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NUCLEAR BEATS DIESEL: While France is fuming that the U.S. and U.K. effectively scuttled a $66 billion deal for Australia to buy 12 French diesel-powered submarines by offering highly sensitive nuclear submarine technology, the Australians say the Americans and Brits simply offered a superior product.
“The clear advice to us from chief of navy and the chief of the defense force has been that a conventional diesel submarine was not going to provide us with the capability into the 2030s, the second half of the 2030s, 2040s, and beyond, and that we needed a nuclear-powered submarine,” said Australian Defense Minister Peter Dutton at a State Department press conference.
“The French have a version which was not superior to that operated by the United States and the United Kingdom,” Dutton said. “And in the end, the decision that we have made is based on what is in the best interests of our national security and the prevailing security and peace within the Indo-Pacific.”
‘A STAB IN THE BACK’: In a radio interview, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian called the deal “unacceptable” and “incomprehensible,” and he said the “unilateral, sudden, and unforeseeable decision” was along the lines of something former President Donald Trump would do.
"It's really a stab in the back. We had established a relationship of trust with Australia, this trust has been betrayed," Le Drian told France Info radio. "I'm very angry today, and bitter ... this is not something allies do to each other.”
In protest, the French Embassy in Washington canceled a gala planned for tonight commemorating the long history of diplomatic ties between France and the U.S. and, in particular, the French navy’s role in America’s Revolutionary War.
NOTHING PERSONAL: The submarine deal was the centerpiece of a new expanded defense alliance with Australia called “AUKUS” for Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States, and Secretary of State Antony Blinken attempted to smooth things over by insisting that France and other European countries will be a vital part of the effort to maintain freedom of navigation in China’s backyard.
“And we want to find every opportunity now to deepen transatlantic cooperation in the Indo-Pacific and around the world. We’ve been in touch with French counterparts in the last 24-48 hours to discuss AUKUS, including before the announcement,” Blinken said. “I want to emphasize again, we cooperate incredibly closely with France on many shared priorities in the Indo-Pacific but also beyond, around the world. We’re going to continue to do so. We place fundamental value on that relationship, on their partnership, and we will carry it forward in the days ahead.”
MORE TROOPS, SHIPS, PLANES TO AUSTRALIA: Under the new trilateral alliance, the U.S. will be increasing its deployments of troops and aircraft, said Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin. “We will continue to explore ... greater and more frequent engagement with our air capabilities, more training opportunities for our ground forces, and increasing our logistical footprint in Australia.”
“I do have an aspiration to make sure that we can increase the numbers of troops through the rotations,” Dutton said. “The air capability will be enhanced, our maritime capability enhanced, and certainly the force posture enhanced.”
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 Victor I. Nava. 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 us on Twitter: @dailyondefense.
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HAPPENING TODAY: Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Air Force Gen. John Hyten, vice chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff, provide remarks at a POW/MIA Recognition Day ceremony in the Pentagon Hall of Heroes. The 10 a.m. event will be livestreamed at https://www.defense.gov/Watch/Live-Events/
AUSTIN PUNTS ON MILLEY: Asked about calls by Republicans for Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Mark Milley to be fired over revelations in the new book, Peril, by Bob Woodward and Robert Costa, Austin said, “I have confidence in General Milley,” but declined to comment on the specific accounts in the book, including a “secret” phone call Milley made to his Chinese counterpart Gen. Li Zuocheng last October.
According to the book, which comes out next week, Milley told Li, “You and I have known each other for now five years. If we’re going to attack, I’m going to call you ahead of time. It’s not going to be a surprise.”
“Much of what’s in — all of what’s in that book happened before I became secretary of defense,” said Austin. “So I can’t comment on that as well, and certainly I won’t comment on what’s in the book.”
Austin noted that he (and Milley) are scheduled to testify before the Senate and House Armed Services Committees Sept. 28 and 29th.
‘NOT GOING ROGUE’: According to a report by Josh Rogin in the Washington Post, Milley’s calls to the Chinese general were not entirely his idea.
“Then-Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper made the decision in mid-October 2020 to send a reassuring message to the Chinese military because of intelligence that China’s leadership was concerned about increased U.S. military activity in the South China Sea,” Rogin writes.
“Milley was absolutely not going rogue,” a senior Trump Pentagon official told Rogin. “Esper took the initiative on this in October. Esper asked his own policy folks to backchannel the message. Milley’s message followed Esper’s.”
NEW DETAILS OF KABUL ATTACK: A report Wednesday night by CBS Pentagon Correspondent David Martin provided new details about what went wrong at the Kabul airport Aug. 26 when 13 U.S. troops were killed by a suicide bomber wearing an explosive vest.
