Fdd's overnight brief

March 19, 2021

In The News


A Canadian agency on Thursday called for changes to global rules governing air accident investigations, following criticism over shortcomings in Iran’s final report on the downing of a Ukrainian jetliner that killed 176, including many Canadians. – Reuters

French President Emmanuel Macron accused Iran on Thursday of continuing to violate a 2015 nuclear deal with world powers, and said Tehran should act responsibly. – Reuters

Swedish-Iranian scientist Ahmadreza Djalali, sentenced to death in Iran on espionage charges, is in critical condition and near death after months of prolonged solitary confinement, U.N. human rights experts said on Thursday. – Reuters

Iran has yet to recover from a devastating explosion at its Natanz nuclear facility last July, sources have told The Jerusalem Post, undercutting IAEA reports this week that the Islamic Republic has made progress with advanced centrifuges for enriching uranium. – Jerusalem Post

The U.S. government should investigate what is alleged to be a covert Iranian propaganda operation being run on American soil, according to a congressional request. – Fox News

U.S. Special Envoy for Iran Robert Malley has indicated that recent attacks by Iranian proxies on U.S. forces in Iraq are making it tougher for the Biden administration to build domestic support for its new diplomatic initiative to resolve U.S.-Iran tensions. – VOA News

Kevin L. Schwartz and Aria Fani write: The choice of lines from Persian poetry of all things could give us a cue as to how Biden wishes to frame the U.S. relationship with Iran amidst these ongoing dynamics, whether with cautious hope, heightened skepticism, or deep mistrust. […]The most pressing hope is that Biden and his Iranian counterparts recognize the ongoing human cost of strained U.S.-Iran relations, whether from sanctions, military actions, or otherwise. Lost lives, like lost time, cannot be rebought. – The Hill

Banafsheh Keynoush writes: It is too early to say if Iran will witness a major conflict with Iraq over water anytime soon. But it is possible, given growing water scarcity issues. This is why policy experts in Iran are calling for proactive water diplomacy that goes hand in hand with Iran’s goal of building regional security with the 12 neighboring countries with which it shares river flows. For now, Iraq’s water disputes with Iran seem to have reached a stalemate, and prospects for transboundary water cooperation between the two countries are dim, although the issue will need to be addressed at some point. – Middle East Institute

Seth J. Frantzman writes: It appears that for the foreseeable future the kinds of threats that Iran, or Iran’s allies such as the Houthis, are developing will make ships vulnerable to various kinds of attacks. In addition, it means that countries like Iran can exploit the vastness of the sea to continue to move illicit cargo and conduct ship-to-ship transfers of oil and other products. – Jerusalem Post


Hezbollah chief Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah said on Thursday he would support a new Lebanese cabinet if one is announced on Monday, but said that a government formed solely of specialists would not last. – Reuters

On March 15, 2021, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov held a meeting with the head of the Hizbullah parliamentary faction Muhammad R’ad. – Middle East Research Institute

Hanin Ghaddar writes: Lebanon’s problems will not be solved by simply installing a new government and sending more food stamps. The country needs practical policies that unite the opposition, address Iranian hegemony, and flip the present emergency into an opportunity for pursuing the deep reforms and long-term security changes that Lebanon has always needed. – Washington Institute


The Trump administration’s controversial move to ease sanctions on Dan Gertler, an Israeli mining magnate accused by the U.S. of corruption in the Democratic Republic of Congo, came after repeated requests from Israeli officials who said he was a vital national security asset. – Bloomberg

The United Nations lacks the funds to annually update its database of companies doing business with Israeli entities over the Green Line, including in east Jerusalem, the Golan Heights and in West Bank settlements, the High Commissioner for Human Rights Michele Bachelet said on Thursday. – Jerusalem Post 

The British Royal Air Force’s Chief of the Air Staff, Sir Mike Wigston, concluded on Thursday a visit to Israel hosted by the Israeli Air Force Commander, Maj.-Gen. Amikam Norkin. The visit included a tour of the IAF’s 140 Golden Eagle Squadron to discuss the force build up of the F-35 fighter planes division and its influence on the Middle East. – Algemeiner


Shops closing, companies going bankrupt and pharmacies with shelves emptying — in Lebanon these days, fistfights erupt in supermarkets as shoppers scramble to get to subsidized powdered milk, rice and cooking oil. Associated Press

