Fdd's overnight brief

April 29, 2022

In The News


President Biden sent Congress a $33 billion request to fund more weapons and provide longer-term economic assistance for Kyiv, as Russia’s military is gradually seizing more territory in Ukraine’s east, pushing south from the city of Izyum with the apparent aim of cutting off Ukrainian forces. – Wall Street Journal 

The Kremlin has sought to minimize discussion of Russian war losses inside Ukraine. But apparent Ukrainian attacks on Russian soil in the past week highlight how the conflict has spilled across the border, unsettling residents of regions near the border and threatening to upend President Vladimir Putin’s effort to insulate his citizens from the fighting he started. – Washington Post 

In a town near the front with Russia in eastern Ukraine, grease-stained Ukrainian soldiers huddled over the engine hatch of a battle-damaged T-64BV battle tank. They had been working for three days straight. – Washington Post 

Russia built a self-proclaimed fortress around its economy in the run-up to war—but there was a crack. Moscow depended on foreign middlemen to ferry its most strategic and lucrative export around the world: oil. – Wall Street Journal 

Russian forces have riddled Ukrainian fields with mines and destroyed equipment in areas they once occupied, in what returning farmers and the Kyiv government allege is a campaign by Moscow to hobble the country’s agricultural industry. – Wall Street Journal 

Ever since Russian forces took the southern Ukrainian city of Kherson in early March, residents sensed the occupiers had a special plan for their town. Now, amid a crescendo of warnings from Ukraine that Russia plans to stage a sham referendum to transform the territory into a pro-Moscow “people’s republic,” it appears locals guessed right. – Associated Press 

Ukraine hopes on Friday to evacuate civilians who are holed up in a vast steel works with the last fighters defending the southern city of Mariupol. – Reuters 

Bogner reports her team has investigated Russia’s indiscriminate use of weapons with wide explosive impact in civilian-populated areas, cases where civilians have been unlawfully killed in summary executions and the use of sexual violence, as well as other possible violations of human rights. – NPR 

Russia’s military is making “incremental progress” in its efforts to capture the Donbas region of Ukraine, a senior U.S. defense official said. – Washington Examiner 

The United Nations’s World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) voted during its first extraordinary session on Wednesday to suspend Russia in protest over the country’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine. – The Hill 

Ukraine on Thursday filed the first-ever war crime charges against Russia, accusing 10 soldiers of torturing and committing violence against citizens in the town of Bucha. – The Hill  

President Biden on Thursday is sending Congress an outline of measures to tighten sanctions enforcement on wealthy Russian allies of Moscow and ultimately use seized assets to help Ukraine rebuild in the wake of Russia’s invasion. – The Hill 

The U.S. ambassador to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) says there is credible evidence that Russian forces have been rounding up people in areas of Ukraine’s south and east and detaining them in “filtration camps,” where they are interrogated. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty 

Ukraine has condemned a Russian air strike on Kyiv during a visit by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres as a “heinous act of barbarism,” as U.S. President Joe Biden seeks tens of billions of dollars more in funding to help Ukraine defeat the Russian invasion. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty  

Editorial: The stakes in Ukraine are enormous for U.S. security. The war is in a crucial phase, as Russia tries to expand its control in Ukraine’s east and crush the Ukrainian army. Defeating Mr. Putin’s war of conquest is still possible, and the West can make the world safer by showing that an alliance of democracies can defeat a marauding dictator. – Wall Street Journal 

Peggy Noonan writes: But I am reading Mr. Putin as someone who’s grown bored of that threat, who believes he can more than match it, who maybe doesn’t even believe it anymore. In any case the Americans would not respond disproportionately. No one since 1945, in spite of all the wars, has used nuclear weapons. We are in the habit, no matter what we acknowledge as a hypothetical possibility, of thinking: It still won’t happen, history will proceed as it has in the past. – Wall Street Journal 

Gregg Bloche, Mark Fallon, and Elisa Massimino write: Ukraine will be a proving ground for the proposition that a nation victimized by an aggressor can be capable of fairly meting out justice. Americans can help Belousov’s investigators by teaching interviewing and evidence-gathering approaches that incorporate the best-available science. At the same time, Ukraine has the opportunity to teach the United States and the world that we needn’t abandon the rule of law when human conduct turns hellish. – Washington Post 

