Daily on Defense: Ukraine’s battlefield setbacks, Austin meets Pacific counterparts, spymasters outline worldwide threats, Navy short of ships, National Guard short of planes and pilots

Follow us on Twitter View this as website



UKRAINIAN TROOPS FALL BACK: While the United States is rushing air defense interceptors, long-range missiles, artillery shells, and small-arms ammunition to Ukraine as part of a $1 billion military aid package, the emergency resupply effort has yet to blunt the Russian advance of on the battlefield.

With no defense against Russian "glide bombs," older one- and two-ton munitions upgraded with wings and guidance systems, Ukrainian troops are steadily being pushed back only to find retreat provides little respite from the onslaught.

In recent days, the situation on the front lines has badly deteriorated, with Russia overrunning Ukrainian defenses in three small villages on the outskirts of the strategic city of Avdiivka, which Russia captured three months ago after mostly leveling it.  

"Facing an outcry after Avdiivka's fall, Ukraine is rushing to build concrete-fortified trenches, foxholes, firing positions and other barricades on the front lines," the Associated Press reported from the northern town of Kharkiv. "But relentless Russian shelling, lack of equipment and crippling bureaucracy plague construction across the vast 1,000-kilometer (600-mile) front, even as a new Russian offensive looms."

"Russian forces are currently attempting to exploit a tactical penetration northwest of Avdiivka to achieve a wider breach in the area and are intensifying offensive operations to seize the operationally significant town of Chasiv Yar," the Institute for the Study of War said in its latest Ukraine war assessment. "The Russian military command may intend to introduce elements of the 76th and 7th VDV divisions as significant reinforcements to either of these efforts in pursuit of operationally significant gains before the arrival of U.S. security assistance allows Ukrainian forces to slow Russian advances and stabilize the front line."

RUSSIA'S FURIOUS RACE AGAINST US AID: "Russia has been increasing its troop concentrations in Donetsk Oblast at an alarming rate. Russian engineering units, meanwhile, have been working to connect existing trenches with new fortifications extending to Belgorod Oblast in the east and Zaporizhzhia Oblast in the south," the Hudson Institute said in a "Military Situation Report" published yesterday.

"Moscow's widening artillery advantage and Kyiv's stumbling mobilization efforts allowed Russian forces to make significant battlefield advances and tactical gains on multiple fronts," wrote Can Kasapoglu, a senior fellow at Hudson, who said Ukraine is losing some of the small gains it made in last summer's largely ineffective counteroffensive. 

"In the south, Russia continued to focus on dismantling Ukrainian positions in the Robotyne bulge, Kyiv's most significant gain from last year's counteroffensive, and Krynky, the site of Ukraine's bridgehead across the Dnipro River," Kasapoglu said. "In recent days, Russian forces focused overwhelming offensive efforts on Ocheretyne, a small rural town in eastern Ukraine."

UKRAINE NEEDS GERMAN TAURUS MISSILES: Kasapoglu said the decision by the Biden administration to provide the long-range missiles for the Army Tactical Missile System will give Ukraine an exceptional ability to hit hardened targets deep behind Russian lines, but he said it still lacks the optimum system for dropping the strategic supply line between Russia and occupied Crimea.

"Ukraine still lacks the weapon best-suited for use against strategic targets like the Kerch Bridge, which connects the Crimean Peninsula to mainland Russia: the German Taurus missile," he wrote. "The Taurus's advanced fuse configuration possesses smart-void sensors that allow the weapon to estimate the time required to penetrate different layers of a target after initial impact. This unique feature gives the Taurus an advantage over the Storm Shadow and SCALP-EG missiles Ukraine has acquired from Britain, France, and, recently, Italy." 

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has frustrated the main center-right opposition bloc in Germany, as well as parts of his three-party coalition, by insisting Taurus missiles could only be responsibly used by German soldiers, which he said is "a line that I as chancellor do not want to cross."

"If Berlin wishes to arm Ukraine for victory, it should consider supplying Kyiv with the Taurus missiles it needs," Kasapoglu said.


Good Thursday 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 is in Honolulu, Hawaii, headquarters of the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command for multilateral talks with his counterparts from Australia, Japan, and the Philippines. Austin's post-meetings news conference will be livestreamed at 10:30 p.m. Eastern time on the Pentagon website.

ALSO TODAY: Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines and Air Force Lt. Gen. Jeffrey Kruse, director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, testify at 9:30 a.m. before the Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on "worldwide threats."

DEL TORO: 'WE SHOULD HAVE BEEN BUYING MORE AMPHIBIOUS SHIPS EARLIER': In testimony before the House Armed Services Committee, Navy Secretary Carlos Del Toro admitted that the Navy does not have the amphibious ships it needs to support Marine Corps operations, an admission that came a year after Del Toro had to defend the Biden administration's "strategic pause" in amphibious shipbuilding.

"There’s no question in my mind that we should have been buying more amphibious ships earlier," Del Toro said under questioning from Chairman Mike Rogers (R-AL). "The age of our amphibious fleet is excessively high. We need to continue to invest in new ships to replace these old ships."

