Daily on Defense: DNI sees no quick end to Ukraine war, INDOPACOM gets new commander, China defense budget rivals US, Russian cyberattacks protested

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HAINES: 'THE WAR IS UNLIKELY TO END ANYTIME SOON': Russia is making "incremental progress" in Ukraine "with the potential for tactical breakthroughs along the front lines in areas such as Donetsk and Kharkiv," Avril Haines, director of national intelligence, told Congress on Thursday, and that has Russian President Vladimir Putin thinking "domestic and the international trends are in his favor."

Testifying before the Senate Armed Services Committee on worldwide threats facing the United States, Haines said Putin has shown no indication he is willing to make any significant concessions and in fact is intent on using increasingly punishing strikes, in particular against Ukraine’s electricity infrastructure, "to impress on Ukraine that continuing to fight will only increase the damage to Ukraine" while "offering no plausible path to victory."

Thanks to China’s provision of dual-use components to Russia’s defense industry, Putin has been able to ramp up his domestic ammunition and missile production capacity dramatically, while the U.S. and European allies have failed to keep Ukraine armed. 

"He likely views his position based on Russia’s economic trajectory, rearmament efforts, and his political staying power as advantageous compared with the challenges facing the Ukrainians," Haines said. All of which strongly suggests "the war is unlikely to end anytime soon."

RUSSIA NOW SPENDS 25% ON THE WAR: "In a major change in fiscal policy, President Putin has increased defense spending to almost 7% of Russia’s GDP, nearly double the historical average. The defense budget now accounts for roughly 25% of federal spending in Russia," Haines testified.

"Putin’s strategic goals also remain unchanged. He continues to see NATO enlargement and Western support to Ukraine as reinforcing his long-held belief that the United States and Europe seek to restrict Russian power," Haines said. "Putin continues to judge that Russia is under threat and almost certainly assumes that a larger, better-equipped military will drive that point home to Western and domestic audiences."

Haines noted that Russia's shift to a wartime economy is largely the result of the enormous cost of the Ukraine war, which is now in its third year: "Not only has Russia spent hundreds of billions of dollars, suffered more military losses than in any time since World War II with more than 300,000 casualties, but the war precipitated Finland’s and Sweden’s membership in NATO, which Putin believes requires an expansion of Russia’s ground forces."

US RAMPING UP, TOO: The Pentagon's effort to accelerate domestic production of munitions is paying off, Army acquisition chief Doug Bush told reporters yesterday. At General Dynamics facilities in Pennsylvania, "155mm production in Scranton and Wilkes-Barre last month ramped up to more than 36,000 shells, their highest in decades," VOA's Carla Babb posted on X.

And Politico's Paul McLeary reported that production lines making ATACMS, the Army Tactical Missile System, are now cranking out enough new missiles that "the Pentagon is no longer worried about depleting its own stocks." Politico quoted Bush as saying that "a significant number of missiles that were ordered years ago … is now hitting at just the right time to be able to support how we’re supporting Ukraine without taking a hit to readiness."

Bush said the "surge" will continue for the coming months. "There are a lot of ATACMS coming off that line."


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 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


HAPPENING TODAY: Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Charles Q. Brown Jr. will deliver remarks at a change-of-command ceremony at the headquarters of the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command in Hawaii. Adm. Samuel Paparo is taking over from retiring Adm. John Aquilino. The Pentagon plans to livestream the ceremony from Honolulu, Hawaii, at 4 p.m. Eastern time.

CHINA SEEKS 'AN ENTIRELY NEW PLACE' IN THE WORLD: In his testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee on worldwide threats, Air Force Lt. Gen. Jeffrey Kruse, director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, said Chinese President Xi Jinping not only has his eye on Taiwan but is focused on "securing an entirely new place for the People’s Republic of China throughout the 2030s and the 2040s."

"Beijing will continue to use its military forces to intimidate its neighbors and to shape the region’s actions in accordance with the PRC’s priorities, most obviously in relation to Taiwan as the PRC presses for unification," Haines testified. "We expect the PLA will field more advanced platforms, deploy new technologies, grow more competent in joint operations, and seek to strengthen their nuclear forces and cyber capabilities while also seeking to divide us from our allies in Europe and in the Indo-Pacific."

"President Xi and his senior leadership expect some degree of future instability in the bilateral relationship with the United States, and they continue to believe that the United States is committed to containing China’s rise and undermining the party’s rule," Haines said. "But they also perceive value in projecting stability in the relationship this year, particularly from a domestic economic perspective, which is their main priority.


