Fdd's overnight brief

March 6, 2020

In The News


Newly released records from the document trove are testaments to the depth and scale of Iran’s past nuclear research, showing the country’s scientists racing to master key technical challenges. […]The results of that work are still available to Iran, giving it a head start in the event its leaders decide to make a dash toward becoming a nuclear-weapons state, say U.S. and Middle Eastern weapons experts. – Washington Post  

The coronavirus crisis comes after years of crumbling confidence in the Iranian government, which has been unable to provide its people with relief from the grueling American sanctions imposed after the Trump administration’s exit in 2018 from the international nuclear deal. – Wall Street Journal 

Iran on Thursday stood by its decision to deny U.N. nuclear inspectors access to sites where they have questions about past activities, arguing that the agency’s case is based on “fabricated” Israeli intelligence. – Reuters  

An Iranian director who won last month the top prize at the Berlin Film Festival has been summoned to serve a 1-year prison sentence over his movies, his lawyer says. […]Rasoulof, who was sentenced to a year in prison in 2017, is a prominent critic of the Iranian government and has been banned by the authorities from making films. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty 

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Thursday called on all nations to hold Iran accountable for its nuclear commitments and said Tehran’s failure to report nuclear material was a clear violation of safeguard agreements. – Reuters 

The U.S. special representative for Iran said Thursday the Islamic Republic must “immediately” ensure inspectors have access to sites that harbor traces of nuclear material or activity. – Associated Press 

The commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) said the coronavirus might be the result of a biological attack from the United States, according to a local news agency. – Fox News 

Two months after a U.S. drone strike killed a preeminent Iranian general, the Pentagon’s top two military leaders said President Donald Trump made the right decision, one that has deterred Iran’s terrorist activities in the region. – Military.com 

Tensions have escalated in the Persian Gulf region in the aftermath of U.S. president Donald Trump’s decision unilaterally to withdraw the United States from the agreement limiting Iran’s nuclear program. […]If war breaks out, American forces likely will attempt to secure Gulf air space by destroying or suppressing Iran’s air forces. – The National Interest 

Bobby Ghosh writes: The lingering European anger at Trump for his unilateral withdrawal is understandable. […]But their passivity in the face of Tehran’s nuclear brinkmanship is dangerous. It signals to the regime that nuclear blackmail works. The IAEA reports give the Europeans a face-saving way to extricate themselves from the corner into which they have painted themselves. – Bloomberg 

David Albright, Sarah Burkhard, and Frank Pabian write: The Institute’s last report on Project Midan left unanswered whether Iran had made a decision about which of five sites it would develop as an underground nuclear weapons test site. Newly acquired documents from the archive possibly suggest that the Lut Desert sites were emerging as more likely choices. The documents include excerpts from a geological and hydrological survey in the Lut desert. – Institute for Science and International Security

David Albright and Sarah Burkhard write: Under the “Amad Plan,” Iran put in place during the early 2000s a set of five facilities to develop and test key nuclear weapon components and associated diagnostic equipment. […]This document, from a collection of Excel files in the archive, appears to list all of the main nuclear weapons sites testing with propellants and high explosives and outfitted with high-speed diagnostic equipment. – Institute for Science and International Security 


Russia and Turkey have agreed to a cease-fire in northwestern Syria, where intense fighting has triggered a humanitarian catastrophe and brought the nuclear power and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization member closer to direct war. – Wall Street Journal 

Turkey killed 21 members of the Syrian government armed forces and destroyed two artillery pieces and two missile launchers after two Turkish soldiers were killed earlier, the state-owned Anadolu news agency reported on Friday, citing the Turkish Defense Ministry. – Reuters 

Russian air strikes Thursday killed at least 15 civilians including a child in the last major opposition bastion of Idlib in northwestern Syria, a Britain-based war monitor said. – Agence France-Presse 

The EU’s top diplomat, Josep Borrell, on Friday welcomed a ceasefire deal between Moscow and Ankara to halt the bombing of Syria’s Idlib region, saying the bloc could now step up help for suffering civilians. – Reuters 

Syria’s war-ravaged northwest woke up to relative calm Friday, its skies free of warplanes for the first day in months, following a Russian-Turkish ceasefire deal. – Agence France-Presse

A ceasefire deal between Moscow and Ankara in Syria’s Idlib region needs to be cemented with a no-fly zone to stop any further bombings of hospitals, Dutch Foreign Minister Stef Blok said on Friday. – Reuters  

