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24 Sep 18. Key companies to attend White House quantum computing meeting. The White House will hold a meeting on Monday on U.S. government efforts to boost quantum information science, with administration officials, leading companies including Alphabet Inc, IBM Corp, JPMorgan Chase & Co and academic experts taking part. Quantum computers could operate millions of times faster than today’s advanced supercomputers. Experts have said the promising technology, still in its infancy, could have a major impact on healthcare, communications, financial services, transportation, artificial intelligence, weather forecasting and other areas. The technology carries major national security implications because quantum computers potentially could break traditional internet security programs or other codes. The meeting was organised by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. Jake Taylor, the office’s assistant director for quantum information science, said the administration plans to publish a strategy on Monday on how to advance the next-generation technology. The meeting is aimed at bringing key stakeholders together and “really develop a plan” to help make quantum computing a reality and look for input on what additional steps the government can take, Taylor said.
The meeting will include officials from the Pentagon, National Security Agency, White House National Security Council, NASA and the federal departments of energy, agriculture, homeland security, state and interior, among others.
Tim Sheehy, IBM’s vice president of technology policy, said in an interview the meeting “gets academia, government, industry together and says how can we make our individual efforts into a greater collective whole.”
Representatives from Honeywell International Inc, Lockheed Martin Corp, Goldman Sachs Group Inc, AT&T Inc Intel Corp, Northop Grumman Corp and other companies also will attend. Quantum computing “will enable us to predict and improve chemical reactions, new materials and their properties, as well as provide new understandings of spacetime and the emergence of our universe,” and could be realized within a decade, according to a White House memo. On Sept. 13, the U.S. House of Representatives approved legislation on quantum information science to “create a unified national quantum strategy” that would authorize $1.3bn in funding through 2023. The bill’s co-author, Representative Lamar Smith, who chairs the House Science Committee, will speak at Monday’s meeting. (Source: Reuters)
21 Sep 18. Trump directs implementation of new National Biodefense Strategy. US President Donald J. Trump has directed the implementation of a new National Biodefense Strategy that will help the country to more effectively prepare for and counter man-made and natural biological threats. The implementation of the actions determined under the document will help promote a more efficient, coordinated and accountable biodefense enterprise, while strengthening the nation’s biodefence capabilities to better protect the people and homeland. Trump said: “We must protect the American people, the homeland and our great American way of life.”
In addition, Trump has signed a biodefense National Security Presidential Memorandum (NSPM) that will help develop a new mechanism for coordinating the full range of biodefense activities and budget resources across the government in order to ensure the better implementation of the strategy. To this end, a Cabinet-level biodefence steering committee has been set up and will be chaired by the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
Biodefense Steering Committee chair HHS Secretary Alex Azar said: “This is the approach best suited for carrying out the strategy operationally.”
The organisations participating in the newly formed committee include the US Department of Defense (DoD), the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Department of Homeland Security, in addition to the Environmental Protection Agency and other agencies. The new National Biodefense Strategy has been designed to support research into combating pandemics and coordinating response to attacks or outbreaks, and will work in collaboration with allies, the United Nations’ World Health Organization and the Red Cross. (Source: army-technology.com)
20 Sep 18. The US Army is converting two BCTs as it beefs up its fighting force for the next big war. The US Army will convert one Stryker brigade combat team into an armored brigade combat teamnext year and an infantry brigade combat team to a Stryker brigade combat team in 2020, officials announced Thursday. This comes as the force realigns itself from 17 years of fighting counterinsurgency warfare across the globe, to a shift toward near-peer adversaries such as Russia and China, which have large formations of mechanized ground combat units. It also follows increasing demand for the Army’s armored brigades, which are committed to nine-month rotations in Kuwait, Korea and Germany, on top of other missions.
The 1st Armored Division’s 1st Brigade Combat Team at Fort Bliss, Texas, will convert from Stryker to armored next year, while the 2nd Brigade Combat Team of the 4th Infantry Division at Fort Carson, Colorado, will convert from infantry to Stryker in the spring of the following year, officials said.
