A HISTORIC DAY:In recent weeks, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg has demonstrated why member nations were so anxious to keep him around for another year. The former prime minister of Norway managed to broker a deal that clears the way for Sweden to join Finland as the newest member of the trans-Atlantic alliance.
Stoltenberg's personal intervention, culminating in yesterday's meeting with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson, broke the deadlock that threatened to block Sweden's accession to NATO indefinitely.
"This is a historic day because we have a clear commitment by Turkey to submit the ratification documents to the Grand National Assembly, and to work also with the assembly to ensure ratification," Stoltenberg told reporters on the eve of the gathering of NATO leaders in Vilnius, Lithuania, today. "Sweden and Turkey have worked closely together to address Turkey's legitimate security concerns. As part of that process, Sweden has amended its constitution, changed its laws, significantly expanded its counter-terrorism cooperation against the PKK, and resumed arms exports to Turkey."
As recently as this past weekend, Erdogan was signaling he was not ready to support Sweden's bid, while at the same time, hinting he would consider dropping his objections if NATO would help "pave the way" for Turkey to renew its bid to join the European Union.
WHAT TURKEY GETS: In a seven-point communique issued after the meeting of the parties, Sweden committed to "present a roadmap as the basis of its continued fight against terrorism," and to not provide support to any of the groups Turkey considers terrorist groups.
In addition, Sweden pledged to step up economic cooperation with Turkey, including to "actively support efforts to reinvigorate Turkey's EU accession process."
In a statement, President Joe Biden said he welcomed the agreement, adding, "I stand ready to work with President Erdogan and Turkey on enhancing defense and deterrence in the Euro-Atlantic area," which appeared to be a reference to Biden's commitment to sell Turkey 40 new F-16s, which until now have been been on hold.
Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Menendez (D-NJ) has opposed the sale of F-16s because of Turkey's opposition to Sweden's NATO membership and other human rights concerns.
WHAT UKRAINE WILL GET: Stoltenberg also outlined what Ukraine will be offered later today once the language is worked out.
NATO will "send a clear and positive message on the path forward towards membership for Ukraine," Stoltenberg said this morning, outlining a three-pronged approach.
First, a multi-year program to ensure full interoperability between the Ukrainian forces and the NATO forces. "This will move Ukraine closer to NATO."
Second, the creation of the NATO Ukraine Council, "to strengthen their political ties."
And third, removing the usual requirement for Ukraine to submit a Membership Action Plan. "This will turn the membership process for Ukraine from a two-step process into a one-step process."
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky had not committed to attending the summit if he wasn't going to get the security guarantees he was seeking along with a clear path to future NATO membership. Zelensky is expected to arrive in Lithuania later today and have a one-on-one meeting with Biden tomorrow.
But in a tweet sent this morning, Zelensky expressed his disappointment with the framework. "Ukraine will be represented at the NATO summit in Vilnius. Because it is about respect. But Ukraine also deserves respect. Now, on the way to Vilnius, we received signals that certain wording is being discussed without Ukraine."
"It seems there is no readiness neither to invite Ukraine to NATO nor to make it a member of the Alliance," Zelensky said. "This means that a window of opportunity is being left to bargain Ukraine's membership in NATO in negotiations with Russia. And for Russia, this means motivation to continue its terror. Uncertainty is weakness. And I will openly discuss this at the summit."
Good Tuesday morning and welcome to Jamie McIntyre's Daily on Defense, written and compiled by Washington Examiner National Security Senior Writer Jamie McIntyre (@jamiejmcintyre) and edited by Conrad Hoyt. Email here with tips, suggestions, calendar items, and anything else. Sign up or read current and back issues atDailyonDefense.com. If signing up doesn't work, shoot us an email and we'll add you to our list. And be sure to follow us on Twitter: @dailyondefense.
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HAPPENING TODAY: CONGRESS RETURNS: The House and Senate have a lot to do before heading out of town again for the traditional August recess.
While Congress has until Sept. 30 to pass the 12 spending bills required to avoid a government shutdown and a mandatory 1% across-the-board cut in federal spending, the August recess is scheduled to run from July 28 to Sept. 5, at which time there will be just over three weeks to finish everything up.
