Fdd's overnight brief

April 29, 2020

In The News


The United States has circulated a draft U.N. resolution that would indefinitely extend a U.N. arms embargo on Iran set to expire in October, a move almost certain to spark opposition from Russia, which has made no secret of its desire to resume conventional weapons sales to Tehran, U.S. officials and U.N. diplomats said Tuesday. – Associated Press 

Several conservative contestants for the post of the Speaker of Iran’s Parliament (Majles) are trying to prevent Tehran’s former Mayor Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf from winning the position, says reformist newspaper Ebtekar in Tehran. – Radio Farda 

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani told his citizens they should be cautious but not afraid of the coronavirus, which has killed thousands in his country. […]The nation has been one of the hardest hit by the pandemic, with researchers and opposition groups claiming there have been far more deaths than the regime has reported. – Washington Examiner

The mystery of the satellite’s operational capability was potentially solved Saturday when Space Force Gen. Jay Raymond, the recently appointed commander of the military’s sixth branch — the subject of a spoof Netflix sitcom starring Steve Carell — took to Twitter to scoff at the proclamations coming out of Tehran. – Military Times 

The bipartisan United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) has singled out Iran and several other countries for criticism in its annual report released on Tuesday, April 28. – Radio Farda 

The Trump administration and its allies have portrayed Iran’s first successful military space launch last week as a major threat to international security. […]But the U.S. military has downplayed the Iranian satellite, arguing that it is not even useful as an intelligence platform. – The National Interest

The false belief that toxic methanol cures the coronavirus has seen over 700 people killed in Iran, an official said Monday. That represents a higher death toll than so far released by the Iranian Health Ministry. – Associated Press  

Iranian dissidents are urging the international community not to give Tehran $5 billion in International Monetary Fund aid in response to the coronavirus outbreak, saying it would only serve to fund a “machinery of suppression” in Iran. – Fox News 

An Iranian scientist who has been pleading for weeks to be released from a US immigration jail due to his fragile health has contracted Covid-19, according to his family and attorneys. – The Guardian 

The editor in chief and a social-media administrator of Iran’s semiofficial ILNA news agency were detained last week over a cartoon deemed insulting to the country’s leadership. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

The Fotros is Iran’s answer to the American Predator and Reaper drones. Like the Predator and Reaper, the Fotros can carry weapons and loiter over a battlefield for as long as a day. – The National Interest 

Iran appears to have shown little public or private support for 12 Iranians under prosecution or convicted of crimes in the U.S., despite pledging to work for the release of such citizens four months ago in another potential prisoner swap with Washington. – VOA News 

Any “illegal and provocative move” will be met with the crushing response of the Iranian forces, General Headquarters of the Islamic Republic Armed Forces has warned U.S. forces in the Persian Gulf. – Radio Farda 

Peter Suciu writes: Whether such a response is required still remains a matter of debate, but what is crucial is having an accurate and reliable early warning system that can spot and track the Iranian gunboats before these are a threat. […]The U.S. Navy has reaffirmed that it needs to be ready to attack or counterstrike if provoked. – The National Interest 


Tanker tracking sources say Iran’s oil exports to Syria have increased substantially in recent weeks and currently several cargoes have reached the Baniyas port in Syria. – Radio Farda 

At least 40 people have been killed in a bomb attack in the north-western Syrian city of Afrin, Turkey says. […]The Turkish government accuses the YPG of being an extension of the banned Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which is designated as a terrorist organisation by Turkey, the US and EU. – BBC 

In an article in the weekly Enab Baladi, identified with the Syrian opposition, author and journalist Khatib Badla harshly condemned the sanctification of death in Arab society. – Middle East Media Research Institute 

Defense Minister Naftali Bennett on Tuesday appeared to confirm that Israel was behind an airstrike against pro-Iranian forces in Syria the day before, saying the military was working to drive Tehran out of the country. – Times of Israel 

Human Rights Watch said Tuesday that medical supplies to prevent and treat the new coronavirus are not reaching northeast Syria because of restrictions imposed by the Syrian government and the Kurdish regional government. – Associated Press 

