Fdd's overnight brief

December 8, 2021

In The News


The United States on Tuesday imposed sanctions on more than a dozen people and entities in Iran, Syria and Uganda, accusing them of being connected to serious human rights abuses and repressive acts. – Reuters 

Talks on reviving the 2015 Iran nuclear deal are expected to resume on Thursday, France’s foreign minister said, although he added that he feared Iran was playing for time. – Reuters 

The US Navy made its largest-ever seizure of weaponry from Iran in a haul that included surface-to-air missiles as well as cruise missile parts, the US Justice Department revealed Tuesday. – Times of Israel  

The head of the Central Intelligence Agency said Monday that the United States does not have evidence that Iran has made a decision to weaponize its nuclear program. – Times of Israel  

Marjan Keypour Greenblatt writes: Most countries appropriately view religious freedom as a basic human right — and that means allowing people to worship as they choose, enabling communities to select their own leaders, and allowing faith groups to preserve their traditions. The Islamic Republic refuses to grant its own religious minorities this basic freedom. This is telling and a clear reminder that, despite its propaganda, the government in Tehran is committed to nothing more than preserving its own power and is more than willing to sacrifice the rights and freedoms of its citizens to do so. – Middle East Institute 


The slow pace has become a defining characteristic of Operation Allies Welcome, the largest U.S. refugee resettlement effort in decades. Even as Afghans still arrive, thousands remain in limbo, anxious about their future as they fearfully follow the news of Taliban reprisals and economic collapse back in their homeland. – Associated Press 

Many Taliban foot soldiers now have new jobs: manning checkpoints on the streets and carrying out security patrols in and around Afghan cities and towns. – Associated Press 

Colin P. Clarke writes: Still, Washington should muster whatever pressure it can to ensure that the Taliban do not allow Afghanistan to once again become a safe haven for terrorist groups determined to attack the United States. More broadly, the policy solutions for dealing with terrorist groups emulating the Taliban’s approach all have downsides.  – Foreign Affairs 


A 14-year-old Palestinian girl stabbed an Israeli woman on Wednesday morning near a contested East Jerusalem neighborhood, in the fourth lone wolf attack to take place in Jerusalem in past three weeks amid fears of new wave of violence. – Washington Post   

The Israeli defense establishment has completed a 65-kilometer (40-mile) upgraded barrier with the Gaza Strip, three years and more than a dozen rounds of violent conflict after work began. – Jerusalem Post  

Palestinian factions in the Gaza Strip have threatened to implement a gradual escalation against Israel if their demands are not met concerning reconstruction and the blockade on the Strip, complaining that Egypt is deliberately delaying the reconstruction process, according to Arabic media. – Jerusalem Post  

Israel will not stop protecting itself for a moment, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said on Tuesday, the morning after an alleged Israeli strike on the Latakia port in Syria. – Jerusalem Post  

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is expected to visit Israel on Sunday for meetings with Prime Minster Naftali Bennett and Foreign Minister Yair Lapid. – Jerusalem Post  

Cyprus and Greece pledged to continue advancing Israel’s relations with the European Union on Tuesday, during a trilateral alliance meeting in Jerusalem focused on energy and security cooperation. – Algemeiner  

Yonah Jeremy Bob writes: Putting aside whether Netanyahu or Bennett’s tactics with the US are smarter on Iran policy and the fact that both made some superficial criticisms, one issue that unites all three is that all of them have some responsibility for the lack of readiness. […]Iran has already reaped major new levels of knowledge that cannot be bombed, even if Jerusalem at some point orders a strike to slow down certain physical nuclear facilities’ progress. The only question now is whether that cost can be overcome or whether it is already too late. – Jerusalem Post  


The brother of Hezbollah MP Ihab Hamadeh was kidnapped and subsequently released by his kidnappers after he was shot in the foot while trying to escape in Hermel in northeastern Lebanon on Tuesday evening, according to Lebanon’s National News Agency. – Jerusalem Post 

The Beirut Court of Appeals has given Tarek Bitar, the judicial investigator in the Beirut Port blast case, the green light to continue his work on Tuesday after he was ordered to halt the investigation over a month ago due to an appeal by former Public Works Minister Youssef Fenianos. – Jerusalem Post 

