Uncertainty clouds Germany drawdown; 3 die in India-China border brawl; COVID forces hard cyber choices; D1 Tech Summit, today; And a bit more.
The U.S. is probably not going to be able to withdraw 9,500 troops from Germany by September, which was the deadline initially proposed by White House officials, Stars and Stripes’ John Vandiver reports today from Stuttgart. And that makes the following story seem a little more understandable…
The U.S. may soon send more than the originally planned 1,000 troops to Poland, as the two countries had negotiated back in 2019, Stripes’ Vandiver reported Monday. That news comes off tweets from the U.S. Ambassador to Poland Georgette Mosbacher, posted late last week to the social media platform.
Worth noting: “The Pentagon has not yet publicly addressed the issue,” Vandiver writes of the Poland question, which now seems to be inextricably linked to the Germany troop question.
For the record, “The U.S. military has up to 4,500 nonpermanent troops in Poland, where various units have been rotating for several years” as a deterrent against Russian aggression, Stripes writes. And that U.S. presence includes “a small Army headquarters in Poznan, a logistics hub in Powidz and drone, missile defense and special operations facilities in other parts of the country.”
“I don’t think anything has been set in concrete yet,” the U.S. ambassador to NATO, Kay Bailey Hutchison, said today of the Germany drama.
According to President Trump, speaking to reporters Monday he said Germany is “delinquent on their payments to NATO. They owe NATO billions and they know it … Why should we be doing what we’re doing if they don’t pay?”
That prompted this clarifier from Stripes: “Although Berlin has long fallen short of an alliance benchmark that calls for allies to spend 2% of gross domestic product on their own militaries, Germany is not delinquent and owes no money to NATO.” Read on, here.
From Defense One
Was the Coronavirus Outbreak an Intelligence Failure? // Erik J. Dahl, The Conversation: Certainly, there are lessons to be learned, and changes to be made in COVID's wake.
COVID-19 Is Forcing Hard Cybersecurity Choices // Jonathan Reiber: Pandemic relief spending will likely prevent the implementation of most of the Cybersecurity Solarium Commission’s recommendations. Here’s how to prioritize them.
Welcome to this Tuesday edition of The D Brief from Ben Watson with Bradley Peniston. Send us tips from your community right here. And if you’re not already subscribed to The D Brief, you can do that here. On this day in 1858: "A house divided against itself cannot stand. I believe this government cannot endure permanently half slave and half free," warned Abraham Lincoln, then a Republican running to represent Illinois in the U.S. Senate. Yet Lincoln made his priority clear, writing in 1862: “If I could save the Union without freeing any slave, I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves, I would do it….What I do about Slavery and the colored race, I do because I believe it helps to save this Union.” Bonus: There’s a superb podcast on this difficult subject from Duke University called “Seeing White,” and you can listen to that, here.
The American military in Korea will no longer display the Confederate flag in public, U.S. Forces Korea’s Gen. Robert Abrams announced in a memo shared early Monday morning on Twitter. The ban applies to “installation work places, common-access areas, public areas, building exteriors, personal clothing [and] vehicle bumper stickers.”
Why? Because it’s seen by so many people as “a painful reminder of hate, bigotry, treason, and devaluation of humanity,” Abrams writes in the memo. “Regardless of perspective, one thing is clear: it has the power to inflame feelings of racial division. We cannot have that division among us.” Read on, here.
Recall that Army officials said they were open to renaming bases currently celebrating Confederate officers (Fort Benning, Ga.; Fort Bragg, N.C.; Fort Hood, Texas, e.g.).
And then President Trump essentially tweeted an end to that possibility on Wednesday. However, The Hill reminded us Monday, the Senate Armed Services Committee recently “approved an amendment to its annual defense policy bill that would require the Pentagon to remove Confederate leaders’ names from assets, including the Army bases.” A bit more, here.
President Trump nominated a deeply controversial man to lead Pentagon policy. And now Democrats on the Senate Armed Services Committee have vowed to oppose his pick as more and more inflammatory tweets emerge from digging by reporters like CNN’s Andrew Kaczynski.
