Daily on Defense: CR frustration at DOD, Houthi attacks persist, military quality of life eroding, new Russia sanctions coming, Trump calls legal woes ‘a form of Navalny’

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CONTINUING FRUSTRATION OVER CRs: March 1 will mark five months that the Pentagon has been unable to tap the additional $28 billion authorized by the 2024 National Defense Authorization Act for the fiscal year that began last Oct. 1. It's also the date a temporary funding measure, known as a continuing resolution or CR, will expire for parts of the government, including the Pentagon's military construction budget. Under House Speaker Mike Johnson's (R-LA) two-step CR, funding for the entire Department of Defense and the rest of the federal government will also expire a week later, March 8.

Unless, that is, Congress acts quickly when the House, which Johnson recessed for a two-week hiatus, returns Feb. 28. None of the 12 individual appropriations bills have passed both chambers, and the likelihood is that yet another CR will be needed to continue operations under last year's funding levels.

"When the House returns from recess on Feb. 28, there will be only three legislative days until certain federal agencies run out of funding, Sabrina Singh, deputy Pentagon press secretary, said yesterday. "This brinkmanship creates uncertainty, increased costs, and delays missions, and most importantly, it’s a distraction for the force."

"If you add up the total time spent under a CR going back to 2011, we’ve spent nearly five years under CRs," Singh said at the Pentagon briefing. "That puts our national security at risk and prevents the department from modernizing as we continue to be constrained to existing funding levels and prevented from launching new programs."

HAMSTRUNG IN TIME OF WAR: The 2024 NDAA authorizes the Pentagon to embark on a range of new programs, such as money for both European and Pacific deterrence initiatives, including the transfer of up to three Virginia class submarines and the creation of a fund to allow Australia to give over $3 billion to the United States to enhance our submarine industrial base.

It also authorizes spending for U.S. defense contractors to replenish stocks of equipment already provided to Ukraine, Israel, or Taiwan. But the authority is of no use without the appropriation from Congress to fund the programs.

The U.S. military is engaged in a shooting war with Iranian-backed Houthi forces in Yemen, using expensive million-dollar weapons in an attempt to degrade the Houthi attacks on shipping in the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden, without the money to replace those bombs and missiles.

"If we don’t have the support of Congress, if we don’t have a budget, if we continue to operate under a continuing resolution, if we don’t get our supplemental passed, no, things are not going to be sustainable," Singh said. "We are going to have to look to make cuts to continue to fund our operations in the [U.S. Central Command area of operations] to continue to support Ukraine."

'AN ALARMING EROSION OF QUALITY OF LIFE': Meanwhile, a bipartisan group of House members has sent a letter to President Joe Biden urging him to do more to improve the quality of life for members of the U.S. military and their families for next year, with a focus on "the most junior of our service members."

The House Quality of Life Panel cites "an alarming erosion of military quality of life that, if not addressed quickly, will soon place the all-volunteer force at risk." The letter lists five areas of concern, including aging and poorly maintained barracks, low pay, particularly for junior enlisted, poor access to medical care, shortage of child care, and frequent moves and isolated locations.

The pleas come as quality-of-life improvements authorized for this year remain blocked by congressional inaction, including investments in housing, child care, career opportunities, and health care. The 2024 NDAA authorizes $301 million in military construction for new child development centers and $60 million for future child development center replacements, as well as $70 million for educational agencies that serve children with severe disabilities.

The letter is signed by Reps. Mike Rogers (R-AL) and Adam Smith (D-WA), chairman and ranking member of the House Armed Services Committee, along with Reps. Don Bacon (R-NE) and Chrissy Houlahan (D-PA), chairman and ranking member of the House Quality of Life Panel.


Good Wednesday 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 Stacey Dec. 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


ANOTHER BUSY 24 HOURS IN THE NEW GULF WAR: The updates on operations in the Gulf of Aden and the Red Sea are flying out of the U.S. Central Command headquarters in Tampa, Florida, almost as fast as the missiles are flying in the war zone.

Yesterday CENTCOM issued a tick-tock of a 24-hour period in which, despite a month of U.S.-led airstrikes, the Iranian-backed Houthis in Yemen showed they still have the ability to disrupt shipping that passes through the vital Bab el Mandeb Strait.

The latest back-and-forth began Monday afternoon local time, when the M/V Sea Champion came under fire from two anti-ship ballistic missiles launched from Houthi-controlled areas of Yemen. "One of the missiles detonated near the ship causing minor damage," CENTCOM noted in a separate release. "Nevertheless, her crew proceeded on course to their ultimate destination: delivering grain to Aden, Yemen, for the benefit of the Yemeni people."

