Today's Top 5
1. DoD announces first bases to get water contamination review
(Military Times) The U.S. government is moving forward on a review of water contamination at military bases, a study that may one day help answer a heartbreaking question: Did exposure to DoD chemicals cause their cancers?
2. In neighboring Colombia, Pence will call for Venezuela's Maduro to step down
(CBS News) Pence will travel to Colombia on Feb. 25 to reiterate the American government's support for National Assembly President Juan Guaidó, which the U.S. and dozens of countries have recognized as Venezuela's interim president.
3. Heckler & Koch fined over illegal arms sales to Mexico
(Deutsche Welle) Two former staff members at the weapons manufacturer were given suspended sentences for violating Germany's War Weapons Control Act for their involvement in the delivery of machine guns to Mexico.
4. White House: 200 US troops will remain in Syria
(Agence France-Presse) "A small peace-keeping group of about 200 will remain in Syria for a period of time," White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said.
5. US troop withdrawals aren’t on the table for Trump’s North Korea peace talks - for now
(Military Times) Senior administration officials say U.S. troop withdrawals from the Korean Peninsula won’t be on the planned agenda for next week’s peace talks. Whether President Donald Trump decides to add them in remains to be seen.
AFRICOM adds logistics hub in West Africa, hinting at an enduring US presence
(Defense One) From Ghana’s capital, a new supply network will ferry supplies and arms to special forces troops across the region.
French jihadist linked to 2015 Paris attacks 'killed in Syria'
(France 24) Clain first became known when authorities identified his voice in an Islamic State (IS) group video claiming responsibility for the November 13, 2015, attacks in Paris.
Allies decline request to stay in Syria after US troops withdraw
(Washington Post) As the deadline approaches for the withdrawal of U.S. forces fighting the Islamic State in Syria, America’s closest European allies have turned down a Trump administration request to fill the gap with their own troops, according to U.S. and foreign officials.
China ‘puts wartime command system to test’ in South China Sea drills
(South China Morning Post) China has conducted a month of drills in the South China Sea and the western and central Pacific involving its navy, air force and missile unit.
Iran’s naval maneuvers to start Friday
(The Associated Press) Iran’s navy says it will hold an annual drill in the strategic Strait of Hormuz as pressure mounts on the country months after the United States re-imposed sanctions on Iran, targeting its vital oil sector.
Burundi rejects African Union's troop pullout decision in Somalia
(Deutsche Welle) For the 5,400 Burundian soldiers fighting in Somalia, it's time to go home, the African Union says. Burundi's President Nkurunziza disagrees and is fighting the decision.
The Pentagon wants to know how a border wall will improve troops’ ‘effectiveness’ before it contributes DoD dollars
(Military Times) The Pentagon has asked Department of Homeland Security to identify locations where border wall construction would improve the “effectiveness" of military troops deployed there, a key justification required to redirect military construction spending that would otherwise go to local base projects.
This is how two Fort Stewart soldiers plotted the murder of a third, police say
(Army Times) Two Georgia-based soldiers have pleaded not guilty to premeditated murder in the case of the shooting death of a Fort Stewart noncommissioned officer who was gunned down outside his father’s home on New Year’s Eve.
Here’s what the Army is looking for in its new EW program
(C4ISRNET) The Army has briefed industry on its upcoming electronic warfare program and is now asking for feedback.
This armored troop transport is being built but needs fixes before it’s fielded next year
(Army Times) A familiar defense company has been selected to build the Army’s replacement to a nearly 60-year-old troop carrier but deficiencies highlighted in a recent report need fixing before the vehicles are fielded next year.
Navy fires riverine squadron commander
(Navy Times) The head of the San Diego-based Coastal Riverine Squadron 3 was relieved of command Tuesday, Navy officials said Thursday.
Senator: Trump’s ‘emergency’ wall funding might jeopardize submarine propeller project
(Navy Times) Federal money for submarine manufacturing in Philadelphia, airfield improvements in Pittsburgh and other military construction projects in Pennsylvania could be at risk of being diverted by the Trump administration to help finance a U.S.-Mexico border wall, U.S. Sen. Bob Casey’s office said Thursday.
Sailor dies in Virginia Beach motorcycle accident
(Navy Times) A junior sailor died late last month in a Virginia Beach motorcycle accident, according to Navy and police officials.
The USS Constitution, a soldier who killed Nazi tanks and his armored ride through Boston
(Navy Times) The inside of a tank was Clarence Smoyer’s home, and the crew was his family. In that sense, the 95-year-old veteran returned home Wednesday for the first time since World War II.
Navy wants faster ship repairs; 70% of destroyer fleet late
(Breaking Defense) If the Navy ever hopes to reach its goal of a 355-ship fleet, it won’t be by simply building new hulls and launching them.
