Space Force timeline; Trump-Putin summit; America’s Syrian firebase; How to stop a cyber attack from escalating; And a bit more.

How quickly will Space Force come together? There’s no agreement yet among the Air Force, Navy, Army, and the Pentagon as to how and when various space-related missions and interests should be swept into the planned new service branch, Deputy Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan said after a Tuesday’s National Space Council meeting in Washington.

An early draft of the Space Force proposal that the Defense Department will send to Congress revealed some of Shanahan’s early recommendations. On Tuesday, the deputy secretary confirmed one of those details: that the National Reconnaissance Office, or NRO, is not initially expected to be part of Space Force.

Six recommendations to the President. The Council — a group of political appointees and military officials, including Vice President Mike Pence — forwarded a half-dozen recommendations to the White House, including: create the Space Force, form U.S. Space Command, and start a Space Development Agency to oversee buying new satellites. (Earlier this month, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis sent a memo to the White House asking for official presidential direction to create U.S. Space Command, a new warfighting combatant command.) Defense One’s Marcus Weisgerber has more, here.

Congress remains unconvinced: The Washington Post reports that “some conservative Republicans are reluctant to back a sweeping new federal program,” while Rep. Don Beyer, D-Va., said that many lawmakers are taking a “wait and see” approach.

Pence: maybe we need nukes in orbit. Earlier on Tuesday, the vice president spoke at a Washington Post symposium on space. Asked about the idea, he “declined to rule out the idea of deploying nuclear weapons in space, saying that the current ban on their use is ‘in the interest of every nation’ but that the issue should be decided on ‘the principle that peace comes through strength,’” the Post reported.


From Defense One

Pentagon Officials Debating How Fast to Launch Space Force, Deputy Says // Marcus Weisgerber: White House panel announces formal recommendations, while Deputy Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan confirms NRO will remain apart from Space Force.

Trump Is Right to Leave The INF Nuclear Treaty // Kori Schake, The Atlantic: Despite sensible objections, the US could benefit, and it’s hard to see how Russia ever would comply.

How to Avoid a Cyberattack Turning into Nuclear War? Keep Talking. // Ankit Panda: Trump’s Pentagon declared that significant non-nuclear strategic attacks may invite U.S. nuclear use, but does that matter to North Korea?

Stan McChrystal: I Threw Away My Robert E. Lee Painting // Stanley A. McChrystal, The Atlantic: “It was not a simple decision,” says the retired Afghanistan war commander.

Welcome to this Wednesday edition of The D Brief by Ben Watson and Bradley Peniston. If you find this useful, please consider forwarding it to a friend or colleague. On this day in 1945, the United Nations was established with the goal of preventing another global war. On day one there were 51 member states; today there are over 190.


Trump-Putin Summit 2.0 is set for November 11 in Paris, White House National Security Adviser John Bolton announced (Reuters) Tuesday from Russia.
The occasion: the 100th anniversary of Armistice Day.
Reminder: We still have no idea what came out of that first meeting between Trump and Putin in Helsinki back in the summer.
Standing before Putin on Tuesday, Bolton refused to budge on his position to pull the U.S. from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, or INF, the Washington Post reports from Moscow.
Formally exiting the treaty hasn’t happened yet, but it will “in due course,” Bolton said.
The crux of the matter: “The American position is that Russia is in violation,” Bolton said. “Russia’s position is that they are not in violation. So one has to ask how to ask the Russians to come back into compliance with something they don’t think they’re violating.”
Said Putin: “As far as I can remember, the U.S. seal depicts an eagle on one side holding 13 arrows and on the other side an olive branch with 13 olives. Here’s the question: Did your eagle already eat all the olives and only the arrows are left?” Read the rest of their exchange at the Post, here.