In response, the U.S. took out a surface-to-air missile launcher in Yemen, and the Houthis fired off another anti-ship ballistic missile, which didn't hit anything, but about an hour and a half later, a Houthi drone did hit the M/V Navis Fortuna, described as "a Marshall Islands-flagged, U.S.-owned, bulk carrier," causing minor damage and no injuries.

In the hours that followed, U.S. and coalition aircraft and warships shot down 10 Houthi attack drones in the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden, including an anti-ship cruise missile in the early hours of Tuesday morning that was targeting the destroyer USS Laboon, which shot down the missile before impact.

REAPER LOSS CONFIRMED: The Pentagon confirmed yesterday that Houthi forces shot down a $30 million Air Force MQ-9 Reaper surveillance drone, the second loss of a Reaper since a similar shootdown in November.

"I can confirm that on Feb. 19, a U.S. MQ-9 was downed, or went down, off the coast of Houthi-controlled areas in Yemen in the Red Sea," said Sabrina Singh, deputy Pentagon press secretary. "Initial indications are that it was shot down by a Houthi surface-to-air missile."

"There is a certain amount of risk that is incurred whenever we fly these to ensure that freedom of navigation is upheld, the rule of law is upheld," Singh said. "Commanders using them to keep commercial mariners safe, to keep our U.S. service members are safe."

A tally by the Associated Press calculated that U.S. and allied forces have destroyed at least 73 missiles of different types before they were launched, as well as 17 drones, 13 bomb-laden drone boats, and one underwater explosive drone over the Houthis' monthlong campaign.

"We never said that we were taking every single capability that the Houthis have off the map, but every single day that we conduct a strike, we are degrading them further," Singh added. "And so I think the secretary has confidence that the more we continue to do this, the Houthis are going to, they are already seeing the effects."


PUTIN SANCTIONS COMING: The Biden administration is promising a new round of punishing sanctions in response to the death of imprisoned Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny

"The fact of the matter is Putin is responsible, whether he ordered it or he is responsible for the circumstances he put that man in," President Joe Biden said Monday. "It's a reflection of who he is. And it just cannot be tolerated. I said there would be a price to pay."

"That sanctions package will also come on the eve of the two-year anniversary of the Ukraine war," national security adviser Jake Sullivan told reporters in a conference call. "It will be a substantial package covering a range of different elements of the Russian defense industrial base and sources of revenue for the Russian economy that power Russia’s war machine, that power Russia’s aggression, and that power Russia’s repression. So we believe it will have an impact."

In a separate press call, National Security Council spokesman John Kirby called on Congress to buttress the administration’s effort with a strong show of support for Ukraine. "One of the most powerful things that we can do right now to stand up to Vladimir Putin, of course, is to, again, pass the bipartisan national security supplemental bill and support Ukraine as they continue to fight bravely in defense of their country."


TRUMP: 'A FORM OF NAVALNY': In a pre-taped town hall in Greenville, South Carolina, that aired last night on Fox News, former President Donald Trump likened his criminal court cases to the political persecution suffered by Alexei Navalny at the hands of Vladimir Putin.

"It is a form of Navalny. It is a form of communism or fascism," Trump told Laura Ingraham, host of The Ingraham Angle, referring to the $355 million judgment against him following his conviction on fraud charges. 

"We are turning into a communist country in many ways. And if you look at it, I’m the leading candidate. I get indicted — I never heard of being indicted before. I was — I got indicted four times. I have eight or nine trials, all because of the fact that I’m, and you know this, all because of the fact that I’m in politics," Trump said, calling the judge in his case "a nut job."

When Ingraham asked Trump at the town hall if he might become a "potential political prisoner" like Navalny, Trump responded, "If I were losing in the polls, they wouldn't even be talking about me and I wouldn't have had any legal fees," he answered. "If I were out, I think — although they hate me so much, I think if I got out they'd still, 'Let's pursue this guy. We can't stand this guy.'"

Trump had nothing to say about Putin, but he said Navalny, while brave, probably should never have returned to Russia. "He was a very brave guy because he went back. He could have stayed away — and frankly probably would have been better off staying away and talking from outside the country as opposed to going back in because people thought that could happen and it did happen. And it’s a horrible thing."



