Fdd's overnight brief

May 6, 2019

In The News


Iran’s religious leaders have been moving to expand their influence over the Shiite Muslim establishment in neighboring Iraq in a gamble aimed at gaining sway over Iraq’s largest religious group. The Iranian campaign is most apparent here in the holy city of Najaf, home to Iraq’s clerical hierarchy and a gateway to the wider Shiite population, which represents about two-thirds of all Iraqis. – Washington Post

The U.S. is deploying a carrier strike group and a number of bombers to the Middle East to serve as a deterrent to Iran based on new intelligence that suggests allied interests and American forces could be imperiled, multiple U.S. officials said. – Wall Street Journal

Saturday brought new sanctions on Iran’s nuclear reactor and power plant complex aimed at blocking the nation’s development of nuclear weapons. “Starting May 4, assistance to expand Iran’s Bushehr Nuclear Power Plant beyond the existing reactor unit will be exposed to sanctions,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced late in the evening on Friday. – Washington Examiner

Saudi Arabia, the world’s biggest oil exporter, cut June pricing for all crude grades to the U.S. and raised most pricing to other regions. The kingdom’s pricing appears to be aimed at easing concerns over supplies to the U.S. after the Trump Administration ended waivers for buyers of Iranian oil, while still benefiting from rising demand for its crude in Asia and Europe. – Bloomberg

The United States’ allies in Europe have criticized its recent decisions to restrict oil trade with Iran and to limit the extension of waivers for nuclear non-proliferation projects. – Reuters

The United States acted on Friday to force Iran to stop producing low-enriched uranium and expanding its only nuclear power plant, intensifying a campaign aimed at halting Tehran’s ballistic missile program and curbing its regional power. – Reuters

Iran, through Palestinian Islamic Jihad – its proxy in Gaza – is behind the current escalation in the South, former national security adviser Yaakov Amidror said on Sunday. Amidror, in a conversation with The Israel Project, traced the current round of massive rocket fire on Israel to Friday, when an Islamic Jihad sniper fired on IDF soldiers patrolling the Gaza border, wounding two officers. Israel responded and killed two Hamas men, and then the rocket barrage began from Gaza. – Jerusalem Post

Iran will continue with low-level uranium enrichment in line with its nuclear deal with world powers, Iranian parliament speaker Ali Larijani was quoted as saying on Saturday, despite a US move to stop it. – Reuters

Editorial: On his latest trip to New York, Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif made the usual rounds of think tanks and TV studios, and delivered the now-familiar mix of scare and snark. Amid an escalating conflict over sanctions with the U.S., about the only new proposal he managed to air was an exchange of prisoners. The Trump administration should dismiss that suggestion out of hand. – Bloomberg

Islamic State

It was one of the last places anyone expected the Islamic State to strike. Just weeks after its decisive defeat in Syria, the radical group claimed responsibility for coordinated attacks more than 3,000 miles away in Sri Lanka, an island nation in the Indian Ocean. – Washington Post

The Islamic State will target Christians as part of the terrorist group’s offensive during the upcoming Islamic holy month of Ramadan, a new report predicts. ISIS operatives killed more than 250 people in a coordinated Easter Sunday attack on churches and hotels in Sri Lanka on April 21. A report published by the Institute for the Study of War says those suicide bombings were this year’s opening salvo in the jihadists’ annual Ramadan terror campaign. – Washington Examiner

Tobin Harshaw writes: What does a caliph do when he loses his caliphate? Crawl out from under his rock, apparently. Last week, the Islamic State released a video of its evanescent leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, for the first time in five years, in which he warned of “the vengeance that awaits the crusaders and their henchmen.” (I’m probably only the latter, but one can always aspire.) – Bloomberg


Syria’s government and Russia have intensified airstrikes and dropped barrel bombs on the last rebel stronghold in Syria, renewing fears of a military offensive to recapture the area despite the United Nations warning it would cause a humanitarian catastrophe. – Wall Street Journal

Syrian rebels backed by Turkey said on Monday that Moscow and its Syrian government ally were trying to wrest control of two major highways in their last enclave in the northwest of the country in a bid to shore up Syria’s sanction-hit economy. – Reuters

Syrian government forces and their Russian allies pounded the rebel-held northwest of Syria with air strikes on Saturday, sources in the area said, as artillery hit a Turkish military position there, underlining the risk of wider escalation. – Reuters


