Fdd's overnight brief

March 13, 2020

In The News


The United States launched airstrikes against an Iranian-backed militia in Iraq early Friday, responding to a rocket attack on a military base that killed one British and two U.S. service members in a new round of escalating tensions. The Pentagon said in a statement that U.S. forces hit facilities “across Iraq” linked to Kataib Hezbollah, including storage facilities that housed weapons used in attacks on American and coalition troops. – Washington Post 

Iran said Thursday it asked the International Monetary Fund for a $5 billion loan to fight the coronavirus, the first time since the 1979 Islamic Revolution that it has sought such assistance, in a staggering admission of how fragile its economy has become amid the epidemic and punishing U.S. sanctions. – Associated Press 

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said the country’s coronavirus outbreak could be part of a biological attack on the Islamic Republic, as he called on the armed forces to bolster the government’s fight against the disease, according to a statement published by the semi-official Fars News agency. – Bloomberg 

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) warned Thursday of an “aggressive” response to a rocket strike in Iraq that killed two U.S. service members that officials are blaming on an Iran-backed militia. […]“Put Iran on notice that we’re going to hold them accountable in the future for this,” Graham added. – The Hill 

The top U.S. general overseeing the Middle East suggested Thursday that an Iranian-backed militia was behind an attack the night before in Iraq that killed two U.S. troops, even as he said his command is still working on attribution. – The Hill

Iran’s coronavirus outbreak is increasing the political pressure on the regime while hampering the ability of the senior leaders to rule the country, according to a top U.S. general. – Washington Examiner

The widespread outbreak of the coronavirus in Iran has added to pressures on its government that may make it more of a military threat to the U.S. through its proxy forces in the Middle East, according to the head of U.S. Central Command. – Bloomberg 

Despite a deadly coronavirus epidemic, Iranian security forces and Judiciary continue the persecution of political dissidents, activists and critics as well as the ill-treatment of prisoners with great zeal.  – Radio Farda

Jason Rezaian writes: Iran has never faced such a dilemma over its hostage-taking. The international condemnation should any of the hostages die in custody would be severe and would, at the same time, render them worthless as political bargaining chips. It has taken a pandemic to show Tehran that these innocent and vulnerable individuals are more of a liability than an asset. Desperate times can be clarifying. – Washington Post

Tom Rogan writes: Iran’s escalation also takes another form. Iran is now more resolute in expanding its nuclear program. Again, Iran knows that doing so risks Israeli or U.S. military action. But Khamenei has evidently decided to roll the dice in a last-ditch effort to blackmail America into sanctions relief. […]Where does this leave us? Well, with the high probability of new and escalating Iranian aggression in the days ahead. – Washington Examiner

Bobby Ghosh writes: That’s the spin most likely to be offered by Iran. As it contends with all the other crises, the regime will hope that Trump — who, let’s face it, has a few of his own — finds it convenient to portray the attack on Taji as the work of a militia leader gone rogue. As the rest of the world holds its breath, fingers in Tehran will be tightly crossed that he doesn’t retaliate with something that would be “very devastating for them.”But relying on Trump to show restraint is the very height of recklessness. –   Bloomberg

Mehdi Khalaji writes: Yet even if the regime founders, the damage it has done to Iranian society leaves little hope for a smooth, speedy transition to a democratic, relatively U.S.-friendly state in the near term. […]In all likelihood, then, only a small subset of actors would be willing and able to fill the vacuum that follows the regime’s ultimate collapse—namely, existing factions that already hold the keys to Iran’s military arsenal and prisons. Such a replacement government would hardly choose to denounce the police state from which it was birthed, nor the defiant anti-Western animosity that has been Khamenei’s calling card. – Washington Institute 


Last year, administration officials briefed President Trump on a hostage whose case he has taken an interest in: Austin Tice, a former Marine missing in Syria. The C.I.A. pledged to ramp up efforts to learn where he is being held and why Syria refuses to negotiate his release. – New York Times 

Assad has held onto power even as other despots in the Middle East fell, as world leaders aggressively pushed for his ouster, and as the Syrian people begged for peace. March 15 marks nine years since protests in Syria calling for democratic reforms and greater freedoms sparked a civil war that has spilled far outside its borders. – USA Today 