Washington Examiner: Attacks on US military from Iran-backed forces have stopped for now after deadly January: Pentagon

Washington Examiner: Houthis shot down US MQ-9 drone in the Red Sea

Washington Examiner: White House calls for national security funding: 'When dictators aren't stopped, they keep going'

Washington Examiner: White House previews 'major sanctions' against Russia for Navalny death

Washington Examiner: UN experts urge investigation into allegations of Israeli forces' inhumane treatment of Palestinian women

Washington Examiner: Taliban prevent Corbetts from spending 20th anniversary together

Washington Examiner: China's Wang Yi reminds us he is an awful chief diplomat

Washington Examiner: JD Vance's defense message to Europe is imperfect but cannot be ignored

Washington Examiner: It's orthodox-style Vladimir Putin to hide Alexei Navalny's body

Air & Space Forces Magazine: Houthis Shoot Down Second Air Force MQ-9 in Three Months

Inside Defense: DOD Won’t Risk Supplying Ukraine without Replenishment Funds from Congress

Wall Street Journal: Musk's SpaceX Forges Tighter Links with US Spy and Military Agencies

Air & Space Forces Magazine: AFSOC Knows What Failed in Deadly CV-22 Crash, Still Investigating Why

Space News: The Race to Back Up Vulnerable GPS

Defense One: Space Force: We Need a Hotline to China

Breaking Defense: The Revolution That Wasn't: How AI Drones Have Fizzled in Ukraine (so far)

Times of Israel: Israel Has Struck Over 30,000 Targets in Gaza and Lebanon Since Start of War, Says IDF

The War Zone: Future Of Mayhem Hypersonic Strike-Recon Aircraft Program Murky

DefenseScoop: Scale AI to Set the Pentagon's Path for Testing and Evaluating Large Language Models

Air & Space Forces Magazine: First USAF Warrant Officers to Include Air National Guardsmen

Military.com: Reversing 'Alarming Erosion' in Military Quality of Life Requires Biden Funding Request, Top Lawmakers Say

Defense News: The Pentagon Wants Industry to Transform Again to Meet Demand. Can It?

Defense News: Tinker Air Force Base Readies for B-52 Upgrades as Engines Tested

Air & Space Forces Magazine: How DOD's Overhaul of Space Classification Will Help Operations, Industry, Allies

Air & Space Forces Magazine: Cybersecurity, Other USAF Needs Challenging E-7 Price Talks



7:45 a.m. 2425 Wilson Blvd, Arlington, Virginia — Association of the U.S. Army's "Coffee Series" discussion: with Army Sgt. Maj. Michael Weimer https://www.ausa.org/events/coffee-series/sma-weimer

1:45 p.m. 1919 Connecticut Ave. NW — Advantage DOD 2024: Defense Data & AI Symposium, with keynote remarks from Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen Hicks https://www.ncsi.com/event/cdao

1:45 p.m. — Department of Defense Engineers Week 2024 event with remarks from Heidi Shyu, undersecretary of defense for research and engineering https://www.defense.gov/News/Live-Events

2 p.m. — Washington Post Live virtual discussion: "The Middle East, Russia's war in Ukraine two years on and the state of American foreign policy," with, former defense secretary and CIA director Robert Gates https://www.washingtonpost.com/washington-post-live/

5 p.m. 1521 16th St. NW — Institute of World Politics discussion: “Current Counterintelligence Environment and The China Threat,” with Jorge Velez, private sector coordinator for the FBI Washington Field Office. RSVP to [email protected]

5 p.m. 201 Waterfront St., National Harbor, Maryland — Conservative Political Action Conference Foundation annual conference runs through Feb. 24. https://www.digital.cpac.org/us/events-dc2024


8 a.m. — 201 Waterfront St., National Harbor, Maryland — Conservative Political Action Conference Foundation annual conference runs through Feb. 24. https://www.digital.cpac.org/us/events-dc2024

9:30 a.m. — Center for Strategic and International Studies virtual discussion: “Is North Korea Going to War?” with Bruce Klingner, senior research fellow for Northeast Asia at the Heritage Foundation; Sue Mi Terry, senior adviser at Macro Advisory Partners; Victor Cha, CSIS Korea chairman; and Mark Lippert, CSIS Korea chairman https://www.csis.org/events/north-korea-going-war

11 a.m. — Washington Institute for Near East Policy virtual forum: “From War to Peace? Trip Report from a Middle East Study Tour,” with former Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner, a Republican; former California Rep. Howard Berman, a Democrat; Robert Satloff, WINEP chairman in U.S. Middle East Policy; Michael Singh, WINEP managing director; Dana Stroul, WINEP research director; and Ghaith al Omari, WINEP senior fellow https://washingtoninstitute-org.zoom.us/webinar/register

