Fdd's overnight brief

April 9, 2020

In The News


Iran’s supreme leader suggested Thursday that mass gatherings in the Islamic Republic may be barred through the holy Muslim fasting month Ramadan amid the coronavirus pandemic. […]Khamenei, who has final say on all state matters, made a point to remind Iranians that the U.S. is the main enemy and mocked Americans who fought over toilet paper at stores and lined up outside of gun shops to purchase firearms. – New York Times

An official publication of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards on Tuesday called on authorities to take measures to placate China for the “irresponsible statements” of a health official who has questioned China’s honesty about the dimensions of its coronavirus epidemic. – Radio Farda 

In a press conference April 7 U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said with the measures that the United States has taken, Iran will have less and less money to spend on its proxies such as the Hezbollah of Lebanon and Kata’ib Hezbollah in Iraq. – Radio Farda 

Iran has urged the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to approve a $5bn (£4bn) emergency loan to help fight the coronavirus, as its death toll passed 4,000. – BBC 

The United States is resisting easing sanctions on Iran during the global coronavirus pandemic, despite calls from the international community, including former U.S. government officials, to do so for humanitarian reasons. – Newsweek 

“Maximum pressure” or “medical terrorism”? Iranian leaders are accusing the United States of crippling its medical system amid a coronavirus pandemic — and the spat has crystallized global scrutiny of America’s conduct under crisis. – CNN

Central Bank of Iran (CBI) Governor says Luxembourg has unfrozen 1.6 billion dollars of Iran’s assets despite an attempt by victims of terror to get the funds as compensation. – Radio Farda 

The novel coronavirus outbreak in Iran has shown signs of slowing with a “flattening” of the number of cases, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). However, this seems to contradict comments made by a top Iranian health official who said the day before: “The coronavirus curve has not flattened anywhere in the country.” – Newsweek 

The head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization (IAEO), Ali Akbar Salehi, said on Wednesday that the Islamic Republic’s nuclear activities were continuing despite the novel coronavirus outbreak in the country. […]Salehi’s latest comments echoed President Hassan Rouhani’s recent remarks, claiming that Iran’s nuclear program was more advanced than what it was in 2015. – Radio Farda 

Iran demanded on Wednesday that U.S. oil production levels must be known before an upcoming OPEC meeting with Russia and others seeking to boost global energy prices. The meeting of the so-called OPEC+ is scheduled to be held Thursday after officials delayed it following Saudi Arabia criticizing Russia over its comments about the price collapse. – Associated Press 

The Iranian government has tapped the National Development Fund several times over the past few years to pay for both military spending and emergency relief, including €200 million ($218 million) to the Revolutionary Guards during a war scare in January. Ayatollah Ali Khamanei, the unelected religious cleric who controls the fund, allowed the government to take €1 billion ($1.09 billion) for coronavirus relief from the fund on Monday. – The National Interest

Bobby Ghosh writes: The Trump administration intends to block Iran’s application for a $5 billion emergency loan from the International Monetary Fund. Tehran claims it plans to spend the money on dealing with the coronavirus epidemic. But the U.S. has excellent grounds for rejection: It is confident a loan would make it easier for the regime to continue financing its vast network of terrorist groups and proxy militias across the Middle East. – Bloomberg

Saeid Golkar writes: At the same time, the creation of biological defense headquarters and the extended reach of the IRGC Provincial Guards are further alarming signs of the Rouhani government’s irrelevance and the growing securitization of the Islamic Republic. […]Policymakers should therefore keep a close watch on further expansion among the Provincial Guards, with an eye toward the IRGC’s potentially paramount role in post-Khamenei Iran. – Washington Institute  

David Albright, Sarah Burkhard, and Frank Pabian: Based on documents in the Iran Nuclear Archive, seized by Israel in early 2018, Iran’s Amad Plan created the Shahid Mahallati Uranium Metals Workshop near Tehran to research and develop uranium metallurgy related to building nuclear weapons. […]Analysis of commercial satellite imagery confirms the location of the Shahid Mahallati site based on comparison with exterior ground photos, and a chronology of the site’s status is included in this report. – Institute for Science and International Security 