Secretary of the Army Mark Esper said in a release that the conversion “ensures the Army remains the world’s most lethal ground combat force, able to deploy, fight and win against any adversary, anytime and anywhere.”
The move will see a host of changes for the soldiers at both locations, said Lt. Gen. Joseph Anderson, the Army’s deputy chief of staff for operations, or G-3. Some soldiers will stay on post and shift to the new units, some new soldiers will come in from the various career courses and initial training. Others may decide to retrain or re-enlist to join the new units. Exact numbers have not yet been calculated; that will be handled by the Army’s Human Resource Analysis staff, Anderson said. But the equipment and infrastructure refurbishing and refitting will take an estimated 18 to 24 months. Simultaneously, individual soldier movement, training and, later, unit training to build BCT readiness for combat training center rotations will continue.
“We are very pleased with this decision. Fort Carson provides world class training opportunities for Strykers, and having another Stryker brigade combat team will improve 4th Infantry Division’s lethality,” said Maj. Gen. Randy A. George, the division commander, in a statement.
The 2nd IBCT is currently deployed in separate operations in both Afghanistan and Kosovo. The base of the ABCT relies on the Abrams tank, Bradley Fighting Vehicle and the Paladin artillery piece. The move comes after last year’s conversion of the 3rd Infantry Division’s 2nd BCT at Fort Stewart, Georgia, from an infantry brigade to an armored brigade. That will put the Army at a total of 31 BCTs in the regular Army, comprised of 11 armored. 13 infantry and seven Stryker brigades once complete. The Army National Guard will hold 27 BCTs, among them five armored, 20 infantry and two Stryker brigades. This gives the total Army 58 BCTs. (Source: Defense News Early Bird/Military Times)
20 Sep 18. Stratcom Commander: Military Coming to Grips With Multidomain Battlefield. The multidomain battlefield requires a degree of integration that the U.S. military is coming to grips with, the commander of U.S. Strategic Command said here yesterday. Air Force Gen. John E. Hyten spoke about the struggle to adapt to the multidomain battlefield at the Air Force Association’s annual meeting. Stratcom has its headquarters in Omaha, Nebraska, which once was the headquarters for the Air Force’s Strategic Air Command. SAC had the nuclear bomber and nuclear missile mission for the country. Its motto was “Peace is our profession.”
Hyten resurrected the SAC motto when he became commander, but he added ellipses at the end to remind possible adversaries that if “they don’t want peace, we can go a different direction,” the general said.
At its heart, the command provides for strategic deterrence and nuclear operations. The command oversees 1,550 deployed nuclear weapons and is the most powerful command in the world, yet those weapons alone do not deter “everyone from everything,” Hyten said.
Since the command formed in 2002, a number of missions migrated to it, Hyten said. “Space came in, network operations came in, cyber came in, countering weapons of mass destruction came in, [intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance] came in, missile defense came in, electronic warfare came in, analysis and warfare came in,” he said. “We formed all these functional commands for all these things. When I got there, we were down to 18 different components under Stratcom.”
This has changed, and now ISR is under the Joint Staff, and countering weapons of mass destruction is now under U.S. Special Operations Command. U.S. Space Command will be a global command in the future.
Strategic Deterrence Across All Domains
The changed environment requires a change in strategic deterrence to cross all domains, Hyten said. “The most important priority is to prevent the use of nuclear weapons on our country or allies and prevent the creation of catastrophic space or cyberspace actions that damage our nation,” the general said. “That requires the integration of all capabilities – nukes, global strike, cyber, conventional – all to deliver our deterrent effect.”
Hyten added that he also wants to know how this shift affects the current military command structure.
“We have five global combatant commanders and six geographic combatant commanders,” the general said. “And those five global combatant commanders, to one aspect or another, can deliver global fires. Cyber Command [and] Space Command will be able to deliver global fires. Stratcom will always be able to deliver global fires, both conventional and nuclear. [U.S. Transportation Command] enables everybody to deliver global fires.”
