Friday, September 15, 2023

Daily on Defense: Ukraine’s deep strikes, Zelensky to visit US, McCarthy’s budget frustrations, SASC to probe Musk’s Starlink decisions

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ANOTHER VILLAGE FREED: The Ukraine counteroffensive, now 100 days long, continues to make slow, albeit steady, progress in its goal of advancing far enough in the east and south to sever the land corridor to the Crimean Peninsula, thereby cutting off Russian troops from their vital supply lines. Today, Ukraine's General Staff announced what it called "partial success in the area of Klishchievka."

"During the assault operations had success and mastered the Andriivka of the Donetsk region, causing the enemy significant losses in manpower and equipment," the General Staff said on its Facebook page. The village of Andriivka is about six miles south of the destroyed city of Bakhmut, where Ukraine is trying to surround Russian forces and keep them tied down so they can't reinforce troops in the south.

Meanwhile, Ukraine said its increasingly sophisticated air campaign is degrading key Russian defenses, reporting yesterday that a Russian S-400 surface-to-air missile complex of launchers and radars northwest of Sevastopol, in occupied Crimea, was destroyed with drones and two Neptune cruise missiles.

"The destruction of the occupiers' air defense system on the land of our Crimea — it is a very significant achievement," Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in his nightly video address. "Well done!"

"The strike suggests that Russian forces were unprepared to intercept missiles with the system or were unable to do so," the Institute for the Study of War said in its latest assessment, noting the attack was the second on the Russian S-400 air defense system in Crimea in three weeks. "The second Ukrainian strike on a significant Russian air defense system in recent weeks indicates that such tactical failures may reflect a wider systemic issue with Russian air defenses in occupied Crimea."


'CATASTROPHIC DAMAGE' AT SEVASTOPOL: Meanwhile, British intelligence suggests that Wednesday's attack on the main base of Russia's Black Sea Fleet has likely put the Sevastopol shipyard out of commission for months.

The Ukrainian attack, which employed drones and British Storm Shadow missiles, hit the amphibious landing ship Minsk and the Kilo-class submarine Rostov-na-Donu, which were both in dry dock for repairs.

"Despite the Russian Ministry of Defense downplaying the damage to the vessels, open-source evidence indicates the Minsk has almost certainly been functionally destroyed, while the Rostov has likely suffered catastrophic damage," the U.K. said in its latest social media intelligence update. "Any effort to return the submarine to service is likely to take many years and cost hundreds of millions of dollars. There is a realistic possibility that the complex task of removing the wreckage from the dry docks will place them out of use for many months."

The damage to the dock infrastructure will make maintenance of the Black Sea Fleet "a significant challenge," the U.K. said, adding that the lost submarine is one of four cruise missile capable submarines that has played a major role in striking Ukraine.

ZELENSKY COMING TO US: Zelensky is expected to attend next week's United Nations General Assembly on Thursday and have a one-on-one visit with President Joe Biden at the White House.

It would be Zelensky's second wartime visit to Washington and comes as Biden is requesting $24 billion in military and humanitarian aid for Ukraine in a supplemental appropriation from Congress.

In December of last year, Zelensky delivered an address to a joint meeting of Congress, making an impassioned plea for continued support. But as war reaches the year-and-a-half mark, support for continued military assistance is weakening among some members of the hard-line faction of the House Republicans, who are calling for further Ukraine assistance to be stripped from any supplemental or temporary funding measures.


Good Friday 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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HAPPENING TODAY: The Pentagon marks National POW/MIA Recognition Day with a 10 a.m. ceremony on its River Parade Field. Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen Hicks is the keynote speaker for the ceremonies, which will be livestreamed on the Pentagon's website.

At 4 p.m., the Navy Memorial in downtown Washington will mark the day with a ceremony at the Navy Memorial Plaza on Pennsylvania Avenue.

ALSO TODAY: National security adviser Jake Sullivan is scheduled to join press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre at today's 1 p.m. White House briefing, and Rep. Mike Garcia (R-CA) has called a news conference for 1 p.m. to discuss the defense appropriations bill.

