Fdd's overnight brief

February 26, 2020

In The News


The number of people killed by the coronavirus in Iran has risen to at least 15, the country’s health ministry said, with nearly 100 cases of the infection confirmed, including the man in charge of containing the spread of the pathogen in the country. […]Iran’s deputy health minister, Iraj Harirchi, said he was among the new patients confirmed infected by the virus in a video published on social media Tuesday. Mr. Harirchi was leading the task-force to limit the virus’s expansion. – Wall Street Journal

Ali Shamkhani, secretary of Iran’s top national security body, accused the White House on Tuesday of withholding information about an Iranian missile attack on a U.S. base in Iraq. – Reuters

The United States announced on Tuesday it was imposing sanctions on 13 foreign entities and individuals in China, Iraq, Russia, and Turkey for supporting Iran’s missile program. – Reuters 

Shajarizadeh, 44, fled Iran almost two years ago, after being arrested three times and imprisoned twice for defying Iran’s compulsory hijab law. […]She also called on the rest of the world to stand in solidarity with the Iranian people, and criticized diplomats who respect Iranian laws that she says violate women’s rights. – CNN 

An Iranian human rights group on February 25 reported that a court has sentenced five individuals arrested during November protests to a total of thirty years in prison as well as flogging and exile. – Radio Farda 

The size of the 10 Iranian missiles used on Al Asad Air Base in Iraq during the Jan. 8 airstrike is to blame for the increased number of service members diagnosed with traumatic brain injuries (TBI), a Pentagon official told reporters Monday. – Military.com

In an op-ed in the Saudi daily Al-Sharq Al-Awsat, Mamdouh Al-Muhaini, director-general of the Saudi Al-Arabiya and Al-Hadath media outlets, criticized U.S. Democrats who opposed the January 3, 2020 U.S. killing of IRGC Qods Force commander Gen. Qassem Soleimani. He wrote that the harsh criticism of the killing had gone so far as to depict President Trump as a warmonger and to defend “a despicable terrorist whose hands were stained with the blood… of Americans.” – Middle East Media Research Institute

Josh Rogin writes: The Graham-Menendez plan may never become U.S. policy. But they are right in one sense: Pressure on Iran alone is not going to force regime change, so there must be something else to follow. Trump genuinely wants to negotiate a new deal — and Congress can help him get there, if it decides to play its role. – Washington Post 

Seth J. Frantzman writes: Iran’s regime has a siege mentality that is used to blaming foreigners for its problems. It blames foreign media for reporting on the virus. Even Iran’s authoritarian contacts in other countries will have warned it to take no chances with this virus. China knows what the results can be, as do Gulf states. – Jerusalem Post 


Syria’s uprising began in a flare of hope almost exactly nine years ago. Now, amid one of the worst humanitarian emergencies of the war, some of those who chanted for freedom and dignity in 2011 want only to ward off the winter cold. – New York Times

At least 21 civilians, including nine children and three teachers, were killed when 10 schools and a hospital were hit by “airstrikes and ground attacks” in Idlib province in northwestern Syria on Tuesday, said the Union of Medical Care and Relief Organizations said in a statement. – CNN 

Syrian regime forces recaptured Kafranbel in Idlib province on Tuesday, a war monitor said, a symbolic victory in a town that was among the first to rebel against Damascus. – Agence France-Presse

After nine years of civil war, the fighting over who controls Syria has come down to one province: opposition-held Idlib, in the northwest. Backed by Russian air power, forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad are advancing on the area. Because the drive leaves rebels and civilians caught in the crossfire with little room to flee inside Syria, it raises the specter of enormous bloodshed and a massive refugee exodus toward neighboring Turkey. – Bloomberg

Turkey plans to push Syrian government forces away from its military observation posts in northwest Syria’s Idlib region by end-February, President Tayyip Erdogan said on Wednesday, despite advances by the Russian-backed government forces. – Reuters 


After a barrage of rockets was fired towards the communities surrounding the Gaza border over the past few days, many of the locals from the area have gathered on Tuesday to call on the government to defeat Hamas and act more aggressively against terrorism from the Gaza Strip. – Jerusalem Post 

