Today's D Brief: D1 Tech Summit starts with DepSecDef; Taliban advances; Defining ‘extremism’; Lasers from space; USS Ford shock video; And a bit more.

The Pentagon’s Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen Hicks keynotes the first day of activities for this year’s Defense One Tech Summit, our annual event gathering leaders and innovators across military, government, industry, and academia to talk about emerging technologies and their impact on the future of national security. And like 2020, this year’s event is entirely online.

  • Register for your spot here.

This year’s summit is a five-day affair featuring officials from the National Security Agency, Congress, the Missile Defense Agency, Pentagon cyber policy, the Space Development Agency, the Air Force Research Laboratory, U.S. Special Operations Command, and more. DepSecDef Hicks will deliver her scheduled remarks today just after 1 p.m. ET. 

This afternoon at 2 p.m. ET: JADC2. Marine Corps Lt. Gen. Dennis Crall of the Joint Staff will discuss the U.S. military’s Joint All-Domain Command and Control (or, JADC2) as well as the future of multi-domain operations, the emerging technologies needed to make it a reality, and what sort of challenges might lie ahead. Defense One’s Patrick Tucker moderates that discussion.

“Biotechnology on the Frontlines” is the focus of our 3 p.m. panel of experts, featuring DARPA's Dr. Kerri Dugan, Walter Reed Army Institute of Research's Dr. Kayvon Modjarrad, and Dr. Dimitra Stratis-Cullum of the U.S. Army's Research Laboratory — moderated by Defense One’s Tara Copp.

Looking ahead: The future of space security, satellites and sensors will dominate Tuesday’s talks, with discussions moderated by Defense One’s Jacqueline Feldscher and Patrick Tucker.  

Take a glimpse at each day this week in our complete agenda, which you can review here.  

From Defense One

Pentagon Works to Sharpen Definition of ‘Extremism’ // Jacqueline Feldscher: Review could reshape cooperation with domestic agencies, consequences for troops’ social media posts, and more.

US Will Try Using Lasers to Send Data From Space to Drones // Patrick Tucker: In the first experiment of its kind, military researchers will attempt to link drones to satellites via light.

Putin Suddenly Looks Very Small  // Kevin Baron: With Trump out of office, the Russian leader has nobody else. Biden has NATO, the G-7, and the upper hand.

Make US Army Aviation More Lethal // R.D. Hooker, Jr.: A few tweaks—and one big move—could dramatically increase the combat power available to commanders.

US Civil-Military Relations Are Complicated, But Not Broken // Joseph J. Collins: Through the sturm und drang, it is possible to see four core truths.

The Domestic Counterterrorism Strategy Is a Good Start—But Needs More // Javed Ali and Thomas S. Warrick: For at least three reasons, domestic CT strategy is harder than the international one that worked against al Qaeda.

The New Pentagon Slush Fund // Mandy Smithberger  and Andrew Lautz: Congress should reject the Pacific Deterrence Initiative before it’s too late.

Extremism Has Spread Into the Mainstream // Cynthia Miller-Idriss, The Atlantic: Preventing American radicalization requires a public-health approach.

Welcome to this Monday edition of The D Brief from Ben Watson and Bradley Peniston. If you’re not already subscribed to The D Brief, you can do that here. On this day in 1898 and two months into the United States’ war with Spain, a modest contingent of U.S. forces gave Guam’s Spanish governor just 30 minutes to surrender his island. The Spanish who received the message at Guam hadn’t even known they were at war with the Americans until they were given the deadline. After 29 minutes of deliberation, the governor surrendered with no shots fired; and less than two days later, the U.S. troops left. Guam today, of course, is still considered a U.S. territory. 

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani is visiting President Biden in the U.S. on Friday, the White House announced this weekend. He'll be bringing along his power-sharing official, Dr. Abdullah Abdullah, whose formal title is now Chairman of the High Council for National Reconciliation (until March 2020, he held the title of Chief Executive Officer for Afghanistan).
Across Afghanistan, more districts are switching from “contested” to increasing control by the Taliban, Bill Roggio of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies reported Sunday.
That includes two provincial capitals this weekend: Kunduz City (of its namesake province) and Maimana (in Faryab Province), according to the New York Times. Writing on Sunday, the Times' Thomas Gibbons-Neff and Najim Rahim reported from Kabul that “In the last 24 hours, around a dozen districts have fallen to the Taliban — mostly in the country’s north.”
In Afghanistan headlines today:Delay in Reinforcements Major Reason Behind Fall of Districts,” according to Kabul’s Defense Ministry. (That via Tolo News.)
Extra reading from the NYTs: “Departure of U.S. Contractors Poses Myriad Problems for Afghan Military
In U.S. headlines: Afghanistan’s former President Hamid Karzai told the Associated Press on Sunday that after 20 years of combat, the U.S. has “failed” in Afghanistan.
In his own words: “The international community came here 20 years ago with this clear objective of fighting extremism and bringing stability ... but extremism is at the highest point today. So they have failed,” Karzai said. “We will be better off without their military presence,” he said, and added, “It is better for Afghanistan that they leave.”
Worth noting: Karzai has been an outspoken critic of the U.S. since stepping down from the presidency seven years ago. 

The White House is preparing a new round of sanctions aimed at Russian officials and their alleged roles in the poisoning of opposition figure Aleksei Navalny in August 2020. That’s according to Jake Sullivan, President Biden’s national security adviser, who teased the coming sanctions Sunday on CNN.
“It will come as soon as we have developed the packages to ensure that we are getting the right targets. And when we do that, we will impose further sanctions with respect to chemical weapons,” Sullivan told CNN’s Dana Bash. Find a transcript of that interview — with very light touches on U.S.-China relations, Iran’s new (largely ceremonial) president, and domestic extremism stateside — here

From “regular American” to insurrectionists: CNN just published a large multimedia feature report that “traces the lives of [seven] people whose journeys personify some of the loosely affiliated but highly influential contingents of the Trump movement.”
Topline read: “Some came from broken families, others from relative privilege. Some seem to have benefitted from the spectacle, others now find their lives in shambles. All of them fall along a spectrum of manipulation.”
This is a highly unusual feature in which you as a reader can pick either of the seven “characters” and learn their backgrounds and stories separate from the other six. (Just know that if you “enable media,” you may want to turn down the volume on your monitor before beginning the experience.) Dive in here.

In equipment safety news: An F-16 pilot was killed by an ejection seat problem that may not be fixed yet. “There was no shortage of missteps, accidents and bad calls that led to the crash that killed F-16 pilot 1st Lt. David Schmitz last June,” writes’s Oriana Pawlyk in the second of a two-part series. But despite planning and gear failures, Schmitz “might have had a chance at walking away from that crash but for one devastating problem: A catastrophic malfunction of his ejection seat when he tried to bail out as his landing was going all wrong.” It’s a problem that the Air Force has reportedly yet to fix. Read on, here.

And finally today: CVN-78 shock trials, in video. Thousands of pounds of explosives were detonated about 100 miles off the coast of Florida, and just a few hundred feet from the USS Ford, the Navy’s newest aircraft carrier. The ship was wired with sensors to help determine how it was affected by the blast, which registered 3.6 on the Richter scale. Watch the explosion in this video assembled from Navy footage by USNI News.