McCARTHY'S FRUSTRATION: House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) is having a tough time appeasing his unruly hard-line members in his effort to get passage of a short-term continuing resolution to avert a government shutdown in just two weeks.

Behind closed doors yesterday, McCarthy essentially dared his fellow Republicans to carry out their threat to make a "motion to vacate" to remove him from his leadership post, reportedly telling his antagonists to "file the f***ing motion."

Asked by a reporter on his way to the private meeting what was going on with the "funding mess," McCarthy replied, "Yeah, I don't understand how members, they have no complaint about the DOD bill. But they don't want to pass it. I got a small group of members who don't want to vote for CR, don't want to vote for individual bills, and don't want to vote for an omni. I'm not quite sure what they want."

After the meeting, MCarthy told reporters, "Threats don't matter. … I don't walk away from a battle. I knew changing Washington would not be easy. … If it takes a fight, I will have a fight."

McCarthy has made conflicting promises over the top line for the fiscal 2024 budget and is now caught in the middle, said Rep. Ken Buck (R-CO), a moderate member of the House Freedom Caucus.

"Kevin has made promises to different parts of the conference. He has promised to get, to be speaker, one number, a low number. Then he entered negotiations with President Biden and agreed to a higher number," Buck told CNN. "And now he's stuck because he's got part of the conference that expects a lower number and part of the conference expects a higher number, and he's not going to get there with a Republican vote."


MUSK FACES SCRUTINY OVER STARLINK ACCESS: SpaceX CEO Elon Musk keeps digging a deeper hole as he attempts to justify his denial of Starlink internet access to Ukraine as Kyiv attempts to regain control of Crimea, illegally annexed by Russia in 2014.

Musk didn't do himself any favors when he weighed in Tuesday at the All-In Summit 2023 when he suggested that Taiwan is "an integral part of China" and noted China's policy to "reunite" with Taiwan, placing blame on the United States for "stopp[ing] any sort of reunification effort" in the East China Sea.

Yesterday, Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI), chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said Musk's admission that he refused internet access to Ukraine last September, thwarting an attack on Russian ships in Crimea, raises "serious national security liability issues."

"Neither Elon Musk, nor any private citizen, can have the last word when it comes to U.S. national security," Reed said in a statement. "We've got to look at the broader satellite markets and the role of government outsourcing, the outsized role Mr. Musk and his company have taken on here, and the Pentagon's actions and contractual arrangements."

"The committee is aggressively probing this issue from every angle and will continue to engage with the Department to ensure U.S. national security interests are protected," Reed said.


INDUSTRY WATCH: Northrop Grumman said the Navy has certified that its MQ-4C Triton uncrewed aircraft has achieved initial operating capability.

"MQ-4C Triton is the U.S. Navy's only uncrewed, high-altitude, long-endurance aircraft performing persistent maritime intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance and targeting," the company said in a statement. "With an operating altitude greater than 50,000 feet and endurance of 24 hours, Triton provides continuous communications relay to keep a distributed Navy connected, while ensuring commanders are operating off a common operational picture."

The company said it delivered five Triton drones to the Navy and that they have been used in the Indo-Pacific Command area of responsibility since 2020.


The Rundown

Washington Examiner: A year and a half in, the war in Ukraine is at a crossroads

Washington Examiner: Zelensky praises strike on Russian air defense as 'significant achievement'

Washington Examiner: Vladimir Putin accepts Kim Jong Un's offer of North Korean visit

Washington Examiner: US vows to retaliate against Russia's expulsion of two diplomats from Moscow

Washington Examiner: Musk calls Taiwan a 'part of China' and blames US for blocking 'reunification effort

Washington Examiner: Taiwan shoots back at Musk with fiery response to comments on China

Washington Examiner: Taiwan rebuffs China's desire for high-speed rail line across strait

Washington Examiner: House GOP demands full sanctions for Huawei over chip in new phone

Washington Examiner: Tuberville military hold will 'take years to recover' from, Biden's Navy pick says

