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29 Jan 21. Pentagon could reassess future of JEDI cloud, depending on court action. The Department of Defense will reassess its cloud-computing options if a federal court does not dismiss allegations of improper influence in the contract process for the project worth billions, a new DoD memo said.
The Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure cloud, awarded to Microsoft in October 2019, would provide a department-wide platform needed to develop artificial intelligence and computing capabilities for war fighters at the tactical edge. But if the U.S Court of Federal Claims clears the way for Amazon Web Service’s interference allegations against former President Donald Trump over the JEDI project, the Pentagon warned that “the prospect of such a lengthy litigation process might bring the future of the JEDI cloud procurement into question,” according to the memo from the DoD CIO office to Congress.
“Under this scenario, the DoD CIO would reassess the strategy going forward,” the memo read.
AWS has stated that it wants to collect sworn statements from Trump and other current and past senior officials, including former Defense Secretary Jim Mattis. Evidence AWS cites against Trump includes public and private statements about his dislike for Amazon founder Jeff Bezos.
“These motions will be complex and elongate the timeline significantly,” the memo said.
Building the JEDI cloud infrastructure has been delayed since the Pentagon awarded the contract, valued up to $10bn over a decade,. Shortly after the award, AWS filed a lawsuit to block the department from working to build the enterprise cloud environment, alleging political interference and technical evaluation errors by the department during the selection process.
“Regardless of the JEDI cloud litigation outcome, the department continues to have an urgent, unmet requirement,” the DoD memo said. “Specifically, the department’s need for an enterprise-wide, commercial cloud services for all three classification levels, extending from the homefront to the tactical edge, at scale. We remain fully committed to meeting this requirement — we hope through JEDI — but this requirement transcends any one procurement, and we will be prepared to ensure it is met one way or another.”
The allegations of interference by Trump add uncertainty to the JEDI cloud project under President Joe Biden’s Department of Defense. Meanwhile, some industry experts have challenged the construct of the JEDI cloud, arguing that the contract shouldn’t be a single award and instead should involve several vendors.
If the court dismisses the improper influence allegations, then the department believes that the litigation of the remaining three counts would likely take four to five months, the memo stated.
“Work on JEDI cloud would continue to be paused until the litigation process is complete, and DISA/CCPO [Defense Information Systems Agency/Cloud Computing Program Office] remains ready to resume management of the JEDI cloud work if/when the entire set of litigation is resolved in the government’s favor.” (Source: Defense News)
28 Jan 21. Northrop Grumman Says It Will Walk Away From Cluster Bomb Contract. The company’s CEO says the decision is part of a move to “be thoughtful about potential human rights implications” of its products.
Northrop Grumman said Thursday that it would walk away from a U.S. government cluster bomb contract as the company moves to distance itself from the deadly weapons commonly associated with civilian casualties.
The contract involves the “testing of cluster munition components” and is “structured to help remove cluster munitions safely,” Northrop CEO Kathy Warden said on her company’s quarterly earnings call on Thursday.
The company does not make cluster munitions, which are air or ground-launched bombs that contain submunitions that spread indiscriminately over a wide area. Unexploded weapons from wars decades ago are still killing civilians.
“We recognize that even supporting an area like cluster munitions for investors is of concern, because safe removal implies that at one point there was an embracing of the use of these products,” she said. “When we look at our portfolio, we are going to continue to recognize, we support our government and our allies in the important work of enabling our troops to do their work, but at the same time, be thoughtful about potential human rights implications, and how these technologies may be used in the future and provides equal consideration to safeguards associated with them.”
With Democrats now controlling the White House and Congress, Warden used the earnings call to tout the company’s environment, sustainability, and workforce-diversification efforts.
“When we look through the lens of sustainability at our portfolio, we look at not only what capability we’re providing, but how it’s being used, or how we expect the customer to use that capability going forward,” she said.
Still, Warden said, she expects no “significant changes” to the company’s portfolio.