Dr. Hiva Feizi and Jason M. Brodsky write: The Islamic Republic’s recalcitrance has left nearly 80 million Iranians largely helpless and once again confronted with living in a theocracy, which has prioritized its own survival and religious underpinnings, like medieval Europe, at the expense of the Iranian people. Seven hundred years ago, the Renaissance was born in the wake of the Black Plague, ushering in unprecedented advances in science and technology. Perhaps the coronavirus will lead ultimately to Iran’s own renaissance, but only at great cost. – Radio Farda


An investigative team with the international group that monitors compliance with the chemical weapons ban accused the Syrian government on Wednesday of having launched three chemical weapons attacks on one village in northern Syria in March 2017, sickening scores of people. – New York Times 

In Damascus, protective medical equipment is so hard to find that healthcare workers like Zeinab have for weeks been using local tailors to stitch crude face masks. […]Throughout the war, medics have been relentlessly targeted. US-based Physicians for Human Rights has documented 923 medical personnel killed since 2011, and the WHO says up to 70 per cent of medical staff have left the country. – Financial Times 

The Su-57 is an immature design whose production line is small and inefficient. That won’t quickly or cheaply change. […]After years of slow development, one engine fire and a theatrical “deployment” of apparently non-combat-capable jets to Syria, in 2018 the Kremlin announced it would all but suspend production of the Su-57 in favor of upgraded versions of the venerable, non-stealthy Su-27. – The National Interest

Arabian Peninsula

Saudi Arabia’s sovereign-wealth fund has amassed stakes worth roughly $1 billion in four major European oil companies, according to people familiar with the matter, buying assets it perceives as undervalued in a market depressed by the coronavirus pandemic and low oil prices. – Wall Street Journal 

Saudi Arabia on Wednesday announced that the kingdom and its allies would observe a unilateral cease-fire in the war in Yemen starting at noon on Thursday, a move that could pave the way for ending the brutal five-year-old conflict. – New York Times 

The Saudi king suspended final rulings and judicial orders on visitation rights of children of separated parents in the latest effort to try and curb the spread of the novel coronavirus among households, according to state media reports Wednesday. […]Several Mideast countries are temporarily releasing some non-violent convicts due to concerns that prison conditions could cause a spike in infections. – Associated Press

Saudi state TV said early on Thursday that Yemen’s Iran-aligned Houthi movement launched a ballistic missile at the Yemeni city of Marib, hours before a ceasefire announced by the Saudi-led coalition takes effect. – Reuters 

Saudi Arabia will contribute $500 million to the United Nations humanitarian response plan for Yemen in 2020 and $25 million to help combat the spread of the new coronavirus, the kingdom’s vice defense minister, Prince Khalid bin Salman, said on Thursday. – Reuters 

Christof Ruehl writes: In this new world, U.S. energy “independence” (or “dominance”, as the Trump administration likes to call it) has become an important strategic asset. It took a little longer for the economic implications of becoming a net oil exporter to sink in. A flurry of presidential tweets demanding lower prices notwithstanding (aimed at an electorate with big cars and low incomes), the U.S. economy is on the verge of becoming a net beneficiary of rising oil prices, if it isn’t already. – Bloomberg 

Nikolay Kozhanov writes: All of these factors suggest that there will be no easy or risk-free victories for Saudi Arabia in the oil price war. […]Perhaps mindful of this, the Saudi side seems prepared not only to fight but also to talk to its rivals, and consequently, Riyadh is keeping its channels of communication open and has called for an emergency OPEC+ meeting. – Middle East Institute 

Biner Aziz writes: Al-Zurfi’s failure to form a cabinet mixes the political cards inside Iraq. A second failed nomination for prime minister will push Iraq into a stalemate for months, if not years. […]Relying on the political unknown as the coronavirus epidemic spreads is not a viable option for the stability and governance of Iraq. At this point, it is of paramount importance for a prime minister to succeed in forming a cabinet and get Iraq out of this current political deadlock. – Washington Institute

