Today's D Brief: US sending Bradleys to Ukraine; Germany sends Patriot battery to Kyiv; USN transits Taiwan Strait; New border policy; And a bit more.
The United States is joining France and Germany in sending armored vehicles to Ukraine’s military, which is gearing up for likely counter offensives against Russian invasion forces in the months ahead. Whether or not you call these vehicles “tanks”—they include Germany’s Marder Infantry Fighting Vehicle, France’s AMX-10RC, and America’s Bradley Fighting Vehicles—doesn’t matter all that much; see this humorous graphic, for example. Instead, “What's important is how fit those are to be used by Ukraine, and they are likely to be quite useful,” said security analyst Michael Horowitz, writing on Twitter on Friday.
Just as important: “All three countries are now more concretely committing to Ukraine's goal of a military victory, by starting to supply Kyiv with the tools to achieve it,” Horowitz said.
According to the Pentagon, “In terms of what the Bradleys bring, it is obviously an armored capability that can transport mechanized infantry into battle in support of both offensive and defensive operations, providing a level of firepower and armor that will bring advantages on the battlefield as Ukraine continues to defend their homeland,” spokesman Air Force Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder told reporters Thursday.
A third opinion: “The Bradley Fighting Vehicles are a significant improvement compared to what the U.S. has already provided,” according to Bradley no-relation Bowman of the DC-based Foundation for Defense of Democracies. The Bradleys “will help infantry forces accompany fast-moving armored forces, providing the infantry additional protection, agility, and firepower,” he said, and added that their use “will make both [Ukrainian] armor and infantry forces more effective and put additional pressure on invading Russian forces.”
“Right now, the war in Ukraine is at a critical point,” U.S. President Joe Biden said at a cabinet meeting Thursday. He also said the U.S. will provide Ukraine with another Patriot missile defense battery—alongside another such battery the Germans are sending to Ukraine. “They function well, and they’re helping a lot,” Biden said.
Over the horizon consideration: Ukraine will likely soon find its military with more weaponry familiar to U.S. and allied soldiers than anyone thought possible just one year ago. “The basic realities of attritional warfare and limits of Soviet-era stockpiles in Europe mean that Ukraine will inevitably have to transition to NATO-standard heavy weapons in the medium term,” wrote Berlin-based analyst Tobias Schneider. “There is no plan C,” he added.
- “U.S. pledges $30m to Moldova hit hard by war in Ukraine,” the Associated Press reported Thursday on location;
- And “Russian Spies Piggybacked on Other Hackers' USB Infections,” according to Andy Greenberg at WIRED, reporting Thursday off new findings from the cybersecurity firm Mandiant.
From Defense One
Biden Vows to Add Feds at Border, Boost Efforts to Reduce Crossings // Eric Katz: The administration will also expand humanitarian programs, though staffing shortfalls could hurt implementation.
Army's Digital-Transformation Chief to Step Down // Carten Cordell: After two years of ushering the service toward cloud-based services, CIO Raj Iyer will leave "over the next several weeks."
Foreign Meddling in US Elections Affects Allies’ Trust, Study Finds // Patrick Tucker: When respondents were told that American democracy wasn’t working reliably, they lost faith in the U.S. commitment to partnerships.
The Naval Brief: Vaccine mandate repeal; More parental leave; Wagner gains; and more… // Caitlin M. Kenney:
State Department Opens Emerging-Tech Office // Alexandra Kelley: The Special Envoy for Critical and Emerging Technology will facilitate strategic partnerships to develop and regulate innovative technology.
Welcome to this Friday edition of The D Brief, brought to you by Ben Watson with Jennifer Hlad. If you’re not already subscribed to this newsletter, you can do that here. On this day in 2021, junior Missouri Republican Sen. Josh Hawley raised his fist into the air to cheer on insurrectionists as some of them brought gallows along in an attempt to disrupt the 2020 election certification process on Capitol Hill. Just a short time later, Hawley would be filmed literally running from those same insurrectionists as hundreds of lawmakers fled the Capitol complex in fear for their lives.
The USS Chung-Hoon, an Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer, sailed through the Taiwan Strait on Thursday, angering China despite the U.S. Navy’s classification of the passage as “routine.” The area in question “is beyond the territorial sea of any coastal state,” and the transit “demonstrates the United States’ commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific,” according to the Navy. The spokesman for the Chinese embassy in Washington disagreed, Reuters reported.
“U.S. warships frequently flex muscles in the name of exercising freedom of navigation. This is not about keeping the region free and open,” Liu Pengyu said in a statement that also called for the United States to “immediately stop provoking troubles, escalating tensions, and undermining peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait.”
And ICYMI: For the first time ever, Japanese military jets scrambled to intercept Chinese surveillance drones near Okinawa this past weekend, Stars and Stripes reported on Tuesday.
