Categories for Defense

11,593. 11/16/2017

DEFENSE: “The Defense Department’s official Twitter account retweeted a message Thursday [11-16-17] calling for three politicians, including President Trump, to step away from politics amid sexual assault allegations, but quickly deleted it and said it was a mistake.
The tweet, by a person using the handle ‘Proud Resister,’ stated that Trump and Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) should resign from their jobs and that Republican Roy Moore of Alabama should step aside from running for the Senate. It also blamed the Republican Party for ‘making sexual assault a partisan issue,’ adding: ‘It’s a crime as is your hypocrisy.’
The Pentagon’s main account retweeted the message to its 5.2 million followers, but quickly reversed course.
Dana White, a Pentagon spokeswoman appointed by the Trump administration, and Army Col. Rob Manning, a military spokesman, said that ‘an authorized operator’ of the Pentagon’s Twitter account ‘erroneously retweeted content that would not be endorsed by the Department of Defense.’ The same individual noticed the error ‘and immediately deleted it,’ they said.”

-Dan Lamothe, “A ‘proud resister’ called for Trump and Franken to resign and Moore to bow out. The Pentagon retweeted it.,” The Washington Post online, Nov. 16, 2017 3:30pm

11,543. 11/14/2017

DEFENSE/MILITARY/NATIONAL SECURITY/NUCLEAR/TRUMP AS PRESIDENT: “U.S. senators on Tuesday [11-14-17] took a rare look at the decades-old presidential authority to launch a nuclear strike, posing questions at a hearing about the process President Donald Trump would follow if he were to order such an attack…
Three former government and military officials who were questioned by the committee said the president has sole authority to decide whether to use a nuclear weapon, but that decision is guided by strict protocols and includes consultation with the Secretary of Defense and military officials.
Much of the questioning centered around what the president would have to do to launch a pre-emptive—rather than retaliatory—strike. Some senators said some such strikes would amount to a declaration of war and that the president should consult with Congress before undertaking such action.
But these and other scenarios opened the door to many legal, constitutional and practical questions…
Several senators asked what restraints, if any, exist on the president’s ability to carry out a nuclear-first strike. The former officials said that there are legal guidelines determining when the use of a nuclear weapon is appropriate, but that the decision falls to the president…
Some Republican senators expressed concerns that publicly questioning when the president can strike and under what authority could lead allies to question if the U.S. has the political will to follow through on its nuclear commitments and might lead adversaries, such as North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, to miscalculate amid the uncertainty…
Mr. Corker, who organized the hearing, has since stepped up his criticism of Mr. Trump’s foreign policy since announcing that he won’t seek re-election. Last month, he said Mr. Trump’s threats to other countries could spark ‘World War III.’ “

-Felicia Schwartz, “Senators Pose Questions About Trump’s Nuclear Attack Authority,” The Wall Street Journal online, Nov. 14, 2017 06:36pm

11,362. 11/6/2017

DEFENSE/FDA: “The Defense Department — and not FDA — would have the power to approve drugs and medical devices under the defense policy bill that’s being hammered out by a conference committee, alarming congressional staff and Health and Human Services officials who say it would undermine medical safety and potentially put soldiers at risk.
Section 732 of the Senate’s version of the National Defense Authorization Act creates a new regulatory structure that would allow the Pentagon to sign off on unapproved devices and drugs for emergency use on military personnel and others in harm’s way. The bill is in conference committee with final language expected as early as this week.
FDA currently has sole authority to authorize drugs and devices for emergency use…
The language states that the Defense Department would be able to approve ’emergency uses for medical products to reduce deaths and severity of injuries caused by agents of war.’ For instance, the Defense Department could approve the use of freeze-dried plasma, which the department has repeatedly said can save the lives of military personnel who have suffered blood loss on the battlefield. While a small number of elite soldiers currently are deployed with access to freeze-dried plasma, the product is still awaiting full FDA approval, which isn’t expected until 2020.”