Lebanon’s Prime Minister-designate Saad al-Hariri said on Thursday after a meeting with President Michel Aoun that forming a government that could re-engage with the IMF was the only way to halt the country’s financial collapse. – Reuters

Christophe Abi-Nassif writes: Lebanon’s social fabric is being torn apart and entire communities are quickly realizing that life after the collapse will never be the same. But perhaps the most heart-breaking and infuriating piece is that the country’s socio-economic implosion is self-designed, self-produced, and self-inflicted. The people of Lebanon are growing increasingly aware of this fact — and furious about it. Whether and how this awareness and fury end up materializing remain to be seen. – Middle East Institute

Middle East & North Africa

Today Abazed and many of his townsfolk are among millions of refugees who have built new lives in neighbouring countries and beyond in Europe, with no intention of returning any time soon. – Reuters

Turkish police detained three top district officials of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) among 10 people held in an operation targeting Kurdish militants, state media said on Friday, after a court case was opened to close the HDP. – Reuters

The U.N. Security Council on Thursday condemned an escalation in fighting in Yemen’s Marib, calling for the Houthis to end an offensive on the government’s last northern stronghold, and pushing for the government to allow fuel into Hodeidah port. – Reuters

Hundreds of Moroccans protested Thursday after Algeria expelled farmers from a disputed border area where they had long been allowed to farm dates, an AFP journalist said. – Agence France-Presse

Rauf Baker writes: Accordingly, many countries on the Arabian Peninsula, the Mediterranean and the Red Sea have crystallized a strategy to build a buffer against any attempt to destabilize the already tumultuous region. A strengthened framework for implementing this strategy would preserve energy security, coordinate counterterrorism efforts, and ensure that the refugee crisis is not exploited to score political points. […]As of now, the EastMed Gas and Philia forums are embodiments of that crystalizing strategy, and they could serve as potent tools of international politics in the near future. – Washington Institute

Phillip Smyth writes: Washington’s position is not like Tehran’s, and the United States should be firm on this. Unlike Iran, the United States does not seek to dominate minority communities, use its members as cannon fodder, or subvert their representation in Iraq’s government. Iranian-backed Iraqi PMF organizations have often stood in the way of redevelopment and the preservation of minority communities. These realities cannot and should not be swept under the rug. – Washington Institute

Korean Peninsula

North Korea on Friday severed diplomatic ties with Malaysia after that country’s highest court agreed to extradite a North Korean man accused of money laundering to the United States, a major coup in Washington’s efforts to choke Pyongyang’s illicit trade. – New York Times

In nuclear diplomacy between the U.S. and North Korea, changing just two words can elicit a big response. – Wall Street Journal

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin on Thursday warned North Korea that U.S. forces are ready to “fight tonight” after the dictatorship condemned military drills taking place in South Korea. – Fox News


Canadian businessman Michael Spavor was put on trial in China on Friday in closed-door proceedings that lasted two hours, in a case widely criticized by Western officials as a violation of international law and a blatant display of hostage diplomacy. – Washington Post

The U.S. and China began their first high-level meeting under the Biden administration with an acrimonious exchange of words, setting an abrasive tone as the two powers try to stabilize tense relations. – Wall Street Journal

LinkedIn has been the lone major American social network allowed to operate in China. To do so, the Microsoft-owned service for professionals censors the posts made by its millions of Chinese users. Now, it’s in hot water for not censoring enough. – New York Times

Beijing is seeking a meeting between Joe Biden and Xi Jinping next month if the first high-level U.S.-China talks in Alaska starting Thursday are productive, said people familiar with the situation. – Bloomberg

The largest group representing exiled ethnic Uighurs has written to U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken urged him to demand that Beijing close its internment camps in the Xinjiang region in talks on Thursday. – Reuters

A trio of Republican senators are rolling out legislation advocating a tighter trading stance on China amid bipartisan calls for Washington to get tough on Beijing. – The Hill

China’s foreign ministry on Thursday denounced recent attacks against Asian Americans. – The Hill

The Biden administration is deliberately flipping the script, putting off discussions about tariffs and export controls until Beijing addresses other economic and national security concerns. – Politico

China’s latest attempt to squeeze Taiwan’s economy appears to have run out of juice. – Financial Times

On February 26, 2021, Beijing announced that it would suspend imports of pineapples from Taiwan effective March 1, 2021, citing “standard biosafety precautions” and claiming that “many times, pests that require quarantine from pineapples imported from Taiwan Province have been intercepted by Mainland Customs.” The message caused an uproar in Taiwan, which last year exported 90% of its tropical fruit to mainland China. – Middle East Media Research Institute