Syria was on the way to becoming the bloodiest and most protracted of the Arab uprisings, but in the first years of conflict rebel confidence was high. Assad’s foreign critics said his remaining days in power were numbered, and a senior U.S. State Department official described him as “a dead man walking”. – Reuters

The coronavirus may delay the various threats posed by Iran, but it will not get it to change its policy or leave Syria, former IDF Intelligence chief Amos Yadlin said at an Institute for National Security Studies conference Thursday night. – Jerusalem Post

On January 23, 2020, Syria and Iran signed a memorandum of understandings in the sphere of education which includes, inter alia, an Iranian pledge to renovate 250 schools in Syria, assist in the training of educational staff, assess Syrian curricula and support vocational training in the country. […]It should be mentioned that, throughout the Syria war, oppositionists have been warning about the spread of the Shi’a and of Iranian ideology in the country. – Middle East Media Research Institute


Russian President Vladimir Putin spoke by phone to his Turkish counterpart Tayyip Erdogan on Thursday, the Kremlin said in a statement, saying both men agreed with satisfaction that tensions in Syria’s Idlib were now significantly lower. – Reuters

Seth J. Frantzman writes: It is one of many comments over the years where Turkish officials compare every adversary to “Nazis” in various public spats. […]The rhetoric is part of the rising militarist and nationalist extremism in Ankara that has led to Turkey invading Syria, forcing hundreds of thousands of Kurds to flee and jailing dissidents and journalists. – Jerusalem Post

Neville Teller writes: Three basic factors underlie Turkey’s stance in the confused military situation in northwest Syria. The first is that Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is a Sunni Muslim while Syria’s President Bashar Assad adheres to the Shia branch of Islam. […]This is why Erdogan has been supporting Syria’s anti-government forces, and explains how the opposition have recently brought Assad’s apparently inexorable advance into Idlib Province to a shuddering halt. – Jerusalem Post


Israelis eager to end Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s career won a slim majority in last week’s election. But one thing has kept them from uniting to send him packing: A sizable chunk of the anti-Netanyahu majority consists of Arab lawmakers, and the Jewish ones cannot agree on whether to consider them partners or the enemy. – New York Times

Israel registered an official protest with Moscow on Thursday after Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov met with Palestinian Islamic Jihad secretary-general Ziyad al-Nakhalah. – Jerusalem Post

The families of terrorists whose bodies are held by Israel have launched a new media and legal campaign in an attempt to raise the issue of returning the remains to the international agenda and prosecute Israeli leadership. – Arutz Sheva


But in recent months, with relatively few American troops still in Iraq, militias there with ties to Iran seem to have perfected a strategy that has left U.S. forces with little recourse to defend themselves, according to American officials, who are scrambling to put effective countermeasures in place. […]According to American military officials, the militia’s strategy almost always involves a mobile launcher, such as a truck, parked within several miles of one of several American bases and armed with a timed trigger set to around 30 minutes. – New York Times 

A Pentagon contract linguist assigned to a U.S. Special Operations task force in Iraq pleaded not guilty Thursday to espionage charges. […]Thompson was indicted March 5 on three counts of conspiring to deliver national defense information to aid a foreign government, the delivery of that information, and the willful retention of defense information. – Washington Post 

Britain on Thursday demanded Iraqi authorities take action to hold to account those responsible for a rocket attack in Iraq which killed one British and two American personnel. – Reuters

Asfandyar Mir and Ramzy Mardini write: What options might the United States consider? A mild response could involve doing nothing militarily, responding instead with heightened economic sanctions. […]Escalating even more could involve again targeting someone significant, as with the drone killing of Soleimani and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, Iran’s top Iraqi militia ally, near the Baghdad airport. Or the United States could launch airstrikes on Iranian soil — which may well bring Iranian retaliation and push the situation toward war. – Washington Post 

Elizabeth Dent writes: The best check against Iranian influence in Iraq is the desire of the Iraqi people to move closer toward a free democracy absent foreign influence, corruption, and sectarianism. Leveraging a combined approach among Western powers can influence Iraqi reforms in a way that is both transparent to the protesters and highlights the West’s desire to help move Iraq toward more liberal reforms, in contrast to Iran’s strategy. – Middle East Institute 