"The fleet is already suffering readiness issues. Maintenance availabilities are taking much longer than planned, inhibiting our ability to project power," Rogers said in his opening statement. "The Marines have experienced that firsthand when maintenance issues with the USS Boxer delayed the return of the Bataan Amphibious Ready Group earlier this year, and last year, maintenance issues meant there wasn’t an amphibious ready group available to evacuate Americans from Sudan."

Del Toro agreed, citing the condition of the amphibious dock landing ship USS Germantown, which the Navy wants to decommission this year. "She is our oldest LSD," Del Toro said. "She has wood decks on her that are corroding. She has a crane that hasn’t been able to be fixed in the past six years."

Del Toro said the Navy's shipbuilding plan for fiscal 2025 does provide for a 31-ship amphibious fleet as required by law.

Rogers continued to complain about the budget constraints imposed by the deal brokered by former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, which capped the increase in overall defense spending at 1% in return for Republicans agreeing to raise the debt ceiling so the nation did not go into default.

"Factoring in inflation, we all know that’s a 2% cut," Rogers said. "Just as with the other services, a budget that fails to provide real growth means the Navy had to make painful trade-offs and absorb real risk in their current and future readiness."

FIGHTER JET SHORTAGE: Meanwhile, at a House Appropriations Committee hearing, Gen. Daniel Hokanson, chief of the National Guard Bureau, was outlining a serious shortage of fighter jets, pilots, and maintainers in National Guard and Reserve squadrons.

"We’ve got a 60-fighter squadron requirement with 48. We have 25 of those in the National Guard. And our ability to retain that capability when we’re already short fighter pilots and maintainers will be critically important in the next coming years as we start to modernize our fleet," Hokanson testified. 

With the Air Force retiring aging A-10s and older F-15C/D models, the concern is that nothing is being provided to replace the fighter fleet.

Hokanson is pushing for new planes, including F-15EXs and F-35s the National Guard put on its unfunded priorities list for fiscal 2025. 

"You saw my unfunded priority list. I added six F-15EXs because they were cut from the Air Force buy as well as six F-35s to make sure that we can continue to field these units so that we don’t create what we call a bathtub, where we don’t have enough capability at the most critical time as we face challenges from our competitors around the globe," Hokanson said. 

"We’ve got to keep looking at, as appropriators, to make sure that we’re getting the right equipment at the right levels to the guard, to the Reserve units, and making sure that … you’re not just seen as the ugly stepchild to the active-duty side," Rep. Mike Garcia (R-CA) said. "I’m very concerned about the lack of, frankly, assets within the Reserve components, especially on the National Guard side, to be that complementary force to the active duty right now. I think we’ve gotten below or approaching below critical mass on some of the platforms that are being allocated to you all."



Washington Examiner: Russia using banned chemical weapons in war on Ukraine, State Department says

Washington Examiner: Blinken meets with Netanyahu, hoping ceasefire prevents Rafah operation

Washington Examiner: House Democrats ask Biden to withhold military assistance to Israel

Washington Examiner: How Israel can secure Rafah without devastating the civilian population

Washington Examiner: Pentagon space official affirms Russia seeking anti-satellite nuclear capability

Washington Examiner: House passes bill expanding definition of antisemitism as protests engulf college campuses

Washington Examiner: The 21 Republicans who voted against House bill to expand antisemitism definition

Washington Examiner: UT Austin officials claim outside forces 'orchestrated' violent pro-Palestinian campus protest

Washington Examiner: Air Force to charge leaker Teixeira under military law

Washington Examiner: MTG moves ahead with vote to oust Johnson despite Democrats' rescue plan

Washington Examiner: Three major developments throwing a wrench in everyone's plans for the House

Washington Examiner: Trump insists NATO threats are negotiating tactic: 'I love Europe'

Washington Examiner: Illegal immigrants hiking miles into California in search of police as Border Patrol is stretched thin

AP: Ukrainian soldiers say rear defensive lines barely exist as Russia advances

AP: Kremlin parades Western equipment captured from Ukrainian army at Moscow exhibition

Washington Times: Pentagon Says U.S. Pier For Gaza Aid Is More Than Half-Completed, To Be Ready Soon

USNI News: House Lawmakers Pushing For 2 Virginia Subs In FY 2025, CNO Franchetti Gives Details On Boxer Repair

Business Insider: Amphibious Assault Ship USS Boxer Is Out Of Action, And It’s A Problem, Top Marine Corps General Says

USNI News: Navy Air Defense Mission In The Red Sea Makes Case For Directed Energy Weapons, Says VCJCS Grady

Business Insider: The U.S. Navy Wants A Lot More Of A Missile That Just Recently Scored Its First Kill To Counter Pacific Threats Like China

PBS: Outgoing U.S. Indo-Pacific Commander Urges More Action To Counter China's Military Power

