The Space Force report isn’t going to Congress today. One day after Defense One’s Marcus Weisgerber reported details from a 14-page draft report to Congress in which Defense Department leaders laid out a surprisingly quick plan to reorganize the military’s space activities, a Pentagon spokesman says the report’s anticipated Aug. 1 delivery is on hold.
Lt. Col. Jamie Davis, the spox: “We are in the final coordination stages of the report to Congress on the recommended organization and management structure of space components for the Department of Defense…We will release the report when coordination is complete which we anticipate will be soon.”
Recap: “The draft says the Pentagon will in coming months create a combatant command for space warfighting, a joint office to buy new satellites and develop new technology, and a corps of space experts from across the military. The draft also said Pentagon officials would prepare a request for legislative action in the 2020 defense authorization bill that would allow the creation of a new service branch for space activities.”
Space Force is dumb, argues CNAS’s Paul Scharre in an op-ed for Defense One. “Satellites are only getting harder to defend. The Pentagon needs to find a better way to do its C4ISR and precision-navigation-timing missions.” Read his thoughts, here.
From Defense One
Pentagon Delays Space Force Report // Marcus Weisgerber: The day after Defense One published details from an 11th-hour draft of the much-anticipated report, the Pentagon has delayed its release.
The U.S. Military Should Not Be Doubling Down on Space // CNAS’ Paul Scharre: Satellites are only getting harder to defend. The Pentagon needs to find a better way to do their C4ISR and precision-navigation-timing missions
Surveillance Cameras Will Soon Divine Your Personality from Eye Movements // Patrick Tucker: Machine-learning techniques promise to make biometric data far more useful for intelligence gathering.
Kremlin Hackers Take Aim at the Swiss Lab That’s Working the Skirpal Poisoning Case // Patrick Tucker: The group that attacked Ukraine’s power grid is phishing a chemical-weapons lab critical to the Skripal case.
Sweden’s Raging Forest Fires Show the Value of Allies // Elisabeth Braw: As wildfires raged through the country’s northern reaches, EU allies dispatched hundreds of firefighters and scores of trucks and aircraft.
Welcome to this Wednesday 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. On this day in 1946, the Office of Naval Research was first established.
Judge says ‘not so fast’ on releasing those 3D-printed gun blueprints to the public. Halting the action: District Judge Robert Lasnik in Seattle, the Associated Press reports in a move Washington state’s attorney general called “a complete, total victory.”
ICYMI: “Eight Democratic attorneys general had filed a lawsuit Monday seeking to block the settlement,” AP writes. “They also sought the restraining order, arguing the 3D guns would be a safety risk.”
For what it’s worth, “blueprints for at least one gun — a plastic pistol called the Liberator — have been posted on the site since Friday,” AP reports.
Some of those designs have been available since at least 2014, which raises the question: does this ruling really mean anything? Matt Largey of KUT in Austin, Texas, explains his take about halfway through his morning chat on NPR, here.
Facebook stops more active-influence operations apparently designed to pit Americans against each other. The social media company on Tuesday suspended 32 pages of “bad actor” accounts on its platform that it determined were conducting “coordinated and inauthentic behavior.”
Some of the behavior featured:
- Demonstration organizing and promotion in U.S. cities;
- Protesting family separation policies of the Trump administration (also here);
- Stoking issues related to colonialism in America;
- Romanticizing the past for Native and Latin American communities;
- Appeals to alleged ethnic group ancestries (here and here, e.g.);
- New Age-y stuff;
- And very odd use of the English language.
Said the company in its Tuesday announcement: “We’re still in the very early stages of our investigation and don’t have all the facts — including who may be behind this. But we are sharing what we know today given the connection between these bad actors and protests that are planned in Washington next week… It’s clear that whoever set up these accounts went to much greater lengths to obscure their true identities than the Russian-based Internet Research Agency (IRA) has in the past. We believe this could be partly due to changes we’ve made over the last year to make this kind of abuse much harder.”
The bottom line, according to the Atlantic Council’s Ben Nimmo, with whom Facebook shared eight of the account pages — and who shared the above bullets on Twitter: The page creators “tried to weaponise divisions in America. They were better at hiding their tracks. They’re unlikely to be the only ones out there. The trolls have evolved. Our defences need to evolve too. Fast.” Review all of Nimmo’s work and analysis in a lengthy Twitter thread that begins, here — or check out the work of the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensics Lab on all that, over here.
See also Fox News, Politico, and NBC News reporting on the matter here, here and here, respectively.
So far, North Korea has provided just one dog tag with 55 sets of war remains, a U.S. defense official told the Associated Press on Tuesday. What’s more, “The official did not know details about the single dog tag, including the name on it or whether it was even that of an American military member.” Read a bit more from the AP about where the latest U.S.-North Korean negotiations stand, here.
According to Reuters, the remains turned over by the North Koreans “are likely American.”
For your ears only: NPR’s Anthony Kuhn has an audio report on all this from Morning Edition, which you can hear over here.
For your eyes only: Review China’s “powerful dragon” of stolen technology in this side-by-side comparison of Beijing’s F-22 lookalike, via the the South China Morning Post.
We have a slightly better picture of how the U.S. military hacked into ISIS operations two years ago, and what considerations were taken during it all thanks to redacted documents obtained via FOIA by Joseph Cox of Vice’s Motherboard cybersecurity site. The hack-job was called “Operation Glowing Symphony,” and the Washington Post first reported on it back in May.
Some of what happened: “CYBERCOM hackers obtained the passwords to multiple Islamic State administrator accounts, deleted battlefield footage, and changed the passwords, locking the administrators out,” Cox reports.
One slide teased what was called a “Political Military Assessment,” which according to Cox, “summarises the potential geo-political fallout of such an operation. Although the substance of each assessment is redacted, the document specifically points to the Islamic State and Middle East countries in one section, followed by Russia and China in another.” Read on here, or review the full cache of Vice-obtained documents, here.
The Pentagon has signed a new AI contract with Booz Allen for nearly $1 billion, The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday. “Specifics of the AI contract are still being developed,” the Journal writes, and their main source for the story, BA’s Josh Sullivan, “did not say if or how any of the proposed AI systems would be used in identifying and tracking potential drone targets.”
As far as what he can speak about, Sullivan said the work “will go toward expanding AI-focused pilot programs that are already underway at the Defense Department. Those include using AI to find new approaches for treating traumatic brain injuries and to quickly measure key indicators of heart disease.” More here.
ICBM test goes awry. In the wee hours of Tuesday morning, an unarmed Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile blasted off from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California — part of a regular series of tests intended to monitor the performance of the liquid-fueled missiles. But something went wrong, and range control officers pushed the self-destruct button at 4:42 a.m., blowing the missile up over the Pacific Ocean, reports hyperlocal news outlet Noozhawk. A statement from Air Force Global Strike Command did not say what went wrong.
This week in daring criminal behavior, “Thieves in Sweden walked into a small town’s medieval cathedral in broad daylight and made off with priceless crown jewels dating back to the early 1600s before escaping by speedboat,” AP reports this morning from Denmark.
According to one tourist eating outside when the robbery occurred — around noon on Tuesday — two suspects who were quote “not Nordic-looking” were spotted on two stolen bikes “running from the cathedral toward a small nearby jetty where [that] motorboat was moored.” More from AP, here.