Today's D Brief: China's target practice; Vaccine diplomacy, cont.; Assassination attempt in Iraq?; DCIA to Moscow; And a bit more.
China’s military seems to be practicing shooting at a U.S. Navy carrier and a few destroyers, according to mockups located in satellite imagery in Xinjiang province and shared with the independent U.S. Naval Institute.
“The full-scale outline of a U.S. carrier and at least two Arleigh Burke-class destroyers are part of the target range that has been built in the Ruoqiang region in central China,” USNI’s H. I. Sutton and Sam LaGrone write. What’s more, “The site is near a former target range China used to test early versions of its so-called carrier killer DF-21D anti-ship ballistic missiles.” Read on, here; the Associated Press has a bit more background, here.
China’s defense ministry is donating its own brand of COVID-19 vaccines to neighboring and far-flung militaries, the Wall Street Journal reports today from Taipei and Johannesburg.
So far, this outreach has extended to around two dozen countries, including the Philippines, Pakistan, Bolivia, Sudan, Tunisia, Zimbabwe, and Ethiopia—the latter two representing “important players in Chinese leader Xi Jinping’s trillion-dollar Belt and Road infrastructure initiative.”
One reason this matters: “The PLA’s shipments have come with additional military aid, including medical training and scholarships for senior officers to study in Chinese military colleges.” It’s also something the U.S. is not doing, which makes the Chinese effort stand out that much more, the Journal’s Chao Deng and Joe Parkinson write. Continue reading, here.
From Defense One
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Defense Business Brief // Marcus Weisgerber: Defense Business Brief: Defense firms could have to pay millions under proposed buyback tax; M&A heats up; Vax mandate delayed; and more.
Welcome to this Monday edition of The D Brief from Ben Watson and Jennifer Hlad. If you’re not already subscribed to The D Brief, you can do that here. On this day in 1923, Adolf Hitler and about 2,000 Nazis were inspired by Italian fascists’ march on Rome as they attempted to overthrow the German government in Munich during a failed insurrection that historians refer to as the Beer Hall Putsch. The Nazis were repelled by police and Hitler was later jailed, though only for nine months. Ten years later, Hitler would rise to power as dictator of Nazi Germany, where he would remain until he put a bullet in his head on April 30, 1945.
For the second time ever, it appears someone tried to assassinate a head of state using armed drones. (The first alleged incident happened in Venezuela about three years ago.) In this case, three drones were dispatched to the home of Iraq’s prime minister late Saturday evening, where two of them were reportedly shot down, according to the Washington Post.
At least one of the payloads hit the PM’s home directly in what the Post calls a “major escalation...as armed groups use violence to raise the stakes of political decisions that threaten their interests.”
Ethiopia is no longer a safe place, the U.S. government is telling its non-emergency personnel, the Associated Press reported Saturday. The United States ordered those workers and their families to get out of Ethiopia, and also told other U.S. citizens to leave “now.”
A statement released Saturday warned: “Incidents of civil unrest and ethnic violence are occurring without warning.” Read the latest on the situation in Ethiopia, here.
CIA Director William Burns traveled to Moscow last Tuesday where he phoned Vladimir Putin to chat about Russia’s troop movements about 160 miles from Ukraine’s border, CNN reported Friday.
“Of course, cybersecurity issues were also mentioned,” Kremlin Spokesman Dmetri Peskov told CNN in a follow-up report Monday. U.S. officials said Russian natural gas flow to Europe was also a topic of discussion. Read on, here.
ICYMI: A 35-year-old Russian diplomat fell off the roof of the embassy in Berlin and died on Oct. 19. Now German authorities believe he was an undercover agent of Russia’s FSB intelligence service, Reuters reported Friday after Der Spiegel broke the news last week. Bellingcat has a bit more on the deceased man’s alleged background, here.
Where do you go if you’re a failed insurrectionist running from the feds? To beautiful, autocratic Belarus, of course. That's where 48-year-old Evan Neumann of California has fled, according to the Moscow Times. Neumann was given six separate charges related to the Jan. 6 riot back in July, “including assaulting officers and violent entry, after being identified from footage of the storming of Congress,” The Daily Beast reminds us.
About his new hiding place: He’s fitting right in, according to TDB, which writes that “Belarus state TV portrayed him as a victim of government persecution and described him as ‘the same type of simple American whose shops were burned by Black Lives Matter activists.’” More at the Moscow Times, here. And the Washington Post has still more, here.
Paradox at the southern border? Texas Governor Greg Abbott’s controversial “arrest and jail” policy toward migrants might be inadvertently benefiting many of the migrants, the Wall Street Journal reports from Del Rio.
One thing Abbott’s policy is doing for sure: It’s “overwhelming local courts and resulting in few convictions.” According to court records, among “170 Operation Lone Star cases resolved as of Nov. 1, about 70% were dismissed, declined or otherwise dropped, in some instances for lack of evidence.” And the ones who were charged “were given sentences equal to or less than the time they had already served in jail.”
Making all of this especially notable: The Texas National Guard has been ordered to help state troopers at the border as they try to arrest migrants for trespassing, making Texas the first state to attempt this. Read on, here.
DepSecDef Hicks is headed northward today and tomorrow, with planned stops Monday in Michigan, before pivoting east to Rhode Island and Connecticut. Today she’ll talk about climate change and national security in a planned 4 p.m. ET speech at Wayne State University in Detroit.
You may recall that back in July Hicks was scheduled to visit the General Dynamics Electric Boat facility in Quonset, R.I.; workers there build parts of Virginia-class and new Columbia-class submarines. Naval Submarine Base New London in Connecticut was also a planned stop for that summer trip. But Hicks’ travels were cut short on account of Tropical Storm Elsa.
Also today: Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering Heidi Shyu keynotes a virtual event known as the Carnegie Mellon University Software Engineering Institute's Research Review 2021. That gets started at 11:10 a.m. ET. Details and registration, here.
Breasseale back at DOD’s PR shop. Former Pentagon and Homeland Security spokesman Todd Breasseale has been tapped as deputy assistant to the secretary of defense for public affairs, Defense One’s Kevin Baron reports. In this new but familiar job: He’s expected to help run things under press secretary John Kirby, who previously held the post when George Little was press secretary for Defense Secretary Leon Panetta 10 years ago.
And finally today: Remember the Afghan military pilots who fled to Tajikistan when Kabul fell? The New York Times’ David Zucchino checked in on some of them Sunday and learned that 143 are still detained “at a sanitarium near the Tajik capital, Dushanbe.”
According to the State Department, “The United States verified the identities of approximately 150 Afghans after gaining access to the last group in mid-October,” a spokesman told the Times. “We are in regular communication with the government of Tajikistan, and part of those communications includes coordination in response to Afghan Air Force pilots.”
“We feel abandoned, but we still have hope the U.S. will help us,” one of the pilots told Zucchino. However, he said, “It seems we aren’t so important to them anymore.” More here.