Today's D Brief: New Chinese incursion; Top DoD noms; US, Ukraine talk; Gitmo consolidation; And a bit more.
Taiwan says at least eight Chinese jets entered its air defence identification zone today, Reuters reports from Taipei, noting “the flights coincided with other Chinese military activity to Taiwan’s north.”
Involved: “four Chinese J-16 and four J-10 fighters...as well as an early warning plane and anti-submarine aircraft,” according to Taiwan’s Defense Ministry. That anti-submarine aircraft then “flew to the south of Taiwan through the Bashi Channel that connects the Pacific to the South China Sea.” More here.
Except for its president, Philippine officials are talking tough about China’s 220 vessels at Whitsun Reef, inside Manila's exclusive economic zone, Reuters reports from the Philippine capital.
This also includes allegations of “blatant falsehoods” from China, according to the Philippines’ Foreign Ministry, which released a new statement today.
About those officials: “We will not give up even a single inch of our national territory or our exclusive economic zone," said presidential spokesman Harry Roque. “We can negotiate on matters of mutual concern and benefit, but make no mistake about it, our sovereignty is non-negotiable,” presidential lawyer Salvador Panelo added in his own statement today.
So what? Reuters reminds us that although “Philippine diplomats and top generals have spoken out against China lately, the comments from the presidential palace are unusually strong given [President Rody] Duterte’s reluctance to confront Beijing, which he has sought to befriend.” Read on here.
From Defense One
Biden Taps Current, Former Defense Officials to Oversee Acquisition, Budget, Intel at Pentagon // Marcus Weisgerber: A former comptroller would return to the job if the Senate approves.
Defense Business Brief // Marcus Weisgerber: Still no skinny budget; M&A drama, Space threats and more.
US Army’s Plan Needlessly Duplicates Air Force Strike Capabilities // Mark Gunzinger: The service would do better to follow the Marines’ path toward specialization.
DoD to Spend a Quarter-Billion Dollars Reorganizing Its Data for AI // Mila Jasper, Nextgov: JAIC leaders have called the lack of "data readiness" the biggest impediment to fielding artificial-intelligence tools.
US Aims to Diversify Its Quantum Workforce Early On // Brandi Vincent, Nextgov: To fill a shortage of quantum scientists, leaders in the field are working to build an inclusive community — starting in grade school.
Welcome to this Monday edition of The D Brief from Ben Watson with Bradley Peniston. And if you’re not already subscribed to The D Brief, you can do that here. On this day in 1865, the last major battle between treasonous Confederates and America’s Union Army occurred near the Virginia town of Amelia. It was a Wednesday, and the rebels — on the run after being forced from their capital city of Richmond three days earlier — were fatigued and nearly out of food. Their dwindling force marched west, sometimes under the cover of night; but the Confederacy would last just three more days before Robert E. Lee’s surrender at the Appomattox Court House about 60 miles from Amelia.
Dissent and reprisal in Jordan. A former crown prince who criticized Jordan’s royal family — though without naming King Abdullah II — is under house arrest, AP reports. Jordanian authorities said Sunday that foreigners had backed a “malicious plot” to destabilize the kingdom led by Prince Hamzah, who countered that he was “being punished for speaking out against corruption and incompetence. Faced with rival narratives, the United States and Arab governments quickly sided with Jordan’s King Abdullah II, reflecting the country’s strategic importance in a turbulent region.” More, here.
Drama continues today: In a video, Hamzah declared that he would not obey Abdullah’s order to stay silent. Read on, here.
Developing: Iran just arrested a spy it claims is from Israel, along with an unspecified number of “other spies,” Reuters reports briefly today from Tehran’s state-run media. Tiny bit more here.
POTUS46 called up Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Friday, capping a week where reports of Russian military activity on its western border began captivating Ukraine-watchers. According to the White House, “President Biden affirmed the United States’ unwavering support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity in the face of Russia’s ongoing aggression in the Donbas and Crimea,” which is a clear break from POTUS45 phone calls with Zelenskyy.
Biden also flagged the United States’ “shared democratic values that delivers [sic] justice, security, and prosperity to the people of Ukraine” and “Ukraine’s Euro-Atlantic aspirations.”
Russia’s President Putin would love for us all to be afraid of his nuclear-powered Poseidon 2M39 torpedo reportedly being tested on the arctic seabed, according to Maxar satellite imagery provided to CNN.
The torpedo can allegedly travel so deep as to “evade American coastal defense mechanisms” before detonation, creating radioactive waves that would “render swaths of the target coastline uninhabitable for decades.”
Bigger picture: Putin has ordered “a stark and continuous build-up of Russian military bases and hardware on the country's Arctic coastline, together with underground storage facilities likely for the Poseidon and other new high-tech weapons, according to CNN. “The Russian hardware in the High North area includes bombers and MiG31BM jets, and new radar systems close to the coast of Alaska.” Continue reading here.
Afghanistan’s president is ready to talk about his three-phase roadmap for peace, Reuters reported Sunday from Kabul after obtaining a copy of the plan.
One big reason why this matters: “Ghani’s plan will be presented as a counter to proposals put forward by Washington, rejected by the Afghan government, that envisage immediately drawing up a new legal system for an interim administration to include Taliban representatives.” Expect to hear more about all that at a possible upcoming meeting in Turkey before the end of the month. More, here.
Turkey just detained 10 former admirals over their vocal support for the 1936 Treaty of Montreux, also known as the Montreux Convention, which is “an international treaty that regulates shipping through the Bosporus and Dardanelles straits, which link the Mediterranean Sea to the Black Sea,” the Associated Press reports today from Ankara.
Why this matters: Turkish President Recep Erdogan plans “to build an alternative waterway to the north of Istanbul that would bypass the Bosporus,” and that floated plan has “sparked a debate over the Montreux treaty.” More on Ankara’s clampdown, here.
Lastly today: Secret cost-saving consolidation at Gitmo. The U.S. military just closed one of its three prison camps at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, on Sunday. U.S. Southern Command announced the changes, which affected what was known as Camp 7, saying it’s closure “will increase operational efficiency and effectiveness, while reducing operational cost” at Gitmo.
The camp held 40 “former CIA prisoners” and closing it now saves about $520 million, or roughly $13 million per prisoner, the New York Times’ Carol Rosenberg reported Sunday evening. The consolidation plans were “conceived during the Trump administration,” she writes. “But the policy decision was made by the Biden administration.”
Why close the place? “Raw sewage sloshed through the tiers, the power sometimes went out and some cell doors would not close at the site,” according to Rosenberg. “The situation worsened over the summer amid the coronavirus pandemic because it was difficult to bring in contractors and spare parts.” More, here.