Currently, these fires are delivered around singular events in an environment where the United States is not threatened in all global domains, the Stratcom commander noted. “In the future,” he added, “there may be a fight that goes on in space and cyberspace – globally – involving special operations, involving Cybercom, all at the same time. What is our doctrine for integrating the global fires of this nation and providing that in support of a geographic combatant commander somewhere?
“We actually are just trying to figure this out right now,” the general continued. “That’s multidomain operations at its core. How do we integrate that so we can deter our adversaries? How do we integrate to deliver global fire on the battlefield of the future? Global fires, theater fires – they all have to be integrated in timing and tempo. That is unbelievably difficult.” (Follow Jim Garamone on Twitter: @GaramoneDoDNews)
20 Sep 18. US reverses course, certifies Russian Open Skies aircraft. A week after refusing to certify a Russian aircraft for use in Open Skies Treaty overflights, the U.S. has reversed course. On Sept. 10, the U.S. declined to certify that equipment aboard a Russian Tu-214 was in compliance with the treaty, which allows the 34 members to fly over each other’s territory to verify military movements and conduct arms control measures. It was just the latest issue over Open Skies in recent years, which has seen both Russia and the U.S. block access to certain facilities.
However, on Sept. 18, the U.S. changed its mind and indeed certified the aircraft. Per a State Department official, the decision to certify followed “an extensive review and inspection process involving experts from the United States and many of our Allies and partners. This process has verified that the Russian aircraft and sensor meets all Treaty requirements for certification.”
The official noted, however, that there are no dates scheduled for a next flight, either from Russia or the U.S., due to the ongoing issues surrounding the treaty.
“We are actively working with our Allies and partners to strengthen the Open Skies Treaty and to resolve issues of mutual concern such as the impasse at the Open Skies Consultative Commission that continues to delay the commencement of treaty flights in 2018,” the official added.
Speaking in front of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Tuesday, Andrea Thompson, undersecretary of state for arms control and international security, characterized the decision not as a refusal to certify, but a bid for more time to make a decision.
“We didn’t fail to certify, we came back and had to consult with some additional technical experts, and I’d anticipate we will have a decision that within the next 24 hours,” Thompson said then, presaging the certification that would come the next day.
Advocates for the treaty have argued that it gives vital information to the U.S. and other allies about military troop movements in Russia, but critics counter that Russia uses the treaty to gain an upper hand on American forces.
Committee chairman Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., summed up the state of play for Open Skies thusly during Tuesday’s hearing: “We haven’t had a flight all year. We can live without that data, but it hurts the 32 other countries that do not have the same alternative resources that we do.”
Earlier this year, Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis issued a letter of support for the treaty. Appearing alongside Thompson, David Trachtenberg, deputy undersecretary of defense for policy, reiterated the Pentagon’s support.
“I think the Open Skies Treaty clearly has been in the United States interests and certainly because of the transparency it provides the openness, the level of visibility of what other states are doing that it provides not only to us but to our allies as well,” Trachtenberg said.
But, he said, “We would much prefer to see the Russians get back into compliance with its provisions.” (Source: Defense News)
20 Sep 18. Trump’s new strategy calls for more cyberattacks. The Trump administration is using a new national cyber strategy, announced Sept. 20, to create fresh norms in cyberspace and increase the number of offensive operations.
President Donald Trump has put into place a new doctrine for how America operates in cyberspace that gives more authority to departments, national security advisor John Bolton told reporters.
“We are going to do a lot of things offensively. Our adversaries need to know that,” Bolton said. He added that the new policy is “not because we want more offensive operations, but precisely to create the structures of deterrence that will demonstrate to adversaries that the cost of their engaging in operations against us is higher than they want to bare.”
The announcement comes weeks after White House and defense officials told Fifth Domain that Trump “rescinded” the previous rules that governed America in cyberspace. Under those rules, often referred to Presidential Policy Directive 20, the government coordinated offensive operations through a process in which each agency had near veto power on operations, according to current and former officials.
