Today's D Brief: AUSA week; CNO, live; Esper, graded; N. Korea’s big new ICBM; And a bit more.

It’s a big week for the U.S. Army, whose annual Association of the United States Army expo has gone digital with multiple live streams planned across all four conference days, starting today and ending Friday morning. 

What we’re watching for today: 

  • 9 a.m. (ET): A roundtable with Army officials on the service’s growing Security Force Assistance Brigades.
  • 10:45 a.m.: A sort of “big picture” press conference with Secretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy and Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. James McConville.
  • 12:30 p.m.: An expert session on the U.S. defense industrial base; plus a press conference with service officials on largely the same topic at 1:45 p.m.
  • 2:15 p.m.: A press conference about Army readiness; and more.

Find the week’s full AUSA agenda here; details and registration, here.

Watch the CNO live @ 11 a.m. Adm. Mike Gilday, chief of naval operations, gives his first interview since the U.S. Navy’s Battle Force 2045 fleet plan rolled out on Oct. 6. Gilday’s live interview is the final event of Defense One’s State of Defense series; stick around afterward for a discussion between Naval War College professor Sam Tangredi and Jill Rough, who has 25 years of naval and natsec experience. There’s a free registration that’s required, after which you can ask questions of the CNO that we may select from the chat box. Join the conversation, here 


From Defense One

North Korea Unveils ‘Very Destabilizing’ ICBM // Patrick Tucker: Pyongyang’s new missile boosts the chance of conflict, even if it doesn’t work.

Esper’s Reforms: An Interim Report Card // Mackenzie Eaglen: What progress has the defense secretary made on his ambitious goals to reorient the Defense Department?

How China Outsmarted the Trump Administration // Anne Applebaum, The Atlantic: While the U.S. is distracted, China is rewriting the rules of the global order.

Keep an Eye on Taiwan // Michael Schuman, The Atlantic: The battle over the island may be a Cold War relic, but it will shape the future.

A Whirlwind of Uncertainty Is Stirring Up Extremism // J.M. Berger, The Atlantic: Our consensus reality has shattered.

Feds Have Cut Anti-COVID Workforce By More Than 60% // Eric Katz, Government Executive: As cases tick up nationwide, administration officials say they have demobilized feds as missions are completed.

The Army Is Working on Augmented Reality Goggles for Military Dogs // Brandi Vincent, Nextgov: A prototype aims to help handlers see things from the dog's point of view, and give commands while staying out of sight.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. Happy birthday to the U.S. Navy, which turns 245 today. 


Only three weeks remain until election day. And President Trump is campaigning in Pennsylvania this evening, with another hangar speech scheduled for 7 p.m. local at the John Murtha Johnstown-Cambria County Airport in Johnstown.
On Monday, Trump traveled to Orlando to speak at his first rally since contracting the coronavirus in late September. His campaign said he tested negative for the virus about an hour before he took the stage at Sanford International Airport. Politico has more on that decision from the Trump medical team, which included a concerning declaration that he’s no longer contagious, here
Trump made his first public appearance on Saturday, speaking to hundreds of supporters from the Blue Room balcony overlooking the South Lawn. He’d planned to talk for half an hour, but only managed 18 minutes before the New York Times reports he “uncharacteristically” cut that appearance short.
POTUS has a very busy week planned, with stops scheduled across Pennsylvania, Iowa, North Carolina, Georgia and Wisconsin, NBC Miami reported after his Monday evening rally.
Big picture for the Trump camp: “The robust schedule highlights the urgency he is facing to recover from a series of self-inflicted setbacks that have rattled his base of support and triggered alarm among Republicans who fear the White House is on the verge of being lost to Biden,” NBC writes.
Democratic challenger Joe Biden is in Florida today, with stops planned in Pembroke Pines and Miramar in the afternoon.
VP Pence is in Wisconsin today, where one new poll (PDF) has Biden leading Trump by 10 points, according to the New York Times and Siena College. “Michigan and Wisconsin, along with Pennsylvania, are part of the trio of Great Lakes states that helped secure Trump’s Electoral College win” in 2016, Politico writes, reminding us of the stakes in that region of the country.
BTW: Wisconsin is among the top five U.S. states with the highest daily reported COVID-19 cases per capita, the Washington Post reports. But North and South Dakota continue to lead the way, followed by Montana, Wisconsin and then Utah. 