Middle East & North Africa

Iraq’s intelligence chief was appointed the country’s third prime minister-designate in just over a month Thursday after the resignation of the most recent candidate amid political infighting. The upheaval threatened a leadership vacuum at the helm of the government amid a severe economic crisis and viral pandemic. – Associated Press 

Defaulted Lebanon gave the first glimpse of its restructuring plans by setting a goal of halving one of the world’s biggest debt burdens as early as this year and moving to a more flexible exchange rate, according to a draft document seen by Bloomberg. – Bloomberg 

A meeting on Thursday of OPEC and its allies to discuss a sharp fall in global crude oil prices will be “fruitful,” Algerian Energy Minister Mohamed Arkab said on Wednesday. – Reuters 

Cuts to Tripoli’s water and power supply on Tuesday and Wednesday aggravated conditions for civilians after days of intensified fighting that have undermined preparations to cope with the novel coronavirus. […]The escalation is in defiance of pleas from the United Nations and international aid agencies to cease fire to allow Libya’s war-tattered health system to prepare for the coronavirus, with 21 cases confirmed across the country. – Reuters 

Mohammed Soliman writes: The COVID-19 outbreak will reshuffle the geopolitics and geoeconomics of the Middle East. […]These geoeconomic realities will deprive the volatile Middle East of its main financial safety valve, the Gulf. Countries in dire need of financial support will not only have a slower economic recovery post-COVID-19, but they may also fall short in meeting their debt obligations, and ultimately face social upheaval. – Middle East Institute 

Mark Episkopos writes: With the future of Turkey’s geopolitical orientation hanging in the balance, the Trump administration continues to tread lightly as Washington assesses the likelihood and military consequences of losing Incirlik. […]Although the specter of CAATSA continues to loom over Turkey, Washington has dragged its heels on the concern that sanctions would needlessly antagonize Ankara without yielding any Turkish concessions in return. – The National Interest

Korean Peninsula

U.S. Ambassador to South Korea Harry Harris has said privately that he does not plan to stay on beyond the November U.S. presidential election, regardless of whether President Donald Trump wins another term, five sources told Reuters. – Reuters 

There are signs North Korea is preparing to resume flight tests of long-range, nuclear-capable rockets. The signs are evident in satellite imagery of the North Korean regime’s Sinpo test site. On April 4 and 5, 2020, commercial satellites photographed the test stand at Sinpo several times. – The National Interest 

For decades, Thae Yong Ho served the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, rising to become Pyongyang’s deputy ambassador to London before defecting. Now he is standing for election in South Korea’s multi-party democracy. – Agence France-Presse


For months the Chinese government’s propaganda machine had been fending off criticism of Beijing’s handling of the coronavirus outbreak, and finally, it seemed to be finding an audience[…]But China could not savor the praise for long. In recent days, foreign leaders, even in friendly nations like Iran, have questioned China’s reported infections and deaths. – New York Times

When the people of Wuhan and elsewhere across China have wanted to share lockdown anxieties, seek advice or simply vent, many have turned to one of the country’s most famous Wuhan hero: Li Wenliang, the whistleblower doctor who died Feb. 7. – Washington Post 

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Wednesday that it is too soon to talk about the consequences for China for what U.S. officials believe is Beijing’s slow reporting of the extent of the coronavirus crisis in China. – Reuters

Jack Ma’s influence in the world has gotten bigger since he stepped down as chairman of Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. China’s richest person is now playing a prominent role in philanthropic efforts that are effectively helping President Xi Jinping improve the country’s image overseas after Covid-19 spread around the world, unleashing a devastating human and economic toll. – Bloomberg 

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s recent criticisms of China’s early response to the coronavirus pandemic have flustered Chinese officials, according to U.S. officials and analysts, following a series of rebukes that Beijing regarded as an attempt to split the Chinese Communist Party from the majority of Chinese people. – Washington Examiner

China’s top leaders pledged to expand domestic demand to boost public consumption and investment as they see “greater difficulties” ahead with the pandemic threatening the global economy. – Bloomberg 