Fareed Zakaria writes: A much better way to frame the division in the world is between countries that believe in a rules-based international order and those that don’t. Russia has revealed itself to be the world’s leading rogue state, intent on attacking the heart of this order: the norm that borders do not get changed by force. Moscow is seeking to return to a realm of pure power politics, one in which, in the words of Thucydides, “the strong do what they can and the weak suffer what they must.” – Washington Post 

Mark Gongloff writes: Putin is cornered in Ukraine, where no amount of war crimes have been able to break the will of a nation he expected to subjugate two months ago. […]In a sense, the West is playing a game of chicken to see how much it can damage Russia’s economy and war machine, along with Putin’s standing at home, without triggering a nightmarish response. – Bloomberg 

Anna Borshchevskaya writes: It is unclear what plans Western governments have in place to address the coming food crisis. Twelve of the world’s top 20 wheat exporters are NATO members. Thus, part of NATO’s response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine needs to go beyond sanctions and take collective action to increase wheat yields in an effort to offset the losses incurred by Russian aggression as well as Russian attempts to project blame on the West. – The Hill 

Gillian Tett writes: But the reality is that unless Russia’s energy exports are reduced, Putin’s coffers will remain reasonably full. And while an EU embargo would hurt (if it ever materialised), it would not be comprehensive. For that reason, it is time for western leaders like Johnson to look hard at those insurance weapons — even if Lloyds and P&I contracts are not as telegenic as a walkabout with Zelensky in Kyiv. – Financial Times 

Kristina Spohr writes: From the ashes of war will emerge major geopolitical and institutional change — but not in the way the Kremlin imagined, with Ukraine incorporated in Russia and America evicted from Europe. Instead, Putin is likely to find an enlarged Nato and a revived west, strengthening themselves defensively by using and refining their tested institutions. If that proves the case, Putin’s invasion of Ukraine will be a historic own goal. What then, assuming he remains in power, will be his response to that dawning reality? – Financial Times 

Mason Clark, George Barros, and Kateryna Stepanenko writes: Russian forces attacking southeast from Izyum, west from Kreminna and Popasna, and north from Donetsk City will likely make steady but purely tactical gains against Ukrainian defenders. Russian forces will likely attempt to starve out the remaining defenders of the Azovstal Steel Plant in Mariupol and will not allow trapped civilians to evacuate but may conduct costly assaults on the remaining Ukrainian defenders to claim a propaganda victory. – Institute for the Study of War 

Jeffrey Edmonds writes: Given that this is not the war Russia planned and trained for, it is difficult to say how it would have performed in a conflict it did prepare for — one against the United States and NATO. This is just the beginning of understanding and properly preparing for Russian military power — or the lack thereof — going forward and the implications it will have for the United States, NATO, and Russia’s neighboring countries. – War on the Rocks 


Iran is ramping up oil exports and benefiting from a rise in oil prices as its main buyer, China, pulls back on its purchases of Russian oil due to the war with Ukraine. – Wall Street Journal 

Iran’s new workshop at Natanz for making parts for centrifuges, machines that enrich uranium, has been set up underground, U.N. nuclear watchdog chief Rafael Grossi said on Thursday, a move apparently aimed at protecting it from possible attacks. – Reuters 

Iraq and Iran reached an agreement on Thursday for Iranian gas supplies to Iraq to resume, with Baghdad repaying debts owed to Tehran, Iraqi Electricity Minister Adel Karim was quoted by the state news agency as saying. – Reuters 

An article on the front page of the Iranian Kayhan newspaper, affiliated with Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, on Thursday stated that Hitler was “smarter and more courageous” than current European leaders because he “expelled” the Jews from Germany. – Jerusalem Post  

Iran is preparing to bash Israel and increase the rhetoric and incitement against Israel throughout the Middle East this weekend as it rolls out Quds Day. Held on the last Friday of Ramadan, the day is pushed by Tehran to use Palestinian issues as a tool and make it seem like Iran has a legitimate reason to hate Israel. – Jerusalem Post  

As tens of thousands of Iranian students flocked back to university this month, following a two-year absence due to the coronavirus pandemic, many were greeted with new restrictions. […]Critics said the measures appear to be aimed at tightening the government’s grip on universities, which have been the scene of political protests in the past. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty 

Despite having a roughly 27-page agreement virtually ready to go, diplomats are still hung up over one final sticking point between the U.S. and Iran: The status of a powerful branch of the Iranian military, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). – Politico 

Seth J. Frantzman writes: Washington doesn’t want its partners and allies having the kind of ties with Beijing that they had in the past. This could mean that China will begin to see its interests more connected with Iran as the US pushes its friends in the region to move away from Beijing. – Jerusalem Post 