-Dan Diamond, “‘Unprecedented’ Pentagon health committee could undermine FDA,” Politico, Nov. 6, 2017 01:09pm

11,179. 10/29/2017

DEFENSE/JAMES MATTIS/MILITARY/REX TILLERSON/STATE: “U.S. lawmakers will grill top Trump administration officials on Monday [10-30-17] about a new authorization for the use of military force in the campaign against Islamic State and other militant groups, Congress’ most significant step in years toward taking back control of its constitutional right to authorize war.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis will testify before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee at a hearing on the administration’s view of a new Authorization for the Use of Military Force, known by the acronym AUMF.
Republican and Democratic members of Congress have been arguing for years that Congress ceded too much authority over the deployment of U.S. forces to the White House after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. They are also divided over how much control they should exert over the Pentagon. Repeated efforts to write and pass a new AUMF have failed…
Under the Constitution, Congress, not the president, has the right to declare war.”

-Patricia Zengerle, “As militant threats shift, U.S. Senate revives war authorization debate,” Reuters, Oct. 29, 2017 10:05pm

11,135. 10/27/2017

DEFENSE/JAMES MATTIS/NORTH KOREA: “Defense Secretary Jim Mattis denounced North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un’s regime as a threat to regional security during a visit to the demilitarized zone that divides the two Koreas, even as he reaffirmed the U.S.’s commitment to diplomacy.
‘North Korean provocations continue to threaten regional and global security despite unanimous condemnation by the United Nations Security Council,’ Mr. Mattis said in prepared remarks as he overlooked North Korea with Seoul’s defense minister at his side.
Mr. Mattis, making his first trip to the DMZ as defense secretary, reaffirmed the U.S. commitment to South Korea’s security. He also said that Washington’s goal ‘is not war, but rather the complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.’…
The trip by Mr. Mattis, who is also scheduled to meet with South Korean President Moon Jae-in at the presidential office on Friday, comes two weeks ahead of President Donald Trump’s trip to the region, where he is expected to visit the newly constructed $11 billion U.S. military base at Pyeongtaek, south of Seoul.”

-Gordon Lubold and Johnathan Cheng, “Defense Secretary Mattis Denounces North Korea on Visit to DMZ,” The Wall Street Journal online, Oct. 27, 2017 01:13am

11,022. 10/22/2017

DEFENSE/JAMES MATTIS/NATIONAL SECURITY/NORTH KOREA: “Defense Secretary Jim Mattis arrived here to meet with regional counterparts as the U.S. attempts to coordinate efforts to counter North Korean belligerence.
The Pentagon chief is scheduled to meet Monday with Japanese Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera, Philippine Defense Minister Delfin Lorenzana and South Korean Defense Minister Song Young-moo during a gathering of defense ministers of Association of Southeast Asian Nations.
Mr. Mattis has plans to meet with officials from other Asean nations as well, including India, Indonesia and Malaysia. They will discuss ‘the regional security crisis caused by the reckless DPRK, North Korea provocations’ among other issues, Mr. Mattis told reporters on a plane Monday…
President Donald Trump has countered North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s launches and belligerent remarks with his own fiery rhetoric, threatening a massive military response. But Mr. Mattis and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson have maintained that diplomatic options remain the best approach to resolve the crisis.
In addition to meeting with the Japanese and South Korean defense ministers individually, Mr. Mattis will also hold a trilateral discussion during the Asean meeting, he said.”

-Gordon Lubold, “Mattis to Discuss North Korean Threat With Southeast Asian Defense Officials,” The Wall Street Journal online, Oct. 22, 2017 07:15pm

10,996. 10/20/2017

CRISIS/DEFENSE/TRUMP EXEC ORDERS:‘Presidential Executive Order Amending Executive Order 13223’
Section 1. Amendment to Executive Order 13223. Section 1 of Executive Order 13223 is amended by adding at the end: ‘The authorities available for use during a national emergency under sections 688 and 690 of title 10, United States Code, are also invoked and made available, according to their terms, to the Secretary concerned, subject in the case of the Secretaries of the Army, Navy, and Air Force, to the direction of the Secretary of Defense.’ “

-Donald Trump, “Presidential Executive Order Amending Executive Order 13223,” White House Office of the Press Secretary, Oct 20, 2017

10,804. 10/12/2017

DEFENSE/MILITARY/NUCLEAR/TRUMP AS PRESIDENT: “The Pentagon has no current plans to increase the size of the U.S. nuclear arsenal.
In fact, it can barely sustain the existing force, which is decades old and is in some respects almost decrepit.
The arsenal is far from being in the ‘perfect shape’ that President Donald Trump said Wednesday [10-11-17] he wants to see under his watch.
That is why the government is planning to spend hundreds of billions of dollars on a top-to-bottom ‘modernization,’ or replacement of the three major categories of nuclear weapons – as well as their command and control systems – in coming decades.
Trump denied that he has called for a big increase in nuclear weapons. He said he thinks the U.S. already has enough.”