The U.S. and China should work together to show “honest leadership” or risk transforming the pandemic into a bigger crisis, the head of the World Health Organization said in unusually stern comments on the two superpowers. – Bloomberg 

Rep. Jim Banks (R-Ind.) is pushing for the State Department and Attorney General William Barr to launch an international case against China for the damages caused by the coronavirus pandemic. – The Hill 

Lanhee J. Chen writes: If efforts to transform the WHO are ineffective, the U.S. may have no choice but to walk away and start over. That could mean creating an alternative organization open to any country willing to abide by higher standards of transparency, good governance and the sharing of best practices. The world needs an organization that can be trusted to address public-health problems that transcend borders—if not the WHO, then something else. – Wall Street Journal 

Adam Taylor writes: China has placed enormous pressure on foreign journalists during the novel coronavirus crisis. Bureaus have emptied as U.S. citizens have been forced out, while international travel restrictions have kept journalists from reentering the country. […]It is remarkable that China’s independent journalists can operate under such conditions, let alone still publish groundbreaking work. – Washington Post 

Josh Rogin writes: Leaders in both parties should take a look at the data, listen to their constituents and then stop using China as a political weapon against their opponents, because that’s exactly what the CCP wants us to do. Working together to confront China’s bad behavior is not just a national security imperative. It’s also smart politics. – Washington Post

Phil Valentine writes: Once the full extent of what China knew and when they knew it is exposed for all to see, the communist regime will be severely hobbled. It took a preventable pandemic to awaken the rest of the world to the brutality and ineptitude of the Chinese communist regime. The tens of thousands of people who died may well be regarded by history as soldiers whose deaths were not in vain. The dead may, at last, free 1.4 billion Chinese people from bondage. – Washington Examiner


The Afghan government released 100 Taliban prisoners Wednesday after talks aimed at coordinating a prisoner swap with the Taliban collapsed the day before. Afghan government and Taliban officials had been meeting for days in Kabul to coordinate the release before the Taliban withdrew from the talks Tuesday, accusing the government of “wasting time.” – Washington Post 

Five rockets hit a U.S. air base in Afghanistan on Thursday, but there were no casualties, two senior security officials said, and no militant group immediately claimed responsibility. – Reuters

In a recent article, Afghan writer Ejaz Ahmad Malikzada examined the implications for Afghanistan of the U.S.-Taliban agreement signed in Doha on February 29, 2020.[1] The Doha agreement, brokered with the help of Qatar and Pakistan, ensures the withdrawal of American and other foreign troops from Afghanistan, as well as the release of about 5,000 Taliban prisoners. – Middle East Media Research Institute


Taiwan hit back Thursday after the chief of the World Health Organization accused the island’s government of participating in a racist campaign to smear and intimidate him, deepening the political furor surrounding an agency in the crosshairs of the Trump administration for its alleged pro-China bias. – Washington Post 

The researchers fear online hatred and distrust toward China and people of East Asian descent are contributing to an increasingly well-documented rash of real-world incidents, including verbal attacks, violence and boycotts of Asian-owned businesses. […]Beyond the Internet, anti-Chinese rhetoric already has had real-life implications in the United States, despite warnings from experts that prolific use of such language could endanger millions of Asian Americans. – Washington Post 

Michael Mazza writes: For its part, Washington should consider taking unprecedented steps within its own bilateral relationship that could have a positive effect on Taiwan’s other diplomatic ties. […]Despite the pandemic, China has ensured that the WHO keeps Taipei at arm’s length and has continued to employ military intimidation against Taiwan. If anything, it has sought to tighten the vise—a vise from which Taiwan, if it plays its cards right, may be able to slip right out. – Global Taiwan Institute


Russia on Wednesday labeled the U.S. research and analysis institute the Jamestown Foundation an “undesirable organisation”, potentially paving the way for the group to be banned in the country. – Reuters 

Belarusian authorities have ruled against extraditing a Russian citizen who is a Jehovah’s Witness back to Russia, where he is wanted for alleged extremism. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