If there is ever going to be a cessation of violence, it will likely have to be Turkey drawing a hard line, believes U.S. Ambassador James Jeffrey, U.S. Special Representative for Syria Engagement. – CBS News 

Josh Rogin writes: If Americans are not convinced by the moral or strategic arguments, consider this: There are at least six U.S. citizens being held as prisoners by the Assad regime right now. The Trump administration is dedicated to bringing American hostages home. If we leave Syria and don’t insist on playing a role in its future, our chances of negotiating their release go way down. – Washington Post

Zvi Bar’el writes: Practically speaking, Russia could agree to this, but in return it will demand a plan of action with an agreed-upon timetable for evacuating the armed militias from the province. The problem is that Russia does not believe that Turkey will want or be able to meet such a commitment, because as long as these militias remain in Idlib, they give Turkey diplomatic leverage that preserves its standing as one of the three countries (along with Russia and Iran) that will outline the diplomatic solution to the war in Syria. – Haaretz 


The U.S. is exploring ways to help NATO ally Turkey in its fight against Russian-backed Syrian forces, even though it has serious concerns about Ankara’s purchase of an advanced Russian missile system, the American envoy for Syria said Thursday. – Bloomberg 

European Union governments will consider on Friday whether to provide more money for migrants in Turkey, but will not accept that refugees are used as a bargaining tool, the EU’s top diplomat said. – Reuters 

Tension flared at Greece’s mainland border with Turkey early on Friday as volleys of tear gas were fired from the Turkish side of the fence towards Greek border guards. – Reuters 

The young men carrying sticks and knives arrived around sunset on Friday last week, as the Syrian-owned restaurants of Gaziantep’s busy Inönü Street were coming to life. […]Similar scenes have played out across Turkey since Ankara launched a counteroffensive last month to repel an assault by Assad and his Russian allies on Turkish-backed rebel groups in the last opposition stronghold of Idlib. – The Guardian 

James Durso writes: NATO should  take practical steps to get Turkey onside. Some give-and-take is required and, though Turkey needs the U.S. more than the U.S. needs Turkey, America’s interests will be more secure when Turkey is once again a NATO partner. – The Hill 

Jonathan Spyer writes: Now that Turkey has been allowed to strike back and slow the regime’s advance, Putin is likely to be looking to cement a new ceasefire, allowing for Ankara to claim some kind of achievement. […]It will be a tricky arrangement to achieve and to sell to both sides. It may well not last long. But it is what Russia’s strategic interests dictate. And Russia remains the decider in Syria west of the Euphrates. – Jerusalem Post  

Sinan Ulgen writes: As a result, Turkish policy makers may be forced to review their position on Turkey’s fast expanding military cooperation with Russia. Of key importance will be the fate of the S-400. It is difficult to imagine that Ankara would fully operationalize this system, triggering U.S. sanctions, at a time when the relationship with Russia has entered a conflictual phase, at least over Syria. – Bloomberg 


A surge in Arab voter turnout was key to depriving Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his nationalist allies of a parliamentary majority in this week’s Israeli election. […]But mostly it seems to reflect the Arab minority’s increasing desire to take a more active role in shaping the country. – Associated Press 

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu suffered a blow on Thursday afternoon when Yisrael Beytenu leader Avigdor Liberman endorsed Blue and White leader Benny Gantz’s efforts to pass a law that would prevent an indicted MK from forming a government. – Jerusalem Post 

The Arab League on Thursday urged donor states to fill in the large gap in the funding of UNRWA, the UN agency for “Palestinian refugees”. – Arutz Sheva 

Arabian Peninsula

British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, criticized by some at home for British arms sales to Saudi Arabia, said on Thursday he was hopeful for a de-escalation this year in Yemen’s five-year-old civil war, in which London backs the Saudi-led coalition. – Reuters 

Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to the U.S. dismissed the top two Democratic presidential contenders’ criticisms of her country, saying Thursday that candidates’ opinions tend to change once they become president. – Associated Press  

Saudi Arabia denounced Iran for granting Saudi citizens entry amid the coronavirus outbreak and urged it to reveal the identities of all Saudi nationals who had visited since the start of February, a government statement said on Thursday. – Reuters 

The Iranian military has long planned for a defensive naval war in the Persian Gulf, in which it would leverage its large fleet of fast attack boats toting antiship missiles to launch swarming hit-and-run attacks on adversaries in along Persian Gulf, with the ultimate goal of shutting down passage through the Straits of Hormuz. – The National Interest 

