Fdd's overnight brief

January 12, 2021

In The News


U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo plans to use newly declassified U.S. intelligence on Tuesday to publicly accuse Iran of ties to al Qaeda, two people familiar with the matter said, as part of his last-minute offensive against Tehran before handing over to the incoming Biden administration. – Reuters

Israel will start by sending a stream of envoys on visits to Washington, the official said, requesting anonymity to discuss private deliberations. It’s stated publicly that it doesn’t want the U.S. to abandon sanctions on the Islamic Republic without a new deal, and that a tougher stance should be taken toward its nuclear project, ballistic missile program and regional proxy forces. – Bloomberg

U.S. President-elect Joe Biden has nominated William J. Burns, a career diplomat who was involved in the early stages of forging the Iran nuclear deal, to head the CIA. – Haaretz

Reviving Iran’s nuclear deal must happen within the coming weeks, U.N. atomic watchdog chief Rafael Grossi said on Monday after Tehran resumed 20% uranium enrichment and its parliament threatened to curb access for U.N. inspectors in February. – Reuters

The new US administration should not return to the spirit of the Iran deal, which could spark an arms race in the Middle East, former US secretary of state Henry Kissinger said Monday at a Jewish People Policy Institute online conference. – Jerusalem Post

James Jay Carafano writes: The best course of action for the U.S. is to continue to deal with Iran from a position of strength. We should not back off any sanctions. Without pressure, the U.S. has no leverage. – Fox News

David Albright, Sarah Burkhard, and Frank Pabian write: Since our October 30, 2020, report on the construction of a new centrifuge assembly facility in the mountains near the Natanz enrichment plant,1 construction has progressed and tunnel entrance locations can now be identified with certainty. Most importantly, newly available high resolution satellite imagery confirms that construction is progressing rapidly at the largest mountain in the area, the most likely future location for the new underground assembly facility. – Institute for Science and International Security


In an exclusive exit interview with Defense One, Roebuck said the damage to the relationship with the SDF has been repaired — in large part because Trump ultimately agreed to keep a military presence in Syria. And he touts the important gains made in the fight against ISIS, nominally the reason the United States was in Syria to begin with. – Defense One

Islamic State group fighters killed at least eight regime loyalists in eastern Syria on Monday, the latest in a series of deadly jihadist attacks, a Britain-based war monitor reported. – Agence France-Presse

Isabel Ivanescu writes: Salafi-jihadist organizations in Syria are growing more ambitious. Both ISIS and Hurras al-Din have recently carried out attacks in Turkish-controlled areas in which they had not previously been active. While these attacks were fairly ineffective, they demonstrate intent and capacity to expand operations. Meanwhile, ISIS carried out two ambushes of regime forces in Deir ez-Zour Province that resulted in dozens of casualties. ISIS and Hurras al-Din are well postured to exploit security gaps in both Turkish- and regime-controlled areas and will likely do so in the coming year. – Institute for the Study of War


Turkey and Greece will resume talks aimed at reducing tensions between the neighbors on Jan. 25, Turkish and Greek officials announced Monday, following this summer’s dispute over maritime borders and energy rights in the eastern Mediterranean. – Associated Press

Turkey’s competition watchdog on Monday launched an investigation into Facebook and WhatsApp over the messaging application’s changes to its data-sharing rules. – Associated Press

A Turkish court on Monday sentenced a controversial Muslim televangelist and cult leader to life in prison, finding him guilty of forming a criminal gang and sexual abuse of minors, among several other offenses. – Associated Press

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres intends to meet next month with ethnically split Cyprus’ rival Greek and Turkish Cypriot leaders to gauge whether conditions are ripe to resume dormant peace talks, the Cypriot government spokesman said on Monday. – Associated Press

