CLIMATE DECISION: Barring a last-minute change of heart, President Trump is expected to announce today that the U.S. will withdraw from the 2015 Paris climate change agreement, an achievement touted as among the most significant of his predecessor Barack Obama.
Last night, the president tweeted “I will be announcing my decision on Paris Accord, Thursday at 3:00 P.M. The White House Rose Garden. MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!” If the president decides to pull out of the agreement, it would fulfill a promise Trump made on the campaign trail, but would also put the U.S. in the company of Nicaragua and Syria, the only other nations that have not signed on to the pledge to curb carbon emissions in an effort to slow global warming.
The Pentagon has long seen climate change as a national security threat, because rising seawaters and changing weather patterns could spark conflict over scarce resources. It also increases navigable waters in the Arctic, an inviting target for the Russians. The DoD’s 2015 National Security Strategy called climate change “an urgent and growing threat to our national security,” which it said is “contributing to increased natural disasters, refugee flows, and conflicts over basic resources such as food and water.” In a report to Congress, the Pentagon said, “Global climate change will have wide-ranging implications for U.S. national security interests over the foreseeable future because it will aggravate existing problems — such as poverty, social tensions, environmental degradation, ineffectual leadership, and weak political institutions — that threaten domestic stability in a number of countries.” And in unpublished answers to senators’ questions in January, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis echoed those concerns during his confirmation process. "I agree that the effects of a changing climate — such as increased maritime access to the Arctic, rising sea levels, desertification, among others — impact our security situation.”
Trump has been lobbied hard to stay in the agreement by some members of his Cabinet as well as U.S. allies abroad. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Trump daughter and senior adviser Ivanka are both in the “stay” camp, and chief strategist Steve Bannon and EPA administrator Scott Pruitt are in the “leave’ camp.
Former GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney tweeted yesterday, “Affirmation of the #ParisAgreement is not only about the climate: It is also about America remaining the global leader.” But as Sarah Westwood and David M. Drucker write, the move would likely enjoy broad support among Republican voters. “Pulling out of the climate accord would also be seen as a reward to ‘Trump country’: voters in industrial states like Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin or rural areas where environmental regulations are viewed as economically harmful.”
AFTER FURTHER REVIEW: The head of the Missile Defense Agency, Vice Adm. Jim Syring, has given a hot wash of Tuesday's successful test of the ground-based missile defense system, which provided more details, and made the technological accomplishment seem even more impressive. The results are still being analyzed, but Syring told Pentagon reporters yesterday that the initial indications are “it was a direct hit, a complete obliteration” as the kill vehicle picked out the dummy warhead from decoys and smashed it in space thousands of miles off the U.S. coast, northeast of Hawaii. “We do know 100 percent confidently that the primary and secondary objectives were met,” Syring said
WHAT IT MEANS: Syring was careful not to stay too much about what he US. knows about the state of North Korea’s missile development, but did say U.S. intelligence informed the test scenario in order to replicate what the threat from Pyongyang may be in the coming years, and said based on the results the U.S. is ahead of the threat. “I was confident before the test that we have the capability to defeat any threat that they would throw at us,” Syring said. “And I'm more confident today, even more confident today after seeing the intercept test yesterday that we continue to be on that course.”
Thomas Karako, director of the Missile Defense Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, sees the test as elevating the Ground-based Midcourse Defense program to join the ranks of Terminal High Altitude Area Defense and Aegis, regional defense systems that have good track records in tests against shorter-range threats “This is a good day for homeland missile defense, and a bad day for Kim Jong Un.” Karako writes. “Hit-to-kill missile defense has once again been validated, this time against a complex and challenging ICBM-class threat.” Karako predicts this successful intercept “clears the way for the deployment of the full 44 interceptors, of which eight more are on track to be deployed by the end of 2017.”
DOUBLING DOWN: House Armed Services Committee Chairman Rep. Mac Thornberry issued a statement indicating the test will bolster support for increased funding for missile defenses in the face of growing threats from both North Korea and Iran. “In the NDAA this year, we will double-down on that message by making significant new investments to make good on the President's promise to develop and deploy a 'state of the art' missile defense system,” Thornberry said. “This test is a warning to the dictator in North Korea that he won't be allowed to threaten the US and its allies.”
The Texas Republican, who was leading a congressional delegation to South Korea this week, has already introduced a stand-alone bill that would pump $1 billion into THAAD interceptors "or lower tier air and missile defense interceptors" and joint training for the Asia-Pacific region. It is part of his $2.1 billion plan to shore up the military presence there. His counterpart in the Senate, Armed Services chairman John McCain, has also proposed a $7.5 billion Asia-Pacific initiative. Both committees will be rolling out their versions of the NDAA in the coming weeks.
The Missile Defense Advocacy Alliance, which as its name implies is a big booster of investments in anti-missile technology, pronounced the first full-fledged test against a North Korean scenario nothing less than “historic.” In a statement the group said, “This remarkable and world notable achievement establishes confidence and security for the population of the United States against being held hostage or at the will of threatening nuclear ICBM capable rogue nation states.” The GMD’s subsystems are built by Northrop Grumman and Raytheon.