  • More than 215,000 Americans have died from complications related to COVID-19, according to Johns Hopkins University

The U.S. is still second behind India in new reported deaths per day, with just under 700 for the U.S. and almost 900 for India, according to Reuters.
Deaths in Europe continue to rise, prompting leaders to consider new approaches to minimizing the risk of spread while not shutting down businesses more than necessary. The Associated Press has more from Geneva, here.

The White House wants to sell Taiwan three different weapons systems, and U.S. lawmakers are not expected to stop it, Reuters reported this weekend.
The weapons include:

  • The High Mobility Artillery Rocket System from Lockheed Martin.
  • SLAM-ER long-range air-to-ground missiles from Boeing.
  • “External sensor pods for F-16 jets,” Reuters writes.

Recent likely arms sales to Taiwan involved “aerial drones, land-based Harpoon anti-ship missiles and underwater mines,” and formal notifications to U.S. lawmakers are reportedly expected soon for those as well.
China’s reax: “The United States should immediately halt all weapons sales to Taiwan,” was the message today from Beijing’s foreign ministry. 

North Korea showed off a big new ICBM during its annual military parade on Saturday. It was carried along by an 11-axle mobile launcher, Defense One’s Patrick Tucker reported shortly after the parade.
What you need to know: It's intended to carry multiple warheads, which means North Korea is improving the likelihood of slipping a nuclear weapon past the ground-based midcourse defense interceptors that the United States would deploy against an incoming ICBM.
It’s also not exactly a surprise, said Jeffrey Lewis, a scholar at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey and the founding publisher of the Arms Control Wonk blog. North Korea tested liquid-fuel rockets last December at the vertical engine test stand at the Sohae testing site. “It was a really big test. They bothered to announce it. But for whatever reason,” it didn’t get much coverage in international media, Lewis said.
Now what? If the U.S. does not find a way to restart denuclearization talks with North Korea, Lewis said, Pyongyang will continue to develop weapons that put U.S. forces and territory more and more at risk — and therefore continue to raise the incentive for the U.S. to strike preemptively. A bit more, here.

Two weeks of fighting between Armenia and Azerbaijan have killed about 600 people to date, AP reports from Armenia, where tensions between the two nations have embroiled the neighboring countries of Russia and Turkey.
The latest: A Russia-brokered ceasefire fell apart over the weekend. And Turkey’s foreign minister said today that any future ceasefire deal should require “an Armenian withdrawal from Azeri lands,” Reuters reports from Ankara.
Background: “More than two weeks of deadly clashes marked the biggest escalation of a decades-old conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh, which lies in Azerbaijan but has been under control of ethnic Armenian forces backed by Armenia since the end of a separatist war in 1994,” AP writes. “Both sides have repeatedly accused each other of attacks amid appeals from the [sic] around the globe to end the hostilities and start peace talks.”

Elon Musk is building a rocket to send 80 tons of cargo anywhere in the world in just 60 minutes, according to U.S. Transportation Command’s Army Gen. Stephen Lyons. “In comparison, a US C-17 Globemaster, a military transport aircraft costing $218 million with a maximum speed of 590 mph, would complete this journey in about 15 hours,” Business Insider reported after Lyons remarks.
Worth noting: “Another aerospace company, Exploration Architecture Corporation, will also be part of the research program.” And “In August, SpaceX won 40% of a billion-dollar agreement with the Department of Defense to launch new rockets for the Space Force. The remaining 60% went to United Launch Alliance.” Continue reading, here.

Lastly today: Polish Navy divers are working to defuse the largest unexploded World War II bomb ever found in the country, Reuters reports. More than 750 people have been evacuated from their homes while EOD specialists work on the 5,400-kg Tallboy bomb found in the Piast Canal, which connects the Baltic Sea with the Oder River. The bomb is thought to have been dropped by a British Royal Air Force bomber in 1945 in an attack on the German cruiser Lutzow. A bit more, here.

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