Daily on Defense: Israel orders Rafah evacuation, Hamas walks away from hostage deal, Blinken to unveil cyber strategy, US and France keep eyes on Chad election

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NETANYAHU: 'WE ARE NOT ALONE': By overloaded cars and donkey carts, the beleaguered and famished Palestinians trapped in the Gaza war zone are on the move again, directed by Israel Defense Forces to evacuate to an "expanded humanitarian zone" north of Rafah ahead of what Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu promises is a coming military operation to clear out Hamas from its last stronghold in the south.

"If Israel is forced to stand alone, Israel will stand alone," Netanyahu said at a Holocaust Remembrance Day ceremony in Jerusalem. "But we know we are not alone because countless decent people around the world support our just cause. And I say to you, we will defeat our genocidal enemies."

The order for an estimated 100,000 civilians to move comes as Netanyahu is accusing Hamas of "torpedoing" a hostage deal and a day after Hamas militants carried out a deadly rocket attack that killed three Israeli soldiers and resulted in the closure of one of the main crossings used to deliver humanitarian aid into Gaza. 

The "humanitarian zone" established by the IDF is said to be equipped with tents, field hospitals, and supplies of food and water.


AUSTIN: ISRAEL NEEDS 'CREDIBLE PLAN' TO PROTECT CIVILIANS: The Biden administration has repeatedly urged Israel not to move against Hamas in Rafah unless it takes comprehensive steps to protect civilians who are caught in the crossfire.

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin spoke by phone late yesterday with his Israeli counterpart, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, expressing condolences for the loss of life in Sunday's rocket attack while stressing "the need for any potential Israeli military operation in Rafah to include a credible plan to evacuate Palestinian civilians and maintain the flow of humanitarian aid."

"It’s their war, and they have a right to fight it. These are degenerate savages, Hamas," Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), ranking member on the Senate Intelligence Committee, said on Fox News on Sunday. 

"Everybody’s saying, send in humanitarian aid, these poor people are starving. Well, that’s what they tried to do, and these guys are launching mortar attacks against the humanitarian aid that’s coming in," Rubio said. "How is Israel supposed to coexist, to live side by side alongside next to these people?"


MCCAIN: 'NOBODY SHOULD STARVE': In an appearance on NBC's Meet the Press, Cindy McCain, widow of late Sen. John McCain and executive director of the World Food Program, said the humanitarian crisis in northern Gaza has become a "full-blown famine."

"It’s horror. You know, it’s so hard to look at, and it’s so hard to hear," McCain said. "What I can explain to you is that there is famine, full-blown famine in the north. And it’s moving its way south."

While there has been no official declaration of famine and Israel denies people are starving, McCain said the World Food Program insists the food shortages constitute a famine: "Yes, it is, based on what we’ve seen and what we’ve experienced on the ground."

"I’m so hoping that we can get a ceasefire and begin to feed these people, especially in the north, in a much faster fashion, but also including, water, sanitation, medicine. It’s all part of the famine, the famine issue," she said.

"WFP welcomes any ability to get aid in any way, whether it’s a port, whether it’s a gate, whether it’s air drops, whatever it may be. We support all of that. And we’re grateful for this pier that’s being built. That’s another way to get aid in. But we need more than one pier," McCain said. "I’ve spoken to Netanyahu myself, and he has reiterated to me several times that it’s important, that they want to make sure aid gets in, that these crossings are going to be open and somewhat are open now. So, I believe in good faith that they are doing the best that they can."


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 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: Secretary of State Antony Blinken is in California, where he is scheduled to give a speech marking the release of the administration’s International Cyberspace and Digital Policy Strategy. The keynote address at the RSA Conference in San Francisco will outline the strategy, which according to the State Department will highlight "technology's transformative impact on foreign policy and the U.S. vision towards an innovative, secure, and rights-respecting digital future."

Blinken's remarks at 3:50 p.m. Pacific time, or 6:50 p.m. Eastern time, will be livestreamed on the State Department homepage and YouTube channel.

RANSOMWARE ATTACKS UP 74% GLOBALLY: The cyberspace policy comes as Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines warned Congress last week that cyberattacks have become one of the "most pernicious transnational threats" facing the nation. 

