The D Brief: US to add troops in Germany; Taliban decline peace talks; Domestic terror spikes; Russia’s robot unit; And a bit more...
U.S. to add 500 troops to German rotation. The troops will provide “additional capabilities in space and cyber, and some other issues,” Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin announced Tuesday after a meeting with German Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer.
Subtext: The move begins to fulfill President Biden’s February promise to reverse his predecessor’s planned drawdown of some 9,500 troops from Germany, “a move that had stunned European and North Atlantic Treaty Organization allies and generated bipartisan protest in the U.S. Congress,” Bloomberg reports.
Context: “The Biden administration has sought to distance itself from Trump’s ‘America first’ foreign policy which urged U.S. allies to fend for themselves and pay more toward collective defense. It has repeatedly stated that the support of allies is central to accomplishing its foreign policy goals from competing with China to containing climate change, and managing Iran’s nuclear ambitions.” Read on, here.
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What a Real People-First Pentagon Budget Would Include // Sarah Streyder and Erin Anhalt: Family-support and mental-health services need a long-overdue plus-up.
What America’s Vaccination Campaign Proves to the World // Anne Applebaum: The U.S. stumbled early in the pandemic, but the vaccine rollout could reboot the country’s image.
Welcome to this Tuesday edition of The D Brief from Bradley Peniston with Marcus Weisgerber. And if you’re not already subscribed to The D Brief, you can do that here. OTD1960: The Navy-DARPA Transit 1B satellite reaches orbit, and the first satellite navigation system begins operations.
Taliban: We won’t attend the planned peace talks in Turkey. Afghan, U.S., and Turkish officials had intended to begin 10 days of talks on Friday.
“Time is running out on a May 1 deadline for the withdrawal of U.S. and NATO troops from Afghanistan in keeping with a deal the Trump administration made with the Taliban more than a year ago,” the Washington Post writes.
U.S., Chinese carrier groups exercise in the South China Sea. CNN: “Military activity in the South China Sea spiked over the weekend as a Chinese aircraft carrier entered the region and a US Navy expeditionary strike group wrapped up exercises.”
Domestic terror attacks are at a quarter-century high. “Domestic terrorism incidents have soared to new highs in the United States, driven chiefly by white-supremacist, anti-Muslim and anti-government extremists on the far right,” according to a Washington Post analysis of data compiled by the Center for Strategic and International Studies.Don’t miss the lead chart showing attacks by motivating ideology over time. Yellow dots are right-wing, dark gray are left-wing; light gray are “other.”
What an active-duty airman’s story shows about a domestic terror group. “Steven Carrillo’s path to the Boogaloo Bois shows the hate group is far more organized and dangerous than previously known,” writes ProPublica off reporting with Frontline, and Berkeley Journalism’s Investigative Reporting Program. “The news organizations identified 15 active-duty members of the Air Force who, like Carrillo, openly promoted Boogaloo memes and messages on Facebook.” Read the rather lengthy investigation, here.
Watch Frontline’s documentary, here.
ICYMI: The Pentagon announced new measures to combat extremism inside the military on Friday.
ICYMI, part two: The Biden administration is adding funding for efforts to foil militias, white supremacists and other anti-government groups. (New York Times)
Army secretary, other nominations announced. The Biden administration has nominated Christine Wormuth to be secretary of the Army; she would be the first woman to hold the job. “Wormuth previously served as the undersecretary of defense for policy during the Obama administration and was part of the Biden landing team at the Pentagon after the election,” Defense News reports.
As well: Gil Cisneros was tapped to be defense undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness, and Susanna Blume to head the Cost Assessment and Program Evaluation office, known as CAPE. A bit more on each of the nominations, here.
Austin: We’ll review deadly attack in Kenya. AP: “Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin on Monday ordered an Army review of an investigation into a January 2020 militant assault on the Manda Bay military base in Kenya that killed three Americans and wounded three others.”
Idea: Make it easier for people who earn advanced STEM degrees to stay in the United States. That’s from Eric Schmidt and Bob Work, writing to the Senate Judiciary Committee in their capacities as chairman and vice chairman of the National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence, whose recent report laid out the argument in more depth.
Their argument is familiar: The U.S. needs more trained brains than the American population can produce; fortunately, most of the foreigners who earn STEM degrees at U.S. universities want to stay here. Unfortunately, write Schmidt and Work, “many advanced degree students depart the United States after graduating due to the lack of pathways and barriers to remain.” Read their April 12 letter, here.
ICYMI: Several recent pieces in Defense One have explored the connections between immigrants and U.S. national security, including: “America’s Innovation Engine Is Slowing” and “Misguided Immigration Policies Are Endangering America's AI Edge.”
Don’t miss: “Four Things the Pentagon Needs to Do to Advance Its AI,” posted yesterday from NSCAI executive director Ylli Bajraktari.
The Pentagon is “pausing” its distribution of the Johnson & Johnson COVID vaccine. On Tuesday, DoD spokesman John Kirby said the move was being done in accordance with recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and the Food and Drug Administration. Federal officials said the recommendations stem from an abundance of caution after blood clots were found in about a half dozen of the more than 6 million people who have received the J&J vaccine.
Lastly today: The Russian Army says it’s creating a robotic strike unit. On Thursday, TASS announced that “the first unit with strike robots will be set up in the Russian Armed Forces to operate five Uran-9 robotic systems or 20 combat vehicles.”
Also: “an experimental unit is being established on the premises of one of the Defense Ministry’s scientific research centers” to develop tactics and operating procedures and train troops.
The Uran-9 is armed with a 30mm automatic gun, Ataka anti-tank missiles and Shmel flamethrowers. Built by the 766th Production and Technological Enterprise, it made its combat debut in Syria with mixed results.