Daily on Defense: White House fesses up about Israeli arms pause, Austin and Brown back on Capitol Hill, Ukraine’s energy grid takes heavy hit, Gaza pier almost ready

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THOUSANDS OF BOMBS ON HOLD: The reports first appeared over the weekend, when Axios quoted Israeli officials as saying that the United States had put on hold a shipment of ammunition to Israel. The Biden administration refused to confirm or deny the report for two days, while members of Congress grew increasingly frustrated.

“You and your administration have repeatedly abandoned Israel. Should you have unilaterally decided to divert aid to our greatest ally in the Middle East, Israel, then you should come forward and defend this decision," Sen. Roger Marshall (R-KS) said in a letter he fired off to President Joe Biden on Monday. “This recent diversion is just another example of your failure to support our allies and carry out your duties in fear of the repercussions from the pro-terrorist, pro-Hamas faction of your party.”

"We are shocked that your administration has reportedly decided to withhold critical ammunition to Israel," wrote Sens. Joni Ernst (R-IA) and Ted Budd (R-NC) in a separate letter Tuesday. "You promised your commitment to Israel was ironclad. Pausing much-needed military support to our closest Middle Eastern ally signals otherwise. We are deeply concerned that your administration failed to notify Congress about this decision."

On Fox News last night, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) called for the White House to come clean. "This is the worst possible signal to send to all the bad guys that America would be withholding weapons and ammunition to the Jewish state who's under siege on multiple fronts," Graham told host Jesse Watters. "That is just inciting more violence. Saudi Arabia, if you're thinking about doing a defense agreement with the Biden administration, you need to think long and hard if, in fact, Biden’s withholding weapons."

"President Biden's decision to pause arms sales to Israel is unconscionable," Rep. Mark Green (R-TN) posted on X.

'A SHOT ACROSS THE BOW': With pressure building for transparency, two senior administration officials spoke to reporters last night, and according to multiple reports — no official transcript was available as of this morning — the U.S. paused a shipment of thousands of 2,000- and 500-pound bombs to Israel last week over concern over Israel's determination to proceed with a military operation against Hamas in a part of Gaza where millions of innocent Palestinians are essentially trapped. 

"Israel should not launch a major ground operation in Rafah, where more than a million people are sheltering with nowhere else to go," the Washington Post quoted one senior administration official. "We are especially focused on the end-use of the 2,000-pound bombs and the impact they could have in dense urban settings as we have seen in other parts of Gaza."

The shipment was supposed to consist of 1,800 2,000-pound bombs and 1,700 500-pound bombs, officials told reporters, noting that the Israeli military has plenty of weapons supplied by the U.S. and other partners to conduct the Rafah operation should it choose to ignore U.S. concerns.

A second U.S. official described the pause as a "shot across the bow." 

WHITE HOUSE: 'WE HAVE NOT SEEN A PLAN': The pause may be largely symbolic at this point, but it does underscore the growing rift between Biden and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. In his Holocaust Days of Remembrance ceremony speech, Biden alluded to the tension in the relationship between the two close allies, even as he pledged never to abandon Israel.

"And my commitment to the safety of the Jewish people, the security of Israel, and its right to exist as an independent Jewish state is ironclad, even when we disagree," Biden said.  

"We’ve repeatedly and consistently expressed those views about a major operation in Rafah in densely populated areas that would give higher risk to civilians and civilian casualties. President Biden made that very clear yesterday when he spoke to Prime Minister Netanyahu," John Kirby, spokesman for the National Security Council, said at the White House on Tuesday. "A major ground operation that would again put at risk more than a million people … all of the innocent civilians that were pushed down to Rafah because of operations further north, they all need to be factored in before we would be comfortable with some sort of major ground operation."

"We have not seen a plan to do that," he added.


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


HAPPENING TODAY: Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Charles Q. Brown Jr. testify at 10 a.m. on the Pentagon's fiscal 2025 budget request before the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense.

You can watch it on the committee's website or the Pentagon's live events webpage.

ALSO TODAY: Later this afternoon, Air Force officials testify on modernization plans before the Senate Armed Services Airland Subcommittee, and various Pentagon and military officials testify before the Senate Armed Services Strategic Forces Subcommittee on missile defense.

See the calendar below for details of who is testifying and when.

RUSSIA CONDUCTS 'MASSIVE' ATTACK AIMED AT ENERGY GRID: On a day when Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky recorded an address marking the "Day of Remembrance and Victory over Nazism in World War II," Russia unleashed a volley of more than 70 missiles and drones in its concerted campaign to destroy Ukraine's ability to generate and distribute electricity.

"Over 50 missiles and more than 20 'Shahed' drones targeted infrastructure in Lviv, Vinnytsia, Kyiv, Poltava, Kirovohrad, Zaporizhzhia, and Ivano-Frankivsk regions," Zelensky said in a post on X. "All necessary services are already working to mitigate the consequences of Russian terror."

With Ukrainian air defense depleted in recent months, Russia has been far more effective than it was last winter in destroying Ukraine's energy infrastructure. The strategy is twofold: inflict maximum suffering on the Ukrainian population and, with wave after wave of drones, force Ukraine to expend its air defense interceptors. 

The overnight attack was the fifth in the last six weeks, and DTEK, Ukraine's biggest private energy supplier, said its facilities have been hit nearly 180 times, injuring 51 workers and killing three, according to the Associated Press.

The Ukrainian General Staff claimed on its Facebook page that of the 76 missiles and drones launched by Russia, 59 were shot down by Ukrainian air defenses. "As a result of the Russian terrorist attacks, unfortunately, there are wounded among the civilian population. Destruction and damage have suffered residential buildings, objects of civil and energy infrastructure," the General Staff said.