The official military Spokesman for Operation Inherent Resolve denied a report on Monday by the Syrian state news agency SANA that had claimed that two US soldiers went missing after their vehicle was attacked by unknown assailants. – Jerusalem Post

Charles Thépaut writes: Although the Kremlin likely sees it as a success, the Astana format highlights challenges ahead for Moscow. It will mostly be up to Turkey to decide how long and for what benefit it wants to keep entertaining a Russian showcase that has failed to protect the border, manage refugee flows, or address the core issue sustaining the conflict: namely, the lack of a viable negotiation process in which Syrians themselves determine the future organization and practice of power in their country. – Washington Institute


The latest headlines about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict continously center on settlements, annexation and drawing borders. But that narrative entirely misses the core issue sustaining the decades-long conflict, argues Einat Wilf in her latest book. – Jewish Insider

The Palestinian Authority (PA), and the PLO’s largest party, Fatah, on Thursday marked the anniversary of the “deaths as martyrs” of three terrorists who participated in the planning, kidnapping and murder of 11 Israeli athletes at the 1972 Munich Olympics, according to a report released by the watchdog group Palestinian Media Watch. – Jerusalem Post 

Seth J. Frantzman writes: In contrast to the Syrian former general’s views, Israel argues that Iranian entrenchment in Syria has led to instability and has said Iranian forces should leave Syria. The US has also asserted that Iranian forces and their affiliates should leave Syria. – Jerusalem Post 

Michael Herzog and Ghaith al-Omari write: The basic pre-pandemic diplomatic dynamics are still in play, and the PA is unlikely to reverse its rejection of the Trump peace plan. Moreover, the crisis has injected new volatility into the arena and increased the urgency of maintaining stability on the ground. […]Finally, the United States should explore whether the pandemic’s daunting challenges can be used to convince the PA to resume political engagement with Washington. – Washington Institute


A militant wearing a suicide vest struck an intelligence bureau in northern Iraq on Tuesday, wounding at least three members of the security personnel, Iraqi officials said, blaming the attack on the Islamic State group. – Associated Press 

The Pentagon is considering awarding Purple Hearts to U.S. troops who suffered mild traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) during an Iranian missile attack against Al Assad and Erbil air bases in Iraq earlier this year. – Fox News 

Seth J. Frantzman writes: The current crisis within the existing Iraqi crises appears to indicate a rift between the hard core members who want Iraq to be a springboard for Iranian activities in the region and those who want to focus on more local issues. […]This will cause the PMU to exert more control. But the drive for control may have also created this internal rift. – Jerusalem Post


As Lebanon begins to reopen after a pandemic lockdown, protesters have burst onto the streets to demand relief from the country’s deteriorating economy in one of the first signs of a violent backlash following weeks under quarantine. – Wall Street Journal 

The U.S. State Department’s top diplomat for the Middle East has urged crisis-hit Lebanon to prove its commitment to reform in order to secure international assistance, Saudi-owned Al Arabiya TV channel said on Wednesday. – Reuters 

Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah will speak on Al-Manar TV on Friday at 9:30 p.m. amid a deepening economic crisis in Lebanon and a number of strikes attributed to Israel in Syria and along the Syria-Lebanon border. – Jerusalem Post 

The deputy leader of Lebanon’s powerful Hezbollah movement criticized the central bank over the pound’s drop to record lows against the US dollar and said its governor was partly responsible, according media reports on Tuesday. – Reuters 

Arabian Peninsula

After five years of war, the Saudi crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, appeared to be inching away from his ruinous campaign in Yemen in recent weeks, seizing on the coronavirus pandemic to declare a unilateral cease-fire that, although ineffective, at least signaled that the prince finally agreed with critics who insisted the fight was unwinnable. His fractious Yemeni allies, however, have other ideas. – New York Times 

Saudi Arabia’s cabinet has urged Yemen’s main separatist group, which has declared self-rule in the south, to abide by an agreement to end a previous standoff with the Saudi-backed government. – Reuters 