Josh Rogin writes: If Congress could show a unified front to support this goal, the Chinese government might be convinced that it can no longer ignore the valid concerns of the international community. It’s not an effort to increase tensions. It’s what both parties should see as the best chance of avoiding the conflict that neither the United States nor China seeks. – Washington Post

Evan S. Medeiros and Jude Blanchette write: Regardless of where one comes down on the precise mix of policies that the United States and its allies should adopt, the first step is for debate to be based on a cleareyed assessment of China that rejects popular myths and accepts unpopular realities about the country’s capabilities, intentions, strengths and weaknesses. Tilting at windmills is not now, nor has it ever been, the appropriate foundation for good strategy. – War on the Rocks

David K. Schneider writes: Reading the Chinese strategic canon provides a perspective on Chinese geopolitical thought and practice impossible to achieve with methods derived from Western international relations theory or from the history of Western strategic thought. […]And when we consider the requirements of a rules-based international system, we will need to make the same comparisons with Chinese views of global order found in the philosophy and actions of Duke Wen of Jin and his successors. – War on the Rocks


Four countries including the U.S. called on the Afghan government and the Taliban to reduce violence and begin discussions on sharing power, in a fresh effort to end the two-decade war as a deadline for the full withdrawal of American troops draws closer. – Wall Street Journal

Nine security personnel were killed after an Afghan military helicopter was downed, likely by militia forces, in eastern Afghanistan early Thursday, signaling a drastic rift between the Afghan government and the regional forces supposedly under its control. – New York Times

Just one woman, rights advocate and politician Habiba Sarabi, was on the 12-member delegation of Afghan government and political leaders attending Thursday’s summit in Moscow. – Reuters

South Asia

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin was urged by a senior U.S senator to convey Washington’s opposition to India’s proposed purchase of Russian air defence systems as he headed to New Delhi on Friday for talks aimed at deepening security ties. – Reuters

Pakistan’s army chief called on Thursday for arch rivals India and Pakistan to “bury the past” and move towards cooperation, an overture towards New Delhi that follows an unexpected joint ceasefire announcement last month between the two countries’ militaries. – Reuters

Sadanand Dhume writes: Pooling their strengths makes sense for Quad countries, and the vaccine initiative ought to quiet critics who view the group as little more than a talk shop. The focus on Southeast Asia pushes back directly against Beijing’s efforts to dominate the region. But both the new initiative and the success of New Delhi’s vaccine diplomacy offer a broader lesson for India. It is much more likely to achieve its objectives by collaborating closely with Western democracies than by embarking upon a quixotic quest for “self-reliance.” – Wall Street Journal

Darshana M. Baruah writes: Instead of putting together a reactionary policy in the Indian Ocean, the United States should define and outline its interests in the region in order to frame a coherent approach. Despite the urgency of U.S. interests in the Pacific, there are numerous avenues and platforms available to maximize U.S. presence and engagements in the Indian Ocean region without undermining its efforts in the Pacific. As far as strategic competition is concerned, Beijing will continue to strengthen its presence and engagements in the Indian Ocean, regardless of America’s priorities. – War on the Rocks

Jeff Smith writes: Since the turn of the century, observers have often criticized the measured pace of progress in India–U.S. defense ties. In the past few years, the two governments have crossed nearly every item off of their long-standing “to do” list. […]Secretary Austin should use this opportunity to declare that the Biden Administration is committed to helping India develop and procure the capabilities required to defend itself and act as a net provider of security in the Indian Ocean and Western Pacific. – Heritage Foundation


Myanmar security forces shot dead at least one opponent of military rule on Friday, a witness said, as ousted lawmakers explored whether the International Criminal Court can investigate crimes against humanity since a Feb. 1 coup. – Reuters

Thousands of opponents of military rule in Myanmar marched in the town of Natmauk, the birthplace of revered national hero Aung San, on Thursday in defiance of a crackdown by security forces, local media reported. – Reuters

Hundreds of people have fled Myanmar’s towns and cities since last month’s military coup and are sheltering in areas controlled by ethnic militias on the Thai border, an official from one of the groups said on Thursday, as Thailand prepared for a surge of refugees. – Reuters

