Daily on Defense: Biden relents on ATACMS, Ukraine continues to advance, Austin in Africa, Trump attacks Milley

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ATACMS, FINALLY: According to multiple media reports citing unnamed U.S. officials, President Joe Biden told Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky during their meeting last week that the United States is ready to send a version of the long-range ATACMS missiles to Ukraine.

The reports suggest the Pentagon will pull a small number of missiles out of its inventory that are armed with a cluster munitions warhead, which is "no longer considered a front-line U.S. weapon," to give Ukraine the ability to strike deep behind Russian lines.

"There were some issues we had to work through," Sen. Mark Kelly (D-AZ) said on CBS. "And we're at the point that we're going to provide them this capability. And I think it's going to be helpful."

Kelly, who just returned from a trip to Kyiv, says Ukrainian commanders told him they are making steady progress in their counteroffensive but that longer-range weapons are a crucial need. "An artillery shell goes about 18 miles. An ATACM missile goes about 190 miles," he said. "We're at the spot right now where they need an additional capability to maintain some more progress."

The ATACMS can be launched from the same HIMARS mobile rocket launchers that have already been provided to the Ukrainian forces. "As of the end of August, the Army had 1,486 ATACMS in its arsenal, 1,122 with unitary warheads and 364 armed with cluster munitions," the Washington Post reported Friday. "The ground-launched missiles are to be phased out, beginning later this year, by a newer long-range system. ATACMS are still in production, with Lockheed Martin under contract to produce 500 a year, but all are designated for overseas sales.


MODEST GAINS: The latest battlefield assessment from the Institute for the Study of War said its tracking of Ukrainian forces by way of geolocated video footage suggests that Ukrainian armored vehicles are operating behind Russia's main defensive line near Verbove on the southern front.

"Ukrainian forces are attacking directly into Verbove's western side. Ukrainian forces are also attacking north of Verbove," the ISW said. "Russian sources report that Ukrainian forces broke into Verbove on September 22 and continued attacking the settlement with armored vehicles as of September 24."

Verbove is a small village located several miles east of Robotyne, which Ukrainian forces liberated last month, and the breakthrough there of the so-called Surovikin line is a small but important step as Ukraine seeks to drive further south.

"Russian forces continue to expend significant combat power on counterattacking to hold their current positions and appear to be resisting the operationally sound course of action of falling back to prepared defensive positions further south," the ISW assessed. "Counterattacking requires significant morale and relatively high combat capabilities, and the Russian military appears to rely on relatively elite units and formations to counterattack, likely at the expense of these forces' degradation."


A DANGEROUS ASSIGNMENT: Meanwhile, British intelligence reported that since February 2022, three successive commanders of one of Russia's most prestigious airborne regiments have either resigned or been killed.

"The 247th Guards Air Assault Landing Regiment commander Colonel Vasily Popov was likely killed in the heavily contested Orikhiv sector in early September 2023," the British Defense Ministry said in a post on X, formerly known as Twitter. "Only weeks before, in August 2023, his predecessor, Colonel Pyotr Popov, likely resigned his command. Independent Russian media sources claim he acted in protest over the military's failure to recover the bodies of Russian casualties."

"In the early weeks of the invasion, then 247th commander Colonel Konstantin Zizevsky was killed near Mykolaiv," the assessment said. "The experience of the 247th highlights the extreme attrition and high turnover in Russia's deployed military, even amongst relatively senior ranks."


Good Monday 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 at DailyonDefense.com. If signing up doesn't work, shoot us an email and we'll add you to our list. And be sure to follow me on Threads and/or on X @jamiejmcintyre



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HAPPENING TODAY: President Joe Biden hosts leaders of Pacific island nations for a two-day U.S.-Pacific Island Country Summit as the U.S. seeks to extend its influence in the region.

The summit "will reaffirm his support for strengthening ties with the Pacific islands and discuss how we address complex global challenges, like tackling the existential threat of climate change, advancing economic growth, and promoting sustainable development," White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said Friday.