Vladimir Putin has taken a backseat in tackling Russia’s coronavirus outbreak, working remotely from his residence in the Moscow suburbs and delegating powers that he has spent a generation mostly accumulating in the Kremlin. […]The approach would limit Putin’s exposure to unpopular decisions and preserve his public support. – The Guardian 

For the past 20 years Russians have been told they could not survive without their superhero president, Vladimir Putin.[…]He was the only one who could save the country from crisis, she said, and should be allowed to run again and again. – The Economist 

Russia’s defense minister called on law enforcement officials Wednesday to consider filing criminal charges against representatives of other countries where World War II memorials commemorating the actions of the Soviet Union are demolished. […]The issue is especially sensitive this year as Russia prepares to mark the 75th anniversary of the defeat of Nazi Germany on May 9. – Associated Press 

Iulia-Sabina Joja writes: NATO member states can and should increase their military presence in the region, contribute to a security infrastructure that deters Russia and push for multilateral security action. […]Strategic partnerships, such as those seen between the US and Georgia or the US and Ukraine, will help streamline aid and support the democratic reform of the armed forces. – Middle East Institute 

Justin Sherman and Samuel Bendett write: As Vladimir Putin pushes ahead with a plan to create a domestic internet he can control, his government is concentrating more regulatory authority in Roskomnadzor, the internet and media regulator, to make that happen. […]The authorities moved to Roskomnadzor will allow it to issue orders to the internet companies that manage Russia’s internet exchange points to further consolidate their control of data flows, with the goal that the Kremlin will ultimately be able to order internet isolation if desired. – Defense One


The European Union’s highest court introduced measures on Wednesday to halt Poland’s widely criticized disciplinary regime for judges, the latest blow in a yearslong battle with the country’s governing Law and Justice party over what critics denounce as attempts to erode the independence of the judiciary. – New York Times

Europe is getting ready to reopen, slowly. […]The unwinding of restrictions will be gradual, with factories resuming production well before restaurants and bars resume service or people can gather at public events. After suppressing the pandemic’s first, big wave, the next phase will be about managing a continuing but, countries hope, much lower level of contagion. – Wall Street Journal 

Germany has struck a deal with China to receive large-scale shipments of supplies the country needs in its battle against the new coronavirus pandemic amid a global crunch in the market for medical equipment. […]Some Western authorities have raised concerns that China will use the pandemic to advance its soft power at a time when the West is vulnerable. – Wall Street Journal 

Ireland’s Fianna Fail and Fine Gael will publish an agreement in the next day or so aimed at attracting enough additional support to form a government two months after an inconclusive election, senior members of both parties said on Wednesday. – Reuters

EU finance ministers failed on Wednesday to agree on a rescue plan to help hard-hit member states face the coronavirus outbreak, after the Netherlands blocked the deal over bailout conditions. – Agence France-Presse

The French Navy (Marine Nationale) aircraft carrier and flagship Charles de Gaulle (R91) is heading home early following suspicion of several COVID-19 cases among its crew members. […]The aircraft carrier has been deployed on “Mission Foch” since January. The carrier is sailing in the Atlantic Ocean and was already on its way back to the Mediterranean. – USNI News


Tanzania’s stance makes it an outlier in Africa, one of the diminishing band of nations refusing to implement an aggressive strategy against a virus now spreading fast across the globe. […]The policy, designed to minimize disruption to Tanzania’s economy, has angered neighboring countries across porous borders, which have put in place some of the world’s most stringent lockdowns. – Wall Street Journal 

Like Kenya, most African countries have little experience manufacturing medical supplies, instead relying on imports from China and foreign aid. […]But as the coronavirus spreads more widely on the continent, African governments are coming up against stiff competition from heavily industrialized economies in bids for masks and other gear. – Washington Post 

Japanese Defence Minister Taro Kono has said that Tokyo may withdraw Japan Self-Defense Forces (JSDF) troops and personnel from its only foreign base in Djibouti should the Covid-19 coronavirus further spread in the East African country. – Jane’s 360

North America

Government officials and business leaders are turning their attention to a looming challenge in the fight against the new coronavirus pandemic: Reopening a $22 trillion U.S. economy that has been shut down like never before. – Wall Street Journal 