A spokesman for the Palestinian Islamic Jihad vowed to continue fighting against Israel, shortly after a ceasefire went into effect Tuesday ending two days of clashes between Israel and the Gaza-based terror group. – Times of Israel 

The Foreign Ministry has asked Israeli embassies in Canada, Russia and Bulgaria to cancel lectures by a top Israeli expert on Iran due to his criticism of Israel’s support for a maximum pressure policy against Tehran, Channel 13 news reported Tuesday. – Times of Israel 

Facebook has removed 30 fake profiles on its platform that sought to suppress the Arab vote in next week’s national election, the social media company and an Israeli watchdog group said Tuesday. – Times of Israel

Sen. Bernie Sanders said he would reconsider the decision to move the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem if elected president. – Washington Examiner 

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced on Tuesday he was reviving Israel’s most contentious settlement plan, a proposal that opponents say would split the West Bank, cut off East Jerusalem and make a contiguous Palestinian state impossible. – Reuters

Political figures and organizations both on the Left and the Right reacted on Monday to the latest round of escalation in which the Palestinian Islamic Jihad fired over 100 rockets at Israel over 24 hours. – Jerusalem Post 

David Pollock writes: In between the Trump peace plan’s release on January 28 and Israel’s March 2 election, new survey data shows that most Palestinian respondents now say they prefer “regaining all of historical Palestine” over permanent peace with Israel. Yet majorities in both the West Bank and Gaza voice much more pragmatic views about the impracticality of a one-state solution, the return of refugees, or armed struggle against Israel. – Washington Institute

Arabian Peninsula

Saudi Arabia’s King Salman tapped former Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih to head a newly created investment ministry as part of a cabinet shuffle, calling back a high-profile figure as the government struggles to lure foreign capital to drive an economic transformation. – Wall Street Journal 

The U.N. Security Council approved a resolution Tuesday extending targeted sanctions for war-torn Yemen following contentious negotiations among the council’s member nations. – Associated Press

Donors and aid groups are planning to suspend humanitarian aid to areas of Yemen controlled by the Houthis in the coming months if the group does not stop hindering the delivery of assistance, a senior U.S. State Department official said on Tuesday. – Reuters

Gulf States

A privately funded Israeli cycling team is racing past major landmarks in the United Arab Emirates this week as relations between the countries warm.[…] Israel and the Gulf states do not have diplomatic relations but there have been closer informal contacts in recent years, which officials say stem from shared concerns over Iran. – Bloomberg

Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune will travel to Saudi Arabia on Wednesday, state media reported, his first state visit since being elected in December. – Reuters

Ibrahim Jalal writes: Therefore, it is clear that the UAE’s withdrawal will not reduce its influence in Yemen for the foreseeable future. Abu Dhabi will continue be important to the trajectories of both the conflict and the peace process, especially given its patron-client relationship with the entities its sponsors — a dynamic that is itself unlikely to change in the short to medium term. – Middle East Institute 


Hosni Mubarak, the autocratic ruler of Egypt whose nearly 30 years in power came to an abrupt, bloody climax in 2011 after a popular revolt swept across the Arab world, died Feb. 25 at 91. – Washington Post

In his heart, Zeyad Salim remains convinced that Hosni Mubarak’s ignominious ouster in 2011 was richly deserved. Still, the street vendor also wishes that the longtime autocrat had never been removed. Like many Egyptians on Tuesday, Salim had mixed emotions about Mubarak’s passing. – Washington Post

Editorial: Neither Mr. Trump nor Egypt’s new strongman has learned the lessons of Mr. Mubarak’s failure. The Arab world’s most populous nation continues to lag behind other developing countries. Egyptians who advocate liberal reforms or even free speech are still relentlessly persecuted. Islamists remain the strongest opposition force. Sadly, the repressive, stagnant regime that Mr. Mubarak created has become Egypt’s standard. – Washington Post

