The D Brief: Most of NATO meets 2% goal; Russian lies infecting AI; Kyiv’s robot boats; Army’s hypersonic delay; And a bit more.

New: Twenty-three out of 32 NATO members now meet the 2% of GDP target for defense spending, which is twice the number from just four years ago and the most ever to meet the 2% target, according to the latest figures released Monday by the alliance.

That includes Albania, Bulgaria, Czechia, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Montenegro, the Netherlands, North Macedonia, Norway, Poland (leading all with 4.12% of GDP), Romania, the Slovak Republic, Sweden, Turkey, the U.K., and the U.S.

That excludes Belgium, Canada, Croatia, Italy, Luxembourg, Portugal, Slovenia, and Spain. 

Defense spending rose 18% across all alliance members, NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg said Monday during his visit to the White House for talks with President Joe Biden. That 18% is the “biggest increase in decades,” he said. 

“A lot of this money is actually spent here in the United States,” Stoltenberg stressed. “Allies are buying more and more equipment from the U.S. So NATO is good for U.S. security, but NATO is also good for U.S. jobs,” he said. 

“This [is] one of the most consequential moments for Europe since World War II,” Biden said. “NATO was founded 75 years ago, and I think the lessons we’ve learned then and about standing together to defend and deter aggression have been consequential,” he added. 

Stoltenberg is meeting with Secretary of State Antony Blinken in Washington today. He’s later slated to meet with members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, as well as Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and the Senate’s NATO Observer Group. 

Nuclear messaging: Stoltenberg also told the UK’s Telegraph the alliance is considering moving some nuclear weapons to a state of heightened readiness because of the growing threat from Russia and China. “Transparency helps to communicate the direct message that...[NATO] is a nuclear alliance,” he said in the interview published Sunday. 

Russian leader Vladimir Putin continued his purge of military officials, reportedly dismissing four deputy defense ministers, according to the Washington-based Institute for the Study of War. Russian expert Dara Massicot described the moves as “Big, though not unexpected changes.” 

“Many finance ministry types are coming in, in an attempt to improve processes and efficiency, [and] in advance of a rearmament program,” she added. (We discussed this open and deliberate shift in one of our recent podcast episodes focusing on Russian defense spending, here.) 

And Putin’s press team announced Monday that he’s headed to North Korea for the first time in more than 20 years today and Wednesday. Putin is also reported visiting Vietnam after his Pyongyang stopover—most likely to keep relations warm since his invasion and occupation troops badly need North Korea’s famously vast quantities of artillery shells.

Welcome to this Tuesday 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 1981, the Lockheed F-117 Nighthawk completed its first flight.

Russian disinformation has infected AI chatbots, reports NewsGuard, a company that makes tools and services for spotting lies. They asked 10 leading AI chatbots—OpenAI’s ChatGPT-4,’s Smart Assistant, xAI’s Grok, Inflection’s Pi, Mistral’s le Chat, Microsoft’s Copilot, Meta AI, Anthropic’s Claude, Google’s Gemini, and Perplexity’s answer engine—about false narratives created by one Russia agent.

The chatbots regurgitated the disinformation just under one-third of the time. Read the report by NewsGuard, a member of NIST’s U.S. AI Safety Institute, here.

Russia is deliberately flooding newsrooms around the world with fake content in part to overwhelm fact-checkers, according to Finnish IT company Check First. Read that, here

Ukraine’s robot boats are reshaping naval warfare. Aerial drones and uncrewed surface vessel are hampering Russian naval operations in the Black Sea and rewriting the playbook for maritime war planners, Jon Hemler and Derek Bisaccio write for Defense One sister brand Forecast International. Read their wrapup of Kyiv’s naval assaults—and how Russian and Ukrainian tactics are evolving—here.

Red Sea update: U.S. forces destroyed four Houthi radars and one uncrewed surface vessel in Houthi-controlled areas of Yemen on Monday. “Additionally, [U.S.] forces successfully destroyed one Iranian-backed Houthi uncrewed aerial vehicle (UAV) over the Red Sea,” Central Command officials said Monday.

Developmental delays are pushing the Army’s hypersonic missile back to next fiscal year, Defense One’s Sam Skove reported Monday. More specifically, problems with the launcher and launch sequence of the new Long Range Hypersonic Weapon System are slowing program plans, according to a new report from the Government Accountability Office. 

Officials want to fix the problems and test the missile and launcher together no later than the fourth quarter of fiscal year 2024. However, even a successful launch might not be the end of the Army’s worries, Skove reports.

Heads up: We’re off Wednesday for the Juneteenth federal holiday. But the following day, Booz Allen Hamilton is hosting its data-focused DX24 event at Washington’s Helix Center for Innovation on 15th Street NW. It’s an all-day event beginning at 8:30 a.m. ET and running through 5 p.m. 

Speakers include Air Force Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations Lt. Gen. Adrian Spain, Marine Maj. Gen. William Seely III, Army Futures Command’s Col. Shane Upton, and more.

There are both in-person only and virtual events available. Details, agenda, and registration here