Key House lawmakers announced their bill Friday to bar the sale of the F-35 warplane to Turkey if Ankara buys the Russian S-400 surface-to-air missile system. – Defense News

Turkey condemned the participation of a Greek Cypriot representative to NATO’s change of command ceremony on May 3. The invitation to the Greek Cyprus administration, which is not a NATO member, to the change of command ceremony is inexplicable, said Foreign Ministry spokesman Hami Aksoy. – Anadolu Agency

Turkey will never bow to U.S. sanctions over its agreement to purchase Russian S-400 surface-to-air missile defense systems, Vice President Fuat Oktay said on Sunday regarding a deal that has strained ties between the NATO allies. – Reuters

NATO’s chief embarked on a final push to convince Turkey to abandon its plan to buy Russian missiles by backing talks over its possible purchase of an alternative U.S.-made air-defense system. – Bloomberg

Understanding Turkey’s rollercoaster relations with the U.S. requires a grasp of advanced military hardware. The Turkish government is on the brink of buying Russia’s S-400 missile-defense system, angering President Donald Trump’s administration, which argues that integrating it with NATO’s second-largest army could help Moscow gather critical intelligence. – Bloomberg

The Turkish government secretly investigated U.S. airmen deployed to Turkey, monitoring their movements and alleging they were connected to a failed coup attempt against President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in July 2016, according to documents unearthed by Turkish dissidents. – Air Force Times

Four Turkish soldiers were killed and two others wounded in two separate attacks by Kurdish militants on Saturday, the Turkish defense ministry said, adding that the army had retaliated in both cases. – Reuters


Israel and Gaza militants exchanged heavy fire for a second day in some of their worst fighting in years, jeopardizing cease-fire talks and raising fears the conflict would spiral into all-out war. – Wall Street Journal

Israel and Hamas hurtled into their deadliest bout of fighting in nearly five years on Sunday as Palestinian militants launched a barrage of more than 600 rockets and Israel responded with airstrikes on more than 300 targets. – Washington Post

Palestinian leaders in Gaza agreed a ceasefire with Israel on Monday to end a deadly two-day escalation in violence that threatened to widen into war, officials with knowledge of the deal said. – Agence France-Presse

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Saturday fiercely denounced Israel for the bombing of a building housing Turkey’s state news agency Anadolu in Gaza. The bombing came amid heavy fighting on Saturday, as Gazan terrorists fired over 250 rockets at Israel and Jerusalem responded with airstrikes on the Strip. – Agence France-Presse

Rep. Ilhan Omar appeared to take the side of Hamas and Islamic Jihad last night after terrorists fired hundreds of rockets at civilian targets in Israel by Hamas this weekend. – Washington Examiner

The Israel Defense Forces and intelligence agency Shin Bet foiled a major Hamas cyber-attack this weekend, local media outlets reported on Sunday. Reportedly, the target was vital Israeli infrastructure. Further details on the nature of the attack have not yet been revealed. – Algemeiner

The United States may review its ties with countries it deems as being anti-Israel after what a U.S. envoy said on Sunday was a shift in policy toward equating anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism. – Reuters

Israel Defense Forces killed a Hamas commander in the Gaza Strip on Sunday in what the military described as a targeted strike and Palestinians said was the first such action since the 2014 Operation Protective Edge. A military statement said that Hamed al-Khoudary, 34, had been responsible for transferring funds from Iran to armed factions in Gaza. – Ynet

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu came under criticism Monday for agreeing to a ceasefire with the militant factions in the Gaza Strip, ending days of heavy rocket fire on southern and central communities. – Ynet

Editorial: Peace advocates will note that it’s the Palestinian Authority, not Hamas, that’s supposedly going to come to a “two-state solution” deal with Israel. Yet the PA is supposed to control Gaza as well as the West Bank — but Hamas took over there more than a decade ago, and now seems more likely to win power in the West Bank than to lose it in Gaza. – New York Post

David Horovitz writes: To listen to the threats of Hamas and Islamic Jihad, vowing to extend the range of their rockets and missiles to Tel Aviv and the rest of central Israel, and publishing videos highlighting specific potential targets, it might seem inevitable that the violence will escalate further. To listen to Israel’s IDF Southern Command chief, Herzl Halevi, it would appear that the army is poised for a far more intensive assault on the Hamas infrastructure. […]As of this writing, however, both sides were indicating that this is something they seek to avoid. – Times of Israel