Middle East & North Africa

A drillship anchored off Lebanon Tuesday to explore for oil and gas, an energy firm and the government said, raising hopes for a future boost to the country’s crumbling economy. – Agence France-Presse

Iraqi security forces killed at least one protester in Baghdad on Tuesday and wounded 24 others, police sources told Reuters. – Reuters

Hezbollah is against allowing the International Monetary Fund to manage Lebanon’s financial crisis, the powerful group said on Tuesday, indicating opposition to any IMF bailout that would impose tough conditions on the heavily indebted state. – Reuters

President Donald Trump said Tuesday that it is time for the United States to pass the fight against the Islamic State militant group (ISIS) on to Russia, Iran, Iraq and Syria, and to instead focus on maintaining control of oil resources in the region. – Newsweek 

Trevor Service and Omar Al-Rafie write: Any future international initiative to support Community Policing in Jordan or to any of the countries in the MENA region or in Africa should take the existing practices in problem-solving into consideration. Experience suggests that combining international best practices in Community Policing with existing local practices can positively impact results on the ground, and will help in adopting such programs by the beneficiaries, with more support and engagement. – Middle East Institute

Korean Peninsula

But as South Korea struggles to contain a rapid acceleration in coronavirus infections, one thing is clear: The kind of tactics imposed by the authoritarian regime in China are simply not on the menu in this compact, democratic and politically outspoken country. – Washington Post 

A U.S. soldier stationed in South Korea has tested positive for the new coronavirus, the first such case involving a U.S. service member. – The Hill 

The Philippines will ban travel to South Korea, while also prohibiting the entry of travelers coming from North Gyeongsang province. – Bloomberg 


U.S. officials said Chinese leaders have taken the first steps toward implementing the first phase of a trade deal between the world’s two largest economies, an announcement that comes amid concerns that the coronavirus could delay the pace of China’s promise to purchase more U.S. crops and other goods. – Wall Street Journal 

To shape public opinion about China’s response to the deadly new coronavirus, Beijing has turned to a trusted strategy: deploying a massive propaganda campaign and suppressing critical news coverage. But with public cynicism running high over an epidemic that has killed more than 2,600 people, some of the propaganda is backfiring, as people question the lack of critical reporting in Chinese media and dismiss what they say are ham-handed attempts to create Communist Party heroes. – Wall Street Journal 

China’s foreign ministry said on Wednesday the Wall Street Journal has recently communicated with the Chinese government over a February column that Beijing says carried a racist headline and admitted its mistakes. – Reuters

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Tuesday criticized China and Iran for allegedly suppressing information about the spread of coronavirus and warned the countries’ efforts at censorship are harming a global response. – The Hill 

David Ignatius writes: The politics of this crisis matter. China was initially slow to react because officials there wanted to suppress bad news; Iranian authorities, similarly, may have undercounted cases initially in a cluster there. President Trump’s pronouncement two weeks ago that the virus was likely to “go away” in April missed the mark. – Washington Post

James Holmes writes: Seventy-plus years of maintaining that strategy means this is a concept with longevity. […]By contrast, Maoist active defense envisions grappling on open terrain—China’s vast continental interior during the days of Mao, its offshore seas and skies in today’s U.S.-China maritime competition. – The National Interest 

Seth Cropsey writes: Achieving the needed budget numbers, fleet design and size will only happen by luck if there is no overarching idea of how the Navy expects to achieve the national objective of preventing or winning a war with China. A strategy would tell us this. It is the question that precedes all others in protecting the U.S. against the emerging threat that is China. – The Hill


Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Tuesday that a seven-day “reduction in violence” agreement with the Taliban is largely holding. – The Hill

The U.S. State Department on Tuesday confirmed that the Afghan government has agreed to postpone its presidential inauguration, amid an election feud in which both Afghan President Asraf Ghani and his main rival claimed victory in disputed Sept. 28 elections. – Reuters

