NEXT STEPS ON NORTH KOREA: There will be no emergency session of the United Nations today to issue a strongly-worded statement or pass another resolution of condemnation over North Korea’s latest missile test, which clearly shows the North can threaten major American cities with it newest intercontinental ballistic missile. “There is no point in having an emergency session if it produces nothing of consequence,” said U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley in statement yesterday afternoon. “An additional Security Council resolution that does not significantly increase the international pressure on North Korea is of no value. In fact, it is worse than nothing, but it sends the message to the North Korean dictator that the international community is unwilling to seriously challenge him.
“The time for talk is over,” Haley said, calling on China to take what she called a “vital step” to put far more pressure on Pyongyang.
President Trump is hinting his next move could be trade sanctions against China. “I am very disappointed in China. Our foolish past leaders have allowed them to make hundreds of billions of dollars a year in trade,” Trump tweeted Saturday night. “Yet… they do NOTHING for us with North Korea, just talk. We will no longer allow this to continue. China could easily solve this problem.” Last night, Trump discussed options by phone with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, but that did not include any talk of military action, according to a spokesman for Abe. A White House readout of the call said “President Trump and Prime Minister Abe committed to increasing economic and diplomatic pressure on North Korea, and to convincing other countries to follow suit.”
MORE ON THE MISSILE: According to independent analysts, the missile launched last week was the same Hwasong-14 that North Korea launched July 4. The Missile Defense Advocacy Alliance, a group that lobbies for missile defense, said the test included a re-entry vehicle that was the size and weight of a notional nuclear warhead. The payload “was separated and propelled from a two stage missile to an apogee of 3,700 km, with a 47 minute flight time, which then re-entered the atmosphere at the proper angle into the Sea of Japan,” MDAA said in a statement. You can watch the reentry here, captured by fixed cameras in Japan. The missile basically went straight up and down. If It had been fired laterally, it could have reached Los Angeles, and possibly even Chicago. “The conservative range estimate of this North Korean Hwasong-14 mobile ICBM capability is around 9,500 km [5,900 miles] when put in an operational and energy efficient trajectory, proving most of the United States' major cities are within range,” the advocacy group said.
CAN WE SHOOT IT DOWN? U.S. Northern Command chief Air Force Gen. Lori Robinson issued a statement after the launch, saying that “as the Commander responsible for defending the homeland,” she wanted to assure Americans of her “unwavering in our confidence that we can fully defend the United States against this ballistic missile threat.” While the missile was fired on a trajectory that did not target the U.S., Robinson called the launch “provocative,” and said it served “as yet another reminder of North Korea’s continued threat to the United States and our allies with their missile program.”
The U.S. conducted another successful test of the Lockheed Martin Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system over the weekend, which is designed to defend against shorter range missiles. The system, which has been deployed to South Korea, is now 15 for 15 in tests against simulated target missiles. While the test was scheduled before the second North Korean ICBM launch, it nevertheless is intended in part to send a message to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. "In addition to successfully intercepting the target, the data collected will allow MDA to enhance the THAAD weapon system, our modeling and simulation capabilities, and our ability to stay ahead of the evolving threat," said MDA Director Lt. Gen. Sam Greaves in a statement.
B-1 LANCERS DELIVER A POINTED MESSAGE: And once again the U.S. flew long-range, supersonic, heavy bombers over the Korean Peninsula to send a message to the North. A pair of B-1Bs joined South Korean and Japanese warplanes for the show of force, which is typically ignored by Pyongyang. So the Pacific Air Forces commander, Gen. Terrence O'Shaughnessy, released a statement to underscore the point. “Diplomacy remains the lead; however, we have a responsibility to our allies and our nation to showcase our unwavering commitment while planning for the worst-case scenario,” O'Shaughnessy said. “If called upon, we are ready to respond with rapid, lethal and overwhelming force at a time and place of our choosing.”
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.
RUSSIA RETALIATES: Russian President Vladimir Putin, saying he’s tired of waiting for relations to improve with the U.S., has ordered a reduction of 755 U.S. diplomatic staff in Russia, and seized two U.S. diplomatic compounds. That would cap the number of American diplomatic and technical personnel at 455, roughly the number of Russian counterparts in the U.S.
Putin made the announcement in an interview on state-run Rossiya 1 television. "Over 1,000 employees — diplomats and technical workers — worked and continue to work today in Russia; 755 will have to stop this activity," Putin said. "We waited for quite some time that maybe something will change for the better, had such hope that the situation will somehow change, but, judging by everything, if it changes, it will not be soon."
Vice President Mike Pence, who is in Estonia at the beginning of a three nation tour to reassure NATO allies, tweeted, “Recent diplomatic action taken by Moscow will not deter commitment of U.S to our security, our allies, & freedom-loving nations.”
