Fdd's overnight brief

January 16, 2020

In The News


A week before Germany, France and Britain formally accused Iran of breaching the 2015 nuclear deal, the Trump administration issued a private threat to the Europeans that shocked officials in all three countries. – Washington Post 

The Trump administration has abruptly canceled four classified congressional briefings related to the ongoing Iran crisis, in some cases providing little or no explanation for doing so. – CNN 

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif said people in Iran took the streets in protest because they “were lied to” after the downing of Ukrainian Airline flight 752. – CNN

With tweets of solidarity in Farsi and technological tools to circumvent internet shutdowns, U.S. President Donald Trump might be close to exhausting his options to support Iranian protesters rising up against their rulers. – Reuters

France’s foreign minister said on Wednesday that the Iran nuclear deal was in danger after repeated violations by Tehran, but added that a dispute mechanism triggered by France, Britain and Germany aimed to resolve the problems diplomatically. – Reuters

Hit by sanctions curbing oil sales, Iran’s economy is set to fall deeper into recession this fiscal year and foreign reserves could drop to $73 billion by March, a loss of almost $40 billion in two years, the Institute of International Finance said. – Reuters

President Hassan Rouhani appealed Wednesday for “unity” and flagged the need for radical changes to the way Iran is run, after a wave of angry protests over the accidental downing of a Ukrainian airliner. – Agence France-Presse 

The heir of Iran’s deposed monarchy predicted Wednesday that the clerical regime will collapse within months and urged Western powers not to negotiate with it. – Agence France-Presse

Iran is now enriching more uranium than Tehran did before it agreed to a nuclear deal with world powers in 2015, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said on Thursday in a televised speech. – Reuters 

So a good rule of thumb in thinking of the legacy of the late Qassem Soleimani is to treat any mention of his or the regime he represented “fighting ISIS” or “saving Christians” with some care. And may the same skepticism apply to claims made by other regimes trumpeting their noble intentions. – Middle East Media Research Institute

David Ignatius writes: A vibrant protest movement is visible in Iran and across the Middle East — but it isn’t calling for Islamic revolution, much less the tired misrule of the mullahs. It’s a bottom-up rebellion against the corrupt elites who rule Iran, Iraq, Lebanon and other countries. […]But if you listen now, you can hear the Iranian engine sputtering and wheezing. It’s a revolution that has run out of positive energy, and now operates on violence, fear and repression. – Washington Post 

Diliman Abdulkader and Tiffany J. Howard write: An independent Kurdistan would be pro-American and pro-Israel, and it would be a thorn in Iran’s side. The U.S. could provide security in partnership with Kurdish forces while the Kurds advance their economy, infrastructure, and education system. Under America’s watch, Kurdistan would be an island of prosperity and a force for freedom and security in the Middle East. It’s time for a fully independent Kurdistan. – Washington Examiner 

Tom Rogan writes: Why does Rouhani think that threatening kill Europeans will bring the Europeans back to a malleable state of mind? Presumably, because he thinks the Europeans will be highly uncomfortable with an escalatory showdown. […]Ultimately, however, as with Iran’s lying over its recent downing of a civilian airliner, these threats speak to the nature of this regime. For all Ben Rhodes’s hopes of detente, Iran remains committed to the language and politics of terror. – Washington Examiner


Syrian-Kurdish authorities responsible for Islamic State refugee camps are likely to deny any UK request to repatriate four British children if the condition imposed to allow their return is that their mother cannot return with them. – The Guardian 

At a Wisconsin rally on Tuesday, President Donald Trump lauded his decision to retain troops in eastern Syria to control oil fields there, despite warnings that such a move could constitute a war crime. – Newsweek

More than a dozen people were killed and 60 injured in airstrikes on Wednesday in the last rebel-held area in northwest Syria, according to activists on the ground and the volunteer rescue group known as the White Helmets. The deaths come after a ceasefire agreement in the province went into effect on January 12, according to the Turkish defense ministry. The deal was brokered by Turkey and Russia. – CNN 


Turkey’s state-run news agency said Wednesday that Egyptian police raided its office in Cairo and detained four of its staff members. – Associated Press

