Today's D Brief: Vaccines, compared; NSA/CYBERCOM split?; More Trump deference to Russia; Welcome, ‘guardians’; And a bit more.

A second COVID vaccine has begun distribution. This one’s made by Moderna, and STAT News has an informative side-by-side comparison with the Pfizer vaccine that’s been going out for just over a week. 

What they do, and don’t do: “Both vaccines seemed to reduce the risk of severe COVID disease. It’s not yet known if either prevents asymptomatic infection with the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Nor is it known if vaccinated people can transmit the virus if they do become infected but don’t show symptoms.” Read on, here.

The coronavirus is mutating, as viruses do. A new faster-spreading variant has Britain locking down even harder, but scientists say it appears unlikely to change in ways that make the vaccines less effective.

The 7-day average of U.S. COVID deaths keeps setting records. Yesterday it hit 2,639, per the New York Times tracker — one death every 33 seconds.

“Help is on the way,” President-elect Joe Biden said Sunday after lawmakers reportedly reached a deal on roughly $900 billion in coronavirus relief for Americans. The bill "provides an important downpayment on the investment we need in vaccine procurement and distribution," Biden said, but cautioned, "We need to scale up vaccine production and distribution and acquire tens of millions more doses."

Then what? "In our first 100 days, we’ll be asking all Americans to mask up for 100 days," he continued. "We’ll have a plan to administer 100 million vaccine shots in 100 days and to get most schools open in the first 100 days. These are bold, but doable steps to contain the virus and get back to our lives."

The Biden White House also says it's planning a sort of public relations campaign for vaccines "to educate the American people in the efficacy and safety...so that we can all reap the benefits of their protection." More to that, here.


From Defense One

Trump Officials Deliver Plan to Split Up Cyber Command, NSA // Katie Bo Williams: An end to the “dual hat” arrangement has been debated for years — but the timing raises questions. The plan requires Milley's certification to move ahead.

Space Force Troops Get a Name: ‘Guardians’ // Marcus Weisgerber: VP Pence revealed the moniker for Trump’s oft-teased newest military service branch to stand alongside soldiers, airmen, sailors, and Marines.

Defense One Radio, Ep. 83 // Defense One Staff : Interview with CENTCOM’s Marine Gen. Frank McKenzie. 

A Day of Deaths 25 Percent Higher Than Spring’s Worst / The COVID Tracking Project: For the second week in a row, more COVID-19 deaths were reported in the U.S. than at any other time in the pandemic.

How We’re Building a 21st-Century Space Force // Gen. John W. Raymond is Chief of Space Operations, U.S. Space Force: Only by staying lean, agile, and tightly focused on our mission can we succeed in protecting the United States.

Pushing Billions in Arms Sales Is Not an ‘Accomplishment’  // William D. Hartung: It matters to whom the weapons are flowing and how they will be used.

Welcome to this Monday edition of The D Brief from Ben Watson and 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 1945, George Smith Patton Jr., passed away from pulmonary edema and congestive heart failure — 13 days after an automobile accident in Germany paralyzed him from the neck down. He was 60 years old. 


Trump’s deference to Russia continues. Nearly a week after news broke about the large and “historic” cyber intrusion across multiple federal agencies, President Trump finally spoke up about it in a tweet on Saturday.
“The Cyber Hack is far greater in the Fake News Media than in actuality," Trump tweeted about the impact and damage, which has already entangled the State, Treasury, Energy, Homeland Security and Commerce Departments — as well as the National Institutes of Health.
“A grave risk to the federal government” is how DHS’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency described it in a statement updated today.
“[I]t may be China,” Trump tweeted Saturday, without even a suggestion of evidence. He went on to speculate — again, without evidence — that the cyber intrusions across the federal agencies might somehow be related to voting machines. Read the rest of that paranoid and virtually incomprehensible tweet, here

Will feds’ selloff of 5G frequencies risk more airplane crashes? Maybe, say officials with the Federal Aviation Administration and the Department of Transportation, who are asking the Federal Communications Commission to halt the ongoing auction. And the Defense Department? Leaders, who are kinda just tuning in to this 5G wrinkle, are meeting today with counterparts at FAA and DOT to figure out the path forward, Defense News reports.

Lockheed Martin is acquiring rocket-maker Aerojet Rocketdyne Holdings for more than $4 billion, Lockheed announced Sunday. The two firms have been working together for some time already on “several advanced systems across [LMT’s] Aeronautics, Missiles and Fire Control and Space business areas,” Lockheed said in its statement. More from Reuters, here.