Shahla Al-Kli writes: Iraq is likely to remain challenged throughout much of 2020 by a crisis pitting a flagging political establishment against a nascent popular movement. […]Over the next few years, Iraq’s traditional leadership will likely go into “survival mode,” guarding the status quo or making ineffective, incremental changes until the popular protest movement develops more mature leadership and political conduct. Once that happens, the changes will no longer be gradual, but swift and radical. – Middle East Institute 

Seth J. Frantzman writes: Over the twenty-four hours after the Taji attack the US built a case for another round of airstrikes. It now appears that after the Taji attack there were airstrikes against Iranian-backed forces in Syria near Albukamal on Wednesday evening or Thursday morning just after midnight. But those attacks, the US says, were not carried out by Washington. That led to speculation in the region about who did it. –  Jerusalem Post

Gulf States`

The Saudi-led coalition fighting the Houthi movement in Yemen blocked southern separatist leaders from returning to Aden city, Yemeni officials said on Thursday, as a deal to end a power struggle in the south with the Saudi-backed government faltered. – Reuters

Bahrain accused Iran on Thursday of “biological aggression” by covering up the spread of the coronavirus and failing to stamp Bahraini travellers’ passports. – Reuters

Ben Hubbard writes: The kingdom had never been a democracy — more of a soft-gloved autocracy, where citizens kept up appearances in public but could mostly say what they liked in private. But as Prince Mohammed rose, the limited margins for free expression shrank. Mr. al-Qahtani grew into the prince’s media czar and fiercest protector. – New York Times


Chinese telecom group Huawei from the U.S. financial system. […]The primary concern cited by lawmakers around Huawei has been a 2017 Chinese intelligence law that requires Chinese companies and citizens to participate in state espionage activities if requested. – The Hill 

President Trump on Thursday signed into law a bill banning the use of federal funds to purchase equipment from telecom companies deemed a national security threat, such as Chinese telecom group Huawei. – The Hill 

A Chinese government campaign to cast doubt on the origin of the coronavirus pandemic is fuelling a row with the United States, with a Beijing official promoting conspiracy theories and Washington calling it the “Wuhan virus”. – Agence France-Presse

As Xi Jinping toured the coronavirus-stricken city of Wuhan this week, setting the tone for an official narrative that China will win a “People’s War”, numerous social media users went to extraordinary lengths to make an alternative voice heard. – Reuters

Josh Rogin writes: This is not a “red scare” or an argument for complete decoupling of the U.S. economy from China. This is a call for more transparency from Chinese companies and more vigilance by U.S. institutions gambling with Americans’ financial futures. China wants to see its most controversial firms embedded in U.S. indexes and pension funds because it legitimizes these companies, undermines U.S. sanctions and advances Beijing’s strategy to increase China’s leverage and influence over the United States. We can’t afford to let that happen. – Washington Post

Kristine Lee and Ashley Feng write: Beijing’s blustering is more pernicious than false advertising. After its early mismanagement of the outbreak, China is brazenly leveraging what is now a global crisis to advance its narrow aims. […]The coronavirus should be an unequivocal wakeup call for the United States and its allies to collectively oppose China’s efforts to hollow out the existing rules-based order and advance alternatives that are ultimately detrimental to the free flow of information and global public health. – The Hill 

Liselotte Odgaard writes: China pursues its global interests by creating situations in which other states feel that conceding to Beijing’s interests is prudent, given China’s financial and diplomatic clout. […]China addresses key regional concerns, thereby promoting a benevolent self-image. China nurtures recipient country–identified needs previously neglected by Western donors, but such developmental nurturing ultimately serves Chinese economic, environmental, and security interests. – Hudson Institute


But when U.S. and Taliban officials signed an agreement in Qatar on Feb. 29, paving the way for the withdrawal of U.S. troops and power-sharing talks between Taliban and Afghan leaders, Pakistan hailed the breakthrough. It also hoped to take some of the credit, having freed a jailed Taliban leader who then became the group’s chief negotiator. – Washington Post

A top U.S. general said on Thursday that the Taliban had to significantly reduce the number of attacks it is carrying out, after an accord it signed with the United States earlier this month. – Reuters