-Robert Burns, “The Pentagon has no plans to increase nuclear arsenal, and can barely sustain what it has,” Business Insider, Oct. 12, 2017

10,614. 10/4/2017

BUDGET/CRISIS/DEFENSE/MILITARY: “The extended deployment of military cargo jets and Navy ships to help with Hurricane Maria and Hurricane Irma relief efforts is causing military planners to scramble and recalculate future deployments all the way from Afghanistan to the Korean Peninsula, according to several defense officials familiar with discussions underway inside the Defense Department.
Due to security concerns, officials refused to discuss specific changes in deployment timelines or the units involved, but sketched out how they could impact overseas deployments into 2018.
Defense Secretary James Mattis spoke about the challenge publicly for the first time Tuesday [10-3-17], testifying before the Senate Armed Services Committee that the military will stay in Puerto Rico as long as needed: ‘We are ready to go even to the point that it’s going to impact the deployments, perhaps, of some of these troops overseas next year because we’ve interrupted their preparation.’ “

-Barbara Starr, “Hurricane deployments stretch US military thin,” CNN Politics, CNN.com, Oct. 4, 2017 07:54pm

10,582. 10/3/2017

DEFENSE/FOREIGN POLICY/IRAN/JAMES MATTIS/NATIONAL SECURITY/NUCLEAR: “Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis told lawmakers Tuesday [10-3-17] that he supports the 2015 international nuclear deal with Iran, even though President Donald Trump has called it ‘one of the worst and most one-sided’ agreements ever made by the U.S…
Mr. Trump must certify to Congress whether Iran remains in compliance with the deal by an Oct. 15 deadline. Last week, Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, testified that Iran is complying with the terms of the deal and that it had successfully ‘delayed Iran’s development of nuclear weapons.’
Mr. Trump repeatedly has criticized the deal for overlooking Iran’s missile development and regional military involvements, including its support for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson also has said Iran has remained in technical compliance with the terms of the deal…
Mr. Mattis made his comments before the Senate Armed Services Committee at a hearing held to discuss U.S. strategy in Afghanistan. On that issue, members of the committee expressed frustration that the Pentagon had not given them details of the strategy, which Mr. Trump outlined in August.”

-Nancy A. Youssef, “Iran Nuclear Deal Is in Interests of U.S., Mattis Says,” The Wall Street Journal online, Oct. 3, 2017 07:13pm

10,451. 9/27/2017

DEFENSE/RUSSIA/TRUMP AS PRESIDENT: “President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia presided over the destruction of his country’s last declared chemical weapons on Wednesday, describing the elimination as a ‘historic event’ and complaining that the United States has failed to purge its own chemical arsenal…
In Washington, a State Department official said that the United States ‘fully complies’ with the treaty and had continued to destroy the remnants of its stockpile, which are stored in Pueblo, Colo., and Richmond, Ky. ‘The United States remains committed to the complete destruction of its declared chemical weapons stockpile by the end of 2023,’ the official said.
Both Russia and the United States — which hold the world’s biggest stockpiles — were supposed to destroy all of their chemical weapons by 2012 under an international agreement, the Chemical Weapons Convention, that they each signed in 1993 and which went into force in 1997. The final deadline for the elimination of chemical weapons was initially set for 2007. But with neither of the two countries close to meeting that goal, the deadline was extended to 2012.
Neither Russia nor the United States met that new deadline either, although Mr. Putin boasted on Wednesday that Russia was three years ahead of a 2020 deadline it had set for itself.”

