Fdd's overnight brief

April 30, 2020

In The News


Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Wednesday the US intends to take action to extend a conventional weapons embargo on Tehran that is legally set to end under the Iran nuclear deal, provoking anger and disbelief from European allies who point out the US withdrew from the agreement in 2018 and have not participated in any meetings related to it since then. – CNN 

The Islamic Republic of Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has tasked the IRGC with making Persian Gulf islands “habitable”, IRGC Naval Force Commander Alireza Tangsiri has said in an interview with the Iranian state-run radio on Wednesday April 29. – Radio Farda 

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Wednesday called on countries to deny overflight rights to Mahan Air, an Iranian airline under U.S. sanctions, which he said recently delivered cargoes of “unknown support” to the Venezuelan government. – Reuters 

The people of Iran are facing a deadly catastrophe. It is not COVID-19, although that is ravaging their society, but rather the ineptitude and mendacity of their regime. Iran’s leaders are treating the pandemic as an opportunity to consolidate power and weaken their enemies, not to care for their people. – Washington Times 

A spokesman for Iran’s armed forces says 3,600 people have been arrested in the country for spreading rumors regarding the coronavirus pandemic. […]The French media watchdog Reporters Without Borders on April 15 condemned the Iranian establishment for the persecution of journalists and citizen-journalists who have published information about the coronavirus epidemic that lacked official approval. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty 

Editorial: The international community, led by the US, Russia, China and Europe, cannot let the coronavirus crisis deflect attention from Iran’s nefarious goals. […]COVID-19, which has devastated Iran, could be a turning point in efforts to oust the ayatollahs and help restore sanity and prosperity to the country’s people. – Jerusalem Post 

Sandra Parker writes: Iran remains led by a theocratic and kleptocratic regime, committed to exporting the Islamic Revolution through violence. Sanctions relief will only aid that tyrannical and murderous regime which isn’t good for the U.S. It certainly would not benefit the Iranian people. – Washington Examiner 


The U.N. humanitarian chief said Wednesday that more than 40 cases of COVID-19 and at least three deaths have been reported in Syria, signaling that “tragedy beckons” after nine years of war that has left the country’s health care system decimated. – Associated Press 

Turkey hosts 3.6 million Syrians, the world’s largest refugee population, who have fled the nine-year conflict that has killed hundreds of thousands of people in their country. Most live in Istanbul or near Turkey’s southern border with Syria, only a small minority in refugee camps. – Reuters

Aid groups working with the United Nations want the Security Council to urgently allow an Iraq border crossing into Syria to be used again for deliveries to help combat the coronavirus pandemic, according to a draft World Health Organization memo seen by the 15-member U.N. Security Council. – Reuters

A religious freedom watchdog appointed by Congress suggested on Tuesday that the United States should provide a “potential sanctions exemption” to the Kurdish-led autonomous entity in Northeast Syria. – The National Interest 

Kelly Razzouk and Amanda Catanzano write: Nothing will build back the hospitals decimated by airstrikes or bring back health workers who lost their lives. […]How the UN handles this Board of Inquiry report will not only send a message to health-care workers in Syria, but to the rest of the world about how seriously it takes these attacks. – CNN 

Peter Suciu writes: Support from Russia, as well as Iran, has helped the Syrian government in its efforts to gain an upper hand in the nearly nine-year-long civil war. The assistance from Russia has allowed the Syrian regime under President Bashar Assad to retake nearly all opposition-held territory with the exception of the northwestern province of Idlib along with strips of land near the Turkish border. – The National Interest 


Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden said Wednesday that the U.S. embassy in Israel would remain in Jerusalem if he’s elected, even as he called President Donald Trump’s decision to move the diplomatic base from Tel Aviv “short-sighted and frivolous.” – Associated Press

A Palestinian from the town of Berta’a in the north-eastern West Bank attempted to ram into a security guard at a post at the Rehan checkpoint on Wednesday evening, and crashed into the post without causing any injuries. – Jerusalem Post

The Knesset Intelligence Subcommittee on Thursday extended the Shin Bet’s surveillance of coronavirus infected citizens for only five days, keeping the program on a short leash. – Jerusalem Post