USNI News: Chinese Aircraft Carrier Fujian Leaves For First Set Of Sea Trials

AP: Blinken presses Hamas to seal cease-fire with Israel, says 'the time is now' for a deal

AP: US Says It Will Return to Chad for Talks to Keep Troops in the Country

Politico: US Military Pier to Begin Operations off Gaza as Soon as This Weekend

New York Times: US Imposes Sanctions on Chinese Companies for Aiding Russia's War Effort

The War Zone: China's H-6K Bomber Seen Firing Air-Launched Ballistic Missile for First Time

Military.com: Air Force Starts to Fly Some Ospreys Again Following Crash that Killed 8 Airmen in Japan

Air & Space Forces Magazine: Kadena Adds More Stealth Fighters Amid 'Increasingly Challenging Strategic Environment'

Air & Space Forces Magazine: National Guard Boss Warns of Potential 'Critical' Fighter Shortage

Bloomberg: Lockheed-Boeing Venture Told It Must Launch More Satellites

SpaceNews: NRO's First Batch of Next-Generation Spy Satellites Set for Launch

Defense One: Russian Space Nuke Could Render Low-Earth Orbit Unusable for a Year, US Official Says

Air & Space Forces Magazine: 'We Need to Modernize' IT at Air Force Depots, Vice Chief Says

Breaking Defense: FY25 Out-Year Budget Plans Can't Support Space Force Ambitions: Experts

Defense News: Space Acquisitions Chief Wants More Authority to Blacklist Contractors

AP: Faceless people, invisible hands: New Army video aims to lure recruits for psychological operations

Air & Space Forces Magazine: Spectrum Warfare Wing Adds Two New Squadrons to Handle Growing Mission

DefenseScoop: DISA Unveils Strategic Plan for Next Five Years



9 a.m. 1763 N St. NW — Middle East Institute conference: “Managing Regional Escalation Amid the War in Gaza” https://www.mei.edu/events/managing-regional-escalation-amid-war-gaza

9 a.m. — Modern Day Marine 2024 expo with Navy Secretary Navy Carlos Del Toro; Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Eric Smith; and other senior officials https://marinemilitaryexpos.com

9 a.m. — Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies Schriever Spacepower Series virtual discussion with Maj. Gen. Gregory Gagnon, deputy chief of space operations for intelligence https://mitchellaerospacepower.org/event

9:30 a.m. 216 Hart — Senate Armed Services Committee hearing: "Worldwide Threats," with testimony from Avril Haines, director of national intelligence, and Air Force Lt. Gen. Jeffrey Kruse, director, Defense Intelligence Agency https://www.armed-services.senate.gov/hearings

9:30 a.m. — Center for Strategic and International Studies virtual book discussion: Collisions: The Origins of the War in Ukraine and the New Global Instability, with author Michael Kimmage, CSIS nonresident fellow, and Mary Elise Sarotte, professor of historical studies at Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies https://www.csis.org/events/collisions-origins-war-ukraine

10 a.m. — New America virtual discussion: “National Cyber Strategy One Year Out,” with former White House Deputy National Cyber Director Camille Stewart Gloster, co-founder of #ShareTheMicInCyber, and Maggie Miller, Politico cybersecurity reporter https://www.newamerica.org/future-security/events

2 p.m. —  Defense One “Service Branch Spotlight” virtual discussion with Navy Vice Adm. Kelly Aeschbach, commander, Naval Information Forces; Julie Vida, vice president, defense growth, ManTech International Corporation; and Lauren Williams, Defense One https://events.defenseone.com/defense-one-service-branch-spotlight

4 p.m. 1957 E St. NW -— George Washington University Elliott School of International Affairs book discussion: The Russo-Ukrainian War: The Return of History, with author Serhii Plokhy, director of Harvard University’s Ukrainian Research Institute https://calendar.gwu.edu/event/the-russo-ukrainian-war

4:15 p.m. 1789 Massachusetts Ave. NW — American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research discussion: “Stress Test: The Toll of the War in Ukraine on the Kremlin,” with Ukrainian Ambassador to the U.S. Oksana Markarova; Leon Aron, AEI senior fellow; Chris Miller, AEI nonresident senior fellow; Robert Doar, AEI president; and Dalibor Rohac, AEI senior fellow https://www.aei.org/events/stress-test-the-toll-of-the-war-in-ukraine


TBA — 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. 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

"I'm relieved, as I think all of America is, that chaos in the House will be discontinued. And so that's I think a benefit to our country, benefit to the House, benefit to the reputation of Congress. So I'm pleased that apparently we will not have to deal with that the rest of the year."
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) on what appears to be a doomed effort by Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-FL) to oust House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) over his support for aid to Ukraine
Access the Daily on Defense archives here


Popular posts from this blog

FOLLOW THE MONEY - Billionaire tied to Epstein scandal funneled large donations to Ramaswamy & Democrats

Breaking: Left-Wing Black History Children’s Book Distributed by Simon & Schuster Is Heavily Plagiarized

Pence goes full swamp on Donald Trump.