BOXED IN: Trump has little choice but to sign legislation imposing new sanctions on Russia, given its passage by veto-proof margins on both house of Congress. But Friday, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders put the best face on it. "President Donald J. Trump read early drafts of the bill and negotiated regarding critical elements of it," Sanders said in statement. "He has now reviewed the final version and, based on its responsiveness to his negotiations, approves the bill and intends to sign it."
The White House had been sending mixed messages about whether Trump would sign, because the bill limits presidential authority to grant sanctions relief to Moscow in the future without congressional approval. The bill punishes an array of aggressive Russian activities, including the interference in the 2016 elections that has consumed so much of the early months of Trump's presidency.
HAPPENING TODAY: Retired Marine Gen. John Kelly takes over as White House chief of staff today, with marching orders to bring order out of chaos. Kelly leaves his post as Homeland Security secretary, replacing Reince Priebus, who was ousted last week. One big question is will everyone in the West Wing report to Kelly, or will aides such as Anthony Scaramucci and Sebastian Gorka continue to have direct access to the president. Everyone is hoping for the best. “I do think that General Kelly will do a good job as the White House chief of staff,” said Sen. Susan Collins on NBC yesterday. “I think he will bring order and discipline to the West Wing.”
DEFENSE AUTHORIZATION IN LIMBO: Sen. John McCain has returned to Arizona to begin treatment for brain cancer today, leaving the annual defense authorization bill he has spearheaded with an uncertain future in the Senate. Debate and a final floor vote on the $700 billion National Defense Authorization Act, which hikes military spending over what Trump has requested, is now likely to be delayed until the Senate returns from its summer recess in September because of McCain's absence. "On Monday, July 31, [McCain] will begin a standard post-surgical regimen of targeted radiation and chemotherapy," according to a statement released by his office.
INTEL AUTHORIZATION: The House on Friday easily passed legislation that authorizes national intelligence operations for fiscal 2018 and makes several key changes aimed at addressing Russia's meddling in the 2016 election and leaks of U.S. intelligence, Al Weaver writes.
On Russia, the bill would require the director of national intelligence to publish a report on foreign counterintelligence and cyber threats to election campaigns, and report to Congress on "Russian influence campaigns directed at foreign elections and threat finance activities." It would also require the intelligence community to report to Congress on investigations of leaks of classified information. Trump has been vocal about the issue throughout his first six months after a non-stop stream of leaks from his administration.
SANCTIONS ON IRAN: Trump's Treasury Department announced new sanctions Friday against Iran following what it called the "threatening" launch of a space rocket. The sanctions, which were the second set issued this month, freeze all U.S. assets of six companies that support Tehran's missile program and the development of the Simorgh rocket, which was tested Thursday and could be used to produce an intercontinental ballistic missile, according to the department.
"The U.S. government will continue to aggressively counter Iran's ballistic missile-related activity, whether it be a provocative space launch, its development of threatening ballistic missile systems, or likely support to Yemeni Houthi missile attacks on Saudi Arabia such as occurred this past weekend," Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said in a statement.
NEED FOR MISSILE DEFENSE: Sen. Dan Sullivan, R-Alaska, said on Friday that the U.S. must upgrade its missile defenses following the newest North Korea test launch of an ICBM. More interceptors in Alaska and sensors in space could protect not only his state but major American cities such as New York and Los Angeles as Kim’s regime moves ever closer to a nuclear-tipped missile capable of hitting the U.S. mainland, said Sullivan, who is a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee.
"While I am hopeful that a diplomatic solution will ultimately prevail, the United States cannot and will not allow an irrational dictator to have a capability that threatens millions of American lives," he said.
THE RIGHT MOVE: McCain on Friday applauded the Marine Corps' decision to ground its KC-130T tanker aircraft following a crash this month that killed 15 Marines and a sailor. The grounding affects 12 aircraft flown by the service's reserve forces. One of the Marine Reserve tankers crashed into a field and burst into flames in Mississippi on July 10 in what was one of the worst Marine aviation disasters in more than a decade.
GORKA’S TAKE: Trump is banning transgender people from serving in the military in a bid to “help those people,” presidential adviser Gorka said on Friday. Gorka, in an interview with BBC Radio 4 Today, cited studies showing that the transgender community has a 40 percent suicide rate. “That is a tragedy. We need to help those people. We don't need to help try and force them into the hierarchical military environment where they are under the utmost pressure to kill or be killed,” Gorka said. “That is why the president is doing this out of the warmth of his consideration for this population.”
A tweet by Gorka Friday sparked a response from retired Rear Adm. John Kirby, a former State Department and Pentagon spokesman. “Under @realDonaldTrump we refuse to treat the American military as an ideological petri dish,” Gorka tweeted Friday. “Obama-era social engineering is over.”