Hanin Ghaddar writes: Even if Washington continues to attempt to negotiate a new nuclear deal with Tehran, Hezbollah’s current weakness presents a strategic opportunity to alter the balance of power in Lebanon, and promote political diversity. Hezbollah is losing power and legitimacy because of U.S. sanctions and the spread of domestic political protests. It is losing the value of its resistance rhetoric because of its inability to retaliate against Israeli attacks. And it is losing the support of the bulk of Lebanon’s Shia, who now only comply out of fear, no longer out of true belief. Lebanon’s crisis and Hezbollah’s challenges are linked, and both present opportunities for change. – Hoover Institution 

Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia is running out of the ammunition it uses to defend against weekly drone and missile attacks on its kingdom and is urgently appealing to the U.S. and its Gulf and European allies for a resupply, U.S. and Saudi officials said. – Wall Street Journal

French authorities on Tuesday detained a Saudi that they thought was wanted in connection with the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, a Saudi journalist who was dismembered in Istanbul three years ago, a French police source said. – Washington Post 

The Saudi-led coalition fighting in Yemen said on Tuesday it bombed military targets in the capital Sanaa after the Iran-aligned Houthis launched ballistic missiles and armed drones into Saudi Arabia, including at Aramco oil facilities in Jeddah. – Reuters 

The Senate on Tuesday rejected a bid from a bipartisan group of lawmakers to stop President Joe Biden’s administration from selling more than $650 million worth of weapons to Saudi Arabia, allowing the deal to proceed despite the gulf nation’s dismal record on human rights. – Associated Press 

Gulf States

The United Arab Emirates, a hub of international commerce, announced Tuesday that it would shift its weekends to bring them more in line with the Western calendar and global markets, once again showing its willingness to part ways with its Arab neighbors. – New York Times 

Kuwait has no plans to follow the United Arab Emirates and change its weekend, two people familiar with top level decision-making said on Tuesday. – Bloomberg 

Yerevan Saeed writes: The Kurdish migration not only harms the Kurdistan Region’s human capital resources, but has also already led to security challenges and tensions between the EU and Belarus to the point that some predicted the outbreak of conflict between the two sides. Moreover, the brutal conditions of the migrants have put the EU in a moral dilemma; its reputation as a paradise of human rights has taken a hit. – Washington Institute 

Middle East & North Africa

An Egyptian court ordered the provisional release of an activist imprisoned for nearly two years in a case that has intensified international scrutiny of the country’s human-rights record. – Wall Street Journal 

Last month’s attack has underscored what intelligence officials and analysts describe as a growing threat to stability in the Middle East and beyond: the proliferation of attack drones, particularly among paramilitary groups with close ties to Iran. Over the past two years — and most strikingly since early summer — Shiite militants have acquired new fleets of unmanned aerial vehicles, or UAVs, capable of small-scale, but highly accurate, strikes on a wide array of military and civilian targets. – Washington Post  

The growing inability of the international community to restore peace in countries like Yemen, Libya and Ethiopia is forcing humanitarian and refugee organizations to work increasingly during conflicts which they can’t solve despite the expectations of many people caught up in these crises, the U.N. refugee chief warned Tuesday. – Associated Press  

Seth J. Frantzman writes: The Syrian regime may appear to be humiliated after its foreign minister told Iranian counterparts on Monday that it would respond to this kind of aggression. This may also ruffle feathers from Moscow to other states in the region that want the Syrian regime to be more stable and able to control its airspace. – Jerusalem Post 

Hasim Tekines writes: Re-establishing institutions’ role in policymaking will be crucial for any future Turkish government. However, the strategic orientation of the Turkish bureaucracy could also confine the scope for change. Therefore, elected governments should still drive the re-articulation of Turkish foreign policy and should not leave this task entirely to military or civilian technocrats. – War on the Rocks 


Attempts by China or Russia to expand their territory by invasions of Taiwan or Ukraine, respectively, would be serious mistakes with severe consequences, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Tuesday at The Wall Street Journal’s CEO Council Summit. – Wall Street Journal 

China is expanding its military in a bid to “revise the global rule set” and undo the post-World War II national security framework, the highest ranking military officer said Tuesday. – Wall Street Journal  

Although the effect of Mr. Biden’s decision on other countries remains to be seen, several have already signaled that they, too, will seek ways to express displeasure with China’s policies while stopping short of prohibiting athletes from attending. – New York Times  

Australia will join the United States in a diplomatic boycott of the Winter Olympic Games in Beijing, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Wednesday, as other allies weighed similar moves to protest China’s human rights record. – Reuters 

