Daily on Defense: China fears NATO-style alliance, Ukraine strikes into Russia, Zelensky says US delays cost lives, Trump vows to fire ‘woke’ US generals

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AUSTIN: 'A NEW CONVERGENCE': The theme of Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin's address to a gathering of top security officials Saturday was that America and its various Indo-Pacific allies are finding new ways to work together to counterbalance China's growing military might.

"We are witnessing a new convergence around nearly all aspects of security in the Indo-Pacific," Austin said at the Shangri-La Dialogue, an annual defense forum in Singapore. "This new convergence is producing a stronger, more resilient, and more capable network of partnerships. And that is defining a new era of security in the Indo-Pacific."

"This new convergence is not a single alliance or coalition but instead something unique to the Indo-Pacific — a set of overlapping and complementary initiatives and institutions, propelled by a shared vision and a shared sense of mutual obligation," Austin said. "It isn’t about imposing one country’s will. It’s about summoning our sense of common purpose. It isn’t about bullying or coercion. It’s about the free choices of sovereign states."

Austin cited a number of new defense partnerships that are "breaking down national barriers and better integrating our defense industries," including the new AUKUS partnership with Australia and the United Kingdom, aimed at helping Australia build a new fleet of nuclear-powered submarines while injecting more funding into America's submarine base.

"With Japan, we’re developing a Glide Phase Interceptor to counter hypersonic threats. With India, we’ve made historic progress on co-producing fighter jet engines and armored vehicles," Austin said. "Across Southeast Asia, we’re using new technology and training to uphold freedom of navigation in the South China Sea."


DONG: 'MALIGN INTENTIONS' RISK WAR: Austin's remarks came one day after he met Chinese Defense Minister Dong Jun, the first since U.S.-China relations went into a tailspin after the 2022 visit of then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) to Taiwan.

"We had a frank discussion. And that’s important," Austin said. "There’s no substitute for open lines of communication to avoid misunderstanding and miscalculations. As I’ve always said, dialogue is not a reward. It’s a necessity."

While the Chinese account of Dong's speech to the forum said he "stressed that China values peace and harmony," his remarks also had a sharp edge to them, with a warning to a "certain country" that should "see where its true interests lie and return to the right track of dialogue and consultation." 

America's "malign intentions are drawing Taiwan to the dangers of war," Dong said in his remarks. "Anyone who dares split Taiwan from China will be smashed to pieces and court their own destruction."

During the question-and-answer period following Austin's speech, a Chinese military officer posed the question that reflected Beijing's top concern: "Is the United States planning to build a NATO-like alliance system in the Asia-Pacific region?" 

"The east border expansion of NATO has led to the Ukraine crisis," said Senior Col. Cao Yanzhong, a researcher at China’s Institute of War Studies. "What implications do you think the strengthening of the U.S. alliance system in the Asia-Pacific will have on this region’s security and stability? 

"I respectfully disagree with your point that the expansion of NATO caused the Ukraine crisis. The Ukraine crisis obviously was caused because Mr. Putin made a decision to unlawfully invade his neighbor who had an inferior military at that point in time," Austin replied. "As to whether or not we’re trying to create a NATO in the Indo-Pacific, I would tell you that what we’re doing is what I said earlier. Like-minded countries with similar values and a common vision of a free and open Indo-Pacific are working together to achieve that vision."

Austin's remarks were dismissed as "rhetoric” that “sounds good" but is "doomed to fail" by Lt. Gen. Jing Jianfeng, deputy chief of China's Joint Staff. “The real purpose is to merge the small circle into the large circle of the Asia-Pacific version of NATO so as to maintain the hegemony led by the U.S."


MARCOS: DEATH OF FILIPINO SAILOR WOULD BE 'ACT OF WAR': In his remarks Friday night, Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. warned that the confrontations in the South China Sea over who owns the Second Thomas Shoal could escalate into a shooting war if China's actions result in the death of a Filipino sailor. 

"It would be "very, very close to what we define as an act of war, and therefore, we will respond accordingly," Marcos said, noting that the Philippines has the Mutual Defense Treaty with the United States that could pull America into the war. 

"Every country, large or small, has the right to enjoy its own maritime resources and to freely sail and operate wherever international law allows. The harassment that the Philippines has faced is dangerous — pure and simple," Austin said. But when questioned by a CNN reporter, Ivan Watson, whether the U.S. government would interpret a death at sea as an act of war that would invoke the mutual defense treaty, Austin would not say.

