Monday, September 18, 2023

Daily on Defense: GOP budget deal would defund Ukraine, Iran prisoner swap underway, Austin to Germany as Ukraine seeks ATACMS, Zelensky heading to US

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FUNDING COMPROMISE WOULD DEFUND UKRAINE: A proposed short-term funding compromise aimed at averting a government shutdown in two weeks would keep Pentagon and Department of Veterans Affairs spending at current levels while cutting overall discretionary spending by 8% and leaving out any new money for Ukraine.

The compromise, a meeting of the minds between the leaders of the Main Street Caucus and House Freedom Caucus, faces opposition from some House Republicans and is likely dead on arrival in the Democratic-controlled Senate, but it reflects a growing determination of hard-line Republicans to end military and financial support for Ukraine.

The plan would need 218 votes to clear the House, and already, hard-liners are coming out against it. "On any government funding, CR or appropriation bills, I will not vote to fund weaponized government, COVID, or Ukraine," Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) posted on X, formerly known as Twitter, calling the compromise negotiated by Reps. Byron Donalds (R-FL) and Dusty Johnson (R-SD) "all the policies from last year's Democrat appropriations, with an 8% cut. Plus the border bill, but no E-Verify. I'm a NO."

Rep. Cory Mills (R-FL) vowed last night he will never vote for a budget bill that includes money for Ukraine. "I'm sick of the DC backroom deals to appease 61 in the Senate and not going to play this game. Our job is to fund the US and take care of the American people. I was not elected by overseas interests like others," he posted. "I'm a HARD NO!"


ZELENSKY: 'WHAT WILL IT TAKE? … I DON'T HAVE AN ANSWER': The pushback against more billions for Ukraine's war against Russian aggression comes as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky comes to the United States to address the United Nations General Assembly, meet with President Joe Biden, and meet with members of the U.S. Senate in Washington.

He has one message: "We're defending the values of the whole world. … If Ukraine falls, what will happen in 10 years? Just think about it. … What's next? A third world war?"

In a 60 Minutes interview on CBS that aired last night, Zelensky said U.S. and NATO support is crucial to continuing the counteroffensive against Russian forces that started slow but is picking up momentum. "It's a difficult situation. I will be completely honest with you. We have the initiative. This is a plus," he told CBS correspondent Scott Pelley. "We need to liberate our territory as much as possible and move forward, even if it's less than [half a mile or] a hundred [yards], we must do it. We mustn't give Putin a break."

Citing the roughly $70 billion the U.S. has already committed, Pelley asked, "What will it take? Another $70 billion?"

"I don't have an answer," Zelensky replied. "This is a lot of money. We have a lot of gratitude. What else must Ukraine do for everyone to measure our huge gratitude? We are dying in this war. … The whole world [has to] decide whether we want to stop Putin or whether we want to start the beginning of a world war."


THE ATACMS FACTION: There remains a broad base of bipartisan support in the Senate for continuing military assistance to Ukraine, including sending the longer-range Army Tactical Missile System, or ATACMs, to allow the counteroffensive to strike deeper into Russian-occupied territory and possibly hit targets in Russia itself.

"The Ukrainian military has achieved some breakthroughs in Russian-occupied territory. However, there are reportedly as few as 30 days left before the end of the typical fighting season," four Republican senators urged in a letter to Biden. "It is essential that the United States immediately provide ATACMS so Ukraine can achieve vital objectives before winter and deny Russia the ability to fortify its positions.

"The U.S. is fully capable of providing these weapons without any appreciable risk to its own combat capability. … Delay will only cost more lives and prolong the conflict," Sens. Tom Cotton (R-AR), Roger Wicker (R-MS), Susan Collins (R-ME), and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) argued in the letter.


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 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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BREAKING THIS MORNING: It appears the prisoner swap between the U.S. and Iran is underway this morning, a deal greased by the decision by the Biden administration to unfreeze $6 billion in Iranian oil revenues with the proviso the money only be used for humanitarian purposes.