China accused the United States of violating the Olympic spirit on Tuesday after the Biden administration announced a diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Winter Games over human rights concerns. – Associated Press 

China is preparing a blacklist that is expected to tightly restrict the main channel used by start-ups to attract international capital and list overseas, in a bid to limit the role of foreign shareholders in the country’s next generation of tech companies. – Financial Times 

Editorial: The businesses — Coca-Cola, Visa, Airbnb among them — which pay big for exclusive marketing rights that allow them to slap five colored rings on commercials hawking their products, should be ashamed to help Mr. Xi’s regime airbrush crimes against humanity. By endorsing an event in a country committing genocide, they effectively endorse the country as a worthy host — precisely the stamp of approval the White House wants to avoid. The whole world — countries and companies and citizens everywhere — must call the Games what they are: the Genocide Olympics. – Washington Post  

Editorial: The disagreements between the West and China are not minor trade disagreements. They are not cultural differences or diplomatic squabbles. They are not complaints about currency or tariffs or any other such paltry question. […]This, on its own, is sufficient grounds not only for ostracizing Chinese diplomats but also for refusing to give China’s communist government the propaganda victory of a successful Olympics. – Washington Examiner 

Heather Dichter writes: Calls for a boycott or even a boycott itself simply weren’t going to change Chinese government policy. […]If China really does follow through with a political response, it would mark the first time sport was retaliated with politics. When the Games open on February 4, the world’s attention will focus on athletes’ personal stories and success winning medals. Just like the first time Beijing hosted the Games, athletes will compete at the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing and calls for a boycott will not make any lasting change in China or its policies. – Washington Post 

Graham Allison and Eric Schmidt write: More recent congressional spending proposals, such as the $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill and the $1.7 trillion social-spending package, have included investments in research and development in areas like green technologies and energy storage. While these investments are greatly needed, it will take more attention and investment in strategic technologies to compete with China. […]Unless the U.S. can organize a national response analogous to the mobilization that created the technologies that won World War II, China could soon dominate the technologies of the future and the opportunities they will create. – Wall Street Journal 

Deborah Seligsohn writes: The key in this process will be for the United States to respect its rivals, including China. It’s also important to give credit where credit is due. China has greatly reduced both its coal use and air pollution in the past decade. […]Of course, there is so much more to do. But things are looking up, and responsible competition is our best hope for global climate progress. – New York Times  

Yuen Yuen Ang writes: Of course, Xi cannot openly admit that his country faces problems similar to those that have shaped the United States, its capitalist rival. […]But unlike U.S. leaders, who relied on democratic measures to treat the excesses of capitalism, Xi is deploying a combo of commands from above, sloganeering, and adaptive policymaking. His approach reflects the CCP’s hope of experimenting and tweaking its way out of many simultaneous crises, in order to avoid a more fundamental transformation of the political system. – Foreign Affairs 

Michael Fullilove and Hervé Lemahieu write: The limitations on U.S. economic leadership in the Indo-Pacific point to the deeper problem: just as the United States’ resurgence in the past year stems from events at home, so do the biggest threats to the sustainability of this resurgence. […]The other big danger for the United States is the polarization of its domestic politics and the threat this poses to the stability of the United States’ democratic institutions—and ultimately, its reliability as an ally and partner. It may be that the biggest risk to U.S. power in Asia lies not in Beijing but in Washington. – Foreign Affairs 

William Alan Reinsch writes: From the U.S. point of view, the latest actions by China are concerning. […]The result is that actions that may be politically popular at home and may not be of great economic consequence if viewed one by one take on greater significance when there are many of them and when nations get away with them. – Center for Strategic and International Studies 

Bryan Clark and Dan Patt write: Pentagon leaders need to address the threat posed by China in ways that are sustainable and likely to deter aggression. The threats of nuclear escalation, as used against the Soviets, or of certain conventional defeat, as used against Iran, may not work against China. The U.S. military will need to mount a campaign of creating uncertainty, lowering the benefits of aggression, and continuous adaptation to accomplish what a ring of steel is unlikely to do. – National Review 


In sentencing Myanmar’s iconic democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi to prison, the country’s generals have effectively exiled her from electoral politics. But that doesn’t mean the Southeast Asian nation is back to square one in its stop-start efforts to move toward democracy. – Associated Press 