Her comments come as the Biden administration has reportedly frozen several controversial weapons sales to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. The Trump administration cleared multibillion-deals to sell F-35 stealth fighters and armed drones to UAE. It also reportedly approved a $500m deal that would have allowed Raytheon to sell smart bombs to Saudi Arabia. Earlier this week, Raytheon CEO Greg Hayes said he expects the Biden administration to block that deal.
“Generally speaking, when it comes to arms sales, it is typical at the start of an administration to review any pending sales to make sure that what is being considered is something that advances our strategic objectives and advances our foreign policy,” Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said Wednesday. “So that’s what we’re doing at this moment.”
Saudi and UAE airstrikes have killed thousands of civilians in Yemen’s civil war, according to UN reports.“We already have a portfolio where we have looked through that lens in making decisions about where we invest and what work we undertake,” she said. “This was just one small contract that came to us through the acquisition, and we’ve made a decision to stop performing in that area.”
Northrop’s decision to abandon the contract represents “a symbol of the stigma attached to these weapons,” said Jeff Abramson, coordinator of the U.S. Campaign to Ban Landmines and Cluster Munition Coalition.
“Investors have gotten a lot of pressure not to invest in companies touching cluster munitions,” he said.
Warden said Northrop would walk away from the cluster munition “surveillance” contract by the end of the year.
“A stockpile surveillance program is a continuing process of testing of a stockpile to track its reliability as it sits in storage for the balance of its shelf life,” said Mark Hiznay, associate director of the Arms Division of Human Rights Watch.
Textron, the last U.S. company to make cluster bombs, announced in 2016 that it would quit producing them, after the Obama administration banned sales to Saidi Arabia. ATK was a supplier to the CBU-87 and Sensor Fuzed Weapon cluster munitions.
Warden, who became CEO of Northrop in January 2019, touted Northrop’s recently being named in the top 25 of gender-balanced S&P 500 firms as well as being named to DiversityInc’s list of Top 50 Companies for Diversity for more than a decade. The Biden administration has assembled what is believed to be the most diverse Cabinet in U.S. history.
“In our endeavor to enable global security and human advancement, we recognize the importance of our environmental, social and governance responsibilities, and we expect to continue leading our industry forward,” Warden said. (Source: Defense One)
28 Jan 21. DOD Official Hopes For Quick Confirmation of Deputy Secretary. The Defense Department has witnessed a lot of progress in the past week with 30 appointees arriving under the new Biden administration and 12 more expected next week, Pentagon Press Secretary John F. Kirby said at a briefing today.
Kirby, who has previously served as the DOD press secretary, thanked Congress for expediting Senate confirmations for DOD and said he looks forward to a speedy confirmation for Kathleen Hicks, President Joe Biden’s pick for deputy defense secretary.
Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III, who was confirmed and began work at the Pentagon last week, has made numerous calls to his counterparts around the world, Kirby said.
Answering a question from the news media, Kirby confirmed the Federal Emergency Management Agency yesterday requested DOD to assist with vaccine distribution and other COVID-19 functions; however, he said he could not go into detail.
Spotlight: Coronavirus Response
“We’re going to contribute in as aggressive a manner as we can,” Kirby said, noting the secretary’s No. 1 DOD priority is battling and defeating the virus. He added that such a request by FEMA would likely be a joint effort involving all the branches of service and, perhaps, National Guard and reserve forces.
And it will take days — not weeks — to get the FEMA request sourced, Kirby said, adding that Austin has clearly stated DOD will lean in and lean forward to get a handle on COVID-19 and the vaccine availability.
In Austin’s call with Germany’s defense minister yesterday, the press secretary said the topic of troop levels came up, and the secretary made it clear he wants to look globally at the force in every region and measure it against requirements. “He asserted whatever decision we make, will do in collaboration” with Germany and other allies.
Kirby also talked about the attempt at a negotiated settlement between Afghanistan and the Taliban. He said the settlement would be driven by conditions and requirements there.
“We want an end to the war and want settlements … [and] the best decision for allies and partners, the United States and Afghanistan. We want to do it responsibly,” he said, but he added that the Taliban have not met their commitments and are not curbing terrorism on Afghans.
“There’s been no change to the commitments we made,” Kirby said. “We want an end to the war.” U.S. force presence in Afghanistan is now at 2,500 service members.
