Today's D Brief: Russia bombs Ukraine neighborhood; Sudan evac update; A-10s’ new weapon; Army grounds helos; And a bit more.
Russian bomber planes attacked Ukraine with 18 cruise missiles around 2:30 a.m. local time, injuring nearly three dozen people and damaging homes around the eastern city of Pavlohrad. According to local official Sergey Lysak, “19 high-rise buildings, 25 private houses, 6 schools and pre-school education institutions, and 5 shops were mutilated” in the early morning strikes. View imagery of the rubble and recovery efforts, via Lysak’s Telegram account, here.
Fifteen of the missiles were allegedly shot down by Ukrainian air defenses, including around the capital city of Kyiv, which escaped unscathed on Monday. Russian aircraft fired from the relative safety of the Caspian Sea and the Murmansk region, closer to Finland, according to Ukraine’s military.
Germany recently sent Ukraine another Iris-T air defense system (which makes two now), along with eight more Zetros off-road trucks, according to the German military, writing last week. A bit more on weapons below.
An oil storage facility in Russian-occupied Crimea was apparently attacked Saturday by a wave of Ukrainian Mugin-5 drones. The attack hit a facility at Kozacha Bay in Sevastopol, causing a fire that could be seen many miles away (see Reuters video, e.g.). “A Ukrainian intelligence official claimed the attack destroyed 10 oil tanks with a total capacity of 40,000 tons of fuel and that the fuel destroyed was intended for use in the Black Sea Fleet,” according to the Washington-based Institute for the Study of War, writing Saturday evening.
A Russian freight train derailed Monday after an alleged explosive device detonated on the tracks in the western region of Bryansk bordering Ukraine. Agence France-Presse has a map illustrating the location of the derailment, via Twitter, here.
In charts and graphs: Get a detailed look at the Russian military’s shoddy command structure for the ongoing invasion of Ukraine via a new analysis published Sunday evening by analysts at the Institute for the Study of War.
One reason it matters: “The overall degradation of the Russian military after 14 months of fighting in Ukraine has substantially changed the overall nature of the Russian military that existed before the invasion, and the commanders likely view their own self-preservation and that of their affiliates as an existential issue that will determine who will be in charge of the Russian military in the foreseeable future,” ISW writes. Dive into that lengthy analysis, here.
Ukraine's president spent Sunday evening, in part, by thanking several nations for their recent contributions helping Ukraine in its enduring time of need. That includes France and “Denmark for Caesars [artillery]; Slovenia for armored vehicles; Spain for tanks; and Germany” for armored vehicles, artillery, and those Iris-T air defense units. President Volodymir Zelenskyy also thanked the U.S., as well as the Netherlands, Italy, and Croatia. Read that message of gratitude broadcast to his fellow countrymen Sunday evening, here.
In allied weapons sales: The U.S. could soon sell the Brits more than 750 laser-guided missiles known as an Advanced Precision Kill Weapon System-II at a cost of more than $31 million. “The proposed sale will improve the United Kingdom’s capability to meet current and future threats by ensuring its aviation forces’ interoperability with United States and other allied forces as well as its ability to contribute to missions of mutual interest,” the Pentagon’s Defense Security Cooperation Agency announced Friday. Details, here.
- “Ukrainian defenders oust Russian forces from some positions in Bakhmut - Ukraine general,” Reuters reported Monday from Kyiv;
- “Ukraine Wants to Push Forward. Not So Fast, Says Its Black Soupy Mud,” the New York Times reported Monday;
- “Ukraine’s Arms Industry Survives Russian Onslaught to Hit Back,” the Wall Street Journal reported Monday;
- “China's peace envoy to Ukraine has close ties to Russia,” NBC News reported Monday;
- “The Case for the Total Liberation of Ukraine,” by Anne Applebaum and Jeffrey Goldberg of The Atlantic, writing Monday;
- And “Pope says Vatican involved in secret Ukraine peace mission,” Reuters reported separately on Monday “aboard [the] Papal plane.”
From Defense One
A-10s Return to Middle East with a New Mission, and a New Weapon // Marcus Weisgerber: Tensions with Iran, Russia have CENTCOM calling upon the venerable Warthog once again.
Air Force’s Next-Gen ICBM Program Could Face Delays, Kendall Says // Audrey Decker: Though the Ground-Based Strategic Deterrent is on track at the moment, Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall isn’t sure it will stay there.