President Trump on Wednesday spoke with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan about simmering tensions across the Middle East, according to the White House. – The Hill

Turkey said on Wednesday it was too early to say whether a ceasefire in Libya had collapsed after Khalifa Haftar, commander of eastern Libyan forces, failed to sign a binding truce accord at talks this week. – Reuters

Turkey again carried out a targeted assassination of Yazidi members of a far-left group in Sinjar in northern Iraq on Wednesday, according to local reports. It is one of several airstrikes Turkey has carried out in the area where members of the Yazidi minority live. – Jerusalem Post 

Seth J. Frantzman writes: The Syrian rebels are now a tool of Ankara’s foreign policy to be exported wherever Ankara needs leverage. They are used for leverage so that Ankara can wring deals from Russia. […]Turkey doesn’t have to invest in Libya or northern Syria so long as it can keep the Syrian rebels distracted with new enemies to fight every six months. The question for Ankara is what happens when there are no more enemies? For now there are enough in Libya. – Jerusalem Post 


Palestinian officials in Ramallah have expressed deep concern over reports that Israel and Hamas are close to reaching a long-term ceasefire agreement in the Gaza Strip. – Jerusalem Post 

Palestinian terrorists in the Gaza Strip fired four mortar shells toward southern Israel on Wednesday afternoon, causing neither injury nor damage, the military said. – Times of Israel 

Eric R. Mandel writes: Israel will need American support for any future war no matter how just, as Israel will be accused of disproportionate use of force when it has to attack dual use military/civilian infrastructure in Lebanon, Iraq, Syria, Yemin, Gaza, or Iran. […]The challenges are great, but the Jewish nation is strong. It’s time for Israel to get its political act together, especially in light of the escalation of tensions after the Soleimani assassination. – Jerusalem Post 

Zev Chafets writes: There are still irreconcilables on both sides. Hardliners in the organization, Iranian proxy Islamic Jihad and the PLO in Ramallah would each, for its own reasons, prefer to see Hamas beat its head against an unyielding wall. In Israel, Avigdor Lieberman is now accusing Prime Minister Netanyahu of trying to form a coalition with Hamas and there are Israelis, not all of them Likudniks, who will never trust a deal no matter how thoroughly they are defended by unbreachable walls and sci-fi weaponry like the laser sword. – Bloomberg


Iraq’s caretaker Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi indicated he would leave a decision whether to expel U.S. forces from the country to his successor, potentially slowing a push that could trigger American military-aid cuts and sanctions. – Wall Street Journal

Following Muqtada Al-Sadr’s call for a one-million-man march to end the presence of the U.S. military in Iraq, a website funded by Grand Ayatollah Ali Al-Sistani’s Al-Kafeel International Network released a statement from the Grand Ayatollah made in December 2019 reminding Iraqis that there are some parties that wish to exploit them in order to serve the agendas of others. – Middle East Media Research Institute

The United States military has resumed operations with coalition forces in Iraq, despite the nation’s parliament voting to expel American soldiers from the region just 10 days ago, a senior U.S. defense official told Fox News. – Fox News 

A Detroit-area man who was locked up for months and became the lead plaintiff in a class-action lawsuit challenging U.S. deportations to Iraq has won his immigration case and is on a path to citizenship, lawyers said Wednesday. – Associated Press


Smashing windows of banking institutions and blocking roads with bonfires, Lebanon’s youths sent their country’s ruling class a clear message this week: The protests are back. – Washington Post 

Lebanese politicians are to blame for the country’s economic collapse, a senior U.N. official said on Wednesday, rebuking a ruling elite that has failed to draw up a rescue plan for a country hit by more violent protests. – Reuters

Lebanon’s plan to steer through its debt crisis by getting local investors to swap into longer-dated Eurobonds has come unstuck after rating companies warned they would consider it a “selective default,” a person familiar with the matter said. – Bloomberg 


France’s president said on Wednesday he wanted an upcoming conference in Berlin to discuss the crisis in Libya to be useful and would decide in the coming days whether he would attend. – Reuters