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Tuesday Washington was ‘concerned’ over the Southern Transitional Council (STC), a separatist group, declaring self-rule in Yemen’s south, warning such actions threatened efforts to revive talks between the Yemeni government and Houthi rebels. – Reuters 

Saudi Arabia’s General Authority for Military Industries (GAMI) announced on 27 April that the country was procuring six unmanned systems from local firm Intra Defence Technologies for delivery in 2021, and a further 40 systems within five years. – Jane’s 360 

There is a “very real probability” the new coronavirus is circulating in Yemen, the United Nations said on Tuesday, warning that an aid funding shortfall would compromise efforts to combat the virus in one of the most vulnerable countries. – Reuters 

Women who dare dissent, or even enter the public sphere, have become targets in an escalating crackdown by the Houthis. […]Long-held traditions and tribal protections once guarded women from detention and abuse, but those taboos are succumbing to the pressures of war. – Associated Press 

Donna Abu-Nasr writes: A combination of his own actions and calamitous world events is now throwing up some tough questions for the prince over whether his economic dream remains attainable in its current form. For all Crown Prince Mohammed’s efforts to crush dissenters at home and silence his critics abroad, his role in escalating an oil war with Russia showed a rashness that’s marked some of his decisions—including a failed boycott of neighboring Qatar and a disastrous military campaign in Yemen. – Bloomberg


Gen. Khalifa Haftar, the rebel leader who controls Libya’s oil-rich east, recently declared he has a popular mandate to rule all of the North African nation, a move that may give Russia the upper hand if he can succeed in taking Tripoli amid nearly a decade’s worth of sectarian strife. – Washington Examiner

Eastern Libyan forces laying siege to the country’s capital of Tripoli accused their rivals Tuesday of staging an attack in which a Turkish drone hit a food truck convoy in the country’s west, killing at least five civilians. – Associated Press 

Authorities in rebel-held eastern Libya have expelled 1,400 migrants and refugees so far this year, in violation of international law, the U.N. rights office said on Tuesday. – Reuters

Middle East & North Africa

Morocco rejected allegations of police brutality in enforcing a lockdown to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, after an official in the office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights included it in a list of countries where crackdowns had raised concern. – Reuters 

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said in a letter to President Donald Trump he hoped the U.S. Congress would better understand the strategic importance of their relations, given solidarity and supplies shared during the coronavirus pandemic. – Reuters 

Jon B. Alterman writes: Even though Covid-19 has not swept the Middle East as feared, the economic impacts of the pandemic will pose severe challenges. […]Addressing the region’s economic and political ills, and not just merely its medical ones, will become an urgent challenge in the years ahead. – Center for Strategic and International Studies  

Przemysław Osiewicz writes: Historical experience suggests that critical moments can be the best time to implement changes and introduce solutions. This, in turn, should encourage EU institutions to develop a comprehensive strategy toward the broader MENA region, because the EU will not be able to enter into any meaningful talks without a coherent and realistic vision of its main objectives in the region. – Middle East Institute

Korean Peninsula

North Korea typically puts on a good poker face when a member of its ruling Kim dynasty falls gravely ill. The health of North Korean leaders is among the isolated regime’s most closely guarded secrets—and something foreign intelligence agencies have struggled to keep tabs on. – Wall Street Journal 

New rumors about Kim Jong Un pour in daily. The North Korean leader is dead. Or he’s very ill. Or maybe he’s just recuperating in his luxury compound. As speculation about his health builds, an underlying question looms for professional spies, outside policymakers, academics and curious news-consumers alike. – Associated Press 

For about as long as North Korea has existed, Kim Pyong Il has been considered a possible successor to the throne. And now, with his nephew Kim Jong Un’s health status unclear, his name is being bandied about again. – Bloomberg 

Fear of the coronavirus could have been keeping North Korean leader Kim Jong Un out of public sight, a South Korean minister and U.S. sources said on Tuesday, following intense speculation and concern as to his whereabouts and health. – Reuters 

