Fdd's overnight brief

May 25, 2023

In The News


Iran unveiled the fourth generation of its Khorramshahr ballistic missile under the name Khaibar, with a range of 2,000 km (1,243 miles) and a 1,500 kg (3,300 lb) warhead, the official IRNA news agency reported on Thursday. – Reuters

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy urged Iranians on Wednesday to reconsider the supply of deadly drones to Russia in order to stop their slide into “the dark side of history.” – Reuters

Bank of Russia Governor Elvira Nabiullina held talks with her Iranian counterpart during a visit to Tehran, a rare foreign outing since she was sanctioned over Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine. – Bloomberg

A police report accusing a recent law school graduate of assaulting his father, who is a critic of the Iranian regime, is being disputed by friends and relatives of the family, some of whom insist Iran is behind the attack. The police report also contradicts visual evidence seen by the Sun. – New York Sun

Yonah Jeremy Bob writes: Contrary to the idea that any movement would need to start with a loud and resonating decision from Iran Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Hayman was suggesting that Iranian atomic professionals might at some point start a more bottom-up process. Whatever the correct estimate is, Israeli intelligence surveillance will remain as important as ever. – Jerusalem Post

Farzin Nadimi writes: What matters more is the continual flow of evidence about Khamenei’s apparent intentions—namely, that his recent show of flexibility in the region is a calculated attempt to defuse the regime’s crises at home, while his hardline statements and appointments show no sign of compromise in the nuclear file or long-term regional de-escalation. – Washington Institute

Russia & Ukraine

Russian troops were assaulting one of the apartment blocks that his group of 16 draftees, many of whom had been enlisted days earlier and given no training, had been assigned to defend. – Wall Street Journal

The head of the Russian paramilitary group Wagner said that 20,000 of his troops had been killed in the battle for the eastern Ukrainian city of Bakhmut, a monthslong fight that drained Russia’s military manpower. – Wall Street Journal

Russia’s season of war brought a harvest of bad news, as the nation launched a bloody invasion of Ukraine, slammed its door on the West, and tens of thousands of people fled the country. But while many of his artistic Moscow friends emigrated in droves, farm-to-table producer Boris Akimov has stayed, escaping into the peace of a tiny Russian village, reviving old culinary traditions and building up his small country restaurant. – Washington Post

Fresh from leading a military incursion into Russian territory, commanders of anti-Kremlin armed groups on Wednesday taunted the Russian Army for its slow response and threatened Moscow with more raids to come. – New York Times

Military analysts suggested that the two-day incursion was aimed at forcing Russia to divert troops from the front in southeastern Ukraine and embarrassing the Russian government. – New York Times

The battle for the eastern Ukrainian city of Bakhmut is essentially over, for now. After 10 months of brutal artillery duels, frantic troop advances and thousands of Russian and Ukrainian casualties, Moscow’s formations are in control of the industrial hub, while Kyiv’s troops are trying to put pressure on the city’s flanks. – New York Times

The director of a top Russian science institute, arrested on suspicion of treason along with two other hypersonic missile technology experts, stands accused of betraying secrets to China, two people familiar with the case told Reuters. – Reuters

Russia’s Defence Ministry said on Wednesday the Russian warship Ivan Hurs had been attacked unsuccessfully in the early morning by three Ukrainian uncrewed speedboats in the Black Sea, on the approaches to the Bosphorus strait. – Reuters

The United States is “deeply concerned” by a meeting between a leading United Nations official for children and Russia’s ombudsman for children’s rights, who is wanted by the world’s permanent war crimes court, State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller said on Wednesday. – Reuters

The Russian-backed head of Crimea’s administration said on Thursday that air defences had downed six drones overnight in different areas of the region. – Reuters

When Russia invaded Ukraine, global companies were quick to respond, some announcing they would get out of Russia immediately, others curtailing imports or new investment. Billions of dollars’ worth of factories, energy holdings and power plants were written off or put up for sale, accompanied by fierce condemnation of the war and expressions of solidarity with Ukraine. – Associated Press

Ukraine’s prosecutor-general says it’s investigating the forced transfer of Ukrainian children to Belarus, adding to allegations that Russia is also transferring them to its territory. Ukrainian law enforcement officers said they are investigating the relocations from the Russian-occupied Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhzhia, Kherson and Kharkiv regions to Belarus. – Associated Press

