The D Brief: Russia’s resiliency; B-1 over Korea; Dueling budget proposals; New border limits; And a bit more.

Russia’s war machine is moving into overdrive: Norway’s defense chief thinks NATO has just two to three years to rebuild its military stocks before Russia has renewed its own ability to attack alliance members in Europe, Bloomberg reported Tuesday. 

“At one point someone said it’ll take 10 years” for Russia to regenerate its losses from the ongoing Ukraine invasion, “but I think we’re back to less than 10 years because of the industrial base that is now running in Russia,” Gen. Eirik Kristoffersen said Monday in Oslo. Still, he added, “It will take [Moscow] some time, which gives us a window now for the next two to three years to rebuild our forces, to rebuild our stocks at the same times as we are supporting Ukraine.”

One U.S. expert’s grim forecast: “Unfortunately for Ukraine and the West, it is increasingly clear that, with sufficient political will, even an anemic level of economic growth can likely sustain the Russian war effort for years to come,” Atlantic Council alum Emma Ashford wrote recently in a 10-point mythbusting analysis for the Stimson Center. “The most plausible range of scenarios for the war suggests grinding conflict that moderately advantages Russia, but only in the costly conquest of tiny amounts of territory,” she wrote in late May. 

To those looking for a settlement or some sustainable way out of the Ukraine war, “Assurances to Russia about future NATO expansion, or conventional arms control limitations on either side, could help to defuse concerns about future conflict and improve the odds a settlement will succeed,” she said, but cautioned, “Precisely because they are controversial, however, these issues will be significantly harder to reach agreement on.” Read more, here

Developing: Moldova’s former army chief has reportedly been revealed as a Russian spy, according to Latvia-based investigative website The Insider, reporting Wednesday. The claim originates from alleged “Telegram correspondence between former Chief of the Moldovan General Staff Igor Gorgan and his GRU handler, Russian Colonel Alexei Makarov,” Sergey Kanev of The Insider reports. 

Background: “Gorgan served in the General Staff until late 2021, when the country’s new Western-leaning president Maia Sandu requested his resignation,” Kanev writes. “Leveraging his remaining connections in the Moldovan Defense Ministry, Gorgan continues to be a key GRU informant.” Continue reading, here

U.S. politics watch: House lawmakers overwhelmingly rejected an anti-NATO amendment from the 2025 Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill on Tuesday. The amendment was authored by Georgia far-right Republican Marjorie Taylor Greene and would have removed $434 million for NATO’s Security Investment Program, which funds military infrastructure projects related to alliance readiness. 

Final count: A total of 354 lawmakers voted against the measure (including 157 Republicans joining 197 Democrats) while just 45 Republicans voted with Greene. 

Context: The bill passed the Appropriations Committee two weeks ago in a party line 34-25 vote. But it contains several measures that the White House does not support, including restrictions on abortion access for veterans and a ban on closing the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay, which could lead to a presidential veto. The Hill has a bit more, reporting Monday. 

Speaking of House appropriators, they want to buy more F-35 fighters next fiscal year, but they don’t want to fund a second attack submarine in fiscal 2025, which is a notable split from House authorizers’ own defense policy proposal, Defense One’s Audrey Decker reported Tuesday.

The House Appropriations committee’s $833 billion spending proposal was just released Tuesday. As written, it would cut overall procurement funds for the Pentagon—while also adding money to buy eight more F-35s, which would raise the total buy that year to 76 jets. By contrast, the House Armed Services committee’s version proposes to cut 10 F-35s, and delay the delivery of 10 additional jets, and redirect that money to fix some of the program’s problems, Decker writes. 

Up next: The House Appropriations defense subcommittee is expected to mark up the bill later today. Read on, here

Additional reading: 

Welcome to this Wednesday edition of The D Brief, brought to you by Ben Watson with Bradley Peniston. Share your newsletter tips, reading recommendations, or feedback here. And if you’re not already subscribed, you can do that here. On this day in 1989,Tank Man” was photographed halting a column of Chinese military tanks for more than half an hour just one day after thousands of pro-democracy protesters were violently removed from Beijing’s Tiananmen Square.

Biden limits asylum requests at the U.S.-Mexico border. “President Joe Biden on Tuesday issued an executive order that will allow him to partially suspend asylum requests at the U.S.-Mexico border when daily unauthorized crossings reach a threshold of 2,500 migrants,” reports States Newsroom. “The White House has been dealing with the largest number of migrant encounters at the southern border in 20 years. In addition, presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has made it a top issue for voters. Biden’s move marks his most drastic crackdown on immigration during his administration.”

Journalist Judd Legum notes that “the restrictions Biden has imposed via executive action are more severe than a bipartisan deal negotiated earlier this year in the Senate. Under that legislation, which was scuttled by House Republicans at the behest of former President Donald Trump, asylum seekers would only be presumptively ineligible once daily encounters exceeded 5,000 per day over a week.” More, here.

A B-1B bomber flew over the Korean peninsula for the first time in seven years, dropping JDAMs while escorted by South Korean fighters on Wednesday. According to AP, “The drill — seen as a show of force against North Korea — comes as tensions are rising over the North’s recent launches of rubbish-carrying balloons toward South Korea and other provocations.” More, here.

See also: US, Philippines expand exercise to territorial edges amid tension with China,” via Defense News, reporting Tuesday from the Pacific. 

New: Kelly Magsamen, who is Pentagon chief Lloyd Austin’s chief of staff, is stepping down at the end of the month, Austin said in a statement Wednesday.  

“Kelly has been at my side since the start of my tenure as Secretary of Defense,” Austin said. “She proved instrumental in navigating difficult international challenges, from Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine to the devastating Israel-Hamas war after the October 7th Hamas atrocities, from evacuations of embassies under extraordinary pressure to standing up to bullying and coercion by the People’s Republic of China in the South China Sea,” he added. 

“From day one of this administration, Kelly’s leadership, counsel, and selfless service made our nation safer, made the lives of our people better and more rewarding, and rendered the heavy burden of this office of mine a good bit lighter,” said Austin. 

Worth noting: Magsamen was criticized “in January for her role in not informing the White House about Austin’s hospitalization due to complications from his prostate cancer treatment in January,” Politico’s Lara Seligman writes. According to CNN, “officials said at the time that the White House and Congress were not notified of Austin’s hospitalization in January because Magsamen had the flu.”

Today in images, Marko Djurica of Reuters spotted a woman shopping at a bakery in Tel Aviv with an M-4 rifle casually slung over her shoulder. 

Lastly today: farewell to Doctrine Man!! The stick-figure alter ego of retired Army strategist Steve Leonard and his PowerPoint-generated colleagues will make their final appearance tomorrow. Leonard began drawing the satirical cartoon 14 years ago while he was stationed at U.S. Army Combined Arms Doctrine Directorate at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. “Whichever general I worked for at the time always knew what I was doing,” Leonard told Task & Purpose’s Jeff Schogol. “And so they were never really caught off guard. The only pushback that I ever got was from people who didn’t really understand what it was that I was trying to do, which was not just make people laugh a little bit at themselves but share key topics and drive discussions that we needed to have as a profession.” Read Schogol’s piece, here, and here’s Leonard’s own signoff.