Satellite imagery showing recent movements of luxury boats often used by North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and his entourage near Wonsan provide further indications he has been at the coastal resort, according to experts who monitor the reclusive regime. – Reuters 

Gordon G. Chang writes: A succession in any one-man state is an epoch-changing event, but in no one-man state is the one man as important as he is in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, often described as a cult built around the Kim family. The death or incapacity of a Kim leader, therefore, is a crisis of the first order.  – The National Interest

Ian Bremmer writes: If North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-un were to suddenly die, there are two options, really. Either the transfer of power to another member of the Kim family (and/or a trusted member of the regime) goes smoothly… or it doesn’t. – The National Interest


China is pushing back against the growing chorus of voices around the world calling for the country to pay compensation for the damage caused by the coronavirus pandemic, which originated in the Chinese city of Wuhan. – New York Times

While most consumers still have yet to upgrade to 5G wireless service around the world, and its deployment is still only in the “rolling out” stages, in Beijing plans could be underway to develop 6G wireless technology. This wouldn’t be for faster streaming for consumers in China, or even as a way to better track its populace – as has been done increasingly since the outbreak of the coronavirus that first emerged in the city of Wuhan. – The National Interest

China, in a step toward returning to business as normal, announced Wednesday that its previously postponed national legislature session would be held in late May. – Associated Press

A senior Chinese official denounced White House trade adviser Peter Navarro by name after he rebuked Beijing for allowing the export of faulty testing kits during the coronavirus pandemic. – Washington Examiner

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) plans to introduce a bill preventing film studios from receiving Department of Defense assistance if they accommodate Chinese censorship of their movies, the senator announced Tuesday. – The Hill

China will begin trialling payments in its new digital currency in four major cities from next week, according to domestic media. – The Guardian

Chinese authorities said they sortied ships and aircraft to “track, monitor, verify, identify and expel” a U.S. warship from the Paracel Island chain in the South China Sea on Tuesday, People’s Liberation Army (PLA) officials said on Chinese social media. – USNI News 

The following is the April 24, 2020 Congressional Research Service Report, China Naval Modernization: Implications for U.S. Navy Capabilities—Background and Issues for Congress. – USNI News 

China announced on Wednesday that its parliament will open a key annual session on May 22, signalling that Beijing sees the country returning to normal after being reduced to a near-standstill for months by the COVID-19 epidemic. – Reuters 

Images released on a Chinese Defense blog last week showed the Chinese People’s Liberation Army’s new PHZ-11 122mm Multiple Launch Rocket System (MLRS) on tracked chassis. It is reportedly now in service with the 62nd Heavy Combined-Arms Brigade, LX14, 76th Group Army, Western Theater Command. – The National Interest 

Professor Vladislav Inozemtsev, who amongst his many titles is the Founder and Scientific Director of the Center for Post-Industrial Society Studies (Moscow), and the chair at the Department of World Economy, Faculty of Public Governance, Moscow State University, wrote an article highly critical of Chinese policy during the coronavirus crisis. – Middle East Media Research Institute 

Tom Rogan writes: How is Beijing getting this PR shtick so wrong? Because the Communist Party has allowed itself to become too arrogant. Just as his party had assumed its allies would win elections in Hong Kong, Xi had assumed that his pathway to a new Chinese-led international order was secure. He really believed that the world would get into line behind his lies about the coronavirus and his mantra that we’re all in this together. – Washington Examiner

Peter Suciu writes: In many it now appears that the shift in military strength is simply moving from the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) to the PLAN Marine Corps – which according to reports from the U.S. Naval Institute could grow some 400% from 20,000 marines to more than 100,000. – The National Interest

Mordechai Chaziza writes: . Although it is unlikely that COVID-19 will be fatal to the implementation of BRI projects, but the disease’s fast and lethal spread will cause Middle East governments to rethink the risks attached to ever more integration and economic dependence on China’s infrastructure-based development strategy. – Middle East Institute 