“We will identify, counter, disrupt, deter and degrade behavior in cyberspace that is destabilizing and contrary to our national interest,” Bolton said. He added that the current strategy is “very different from PPD-20” and said that America’s “hands are not as tied as they were in the Obama administration.”
The new authorities are laid out in National Security Presidential Memorandum 13, which has not been released publicly. A former White House official told Fifth Domain that the new authorities are more than a year in the making. Staffers inside the White House debated whether to work within the confines of PPD-20, or scrap the Obama policy altogether. The Trump administration chose to chart a new path in cyberspace. But there are risks to the new plan.
“There are a lot of pros and cons with each approach,” Yonatan Striem-Amit, the co-founder and CTO of Cybereason, told Fifth Domain.
“A lot of nations feel that attacking U.S. targets is a no-risk game. Creating a quid pro quo situation where foreign adversaries are incentivized to reign in their operations can be very valuable.”
Striem-Amit warned that attributing cyberattacks can be difficult and many attackers can hide their identity. He said that some countries may pretend to be a third party to provoke a reaction.
The new national cyber strategy says the United States will “attribute and deter unacceptable behavior in cyberspace.” It aims to do this in part by launching “an international cyber deterrence initiative” to build a coalition of the willing to work with in cyberspace that can call out these bad actors.
For months, the State Department has been quietly meeting with countries around the world to build partnerships. Last month, Department of Homeland Security chief Kirstjen Nielsen pennedan agreement with four of America’s closest intelligence allies to boost intelligence sharing and attribute bad actors in cyberspace.
The targets of the administration’s new plan in cyberspace were clear.
“Russia, Iran and North Korea conducted reckless cyberattacks that harmed American and international businesses and our allies and partners without paying costs likely to deter future cyber aggression,” the strategy reads. (Source: Fifth Domain)
19 Sep 18. Time is Now to Execute National Defense Strategy, Shanahan Says. The National Defense Strategy unveiled earlier this year has had time to percolate through the force. Now it is time to execute it, the deputy secretary of defense said at the annual Air Force Association meeting here today.
“We have a unique window of opportunity,” Patrick M. Shanahan said. “Congress is firmly behind us and has given us the money we need. However, if we don’t deliver results, Congress won’t lift the budget caps in 2020 and we won’t have the money to fully implement our strategy.”
The deputy said Congress won’t be impressed simply because DoD tried hard. “They will judge our output,” he said. “So we need to get to work.”
Shanahan is the department’s chief operating officer, and it is his job to ensure execution of the National Defense Strategy. “I’m focused on performance and I’m focused on making change at scale,” he said. “When I say I’m product driven, it means I am focused on the product – or in our case – on the warfighting capability we need to win. Based on that capability we derive process, structure and resources.”
If a company misjudges, it doesn’t make money. If DoD doesn’t do what is necessary, lives are in danger and American liberty itself could be at risk. “When it comes to performance, the question is not ‘Are we getting better?’ It’s ‘Are we good enough to win?’” Shanahan said. “We must win against our competitors. Every day, wake up and ask yourself, ‘what will it take to win?’”
Great Power Competition
The strategy signals a return of great power competition, and the deputy secretary called this “a muscle we haven’t used in a while.” But China and Russia have studied this and studied the way America fights for the past 30 years. They have built systems and fashioned doctrine specifically to thwart the American way of war, he said.
China and Russia are not the only threats, he noted, and the United States continues to deal with threats from North Korea, Iran and terrorist organizations.
Defense Department reform is a topic near and dear to Shanahan’s heart. “The need and opportunity [for reform] are self-evident,” he said. “We must concentrate on developing reform habits — habits of doing, habits of performance evaluation, habits of working as an enterprise, habits of achieving scale.”
It is not simply about money, he said. Reform means ensuring service members have the tools they need to perform at higher levels. This means faster downrange support, making it easier and faster to hire new employees and conduct background investigations, and paying what things should cost rather than what has been paid historically, he said.
