Pence threatens North Korea; Pompeo lists Iran demands; F-35’s combat debut; Houthi rebellion ‘softening’; and just a bit more…

Big-stick diplomacy. North Korea “will only end like the Libyan model ended if Kim Jong Un doesn’t make a deal” with the Trump administration, U.S. Vice President Mike Pence said Monday in an interview with Fox News.

Asked if that’s a threat to the Kim regime, Pence replied, “I think it’s more of a fact.”

The sticking point, in case it was unclear: “President Trump made it clear,” Pence continued, “the United States of America under his leadership is not going to tolerate the regime in North Korea possessing nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles that threaten the United States and our allies.”

The view from South Korea: “There are several land mines on the way to the summit between North Korea and the U.S.,” said lawmaker Chung Dong-young. “One of those land mines just exploded: John Bolton,” the Washington Post reported Monday, citing a radio interview Chung held with Korea’s YTN Radio.

And yet, the summit forecast still looks pretty solid, according to South Korea’s Chung Eui-yong, a national security adviser to the country’s president. Speaking to reporters aboard South Korea’s Air Force One, Chung put the chances the summit happens on June 12 in Singapore at 99.9 percent, The New York Times reported Monday.

Bring on the coins! The White House is showing off challenge coins for the Singapore meeting, touting “Peace Talks” and depicting the North Korean dictator face-to-face with President Trump. See them, via NBC News’ Peter Alexander, here.   

From the region: Bring on a combatant command name change? PACOM could have its name changed to Indo-PACOM, Military Times reported Monday after remarks from Pentagon spokesman Army Col. Rob Manning. Story, here.

Calling in reinforcements. A U.S. Navy guided missile destroyer — USS Milius — arrived in Japan this morning, Reuters reports from Yokosuka.

What it brings to the AO: “The deployment of the Milius to Japan was delayed by almost a year so it could undergo upgrades to its Aegis air defense system to enhance its ability to detect and target missiles. Armed with missiles designed to shoot down warheads in space, the Milius will be part of a naval destroyer force that would be the first U.S. line of defense against any long-range ballistic missiles fired at it by North Korea.”

The bigger picture: “The show of force is a reminder of the military pressure that can be brought to bear on North Korea as the United States seeks to press it to abandon its nuclear weapons and its ballistic missile program,” Reuters writes. Read on, here.


From Defense One

Houthis ‘Softening,’ But UAE Minister Says Yemen Security Could Still Require Foreign Troops // Patrick Tucker: The UAE’s foreign-affairs minister says the Houthis are weakening under pressure from the Saudi-led military coalition. The question is what comes next, and who should decide.

America’s New Stealth Bomber has a Stealthy Price Tag // Kingston Reif and Mandy Smithberger: Revealing how much the Air Force’s B-21 is costing won’t help America’s enemies — but will make oversight possible.

Pompeo Declares Economic War on Iran // Krishnadev Calamur via The Atlantic: The U.S. secretary of state vowed “unprecedented financial pressure in the form of the strongest sanctions in history.”

Welcome to this Tuesday edition of The D Brief by Ben Watson and Bradley Peniston. And if you find this useful, consider forwarding it to a friend or colleague. They can subscribe here for free. OTD1804: The U.S. Army’s Capt. Meriwether Lewis and 2nd Lt. William Clark led the Corps of Discovery westward from St. Louis.

Tell us what you think! Do you have questions for us to consider? Email the-d-brief@defenseone.com or call us at (757) 447-4596.


SecState Pompeo’s 12 steps for Iran to get back into America’s good graces, via The Wall Street Journal:

  1. Provide a complete account of its previous nuclear-weapons research.
  2. Stop uranium enrichment and never pursue plutonium reprocessing.
  3. Provide the International Atomic Energy Agency “unqualified access” to all sites in the country.
  4. Stop providing missiles to militant groups and halt the development of nuclear-capable missiles.
  5. Release all U.S. and allied detainees.
  6. Stop supporting militant groups, including Hezbollah, Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad.
  7. Respect Iraqi sovereignty and permit the demobilization of the Shiite militias it has backed there.
  8. Stop sending arms to the Houthis and work for a peaceful settlement in Yemen.
  9. Withdraw all forces under its command from Syria.
  10. End support for the Taliban and stop harboring al Qaeda militants.
  11. End support by its paramilitary Quds Force for militant groups.
  12. End its threats to destroy Israel and stop threatening international ships. It must end cyberattacks and stop proxies from firing missiles into Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

The Saudis say they shot down another ballistic missile launched by the Houthis at the southern Saudi city of Jazan, Reuters reported Monday.
But the Houthis did manage to hit the Yemeni city of Mareb with a ballistic missile, killing at least five and wounding 20, Reuters reported separately in a short hit from Riyadh.