Abdel Latif al-Qanoa, a spokesman for the Hamas terrorist organization, on Wednesday denied the right of the Jewish people to establish a state on the territory of Israel. – Arutz Sheva

Gazan journalist Alaa Al-Asi said in a video that was uploaded to Facebook by the Shehab News Agency (Hamas) on April 18, 2020 that Rami Aman, a Palestinian activist who participated in a two-hour video conference with Israelis, has been arrested by Gazan police for normalizing relations with Israel and in order to be interrogated about receiving funds from Israel. – Middle East Media Research Institute

Khaled Abu Toameh writes: The Palestinian Authority believes that Hamas is using the coronavirus crisis to score points with Palestinians in the West Bank. […]Since the beginning of the coronavirus crisis, the PA has permitted emergency committees whose members belong to the ruling Fatah faction to operate in most Palestinian villages and cities in the West Bank. – Jerusalem Post 

Matan Peleg writes: When Israel truly internalizes the reality, well known to Hamas, that the goal of war for any protagonist is to defeat and not be defeated, and that prisoner exchanges are part of war itself, we will be able to negotiate a truly humane prisoner exchange. Israel must not lose this opportunity and must press its advantage. Now is time for Israel to seize the moment and inflict defeat on Hamas at the negotiating table. – Jerusalem Post 

Steven Emerson writes: However, these cases, including the Teddy Stadium bomb plot, illustrate the major threat posed by terrorist operatives who can infiltrate into Israel either illegally or with genuine Israeli identity cards. The latest developments show that Hamas remains committed to expanding and consolidating its terrorist infrastructure in an effort to destabilize the Palestinian Authority and infiltrate Israel for attacks. – Algemeiner


Germany on Thursday officially announced that it has outlawed activities by the Iranian-backed Lebanese terrorist organization Hezbollah. In a dramatic departure from Berlin’s previous policy, which was based on the European Union’s stance, the new ban does not differentiate between the group’s military and political wings. – Times of Israel 

Lebanon’s central bank head Riad Salameh on Wednesday defended his record after being accused by the prime minister of failing to take action to stop a dire economic crisis and allowing a massive slide in the national currency. – The National 

Small protests fueled by worsening economic conditions in Lebanon broke out across several cities late on Wednesday, marking a third night of unrest. – Reuters

Lebanese politicians who have led their country into financial disaster are squabbling over who is to blame, stirring up old rivalries that may spell even deeper trouble ahead. […]The government is trying to finalise a rescue plan, perhaps as soon Thursday. – Reuters

Arabian Peninsula

The first confirmed expansion of the coronavirus in Yemen was reported on Wednesday, prompting renewed calls from aid groups and the United Nations for a humanitarian cease-fire to help combat the infection at a time when the country is mired in increased fighting, widespread hunger and a major cholera outbreak. – New York Times  

Belarus bought its first-ever crude from Saudi Arabia as tensions with Russia over energy supplies pushed Minsk to reach a deal with the OPEC leader. – Bloomberg

Elana DeLozier writes: In some cases, Riyadh may find that having its partners lean into their relationships with certain Yemeni factions would help; in other cases, less foreign interference or funding might be best. But the fact remains that these parties are already involved unilaterally, and Riyadh has already been reaching out to many of them individually, with diminishing returns. – Washington Institute 

Fatima Abo Alasrar writes: If left with no option but a Houthi state south of its border, the Saudis might conclude that a clearly articulated southern Yemen that is a reliable and robust enemy of the Houthis in the North; has no ideological, religious, or tribal affiliations with them; and maintains control of the critical Bab el-Mandeb Strait is a more appealing entity to endorse and protect. – Middle East Institute 

Giorgio Cafiero writes: Although there is virtually no international support for dividing Yemen along North-South lines, the rest of the world is currently preoccupied by the COVID-19 pandemic and is paying far less attention than usual to the conflict in Yemen. […]Having hedged its bets by investing in good relations with all the major actors in Yemen, Russia will likely try to maintain this balance. – Middle East Institute 

