Stocks rise on defense-spending proposal; Retired generals blast proposed cuts to State; Defeat-ISIS plan, delivered; USAF to retire iconic UAV; and just a bit more...

Global defense stocks are rallying on a White House proposal for the biggest expansion in U.S. military spending since the height of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, The Wall Street Journal reports this morning. The winners: “U.K.-listed defense and energy engineering firm Meggitt PLC added 14% and British weapons maker BAE Systems gained 2.3%. Japan's Tokyo Keiki, which makes electronics for jet fighters, earlier rose nearly 4%, while weapons maker Ishikawa Seisakusho added 14%.”

The proposed increase of $54 billion arrived in the Trump administration's preliminary fiscal 2018 budget proposal, an Office of Management and Budget official said Monday, GovExec reported. “The proposed boost, which still must go through the congressional appropriations process, would represent about a 10 percent increase to the Defense budget. The White House will propose that foreign aid be cut to partially offset the new spending.”

But there's a big catch: the Pentagon's share of Trump's 2018 budget plan is $603 billion, and that happens to exceed legal limits by about 10 percent, Defense One's Marcus Weisgerber reported. “The figure happens to be near the same amount envisioned for 2018 in a multi-year spending plan approved by the last administration. But Obama's plan ran afoul of the caps imposed by the Budget Control Act, or BCA. That's also a problem for Trump, who is proposing to spend $54 billion more, or about 10 percent, than the $549 billion cap allows.”

What's next? “In order to boost defense spending, Congress must repeal those limits — sometimes called sequestration — imposed by the BCA,” Weisgerber writes. And that's been impossible so far.

Two prominent Republicans—the Armed Services chairs for the Senate and the House, John McCain, R-Ariz., and Rep. Mac Thornberry — said there needs to be more substance to the upcoming White House budget than they've seen yet. McCain wants more money (here's his own $604 billion budget proposal) and Thornberry wants more clarity: “The Administration will have to make clear which problems facing our military they are choosing not to fix. We cannot make repairing and rebuilding our military conditional on fixing our budget problems or on cutting other spending,” he said Monday.

And “cutting other spending” includes slashing State Department programs an estimated 30 or even 40 percent. “Hard to see how that flies on The Hill,” AP's Matt Lee wrote Monday.

A bit more on those reductions at State: “Several former Pentagon officials, including a number of retired generals and admirals, cautioned against cutting the State Department and foreign aid budgets to help pay for increases in Pentagon spending,” The New York Times reported Monday. The letter's signatories included 121 different retired three- and four-star generals, and you can find the letter and the full list of those who signed it, here.

On the White House's schedule: President Trump speaks to a joint session of Congress this evening, and will visit the Newport News shipyard in Virginia on Thursday, “a division of Huntington Ingalls Industries, the nation's largest military shipbuilder,” the Newport News Daily Press reported Monday.

A little more on HII: “HII's Newport News shipyard is the sole builder of nuclear-powered aircraft carriers and one of two yards that makes nuclear-powered submarines, which are in high demand. Its Ingalls Shipbuilding division in Pascagoula, Miss., makes amphibious warships, guided-missile destroyers and Coast Guard cutters.”

And a bit more on the president's planned buildup, and how HII could be a big winner: “The Navy fleet stands at about 275 ships with plans to reach 308. Trump has proposed a 350-ship fleet, while the Navy's assessment calls for 355 ships. That will mean business for HII.”

Trump is scheduled speak from the in-progress aircraft carrier Gerald R. Ford: "the first-in-class ship, which represents the next generation of naval sea power, is scheduled to be delivered to the Navy this year after numerous delays." Read the rest, here.

The new war plans to “rapidly defeat” ISIS have been delivered to the White House, just in time for Trump's evening address to lawmakers in Washington, AP reported Monday. “Officials familiar with the review have said it will likely lead to decisions that mean more U.S. military involvement in Syria, and possibly more ground troops, even as the current U.S. plan in Iraq appears to be working and will require fewer changes...Beyond military options, the officials familiar with the review said the report increases emphasis on nonmilitary elements of the campaign already underway, such as efforts to squeeze IS finances, limit recruiting and counter propaganda that is credited with inspiring violence in the U.S. and Europe.”

