OUT OF ROAD: Vice President Mike Pence heads to South Korea and Japan this week to represent the United States at the 2018 Winter Olympic Games and to reassure Seoul and Tokyo that there is no daylight between the allies in confronting the North over its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs.
“I'll cheer on our athletes, but I'll also be there to deliver a simple message: That the era of strategic patience is over,” Pence said Friday at an event in Pittsburgh. “We'll make it clear that all options are on the table. And you can be confident we will continue to bring all economic and diplomatic pressure to bear until North Korea permanently abandons its nuclear and ballistic missile programs once and for all.”
Friday, President Trump met with North Korean defectors and said despite the first talks between North and South Korea in two years, time is running out. “You know, we ran out of road. You know the expression? The road really ended,” Trump said, as he once again blamed previous administrations for failing to stop North Korea’s nuclear program before it could threaten the U.S. “They could've done it 12 years ago. They could've done it 20 years ago. They could've done it four years ago, and two years ago. We have no road left.”
North Korea is planning a big military parade in the days before the opening ceremonies Friday that is expected to showcase its newest intercontinental ballistic missiles, including the Hwasong-14 first tested last July, and the heavier, longer-range Hwasong-15 tested in November.
NPR ON NORTH KOREA: DETER AND DEFEND: Also Friday, the Pentagon unveiled its Nuclear Posture Review, which is designed to provide more options for nuclear deterrence with no overall increase in the U.S. nuclear arsenal. The 75-page unclassified summary contains what it calls a “tailored strategy” for each of the four major countries challenging the U.S. with the potential for nuclear conflict now or in the future.
For North Korea, the U.S. strategy remains deterrence through all three legs of the nuclear triad, submarines bombers, and land-based ICBMs.
“For North Korea, the survival of the Kim regime is paramount,” the NPR states. “Our deterrence strategy for North Korea makes clear that any North Korean nuclear attack against the United States or its allies and partners is unacceptable and will result in the end of that regime.” The message to Kim Jong Un is straightforward: Use your nukes, and you die. “There is no scenario in which the Kim regime could employ nuclear weapons and survive. Further, we will hold the Kim regime fully responsible for any transfer of nuclear weapons technology, material or expertise to any state or non-state actor.”
The other message to Kim is that any attempt to hit the U.S. will fail because of America’s multi-layered missile defenses. Although North Korea’s missile forces are expanding and increasingly mobile, U.S. and allied missile defenses are increasingly capable against North Korea’s missile threat, and the United States has the early warning systems and strike capabilities necessary to degrade North Korean missile capabilities prior to launch.”
LAST WEEK’S MISS: Defense Secretary Jim Mattis told reporters Friday that the failed intercept test of a new land-based version of the Aegis system usually installed on warships was not a cause of concern, nor an indication of problems with the system. “I would assume that some tests would fail. The whole reason we test is because the thing isn't mature yet,” Mattis said at one of his drop-in semi-formal briefings with reporters in the press pen. “That's normal, that's good, OK? So I'm not the least bit concerned about that; that's how you learn.”
RUSSIA REACTS: While one Pentagon briefer Friday pushed back on the idea that Trump’s nuclear review was a “Russia-centric” document, Moscow could see that the major changes were aimed directly at countering its military doctrine of “escalating-to-deescalate.”
In a statement, Russia's Foreign Ministry said the U.S. portrayals of Russia’s nuclear doctrine “have nothing do with reality,” and accused the U.S. of using traditional anti-Russian rhetoric to justify its own “large-scale nuclear weapons buildup.”
The U.S. readiness to use its nuclear arsenal against Russia preemptively is nothing but an “attempt to question [Moscow’s] right for self-defense against an aggression in a situation that is critical for the very existence of the Russian state,” the statement said.
"While just having a flick through the document, one can notice that its confrontational charge and anti-Russian focus stare in the face,” the Foreign Ministry said.
The Nuclear Posture Review is by and large consistent with previous articulations of U.S. nuclear strategy, emphasizing the primary purpose of the U.S. nuclear arsenal is deterrence. But the changes in the Trump NPR include converting about two dozen submarine-launched warheads to a lower yield as a counter to Moscow’s growing arsenal of tactical “battlefield” nukes, which are not limited by the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty.