Michael Sobolik writes: Washington must raise the cost of the CCP’s Orwellian actions. This pressure could include sanctioning foreign entities for censoring coronavirus data, prohibiting U.S. government employees from conducting official business over software developed by PRC companies known to surveil and censor data, and increasing funding for NGOs developing technical workarounds for the Great Firewall. – The Diplomat

South Asia

Religious freedoms in India deteriorated sharply last year as the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi allowed “campaigns of harassment and violence” against Muslims and other religious minorities to continue, according to a U.S. watchdog group. – Washington Post 

India’s news publishers face a delicate balancing act as they look to offset financial losses from sinking ad sales with support from a government seeking to control the narrative on the coronavirus, sometimes by prosecuting journalists for reporting on the detrimental consequences of official pandemic policy. – Associated Press

Myanmar’s military may once again be committing crimes against humanity in Rakhine state, the UN special rapporteur on human rights has warned, urging the international community to prevent further atrocities. – The Guardian 

Abhinav Pandya writes: India’s revamped political and strategic establishment, after years of vacillation and appeasement, now firmly believes that there can be no lasting solution to Pakistan-sponsored terrorism except by recapturing the part of Kashmir occupied by its neighbor, from where terror attacks are invariably launched. The clouds of war loom large in post-coronavirus South Asia. – Haaretz

Ronald E. Neumann writes: The U.S. is rightly appalled by the actions of Afghan leaders. Secretary Pompeo has threatened to cut off $1 billion of aid. He is right to insist that Afghan leaders must find their own solution.  In the meantime, the essentially selfish behavior of Afghan leaders is doing nothing to benefit the Afghan people. Both leaders need to rethink their responsibility to their people and their place in history. – The Hill


China accused Australia of “petty tricks” on Wednesday in an intensifying dispute over Canberra’s push for an international inquiry into the coronavirus outbreak that could affect diplomatic and economic ties between the countries. – Reuters 

The United Nations has raised concern over some countries’ repressive measures to implement lockdowns, citing the Philippines’ “highly militarized response” to contain the coronavirus spread. – CNN

The Australian prime minister, Scott Morrison, has defied China and defended the “entirely reasonable and sensible” call for an investigation into the origins of coronavirus, as the international political fallout over the pandemic deepened. – The Guardian

Australia has been described as “gum stuck to the bottom of China’s shoe,” by a Chinese state media editor as Beijing criticised calls for an inquiry into the coronavirus origin as “political manoeuvring,” further straining ties. – The Guardian

A Hong Kong court on Wednesday rejected an appeal by pro-democracy activist Edward Leung against a six-year jail term for his part in demonstrations in the Chinese-ruled city in 2016 that turned violent. – Reuters 

Evan A. Feigenbaum and Jeremy Smith write: Without question, Taiwan’s comparative advantage in hardware is pivotal. But this, by itself, will not set Taiwan up for the industrial and technological challenges of the future. The infrastructure and tools of the next-generation economy still need to be designed and developed, so the time for Taiwan to educate and build in this space is now. – The National Interest


The head of Russia’s state atomic corporation expressed concern on Tuesday about the spread of the new coronavirus to three ‘nuclear cities’, including one that houses a top-secret research institute that helped develop the Soviet atomic bomb. – Reuters 

The Pentagon is moving to scuttle nearly 19 more military construction projects ― including $274 million worth in Europe to deter Russia ― as a means to backfill a number of building projects at home that were deferred to pay for President Donald Trump’s border wall. – Defense News 

The mayor of one of the Czech capital’s districts said on Tuesday he had been put under police protection due to a threat that a Russian man had been sent to kill him, escalating a row between Prague and Moscow. – Reuters


European governments are preparing to unlock the continent’s economy by introducing rules and guidelines that amount to a sweeping reconfiguration of everyday life, from subway seating to classroom size. – Wall Street Journal 

Most nations of Europe’s north are set to recover faster from their medically induced economic comas than those in the south, exacerbating a divergence of fortunes in the eurozone and feeding political tensions over how to pay for the fallout of the coronavirus pandemic. – Wall Street Journal