U.S. envoy to Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad has called on Afghan leaders to end their standoff over a disputed presidential election and seize a “historic opportunity” for peace. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

The commander of U.S. Central Command confirmed that American special operators would serve as the main security force to combat terrorists and militants across Afghanistan as U.S. troops begin to draw down. – Military Times

The United States has shown no signs of letting up in the air war against both the Taliban and the Islamic State in Afghanistan, figures released by Air Force Central Command (AFCENT) show. – Jane’s 360

On February 29, 2020, the United States and the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (the Afghan Taliban organization) signed a deal, according to which the U.S. and other foreign nations will start withdrawing their troops from Afghanistan, while the Taliban will begin talks with Afghan stakeholders for the formation of an inclusive government. […]In a recent article, Pakistani columnist Hassan Niazi warned that the so-called peace deal means no peace for Afghanistan. – Middle East Media Research Institute


The Trump administration pressured Indonesia into dropping deals to buy Russian-made fighter jets and Chinese naval vessels, part of a global effort to prevent its top adversaries from eroding the U.S.’s military superiority. – Bloomberg 

New Zealand’s leader Jacinda Ardern admitted Friday there was “much more” her country could do to tackle white supremacists a year after the Christchurch mosque massacres. – Agence France-Presse

But the virus’s minor presence does not mean Armenia has been immune to the contagion’s economic effects. Two of Yerevan’s top trade partners, China and Iran, have been among the most affected by the spread of the pandemic. […]There were high hopes of further growing that relationship this year, following numerous high-level exchanges in both Beijing and Yerevan in 2019. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty 

The German navy plans to send its frigate “Hamburg” to the Indian Ocean in June to conduct port visits and partake in a regional, naval powwow on the French island of Réunion, the service announced on March 12. – Federal Times 

Japan is developing two advanced anti-surface warheads that will be fitted onto two hypersonic weapons that are currently also under development, as indicated by several documents obtained by Jane’s from the Ministry of Defense (MoD) in Tokyo. – Jane’s 360 


A group of Democrats led by Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) on Thursday urged the European Union (EU) to sanction a top close associate of Russian President Vladimir Putin for meddling in U.S. elections. – The Hill 

Facebook and Twitter on Thursday announced they have dismantled a Russia-backed online interference campaign targeting African Americans. The campaign was based out of Ghana and Nigeria, marking Russia’s latest attempt to obfuscate how it’s working to sow discord on U.S. soil by propping up volunteers and workers from foreign nations. – The Hill 

Global prices plummeted this week after the OPEC oil cartel and Russia failed to agree on production cuts as a way to bolster already slipping prices. […]Russia’s economy is less dependent on hydrocarbons than it was in the early 2000s, but it has larger structural problems that have kept it stagnant in recent years — and could continue to hobble it in future years. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

The guessing game is over. Ever since Vladimir Putin was reelected in 2018 to his final constitutionally allotted six year term of office, speculation abounded on how Putin would circumvent presidential term limits. […]Despite Putin’s in your face solution to the constitutional dilemma, the reaction aside from a handful of picket sign holders ranged from resignation to relief. – Middle East Media Research Institute 

Editorial: Mr. Whether that is true is questionable. Mr. Putin’s approval ratings have been declining steadily in domestic polls; Russians perceive that the country’s economy has been stagnant in recent years, and that it lags far behind the West technologically. Many have grown weary of Mr. Putin’s foreign adventures in places such as Syria and eastern Ukraine, which have exposed the country to punishing sanctions – Washington Post

Joseph Bosco writes: But, on balance, Russia seems to prefer a change in Washington’s administration. Sanders offers an even more inviting target, given his aversion to U.S. military spending and foreign intervention and his attraction to Russian, Chinese and Latin American communist dictators. It’s no wonder, then, that both Russia and China may be exploiting the coronavirus pandemic to undermine the Trump administration during this critical election year. – The Hill 


European officials on Thursday strongly condemned President Trump’s decision to severely restrict travel from Europe to the United States, a move that took them by surprise and that many saw as politically motivated. – Washington Post

Germany’s domestic intelligence agency said on Thursday that it would put a group within the nativist AfD opposition party under surveillance as an extremist organization amid rising concern about growing far-right violence in the country. – Wall Street Journal 

Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), the chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, is formally notifying the panel’s top Democrat that he wants to subpoena a firm linked to Ukraine gas company Burisma Holdings. – The Hill 

President Trump’s former homeland security adviser doubted the effectiveness of restricting travel from Europe at this point in the fight against the coronavirus. – Washington Examiner

Ukrainian police say 15 people were arrested on March 12 after a group of right-wing activists disrupted a presentation in Kyiv regarding a possible political settlement in the war in eastern Ukraine. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty 

The U.S. military in Europe is weighing how best to get what may be thousands of troops stateside following the release of a Defense Department policy memo Wednesday ordering a 60-day suspension of military travel to and from countries, including those in Europe. – Military.com 

Abigail R. Esman writes: To be sure, European policy makers are dealing with those connected to ISIS. But their efforts are largely confused, feeble, and lack uniformity. The UK recently revoked the citizenship of Shamima Begum, a Bangladeshi-British woman who joined ISIS in 2015 and refused to allow her to return to British soil. And so the horror and the tragedy of the Islamic State, even a year after its collapse, continues. – Algemeiner


It was a move born of a fear that bad things are coming Mauritania’s way. The country straddles the Sahara, and in the south, the Sahel, a belt of semiarid land that stretches just below the great desert. A wave of Islamist militancy is overwhelming the countries of the Sahel. Affiliates of al Qaeda and Islamic State killed more than 4,000 people in Burkina Faso, Niger and Mali last year in some 800 attacks. – Wall Street Journal

But most women who broke away from Boko Haram keep their abductions secret, knowing they would be stigmatized as terrorist sympathizers even though they were held against their wills and defied the militants. They walk the streets of Maiduguri in the shadow of billboards celebrating the heroism of Malala Yousafzai, who was shot for standing up to the Taliban. – New York Times

In 2016, much of the trolling aimed at the US election operated from an office block in St. Petersburg, Russia. A months-long CNN investigation has discovered that, in this election cycle, at least part of the campaign has been outsourced — to trolls in the west African nations of Ghana and Nigeria. – CNN

An increasingly ugly run-up to Tanzania’s presidential elections in October has spurred international criticism of President John Magufuli’s administration and heightened fears the vote’s credibility will be compromised. […]Magufuli’s administration has faced American criticism before. – Bloomberg 

The Americas

A set of domestic spying tools appeared likely to expire in three days after the Senate failed to approve legislation that would have renewed them amid doubts from President Trump that lawmakers had done enough to overhaul a surveillance system he has condemned. – Wall Street Journal 

Venezuela’s Nicolas Maduro said that a price war that’s sent oil prices to the lowest since 2016 is a “brutal blow” to the nation’s main source of revenue. […]U.S. President Donald Trump began escalating Venezuela sanctions in 2019 when he endorsed opposition leader Juan Guaido as the country’s legitimate leader. – Bloomberg 

Former U.S. Army soldier and WikiLeaks source Chelsea Manning was released from prison on Thursday on a judge’s order after being held since May for refusing to testify in an ongoing U.S. investigation of WikiLeaks. – Reuters

The U.S. sanctioned a second subsidiary of Russia’s biggest oil producer, Rosneft PJSC, for allegedly supporting Venezuelan leader Nicolas Maduro. […]U.S. President Donald Trump began escalating Venezuela sanctions in 2019 when he endorsed opposition leader Juan Guaido as the country’s legitimate leader. The measures accelerated an ongoing collapse in an oil industry already suffering from years of corruption and mismanagement. – Bloomberg 

When Jose Ramon Zambrano and his pregnant wife crossed the Rio Grande to apply for asylum in the U.S., they were looking for a fresh start far away from a certain arrest in his native Venezuela, where his mother is a prominent government opponent. […]Zambrano is one of hundreds of Venezuelans fleeing the socialist regime of Nicolás Maduro and showing up at the U.S.-Mexico border in larger numbers in recent months, only to encounter President Donald Trump’s hard-line immigration policies. – Associated Press 

A parliamentary committee on Thursday warned that China and Russia are threatening Canada’s national security and democracy by stepping up “clandestine and coercive” efforts to influence politicians, students and the media. – Agence France-Presse

