Today's D Brief: POTUS won’t order troops vaccinated; Border projects cancelled; 10 years after OBL; Falling Chinese rocket; And a bit more.
“I’m going to leave it up to the military,” President Joe Biden said Friday when asked if the United States should mandate COVID-19 vaccinations for its service members — provided the Food and Drug Administration approves either of the Pfizer, Moderna or Johnson & Johnson vaccines outside of their current emergency use authorization in the U.S.
Why not require vaccinations at the Defense Department? NBC’s Craig Melvin asked Biden on the “Today Show.” The president replied, “Well, I’m not saying I won’t. I think you’re going to see more and more [service members] getting it. I think it’s going to be a tough call as to whether or not they should be required to have to get it in the military because you’re in such close proximity with other military personnel, whether you’re in quarters where you’re all sleeping or whether you’re out in maneuvers.” (Catch the full interview on YouTube, here.)
No one knows yet when America’s top three vaccines will be fully approved. CNN contacted all three developers and none shared even an approximate timeline for anticipated approval. A “priority” review at the FDA could yield an approval as soon as six months’ time, which is about four months shorter than the standard approval process, according to CNN and The Hill.
44% of Americans have been vaccinated with at least one dose so far, the Washington Post reports. Compare state-by-state and worldwide stats here.
Elsewhere around the world, Russia needs China’s vaccination infrastructure to help Moscow make more of its Sputnik V COVID-19 shots, the Associated Press reports as Russia has begun to fall behind other nations in the vaccination race.
Another window into vaccine diplomacy: “Slovakia provides the most concrete example of how Russia’s vaccine diplomacy has had side effects that can be highly toxic,” the New York Times reports from Central Europe.
From Defense One
No ‘Boogeyman’: Why the Bin Laden Raid Might be the Last Unifying Moment for US Foreign Policy // Jacqueline Feldscher: The changing threat facing the country and a growing political divide means there’s no common enemy around which Americans can unite.
New Fort Hood Report May Help Change Sexual Assault Prosecutions // Elizabeth Howe: Spc. Vanessa Guillén’s sexual harassment was reported by three soldiers. Command failed to act.
Teamwork Led Us to Bin Laden and Can Keep America Safe // Jeremy Bash and Leon E. Panetta: As we look back on the Osama bin Laden raid of a decade ago, three lessons stand out.
Ten Years After Bin Laden, We Still Need Better Intelligence Sharing // Robert P. Ashley: Leaders should still apply the lessons we learned, when contending with China and Russia.
Biden Administration Cancels Border Contracts, Returns Funds to Pentagon // Courtney Bublé, Government Executive: The administration is also looking to repair damage in border communities.
Defense Business Brief // Marcus Weisgerber: Defense Business Brief: Global defense spending up; In-person trade shows to resume; Lawmakers want billions for shipyards; and more.
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 1855, Nashville-born mercenary William Walker departed San Francisco with 60 other fighters and headed south to invade and conquer civil war-torn Nicaragua — with the ultimate goal of turning it into a slave state. After five dramatic and incredibly violent years south of the U.S. border, the 36-year-old Walker was captured by an officer in the British Royal Navy. He was then turned over to Honduran authorities, who executed him via firing squad on September 12, 1860.
The Pentagon cancelled all of its Trump-era border wall projects that were planned using diverted money from other military maintenance projects, the Defense Department announced Friday.
Full statement: “Consistent with the President’s proclamation, the Department of Defense is proceeding with canceling all border barrier construction projects paid for with funds originally intended for other military missions and functions such as schools for military children, overseas military construction projects in partner nations, and the National Guard and Reserve equipment account,” said Deputy Pentagon Spokesman Jamal Brown in a statement Friday. “DOD has begun taking all necessary actions to cancel border barrier projects and to coordinate with interagency partners. Today’s action reflects this Administration’s continued commitment to defending our nation and supporting our service members and their families.”
What this means, according to the Defense Department: Money that had been re-prioritized to POTUS45’s wall will now be sent back for “previously deferred military construction projects, allowing some of these critical efforts to move forward as soon as possible.” As for what gets priority now, that’s under review, the Pentagon said. GovExec’s Courtney Bublé has more, here.
In other border-related news, four migrant families separated during the Trump administration will be reunited sometime this week, the Associated Press reports today from San Diego.
A note on the scope of separations: At least 1,000 families are believed to still be separated out of more than 5,000 children pulled from their parents during the Trump administration. Meanwhile, “There are 677 unaccompanied children in Border Patrol custody, down from more than 5,700 in late March,” AP writes.
More unifications are planned, including 30 migrants who “are expected to be allowed into the country in 30 to 60 days to reunite with their children, who like most others have been living with relatives in the United States,” the New York Times reports. Continue reading at AP, here.
The commander of Canada’s special forces has been put on indefinite leave “following revelations that he wrote a letter in support of a soldier found guilty of sexual assault,” the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation reported Sunday.
Today on the Hill: 11 a.m. ET: A hearing into the results of the investigation into the July 2020 Assault Amphibious Vehicle mishap off the California coast that killed nine Marines, held by the readiness panel of the House Armed Services Committee and featuring Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. Gary L. Thomas; Navy Vice Adm. Roy Kitchener, commander, Naval Surface Forces; and commander, Naval Surface Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet; and Staff Director of the Marine Corps Maj. Gen. Gregg P. Olson.
Lastly today: A Chinese rocket booster is falling out of orbit. No one knows where it will hit. Last Wednesday, the first module for China’s space station achieved orbit atop the Long March 5B rocket. But so did a core piece of that rocket, which observers believe is now tumbling out of control. The Long March 5B is not known to carry thrusters that might help its controllers bring it down in uninhabited territory.
The rocket, therefore, “is likely to make an uncontrolled reentry over the next days or week as growing interaction with the atmosphere drags it to Earth,” Space News reported Friday. “The Long March 5B core stage’s orbital inclination of 41.5 degrees means the rocket body passes a little farther north than New York, Madrid and Beijing and as far south as southern Chile and Wellington, New Zealand, and could make its reentry at any point within this area.”