Gear review: These ‘all-weather’ gloves may not be as ‘all-weather’ as you’d want
(Defense News) Most of the United States has been locked in a nasty cold front the last couple weeks, which is a good chance to test out some cold-weather gear.
OSI investigating alleged misconduct of fired wing commander
(Air Force Times) The Air Force’s Office of Special Investigations is leading an investigation into alleged misconduct by Col. Ryan Marshall, who was fired from command of the 621st Contingency Response Wing on Wednesday.
Air Force labs develop and field chemlight replacement
(Air Force Times) The Air Force Research Lab developed a chemical light stick, or chemlight, replacement and gave the patent to a veteran-owned company for manufacturing and distribution, the service announced in a video this week.
As criticism of shoddy housing mounts, Air Force pledges fixes
(Air Force Times) Top Air Force officials this week moved to address growing outrage over filthy and hazardous conditions faced by service members and their families living in privatized base housing.
US plans new war-fighting concept in response to threat from China, Russia
(South China Morning Post) America’s military is developing a new war-fighting concept in response to the threat of conflict with China, Russia and other adversaries, the U.S. Air Force chief of staff said.
Hey, crayon eaters, these M27 rifles are built to be ‘Marine proof’ Heckler & Koch says in viral post
(Marine Corps Times) The makers of the Corps’ new M27 automatic rifle, Heckler & Koch, took a playful jab at the Corps Tuesday, calling the Marines “crayon eaters” in a post on its Facebook page.
The motivated Marine Corps origin of the ‘distracted boyfriend’ meme, 'rah?
(Marine Corps Times) It is instantly recognizable. The vaunted status of meme divinity is seldom achieved, but like the Crying Jordan, the “One does not simply” or a handful of other internet offerings that have proliferated ad nauseam across the social media landscape, it has made its way onto screens — and into hearts — everywhere.
Lawmakers choose new Vermont National Guard leader
(Burlington NBC) A 35-year Army veteran is going to be the next head of the Vermont National Guard. A joint session of the Vermont Legislature on Thursday elected Col. Gregory Knight, of Huntington, to become the next adjutant general of the Vermont National Guard.
Coast Guard officer ordered to jail, accused of being 'domestic terrorist'
(Fox News) A Coast Guard lieutenant who authorities say espoused white nationalist views and compiled a hit list of Democratic lawmakers and prominent media personalities should be held without bail for at least two weeks while federal prosecutors continue to investigate his activities, a judge ruled Thursday.
This ATV is an unmanned answer to cheap drones
(C4ISRNET) There is no single moment more loaded with symbolism for the drone age than the March 2017 news that a U.S. ally used a Patriot missile to shoot down a quadcopter.
How does Pakistan’s Thunder fare against contenders in Malaysia’s aircraft competition?
(Defense News) Pakistan hopes to sell its JF-17 Thunder aircraft to Malaysia, now that the cash-strapped country is officially looking for such a fighter.
Raytheon will participate in Army missile defense radar ‘sense-off’
(Defense News) Raytheon will participate in a missile defense radar “sense-off” to test designs that could be included in the U.S. Army’s Integrated Air and Missile Defense system under development.
German documents reveal Singapore received more Leopard 2 tanks
(Defense News) Information from government documents about a delivery of German Leopard 2 tanks to Singapore in 2017 suggest the city-state bought a new batch of tanks for its Army.
Israeli firm UVision opens US subsidiary, with eye toward kamikaze drones market
(Defense News) UVision, a maker of loitering munitions, is seeking to expand its business in the U.S. with the launch of UVision USA, a fully owned subsidiary of UVision Air in Israel.
HAL unveils rotary-wing unmanned aerial vehicle
(IHS Jane’s 360) Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) showcased the technology demonstrator of the Dhruv Mk III Advanced Light Helicopter with folding tail boom and main rotor blades, designated Naval Utility Helicopter.
Systematic expanding Sitaware C2 software into maritime domain
(IHS Jane’s 360) Systematic is developing a new maritime capability to add to its Sitaware command-and-control (C2) software suite, and showcased it for the first time at the IDEX exhibition in Abu Dhabi.
As VA staff vacancies rise, union leaders blast administration officials for ‘setting us up to fail’
(Military Times) Federal union officials accused Veterans Affairs officials of undermining their own health care system by not filling thousands of open department health positions while they push new rules covering more medical appointments at private-sector hospitals.
White House orders agencies to defend the skies from cyberattacks
(NextGov) In its National Strategy for Aviation Security, the Trump administration called on the government to be more proactive in spotting threats to U.S. airspace.
Congress & Politics
US military officers prep the battlefield for White House budget
(Defense News) Ahead of the White House’s fiscal 2020 budget submission, expected next month, there’s been a solid push for diplomacy and development spending, and it’s coming from, well, the Defense Department.