Simon Henderson writes: We shall have to see how much the al-Huwaitat tribe, which stretches also into Egypt and Jordan, continues to respond to Neom — which, for the moment, apparently consists of little more than a royal palace complex or two. […]Indeed, MbS is reported to be staying in the region now, locked down with his advisers. – The Hill

Middle East & North Africa

Eastern Libyan forces laying siege to the country’s capital of Tripoli said Wednesday they have agreed on a humanitarian pause in fighting during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. – Associated Press 

Iraqi leaders need to put aside a sectarian quota system and make compromises to help the formation of a government as well help the relationship between Washington and Baghdad, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Wednesday. – Reuters

Iraq is seeking financial assistance from the U.S. to help the country combat the fallout of the Covid-19 pandemic and plummeting oil revenue, the country’s health minister-designate said. – Bloomberg 

Gönül Tol and Dimitar Bechev write: Turkey’s businesses, diplomats, and aid agencies have made inroads into Sub-Saharan Africa in past 10-15 years. Originally, it was the Gulenists, a religious movement and former AKP allies, who planted the flag for the state, but Ankara has long been on a mission to stamp out their influence and take the reins. The coronavirus pandemic is a chance Erdogan would gladly seize. – Middle East Institute

Korean Peninsula

The conspicuous absence of North Korea’s third-generation leader, Kim Jong Un, has ignited fresh debate over a question that’s all but unmentionable inside the country: Who could replace him? – Wall Street Journal 

It is the North Korean version of Kremlinology adapted for the modern age — with images taken from orbit a key part of trying to monitor Pyongyang’s missiles, nuclear sites and more. Now, the views from commercial satellites offer potential clues as the world tries to figure out Kim Jong Un’s whereabouts. – Washington Post 

South Korea says it has agreed with China to start facilitating some business travel between the two Asian neighbors, in Beijing’s first formal bilateral program to ease border controls and help revive economic activity stalled by the coronavirus pandemic. – Wall Street Journal 

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

The United States has caught no sight of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and is watching reports about his health, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Wednesday, adding there was a real risk of famine in the country amid the coronavirus outbreak. – Reuters

Philip Yun writes: Pyongyang has proudly declared that it has no COVID-19 cases. Few believe this is true. Even with comprehensive social distancing and draconian quarantine measures, we know that viruses respect no borders. So even taking the regime’s assertions at face value, it is only a matter of time before the disease mounts its own kind of invasion. – The National Interest 


China signaled its confidence that its novel coronavirus epidemic has finally been brought under control, scheduling for next month its highest-profile annual legislative meetings, which had been postponed at the height of the outbreak. – Washington Post 

The Trump administration is increasingly set on trying to bring China into a key nuclear arms deal with Russia, according to documents obtained by Foreign Policy, amid fears by arms control experts that the effort is futile and the United States is running out of time to recommit to the Obama-era New START treaty. – Foreign Policy 

Chinese Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Le Yucheng said President Trump’s call for the country to compensate the world for the coronavirus pandemic is “preposterous.” – The Hill 

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is in no hurry to try to bill China for the economic damages caused by the coronavirus pandemic. – Washington Examiner

The United States has introduced new export controls to prevent China from acquiring sensitive
technologies, even in commercial sectors. The move is apparently an effort from Washington to address China’s long-standing civil-military integration (CMI) strategy, which seeks to leverage advanced commercial technologies for military gains. – Jane’s 360 

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Wednesday again pushed China to provide the world access to its virology labs in Wuhan, saying the world needed to understand how the COVID-19 pandemic originated and Beijing had an obligation to be transparent. – Reuters

President Donald Trump said on Wednesday he believes China’s handling of the coronavirus is proof that Beijing “will do anything they can” to make him lose his re-election bid in November. – Reuters

Raymond Zhong writes: Using a handful of interviews to find the true pulse of a nation of 1.4 billion might seem foolhardy. But it beats the alternatives — like scanning social media, for instance. Recently, as the Chinese government beefs up its online propaganda, censorship and disinformation efforts, it is becoming nearly impossible to tell, through the digital veil, what people in China actually think. – New York Times