TIME TO GO?The Associated Press is reporting that the U.S. has agreed to begin withdrawing several thousand U.S. troops from Iraq, now that ISIS has been defeated and only remnants of the group remain. The U.S. has more than 5,000 troops in the country, and AP quotes “Western contractors at a U.S.-led coalition base” as saying some U.S. troops have packed up their weapons and equipment are being transported out of Iraq to Afghanistan. [NOTE: This story has been updated with the correct number of U.S. troops in the country.]
The AP quotes an Iraqi government spokesman Saad al-Hadithi as saying “the battle against Daesh has ended and so the level of the American presence will be reduced.” The U.S. is expected to leave several thousand troops in Iraq to continue to train, advise and assist Iraqi forces.
So far there has been no confirmation from the U.S. military spokesman in Baghdad that the withdrawal has begun, but Col. Ryan Dillon tweeted, “@CJTFOIR presence in #Iraq will be conditions-based, proportional to the need, and in coordination w/ the @IraqiGovt. @Coalition still training, equipping, providing intel, and assisting our #ISF partners to #defeatDaesh.”
Good Monday morning and welcome to Jamie McIntyre’s Daily on Defense, compiled by Washington Examiner National Security Senior Writer Jamie McIntyre (@jamiejmcintyre), National Security Writer Travis J. Tritten (@travis_tritten) and Senior Editor David Brown (@dave_brown24). Email us here for tips, suggestions, calendar items and anything else. If a friend sent this to you and you’d like to sign up, click here. If signing up doesn’t work, shoot us an email and we’ll add you to our list. And be sure to follow us on Twitter @dailyondefense.
HAPPENING TODAY: This morning Rep. Michael McCaul, the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, will give an address at George Washington University’s Center for Cyber and Homeland Security. The speech will include U.S. strategy against terrorists, cyber defense, border and aviation security, and leadership abroad, according to his office. Afterward, McCaul will sit down for a panel discussion with Reps. John Katko, Will Hurd and Mike Gallagher on evolving threats to the homeland and the role of U.S. leadership on the global stage.
HAPPENING TOMORROW: Mattis and Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Gen. Paul Selva appear before the House Armed Services Committee tomorrow morning to testify about the National Defense Strategy and the Nuclear Posture Review. Gen. Joseph Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs, is traveling.
MATTIS STILL BULLISH ON THE BUDGET: Congress has until Thursday to pass some new budget legislation or face another government shutdown. Despite the coming cliffhanger and almost certainty of another stopgap measure, Mattis was upbeat on the defense budget prospects during a visit with the Pentagon press corps. “I’m very happy with $700 [billion] for this year and $716 [billion] for next,” he said on Friday. It was the first public confirmation that he racked up a major political win with a $716 billion top line for defense in Trump’s upcoming budget request to Congress. That is a 7 percent increase over what deficit hawk Mick Mulvaney and his White House Office of Management and Budget had projected. Congress passed a $700 billion defense authorization in December, a major hike in its own right, and Trump is expected to unveil the 2019 request on Feb. 12.
The money would be a boon for Mattis and begin to bankroll a buildup and modernization of the military, as well as improvements to the nuclear arsenal. “Look at the strategy and you’ll see where it’s going,” said Mattis, who unveiled the Nuclear Posture Review on Friday, the latest in a series of new strategy documents. But the Pentagon must first get past its current financial predicament. Republicans are readying a vote on another continuing resolution as soon as Tuesday that would delay any hike for Mattis until March 22. “If they do a CR until March 22, that’s halfway through the fiscal year on a continuing resolution and it’s especially disruptive because the budget request for fiscal year ’18 ... is significantly higher than the CR level,” said Todd Harrison, the director of defense budget analysis at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. Harrison said “we’re definitely into that stage” where the stopgap measures become a painful problem for the Pentagon.
OA-X COMPETITION: The Air Force has whittled down candidates for its new light attack aircraft to Textron’s AT-6 Wolverine and the A-29 Super Tucano by Sierra Nevada and Embraer. The two aircraft finalists from the service’s Light Attack Experiment in August will now undergo a battery of testing, though no combat demonstration, this summer at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Arizona. The service is looking to purchase a light and inexpensive aircraft capable of fighting insurgencies and carrying out close-air support similar to the A-10 Thunderbolt II, a legendary but aging airframe that is becoming expensive to maintain.