An ex-general in the Afghan army says he and many other former soldiers and politicians are preparing to launch a new war against the Taliban. – BBC 

Approximately $7 billion of military equipment the US transferred to the Afghan government over the course of 16 years was left behind in Afghanistan after the US completed its withdrawal from the country in August, according to a congressionally mandated report from the US Department of Defense viewed by CNN. – CNN 

Michael Rubin writes: If the White House chooses to circle the wagons and stick to the notion that abandoning Afghanistan was wise despite all evidence to the contrary, they will go down in history as responsible not only for a mismanaged withdrawal but for willfully enabling a terror resurgence. If, on the other hand, they calibrate policy to reality and seize opportunities to mitigate the danger emanating from the Taliban’s Afghanistan, they may avert a disaster far more calamitous than merely political embarrassment. – The National Interest 


Greece on Thursday accused its neighbour Turkey of undermining NATO unity by violating its airspace with fighter jets, prompting an angry Turkish response that blamed Athens for “provocative” violations of its own airspace. – Reuters 

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is facing a new challenge ahead of next year’s elections from a nationalist politician who has vowed to send millions of refugees home, prompting the government to rethink its immigration policy. – Bloomberg 

Michael Rubin writes: Herein lies the solution. Turkey puts cash above principle but fears action against Turkish Airlines. Erdogan recently inaugurated a new, multibillion-dollar airport in Istanbul to serve as the carrier’s hub, and Turkish officials regularly brag about the prestige the airline brings and its reach. While it is useful to tighten the noose on Russia’s finance, it is also necessary to signal zero tolerance for Turkey seeking to profit off of sanctions and embargo busting the way it previously did with regard to Iran’s nuclear sanctions. – Washington Examiner 


Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s teenage son has received a death threat and bullet in the mail, Israeli officials said Thursday, he second such warning against the Israeli leader’s family this week. – Associated Press 

An American family set off a bomb scare at Israel’s main airport on Thursday when they showed security inspectors an unexploded shell which they found while visiting the Golan Heights and had packed for their return trip, authorities said. – Reuters 

Two Palestinians were arrested by Israel Police forces on Friday morning after hundreds began rioting as the morning Fajr prayers wrapped up on the Temple Mount. – Jerusalem Post  

Pro-Iranian hackers targeted livestreams on the websites of Israeli radio stations on Thursday night, as Iran and its proxies marked Quds Day. – Jerusalem Post 

The IDF will be calling up reservists in order to bolster troop presence along the Seam Line and prevent Palestinians from illegally crossing into Israel from the West Bank. – Jerusalem Post 

The Palestinian Authority is strongly opposed to any attempt to end or undermine Jordan’s role as custodian of al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, a senior PA official said on Thursday. – Jerusalem Post 

In the past year, 56 IDF soldiers and security personnel have died serving the State of Israel, the Defense Ministry announced ahead of the country’s Remembrance Day, which will be marked starting Tuesday evening. – Jerusalem Post 

Following morning prayers on April 22, 2022, the third Friday and the 21st day of the month of Ramadan, clashes broke out in the Al-Aqsa compound between Muslim rioters and Israeli police. During the incident Hamas flags were waved, fireworks were shot off at police, and calls praising Hamas military wing leader Muhammad Deif and Hamas leader in Gaza Yahyah Al-Sinwar were heard. Senior Hamas officials and Hamas-affiliated media outlets expressed their pride in Hamas’s role in these events, and also in similar clashes there several days previously in which Hamas supporters also played an active role – Middle East Media Research Institute 

Israeli intelligence agencies are not alone in situating Barakat in the upper echelons of the PFLP’s chain of command. He is described in several Palestinian news websites as either a “leader of the PFLP” or a member of the PFLP’s governing central committee. Israeli intelligence agencies say they have intercepted PFLP documents that also identify him as a key operative in the organization. – National Post 

Amos Harel writes: Nevertheless, the Temple Mount continues to harness a volatile potential which could trigger a wider explosion. The images of Israeli police forces bursting into Al-Aqsa mosque last week were enough to generate a wave of condemnations by Arab states, exacerbate the diplomatic tension with Jordan and give Palestinian organizations an excuse to fire rockets, from the Gaza Strip and from southern Lebanon. Another violent incident in the days ahead – today is the last Friday of Ramadan and also “Jerusalem Day” in Iran – could tip the scales into violence. – Haaretz 