Following the Jan. 6 insurrection of the U.S. Capitol, the press secretary was asked about extremism in the military.
“I want to say at the outset, … the vast, vast majority of men and women in the United States military serve with honor with character and integrity and dignity,” Kirby said. “And they don’t espouse these sorts of dangerous beliefs. But that doesn’t mean that even small number, while it may be small, is insignificant, and that it doesn’t mean that we don’t think that there might be a problem. The problem is we don’t understand the full scope of it. So [Austin] and [Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Army Gen. Mark A. Milley] have talked about this.”
There has been an ongoing review by the personnel and readiness directorate at the department to look specifically at extremism and to look at the policies, laws, regulations, that govern the conduct driven by extremists, he said. Austin will talk with military leaders going forward about what they think the scope of the problem is, Kirby said. (Source: US DoD)
27 Jan 21. Statement by Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III on Tackling the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad.
I fully support the President’s direction today to include climate considerations as an essential element of our national security and to assess the impacts of climate change on our security strategies, operations, and infrastructure.
Since 2010, the Department of Defense has acknowledged that the planet’s changing climate has a dramatic effect on our missions, plans, and installations. Every year, we see the consequences of increasing incidents of flooding, drought, wildfires, and extreme weather events on our installations at home. Every year, our commanders and their Allies and partners conduct operations that result from instability in societies strained by desertification, the threat of adversary access to homelands through the Arctic, and the demands for humanitarian assistance worldwide. In 2019 alone, the Department assessed climate-related impacts to 79 installations and in every geographic Combatant Command area of responsibility.
We know first-hand the risk that climate change poses to national security because it affects the work we do every day.
The Department will immediately take appropriate policy actions to prioritize climate change considerations in our activities and risk assessments, to mitigate this driver of insecurity. As directed by the President, we will include the security implications of climate change in our risk analyses, strategy development, and planning guidance. As a leader in the interagency, the Department of Defense will also support incorporating climate risk analysis into modeling, simulation, wargaming, analysis, and the next National Defense Strategy. And by changing how we approach our own carbon footprint, the Department can also be a platform for positive change, spurring the development of climate-friendly technologies at scale.
There is little about what the Department does to defend the American people that is not affected by climate change. It is a national security issue, and we must treat it as such. (Source: US DoD)
27 Jan 21. Biden administration temporarily holds some U.S. weapons exports, official says. President Joe Biden’s administration has temporarily paused some pending arms sales to U.S. allies in order to review them, a U.S. State Department official said on Wednesday.
Reviews of this sort are typical for a new administration, but Donald Trump’s administration was doing deals down to the wire, including one for 50 stealthy F-35 jets made by Lockheed Martin as a side deal to the Abraham accords inked only moments before Biden was sworn into office.
The Department is temporarily pausing the implementation of some pending U.S. defense transfers and sales under Foreign Military Sales and Direct Commercial Sales to allow incoming leadership an opportunity to review, the official said.
The F-35 jets are a major component of a $23bn sale of high-tech armaments from General Atomics, Lockheed and Raytheon Technologies Corp to the United Arab Emirates.
On a post-earnings conference call with investors on Tuesday, Raytheon’s management said “with the change in administration, it becomes less likely that we’re going to be able to get a license” for a direct commercial sale of offensive weapons worth about $500m to a Middle East customer. Raytheon did not give the name of the customer.
“The UAE will work closely with the Biden administration on a comprehensive approach to Middle East peace and stability,” the UAE ambassador to the United States, Yousef Al Otaiba, said in a statement posted on the Embassy Twitter account.
“The F-35 package is much more then selling military hardware to a partner, Like the US, it allows the UAE to maintain a strong deterrent to aggression. In parallel with new dialogue and security cooperation, it helps to reassure regional partners” Al Otaiba said. (Source: Reuters)
26 Jan 21. U.S. commission cites ‘moral imperative’ to explore AI weapons. The United States should not agree to ban the use or development of autonomous weapons powered by artificial intelligence (AI) software, a government-appointed panel said in a draft report for Congress.