Germany’s foreign minister was flying to Libya on Thursday to meet one of the country’s rival leaders, Gen. Khalifa Hifter, in a bid to push forward troubled efforts to secure a cease-fire. – Associated Press

Tim Eaton writes: While next steps in the conflict and negotiations are unclear, the external powers that have intervened during the latest bout of conflict in Libya — the UAE, Turkey and Russia — will have a major role in determining its outcome. The failure of the negotiations in Moscow has given Western countries and the United Nations, perhaps, a final chance for Berlin to reassert leadership in the negotiations. – Washington Post 

Kori Schake writes: Long-suffering Libya has become the battleground for a proxy war about the role of Islam in Middle Eastern politics. Neither Turkey nor the Middle Eastern states arrayed against it are likely to concede their objectives. With the failure of cease-fire talks, attention will return to the frontlines, where a bloody stalemate prevails.[…]Turkey’s problems with its neighbors, meanwhile, are only liken to get worse. – Bloomberg

Middle East & North Africa

A war between the US and Iran would wreak “untold chaos” on the world, Jordan’s King Abdullah II warned Wednesday, in a speech to European lawmakers on the tensions boiling across the Middle East. – Agence France-Presse 

Just over a week after Iran fired 16 ballistic missiles at two military bases in Iraq where U.S. troops were stationed, the Pentagon is considering sending more missile-defense systems and other capabilities to the Middle East, according to a report. – Fox News 

Hugh Eakin writes: Though he remained little known outside diplomatic circles, Qaboos was, for much of his long career, an indispensable linchpin of the international order. […]The death of Qaboos may mark more than the passing of one of the Middle East’s most resilient leaders. It may also herald the eclipse of a kind of discreet diplomacy that for years helped defuse some of the region’s most intractable conflicts. – New York Times 

David Pollock and Shaina Katz write: As tensions between the United States and Iran remain high, the United Arab Emirates has opted in this instance to portray itself as a force for non-violence and reconciliation between the two powers. Despite its own longstanding involvement in the war in Yemen, Anwar Gargash, the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, has suggested that when it comes to Iran itself, “wisdom and political solutions must prevail over confrontation and escalation.” At the same time, the UAE maintains very close security and diplomatic ties to Washington, which contrast with its strained relations with Iran.- Washington Institute

Korean Peninsula

An Australian student who was briefly detained in North Korea last year over spy charges said he had been kidnapped by secret police and forced to make a false confession, according to an article written by him and seen by Reuters on Wednesday. – Reuters

To avoid any “misunderstandings” that could trigger sanctions, South Korea should run any plans to engage with North Korea through a joint working group established with the United States, the U.S. ambassador to South Korea said on Thursday. – Reuters 

The U.S. ambassador to South Korea said Thursday he was surprised and pleased that North Korea did not give the U.S. an unwelcome “Christmas gift” because of stalled nuclear disarmament talks, and that President Donald Trump is still confident it will denuclearize. – Associated Press


President Trump on Wednesday signed a partial trade deal with China, proclaiming it a landmark rebalancing of an economic relationship that had cost the United States millions of good-paying factory jobs. – Washington Post 

As tensions between the United States and Iran persist after the American killing of a top Iranian general this month, the two countries are waging a heated battle in an unlikely forum: the Chinese internet. The embassies of the United States and Iran in Beijing have published a series of barbed posts in recent days on Weibo, a popular Chinese social media site, attacking each other in Chinese and in plain view of the country’s hundreds of millions of internet users. – New York Times 

China has blasted a report from Human Rights Watch that accused it of constructing a surveillance state at home while seeking to silence critics abroad. – Associated Press

A bipartisan group of senators has proposed legislation that would impose sanctions on Chinese officials involved in enforcing exit bans on U.S. officials in China. – Reuters

European companies have been largely excluded from President Xi Jinping’s Belt and Road Initiative due to the dominant role of China’s state-owned enterprises and opaque bidding processes, the European Chamber said, raising questions about the country’s commitment to opening the program to the world. – Bloomberg

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said that negotiations between the U.S. and China over issues around telecommunications giant Huawei are “ongoing,” stressing the Chinese company will not be used as a “chess piece” in the trade deal being signed Wednesday. – The Hill