Today, the House Rules Committee meets at noon to formulate a rule on the 2024 National Defense Authorization Act, the annual must-pass policy bill that this year is laden with so-called culture war issues, such as provisions that would eliminate the Pentagon's diversity initiatives and ban drag shows and story hours on military bases.
CONFIRMATION CONUNDRUM: The Senate Armed Services Committee will meet at 9:30 this morning to hear from Air Force chief of staff Gen. Charles Q. Brown Jr., Biden's pick to be the next chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. It's the first of two confirmation hearings set for this week. Tomorrow, the panel considers the nomination of Gen. Randy George to be chief of staff of the Army.
In normal times, both generals would be expected to win easy Senate confirmation and be ready to assume their new roles on schedule as soon as the terms of the current Joint Chiefs expire. But these are not normal times.
Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-AL), in what he argues is a principled battle with the Pentagon over a policy that funds travel for abortions, has placed an unprecedented hold on all military promotions, blocking the usual procedure of confirming by unanimous consent.
At yesterday's retirement ceremony for Marine Corps Commandant Gen. David Berger, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin lamented that for the first time in a century, the Marine Corps is without a Senate-confirmed commandant.
"Smooth and timely transitions of confirmed leadership are central to the defense of the United States and to the full strength of the most powerful fighting force in history," Austin said. "Stable and orderly leadership transitions are also vital to maintaining our unmatched network of allies and partners and they're crucial for our military readiness. And of course, our military families give up so much to support those who serve. So they shouldn't be weighed down with any extra uncertainty."
TUBERVILLE'S TRUCULENCE: 'IT IS WHAT IT IS': Until the standoff is resolved, or the Senate begins a laborious process of scheduling individual votes on each nominee or promotion, officers such as Gen. Eric Smith, assistant commandant of the Marine Corps, the nominee for the top job, will remain in limbo.
"No, not going to change my approach. You know, it is what it is," Tuberville told CNN yesterday as pressure builds for him to let the Senate return to regular order. "Now I've met with General Smith right before he left, a great guy. He'll do a really good job. He's a deputy. So he's assumed the duties already. So it's not like it's void of a position, it's just the name."
Tuberville said Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) should just bring up each promotion for a single vote. "We're voting on people this week that oversee 20 people. One person. Why don't we vote on these people one at a time? We can do that."
HUNDREDS OF MILITARY FAMILIES AFFECTED: The Pentagon says there are currently 265 general and flag officer nominations that are being blocked by Tuberville's holds, and that number will grow to 650 by the end of the year.
"We have 852 general and flag officers in our military," Sabrina Singh, deputy Pentagon spokeswoman, said yesterday. "So we're looking at about 89% of all general and flag officer positions that could be vacant or require a Senate confirmation."
"We are having to ask people to delay their retirements and continue to stay in their positions. We are also asking officers to assume the duties of a higher grade while remaining in their current rank but not actually being able to pay them at the rank they occupy because they cannot receive that pay unless they are Senate confirmed," Singh said.
"It's not just our general and flag officers that are — that are being impacted in our force, it is their families as well," she said. "I've heard cases of two students who dis-enrolled from their current school because they were supposed to move with their family for a change of station move but now they can't enroll in a new school because they don't know when they'll be able to relocate."
In an interview on CNN last night, Tuberville denied his action was causing problems for the military. "If I thought it was hurting readiness, or recruiting, I wouldn't be doing this. But it's not doing it," he told CNN's Kaitlan Collins. "I've talked to generals and admirals. They said, 'coach, we're going to be able to get this done. We'll work through this.'"
Forbers: RTX Head Greg Hayes Says US Can't Decouple From China But Can "De-Risk." Biden Gets It, But Some Big Companies Don't.