Iranian Foreign Affairs Ministry spokesman Nasser Kanaani confirmed the swap would take place today now that the money had been transferred to a bank in Qatar. The money in question was owed to Iran by South Korea for oil purchased before the Trump administration imposed sanctions on such transactions in 2019.

HAPPENING TODAY: Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin departs today for Germany, and another meeting of the Ukraine Defense Contact Group is scheduled for tomorrow at the Ramstein Air Base.

Austin and outgoing Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Mark Milley will be meeting in person with Ukraine's new Defense Minister Rustem Umerov, who has called publicly for more ammunition and more heavy weaponry.

"We stand firmly with the people of Ukraine, and we will continue to provide them with the security assistance that they need to defend themselves and their country," Austin said last week.

MILLEY: 'IT'S GOING TO TAKE A LONG TIME': In one of a series of exit interviews he has been giving as his term as chairman comes to an end, Milley told CNN's Fareed Zakaria that Ukraine is not going to be able to expel Russian forces from Ukrainian territory this year.

"There's well over 200,000 Russian troops in Russian-occupied Ukraine. This offensive, although significant, has operational and tactical objectives that are limited in the sense that they do not, even if they are fully achieved, they don't completely kick out all the Russians," Milley said. "That's going to take a long time to do that."

"I don't want to put a time on it because a lot of things can happen in a war. It's action, reaction, counteraction. You could see a general collapse, you could see escalation, you could see a lot of different things happen in the future," Milley said. "But I can tell you that it will take a considerable length of time to militarily eject all 200,000+ Russian troops out of Russian-occupied Ukraine. That's a very high bar."


ISW DEFENDS UKRAINE'S BAKMUT STRATEGY: Last month, unnamed U.S. officials told the New York Times that Ukraine's strategy of defending and attempting to retake the largely destroyed eastern town of Bakhmut was a misapplication of resources and that a sounder approach would be to concentrate all of their forces in the south where the goal is to break through Russian lines and sever the land bridge to Crimea. But an analysis just published by the Institute for the Study of War dismissed that assessment as "unwarranted criticism."

"Ukraine's defensive and counteroffensive operations in the Bakhmut area since summer 2022 are an operationally sound undertaking that has fixed a large amount of Russian combat power that would otherwise have been available to reinforce Russian defenses in southern Ukraine," the ISW said in what it called a "special edition" of its daily campaign assessments. "This significant Ukrainian achievement has helped prevent Russia from creating a large mobile operational reserve that could have been used to stop the main Ukrainian counteroffensive effort in Zaporizhia Oblast. Continued large-scale Ukrainian counteroffensive efforts around Bakhmut are necessary to keep Russian forces fixed in that area."


MILLEY'S MEMOIR WON'T BE A 'TELL-ALL': Gen. Mark Milley, whose retirement ceremony is Sept. 29, said he'll probably write a book but that he won't be dishing any dirt of the behind-the-scenes intrigue at the Pentagon.

"I don't know that I would do a tell-all. A lot of people have mentioned that to me," Milley told CNN. "I think that's probably not something that a chairman or a general officer should be doing, but I think that I'll probably write and make sort of a contribution."

Milley told Princeton Alumni Weekly that as a soldier, he never has and never will make public comments about former President Donald Trump, Biden, or future presidents, but on ABC, Martha Raddatz asked, "How about when you're out of uniform?"

"Same thing," Milley replied. "In uniform or out of uniform ... I'm always a general officer. And I think it's inappropriate for me to make comments about this president or that president. I just don't think it's right."

"It's a professional ethic. And the American people will be the deciders of who they elect as a president. It's not going to be a general. It's not going to be someone in uniform," Milley said. "Ad hominem attacks on politicians, I don't think there's a place for that."