Nobel Peace Prize laureate Ales Bialiatski has been transferred to a notoriously brutal prison in Belarus and hasn’t been heard from in a month, his wife said Wednesday. – Associated Press

The rising waters came as a relief at first, for both the tiny community living on the islands in the southern Kakhovka Reservoir and for everyone who had feared the low levels risked a meltdown at the nearby Russian-occupied nuclear power plant. – Associated Press

The head of the Russian private military contractor Wagner claimed Thursday that his forces have started pulling out of Bakhmut, in eastern Ukraine, and handing over control to the Russian military, days after he said Wagner troops had captured the ruined city. – Associated Press

Russia’s prime minister left China this week without a reward Moscow has long prized: a clear commitment from Beijing on Power of Siberia 2, a grand gas pipeline project to transform energy flows across Asia. – Financial Times

Forecasts that the war in Ukraine could eventually turn into a frozen conflict along the lines of the decades-old standoff on the Korean peninsula are not uncommon, but are growing in frequency. As the “frozen” equation gains currency, it will inevitably raise the question of who will provide the boots on the ground to keep the two sides from crossing lines that might eventually be decided by international mediation. – New York Sun

Andreas Kluth writes: “While I was previously unaware of my anti-Russian activities, I accept the verdict of Russia, whose commitment to truth, justice and the rule of law speaks for itself,” Raffensperger deadpanned this week. “My inclusion on this list is deserved, and I appreciate them thinking of me.” Let Republicans think on that. – Bloomberg

Tom Rogan writes: Again reflecting the political dimensions of the arms trade, this increasing Middle Eastern interest in China reflects a broader loss of U.S. arms export interest in the region. Allies are looking elsewhere in protest at the absurd U.S. obsession with Jamal Khashoggi. But the top line of this announcement is clear: Russia’s arms trade is in big trouble. – Washington Examiner

Stephen Blank writes: Failure to do so confesses our weakness and irresolution while giving Putin more rationalizations to continue to murder hundreds, if not thousands, of Ukrainians and Russians. Sending F-16s and the other systems Ukraine needs to Kyiv not only articulates a different message, it will also end the carnage sooner. How can that not be in our interest let alone our values? – The Hill

Ilan Berman writes: All of which has helped deal a decisive blow to Russia’s image of military invincibility. At the outset of the Ukraine war, Moscow was widely believed to possess the second-strongest army in Europe. Today, because of assorted battlefield missteps and tactical blunders, as well as the aid being provided to Ukraine by the West, it can’t even be said to be fielding the most advanced military in Ukraine itself. The U.S., and everyone else for that matter, is revising its estimates of Russian power accordingly. – The Hill

Oleksandr Moskalenko writes: Anything might happen once the big operation begins and Ukraine’s new brigades are engaged in combat. My nation, and many of its supporters in the democratic world, will pray for success. But assumptions are dangerous in war, and too many have already been made. – Center for European Policy Analysis

Can Kasapoğlu writes: While Russia promotes it as a hypersonic weapon, almost all ballistic missiles reach hypersonic speeds above Mach 5 at some point during their paths. It has excellent maneuverability and an erratic flight trajectory. Just like the Patriot, the Kinzhal is an expensive weapons system, and one that Russia possesses in limited capacity. Nevertheless, one can be certain that the Russians have marked the Patriots as their highest-priority target in Ukraine. – Hudson Institute


Israel retaliated against shots fired from Syria at a surveillance drone, the Israeli military said on Wednesday. – Reuters

Israel’s Strategic Affairs Minister Ron Dermer and National Security Advisor Tzachi Hanegbi will travel on a diplomatic visit to Washington in early June. High on the agenda will be Iran’s nuclear advances, promoting normalization between Israel and Saudi Arabia, and the Israeli government’s moves regarding Palestinians. It will be the pair’s second trip to Washington since the start of 2023. – Haaretz

During a joint operation, the IDF, Shabak (Israel Security Agency) and Yamam counterterrorism unit arrested a terrorist responsible for perpetrating a shooting attack against IDF soldiers. – Arutz Sheva

Three Palestinians from the Gaza Strip have been sentenced to death by a Hamas court on charges of collaboration with Israel. A fourth man received life in prison for the same charges. – Jerusalem Post

Neville Teller writes: For Israel, faced with an enemy like the PIJ, which explicitly rejects any peaceful solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict, there can be only one objective – to identify and exploit its weaknesses, and to defeat it. – Jerusalem Post