Eastern Libyan forces commander Khalifa Haftar urged his troops trying to take Tripoli to battle harder and teach their enemies an even bigger lesson, because the Muslim month of Ramadan that begins on Monday was a month of holy war. – Reuters

At least nine soldiers have been killed in an attack claimed by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, or ISIS) targeting forces loyal to renegade commander Khalifa Haftar, officials said. – Al Jazeera

Mieczyslaw P. Boduszynski and Christopher K. Lamont write: The recent expiration of waivers on oil sanctions against Iran and the pressure the Trump administration is bringing to bear on Venezuela, another major oil producer, means that keeping Libyan oil production going (centered in territories controlled by Hifter) is increasingly important to the White House. – Washington Post

Middle East

The State Department has cleared a possible Foreign Military Sale (FMS) of the Raytheon-made Patriot air-and-missile defense system to Bahrain worth an estimated price tag of $2.5 billion. – Defense News

With global attention on Yemen focused on a fragile truce in its main port of Hodeidah, fighting between rival forces in the country’s four-year war has surged elsewhere. Escalating hostilities in the southwestern al-Dhalea area have disrupted the main south-to-north goods route, displaced thousands and complicated efforts to battle a cholera epidemic and feed millions on the brink of starvation. – Reuters

Korean Peninsula

The Trump administration played down the threat presented by North Korea’s latest weapons tests and said it was eager for a resumption of talks to end the country’s efforts to acquire nuclear missiles. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Sunday said he hopes talks to end North Korea’s efforts to acquire nuclear missiles will resume. – Wall Street Journal

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Sunday played down the threat presented by North Korea’s latest weapons tests and said he is eager for a resumption of talks to end the country’s efforts to acquire nuclear missiles. – Wall Street Journal

North Korea fired a type of short-range weapon off the country’s east coast on Saturday morning, according to South Korea’s Defense Ministry, the latest military provocation from Pyongyang amid stalled nuclear talks with Washington. – Wall Street Journal

North Korea confirmed Sunday that it had fired multiple rocket launchers and “tactical guided weapons” from its east coast the previous day under the personal supervision of leader Kim Jong Un, with experts saying the test included a short-range ballistic missile. – Washington Post

North Korea’s missile launches Saturday “didn’t present a threat to the United States” and its allies, nor did it derail the Trump administration’s attempts to reach a denuclearization deal with the isolated communist nation, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Sunday. – USA Today


President Trump threatened to drastically ramp up U.S. tariffs on Chinese imports, a surprise twist that put an accord in doubt as Beijing considered pulling out of talks scheduled to begin this week. – Wall Street Journal

A Chinese delegation is preparing to travel to the U.S. for trade talks, China’s Foreign Ministry said, despite President Trump’s surprise threat to ramp up tariffs on Chinese imports. – Wall Street Journal

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo avoided saying on Sunday whether the Trump administration would impose targeted sanctions on China over mass detentions of Muslims, in another sign of the administration’s paralysis on the issue. – New York Times

The Chinese military is reorganizing its land forces, but its moves do not increase its ability to mount a large-scale beach assault across the Taiwan Strait, according to a new Department of Defense report. – USNI News

China’s leaders have benefited from what they view as a “period of strategic opportunity” during the initial two decades of the 21st century to develop domestically and expand China’s “comprehensive national power.” Over the coming decades, they are focused on realizing a powerful and prosperous China that is equipped with a “world-class” military, securing China’s status as a great power with the aim of emerging as the preeminent power in the Indo-Pacific region. – USNI News

The Department of Defense’s annual report on China’s military and security developments provides new details about how China’s military organizes its information warfare enterprise, an area that has been of particular interest to U.S. military leaders. – C4ISRNET

The United States accused China on Friday of putting well more than a million minority Muslims in “concentration camps,” in some of the strongest U.S. condemnation to date of what it calls Beijing’s mass detention of mostly Muslim Uighur minority and other Muslim groups. – Reuters

Two U.S. warships sailed near disputed islands in the South China Sea on Monday, challenging Beijing’s claims for the third time this year amid simmering trade tensions. – Bloomberg

The US Defense Department expects China to add military bases around the world to protect its investments in it ambitious One Belt One Road global infrastructure program, according to an official report released Thursday. – Agence France-Presse

Steven Ward writes: Is American grand strategy going to be explicitly oriented around the idea that China is racially different? If so, another ambitious, rising great power may realistically come to believe that it will face racial discrimination in international politics. This could again contribute to the perception that the international order is fundamentally unjust and won’t make a place for Chinese ambitions. – Washington Post