Biden will be announcing that the U.S. will be establishing diplomatic relations with two South Pacific nations, the Cook Islands and Niue.

AUSTIN IN AFRICA: Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin is in Djibouti today, the first stop in a weeklong visit that will also take him to Kenya and Angola.

Austin met with Djibouti President Ismail Omar Guelleh and Defense Minister Hassan Omar Mohamed Bourhan, according to a Pentagon readout. "The leaders discussed the bilateral defense relationship and regional security issues, including Djiboutian support to the African Union Transition Mission in Somalia in the fight against violent extremist organizations in the region," said Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder, Pentagon spokesman.

"I met with Somali President, @HassanSMohamud during my visit in Djibouti to discuss our shared efforts to counter al-Shabaab and acknowledged the courage and sacrifice of the Somali people as we work together to tackle the challenges that lay ahead," Austin posted on X.

Austin's visit to Africa, his first as defense secretary, comes as French President Emmanuel Macron announced yesterday that France will withdraw nearly 1,500 troops from the West African nation of Niger by the end of the year in the wake of the military coup there.

The U.S. still has some 1,100 troops in Niger.


TRUMP: MILLEY A 'WOKE TRAIN WRECK': Former President Donald Trump slammed Army Gen. Mark Milley on his Truth Social social media site as a series of media profiles portrayed the retiring Joint Chiefs chairman as protecting the nation from Trump's attacks on democracy.

"This will be a time for all citizens of the USA to celebrate!" Trump said in a Friday post. "This guy turned out to be a Woke train wreck who, if the Fake News reporting is correct, was actually dealing with China to give them a heads up on the thinking of the President of the United States."

The reference is to a report in the book Peril, which revealed Milley called his Chinese counterpart to reassure Beijing that the government in Washington was stable during the transition of administrations and that the U.S. had no plans to attack China.

Trump called that "an act so egregious that, in times gone by, the punishment would have been DEATH!"


The Rundown

Washington Examiner: Zelensky's US trip ends without public ATACMS commitment despite mounting speculation

Washington Examiner: US includes controversial cluster munitions in aid package to Ukraine for second time

Washington Examiner: Blumenthal: Biden will 'eventually come around' on F-16s and ATACMS for Ukraine

Washington Examiner: DOD support for Ukraine will not be hindered by potential government shutdown

Washington Examiner: Republicans smell a rat in Biden's plan to aid Ukraine

Washington Examiner: Ukraine: Russia's Crimea fleet 'will be sliced up like a salami'

Washington Examiner: Lloyd Austin to travel to African nations following coups

Washington Examiner: Tuberville standoff: Democrats downplay Schumer about-face as short-lived win for GOP

Washington Examiner: F-35 pilot who fell 2,000 feet asked family to call 911: 'A military jet crashed. I'm the pilot'

Washington Examiner: House Republican introduces bill to continue pay for military members during government shutdown

Washington Examiner: Centrist Republicans eye rare team-up with Democrats to avert government shutdown

Washington Examiner: Don Bacon says Republicans calling for McCarthy to vacate speakership 'have no alternative'

Washington Examiner: Marjorie Taylor Greene a 'hard no' on rules package for appropriations bills as shutdown looms

Reuters: Taiwan Raises Concerns About Situation 'Getting Out Of Hand' With China Drills

AP: Ukrainian Missile Strikes Headquarters Of Russia's Black Sea Fleet, Building Smolders

Wall Street Journal: Zelensky's Blunt Message Draws a Mixed Response

New York Times: Amid Black Sea Threats, Ukraine Steps Up Use of New Shipping Route

Military.com: Threat to Troop Paychecks Rises as Congress Fumbles Pentagon Bill and Lurches Toward a Government Shutdown

Marine Corps Times: Top Marine Leader Sworn In 1 Day After Senate Confirmation

Military.com: The Last Skirt Mandate In Marine Corps Has Been Nixed After Female Troops Advocated For Change

