Today's D Brief: POTUS not 'out of the woods'; Afghan peace talks; Army, USAF team up; Bird downs Chinese jet; And a bit more.

Prognosis uncertain. After nearly three days of experimental treatment for COVID-19, President Donald Trump left Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on Monday. He announced his exit in an afternoon tweet admonishing Americans, “Don’t be afraid of Covid. Don’t let it dominate your life.” 

It’ll be another week before Trump is “out of the woods,” his doctor, Navy Cmdr. Sean Conley, said Monday. Meantime, “He remains contagious [and] is expected to continue his recovery at the White House, where he will be cared for 24/7 by a team of doctors and nurses,” the Associated Press reports. That recovery is expected to take place in the White House residence and not the West Wing, where almost a dozen officials have likewise tested positive for the novel coronavirus, the Wall Street Journal reports.  

There are no events on Trump’s public schedule for the day. And that suits Dr. Conley, who said POTUS can get 100% back to business once “there is no evidence of live virus still present,” which was not on Monday. 

FWIW: Many patients can pass the virus to others for up to 10 days after symptoms begin, according to the Centers for Disease Control. It’s unclear exactly when Trump began to exhibit symptoms, but his first known positive test came back last Thursday. 

All about the optics: Trump wanted to make a “dramatic exit” from Walter Reed, so his staff began making a video of his departure, Bloomberg reported shortly after the tweet. AP called it “a heavily choreographed return” that saw him understandably laboring for breath as he gathered himself and occasionally as he spoke.

“Don’t be afraid of it,” Trump repeated in a tweeted video Monday evening from the South Portico of the White House. “We’re going back to work. We’re going to be out front. As your leader, I had to do that. I knew there’s danger to it, but I had to do it. I stood out front. I led. Nobody that’s a leader would not do what I did. And I know there’s a risk. There’s a danger. But that’s okay, and now I’m better. 

“Maybe I’m immune. I don’t know,” Trump continued. “But don’t let it dominate your lives. Get out there. Be careful. We have the best medicines in the world, and they’re all happening very shortly, and they’re all getting approved.”

  • Worth noting: POTUS “has had access to a suite of treatments that few others have, including an antibody cocktail that is still in clinical trials and has not yet been authorized by the Food and Drug Administration,” the New York Times reported Monday. Those treatments include the antiviral drug remdesivir, which Trump is due for his fifth and final dose sometime today, AP reports.

“Utterly irresponsible,” is how Harald Schmidt, assistant professor of medical ethics and health policy at the University of Pennsylvania, described Trump's Monday messaging to NYT.

“Dangerous” is the word Dr. William Schaffner, of Vanderbilt University Medical School, used describing it to the Times.

“Unconscionable” is what Dr. Sadiya Khan of Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine called it while talking to AP.

Update: Airborne transmission warning. The CDC now says the virus can spread “in enclosed spaces with inadequate ventilation” through airborne particles that can “linger in the air for minutes to hours” and between people who are more than 6 feet apart, according to updated guidance posted Monday. 

  • What that means: “going maskless in poorly ventilated areas, such as restaurants and bars, where a person with COVID-19 has been could still result in infection,” CBS News reports. 

Trump’s press secretary just tested positive, too, Kayleigh McEnany announced Monday and said she would begin quarantining. That means the list of officials and advisors close to POTUS who have tested positive in recent days has grown to include: 

  • Hope Hicks; 
  • Kellyanne Conway; 
  • Campaign manager Bill Stepien; 
  • White House press office staffer, Chad Gilmartin; 
  • WH communications aide Karoline Leavitt; 
  • Republican National Committee Chair Ronna McDaniel; 
  • Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wisc.; 
  • Sen. Thom Tillis, R-N.C.; 
  • Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah; 
  • Former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie; 
  • Nicholas Luna; 
  • One military staffer directly assigned to Trump, according to CNN; and there are still more in a list Reuters has compiled here

Meanwhile across the pond, a second wave of infections is spilling over from the young and to the old across Europe, the Wall Street Journal reports. “As a result, hospitalizations and deaths—which stayed low for much of the summer while infections spread among young people less likely to fall severely ill—are starting to rise too.”

The big worry: “[A]fter months of social distancing, many Europeans are no longer willing or able to stay away from their relative—particularly in southern European countries such as Italy and Spain, where multigenerational households are common and grandparents often help out with child care.” More here.

Recall that 102 years ago, October was the deadliest month for the 1918 flu; 195,000 Americans perished during that 31-day stretch. 

From Defense One

The Future of Chinese Power // Michael Schuman: The policies and practices of the country’s dynasties offer insights into how modern Chinese leaders may wield their strength.

Firms Picked to Make Orbiting Sensors for Next-Gen US Missile-Defense System // Brandi Vincent: The sensors and satellites will be part of the Tracking Layer component of the next-gen missile-defense system.