Barnett R. Rubin writes: The cost of this bias for coercion and against negotiation is measured not just in poor national security decision-making but in human lives, most of them not American. Afghanistan has bled from wars not of its own making for over 40 years. An open-ended U.S. military presence without a settlement, or continuing a war with no clear objective or prospect of success, would waste resources and sacrifice innocent lives to fears and misconceptions. War is sometimes a necessity, but it can also become an addiction. It is time to break the habit. – War on the Rocks 

South Asia

President Trump’s flight time for his India trip this week will total about 36 hours, a steep trade-off for about the same amount of time in the country. But his diplomatic drop-in was as intense as it was brief, with his hosts providing expansive red-carpet treatment that the president used to celebrate the most politically favorable stretch of his presidency. – Wall Street Journal 

As violence erupted in the streets Tuesday over a citizenship law that critics say discriminates against Muslims, President Trump defended Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s record on religious tolerance as he closed out a two-day visit to India that served as a celebration of the bond between two nationalist leaders. – Washington Post

President Trump commended Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi for “working very hard on religious freedom” and refused to discuss a controversial new citizenship law that set off protests across the country, saying that the matter was “really up to India.” – Washington Post

A Christian woman acquitted of blasphemy after spending eight years on death row in Pakistan, and who faced death threats from Islamic extremists, said she is going to request asylum in France. – Associated Press 

Barkha Dutt writes: Though officials characterized the riots as clashes between supporters and opponents of the citizenship law and there were initial reports of some violence by groups on both sides of the trenches, by the end of the day, it became absolutely clear that it was Muslims who were essentially being terrorized in an organized and deliberate matter.[…] Trump’s casual tone and the silence from the top echelons of the Indian government are alarming in the face of the rising number of fatalities. But they don’t seem particularly alarmed. – Washington Post

Suparna Chaudhry writes: This level of communal violence during a U.S. president’s trip to a country, especially in a capital city, is unprecedented. The following analysis helps explain the law and its potential effects. […]Legally, India is unlikely to face any international repercussions. The country is not a signatory to the 1951 Refugee Convention or the 1967 Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees. It also has not ratified the Convention Against Torture, which prohibits refoulement — forcing refugees or asylum seekers to return to a country where they are likely to suffer persecution. – Washington Post

Jonathan D. T. Ward and Jagannath Panda write: India and America must come together to build and lead a twenty-first-century coalition of developed and developing nations that can counter China’s goals of dominance. In order to do this, the U.S.-India relationship must evolve even further. Great gains have been made on military cooperation and national security. – The National Interest 


Following a pattern set by the MS Westerdam, a cruise ship in the Caribbean has been turned away from two ports over fears of the coronavirus. The ship, with more than 4,500 passengers and 1,600 crew members, was not allowed to dock in Jamaica and the Cayman Islands after it was discovered a crew member onboard was unwell. – New York Times

Taiwan should continue to show goodwill to China during the outbreak of the new coronavirus and not give Beijing an excuse to attack the island as a way of relieving “internal pressure”, advisers to Taiwan’s China-policy making body said. – Reuters

Australia’s prime minister and Israel’s president on Wednesday discussed an extradition request for a former school principal whose alleged abuse of dozens of Australian schoolgirls has cast a shadow over the Israeli leader’s visit. – Associated Press

Koichi Nakano writes: Why is Mr. Abe — who is no stranger to an authoritarian style of leadership and readily breaks rules and conventions, as well as, arguably, the Constitution, to get his way — not doing more, or more decisively? […]Once again, as Japan struggles to respond to Covid-19, Mr. Abe is largely invisible. Perhaps he — much like President Xi Jinping appears to be doing in China — wants to keep his distances from the crisis for fear of being held responsible for its consequences. – New York Times


A series of protests in Moscow this summer were sparked by authorities’ refusal to register a dozen opposition and independent candidates for September’s city council vote. They attracted crowds of up to 60,000, the largest show of discontent against Putin’s rule in seven years. […]The police violence and prosecution of protesters elicited a widespread public outcry and was condemned by human rights advocates as arbitrary and politically motivated. – Associated Press 

Russian submarine forces are operating secretly more often and more successfully than they have in decades, according to a senior U.S. general who acknowledged that American forces can’t always spot the undersea threats. – Washington Examiner 