The Trump administration is turning toward the most well-worn pages of its global playbook—tariffs and threats—as it tries to stop an oil-price war from crippling dozens of U.S. companies. […]Mr. Trump said at Wednesday’s briefing that he was still optimistic about a deal and would wait to see how the meeting unfolded before detailing any response. – Wall Street Journal  

President Trump unleashed a tirade against the World Health Organization on Tuesday, accusing it of acting too slowly to sound the alarm about the coronavirus. It was not the first time in this pandemic that the global health body has faced such criticism. Government officials, health experts and analysts have in recent weeks raised concerns about how the organization has responded to the outbreak. – New York Times

The US Justice Department charged two people with federal terrorism offenses on Wednesday for allegedly claiming they were intentionally trying to spread the coronavirus. […]Police obtained a warrant to test Curry for COVID-19, and the results came back negative. He was charged with perpetrating a biological weapons hoax and faces a maximum sentence of five years in federal prison if he’s convicted. – Associated Press 

President Donald Trump’s new chief of staff, Mark Meadows, has escalated tensions in the White House with a swift series of staff changes that have drawn complaints from some in the West Wing about his management style, according to people familiar with the matter. – Bloomberg 

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says the United States will lead the world in providing foreign assistance to fight the spread of the novel coronavirus, even as some allies have expressed concerns over Washington’s tactics to acquire equipment for its own needs and its failure to ease sanctions during the pandemic. – Radio Free Liberty / Radio Farda 

Latin America

The former president known as Lula said in an interview with The Associated Press that Bolsonaro’s defiance of calls for social distancing hamper the efforts of governors and mayors to contain the virus. […]Brazilian leftist politicians of different parties, including da Silva’s Workers’ Party, published a letter last week calling for Bolsonaro’s resignation over his management during the pandemic. The former president didn’t sign it, but said his views are clear. – Associated Press 

Venezuelan migrants who lost their jobs amid the coronavirus crisis were promised a warm welcome back home by the government of President Nicolas Maduro. […]Maduro said the government was preparing to receive 15,000 Venezuelans from Colombia, Ecuador and Peru. An estimated six million Venezuelans have migrated in recent years. – Bloomberg 

International health officials are warning that the Nicaraguan government’s perplexing weekslong refusal to take measures to control the spread of the new coronavirus is heightening the risk of an epidemic in Central America even as neighboring countries take tough action. – Associated Press 

From the seafront capital Havana to the foothills of the Sierra Maestra mountains, Cubans are defying fear of the new coronavirus to search for food as global trade disruptions worsen shortages of basic goods on the Caribbean island. […]Cuba is not a member of the International Monetary Fund, World Bank or other multilateral lending institutions it could turn to for emergency funds. – Reuters 

Moises Rendon, Margarita R. Seminario and Claudia Fernandez write: These fuel shortages merit a cooperative response from the international community. […]While the Maduro regime represses and deceives the Venezuelan people, the Guaidó interim government, which has sought international aid, finds itself hamstrung and without the capacity to implement a comprehensive response. – Center for Strategic and International Studies


Cybercriminals and sophisticated hacking groups tied to foreign adversaries are increasingly tying to take advantage of the coronavirus pandemic to target individuals and organizations, U.S. and British authorities said. […]China, Russia, Iran and North Korea are most commonly identified by the U.S. and its allies for sponsoring cyberattacks against Western governments and businesses, either to further traditional espionage goals, plunder intellectual property, or infiltrate critical infrastructure networks. – Wall Street Journal 

As the coronavirus pandemic shutters offices and batters the economy, experts say the largest-ever remote work experiment could supercharge the cybersecurity industry’s shift to cloud services. […]Federal officials have warned in recent weeks of an uptick in threats related to the new coronavirus, from phishing emails to ransomware. That has left businesses shoring up existing tools to fend off attackers and keep workers online, experts say. – Wall Street Journal 