The White House just launched an updated and newly restrictive immigration policy for people looking to enter the U.S. from its southern border. The new measures were announced Thursday ahead of the possible end of an especially restrictive pandemic-related public health order known as Title 42. “The policy, dating back to the 1990s, allows the U.S. to deport migrants without a court hearing if they do not seek asylum or fail to establish credible fear of persecution,” CBS News explains; read still more on the policy, also via CBS, here.
The policy update now allows just 30,000 qualifying nationals from Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua, and Venezuela to enter the U.S. per month to work for up to two years—but only if they “pass rigorous biometric and biographic national security and public safety screening and vetting; have a supporter in the United States who commits to providing financial and other support; and complete vaccinations and other public health requirements,” the Department of Homeland Security said Thursday. The application process for this policy revision can be found online here.
“Do not just show up at the border,” President Joe Biden said Thursday of the new changes. “Stay where you are and apply legally from there…if you don’t apply through the legal process, you will not be eligible for this new parole program,” he said just three days before a planned visit to El Paso, Texas, on Sunday.
These new measures “will not fix the border problem completely,” Biden said. “That work will not be done unless and until the Congress enacts and funds a more comprehensive immigration plan that I proposed on day one.”
But “As long as America is the land of freedom and opportunity, people are going to try to come here,” the president said Thursday. “We can’t stop people from making the journey, but we can require them to come here, and they—that they come here in an orderly way under U.S. law.” Read over a White House fact sheet covering the new changes, here. Or review additional coverage via NPR, the New York Times, Reuters, the Associated Press, or Axios.
The multifold war against Islamic State terrorists quietly grinds on. The latest: American and Turkish officials just designated four individuals as terrorist facilitators for their alleged role in helping transfer money to ISIS militants through a few Turkey-based businesses.
Involved: Iraqi national Brukan al-Khatuni, his two sons Muhammad Abd Al Hamid and Umar Abd Al Hamid, and a man named Lu’ay Jasim Hammadi al-Juburi, which the U.S. describes as “an al-Qa’ida member since 2008 [who] joined ISIS in 2014 and worked in ISIS’s financial administration for several years until he moved to Mersin, Türkiye.” (If you’re wondering why that somewhat unusual spelling is now part of official U.S. diplomacy, the New York Times explained on Thursday, here; the Wall Street Journal followed suit on Friday, here.)
The man in charge, Brukan al-Khatuni, also “moved to Türkiye to manage ISIS’s financial facilitation network there and transferred funds from Arabian Gulf-based donors to ISIS,” the Department of Treasury said in a statement Thursday. His two sons later “coordinated with an ISIS finance official to facilitate the transfer of over $500,000 in June 2021.” The U.S. and Turkish designations were informed by the July 2021 capture of then-ISIS finance leader ‘Abd-al-Rahman ‘Ali al-Ahmad al-Rawi, who worked with al-Khatuni to distribute funds.
One of the front businesses al-Khatuni set up to facilitate the transfers, Turkey-based Sham Express, was also used “to support the smuggling of gold from Syria and Sudan via Iraq, Egypt, and Libya to generate additional revenue for ISIS,” the Treasury Department said. For that reason, Sham Express and a related entity, Wadi Alrrafidayn for Foodstuffs, were also designated as terrorist-linked assets. More here.
In other terrorism developments, the U.S. is offering up to $10 million for information leading to the arrest of a man believed to be involved in the January 2020 attack on U.S. and Kenyan personnel at Kenya’s Manda Bay Airfield.
His name is Maalim Ayman, and he’s “the leader of Jaysh Ayman, an al-Shabaab unit conducting terrorist attacks and operations in Kenya and Somalia,” the State Department announced Thursday.
On the off-chance you know where Ayman is, you can contact the State Department’s Rewards for Justice program with the relevant information; find them via Signal, Telegram, or WhatsApp at +1-202-702-7843, or via local tips lines at +254 71 87 12 366 in Kenya and +252 68 43 43 308 in Somalia. More here.
- “Armed fighters kill six during village raid in Somalia,” al-Jazeera reported Friday;
- “Car bombs kill 35, burn houses in central Somalia,” Reuters reported Wednesday from Mogadishu;
- “Ugandan soldier fatally shoots 3 colleagues in Somalia,” the Associated Press reported Tuesday;
- “Leaders of Turkey, Syria could meet for peace,” according to Turkey’s President Erdogan, Reuters reported Thursday from Istanbul;
- In tech news, “WhatsApp adds feature to bypass internet censors in repressive regimes,” the Washington Post reported Friday;
- And we also have a fairly sordid update from America’s Afghanistan evacuation, “Military Investigation Reveals How the U.S. Botched a Drone Strike in Kabul,” via Pulitzer Prize-winner Azmat Khan of the New York Times, reporting Friday.
That does it for us. Have a safe weekend. And we’ll see you again on Monday!