-Andrew Higgins, “Russia Destroys Chemical Weapons, and Faults U.S. for Not Doing So,” The New York Times online, Sept. 27, 2017

10,229. 9/18/2017

DEFENSE/JAMES MATTIS/​MILITARY/NORTH KOREA/SOUTH KOREA/UN: “The U.S. has military options available for North Korea that won’t put South Korea at grave risk of counterattack, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said Monday [9-18-17], but he refused to spell out what those are.
Mr. Mattis also said in an impromptu meeting with reporters at the Pentagon that the U.S. isn’t likely to try to shoot down the type of missiles launched so far by North Korea because they haven’t threatened the U.S. or its interests…
U.S. and allied officials and military experts have repeatedly warned that any military attack on North Korea would bring a massive conventional counterattack against South Korea. While Mr. Mattis didn’t explain what military options could avoid such a retaliation, the U.S. considers actions such as military maneuvers and aircraft flyovers to be among options they use to pressure North Korea militarily.
Mr. Mattis’s comments came as world leaders gathered at the United Nations this week grapple with the threat of armed conflict. President Donald Trump plans to make North Korea’s drive for an intercontinental nuclear missile a major issue of his address there Tuesday and in his meetings with counterparts.
If a diplomatic resolution emerges, the head of the U.N. nuclear watchdog agency said in an interview Monday, monitors would be able to keep check on North Korea’s nuclear-related activities.”

-Gordon Lubold and Laurence Norman, “Jim Mattis Hints at Secret Military Options for North Korea,” The Wall Street Journal online, Sept. 18, 2017 08:37pm

10,228. 9/18/2017

BUDGET/DEFENSE/MILITARY: “The Senate on Monday [9-18-17] passed the annual defense policy bill, in a broad show of support for boosting military spending well above the current limits set by law.
The measure passed overwhelmingly Monday evening, in an 89-8 vote…
Mr. McCain urged lawmakers to support higher military spending not only in the defense policy bill, but later this year in negotiations over the spending bills that will actually translate it into more money for the military in fiscal year 2018…
Senate negotiators now have to hammer out a compromise with the House, which passed its own version of the defense policy bill in July. Both chambers approved legislation authorizing military spending well above the level established by spending caps known as the sequester, which was born out of a 2011 deal aimed at winnowing the federal budget deficit.
The Senate bill would authorize $640 billion in base military spending, plus $60 billion in an emergency war fund not subject to the sequester. Under current law, base military spending is capped at $549 billion for fiscal year 2018.”

-Kristina Peterson, “Senate Passes Defense Bill to Boost Military Spending,” The Wall Street Journal online, Sept. 18, 2017 07:14pm

10,196. 9/15/2017

DEFENSE/MILITARY/TRUMP MEMORANDA: Presidential Memorandum for the Secretary of Defense
Thirteenth Quadrennial Review of Military Compensation
In addition to our support and gratitude, we owe our men and women in uniform the tools, equipment, resources, and training they need to fight and win. Our military compensation system must recognize their sacrifices and adequately and fairly reward them for their efforts and contributions. It also must encourage the next generation of men and women to answer the call to serve their fellow citizens as members of our uniformed services. Although the world and the threats to our Nation have changed over time, the structure of our military compensation system, with the exception of recent changes to military retirement, has remained largely the same.
Pursuant to the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, including section 1008(b) of title 37, United States Code, I hereby determine that you shall be my Executive Agent for the Thirteenth Quadrennial Review of Military Compensation, conducting the review required by section 1008(b). As directed by statute, the review should assess the principles and concepts of the compensation system for members of the uniformed services.”

-Donald Trump, “Presidential Memorandum for the Secretary of Defense,” White House Office of the Press Secretary, Sept. 15, 2017

10,194. 9/15/2017

DEFENSE/IMMIGRATION/MILITARY/TRUMP AS PRESIDENT: “…In the last week, recruiters have rescinded contracts for an unknown number of foreign nationals who had signed up for Military Accessions Vital to the National Interest, or Mavni, a program introduced in 2009 to attract immigrants with certain language and other skills that are in short supply into the armed forces.
More than 4,000 Mavni recruits have been in limbo since late last year, when the Department of Defense began introducing additional vetting. The protracted process has indefinitely delayed basic training for many enlistees, making it more difficult for recruiters to meet their targets. Recruiting stations are flooded with calls from many concerned that their lawful presence in the country could lapse while they await clearance.
Many Mavni recruits have been airing their concerns on Facebook. In interviews, some said they feared they could be deported…
Supporters of the program have advocated its expansion, saying it attracts a high caliber of recruits at a time when it is especially difficult to bring in well-educated, high-skilled Americans.
But critics have expressed concerns that terrorists could infiltrate it. There has never been a Mavni recruit charged with terrorism. However, dozens of native-born recruits have been charged with terrorism.
The program, which is renewed annually, has been suspended in the past..
Immigrants currently represent about 13.5 percent of the United States population. They constituted 18 percent of the Army soldiers in World War I and 43 percent of the Union Army during the Civil War. Immigrants represented 5 percent of those in the armed forces and about 8 percent of Army recruits last year.”