JUST HOW BIG IS CHINA'S MILITARY BUDGET? It's often reported that the U.S. spends more on defense than the next 10 countries combined, but with Russia and China both pouring more money into their militaries, that statistic is looking more dubious by the day.

"It is disturbing to me that the intelligence community seems unable to give our national security officials or the American public an answer about the size of the Chinese defense budget," Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MS), top Republican on the Armed Services Committee, complained at yesterday's hearing. "We do know that our principal adversary, communist China, has announced another 7.2% increase to its defense budget for 2024."

Neither Haines nor Kruse offered a public estimate of China's top line for defense spending, but an open-source analysis by Mackenzie Eaglen of the American Enterprise Institute suggested the reality is China's defense spending is roughly on par with the U.S.

To evaluate Beijing's real defense buying power and improve on existing estimates of Chinese military spending, AEI's model used a baseline year of 2022 for the most recent and complete data from the U.S. and China. In 2022, China's publicly released figure was $229 billion, and the U.S.’s appropriated military budget, without supplemental spending, was $742 billion, Eaglen wrote in the report published April 30. "After accounting for economic adjustments and estimating reasonable but uncounted expenditures, the buying power of China's 2022 military budget balloons to an estimated $711 billion — triple Beijing's claimed topline and nearly equal with the United States' military budget that same year."

"No matter the exact size of the Chinese budget, we see with our own eyes in public and in classified settings the scope and scale of the Chinese military modernization," Wicker said. "If we hope to maintain deterrence or win a fight, we will need the military and the intelligence community to work more closely together than they ever have."


GERMANY ACCUSES RUSSIA OF 'INTOLERABLE' CYBERATTACK: Germany has accused Russia of being behind a cyberattack last year targeting its leading coalition party, the Social Democrats.

"Russian state hackers attacked Germany in cyberspace," German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said at a news conference in Australia. "We can attribute this attack to the group called APT28, which is steered by the military intelligence service of Russia. … This is absolutely intolerable and unacceptable and will have consequences."

"We stand in solidarity with Germany following the malicious cyber campaign against a political party, in this case the Social Democratic Party of Germany, and with Czechia following the malicious cyber activities against its institutions," NATO said in a statement today. "Allies recognize that Germany and Czechia have attributed the responsibility of the malicious cyber activities in their respective countries to the threat actor APT28 sponsored by the Russian Federation, specifically the Russian General Staff Main Intelligence Directorate (GRU). Allies also note with concern that the same threat actor targeted other national governmental entities, critical infrastructure operators and other entities across the Alliance, including in Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia and Sweden."

"We strongly condemn malicious cyber activities intended to undermine our democratic institutions, national security and free society," the statement continued. "The malicious cyber activities targeting Germany and Czechia underscore that cyberspace is contested at all times. Cyber threat actors persistently seek to destabilize the Alliance.” 



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Washington Examiner: Opinion: France's Macron rebukes Putin's nuclear threats and shows Europe the way over Ukraine

Air Force Times: Air Force, Navy Likely to Fall Short on Reserve Recruits in 2024

Politico: Production surge eases Pentagon worries about sending long-range missiles to Ukraine

Reuters: Missile defense successes in Gulf, Ukraine fuel global urgency to acquire systems

New York Times: Hamas Says It's Reviewing Latest Cease-Fire Proposal

Reuters: U.S. Defense Secretary Says There Was No Indication Hamas Planning Attack On U.S. Troops

Wall Street Journal: U.S. Shuffles Military Assets In Middle East After Gulf Pushback

AP: Turkey halts all trade with Israel over military actions in Gaza

AP: Defense Chiefs From US, Australia, Japan And Philippines Vow To Deepen Cooperation

National Defense Magazine: Navy Expects Multi-Year Procurement Decision On Amphibs Soon

Defense News: Navy's Next Amphibious Ship Named For Marines' Helmand Province Fight

AP: Colombia breaks diplomatic ties with Israel but its military relies on key Israeli-built equipment

Air & Space Forces Magazine: Allvin Unveils New Details of Integrated Capabilities Command, to Stand Up This Year

Air & Space Forces Magazine: DNI: Russia Gaining Ground in Ukraine with China's Help

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Air & Space Forces Magazine: US Needs Better Coordination, Cheaper Ways to Counter Drones: Pentagon Officials

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Air & Space Forces Magazine: DOD Official Confirms Russia Is Developing an 'Indiscriminate' Space Nuke

Air & Space Forces Magazine: China is Having a 'Strategic Breakout' in Space Too, USSF Intel Boss Warns

Aviation Week: Marine Corps in Study Phase of CCA Plans

Breaking Defense: Services Making Progress Putting the J in CJADC2: Vice Chief Grady