Former top military advisers urge Congress to pass gun background checks bill
(Roll Call) More than a dozen retired top military commanders, leaders and advisers, whose careers spanned both Republican and Democratic administrations, are throwing their weight behind a bill in the House and Senate that would require universal background checks for all U.S. gun sales.
Democratic power trio: 'Unacceptable' for Trump to meet Kim Jong Un before Congress gets briefing
(Washington Examiner) A trio of leading House Democrats are calling out the Trump administration for keeping Congress in the dark on North Korea ahead of President Trump’s meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un next week.
Some Republicans with bases in their districts break ranks with Trump over wall funding
(Roll Call) Though typically aligned with the White House, some Republicans who have military bases in their districts oppose President Donald Trump raiding $3.6 billion in military construction projects to finance walls along the southern border.
Cyber, Space & Surveillance
Emirati DarkMatter unveils ‘ultra secure’ armored smartphone
(C4ISRNET) It is unconventional to for smartphones to be on display during a defense expo, but DarkMatter unveiled the Katim R01 “armored” mobile device at IDEX 2019 in Abu Dhabi.
New report questions effectiveness of cyber indictments
(Fifth Domain) A recent report throws cold water on one of the U.S. government’s key pillars for what it calls whole-of-government deterrence in cyberspace: indictments.
China, Australia on a cyber-collision course
(Asia Times) Cybersecurity agencies within the Five Eyes intelligence-sharing alliance are working together to thwart hacking attacks against political institutions following a recent incursion into parliamentary computer servers in Australia.
To target Israel, Iran’s ‘suitcase’ GPS kits turn Hezbollah rockets into guided missiles
(The Daily Beast) In interviews with The Daily Beast, senior Israeli military officers outlined new details about Iran’s plans to turn a vast arsenal of relatively dumb rockets in Syria and Lebanon into a deadly array of precision-guided missiles. The key, according to Israel, is a Global Positioning System (GPS) “kit” the size of small roll-aboard luggage.
Venezuela crisis: Maduro to close border with Brazil
(BBC) Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro has announced he is closing the border with Brazil on Thursday night as a row over foreign humanitarian aid continues.
Chinese-British relations ‘complicated’ by South China Sea military plans
(South China Morning Post) Britain said its relationship with China was facing complications, triggered by the plan to send a new Royal Navy aircraft carrier to the Pacific. The admission follows Britain’s participation this week in a joint naval drill with the US in the South China Sea, as part of an effort by the US and its allies to boost their military presence in the hotly contested waters.
Albanian opposition holds anti-government rally
(Deutsche Welle) Sixty-five opposition lawmakers resigned from parliament ahead of protests calling for the government to step down. The EU warned against a repeat of weekend violence and called the resignations damaging to democracy.
China, Saudi Arabia try to walk together amid hurdles
(Voice of America) Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman arrived in Beijing on Thursday for a two-day visit to boost the country’s international image sullied by the recent killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi and to enhance economic ties. But the path to better ties between Saudi Arabia and China is riddled with political hurdles.
PA to take Israel to international courts over deduction of terror payments
(Jerusalem Post) The Palestinian Authority is studying the possibility of lodging complaints against Israel with international courts over the recent decision to deduct half a billion shekels from tax and tariff revenues Israel collects on behalf of the PA because of its financial aid to the families of security prisoners and terrorists.
Commentary & Analysis
Where Congress stands on Yemen
(Lawfare) On Feb. 13, the House of Representatives passed H.J. Res. 37, a joint resolution that purports to direct the executive branch to end U.S. support for the Saudi-led military campaign against Houthi rebels in Yemen. This is the first major legislative action that either chamber has taken on the Yemen conflict in this Congress.
About that trial balloon on using the 9/11 AUMF to authorize US strikes on Iran
(Just Security) Monday’s Washington Times included a breathless “Exclusive” report titled “Iran-al Qaeda Alliance May Provide Legal Rationale for U.S. Military Strikes.” In the piece, the Times strings together a series of paraphrased comments from unidentified “Trump administration officials” and “congressional and legal sources” to suggest that the 2001 Authorization for the Use of Military Force—the AUMF—“may now provide a legal rationale for striking Iranian territory or proxies.”
US military’s ambiguous definition of a ‘legitimate’ target
(Sanaa Center) After three months of no official drone strikes in Yemen, the United States carried out its first strike of 2019 on New Year’s Day. Five days later, on January 6, President Donald Trump tweeted that the US had killed the target of that strike: Jamal al-Badawi, the “leader” of the attack on the USS Cole in 2000.
What if US is laying credibility trap for Beijing on Taiwan?
(The Hill) Sixty-nine years ago last month, Secretary of State Dean Acheson delivered a speech defining America’s strategic interests in Asia. He described a security perimeter that did not include South Korea or Taiwan.
Rethink 2%: NATO ‘defense spending’ should favor cyber
(Defense One) Today, a dollar or euro spent on network security goes farther than one spent on conventional arms.