Charlie Warzel writes: Foreign election meddling — vague a term as it is — is a continuing process. It has ebbed and flowed since 2016, but it has never stopped. […]If we don’t adapt to this information war, our panic over election meddling could become self-fulfilling. And we will become useful idiots in the undermining of our own electoral legitimacy. That, more than electing any one leader, is the true goal of Russian interference. – New York Times 


The top U.S. general in Europe said Tuesday that closures at military bases in Italy could be extended and measures could be taken at bases in Germany as outbreaks of the coronavirus spread in Europe. – The Hill 

The new virus took aim at a broadening swath of the globe Monday, with officials in Europe and the Middle East scrambling to limit the spread of an outbreak that showed signs of stabilizing at its Chinese epicenter but posed new threats far beyond. […]Across the world, stock markets and futures tumbled on fears of a global economic slowdown due to the expanding spread of the virus.  – Associated Press 

Britain will begin trying to define the new role it wants to play in global politics, the government said on Tuesday, launching a review of foreign policy, defense, security and international aid. – Reuters

Germany increased security at some carnival processions on Tuesday after a local man ploughed his car into a parade in the western German town of Volkmarsen, injuring 61 people, including 20 children. – Reuters

The Israeli Embassy in Spain condemned on Tuesday a display at a recent parade in the town of Campo de Criptana for “banalizing the Holocaust.” – Algemeiner 

A European Jewish organization unveiled its “plan to beat anti-Semitism” to dozens of leaders from across the continent on Tuesday, calling on them to adopt the strategy in their countries as an antidote to the rise in attacks on Jews in the region. – Times of Israel 

The European Union’s chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, handed British Prime Minister Boris Johnson an ultimatum, warning there will be no trade deal unless the U.K. agrees to the bloc’s demands on fair competition and fishing. – Bloomberg

The British government has confirmed it is developing a new nuclear warhead for its missile submarines, days after the U.S. revealed the program was going ahead before Parliament had been informed. – Defense News

In an op-ed titled “Macron and Muslims” in the Saudi English-language daily Arab News, senior Saudi journalist ‘Abd Al-Rahman Al-Rashed, former editor of the Al-Sharq Al-Awsat daily and former director of Al-Arabiya TV, defended Macron’s recent statements about Muslims in France who refuse to conform to the basic values of the French republic. – Middle East Media Research Institute

United States

The new acting director of national intelligence, Richard Grenell, has asked an intelligence official who angered some lawmakers with a briefing about Russian interference in the 2020 election to stay on in her role. – New York Times 

Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan delivered a three-and-a-half-hour keynote speech at the Saviors’ Day conference in Detroit, Michigan on February 23, 2020. In his speech, Farrakhan spoke about the killing of IRGC Qods Force commander Qassem Soleimani by U.S. forces. Farrakhan said that he thinks he had met him during his visit to Iran. Farrakhan said that President Donald Trump killed his “brother Soleimani,” whom he called a “bad man” for killing Americans. – Middle East Media Research Institute

An Arkansas man made his first court appearance after authorities caught him attempting to blow up a vehicle outside the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia. – Washington Examiner 

The Americas

Attorney General William Barr on Tuesday urged lawmakers to reauthorize the government’s expiring surveillance powers and promised he would institute new quality-control mechanisms after a recent inspector general report found serious flaws in the FBI’s efforts to monitor a former Trump campaign adviser. […]Justice Sonia Sotomayor pointed to a brief from Amnesty International arguing that the government was using the statute against pro-immigrant groups in its crackdown at the southern border. – Wall Street Journal  

The Supreme Court wrestled Tuesday with a clash between free-speech principles and the government’s effort to control U.S. borders, weighing whether a federal law that makes it a crime to encourage or induce noncitizens to stay in the country illegally is constitutional. – Wall Street Journal

Lawyers representing Julian Assange disputed the U.S. government’s claim that he solicited classified material and recklessly endangered lives when he published it, on the second day of a hearing to determine whether the WikiLeaks founder should be extradited to the U.S. to stand trial. – Wall Street Journal