FWIW: Japan really wants the U.S. to stay in that INF treaty. Japan Times has a bit about why, here.
BTW, Toby Dalton of the Carnegie Nuclear Policy Program has been tracking White House statements about a second meeting between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un:

  • 9/24: “will be announced shortly.”
  • 10/7: “as quickly as possible.”
  • 10/9: “after the midterm elections.”
  • 10/12: “in the next 2 to 3 months.”
  • 10/19: “It looks like it will be happening after Jan. 1.”

America is keeping a remote firebase in Syria mostly to keep an eye on Iranian troops, the Washington Post reported Tuesday while traveling with CENTCOM’s Gen. Joseph Votel.
Location: Al Tanf, just inside Syria where Iraq and Jordan meet. It also happens to be a place where “the Islamic State army that once dominated this area is long gone.”
Where’s Iran? Around. For example, “American forces fired on Iranian-linked elements that approached within a 30-mile air and ground exclusion zone around the base,” the Post writes. “They also shot down two Iranian drones near the base, together marking U.S. forces’ most serious confrontation with Iranian-linked elements since they arrived in ­Syria in 2014.”
If past is prologue at Tanf, we can expect for shows of force until either a confrontation occurs with Iranian troops, or the U.S. decides to pull up stakes and depart. Read on here.

U.S. Navy recognizes EW as a full-fledged domain of battle. A few weeks ago, the Navy Secretary officially elevated the electromagnetic spectrum as a battlespace “on par with sea, land, air, space and cyber,” FCW reports.
Fleet EW Command? The last time the Navy recognized a new warfare domain, it stood up Fleet Cyber Command in 2010. Now the SecNav has ordered the Navy “to take an enterprise approach to all activities necessary” for its electromagnetic spectrum operations.
Behind the curve? FCW notes that the Army is already talking about folding EW and information ops into its cyber command. “In three, four, five years from now, we’ll no longer be called Army Cyber Command. We’re going to be Army Information Warfare Operations, or Information Dominance Operations,” Army Cyber Commander Lt. Gen. Stephen Fogarty said in August. Read on, here.

A sailor was accidentally shot in the leg Tuesday morning at Naval Station Norfolk. The petty officer second class was in stable condition at Norfolk General Hospital, Navy Times reported.
Don’t judge too quickly, Marine Corps Times told its readers: Marines have negligently discharged their weapons at least 54 times since 2013. That’s according to an Oct. 18 safety card issued by the Commandant’s Safety Division, which adds that just since fiscal 2016, the injuries and damage from such discharges have cost Marines more than 1,700 days of work and millions of dollars.

This week in 1962: U.S. Army anti-aircraft rockets were on the beaches of Key West, Florida, during the Cuban Missile Crisis. Historian Michael Beschloss has a tweet for the occasion, here.  

POTUS and VP Pence would really like for us to believe there are Middle Easterners in a caravan of South American migrants headed north. Here’s video of Pence replying to the Washington Post’s Robert Costa when asked for evidence to support that claim — made initially by POTUS45 in a tweet this week.
Explained VPOTUS: “Well, it’s inconceivable that there are not people of Middle Eastern descent in a crowd of more than 7,000 people advancing toward our border… there’s statistics on this. I mean, in the last fiscal year, we apprehended more than 10 terrorists, or suspected terrorists, per day, at our southern border, from countries that are referred to in the lexicon as ‘other than Mexico.’ That means from the Middle East region.”
Given Trump’s 642 days in office, that adds up to 6,420 suspected terrorist apprehensions — which, if true, is a heckuva stat.

And finally, here’s something that could help Trump, Pence & Co. on that southern U.S. border: New real-time facial recognition technology Amazon is trying to sell to Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The Daily Beast reported Tuesday
Program name: Rekognition. That same Rekognition that “faced scrutiny earlier this year after the ACLU revealed it was already being used by some local police departments,” TBD writes. And it’s also the same Rekognition which “the ACLU discovered this July that inputting photos of every member of Congress into a mugshot database misidentified 28 individuals as other people who had been arrested for a crime, with a disproportionate error rate for people of color.” More here.

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