The earth shook and explosions boomed in the crisp winter air of Japan’s northern island of Hokkaido on Tuesday, as dozens of tanks and soldiers carried out drills at a Japanese army post that has long served to keep an eye on neighboring Russia, while showcasing Japanese military prowess as Tokyo also faces China’s rise. – Associated Press 

The UN’s top court ordered rivals Armenia and Azerbaijan Tuesday to prevent racial hatred and avoid aggravating their feud following last year’s war between the Caucasus arch-foes. – Agence France-Presse  

Turkey’s Caucasus ally Azerbaijan will likely become the second foreign customer of the Hurkus, a Turkish-made basic trainer and light-attack aircraft. – Defense News  

Joseph Bosco writes: With strong warnings to China and Russia over the past week, the Biden administration has set a propitious tone for the Democracy Summit. If participants — especially Taiwan and Ukraine — can be assured there will be vigorous follow-up action to defend democracy if Beijing and Moscow do not come to their geopolitical senses, Biden will have put America back to its rightful place as leader of the Free World. – The Hill  

Shivshankar Menon writes: Both Beijing and New Delhi have other preoccupations and should not want to be locked in conflict. […]To avoid getting sidetracked, New Delhi will need to develop a grand strategy that addresses an increasingly assertive and nationalist China, not just on the border but across political and economic issues. And for the foreseeable future, both states will have to prepare themselves for a combination of engagement and competition. – Foreign Affairs 

Seth J. Frantzman writes: Competition at sea could have major ramifications. A naval arms race between Britain and Germany helped lead to World War I. The shadows of war are now growing over a swath of water from Europe to Asia. Major trade routes and supply chain woes could be affected by naval rivalries. This has happened in the Gulf of Oman, where commercial ships have been attacked. The next clash could happen in the Black Sea or off the coast of Taiwan. – The Hill 


President Biden warned Russian President Vladimir Putin that the U.S. and its allies would meet a military invasion of Ukraine with strong economic penalties, moves to bolster Ukrainian defenses and fortify support for Eastern European nations. – Wall Street Journal 

The Ukrainian military exchanged fire with Russian-backed separatists using machine guns and grenade launchers on Tuesday, the day on which President Biden and President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia discussed ways to ease mounting tensions in the region. – New York Times  

As concern mounts over Russia’s menacing massing of troops on the Ukrainian border, many analysts say that the fate of the eastern European nation matters far more to President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia than to the Biden administration. – New York Times   

Germany’s Chancellor-in-waiting Olaf Scholz expressed concern on Tuesday about Russian troop movements on the Ukrainian border and said any attempts to cross the frontier would be unacceptable. – Reuters 

Russia will be hit with more and tougher EU sanctions if it militarily threatens Ukraine, the bloc’s chief Ursula von der Leyen warned on Tuesday. – Agence France-Presse  

David Ignatius writes: A Russia that went to war in Ukraine would have only China as a reliable ally. That might console Putin, but it should panic Chinese President Xi Jinping. The China-Russia axis would cement a “decoupled” world in which the United States and the technologically advanced democracies would have a huge, and probably lasting, advantage over Moscow and Beijing. – Washington Post 

William A. Galston writes: The “true sovereignty of Ukraine,” Mr. Putin insists, is possible “only in partnership with Russia.” The question is what this partnership would mean in practice. Mr. Biden can’t give Russia’s president a pledge that Ukraine will never join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. Nor will the EU promise that its association with Ukraine will never ripen into full membership. Mr. Putin can’t achieve his aims through peaceful means. He must soon decide whether he wants to expand his military involvement in the Donetsk into a wider war. – Wall Street Journal 

Hans Binnendijk and Barry Pavel write: NATO needs to plan beyond efforts to deter another Russian invasion of Ukraine and recognize that its actual response may differ depending on the extent of Russian military operations. […]The West would probably respond diplomatically, with much stronger economic sanctions, and with massive arms transfers to Ukraine, but not with Western military deployments to defend Ukraine. – Defense News  

Frederick Kagan writes: The West must spend less energy fearing to “provoke” aggression and more energy worrying about losing Ukraine and the vital buffer between Russia and Central Europe. It should worry about losing a core principle of the international system and about continuing the world’s descent into chaos. Those are the issues at stake in Ukraine today, and those are the stakes for which the West must be prepared to fight. – The Hill 

Kseniya Kirillova writes: If, instead, sanctions continue to be imposed on an ad-hoc basis, depending on the political decisions of the leaders of individual countries, Putin can still hope that the Western powers will fail to summon the necessary political will and that his blackmail may yet succeed. – Center for European Policy Analysis 