"Rather than do a combat demonstration, we have decided to work closely with industry to experiment with maintenance, data networking and sensors with the two most promising light attack aircraft — the AT-6 Wolverine and the A-29 Super Tucano," Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson said in a statement. "This will let us gather the data needed for a rapid procurement." The testing will occur May-July and is expected to give the service all the information it needs to make a final decision on which aircraft gets the contract. International partners of the U.S. will be invited to view the tests.
SUPER AD: For the first time in 30 years, the U.S. Marine Corps aired an ad during the Super Bowl, using an online-only spot Sunday to target a young, tough, tech-savvy audience for potential recruits looking for a challenge, the AP reported.
The high-powered, battle-heavy, 30-second ad shows Marines deploying from ships in amphibious vehicles, dropping bombs from aircraft and hurling a shoulder-launched drone into the air. "It's not just the ships, the armor or the aircraft. It's something more. It's the will to fight and determination to win found inside each and every Marine that answers a nation's call," the announcer says, as the camera follows a squad of Marines storming off helicopters into a mock firefight while explosions erupt around them.
McFARLAND WITHDRAWS: Trump’s preferred ambassador to Singapore has withdrawn her nomination, following a protracted delay in the Senate. “I have come to this decision because I believe in your mission,” K.T. McFarland, Trump’s former deputy national security adviser, wrote in a Friday letter to the president. “Know that I have no intention of withdrawing from the national debate and I want to help you in whatever way I can.”
McFarland joined Trump’s team at the recommendation of former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger. Still, her career in the administration became embroiled in the controversy over then-national security adviser Michael Flynn’s conversations about U.S. sanctions policy with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak. She was nominated to the diplomatic post when Flynn’s replacement wanted to replace her with another aide.
TRANSGENDER BAN GETS POLITICAL: The American Military Partner Association has blasted the Republican National Committee for what it said was a “disgusting, vile” vote in support of Trump’s effort to ban transgender troops from the armed services. The RNC passed a resolution Friday during its annual winter meeting backing Trump and his position that being transgender should be a “disqualifying psychological and physical” condition.
"Not only did the RNC just degrade active duty service members, but they also maligned countless military families across the country with family members who also happen to be transgender. This is a disgusting, vile attempt to play politics with the lives of our military families,” Ashley Broadway-Mack, the president of the American Military Partner Association, said. The RNC also advocated that Trump’s Justice Department take the matter to the Supreme Court if necessary. Four federal lawsuits opposing the ban are now playing out in Washington, D.C., Maryland, California, and Washington state district courts.
Washington Post: U.S. Missile Contracts Balloon As North Korea Threat Grows
Reuters: North Korea Earned $200 Million From Banned Exports, Sends Arms To Syria, Myanmar - U.N. Report
New York Times: Thousands of ISIS Fighters Flee in Syria, Many to Fight Another Day
NPR: Buried In Trump's Nuclear Report: A Russian Doomsday Weapon
AP: China Criticizes US For Nuclear Adversary Claims
Military.com: With Nuclear Mission in Rear-View, Options Abound for B-1B
Washington Post: United States unveils sanctions designed to strangle Iranian-backed Hezbollah
Defense One: Stop Turkey's Bombardment Of Our People
Army Times: Heroes-turned-actors: 3 stars of ‘The 15:17 to Paris’ talk about their roles of a lifetime
Reuters: Deadline looming for Boeing to decide on Canada fighter jet bid
UPI: Navy commissions littoral combat ship USS Omaha
Wall Street Journal: U.S. and South Korea Struggle for Unity on Eve of Olympics
Marine Corps Times: See exclusive photos from Nat Geo’s military series ‘Chain of Command’
MONDAY | FEB. 5
8 a.m. 1300 Pennsylvania Ave. NW. Taking Stock of Mexico's Security Landscape. wilsoncenter.org
10 a.m. 2121 Eye St. NW. Rep. Michael McCaul delivers the “State of National Security Address” at the George Washington University Center for Cyber and Homeland Security. homeland.house.gov
2 p.m. 1616 Rhode Island Ave. NW. Enhanced Deterrence in the North: A 21st Century European Engagement Strategy with retired Gen. Philip Breedlove, former Supreme Allied Commander Europe, and retired Adm. Mark Ferguson.