Fox News: Troops plagued by filthy conditions, squatters in military barracks: report

AP: Ukraine is building an advanced army of drones. For now, pilots improvise with duct tape and bombs

Breaking Defense: 'Very Concerning': Russia, North Korea Likely Spoke 'in Detail about Weapons Transfers,' DIA Says

AP: India had been riding a geopolitical high. But it comes to the UN with a mess on its hands

DefenseScoop: Latest Valkyrie Drone Flight Test Focused on AI-Enabled Air Combat

Defense One: Boeing Is Using Fortnite's Game Engine to Upgrade B-52s

Space News: Air Force Validates Boeing's New WGS Satellite

Air & Space Forces Magazine: Air Force Revamps 'Zero Week' at BMT to Better Prepare Recruits for Stress

Air & Space Forces Magazine: A New Undersecretary: Biden Taps DOD's Dalton for Air Force's No. 2 Civilian Job

Air & Space Forces Magazine: USSF Gets Weather-Monitoring Satellite from NOAA, Explores Options Beyond 2030

Air & Space Forces Magazine: Space Force Uniform Enters Last Stage of Testing Before Production

19fortyfive.com: Fact: Russia Is Losing The Ukraine War—Badly

19fortyfive.com: World War III: Could China 'Annihilate' U.S. Military Bases In A War?



8:45 a.m. 1616 Rhode Island Ave. NW — Center for Strategic and International Studies 2023 Republic of Korea-U.S. Strategic Forum, with Secretary of State Antony Blinken; South Korean Foreign Affairs Minister Park Jin; former U.S. Ambassador to Korea Kathleen Stephens; former South Korean Foreign Affairs Minister Yun Byung-se; and former U.S. Ambassador to Korea Mark Lippert https://www.csis.org/events/rok-us-strategic-forum-2023

9 a.m. 1616 Rhode Island Avenue NW — Secretary of State Antony Blinken delivers remarks at the Center for Strategic and International Studies' Republic of Korea-United States Strategic Forum. https://www.csis.org/events/rok-us-strategic-forum-2023

9:30 p.m. Arizona State University, Phoenix, Arizona — McCain Institute virtual discussion: "Only One Way Forward: The Vitality of a Democratic Ukraine," with Mariia Levchenko, European director of outreach and training at the River Phoenix Center for Peacebuilding; Battinto Batts, dean of Arizona State University's Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication; Svet Jacqueline, independent photojournalist; and Evelyn Farkas, executive director of the McCain Institute https://www.mccaininstitute.org/resources/events

10 a.m. — American Enterprise Institute discussion: "The State of US Counterterrorism Efforts and Diplomacy," with Gregory LoGerfo, deputy coordinator for counterterrorism, U.S. State Department, and Katherine Zimmerman, fellow, AEI https://www.aei.org/events/a-conversation-with-us-deputy-coordinator-for-counterterrorism


9 a.m. — Washington Post Live virtual discussion: "The Next Generation of Cyber Threats," with Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco; former Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency Director Chris Krebs, partner at Krebs Stamos; and Chris Painter, president of the Global Forum on Cyber Expertise https://www.washingtonpost.com/washington-post-live

9 a.m. 1775 Massachusetts Ave. NW — Brookings Institution 2023 Knight Forum on Geopolitics, with Brookings senior fellow Robert Kagan delivering remarks on "The State of the World and U.S. Grand Strategy" https://www.brookings.edu/events

12 p.m. 616 Rhode Island Ave. NW — Center for Strategic and International Studies International Security Program and U.S. Naval Institute for a Maritime Security Dialogue in-person and virtual discussion: "Strengthening the U.S. Industrial Base," with William LaPlante, undersecretary of defense for acquisition and sustainment; Seth Jones, CSIS senior vice president and director of the International Security Program; and retired Vice Adm. Peter Daly, CEO and publisher, U.S. Naval Institute https://www.csis.org/events/strengthening-us-industrial-base-hon-dr-william-laplante