Enes Kanter writes: Turkey is no lost cause. Its alliance with Russia hangs by a thread, its partnership with Qatar is short-sighted, and its undemocratic trajectory can’t last long. With support from allies, the U.S. can expedite what is already looming. Mr. Erdogan must understand that burying freedoms has consequences. He gained popularity in Turkey by building a strong economy. Once it truly goes south, he will be history. – Wall Street Journal

Laura Pitel writes: Mr Erdogan’s decision to throw his full weight behind Azerbaijan even as western powers called for a ceasefire after a fresh outbreak of fighting last autumn was the latest manifestation of his increasingly muscular foreign policy stance, characterised by uncompromising rhetoric and the ready use of hard power. – Financial Times


Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday approved the construction of 800 new housing units in Jewish settlements in the West Bank, launching a potentially provocative expansion in the Israeli-occupied territory just days before President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration. – Washington Post

A leading Israeli human rights group has begun describing both Israel and its control of the Palestinian territories as a single “apartheid” regime, using an explosive term that the country’s leaders and their supporters vehemently reject. – Associated Press

Israeli Prime Benjamin Netanyahu dropped U.S. President Donald Trump from the banner photo of his Twitter account on Tuesday in an apparent break with a political ally facing possible impeachment. – Reuters

The most important decision taken by the Trump administration with regard to Israel over the past four years was recognizing Jerusalem as its capital, outgoing U.S. ambassador David Friedman told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on Monday. – Haaretz

Egypt on Monday hosted the foreign ministers of Germany, France and Jordan to discuss ways to revive peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians, a week before President-elect Joe Biden takes office. – Associated Press

The Palestinians and Jordan have accused Israel of seeking to “Judaize” the Western Wall Plaza because of renovation work that is being carried out there. – Jerusalem Post

Amos Harel writes: The main concern in Israel, the sources added, is over the potential for a series of mutual misunderstandings that would lead to a conflagration, mainly due to Iran’s fear of an unexpected step on Trump’s part. Israel was also concerned about such developments in the past during periods of gradual escalation. In retrospect, the chain of events that led to the beginning of Operation Protective Edge in Gaza in summer 2014 can be attributed to Israel’s and Hamas’ misreading of each other’s actions, when limited, specific steps were misinterpreted as signals of the other side’s intention to start a war. – Haaretz

Oded Revivi writes: If we still see ourselves as living in a democracy, if we want to continue to be a country with democratic elections with a public majority who wish to preserve and protect the governing bodies, we must all wake up before it’s too late. And when I say “all” I mean all, without accusation and without pointing fingers in any direction. – Jerusalem Post

Ron Ben-Yishai writes: Bur the defense establishment also believes that a confrontation with the Biden administration from the very start would not be beneficial and may even harm Israeli interests, as was the case with Obama. In order to avoid such a confrontation, the Defense Ministry has prepared a detailed series of proposals and suggestions to be handed to the Americans to assist in the negotiations (if and when they begin) with Tehran, with the hope of also influencing their outcome. – Ynet


The U.S. plans to designate the Iran-backed Houthis in Yemen as a foreign terrorist group, a move some Western officials and aid agencies said would impede stalled peace talks and hurt the economy of an impoverished nation at risk of famine. – Wall Street Journal

The Trump administration’s out-the-door decision to designate Yemen’s Iranian-backed rebels as a terror organization sparked confusion in aid agencies and warnings from the United Nations and senior Republicans on Monday that it could have a devastating humanitarian impact on a conflict-wracked nation facing the risk of famine. – Associated Press

The United Nations warned on Monday that a U.S. plan to designate Yemen’s Houthi movement as a foreign terrorist organization is “likely to have serious humanitarian and political repercussions.” – Reuters

Middle East & North Africa

Qatar will not recognize Israel or normalize relations with the Jewish state, Qatar’s Foreign Minister announced last week. – Arutz Sheva

Lebanon’s highest court said Monday the prosecutor investigating last year’s massive explosion at the Beirut port that killed dozens and injured thousands can resume his work after a three-week pause following legal challenges to his authority. – Associated Press