The Rundown

Washington Examiner: McCarthy allies and Freedom Caucus agree on stopgap measure that includes border security bill

Washington Examiner: Hard-line conservatives line up to oppose stopgap funding deal, making passage difficult

Washington Examiner: Navy to fall short of recruitment goal by about 7,000

Washington Examiner: Analysis: In Ukraine, going on offensive is the hardest part

Washington Examiner: Rumors swirl over Putin loyalist's health: Chechen Ramzan Kadyrov in 'critical condition'

Washington Examiner: Biden to meet with Zelensky at the White House next week

Washington Examiner: Brawling Ukrainian lawmaker accused of treason

Washington Examiner: China sanctions Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman over arms deals with Taiwan

Washington Examiner: Kim Jong Un visits Russian fighter jet factory as trip continues

Washington Examiner: Opinion: China shows its structural weakness with response to disappearing ministers

Washington Examiner: Pentagon to interview new witnesses from deadly Kabul airport bombing

Washington Examiner: NASA says it has debunked famous UFO video but scientists are skeptical

Washington Examiner: Air Force partners with national security company to host video game tournament

New York Times: All six of Ukraine's deputy defense ministers were dismissed on Monday, a senior government official said.

AP: North Korean arms for Russia probably wouldn't make a big difference in the Ukraine war, Milley says

AP: As Slovakia's trust in democracy fades, its election frontrunner campaigns against aid to Ukraine

Washington Post: In Wagner's largest African outpost, Russia looks to tighten its grip

AP: Search on for a Missing Marine Corps Fighter Jet in South Carolina After Pilot Safely Ejects

Politico: Troops Avoid Abortion Travel Policy Fueling Tuberville Blockade

Defense News: Production of Key Munition Years Ahead of Schedule, Pentagon Says

AP: F-35 Fighter Jets Land in NATO-Member Denmark to Replace F-16s, Some of Which Will Go to Ukraine

Air & Space Forces Magazine: Ukraine Makes Do With 'Useful' Western Weapons While Waiting for F-16s

Foreign Policy: America Prepares for a Pacific War With China It Doesn't Want

Defense Scoop: Pentagon Arms Ukraine with 'Industrial-Size' 3D Printers

Air & Space Forces Magazine: F-35 Program Manager: Full-Rate Decision Now Expected in Early 2024, But May Be Moot

Air & Space Forces Magazine: Space Force Sets New Speed Record Going from Orders to Launch in 27 Hours

Defense Daily: 4th Fleet Starts Using 10 Saildrone USVs In Long-Term Operation Test

Breaking Defense: 'Be Careful What You Wish For:' DOD Official Warns Separate Cyber Force Could Pose New Challenges

Air & Space Forces Magazine: Cyber Bosses Seek to Exploit Full Capacity of Joint Force

Space News: Air Force Research Laboratory Delays Lunar Experiment Service Was a Second Chance for the Space Force's Enlisted Leader. He Tried to Give Others the Same Shot.

Air & Space Forces Magazine: Bentivegna Succeeds Towberman, 'Has Big Shoes to Fill' as as Space Force's Top Enlisted Ukraine's Battle for Survival Did Not Start with Putin's Invasion The B-21 Raider Is Far More Than Just a Stealth Bomber Is China Moving Towards an Invasion of Taiwan? 80 Percent of Russians Consider Their Country To Be 'Great' as Putin Begs North Korea for Weapons



9 a.m. 1030 15th St. NW — Atlantic Council conference: "New Power Dynamics in the Middle East and North Africa after Ukraine War," with Italian Ambassador to the U.S. Mariangela Zappia

10 a.m. — Center for Strategic and International Studies virtual discussion: "Russia as a Strategic Threat: Ukraine, NATO, and Beyond Europe," with John Deni, research professor of joint, interagency, intergovernmental, and multinational security studies at the U.S. Army War College's Strategic Studies Institute, and Lisa Aronsson, research fellow at the National Defense University's Center for Strategic Studies

10 a.m. — American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research virtual discussion: "Assessing the Past Year of Defending Taiwan," with Michael Beckley, nonresident senior fellow, AEI; Dan Blumenthal, senior fellow, AEI; Mackenzie Eaglen, senior fellow, AEI; and Kori Schake, director of foreign and defense policy studies, AEI