1 p.m. 1000 Massachusetts Ave. NW — Cato Institute book discussion: The Declassification Engine: What History Reveals about America's Top Secrets, with author Matthew Connelly, professor of international and global history at Columbia University; Nate Jones, Freedom of Information Act director at the Washington Post; and Patrick Eddington, Cato senior fellow https://www.cato.org/events/declassification-engine

5 p.m. 1779 Massachusetts Ave. NW — Carnegie Endowment for International Peace discussion: "Ukraine's Quest for Justice," with Ukraine Prosecutor General Andriy Kostin; Ukrainian Ambassador to the U.S. Oksana Markarova; Gregory Shaffer, president of the American Society of International Law; and CEIP President Mariano-Florentino Cuellar https://carnegieendowment.org/2023/09/26/ukraine-s-quest-for-justice


8 a.m. 1700 Army Navy Drive, Arlington, Virginia — Intelligence and National Security Alliance forum: "The New IC (Intelligence Community)," with Carmen Medina, former CIA senior executive; Ellen Ardrey, chief of staff at the Defense Counterintelligence and Security Agency; Kristina Walter, director of the NSA's Future-Ready Workforce Initiative; Dennis Westbrooks, chief diversity officer at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence's Diversity and Inclusion Group; FBI Supervisory Special Agent Joseph Garbato, FBI chairman of the Marine Corps University; and Christine Abizaid, director of the National Counterterrorism Center https://www.insaonline.org/detail-pages/event

10 a.m. 1201 Pennsylvania Ave. NW — Hudson Institute book talk: "Fiasco in Kabul: The Untold Story," with Jerry Dunleavy and James Hasson, coauthors of Kabul: The Untold Story of Biden's Fiasco and the American Warriors Who Fought to the End; and Rebeccah Heinrichs, senior fellow and director, Keystone Defense Initiative https://www.eventbrite.com/e/fiasco-in-kabul-the-untold-story

10 a.m. 2118 Rayburn — House Armed Services Quality of Life Subcommittee hearing: "Update on Unaccompanied Military Housing and the Military Housing Privatization Initiative," with testimony from Elizabeth Field, director, Defense Capabilities and Management Government Accountability Office; Carla Coulson, deputy assistant secretary of the Army for installations, housing, and partnerships; Robert Thompson, principal deputy assistant secretary of the Navy for energy, installations, and environment; and Robert Moriarty, deputy assistant secretary of the Air Force for installations https://armedservices.house.gov/hearings/qol-hearing

12 p.m. CVC-120, U.S. Capitol — Cato Institute briefing: "Pariah or Partner? Reevaluating the U.S.-Saudi Relationship," with Jon Hoffman, Cato foreign policy analyst, and Lawrence Montreuil, Cato director of government affairs https://www.cato.org/events/pariah-or-partner

2 p.m. — Atlantic Council virtual discussion: "An Allied Approach to Countering Beijing's Military-Civil Fusion," with Nazak Nikakhtar, commissioner for export controls at the Global Tech Security Commission; Dave Stillwell, commissioner for defense at the Global Tech Security Commission; Claire Chu, Janes senior China analyst; Ryan Heath, Axios global technology correspondent; and Anna Puglisi, senior fellow at the Center for Security and Emerging Technology https://www.atlanticcouncil.org/event

2:30 p.m. 216 Hart — Senate Intelligence Committee hearing: "Countering China's malign influence operations in the U.S." https://www.intelligence.senate.gov/hearings

4:30 p.m. — Foundation for Defense of Democracies Center on Economic and Financial Power discussion: "Bolstering American Economic Statecraft," with Sens. Bob Casey (D-PA) and John Cornyn (R-TX) https://www.fdd.org/events/2023/09/27/bolstering-american-economic-statecraft

9 p.m. Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, Simi Valley, California — The Republican National Committee hosts the second presidential primary debate, hosted by Fox Business Network


8:45 a.m. — Center for Strategic and International Studies virtual discussion: "China's Strategy of Political Warfare: Views from Congress," with Rep. Rob Wittman (R-VA) https://www.csis.org/events/chinas-strategy-political-warfare