Jared Kushner has briefed incoming national security adviser Jake Sullivan on the Trump administration’s Middle East policies, David Friedman, the outgoing U.S. ambassador to Israel, told a closed hearing in the Israeli parliament on Monday. – Axios

Jon B. Alterman writes: U.S. allies and partners in the Middle East will surely react to a U.S. refocus elsewhere by exploring new alliances and partnerships. Some will be with states friendly to the United States, and some will be with more hostile ones. In the near term at least, they are likely to engage in riskier behavior, partly through armed conflict and partly through weapons proliferation. We’ve seen signs of all of those things happening already—in Yemen, in Iraq, in Libya, and elsewhere—and they’re likely to happen more. – Center for Strategic and International Studies

Peter Kirechu writes: This resolution — in its selective exclusion of air and ground-based supply routes — seemed to empower Haftar’s Russian and Gulf-state sponsors. These countries have used both military and commercial aerial providers, some of which are implicated in previous embargo violations outside Libya, including in conflicts in Somalia and South Sudan. By failing to uniformly enforce embargo restrictions across all trafficking mediums — land, air, and sea — the council effectively allowed Haftar to maintain illicit access to Russian and Emirati weapons supplies — an action that has contributed to the defeat of the embargo regime in Libya. – War on the Rocks

Mohamed Mokhtar Qandil writes: Since an ISIS attack on the United States might influence the Biden administration’s policies towards the Middle East, increasing a U.S. presence in ISIS strongholds like Iraq at a time when the country’s presence is hotly debated within Iraq itself, it may encourage supporters to join ISIS in Iraq in resistance to renewed U.S. presence. As such, the new administration should be particularly wary in its early days to avoid an attack that draws the country into a situation that benefits ISIS’s interests. – Washington Institute

Korean Peninsula

Kim Jong Un has given himself a lofty new title and removed his ascendant sister from North Korea’s inner circle of powerful elites. – Wall Street Journal

Kim Yo Jong, 32 years old, is a senior North Korean official helping oversee the country’s policies toward the U.S. and South Korea, according to Seoul’s intelligence agency. – Wall Street Journal

Chinese President Xi Jinping has congratulated North Korea leader Kim Jong Un on being elected as general secretary of the ruling Workers’ Party, Chinese state media said on Monday. – Reuters


In his nearly four years in office, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer helped move protectionism from the fringes of American policy-making to the core. His advice to the Biden administration: Stay the course. – Wall Street Journal

A U.S.-born approach to defining how computer processors work presents a potential steppingstone to chip independence for Chinese tech companies that face growing limits from Washington on buying American semiconductors. – Wall Street Journal

Patience may be a virtue. For U.S. tech companies looking to do deals that involve China, it is also an expensive necessity. – Wall Street Journal

The arrest of more than 50 democrats in Hong Kong last week intensifies a drive by Beijing to stifle any return of a populist challenge to Chinese rule and more measures are likely, according to two individuals with direct knowledge of China’s plans. – Reuters

President Xi Jinping issued an unusually upbeat assessment about China’s future, noting that “time and the situation” were on the country’s side in a new year marked by domestic turmoil in the U.S. – Bloomberg

The Trump administration’s final days are proving as confounding as ever for companies and investors stuck in the middle of an increasingly contentious U.S.-China relationship. – Bloomberg

Even before the coronavirus infected millions of Americans and sparked the steepest economic downturn since the Great Depression, China was withstanding Trump’s tariff salvos, according to the very metrics he used to justify them. Once China got the virus under control, demand for medical equipment and work-from-home gear expanded its trade surplus with the U.S. despite the levies. – Bloomberg

A Chinese official on Monday denied Beijing has imposed coercive birth control measures among Muslim minority women, following an outcry over a tweet by the Chinese Embassy in Washington claiming that government polices had freed women of the Uighur ethnic group from being “baby-making machines.” – Associated Press