Middle East & North Africa

Tunisian media are reporting that a suicide bomber on a motorcycle has set off a blast near the U.S. Embassy in the Tunisian capital, Tunis. – Associated Press

The only civilian airport in the Libyan capital of Tripoli came under direct attack by eastern-based opposition forces, authorities in the capital said Thursday, as diplomatic efforts to end the war continued to falter. – Associated Press 

Lebanon’s crippling financial crisis could pose a grave threat to managing a coronavirus outbreak that has so far been kept in check but is expected to spread, according to senior health officials and medical importers. – Reuters 

On January 18, 2020, a Syrian woman named Umm Muhammad called in to a show on Abu Dhabi TV (UAE) hosted by Jordanian-born UAE Islamic scholar Sheikh Waseem Yousef. She said that she is a refugee in Norway along with her family, and that she sends her six children to public schools in Norway, where they are being taught about Judaism, Christianity, atheism, and other non-Islamic religions. – Middle East Media Research Institute 

Korean Peninsula

The U.N. Security Council discussed North Korea’s latest ballistic missile tests Thursday and didn’t issue any statement but its five European members condemned the “provocative actions,” saying the test undermine regional and international peace, security and stability.Associated Press 

The U.S. military is threatening to lay off thousands of Korean employees if the U.S. and South Korea fail to reach a deal on sharing defense costs. President Trump wants allies to pay more. – NPR 

South Korea issued a strongly worded protest on Friday against Japan’s decision to quarantine South Korean visitors for two weeks, as coronavirus containment measures ignited a fresh diplomatic row between the Asian nations. Reuters 

Chinese authorities have told people to stay away from the border with North Korea, which has banned people from China to keep out the coronavirus, or risk being shot by North Korean guards, residents of the area said. – Reuters 


For China’s tech companies, content-moderation tools are becoming a big business, and one that could spread Chinese-style censorship around the world. – Wall Street Journal 

The United States is concealing the true scale of its coronavirus deaths. The United States should learn from China about how to respond to an epidemic. The United States was the origin of the coronavirus — and the global crisis was never China’s fault. Welcome to the Chinese Internet this week. – Washington Post  

Widespread disruption brought on by the coronavirus outbreak has hammered global supply chains and spurred Chinese companies to declare “force majeure” — a provision that exempts them from contractual obligations. […]That is because the majority of trading contracts between China and international parties are governed by English law, which only allows parties to claim force majeure if the document includes very specific clauses. – CNBC 

Lawmakers on Thursday called on Americans to “wake up” to what they say are dangers posed by Chinese-owned and manufactured rail cars and buses, citing cyber and national security concerns. – The Hill  

James Pethokoukis writes: America should want a freer, more democratic China — both in terms of political and economic freedom. […]That should be the core reason for attacking China’s current economic model, more so than perceived unfairness or concerns that Beijing’s genius planners have discovered a superior way to push forward the technological frontier. – American Enterprise Institute


A new network of Special Operations forces will serve as the backbone of a smaller U.S. military mission in Afghanistan, hunting Islamic State fighters as the United States withdraws and providing firepower against the Taliban if a peace agreement with the group crumbles, military officials said. – Washington Post 

An attack on a Shiite gathering in Kabul attended by opposition leader Abdullah Abdullah left 27 dead and dozens wounded on Friday, a government spokesman said. – Washington Post 

The International Criminal Court ruled that its chief prosecutor can open a wide-ranging investigation of possible war crimes in Afghanistan by the Taliban, Afghan government forces and U.S. troops. – Washington Post 

Defense Secretary Mark Esper said that secret addendums to the peace agreement with the Taliban signed in Doha, Qatar, on Feb. 29 address violence reduction, reversing prior statements. – Washington Examiner 

The United States is seeking U.N. Security Council backing for the ambitious peace deal it signed with the Taliban aimed at ending America’s longest war and bringing U.S. troops home from Afghanistan. – Associated Press   

The Pentagon on Wednesday played down the gravity of new Taliban attack in Afghanistan that cast doubts on a four-day old peace deal between the insurgent group and the United States. – Agence France-Presse 

International Criminal Court judges authorized a far-reaching investigation Thursday of war crimes and crimes against humanity allegedly committed by Afghan government forces, the Taliban, American troops and U.S. foreign intelligence operatives. – Associated Press 

