Korean exercises, cancelled; Trump orders up Space Force; Kids in cages for national security; Next Afghan-war commander, grilled; and just a bit more…
It’s official: August exercises — er “war games” — with South Korea are cancelled.
The word from the Pentagon: “Consistent with President Trump's commitment and in concert with our Republic of Korea ally, the United States military has suspended all planning for this August's defensive ‘wargame’ (Freedom Guardian),” spokeswoman Dana White said Monday in a statement, adding, “We are still coordinating additional actions. No decisions on subsequent wargames have been made.”
And future developments? Stand by, because “There will be a meeting at the Pentagon later this week with the Secretary of Defense, Secretary of State and the National Security Advisor on this issue,” said White.
Meantime, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un is back in Beijing — his third visit in three months, the Washington Post reports this morning. There, China's President Xi Jinping hailed last week's optic-heavy summit as an “important step toward the political solution of the Korean Peninsula nuclear issue.”
By the way, in return for denuclearization, U.S. State Secretary Mike Pompeo told a Detroit crowd on Monday that “the president has committed to making sure that we alter the armistice agreement, [and] provide the security assurances that Chairman Kim needs.”
Notes Bloomberg: “It wasn’t the first time the administration disclosed a U.S. commitment from the summit that wasn’t cited in the final document.”
The more you know: "Altering [the] Armistice [agreement] instead of [the] Peace Treaty would avoid needing to get U.S. Senate approval," Hofstra Law Professor Julian Ku noted on Twitter.
Trivia: Who holds how many nuclear weapons across the world? (Quick answer here) The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (aka SIPRI) just released its annual yearbook, “which assesses the current state of armaments, disarmament and international security.”
SIPRI’s bottom-line-up-front: All of the countries that have nuclear weapons “are developing new nuclear weapon systems and modernizing their existing systems; and the number of personnel deployed with peace operations worldwide continues to fall while the demand is increasing.” Dive into that report’s summary (PDF), here.
Who’s adding nuclear weapons? China, India and Pakistan. More on that angle from the South China Morning Post, here.
From Defense One
What Trump’s Space Force Announcement Means // Patrick Tucker and Marcus Weisgerber: New plan would create sixth service branch, and annoy the Air Force.
Swell of Protest as Administration Shifts Story on Family Separations // The Atlantic’s Rosie Gray: The Homeland Security secretary has offered three different takes on the policy of separating families detained for crossing America's southern border.
US Navy Wants a Next-Gen Supply Network — and Fast // Aaron Boyd, Nextgov: An accelerated-acquisition office is seeking industry's best ideas for keeping track of parts and repairs ashore and at sea.
Most Major US Agencies Are Now Feeding the Federal Cyber Threat Dashboard // Joseph Marks, Nextgov: So far, 20 of 23 major agencies are plugged into the dashboard. The last three should be on by the end of July.
Welcome to this Tuesday 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. #OTD in 1953, at sundown in New York’s Sing Sing Correctional Facility, Julius and Ethel Rosenberg were executed in the electric chair for the years they spent passing atomic bomb data to the Soviets in the 1940s.
Trump orders up a Space Force. The president took the podium at the White House Monday and ordered Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Joe Dunford to create a Space Force, “separate but equal” to the Air Force. D1’s Patrick Tucker and Marcus Weisgerber: “Creating a standalone service for space isn’t something the president can do on his own; he needs congressional authorization. But Monday’s announcement (here’s video, via Reuters), which follow broad endorsements of the concept by the Joint Chiefs’ office and various military branches, means that Senate holdouts who were taking their cues from the Air Force are likely to bow out of the fight. That could clear the way for a Space Force to be in the 2019 defense authorization act, says Todd Harrison, who directs the Center for Strategic and International Studies’ Aerospace Security Project.”
Surprise! It wasn’t immediately clear just what parts of the Pentagon’s sprawling space endeavors would be swept into this new outfit. “We understand the President’s guidance. Our Policy Board will begin working on this issue, which has implications for intelligence operations for the Air Force, Army, Marines and Navy. Working with Congress, this will be a deliberate process with a great deal of input from multiple stakeholders,” Pentagon spokesperson Dana W. White said in a statement.
We were working on it…: “The military was in the process of evaluating the entire space force concept in terms of feasibility and structure. Deputy Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan’s office was conducting what Harrison described as a broad study due in August.” Read on, here.
So why now? Trump didn’t say.
Kids in cages, in the name of national security. Amid the brutal reality that no one gets to choose where they were born, “The Trump administration struggled to contain the fallout as outrage over migrant children being separated from their parents at the border accelerated on Monday,” writes The Atlantic’s Rosie Gray. “The separations are a result of the administration’s ‘zero tolerance’ immigration policy announced by Attorney General Jeff Sessions earlier this year, which mandates criminal prosecution of any adult crossing the border illegally. In practice, that means that parents with children are incarcerated, and the kids are reclassified as unaccompanied minors and taken to a different facility. In response to reporters’ questions, [Homeland Security Secretary] Kirstjen Nielsen insisted that only Congress could reunite the children with their parents, despite the fact that it’s administration policy, not law, that’s separating them.” More, here.
Related: The governor of Massachusetts just canceled his “immigration and border control mission for National Guard helicopters, citing the White House’s separating families policy, the Boston Herald reported Monday.
Happening now: The Afghan war could get a new commander if the Senate Armed Services Committee approves Lt. Gen. Scott Miller (currently in charge of Joint Special Operations Command) for the job in Kabul. He’s about a half-hour into questioning from senators, and you can catch the livestream, here.
About Miller: He “will need to harness his extensive résumé in counterterrorism operations to curtail the bloodshed and crush the mosaic of insurgent groups intent on toppling the Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s government,” Time’s W.J. Hennigan reported nearly a month ago. “He will also have to draw on his previous experience overseeing U.S. Army training programs in hopes of continuing build up the Afghan military.” Read more, here.
The battle for Yemen’s Hodeida reaches the city’s airport, and Agence France-Presse has some footage from the fighting, here. Reuters backs up that account of fighting advancing to the airport, citing not just the UAE military, but also locals in the area.
The UN says “An estimated 5,200 families have fled the fighting since 1 June, for safer areas within their home districts or to neighboring districts and governorates,” Read more from their situation report, here.
The UAE's goal: "seize the airport and port quickly and to avoid street battles in the city center. But Hodeidah is well defended as it constitutes the key supply line to Houthi-controlled territory including Sanaa," Reuters writes.
The port itself — the gateway for some 80 percent of humanitarian aid to Yemen — “remained open on Tuesday with the U.N. World Food Programme racing to unload three ships containing enough food for six million people for one month,” according to a spokeswoman for the World Food Program. Meanwhile, negotiations between the UN and the Houthis appears to have broken down, with the Houthis calling the demand to leave Hodeida “unrealistic.” More here.
Mattis to new mariners: Do not celebrate victimhood. “Life as a leader is hard,” SecDef told new graduates of the U.S Merchant Marine Academy at Kings Point, N.Y., Saturday. “Enjoy it, embrace it, and practice your skill and put it to use when the hard times come, coaching the others to take disappointment in stride. And do not fall into cynicism which is just another word in the armed services for cowardice.” The whole thing is worth reading, which you can do, via Task & Purpose, here.