Walter Russell Mead writes: Permitting the erosion of the U.S. position around Taiwan was one of the great strategic blunders of modern times. The fall of Taiwan would be bad news not only for Taiwan’s democracy-loving and independence-minded residents. It would be a strategic catastrophe for Tokyo, leaving Beijing in control of the sea routes Japan needs for survival. A Chinese takeover would be such a conclusive demonstration of American weakness that no country, from India to Vietnam, could or would risk its security on U.S. ties. – Wall Street Journal

Eli Lake writes: The question is not so much whether the U.S. should subsidize more purchases of solar panels for public and private use. It’s whether the U.S. government can also help revive American polysilicon manufacturers and encourage allies to find alternatives to China’s solar-industry supply chain. If it does the former without the latter, it will be helping to solve a climate problem by exacerbating a human rights crisis. – Bloomberg

Jude Blanchette writes: There are many towns like Niangziguan throughout China, and they provide important windows into the lived realities of the CCP’s mechanisms and tools of governance and control. While the CCP general secretary dreams of China’s global ascendency and country’s great “rejuvenation,” more prosaic concerns dominate in small towns and villages. – Center for Strategic and International Studies

South Asia

Kashmir, the craggily beautiful region in the shadow of the Himalayas long caught between India and Pakistan, has fallen into a state of suspended animation. […]Once a hub for both Western and Indian tourists, Kashmir has been reeling for more than a year. – New York Times

The U.S. military has not halted a U.S. troop withdrawal from Afghanistan, the Department of Defense told Reuters on Monday, despite a new law prohibiting further reductions without the Pentagon sending Congress an assessment of the risks. – Reuters

Pakistan’s military said Monday it has nearly completed a fence along the border with Afghanistan, which Islamabad says is necessary to prevent militant attacks from both sides. – Associated Press

An influential Afghan Shiite leader is visiting Pakistan where members of the minority sect are still reeling from the brutal killing of 11 Shiite coal miners, nine of whom were Afghan immigrants, earlier this month. – Associated Press

India’s Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar said on Tuesday that trust with China had been deeply impaired after last summer’s border clash which resulted in the first loss of lives in 45 years. – Reuters

India’s army chief said on Tuesday he expected talks with China will lead to an amicable solution to the Himalayan border crisis which escalated after a fight in which 20 Indian soldiers were killed last year. – Reuters

India has returned a Chinese soldier detained for straying over the contested Himalayan frontier, China’s military said Monday, of a remote flashpoint area between the two countries. – Agence France-Presse


The leaders of Armenia and Azerbaijan agreed to work together to develop Nagorno-Karabakh following decades of conflict, but failed to resolve several challenges that could stymie the success of a Kremlin-brokered peace deal in the South Caucasus. – Wall Street Journal

Taiwan on Monday released a new passport that puts a diplomatic spin on the concept of social distancing amid the pandemic. The self-governing island’s official name, Republic of China, has been downsized, though it remains on the cover in Chinese characters. – New York Times

The police officers who came to take away Owen Chow on national security grounds last week left little to chance. […]By the end of their operation, police had amassed more than 200 devices from Chow and 52 others held for alleged political crimes that day, according to those arrested, as well as laptops from spouses who are not politically active and were not detained. – Washington Post

China on Monday threatened a “counterstrike” against a move by the United States to lift restrictions on official contacts with Taiwan as military tensions grow between Beijing and the self-ruled island. – Agence France-Presse

Australia has blocked a A$300m takeover offer by a Chinese state-owned company for a local building contractor in a move that reflects the intense diplomatic and trade tensions between Beijing and Canberra. – Financial Times

Australia’s acting prime minister on Tuesday defended his comments comparing the attack on the U.S. Capitol building with Black Lives Matter protests despite criticism from Indigenous and human rights groups. – Associated Press

The U.S. ambassador in the Netherlands has hosted Taiwan’s representative to the country at the U.S. embassy, in the first publicly announced visit to a U.S. government office since the secretary of state lifted restrictions on interactions. – Reuters