Editorial: The President says talks on phase two will begin pronto, but don’t expect anything before the election. In the best case this initial deal offers a year or two of trade calm, China will honor its commitments, Mr. Trump will sheath his tariff sword, and he or his successor can move on to the thornier issues of Chinese subsidies for state-owned industries and high-tech protectionism in 2021 or 2022. The phase-one deal is progress, but U.S.-China economic and political competition has decades to run. – Wall Street Journal

Andy Puzder and Bill Hagerty write: In addition, China has promised to increase its purchases of U.S. exports by at least $200 billion over the next two years, reducing the trade gap even further and boosting prospects for American farmers, who have borne the brunt of the trade war. Beijing has robbed the U.S. for years while the government stood by helplessly. Mr. Trump’s long-criticized policies have done much to ensure that America never again grovels at the feet of the Chinese Communist Party. – Wall Street Journal

Tyler Cowen writes: It is a common argument that being tough with other countries strengthens the hard-liners in those countries. But in China the hard-liners had been growing in power and influence anyway. This trade war, and the resulting first phase of a trade deal, shows there is a cost to China for being so hard-line. It is too soon to judge the current trade deal a success from an American point of view. Nevertheless, its potential benefits remain underappreciated, and there is a good chance they will pay off. – Bloomberg

Gordon G. Chang writes: For decades, Washington policymakers thought they did not, on balance, have leverage over Beijing. Now, after two years of Trump’s tough tactics, they understand they do indeed hold high cards. The sin of the Phase One agreement, therefore, is that Trump, possessing great power over China, could have pressed American interests further and gotten a better deal. – Daily Beast


The special inspector general for Afghanistan reconstruction told Congress Wednesday that U.S. officials have routinely lied to the public during the 18-year war by exaggerating progress reports and inflating statistics to create a false appearance of success. – Washington Post 

The Taliban have given the U.S. envoy a document outlining their offer for a temporary cease-fire in Afghanistan that would last between seven and 10 days, Taliban officials familiar with the negotiations said Thursday. – Associated Press

U.S. efforts to rebuild Afghanistan after almost two decades of fighting have been plagued by insecurity, personnel issues and politically-driven time lines, according to the Pentagon’s watchdog for Afghanistan reconstruction. – Bloomberg 

A conservative veterans’ group backed by the Koch family is launching a multimillion-dollar ad blitz in three presidential battleground states Thursday, seeking to tap into rising public support for withdrawing all American troops from Afghanistan. – Politico 

South Asia

The United Nations’ top court announced Wednesday that it will issue a decision next week on a request to order Myanmar to halt what has been cast as a genocidal campaign against the southeast Asian country’s Rohingya Muslim minority. – Associated Press

India is planning to cut some imports from Turkey and widen curbs on palm oil from Malaysia to oil, gas and other products, government officials said, targeting the two Muslim-majority countries for their criticism of India’s policy towards Kashmir. – Reuters

India has not closed the door on a China-led regional economic pact, even though Asia’s third-largest country pulled out of the deal last November, Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar said on Wednesday. – Reuters


Hong Kong’s leader Carrie Lam said Thursday that the ″one country, two systems″ framework under which the city enjoys freedoms unknown in China could continue after a 2047 deadline if loyalty to Beijing is upheld. – Associated Press

A Chinese official said Wednesday that Beijing will not change its policy of annexing Taiwan through its “one country, two systems” framework, despite the heavy turnout in favor of pro-independence candidates in last weekend’s presidential and legislative elections. – Associated Press

China’s U.N. ambassador warned Wednesday against further escalation between India and Pakistan over the disputed Kashmir region and expressed hope that a Security Council meeting called by Beijing will encourage both countries to seek a solution through dialogue. – Associated Press


Less than three hours after Medvedev’s resignation, Putin offered the post of prime minister to Mikhail Mishustin, the head of the Russian tax service, who is viewed as a possible placeholder as Putin reshapes Russia’s power structure. – Washington Post 

Russia’s ruling party, United Russia, on Thursday unanimously approved Mikhail Mishustin’s candidacy as prime minister ahead of a formal parliamentary vote, Anastasia Kashevarova, an aide to parliament’s speaker said on social media. – Reuters