Jessica Chen Weiss writes: China’s export of digital surveillance technology has alarmed many U.S. observers, who worry about a new battle between liberal democracy and digital authoritarianism. Primarily driven by domestic fears of social unrest and an aggressive crackdown and forced assimilation campaign in its western Xinjiang province, China has invested in high-tech surveillance and censorship methods — technologies that are then easier for other governments to adopt. – Washington Post

David Fickling writes: Trade wars are good, and easy to win. So President Donald Trump said last year as he embarked on his first round of tariffs on foreign imports. It seems that things have proven so good and easy that he’s readying for another bout. Trump is prepared to increase a 10 percent levy on $200 billion of imports from China to 25 percent on Friday, he tweeted on Sunday – instantly popping any hopes that trade talks were on their final approach toward an amicable resolution. – Bloomberg


Unarmed police officers were lining up for their monthly pay in northern Afghanistan on Sunday when a Taliban suicide bomber blew up an explosives-laden Humvee next to a police compound, setting off a six-hour siege. – New York Times

A national assembly of 3,200 Afghans here called Friday for Taliban and Afghan forces to announce an immediate cease-fire and demanded the “orderly” gradual departure of U.S.-led foreign troops from the country, sending a strong, united message to all parties in the conflict that it wants the 17-year war to end. – Washington Post

Talks between the Taliban and the US have become bogged down over the key issue of when foreign forces might leave Afghanistan, a Taliban spokesman told AFP on Sunday. – Agence France-Presse

The Taliban on Saturday said the gap is narrowing in talks with Washington’s special peace envoy over a timetable for the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan. The two sides are continuing to meet in Qatar, where the insurgent movement maintains a political office. – Associated Press

South Asia

The devastating Easter Sunday bombings in Sri Lanka were locally planned and executed, without direct guidance from the Islamic State militant group, investigators said. Two Sri Lankan Muslim extremists learned how to build the explosive devices that killed more than 250 people in churches and hotels by studying Islamic State designs on the internet and conducting trial-and-error tests, including one that cost a bomb maker several fingers last year, people involved in the probe said. – Wall Street Journal

State schools in Sri Lanka resumed classes on Monday amid tight security after the Easter Sunday bombings, but many anxious parents kept their children at home over fears of more attacks by Islamic militants. – Reuters

Sri Lankan police on Sunday discovered a 10-acre camp in the eastern town of Kattankudy, where Islamist militants linked to the deadly Easter attacks are believed to have practiced shooting and bombmaking. – Reuters

Two people have been arrested and an overnight curfew lifted Monday in a Sri Lankan town where a suicide bombing targeted a Catholic church last month and weekend clashes were said to involve majority ethnic Sinhalese and Muslims. – Associated Press


Brunei said on Sunday it would not carry out executions by stoning for people convicted of adultery and gay sex, following widespread international protest over the brutality of such penalties. – New York Times

Myanmar police had two Reuters journalists behind bars, but they wanted more. The reporters, Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, were lured into a meeting with police in December 2017 and arrested on claims of violating state secrecy laws as they reported on atrocities against the country’s Rohingya Muslim minority. – Washington Post

President Donald Trump will head to Tokyo later this month to discuss how to resume stalled denuclearization talks with North Korea, work more jointly on cybersecurity with the Japanese and build upon his meeting with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in resolving trade issues between the two nations. – USNI News


Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin discussed two thorny topics—Venezuela and North Korea—in a more than hourlong phone call Friday, but the U.S. president didn’t press his Russian counterpart on another sensitive subject: Moscow’s meddling in the American political system. – Wall Street Journal

In late April, a cache of letters from jailed American Paul Whelan appeared in the Michigan mailbox of his parents, the first contact Whelan’s family has had with him since he was arrested four months ago and accused of espionage by Russian authorities. – Washington Post

An alleged Russian spy whale is refusing to leave a Norwegian port city, in what appears to be a high-profile defection after a week of global attention on the unnamed beluga. – Washington Post

Just days after the Navy’s new 2nd Fleet stands up later this month, its commander will push the USS Mount Whitney command ship, along with dozens of other NATO vessels, into the Baltic Sea to direct a major exercise. In many ways, BALTOPS is the perfect way for 2nd Fleet to enter the world. It was reconstituted — the previous iteration was retired in 2011 — primarily to track and meet Russian maneuvers in the North Atlantic and the Arctic. – Breaking Defense