Middle East & North Africa

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan traveled to Saudi Arabia on Thursday, his first visit there since Saudi agents in Istanbul killed and dismembered journalist Jamal Khashoggi, sparking a deep, years-long rift between the two governments. – Washington Post 

Jordan has intensified efforts to push Israel to respect the historic status quo of Jerusalem’s Al Aqsa mosque and avoid violent confrontations that could threaten a wider conflict, Jordanian officials and Western diplomats said on Thursday. – Reuters 

The Saudi Arabian-led coalition fighting in Yemen said on Thursday it would release 163 prisoners from Yemen’s Iran-aligned Houthi group who fought against the kingdom, as part of a humanitarian initiative. – Reuters 

Turkey’s diplomatic drive coincides with the country’s worst economic crisis in two decades. Having wealthy Gulf Arab states as allies can help draw investments. Turkey has also taken steps to improve relations with Egypt and Israel. – Associated Press 

Kenneth M. Pollack writes: The clear understanding of the Middle East’s military balance that once underlay its relative stability is disintegrating before the winds of new technological and strategic change. And so everyone should brace themselves for a hurricane of future conflict in a region that needs no more. – Foreign Affairs 

Elizia Volkmann writes: At the moment the sentiment is against the IMF, which is seen as holding out on Tunisia while the people go hungry, but neither Saied nor members of parliament are offering the country a serious recovery plan — one that does not fall back on old Tunisian economic tropes that leave the country in the same straightjacket of family dominated monopolies strangled by archaic business legislation and procedure that has held people hostage for decades. – Middle East Institute 

Korean Peninsula

Two South Koreans have been arrested on charges of stealing military secrets on behalf of a suspected North Korean spy agent who paid them in cryptocurrency, the police said on Thursday. – New York Times 

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un called on the country’s military to “bolster up their strength in every way to annihilate the enemy”, state media reported on Friday, as new satellite imagery showed increased preparations for a possible nuclear test. – Reuters 

Josh Rogin writes: The Biden administration is practicing a rehash of the Obama administration’s “strategic patience,” which amounts to waiting for North Korea to come to the negotiating table. But the countries around North Korea do not have the luxury of waiting for the next crisis to break out. The incoming South Korean government is promising to take a harder line with Pyongyang and bolster South Korea’s defenses. Japan’s prime minister recently declared that Tokyo and Seoul have “no time to waste” in improving their long-troubled ties. – Washington Post 

Katrin Fraser Katz and Victor Cha writes: Addressing Pyongyang’s advanced missile program is a unique challenge that will require a comprehensive and tailored response from Washington. If U.S. policymakers and defense planners remain absorbed by great-power conflict in Europe, they could find themselves witnessing the rapid emergence of the greatest nuclear threat that the United States has faced in generations. – Foreign Affairs 

Ankit Panda writes: The Biden administration’s pledge to “make practical progress that increases [security]” on the Korean Peninsula is laudable, but it should be accompanied by new thinking on how to shape Kim’s choices about his evolving nuclear arsenal. Above all, even if constraints are not feasibly implemented before North Korea moves to deploy tactical nuclear weapons and other, new nuclear delivery systems, the United States should recognize that it is—like it or not—in a nuclear deterrence relationship with North Korea. – Foreign Policy 


China’s power and influence are increasingly considered a threat by Americans, who see Beijing primarily as an economic rival but also worry about the impact of its friendship with Moscow, according to new polling data. – Wall Street Journal 

As Beijing’s high-profile hunt for international fugitives escalates, activists and some lawmakers in Europe and North America are raising the alarm about its use of coercive tactics to repatriate people and calling for Western governments to be cautious with requests to send criminal suspects to China to face trial. – Washington Post  

Russia’s war on Ukraine has triggered a profound reassessment in European capitals of their individual and collective relations with China. Confronted by the need to rapidly unwind a dependence on Russian energy built up over decades, government officials from Rome to Prague are re-evaluating the extent of their economic and political ties to China. – Bloomberg 

James Stavridis writes: The historical relationships between the U.S., Australia and the Solomon Islands are real but insufficient. Great-power rivalry with China demands that the U.S. tend the garden of allies, partners and friends or risk alienating them — not only in the southwestern Pacific, but in Latin America and sub-Saharan Africa. “Losing” the Solomon Islands is a cautionary tale. – Bloomberg 