"We have seen a massive increase in the number of ransomware attacks globally in the last year, which went up as much as 74% in 2023," Haines testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee Thursday. "U.S. entities were the most heavily targeted, with attacks against the healthcare sector roughly doubling what they had been here before."

"Cyber actors are attacking U.S. industrial control systems, which are typically used to automate industrial processes, at record levels. Many critical infrastructure sectors, including water and wastewater, food and agriculture, defense, energy, and transportation, rely on such systems," she testified. 

"In virtually all of the attacks we have seen against U.S. critical infrastructure, cyber actors took advantage of default or weak passwords, unpatched known vulnerabilities, and poorly secured network connections to launch relatively simple attacks. And for this reason, it is crucial that all of us, particularly critical infrastructure owners and operators, improve our cybersecurity practices to reduce overall our vulnerability to such efforts."


ALSO TODAY: House meets convenes at noon and then at 2 p.m. is scheduled to consider H.R. 6972, the “Securing the Chain of Command Continuity Act," a bill prompted by Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin's clumsy attempt to undergo prostate surgery in late December and early January without telling anyone. 

"This bill requires certain notifications whenever a head of an executive branch agency who is a member of the National Security Council (for example, the Secretary of State or the Secretary of Defense) becomes medically incapacitated," according to Congress.gov. "In the event that such an agency head becomes medically incapacitated, the person serving in an acting capacity as the agency head (or, if no person is acting, the first assistant to the office of the agency head) must notify within 24 hours the Executive Office of the President, the Comptroller General, the Majority and Minority Leaders of the Senate, and the Speaker and Minority Leader of the House of Representatives."

Austin admitted his mistake and apologized in a lengthy Pentagon briefing in February. "I did not handle this right. I should have told the president about my cancer diagnosis. I take full responsibility," Austin said.  "I have apologized directly to President Biden, and I've told him that I'm deeply sorry for not letting him know immediately that I received a heavy diagnosis and was getting treatment."

CHAD'S ELECTION: Voters in Chad go to the polls today to select a president, and the United States and France are both watching with intense interest as the outcome could affect the ability of the two nations to maintain counterterrorism troops in West Africa.

The expected winner is Mahamat Idriss Deby, who seized power in 2021 when his father was shot by rebels, but Western observers are waiting to see if the election could result in Chad emerging from years of military rule. 

One of Deby’s most prominent challengers is Succes Masra, described by Reuters as "a political opponent who spent a year in exile from 2022-2023, then shocked Chadians by agreeing to become Deby’s prime minister."

Last month, the Pentagon "temporarily repositioned" about 100 U.S. troops who were operating out of a French military base in Chad after the Chadian government asked them to leave. "This is a temporary step as part of an ongoing review of our security cooperation, which will resume after Chad’s May 6 presidential election," spokesman Maj. Gen. Pat Ryder said on April 25.

France has about 1,000 troops based in Chad.


NOEM'S PROBLEMATIC KIM CLAIM: In her forthcoming book, No Going Back: The Truth On What’s Wrong With Politics And How We Move America Forward, Gov. Kristi Noem (R-SD) included a pity anecdote to illustrate her fearlessness in the face of dictators. “I remember when I met with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un. I’m sure he underestimated me, having no clue about my experience staring down little tyrants. I have been a children’s pastor after all," she wrote, a passage she also included when she recorded the audio version of the book.

The only problem is, apparently, Noem never actually met Kim. "I have met with many, many world leaders. I have traveled around the world. As soon as it was brought to my attention, we went forward and have made some edits," Noem said in a contentious interview on CBS's Face the Nation.

Despite a verbal pummeling by host Margaret Brennan, Noem would never say how the confusion came about or whether she had ever seen the North Korean leader. "I’m not going to talk about my specific meetings with world leaders. I’m just not going to do that. This anecdote shouldn’t have been in the book. And as soon as it was brought to my attention, I made sure that that was adjusted," Noem said.

When Brennan wouldn't give up on the line of questioning, Noem became frustrated. "Listen, this is what is so discouraging about politics and the media today, is that we have the White House that just recently came out and confirmed that President Joe Biden has misspoken, has made mistakes, has even outright lied over close to 150 times just this year, and you’ve done nothing to question him on any of that."

And inevitably, the discussion moved on to Noem's account of shooting her 14-month-old wirehaired pointer named Cricket.