Mutasim Ali and Yonah Diamond write: As the United States, United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia are undertaking initiatives to stop the war, Israel, too, can and must play a role. Sudan’s accession to the Abraham Accords depends on peace in the country and the restoration of democracy. – Haaretz


Turkey’s anti-immigrant Victory Party leader endorsed opposition presidential candidate Kemal Kilicdaroglu on Wednesday, potentially boosting the challenger as he aims to make up ground and defeat President Tayyip Erdogan in Sunday’s runoff election. – Reuters

Alan Beattie writes: As Sankaran notes, the economy’s underlying strength means Turkey could come through financial crisis and start growing relatively quickly. But resuming the country’s journey towards prosperity will mean Erdoğan backing off his financial and monetary chicanery. That’s a long way from a safe bet. There’s a lot of ruin in a nation, as the great economist Adam Smith said. Turkey’s current and probable next president seems intent on finding out just how much. – Financial Times

Barın Kayaoğlu writes: The worst approach for any outside actor to take toward Turkey would be to think that an Erdoğan or Kılıçdaroğlu administration could be “anchored” to the West or the rest. The Turkish desire for peace and prosperity at home and peace through strength abroad will not change, nor will Turkey’s independent bearing to achieve those goals. Ankara will continue to pursue what the Turkish political elite view as an influential role in global affairs. Whether Turkish desires and global actors’ needs and expectations can be reconciled will be up to them. – Middle East Institute 

Gulf States

Saudi Arabia and Canada agreed on Wednesday to restore full diplomatic relations and appoint new ambassadors five years after ties broke down over the Canadian foreign ministry’s criticism of the kingdom’s arrest of human-rights activists. – Wall Street Journal

The United Arab Emirates has become a key trade hub for Russian gold since Western sanctions over Ukraine cut Russia’s more traditional export routes, Russian customs records show. – Reuters

David Fickling writes: Saudi Arabia itself is ultimately an oil market speculator, too — and one that has made no secret in the past of targeting particular prices. Picking fights with short sellers will be ineffectual at best, and counterproductive at worst. It’s no way for the world’s pre-eminent oil producer to be behaving. – Bloomberg

Iulia-Sabina Joja writes: As Black Sea countries seek to move away from Russian influence, their appetite for cooperation with the GCC countries has also grown. To what extent Gulf countries can take advantage of these new prospects will depend not only on offering profitable business terms but also on their ability to identify mutually beneficial projects that further unlock the Black Sea region’s potential as a crossroads between Europe, Eurasia, and the Middle East. – Middle East Institute

Middle East & North Africa

Tunisia’s government has no intention of altering the statutes of the nation’s central bank or tampering with its independence, according to Economy and Planning Minister Samir Saied. – Bloomberg

Seth J. Frantzman writes: What matters is that Kataib Hezbollah is back in the spotlight. The organization which blends criminality, terrorist elements, and paramilitary sectarian Iranian elements, continues to bedevil Iraq and shows how the government will likely never be able to rein in groups like this. Whether the new Iran-Saudi agreement or other regional deals might create some kind of method for reducing the role of these groups is unclear. In the past Kataib Hezbollah had threatened Saudi Arabia; now it threatens Iraq’s security and local people, as it has in the past. – Jerusalem Post

Feyzullah Tuna Aygün writes: However, a political agreement must be established regarding the post-election principles to ensure stability amongst the political rivals and avoid the risks to Iraq’s political structure. The success of the provincial council elections and the peaceful transfer of administrative power in the governorates will set the tone for parliamentary elections in the near future. – Washington Institute 

Gerald M. Feierstein and Yoel Guzansky write: In the immediate future, Washington and Jerusalem should move rapidly to prevent an erosion of the normalization process and to elicit fresh thinking on the design of a regional architecture to manage security threats, all the while advancing a more comprehensive vision for a region that is prioritizing domestic challenges. – Middle East Institute

Korean Peninsula

Construction at North Korea’s satellite launching station has hit a “new level of urgency,” most likely in preparation for a launch, a U.S.-based think tank said in a report citing commercial satellite imagery. – Reuters

North Korean media criticised on Thursday plans by South Korea, the United States and Japan to share real-time data on Pyongyang’s missile launches, describing the trio as discussing “sinister measures” for tightening military cooperation. – Reuters