More than half of the misinformation about the coronavirus pandemic that has been debunked by fact checkers remains on Twitter without any warning label, a record that puts it far behind rival social media platforms, according to a study released Tuesday night by Oxford University researchers. – Washington Post 

The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency released temporary guidance April 8 for federal network cybersecurity as a way to increase protections during the spike in telework from the coronavirus pandemic. – Fifth Domain 

David Shaywitz writes: Even under the difficult conditions of a pandemic, it’s critical to ensure that data—especially data that might be associated with individual health—is collected with transparency and real consent (not typical “terms of service” consent), and that its use is governed in a fashion that protects individual privacy and gives people power to correct errors. – The Bulwark


The Department of Homeland Security has warned the faith-based community that the threat of attacks against houses of worship may be higher once religious services resume due to “stressors” caused by the coronavirus pandemic. – Politico 

US Acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly resigned Tuesday over his mishandling of an outbreak of the coronavirus on the USS Theodore Roosevelt aircraft carrier, Defense Secretary Mark Esper announced. – Agence France-Presse

Adm. Mike Gilday, chief of naval operations, on Wednesday evening acknowledged the tough week the Navy has had but implored that the military branch must move forward. – The Hill 

In his last days in office, former acting Secretary of the Navy Thomas Modly tried to assign names to the Navy’s new class of guided-missile frigates and the second Columbia-class nuclear ballistic-missile submarine. […]He wanted the first of the new class of FFG(X) frigates, expected to be awarded in July, to be called USS Agility (FFG-80), according to a directive obtained by USNI News. – USNI News 

The Navy’s probe into the circumstances around a leaked letter from the former commander of USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71) warning leaders his sailors were at risk from a COVID-19 outbreak is set to be completed soon, Navy officials told USNI News on Wednesday. – USNI News 

Last week’s deal between Boeing and the U.S. Air Force on a fix for the KC-46 could pave the way for the tanker to refuel other aircraft without a person needed to manually control the process, a top service official said Thursday. – Defense News 

Shrouded in secrecy, the Counter Communications System is the tool the U.S. Space Force will use to jam adversaries’ communications in a conflict. […]America’s newest armed service got an updated version of the system — Block 10.2 — in March, but a leaner, more capable generation is already in the works. – C4ISRNET 

Although perhaps not a household name in the defense sector, Eaton is far from a small business, bringing in more than $21 billion in sales in 2019. […]According to Jeremy Bash, a former Pentagon official now with Beacon Global, “there is deep concern among industry and department leaders that the second- and third-tier suppliers need to be protected.” – Defense News 

An audit of eight military hospitals and clinics found security flaws that allowed unauthorized access to patient records and pharmacies, and left the facilities vulnerable to incidents of violence, sabotage or terrorism, according to a Pentagon inspector general report released this week. – Military Times 

Melanie Marlowe writes: The emergence of hypersonic missiles is an important feature of renewed strategic competition. Over the past 15 years, Russia and China invested in these new kinds of strike systems, which pose a different kind of threat to U.S forward forces, bases and power projection. Hypersonic glide vehicles and scramjet cruise missiles are designed to circumvent both intercept by missile defenses and detection by satellites that support strategic warning. – C4ISRNET

Long War

A man who killed two people in a knife attack in southeastern France at the weekend is a refugee from Sudan and has been charged with terrorism offences and murder, the French anti-terrorist prosecutor’s office said on Wednesday. – Reuters

In places as diverse as Yemen, Somalia, Mali and Syria, the U.S. Special Operations Command has employed quiet partnerships with local special forces and paramilitary proxies to take on terrorist cells in a more targeted and effective manner than the large-scale train-and-equip program that appears to be eroding in Iraq. […]The answer may be to take the war underground and back into the shadows. – Politico 

Colin P. Clarke writes: However, by launching public health campaigns and dispensing information and advice on how to avoid being infected, terrorist and insurgent groups can position themselves as a trusted voice on these issues. Al Qaeda and other jihadi groups have used the pandemic to highlight the ineptitude of Western governments’ responses, suggesting deliberate negligence and a lack of concern for their own citizens. – Foreign Policy