Today's D Brief: Emiratis at the Pentagon; DepSecDef in Hawaii; USMC's Berger on the future; And a bit more.

Speed bump in Washington’s F-35 deal with UAE? An official from the United Arab Emirates allegedly submitted a letter threatening to pull out of a $23 billion arms agreement with the U.S., the Wall Street Journal reported “on the eve of a planned visit Wednesday by a high-level U.A.E. military delegation to the Pentagon for two days of talks.” 

From the Emiratis’ perspective, “security requirements the U.S. had laid out to safeguard the high-tech weaponry from Chinese espionage were too onerous,” the Journal’s Gordon Lubold and Warren Strobel write. The “onerous” requirements are believed to largely concern the sale of 50 advanced F-35 Joint Strike Fighter jets and as many as 18 armed MQ-9B Reaper drones. “The Americans want to sell the Emiratis the planes but they want to tie their hands,” an unnamed Gulf source told Reuters

It is worth noting, however, that “The letter communicating the threat was written by a relatively junior official in the government, suggesting the overture was a negotiating tactic heading into the meeting,” U.S. officials told the Journal. More here.

Update:Blinken says U.S. ready to move forward with sale of F-35s, drones to UAE,” Reuters reported Wednesday morning, while traveling with Secretary of State Antony Blinken to Malaysia. 

From Defense One

Navy to Start Separating Unvaccinated Sailors // Caitlin M. Kenney: Sailors can decide to get vaccinated at any point in the process to be retained.

Army Bring-Your-Own-Device Experiments Test New Security Concepts // Patrick Tucker: The service is “setting the stage” to try new communications ideas in the Pacific.

This New AI Tool Can Help Spot an Imminent Invasion // Patrick Tucker: Want to know how many trucks are in border regions, or get an alert when bomber traffic spikes?

Liberals ‘Need to Get On the Defense Committees,’ If They Want Change // Jacqueline Feldscher: “At this point, I think defense is just not that important to progressives one way or the other,” said one expert after Democrats came away from negotiations empty handed.

To-Do List for the Pentagon’s New AI Chief // Brian Drake: As three AI-related agencies prepare to merge, there is a chance for a fresh start—and a better approach to competing with China.

Welcome to this Wednesday edition of The D Brief from Ben Watson with Caitlin Kenney and editing by Jennifer Hlad. If you’re not already subscribed to The D Brief, you can do that here. 

Canadian Defense Minister Anita Anand will chat by phone today with SecDef Lloyd Austin. Minister Anand began her political career in 2019 after almost 15 years as a law professor at the University of Toronto. Notably, she led Canada’s COVID-19 response before being appointed defense minister just seven weeks ago. She’d originally planned to visit the Pentagon in the afternoon, but that seems to have changed early Wednesday. 

DepSecDef Hicks visited Hawaii Tuesday, where a 14,000-gallon jet fuel leak at Pearl Harbor has contaminated the drinking water for families at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam.
Source of the leak: The Navy’s Red Hill Bulk Fuel Storage Facility. And after learning this, “The Hawaii Department of Health issued an emergency order last week directing the Navy to cease operations at that World War II-era complex,” Stars and Stripes reported Tuesday. “It also directed the Navy to empty the facility of the roughly 150,000 gallons of fuel now stored there.”
More than 1,700 families have been relocated so far, Navy officials said in their latest official update (PDF), posted Saturday. (View a map of affected neighborhoods here.)
The Navy has so far said it will suspend use of the tanks, but it won’t empty them because they’re “a national strategic asset that provides power for sea control, maritime security, regional stability, humanitarian assistance and continued prosperity in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.”
DepSecDef Hicks says after arriving in Oahu, she “spent nearly two hours with a team, in the tunnels, to gain a better understanding as to what happened and what can be done...And even though the Navy is leading our efforts, solving this problem will require all of us in DOD and across the Services to be rowing in the same direction.” Read over her statement in full, here.

The latest from the Marines’ top officer: Commandant Gen. David Berger says he’ll be keeping a close eye on his 2022, 2023, and 2024 budgets to see whether Congress and the Defense Department support the risks and decisions the service is making to achieve its Force Design 2030 plans, Defense One’s Caitlin Kenney reports.
“Are they willing to back an organization in the government, in the department, that is willing to accept risk, willing to move at speed, willing to discard legacy things? Learn as fast as we can? Are they going to support, enable that to occur or not? Because if they don’t, then then you’re in a bad place,” Berger said during a discussion with the Center for a New American Security think tank Tuesday.
Bigger picture: The Corps is now far enough along with Force Design 2030 that there would seem to be no turning back—especially after divesting equipment like tanks—and there are still plans for future investments in areas of talent management and training.
One investment Berger is paying particularly close attention to is the future light amphibious warship, headed to the Navy. Without those ships, the commanders will not have the mobility needed to move forces around, Berger said. The Navy hopes to procure its first light amphibious warship in 2023, according to the Congressional Research Service.

Apropos of nothing: Here are “10 books for Marines who want to learn how to read good,” via Jeff Schogol at Task & Purpose. “Think of it as a supplement to the Commandant’s Professional Reading list,” Schogol writes, “only Marines may actually want to read these items.”
And don’t missThe Inheritance: America's Military After Two Decades of War,” a new book from the Pentagon’s Assistant Secretary of Defense for Strategies, Plans, and Capabilities, Dr. Mara Karlin.

An alleged Russian spy was convicted in a German court today for killing a Georgian citizen in broad daylight two years ago in Berlin, the Washington Post reports.
Involved: Vadim Krasikov, 56 years old, and a man whom German prosecutors insist is a former colonel in Russia’s FSB intelligence service. He shot and killed a former Chechen militia commander named Zelimkhan Khangoshvili at a park in the middle of the day on Aug. 23, 2019. According to Germany’s DW, “The victim was classed as a terrorist by Russian security services,” which claimed Khangoshvili fought Russian forces in Chechnyat, and was later “involved in a bombing attack on the Moscow metro.”
How the assassination happened: “Witnesses observed Krasikov approach the victim from behind on a bicycle,” the Post reports. Using a Glock 26 pistol, Krasikov then “shot the 40-year-old with a silencer, twice in the body. When the victim was on the ground, he fired a final shot into the back of the head.” Then Krasikov pedaled away from the scene. He was arrested by German authorities later that day, and claimed to be a tourist visiting on his way to Warsaw from Paris. 
According to Russia, “we consider this verdict to be a biased, politically motivated decision that seriously aggravates the already difficult Russian-German relations,” Moscow’s ambassador to Germany, Sergei Nechayev, said in state-run media RIA Novosti. More at DW, here.
Also from the Berlin-Moscow beat:Germany says Russia will face 'massive consequences' if it invades Ukraine,” Reuters reported Tuesday. 

Lastly today: U.S. officials can wargame a nuclear attack by watching it play out on a VR headset. It’s called Nuclear Biscuit, and it’s the work of researchers from Princeton, American, and Hamburg universities. They joined forces and interviewed former U.S. government officials to help build out the three main narrative possibilities written into the program, The Guardian’s Julian Borger reported Tuesday. 
Borger himself went through the simulation and describes what he witnessed, including how some unsuspecting details shook him. Ultimately, “In my case, I froze in the last few minutes of the countdown, unable to think of anything else to do,” he writes. “I should have tried calling Vladimir Putin perhaps, but it turns out the simulation would have told me he was not available.” Read the rest, here.