TUESDAY | JULY 11
8 a.m. 2941 Fairview Park Dr., Falls Church, Virginia — Potomac Officers Club "Delivering Joint Capabilities Forum," with Donald Schlomer, acquisition program manager at U.S. Special Operations Command; and David Tremper, executive director of acquisition integration and interoperability at the Office of the Secretary of Defense https://potomacofficersclub.com/govcon-events/
9:30 a.m. 601 13th St. NW — Center for the Study of the Presidency and Congress in-person book event: Z Generation: Into the Heart of Russia's Fascist Youth, with author Ian Garner and Joshua Huminski, director, Mike Rogers Center for Intelligence and Global Affairs. RSVP: email@example.com
10 a.m. 2154 Rayburn — House Oversight and Accountability Select Coronavirus Pandemic Subcommittee hearing: "Investigating the Proximal Origin of a Cover Up," with testimony from Kristian Andersen, professor at Scripps Research; Andrew Rambaut, professor at the University of Edinburgh; W. Ian Lipkin, professor of epidemiology at Columbia University; Edward Holmes, professor of virology at the University of Sydney; and Robert Garry, professor at the Tulane University School of Medicine https://oversight.house.gov/hearing
10:15 a.m. — U.S. Institute of Peace hybrid in-person and virtual event: "The Growing Importance of NATO's Indo-Pacific Partners," with Kevin Rudd, Australian ambassador to the U.S.; Tamaki Tsukada, deputy chief of mission, Japanese Embassy; Bede Corry, New Zealand ambassador to the U.S.; Choon-goo Kim, deputy chief of mission, South Korean Embassy; and Karl Eikenberry, Senior Military Advisory Group, U.S. Institute of Peace https://www.usip.org/events/growing-importance-natos-indo-pacific-partners
10:30 a.m. 214 Massachusetts Ave. NE — Heritage Foundation 2024 B.C. Lee Lecture: "The Future of the U.S.-South Korea Alliance in the Indo-Pacific," with Sen. Bill Hagerty (R-TN); Rep. Young Kim (R-CA); and Korean Ambassador to the U.S. Hyundong Cho https://www.heritage.org/asia/event/the-2023-bc-lee-lecture
11 a.m. — Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments virtual discussion: of new report: Beyond Precision: Maintaining America's Strike Advantage in Great Power Conflict, with author Tyler Hacker, CSBA research fellow, and CSBA President and CEO Thomas Mahnkenhttps://us06web.zoom.us/webinar/register
1 p,m. — Middle East Institute virtual discussion: "Does U.S. Policy Toward the Taliban Need Rethinking?" with Lisa Curtis, director of the Center for a New American Security's Indo-Pacific Security Program; former U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan Ronald Neumann, president of the American Academy of Diplomacy; former Afghanistan Ambassador to the United Arab Emirates Javid Ahmad, senior fellow at the Atlantic Council; Marvin Weinbaum, director of Afghanistan and Pakistan studies at MEI; and Douglas London, MEI nonresident scholar https://www.mei.edu/events/does-us-policy-toward-taliban-need-rethinking
WEDNESDAY | JULY 12
9 a.m. Vilnius, Lithuania — Atlantic Council virtual NATO public forum, panel discussions: "Harnessing Emerging Technologies for Strategic Advantage"; "Beyond the Blueprint: NATO's Strategic Concept in Practice"; and "Bridging the Atlantic: Priorities for NATO's Future from Vilnius to Washington D.C." https://www.atlanticcouncil.org/event/2023-nato-public-forum/
10 a.m. 2301 Constitution Ave. NW — U.S. Institute of Peace discussion: "Afghanistan's Dire Humanitarian Situation: How Can the International Community Alleviate the Crisis and Protect Afghan Livelihoods?" with Samira Sayed-Rahman, director of policy, advocacy and communications at the International Rescue Committee; Melissa Cornet, humanitarian advocacy adviser at CARE Afghanistan; and William Byrd, USIP senior expert for Afghanistan https://www.usip.org/events/afghanistans-dire-humanitarian-situation
11 a.m. 1819 L St. NW — East-West Center in Washington discussion: "New War in the South China Sea: Framing China's Unrestricted Warfare and the Role of the U.S. Indo-Pacific Strategy," with Rhisan Mae Morales, assistant professor at Ateneo de Davao University; Rommel Banlaoi, president of the Philippine Society for Intelligence and Security Studies; and Satu Limaye, vice president of the East-West Center https://www.eventbrite.com/e/new-war-in-the-south-china-sea
11 a.m. — Hudson Institute China Center presentation: "China Prepares for War: A Timeline," with Kyle Bass, founder and chief investment officer, Hayman Capital Management, and member, China Center Advisory Board; Miles Yu, senior fellow and director, China Center; and Paula Dobriansky, senior fellow, Future of Diplomacy Project, Harvard University, and member, China Center Advisory Board https://www.eventbrite.com/e/china-prepares-for-war-a-timeline