Shanahan said Defense Secretary James N. Mattis told him when he was hired as deputy secretary that he wanted DoD to be the benchmark. “That is my goal,” Shanahan said.
Priorities for Reform
Logistics, health care and information technology are priorities for reform just because of the size and function of these areas, he said. Each year, DoD spends $150bn on logistics, $50bn on health care and $35bn on information technology.
Changes coming in all these fields, he said, noting that logistics companies already are experimenting on deliveries by drones or self-driving vehicles.
“Selection, availability, ordering, fulfillment and distribution are all miraculously getting easier, faster and cheaper,” Shanahan said. “Can you imagine the burden we would lift from our teammates if we could be a part of the logistics revolution?”
The same is true of health care, he said, though he was careful to stress that reform in this area “is about delivering better care and doing it at a lower cost.”
Information technology is modernizing daily, Shanahan said, and DoD should have ample opportunities for reform and savings in that field. “Many of the back-office [human resources] and material management systems that industry has deployed over the past decade are ripe for our adoption,” he said. “It’s what I call ‘R&D: rip-off and deploy.’ A custom federated approach is a trap.”
Strengthening Alliances, Attracting New Partners
Another line of effort in the strategy is strengthening alliances and attracting new partners. “Relationships aren’t monolithic; they’re complex,” Shanahan said. “We will agree in some places and disagree in others.”
Strengthening relationships happens at all levels, from Mattis visiting more than 60 countries during his term so far to airmen studying with and working alongside allies and partners around the world.
Finally, Shanahan told the audience, the mission of the department is to fight and win America’s wars. The National Defense Strategy’s first line of effort, building a more lethal force, is fundamental to DoD’s mission and anchors the strategy to the essence of warfighting, he said. “It is our lethality that deters our adversaries, and enhancing it should drive everything we do,” he added.
The department must restore readiness and modernize capabilities, Shanahan said. “Readiness is about being combat-credible, having the capabilities and capacity … to fight and win,” he said. “Generating that readiness has many different elements: people, training, munitions, equipment and sustainment.”
Air Force Progress
The Air Force has made measurable progress, he said, noting that the maintainer shortage is being addressed and should hit zero by December. The service is looking at ways to leverage big data, 3D printing and other technologies in sustainment, he said.
“I’m encouraged by your progress, but there is so much we can do, particularly on sustainment, which, as we all know, is the biggest portion of life cycle cost,” Shanahan said.
Modernization is about retooling for great power competition, the deputy secretary said, something the country has not seen since the dissolution of the Soviet Union. “Just as we needed stealth bombers to penetrate advanced air defenders and precision guided missiles to increase lethality during the Cold War, we need a next generation of weapons to counter Chinese and Russian threats,” Shanahan said.
The budget must be strategy driven and must capture programming and integration of plans to transition from technology demonstrations to development, he said.
“It’s like the old adage, ‘Don’t tell me your strategy. Show me your budget and I’ll tell you what your strategy is,’” he said. “Now is the time to make choices about what we will and won’t do. Those choices, as reflected in this budget, will determine what our military looks like for the next 50 years, and we’ve got 10 weeks to complete it.” (Follow Jim Garamone on Twitter: @GaramoneDoDNews)
18 Sep 18. As deadline nears, Senate approves $674bn defense budget bill. With the fiscal year winding down, Senate lawmakers on Tuesday advanced a multi-agency appropriations deal that would prevent a government shutdown and give the Defense Department its full-year budget on schedule for the first time in a decade. The measure, which provides for more than $606bn in base defense spending and nearly $68bn more in overseas contingency funds, is in line with White House requests and spending targets outlined in the annual defense authorization bill approved earlier this summer.