2 p.m. 1779 Massachusetts Avenue NW. The Demise of America’s First Missile Defense System and the Rise of Strategic Arms Limitation. carnegieendowment.org
TUESDAY | FEB. 6
8 a.m. 201 Waterfront St. The Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International’s conference: Unmanned Systems—Defense. Protection. Security. thedefenseshow.org
9 a.m. 1030 15th St. NW. Russia’s Cyber Operations in Ukraine and Beyond with Rep. Will Hurd. atlanticcouncil.org
9:30 a.m. 1616 Rhode Island Ave. NW. Russia’s Post-Authoritarian Future: A Conversation with Ksenia Sobchak. csis.org
10 a.m. Rayburn 2172. U.S. Cyber Diplomacy in an Era of Growing Threats. foreignaffairs.house.gov
10 a.m. Rayburn 2118. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and Gen. Paul Selva, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, testify on the National Defense Strategy and the Nuclear Posture Review. armedservices.house.gov
10 a.m. Dirksen 419. The Administration's South Asia Strategy on Afghanistan with John Sullivan, deputy secretary of state. foreign.senate.gov
10 a.m. House Visitor Center 210. Ensuring Effective and Reliable Alerts and Warnings. homeland.house.gov
2 p.m. Rayburn 2172. Subcommittee Hearing on Syria: Which Way Forward? foreignaffairs.house.gov
2 p.m. Rayburn 2200. Subcommittee Hearing on U.S.-Pakistan Relations: Reassessing Priorities Amid Continued Challenges. foreignaffairs.house.gov
2:30 p.m. Dirksen 562. Subcommittee Hearing on Terrible, No Good, Very Bad Ways of Funding Government: Exploring the Cost to Taxpayers of Spending Uncertainty caused by Governing through Continuing Resolutions, Giant Omnibus Spending Bills, and Shutdown Crises. hsgac.senate.gov
WEDNESDAY | FEB. 7
8 a.m. 201 Waterfront St. The Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International’s conference: Unmanned Systems—Defense. Protection. Security with Mary Miller, with the office of undersecretary of defense for research and engineering. thedefenseshow.org
9 a.m. Rayburn 2118. Subcommittee on Senior Leader Misconduct: Prevention and Accountability with the vice chiefs of the Army, Navy and Air Force, as well as the assistant commandant of the Marine Corps. armedservices.house.gov
10 a.m. 1957 E St. NW. International Cybersecurity Leaders Forum: The U.S.-Ukraine Cybersecurity Partnership with Rep. Brendan Boyle. gwu.edu
12:15 p.m. 1211 Connecticut Ave. NW. How to Interpret Nuclear Crises: From Kargil to North Korea. stimson.org
3:30 p.m. 1616 Rhode Island Ave. NW. The Rise and Fall of the ABM Treaty: Missile Defense and the U.S.-Russia Relationship. csis.org
3:30 p.m. Russell 222. Subcommittee hearing on Army Modernization. armed-services.senate.gov
5 p.m. Senate Visitor Center 217. Closed hearing on Turkey and the way ahead. foreign.senate.gov
THURSDAY | FEB. 8
7 a.m. 2101 Wilson Blvd. S&ET Executive Breakfast. ndia.org
8 a.m. 201 Waterfront St. The Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International’s conference: Unmanned Systems—Defense. Protection. Security. thedefenseshow.org
1:30 p.m. 1775 Massachusetts Ave. NW. Next steps for the Army: A conversation with Under Secretary Ryan McCarthy. brookings.edu
4:30 p.m. 1779 Massachusetts Ave. NW. Cyber Mercenaries: States and Hackers. carnegieendownment.org
5:15 p.m. 1030 15th St. NW. War Powers and Military Force with John Yoo, former deputy assistant U.S. attorney general. atlanticcouncil.org
FRIDAY | FEB. 9
10 a.m. 740 15th St. NW. 'Ultimate Deal' or Ultimate Demise? Palestinian-Israeli Peace Under Trump. newamerica.org
11:30 a.m. Syrian Impasse: America Between Turkey and the Kurds. defenddemocracy.org
12 noon. 1300 Pennsylvania Ave. NW. Preventive Engagement: How America Can Avoid War, Stay Strong, and Keep the Peace. wilsoncenter.org
3:50 p.m. 740 15th St. NW. Book discussion of “Directorate S: America’s Secret Wars in Afghanistan and Pakistan” with author Steve Coll. newamerica.org
MONDAY | FEB. 12
10 a.m. 1775 Massachusetts Ave. NW. The Trump administration’s Nuclear Posture Review: Continuity and change with David Trachtenberg, deputy undersecretary of defense for policy. brookings.edu