The panel, led by former Google Chief Executive Eric Schmidt, on Tuesday concluded two days of public discussion about how the world’s biggest military power should consider AI for national security and technological advancement.
Its Vice Chairman Robert Work, a former deputy secretary of defense, said autonomous weapons are expected to make fewer mistakes than humans do in battle, leading to reduced casualties or skirmishes caused by target misidentification.
“It is a moral imperative to at least pursue this hypothesis,” he said.
The discussion waded into a controversial frontier of human rights and warfare. For about eight years, a coalition of non-governmental organizations has pushed for a treaty banning “killer robots,” saying human control is necessary to judge attacks’ proportionality and assign blame for war crimes. Thirty countries including Brazil and Pakistan want a ban, according to the coalition’s website, and a United Nations body has held meetings on the systems since at least 2014.
While autonomous weapon capabilities are decades old, concern has mounted with the development of AI to power such systems, along with research finding biases in AI and examples of the software’s abuse.
The U.S. panel, called the National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence, in meetings this week acknowledged the risks of autonomous weapons. A member from Microsoft Corp for instance warned of pressure to build machines that react quickly, which could escalate conflicts.
The panel only wants humans to make decisions on launching nuclear warheads.
Still, the panel prefers anti-proliferation work to a treaty banning the systems, which it said would be against U.S. interests and difficult to enforce.
Mary Wareham, coordinator of the eight-year Campaign to Stop Killer Robots, said, the commission’s “focus on the need to compete with similar investments made by China and Russia … only serves to encourage arms races.”
Beyond AI-powered weapons, the panel’s lengthy report recommended use of AI by intelligence agencies to streamline data gathering and review; $32bn in annual federal funding for AI research; and new bodies including a digital corps modeled after the army’s Medical Corps and a technology competitiveness council chaired by the U.S. vice president.
The commission is due to submit its final report to Congress in March, but the recommendations are not binding. (Source: glstrade.com/Reuters)
26 Jan 21. US exploring new bases in Saudi Arabia amid Iran tensions. The U.S. military is exploring the possibility of using a Red Sea port in Saudi Arabia and an additional two airfields in the kingdom amid heightened tensions with Iran, the military said Tuesday.
While describing the work as “contingency” planning, the U.S. military said it already has tested unloading and shipping cargo overland from Saudi Arabia’s port at Yanbu, a crucial terminal for oil pipelines in the kingdom.
Using Yanbu, as well as air bases at Tabuk and Taif along the Red Sea, would give the American military more options along a crucial waterway that has come under increased attack from suspected mine and drone boat attacks by Yemen’s Iranian-backed Houthi rebels.
However, the announcement comes as Saudi-American relations remain strained by the 2018 killing of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi and the kingdom’s ongoing war in Yemen in the first days of President Joe Biden’s administration. Deploying — even temporarily — American troops to bases in the kingdom, which is home to the Muslim holy city of Mecca, could reignite anger among extremists.
U.S. Navy Capt. Bill Urban, a spokesman for Central Command, said the evaluation of the sites had been going on for over a year, sparked by the September 2019 drone-and-missile attack on the heart of the Saudi oil industry.
Saudi Arabia and the U.S. have blamed that attack, which temporarily halved Saudi oil production and saw a spike in oil prices, on Iran. Tehran has denied being involved and the Houthis claimed the assault, though the drones involved appear to be Iranian-made.
“These are prudent military planning measures that allow for temporary or conditional access of facilities in the event of a contingency, and are not provocative in any way, nor are they an expansion of the U.S. footprint in the region, in general, or in the kingdom of Saudi Arabia, in particular,” Urban wrote.
U.S. Marine Gen. Frank McKenzie, the head of U.S. Central Command, visited Yanbu on Monday. Defense One and the Wall Street Journal, which traveled with McKenzie to Yanbu, first reported on the American planning. Saudi officials did not respond to request for comment Tuesday.
Already, Saudi Arabia paid for improvements at the sites and are considering more, Urban said. Tabuk is home to King Faisal Air Base, while Taif is home to King Fahd Air Base.