“After subjecting America’s all-volunteer armed forces to years of belt tightening, this legislation will build on our recent progress in rebuilding the readiness of our military and investing more in the men and women who wear the uniform,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said before the Senate vote. The funding total — approved by a 93-7 vote — amounts to an increase of more than 3 percent for military spending in fiscal 2019, but as important as the boost is the timing of the measure. In recent years, Congress has struggled to pass any appropriations measures before the start of the new fiscal year, relying instead on a series of budget extensions to avoid partial government shutdowns. That has infuriated Pentagon leaders, who have said the fractured appropriations process prevents them from keeping equipment purchases and new program starts on time. If the House finalizes the appropriations measure next week and President Donald Trump signs it into law in the following week (all parties involved have already signaled they expect to do so), it will mark the first time since 2008 that Congress and the White House have passed their spending plans on time.
Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., called that “a major victory” for Congress and the military.
The measure funds a 2.6 percent pay raise for troops starting next January and a boost in military end strength of 16,400 spread across the active-duty and reserve forces.
Operation and maintenance spending totals $243.2bn of the defense total, and research and development efforts another $96.1bn. Defense health and military family programs would receive $34.4bn.
The appropriations fund 13 new Navy ships ― including three DDG-51 guided missile destroyers and two Virginia-class submarines ― 93 F-35 aircraft, 58 UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters, 66 AH-64 Apache helicopters, 13 V-22 aircraft, and $1.5 bn for the upgrade of 135 Abrams tanks.
The National Guard and Reserve Equipment Account would also see a $1.3bn boost from the appropriations plan.
In order to avoid political fights over non-defense spending levels, lawmakers agreed to package the military budget bill with the full-year funding for the Departments of Health and Human Services, Labor, and Education.
In addition, the legislation contains a budget extension for a handful of agency budgets lawmakers have not yet finished negotiating. The move will prevent a government shutdown at the end of the month, when the fiscal year ends. Several senators lamented before the vote that all of the appropriations bills have not yet been finalized, but for the first time in years, defense advocates aren’t among those complaining. In addition to the full Defense Department appropriations plan, lawmakers last week finalized a spending plan for military construction projects and the Department of Veterans Affairs, covering nearly all aspects of national defense and military personnel spending. (Source: Defense News)
18 Sep 18. Defense Intel Chief Puts Great Power Competition in Context. People told the director of the Defense Intelligence Agency that in his speech to the Center for Strategic and International Studies he should just say “Great power competition, artificial intelligence” and then drop the mic and walk off.
It was a good line, but Army Lt. Gen. Robert P. Ashley Jr. knows the world is more complex and that even in great power competition among the United States, China and Russia, context is important.
“We look very closely at the technology development. Obviously, there’s some breakout things — we watch the AI side of the house, the hypersonics, counter-space, [and] what they’re doing with regard to subs, if you’re following the maritime piece of that as well,” he said. “They’re in the trials for their first carrier. They got an old one from the Russians; now they’re building their own.”
Ashley said DIA’s mission is to “make sure the secretary of defense is never surprised,” and that the 16,500 people in DIA work constantly to ensure Defense Secretary James N. Mattis receives the intelligence he needs, when he needs it.
The general talked about context, saying it is not enough to tell leaders what equipment or how many troops a rival military has; they need to know what foreign leaders are likely to do with those troops and equipment. “How are they going to fight it?” he said.
For example, the Russians now have a major exercise — Vostok — going on in the Far East. They invited China to exercise with them. “What does that mean? What do U.S. leaders really need to know about Vostok?” Ashley asked.
“What is it that I can pull out of that that tells our key leaders, ‘This is the strategy you need think about [in terms of] of how you counter it,” he said. “So for me, that’s the context.”
More Than Simple Military Intelligence
DIA has to be more than simple military intelligence. The agency needs to analyze the diplomatic, economic and military aspects together, he said. “It touches strategy,” he said. “It touches what we may see some of those foreign entities do. It touches acquisition. It touches technology.”
The general put the great power competition with Russia and China into context during his discussion. “When you think about greater power of competition, even if you go back to the Cold War time, … any place that Russia could change an alignment, change a relationship, align it to Russia, that would be something they would do to their favor,” he said. “They would want to do that.”
