COVID rising in 25 states; Afghanistan’s deadliest week in 19 years; Shipyard strike worries Navy; Russia expands forces in Libya; And a bit more.

Twenty-five states are seeing COVID-19 cases rise again, with Oklahoma leading the way, followed by Arizona, Florida, Texas and Missouri. And in Arizona, officials reported 17,000 new cases last week, “with 20% of tests coming back positive,” according to Reuters, here.

FWIW, President Trump travels down to San Luis, Ariz., to commemorate the 200th mile of wall along the U.S.-Mexico border at an event planned for 12:40 p.m. ET. Stream it on the White House’s YouTube channel, here.

Grim update: America passed 120,000 deaths from the coronavirus on Monday, though deaths per day are fortunately declining.

Big picture, via the Associated Press this morning: “The battle is not over: Rising infections seen worldwide

Today: Dr. Anthony Fauci testifies on America’s coronavirus response before lawmakers with the House Energy and Commerce Committee. That’s at 11 a.m. ET, and you can stream it here.

AP reports Fauci testifies “at a fraught moment for the country’s pandemic response,” because of the rising cases and because “political polarization is competing for attention with public health recommendations.” 

Meanwhile, Afghanistan has quietly, distantly, become the “deadliest” that it’s been in 19 years, according to Javid Faisal, the spokesman for the Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s National Security Council. “The past week was the deadliest of the past 19 years,” Faisal tweeted Monday, writing that the “Taliban carried out 422 attacks in 32 provinces, martyring 291 ANDSF members and wounding 550 others. Taliban’s commitment to reduce violence is meaningless, and their actions inconsistent with their rhetoric on peace.”

Former SOCOM chief Gen. Tony Thomas tweeted in reply: “Taliban are continuing to fight through negotiations right out of [the] North Vietnamese playbook. Of course they have appreciated 19 years of end date vs end state strategy.” 


From Defense One

Top Navy Official ‘Very Concerned’ About Strike at Maine Shipyard // Marcus Weisgerber: About two-thirds of Bath Iron Works’ workers walked off the job on Sunday.

What America Will Lose if the Voice of America Sounds Like Trump // Anne Applebaum, The Atlantic: The recent purge at U.S.-funded broadcasters suggests a key foreign-policy tool is about to lose its value.

It’s Too Late for US-Russia-China Arms-Control Fantasies // Daniel DePetris: As U.S. and Russian negotiators open two days of talks in Vienna, they should waste no more time talking about a tripartite agreement.

Welcome to this Tuesday edition of The D Brief from Ben Watson and Bradley Peniston. Send us tips from your community right here. And if you’re not already subscribed to The D Brief, you can do that here


Happening today: The German Marshall Fund’s Brussels Forum 2020, with appearances already today by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg (find that session and subsequent others in video on Facebook, here).
Some of what Stoltenberg told the audience: 

  • “The arms control infrastructure from a few decades ago is in danger of breaking down.”
  • “The right thing to do would be to extend the START agreement” without trying to involve China.
  • “We have no intention of deploying new land-based nuclear missiles in Europe…If we started to deploy the intermediate range weapons as Russia has done then that would lead to an arms race.”
  • “The purpose of NATO is to prevent a war.”
  • “Any attempt to divide North America from Europe will not only divide NATO but will make Europe weaker.”
  • “In the last year, China has added 80 ships and submarines, that brings them to the level of the UK, the second largest military in the Alliance. We should not speculate about intentions but recognise that they are getting stronger.” (h/t @ThomasHCole)

And Secretary of State Mike Pompeo just took the stage at 11 a.m. ET. Keep up with that and more throughout the day on the GMF’s Twitter feed, here.

A few hours later, the Missile Defense Advocacy Alliance is hosting a virtual roundtable about “Global Missile Defense Responsibilities.” The featured guest is Army Lt. Gen. Daniel Karbler, who commands the service’s Space and Missile Defense Command and Joint Functional Component Command for Integrated Missile Defense.
Also attending that virtual roundtable: 

  • U.S. Navy Rear Adm. Stephen Koehler, director for operations at U.S. Indo-Pacific Command; 
  • Air Force Maj. Gen. Kevin Huyck, director for operations at U.S. Northern Command; 
  • and Navy Vice Adm. Jon Hill, the Missile Defense Agency’s director. That discussion gets underway at 3 p.m. ET, and you can catch it live on the MDAA’s YouTube channel here

And ICYMI: The Navy’s Rear Adm. Casey Moton spoke this morning about unmanned systems “and Small Combatants in Distributed Maritime Operations” during a 10 a.m. ET event coordinated by the Center for Strategic and International Studies. Details and more, here.