"This was a dangerous animal that was killing livestock and attacking people. And I had little children at the time. Our operation had many kids running around and people and interaction with the public. And I made a difficult choice. I think you’re a mother, too, and you have little kiddos. Would you make a choice between your children or a dangerous animal? And I think I would ask everybody in the country to put themselves in that situation," Noem said in her defense.

"You say the very first thing you would do if you got to the White House that was different from Joe Biden is you’d make sure Joe Biden’s dog was nowhere on the grounds. 'Commander, say hello to Cricket.' Are you doing this to try to look tough? Do you still think that you have a shot at being a VP?" Brennan asked.

"Joe Biden’s dog has attacked 24 Secret Service people," Noem responded. "So, how many people is enough people to be attacked and dangerously hurt before you make a decision on a dog and what to do with it?"

"You’re saying he should be shot?" Brennan pressed. 

"That what’s the president should be accountable to — what is the number?" Noem replied. 



Washington Examiner: Ceasefire talks end with no deal after Hamas attack on aid chokepoint

Washington Examiner: Hamas delegation completes ceasefire negotiations in Cairo as Israel reiterates intent to enter Rafah

Washington Examiner: Hamas launches rockets near main humanitarian aid crossing

Washington Examiner: Biden administration mum on report of withheld military support to Israel

Washington Examiner: Sanders comparison of Gaza and Vietnam an 'over-exaggeration': Biden campaign co-chairman

Washington Examiner: Russia accuses Britain of risking nuclear war over Ukraine

Washington Examiner: Analysis: Why the UK says Ukraine can now target Russia with British weapons

Washington Examiner: ICC warns against intimidating court as US and Israel condemn possible warrants

Washington Examiner: NATO allies blame Russia for 'particularly serious and reprehensible' cyberattacks

Washington Examiner: Air Force making gains in artificial intelligence with AI-piloted F-16 flight

Washington Examiner: Driver dies following collision into White House perimeter gate

Washington Examiner: Trump compares Biden administration to the 'Gestapo' during donor retreat

Washington Examiner: Members of Congress indicted: Cuellar joins growing list of officials charged with felonies

Washington Examiner: Opinion: Will Russia covertly attempt to fund George Galloway's new party?

AP: Hamas says latest cease-fire talks have ended. Israel vows military operation in 'very near future'

Axios: U.S. Put A Hold On An Ammunition Shipment To Israel

AP: Thousands of Israelis take to streets of Tel Aviv to demand cease-fire and Netanyahu's resignation

CNN: U.S. Military Pauses Construction Of Pier Off Gaza Due To Bad Weather

AP: Israel orders Al Jazeera to close its local operation and seizes some of its equipment

Washington Post: Confident of victory over Ukraine, Russia exhibits Western war trophies

Washington Post: Ukrainian men abroad voice anger over pressure to return home to fight

Reuters: Russia puts Ukraine’s Zelenskiy on wanted list

Reuters: Russia Hits Ukraine Regions, Zelenskyy Sys Su-25 Bomber Downed

Stars and Stripes: Russian Troops at Same Air Base as Departing American Forces in Niger

Reuters: Chad prepares to vote in a coup-hit region, wary allies look on

USNI News: Marines, Navy Crafting Long-Term Fixes For Amphibious Warship Shortages

Wall Street Journal: US Shuffles Military Assets in Middle East After Gulf Pushback

Air & Space Forces Magazine: New INDOPACOM Boss Takes Over, Urging Readiness Against Chinese Aggression

New York Times: On Tour In Europe, Xi Offers An Alternative To A U.S. World Order

Military.com: U.S. Troop Levels In Pacific Take Center Stage As Defense Secretary Huddles With Allied Defense Leaders

Business Insider: China Has A Lot More Missiles — With U.S. Warships And Bases In Its Sights

New York Times: The Demise Of An Arms-Limitation Accord Could Be A Lifesaver For Taiwan

Air & Space Forces Magazine: Air Force Slowly Returning V-22 Ospreys to Flight After Crash

National Defense Magazine: Air Force Special Operators Developing Drone-Launched Swarms

Task & Purpose: Air Force Team Designs, 3D Prints, Launches New Drone in Under 24 Hours

Defense One: The Marines Want to 'Litter the Battlefield' with Anti-Drone Sensors

