BREAKING: Trump orders topline cut; More soldiers to the border?; New pipebombs found; US needs a civilian cybersecurity corps; And a bit more.
Trump cuts DoD’s budget. With just weeks left in the 2020 budget planning process, Pentagon leaders have been told that their topline will be $700 billion — not the $733 billion they had been told to expect, and not even the $719 billion they are receiving in fiscal 2019.
That’s the word from Deputy Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan, who said that the White House has now told him directly what President Trump seemed to suggest at a cabinet meeting last week. Shanahan spoke Friday morning at the Military Reporters and Editors conference in Washington, D.C. Defense News has more, here.
Kingston Reif does some quick math: “So a 2.2% cut below the FY19 level of $716 billion and a 4.5% cut below the $733 billion for FY20 projected in FY19. FY20 BCA cap is $576 bill (050 excluding OCO). $700 billion for defense in FY20 would amount to 3.17% of GDP per CBO FY20 GDP projection of $22.0338 trillion.”
800 more American soldiers could be headed to the U.S.-Mexico border. That’s on top of the 2,100 already assisting Customs and Border Protection forces from Texas to California.
Defense Secretary Jim Mattis is expected to sign an order for the troops, which were reportedly “requested by the Department of Homeland Security after President Trump said he is intent on stopping any of the migrants from entering the U.S.,” NPR writes.
The ostensible reason: Dissuade the caravan of roughly 7,000 migrants headed north from Honduras toward the U.S. southern border.
Said DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen to Fox News on Thursday: “We've asked for some air support, for some logistics, some planning, vehicle barriers, engineering, ways in which I can protect my officers and agents as well as the ports of entry themselves."
Update: Trump is considering shutting down ports of entry along the southern border to further dissuade that caravan. However, that plan is “receiv[ing] pushback within the White House where officials have argued it would hurt interstate commerce,” NBC News reports this morning, citing a nameless senior administration official.
Trump’s message to the northbound immigrants (the ones who have phones + Twitter): "To those in the Caravan, turnaround, we are not letting people into the United States illegally,” he said Thursday on Twitter. “Go back to your Country and if you want, apply for citizenship like millions of others are doing!"
BTW: To get a sense of how chaotic this caravan response seems to be from inside the White House, that senior admin official mentioned above said on Thursday, "We are pursuing all options. The only problem is that it's an uncoordinated mess. We don't know what the caravan will do, which makes it hard to know what we will do." More here.
From Defense One
The US Needs a Cybersecurity Civilian Corps // Peter W. Singer and Natasha Cohen: Like the auxiliaries that arose during WWII, a new volunteer organization will help face today’s threats.
Global Business Brief, October 26 // Marcus Weisgerber: Boeing's lowball+longterm strategy; Trump meets defense CEOs; Space Force advice, and more.
China, Russia Listening in on Trump’s Phone Calls // Tripti Lahiri, Quartz: China is trying to figure out arguments that work to help it lobby Trump over the trade war, the New York Times reported.
Welcome to this Friday edition of The D Brief by Ben Watson and Bradley Peniston. If you find this useful, please consider forwarding it to a friend or colleague. On this day 97 years ago, a compressed-air turntable catapult — the predecessor to aircraft carrier launches — notched its first successful takeoff of a N-9 seaplane from a pier at the Philadelphia Navy Yard.
The number of found pipe bomb-type packages across the U.S. has risen to 12, the Associated Press reports this morning. The latest two were headed to New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker (package found in Florida) and former National Intelligence Director James Clapper (that package was found in New York).
All the targets to date: George Soros; Bill and Hillary Clinton; Barack Obama; CNN; John Brennan; Debbie Wasserman Schultz; Eric Holder; Maxine Waters (x2); Robert De Niro; Joe Biden (x2); Cory Booker and James Clapper. (That roll-up via the Washington Post)
Writes AP, “The common thread among [the packages’ intended targets] was obvious: their critical words for Trump and his frequent, harsher criticism in return.”
So far, “Investigators are homing in on a postal facility in Opa-locka, Florida, where they believe some of the packages originated,” AP writes. A bit more, here.
Today Norway is the fake battleground for the largest NATO exercise since the 1980s. Called Trident Juncture, the NATO drills will run for nearly two weeks and involve some 50,000 troops, 10,000 vehicles, 250 aircraft and 65 naval vessels, according to the 29-member alliance’s website for the occasion. CFR has their own limning, here.
The plot: A fictitious aggressor is trying to invade Norway, which triggers NATO’s Article 5 collective defense, Sky News reports in its preview. Actions span central and eastern Norway, the North Atlantic and the Baltic Sea, the Associated Press adds in its preview.
In case you were curious, Trident Juncture is happening 1,000 kms from the Russian border.
View a map of the general concept via NATO spox Oana Lungescu on Twitter, here.
FWIW: Russia held a similarly large exercise last month called Vostok (East) 2018. Review those drills, and what America should take away from them — including the fact that China took part — in a piece by retired U.S. Army Brig. Gen. Peter Zwack writing in Defense One four days ago, here.
For the first time, British women can now join try out for the SAS special forces, the BBC reported Thursday. Background: “A ban on women serving in close combat units in the British military was lifted in 2016. The Royal Armoured Corps, which operates tanks, was the first ground close combat branch to open its doors to women in November 2016. Since then, about 35 women have either served in, or been trained to join, the Royal Armoured Corps.” Read on for quite a few Brits encouraged by the move, and one retired colonel who’s a bit less enthused, here.
Airstrike #28 of the year has fallen on suspected al-Shabaab fighters in Somalia, the U.S. military’s Africa Command announced this morning. It happened Thursday, and was believed to have killed two men and destroyed one vehicle.
Location: The southern coastal town of Kunyo Barrow.
Stay up to date with all 2018’s airstrikes across Somalia, Yemen, Pakistan and Libya over at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracy’s Long War Journal, here.
Some F-35s are grounded again. The Joint Program Office said that high-flight-hour Joint Strike Fighters need inspections on two more engine fuel tubes. The entire worldwide fleet was grounded earlier this month to look at fuel tubes suspected of having caused the crash of an F-35 in September. Washington Examiner has a bit more, here.
Finally today: Tyndall will be rebuilt, Veep vows. During a Thursday visit, Vice President Mike Pence promised that the Florida air base levelled by Hurricane Michael would be rebuilt. (Via AP, briefly, and here’s the White House transcript of his remarks.)
Pence is hardly alone. Among others, Florida Gov. Rick Scott asked almost immediately for funds to restore the base, and Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Dave Goldfein declared, “Tyndall is coming back.”
But should it? Climate change is making the hurricanes that strike the Florida panhandle more intense and less predictable. Shouldn’t the Pentagon be seeking a new home for its most expensive, least numerous fighter jets?