International election monitors on Monday said a weekend parliamentary poll in Kazakhstan lacked any real competition, raising concerns over freedom of assembly after riot police detained opposition protesters. – Agence France-Presse

Tom Rogan writes: The bottom line: New Zealand has fed the rising perception in Washington that while its intelligence services remain staffed by talented patriots and allies, its government can no longer be trusted to safeguard the most sensitive American intelligence. The U.S. has also noticed the argument by influential New Zealanders that their government should now act as intermediary between the U.S. and China rather than an ally to the former. Put simply, New Zealand’s silence on Hong Kong is a symptom of a much deeper and more worrisome problem. – Washington Examiner

Michael A. Reynolds writes: One might have expected that as a tiny, isolated, and resource-poor country with a tragic history stamped by violence, Armenia would have taken a more realist approach to diplomacy, displaying hardheaded pragmatism, cunning, and shrewd cynicism. Yet to the contrary, Armenian statecraft has revealed itself as a mix of delusional self-confidence and naïve sentimentality. – War on the Rocks

Edward Lucas writes: The Chinese ban on political and diplomatic contacts with Taiwan works only because outsiders accept it. The more countries that refuse to kowtow, the less the ban matters — and the braver everyone else feels as a result. And safer, too. For countries that are scared of Russia, international solidarity is the best defense. Supporting Taiwan makes it credible. – Center for European Policy Analysis


The group behind a global cyber-espionage campaign discovered last month deployed malicious computer code with links to spying tools previously used by suspected Russian hackers, researchers said on Monday. – Reuters

Mikhail Gorbachev, the last Soviet leader, said he expects U.S. President-elect Joe Biden to extend the last major nuclear arms control treaty between Moscow and Washington when it expires next month, but that the two countries have much more to do. – Retuers

Mikhail Gorbachev, the Soviet-era leader known for establishing friendly relations with the United States, is now questioning the stability of the U.S. and claiming that he knows who perpetrated the attack on the nation’s capital. – Washington Examiner


The U.S. Treasury Department on Monday sanctioned a group of Russia-linked Ukrainians for trying to influence the 2020 election by attempting to smear President Trump’s Democratic rival, Joe Biden. – Washington Post

A criminal court in Geneva on Monday began hearing charges of corruption and document forgery against the French-Israeli businessman Beny Steinmetz over the securing of lucrative mining deals in the West African country of Guinea, the latest chapter in a yearslong international investigation. – New York Times

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told the five permanent members of the Security Council Monday that he would like to stay on for a second term, a move that diplomats said he’d delayed until it became clear that Donald Trump will no longer be the U.S. president. – Bloomberg

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will make his final trip abroad as America’s top diplomat this week, the State Department said Monday. – Associated Press

Britain will tighten the law on importing goods linked to alleged human rights abuses in China as ministers take a tougher stance on Beijing, The Telegraph reported on Monday. – Reuters

The U.S. government on Monday said it would begin collecting new duties on aircraft parts and other products from France and Germany from Tuesday after failing to resolve a 16-year dispute over aircraft subsidies with the European Union. – Reuters

A Libyan man who stabbed three friends to death as they sat in an English city park on a summer evening was sentenced Monday to life in prison with no chance of parole. – Associated Press

Angela Merkel, German chancellor, has sharply criticised Twitter’s decision to ban US president Donald Trump, calling it a “problematic” breach of the “fundamental right to free speech”. – Financial Times

Gideon Rachman writes: Germany’s near-miss over the summer, the “gilets jaunes” demonstrations in France and the passions aroused in Britain by Brexit and Covid-19 — all underline the same point. Europeans cannot assume that they are immune to the political passions that have engulfed America. Many of the elements that destabilised the US are also present in Europe — in particular, the spread of conspiracy theories, online radicalisation and extremist political movements. – Financial Times

