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26 Sep 19. DOD Statement on Deployment of U.S. Forces and Equipment to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
Attributed to Chief Pentagon Spokesperson Jonathan Hoffman:
“In light of recent attacks on the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and at their invitation, Secretary of Defense Mark T. Esper announced today that the U.S. would deploy the following equipment to the kingdom:
- One Patriot Battery
- Four Sentinel RADARs
- Approximately 200 support personnel
This deployment will augment the kingdom’s air and missile defense of critical military and civilian infrastructure. This deployment augments an already significant presence of U.S. forces in the region.
The Secretary has also approved putting additional forces on Prepare To Deploy Orders (PTDO). While no decision has been made to deploy these additional forces, they will maintain a heightened state of readiness.
These forces include:
- Two Patriot Batteries
- One Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system (THAAD)
It is important to note these steps are a demonstration of our commitment to regional partners, and the security and stability in the Middle East. This follows the Secretary and Chairman’s extensive outreach to partners in the region, and around the globe.
Other countries have called out Iranian misadventures in the region, and we look for them to contribute assets in an international effort to reinforce Saudi Arabia’s defense.”
(Source: US DoD)
25 Sep 19. US aerospace/defence sales grew 4.2% last year, report says. The US aerospace and defence (A&D) industry generated over USD929bn in sales in 2018, a 4.2% increase from the previous year, according to a recently released report by the US-based Aerospace Industries Association (AIA).
The A&D sector last year continued “an eight-year trend of sustained growth,” thanks to rising global demand for US-built commercial aircraft and US defence systems, the report says.
“On the commercial side, experts estimate that production will steadily increase due to a strong backlog,” AIA wrote. “For defence products, a rise in geopolitical threats has resulted in increased spending on a global scale as allies in foreign markets continue to procure cutting-edge American technology.” (Source: Google/IHS Jane’s)
24 Sep 19. Trump’s Ukraine scandal could be ‘impeachable offense’ key national security Democrats, veterans warn. A coalition of national security Democrats, including five freshmen with military experience, on Tuesday blasted President Donald Trump’s alleged political dealings with Ukraine as a potential “impeachable offense” and joined their House colleagues in demanding the White House provide public answers on the scandal. In a Washington Post opinion piece Monday night, the group — all of whom represent districts Democrats flipped in the last mid-term election — called the latest accusations stunning and a significant national security threat.
Trump on Sunday seemed to acknowledged that, during a recent phone conversation, he urged Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to look into links between corruption in that country and Hunter Biden, the son of former vice president and current Democratic presidential hopeful Joe Biden.
Trump later backtracked on those comments and denied charges that he withheld U.S. foreign aid to Ukraine to pressure that government into investigate the Bidens. The issue is the focus of an ongoing whistleblower complaint against the president, who has blasted the entire controversy as a political smear campaign.
“The president of the United States may have used his position to pressure a foreign country into investigating a political opponent, and he sought to use U.S. taxpayer dollars as leverage to do it,” the Monday night op-ed stated.
“He allegedly sought to use the very security assistance dollars appropriated by Congress to create stability in the world, to help root out corruption and to protect our national security interests, for his own personal gain … If these allegations are true, we believe these actions represent an impeachable offense.”
The opinion piece was authored by Reps. Elanie Lauria of Virginia, Mikie Sherrill of New Jersey, Chrissy Houlahan of Pennsylvania, Gil Cisneros of California and Jason Crow of Colorado, all of whom served in the military.
Reps. Abigail Spanberger of Virginia, who served in the Central Intelligence Agency, and Elissa Slotkin of Michigan, who worked in the CIA and Defense Department as a civilian, also signed on to the piece.
“Everything we do harks back to our oaths to defend the country,” the group wrote. “These new allegations are a threat to all we have sworn to protect. We must preserve the checks and balances envisioned by the Founders and restore the trust of the American people in our government.”
A majority of House Democrats have publicly stated support for starting impeachment hearings, but the addition of the new group of moderate Democrats adds new focus on the effort.
Most Republicans in Congress thus far have remained quiet on the issue or attacked Democrats for fabricating charges against the president. On Monday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., accused the other party of moving too quickly to attack Trump without any evidence.
“I believe it’s extremely important that (this investigation) be handled in a secure setting with adequate protections in a bipartisan fashion and based on facts rather than leaks to the press,” he said.
“It is regrettable that (top Democrats) have chosen to politicize the issue, circumventing the established procedures and protocols that exist so the committees can pursue sensitive matters in the appropriate, deliberate bipartisan manner.”
House Democratic leaders are expected to hold meetings with members on the issue later Tuesday. (Source: Defense News)
24 Sep 19. DARPA Director Talks Promise of Life Sciences Research. It’s not artificial intelligence, quantum computing, or anything involving lasers that the director of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency believes to be the coolest area of research for DARPA. It’s the life sciences, he said, and it’s a field with a lot of avenues to be explored.