Nikki Haley writes: Focusing on China’s reprehensible actions in this pandemic is necessary, but the virus is just a small part of the threats China poses. The sooner the world recognizes that, the better prepared it will be to stop it. And as Churchill noted, preparation is the surest road to peace. – Washington Post 

Hal Brands writes: The Trump administration is right to start looking beyond old arms-control frameworks of diminishing strategic value to the U.S. Moving from those frameworks to something better will be the big challenge for Trump and, one suspects, his successors. – Bloomberg 

Lewis Libby writes: The keys to victory, Sun Tzu counseled, lie in knowing your enemy and deceiving them. The cunning men of Beijing have taken heed. […]But in post-pandemic days to come, the democracies must carefully take the measure of the CCP and hold it to account, crafting strategies for what it is, not what they wish it to be. – National Review 

Clara Ferreira Marques writes: A pandemic, a supply glut and plunging U.S. crude futures: With the world upended, there’s never been a better time to challenge established oil benchmarks. So shouldn’t China’s two-year-old yuan-denominated contract be doing just that? […]Then there’s the fact that the contract is denominated in China’s currency, which isn’t fully convertible. That’s key for Beijing’s policy ambitions but a headache for traders. – Bloomberg

Alexandra Stevenson, Edward Wong and Cao Li write: Lawmakers from both parties say Chinese companies do not play by the same rules, adding to rising tensions between Washington and Beijing. And Luckin, which disclosed this month that it had fabricated most of its 2019 revenue, is also resurfacing frustrations from American regulators over the ability to prosecute Chinese companies often given cover by Chinese officials who cite the need to protect state secrets. – New York Times


In the days following the capture of an American contractor in Afghanistan earlier this year, Navy commandos raided a village and detained suspected members of the Taliban-linked Haqqani network while the U.S. intelligence community tried to track the cellphones of the man and his captors, The Associated Press has learned. – Associated Press 

Afghan officials say hundreds of foreign combatants are fighting alongside Taliban militants in a strategic northern province, a move that if proven true would violate the terms of the U.S.-Taliban peace agreement. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty 

MTN Group Ltd. filed court papers to dismiss a U.S. claim that Africa’s largest wireless carrier paid Taliban officials not to attack its operations in Afghanistan. […]Families of almost 150 U.S. service members and civilians who were killed or wounded in attacks in Afghanistan opened a case against Johannesburg-based MTN late last year, accusing the company of making payments to avoid damage to its mobile-phone towers.  – Bloomberg 

Jackie Munn writes: Being isolated at home during this pandemic is inconvenient, but at least everyone is suffering similar hardships together. […]And the gloves underscore a sentiment I’d been noticing: The past several weeks of social distancing remind me a lot of my deployment to Afghanistan. – Washington Post


Indian artillery fire in the disputed Kashmir region hit Pakistani army posts and villages killing a soldier, a woman and a 16-year-old girl, Pakistani military and government officials said Thursday. […]Pakistani and Indian troops often trade accusations of violating the cease-fire in Kashmir, which is divided between them and claimed by both in its entirety. – Associated Press 

Taiwan was forced to contain the outbreak without official help from the World Health Organization and other international bodies, thanks to China’s longstanding push to isolate the democratically ruled island that it claims as its territory. – Bloomberg 

Guided-missile cruiser USS Bunker Hill (CG-52) conducted a freedom of navigation operation through the Spratly Island chain in the South China Sea, U.S. 7th Fleet announced on Wednesday. According to a statement from the Navy, the cruiser tested excessive maritime claims of China, Vietnam and Taiwan. All three countries have overlapping claims in the contested island chain. – USNI News 

Adam Taylor writes: The United States may want to turn to its old foe for advice, though it may not like what it hears: Vietnam’s success is largely linked to key decisions in the early part of this year, a period in which the United States was still in its phase of “magical thinking.” That’s not time that the United States can get back, but the fight isn’t over for anyone. – Washington Post