9:30 a.m. — Senate Armed Services Committee hearing to consider nominations of Derek Chollet to be undersecretary of defense for policy and Cara Abercrombie to be assistant secretary of defense for acquisition https://www.armed-services.senate.gov/hearings

9 a.m. 1300 Pennsylvania Ave. NW — Wilson Center's Polar Institute conference: "The Rules-Based Order in Antarctica and Global Challenges," with Coast Guard Deputy Commandant for Operations Vice Adm. Peter Gautier https://www.wilsoncenter.org/event/rules-based-order-antarctica-and-global-challenges

9:30 a.m. 760 Maine Ave. SW — 2023 Atlantic Festival, with speakers including Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA); Secretary of State Antony Blinken; Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D-MI); and others. Full agenda at https://www.theatlantic.com/live/atlantic-festival-2023/#agenda

10 a.m. 2118 Rayburn — House Armed Services Committee hearing: "Examining Irregularity in the Strategic Basing Process for U.S. Space Command," with testimony from Frank Kendall, secretary of the Air Force; Army Gen. James Dickinson, commander, U.S. Space Command; and Space Force Gen. Chance Saltzman, chief of space operations https://armedservices.house.gov/hearings

12:30 p.m. 529 14th Street NW — National Press Club "Headliners Luncheon," with Army Gen. Paul Nakasone, director of the National Security Agency and commander of the U.S. Cyber Command https://www.press.org/events/npc-headliners-luncheon-general-nakasone

3 p.m. 1201 Pennsylvania Ave. NW — Hudson Institute discussion: "NATO and the Franco-American Alliance," with French Ambassador to NATO Muriel Domenach https://www.hudson.org/events/nato-franco-american-alliance

5 p.m. 1521 16th Street NW — Institute of World Politics lecture: "The Structure of INDOPACOM and Comparable U.S. Agencies for the Asia-Pacific Region," with Gordon Rudd, professor of strategic studies at the U.S. Marine School of Advanced Warfighting https://www.iwp.edu/events/the-structure-of-indopacom


9 a.m. — Hudson Institute virtual discussion: "India's Role in a New Pacific Order," with Indian Minister of External Affairs Subrahmanyam Jaishankar; Jayant Sinha, chairman of the Indian Parliament's Standing Committee on Finance; Stephen Biegun, senior vice president of Boeing; and retired Indian Vice Adm. Shekhar Sinha, chairman of the board of trustees of the India Foundation https://www.hudson.org/events/indias-role-new-pacific-order

10 a.m. Summerall Field, Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall, Virginia — Armed Forces Farewell Tribute in honor of retiring Army Gen. Mark Milley, 20th chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff https://www.defense.gov/News/Live-Events

11 a.m. 1300 Pennsylvania Ave. NW — Wilson Center book discussion: Catastrophes, Confrontations, and Constraints: How Disasters Shape the Dynamics of Armed Conflicts, with co-author Tobias Ide, associate professor at Murdoch University Perth; and co-author Marwa Daoudy, associate professor at Georgetown University https://www.wilsoncenter.org/event/catastrophes-confrontations-and-constraints


8 a.m. 801 Mount Vernon Place NW — Association of the U.S. Army three-day Annual Meeting and Exposition, with the theme "Be All You Can Be." Speakers include: Army Secretary Christine Wormuth; Gen. Randy George, Army vice chief of staff and current Army chief of staff nominee; and Sgt. Maj. of the Army Michael Weimer https://meetings.ausa.org/annual/index.cfm


"Just a few months ago, after a long negotiation between myself and the new speaker, we agreed to spending levels. … Now, a small group of extreme Republicans don't want to live up to the deal. … Funding the government is one of the most basic responsibilities of Congress, and it's time for Republicans to start doing the job America elected them to do."
President Joe Biden, speaking at the Congressional Black Caucus Phoenix Awards on Saturday
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