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US State of Defense 2018 (Feb 3, 2018)

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Feb 23, 2018 (Defense One)

Happening shortly: President Trump is expected to announce the U.S. Treasury Department will impose new sanctions against North Korea during his speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference this morning in Washington. POTUS takes the stage somewhere near 10 a.m. EDT. Catch a livestream from CPAC, here

The State of Defense, 2018: Every year, the Defense One staff takes stock of the service branches and the greater national-security picture. A year after Donald Trump became commander in chief, writes Kevin Baron, the Pentagon has been remarkably unaltered by the man who vowed to shake things up. And yet, «under Trump, America is no longer the world’s clear leader. And that is a titanic change.»

As for the Army, your D Brief-er Ben Watson describes a service that is once again expanding its counter-terror and nation-building efforts — and training to fight North Korea.

Look for two themes to dominate Navy-related headlines: fixing a fleet that saw negligence cause a string of deadly mishaps, and building that fleet up, Bradley Peniston writes.

A year of transition ahead for the Air Force, writes Marcus Weisgerber. No longer shrinking, the service is adding people and planes. Done with counterinsurgency, it’s readying for complex and high-intensity war. And training is back on top of the priority list.

Tension in the Marine Corps mission set. Writes Caroline Houck: Unable to disengage from the counterterrorism fight, the Corps is still trying to refocus on great-power conflict.

Read the whole package, here — and plan to continue the conversation about the military’s future at State of Defense Live on March 13 in downtown Washington, D.C. Get details and register, here.

D  From Defense One

White House, Boeing In Final Stages of New Air Force One Deal // Marcus Weisgerber: President Trump and Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg met in White House this week to break gridlock on price of new presidential planes.

New Report Notes Erosion of Pentagon’s Technological Advantage // Caroline Houck: The evidence ranges from a new long-range Chinese missile to ramped-up European defense spending, an annual assessment of the world’s militaries finds.

The Global Business Brief, February 22 // Marcus Weisgerber: Inside one of America’s private air forces; Huntington Ingalls investing more in shipyards; and a bit more.

The State of Defense 2018: Overview // Kevin Baron: The one consensus seems to be the view that, under Trump, America is no longer the world’s clear leader. And that is a titanic change.

The State of the Army // Ben Watson: From Africa to Afghanistan, the U.S. Army is expanding its nation-building and its operations against terrorists, even as thousands of stateside soldiers prepare for possible conflict in North Korea.

The State of the Navy // Bradley Peniston: Operationally speaking, 2018 ought to be a back-to-basics year for a naval service shaken by a string of deadly mishaps.

The State of the Air Force // Marcus Weisgerber: The U.S. Air Force finds itself amid several transitions. After years of shrinking, it’s adding people and planes. After years of counterinsurgency, it’s readying for fast-paced, complex war against Russia and China. After years of constrained training, training is now a top priority.

The State of the Marine Corps // Caroline Houck: If there’s one service that embodies the tension the U.S. military faces — unable to turn away from an ongoing counterterrorism fight, but knowing it needs to refocus on great-power conflict — it’s the Marine Corps.

Welcome to this Friday edition of The D Brief by Ben Watson and Bradley PenistonEmail us. And if you find this useful, consider forwarding it to a friend or colleague. They can subscribe here for free. Happy birthday, U.S. Navy Supply Corps, created as the Office of Purveyor of Supplies in 1795.

From the Air Force Association Air Warfare Symposium in Orlando: Chief of the Air Force, Gen. David Goldfein, told the crowd this morning that he has come down with Bell’s palsy, first noticing symptoms a few weeks ago while traveling in the Pacific. Defense One‘s Marcus Weisgerber is at this year’s conference — whose final day is today — where Goldfein said acupuncture treatments appear to be helping him recover.