Nearly 150 South Korean troops from the Korean war will be repatriated today at Hawaii’s Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam. The U.S. military’s Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency is holding the ceremony, which is scheduled for 4 p.m. ET.
Background: “The efforts to return the remains are a part of the DPAA Korean War Identification Project, and includes remains unilaterally turned over by North Korea during 1990 to 1994, and in 2018,” the Defense Department said announcing the ceremony, calling it “the largest transfer of remains between the two countries since the 2018 repatriation ceremony when DPAA returned 64 sets of remains to South Korea.” Stream that on DVIDS, here.
BTW: Trump allegedly threatened to pull U.S. troops from Korea if Seoul didn’t pay $5 billion, according to former National Security Adviser John Bolton, who wrote about the episode in his recent memoir. South Korea’s Yonhap News agency reported on the Bolton allegation, which isn’t new in and of itself; Reuters reported on it back in November, e.g.
Why this apparently confirmed detail means to Seoul: “Trump’s recent decision to reduce troop levels in Germany has led to speculation he may do something similar in South Korea.” More from Yonhap, here.

Trump’s fourth and most recent national security adviser explains “Why the U.S. Is Moving Troops Out of Germany,” in an op-ed published Monday in the Wall Street Journal. In short, he writes that “To counter China and Russia,” the U.S. has to reduce its German presence by 9,500 troops because now “U.S. forces must be deployed abroad in a more forward and expeditionary manner than they have been in recent years.” The details for this plan are now in the hands of Defense Secretary Mark Esper and Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Mark Milley, according Robert O’Brien.
“Modern warfare is increasingly expeditionary,” O’Brien writes, “and requires platforms with extended range, flexibility and endurance. While air bases and logistics hubs remain important, the Cold War-style garrisoning of troops makes less military and fiscal sense than it did in the 1970s.”
As far as what lies ahead, O’Brien writes “Thousands [of American forces] may expect to redeploy to the Indo-Pacific, where the U.S. maintains a military presence in Guam, Hawaii, Alaska and Japan, as well as deployments in locations like Australia…And the remainder will return to bases in the U.S.”
The rest of his argument leans into Germany for not yet refusing Huawei for its 5G services, and over alleged inaction regarding the Russian-German Nord Stream 2 pipeline. A bit more behind the paywall, here.

Get a better sense of the “breadth and depth of Russian involvement” in Libya via a new satellite imagery analysis from Brian Katz and Joseph S. Bermudez Jr., of the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
In short: “A closer examination of Russia’s deployment at Al Jufra Air Base reveals not only an expansion of Russian air activity but also of its ground forces, namely the Russian private military company (PMC) Wagner Group, the core component of Russia’s intervention in Libya.” More here.

Defense secretaries for the “Five Eyes” nations held a VTC Monday and Tuesday, the Pentagon announced today in not terribly specific terms. That means military leaders from Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the U.S. met to discuss matters whose details we may never know; but, speaking broadly, the Defense Department said those things included a “commitment to advance defense and security cooperation on matters of common interest to support and defend a stable, rules-based, global order that is increasingly being challenged.” More to that DOD announcement, here.

How low did those Guard helicopters fly over D.C. protestors? The Washington Post has reconstructed the June 1 flights of a Black Hawk and a Lakota medevac aircraft over the canyons of downtown Washington, D.C., where they “hovered over the protesters for a combined 10 minutes, first one and then the other, as protesters ran for cover.” The Lakota got as close as 45 feet from the ground, according to the Post analysis. Check it out, here.
Still unclear: what the helicopter crews had been ordered to do. The matter is under investigation by the D.C. National Guard. 

WH bars entry for most foreign workers. “President Trump on Monday temporarily suspended new work visas and barred hundreds of thousands of foreigners from seeking employment in the United States, part of a broad effort to limit the entry of immigrants into the country,” the New York Times reported.
Impact: Some 585,000 people will be kept out of the country through the end of the year, by White House estimates.
Background: The White House says foreign workers take Americans’ jobs and depress their wages. (Trump advisor Stephen Miller says the current economic distress makes this move even more important.)
But multiple studies say no. Researchers from Wharton to the Hoover Institution have found little evidence that immigrants lower wages, and plenty that they are a net positive for the economy.
Schmidt: Immigrants contribute to U.S. national security. Last week, former Google CEO-turned-Pentagon advisor Eric Schmidt said Chinese grad students, in particular, are key to the U.S. tech industry. But others have noted that immigrants make up an important chunk of America’s defense entrepreneurs, high-tech workers, and even troops

A U.S. Army private has been charged with sharing classified information about American forces stationed overseas to the Order of Nine Angles, which NBC News reports is a “satanic neo-Nazi group.” Read the DoJ release, here.

Briefly: Read an alleged “inside story” of the highly unusual (and apparently quite brutal) clash between Indian and Chinese forces in the Himalayas, via the Washington Post, here.

Why did Philippine President Rody Duterte change his mind about ditching the U.S. back in February? Because he wanted to help ease tensions in the South China Sea, according to an interview with his Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr., Monday in the South China Morning Post. Read that, here.

And finally today, the CIA has a new 60-second TV spot that sort of resembles critically-acclaimed shows like “Homeland.” Some of what you’ll see includes lots of diversity among the personnel; a thumb drive; wardrobe changes; low-lit rooms; and heavy use of glitchy graphic tricks. Catch it all on YouTube, here

Close [ x ] More from DefenseOne