North America

The FBI warned Monday that armed far-right extremist groups are planning to march on state capitals this weekend, triggering a rush to fortify government buildings amid concerns that the violence that erupted at the U.S. Capitol last week could spread throughout the country. – Washington Post

Acting homeland security secretary Chad Wolf abruptly resigned Monday, nine days before a presidential inauguration whose jittery security preparations are unfolding amid fears of worsening political violence following last week’s mob attack on the U.S. Capitol. – Washington Post

An Army general has determined that a junior officer who joked about the Nazi incineration of Jews in comments on the social media app TikTok should be ousted from the service, a service spokesman said on Monday. – Washington Post

The House on Monday barreled toward impeaching President Trump, while President-elect Joe Biden, scrambling to ensure the effort does not bog down the start of his tenure, pressed the Senate on whether it could simultaneously hold a trial of the president and pass urgently needed bills. – Washington Post

President-elect Joe Biden plans to nominate William J. Burns, a former career diplomat with 33 years of service, as director of the Central Intelligence Agency, filling in the last top slot on his national security team. – Wall Street Journal

The Trump administration added Cuba to a list of state sponsors of terrorism Monday, reversing a signature policy move of the Obama administration and potentially hampering President-elect Joe Biden’s ability to quickly broker a rapprochement with Havana. – Washington Post

Two days before Congress was set to formalize President-elect Joe Biden’s victory, Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund was growing increasingly worried about the size of the pro-Trump crowds expected to stream into Washington in protest. To be on the safe side, Sund asked House and Senate security officials for permission to request that the D.C. National Guard be placed on standby in case he needed quick backup. – Washington Post

The world is becoming a more dangerous place, Canada’s top military commander says, with the rise of great-power competition from Russia and China and the uncertainty of American leadership to maintain alliances and shape new ones. – The Globe and Mail

As thousands of supporters of President Donald Trump stormed the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday, federal agents were working at the same time to detonate two pipe bombs found just blocks away at the offices of the Republican and Democratic national committees. – Associated Press

U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez, who clashed with the Trump administration over its arms sales to the Mideast, its rejection of Cold War arms control treaties and its withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal, is poised to become the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. – Defense News

Seth J. Frantzman writes: If the US conception is that it will use a counter-terror strategy against US “domestic terrorists” there is little evidence the methods of the 20-year war on terror would be successful. The US politicians and commentators using this rhetoric, some of whom supported the invasion of Iraq, don’t seem to have considered what it means to apply an Iraq model to the US. If they actually believe US “domestic terrorists” are being radicalized then they could apply the “root causes” logic discussed abroad, looking at grievances, disenfranchisement, humiliation and poverty as elements of what drives terror. It’s not clear if this has sunk in when the US discusses bringing the language of the war on terror home. – Jerusalem Post

Anthony H. Cordesman writes: It makes it clear that Biden transition needs to replace the current U.S. political emphasis on burden sharing with a net assessment of comparative defense spending and joint force planning in order to create the mixtures of deterrence and war fighting capabilities that both the U.S. and its strategic partners really need. – Center for Strategic and International Studies


Twitter said late Monday it purged more than 70,000 accounts affiliated with conspiracy theory QAnon following the deadly riot at the U.S. Capitol last week. – Washington Post

The biggest names in tech have taken aggressive steps against the inflammatory rhetoric of President Trump that culminated last week with a mob of his supporters storming the U.S. Capitol while Congress was attempting to certify the election of Joe Biden as the nation’s 46th president. – Washington Post

After Twitter banned President Trump, and the hosting company Amazon Web Services suspended conservative network Parler, another social media site found its name in the news: Gab. – Washington Post

House Democrats plan to investigate the role Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites played in the deadly riot at the U.S. Capitol as part of a broader look at the rising threat of disinformation online. – Washington Post

Facebook said Monday it is removing all content containing the phrase “stop the steal” in an attempt to curb misinformation that could incite violence during President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration. – Washington Examiner