The Gulf Arab states are home to a vast array of American military bases, the legacy of the 1991 Gulf War that saw U.S.-allied forces expel Iraq from Kuwait, and the later 2001 invasion of Afghanistan and 2003 invasion of Iraq. America pulled its forces out of Saudi Arabia after the 9/11 attacks. Osama bin Laden had cited their deployment in his attacks targeting the U.S.
Already, U.S. Central Command has a forward headquarters in Qatar. The U.S. Navy’s 5th Fleet operates from the island kingdom of Bahrain off Saudi Arabia’s coast. Kuwait hosts the U.S. Army Central’s forward headquarters, while the United Arab Emirates hosts American aviators and sailors.
Those locations also don’t include the American troop presence in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria. Former President Donald Trump also deployed the first troops into Saudi Arabia since 9/11 over concerns about Iran. Some 2,500 American troops now man fighter jets and Patriot missile batteries at Prince Sultan Air Base southeast of Riyadh.
The addition of these Saudi locations appears to be part of what McKenzie previously described to the U.S. Congress as the “Western Sustainment Network,” a new logistics system designed to avoid maritime chokepoints, said Becca Wasser, a fellow at the Washington-based Center for a New American Security.
These locations likely would not have permanently stationed troops and could allow the U.S. to drawdown forces at other bases through that flexibility, she said.
“If we are trying to have a flexible posture where we are not tied to permanent bases, … you are going to need to back it up with a logistics network that can make sure you can flow in people and weaponry as needed,” Wasser said.
Such contingency plans already exist in the Mideast, like the agreements that grant American forces rights to use bases in Oman under certain circumstances. But the western coast of Saudi Arabia also provides additional distance from Iran, which has invested heavily in ballistic missiles as sanctions have locked it out of global arms sales.
The Persian Gulf “would be contested waters under any scenario of armed conflict with Iran, so you look at the places where you would move your forces as they enter the theater from being in a contested area,” McKenzie was quoted as telling journalists in Yanbu.
For Iran, additional bases likely will increase the suspicions of its theocratic government. Tensions between Iran and the U.S. remain high after Trump unilaterally withdrew from Tehran’s nuclear deal with world powers in 2018, leading to an escalating series of confrontations.
Alireza Miryousefi, a spokesman for Iran’s mission to the United Nations, criticized the U.S. move, calling the presence of foreign troops in the Mideast “one of the main reasons for the chaotic situation and insecurity in our region.”
“Any ‘contingency for conflict’ with Iran would only make sense if another country intended to attack Iran and we are determined to defend ourselves if attacked,” Miryousefi said.
It remains unclear how Biden’s relationship with Saudi Arabia will be during his presidency. While campaigning, Biden referred to the kingdom as a “pariah” over the killing of Khashoggi.
However, Saudi Arabia and other Gulf Arab states remain top clients for American weaponry and rely on the U.S. for ensuring the free flow of oil and goods through the Strait of Hormuz, the narrow mouth of the Persian Gulf.
Riyadh also came under a mysterious air attack on Saturday which the U.S. State Department under Biden condemned as “an attempt to target civilians.” It remains unclear if it was a missile or a drone used in the attack.
Yemen’s Houthi rebels, who earlier have targeted Riyadh, denied being involved, though Gulf Arab countries blamed the assault on the rebels. A previously unheard-of group called the “True Promise Brigade” said it carried out the attack with “drones of terror,” without offering evidence to support its claim. (Source: Defense News)
26 Jan 21. US Army soldiers on with modernisation priorities. New civilian leadership inside the US Army and Pentagon will be central to forthcoming budget plans and moving ahead with new equipment development. However, for now, US Army Futures Command head General John Murray said he is not anticipating sweeping changes when it comes to service plans to develop new weapons to better compete with peer competitors.
The four-star general answered questions during a 25 January virtual Center for Strategic and International Studies event on the army’s six modernisation priorities – Long-Range Precision Fires (LRPF); Next-Generation Combat Vehicle (NGCV); Future Vertical Lift; The Network; Air and Missile Defense; and Soldier Lethality – and addressed potential funding questions as the service prepares for a new secretary.
