Today's D Brief: Senate passes China-focused tech bill; USN carrier in the SCS; WH pitches prisoner swap with Russia; RoK’s ‘biggest-ever arms deal’; And a bit more.
U.S. President Joe Biden just spoke with his Chinese counterpart for the first time in four months. In the time since, China has had growing problems fending off the ongoing Covid pandemic—and that continues today with another lockdown in Wuhan after another four asymptomatic cases emerged recently—and a resultant backsliding economy “as unemployment among young people soars and many parts of China are experiencing mortgage and debt crises,” according to the New York Times.
Developing: The Senate just passed a $280 billion bill intended to counter China’s dominance in the global chip industry. Seventeen Republicans joined their Democratic colleagues in a 64-33 vote Wednesday; the House plans to take up the bill later Thursday. Reuters, Fox News, NPR and The Hill have more on what’s inside.
New: The U.S. Navy has a carrier transiting the South China Sea today, Seventh Fleet officials told Reuters after the USS Ronald Reagan visited Singapore for a five-day port call that ended this week. The crew of the @Gipper_76 (as it’s known on Twitter) recently traveled through the South China Sea around July 13, as the 7th Fleet announced in a tweet at the time.
Beijing’s reax: “It is clear from this for everyone to see who is the biggest threat to the South China Sea and the Asian region's peace and stability,” China’s Foreign Ministry said during its daily briefing Thursday in the capital.
Taiwan’s military is practicing defending against an invasion this week with drills that are set to end on Friday, CNN reports from Taipei.
- “A richer, stronger China warns Pelosi not to visit Taiwan,” the Associated Press reports from Beijing;
- “Pelosi to Taiwan would be career capstone, despite warnings,” AP reported separately on Thursday;
- “China’s top chip maker SMIC may have achieved tech breakthrough, experts say,” via the South China Morning Post, reporting Tuesday;
- “U.N. Rights Body Urges Repeal of Hong Kong National Security Law,” via the Wall Street Journal, reporting Thursday from Hong Kong;
- And “India says it will protect its interests as Chinese boat heads to Sri Lanka,” Reuters reported on Thursday.
From Defense One
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A Navy Cyber Effort Is Fixing Thousands of Holes—and Building Tech Talent // Lauren C. Williams: A 10th Fleet operation gives tech-curious reservists some training and a real-world mission.
Faster Attacks Have Cyber Command Looking to Add All-Too-Scarce Experts // Lauren C. Williams: “I think the only way that I'm going to be able to do that in the near term is to grow the workforce myself,” command official says.
CHIPS' Passage Won't Fill General Dynamics' Short-term Chip Needs // Ross Wilkers: The company's Mission Systems arm feels the semiconductor supply crunch more than its others.
Welcome to this Thursday edition of The D Brief, brought to you by Ben Watson with Jennifer Hlad. If you’re not already subscribed to The D Brief, you can do that here. And check out other Defense One newsletters here. On this day in 1855, the U.S. Navy’s last all-sail warship, USS Constellation, was commissioned. It would be decommissioned twice in its long lifetime—first in 1933, and lastly in 1955.
The White House has offered a prisoner exchange with Russia, according to CNN. And the tentative deal reportedly includes handing over convicted Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout in exchange for two Americans detained in Russia—discharged former Marine Paul Whelan and WNBA star Brittney Griner.
No arms dealers have been as high-profile as Bout, who inspired a Nic Cage movie (“Lord of War” from 2005) and Andrew Feinstein’s 2012 book, “The Shadow World: Inside the Global Arms Trade.” According to CNN, “The Russian government has frequently floated Bout as the subject of a potential trade for a number of Americans.” Journalist Michael Weiss called the proposed deal a “major coup for Moscow” since “Putin has long wanted [Bout] returned to Russia.”
Russian cruise missiles hit near Kyiv on Thursday for the first time in several weeks, the Associated Press reports from the capital city. Fifteen Ukrainians were wounded, including five civilians, according to Ukraine’s military.
Russian forces also launched “about 20 rockets” into Ukraine “from Zyabrawka in Belarus,” Ukraine’s Brig. Gen. Oleksiy Hromov told reporters Thursday.