Mikhail Mishustin, the man likely to be Russia’s next prime minister after President Vladimir Putin proposed him on Wednesday, is a little-known figure to the wider public who has headed the country’s tax service for a decade. – Agence France-Presse 

In the wake of the U.S. assassination of Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani, as the White House has sought to justify its decision and avert another war in the Middle East, Russian President Vladimir Putin has been busy flaunting his newfound status as regional arbiter. – Defense News 

Rick Noack writes: In most countries, the resignation of a prime minister would suggest a leadership crisis. But in Russia, it might very well be the result of careful planning, with Putin at the steering wheel directing Medvedev, long considered his protege. […]Medvedev’s resignation appeared to be tied to sweeping constitutional changes proposed by Putin on Wednesday. Under the proposed laws, more power would be transferred to parliament, which would be charged with selecting a prime minister — a task that previously fell to the president. – Washington Post 

Leonid Bershidsky writes: The Russian opposition, of course, has read the signals, too. “The main outcome of Putin’s address: How dumb and/or crooked are all those who said Putin would leave in 2024,” tweeted Alexey Navalny, Putin’s best-known political opponent. Indeed, whatever the formal shape of the political system Putin intends to create at the end of his presidency, Russia’s real constitution is in Putin’s head. That’s where the missing details will come from, too. – Bloomberg

Anna Nemtsova writes: Clearly, many Russians embrace Putin’s model for ruling the country: respect for the right of the strongest.  “Nobody knows how to make an authoritarian country with a huge nuclear arsenal obey international law, except to recognize its power,” Golts told The Daily Beast. And nobody knows that better than Vladimir Putin. – Daily Beast

Brian Whitmore writes: Putin appears to be keeping his options open about whether to keep the presidency strong, and remain president; downgrade the office and move the real seat of power elsewhere, either the State Council or the Security Council; or establish multiple centers of power, giving him the ability to migrate among them as necessary. We’ve just witnessed the opening dance. There are still many more moves to come before 2024.- Center for European Policy Analysis


A box resembling a homemade bomb was left outside a Dutch kosher restaurant where several antisemitic attacks have occurred. – Jerusalem Post 

The European Commission said on Wednesday it would not tolerate distortion of historic facts after Russia suggested Poland was partly responsible for starting World War Two and said it would challenge disinformation wherever it occurred. – Reuters

Albania, which hosts a camp for thousands of members of an exiled Iranian dissident group, expelled two Iranian diplomats on Wednesday, more than a year after kicking out the Iranian ambassador. – Reuters

Norway’s government risks splitting after a coalition partner threatened to pull its support over the repatriation of a woman who joined Islamic State in Syria. – Bloomberg

Robin Simcox writes: The challenge is daunting. Prison services are attempting to diminish the prospect of those incarcerated getting exposed to extremist ideology. However, just as intelligence services cannot stop every terrorist plot, prison staff cannot detect every potential pernicious influence. No approach is fail-safe. While accepting this reality, the U.K. government should assume that radical Islamist prisoners are ideological devotees, not vulnerable individuals who just happen to have been duped by extremist propaganda. – Foreign Policy


Just as soon as the U.S. military closed out a year in which it struck al-Shabab militants more times than ever — at a pace of just over one airstrike per week — the Somali militant group carried out its most brazen and successful attack on U.S. forces in its history, killing one soldier and two private contractors, and destroying six aircraft at an airstrip in Kenya. – Washington Post

Ministers from Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan agreed on Wednesday to reconvene in Washington later this month to finalise an agreement on a giant hydropower dam on the Blue Nile that sparked a diplomatic crisis between Cairo and Addis Ababa. – Reuters

The United States called Wednesday for a reduction in the more than 16,000-strong peacekeeping force in Mali and a new focus on protecting civilians because parties to a 2015 peace deal have made little progress in implementing it, but Russia said it doesn’t want any changes now. – Associated Press

Islamist militants released three aid workers and other civilians in northeast Nigeria who had been held hostage since late December, a United Nations official said on Thursday. – Reuters 