Some of it may sound familiar, AP writes: “...the recommended approaches will echo central elements of the Obama administration's strategy, which centered on the U.S. military supporting local forces rather than doing the fighting for them. [Defense Secretary James] Mattis already has signaled publicly he sees no value in having U.S. combat forces take over the ground war.”

One caveat for those seeking a fast-food-style end to the war: Pentagon spokesman Capt. Jeff Davis “described the Mattis report as 'a framework for a broader discussion' of a strategy to be developed over time, rather than a ready-to-execute military plan,” writes AP.

Davis: “It's not a 'check-the-block, pick A or B or C' kind of a plan. This is a broad plan. It is global. It is not just military. It is not just Iraq/Syria.” More here.

From Defense One

Trump's Defense Topline Faces a Big Hurdle, Just as When Obama Proposed It // Marcus Weisgerber: The new administration's proposal to give the Defense Department $603 billion in 2018 exceeds legal limits by about 10 percent.

Counter-Terror Chief: Expect Terrorist Drone Swarms 'Soon' // Patrick Tucker: An upcoming competition will spotlight systems for downing enemy UAVs, whether attacking solo or in groups.

Trump to Congress: Give Pentagon $54B. I'll Tell You Why Later // Eric Katz: The roughly 10% boost would come out of nearly every other federal agency's 2018 budget, including foreign aid.

The High Cost of Politicizing Intelligence // Dennis J. Gleeson: Trump is undermining America's national security by trying to shape analysis to support his world view.

Welcome to Tuesday's edition of The D Brief by Ben Watson and Bradley Peniston. #OTD1994: In NATO's first combat action since its founding, allied warplanes shoot down Serbian aircraft in the no-fly zone over Bosnia. (Got a tip? Let us know by clicking this link to email us:

With the ISIS war plan “framework” under consideration, we turn now to a sort of around-the-world in the ISIS fight. We begin in Syria, home to ISIS de-facto HQ in Raqqa: Turkey is still jostling for position in the coming offensive on Raqqa, but not until President Tayyip Erdogan's military and its allied rebels advance on the town of Manbij, retaken by U.S-backed Syrian Democratic Forces in August, Reuters reports. “Erdogan also ruled out any chance of cooperation with the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which includes the Syrian Kurdish militia.” That short hit, here.

Syrian regime troops are also advancing on Manbij, according to Turkey's Hürriyet Daily News. That inside a wider report that the Turkish army just established a new temporary base in formerly ISIS-held al-Bab. That makes at least the second base—the other is in Dabiq—that Turkey has established inside neighboring Syria. More here.

In Iraq, “U.S.-backed Iraqi forces on Tuesday battled their way to within firing range of Mosul's main government buildings,” Reuters reports from the city—noting that the distance refers to a machinegun range of about 1,300 feet. “Taking those buildings would help Iraqi forces attack the militants in the nearby old city center and would be of symbolic significance in terms of restoring state authority over the city.”

Meantime, “U.S.-trained Counter-Terrorism Service (CTS) units battled Islamic State sniper and mortar fire as they moved eastwards through Wadi al-Hajar district to link up with Rapid Response and Federal Police deployed by the riverside, in a move that would seal off all southern access to the city.”

Bridge repairs are quite understandably still in progress, Reuters writes. And the by-now standard threats of “mortar, sniper fire, booby traps and suicide car bombs” persist. More from the scene, here.

Also: Iraqi troops have found “noticeably more foreign militants in the western half of the city than the east,” Reuters also reported from Mosul on Monday.

In Egypt, “Islamic State militants in Egypt's volatile northern Sinai region abducted four men accused of collaborating with the government, three of them during a brazen raid in the middle of a public market,” AP reported Monday. “This recent show-of-strength campaign by IS loyalists in northern Sinai comes on the heels of a recent easing of the military campaign against them and represents a move to reassert their control over the local civilian population...The violence poses a fresh challenge to President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi's government to put down an IS-led insurgency in northern Sinai and prevent spillover that at times has reached the Egyptian mainland.” Story here.

