Shutdown averted, for now; ‘Day of rage’ in Jerusalem; Coalition resumes striking ISIS in Syria; DoD aims to start programs in just 12 months; and just a bit more...
Two-week continuing resolution passes. Defense One: “Congress passed a temporary spending measure on Thursday night that will keep the U.S. government running for the next two weeks while lawmakers attempt to pass a yearlong budget.”
What that means: Another half-month of spending frozen at last year’s levels, impervious to the military’s evolving needs and the world’s changing demands.
And two more weeks of uncertainty that undermines everything from troops’ readiness to defense companies’ ability to make investments.
Of course, the Pentagon plans for this by now — it has spent 1,061 days, about one-third, of the past nine years under various continuing resolutions, DOD spox Dana White told reporters Thursday, hours ahead of Congress’ action.
But as Todd Harrison noted at his annual budget-analysis briefing at CSIS, there’s no guarantee this CR will be the last. “So the longer you go, you know, past January, the longer we go on a CR, we’ll see, you know, an exponential increase in the impacts that are happening.” Read on, here.
From Defense One
US Averts Government Shutdown, For Now. But the Potential Harm and Waste Is Growing. // Marcus Weisgerber and Caroline Houck: Over the Pentagon's loud objections, lawmakers pass a 2-week temporary spending measure instead of a budget.
Pentagon's Ambitious Goal: Launch a Weapons Program in Just 12 Months // Caroline Houck: The defense acquisition undersecretary is looking to rapid capabilities offices as models for more formal programs.
Senators Press State Dept. to Drop Hiring Freeze and Shine Light on Reorg Plan // Charles S. Clark: Reforms could hurt 'America's Foreign Service and Civil Service professionals' and put diplomacy at risk, one letter says.
The Global Business Brief, December 7 // Marcus Weisgerber: Reagan Forum recap; Government shutdown looms; Lots from Ellen Lord, and lots more.
Welcome to this Friday 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. On this day 30 years ago, President Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev signed the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty. And 76 years ago today, the U.S. entered World War II.
Coalition airstrikes have resumed against ISIS in Syria, breaking a five-day lull. The principle location: Abu Kamal, near the border with Iraq. Details via the Defense Department, here.
SecDef Mattis is asking his planning team to find ways to confront Iran “short of a direct conflict,” CNN reports. But how exactly, of course, is still anyone’s guess. Story, here.
In Israel, thousands are protesting Trump's Jerusalem move across the occupied West Bank, Gaza Strip, and in East Jerusalem, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reports this morning. “Thousands also rallied outside Jerusalem's Al-Aqsa Mosque, a flashpoint site in the holy city, and in the Gaza Strip, where thousands of people marched through the streets to denounce Trump's decision. Palestinian health officials said 13 people were wounded by live fire and 47 by rubber bullets in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Dozens more suffered from tear-gas inhalation, medics said.” Read on, here. Or via AP, here.
Says SecState Rex T this morning: “This will take some time," CBS News White House Correspondent Mark Knoller tweets. The hold-ups include “selecting a site, drafting building plans, [and] getting authorizations.”
So when, exactly? "Not this year. Probably not next year."
Who knew an Islamic prince wanted a 500-year-old portrait of Jesus Christ? Some, no doubt, knew when the $450 million Leonardo Da Vinci painting sold in November to Saudi Prince Mohammed bin Salman. But the rest of us found out after U.S. intelligence outed the buyer Thursday, according to reports from The New York Times and Wall Street Journal.
On Wednesday, the Pentagon was preparing to accept transgender recruits as early as January, the Washington Post reported. The following day, Politico reported the White House is still trying to find a way to stop that from happening, including “ask[ing] a federal court for an emergency stay to delay a court order to begin opening the military to transgender recruits” on the first day of the new year. The latest from Politico, here.
