‘Worldwide scramble’ for summit; CIA says DPRK won’t denuke; USAF waiting a year-plus for parts; Iran suggests Yemen ceasefire; and just a bit more...

“Worldwide scramble.” U.S. diplomats are fanned out across three locations working to iron out the details of the on-again, off-again, now maybe on-again summit on June 12 between the leaders of the United States and North Korea, The New York Times reported Tuesday from Tokyo.

The three sites: New York City, Singapore, and the Demilitarized Zone on the Korean peninsula.

The main goal: “finding a path to denuclearization,” the Times’ Motoko Rich writes.

On that note: An apparently leaked “U.S. intelligence assessment” on North Korea says the country “won't denuclearize, but they might open a burger joint,” NBC News reported Tuesday citing three U.S. officials.

Said one U.S. intel official: "Everybody knows they are not going to denuclearize."

Now to what’s inside that report: It reportedly “lays out a series of incentives the U.S. and South Korea could offer North Korea to disarm, including infrastructure and agricultural aid… The U.S. also could offer economic incentives, including sanctions relief.”

And about them burgers: “The CIA report does not specify which fast-food brand could be invited to North Korea, but said Kim envisioned that the establishment could be used to provide food during the talks and would show that he was open to Western investment.”

Asks MIT’s Vipin Narang: “Is this being leaked now to lower expectations? Or to kill the summit? Or...?”

Here’s a bit more on the gulf separating the U.S. and North Korea on the issue of “denuclearization,” via the Washington Post.

Quotable line from that piece: “I can say that the differences in stances between North Korea and the U.S. remain quite significant,” but they’re not impossible to overcome, Unification Minister Cho Myoung-gyon said Wednesday in a speech in Seoul. Read on, here.

From Defense One

US Air Force Is Waiting a Year for Parts That It Could 3D-Print // Marcus Weisgerber: Its chief weapons buyer is mulling licensing arrangements to allow third-party manufacture.

North Korea Wants to End up Like Pakistan, Not Libya // The Atlantic’s Dominic Tierney: A poor country made enormous sacrifices to get nuclear weapons—and has them still.

Why Europeans Turned Against Trump // Pew Research Center’s Richard Wike: Many see an America pulling away from the world order it shaped, the colossus at twilight, turning inward as other powers rise.

Central Command Needs High-Level Middle East Cyber Ops Advisers, Fast // Nextgov’s Aaron Boyd: The offices focused on the department's IT infrastructure are looking for support services to help manage through a reorganization.

Welcome to this Wednesday edition of The D Brief by Ben Watson and Bradley Peniston. And if you find this useful, consider forwarding it to a friend or colleague. They can subscribe here for free. On this day in 1806 in western Kentucky, future president Andrew Jackson killed Charles Dickinson, a lawyer regarded as one of the best pistol shots in the area, in a duel. According to History.com, “Dickinson accused Jackson of reneging on a horse bet, calling Jackson a coward and an equivocator.” Read on, here.

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis is en route to Asia — er, the Indo-Pacific — but not before stopping in Honolulu on Tuesday, the San Diego Union-Tribune’s Carl Prine reports.
Hawaii is “the first leg in a journey to a major summit of Asian nations in Singapore and potential talks with North Korea over its nuclear and ballistic missile programs,” Prine writes. Reuters has a preview of that summit — the annual Shangri-La Dialogue — here.
Today, Mattis is hitting up “the installation of Navy Adm. Phil Davidson as the leader of the powerful Pacific Command.” Read a bit more on 3 things to watch from Davidson, via Defense One’s Caroline Houck, reporting in April, here.
Departing PACOM: Adm. Harry Harris, who has been tapped as the next Ambassador to South Korea (Congressional approval pending.)
Said Mattis on what lies ahead: “Our vision is very clear. It’s been consistent over many administrations – a safe and secure and free Indo-Pacific region based on the shared principles that are aligned with international law.” Prine does a good job of rounding up many of the concerns on Mattis’s agenda — from North Korean missiles to Iranian missiles, and of course, Beijing’s expansionist aims in the South China Sea — here.