ICYMI: CentCom chief, Gen. Joseph Votel, wants to re-establish military exercises with Egypt, NYTs reported Sunday. “General Votel’s comments were made shortly after he met with President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and top Egyptian military and Defense Ministry officials. It also comes amid a general warming of relations between Mr. Sisi and President Trump, who has hailed the Egyptian president as a ‘fantastic guy.’” That, here.

In Yemen, the late January SEAL raid yielded “no significant intelligence,” U.S. officials told NBC News Monday.

In Africa, American special forces have begun a joint exercise near Boko Haram’s heartland, Stars and Stripes reports from the annual Flicklock drill—this year spanning the countries of Chad, Cameroon, Niger, Mauritania, Morocco and Tunisia. “This year’s Flintlock is designed to improve coordination of military efforts to protect borders and guard against cross-border attacks. In recent years, western African nations have sought to establish closer military ties as a way to counter extremist groups. Tunisia, which borders Libya, has been concerned about the potential for local unrest as Islamic State fighters return from Iraq and Syria.” More here.

Jack Abramoff versus Boko Haram? Politico reports this morning “the disgraced D.C. lobbyist is back and immersed in a stranger-than-fiction project with an African strongman, controversial Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.) and ‘friends in Europe’ to — in his telling — defeat Islamic terrorists.”

The known knowns: “Abramoff agreed to act as a liaison between his European friends whom he declined to name, the president of the Republic of Congo, and Rohrabacher to try to establish a coalition of African states to defeat the terrorist group Boko Haram. Abramoff's friends — who Abramoff said he believes have financial investments in Congo — were in talks with the country's controversial president, Denis Sassou Nguesso, to try to enlist the United States to support the coalition...Rohrabacher said that he had ‘no idea’ which friends Abramoff was coordinating with, nor did the congressman seem to care. Abramoff's involvement was enough. Rohrabacher repeatedly called the convicted felon a ‘patriot.’” Story here.

And in Afghanistan, “At least seven loyalists of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) terrorist group were killed in a series of operations in eastern Nangarhar part of the ongoing Shaheen-25 operations,” Khaama news reports this morning. “The Shaheen-25 operations were launched nearly one month ago in response to the growing insurgency of the anti-government armed militants in Haska Mina, Kot, Achin and some other remote districts.”

Reminder of Afghanistan’s fractured insurgency—it may not be entirely fractured: “Both the Taliban insurgents and loyalists of ISIS terrorist group are occasionally conducting insurgency activities by staging coordinated attacks, roadside bombings and ambushes against the security forces and government officials,” Khaama reported.

And to the west, in Herat province, rival Taliban factions are fighting each other, Khaama also reported this morning.  

Afghanistan’s military has undergone a massive restructuring in the past year, Stars and Stripes reports. “The army’s 215 Corps in Helmand saw major restructuring early last year, with the corps’ commander, some brigade commanders and key core staff replaced for corruption and incompetence...Interior Ministry spokesman Sediq Sediqqi said “tens of people were changed” at the ministry in recent months. These include several general directors and a number of provincial and district police chiefs. He said that these changes would ‘help greatly in the upcoming fighting season.’” More on that, here.

Trump meets Chinese foreign minister, for a few minutes on Monday, Reuters reports. Who else got face time with the most senior emissary from Beijing? Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and National Security Advisor Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster — and also Trump advisors Steve Bannon and son-in-law Jared Kushner. “U.S. President Donald Trump, who has attacked China on issues from trade to the South China Sea, held his first face-to-face talks with a member of the Chinese leadership on Monday, and the White House said it was a chance to discuss shared security interests and a possible meeting with President Xi Jinping.” Read on, here.

But on the other side of the world, Chinese state media erupted with new threats after a South Korean company approved a plan to make land available for THAAD anti-missile batteries. Read, here.

U.S. Air Force to retire MQ-1 Predator early. UAVs came of age in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, and the poster child was the General Atomics Predator, first as a long-loitering eye in the sky and then as an armed hunter. Now the service most closely associated with the Predator says it’s done with the MQ-1, and will retire its fleet ahead of schedule to put the money elsewhere. Air Force statement, here.

Also: are U.S. drones dropping smaller bombs? Tyler Rogoway notes something odd about photos of the Kia sedan where Al Qaeda's number two man was reportedly killed by a U.S. drone in Syria: there’s a lot less damage than usual. Follow his reasoning, here.