Washington Examiner: Troy Nehls to add amendments to DHS spending bill to stop the 'Left's woke agenda'

Washington Examiner: Biden administration 'wants Afghanistan to go away,' former US ambassador says

Washington Examiner: Opinion: How Kim Jong Un's Russia trip illustrates his security paranoia

Washington Examiner: Opinion: China sends US message with Venezuela strategic partnership

Washington Examiner: Review: 'We May Dominate the World' shows what the US can learn from its deep ties with Latin America

AP: North Korea's Kim gets a close look at Russian fighter jets as his tour narrows its focus to weapons

Washington Post: China's Defense Minister Under Investigation For Corruption

Fox News: Chinese Shipbuilding Capacity Over 200 Times Greater Than U.S., Navy Intelligence Says Odds of Shutdown and Missed Paychecks for Troops Grow Amid Chaos in the House

Air Force Times: Entire Air Force to Miss Recruiting Goal, the First Failure Since 1999

Navy Times: Navy Will Miss Recruiting Goals By 7,000 Sailors This Year

Military Times: Senators Press Pentagon on New Medical System's Recruiting Impact

New York Times: Ukraine Intensifies Attacks On Russia In Crimea And Black Sea

CNBC: Air Force Chief Sounds Off on Musk's Ukraine Decision, Tensions with China and the Future of War

Defense One: With Eye Toward Russia and China, NORTHCOM Concludes Special Mission in the Arctic

USNI News: Franchetti: Columbia Program Meeting Contracted Delivery Schedule

Defense News: AUKUS Agreement Requires Submarine Production Boost, Franchetti Says

Bloomberg: US Army Faces Facts:Its Hypersonic Weapon To Miss a Deadline

Breaking Defense: F-35 Performance-Based Logistics Deal Slips to 2024: Lockheed CFO

Air & Space Forces Magazine: Russian Air Force Trades Efficacy for Survival Over Ukraine, USAFE Boss Says

AP: NASA says more science and less stigma are needed to understand UFOs

DefenseScoop: Pentagon Soliciting Industry for Adapter and Software to Convert Remotely Piloted Drones into Autonomous Systems

BBC: Rogue Russian Pilot Tried to Shoot Down RAF Aircraft in 2022

Space News: DOD Submits Congressionally Mandated Space Policy Report

Air & Space Forces Magazine: Space Force Looks to 'Build Upon Momentum' to Solidify Its Unique Culture

Air & Space Forces Magazine: First EC-37 Delivered for Testing; CCAs Will Complement It Putin's Blind Spot: Why is Russia's Best-Defended City Unable to Stop Drone Attacks from Ukraine? Opinion: Five Reasons Navy Nuclear-Powered Aircraft Carriers Will Play A Key Role In A War With China

The Cipher Brief: When is Our 9/11 Moment With China?

The Cipher Brief: The Argument for Adopting a Reagan Strategy in Ukraine Opinion: General Brown: Too Political to Become Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff

Forbes: The Army's Most Important Warfighting Tool Isn't A Weapon, It's A Network



9 a.m. 1775 Massachusetts Ave. NW — Brookings Institution discussion: "Ukraine, the West, and the World: Breaking Point or Transformational Moment?"

9:30 a.m. 2401 M St., NW — George Washington University Project for Media and National Security Defense Writers Group conversation with Mieke Eoyang, deputy assistant secretary of defense for cyber policy. RSVP: Thom Shanker

11 a.m. — Center for a New American Security virtual fireside chat of CNAS report: "'Production is Deterrence': Investing in Precision-Guided Munitions to Meet Peer Challengers," with William LaPlante, undersecretary of defense for acquisition and sustainment, and moderator Stacie Pettyjohn, senior fellow and director of the CNAS Defense Program


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


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

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

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

10:35 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, and Mira Resnick, deputy assistant secretary of state for regional security

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


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

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 Department of Defense 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

12:30 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. & UK," with Rear Adm. Tim Woods, the U.K.'s new defense attache


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


"File the f***ing motion."
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) telling Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) and other members of the hard-line flank to stop threatening to remove him as speaker
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