Defense News: Pentagon Technology Hub Sees Lower Transition Rate, Higher Value Deals



4 p.m. EDT Honolulu, Hawaii — Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin presides over the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command change-of-command ceremony as outgoing commander Adm. John Aquilino relinquishes command to incoming commander Adm. Samuel Paparo https://www.pacom.mil/Media/News

9 a.m. —  Center for Strategic and International Studies virtual discussion on a new report: “Beyond Economics: How U.S. Policies Can Undermine National Security Goals" https://www.csis.org/events/report-launch-beyond-economics

9 a.m. 14th and F Sts. NW — National Press Club briefing: “Updates and Status of Cases of U.S. Journalists Austin Tice and Evan Gershkovich,” with Paul Beckett, Washington bureau chief of the Wall Street Journal, and Debra Tice, mother of Austin Tice https://www.press.org/events/updates-and-status-cases-us-journalists

10 a.m. 1616 Rhode Island Ave. NW — Center for Strategic and International Studies discussion: “The New Era of U.S.-Japan Strategic Cooperation: A Dialogue with Japanese Lawmakers,” with Nakatani Gen, member of the Japanese House of Representatives; Onodera Itsunori, member of the Japanese House of Representatives; Masuo Chisako, professor at Kyushu University; and Tsuchiya Motohiro, professor at Keio University https://www.csis.org/events/new-era-us-japan-strategic-cooperation

4 p.m. EDT Honolulu, Hawaii — Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin presides over the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command change-of-command ceremony as outgoing commander Adm. John Aquilino relinquishes command to incoming commander Adm. Samuel Paparo https://www.defense.gov/News/Live-Events/


10 a.m. 192 Dirksen — Senate Appropriations Defense Subcommittee hearing: “A Review of the President’s FY2025 Budget Request for the Department of Defense," with testimony from Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Charles Q. Brown Jr. http://appropriations.senate.gov

3 p.m. G-50 Dirksen — Senate Armed Services Personnel Subcommittee hearing: “Military and Civilian Personnel Programs in the Defense Department in Review of the Defense Authorization Request for FY2025 and the Future Years Defense Program,” with testimony from Ashish Vazirani, acting Defense undersecretary for personnel and readiness; Ronald Keohane, assistant Defense secretary for manpower and reserve affairs; Lester Martinez-Lopez, assistant Defense secretary for health affairs; Elizabeth Foster, executive director of the Office of Force Resiliency; Army Lt. Gen. Douglas Stitt, deputy chief of staff for personnel (G-1); Navy Vice Adm. Richard Cheeseman, deputy chief of naval operations for personnel, manpower, and training (N1); Marine Corps Lt. Gen. James Glynn, deputy commandant for manpower and reserve affairs; Air Force Lt. Gen. Caroline Miller, deputy chief of staff for manpower, personnel, and services (A1); and Katharine Kelley, Space Force deputy chief of space operations for human capital http://www.armed-services.senate.gov

4 p.m. 232-A Russell — Senate Armed Services Airland Subcommittee hearing: “Air Force Modernization in Review of the Defense Authorization Request for FY2025 and the Future Years Defense Program,” with testimony from Andrew Hunter, assistant secretary of the Air Force for acquisition, technology, and logistics; Air Force Lt. Gen. Adrian Spain, deputy chief of staff for operations; Air Force Lt. Gen. David Harris, deputy chief of staff for strategy, integration, and requirements; and Air Force Lt. Gen. Richard Moore, deputy chief of staff for plans and Programs http://www.armed-services.senate.gov

4 p.m. 1789 Massachusetts Ave. NW — American Enterprise Institute in-person virtual discussion: "True North: The Future of US-Canada Relations," with Jonathan Berkshire Miller, director, foreign affairs, national defense and national security, Macdonald-Laurier Institute; Balkan Devlen, director, transatlantic program, Macdonald-Laurier Institute; and Colin Dueck, nonresident senior fellow, American Enterprise Institute https://www.aei.org/events/true-north-the-future-of-us-canada-relations

4:45 p.m. 222 Russel — Senate Armed Services Strategic Forces Subcommittee hearing: "Defense Department missile defense activities in review of the Defense Authorization Request for FY2025 and the Future Years Defense Program" http://www.armed-services.senate.gov

"Even in our most conflicted moments, the world looks to the United States for leadership. Our allies rely on us for fortitude, and our adversaries hope for us to falter. By finally passing the national security supplemental, Congress sent a powerful message to the world. The legislation demonstrates that we stand resolutely with our allies and partners and that America's interests and safety won't be challenged by dictators or bullies."
Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI), chairman, Senate Armed Services Committee, at a Thursday hearing on worldwide threats
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