11:30 a.m. — Foundation for Defense of Democracies virtual discussion: "Strengthening America's Asian Border: A Discussion with Northern Marianas Governor Arnold Palacios," with Cleo Paskal, FDD nonresident senior fellow; Randall Schriver, assistant secretary of defense for Indo-Pacific security affairs; and Craig Singleton, director, FDD China Program https://www.fdd.org/events/2024/02/22/strengthening-americas-asian-border

1 p.m. — ​​Center for Strategic and International Studies International Security Program for a virtual discussion: "Ukraine in the Balance: A Battlefield Update on the War in Ukraine," with Michael Vickers, former undersecretary of defense for intelligence and CIA operations officer; Emily Harding, director of the CSIS Intelligence, National Security and Technology Program and deputy director of the CSIS International Security program; Eliot Cohen, CSIS chairman in strategy; and Seth Jones, senior vice president, chairman, and director of the CSIS International Security Program https://www.csis.org/events/ukraine-balance-battlefield-update-war-ukraine

2:30 p.m. — Center for the Study of the Presidency and Congress virtual discussion: "The War in Ukraine After Two Years," with retired Lt. Gen. David Barno, professor of practice and senior fellow, Merrill Center of the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies; Nora Bensahel, visiting professor of strategic studies, Merrill Center of the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies; Michael Kofman, senior fellow in the Russia and Eurasia Program, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace; and Joshua Huminski, director, Mike Rogers Center for Intelligence and Global Affairs https://www.addevent.com/event


8 a.m. — 201 Waterfront St., National Harbor, Maryland — Conservative Political Action Conference Foundation annual conference runs through Feb. 24. https://www.digital.cpac.org/us/events-dc2024

10 a.m. 1616 Rhode Island Ave. NW — Center for Strategic and International Studies discussion: “Delivering for the Warfighter: The Importance of Executing Space Acquisition Programs,” with Frank Calvelli, assistant Air Force secretary for space acquisition and integration, and Kari Bingen, director of the CSIS Aerospace Security Project https://www.csis.org/events/delivering-warfighter-importance

10 a.m. — Brookings Institution virtual discussion: “Does the West’s Ukraine Policy Need a Reality Check?” with Asli Aydintasbas, Brookings visiting fellow; Michael O’Hanlon, Brookings chairman in defense and strategy; Steven Pifer, Brookings nonresident senior fellow; and Angela Stent, Brookings nonresident senior fellow https://www.brookings.edu/events/does-the-wests-ukraine-policy-need-a-reality-check

11:30 a.m. 7801 Leesburg Pike, Falls Church, Virginia — Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association Northern Virginia Chapter discussion, with Scott Kiser, director of the Air Force Office of Small Business Programs. https://afceanova.swoogo.com/afceanovaluncheonFeb2024


9:30 a.m. 2401 M St., NW — George Washington University Project for Media and National Security Defense Writers Group breakfast conversation with Army Secretary Christine Wormuth and Army Chief of Staff Gen. Randy George. RSVP: Thom Shanker [email protected]

3 p.m. — Advanced Nuclear Weapons Alliance Deterrence Center virtual forum: "Nevada National Security Site: a Premier National Security Asset and its NNSA Nuclear Weapons Stockpile Stewardship Mission," with retired Maj. Gen. Garrett Harencak, president, Mission Support and Test Services; David Funk, vice president, enhanced capabilities for subcritical experiments, Mission Support and Test Services; and Melissa Hunt, director, Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation for Global Security, Mission Support and Test Services https://www.eventbrite.com/e/nnsa-nevada-national-security-site


9 a.m. — Counter Extremism Project webinar: "CEP Webinar: Violent Extremism And Terrorism In The Sahel," with Riza Kumar, research analyst, Counter Extremism Project; Anna Wasserfall, policy adviser for West Africa at Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung; Delina Goxho, associate fellow at EGMONT, Royal Institute for International Relations; and Hans-Jakob Schindler, senior Director, Counter Extremism Project https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register 

"It's happening in our country, too. We are turning into a communist country in many ways. And if you look at it, I'm the leading candidate. I get indicted — I never heard of being indicted before. I was — I got indicted four times. I have eight or nine trials, all because of the fact that I'm, and you know this, all because of the fact that I'm in politics."
Former President Donald Trump, in a Fox News town hall, calling his criminal prosecution "a form of Navalny."
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