Myanmar’s ambassador to the United Nations, Kyaw Moe Tun, has pleaded for tougher actions and sanctions from the international community to end the military coup in his country. – CNBC

The Confederation of Trade Unions in Myanmar has been staging general strikes to choke Myanmar’s economy by demanding international comprehensive sanctions, not targeted sanctions, to bring down the junta that ousted the civilian government of Aung San Suu Kyi. – Associated Press

Myanmar’s ousted civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi faces fresh corruption charges from the ruling junta that her lawyer said Thursday were “groundless” but could ensure she would never be able to return to politics. – Agence France-Presse

A naturalized Kazakh citizen, Kunbolatuly has been seeking information about his brother, who vanished in Xinjiang three years ago. But Kunbolatuly’s protests came to an abrupt end when he was detained and sent to 10 days of “administrative arrest” on February 10 for breaching laws on protests. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

A court in Uzbekistan has handed down verdicts and sentences to 22 people in a high-profile case for their roles in disturbances in the country’s volatile Sokh exclave within neighboring Kyrgyzstan last year. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

Mihir Sharma writes: But the Quad’s priority should be the same as the rest of the region’s: promoting growth and development that is healthy, rules-based and less dependent on China. […]It’s survived the loss of U.S. leadership under the Trump administration and the departure of its strongest backer, former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. In Australia and India, both of which had to endure a year of sharply higher tensions with China, cooperation with other democracies has achieved close to a bipartisan consensus. Now the Quad needs to help the rest of the region become more resilient, too. – Bloomberg

Salvatore Babones writes: The overarching lesson in all of this is that the United States does not have to provide security in the Indo-Pacific to keep the region “free and open,” never mind “resilient and inclusive,” as the four Quad leaders resolved at their summit last week. All Washington has to do is provide a security framework into which other countries can insert their own efforts. […]But even without a defense-focused Quad, the countries of the Indo-Pacific arc are perfectly capable of securing themselves against Chinese aggression. The United States might offer tools, technology, and training, but China’s neighbors can and should take the lead in keeping their own neighborhood safe. – Foreign Policy

Maung Zarni writes: Since the NLD emerged as the most potent challenger to the military’s monopoly grip on state power three decades ago, the generals have tried different methods of exclusion, disenfranchisement and purposive prosecution against Aung San Suu Kyi and all dissidents. Today, they are discovering that Suu Kyi and the NLD are a mere expression or embodiment of the democratic will of Burmese society. The military leadership is unlikely to be able to defeat 50 million people who have decided that a half-century of life under the boot is more than enough.  – Middle East Institute

South Caucasus

Armenia will hold an early parliamentary election on June 20, Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan announced on Thursday, indicating a potential path out of a political crisis that has pit him against the army. – Reuters

The EU delegation that arrived in the Georgian capital Tbilisi on Friday to broker a peace deal between the country’s bitterly divided political parties had hoped to be back in Brussels two days later. – Financial Times

Russia will help Armenia extend the life of its nuclear power plant in Metsamor for another 10 years, according to the director of the station. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

Human Rights Watch (HRW) is calling on Azerbaijan to investigate all allegations of ill-treatment against Armenian prisoners of war from last fall’s war over the breakaway Nagorno-Karabakh region, and to hold those responsible to account. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty


Russian President Vladimir Putin responded icily to President Biden the day after he said he considered the Russian leader a killer, as a barrage of criticism from the Russian government threatened to put more pressure on already strained ties between Moscow and Washington. – Wall Street Journal

President Joe Biden’s administration is weighing additional sanctions to block construction of the nearly completed Nord Stream 2 pipeline from Russia to Germany, potentially including the project’s parent company Nord Stream 2 AG, Bloomberg News here reported on Thursday citing three people familiar with the matter. – Reuters

Russia will react if Bosnia takes steps towards joining NATO because Moscow would perceive this as a hostile act, the Russian embassy in Bosnia said in a statement on Thursday. – Reuters

The G7 remains fully committed to the implementation of sanctions on Russia over its annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea peninsula and will continue to assist Ukraine in maintaining its independence, the German foreign ministry said on Thursday. – Reuters

A special forces unit in Chechnya has called on President Vladimir Putin for protection against “vile attacks” from independent newspaper Novaya Gazeta whose reporters have documented rights abuses in the republic. – Agence France-Presse

A Moscow court has extended the house arrest of Kira Yarmysh, a spokeswoman of jailed opposition politician Aleksei Navalny. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