"Our commitment to the Mutual Defense Treaty is ironclad. No questions, no exceptions. Ironclad," Austin replied. "I won’t speculate on any hypothetical situation. What I would say, though, is that what we are doing and what we continue to try to do is to make sure that that doesn’t happen."

"You’ve also heard me say a number of times that, you know, war or a fight with China is neither imminent, in my view, or unavoidable," he said. 


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: UKRAINE STRIKING RUSSIA: The Ukrainian military appears to be taking advantage of its new authority to use U.S. weapons to strike targets across the border in Russia's Belgorod Oblast. Unverified posts on social media indicate that Russian logistics nodes have been hit by what appears to be short-range rockets fired from U.S. HIMARS launchers.

But the Institute for the Study of War said the "lack of clarity" about precisely what Ukraine is allowed to target with U.S. weapons "misses an opportunity to deter further Russian offensive efforts across the border into northern Ukraine."

"This US ambiguity misses an opportunity to deter Russian preparations for offensive operations elsewhere across the border into northern Ukraine," the ISW said in a weekend update. "The Kremlin may decide to launch offensive operations in different Ukrainian border oblasts outside of Kharkiv Oblast if it believes it can continue to mass forces across the border without risk of Ukrainian strikes."

Meanwhile, at a news conference in Prague on Friday, Secretary of State Antony Blinken appeared to crack the door open to a future adjustment in the U.S.-imposed rules of engagement to allow Ukraine to strike other areas deeper into Russia.

"The hallmark of our engagement, our support for Ukraine over these more than two years, has been to adapt and adjust as necessary to meet what's actually going on on the battlefield, to make sure that Ukraine has what it needs when it needs it, to do that deliberately and effectively," Blinken said. "Going forward, we'll continue to do what we've been doing, which is, as necessary, adapt and adjust."


ZELENSKY: US DELAY COST LIVES: As his frustration grows, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is becoming more direct in his criticism of the time it takes the Biden administration to make decisions while underequipped Ukrainian troops die on the battlefield.

The United States needs to "believe in us more," Zelensky said in his latest wide-ranging interview with the Guardian last week. "You say time is money. For us, time is our life."

Zelensky said U.S. weapons are still not arriving in sufficient quantities to equip additional Ukrainian brigades in the northeast where Russia is advancing. "I think sometimes [the Russians] are just laughing at this situation," he said. "It's like going hunting for them. Hunting for people. They understand that we can see them, but we cannot reach them."

"Sometimes, to understand the price that we are paying, you don't need just a political will but also a deeper understanding of the consequences," he said. "You have to understand that a day of contemplating, day of decision-making, day of dialogues … takes people's lives."

TRUMP: 'I WOULD FIRE THEM. YOU CAN’T HAVE WOKE MILITARY':  In a 90-minute interview with Fox News that will air in its entirety at 12 p.m. on YouTube, former President Donald Trump said that if elected, he plans to purge the Pentagon of senior officers he considers too woke.

"You can’t have woke military," Trump told Fox News host Rachel Campos-Duffy during his appearance on The Will Cain Show. "You know, you need people that want to win. They want to win wars. That’s what their purpose is, to win wars, not to be woke."

Trump singled out former Joint Chiefs Chairman Mark Milley as the kind of "woke" general he'd sack. "I used to watch Milley sit there in Congress and talk about, you know, he’s trying to understand this and that mind," Trump said. "I won’t get into it, but certain minds. I’d say, is this guy crazy?"

"Are you going to fire those generals? The woke generals at the top?" Campos-Duffy asked.

"Yes, I would get rid of them," Trump replied, again referring to Milley. "See, now I know him. ​​I didn’t know him before. But, you know, I came in. What do I know? I was a New York real estate person. But now, I’d fire. I would fire them."