New York Times: Drones Changed This Civil War, and Linked Rebels to the World

The War Zone: Boeing Pitches F-15EX for Saudi Arabian Fighter Competition

RealClearWorld.com: America's Ammunition Production May Soon Be Controlled by a Foreign Buyer"

Air & Space Forces Magazine: Air Guardsmen Explain Why They Don't Want to Switch to the Space Force

Air & Space Forces Magazine: USSF Eyes Proliferated Constellation in LEO for Space-Based Targeting

Breaking Defense: Next-Gen OPIR: 2 Steps Forward, 1 Step Back for Missile Warning Effort

Air & Space Forces Magazine: US, Australia, Japan Pledge to Hold F-35 Exercises in All Three Nations

AP: An AI-Powered Fighter Jet Took the Air Force's Leader for a Historic Ride. What That Means for War

Air Force Times: New Air Force Policy Aims to Help Aviators Seek Mental Health Care

The Cipher Brief: Former Afghan Intelligence Chief Sees "Jihadist Utopia" Since U.S. Withdrawal

The Cipher Brief: Is Made-in-Ukraine the Answer to Russia's War Machine?

The Cipher Brief: A Russia-China Show of Force in the Arctic

The Cipher Brief: The Baltimore Bridge Collapse is Also a National Security Problem



11 a.m 1789 Massachusetts Ave. NW — American Enterprise Institute in-person discussion: "Beyond the SCIF: A Conversation with Rep. Brad Wenstrup (R-OH) on AI and Biosecurity," with Rep. Mike Turner (R-OH), chairman of the House Intelligence Committee; Dan Blumenthal, senior fellow, American Enterprise Institute; Anna Puglisi, founder, Puglisi Ventures; Anthony Ruggiero, adjunct senior fellow, Foundation for Defense of Democracies; Ken Staley, senior counselor, Palantir; and Dov Zakheim, commissioner, National Security Commission on Emerging Biotechnology https://www.aei.org/eventsMEF & AJU Present: Israel’s 7 Fronts- Iran/beyond-the-scif-a-conversation

2 p.m. — Middle East Forum and American Jewish University virtual discussion: “Iran’s Attack on Israel,” as part of the Israel’s Seven Front War series, with Michael Rubin, MEF director of policy analysis https://www.eventbrite.com/e/mef-aju-present-israels-7-fronts

8 p.m. — Jews United for Democracy and Justice virtual discussion: “Israel in Crisis,” with Dennis Ross, counselor at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, and Patt Morrison, Los Angeles Times writer and columnist https://www.jewsunitedfordemocracy.org/event


8 a.m. — Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies virtual discussion: “The Russia-Ukraine War: An End in Sight?” with Veronica Anghel, lecturer at SAIS Europe and visiting fellow at the European University Institute’s Robert Schuman Center; Hal Brands, SAIS professor; Keith Gessen, journalist and assistant professor of journalism at Columbia University; and Michael Kofman, senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace’s Russia and Eurasia Program https://sais.jhu.edu/campus-events

10 a.m. — Wilson Center Middle East Program and Atlantic Council virtual discussion: “Plan for Postwar Gaza,” with Mary Beth Long, former assistant secretary of defense for international security affairs; James Jeffrey, former special envoy to the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS; Robert Silverman, executive editor of the Jerusalem Strategic Tribune; and Thomas Warrick, Atlantic Council nonresident senior fellow https://www.wilsoncenter.org/event/report-discussion-plan-postwar-gaza

10:30 a.m. 214 Massachusetts Ave. NE — Heritage Foundation discussion: “Securing the Border and Keeping Americans Safe: How Illegal Immigration Leads to Preventable Crime,” with Sen. Roger Marshall (R-KS); Tom Homan, visiting fellow at the Heritage Border Security and Immigration Center; Simon Hankinson, Heritage senior research fellow; Lora Ries, director of the Heritage Border Security and Immigration Center; and Zack Smith, senior legal fellow at the Heritage Center for Legal Studies https://www.heritage.org/immigration/event/securing-the-border