Phillip Bump writes: There are several layers to it. One is the traditional sort of spycraft that we’re used to talking about when we’re talking about U.S.-Russia tensions. Another is Russia’s efforts in what Polyakova called the “information space,” including social media and online activity. Then there’s “cyberspace,” referring more broadly to Internet-connected systems that Russia is targeting. – Washington Post

Michael Kofman writes: Moscow is not exhausting itself with defense spending, but military expenditure as a share of GDP is still too high, reflecting a problem posited by Talleyrand long ago to Napoleon: “You can do everything with bayonets, sir, except sit on them.” It may be convenient to simply believe that something has to give when surveying the stagnant state of the Russian economy and political ossification. – Defense News

Nick Butler writes: The risks for energy security are clearly not sufficient to deter consumers, in particular the Germans, from buying more. They may think, with some reason, that Russia is itself dependent on selling the gas and could never afford to play political games with supplies, even when relations are under stress. The dependence is mutual. – Financial Times


The Trump administration’s top diplomat is bound for Europe this week to grapple with international competition for Arctic resources, the spread of Chinese technology, and Russian influence in both Europe and South America, including Venezuela. – Wall Street Journal

The cramped space is home to Facebook’s newly opened operations center to oversee the European Union’s parliamentary election, which will be held May 23 to May 26 in 28 countries. – New York Times

The man coordinating North Macedonia’s upcoming NATO membership won the country’s presidential election, defeating a candidate who opposed a name-change. Stevo Pendarovski got 52 percent in Sunday’s ballot, according to the Electoral Commission, with 99 percent of polling stations counted. – Bloomberg

Britain is risking a repeat of the Huawei affair by sounding out Chinese state firms to build High Speed 2, senior Tories have warned. MPs claimed that the Government was putting the country’s relationship with key allies under further strain by encouraging China’s involvement in the construction of the £56 billion rail line. – Telegraph



More than 1,000 people have died from Ebola in eastern Congo since August, the country’s health minister said Friday as hostility toward health workers continues to hamper efforts to contain the second-deadliest outbreak of the virus. – Associated Press

Islamic State (IS) killed 10 Nigerian soldiers in an attack on the northeastern town of Magumeri, the group claimed through its news agency AMAQ on Saturday. – Reuters

Two French tourists were kidnapped and their guide appeared to have been murdered while they were on safari near the border of northern Benin and southern Burkina Faso, France24 reported on Sunday. Their car was found burned in the village of Diapaga and authorities found a body believed to be the Beninese guide, the TV network reported, citing Malian and Mauritanian security sources.  – Bloomberg

United States

In this sprawling desert city in the shadow of the Sacramento Mountains, local officials are fed up with the border crisis — and have gone rogue. Otero County last month became the first border community to declare a state of emergency after the federal government shut down two local checkpoints in the area, which had traditionally provided a second line of defense against shipments of drugs and illegal immigrants who managed to sneak through the border at El Paso, about 90 miles to the south. – New York Post

Heather A. Conley and Matthew Melino write: Despite the relentless pace of the three major drivers, U.S. policy toward the Arctic has remained largely stagnant over the past decade with a continued emphasis on science and international collaboration. In other words, the United States “makes do” by “making it work.” This has been particularly true for the U.S. Coast Guard, the lead U.S. agency with responsibilities for protecting the American Arctic and securing maritime waterways. – Center for Strategic and International Studies

Latin America

It started with the venue. The American Museum of Natural History in New York agreed to be the site of a gala put on by the Brazilian-American Chamber of Commerce, scheduled for May 14. Then it was learned whom the chamber planned to name its person of the year at the event: Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, a far-right populist who has pushed for controversial economic development in the Amazon[…]. Now, weeks after the museum backed away from the event, Bolsonaro announced he is no longer coming to New York at all. – Washington Post

President Donald Trump contradicted his own top advisers Friday by suggesting Russian President Vladimir Putin was not meddling in Venezuela. “He is not looking at all to get involved in Venezuela, other than he’d like to see something positive happen,” Trump told reporters in the Oval Office on Friday. “I feel the same way.” – USA Today

Panama’s president-elect, Laurentino “Nito” Cortizo, said the United States should pay more attention to Central America or risk losing ground to China, which has won diplomatic support and increased its investment in the region in recent years. Cortizo, of the center-left Democratic Revolution Party (PRD), won Sunday’s unexpectedly close presidential election with 33 percent of the vote and a 2 point gap over his nearest rival, the electoral tribunal said. – Reuters