The NSA Is Warning AI Startups: ‘China Is Coming For You’ // Patrick Tucker: In congressional testimony, intelligence leaders describe highlight China’s artificial-intelligence ambitions.
Marines Update Evacuation Playbook // Caitlin M. Kenney: A pre-deployment exercise allowed the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit to practice what they learned from the Afghanistan withdrawal and other non-combatant evacuation operations.
Augmented-Reality Goggles ‘On Pace' for Limited 2024 Rollout, Army Says // Adam Mazmanian: Full production of the much-delayed Integrated Visual Augmentation System may start in summer 2025, the Army's chief buyer said.
What's Holding Up the US Military's Use of AI? // Edward Graham: Two of the obstacles are spotty networks and inadequate data, CENTCOM's CTO says.
Welcome to this Monday edition of The D Brief, brought to you by Ben Watson with Bradley Peniston. We’re a day late on this one, but 30 years ago yesterday, the internet opened for business. NPR’s “All Things Considered” remembered the day on Sunday’s program, here.
Americans are leaving Sudan under the watchful eyes of U.S. military drones. Several hundred U.S. citizens were aboard a convoy of buses making the 500-mile journey from the capital of Khartoum to the Red Sea city of Port Sudan, where the USNS Brunswick had arrived to help with the evacuation, a U.S. official told NBC News on Sunday.
Pentagon spox: “The Department of Defense deployed U.S. intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance assets to support air and land evacuation routes, which Americans are using.”
Foreigners of many nationalities are fleeing the two-week-old battle between rival factions of the country’s military government. Of particular note is the assistance given to several dozen Iranian citizens by Saudi military. In March, Tehran and Riyadh reopened diplomatic relations after seven years, in a deal brokered by China.
An organization run by U.S. veterans says it’s rescued “almost 90 Americans, allies, and their families” from Sudan so far. The group, known as Project Dynamo, says it rescued 117 Americans from Afghanistan when the U.S.-backed government collapsed in August 2021. It was also on the ground in Ukraine evacuating Americans immediately after Russia’s full-scale invasion in February 2022.
Dynamo’s communications team says its personnel “worked tirelessly to contact, authenticate, support, locate, move, and exfiltrate the American evacuees to extraction points in Khartoum” for “the first private air rescue mission conducted in Sudan...other than the U.S. military evacuation of the U.S. Embassy in Khartoum.” Learn more about the organization, here; and if someone you know needs assistance fleeing Sudan, they can fill out an evacuation request by visiting this page.
The Philippines and the U.S. are poised to announce new military coordination during a visit to the White House Monday by Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. According to the White House, “We’re looking forward to announcing a new set of bilateral defense guidelines that will deepen our alliance cooperation and interoperability across operational domains, including land, sea, air, space, and cyberspace,” U.S. officials said in a preview with reporters Sunday afternoon.
The White House also said President Joe Biden will use the visit “to reaffirm…that an armed attack on Philippine Armed Forces, public vessels, or aircraft in the Pacific, including in the South China Sea, would invoke U.S. mutual defense commitments.”
U.S. officials also want to transfer three C-130 aircraft to Manila, provided lawmakers are onboard with the idea. “Also, we’ve transferred a number of Cyclone-class coastal patrol vessels that are on their way to the Philippines now, and we did that earlier this month,” the officials said Sunday.
- “US says Chinese Coast Guard is harassing Philippine vessels,” Reuters reported Saturday from Washington;
- And “US-Philippines Conclude Largest-Ever Military Exercise,” Voice of America reported Friday.
And lastly: U.S. Army grounds its pilots for safety refresh. On Friday—one day after two AH-64 Apache helicopters crashed near Healy, Alaska, killing three soldiers—Army Chief of Staff Gen. James McConville announced that no aviator would fly until he or she had completed a refresher training course.
Thursday’s crash followed March 29’s deadly collision of two HH-60 Black Hawk helicopters at Fort Campbell, Ky., and a Feb. 15 crash that killed two Tennessee National Guard warrant officers in a Black Hawk near Huntsville, Ala.
Installation commanding generals will lead the training, Army Times reported. It will cover flight planning, risk assessment, maintenance, aircrew training, multi-aircraft operations, and “safety statistics and trends,” according to an Army official who requested anonymity.
The Army last mandated a pause of this type in 2015; the Navy had one last year.