Jane Nakano writes: The nuclear industry of advanced industrialized countries is under significant pressure to remain competitive as the market landscape for new nuclear power opportunities changes. […]This report illuminates how the changing market competition among the United States, Russia, and China will affect their future relations with nuclear commerce recipient countries, and discusses why Russia and China promote nuclear commerce, as well as which factors may alter their market competitiveness. – Center for Strategic and International Studies 

Chris Miller writes: But behind these giants is a whole list of petrostates around the world, where oil wealth fuels economies, stabilizes power, and pays off competing interests. Petroleum revenues are their main source of government income. Unlike Russia, Saudi Arabia, and the United States, many of the world’s petrostates don’t have the resources to weather a shock to their economies, let alone a protracted decline in oil prices. On the contrary, many of them rely on a high oil price to maintain a political and social stability that now threatens to unravel. – Foreign Policy


The American Civil Liberties Union is suing federal agencies for records about the use of facial recognition at airports and other places where travelers enter the U.S., the latest salvo in a nationwide activist campaign to halt use of the technology. – Wall Street Journal 

As a lethal virus sweeps the globe, U.S. national security officials are closely monitoring how the disease is affecting closed societies like China, Iran and North Korea, trying to gauge to what extent officials in those countries have been covering up the extent of the outbreak. – Politico

The website for a local Illinois health agency was taken down by a cyberattack this week, creating difficulties in distributing accurate information on the coronavirus outbreak. […]According to Mother Jones, the website was taken down by a ransomware attack and will likely be down for the next week or two. – The Hill 

President Trump told Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) on Thursday that he does not support a House-passed surveillance bill— raising fresh questions about the fate of the legislation. – The Hill 

Government lawyers are asking a federal judge for permission to reconsider the Pentagon’s decision to award Microsoft Corp. a controversial $10 billion cloud contract after a legal challenge from Amazon.com Inc. – Bloomberg 

The director of the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency likes to joke that the agency is into security so much that it’s in the name twice. And while the coverage of CISA largely centers around its cybersecurity efforts, and as the nation’s “risk adviser” for critical infrastructure, it has a role in protecting that sector’s operations in case of an outbreak in coronavirus cases in that sector. – Federal Times 

A major report released March 11 recommending an overhaul of U.S. cyberspace policy calls for reforming how the federal government is organized to tackle cyber issues, from Congress to the Department of Homeland Security. – Fifth Domain 

The Army released its draft proposal March 10 for a contract that could worth as much as $1 billion to provide cyber training for the Department of Defense. – Fifth Domain 


The U.S. Navy has a vision for the future of a much bigger fleet with much different ships to meet a much different threat, which will require a much bigger budget. – Washington Examiner

The Air Force is looking for a replacement to the stalwart MQ-9 Reaper and intends to explore options ranging from commercial drones built by emerging tech firms to high-end unmanned aircraft, the service’s top acquisition official said Tuesday. – Defense News 

Lawmakers were skeptical the Navy could meet its sealift requirements as part of the National Defense Strategy and that the service was on track to recapitalize its aging sealift fleet. – USNI News 

The number of bombers are at their lowest ever, but demand for bombers increases every year, particularly in the vast and most-stressed region of the Indo-Pacific. Bombers are the preferred weapon system there because of their long range and huge payload capacity. – Defense News 

The search for future budget savings to apply to shipbuilding has the Navy considering scrapping a plan to extend the life of the fleet’s oldest Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyers, the service’s top systems buyer told lawmakers Thursday. – USNI News 

Members of the House Armed Services Committee expressed deep frustration with the levels for early science and technology funding in the fiscal 2021 budget request on Wednesday, in what could be a precursor to Capitol Hill increasing those numbers. – Defense News 

The Department of Defense is seeking 5G prototypes related to the development of smart warehouses, the National Spectrum Consortium announced March 12. – C4ISRNET 

The Navy has taken several cracks over the years at trying to define a new future aircraft carrier, one that might be less expensive or less vulnerable. But each time, the Navy has moved forward with the nuclear-powered supercarrier concept, in part because it provides an unmatched sortie-generation capability, and in part, because it’s built by a workforce that would be tough or impossible to reconstitute if the Navy ever stopped supporting it. – USNI News