That prompted Kirby to respond. “This is offensive. I can't sit by as someone who never wore our uniform pretends he knows what it means,” Kirby wrote. “Fact: US military IS a microcosm of American society & should be representative of that society – ALL of it. Diversity is a strength. We're an all-volunteer force w/high standards. If you meet those standards -- in THIS country -- you should have opportunity to defend it. Unless you’re willing to wear U.S. uniform, suggest you leave decisions about what’s best for troops to those who know what they’re doing.”
CONGRESS HAS A SAY: The research arm for Congress says the legislative branch has the authority to delay or reverse Trump's new policy banning transgender people from serving in the military. According to a new analysis from the Congressional Research Service obtained by the Federation of American Scientists, Congress can take legislative action in response to the president's ban, which was announced Wednesday.
"Congress may choose to defer or delegate authority to [Department of Defense] for policies and regulations regarding accession, separation, and healthcare for transgender service members," the Congressional Research Service said in its report, issued Wednesday. "Alternatively, Congress may draft legislation to affect such administration policy, under its authority to make laws governing the armed forces. In its oversight role, Congress may decide to initiative further review of policy implications through hearings or studies."
Students of history will recall in 1993 President Clinton wanted to lift the ban on gays in the military, only to be overruled by Congress, which made “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” the law of the land until its repeal during President Obama’s administration.
PUBLIC DISAGREES WITH BAN: A majority of Americans support allowing transgender individuals to serve in the military, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll released Friday. It said 58 percent of Americans believe transgender people should be allowed to serve, while 27 percent say they should not. Fifteen percent of respondents say they "don't know." When broken down along partisan lines, Democrats are far more supportive of transgender service. Eighty-three percent say the transgender troops should be allowed to serve, compared to only 8 percent who say they should not.
SEEING IS BELIEVING: The Navy released video over the weekend of the first launch and landing of a fixed-wing aircraft aboard the new USS Gerald R. Ford. The Navy is counting on the new electromagnetic launch system to handle a larger array of different aircraft including smaller drones, and extend the life of the big jets by providing smoother acceleration that puts less stress on the air frames. The system is also billed as being able to increase the maximum sorties generated by 30 percent. You can see the takeoff here, and the landing here.
And just for fun you can reread the president’s rant against the “digital” launch system here, when he told Time magazine that after hearing about problems with the electromagnetic catapult, he ordered the the Navy to return to “goddamned steam,” because “the digital costs hundreds of millions of dollars more money and it’s no good.” But the Navy waited and the order never came.
Wall Street Journal: White House looks at scaling back military presence in Afghanistan
USA Today: U.S. Weighs Arming Ukraine As Threat From Russia Grows
Radio Free Europe: Pence Raises Possibility Of Patriot Antimissile System In Estonia, Prime Minister Says
AP: Under ICBM's red glare, Pyongyang pretties up its 'pyramid'
East Asia Forum: Moon Assembles Dream Team, But North Korea Unwilling To Play
New York Times: Russia showcases global ambitions with military parades, one in Syria
CNN: China shows off newest weapons in huge military parade
BuzzFeed: Inside Iran’s mission to dominate the Middle East
AP: Iran Says US Navy Fires Warning Shots Near Its Vessels
Military Times: Future infantry might not need humans
Washington Post: John Kelly, Trump’s new chief of staff, ‘won’t suffer idiots and fools’
DSCA: State Department approves sale of F/A-18 upgrades to Switzerland
New York Times: Legitimacy Of Venezuelan Election Comes Under Siege
Wall Street Journal: China Unveils New ICBM
National Interest: Is China Getting Ready To Create Its Very Own DARPA?
Just Security: Your Tweet is My Command
MONDAY | JULY 31
10 a.m. 1775 Massachusetts Ave. NW. NATO at a crossroads and the next steps for the transatlantic alliance. brookings.edu
12 p.m. 5000 Seminary Rd. iFest 2017 with a keynote by Maj. Gen. Thomas Deale, vice director of Air Force Joint Force Development. ndia.org
TUESDAY | AUGUST 1
10 a.m. 1616 Rhode Island Ave. NW. The U.S. Coast Guard’s priorities for the future with the commandant, Adm. Paul Zukunft. csis.org
6:30 p.m. 14750 Conference Center Dr. Peter B. Teets Award Dinner. ndia.org
6:30 p.m. 1700 Army Navy Dr. Reception and welcome dinner for Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson. afa.org
WEDNESDAY | AUGUST 2
7 a.m. 4803 Stonecroft Blvd. National Security Space Policy and Architecture Symposium. ndia.org
9:30 a.m. Senate Visitors Center 212-10. Release of the study “Survivability in the Digital Age: The Imperative for Stealth” with opening remarks by Sen. Mike Rounds. mitchellaerospacepower.org
2 p.m. Senate Visitors Center 217. Closed top-secret meeting on the authorizations for the use of military force and the Trump administration perspective with Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. foreign.state.gov
4 p.m. 1030 15th St. NW. Cyber Risk Wednesday: DEF CON to DC. atlanticcouncil.org