From JSOC to the Afghan war. SecDef Mattis announced Tuesday that President Trump has selected U.S. Army Lt. Gen. Austin Miller, who leads Joint Special Operations Command, for a fourth star and an appointment as the new commander of the war in Afghanistan under U.S. Forces-Afghanistan.
The news follows last week’s report from The Wall Street Journal’s Jessica Donati and Nancy A. Youssef teasing as much.
So what’s Miller in for? The by-now standard Taliban fighting season, for one thing. And it’s still pretty hot. A few of the recent attacks across the country include:

  • At least 10 fighters were killed this morning after a nearly two-hour complex attack on the Ministry of Interior in Kabul, Afghanistan’s Khaama Press reports. That scene involved an SUV, a suicide bomber, grenades, and fighters of unknown affiliation (so far, anyway) dressed in military uniforms. Some of the attackers reached the inside of the MoI, and managed to kill at least one policeman and wound five others before Afghan soldiers shot them dead. More from Reuters, here. Or see a bit of footage from the periphery of the scene, via Afghanistan’s Tolo News, here.
  • Just south of Kabul, Taliban suicide bombers killed three police and wounded a dozen other people when they hit a police station in eastern Logar province, Arab News is reporting this morning. That scene also involved a car bomb followed by surging fighters — also killed by police, this time “within five minutes” of the initial attack. The Taliban reportedly claimed responsibility for that one. A bit more, here.  
  • To the south a bit further, in the mountainous province of Oruzgan, a drone strike killed three Taliban fighters — but also killed seven Afghan policemen, too, “in the vicinity of Chora district late on Monday night,” Khaama Press reported separately. A tiny bit more, here.
  • And to the west, about 50 Taliban fighters were killed by U.S. artillery (HIMARS) in Helmand’s Mosa Qala district on May 24, KP reports again, referencing this Military Times report from Tuesday.  
  • Also last week, B-1Bs flew from Qatar to hit suspected Taliban drug-production facilities in multiple undisclosed locations across Afghanistan, the U.S. Air Force’s 34th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron reported in a release on Tuesday.

Get your bearings: Review where territorial control begins and ends across Afghanistan in this ongoing tracker from the folks at The Long War Journal.

The Turks appear to have gotten ahead of the U.S. military on how to move ahead on the contested Syrian city of Manbij, Turkey’s Anadolu news reports this morning — following recent reports from Reuters and Anadolu itself.

From Iraq, we have another window into the ugly side of the Mosul offensive, 10 months after it ended. We’ll turn it over to former Green Beret David Witty, who spoke to us for our explainer on the Mosul offensive back in July 2017. He says, “Iraqi Civil Defense has removed 1282 bodies from Mosul in [the] past 10 days. Bodies are both ISIS & civilians. Most are in a state of decomposition.”
ICYMI: Back in April, Vice News produced this report from Mosul, entitled, “The Killing Rooms Of Mosul Are Filled With Bodies And Mystery.”

Iran — which has denied arming (but not aiding) the Houthis in Yemen — now says it’s willing to push for a ceasefire there, Reuters reported Tuesday from negotiations in Paris with Britain, France and Germany.
For the record: “Iran’s senior nuclear negotiator Abbas Araqchi said talks on the Yemen conflict were being held in parallel to the nuclear talks with the European signatories of the accord, under which Iran accepted to curb its nuclear work in return for the lifting of international sanctions.” More background, here.

In global arms sales, Russia is sending China the final batch of 10 Sukhoi Su-35S combat aircraft, part of a 24-jet order, to be delivered by the end of the year, The Diplomat reported Tuesday off a deal initially struck back in 2011.

If you join the U.S. Navy, you won’t just be “stuck on a boat. You have a lot of options.” That’s just a bit of what some of America’s youth are learning now that the Navy is trying to alter “misperceptions” about military service, San Diego’s KPBS reported Tuesday.
The set-up: “At the moment, the Navy needs to grow to accommodate the new ships in the pipeline. The basic problem is the same as it was in 1973. The Navy has to convince the target audience of people in their late teens to their early twenties that the Navy is their best option.”
And so the service is trying out a new tagline: “Forged by the Sea.” (Avoid the first 21 seconds — which could be called “Pierced by the Bosun’s Pipe” — and watch the rest of a recent USN video here.) Read on, here.