Carter swings through Asia; US troops heading to Syria; How ISIS spread; It’s Defense One Summit day; and a bit more...

U.S., South Korean defense chiefs want North Korea to ditch its nukes. U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter’s two-stop swing through the Asia-Pacific finds him in Malaysia this morning, knocking out some bilateral meetings on the margins of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations’ defense ministers meeting. But first, Carter dropped in on the Korean demilitarized zone, where he and his counterpart from the South urged North Korea “to immediately cease all activities related to its nuclear program and said they will have no tolerance for any military provocation by Pyongyang,” Reuters reports.

The two expressed “grave concern” on the heels of the North’s recent vow “to conduct nuclear tests and continue the launch of what it says is a rocket to put a satellite into orbit.” Carter traveled to Seoul for an “annual review of their combined defense readiness against the North” and to discuss plans for a joint U.S.-South Korean command post “in case tensions with North Korea escalate into a war.”

Their meeting comes roughly a month after the North showed off its “goose-stepping forces and equipment like drones and missiles,” while its leader declared his military was “ready to respond to any kind of war the American imperialists want,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

The age of preparing for everything is upon us. Pyongyang’s hardly the only thing setting the Asia-Pacific on edge, Carter writes in an exclusive op-ed in Defense One. There’s also “the growing impact of climate change, and challenges to the long-held universal principle of freedom of navigation,”

“It is a region which exemplifies the challenges of ‘the age of everything,’ as threats become more transnational, more transregional, and cannot be addressed in isolation,” the defense secretary writes. “It is an age that brings complex challenges in every part of the world, from the destabilizing and malign influence of Russian aggression in Ukraine and Syria, to the steady metastasis of the Islamic State in the Middle East, to the growing threat of cyber warfare.”

Carter, who flies today to Kuala Lumpur, writes, “Deputy Secretary of Defense Bob Work and Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley will be speaking at the Defense One Summit in Washington, D.C. I strongly support the messages they will deliver. And I believe that such conferences can help drill tunnels through the walls that sometimes seem to separate the government from private sector technologists, civilian leaders, and business and academic experts.” Read the rest, here.

The 2015 Defense One Summit is happening right this moment in Washington. First up: Ben Rhodes, White House deputy national security advisor, in discussion with CNN’s Jim Sciutto. They’ll be followed by Director of National Intelligence James Clapper in conversation with Defense One Executive Editor Kevin Baron at 9 a.m. Catch Army Chief Gen. Mark Milley; House Armed Services Chairman Rep. Mac Thornberry, R-Texas; Brig. Gen. Donald Bolduc of U.S. Special Operations Command Africa; U.S. Navy Deputy Chief of Naval Operations, Operations, Plans and Strategy, Vice Adm. John Aquilino; and others before Deputy Secretary of Defense Robert Work delivers the closing keynote in the mid-afternoon.

Not able to attend? No problem: The entire day’s events will be live-streamed here—from 7:30 a.m. to shortly after 3 p.m. We hope you’ll join us!

From Defense One

Bye-bye “no boots on the ground.” Two years ago, President Barack Obama pledged, “I will not put American boots on the ground in Syria. I will not pursue an open-ended action like Iraq or Afghanistan.” On Friday, he announced plans to do just that. Over the coming weeks, “fewer than 50” U.S. special operations troops will deploy to northeastern Syria to be “headquartered” with a range of local forces. Some two dozen A-10s and F-15s are at or on their way to Incirlik to “thicken” air operations, while other special operations troops may soon head to Iraq if Baghdad agrees. Still, White House spokesman Josh Earnest insisted the first U.S. boots on the ground in Syria won’t be there to “lead the charge up the hill.” Already, Obama’s critics and supporters alike are calling for a more comprehensive, more coherent strategy. Defense One’s Molly O’Toole and Ben Watson have the full story here.

How ISIS spread in the Middle East. David Ignatius takes a deep dive for The Atlantic, tracing the roots of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria—and how to stop it. Read that, here.

What it would really take to knock out the power grid. As our electrical system lifts itself out of the industrial age, the defense built around it will require added vigilance. NextGov takes a look, here.

Welcome to the Monday edition of The D Brief, from Ben Watson and Bradley Peniston. Tell your friends to subscribe here: Want to see something different? Got news? Let us know:

Budget deal is a big win for Pentagon. Even though it’s only a two-year agreement, the budget deal passed by Congress and the White House will get the Pentagon past the worst of the spending caps, writes Global Business Reporter Marcus Weisgerber.

“After vowing to end two wars, Obama may leave three behind” is the Washington Post’s poignant headline. “In the near term, administration officials expressed cautious optimism that the combination of more U.S. air power, a bigger Iraqi push against Islamic State forces in Ramadi along with Kurdish and Syrian Arab efforts in Raqqa and along the border could shift the momentum on the battlefield. ‘If you get all these things in motion, you put a lot of pressure on the Islamic State to move and communicate,’ a senior U.S. official said. ‘As they do, they become targets.’” Read that, here.

Burn pit alert: U.S. troops’ environmental assessments of their combat deployments have been omitted from medical records in order to avoid “disability claims for chronic illnesses that may not be due to exposure,” Military Times reports.

“This is a rationale for denying not only patients, but also their physicians, ready access that DoD — and any reasonable American — should consider relevant to diagnosis and treatment,” said Peter Sullivan, father of a Marine who died of an unexplained illnesses in 2009 following a deployment to Iraq. More here.

ICYMI: British officer posted at Pentagon spy agency. The Defense Intelligence Agency just appointed its first British Air Force officer as a deputy director. “In an official announcement, the Pentagon said that the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) had chosen Air Vice Marshal Sean Corbett of Britain’s Royal Air Force (RAF) as its first “deputy director for Commonwealth Integration,” Reuters reported Friday. “Corbett, presently the RAF's top professional intelligence officer, would be top advisor to DIA director Lt. Gen. Vincent Stewart on defence and intelligence issues concerning an alliance of English-speaking countries known as the "Five Eyes.” The appointment is “not that unusual,” said Mark Lowenthal, a former senior CIA and State Department official Think of him as a senior liaison officer.

Brits cozy up to Bahrain—establishing their first “permanent” Middle Eastern base in 40 years, and it’ll be at at Mina Salman Port in Bahrain. BBC has more.

Lastly today—Costume fail of a serious sort. On Saturday, a Fort Bragg soldier made the unwise decision to attempt to enter the North Carolina base dressed a suicide bomber since it was, y’know, Halloween. The response? The gate entrance was promptly cleared and a bomb disposal team dispatched to the scene, NBC News reported. The costume included a simulated explosive vest. “Costumes of this sort are not allowed on Fort Bragg,” the base said in a statement. That story, here.