Russia’s adherence to a hard-fought oil production deal with Saudi Arabia and the U.S. could be imperiled by its aging industrial infrastructure and the unique challenges of winding down a broad network of wells across its vast landmass. – Wall Street Journal 

Russia has flown two nuclear-capable Tu-160 strategic bombers over the neutral waters of the Baltic Sea, the Russian Ministry of Defence said on Wednesday, a move that prompted Finland, Denmark, Poland and Sweden to scramble jets to escort them. – Reuters 

The head of the Royal Air Force dismissed two Russian patrol aircraft as “relics of the Cold War” in a rare public rebuke after British jets were forced to scramble to intercept them. – Sky News (UK)

The US ambassador to Russia and the family of Paul Whelan expressed concern for his treatment and well-being as the US citizen remains detained in Moscow amid the coronavirus pandemic. – CNN 

An undisclosed number of chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear (CBRN) protection troops have been decontaminating hundreds of square kilometres daily in all of Russia’s four military districts, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) has reported in a series of announcements since 24 April. – Jane’s 360 

Russia appears to be working on a new kind of anti-satellite weapon. One that combines tiny, weaponized satellites, a small rocket booster and a MiG-31 interceptor doubling as the overall system’s first stage. – The National Interest 

Russia’s Airborne Troops (VDV) performed the world’s first group airdrop on 26 April from an altitude of some 10,000 m in the Arctic using special parachute systems and oxygen equipment. Following the landing, the team accomplished its combat training tasks, Deputy Defence Minister Yunus-Bek Yevkurov said the same day. – Jane’s 360 

Michael Carpenter writes: Even before the pandemic hit, the referendum was a dangerous gamble. […]What happens next is hard to predict with any certainty, but one thing is clear: The legitimacy of the Putin regime will be tested as never before. – Washington Post  

Eli Lake writes: The problem with this thinking today is that Russia and China both have an interest in undermining an international system that — despite warnings from Chinese doctors, journalists and researchers — failed to alert the world about the coming pandemic. That’s why Trump would be wise to drop any plans to pursue better relations with Putin, unless and until the Russian president returns the territory he stole from Georgia and Ukraine and renounces his own dreams to reconstitute the 20th century’s evil empire. – Bloomberg 

George Barros, Nataliya Bugayova and Mason Clark write: The Kremlin continues to exploit COVID-19 to advance its key campaigns. The Kremlin is trying to exploit two peace processes in the United Nations and Ukraine to lift sanctions on Russia. […]The Kremlin has not lost sight of its key objectives during the COVID-19 pandemic and will continue its malign actions. – Institute for the Study of War

Andrew Higgins writes: Mr. Putin’s approval rating, which stood at 69 percent in February, slipped to 63 percent in March, according to the Levada Center, a Moscow-based independent polling organization. Most leaders in Europe have seen their ratings soar during coronavirus lockdowns. – New York Times


Brussels and UK officials will clash over the increasingly fraught question of whether the European Union can open an office in Belfast. – The Guardian 

Poland’s human rights commissioner sought a court order on Wednesday to block government preparations to hold a presidential election on May 10 by postal ballot, saying they were a “gross violation” of the law. – Reuters

Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak on Wednesday said the country is seeing tentative signs of recovery in fuel demand on the European market. – Reuters

A decision by officials in Prague to remove a statue of a Soviet army marshal from a local park last fall has evolved into a diplomatic dust-up that has only escalated since the sculpture was finally taken down in April, pushing tensions between the Czech Republic and Russia to their lowest point since the end of the Cold War. – Foreign Policy


Smoke billowed from the central prison in Sierra Leone’s capital and gunfire could be heard from nearby streets on Wednesday after a riot broke out, a Reuters reporter said. […]The correctional centre, designed to house 324 inmates, held over 2,000 in 2019, according to a U.S. State Department human rights report that described conditions in Sierra Leone’s prison system as harsh and life-threatening. – Reuters

Ivory Coast withdrew from the African Human Rights and Peoples Court, a week after the tribunal ordered the West African nation to suspend an arrest warrant against presidential hopeful Guillaume Soro, who on Tuesday was sentenced to 20 years in jail. – Bloomberg 