Emil Avdaliani writes: A war scare in Ukraine is a pivotal moment for the West. It tests transatlantic resolve, unity, and the very foundations of NATO. Failure to prevent potential Russian military advances or an unwillingness to respond if such a move occurs will likely cause an accentuation of internal divisions within NATO and the European Union (EU.) – Center for European Policy Analysis 

Mark Episkopos writes: The Biden administration is reportedly not considering direct military intervention in the event of a Ukraine invasion scenario. Biden sought to warn Putin of the dire economic consequences that would befall the Kremlin if Russia decides to invade Ukraine, though the White House readout did not elaborate on any specific punitive measures mentioned by Biden during the phone call. […]The administration is apparently also preparing emergency plans for evacuating American citizens in the event of a Russian invasion. – The National Interest 

Angela Kellett writes: The United States and the West must make it clear to Ukraine how much support they are prepared to provide. They also must communicate to Russia that there will be painful and real consequences if it were to invade Ukraine. Under these conditions, effective diplomacy may be able to prevent a disastrous war. – The National Interest 

Leon Aron writes: So what are the U.S. and its allies up to these days, according to Patrushev? The U.S. “geopolitical strategy,” he explains, is to preserve hegemony while “beggaring the entire world.” America’s NATO allies are not excepted from the abuse, either. […]And the objective of programs such as the “Partnership for Peace” for future NATO members is similar: to prevent sovereign countries from “raising their heads,” rather than pursuing policies that benefit their development. – The Dispatch 


Ukrainian officials kept expectations low Tuesday that President Biden’s call with Russian President Vladimir Putin would quickly lower tensions stoked by Moscow’s troop buildup along the Ukrainian border, butappeared pleased that Biden signaled U.S. resolve to stand by Ukraine. – Washington Post 

Germany’s parliament elected a new chancellor on Wednesday, ending Angela Merkel’s 16-year rule. The country’s new center-left leader inherits longstanding challenges from his predecessor and faces a cluster of short-term crises that could complicate his plans to modernize the German state and its economy. – Wall Street Journal 

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and other European leaders agreed with U.S. President Joe Biden on the need for ongoing dialogue with Russia aimed at ending its threatening behaviour towards Ukraine, Johnson’s office said on Tuesday. – Reuters 

The European Commission will propose on Wednesday a new trade defence measure designed to combat non-European Union countries wielding undue pressure on any of the bloc’s members, but the plan already faces scepticism in Brussels. – Reuters 

U.S. officials have told members of Congress they have an understanding with Germany about shutting down the Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline if Russia invades Ukraine, a senior congressional aide told Reuters on Tuesday. – Reuters 

The regime of authoritarian Belarusian leader Alyaksandr Lukashenka says it will ban a wide range of food imports from European Union members states, the United States, and other countries starting next year in retaliation for sanctions imposed against Minsk. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty  

Tom Rogan writes: Nord Stream 2 is currently idle not because Germany is putting pressure on Putin to avoid his threatened invasion of Ukraine , but rather because the pipeline’s owners have yet to establish a German holding company as required by German law. When they do so, Nord Stream 2 will pump gas. Putin will then be able to cut off the supply of gas running through Ukraine (denying that nation much-needed transit fees) and leverage political and security concessions in return for helping Germany avoid freezing winters. – Washington Examiner 


Across Ethiopia, thousands of men and women are quitting their jobs to enlist with the country’s armed forces, as rebels from the Tigray People’s Liberation Front have threatened to invade the capital, fanning fears that a simmering conflict will spiral into full-blown civil war. – Wall Street Journal 

For more than a year, Ethiopia has been engulfed in a civil war that has claimed thousands of lives and put hundreds of thousands at risk of famine. The fighting between Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s government forces and rebels led by the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) began as a political power struggle and is now increasingly driven by ethnic rivalries. – Washington Post  

At least 30 passengers on a bus in Nigeria’s Sokoto state were burnt to death when gunmen torched it on Tuesday, police and residents said, in yet another reminder of growing insecurity in Africa’s most populous country. – Reuters 

The U.S. Treasury Department on Tuesday imposed financial sanctions on Uganda’s chief of military intelligence, Major General Abel Kandiho, over alleged human rights abuses committed under his watch. – Reuters 