1 p.m. — Defense Priorities virtual discussion: "Unraveling the GWOT (Global War on Terror) in Africa," with Elizabeth Shackelford, senior fellow, Chicago Council on Foreign Affairs; Tricia Bacon, associate professor, American University; William Walldorf, associate professor, Wake Forest University and visiting fellow, Defense Priorities; and moderator Jessica Trisko Darden, associate professor, Virginia Commonwealth University

4 p.m. 1201 Pennsylvania Ave. NW — Hudson Institute discussion: "U.S. foreign policy," with former Vice President Mike Pence, candidate for the GOP presidential nomination


TBA New York, New York — President Joe Biden addresses the 78th session of the U.N. General Assembly

TBA Ramstein, Germany — Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Mark Milley hold a news conference after the 15th meeting of the Ukraine Defense Contact Group at Ramstein Air Base

8:30 a.m. 1789 Massachusetts Ave. NW — American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research virtual and in-person discussion: "The Future of Defense for the U.K. and Its Allies," with U.K. Shadow Defense Secretary John Healey; Rep. Dean Phillips (D-MN); and Elisabeth Braw, senior fellow, AEI

8:00 a.m. 901 Massachusetts Ave. NW — Economic Club of Washington, D.C., book discussion: Elon Musk, with author Walter Isaacson, professor of history at Tulane University

9 a.m. — German Marshall Fund of the U.S. virtual discussion: "The Impact of the War in Ukraine on the Political Situation in Belarus: Three Short-Term Scenarios," with Wojciech Przybylski, editor-in-chief of Visegrad Insight and president of the Res Publica Foundation; Maryna Rakhlei, senior program officer at the Fund for Belarus Democracy; Artyom Shraibman, founder of Sense Analytics and nonresident scholar at the Carnegie Russia Eurasia Center; Katsiaryna Lozka, fellow at the GMFUS ReThink.CEE fellowship and doctoral fellow at Ghent University; and Nicolas Bouchet, GMFUS visiting fellow

10 a.m. 1616 Rhode Island Ave. NW — Association of the U.S. Army and Center for Strategic and International Studies "Landpower Dialogue," with Army Secretary Christine Wormuth and Gen. Randy George, Army vice chief of staff

10 a.m. — Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments Zoom webinar: "Webinar: The Future of the Russian Military and How It Reforms," with CSBA's Katherine Kjellström Elgin and Eric Edelman

10 a.m. 1775 Massachusetts Ave. NW — Brookings Institution discussion: "Homeland security and the current threat environment," with Kenneth Wainstein, Department of Homeland Security undersecretary for intelligence and analysis

10:35 a.m. 2118 Rayburn — House Armed Services Committee hearing: "Defense Cooperation with Taiwan," with testimony from Ely Ratner, assistant defense secretary for Indo-Pacific security affairs; Mira Resnick, deputy assistant secretary of state for regional security; and Maj. Gen. Joseph McGee, vice director for strategy, plans, and policy, Joint Staff

3 p.m. 1310 Longworth — House Administration Committee hearing: "Oversight of U.S. Capitol Security: Assessing Security Failures on January 6, 2021"

3:30 p.m. — Center for Strategic and International Studies virtual discussion: "The Future of Security in the Black Sea Region," with Lisa Aronsson, research fellow at National Defense University's Center for Strategic Studies; Jeffrey Mankoff, nonresident senior associate at the CSIS Europe, Russia, and Eurasia Program; and Max Bergmann, director of the CSIS Europe, Russia, and Eurasia Program


7:20 a.m. 2425 Wilson Blvd., Arlington, Virginia — Association of the U.S. Army "Coffee Series" discussion: with Gen. Gary Brito, commanding general of the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command

9 a.m. New York, N.Y. — Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Samantha Power, administrator, U.S. Agency for International Development, deliver remarks: "Democracy Delivers"

10 a.m. 1152 15th St, NW — Center for a New American Security virtual mission brief: "Gaining the Asymmetric Advantage: Emerging Technology and the AUKUS Pillar 2 Promise," with Tanya Monro AC (Companion of the Order), Australia's chief defense scientist; and Becca Wasser, senior fellow, CNAS Defense Program