Kyiv now believes Russia is carrying out a “massive redeployment” to Ukraine’s south, particularly around the city of Kherson—where Ukraine is focusing a counter-offensive—presidential adviser Oleksiy Arestovych said Wednesday on YouTube. Reuters and AP have more.
The U.S. Army’s base in Poland has a new name: Camp Kościuszko. It was previously known as Forward Operating Station Poznan, named for Poland’s fifth-largest city. From now on, though, the base will be named after Polish native Thaddeus Kościuszko, who helped engineers fortify West Point, on the Delaware River, in 1776. For eight years, he fought alongside Americans in the Revolutionary War, so Congress made him a brigadier general in 1783, and gave him land in Ohio. Kościuszko later asked for that property sold and the money used to educate Thomas Jefferson’s slaves and others like them in New Jersey, since that founding father and good friend of his lacked the courage to free them on his own dime.
Kościuszko returned to Poland to fight against Russia just one year after Congress made him a one-star general. He was imprisoned in 1794, but released two years later. He eventually passed away in 1817—nine years before Thomas Jefferson, who never carried out that request related to Kościuszko’s Ohio property and the would-be school in Jersey for Black Americans.
“Brig. Gen. Kościuszko was a master of building military defenses such as those found in West Point,” said U.S. Army Lt. Gen. John Kolasheski, who commands the Poland-based V Corps, in a statement Thursday. “We believe Camp Kościuszko is a fitting name for this installation as it demonstrates our deep historical ties and our commitment to collective defense. This camp also demonstrates the commitment to Polish and European security,” Kolasheski said.
South Korea’s “biggest-ever arms deal” will see jets, tanks, and howitzers headed to the Poles as Warsaw rearms during the ongoing Russian invasion of eastern Europe. “Among the weapons involved in the deal are variants of the K2 Black Panther tank, which is manufactured by Hyundai Rotem, and the K9 Thunder, a self-propelled howitzer which is built by Hanwha Defense,” Josh Smith of Reuters reported Thursday from Seoul.
“It is extremely important that the first deliveries of howitzers and tanks will take place this year,” Polish Defense Minister Mariusz Blaszczak said during a signing ceremony Wednesday in Poland’s capital. The deal also includes about 50 FA-50 jets, worth about $3 billion, which would be among Korea Aerospace Industries’ largest orders in years, according to Reuters. More here. (And more on Korean peninsula security below.)
Update: 19 NATO members’ parliaments have ratified Sweden and Finland’s alliance membership. And that leaves 11—including the Czech Republic, France, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Montenegro, Portugal, Slovakia, Spain, the U.S., and Turkey—still to go. But the big attention-getter remains Turkey, whose president has five demands of the two Nordic nations before he will greenlight Turkish parliamentarians ratification.
Reminder: Turkey’s parliament won’t vote until at least October, after they see the findings of a “special committee” to look into the merits of ratification, which begins its work in August. And according to Agence France-Presse, reporting last week, “Some Turkish officials have warned that the process may drag out until next year.”
- “Boris Johnson tipped to become next secretary general of Nato,” via The Telegraph, reporting Tuesday;
- And “How Russia spread a secret web of agents across Ukraine,” according to a new special report from Reuters, published Thursday.
North Korea’s 38-year-old leader promised a “full, accurate and prompt” military response should South Korea attempt a pre-emptive strike against Pyongyang, North Korea’s state-run media said on Thursday. “If the South Korean regime and military gangsters are thinking of taking us on militarily and believe they can neutralize or destroy part of our military power preemptively based on particular military means or methods, they are mistaken,” Kim Jong-un was quoted saying on Wednesday, which is the day the Korean armistice was signed back in 1953.
“Such a dangerous attempt would be punished immediately by powerful forces, and the Yoon Seok-yeol administration and his military would be wiped out” because, as Kim said, “our nation’s nuclear war deterrence is also fully ready to mobilize its absolute strength faithfully, accurately and promptly to its mission.”
This threat is nothing new, South Korean officials say. (And it’s also what Kim’s sister said in April, the Wall Street Journal notes.) In the meantime, officials from Seoul’s President Yoon Suk-yeol replied, “The government maintains a constant readiness posture that can respond strongly and effectively to any provocation by North Korea, and will defend national security and the people's safety based on the firm South Korea-U.S. alliance.” South Korea’s Yonhap news agency has a bit more, here.