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8:30 a.m. 7500 GEOINT Dr., Springfield, Virginia — Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association 2024 Army Intelligence and Security Enterprise Industry Day "Transformation in Contact: Modernizing Intelligence for a Globally Engaged Army,” with Lt. Gen. Anthony Hale, deputy chief of staff for intelligence, G-2, at the Army, and Gen. James Rainey, commanding general, Army Futures Command https://www.afcea.org/events/afcea-2024

8:45 a.m. House Triangle, U.S. Capitol — House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic Democrats hold a news conference: "Findings from the 15-month Republican-led probe of Dr. Anthony Fauci and the COVID-19 pandemic’s origins,” with Rep. Raul Ruiz (D-CA), Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD), Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-MI); and Rep. Deborah Ross (D-NC)

9 a.m. 1000 H St. NW, — U.S. Global Leadership Coalition Global Impact Forum, with Jake Sullivan, White House national security adviser; Air Force Gen. Charles Q. Brown, Jr., chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff; retired Army Lt. Gen. Douglas Lute, former U.S. ambassador to NATO; Maj. Gen. Kenneth Ekman, director, strategy, engagement, and programs, U.S. Africa Command; and others https://forum.usglc.org/2024

9 a.m 1300 Pennsylvania Ave. NW — Wilson Center Kissinger Institute on China and the U.S. "2024 China Fellowship Conference,” with discussions on “Chinese Nationalism, Propaganda, and Its Influence Overseas, Chinese Policymaking: Change Versus Continuity, Global Chinese Economy in an Age of Climate Change and Disruption, and Great Power Competition and Its Impacts Internationally and Domestically" https://www.wilsoncenter.org/event/wilson-china-fellowship

9 a.m. 555 13th St. NW — American Bar Association "2024 Space Law Symposium,” with Karl Kensinger, special counsel at the Federal Communications Commission Space Bureau; Nese Guendelsberger, deputy director, FCC Office of International Affairs; and Matthew King, chief, Pentagon's Space Law Division https://events.americanbar.org/event

10 a.m. 1201 Pennsylvania Ave. NW — Hudson Institute discussion: “Supreme Allied Commanders on the Past, Present, and Future of NATO,” with retired Army Gen. Wesley Clark; retired Marine Gen. James Jones; retired Air Force Gen. Philip Breedlove; retired Army Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti; retired Air Force Gen. Tod Wolters; and Andrea Kendall-Taylor, director, Center for a New American Security’s Transatlantic Security Program https://www.hudson.org/events/supreme-allied-commanders

10 a.m. 2154 Rayburn — House Oversight and Accountability Select Coronavirus Pandemic Subcommittee hearing on “A Hearing with Dr. Anthony Fauci," with Anthony Fauci, former director, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases http://oversight.house.gov

10 a.m. 701 Pennsylvania Ave. NW — U.S. Navy Memorial wreath-laying ceremony in honor of the 82nd anniversary, Battle of Midway. Livestream: https://navymemorial.swoogo.com/MidwayWreathLaying

10:45 a.m. HVC-201, U.S. Capitol — House select committee on the Chinese Communist Party bipartisan news conference on “Tiananmen at 35: The Ongoing Struggle for Human Rights and Democracy in China,” to commemorate the anniversary of the 1989 Tiananmen Square uprising https://selectcommitteeontheccp.house.gov/committee-activity/live

12 p.m. — Center for American Progress virtual discussion: “U.S. Policy for Israeli-Palestinian Security and Peace,” with Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) https://www.americanprogress.org/events/sen-chris-van-hollen

2 p.m. 1616 Rhode Island Ave. NW — Center for Strategic and International Studies Strategic Landpower Dialogue: "A Conversation with Gen. James Rainey, commanding general, U.S. Army Futures Command," with Robert Brown, president, Association of the U.S. Army, and former commanding general, U.S. Army Pacific, and Tom Karako, senior fellow, CSIS International Security Program and director, CSIS Missile Defense Project https://www.csis.org/events/strategic-landpower-dialogue


8:30 a.m. H-140 Capitol — House Appropriations subcommittee markup of fiscal 2025 homeland security bill https://appropriations.house.gov/events/markups/subcommittee

12 p.m. — Foundation for Defense of Democracies China Program virtual discussion: "Flashpoints and High Stakes: America's Blueprint to Counter China," with Dmitri Alperovitch, author of World on the Brink; Ivan Kanapathy, senior vice president of Beacon Global Strategies; retired Rear Adm. Mark Montgomery, senior director, FDD Center on Cyber and Technology Innovation; Craig Singleton, director, FDD China Program; and moderated by Ellen Nakashima, Washington Post national security reporter https://www.fdd.org/events/2024/06/04/flashpoints-and-high-stakes