Earlier on Thursday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called the surge in violence in Afghanistan “unacceptable” and warned both the Taliban and the Afghan government that it would need to stop for peace talks to move forward, while maintaining that Taliban leadership remained committed to the agreement. – The Hill 

Mark Mazzetti and Ismail Khan write: And yet American leaders wrestled with just how much to push Pakistan to cut ties to the Taliban, worried that pressure from Washington could undermine the military’s grip on the nuclear-armed country and lead to an Islamist takeover of Pakistan. This “too big to fail” attitude led to Pakistan having outsize influence over the strategy for America’s flailing war in Afghanistan. – New York Times

South Asia

Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei urged India on Thursday to “confront extremist Hindus” and “stop the massacre of Muslims”, adding to the international fallout over deadly Hindu-Muslim violence in New Delhi. – Reuters

An India-EU summit scheduled for March 13 in Brussels has been postponed because of the coronavirus, New Delhi said Thursday. – Agence France-Presse 

Maria Abi-Habib writes: Some American officials worry that the condemnations from the U.N. or the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom may damage its bilateral relationship with India and encourage Congress to halt further weapons sales. […]With the rise of nationalism globally, leaders like Mr. Trump have been less concerned about human rights than protecting their own national interests, which include military and trade relationships with India. – New York Times 


The Armed Forces of the Philippines is validating information that about 2,000 to 3,000 Chinese soldiers are in the country, calling it a “matter of serious concern.” – CNN 

The U.S. Department of Justice has delayed the return to Malaysia of another $240 million of recovered money allegedly stolen from the 1MDB sovereign fund, two sources with direct knowledge of the matter said on Friday, with one citing political uncertainty. – Reuters 

Editorial: You’d think Chinese Communist authorities and their hugely unpopular representatives in the city would breathe a sigh of relief and focus on keeping the population healthy. Instead, they chose last week to escalate the repression of opposition leaders. […]Why now? It may be that Beijing sees an opportunity to dispose of key opponents in Hong Kong while the country and the world are preoccupied with the epidemic. – Washington Post 


A top State Department official said Thursday that Russia is behind “swarms of online, false personas” that sought to spread misinformation about coronavirus on social media sites, stressing the “entire ecosystem of Russian disinformation is at play.” – Washington Post 

Social media accounts linked to the Russian Internet Research Agency (IRA) began spreading “brazen” misinformation connected to the 2020 election last year, New York University’s Brennan Center for Justice said in a report released Thursday. – The Hill 

The U.S., U.K. and Estonia condemned last year’s cyber attacks against Georgia, part of the former Soviet Union, by Russian military intelligence today during a closed-door meeting of the UN Security Council. The meeting marked the first time cyber attacks were brought up in the council as its own specific item. – Fox News 

Russian billionaire Oleg Tinkov has been formally charged with tax fraud for allegedly filing false tax returns, the U.S. Justice Department says. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty 

The February sentences pronounced by a Russian military court against those accused of membership in a terrorist organization called “Network” have not put an end to the controversy over the case. What appeared to be excessive severity has only further enflamed the controversy over whether justice was done or whether we are dealing with innocents who were victims of torture and convicted on spurious evidence. – Middle East Media Research Institute 


OPEC reached a preliminary agreement to cut crude output by 1 million barrels a day to support oil prices through the end of the year, as the cartel seeks to persuade Russia to join its response to the coronavirus outbreak. – Wall Street Journal

The dearth of visitors in Italy’s financial capital offers a glimpse into how the new coronavirus is hitting demand for goods and services. It could be a harbinger of recessions in both Italy and in the broader European Union as the epidemic expands. Italian companies face canceled orders from foreign customers and disrupted international supply chains as Chinese production grinds to a halt. – Wall Street Journal 

Michel Barnier, the European Union’s chief Brexit negotiator, warned of “serious divergences” with the U.K after the two sides ended their first week of negotiations over their future relationship. – Bloomberg    

Ukraine fired its top prosecutor in a move that risks alienating international donors who backed him to clean up one of the country’s most corrupt institutions. – Bloomberg  

The US Navy supports, and is anticipating, sending an additional two destroyers to Rota, Spain, which would bring the total number to six DDGs based in Europe. – Defense News 

A Metropolitan police officer has been arrested on suspicion of being a member of a banned group linked to rightwing terrorism. […]The arrest relates to suspected membership of a proscribed organisation linked to rightwing terrorism, but the Met said there is nothing to suggest there is any threat to the wider public. – The Guardian

