The D Brief: 'Dreadnought moment’; US-Bahrain defense pact; B-21 pics; More Philippines bases?; And a bit more...

Bahrain’s prime minister is expected to visit the Pentagon Thursday morning. The meeting comes one day after Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Prime Minister Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa signed a Comprehensive Security Integration and Prosperity Agreement, which spans “defense and security to emerging technology, trade, and investment,” according to the State Department. 

The new agreement “will strengthen coordination between our armed forces and the integration of our intelligence capacities, allowing us to even better deter and respond to threats as they arise,” Blinken said Wednesday from the Treaty Room in Foggy Bottom. “For more than 25 years, of course, Bahrain has hosted the U.S. Navy’s Fifth Fleet, and we stand shoulder to shoulder in our mission to secure critical shipping lanes that sustain the entire global economy,” he said. 

“The world today is faced by a number of choices,” Al-Khalifa said while seated beside Blinken on Wednesday. Those choices include choosing “the rise of authoritarianism or the growth of libertarianism, and the international rules-based order that manifested itself in the early 19th century was the foundation for the freedom of trade, of the movement of ideas, of people all over the world, and we’re all beneficiaries of that,” he said. 

For the White House, the agreement signed Wednesday is “about deterrence and setting conditions for a more stable region going forward,” according to Reuters. And there are perhaps no more destabilizing forces in the region, from Washington’s perspective, than Iran. (The New York Times also calls Bahrain “an adversary of Iran.”) However, that country is not named in the text of the agreement signed Wednesday. 

Read more: 

Welcome to this Thursday edition of The D Brief, brought to you by Ben Watson with Jennifer Hlad and Bradley Peniston. (Did someone forward this to you? Sign up here.) On this day in 1960, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, or OPEC, was founded in Baghdad. Original members included Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and Venezuela; but in the years since, eight others have joined: Algeria, Angola, the Republic of the Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Libya, Nigeria, and the United Arab Emirates. 

New: Take a look at the Air Force’s secretive new B-21 bomber after three new images were published this week. Two were released during this week’s Air & Space Forces Association's annual Air, Space & Cyber Conference; the other came from planemaker Northrop Grumman, which shows the new jet at its facility in Palmdale, Calif.

Related reading: 

With an eye to China, the U.S. considers growing its Philippine footprint even more. The Philippines has already given the Defense Department access to four additional bases this year, raising the previous total from five to nine. But U.S. officials may soon ask to access more locations, the leader of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, Adm. John Aquilino, said Thursday in Manila. 

Any potential expansion would still be under the two countries’ Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement, which Philippine military chief Lt. Gen. Romeo Brawner said involves training exercises and disaster response, and is “unrelated to regional security threats,” according to Reuters

By the way: About a dozen countries are participating in more than 40 exercises with the U.S. military across the Indo-Pacific region. Those nations are “collectively acting as a counterweight to irresponsible, and overly aggressive behavior,” the head of U.S. Army Pacific, Gen. Charles Flynn, said Wednesday—without mentioning China. Why does that matter? Defense One’s Patrick Tucker explains

New: The U.S. is sanctioning more than 150 entities for doing business with Russian firms, and for selling those firms Western-made parts that are often critical to Russia’s ongoing Ukraine invasion and occupation. The targets of these new sanctions include individuals and companies in Turkey, Georgia, the UAE, Russia, and elsewhere. 

Also added: Two Panama-flagged storage tanker ships. 

“Russia is trying to run a full production wartime economy, and it is extremely difficult to do that with secretive episodic purchases of small batches of equipment from different places around the world,” the State Department’s James O’Brien told the Associated Press. Reuters has more on the Turkish firms involved, here.  

Related: A multibillion-dollar arms deal between the Saudis and RTX fell apart recently because of Riyadh’s outreach to Chinese and Russian firms under U.S. sanctions, the Wall Street Journal reported Thursday, citing insiders familiar with the deal. 

Developing: Border patrol agents may soon be able to use a specialized network to communicate in remote areas, Defense One’s Lauren Williams reports, based on an exclusive interview with contract provider goTenna. 

They’re known as mesh networks. And while they aren’t new, they can extend connectivity to places officers hadn’t been able to talk to each other quite so easily in the past, goTenna says. Read more from that Q&A, here.

On the Hill today: President Biden’s pick to lead the Navy, Adm. Lisa Franchetti, is testifying before the Senate Armed Services Committee in a hearing that began at 9:30 a.m. ET. You can watch the livestream here

Lastly today: The Royal Navy’s top officer sees a “dreadnought moment” in

Ukraine’s use of drones to sink Russian warships, D1’s Sam Skove reports from the DSEI show in London. Adm. Ben Key’s reference is to the early 1900s, when advances in propulsion, armament, and armor brought about HMS Dreadnought, a weapon so fearsome it forced leading navies of the era to overhaul their strategies and acquisition plans.