-Miriam Jordan, “Fast Track to Citizenship Is Cut Off for Some Military Recruits,” The New York Times online, Sept. 15, 2017

10,128. 9/13/2017

CRISIS/DEFENSE/JAMES MATTIS/MEXICO: “Defense Secretary Jim Mattis will resume his role as the reassurer for American allies this week when he heads to Mexico, where he will try to mend relations after President Trump failed to quickly offer condolences for the earthquake on Friday [9-15-17] that killed at least 96 people and severely damaged thousands of homes.
Mr. Mattis will also try to signal to Mexican officials that ties between the United States and its southern flank remain strong. After four days without word from Mr. Trump about the 8.2-magnitude earthquake in Oaxaca State, Mexico on Monday rescinded its offer of aid to the United States for people affected by Hurricane Harvey.
Mr. Trump had not responded to that offer of help — when it was made, he was tweeting that Mexico was one of the ‘highest crime nations in the world.’ But Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas had said his state would accept the help.
But the offer was withdrawn when Mexico’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Monday that it needed the money to help care for victims of the earthquake, which was followed by Hurricane Katia.
The White House press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, said on Tuesday that Mr. Trump had scheduled a call with President Enrique Peña Nieto of Mexico and that details of it would be shared with reporters. But as of Wednesday afternoon, the White House had not provided the promised readout of the conversation or confirmed whether it happened.”

-Helene Cooper, “Mattis Heads to Mexico Amid Strain Over Disaster Condolences and Aid,” The New York Times online, Sept. 13, 2017

10,093. 9/12/2017

BUDGET/DEFENSE/JAMES MATTIS/MILITARY: “Defense Secretary James Mattis is warning Congress that a long-term continuing resolution to fund the government will lead to irrecoverable lost training time, delayed ship maintenance and critical personnel gaps.
In a letter to defense committee leaders obtained by CNN, Mattis detailed the effects of a continuing resolution, which Congress frequently uses to keep the government funded at the previous year’s spending levels.
President Donald Trump signed a three-month CR into law last week as part of a package that included aid for Hurricane Harvey relief and a three-month extension of the debt ceiling.
But the military objects to CRs because they aren’t allowed to start new programs and are restricted in moving money between spending accounts…
The military’s objections to a continuing resolution are nothing new, as it’s become standard for Congress to pass a CR to start the fiscal year, which begins in October, before approving a full-year appropriations bill later on.
But with the Trump administration seeking more than $50 billion in additional funding for the military compared to last year, a CR creates even more uncertainty for the Pentagon’s budget this year.”

-Jeremy Herb, “Mattis: Budget stopgap will significantly harm military,” CNN Politics, CNN.com, Sept. 12, 2017 10:29am

10,075. 9/11/2017

DEFENSE/LGBTQ/MILITARY/TRUMP AS PRESIDENT: “The Senate is likely to tackle a slew of contentious issues this week during debate over the annual defense policy bill, from the status of transgender troops to war powers and even a surprise push by Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) to allow the military to close bases across the country.
It’ll also give the 81-year-old McCain, now being treated for an aggressive form of brain cancer, a week in the congressional spotlight as he seeks to rally the Senate against the partisanship and gridlock that have entangled Capitol Hill…
The Senate voted 89 to 3 on Monday evening to launch debate on the bill, with debate potentially stretching into next week. Sixty votes were needed to proceed.
This will be McCain’s third time managing floor debate for the National Defense Authorization Act since 2015, when he became chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee.
The massive policy bill provides a budget blueprint for the military and reflects many of the Arizona Republican’s priorities since taking over the Armed Services panel, including reforms at the Pentagon and a major increase in defense spending.
Because it is considered must-pass legislation, the bill often becomes a vehicle for lawmakers to try to attach controversial amendments — and this year will be no different as senators prepare to push for votes to rein in the Trump administration on several issues.”