The United States has called the arrest of a journalist in Russian-annexed Crimea for allegedly spying on behalf of Kyiv “another attempt to repress those who speak the truth about Russia’s aggression in Ukraine.” – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

The United States and European Union have reiterated their condemnation of Russia’s increasing repression of independent media, including RFE/RL. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

Clara Ferreira Marques writes: Could rising political pressure and sheer thirst combine to spark a Russian incursion into Ukraine? Such a move could mean access to the dammed canal, while delivering a timely nationalist boost. But that seems improbable. It would raise questions over plans for the eastern Donbas separatist region, where conflict simmers. […]The reality is there’s no prospect of an imminent solution. Parched Crimea, where even Russia’s banks fear to tread, is a reminder that the price of international isolation means costly life support and stagnation for all involved. – Bloomberg


Newly confirmed U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai will speak next week with British trade minister Liz Truss about a range of issues from stalled trade talks to resolving an aircraft subsidy dispute, people familiar with the arrangements said on Thursday. – Reuters

The European Union must respect the law around COVID-19 vaccine supply contracts and there will be consequences for the bloc if it breaks it, health minister Matt Hancock said on Thursday. – Reuters

The European Union may start punishing rule-of-law offenders this year with a new sanctions tool that could see countries lose out on billions of euros, a timetable far quicker than earlier expectations. – Bloomberg

Boris Johnson has privately urged European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen to avert a coronavirus vaccine war, as Britain’s Covid-19 inoculation programme braces for a surprise shortfall of jabs next month. – Financial Times

Ireland’s prime minister has told Joe Biden that the UK and EU must “stand by what has been agreed” on post-Brexit rules on trade between Great Britain and Northern Ireland. – Financial Times

UK intelligence agencies are pushing for new curbs on local authorities’ use of Chinese “smart cities” technology over concerns Beijing could use it for espionage, surveillance or collection of sensitive data. – Financial Times

Three years on, however, the formation of a new government of national unity led by Mario Draghi has upended Italian politics. – Financial Times

Hungary’s ruling rightwing Fidesz party resigned on Thursday from the European People’s party, the EU’s powerful centre-right political grouping that includes Germany’s CDU. – Financial Times

Belarusian opposition leader Svyatlana Tsikhanouskaya has made good on promises to reignite the effort to topple Alyaksandr Lukashenka, calling for renewed protests over a disputed presidential election, announcing a nationwide online vote on possible mediated negotiations to end the crisis, and more sanctions from the United States to pressure the authorities. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

Richard Kraemer and Scott Cullinane write: Enduring, winning relationships of any kind are built on common values. This is what distinguishes our transatlantic partnerships from bilateral transactions. The new administration’s economic foreign policy would do a great deal to sustain the transatlantic community by articulating the above points to the middle class, providing a mutual representation of American interests and values. – The Hill


The death of John Magufuli, Tanzania’s strongman president who urged citizens to gather in churches and mosques to beat Covid-19, has rocked East Africa but raised hopes that a government that became the continent’s chief skeptic on the virus and vaccines will change course. – Wall Street Journal

When Ethiopia’s prime minister, Abiy Ahmed, began a sweeping military operation in the restive region of Tigray on Nov. 4, he cast his goal in narrow terms: to capture the leadership of the region’s ruling party.New York Times

U.S. President Joe Biden is sending Senator Chris Coons to Ethiopia to meet with Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and convey Biden’s “grave concerns” over the humanitarian crisis in the Tigray region, where thousands have died following fighting. – Reuters

In just one year, militants said by American officials to be linked to ISIS have captured huge swaths of territory in northern Mozambique. – CBS News

The Americas

Gunmen on Thursday ambushed a Mexican government convoy conducting a security patrol southwest of the capital, killing 13 prosecutors and police officers in what appeared to be the deadliest assault on Mexican law enforcement in well over a year, officials said. – New York Times

Iran is just one of several foreign policy issues frustrating Mr. Biden’s base two months into his presidency. – New York Times

U.S. President Joe Biden wrote to Brazil’s Jair Bolsonaro last month, outlining opportunities to work together on the pandemic and the environment ahead of the United Nations COP26 climate conference, the Brazilian president’s office said on Thursday. – Reuters

Marine Corps Commandant Gen. David Berger said Thursday that China and Russia will pose the greatest threats to the United States for the foreseeable future. – The Hill