Charles Lane writes: In short, a sustained corporate-led crackdown could silence much speech that ought to be allowed, while fueling the ultra-right’s persecution complex, rendering the movement increasingly fanatical and pushing it deeper underground. […]On the whole, however, history has not been kind to speech suppression in the United States. Instead, it has confirmed the wisdom of those who supported maximal free expression, even at times of real national danger. We need to remember that wisdom now. – Washington Post

Leonid Bershidsky writes: In today’s world, if a platform is to enable free speech, it needs to be technologically extraterritorial — free from reliance on any providers sensitive to pressure from nation states. […]But then, I remember a time when authoritarian rulers failed despite banning private copy machines, let alone content platforms. Political opposition to flawed, unfree regimes will survive under any conditions, with or without Silicon Valley help; but it has likely suffered a setback. That, and not the unsuccessful riot at the Capitol, is the lasting gift to Putin. – Bloomberg

Timothy Mclaughlin writes: But in considering what social-media companies will do now—and what they are ultimately capable of inflicting on society—looking in the opposite direction, from America to beyond its borders, would be a wise exercise. If that is any guide, changes will likely come in halting increments, with little transparency or coherent explanation. – The Atlantic


The head of the Navy warned the surface force there is little time to waste in designing and fielding key technologies it will need for a lethal and distributed future fleet. – USNI News

The top lawmakers overseeing Navy policy are optimistic the service can continue on its current trajectory of building a bigger fleet to take on threats in the Pacific under the Biden administration. – USNI News

The Navy and Marine Corps are quickly seeking new ideas that allow Marines to support the Navy in sea control and other maritime missions, including the rapid acquisition of a light amphibious ship and a movement toward using Marine weapons while at sea. – USNI News

The U.S. Navy’s top officer has laid down the gauntlet: The service must deliver two new classes of surface ships on time. – Defense News

To rebuild American sea power and face a growing Chinese threat, the U.S. Navy must get a larger share of the Defense Department’s budget, the top Democrat and Republican on the House Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommittee said Monday at the annual Surface Navy Association meeting. – Defense News

The Navy has encountered increasing resistance on Capitol Hill to quickly launching into an acquisitions program for large unmanned surface ships and instead the service is committing to a decade of proving out technologies before expanding into an unmanned buying spree. – Defense News

Leo Blanken, Romulo G. Dimayuga II, and Kristen Tsolis write: We propose marrying grassroots innovation and existing security force assistance efforts to generate solutions for partner force capability gaps. This collaboration would take place “on the ground” in the host nation. U.S. advisors would work to foster grassroots innovation alongside the partner force personnel and actors from the wider host-nation innovation ecosystem. – War on the Rocks

Brad Dewees, Chris Umphres, and Maddy Tung write: Using algorithms in these areas and others offers awesome military opportunities — from saving person-hours in planning to outperforming human pilots in dogfights to using a “multihypothesis semantic engine” to improve our understanding of global events and trends. Yet with the opportunity of machine learning comes ethical risk — the military could surrender life-and-death choice to algorithms, and surrendering choice abdicates one’s status as a moral actor. – War on the Rocks

Ross Marchand writes: Proceeding further down the current path of funding the fledgling F-35 will skyrocket the debt and send a message to our adversaries that the U.S. is no longer a leader in military innovation. It’s time to prioritize a robust, nimble procurement process over the unsustainable status quo. – Washington Examiner

Ben Wallace writes: So in an age of 21st century challenges, it’s more important than ever that we work together. That’s why, following our departure from the European Union, we are opening up fresh opportunities to strengthen our global relationships and stay ahead of the curve. The integrated review that we will publish in 2021 will make the most of new technologies, improve integration across the domains and demonstrate that we remain the international partner of choice: a burden-sharing, self-confident and active nation, stepping up to our responsibilities in an ever more contested world. – Defense News