FLOATING PIER COMPLETED: The Pentagon said the assembly of the floating pier being constructed by the U.S. Army to augment humanitarian relief efforts in Gaza has been completed but that the temporary facility has not been moved into place offshore because of high seas.

"As of today, the U.S. military has completed the offshore construction of the Trident Pier section, or the causeway, which is the component that will eventually be anchored to the Gaza Shore, and as I mentioned last week, construction of the floating pier section has also been completed," deputy Pentagon press secretary Sabrina Singh told reporters at yesterday's regular briefing. "So as of today, the construction of the two portions of the JLOTS [Joint Logistics Over-the-Shore], the floating pier and the Trident pier, are complete and awaiting final movement offshore."

Once the pier is in place, the plan is for the MV Sagamore, a commercial cargo ship registered in the U.S., to move humanitarian aid from Cyprus to the offshore pier, where it will be loaded into trucks that will be transported to shore by Army-owned landing craft utility ships.

Initially about 90 truckloads of supplies will transit the causeway each day, with as many as 150 trucks making deliveries each day when the operation reaches full capacity.

“I think what you’re going to see at the very beginning is a ‘crawl, walk, run’ scenario,” Singh said. “We’re going to start with an additional small amount of aid trucks to flow in to make sure that the system works, that the distribution works, and then you’ll see that increase … when we get to full operational capacity.”



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Washington Examiner: Opinion: What Xi Jinping and Emmanuel Macron want from each other

Washington Examiner: Editorial: Biden abandons Israel

AP: US paused bomb shipment to Israel to signal concerns over Rafah invasion, official says

AP: Has Israel followed the law in its war in Gaza? The US is due to render a first-of-its-kind verdict

New York Times: After 2 Days In France, Xi Heads East To Visit 2 Authoritarian Allies

Defense News: One Defense Strategy, Two Drastically Different Budgets

AP: US and Philippine forces sink a ship during large scale drills in the disputed South China Sea

Defense News: How DC Became Obsessed With A Potential 2027 Chinese Invasion Of Taiwan

Washington Post: Ukraine Accuses Two Colonels In Protective Service Of Plot To Kill Zelensky

Bloomberg: Kyiv Says Russian Operatives Are Dominating Tiktok In Ukraine

Business Insider: A U.S. Navy Aircraft Carrier Is Rearmed And Back In The Red Sea Amid A Houthi Missile Crisis With No End In Sight

Air & Space Forces Magazine: B-52s Join in Philippines Exercise, Then Head to Guam for Bomber Task Force

Air & Space Forces Magazine: Air Force Needs $10 Billion to Repair Guam After 2023 Typhoon 

The War Zone: B-2 Spirits Could Get New 5,000-Pound Bunker Busters

Defense News: Pentagon Innovation Chief Calls for Bigger, Faster Replicator 2.0

DefenseScoop: Microsoft Deploys GPT-4 Large Language Model for Pentagon Use in Top Secret Cloud

Defense One: There's 'Still More Work to Be Done' for DOD on AI

Air & Space Forces Magazine: Brown: Doctrine Changes Helped USAF Respond to Iran's Strikes on Israel

Breaking Defense: SOCOM Chief Sees 'Renaissance' for Special Forces amid Great Power Competition, Evolving Warfare

SpaceNews: US Space Force Taps Commercial Satellites to Fill Demand for Global Insights

Air & Space Forces Magazine: Allvin: Air Force 'Already Drawing the Concepts Up' for Second Batch of CCA Designs

Military.com: Special Operations Airman Shot and Killed by Florida Police During Disturbance in Apartment Building 

Marine Corps Times: Marine Corps Tightens Rules On Personal Cellphone Use In Training

The Cipher Brief: Will American ATACMS Help Ukraine Win the War?

The Cipher Brief: Opinion: In Washington, Fears of Russian Nukes in Space

The Cipher Brief: Opinion: AI-Fueled Drones are Changing the Battlespace



8:15 a.m. 801 Mt. Vernon Pl. NW — Special Competitive Studies Project AI Expo and Ash Carter Exchange, with Chief of the U.K. Defense Staff Tony Radakin; Deputy Secretary of State Kurt Campbell; Gen. Timothy Haugh, commander of the U.S. Cyber Command and director of the National Security Agency; Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall; Lt. Gen. Karsten Heckl, deputy Marine Corps commandant for combat development and integration; Arati Prabhakar, director, White House Office of Science and Technology Policy; Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT), chairman, Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee; Rep. Jason Crow (D-CO); Rep. Tony Gonzales (R-TX); Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-MI); Ukrainian Ambassador to the U.S. Oksana Markarova; Sen. Mike Rounds (R-SD); Sen. Todd Young (R-IN); Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-NM); Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA), chairman Senate Intelligence Committee; and former Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-WI) https://expo.scsp.ai/

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. https://www.appropriations.senate.gov/hearings

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," with testimony from John Hill, deputy assistant secretary of defense for space and missile defense; Air Force Gen. Gregory Guillot, commander of the U.S. Northern and North American Aerospace Defense Commands; Air Force Lt. Gen. Heath Collins, director of the Missile Defense Agency; and Army Lt. Gen. Sean Gainey, commanding general of the U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command 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

"Eighty years ago, millions of Ukrainians fought to defeat Nazism forever. But today, Ukrainians are once again standing up to evil, which reemerged, returned, and wants to destroy us again. … And like in 1945, this can only be ensured by a united free world, the world united in anti-Putin coalition, the world that can stop Moscow Nazis through actions, not words, and prevent the new evil from spreading to the entire European continent and, subsequently, to the entire world."
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, in a speech marking the "Day of Remembrance and Victory over Nazism in World War II"
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