An ideologically divided Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that the family of a Mexican teenager killed by a Border Patrol agent in a cross-border shooting could not sue in U.S. courts, citing implications for American foreign policy and national security. – Washington Post

The violence arises from a bloody war between the home-grown Santa Rosa de Lima gang and the powerful Jalisco New Generation Cartel, which is waging a major offensive to move into Guanajuato. The state is attractive to drug cartels for the same reason it is to auto manufacturers — road and rail networks that lead straight to the U.S. border. – Associated Press 

Guatemala’s former attorney general and recent presidential candidate Thelma Aldana said on Monday the United States has granted her asylum, days after her successor filed an extradition request for alleged irregularities during her tenure. – Reuters


From autocratic Iran to democratic India, governments are cutting people off from the global web with growing frequency and little scrutiny. Parts or all of the internet were shut down at least 213 times in 33 countries last year, the most ever recorded, according to Access Now, a nonprofit that advocates for a free internet and has monitored the practice for a decade. The shutdowns were used to stop protests, censor speeches, control elections and silence people, human-rights advocates said. – Wall Street Journal 

U.S. Senate Republicans on Tuesday reacted skeptically to the Trump administration’s request to continue a controversial but inactive domestic surveillance program that collects data on U.S. phone calls and text messages. – Reuters

As the new coronavirus spreads globally, the online battle to keep misinformation about the disease is also stepping up. Google, Facebook and other platforms are struggling to keep ahead of scammers, trolls, and others with ill intent who routinely use major tragedies or disasters as opportunities to swindle or manipulate people. – Agence France-Presse

As China pushes aggressively ahead, with its leading firm, Huawei, a clear national favorite with strong support from the central party, American wireless-communications policy is overseen by an astonishing tangle of agencies—including the Federal Communications Commission, Department of Commerce, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. – Politico

Cybersecurity remains a critical concern for U.S. Transportation Command, the organization’s leader said Feb. 25. – Fifth Domain

A National Security Agency (NSA) surveillance program that accessed American citizens’ domestic phone calls and text messages resulted in only one investigation between 2015 and 2019 despite costing $100 million, a newly declassified study found. – The Hill 

David A. Shaywitz writes: As it grew, Facebook was assisted by a powerful category of competitive intelligence: knowing exactly what other apps its users were exploring, generally without users knowing that such surveillance was occurring. […]Facebook’s relentless focus on growth, Mr. Levy points out, has come at a price: the erosion of public trust. Vexed by users’ privacy concerns and an outcry over dubious content, Facebook has “bit-flipped from Most Admired Company to Most Reviled.” Mr. Zuckerberg has been hauled before Congress. – Wall Street Journal


A National Guard soldier is set to become the Army’s first female Green Beret in coming weeks, according to military officials, following the Pentagon’s opening of all combat and Special Operations jobs to women in 2016. – New York Times

The U.S. Army is requesting $364 million to conduct a division-sized exercise in the Indo-Pacific region in fiscal 2021, the service confirmed to Defense News. – Defense News

The head of U.S. Transportation Command is pushing the Air Force to rethink some of its controversial plans to retire some of its older aerial refueling aircraft, and leaders inside the Pentagon are paying close attention. – Defense News

Despite campaigning on a 350-ship Navy, U.S. President Donald Trump is on track to leave office with a fleet smaller than the 308 ships called for by the Obama administration. – Defense News

The White House on Tuesday formally nominated William Jordan Gillis to be the next assistant secretary of defense for sustainment, and the administration expects to soon send to Congress a nomination for a new intelligence leader. – Defense News

A National Maritime Strategy, expected to address the various deficiencies facing the nation’s sealift capacity, is finished and awaiting final approval, a top sealift official said last week. – USNI News

A critical nuclear submarine supplier could take financial hits for years if the Navy sticks to buying just one Virginia-class fast-attack submarine in Fiscal Year 2021. – USNI News

