#DefOneSummit Day; USAF wants flight-line robots; $700B defense bill moves ahead; Guess who won US spies’ face-recognition contest?; and just a bit more...

It’s Defense One Summit day! Join us for our 5th annual Defense One Summit, happening right now in Washington. Broadly speaking, we’ll be discussing “geopolitical power shifts around the globe” over the past 12 months, and how all of that links up with the future of American and global security.

Some of the topics we’ll address:

  • Global security and grand strategy in the age of Trump
  • Congressional priorities and the power of Capitol Hill
  • Security in Asia (or, the Indo-Pacific, if you work in the White House)
  • Nuclear options from North Korea to the White House
  • A look inside the CIA's “Q Branch,” and more. Find a full agenda, here.

Up first: Gen. Stephen Wilson, the U.S. Air Force’s vice chief of staff at 7:30 a.m. He’ll be talking about an “Interconnected, Intelligent and Automatic” air force for a new era.

Later: Amb. Wendy Sherman, former undersecretary of State for Political Affairs; Reps. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) and Elise Stefanik (R-NY); Kathleen Hicks of the Center for Strategic and International Studies and Richard Fontaine of the Center for a New American Security; Mark Lippert, former U.S. Ambassador to Korea; Kelly Magsamen, former Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Asian and Pacific Security Affairs; STRATCOM’s Brig. Gen. Gregory Bowen; Joe Cirincione of Ploughshares Fund; Troy Thomas, former Special Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs; Matthijs Broer, the CIA's Chief Technology Officer; and White House Cybersecurity Coordinator Rob Joyce.

Moderating: Andrea Mitchell of NBC News; Gayle Tzemach Lemmon of the Council on Foreign Relations; David Ignatius of the Washington Post; Phil Stewart of Reuters; and more.

Watch the whole thing live (after registering at the following link), here.

From Defense One

Russia Says It Will Field a Robot Tank that Outperforms Humans // Patrick Tucker: A colonel who runs a research directorate says the Nehreta did well in recent exercises at proving grounds outside Moscow.

Paying Off Post-9/11 War Debt Could Cost $8 Trillion: Report // Caroline Houck: Analysts say a reckoning is coming — even as Republicans seek tax cuts that will add at least $1.5 trillion to the national debt.

Turkey Tells US To Withdraw Weapons, Support for Syrian Rebels // Kevin Baron: In Washington, Prime Minister Binali Yildirim rejected the U.S. desire to keep supporting Syrian Kurdish rebel forces even after ISIS is finished.

A Short-Staffed US Air Force Wants Robots to Do More Human Jobs // Marcus Weisgerber: The service's top general says new systems, from bombs to buildings, must be able to think, share and learn.

'Indo-Pacific' Is the Trump Administration's New Name for Asia // Nikhil Sonnad: Why it matters: Chinese media and leaders pay a lot of attention to fine details like this.

Russian, Chinese Companies Win Intel Community's Facial Recognition Contest // Mohana Ravindranath: Moscow-based NTechlab won two categories of IARPA's facial recognition challenge.

Welcome to Thursday’s edition of The D Brief by Ben Watson and Bradley Peniston. Email us. And if you don’t subscribe already, consider subscribing. It’s free.

We have a date for those three-carrier exercises in the Pacific: "The maneuvers are to begin Saturday and end Tuesday," the Associated Press reported Wednesday. But if you want a location — and precise focus, you'll have to wait. "The U.S. 7th Fleet, which announced the exercise, did not say where in the western Pacific the exercise will be conducted, but officials have said recently that it is intended to demonstrate U.S. resolve with allies Japan and South Korea during the ongoing crisis with North Korea."

America’s top cyber security officer met with South Korea’s defense minister today in Seoul, Yonhap News agency reports. South Korean Defense Minister Song Young-moo met with Adm. Michael Rogers. Also in attendance: “Gen. Vincent K. Brooks, commander of U.S. Forces Korea (USFK), and Vice Adm. Kim Jong-il, who leads South Korea's Cyber Command, also joined the meeting.”

North Korean booze smugglers? Wouldn’t be the first time. Pakistani burglars stole more than $150,000 in liquor from a North Korean diplomat's home in Islamabad, upping the chances that Pyongyang is bootlegging booze in Pakistan for cash, Reuters reported Wednesday. The thieves took so much “Scotch whisky, beer and French wine” that it took more than three hours to remove it all.
The Diplomat’s Ankit Panda reminds us this sort of activity is hardly foreign to Pyongyang’s diplomats.

Congress’s $700B defense bill includes “a 2.4 percent pay raise for troops and a boost in military end strength of more than 20,000 service members,” Military Times reported Wednesday evening. But that, of course, is not all: “It also adds 90 new joint strike fighters to the military’s fleet and a third new littoral combat ship, but dumps controversial plans for a new ‘Space Corps’ in favor of less ambitious bureaucratic changes within the Defense Department’s space programs.” Much more to this still developing story, here. Or check out a much longer report from U.S. Naval Institute News, here.

16,000 American troops in Afghanistan next year? Possibly, AP reported in a short hit Wednesday.  
America’s goal in Afghanistan: Push the Taliban to the bargaining table, Military Times reports.

A new first for U.S.-Qatar relations: Reps from the two countries met for the first time in Washington Wednesday to coordinate counterterrorism. More from the State Department, here.

The Syrian army has reportedly retaken Albu Kamal, the “Islamic State’s last major stronghold in Syria, representing the end of Islamic State’s project in the region,” Reuters reports.

Syrian rebels (there are some left) are using Telegram to replenish their weapons, Foreign Policy reported this week. Some of their findings: “FP was able to identify 28 different firearms — 17 M16 assault rifle variants, nine M4A1 carbines, one modified M16A2 type carbine and one M249 Squad Automatic Weapon light machine gun — for sale with visible U.S. Defense Department markings and serial numbers.” Suicide belts were found for as little as $50. Worth the click, here.

Lastly today: What’s going on with Lebanon’s (former) prime minister? No one seems to know where he is, and now Lebanese officials suspect he’s being held in Saudi Arabia, Reuters reports. However, “Saudi Arabia and Hariri aides have denied reports that he is under house arrest. But he has put out no statements himself denying his movements are being restricted. He made a one-day flying visit to the United Arab Emirates earlier this week before returning to Saudi Arabia.” More here.