Good Thursday 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: A new U.S. military spokesman in Baghdad makes his debut today in a briefing for Pentagon reporters that will be piped in live from Iraq. Army Col. Ryan Dillon takes over from Air Force Col. John Dorrian as the official spokesman for Combined Joint Task Force - Operation Inherent Resolve. Today’s 11 a.m. briefing will update what is shaping up as the end of ISIS in Mosul, which is now surrounded in an ever-shrinking part of the old city. It will also be a look at what’s to come in Syria, where U.S.-backed fighters are at the gates of Raqqa, preparing to launch an assault on the ISIS stronghold with freshly-issued arms provided by the U.S. Streamed live at defense.gov.
B-52s TO UK: U.S. European Command has announced the deployment of B-52 bombers, along with 800 airmen from Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana to RAF Fairford, U.K. The deployment is described as routine in order to support various exercises throughout Europe this June, including Arctic Challenge, Saber Strike and BALTOPS. “Training with Allies and joint partners improves coordination between Allies and enables the U.S. Air Force to build enduring relationships necessary to confront a broad range of global challenges,” said a EUCOM statement.
COMEY’S BOMBSHELL: Former FBI Director James Comey plans to say in public testimony before a Senate committee that Trump pressured him to end the FBI's investigation into ties between Trump's campaign associates and Russia, according to a report from CNN. Comey's explosive testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee could come as early as next week. However, no official date has been set.
Some members of Congress were concerned that the appointment of special counsel Robert Mueller would affect Comey's ability to testify publicly. But CNN reported that Comey and Mueller met privately to discuss the parameters for Comey's testimony to safeguard against "legal entanglements."
CAN I GET A WITNESS? House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes said Wednesday Democrats have prevented a panel investigating Russia's interference in the 2016 election from conducting a single witness interview, Susan Ferrechio writes. Nunes also announced the panel in the coming days is likely to subpoena the FBI, CIA and National Security Agency for information that would reveal who "unmasked" classified information damaging to Trump's administration.
"I don't know how you go for 60 days and have no interviews and every day there is some Democrat on some TV or radio station or newspaper saying they have more than circumstantial evidence, now," that Trump colluded with the Russians, Nunes said.
IN DUE TIME: The top members of the House Intelligence Committee say they'll interview witnesses in their Russia investigation in a manner that they dictate, not in response to requests from third parties, in this case, Carter Page. "[Rep. Mike] Conaway and I have agreed to review relevant documents before interviewing witnesses, as you would expect in a comprehensive investigation," ranking member Adam Schiff said in a committee release. "And while we anticipate interviews to begin shortly, we have agreed that the pace of those interviews will be dictated by the needs of the investigation and not the preferences of outside parties."
The statement from the committee was in response to tweets from the president, but also reports that Page, who briefly worked as an adviser to the Trump campaign in 2016, was complaining to the committee that they weren't moving fast enough to take his volunteer testimony.
SUBPOENAS ARE OUT: The committee on Wednesday issued seven subpoenas as part of its ongoing investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 elections, including one seeking information about Obama's national security adviser Susan Rice and her activities related to intelligence documents that named members of the Trump campaign.
According to a press release from the committee, subpoenas were also issued to Trump's one-time national security adviser Mike Flynn and one of his businesses, and to Michael Cohen and one of his businesses. Cohen is Trump's personal attorney.
KABUL INJURIES: Eleven U.S. personnel were injured in a terrorist attack in Afghanistan's capital that killed dozens and injured hundreds more, according to the State Department. "Eleven U.S. citizen contract personnel were injured in the attack in Kabul," a State Department official told the Washington Examiner. "None of their injuries appear to be life-threatening."
A suicide bomber rocked Kabul's diplomatic neighborhood Wednesday by detonating a truckload of explosives, creating a blast that shattered windows about a mile away from the site. At least 90 people were killed and 400 wounded.
Neither the Taliban nor ISIS-Khorasan has claimed responsibility for the bombing, and suspicion now centers on the Haqqani network, an insurgent group that has been fighting the Afghan government and NATO troops.
NO FURTHER COMMENT: White House press secretary Sean Spicer indicated Wednesday that he would not be taking any more press questions about issues related to Russia and Comey, and that he would refer all of those questions to Trump's outside counsel. "We are focused on the president's agenda, and ... going forward, all questions on these matters will be referred to outside counsel, Marc Kasowitz," Spicer said when asked about Comey's expected testimony about the circumstances of his firing.
RETURNED TO MOSCOW? The Trump administration is considering whether to once again allow Russians access to retreats that the Obama administration made off limits in response to Russia's meddling in the 2016 presidential election. Obama blocked Russians from accessing retreats in Centreville, Md., and Oyster Bay, N.Y., as one of the sanctions he imposed on Russia.