2 p.m. 310 Cannon — House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Border Security and Enforcement hearing: "Protecting the U.S. Homeland: Fighting the Flow of Fentanyl from the Southwest Border" https://www.youtube.com/channel
2:30 p.m. 216 Hart — Senate Intelligence Committee hearing to consider the nomination of Air Force Lt. Gen. Timothy Haugh to lead the National Security Agency and U.S. Cyber Command and Michael Casey to be director of the National Counterintelligence and Security Center https://www.intelligence.senate.gov/hearings
3:30 p.m. 214 Massachusetts Ave. NE — Heritage Foundation in-person and virtual discussion: "Securing the Border and the Homeland," with House Homeland Security Chairman Rep. Mark Green (R-TN); and Derrick Morgan, executive vice president of the Heritage Foundation https://www.heritage.org/immigration/event/securing-the-border
12 p.m. 201 Waterfront St., National Harbor, Md. — Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association and the Intelligence and National Security Alliance Intelligence and National Security Summit, with Deputy FBI Director Paul Abbate; George Barnes, deputy director of the National Security Agency; Deputy CIA Director David Cohen; John Kirchhofer, chief of staff of the Defense Intelligence Agency; Troy Meink, principal deputy director of the National Reconnaissance Office; Tonya Wilkerson, deputy director of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency; Senate Intelligence Chairman Mark Warner (D-VA); Senate Intelligence Vice Chairman Marco Rubio (R-FL); Scott Bray, deputy director of naval intelligence and director of Naval Intelligence Activity; Lt. Gen. Leah Lauderback, deputy chief of staff for intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance and cyber effects operations at the Air Force Headquarters; and Joseph Rouge, deputy director of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance at the Space Force https://www.insaonline.org/detail-pages/event
7 p.m. 390 Cannon — House select committee on the Chinese Communist Party hearing: "Risky Business: Growing Peril for American Companies in China," with testimony from Piper Lounsbury, chief research and development officer, Strategy Risks; Shehzad Qazi, chief operating officer and managing director, China Beige Book International; and Desmond Shum, author of Red Roulette: An Insider's story of Wealth, Power, Corruption and Vengeance in Today's Chinahttps://selectcommitteeontheccp.house.gov/committee-activity/live
FRIDAY | JULY 21
9 a.m. 201 Waterfront St., National Harbor, Md. — Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association and the Intelligence and National Security Alliance Intelligence and National Security Summit, with Julian Gewirtz, deputy coordinator for China global affairs at the State Department; Rear Adm. Thomas Henderschedt, intelligence director, J2, at the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command; Lt. Gen. Robert "Bob" Ashley Jr., CEO of Ashley Global Leadership and Security and former deputy chief of staff for intelligence, G2, at the Army; Aastha Verma, chief of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency's Cybersecurity Division; Rachel Grunspan, AI lead for the intelligence community in the Office of the Director of National Intelligence; Lakshmi Raman, CIA director of artificial intelligence innovation; and Jason Wang, technical director of the National Security Agency's Computer and Analytic Sciences Research Group; and Jon Finer, deputy national security adviser https://www.insaonline.org/detail-pages/event
10 a.m. 1616 Rhode Island Ave NW — Center for Strategic and International Studies in-person and virtual event: "Acquisition for Decision Advantage: The Role of the CDAO in Scaling Software Solutions," with Margie Palmieri, deputy chief digital and artificial intelligence officer, Department of Defense; and Cynthia Cook, director, Defense-Industrial Initiatives Group, and senior fellow, International Security Program https://www.csis.org/events/acquisition-decision-advantage
QUOTE OF THE DAY
"Three and a half years into the COVID-19 pandemic, it is still my opinion that there is no credible scientific evidence to support a lab-based origin for SARS-CoV-2. I support the efforts of the subcommittee to better understand the origins of coronavirus pandemics, as understanding viral origin plays an important role in developing strong policies to help prevent the next potential pandemic."
Testimony prepared by Robert Garry, professor, Tulane University School of Medicine, for delivery at today's hearing of the House Oversight and Accountability Select Coronavirus Pandemic Subcommittee.