Today's D Brief: 5 dead in Wisconsin; Austin in the Middle East; Ukraine's fears; Kyiv's growing navy; And a bit more.
Developing: Someone drove into a Christmas parade crowd, killing five and wounding more than 40 others in Waukesha, Wis., just west of Milwaukee, on Sunday afternoon just before 5 p.m. local. “These [deceased and injured] numbers may change as we collect additional information,” the police department said on Facebook later in the evening.
However, “The police department has the person of interest in custody,” the Waukesha PD added in the Facebook post. According to the New York Times, “Eyewitnesses described the driver as male, but that was not confirmed by the police.” The Associated Press reports the driver as 39-year-old Darrell Brooks; a person with this name has a publicly-available criminal record, including a charge of reckless homicide from about two weeks ago; but little else is known at this time.
What seems to have happened: According to Reuters, “A video posted online showed a red sport utility vehicle driving at speed alongside and into the parade, appearing to run over more than a dozen people before crowds ran from sidewalks to offer assistance.” At least one officer fired shots into the vehicle to stop its movement, but no shots are believed to have come from the driver.
So far, officials aren’t yet suggesting the episode was an act of terrorism. Indeed, One official said the driver may have been “fleeing from the scene of a crime” since “there had been an earlier altercation involving a knife,” the Wall Street Journal adds. AP echoes that supposition in its latest update published Monday morning. Read the latest at Reuters, here.
From Defense One
Senators Have More Than 900 Ideas To Fix America’s Security // Jacqueline Feldscher: The proposed amendments to the NDAA include ideas on Afghanistan, China and extremism in the ranks.
The Taliban is No ‘Partner,’ Says Top US Special Ops Commander // Patrick Tucker: After withdrawing, the US must rely on other Afghans and foreign governments for intelligence to track and target ISIS-K.
Waiting for Attribution in Cyberspace: A Tragicomedy // Zhanna L. Malekos Smith: “We were so hopeful last March when the UN Open-Ended Working Group agreed to endorse all 11 of us voluntary, non-binding norms of responsible state behavior.”
Defense Business Brief // Marcus Weisgerber: Defense Business Brief: Northrop CEO: Sparse M&A ahead; Russia’s new combat jet; Defense firms: chipmakers? and more.
Amazon, Microsoft, Google, and Oracle to Bid on Pentagon’s Next Multibillion-Dollar Cloud Contract // Brandi Vincent: The department expanded the pool of bidders for its much-anticipated JEDI replacement.
The Pandemic’s Next Turn Hinges on Three Unknowns // Sarah Zhang, The Atlantic: A potential winter surge is up to vaccines, variants, and us.
The Seven Lawmakers Who Will Decide the Climate’s Fate // Robinson Meyer, The Atlantic: Negotiations in Washington, D.C., are far more important than those in Glasgow, Scotland.
Welcome to this Monday edition of The D Brief from Ben Watson with Jennifer Hlad. If you’re not already subscribed to The D Brief, you can do that here. On this day in 1963, around 5,000 fliers were found all around Dallas, Texas, alleging President John F. Kennedy was “Wanted For Treason” because he “betray[ed] the Constitution,” inspired “Communist-inspired racial riots,” and “consistently appointed Anti-Christians to Federal office,” among seven numbered points. The flier was later traced back to a Dallas-based radical right organization run by a John Birch Society enthusiast and the only American general to resign in the 20th century, Edwin Walker. Shortly after noon on this day 58 years ago, the president was shot in the head and killed while driving through downtown Dallas. In a macabre twist, federal investigators later learned, Kennedy’s assassin also tried to kill Walker seven months earlier, but did not succeed.
SecDef Austin dropped by Bahrain for the annual Manama Dialogue this weekend. During his weekend travels, Austin met with leaders or defense officials from at least seven different nations—including the UAE, Malaysia, Indonesia, Kenya, Bahrain, Iraq and Iraqi Kurdistan.
Austin’s message to MidEast leaders: “We face a range of common challenges—including lingering conflicts, and 21st-century threats that can cross borders with the ease and fury of a storm,” Austin said. Meeting those challenges, he said, requires “Our network of allies and partners in the Middle East,” which he called “a vast strategic advantage. It is unmatched. It is unparalleled. And it is unrivaled. And we are deeply grateful.”
When it comes to Iran, “we’ll continue to evaluate the right mix of forces to bolster our deterrence,” Austin told the audience, and promised, “We’ll protect our forces from attack by Tehran or its proxies.”
Otherwise, “We’ll work together to ensure that ISIS can’t reconstitute itself in Iraq and Syria. And we’ll continue to support freedom of navigation in the region’s vital waterways,” he said. “And we’ll keep up our relentless focus on counterterrorism, even as we shift to an over-the-horizon concept in Afghanistan.” Read over Austin’s full remarks at Manama, via the Defense Department, here. Or see AP’s coverage, here.
President Joe Biden is traveling to Fort Bragg, N.C., to meet with troops this afternoon. A bit later in the evening, “the President and the First Lady will celebrate Friendsgiving with service members and military families at Fort Bragg as part of the Joining Forces initiative,” the White House announced in the president’s public schedule for the day.
Meanwhile on Capitol Hill, senators have submitted more than 900 amendments to the fiscal 2022 National Defense Authorization bill. And naturally, “some lawmakers are trying to add unrelated changes, including ideas to end the opioid epidemic and new initiatives within the Department of Health and Human Services,” Defense One’s Jacqueline Feldscher reported on Sunday.
Some of the measures include ending reliance on Chinese rare earth minerals; countering extremism; the sale of military gear to law enforcement; keeping Cuba on terrorism list; and delaying the military’s Covid-19 vaccine mandate. Read more about each one of those, here.
Ukraine is carrying out airborne military drills today near the capital city of Kyiv, Reuters reports. “Last week, Ukrainian marines conducted drills near the borders of Russian-annexed Crimea.”
BTW: Ukrainian military officials say they’re bracing for a possible Russian attack around the end of January, Military Times reported over the weekend.
Russia’s reax: “We are observing this with great alarm, knowing the significant influence of extreme-minded politicians in Ukraine,” Kremlin spox Dmitri Peskov told reporters Monday in Moscow.
ICYMI: The U.S. just sent Ukraine two former Coast Guard cutters to the port of Odessa. Reuters has imagery of their transit, here. The State Department explained that move this past July—including the fact that “Russia continues to hold multiple Ukrainian naval vessels, using unfounded allegations of cease-fire violations as a pretext. Russia continued its aggressive actions on November 25, 2018, when the Russian Coast Guard seized, in violation of international law, an additional three Ukrainian naval vessels that were attempting to transit the Kerch Strait,”—in greater detail, here.
And lastly today: NASA is planning to bump an asteroid off course Tuesday, NPR reports, in a test of a method for protecting the Earth from a possible future space rock that could threaten the planet, 90s summer-blockbuster-style.
There’s no Aerosmith song for this trip, which will involve a spacecraft the size of a golf cart, which is scheduled to leave Vandenberg Space Force Base, Calif., tomorrow evening. The plan is for it to ram an asteroid that reportedly poses no danger to Earth. The idea is just to “see how the asteroid’s trajectory changes,” according to NPR. Read on, here.