Putin’s “unlimited-range” missile flew 22 miles in its best test. Remember the Russian president’s March speech in which he touted a variety of superweapons? Citing sources with direct knowledge of a U.S. intelligence report, CNBC reports that the nuclear-powered cruise missile he mentioned was tested four times between November and February, and crashed each time. “The weapon, which has been in development since the early 2000s, is believed to use a gasoline-powered engine for takeoff before switching to a nuclear-powered one for flight, sources explained to CNBC.” Read on, here.

This week in White House OPSEC, we learned (via Politico) the president keeps two iPhones — one for calls, and one for Twitter. The problem: The “historical norm is for officials to turn over their phones on a monthly basis for analysis and replacement,” security researcher @thegrugq wrote on Twitter in surprise. “Trump hasn’t bothered [with the analysis and replacement] for 5 months because [it has been] ‘too inconvenient,” according to this Monday report citing an admin official’s remarks to Politico.
Said an admin official: “Due to inherent capabilities and advancement in technologies, these devices are more secure than any Obama-era devices.” So at least there’s (allegedly) that. Continue reading, here.
One more thought from @thegrugq: “[T]his means Apple iCloud is officially critical national infrastructure, along with Twitter.”

The F-35 has made its combat debut, according to Israel Air Force commander Maj. Gen. Amikam Norkin. Israel used them in two recent strikes against Syrian targets, Norkin said Tuesday. He declined to offer more details about the use of the F-35s, which Israel calls the Adir, or “Mighty One.” The commander hinted that the strikes may have been in response to a barrage of 20 Iranian rockets fired from Syria at Israel Defense Forces positions in the Golan Heights on May 8 and 9. More, here.
New milestone in Syria: For the first time in almost seven years of war, Assad’s army and its proxies control the whole of Damascus and surrounding suburbs. Syria Direct lays it out, here.

Cashing in on the finest military the world has ever seen. Embroiled Trump aide Elliott Broidy, who owns a security firm called Circinus LLC, “secured at least $800 million in foreign defense contracts since Trump took office,” The Daily Beast reported Monday, following up on an Associated Press report earlier in the day (the headline of that AP piece: “The princes, the president and the fortune seekers”).  
Following the money. “Circinus received Defense Department payments totalling more than $4 million in August and September 2017, the largest in the company’s history, a review of available contracts found,” TDB reports.
Raising a flag: “Prior to 2017, Circinus had been paid a total of just $7,501 for its work on various defense contracts. Then, in August 2017 it finally received $3.9 million for a contract it had begun bidding on in 2013 with the U.S. Army Intelligence and Security Command (INSCOM).” Continue reading, here.

Egypt’s army is wrecking the Sinai as they try to remove ISIS, Human Rights Watch reported Monday. “The new destruction [which began Feb. 9, 2018], including hundreds of hectares of farmland and at least 3,000 homes and commercial buildings, together with 600 buildings destroyed in January, is the largest since the army officially began evictions in 2014.”
The problem, from HRW’s perspective: “Turning people’s homes into rubble is part of the same self-defeating security plan that has restricted food and movement to inflict pain on Sinai residents,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, HRW’s Middle East director. “The Egyptian army claims it is protecting people from militants, but it’s absurd to think that destroying homes and displacing lifelong residents would make them safer.” More — including a map illustrating the destruction — here.

Introducing: Project Indigo. U.S. Cyber Command has been sharing information with U.S. banks, via an entity called “the Financial Services Information Sharing and Analysis Center, CyberScoop’s Chris Bing reported Monday.
The gist: “The broad purpose of Project Indigo is to help inform U.S. Cyber Command about nation-state hacking aimed at banks. In practice, this intelligence is independently evaluated and, if appropriate, Cyber Command responds under its own unique authorities.”
Known-knowns: “Under the agreement, financial institutions share data ‘considered not exclusive’ to any one financial firm, a former U.S. official said. Another source familiar with the program said that it was challenged by the simple fact that the banks weren’t yet ‘interested in sharing at a level which would be truly useful [for Cyber Command].’” More here.

Scrubbed launch. The Air Force was going to send “its first Global Positioning System III satellite” into space this month; but now that’s going to have to wait until October, Bloomberg’s Tony Capaccio reported Monday. Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center says the delay is “due to ongoing SpaceX qualification testing and final engineering reviews by both SpaceX and the Air Force of Falcon 9 design changes.” That, here.

And finally today: The results are in! Last week we polled our readers on what your favorite military uniforms are — in response to the U.S. Air Force’s decision to adopt the Army’s “Operational Camouflage Pattern.”
The clear winner: The Marine Corps Dress Blue Alpha unis — and by a wide margin.
Honorable mentions include Polish Wing Hussars’ heavy armor, 17th-century Musketeer livery, and 1970s-era U.S. Army uniforms. To each his own, eh? Thanks to all for reading, and especially to those who sent us your replies!

Close [ x ] More from DefenseOne