Border city pushes back against C-wire; Bolton’s offer to Venezuelan officers; FY20 budget day set; Planning to protect 2020 elections; And a bit more.

Nogales, Ariz., may have just become the first city to demand the Pentagon remove the C-wire just installed to deter southern migrants, KJZZ’s Michel Marizco reported Wednesday from Tucson.

What’s going on here: “The town’s city council passed a resolution unanimously on Wednesday to formally condemn the wire, and demand that it be taken down over safety concerns,” the Washington Post reports.

Says the CPB: We installed wire in U.S. government property, in places beyond the city’s jurisdiction. So the wire isn’t moving.

What could happen next: “Nogales Mayor Arturo Garino said the city will sue,” NBC reported. More here.

Also: New Mexico’s Governor just pulled the National Guard from the Mexico border citing “charade of border fear-mongering” from the White House, NPR reported Wednesday.

FWIW: That’s just 118 troops from Arkansas, Kansas, Kentucky, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Wisconsin. More about the process and politics at play, here.

Speaking of the National Guard: the 28th Chief of the NG, Gen. Joseph Lengyel reminds us we all make mistakes now and then — sometimes on bigger stages than others.

The stage in this case: Tuesday evening’s State of the Union address. We’ll let Lengyel fill you in on the rest, via his Twitter account the morning after, here.


From Defense One

Trump: U.S. Will Be Working with Mideast Partners ‘For Many Years to Come’ // Katie Bo Williams, Defense One: The president acknowledged that the Islamic State continues to pose a threat even though U.S.-led coalition forces have retaken 99 percent of its territory.

Federal Agencies Ramp Up Classified Plans to Protect 2020 Elections // Charles S. Clark, Government Executive: The departments of Justice and Homeland Security delivered their joint review of meddling during 2018 to the White House.

Welcome to this Thursday edition of The D Brief by Ben Watson and Bradley Peniston. Thanks for reading! And if you’re not subscribed, you can do that here. On this day in 1984, U.S. Navy Capt. Bruce McCandless became a “human satellite” as the first person to fly untethered in space in his Manned Maneuvering Unit. His spacewalk this day lasted for about an hour and a half as he traveled “in tangent with the shuttle at speeds greater than 17,500 miles per hour and flew up to 320 feet away from the [shuttle] Challenger.” Said Bruce to mission control before venturing out and into space that tense day, “It may have been a small step for Neil, but it’s a heck of a big leap for me.”


We may have a date for the White House’s FY20 budget. OMB is telling lawmakers that they should expect the Trump administration’s 2020 budget proposal on March 12, Marcus Weisgerber reports this morning.

John Bolton offered “sanctions off-ramps…for any Venezuelan senior military officer that stands for democracy and recognizes the constitutional government of President Juan Guaido,” the White House’s National Security Advisor tweeted Wednesday.
Replied embattled Venezuelan President Maduro, according to CNN’s Zachary Cohen: “Is John Bolton Venezuela’s military Chief? Listen well John Bolton, here is the response of the Armed Forces to your so-called coup-makers … ‘Loyal Always, Traitors Never’ So it can be heard in Washington.”
By the way: The setting for Maduro’s remarks? Military exercises.   

Yesterday it was Fox News on the frontlines of what’s left of the ISIS war in Syria. Today it’s CBS. Follow along with Charlie D’Agata as he and his camera crew race around amid mortar fire in eastern Syria, here.

“To be clear: No troop withdrawal timetable exists,” America’s Afghan war envoy, U.S. Special Representative Zalmay Khalilzad tweeted Wednesday evening in response to alleged loose lips from the Taliban side of negotiations — perhaps most notably reps tossing around timelines in the neighborhood of 18 months, according to January reporting from Reuters, e.g.
Happening tomorrow: Khalilzad speaks at the U.S. Institute of Peace in Washington, at 2 p.m. EDT. Details and RSVP, here.

“Is this thing on?” Pilots across America’s southeast may have already discovered GPS systems weren’t working properly during certain hours of the day Wednesday. That will be the case through Feb. 10 thanks to an ongoing U.S. Navy exercise involving a carrier group strike force training off the Georgia coast, the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association reported Tuesday. At least part of the drills involve GPS jamming.
GPS affected: Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B), the Ground Based Augmentation System, and the Wide Area Augmentation System — during the hours of 1 and 4 p.m. EDT today. Other times Friday through Sunday.
Airspace range: “the Caribbean and Florida north to Pennsylvania, and as far west as eastern Louisiana.” See the map of affected areas here.

Trump’s Ambassador to the EU wants to ally with Europe against China, Politico reported Wednesday evening. “We should … combine our mutual energies — we have a $40 trillion combined GDP, there is nothing on the planet that is more powerful than that — to meet China and check China in multiple respects: economically, from an intelligence standpoint, militarily,” Gordon Sondland said in his interview with Politico.
Background: “Sondland’s comments come a few days ahead of a February 19 deadline for U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross to present the outcome of his trade investigation under a Cold War-era national security law, which many EU officials fear will recommend the White House slap hefty tariffs on European cars and car parts. The Commission has said it would react by immediately withdrawing its offer of trade talks and retaliating with tariffs on about €20 billion worth of American exports.” More here.

Get a closer look at the U.S. Navy’s “worst accident at sea in four decades” in this excellent interactive about the USS Fitzgerald, as well as the USS John McCain, by ProPublica.
Their driving Q: “The successive incidents raised an unavoidable question: How could two $1.8 billion Navy destroyers, protected by one of the most advanced defense systems on the planet, fail to detect oncoming cargo ships broadcasting their locations to a worldwide navigational network?”
The quick read: “ProPublica reconstructed the Fitzgerald’s journey, relying on more than 13,000 pages of confidential Navy investigative records, public reports, and interviews with scores of Fitzgerald crew members, current and former senior Navy officers, and maritime experts. The review revealed neglect by Navy leadership, serious mistakes by officers — and extraordinary acts of valor and endurance by the crew.” Very much worth the click, here.

And finally today: the wreck of the first Japanese battleship sunk during World War II has been found. USNI News:The Imperial Japanese Navy ship Hiei was found lying upside down on the sea floor about 2,952 feet below the surface, more than 76 years after sinking in waters northwest of Savo Island in the Solomon Islands chain.” Sunk by U.S. Navy warships during the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal, the Hiei was located by the team that found the wreck of the USS Indianapolis in 2017. Photos, here.
Another relic of WWII found today: three bombs weighing a combined 330 lbs., and with some 75 kg of gunpowder inside, Reuters reports from Rome’s Ciampino airport this morning. As a result, the airport will be shut down for three hours to recover those dangerous things. A bit more on that, here.

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