10 a.m. H-140 Capitol — House Appropriations State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Subcommittee markup, fiscal 2025 state, foreign operations, and related programs bill. https://appropriations.house.gov/events/markups

1 p.m — Atlantic Council virtual discussion: “The Economic Front in Ukraine,” with Brent Neiman, assistant treasury secretary for international finance https://www.atlanticcouncil.org/event/assistant-secretary-brent-neiman

2 p.m. — House Homeland Security Transportation and Maritime Security Subcommittee hearing on “Combatting the Grey Zone: Examining Chinese Threats to the Maritime Domain,” with testimony from Isaac Kardon, senior fellow for China studies at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace; Brent Sadler, senior research fellow for naval warfare and advanced technology at the Heritage Foundation’s Allison Center for National Security; and Eric “Coop” Cooper, senior policy researcher at the Rand Corporation http://homeland.house.gov

2 p.m. 1300 Pennsylvania Ave. NW — Wilson Center Kennan Institute for Advanced Russian Studies book discussion: Collisions: The War in Ukraine and the Origins, New Global Instability, with author Michael Kimmage, professor of history at Catholic University of America https://www.wilsoncenter.org/event/collisions-war

4 p.m. 1763 N St. NW — Middle East Institute book discussion: The Melting Point: High Command and War in the 21st Century, with author retired Marine Gen. Frank McKenzie, former commander of U.S. Central Command https://www.mei.edu/events/book-launch-event-melting-point


8 a.m. H-140 Capitol — House Appropriations Committee Defense Subcommittee markup, fiscal 2025 defense bill https://appropriations.house.gov/events/markups

11 a.m. 1201 Pennsylvania Ave. NW — Hudson Institute discussion: “The Crisis in Georgia and Its Implications for the Black Sea Region,” with former member of Georgian Parliament Nona Mamulashvili, co-founder of Gamziri; Laura Thornton, senior vice president of democracy at the German Marshall Fund; Miriam Lanskoy, senior director for Russia and Eurasia at the National Endowment for Democracy; and Catherine Sendak, director of trans-Atlantic defense and security at the Center for European Policy Analysis https://www.hudson.org/events/crisis-georgia-its-implications

12 p.m. 1030 15th St. NW — Atlantic Council discussion: “What is to be Done? The Impact of War on Putin’s Russia,” with Galina Timchenko, founder and CEO of Meduza, and Mikhail Zygar, nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council’s Eurasia Center https://www.atlanticcouncil.org/event/what-is-to-be-done

12:30 p.m. — Center for American Progress virtual discussion: “The Forgotten War: Sudan in Crisis,” with Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ), Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA); State Department Special Envoy for Sudan Tom Perriello; and Haitham Elnour, human rights activist https://www.americanprogress.org/events/the-forgotten-war-sudan-in-crisis


5 a.m. 1750 Independence Ave. SW — Friends of the National World War II Memorial D-Day 80th anniversary ceremony with a reading of the names of the nearly 9,000 laid to rest at Normandy American Cemetery, with Elliott Roosevelt III, great-grandson of Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt; Jeff Reinbold, superintendent, National Mall and Memorial Parks; Jane Droppa, chairwoman, Friends of the National World War II Memorial; Alex Kershaw, resident historian at the Friends of the National World War II Memorial; and DeRonda Elliott, daughter of Corp. Frank Elliott, killed-in action D-Day. https://www.facebook.com/WWIIMemorialFriends

9 a.m. — Center for a New American Security virtual National Security Conference with Jon Finer, White House deputy national security adviser; Daleep Singh, deputy national security adviser for international economics; Japanese Ambassador to the U.S. Shigeo Yamada; Philippine Ambassador to the U.S. Jose Manuel Romualdez; Ellen Lord, former undersecretary of defense for acquisition and sustainment; and former Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-TX) https://conference.cnas.org/register/

9 a.m. 1030 15th St. NW — Atlantic Council discussion: “An allied approach to de-risking the tech supply chain,” with Tarun Chhabra, senior director for technology and national security at the National Security Council, and Kristy Hsu, director, Taiwan Chung-Hua Institution for Economic Research’s Taiwan-ASEAN Studies Center https://www.atlanticcouncil.org/event/an-allied-approach-to-de-risking