Worth Preserving: US Military Posture in Germany // Bradley Bowman and Lt. Gen. (Ret.) Ben Hodges: Any adjustments to U.S. force posture in Europe should focus first and foremost on sustaining or strengthening readiness.

Trump Is a Super-Spreader of Disinformation // Anne Applebaum, The Atlantic: The president is the single biggest reason why many Americans distrust science, the electoral system, and one another.

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 1973, the almost three-week-long Yom Kippur War began when Egyptian and Syrian troops crossed into the Sinai peninsula and the Golan Heights before both were pushed back by the Israeli defense forces. 

Afghan peace talks latest: The two sides “have agreed on a code of conduct to safeguard against the risk of any breakdown in talks,” Reuters reports, calling it a “breakthrough” engineered with the help of U.S. negotiators.
Don’t get too excited, Kabul officials warned, telling Reuters no formal agreement had been reached, though “some ground rules had been set.”
Worth noting: Aghan President Ashraf Ghani was in Qatar Monday. U.S. envoy Zalmay Khalilzad and America’s top Afghan war commander, Gen. Scott Miller, was there, too. More here.
Dive deeper:At Afghan Peace Talks, Hoping to End Their Fathers’ War.” That comes via Mujib Mashal of the New York Times, reporting Monday from Doha. 

U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper welcomes his Bulgarian counterpart, Krasimir Karakachanov, to the Pentagon today at 1 p.m. ET.
Bulgaria’s military is looking for 150 armored vehicles, and the country has put down a $875 million offer to both General Dynamics and Finland’s Patria, Reuters reported late last week. “Last December, before the COVID-19 pandemic took hold, the ministry expected to close the deal by the middle of 2020.”
Bulgaria bought new F-16 Block 70 jets last year and it’s looking to acquire eight more.
BTW: The U.S. Air Force is one week into its four-week Baltic air policing mission, which is based out of Bulgaria, Stars and Stripes reported in late September.
And about a week before that, Bulgaria booted two Russians for allegedly spying on the military, the Moscow Times reported on Sept. 23. The accused spies’ alleged target: “classified information on military modernization plans.” A bit more to that, here.

U.S. Army, Air Force team up on the ambitious link-everything project. The services agreed Oct. 1 to join forces for the next two years to develop ways to share surveillance, targeting, and other data between all manner of sensors and weapons, FlightGlobal reported.
This cooperation is the latest response to the Pentagon’s  Joint All-Domain Command and Control initiative to link most everything on the battlefield. “The services had each been developing proprietary systems in the hopes that their standard would prevail across the entire US military,” FlightGlobal writes. Now the pressure is on the Navy and Marines, “which have been less public about their plans to develop a JADC2 network, but have outlined their thinking through ideas such as the Distributed Maritime Operations concept and the Expeditionary Advanced Base Operations concept.”
Jargon update: The new Army-Air Force effort will be called CJADC2, prepending “Combined” to the Pentagon’s own already unwieldy acronym. Read on, here.

Armenia-Azerbaijan tensions have formally embroiled Turkey and Canada. France’s president chimed in last week, accusing Ankara of sending Syrian mercenaries to the conflict on Turkey’s eastern edges. Now Syria and Russia are chiming in, too — with the former reportedly also accusing Turkey of sending mercs, and the latter messaging concern about the influx of jihadists closer to Russia’s border.
As for Canada, it suspended weapons sales to Turkey, Foreign Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne tweeted Monday afternoon.

Concerned about possibly unauthorized armed people staging at or near a U.S. polling place? Georgetown Law has published a fact sheet for all 50 states explaining laws that bar unauthorized private militia groups — and what you can do if an armed group shows up near a polling place or a voter registration drive in your community.

Lastly today: Chinese fighter jet goes down to bird strike. The mishap occurred on Oct. 1, according to the People's Liberation Army Daily, which reported neither location nor type of aircraft but did provide much breathless detail about the pilot’s successful efforts to guide his powerless jet away from populated areas and toward rice paddies before ejecting just “75.9 meters” above the ground. Read, here.
Across the Taiwan Strait, the local English-language newspaper was effusive: “After many weeks of constant intrusions into Taiwan's air defense identification zone…Chinese state-run media announced that one of the nation's fighter jets was taken down by a bird.
One reason for the tone: “According to Taiwan's Ministry of National Defense (MND), PLAAF aircraft violated Taiwan's ADIZ on 10 out of 18 days between Sept. 16 to Oct. 3, in a total of 50 sorties,” Taiwan News wrote.
Then the snark: “However, the PLAAF's self-cultivated image of invincibility took a hit in recent days when one of its jets crashed after meeting its match in an avian adversary.” Read more, here.