Martin spoke to a Marine wounded in the attack, who was a mere 15 feet away from the blast, but who survived because he was standing behind a truck with a loudspeaker trying to disperse the crowd.
“The Marines were warned an attack was coming and had a physical description of the suspected bomber, but in the crush of humanity outside the airport, they were unable to spot him,” Martin reported.
“The day of the attack we, we had gotten probably the most direct indications of, of a threat at the Abbey Gate and an individual to look out for, so we made sure that that information was passed to our Marine snipers and the Marines on location,” Marine Maj. Ben Sutphen told Martin.
“How difficult would it be to pick out one person who you, who you have the description of,” Martin asked.
“I would say next to impossible in, in crowds of thousands, tightly packed, shoulder to shoulder chest to chest. I mean, this was a very dense crowd,” Sutphen replied.
US RUSSIA CONFRONTATIONS UP: A new report from Global Zero, an international group that lobbies for the elimination of nuclear weapons, charts a pattern of escalating military encounters between the United States, NATO, and Russia over a five-year period.
“Over the course of 2014-2019, Global Zero cataloged 937 events — 871 ‘military incidents’ (air incidents, sea incidents, military exercises, and tests) and 66 ‘background events’ (defense news and military deployments),” the report says. “Overall, 70% of all military incidents tracked were air incidents, and the vast majority were intercepts of military aircraft.”
“In 2014-2015, there was a substantial increase in the number of incidents, likely attributable to the war in Ukraine precipitating increasing tensions between Russia and the U.S.,” the report says, while noting “the Baltic Sea region remained the primary site of confrontation with approximately 44% of all tracked military incidents occurring in this region.”
“With communication channels limited and both countries’ militaries frequently coming into close contact in the field, even a small misstep could lead to rapid military escalation and even the use of nuclear weapons at almost any time,” said the report’s author Emma Claire Foley, a Global Zero research associate. “ These risks are compounded by a lack of trust. Precautions need to be taken to prevent miscalculation and dangerous crises.”
INDUSTRY WATCH: The State Department has approved the sale of $500 million worth of “maintenance support services” and related equipment to Saudi Arabia to keep its helicopter fleet flying.
The MSS contract supports the Royal Saudi Land Forces Aviation Command’s fleet of AH-64D/E, UH-60L, UH-60M, Schweizer 333, and Bell 406CS helicopters, as well as the future fleet of CH-47F Chinook helicopters.
Washington Examiner: 'Peace in our region': US strikes deal to expand military presence in Australia
Washington Examiner: 'Indissoluble bonds': Nuclear submarine deal fortifies U.S.-Australia security ties against economic pressure from China
Washington Examiner: France cancels DC gala in protest of nuclear submarine deal
Washington Examiner: COVID-19 exposure forces Putin to bow out of diplomatic conference
Washington Examiner: A conversation with retired Gen. Gene Renuart
Military Times: Military COVID-19 Deaths Continue To Spike But No Fatalities Among Fully Vaccinated
Stars and Stripes: Rand Report Suggests Using Technology To Track Social Media Trends To Fight Extremism In The Military
Wall Street Journal: China Moves To Counter U.S. Alliance
Al Jazeera: Taiwan Eyes $8.7bn More For Arms As It Warns Of ‘Severe Threats’
CNN: Satellite images reveal North Korea expanding facility used to produce weapons-grade uranium
Washington Post: In ‘decisive blow,’ French strike kills West Africa Islamic State leader behind deaths of 4 U.S. soldiers
Reuters: Ukraine, U.S. To Hold Joint Military Drills
Air Force Magazine: B-2 Crashes at Whiteman; No Injuries, But Status of Operations Withheld
Air Force Magazine: Kendall, Air Force, Space Force Leaders Discuss Gender and Racial Disparity Review
19fortyfive.com: 6th Generation Stealth Fighter: Joint Effort by UK, Japan, Italy, and Sweden?
Defense News: To Get F-35 Performance-Based Logistics Contract, Lockheed Will Have To Give Up Tech Data
19fortyfive.com: Boeing's F-32 Stealth Fighter vs. F-35 Joint Strike Fighter: Who Wins?