12 p.m. 2060 Rayburn — Cato Institute discussion: “Sea-Launched Nuclear Cruise Missile: Necessary or Excessive?” with Robert Soofer, former deputy assistant secretary of defense for nuclear and missile defense policy and senior fellow at the Atlantic Council; Eric Gomez, senior fellow at the Cato Institute; and Lawrence Montreuil, director of government affairs at the Cato Institute and former legislative director of the American Legion https://www.cato.org/events/sea-launched-nuclear-cruise-missile

2 p.m. 2322 Rayburn — Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe briefing: “Turkey Post Election: What’s next?” with Gonul Tol, director of the Middle East Institute’s Turkey Program; Rich Outzen, Atlantic Council nonresident senior fellow; and Nicholas Danforth, Hellenic Foundation for European and Foreign Policy nonresident fellow https://www.youtube.com/watch

2 p.m. — Washington Post Live virtual book discussion: Phantom Orbit: A Thriller, a spy novel on space warfare, geopolitics, and espionage, as well as the author’s recent Ukraine trip and Mideast insights, with David Ignatius, Washington Post foreign affairs columnist https://www.washingtonpost.com/washington-post-live

2:30 p.m. 1789 Massachusetts Ave. NW — American Enterprise Institute in-person discussion: "A Conversation with House Armed Services Committee ranking member Adam Smith (D-WA)," with Kori Schake, director, foreign and defense policy studies, American Enterprise Institute https://www.aei.org/events/a-conversation


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

10 a.m. — Middle East Institute virtual discussion: “Israel’s Regional Relations and the War in Gaza: The Economic Dimension,” with Galia Press-Barnathan, director of Hebrew University of Jerusalem’s Institute for International Relations; Yael Ravia-Zadok, deputy director general is the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs’s Economic Affairs Division; Dan Catarivas, president of the Federation of Bi-national Chambers of Commerce in Israel; Gabriel Mitchell, director of undergraduate studies at Notre Dame Jerusalem; and Nimrod Goren, MEI senior fellow for Israeli affairs https://www.mei.edu/events/israels-regional-relations

11 a.m. 1750 Independence Ave. SW — Friends of the National World War II Memorial celebration of V-E Day with a special tribute to the “Greatest Generation” on the 79th anniversary of the Allied victory in Europe, with French Ambassador to the U.S. Laurent Bili https://www.wwiimemorialfriends.org/ceremony-registration

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 Secretary of Defense for manpower and reserve affairs; Lester Martinez-Lopez, Assistant Secretary of Defense 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 Russell — 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


10 a.m. — Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association virtual discussion: "The Army’s current strategies for improving software development and acquisition processes, and the anticipated impact on enhancing operational effectiveness and agility,” with Margaret Boatner, deputy assistant Army secretary for strategy and acquisition reform; Jennifer Swanson, deputy assistant Army secretary for data, engineering, and software; Army Chief Information Officer Leonel Garciga; and Bill Hepworth, program executive officer for enterprise information systems at the Army https://afceanova.swoogo.com/May24Lunch

12 p.m — Middle East Institute virtual discussion: “The Biden Administration’s National Cybersecurity Strategy: Opportunities and Challenges,” with John Hauser, partner at the EY Cybersecurity and Data Privacy Group; Niranjan Shankar, MEI nonresident scholar; Alicia Chavy, MEI nonresident scholar; and Mohammed Soliman, director of the MEI strategic Technologies and Cyber Security Program https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register

2 p.m. — Carnegie Endowment for International Peace virtual discussion: “The Israel-Hamas War,” with Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Michael Herzog https://carnegieendowment.org/2024/05/09/israel-hamas-war

2 p.m. — Government Executive Media Group virtual discussion: “Service Branch Spotlight: Space Force,” with Brian Kehl, deputy commanding general-support at the Space Force’s Space Operations Command, and Audrey Decker, air warfare reporter at Defense One https://events.defenseone.com/defense-one-service-branch-spotlight-space-force


10 a.m. — Air and Space Forces Association virtual discussion with Chief Master Sgt. of the Space Force John Bentivegna https://www.afa.org/events/air-space-warfighters-in-action

"There is famine, full-blown famine in the north. And it's moving its way south. … We can't let this happen. In this day and age, when the world has the ability to feed itself 10 times over, nobody should starve. Nobody should starve for whatever reason it may be."
Cindy McCain, executive director, World Food Program, on the humanitarian crisis in Gaza on NBC's Meet the Press on Sunday.
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