Gordon G. Chang writes: Xi Jinping may not think he’s on the wrong side of history, but he is clearly on the wrong side of an emerging divide as the international system moves to the “new world order” that Biden talks about. Xi proposes “indivisible security,” but he is, with friend Vladimir Putin, splitting the world into camps. And, in the process, he is forcing an exodus from China. – Newsweek 


Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida sets off on Friday for an extended visit to Southeast Asia, aiming to marshal regional responses to the Ukraine crisis as well as counter China’s growing assertiveness in the region. – Reuters 

Japan’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) presented its national security strategy proposals Wednesday to Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, calling to increase in Japan’s defense budget to 2 percent or more of GDP along with the development of “counterattack” capabilities able to strike at not only at missile launch sites but also the command and control capabilities of the opposing nation which would serve as both a pre-emptive measure and deterrence capability for Japan. – USNI News 

Sadanand Dhume writes: Besides, India’s involvement is in large part meant to ensure that Russia does not draw too close to China, which may be fruitless at this point. None of these groupings will materially influence the outcome of the war in Ukraine. As the conflict grinds on, many in the West will continue to bemoan India’s unreliability. They should feel encouraged that Moscow can’t rely on New Delhi either. – Wall Street Journal 

Takako Hikotani writes: Kishida’s leadership will be crucial, and since the crisis began, he has sought to reassure Japan’s citizens that he is prepared to rise to the challenge. In his recent public statements, Kishida has repeatedly emphasized the historical significance of this moment for the people of Japan. – Foreign Affairs 

Ali Riaz writes: Unfortunately for Bangladesh, it seems unlikely that the opposition can force real change and that the ruling party will weaken itself in the name of strengthening democratic institutions and norms. The country’s democratic decay will not slow unless the international community plays a proactive role, making it clear to Hasina’s government that authorities must reopen democratic space in the country, scrap draconian laws, hold law enforcement agencies accountable, and once again allow citizens to participate in politics. – Foreign Affairs 


Germany is now ready to stop buying Russian oil, clearing the way for a European Union ban on crude imports from Russia, government officials said. – Wall Street Journal 

The United States will “strongly support” NATO membership for Sweden and Finland if they choose to join the military alliance, Secretary of State Antony Blinken told the House Foreign Affairs Committee on Thursday. – Washington Post 

U.N. Secretary General António Guterres visited Ukrainian towns Thursday where Russian forces have been accused of committing war crimes, condemning an “evil” war he said has exacted the “highest price” on civilians. – Washington Post 

The British military will send some 8,000 troops to Europe as part of a larger allied deployment to deter further Russian aggression, British officials said. – New York Times 

Russia’s foreign spy chief accused the United States and Poland on Thursday of plotting to gain a sphere of influence in Ukraine, a claim denied by Warsaw as disinformation aimed at sowing distrust among Kyiv’s supporters. – Reuters 

Britain and the European Union are at an impasse over changes to parts of the Brexit deal governing trade with Northern Ireland, Britain’s Europe minister James Cleverly told a parliamentary committee on Thursday. – Reuters 

Sweden’s government does not plan to hold a referendum if its parliament decides to proceed with an application for NATO membership, Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson said on Friday. – Reuters  

Montenegro’s parliament has approved a new minority government led by Prime Minister Dritan Abazovic, who said a main goal of the new government is to unblock the process of European integration. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty 

On April 26, 2022, the website of the Russian daily Pravda published an article, titled “Romania And Poland Are The First Candidates For The ‘Kalibr’ Strike.” According to the article, Russia could hit Romania and Poland with a Kalibr missile in order to disrupt Western logistics and military facilities that help “Nazi Kyiv” in the war against Russia. – Middle East Media Research Institute 

As some Eastern European nations send their Soviet-era kit to help Ukraine defend itself against Russia’s attack, the new weapons those nations stand to get in return from the United States and its allies could shape the continent’s arsenal for years to come. – Defense News

Editorial: Russia has no legitimate reason to fear any of this, of course. […]Moldova has dealt gingerly with Moscow, which also controls its energy supply, since the war in Ukraine began, declining to join sanctions or to permit weapons to transit its territory. What the government of President Maia Sandu admirably has done is take in some 100,000 Ukrainians, making this nation of 4 million the world’s largest haven for the war’s refugees on a per capita basis. – Washington Post 


The Ethiopian government said on Thursday that rebellious Tigrayan forces are still in the neighbouring region of Afar, despite a spokesman for the Tigrayan forces announcing their withdrawal days earlier. – Reuters 