Navy Times: Finishing Max’s Mission — Parents Of Corpsman Killed In Kabul Offered Home For Afghan Child
Wall Street Journal: Afghan Refugees on U.S. Military Bases Wait to Begin Their New Lives in America
Breaking Defense: Biden Taps Sherman For Pentagon CIO, Guertin For OT&E
The Hill: Oversight Republicans Seek Testimony From Afghanistan Watchdog
Defense One: The Marines Are Looking for a Few Older People
San Diego Union-Tribune: Navy Begins Deep-Sea Sonar Scans To Find Helicopter Wreckage, Crew Remains
New York Times: For Some, Afghanistan Outcome Affirms a Warning: Beware the Blob
Washington Post: Former ISIS teenage bride who left Britain to join militant group in Syria tells the public: ‘I’m sorry’
Washington Examiner: Book review: How to stop worrying and prevent Chinese hegemony
Washington Examiner: Opinion: US should warn China: Target the Australian mainland, we'll target yours
19fortyfive.com: Opinion: Why Nuclear Submarines For Australia Make Perfect Sense
19fortyfive.com: Opinion: Robert E. Lee's Legacy Proves Why He Deserves No Statues
FRIDAY | SEPTEMBER 17
12 p.m. — Hudson Institute virtual event: “Kim Jong Un and the Northeast Asian Arms Race,” with Jean Lee, senior fellow, Wilson Center; Ankit Panda, Stanton fellow, Nuclear Policy Program, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace; Alex Wong, senior fellow, Hudson Institute; and Patrick Cronin, Asia-Pacific Security Chair, Hudson Institute. https://www.eventbrite.com/e/virtual-event-kim-jong-un
12 p.m. — Center for Strategic and International Studies virtual book discussion on Three Dangerous Men: Russia, China, Iran, and the Rise of Irregular Warfare, with author Seth Jones, director of the CSIS International Security Program; and David Sanger, national security correspondent at the New York Times. https://www.csis.org/events/book-launch-three-dangerous-men-seth-jones
1 p.m. — Heritage Foundation virtual book discussion on The Strategy of Denial: American Defense in an Age of Great Power Conflict, with author former Deputy Assistant Defense Secretary Elbridge Colby, co-founder and principal at the Marathon Initiative. https://www.heritage.org/defense/event
SATURDAY | SEPTEMBER 18
2:20 a.m. EDT/8:20 a.m. CET — NATO’s highest Military Authority, the Military Committee meets in Athens, Greece. Gen. Konstantinos Floros, Chief of the Hellenic National Defence General Staff will host the Conference. https://www.nato.int/cps/en/natohq/news_186299.htm
5:45 p.m. CET — Joint press conference with the Chair of the NATO Military Committee, Admiral Rob Bauer and the Chief of the Hellenic National Defence General Staff, Gen. Konstantinos Floros. https://www.nato.int/cps/en/natohq/news_186299.htm
12 p.m. — ”Justice for J6 rally,” on the west side of the U.S. Capitol, which is intended to protest the treatment of protesters arrested in the Jan. 6 assault on the Capitol. https://lookaheadamerica.org/rally
TUESDAY | SEPTEMBER 21
TBA New York — President Joe Biden addresses the United Nations General Assembly in person. https://media.un.org/en/webtv/
9:30 a.m. 342 Dirksen — Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee annual hearing: “Examining Threats to Homeland Security,” with DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas; FBI Director Christopher Wray; and National Counterterrorism Center Director Christine Abizaid. https://www.hsgac.senate.gov/hearings/threats
THURSDAY | SEPTEMBER 23
1:30 p.m. — Center for Strategic and International Studies Defense-Industrial Initiatives Group and Aerospace Security Project virtual event “Investing Intelligently in Remotely Crewed Systems: Leveraging Capability for Future Conflict,” with Will Roper, former assistant secretary of the Air Force for acquisition, technology and logistics; Rebecca Grant, president, IRIS Independent Research; Todd Harrison, senior fellow, CSIS International Security Program; and Rose Butchart, associate fellow, Defense-Industrial Initiatives Group. https://www.csis.org/events/investing-intelligently-remotely-crewed-systems
TUESDAY | SEPTEMBER 28
TBA — Senate Armed Services Committee hearing: “Testimony on U.S. Withdrawal From Afghanistan,” with Lloyd Austin, secretary of defense; Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; and Gen. Frank McKenzie, commander, U.S. Central Command. https://www.armed-services.senate.gov/hearings
QUOTE OF THE DAY
"It's really a stab in the back. We had established a relationship of trust with Australia, this trust has been betrayed. I'm very angry today, and bitter ... this is not something allies do to each other.”
French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, in an interview with France Info radio, decrying the U.S./U.K. deal that killed France’s $66 billion submarine contract with Australia.
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Original Author: Jamie McIntyre