Spain is to take over responsibility for leading NATO’s Baltic Air Policing (BAP) mission, with four Boeing EF-18M Hornet fighters recently arriving at Šiauliai Airbase in Lithuania. – Jane’s 360 

As NATO members respond to the coronavirus, individually and collectively, officials in Brussels have begun cataloging lessons learned for the next pandemic. The goal is to find ways of turning the current crisis into something of a teachable moment, fusing COVID-19 improvisation with Cold War-era plans that have largely laid dormant for decades. – Defense News


Vaccinations for up to 12 million children to prevent the spread of polio in Africa will be delayed, in a major redeployment of polio eradication resources to fight the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic. – The Guardian

Kenya’s economy could shrink by as much as 1% should disruptions caused by the coronavirus pandemic last for about three months, according to the World Bank. That’s even worse than in 2008, when a cocktail of post-election violence that killed more than a thousand people, drought and the global financial crisis curtailed output in East Africa’s biggest economy. – Reuters 

Mozambique security forces killed at least 129 insurgents in the northern Cabo Delgado region that has been besieged by violence for at least the last three years, the interior minister said on Tuesday. – Reuters 

Guillaume Soro, the former rebel leader running for president in Ivory Coast, was convicted in absentia on Tuesday of embezzlement and sentenced to 20 years in prison, a verdict likely to exclude him from October’s election. […]Last week, the African Union’s human rights court ordered the arrest warrant temporarily suspended while it weighed arguments by Soro’s lawyers that his rights had been violated, but the court pressed ahead with the trial anyway. – Reuters

North America

Major powers must suspend economic sanctions against countries including Syria, Iran and Venezuela during the coronarivus pandemic which threatens to worsen hunger and suffering for the poor, an international refugee charity said on Tuesday. – Reuters 

A bipartisan group of lawmakers in the House of Representatives on Monday introduced the Open Technology Fund Authorization Act to help fight social media and news censorship by “oppressive governments” such as Iran, North Korea, China and Russia and to improve Internet freedom globally. – Reuters 

Former Vice President Joe Biden said Monday he would return to Obama-era policies of engagement with Cuba and reverse the Trump administration’s sanctions if he wins the White House race in November. – The Hill

Rep. Michael McCaul (Texas), the top Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, is calling for the panel to hold hearings on the Chinese government and World Health Organization’s (WHO) handling of the coronavirus outbreak. – The Hill

The number of antisemitic incidents in Canada hit a record high for a fourth consecutive year in 2019, according to a new study published on Monday. – Algemeiner

New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio sparked criticism on Tuesday night for a tweet that warned “the Jewish community” against violating coronavirus guidelines after a large Haredi Jewish funeral was held. – Ha’aretz

Stephen Morrison and Anna Carroll write: The threat posed by the Trump administration to WHO is serious, real, and urgent. Little time remains to avoid bad outcomes with major consequences. A turn to common sense solutions can create the opportunity for the United States to reclaim global leadership and advance the common good of humanity amid this dangerous global crisis that threatens us all. – Center for Strategic and International Studies

Latin America

As Latin America’s largest country plunges into its gravest health and economic crises in a generation, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, the man best positioned to buoy a bewildered people, is floundering — hemmed in by scandal, aggrieved by perceived betrayals, unfocused and contradictory in public pronouncements. – Washington Post 

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro on Tuesday named a family friend to head the federal police, days after his justice minister quit and accused the president of meddling in law enforcement for political motives. – Reuters 

Chile and Bolivia agreed on Tuesday to allow several hundred Bolivians stranded in a makeshift tent camp in Santiago to quarantine for 14 days and then return home, Chile’s foreign ministry said in a statement. – Reuters

Nearly 2 million Venezuelans fled to Colombia in recent years to escape their country’s devastating economic crisis and rebuild their lives. But Colombia’s coronavirus lockdown has thrown many of these newcomers out of work, and some are now trying to get home — by any means necessary. – NPR  