The South Korean and U.S. militaries were set to begin massive live-fire drills near the border with North Korea on Thursday, despite the North’s warning that it won’t tolerate what it calls such a hostile invasion rehearsal on its doorstep. – Associated Press

The head of a South Korean team of experts said Wednesday they saw all of the facilities they had requested to visit at Japan’s tsunami-wrecked Fukushima nuclear plant and Japanese officials had carefully answered their questions about a contentious plan to release treated but still slightly radioactive water into the sea, a sign of a further thawing of ties between the countries. – Associated Press


A special House committee focused on China passed proposals Wednesday for legislation to address Beijing’s ill-treatment of ethnic minorities and bolster U.S. support for Taiwan. – Wall Street Journal

The U.S. State Department’s top China policy official Rick Waters is set to step down at a time of fraught relations between Washington and Beijing. – Reuters

China deployed three navigation beacons around the contested Spratly islands of the South China Sea, following similar marker placements by the Philippines earlier this month, as both sides try to fortify their claims to the area. – Reuters

China’s foreign minister pressed his Dutch counterpart Tuesday for access to advanced chipmaking technology that has been blocked on security grounds and warned against allowing what he said were unfounded fears of Beijing to spoil relations. – Associated Press

China’s new ambassador to the U.S. is taking office amid disputes over trade, access to computer chips and Washington’s support for self-governing Taiwan. – Associated Press

Chinese leader Xi Jinping has used policy, capital and outright decree to mold the world’s No. 2 economy in his own image. After over a decade in power, an intensifying struggle for tech leadership with the US and a sputtering domestic economy suggest he’ll have to once again recalibrate the country’s giant internet and manufacturing sectors. – Bloomberg

The widening rift between the world’s two biggest economies, the US and China, now looks in some regards to be irreconcilable, according to Singapore Deputy Prime Minister Lawrence Wong. – Bloomberg

Chinese General Secretary Xi Jinping pledged to “continuously enrich” his regime’s strategic ties with Russia as Moscow and Beijing continue to present a united front against Western power. – Washington Examiner

Minxin Pei writes: Chinese actions to strengthen its economic defenses will likely be far more costly than their US equivalents, hurting China substantially more than the US. This will inevitably depress China’s growth potential and thwart its ambition to catch up to its rival. At the moment, both Beijing and Washington seem confident that they can win with a strategy of economic attrition. One of them has to be wrong — and it is probably China. – Bloomberg

Joe Leahy writes: All of this is contributing to lacklustre performances in Chinese equities and weighing on the country’s economic recovery. As one consultant at a US company puts it, everyone with clients in China today is advising them regarding risk, ranging from the danger of conflict in the Taiwan Strait to how to make their data compliant with Beijing’s changing requirements. “Boardrooms are obsessed with this. They’re not quite sure how to draw the line: ‘Maybe I need to keep a lighter footprint in China, or maybe keep less capital there, or be more nimble’,” he says. – Financial Times

Eva Xiao writes: Those whose culture and heritage are being used for profit have “no ability to assert their own desires of how their culture and heritage should be represented,” she said. Official representations of Uyghurs are “always extreme and they’re always lacking in nuance”—whether it’s depicting Uyghurs as potential terrorists or as smiling and dancing—and “ignore the diversity of views and normality of people” among the community. – Foreign Policy

South Asia

Bangladesh will take steps to tackle and prevent unlawful practices or interference in its elections, authorities said on Thursday, a day after the United States threatened curbs on citizens of the South Asian nation who undermine them. – Reuters

Crisis-stricken Sri Lanka should be able to conclude newly-launched debt restructuring talks by September, or November at the latest, its president said on Thursday, adding that the negotiations had made “remarkable” progress. – Reuters

Embattled leader Imran Khan offered to hold talks with Pakistan’s government and the powerful military after his party was threatened with a ban while a sweeping crackdown saw many of his closest associates quit the group. – Bloomberg

The head of a major international aid agency said Tuesday that key Taliban officials told him in meetings that they are close to finalizing guidelines that will allow Afghan women to resume working for nongovernmental organizations. But they were unable to give a timeline or details when pressed. – Associated Press

A suicide car bomber targeted a security checkpoint in northwestern Pakistan on Wednesday, killing two soldiers, a policeman and a civilian, the military and security officials said. – Associated Press

Pakistan expects China to roll over more than $2bn in debt due next month, but is still bracing itself for other repayment deadlines that risk tipping the country into default. – Financial Times