Scott Mastic writes: With the crisis showing no signs of abating, Colombia and its neighbors in both North and South America must unite to strengthen the country’s ability to cope with these unprecedented pressures. In addition to the vast humanitarian needs that must be addressed as part of an ongoing regional partnership, Colombia’s neighbors — and the United States in particular — should be sharing expertise to help the government better cope with these strains and inoculate their own democracy against the destabilizing effects of the crisis. – Washington Examiner


Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Sunday confirmed that the Trump administration is making contingency plans for U.S. military intervention in Venezuela, but he refused to say whether the administration would seek congressional authorization first. – Washington Post

Venezuela’s opposition came tantalizingly close to removing President Nicolás Maduro from power this week, according to more than a dozen people involved in talks to oust him. But in the end, it all went wrong. – Wall Street Journal

President Trump’s senior national security aides met Friday at the Pentagon to review what acting defense secretary Patrick Shanahan called a “comprehensive set of options” for the administration’s next steps in Venezuela. – Washington Post

Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaidó on Saturday acknowledged errors made in attempting to stir a military uprising, and did not discard a U.S. military option in Venezuela alongside domestic forces — saying he would take any such offer from Washington to a vote in the country’s National Assembly. – Washington Post

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov met with Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza on Sunday. That the two would meet is not surprising — Russia, after all, is economically invested in Venezuela and is standing behind President Nicolás Maduro, who managed to remain in power last week after opposition leader Juan Guaidó’s attempt to stir a military uprising failed. – Washington Post

Around May 2017, an unusual request from a prominent Venezuelan general made its way to the White House: Gen. Ivan Hernández, head of both the presidential guard and military counterintelligence, wanted to send his 3-year-old son to Boston for brain surgery and needed visas for his family. After days of internal debate, the still young Trump administration rejected the request, seeing no point in helping a senior member of a socialist government that it viewed as corrupt and thuggish but wasn’t yet prepared to confront. – Associated Press

Nate Sibley writes: But as the standoff between the Venezuelan government in waiting and the entrenched mafia of Maduro descends into chaos on the streets, more must be done to reassure the Venezuelan people. It is time for the United States to reach out with a big offer, not only to sway the wavering military supporters of Maduro, but to open a partnership with citizens who may soon face the daunting task of rebuilding their now decimated country. – The Hill


The U.S. Navy is on the brink of an explosion in research and development funding for its next-generation fighter program — an effort that could make or break the mainstay of the fleet’s powerful strike arm. – Defense News

Congress has to change the law so the Pentagon can fix its broken process for acquiring software, Ellen Lord said today. It would allow her to launch multiple pilot projects next year. One of those pilots would be used to overhaul the F-35 fighter’s notoriously troubled maintenance system, ALIS. – Breaking Defense

After a two-hour House hearing on the service’s 2020 budget plan, the Army’s point men on modernization gave reporters a sneak preview of the 2021 budget, for which planning is already well advanced. While subcommittee chairman Donald Norcross focused on critiquing proposed cuts to venerable CH-47 Chinook helicopter — built at a Boeing plant just half an hour’s drive from his New Jersey district — the Army leaders he had grilled are already thinking about cuts yet to come on much higher-tech programs. – Breaking Defense

DARPA, the Department of Defense’s blue-sky agency, launched April 29 a program to use artificial intelligence to best match interventions for individuals. It is called “Teaching AI to Leverage Overlooked Residuals,” or TAILOR. – C4ISRNET

Harold Furtchgott-Roth writes: The term “post-Western wireless ecosystem” is both offensive and inaccurate. Worse than the word choice is the underlying meaning: America has lost the battle for secure networks. Implicitly, our enemies have the capability at will to steal information and to sabotage our networks. Rather than investing in more R&D for resiliency, we should be clarifying the economic property rights both in information and in the carriage of information – Real Clear Defense

Trump Administration

President Trump reversed himself on Sunday and said that the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, should not testify before Congress, setting up a potentially explosive confrontation with Democrats over presidential authority and the separation of powers. – New York Times

President Trump on Sunday named a former Obama administration official who has embraced some of Mr. Trump’s hard-line positions on border security as the head of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, part of a broad effort to force federal agencies into a more aggressive crackdown on migrants. – New York Times

Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) on Sunday sharply criticized President Trump’s response to Russian interference in U.S. elections, saying that the president “makes it worse by calling it a hoax.” – Washington Post