President Donald Trump announced the launch of a massive military deployment to the Caribbean and Eastern Pacific earlier this month, ostensibly to fight drug trafficking and help halt the spread of the coronavirus. However, two left-wing Latin American nations argue the move is, above all, an attempt to intimidate them and distract from domestic problems. – Newsweek


The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency was formally designated as a storefront for cybersecurity, the Office of Management and Budget announced April 27, allowing it to offer cyber services to other federal agencies. – Fifth Domain 

Nine lobbying groups including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce have urged India to delay a new digital tax that will hit firms such as Facebook and Google as they are battling the fallout of the coronavirus, a letter seen by Reuters showed. – Reuters 

When law enforcement agencies want to gather evidence locked inside an iPhone, they often turn to hacking software from the Israeli firm Cellebrite. By manually plugging the software into a suspect’s phone, police can break in and determine where the person has gone and whom he or she has met. – Reuters 

Melissa Koch writes: On Jan. 31, the Department of Defense (DoD) released version 1.0 of its Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC) framework, which will require third-party cyber audits for the 300,000+ companies that provide products and services to the department. […]What does this mean for your business? Let’s take a look. – Fifth Domain


The U.S. Air Force is getting new reconnaissance planes equipped to detect atomic explosions. […]The Pentagon has declined to cut a contract for the new Open Skies planes until Trump decides whether to pull out of the treaty. – The National Interest 

The Navy confirmed Tuesday that the guided-missile destroyer, USS Kidd, arrived to port in San Diego and began removing dozens of coronavirus-infected sailors. The Kidd is the second Navy ship sidelined by the virus while at sea. – Washington Examiner

The Senate Armed Services Committee is planning to hold a hearing where top Pentagon officials will lay out their concerns over the recent approval by the Federal Communications Commission to allow Ligado to access L-Band spectrum. – Defense News 

US Army soldiers will not begin receiving a new heads-up display for nearly a year and a half, but the service is now using a prototype to take people’s temperatures before they enter installations. – Jane’s 360 

The U.S. Navy took delivery of its first stealth destroyer and a new Flight IIA Arleigh Burke-class destroyer last week. […]Congress mandated in the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act that the ship not be counted in the battle force until combat systems delivery was compete. – Defense News 

A Navy captain who commanded the school that develops aviation technical training has been removed from his job. […]The relief was carried out by Rear Adm. Kyle Cozad, the head of Naval Education and Training Command. – Military.com 

The second deployed U.S. warship to suffer a COVID-19 outbreak pulled into San Diego on Tuesday to begin the process of offloading, testing, isolating and treating the crew and disinfecting the ship to prepare to head back to sea. – USNI News 

AeroVironment has launched a military version of its Quantix hybrid vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) fixed wing unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) called the Quantix Recon, the company announced on 23 April. – Jane’s 360 

The Air Force recently proved through a series of tests that its KC-135 Stratotanker aircraft can fly more efficiently just by mounting the cockpit window’s wiper blades vertically instead of horizontally. The potential fuel cost savings: about $7 million per year. – Military.com 

A group of 10 Democratic senators have issued a new letter blasting Defense Secretary Mark Esper for “dysfunctional decision-making” in how the Pentagon has tackled the coronavirus pandemic — with the Pentagon offering unusually strong pushback. – Defense News 

It’s still too early to say if the COVID-19-related economic slowdown is significantly disrupting the production of major programs, the Navy’s top weapons-buyer said during a media call Tuesday. – USNI News 

Lockheed Martin plans to launch the second of its Pony Express satellite payloads by mid-2021, the company has told Jane’s , expanding military users’ ability to exploit a range of applications through a software-defined architecture. – Jane’s 360 

Flyovers aren’t just for the Air Force Thunderbirds and the Navy Blue Angels demonstration teams. Bomber units attached to Air Force Global Strike Command are gearing up to salute health care workers and first responders on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic fight in a series of flyovers across three states this week. – Military.com 