As thousands of people near Turkey’s border with Greece wait to cross over to the European Union, a migration deal the EU and Turkey reached four years ago has become a political football. The two sides accuse each other of failing to respect their commitments. – Associated Press 

Eli Lake: And downgrading the U.S.-U.K. relationship now, in the face of a rising China, would signal a divided front against a potent adversary. The good news for the U.S.-U.K. relationship is that the House of Commons still has an opportunity to reverse Johnson’s Huawei decision. […]If enough Tories break with their leader, there is a chance the U.K. can save itself from Johnson’s error — and in the process preserve their country’s most important alliance. – Bloomberg  

Paul Hockenos writes: A broader coalition of willing European states should be formed to relieve the current crisis. There is ample evidence that ordinary Germans are prepared to accept a new influx of refugees, even if their own national government is hesitant. […]The EU has prevaricated and shamed on migration, and now a crisis has arrived at its shores that was foreseeable in every way. Merkel’s only response has been to offer Erdogan more money, in hopes of buying more time to uncertain end. – Foreign Policy 


Eastern Africa could gain about two million jobs from increased economic activity if a continent-wide free-trade agreement is successfully implemented, starting July 1. […]Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda and Ethiopia in eastern Africa are among 29 countries that have ratified the deal against a threshold of 22 for it to become operational. All but one of the African Union’s 55 member states signed the initial-step documents of the deal. – Bloomberg 

Greenpeace on Thursday accused the Democratic Republic of Congo’s government of signing huge new logging contracts in the country’s vast rainforest, a central part of Earth’s natural defence against global warming. […]The concession contracts were awarded to two Chinese firms, according to Greenpeace, which added that the move came just weeks after DR Congo was given $12 million in international aid as part of the “Programme for the Sustainable Management of Forests”. – Agence France Presse 

Justine Lynch and Robbie Gramer write: An internal report from the Overseas Development Institute, a London-based think tank, said that South Sudan’s government gains a “significant part” of its international legitimacy because of the international humanitarian operations propping up the government. […]For now, diplomats watch and wait, bracing for bad news to hit again. “Ultimately, the problem is this is yet another elite power-sharing deal,” said another Western official. – Foreign Policy 

North America

A federal judge on the government’s secretive surveillance court said Justice Department and FBI personnel who are under scrutiny for their conduct in a case involving a former Trump campaign aide are barred from participating in the surveillance warrant application process. – CBS News

Justin Trudeau’s industry minister said Canada won’t be strong-armed into a decision on restricting a Chinese technology giant’s access to next-generation wireless networks. – Bloomberg 

U.S. national security officials are recommending that President Donald Trump block Infineon Technologies AG’s proposed acquisition of Cypress Semiconductor Corp., according to people familiar with the matter. – Bloomberg  

Sens. Rick Scott, R-Fla., and Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, introduced a bill Thursday to reduce the risks of training foreign nationals on American military bases — a reaction to the deadly December terrorist attack on Naval Air Station Pensacola. – Fox News 

Latin America

Venezuela has swapped millions of barrels of crude for supplies of corn and water trucks under an oil-for-food deal struck with a Mexican firm, in an effort to secure imports amid tightening U.S. sanctions, according to the company and export schedules. – Reuters 

Venezuelan officials accused Juan Guaidó on Thursday of hiring a known criminal to point a gun at the U.S.-backed opposition leader during a recent street rally, an incident captured in a widely circulated photo that drew condemnation from around the world. – Associated Press  

Brazil’s right-wing government has begun to pull its diplomats out of the embassy and consulate in Caracas as it moves to downgrade relations with Venezuela’s leftist government. – Reuters 

A former Royal Dutch Shell executive who led its efforts to cut gas flaring in Iraq a decade ago is planning a similar project in another crisis-stricken OPEC nation: Venezuela. – Reuters 

Jason Marczak and Camila Hernández write: With the vacuum created by the deterioration of the rule of law in Venezuela, the concern that drug trafficking and other forms of criminality could spill over into Colombia is one we should all share. But the proliferation of irregular armed groups, as well as the growing presence of Chinese and Russian influence in Venezuela, pose unique security issues to Colombia that require greater support from Washington, not less. – The Hill  

Janina Staguhn, Erol Yayboke and Melissa Dalton write: Secretary of State Mike Pompeo recently visited Colombia for an anti-terrorism conference during which he highlighted Colombia’s importance as a counterterrorism partner and that the ELN was designated as a terrorist organization by the United States. […]A nuanced understanding of these drivers of instability should inform U.S. interagency efforts in Colombia and should guide how the U.S. government leads and supports international stabilization efforts. – Center for Strategic and International Studies 