United States

Federal counterterrorism officials are warning police departments across the country to maintain a heightened state of awareness for the potential for ambush-style attacks against officers. – CNN 

A mortar round was found in a vehicle at a gate to the sprawling Pearl Harbor military base, shutting down the base for hours and leading three people to be taken into custody, military officials said Wednesday. – Associated Press 

Donald Trump’s approach to counter-terrorism is to go after “celebrity” targets with famous names, regardless of the implications for national security, according to a former CIA officer who served under him. – The Guardian 

Jewish advocates on Wednesday called on social media companies and Congress to take more steps to regulate online anti-Semitic speech after the number of anti-Semitic incidents has increased in the past year.  – The Hill

The Americas

Trump administration agreements with Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras that allow U.S. immigration officials to send asylum seekers to the Central American nations violate the historic role of the U.S. as a humanitarian nation and should be blocked, according to a legal challenge filed Wednesday. – Associated Press

Guatemala’s new president on Wednesday faced an early test of his ability to manage migration as a caravan of hundreds of people left Honduras for the United States, and said Mexico would halt its progress. – Reuters

Armed civilians attacked a convoy of vehicles carrying Venezuelan opposition politicians to congress on Wednesday, backing recent efforts under President Nicolas Maduro to bar opposition leader Juan Guaido from presiding over parliament. – Reuters

The government of President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador is failing to tackle violence that has pushed homicide rates to record highs and turned the country into a “butcher’s shop,” Human Rights Watch said on Wednesday. – Reuters

Bolivia’s Foreign Ministry has asked Argentina’s government to disavow comments by Bolivian former President Evo Morales, currently living in exile in Buenos Aires, that called for the organisation of armed militias in his home country. – Reuters

The Trump administration’s envoy on Venezuela said China appears to be scaling back economic support for President Nicolas Maduro, and Beijing acknowledged a diminishing role largely due to U.S. sanctions against the OPEC nation. – Reuters

Scott Smith writes: While Guaidó’s popularity is waning, he is considered by analysts the best shot at forcing out Maduro. Guaidó has backing from more than 50 nations and has forged consensus among an often frayed opposition movement. – Associated Press

Michael A. Matera writes: Efforts at promoting greater and genuine regional integration along the lines of the already existing Pacific Alliance and a newly introduced initiative for a Central American Economic Community would help to make the region more competitive. The longer effective and coordinated action is delayed, the more difficult it will be to address the region’s chronic weaknesses. Failing to take action will only leave Latin America and the Caribbean further behind as the forces of globalization move forward. – Center for Strategic and International Studies


Apple and the US government are at loggerheads for the second time in four years over unlocking iPhones connected to a mass shooting, reviving debate over law enforcement access to encrypted devices. – Agence France-Presse

California-based security company Cloudflare announced Wednesday that it will offer free cybersecurity assistance to U.S. political campaigns and others around the world as concerns mount about the potential for increased cyber threats against campaigns in 2020. – The Hill

National security experts have said cyber probes and attacks by nations such as Iran are a “certainty.” But what’s less clear is how companies or the government should protect themselves, especially with current funding levels. – Fifth Domain 

Data is a massive problem for the intelligence community. From the satellite images produced by the National Reconnaissance Office to the bulk communications data swept up by the National Security Agency, the intelligence community is collecting more information than ever before. But where to store it? – C4ISRNET 

The Democratic leaders of the House Energy and Commerce Committee on Wednesday requested briefings from two key federal agencies on efforts to secure the nation’s telecommunications against potential Iranian cyberattacks, as another House committee also put the spotlight on Iranian cyber threats. – The Hill

The San Francisco area is home to the major technology companies, including social media – YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, the Internet Archive, and many others – that have become integral to the daily activity of every jihadi organization. Because the companies have taken action over the years to remove jihadi content, their CEOs, as well as their headquarters in the San Francisco area, have been targeted with calls for attacks on them. – Middle East Media Research Institute

Andrew Eversden writes: The U.S. government needs to do more to protect itself in cyberspace as adversaries’ technological capabilities rise, according to the departing general counsel of the NSA. […]At the heart of the issue, he said, is the odd geopolitical dynamics of relying on countries considered adversaries for trade, like China, or sending American astronauts to the International Space Station, in the case of a Russian launch in December. – Fifth Domain