The Navy’s head of manpower is filling in as the service’s civilian second-in-command, a Navy official told USNI News. As of Friday, Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Manpower and Reserve Affairs Gregory Slavonic is performing the duties of the Undersecretary of the Navy as well as his current role. – USNI News 

An undisclosed number of sailors from the USS Ronald Reagan strike group tested positive for coronavirus after a Task Force 70-ordered sequestration period, a Navy spokesman said Tuesday. […]The strike group includes the Reagan and the accompanying guided-missile cruisers and destroyers that deploy alongside the aircraft carrier. – Military.com 

The Navy is moving forward with its plans to take advantage of a commercial aviation slowdown by accelerating new orders, buying spare parts and conducting depot maintenance – all in conjunction with the other services, to get the maximum benefit of what the industry has to offer even while combating the COVID-19 pandemic. – USNI News 

The Navy is throwing extra money at some sailors willing to extend their time at sea or head back earlier than planned — all while the service struggles to control coronavirus outbreaks on ships. – Military.com 

The Pentagon is taking money from 19 construction projects, including several in Europe meant to deter Russia, in order to pay for construction projects stateside that had been delayed because funding was reallocated to President Trump’s border wall. – The Hill

The bipartisan leaders of the House Armed Services Committee vowed Tuesday to pass the annual defense policy bill this year even as the coronavirus pandemic keeps congressional schedules in limbo. – The Hill

The U.S. Air Force is getting ready to launch its sixth mission with the mysterious X-37B space plane. If history is any guide, space mission OTV-6 could last as long as two years. – The National Interest

Kirk Pysher writes: The Air Force, in its role as anchor customer, needs to clearly understand commercial market dependencies and business cases of its key providers. With that understanding, the Air Force will mitigate any risk of critical national security missions being dependent on a finicky and fluctuating commercial market. – Defense News

Missile Defense

With thermal vacuum testing begun April 16, the next space-based missile warning satellite has reached a major milestone, the Space and Missile Systems Center announced April 24. The Space Based Infrared System (SBIRS) of satellites use infrared surveillance to provide global missile warning capabilities for the U.S. military. – C4ISRNET 

South Korea’s Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) announced on 28 April that deliveries of the Cheongung Korean medium-range surface-to-air missile (KM-SAM or M-SAM) Block-1 system to the Republic of Korea Air Force (RoKAF) have been completed. […]In June 2017 South Korea announced the beginning of mass-production of the Cheongung Block-2 variant to better counter North Korea’s growing missile threats. – Jane’s 360 

Taiwan’s National Chung-Shan Institute of Science and Technology (NCSIST) test-fired its new Yun Feng (Cloud Peak) long-range land-attack attack cruise missile (LACM) on 15 April. – Jane’s 360 

Iain King writes: The bottom line is that these countries identified as primary threats in the national defense strategy are investing in nuclear capabilities, just as the coronavirus brings more risks and uncertainty. So for the United States to presume it is safe against these threats is as dangerous today as it was to not plan for pandemics. Modernization of the nuclear missile triad, both in terms of delivery systems and warheads, has become essential in this era of uncertainty. – The Hill

Long War

A suicide bomber on Wednesday targeted a base belonging to Afghan special forces on the southern outskirts of the capital, Kabul, killing at least three civilians and wounding 15, officials said. – Associated Press

The driver who rammed his car into two police motorcyclists in a Paris suburb had pledged allegiance to Islamic State, the French anti-terrorism prosecutor said on Tuesday. – Reuters 

A terrorist stabbing attack has been reported in the central Israeli city of Kfar Saba Tuesday afternoon. – Arutz Sheva

Mohamed Mokhtar Qandil writes: While the international community is focused on addressing the coronavirus outbreak, the countries of the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS must maintain their presence in the areas where ISIS is rebounding as much as is possible. […]Otherwise, those organizations may be able to reconstitute its ranks and exploit the current crisis to attract countless volunteers, especially amid the economic crisis the world will undergo in the period ahead as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. – Washington Institute