The same applies today, he said. Russia will do what it can to get a foothold in a nation and develop a relationship separating it from the United States and its allies. The other part of being a great power for Russian President Vladimir Putin is that he sits at the table with other great powers, Ashley said. “And so, that’s part of the intent behind what he wants to accomplish,” the general said.
Putin wants to be a player, Ashley said, and that is why Russia injects itself into Syria, Libya, the greater Middle East and even in central Asia. “[Putin] gets himself to the table in some way, shape, or form … to make a decision,” Ashley said.
China’s Economic Might
China is different, he said, in that the Chinese have the economic might to truly be a great power, noting that have watched the U.S. military closely since 1991’s Operation Desert Storm and were amazed at what the American military has done since 9/11.
“They’ve watched us over the course of the last couple of decades as they have grown capability,” Ashley said. “And in many ways, they’ve mirrored some of the things we’ve done.” The Chinese are trying to develop joint capabilities, he added, and have built a number of national training centers.
It is tough to ascertain what the Chinese see as the end state, the general said. They could be intent on putting in place a strategy for global hegemony over a period of 100 years, or it could simply be about taking care of the Chinese people.
Still, the general said, there are disturbing trends. Building islands is one thing, he said, but placing defenses and missiles on those islands in the South China Sea is destabilizing. “This we watch closely — obviously, as we do on behalf of the nation,” Ashley said. “But it’s not a foregone conclusion that this is going to be a competitor that turns to an enemy.”
He also watches the growing Chinese economic influence in Djibouti, Sri Lanka and Pakistan. “What takes place over time? Does that lease become a constant visit of a naval presence? Does that naval presence turn into a base? Does that base turn into yet a presence again, mirroring very much what the U.S. is able to do from a global standpoint?” he said.
The debate about China, he said, is whether it is a regional hegemon looking after Chinese interests, or is pursuing interests that are more global in nature. (Follow Jim Garamone on Twitter: @GaramoneDoDNews)
18 Sep 18. New Biodefense Strategy Combats Man-Made, Natural Threats. The new National Biodefense Strategy is a living document designed to counter man-made and natural biological threats, National Security Advisor John Bolton said during a White House briefing today.
“This is critical, we think, for our defense purposes looking at the range of weapons of mass destruction the United States our friends and allies face,” he said.
While nuclear weapons are an existential threat to the United States, chemical and biological weapons also pose dangers to Americans. Bolton noted that biological weapons often are called “poor man’s nukes” and said the biodefense strategy aims at countering that threat.
“What we’ve done is establish a Cabinet-level biodefense steering committee to be chaired by the Department of Health and Human Services,” he said. “This is the approach best suited for carrying out the strategy operationally.” HHS Secretary Alex Azar will chair the committee.
Participating agencies include the departments of Defense, Agriculture and Homeland Security, as well as the Environmental Protection Agency and others.
Bolton stressed that this is just one part of the nation’s biodefense strategy and does not encompass what the U.S. offensive response would be to a biological attack. He also said the strategy will evolve as needed. As new techniques or new medical treatments or new threats emerge, he added, the strategy will change.
Azar, who also spoke at the briefing, noted that the strategy has to cover a range of threats, from nation-states to individuals. He noted that the anthrax attack of 2001 was launched by an individual, while the Spanish Flu outbreak in 1918 that infected a quarter of all Americans and killed almost 700,000 was natural.
The threats are real and growing, Azar said. The world is growing more urbanized and interconnected, which speeds the spread of infectious threats. He noted the Ebola outbreak earlier this summer in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. “Such is the ease of travel between countries now that just in the DRC, more than 100,000 people are being screened at border crossings every day,” he said. “We also face accidental and man-made threats. Today’s rapid technological advances have great potential to improve public health and human health, but they also create the opportunity for new kinds of threats and for more and more actors to make use of biological weapons.”
The strategy looks to promote research into combating pandemics and coordinating response to attacks or outbreaks. It looks to work with allies, the United Nations’ World Health Organization, the Red Cross and others. (Follow Jim Garamone on Twitter: @GaramoneDODNews)
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