Somalia’s lawmakers elected Sheikh Adan Mohamed Nur as their new speaker on Thursday, in a vote that was delayed most of the previous day due to disagreements over who would be in charge of the security of the venue of the vote. – Reuters 

Jason K. Stearns writes: Most important of all, the United States and its European partners must match their rhetoric on democracy with action. This will require taking a strong stance in defense of free elections and civil liberties, a stance that may be harder to maintain as hawkish Western officials increasingly come to see African politics through the lens of geopolitical competition with China or as an arena for counterterrorism operations. – Foreign Affairs 

The Americas

Heavy gunfire echoed Thursday in a once quiet neighborhood in Haiti’s capital that has become ground zero in a gang fight that has has killed at least 20 people, injured more than a dozen and forced thousands to flee their homes this week. – Associated Press 

Canada’s Defense Minister Anita Anand said during a visit to Washington on Thursday that Canadian troops were training Ukrainian troops to use howitzer artillery. – Reuters 

Officials in at least six countries in the Caribbean where Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II is head of state have signaled they intend to remove the monarch as their sovereign. These countries follow Barbados, which removed the queen as its head of state to become the region’s newest republic in November 2021. – Foreign Policy 

Canada’s defense minister said Thursday she’s close to offering a “robust” plan to modernize continental defenses under North American Aerospace Defense Command, something the U.S. wants in response to the complex hypersonic missile threat. – Defense News 


Within the last month, intelligence agencies, President Joe Biden, and large companies like Google have all issued the same warning — sounding alarms on the growing threat of cyber attacks coming from foreign governments. – Newsweek 

The FBI and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) added several strains of wiper malware to its advisory on tools used to attack Ukrainian organizations. The additions came one day after Microsoft researchers said they observed nearly 40 destructive cyberattacks targeting hundreds of systems in Ukraine. – The Record 

The pictures show neatly trimmed fiber optic cables dug up from underground behind what appears to be a well-hidden grate. The apparent simplicity of the sabotage is all the more harrowing in light of how extensively it disrupted Internet service in France, experts said. – CyberScoop 

Dave Dorman writes: At the authoritative level, although the competitive driver of Beijing’s data policies is undeniable, one gets the sense that the end state is still unclear, as thinking is still evolving. The overwhelming concern is that China should not find itself in a global digital economy whose governance system is dominated by others, even if that requires that China dominate it itself. – The National Interest 


The U.S. Army this week finished evaluating a set of technologies that will better align soldier radios, satellite terminals, mission command software and more to help deliver the robust network the service is seeking. – Defense News 

A U.S. Air Force official managing the A-10 Thunderbolt aircraft says the service is “hollowing” its Warthog fleet by starving it of resources amid a push to retire the aging attack plane — but still continuing to heavily fly it. – Defense News 

The Navy is rethinking its planned portfolio of unmanned surface vehicles following testing of a variety of USVs in the Middle East, the service’s top officer said on Thursday. – USNI News 

The Defense Department in the next few months anticipates reaching initial operating capability for a new software tool viewed as a key enabler for collaboration between combatant commanders and mission partners, according to a top DoD IT official. – Breaking Defense 

Nearly two months after landing a key contract with the US Air Force for the program dubbed 3DELRR, Lockheed Martin officials say they are in talks with multiple international customers to purchase the long-range air surveillance radar. – Breaking Defense 

A spike in seizures of arms and drugs in an already volatile region underlines the benefits of multinational maritime operations and the value of creating a new naval multinational task force dedicated to the security of the Red Sea waters, the head of United States Naval Forces Central Command (NAVCENT) tells Breaking Defense. – Breaking Defense 

David Ignatius writes: Kendall, like all senior Pentagon officials, insists that the United States won’t get involved in a direct military confrontation with Russia unless NATO is attacked. But the Ukraine war has intensified the strategic modernization effort already underway at the Pentagon — and has pushed military planners, as in the depths of the Cold War, to think more about the unthinkable. – Washington Post 

Long War

The Taliban’s commitment to prevent Afghan soil being used by terrorists against other countries is being tested, not by al Qaeda, but by Pakistani militants who have unleashed dozens of attacks in neighboring Pakistan in recent months. – Wall Street Journal 

A member of an Islamic State militant group nicknamed “The Beatles” that beheaded American hostages is due to face a U.S. judge on Friday who will determine whether to subject him to a lifetime of near-solitary confinement. – Reuters 

Islamic state claimed responsibility for an attack against Shi’ite Muslims in Afghanistan that killed nine people on Thursday, according to the group’s telegram channel. – Reuters