China takes a surprising line on Pakistan’s counterterrorism fight, warning its citizens there to plan “for a series of imminent ‘terrorist attacks’ on Chinese targets there, an unusual alert as it pours funds into infrastructure projects into a country plagued by militancy,” Reuters reports. “China has long worried about disaffected members of its Uighur Muslim minority in its far western region of Xinjiang linking up with militants in Pakistan and Afghanistan. At the same time, violence in Pakistan’s southwestern Baluchistan province has fueled concern about security for planned transport and energy links from western China to Pakistan’s deepwater port of Gwadar.” Read on, here.
Japan is about to acquire “medium-range, air-launched cruise missiles” for its F-35As, Reuters reports off a press conference from Defence Minister Itsunori Onodera.
The munitions: “The JSM [Joint Strike Missile], designed by Norway’s Kongsberg Defence & Aerospace… [with] a range of 500 km (310 miles)... Japan is also looking to mount Lockheed Martin Corp’s extended-range Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile (JASSM-ER) on its F-15 fighters.” That last one is said to have a range of up to 1,000 kms. A bit more, here.
BTW: The UN says it’s not considering a no-fly zone over the Korean peninsula because Pyongyang’s missiles are too unpredictable and the disruption to airline travel would be too great, Reuters reports.
America’s naval forces near Korea have a new commander. “Capt. Michael Boyle will take charge of Navy Region Korea, Naval Forces Korea and the naval component of United Nations Command,” Stars and Stripes reported Thursday. “Boyle — who was selected for appointment to the rank of rear admiral in October — now serves as director for international engagement for the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations. Before that, he commanded the Japan-based Carrier Air Wing 5, which is the aviation wing of the Navy’s 7th Fleet.” More here.
Boom versus boom? The U.S. Air Force thinks it might have a weapon that could disable North Korea’s missiles, CNN reported Thursday — four days after NBC News appears to have initially re-surfaced the story of the Counter-electronics High-powered Microwave Advanced Missile Project, or CHAMP — a “high-powered microwave weapon that can be delivered on an air-launched cruise missile” to disable nearby electronic devices.
Ars Technica calls the claim “dubious,” writing one of the problems with this weapon involves the thing having “to pass very close to an ICBM before launch to affect it—which, despite CHAMP's classification as a non-lethal weapon, might be considered an act of war.”
Perhaps the most important problem is that “in order to not harm people, the microwave pulse has to be in a ‘three-bears’ range—it has to be just powerful enough to cause the semiconductor secondary breakdowns, but not powerful enough to cause thermal effects on humans that could cause burns or cataracts,” AT writes. “And the range of a high-power pulse's effects are small enough that pulses need to be fired off in relatively close proximity to the targeted electronics.”
The BLUF, presently — and why we’re hearing about it: “[T]he odds of the US actually using CHAMP to fry a North Korean missile on the ground are extremely low—especially now that the news media have discussed the possibility. The announcement that discussions of doing so had happened were likely just to let North Korea know that the US has the capability to do so—to add uncertainty to future tests.” Read on, here.
ICYMI: The other new missile-defense weapon this week: the F-35. Northrop, presumably with the Pentagon’s approval, took the wraps off a 2014 sensor-tracker experiment. Read, here.
Britain has a new aircraft carrier, and its namesake — Queen Elizabeth, 91 years young — commissioned it Thursday, even though it “will not be fully operational for several years,” the Associated Press reported.
OPSEC fail, UK edition. A senior British counterterrorism police officer was fined £3,500 (or about $4,700) after leaving top secret documents about terrorism in his car before they were stolen in May, the BBC reported Thursday. "The papers included minutes from a high-level counter terror meeting, counter terrorism local profiles and details of regular organised crime." Story, here.
Weekend reading: “America's so-called lone-wolf terrorists appear to be a domestic production, not a border problem,” RAND Corporation’s Brian Jenkins writes in a new report.
The short read: Jenkins’ report “identifies 86 plots to carry out terrorist attacks and 22 actual attacks since 9/11 involving 178 planners and perpetrators. Eighty-seven percent of those planners and perpetrators had long residencies in the United States. Only four of them had come to the United States illegally, all as minors.” Dig in, here.
Have a safe weekend, gang. As always, thanks for reading, and we’ll see you again on Monday!