10 a.m. 1201 Pennsylvania Ave. NW — Hudson Institute discussion: “Strategic Corruption, State Capture, and Sanctions Enforcement in Europe,” focusing on Ukraine, with Ruslan Stefanov, chief economist and program director at the Center for the Study of Democracy; Martin Vladimirov, director, Center for the Study of Democracy’s Energy and Climate Program; Dragan Koprivica, executive director, Montenegro Center for Democratic Transition; and Ognian Shentov, chairman, Center for the Study of Democracy https://www.hudson.org/events/strategic-corruption

10 a.m. 1616 Rhode Island Ave. NW — Center for Strategic and International Studies discussion: “The Missile Defense Agency and the 2025 Budget,” with Air Force Lt. Gen. Heath Collins, Missile Defense Agency director https://www.csis.org/events/mda-and-2025-budget

12 p.m. — Washington Post Live virtual discussion: "The global cyberthreat landscape in 2024, Securing Cyberspace," with Nathaniel Fick, U.S. ambassador at large for cyberspace and digital policy; Kemba Walden, president, Paladin Global Institute and former White House acting national cyber director; and retired Army Gen. Paul Nakasone, founding director, Institute for National Defense and Global Security, Vanderbilt University https://www.washingtonpost.com/washington-post-live

12 p.m. — Association, U.S. Army "Noon Report" webinar with retired Lt. Col. James Lechner, author, With My Shield: An Army Ranger in Somalia https://www.ausa.org/events/noon-report/lechner

2 p.m. — Government Executive Media Group and Booz Allen Hamilton virtual discussion: "Disrupting the Battlespace: Developing Ecosystems to Enable Dual-use Defense Technologies for the DOD" https://events.govexec.com/disrupting-the-battlespace

3 p.m. 1789 Massachusetts Ave. NW — American Enterprise Institute discussion: “Europe Goes to the Polls,” with Michael Curtis, European Union deputy ambassador to the U.S.; Matthias Matthijs, associate professor of international political economy at the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies; Peter Rough, director, Hudson Institute’s Center on Europe and Eurasia; Constanze Stelzenmuller, director, Brookings Institution Center on the U.S. and Europe; and Stan Veuger, AEI senior fellow https://www.aei.org/events/europe-goes-to-the-polls


9 a.m. 14th and F Sts. NW — Arms Control Association 2024 annual meeting, with the theme “Moving Back from the Nuclear Brink,” with Rep. John Garamendi (D-CA) and Pranay Vaddi, senior director for arms control, disarmament, and nonproliferation at the National Security Council https://www.armscontrol.org/2024AnnualMeeting

11 a.m. — Center for Strategic and International Studies virtual discussion: “Centering Human Rights in Ukraine’s Reconstruction,” with Melinda Haring, senior fellow at the Atlantic Council’s Eurasia Center, and Bill Van Esveld, associate director for the Middle East and North Africa at the Human Rights Watch Children’s Rights Division https://www.csis.org/events/centering-human-rights-ukraines-reconstruction

11 a.m. — Washington Post Live virtual discussion: "NATO's top military officer on Ukraine war, European security, and world order," with Royal Netherlands Navy Adm. Rob Bauer, chairman, NATO Military Committee, and Washington Post columnist David Ignatius https://www.washingtonpost.com/washington-post-live

11:30 a.m. 1201 Pennsylvania Ave. NW — Hudson Institute discussion: “NATO in the New Era of Collective Defense,” with Royal Netherlands Navy Adm. Rob Bauer, chairman, NATO Military Committee https://www.hudson.org/events/nato-era-collective-defense-rob-bauer

3 p.m. 1775 Massachusetts Ave. NW — Brookings Institution discussion: “Taiwan’s Central Role in the Global Economy,” with James Goodrich, Rand Corporation senior adviser for technology analysis; Janka Oertel, director, European Council on Foreign Relations Asia Program; and Shelley Rigger, professor of Asian politics at Davidson College https://www.brookings.edu/events/taiwans-central-role

"I would fire them. You can't have woke military. You said it's so great. You know, you need people that want to win. They want to win wars. That's what their purpose is, to win wars, not to be woke."
Former President Donald Trump, in an interview on Fox News, vowing, if reelected, to purge the Pentagon of generals he considers too "woke"
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