But Trump is now looking at restoring that access to Russia, according to the Washington Post. The Post said Russia initially said it would consider this shift if Russia allowed the U.S. to build a consulate in St. Petersburg. But the U.S. position of linking the two issues quickly changed, according to the report. One possible idea under discussion is whether to restore the diplomatic immunity that the two buildings previously enjoyed.
Reuters: South Korea's Moon Sends Aide To U.S. To Quell Fears Over Anti-Missile System
Associated Press: Pro-Syrian Forces Staying In Border Area Despite US Warnings
Defense News: DoD's $1.8B train-and-equip request forecasts chaos after ISIS
AFP: Turkey Says Us Arming Syrian Kurdish Militia 'Extremely Dangerous'
War on the Rocks: Is Trump’s 350-Ship Navy on the rocks? The politics, promise and peril of shipbuilding
Navy Times: 14th Virginia-Class Submarine USS Washington Delivered To Navy
Roll Call: Trump’s ‘total authorization’ to military gives some ‘deep concerns’
Defense News: NATO might trigger Article 5 for certain cyberattacks
Military.com: First Marine Corps F-35B squadron readies for Pacific deployment
Military Times: DoD budget request includes anti-tank rockets for Syrians fighting ISIS
CNN: US military photos from May
USA Today: Horrific Afghanistan bombing highlights stalemate in longest U.S. war
Foreign Policy: Trump’s ‘secret plan’ to defeat ISIS looks a lot like Obama’s
Stars and Stripes: A-10s leave South Korea for training in Alaska despite tensions with North
Task and Purpose: See the suicide tractors and DIY rounds ISIS lost in Mosul
THURSDAY | JUNE 1
7:45 a.m. 901 17th St. NW. S&ET executive breakfast with Mary Miller, acting assistant secretary of defense for research and engineering. ndia.org
10 a.m. 1616 Rhode Island Ave. NW. The Navy's maintenance challenge in resetting the fleet with Vice Adm. Thomas Moore, of Naval Sea Systems Command. csis.org
10 a.m. 1616 Rhode Island Ave. NW. Assessing risk in the 21st Century. Csis.org
11 a.m. Pentagon Briefing Room. Army Col. Ryan Dillon, spokesman, Combined Joint Task Force - Operation Inherent Resolve briefs live from Baghdad on counter ISIS operations. Live streamed on defense.gov
FRIDAY | JUNE 2
8 a.m. 300 1st St. SE. Nuclear deterrence series with Vice Adm. Terry Benedict, director of the Navy’s Strategic Systems Programs. Mitchellaerospacepower.org
MONDAY | JUNE 5
9 a.m. 1775 Massachusetts Ave. NW. The stunning inside story of Osama bin Laden and al-Qaida in flight. brookings.edu
3:30 p.m. 1775 Massachusetts Ave. NW. All measures short of war: The contest for the 21st century and the future of American power. brookings.edu
5 p.m. Senate Visitor Center 217. Closed hearing on the Islamic State outside the Middle East. foreign.senate.gov
TUESDAY | JUNE 6
8:30 a.m. 1616 Rhode Island Ave. NW. The 6th annual symposium on the European Union's common security and defense policy. csis.org
9:30 a.m. Dirksen G-50. Posture of the Air Force with Secretary Heather Wilson and Gen. David Goldfein, chief of staff. armed-services.senate.gov
10 a.m. 1775 Massachusetts Ave. NW. The growing threat from cyber weapons and what the United States needs to do to prepare. brookings.edu
10 a.m. Dirksen 342. Department of Homeland Security budget request for 2018. hsgac.senate.gov
12:30 p.m. 1777 F St. NW. Are there any steps forward in Syria? cfr.org
2 p.m. 1616 Rhode Island Ave. NW. A new nuclear review for a new age. csis.org
2:30 p.m. Russell 232-A. Marine Corps ground modernization. armed-services.senate.gov
WEDNESDAY | JUNE 7
8 a.m. 300 1st St. SE. Nuclear deterrence series event on U.S. and allied nuclear and BMD initiatives. mitchellaerospacepower.org
8:30 a.m. 901 17 St. NW. The future of defense and deterrence in Europe with Gen. Philip Breedlove, former supreme allied commander of NATO, and the defense ministers of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. atlanticcouncil.org
8:45 a.m. 1030 15th St. NW. Energy security in central and eastern Europe. atlanticcouncil.org
9 a.m. 1616 Rhode Island Ave. NW. Meeting security challenges in a disordered world. csis.org
10:30 a.m. 1030 15th St. NW. Regional perspectives on U.S. strategy in Afghanistan. atlanticcouncil.org
6 p.m. 1301 S. Joyce St. Networking Series event with Dana W. White, assistant to the secretary of defense for public affairs. militaryreporters.org
THURSDAY | JUNE 8
9:30 a.m. Dirksen G-50. Posture of the Navy with acting Secretary Sean Stackley, Adm. John Richardson and Marine Commandant Gen. Robert Neller. armed-services.senate.gov
12:30 p.m. 1211 Connecticut Ave. NW. Nuclear weapons and coercive diplomacy. stimson.org