say they’re upping their presence at the Singapore Airshow this week as part of the administration’s push to sell more arms abroad.
An Advise-and-Assist Commander Has Advice for the US Army’s New Partner-Trainers // Daniel Morgan: Security Force Assistance Brigades, or SFABs, are a great concept, but even the best ideas have limitations and room for improvement.
How the Nunes Memo Harms Intelligence Oversight // Julian Sanchez: The document’s lasting effect will be undermining the ability of Congress to prevent political abuses of surveillance powers.
Welcome to this Wednesday 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.
With his boss cheering on another government shutdown, U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis spent Tuesday morning testifying before the House Armed Services Committee. The current short-term plan to fund the government expires tonight at midnight if Congress fails to act in support of President Trump’s plans to alter immigration dynamics in the U.S., Voice of America reported Wednesday shortly after both Trump’s remarks and Mattis’s testimony.
Said POTUS: “If we don’t change the legislation, if we don’t rid of these loopholes where killers are allowed to come into our country and continue to kill — gang members. And we’re just talking about MS-13. There are many gang members that we don’t even mention. If we don’t change it, let’s have a shutdown. We’ll do a shutdown.”
Said Mattis to lawmakers: “For too long we have asked our military to carry on stoically with a success at any cost attitude… Our troops work tirelessly to accomplish every mission with increasingly inadequate and misaligned resources simply because Congress has not maintained regular order.”
Mattis also said service members “might not be paid by the end of the current fiscal year… if Congress continued to pass continuing resolutions without a proper Defense Department budget,” Stars and Stripes reports. And that delay “would also hinder Army efforts to recruit 15,000 new soldiers, the Air Force’s goals of adding 4,000 airmen and it would mean continued maintenance issues on ships and aircraft.”
The SecDef also talked about the military’s plans for a new sea-launched cruise missile — and how it could be used as a bargaining chip with Russia. More from Defense One’s Caroline Houck, here.
CJCS Dunford says U.S. power in the Asia-Pacific is not on the decline, Agence France Presse reports from Darwin, Australia. The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs dropped by the Outback before heading off to Thailand, the Pentagon reported Tuesday. Dunford dropped by Australia to push back against a narrative he says is false and misleading about American strength in 2018.
Said Dunford: “There’s absolutely, in some corners, a concerted effort to portray the United States as a declining power, and obviously I reject that. If you look at the health of our alliances in the region…The evidence reflects anything other than a decline in Pacific power. We have enduring interests here, we have enduring commitment and an enduring presence in the Pacific.”
Adds AFP: “Dunford’s Australia visit comes as a debate rumbles about the extent to which Canberra should align itself with its longstanding ally America, or pay more heed to the desires of China, its biggest trade partner.”
This week in maybe this will save the Afghanistan war. The U.S. military completed four days of “precision” bombing on Taliban positions and “training facilities in Badakhshan province, preventing the planning and rehearsal of terrorist acts near the border with China and Tajikistan. The strikes also destroyed stolen Afghan National Army vehicles that were in the process of being converted to vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices,” CBS News reported Thursday.
According to U.S. Forces-Afghanistan: “During these strikes, a U.S. Air Force B-52 Stratofortress dropped 24 precision guided munitions on Taliban fighting positions, setting a record of the most guided munitions ever dropped from a B-52.” The Washington Post has more on the four-day campaign, here.
For your eyes only: Here’s a bunch of JDAMs your D Brief-er watching being dropped on a Taliban compound in Kandahar about six years ago — during the height of the so-called “surge.” Here’s to hoping 2018’s air campaign can be a difference-maker…
The U.S. Navy doesn’t need you seeing the (declining) work of its combat cameramen, Navy Times reports.
What’s happening: “The Navy will eliminate its two combat camera units by Oct. 1.”
Why: “Other expeditionary mission areas took precedence over COMCAM,” said Lt. Lauren Chatmas, spokesperson for the Navy. “Therefore, as an overall cost savings measure, the decision was made to provide this capability to the fleet from the existing Navy Public Affairs Support Element command.”
Those affected include “two combat camera units, one of which is based in Norfolk and one in San Diego… eliminat[ing] four active-duty officer, 50 active-duty enlisted and 31 reserve enlisted billets.”
FWIW, “the writing has been on the wall on the wall since FY17, when combat camera funding was cut by 60 percent,” Navy Times reports. “Those funding cuts corresponded to a significantly declining workload.”
Finally today: We have a much clearer picture of what life looks like on China’s artificial islands in the South China Sea. A Philippines’ paper, Inquirer, got its hands on the images — taken between June and December of last year and from an aircraft at an altitude of 1,500 meters, rather than from a satellite. While we were skeptical before we clicked through, what you’ll discover is a closer look than ever before of the islands of Fiery Cross, Cuerteron, Gaven, Johnson South, Mischief, Subi and McKennan reefs, Asia Times reports.
What you’ll see: “remarkable detail [of] China’s fighter-ready hangers, shelters for anti-ship cruise missiles, ammunition storage depots, and a range of electronic and signals intelligence equipment, including over-the-horizon radars, various radomes, and communication towers,” The Diplomat’s Ankit Panda reports off the imagery.
The main takeaway, according to Panda: “There’s no question anymore than China’s seven artificial islands in the Spratlys have been militarized. Beijing has three — Fiery Cross, Subi, and Mischief reefs — ready to service any aircraft in the Chinese military’s inventory with 3,000-meter runways. The power projection capacity is there.” Read on, here — or see the images for yourself, over here.