The European Union has approved another EUR194 million [USD211.4 million] in security, defence, and development aid for the five G5 Sahel countries (Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, and Niger). – Jane’s 360 

Charles Holmes, Anthony Lake and Witney Schneidman write: If the United States, Europe, and others succeed in containing the virus in the coming months, there is no way contagion throughout Africa could be contained there. […]In this way, the coronavirus pandemic has laid bare the world’s interdependence; the future safety of every U.S. community therefore depends on the success of every community in Africa and elsewhere. – Foreign Policy

North America

The Trump administration accused Amazon.com Inc. of tolerating counterfeit sales on its online platforms in foreign countries, prompting the e-commerce giant to respond that the hit was politically motivated. – Wall Street Journal 

Mexico’s miners on Wednesday asked the U.S. government to consider their sector in talks over the reopening of key areas of the Mexican and U.S. economies once quarantine measures imposed over the coronavirus outbreak are gradually repealed. – Reuters

The U.S. State Department, the Treasury Department and the U.S. Embassy in Mexico are investigating at least two Mexican firms involved in an oil-for-food pact signed in 2019 with Venezuela’s government, U.S. officials said on Wednesday. – Reuters

Organized crime is mutating in Mexico as gangs who steal oil and sell drugs try a lucrative new line of work trafficking people, according to a top official fighting money laundering. […]High-profile cases often involve smaller, family-based U.S.-Mexico networks rather than the big cartels that grab headlines. – Reuters

Latin America

Venezuela’s government is proposing a sweeping overhaul of its energy industry, scaling back the role of the state and handing over greater control to private companies in an effort to boost plummeting oil output, according to a government presentation. – Wall Street Journal 

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 

A controversial shipping magnate supplying gasoline to his native Venezuela said he will do whatever it takes to prevent worsening fuel shortages from igniting a social explosion that he warns could be worse than anything caused by the coronavirus pandemic in the South American country. – Washington Post 

In all, at least 167,000 Peruvians in urban areas have registered with local governments, asking for help in leaving cities and returning to their families. It is a reverse exodus, and it is convulsing a country already in the midst of a coronavirus lockdown that has stripped many of work and the ability to feed their families. – New York Times

The pandemic that has frozen businesses around the world has been tough as well on the fragile private sector that has been permitted to blossom at times through the cracks of Cuba’s socialist economy. – Associated Press 

A large crowd of Venezuelan migrants held up traffic on a Bogota highway on Wednesday, demanding to be allowed to leave Colombia and return to Venezuela, as Colombia’s coronavirus lockdown has crippled their ability to earn to living. – Reuters 

Sealing some Salvadoran prisoners’ cells with sheet metal is a draconian measure sure to draw accusations of human rights violations, but President Nayib Bukele circulated photos of the cell modifications himself, counting on the support of a population traumatized by gang violence. – Associated Press


The coronavirus pandemic has presented cybercriminals with a crisis to exploit, and many are choosing phishing emails as their weapon of choice. – Fifth Domain 

US Navy (USN) Acting Secretary James McPherson on 29 April instructed Admiral Michael Gilday, chief of naval operations, to conduct a more detailed investigation into the events that led to the sidelining of the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) and the firing of its commanding officer following a Covid-19 outbreak aboard the ship. – Jane’s 360 

U.S. Pacific Fleet will host its major biennial Rim of the Pacific exercise this year amid the global COVID-19 pandemic, opting to limit the exercise to just two weeks of at-sea-only events rather than cancel the event altogether, the command announced tonight. – USNI News 

Boeing will have to pay $168 million out of pocket to cover increased costs on the VC-25B Air Force One replacement program, the company said Wednesday. – Defense News 

Analytics and modeling, data management and software engineering are among the top tech priorities for the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, according to a document released Wednesday. – C4ISRNET 

The Military Sealift Command is keeping supplies moving uninterrupted throughout the globally operating Navy fleet and has done so with zero COVID-19 infections among its civilian mariners due to early and aggressive actions, the commander of MSC told USNI News. – USNI News 