There may be times when U.S. military members stationed overseas and their families are evacuated from their duty station due to political instability, public safety or natural disasters. What exactly is the process of evacuation from overseas duty stations and how does it work? – Military.com

The Marine Corps’ top general wants to see more female officers leading infantry battalions and will consider bringing back women who’ve left active duty if they’re willing to serve in ground-combat jobs that were once open only to men. – Military.com

A Marine Corps search and rescue squadron in southwest Arizona will disband amid safety concerns, military officials said. – Associated Press

Around 6,400 troops and their family members were poisoned by carbon monoxide in the past decade, a military health study has found. – Stars and Stripes

Sen. Tammy Duckworth, a former U.S. Army helicopter pilot, said recently that the Marine Corps, Navy and Air Force would have to wait their turn if they want their own version of the Army’s futuristic helicopters being developed under the Future Vertical Lift (FVL) effort. – Military.com

The U.S. Army recently deployed the first full brigade combat team with all of its equipment to Germany to take part in DEFENDER-Europe 20, a large-scale exercise designed to hone the service’s prowess in rapid-deployment operations. – Military.com

Charles Kenny writes: At that point we could close down the Pentagon building, as it will have become too big for a slimmed-down bureaucracy overseeing a military at last focused on the violent threats of the future rather than the interstate conflicts of the past.[…] Even Donald Trump wanted to buy Greenland rather than invade it. So in this presidential election cycle, candidates should get specific in their commitments to redeploy defense spending, and the numbers they use should be large. – Politico

Gary Schmitt and Giselle Donnelly write: Getting a fix on the gap between defense resources and the national defense strategy is a core task of Congress. When it comes to the underwater competition, this task is made more difficult by the long-standing reluctance of the Navy to share the kind of information necessary to make reasonable assessments of whether Navy program decisions are on the mark—or not.  And while much of the oversight burden will focus on the bigger ticket items, it would be a mistake to pass over decisions that, while not headline-grabbing, nevertheless might be operationally quite critical both today and in the near future. – The National Interest

Mackenzie Eaglen writes: There is much disruption in this year’s defense budget as officials try to instill “irreversible” momentum toward implementation of the defense strategy. But policymakers have seen reality continue to mug the military the past year with repeated flare-ups in regions where the Pentagon would like to shed mission. As policymakers and service chiefs prepare for a long season of posture hearings, it’s clear the military has made hard choices. Congress must now live up to its end of the bargain to accept some political pain for great(er) power competition gain. – Defense One 

Missile Defense

The head of U.S. European Command said he has put in a request to host two additional U.S. Navy guided missile destroyers (DDGs) in the European theater that would be “critical” to improving the U.S.’s ongoing campaign to deter Russian forces. – Military.com

The U.S. Missile Defense Agency submitted its report on unfunded priorities to Congress last week, which includes a number of priorities worth more than $1.1 billion. The list demonstrates the tangible consequences of a flat Pentagon budget request and provides a road map for lawmakers to ensure that the U.S. homeland and America’s forward-deployed troops have sufficient missile defense protection. – Defense News 

In its quest to modernize the U.S. Air Force’s stockpile of intercontinental ballistic missiles, Northrop Grumman has partnered with Bechtel and Kratos Defense and Security Solutions, the company announced Tuesday. – Defense News

Trump Administration

President Trump on Tuesday called on two liberal justices of the Supreme Court to recuse themselves from anything “Trump-related,” escalating an un­or­tho­dox battle with the judiciary from which even his own lawyers have advised retreat. – Washington Post

President Donald Trump suggested on Tuesday that Democrats who don’t want Bernie Sanders to win their party’s presidential nomination tried to hurt the senator’s chances by leaking information about Russian activities promoting his campaign. Trump gave no evidence for his claim. – Associated Press 

U.S. President Donald Trump said on Tuesday that no country was trying to help him win the November election, after a top intelligence official told lawmakers Russia was interfering in the 2020 presidential vote to help Trump win a second term. – Reuters

The White House has hired a college senior to be one of the top officials in its powerful Presidential Personnel Office, according to three administration officials familiar with the matter. – Politico