-Connor O’Brien and Austin Wright, “McCain to helm defense debate with hot-button issues,” Politico, Sept. 11, 2017 6:30pm

9,913. 8/31/2017

DEFENSE/DHS/LGBTQ/MILITARY/TRUMP MEMORANDA: Text of a Letter from the President to the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the President of the Senate
Dear Mr. Speaker: (Dear Mr. President:)
I am transmitting an alternative plan for monthly basic pay increases for members of the uniformed services for 2018.
I strongly support our men and women in uniform, who are the greatest fighting force in the world and the guardians of American freedom. As our country continues to recover from serious economic conditions affecting the general welfare, we must work to rebuild our military’s readiness and capabilities.
Accordingly, I have determined it is appropriate to exercise my authority under section 1009(e) of title 37, United States Code, to set the 2018 monthly basic pay increase at 2.1 percent. This decision is consistent with my fiscal year 2018 Budget and it will not materially affect the Federal Government’s ability to attract and retain well-qualified members for the uniformed services.
The adjustments described above shall take effect on January 1, 2018.
Sincerely,
DONALD J. TRUMP”

-Donald Trump, “Text of a Letter from the President to the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the President of the Senate,” White House Office of the Press Secretary, Aug. 31, 2017

9,803. 8/25/2017

DEFENSE/DHS/LGBTQ/MILITARY/TRUMP MEMORANDA: Presidential Memorandum for the Secretary of Defense and the Secretary of Homeland Security
Military Service by Transgender Individuals…
Until June 2016, the Department of Defense (DoD) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) (collectively, the Departments) generally prohibited openly transgender individuals from accession into the United States military and authorized the discharge of such individuals. Shortly before President Obama left office, however, his Administration dismantled the Departments’ established framework by permitting transgender individuals to serve openly in the military, authorizing the use of the Departments’ resources to fund sex-reassignment surgical procedures, and permitting accession of such individuals after July 1, 2017. The Secretary of Defense and the Secretary of Homeland Security have since extended the deadline to alter the currently effective accession policy to January 1, 2018, while the Departments continue to study the issue…
The Secretary of Defense, after consulting with the Secretary of Homeland Security, may advise me at any time, in writing, that a change to this policy is warranted.”

-Donald Trump, “Presidential Memorandum for the Secretary of Defense and the Secretary of Homeland Security,” White House Office of the Press Secretary, Aug. 25, 2017

9,774. 8/24/2017

DEFENSE/JAMES MATTIS/RUSSIA/UKRAINE: “Defense Secretary Jim Mattis vowed on Thursday [8-24-17] to help Ukraine stand up to Russian violations of its sovereignty and signaled that the Trump administration was considering providing defensive weapons to the Ukrainian military.
President Barack Obama had resisted such a step, fearing it would be seen as a provocation by Russia. In the first visit to Ukraine by an American defense secretary in nearly a decade, Mr. Mattis seemed to be anticipating that argument…
State and Defense Department officials have recommended that the United States provide Javelin anti-tank missiles and other defensive weapons to Ukraine to strengthen its forces and raise the potential cost to the Kremlin of a Russian attack.
But President Trump, who has consistently taken a more conciliatory position toward Russia than have his top national security advisers, has yet to take up the matter.
Mr. Mattis declined to disclose what he planned to recommend to Mr. Trump. Nor did he indicate any timetable for deciding the matter. But his comments suggested that he was sympathetic to supplying defensive weapons — long a topic of enormous interest in Ukraine.”

-Michael R. Gordon, “Jim Mattis, in Ukraine, Says U.S. Is Thinking of Sending Weapons,” The New York Times online, Aug. 24 2017

9,652. 8/18/2017

CYBERWAR/DEFENSE/TRUMP MEMORANDA: Presidential Memorandum for the Secretary of Defense
Elevation of U.S. Cyber Command to a Unified Combatant Command
Pursuant to my authority as the Commander in Chief and under sections 161 and 167b of title 10, United States Code, and in consultation with the Secretary of Defense and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, I direct that U.S. Cyber Command be established as a Unified Combatant Command. I also direct the Secretary of Defense to recommend an officer for my nomination and Senate confirmation as commander in order to establish U.S. Cyber Command as a Unified Combatant Command.
I assign to U.S. Cyber Command: (1) all the general responsibilities of a Unified Combatant Command; (2) the cyberspace-related responsibilities previously assigned to the Commander, U.S. Strategic Command; (3) the responsibilities of Joint Force Provider and Joint Force Trainer; and (4) all other responsibilities identified in section 167b of title 10, United States Code. The comprehensive list of authorities and responsibilities for U.S. Cyber Command will be included in the next update to the Unified Command Plan.
I further direct that the Secretary of Defense, in coordination with the Director of National Intelligence, provide a recommendation and, as appropriate, a plan to me regarding the future command relationship between the U.S. Cyber Command and the National Security Agency.”