Maj. Gen. Scott L. Pleus writes: We’re off to a good start. But the Pentagon must continue to envision, invest in, and build connected data architectures that are non-proprietary and provide world-class encryption and security at the data level. To compete successfully, our business processes and procedures, from staff work to tip-of-the-spear operations, need greater access to departmentwide data sources. – Fifth Domain 


Officials from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, on behalf of the larger clandestine community, don’t want agency chiefs to be seen on-camera as disagreeing with the president on big issues such as Iran, Russia or North Korea, according to three people familiar with preliminary negotiations over what’s known as the Worldwide Threats hearing. – Politico 

The Navy is considering adding the AN/SPY-6 radar to legacy Flight IIA Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyers along with the new Baseline 10 Aegis Combat System developed for the next-generation Flight III destroyers, service officials said on Wednesday. – USNI News 

The U.S. Coast Guard is shaping its Congressional pitch for increased shore installation funding around the idea that modernizing bases is about more than improving readiness; it’s about helping families, communities and voters. – USNI News 

The Readiness Reform and Oversight Council created in the aftermath of two fatal surface ship collisions has proven to be a useful “barrier-removal organization” that the head of the surface force would like to see remain in place for years to come. – USNI News 

Harder decisions will come in future budget requests following the fiscal 2021 ask expected to roll out Feb. 10, Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy said Jan. 15 at a Defense Writers Group event in Washington. – Defense News 

The chairman of the House Armed Services Committee said Wednesday he “absolutely” wants this year’s defense policy bill to address President Trump’s reported plan to take another $7.2 billion from the Pentagon for his southern border wall, but acknowledged the difficulty of doing so. – The Hill

The U.S. Navy’s top officer said he’ll do what he must to make sure the fleet of today is manned, maintained, trained and equipped, even if that means slowing down how fast the fleet grows. – Defense News 

The Pentagon’s Defense Innovation Unit has selected L3Harris Technologies to provide the Navy with an underwater drone for use in expeditionary undersea missions, according to a Jan. 14 news release from the company. – C4ISRNET 

The U.S. Marine Corps is looking for long-range unmanned surface vessels to resupply Marines on islands scattered around the Pacific, and Textron Systems thinks it has a solution. – Defense News 

The 82nd Airborne Division is briefing family members of deployed paratroopers to double-check their social media settings and report any strange messages they may receive after some malevolent ones were reported to the command. – Military Times 

Missile Defense

The U.S. should absorb lessons from the recent ballistic missile strikes against troops in Iraq and Kenya and put a new emphasis on fielding mobile and dispersed forces, a member of the House Armed Services Committee and former Marine said on Wednesday. – USNI News 

The Marine Corps could soon get the Navy’s new Naval Strike Missile for use as a shore battery, according to the Navy’s acquisitions chief, speaking at the annual Surface Navy symposium. – Defense News 

The U.S. Navy is preparing to give its Flight IIA Arleigh Burke-class destroyers a major radar upgrade, trading in the AN/SPY-1D for a scaled-down version of the SPY-6 radar destined for the Flight III destroyers. – Defense News

The US Navy (USN) and US Marine Corps (USMC) are considering a shore-based version of the Naval Strike Missile (NSM), said James Geurts, assistant secretary of the Navy for Research, Development & Acquisition (RD&A). – Jane’s 360 

Trump Administration

The House delivered two articles of impeachment to the Senate on Wednesday, laying the groundwork for President Trump’s trial as Republicans rallied behind the idea of parity between the two parties in possibly calling witnesses. – Washington Post 

Lev Parnas, an associate of Rudy Giuliani, said he warned a top aide to the newly elected president of Ukraine that the U.S. would halt aid to the country if it didn’t announce investigations that could benefit President Trump politically. – Wall Street Journal

The Democrat sponsoring the House version of a resolution aimed at restricting President Trump’s ability to go to war with Iran said Wednesday she expects the lower chamber to take up the Senate version after it passes. – The Hill