Software problems are delaying the delivery to Taiwan of 66 advanced new F-16V fighter jets from the United States but the island still expects the full order to arrive by 2026, Defence Minister Chiu Kuo-cheng said on Thursday. – Reuters

Japan held a ceremony on Wednesday marking its planned donation of about 100 military vehicles to Ukraine, as Tokyo seeks to provide equipment that can be of broader military use than its earlier shipments of helmets and hazmat suits. – Associated Press

Thailand’s Move Forward party said more than a dozen senators have pledged support for Pita Limjaroenrat’s bid to become prime minister, boosting the chances of his pro-democracy coalition wresting power from a military-backed establishment. – Bloomberg

The House China Committee on Wednesday advanced 10 bipartisan recommendations to deter China from attacking Taiwan, which the panel hopes will be included in the fiscal 2024 National Defense Authorization Act. – Defense News

Jim Geraghty writes: Taiwan is currently the United States’ 10th-largest trading partner, with U.S. foreign direct investment in Taiwan reaching $31.5 billion in 2020. Taiwan would be a serious underdog in any matchup against China, but it is blessed by its prosperity and strong economic ties to the United States — at least for now. Who knows how many other U.S. investors will interpret Buffett’s move as a signal to cash out? Anything that weakens Taiwan and adds to its isolation would be welcome news in Beijing as China, to all appearances, continues to prepare the battlespace. – Washington Post

Michael Rubin writes: While Aliyev points to the 2020 Nagorno-Karabakh War as a sign of Azerbaijan’s power, Azerbaijani troops fared poorly until Turkey intervened. What is gained unilaterally through military force can be lost just as quickly. Dictatorships appear strong until the day they die. Azerbaijan’s facade may be shiny, but its foundation is rotten. To gamble on a lasting partnership with Azerbaijan seems an increasingly risky endeavor. – Washington Examiner

Sharon Seah and Kei Koga write: In a strategic environment increasingly marked by intensified Sino-U.S. competition, ASEAN has a key role to play to alleviate tensions. The Quad, for its part, has indicated the importance to “ensure all nations, large and small, continue to have a voice.” As views across Southeast Asia shift toward a more positive take on the Quad, now is the time for both blocs to seize the opportunity and move toward closer ASEAN-Quad cooperation. – Foreign Policy

Gabriel Scheinmann writes: Biden’s policies could still lead to the worst of both worlds. Slow, insufficient, and inadequate aid to Ukraine will neither defeat Russia nor generate enough of a slipstream to aid Taiwan. As long as Biden and the U.S. Congress are unwilling to rapidly scale up arms deliveries to Taiwan and increase the U.S. defense budget to Cold War levels, supporting larger and faster aid to Ukraine is currently the best thing the United States can do to preserve peace and stability in Asia. – Foreign Policy

Andrew Nachemson writes: There is some irony in the military’s predicament: It staged two coups, leading to nearly 17 years of political turmoil in Thailand, precisely to stop the Shinawatra family from threatening its grip on power. Now, the generals may see Pheu Thai as their last hope to avoid Move Forward’s deeper reforms. The military is in a mess of its own making. By refusing to allow even modest checks on its power, it has unleashed a movement far more threatening to its interests. It’s time for the generals to cut their losses and let the democratic process run its course. – Foreign Policy


Former prime minister Boris Johnson, who has already been fined once for breaking coronavirus lockdown rules, faces fresh allegations that he broke more of the stringent regulations laid out by his own government during the height of the pandemic. – Washington Post

The Swiss government on Wednesday backed the decommissioning of 25 advanced Leopard 2 battle tanks with a view to selling them back to Germany, a step that could allow Western countries to send more military aid to Ukraine. – Reuters

Norway will support training programmes for Ukrainian pilots to fly F-16 fighter jets, Norwegian Defence Minister Bjoern Arild Gram said on Wednesday. – Reuters

The Polish ruling party is pushing for the creation of a commission which it says would investigate Russian influence in Poland. Critics view it as an attempt to create a powerful and unconstitutional tool that would help the party continue to wield power even if it loses elections this fall. – Associated Press

Two U.S. Senators said Tuesday they hope that European Union-backed negotiations between Kosovo and Serbia can achieve results this year in resolving the dispute between the two countries and normalizing their relations. – Associated Press

Migration from Russia to neighboring Finland was at record levels last year, higher than figures seen after the collapse of the Soviet Union over 30 years ago, the Finnish statistics agency said Wednesday. – Associated Press