12 p.m. — Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments webinar discussion:: of a a new report: "Evaluate Like We Operate: Why the Should Evaluate Weapons Systems as Networked Force Packages, Not Individual Platforms," with Travis Sharp, senior fellow and director of CSBA defense budget studies; Tyler Hacker, CSBA research fellow; and Thomas Mahnken, CSBA president and CEO

12 p.m. — Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft virtual discussion: "Debating Israeli-Saudi Normalization: Does it Advance U.S. Interests?" with F. Gregory Gause, professor at Texas A&M University; Ellen Laipson, professor at George Mason University; Trita Parsi, executive vice president at the Quincy Institute; and Steven Simon, senior research fellow at the Quincy Institute

12:30 p.m. 601 13th St. NW — Center for the Study of the Presidency and Congress in-person event: "From Kyiv to AUKUS: The vital partnership between the U.S. and U.K.," with Rear Adm. Tim Woods, the U.K.'s new defense attache

1 p.m. 2212 Rayburn — House Armed Services Military Personnel Subcommittee hearing: "Meritocracy in the Military Services: Accession, Promotion, and Command Selection," with testimony from Peter Levine, former (acting) undersecretary for personnel and readiness; Robert Greenway, director, Center for National Defense, Heritage Foundation; Will Thibeau, director, American Military Project at the Center for the American Way of Life, Claremont Institute; Lt. Gen. Douglas Stitt, deputy Army chief of staff; Vice Adm. Richard Cheeseman, deputy chief of naval operations for personnel; Lt. Gen. Caroline Miller, deputy Air Force chief of staff for manpower, personnel, and services; Michael Strobl, assistant deputy Marine Corps commandant for manpower and reserve affairs; and Katharine Kelley, deputy chief of space operations for human capital

2 p.m. — Center for Strategic and International Studies virtual discussion: "Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) and the Future of Trade in the Indo-Pacific," with Vangelis Vitalis, New Zealand deputy secretary for trade and economics, and Crawford Falconer, U.K. second permanent secretary and chief trade negotiation adviser

2 p.m. 2200 Rayburn — Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe hearing: "Vladimir Kara-Murza: Putin's Personal Prisoner," with Evgenia Kara-Murza, advocacy director at the Free Russia Foundation and wife of Vladimir Kara-Murza; and Meghan McCain, daughter of the late Sen. John McCain. RSVP:


8 a.m. 7920 Jones Branch Dr., McLean, Virginia — Potomac Officers Club annual Intel Summit, with Stacey Dixon, principal deputy director of national intelligence, and Vice Adm. Frank Whitworth, director of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency

9 a.m. — Brookings Institution virtual discussion: "The Legacy and Future of the Wagner Group," with Kimberly Marten, professor of political science at Barnard College; Wassim Nasr, senior research fellow at the Soufan Center; and Candace Rondeaux, professor of practice at Arizona State University

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

12 p.m. — National Security Institute at the Antonin Scalia Law School at George Mason University book discussion of Beijing Rules: How China Weaponized Its Economy to Confront the World, with author Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian, Axios China reporter, and Jessica Jones, deputy executive director, National Security Institute

12 p.m. 2043 Rayburn — Cato Institute briefing: "Why U.S. Efforts at Defense Burdensharing Fail," with Justin Logan, director of defense and foreign policy studies at Cato and author of Uncle Sucker: Why U.S. Efforts at Defense Burdensharing Fail, and Lawrence Montreuil, director of government affairs at Cato


9 a.m. 1300 Pennsylvania Ave. NW — Wilson Center's Global Europe Program discussion: "The U.K. Labour Party's Foreign and Defense Priorities," with U.K. Shadow Secretary of State for Defense John Healey and U.K. Shadow Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth, and Development Affairs David Lammy


"I'm confident that the United States and the democracy in this country will prevail and the rule of law will prevail. I'm absolutely confident of that. And these institutions are built to be strong, resilient, and to adapt to the times, and I'm 100% confident we'll be fine."
Retiring Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Mark Milley, on ABC, saying he is not worried about the state of democracy in the United States.
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