Boeing took a $827 million hit as cost overruns continue for the KC-46 tanker program, the company announced Wednesday. – Defense News 

General Dynamics Electric Boat remains ready to start construction of the first Columbia-class ballistic missile submarine in October, company officials announced Wednesday. – USNI News 

The Navy’s is doubling-down on science and technology spending, using the funds it’s receiving from the CARES Act stimulus passed by Congress during the COVID-19 pandemic, a leading defense spending expert said Monday. – USNI News 

Airbus says the aviation industry’s unprecedented troubles are just beginning. […]U.S. rival Boeing is facing similar woes. Boeing’s CEO said Monday that it will take years for the aircraft-building business to return to levels seen before the coronavirus pandemic. – Defense News 

The Navy is set to widen the investigation of the removal of the former commander of USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71), taking a closer look at the service’s overall command climate in the Pacific, the Navy announced on Wednesday. – USNI News 

The Army has moved the Lockheed Martin-made electronic warfare pod to the build and evaluation phase of the operational system, as it bolsters its electronic warfare capabilities. – Defense News 

The crew of USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71) is beginning to return aboard the aircraft carrier after almost a month of isolation on Guam designed to combat a major COVID-19 outbreak, U.S. 7th Fleet announced on Wednesday. – USNI News 

The U.S. Army is ordering second-generation manpack radios from L3Harris Technologies and Collins Aerospace worth $203.2 million, ahead of a forthcoming operational test that will inform a full-rate production decision next fiscal year. – C4ISRNET 

Even before the novel-coronavirus first surfaced in China in late 2019, the U.S. Navy was struggling to build the 355 front-line warships it said it needed simultaneously to confront China and Russia. – The National Interest

Missile Defense

The Russian Foreign Ministry on Wednesday rejected U.S. arguments for fielding low-yield nuclear warheads, warning that an attempt to use such weapons against Russia would trigger an all-out nuclear retaliation. – Associated Press

The Space and Missile Systems Center says a new report by the thinktank RAND supports its decision to award contracts to only two launch providers under the National Security Space Launch program. – C4ISRNET 

U.S. B-2 stealth bombers and nuclear-armed ICBMs are ready to attack and defend in minutes, should America be suddenly catapulted into a massive, great-power war — despite the perils, distractions and challenges of COVID-19, senior Air Force officials said. – Fox News

Long War

The COVID-19 pandemic has upended U.S. military operations around the world, stalled some training at home and troop movements abroad, and halted a host of exercises with key allies from Asia to Europe. […]Last year, the U.S. carried out 63 strikes against al-Shabab and Islamic State targets in Somalia, according to numbers provided by U.S. Africa Command, which oversees military operations on the continent. – Washington Times 

While all kinds of extremist groups are ready to exploit citizen’s grievances over their governments’ handling of the pandemic, governments themselves can exacerbate those grievances. […]In places like the Philippines, Hungary, Egypt, and Israel, activists say such anti-democratic moves are already underway. – TIME

The United Arab Emirates is not doing enough to prevent money laundering despite recent progress, and causing concerns about its ability to combat financing of terrorism, the global dirty money monitoring group said on Thursday. – Reuters

Russia’s National Anti-Terrorist Committee (NAK) says security forces have “liquidated” three suspected extremists in the Urals city of Yekaterinburg. […]The NAK asserted that the men were members of the Islamic State extremist group and were planning terrorist attacks in the city, but did not give details. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

Trump Administration

President Donald Trump on Wednesday said his administration will soon release a plan to help U.S. oil companies, which Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said could include adding millions of barrels of oil to already-teeming national reserves. – Reuters 

The chairman of the House Armed Services Committee said Wednesday he doesn’t think upcoming economic stimulus packages related to the coronavirus outbreak should include more money for defense, saying other public health needs are more pressing. – Defense News 

The Senate Intelligence Committee is preparing to hold a confirmation hearing next week for President Trump’s pick to be the next director of national intelligence, a source familiar confirmed to The Hill. – The Hill