“I have a firm commitment from the chief of staff of the army [General James McConville] that we will not change our modernisation priorities,” Gen Murray said, adding that these six lines of effort have been proven out during modelling and simulation, and wargames. The Biden administration is in the midst of naming political appointees, including inside the Pentagon, which could alter service modernisation plans. (US Army)
When it comes to potential funding cuts throughout the department, he noted that it is “too early to say” what might happen but said he remains “fairly optimistic” since the army trimmed roughly USD30bn from the equipping portfolio to pay for new weapon development. (Source: Jane’s)
26 Jan 21. BIS Submits Annual Report to Congress for FY 2020. The U.S. Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) has issued its Annual Report to Congress for Fiscal Year 2020. In FY 2020, BIS intensified its efforts to counter the Chinese government’s military-civil fusion efforts and human rights abuses in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of China (XUAR). This included enhanced military end-use and end-user controls and the addition of 48 parties to the Entity List for their involvement in the morally repugnant human rights abuses and repression of Muslim minorities in the XUAR. To bolster these actions, BIS took action to alert the public of the reputational, economic, and legal risks of involvement with entities that engage in human rights abuses and expanded licensing reviews to evaluate human rights concerns for all transactions involving China. BIS also added 38 Huawei-affiliated parties to the Entity List (for a total of 153 listed Huawei entities), limiting the company’s access to U.S. technology and impeding China’s efforts to dominate global 5G development, which would allow its government to install backdoors into critical telecommunications platforms around the world. BIS has also increased its efforts to identify, evaluate, and control emerging and foundational technologies by working diligently with interagency and foreign partners, which also expanded the CFIUS transactions subject to foreign investment reviews. As a result, BIS has implemented export controls on 37 emerging technologies. Finally, BIS enhanced its enforcement authorities to address the changing tactics of our adversaries seeking to illicitly acquire U.S. technologies. (Source: glstrade.com)
25 Jan 21. Biden Administration Overturns Transgender Exclusion Policy. President Joseph R. Biden signed an executive order overturning the previous administration’s ban on the service of transgender individuals in the military.
“America is stronger, at home and around the world, when it is inclusive,” states a White House news release. “The military is no exception.”
The order affects the Defense Department and the Department of Homeland Security for actions with the U.S. Coast Guard.
Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin fully supports President Biden’s decision. In a written statement he said that all transgender individuals “who wish to serve in the United States military and can meet the appropriate standards shall be able to do so openly and free from discrimination.”
The secretary insisted the change is not only the right thing to do, but also the smart thing. In this, he echoed the White House statement that “the all-volunteer force thrives when it is composed of diverse Americans who can meet the rigorous standards for military service, and an inclusive military strengthens our national security.”
“The United States armed forces are in the business of defending our fellow citizens from our enemies, foreign and domestic,” Austin said. “I believe we accomplish that mission more effectively when we represent all our fellow citizens. I also believe we should avail ourselves of the best possible talent in our population, regardless of gender identity. We would be rendering ourselves less fit to the task if we excluded from our ranks people who meet our standards and who have the skills and the devotion to serve in uniform.”
The secretary told the military departments to immediately ensure individuals who identify as transgender are eligible to enter and serve in their self-identified gender.
In the order, Biden directed the defense secretary and the secretary of homeland security to ensure that all directives, orders, regulations and policies of their respective departments are consistent with the new order. “This means no one will be separated or discharged, or denied reenlistment, solely on the basis of gender identity,” the White House news release said. “Prospective recruits may serve in their self-identified gender when they have met the appropriate standards for accession into the military services.”
The policy also ensures all medically-necessary transition related care authorized by law is available to all service members.
The executive order also immediately prohibits “involuntary separations, discharges and denials of reenlistment or continuation of service on the basis of gender identity. It also calls for an immediate start to the identification and examination of the records of service members who have been involuntarily separated, discharged or denied reenlistment or continuation of service on the basis of gender identity. It provides for the correction of military records.
“Over the next 60 days, I look forward to working with the senior civilian and military leaders of the department as we expeditiously develop the appropriate policies and procedures to implement these changes,” Austin wrote. (Source: US DoD)
26 Jan 21. President Trump Issues Executive Order 13981 on Protecting the United States From Certain Unmanned Aircraft Systems.