What else Goldfein said, according to Weisgerber’s dispatches this a.m. on Twitter:

  • The Air Force will make $64 million available to wing commanders to be used for innovation projects.
  • It’s time for the Air Force to approach space superiority with the same enthusiasm as air superiority, Goldfein says. Why? Because the General believes wars from space are coming.
  • He also talked about need for «weapons that learn,» and how he «hates the F-35-vs.-Chinese J-20 comparison because an F-35 will never go into battle alone, Weisgerber reports. Follow Marcus on Twitter for more from Orlando, here.

The quiet professional. We’re now just over a year into Defense Secretary Jim Mattis’s tenure as Pentagon chief. What better time to take stock of just how well he has done — in particular, how he has silently kept the country’s largest organization in lockstep despite the president’s desires to end the country’s Obama-era conflicts. U.S. News‘ Paul Shinkman has the profile of Mattis, entitled «The Secretary’s Silence,» here.

The White House plans to ditch its ISIS war envoy position entirely, Foreign Policy reported Thursday, flagging the «growing concerns» that raises over a loss of diplomatic leverage in Iraq and Syria over the coming months.
The man currently in the job (and who has been for the last 854 days): Brett McGurk. What happens next could include his current duties being «scaled back and folded into the State Department’s counterterrorism bureau, as well as other offices.»
In other words, nobody (that is willing to talk about it) knows exactly what’s going to happen yet — but the idea does fit nicely with the Trump administration’s plans to dramatically scale back State Department staffing, generally. As well, FP writes, the «timing of the planned change remained unclear» while also being «a long time coming.» Read on, here.

Two visualizations: First, here‘s a map showing the breadth of France’s commitments in the Sahel, via Financial Times.
And second: The annual cost of cybercrime has hit $600 billion worldwide. Agence France-Presse illustrates who gets hit hardest in a map of the world using data from a new report out of McAfee, here. Read more, here.

Afghan officials say they’re planning a 36,000-strong militia force. Reporting from across the border in Islamabad, Voice of America writes that Afghanistan’s ministry of defense is building a force that can hold terrain cleared by Afghan military troops.
Composition: «7,500 officers of the Afghan National Army, or ANA, and 28,500 other personnel.»
Their task: «to keep insurgents from staging a comeback.» This new, eventual force «will work under the direct command and control of the defense ministry. Waziri did not say when the recruiting process will begin.»A tiny bit more, here.

A U.S. Navy aircraft carrier will put into a Vietnamese port in early March, the first such visit since the war nearly 40 years ago, Defense News reported Thursday.

Sequel to the OV-10 Bronco wants a U.S. audience. A few eyebrows went up in March 2016 when the Bronco, a Vietnam-era light attack plane, was reported to have flown missions against ISIS. Today, South African firm Paramount «has formed a US-based subsidiary and teamed up with original AHRLAC supplier Aerospace Development Corp and Virginia-based Fulcrum Concepts to form Bronco Combat Systems and offer a US-built version called the Bronco II to the US military,» Flightglobal reported this week.
Similarities and differences: «As a twin-boomed two-seater optimised for slow-speed observation and light attack, the Bronco II resembles its namesake – the North American/Rockwell OV-10 Bronco. Unlike its Vietnam-era predecessor, the Bronco II is a single-engined aircraft with a slightly forward-swept wing.»
Next steps: «The Bronco II is likely to be pitched against a proposed US Air Force requirement for an observation/attack aircraft. Last summer, the USAF hosted a flight demonstration at Holloman AFB with three platforms – Sierra Nevada/Embraer A-29 Super Tucano and the Textron Aviation AT-6 turboprop and Scorpion twin-jet.» More here.

And finally this week: Deployed troops, FTX and range participants rejoice — «The pizza MRE is back!» or it will be as early as March, Army Times reported Thursday. After word last year that the project was put on hold over packaging concerns, evidently lab workers were able to work out the kinks by placing the prototype MRE in «a 100-degree box for six months.» That, the lab believes, helps simulate its three-year intended shelf life.
Shipping out. The first of these new packages are due to arrive to Defense Logistics Agency in March, AT writes. Read more about these new pizzas, how they fixed a problem that turned the sauce brown, and what else could be coming soon — like beef goulash — here.
Have a great weekend, everyone. And we’ll see you again on Monday!

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