During a discussion with Northeastern University President Joseph E. Aoun at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington yesterday, Steven J. Walker said the life sciences trumps other areas of research as holding the most promise for the future.
“That’s the area that I see the most incredible technical leaps and bounds every day,” Walker said. “DARPA researchers looking at how to make gene editing safe and actually reverse a gene edit if they need to,” he added.
“You might think that gene editing and biology and [the National Institutes of Health] has billions of dollars. Yes, that work is ongoing, it’s being funded. But it’s not … as purpose driven as we’d like.”
One DARPA program called “Safe Genes” is meant in part to enable reversal of gene editing’s effects if need be, he said. “We have actually made a lot of progress there in being able to control gene edits,” he added. “That will, I think, change our world and the ability to actually cure disease.”
Walker also said DARPA would like to be able to protect soldiers from disease and chemical or biological warfare agents by modifying those soldiers genetically to make them able to resist.
“Can you actually protect a soldier on the battlefield from chemical weapons and biological weapons by controlling their genome, … having their genome produce proteins that would automatically protect the soldier from the inside out?” he said. “Just the amount of technological change in that area and the … more capability we have to engineer biology for use, is why I think it’s the most exciting field at DARPA right now, and why we stood up an office in 2014 to focus on it.”
Walker said making soldiers biologically adaptable to threats is a good idea because it no longer makes sense to have medications or remedies stockpiled for every possible threat.
“You can’t stockpile enough of the vaccine or antivirus capability to protect the population against that in the future. … This is all research at this point — we don’t have the capability yet,” he said. “But that is why you want to be able to actually have your body be the antibody factory, if possible.”
Walker said the goal is not to use genetics to make super soldiers, but rather to make soldiers who can be kept safe.
“I think our focus is about the protection aspect and the restoration, versus enhancements,” he said. “All these technologies, they are dual use. You can use them for good, and you can use them for evil. DARPA is about using them for good to protect our warfighters.”
Another DARPA project is rapid development of vaccines for never-before-seen viruses.
“This is about being able to inject the cells in your muscles, say to produce antibodies automatically, for a vaccine that we’ve never seen before, and do it in 60 days or less to protect a large population,” Walker said. “This is work we’ve been funding for about 10 years at universities, and now we are going into clinical trials with this as we speak.” (Source: US DoD)
23 Sep 19. China Poses Largest Long-Term Threat to U.S., DOD Policy Chief Says. It is not an exaggeration to say China is the greatest long-term threat to the U.S. way of life, but China also poses the greatest challenge to the Defense Department, DOD’s policy chief said.
John C. Rood, undersecretary of defense for policy, made the assertion during a panel discussion today at the Center for European Policy Analysis Forum in Washington.
“The National Defense Strategy very clearly lays out a blueprint for America’s role in the world and how we see it,” the undersecretary said. “It starts with recognition that in this highly complex, dynamic security environment, the great power competition has returned,” he said.
The United States doesn’t seek a confrontational approach, nor is it destined to be adversaries with China, Rood noted.
“We want to trade. We want to have interactions. But on the other hand, we want to protect our intellectual property,” he said. “We want to protect the rules-based international order that we’ve both worked so hard to create since World War II. And we want respect for the sovereignty of others. We want respect for the role of individual in society.”
Rood said it’s important to recognize the scale of China’s ambitions. China wants not only to become the world’s largest and most influential economy, but also to be the world’s largest and most influential nation in all spheres of life.
The undersecretary talked about China’s ambitions to have a world-class military.
“[But] it’s the way in which China is challenging this international rules-based order, challenging the individual freedoms that we support, challenging the free movement of ideas, and people, trade,” Rood said. “And promoting an authoritarian model, one that doesn’t respect the sovereignty of others, [is] what challenges our way of life.”
If it were simply an economic competition, Rood said, America rather likes competition. “And so I wouldn’t fear that at all,” he added.
The U.S. innovation model would beat China’s innovation model 10 times out of 10 times, Rood told the panel. “I really have tremendous confidence in it, he said, “and the best proof I can give you that China’s leaders recognize that is that they are determined to steal from it.”
The Chinese know they can’t win a head-to-head competition, the undersecretary said; they know they can’t compete with that kind of entrepreneurship and innovation, so the state has to exercise that level of control.
“You’re starting to see China develop overseas military bases, overseas intelligence collection locations, and this is one of the areas in which to challenge sovereignty,” Rood said. In the last 10 years, the United States has witnessed a 750% growth in China’s defense spending, he noted.
“We have to be serious about protecting this international rules-based order, protecting free trade, protecting the free movement of ideas and the role of individual society,” Rood said. (Source: US DoD)
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