German lawmakers gave the green light to buy 18 battle tanks and 12 self-propelled howitzers from domestic manufacturers Rheinmetall AG and Krauss-Maffei Wegmann GmbH as part of an order worth €843 million ($910 million) to replace equipment sent to Ukraine. – Bloomberg

Greece will hold new elections in a month after this weekend’s ballot failed to produce a government. – Bloomberg

The EU has discussed sending Ukraine the profits generated by billions of euros of Russian assets that are stuck inside the plumbing of global financial markets. – Financial Times

Nathan Benaich writes: Finally, we are plagued by a culture of penny pinching. Vast sections of our economy are being rebuilt ground-up, AI-first. This work is crucial but it is not cheap. Europe’s low levels of uncoordinated defence spending have already given rise to under-investment of about €160bn, compared to 2008 spending levels. The first waves of AI progress stemmed from 20th century co-operation between industry, investors and government in the US. Europe will need to summon up similar ambition and collaboration to succeed in the 21st. – Financial Times



The Democratic Republic of Congo aims to boost its stake in a cobalt and copper joint venture with Chinese firms to 70% from 32%, on concerns the deal gives away too much of Congo’s resources with little benefit to the country. – Reuters

Clashes between rival military factions broke out on Wednesday in Sudan’s capital Khartoum, residents said, threatening to shatter a fragile ceasefire designed to allow for the delivery of aid and create conditions for a more lasting truce. – Reuters

Since the conflict broke out last month, more than 1.3 million people have fled their homes to escape Sudan’s fighting, going elsewhere in the country or across the borders. But Mahmoud and millions of others remain trapped in Khartoum and its sister cities of Bahri and Omdurman, unable to leave the central battleground between Sudan’s military and the Rapid Support Forces paramilitary. – Associated Press

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba is urging African countries to abandon their stances of neutrality towards his country’s war with Russia. – Associated Press

The United Nations Mission in South Sudan has warned the country’s leaders not to lose sight of the pending implementation of the peace deal that could “make or break” the country” amid the ongoing crisis in neighboring Sudan. – Associated Press

Latin America

Ecuador’s President Guillermo Lasso on Wednesday described coming early elections as an opportunity to unite the country as it grapples with gang violence and political instability after Lasso dissolved the legislature earlier in May. – Reuters

Former Panamanian President Ricardo Martinelli was among some 20 people who went to trial Tuesday on money laundering charges as he tries to mount a political comeback ahead of next year’s national elections. – Associated Press

Rep. Carol Miller (R-W.VA.) writes: There is broad consensus that China is a threat to the American way of life. But there needs to be more than agreement, we need action. It’s time for the United States to lead in trade agreements with Latin America, but also to solidify our partnerships around the globe. – The Hill


Mexico’s security forces have been among the world’s most aggressive in using cutting-edge surveillance technology to eavesdrop on the phones of opposition politicians, journalists and human rights activists. – Washington Post 

Around the time that the F.B.I. was examining the equipment recovered from the Chinese spy balloon shot down off the South Carolina coast in February, American intelligence agencies and Microsoft detected what they feared was a more worrisome intruder: mysterious computer code appearing in telecommunications systems in Guam and elsewhere in the United States. – New York Times

State-backed Chinese hackers have been targeting U.S. critical infrastructure and could be laying the technical groundwork for the potential disruption of critical communications between the U.S. and Asia during future crises, Microsoft said Wednesday. – Associated Press


President Joe Biden has picked U.S. Air Force chief General Charles Q. Brown as the top U.S. military officer, the White House said on Wednesday, elevating a former fighter pilot with experience in the Pacific at a time of rising tension with China. – Reuters

The world’s largest aircraft carrier, the USS Gerald R. Ford, sailed into Oslo on Wednesday, a first for such a U.S. ship, in a show of NATO force at a time of heightened tension between NATO and Russia over the war in Ukraine. – Reuters

As Typhoon Mawar neared the coast of Guam early Wednesday, it also drew attention to an uncomfortable fact of US military strategy: Many of America’s most strategic assets are in places increasingly threatened by extreme weather events, rising seas and other consequences of climate change. – Bloomberg

The Army is mulling cuts to its special operations programs in the coming years, potentially trimming the forces amid a general U.S. military shift in attention to more conventional capabilities and wars. – USNI News