The man is Anthony Tata, which Politico describes as "a retired Army brigadier general, novelist and Fox News regular." He “retired from the Army in 2008 after an investigation determined he had affairs with ‘at least two’ women, according to a report from the North Carolina-based News & Observer. Tata was [later] the North Carolina transportation secretary from 2013 to 2015.” He’s currently a senior adviser to Defense Secretary Mark Esper.
About the job: “If confirmed by the Senate, Tata would become the third highest official in the Pentagon overseeing the Defense Department's policy shop, including its national security and defense strategy, nuclear deterrence and missile defense policy, and security cooperation plans and policies,” CNN reports. “The policy chief also closely advises the secretary of defense on national security and supports the Department of Defense's program and budget decisions.” Review a few of his inflammatory tweets in CNN’s rollup, here.
India, China come to blows on the border. “In a major escalation in the ongoing stand-off between India and China on the border, one Commanding Officer and two jawans of the Indian Army lost their lives during a violent faceoff with Chinese troops in the Galwan area of Eastern Ladakh on Monday night,” The Hindu reports. “These are the first combat deaths on the disputed boundary since 1975.”
No shots fired: The troops came at each other with “iron rods and stones,” Reuters reports, inflicting casualties on both sides.
MIT’s Vipin Narang: “This is really not good. Don’t sleep on this crisis folks.”
How “Vault 7” cyber weapons escaped Langley. The CIA thinks it knows why it suffered “the biggest unauthorized disclosure of classified information in the [agency’s] history,” the Washington Post reports today. And the answer is pretty mundane: “woefully lax” security procedures.
For example, “users shared systems administrator-level passwords, there were no effective removable media [thumb drive] controls, and historical data was available to users indefinitely.” A redacted copy of the CIA’s report was shared with WaPo by Senate Intelligence Committee member and Democrat Ron Wyden of Oregon. Much more to this story, here.
North Korea is making a big deal of destroying a liaison office for talks with South Korea, Reuters reports today. “The destruction of the building represents a major setback to efforts by South Korean President Moon Jae-in to coax North Korea into cooperation. It also appears to be a further blow to U.S. President Donald Trump’s hopes of persuading North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons and open up to the outside world.” That, here.
Lots of events this week. Happening Tuesday at Defense One:
- 11 a.m.: Genius Machines: AI on the Battlefield: JAIC Chief of Strategy and Communications Greg Allen and Army Futures Command AI Dir. BG Matt Easley speak with Defense One’s Patrick Tucker. Register and join, here.
- 1 p.m. Defense One Tech Summit. Our annual deep dive into the technology driving the future of national security is a 3-day, all-virtual event this year. It starts today with:
- 1:05 p.m.: Army, Air Force, DARPA, and SOCOM leaders who are building the Pentagon’s link-everything battle network
- 2:40 p.m.: R&D with Defense Innovation Unit’s Dir. Michael Brown and Air Force CTO Lauren Knausenberger.
- Register and join, here.
At the Pentagon:
- Noon: “Racial Disparity in the Military Justice System - How to Fix the Culture”: The top JAGs of the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps testify to the House Armed Services’ personnel subcommittee hearing.
- 2 p.m. The Air Force’s Acting Assistant Secretary for Space Acquisition and Integration speaks at a Mitchell Institute "Aerospace Nation" event. Register here.
Also online: Noon. McClatchy reporter Tara Copp, who has done as much as anyone recently to reveal environmental threats to troops and veterans, joins two lawmakers to talk about it in a Washington Post livestream, here.
And finally today: We know that it doesn’t always help when someone says “cheer up.” But if you’ve been in a dour mood lately, know that it’s not just you. AP reports today: “Americans are the unhappiest they’ve been in 50 years,” off a new poll from the University of Chicago’s NORC.
Especially notable: “just 14% of American adults say they’re very happy.” Two years ago, the number was 31%. The poll is known as the “General Social Survey,” and it’s been collecting “data on American attitudes and behaviors at least every other year since 1972.”
The kicker: “No less than 29% of Americans have ever called themselves very happy in that survey.” Read on, here.