Huawei Technologies Co. is bidding to convince citizens in Australia, one of America’s closest allies, that its telecom gear is safe—a grass-roots fight against the government’s decision to exclude the Chinese company from its 5G build-out. – Wall Street Journal 

Facebook Inc. removed Trump campaign ads that referred to a census, saying they violated a company policy aimed at preventing disinformation and other interference with the nationwide 2020 census, which goes online next week. – Wall Street Journal   

Senior Conservative MPs will try to pass a law next week to ensure that the UK’s telecoms networks, including 5G mobile phone infrastructure, do not contain any Huawei equipment after 2022. – Financial Times 

The United States and the United Kingdom have agreed to “further” reduce Huawei’s presence in telecom infrastructure, U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper said at a Pentagon press conference Thursday. – Defense One 

A campaign of pressure from the White House has Europe’s advocates of a “digital services” tax that targets U.S. companies such as Facebook and Amazon backing down for the time being as they look for alternative means to enact the tax, a global approach that would give the United States a buy-in. – Washington Examiner  

Members of Congress are concerned about the size of the Department of Defense’s cyber force. – Fifth Domain 

Grover G. Norquist writes: Government officials are urged to use hypersecure devices to ensure they will not be hacked — and for good reason. It’s certainly interesting that at the same time, some government officials are calling to limit encryption on regular Americans’ phones. […]The bottom line is that encryption secures our critical infrastructure, promotes innovation, and protects both American citizens and businesses from cyberthreats or government overreach. The government shouldn’t meddle with that. – Washington Examiner


The U.S. military and its warfighting command centers in the Pentagon are prepared to continue operations even if there is a local outbreak of the new coronavirus, Defense Secretary Mark Esper said Thursday, as the department began finalizing its response plans. – Associated Press  

The U.S. Air Force will know by the end of this month whether it will kick-start a competition for aerial-refueling services, the head of Air Mobility Command told Defense News. – Defense News  

The GSA’s Centers of Excellence program’s partnership with the Department of Defense’s Joint Artificial Intelligence Center has made strides in managing the agency’s data assets. – Federal Times 

SpaceLogistics will work with DARPA to develop a robotic servicing spacecraft after the company successfully docked its mission extension vehicle with a commercial satellite on orbit, Northrop Grumman announced March 4. – C4ISRNET 

The Navy is evaluating with the Army and Air Force a strategy to beef up U.S. military presence and force protection in the Arctic, Navy leaders told lawmakers Thursday. – USNI News 

Brian Wynne writes: Industry-government collaboration has allowed the U.S. drone industry to flourish thus far. We must do all we can to continue to foster this exchange of ideas and concepts going forward and work together to ensure compliance with remote identification standards, support the safe integration of drones into the airspace and allow operators to tap into the full potential that this technology stands to offer. – The Hill 

Missile Defense

The Army is trying to ease the burden on its frequently deployed air and missile defense soldiers, as well as address what some lawmakers call a “modern-day missile gap” facing troops. – Army Times

How many hypersonic weapons does the Pentagon intend to buy? Top officials won’t say. To be clear, we’re not talking about the number of types of Mach-5-plus missiles. – Defense One 

The Marine Corps is all in on fielding mobile anti-ship missiles in the Pacific to challenge China’s growing Navy, declaring it in written testimony to the Senate Armed Services Committee’s seapower subcommittee to be its highest ground modernization priority. – Defense News 

Long War

More than 40 convicted terrorists were released from prison in the year before emergency legislation was introduced to keep jailed extremists locked up for longer, figures reveal, while the number of far-right detainees has surged. After a non-fatal terror attack in south-west London last month, the government fast-tracked laws to prevent the automatic release of terrorist offenders without Parole Board assessment. – The Guardian 

A Missouri man who police said livestreamed himself threatening to bomb and kill people while dressed as the Joker was charged with terrorism Tuesday.  – The Hill

Bassem Mroue writes: These hardened fighters have nowhere left to go as the war reaches an endgame in Syria’s northwest province of Idlib on the Turkish border. […]As the Syrian government offensive pushes civilians toward the border with Turkey, analysts say that some foreign militants might try to cross the border into Turkey and from there move on to other parts of the world to carry out attacks for al-Qaida. – Associated Press