(86 Fed. Reg. 6821) – Before leaving office, President Donald J. Trump issued Executive Order 13981 of January 18, 2021, on protecting the United States from certain unmanned aircraft systems. This executive order calls for (1) reviews of (i) Federal Government authority to limit government procurement of “Covered UAS,” as defined below, (ii) Federal Government use of Covered UAS; (iii) the security risks posed by the existing Federal UAS fleet and outlining potential steps that could be taken to mitigate these risks, including, if warranted, discontinuing all Federal use of covered UAS and the expeditious removal of Covered UAS from Federal service; (2) mandating that within 270 days, the FAA propose regulations pursuant to section 2209 of FAA Extension, Safety, and Security Act of 2016 ( Public Law 114-190); and (3) mandating that the heads of all agencies consider replacement of Covered UAS; and (4) mandating that the Director of the Office of Management and Budget work with heads of all agencies to identify possible sources of funding to replace Covered UAS in the Federal fleet. The executive order defines “Covered UAS” as unmanned aircraft systems any UAS that:
- Is manufactured, in whole or in part, by an entity domiciled in an adversary country (i.e., Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, the Islamic Republic of Iran, the People’s Republic of China, the Russian Federation, or, as determined by the Secretary of Commerce, any other foreign nation, foreign area, or foreign non-government entity engaging in long-term patterns or serious instances of conduct significantly adverse to the national or economic security of the United States)
- Uses critical electronic components installed in flight controllers, ground control system processors, radios, digital transmission devices, cameras, or gimbals manufactured, in whole or in part, in an adversary country;
- Uses operating software (including cell phone or tablet applications, but not cell phone or tablet operating systems) developed, in whole or in part, by an entity domiciled in an adversary country;
- Uses network connectivity or data storage located outside the United States, or administered by any entity domiciled in an adversary country; or
- Contains hardware and software components used for transmitting photographs, videos, location information, flight paths, or any other data collected by the UAS manufactured by an entity domiciled in an adversary country. (Source: glstrade.com)
22 Jan 21. US President Joe Biden is seeking a five-year extension to the New START treaty that governs Russia and the US’s nuclear arsenals. The future of the agreement had been in doubt during the Trump administration.
US President Joe Biden is seeking a five-year extension to the New START treaty that governs Russia and the US’s nuclear arsenals. The future of the agreement had been in doubt during the Trump administration.
Under the plans, the proposed extension would see the treaty in force until 2026, something US Officials said would allow future arms control agreements to be explored.
Speaking to reporters, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said: “I can confirm that the United States intends to seek a five-year extension of New START, as the treaty permits.
“The president has long been clear that the New START Treaty is in the national security interests of the United States. And this extension makes even more sense when the relationship with Russia is adversarial, as it is at this time.”
New START is the only nuclear arms treaty regulating the US and Russia’s nuclear arsenals. Previously, the US had been a signatory to the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty until the Trump administration withdrew from the treaty citing Russian non-compliance.
Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby said: “President Biden’s decision to seek a five-year extension of New START advances the nation’s defence. Russia’s compliance with the treaty has served our national security interests well, and Americans are much safer with New START intact and extended.
“We cannot afford to lose New START’s intrusive inspection and notification tools. Failing to swiftly extend New START would weaken America’s understanding of Russia’s long-range nuclear forces.”
Kirby added that the Pentagon remained ‘clear-eyed’ about the challenges posed by Russia and is ‘committed to defending the nation against their reckless and adversarial actions.’
For its part, on the day of Biden’s inauguration, the Russian Foreign Ministry signalled it was open to an extension to New START and criticised the Trump administration for a ‘counterproductive and openly aggressive negotiating policy’ when it came to extending New START.
The Russian Foreign Ministry added: “We believe that the extension of New START for five years would create conditions for success in this sphere.”
In the run-up to the election, Biden signalled an aim to recommit the US to several arms control agreements including New START and the Iran Nuclear Deal. (Source: army-technology.com)
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