United Nations peacekeepers are seeking additional troops and improved equipment in order to tackle an array of new threats emerging from some of the most dangerous corners of the globe at a time of deep divisions among the international community. – Newsweek 

Emily Milliken writes: All of which raises the specter of strategic evolution on the part of ISIS. The group, on its heels elsewhere, appears to be exporting a strategy of taking control of natural resources, much as it has done in Iraq and Syria, to its Central African province. ISIS may also be adapting in ways that facilitate cooperation and coordination with others, even rivals, dramatically expanding its threat potential in the process. – Washington Examiner 

United States

Katia Glod writes: So there is plenty of space for the Summit for Democracy to provide answers by focusing on countries’ endogenous democratic problems while also spreading the project’s co-ownership as widely as possible. […]Nor should the summit bypass the problems of some of the oldest democracies, including the US, the UK, and the EU. Tackling internal democratic deficiencies and authoritarian practices should be the focus of both the summit and the various processes which will follow from it. – Center for European Policy Analysis 

Pekka Virkki writes: The Summit for Democracy can provide the spirit and will for global democratic renewal. However, countering outside influence or endemic corruption and authoritarianism within the transatlantic alliance must not forget that geopolitics and military force are the ultimate guarantor of integrity. Otherwise, kinetic deterrence or hybrid containment will fail. Likely both. – Center for European Policy Analysis 

Hal Brands writes: This is Biden’s dilemma, but in fairness, it isn’t fully his fault. His predicament stems from a gap between America’s commitments and its ability to uphold them, which has been growing ever wider as the threats posed by the likes of Beijing, Moscow and Tehran grow more severe. Biden may, through a combination of luck and skill, find his way out of a challenging winter. But history tends to torment countries that ignore such gaps for long. – Bloomberg 


A 31-year-old Ottawa man has been arrested on suspicion of mounting ransomware attacks in the United States and Canada after a joint probe that took almost two years, police said on Tuesday. – Reuters 

Senior Biden administration officials met in Silicon Valley on Monday with key technology and cybersecurity companies as part of a push for more help from the private sector in fending off increasingly aggressive hackers working for adversarial regimes and criminal gangs. – Politico   

Joshua Rovner writes: Secret intelligence has a checkered past, however, and critics may be skeptical of any approach that draws upon the dark arts. Nonetheless, an expansive intelligence posture complements a more modest grand strategy and might ultimately enable military retrenchment. Assertiveness in cyberspace goes hand-in-hand with restraint in the real world. – War on the Rocks 


The House on Tuesday overwhelmingly passed a $768 billion defense policy bill after lawmakers abruptly dropped proposals that would have required women to register for the draft, repealed the 2002 authorization of the Iraq war and imposed sanctions for a Russian gas pipeline, in a late-year drive to salvage a bipartisan priority. – New York Times  

The U.S. Navy is contesting orders from Hawaii to suspend use of fuel tanks and drain them at a complex above an aquifer that supplies nearly 20% of Honolulu’s drinking water until certain conditions are met. – Associated Press 

A new compromise version of the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal 2022 would allow the Air Force to retire most of the aircraft it sought to downsize — but not the A-10 Thunderbolt II. – Defense News  

The incoming head of the U.S. Navy’s Atlantic fleet said his command will continue to prepare ships and sailors that will take on a renewed threat from across the sea. – USNI News  

Congressional authorizers are approving 13 battle force ships and saving two of the seven aging Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruisers the Navy tried to decommission, according to a draft of the National Defense Authorization Act. – USNI News  

Mackenzie Eaglen writes: Some in Washington are suggesting that a continuing resolution that locks in defense spending at Trump presidency-levels is acceptable. But that’s a strange way of defining victory when the Senate and House defense policy bills are poised to deliver a three percent real increase to the defense budget. A rain delay for a game is not the same thing as winning the game. It is time to sound the alarm about all the damage a yearlong spending freeze does to the U.S. military before it becomes reality. – 19FortyFive 

Jake Harrington and Riley McCabe write: When recently asked to opine on the biggest threat in this era of gray zone conflict, British chief of defense staff General Sir Nick Carter was blunt: “Miscalculation.”48 In the modern gray zone, uncertainty permeates decisionmaking and the stakes can be incredibly high. The development and implementation of appropriate and effective strategies to confront malign behavior amid deep uncertainty and with constant risk of miscalculation and escalation will heavily depend on modernizing the ways that intelligence is collected, analyzed, and delivered to decisionmakers. – Center for Strategic and International Studies