As the entire U.S. military pivots to preparations for a future conventional war after decades of asymmetrical conflict, the Navy’s diving community is giving increased focus to what it takes to operate in the frigid waters that Arctic missions may require in the not-too-distant future. – Navy Times

Dr. Fadi Yousef Kablawi, the imam of the North Miami Islamic Center, also known as Masjid As-Sunnah An-Nabawiyyah, criticized people who seek peace and normalization with Jews, whom he referred to as “the offspring of apes and pigs” who spread “corruption” upon the land. – Middle East Media Research Institute


The scramble to protect coronavirus research from hackers has spurred the Defense Department to fix a much larger problem — a long-known security hole that allowed tens of thousands of emails to go into the world unprotected from snooping. – Politico 

Distribution systems within the U.S. electrical grid are increasingly vulnerable to cyberattack, a government watchdog said in a report released Thursday. – The Hill

David Ignatius writes: The most startling conclusion that emerges from the intelligence reports is that Republicans close to Trump continued to peddle Moscow’s line even after they were warned about the Russian disinformation campaign. They eagerly took the bait. […]What’s the lesson? A Kremlin disinformation campaign just keeps on rolling, as long as there are people gullible or cynical enough to believe it. – Washington Post


A Pentagon project to upgrade the F-35 jet with new capabilities every six months has seen about $2 billion in recent cost growth and continued delays as the result of an unrealistic schedule, according to congressional auditors. – Bloomberg

A bipartisan group of House lawmakers with military or national security backgrounds introduced a bill Thursday to repeal three decades-old war authorizations. – The Hill

The estimated development costs for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter’s ongoing modernization program grew by $1.9 billion since 2019, and the effort is expected to extend through 2027, the U.S. Government Accountability Office said in a new March 18 report. – Defense News

The U.S. Army’s Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft program is heading into a major requirements review next month, during which service leaders will determine if industry designs are ready for a fly-off at the end of 2022, according to Maj. Gen. Wally Rugen, who is in charge of the Army’s future vertical lift development. – Defense News

The U.S. Navy released March 16 its long-discussed Unmanned Campaign Plan, intended to map the road ahead for the service’s unmanned systems. But the plan is short on details and measurable goals, which left key national security leaders wondering if the service had anything else to share. – Defense News

The Air Force Research Laboratory broke ground on its new facility to study space weather and how it affects military systems. – C4ISRNET

The Navy isn’t doing a great job of arguing for the service to expand to face the growing maritime threat from China, two members of the House Armed Services seapower and projection forces subcommittee said on Thursday. – USNI News

Two members of the House Armed Services Committee today called for the Biden administration to hurry and nominate someone to serve as the next Navy secretary, as the sea service faces tough decisions about how to modernize the force and potentially a budget showdown with the other services competing for funding. – USNI News

Paul Bracken writes: The current reviews by the Biden administration should be extended to advanced weapons beyond drones and cyber attacks. Most importantly, these reviews should add escalation potential to the existing criteria of collateral damage. As new technologies spread, the world is becoming riskier and more dangerous. Our policies must keep up with this perilous development.  – The Hill

Douglas Birkey writes: Operational realities demand the F-35′s capabilities in quantity. Modern alternatives would not be available until the 2030s, would run into similar teething challenges and would end up costing more. Ronald Reagan’s Air Force is simply worn out, and new aircraft are needed today. Bottom line: America needs the F-35. – Defense News

Leo Spaeder, John K. Adams, C. Travis Reese, and John T. Quinn II write: Senior military officials, planners, and analysts participating in the Joint Force Operating Scenario process in 2019 and 2020 addressed the shortfalls of the previous defunct approach, created a template for the future, and demonstrated a consistent, open, and testable standard going forward. […]The six service chiefs and head of Special Operations Command should codify this proven approach for Secretary Austin’s team to ensure a sound foundation — through data, analysis, and oversight — for emerging warfighting concepts and capability development. – War on the Rocks

Mark F. Cancian writes: The best course for Biden’s DOD will be to pursue a strategy that implements a high-low mix, increases reliance on reserve forces, and promotes a gradual transition toward new kinds of technologies that can meet strategic needs at lower cost, though with some risk. A high-low mix recognizes that there is not enough money to equip all forces with expensive, high-end systems and still retain enough size to meet global deployment commitments. Thus, the high end of the force should be equipped with new systems, such as stealth (though not in the numbers desired). – Center for Strategic and International Studies