The UAE and/or Saudi Arabia appear to be behind a cell phone hacking operation that spanned dozens of Middle Eastern journalists working for Qatar-based al-Jazeera, the Washington Post reports. That “probable” conclusion is from an alarming report by researchers with the Citizen Lab at the University of Toronto’s Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy.
Apparently, victims didn’t have to do anything to get hacked; and that’s why researchers called the vulnerability a “zero-click” exploit.
One big takeaway: “All iOS device owners should immediately update to the latest version of the operating system.” More here.  

Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny duped an FSB agent into confessing details of the poisoning operation that was supposed to kill him, CNN reports on the heels of their joint investigation into Russia’s attempts to kill Navalny. 

Here are 15 ways the U.S. military says it will try to improve its racial diversity and inclusiveness, via a report commissioned in the wake of protests against police brutality this summer after the death of George Floyd: 

  1. Update Recruiting Content to Represent All Service Members.
  2. Develop and Publish a Data-Driven Accessions and Retention Strategy.
  3. Increase the Pool of Qualified Reserve Officer Training Corps Enrollment, Scholarship, and Commission Applicants from Minority Serving Institutions.
  4. Remove Aptitude Test Barriers That Adversely Impact Diversity.
  5. Evaluate Demographic Trends in Performance Evaluations.
  6. Develop Diverse Pools of Qualified Candidates for Nominative Positions.
  7. Establish a Diversity and Inclusion Center of Excellence.
  8. Standardize a DoD Human Resources Data System for Diversity and Inclusion Analysis.
  9. Offer Internships in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Fields in Conjunction with Junior ROTC Programs.
  10. Develop a Diversity and Inclusion Organizational Structure.
  11. Develop a DoD Diversity and Inclusion Mobile Application and Website.
  12. Incorporate the Value of Cultivating Diversity and Inclusion into Leadership and Professionalism Curricula.
  13. Increase Transparency of Promotion Selections and Career Opportunities.
  14. Prohibit Extremist or Hate Group Activity.
  15. Update the Uniform Code of Military Justice to Address Extremist Activity.

The Secretary of the Air Force chaired the Board on Diversity and Inclusion, which also included the Senior Enlisted Advisor to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness, and Service members from each branch of the Military Services and the National Guard Bureau. The group “reviewed industry best practices, and assessed pertinent data and reports” when writing up its 15 recommendations.
“After reviewing the Board' s 15 recommendations,” Acting Defense Secretary Chris Miller wrote in a department memo released Friday evening by the Pentagon, “I am pleased to see such a methodical evaluation leading to the development of such rigorous actions to address diversity and inclusion. I expect all leaders to take an aggressive approach to embed diversity and inclusion practices into the core of our military culture...We must not accept-and must intentionally and proactively remove any barriers to an inclusive and diverse force and equitable treatment of every Service member.”
The first phase of post-report actions are expected by March 31, according to Miller’s reaction plan to each of the 15 recommendations. And that will involve—

  • A reassessment of aptitude tests;
  • A review of the Defense Department’s “accessions and retention strategy for officers and enlisted personnel”;
  • A review of selection board processes;
  • Some kind of progress on what sounds like a very ambitious "plan of action and milestones for the establishment of a Diversity and Inclusion Center of Excellence at the Defense Equal Opportunity Management Institute to develop and institute a DoD-wide curriculum on diversity, inclusion, and cultural awareness";
  • Some sort of progress toward tracking diversity and inclusion at the HR-level using “standardized data elements”;
  • A plan for “a Diversity and Inclusion Organizational Structure...to institute positive change over time”;
  • Plans for a phone app that will somehow help track diversity and inclusiveness; plans for this app are to first surface by the end of March, too; 
  • A review of “standardized leadership and professionalism curriculum”;

And the Pentagon must begin working on how to reduce “extremist or hate group activity” by March 31, with “a plan of action and milestones” to be spelled out by the end of June. That falls to the Pentagon's Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness and its Under Secretary for Intelligence and Security. For more on what lies ahead, see Acting SecDef Miller’s memo (PDF) in full, here

And lastly today, Space Forcer troops got a collective name on Friday: guardians. As in soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines, and guardians. Reports Defense One’s Marcus Weisgerber: “The new name for military’s space professionals, announced on Friday by Vice President Mike Pence, may appear to be a play on the Marvel superhero film “Guardians of the Galaxy.” But Space Force officials said it was a callback to a 1983 motto.”
That didn’t stop various Hollywood types associated with the movie from chipping in their two cents. Tweeted Clark Gregg, who plays S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Phil Coulson: “My pet raccoon just got a draft notice. WTF.”
The new name was missing from the Chief of Space Operations’ oped published by The Atlantic on Sunday. “Only by staying lean, agile, and tightly focused on our mission can we succeed in protecting the United States,” wrote Gen. John W. Raymond. Read that, here.

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.