-Donald Trump, “Presidential Memorandum for the Secretary of Defense,” White House Office of the Press Secretary, Aug. 18, 2017

9,308. 8/2/2017

DEFENSE/JAMES MATTIS/MILITARY/UAE: “Defense Secretary James Mattis received permission from the US military after retiring from the Marine Corps to work as a military adviser to the United Arab Emirates, newly disclosed Pentagon records show.
Mattis, a retired Marine general, was not paid for the advising work, according to the Pentagon, and the advising role was considered informal, a senior UAE official told CNN.
Mattis has not publicly acknowledged his advisory work for the UAE, for which he sought approval in 2015 while he was a fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution.
Navy Capt. Jeff Davis, a Pentagon spokesman speaking on the defense secretary’s behalf, confirmed that Mattis advised the UAE on rebuilding its military. The work was for free, Davis said, and Mattis was not representing the US government. He was reimbursed by the UAE for his travel costs, Davis said.
Though not previously known publicly, Mattis’ work for the UAE was legal as a retired military general, and he properly disclosed the information when he was nominated as President Donald Trump’s defense secretary…
Mattis retired from the Marines in 2013 after serving as head of US Central Command, a position overseeing US military operations in the military where he would work alongside military officials from the Emirates.”

-Jeremy Herb, “First on CNN: Mattis advised UAE military before joining Trump administration,” CNN Politics, CNN.com, Aug. 2, 2017 02:32pm

9,291. 8/1/2017

DEFENSE/NOMINATIONS: “The Senate voted unanimously Tuesday [8-2-17] to confirm eight of President Donald Trump’s picks to help lead the Department of Defense, more than doubling the number of his administration’s political appointees at the Pentagon.
The list of eight confirmations included Richard Spencer to be Secretary of the Navy and Ellen Lord to be the Undersecretary of Acquisition, Technology and Logistics.
Spencer, a former US Marine Corps aviator and Wall Street executive, is only the second service secretary to be confirmed in the Trump administration. Heather Wilson was confirmed as Air Force secretary in May and the administration has struggled to get an Army Secretary through the nomination process after two false starts.
The chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Sen. John McCain, issued a statement late Tuesday welcoming the Senate’s vote while also criticizing the delay before confirming the positions…
There are 53 total Senate-confirmable politically appointed positions at the Department of Defense. Tuesday’s vote brings the confirmed total to 15.”

-Ryan Browne and Jeremy Herb, “Senate votes to confirm eight Pentagon political appointees,” CNN Politics, CNN.com, Aug. 1, 2017 10:36pm

9,278. 8/1/2017

DEFENSE/MILITARY/STATE/UKRAINE: “The Pentagon and State Department have proposed to the White House a plan to supply Ukraine with anti-tank missiles and other arms, according to Defense Department officials.
The proposed transfer — which also would include antiaircraft arms that would be defined as defensive weaponry — comes as fighting between Ukrainian troops and Russian-backed separatists has increased in recent days, and the United States is taking steps to deter aggressive military actions by Moscow.
The plan by the Pentagon and State Department has been presented to the White House, but no decision has been made, said a Defense Department official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss a proposal still under review. It was not clear if President Trump had been briefed on the proposal.
Whether to provide more substantial weaponry to Kiev’s beleaguered forces has embroiled American policy makers for several years.
Two years ago, eight former senior American officials urged the Obama administration to send $3 billion in defensive arms and equipment to Ukraine, including anti-armor missiles, reconnaissance drones, armored Humvees and radars that can determine the location of enemy rocket and artillery fire.”

-Eric Schmidt, “Pentagon and State Department Are Said to Propose Arming Ukraine,” Th e New York Times online, Aug. 1, 2017