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‘RALLY THE WORLD'S DEMOCRACIES’: President Joe Biden departs this morning on the first overseas trip of his term, which begins with a meeting of G-7 ministers in Cornwall, includes a NATO summit in Brussels, and ends with a face-to-face meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Geneva.
“The trip at its core will advance the fundamental thrust of Joe Biden's foreign policy: to rally the world's democracies to tackle the great challenges of our time,” said national security adviser Jake Sullivan. “We believe that President Biden goes on this trip from a position of strength — dramatic progress against the pandemic at home, strong projected growth that will help power the global economic recovery as well, renewed American power and purpose, and a rock-solid foundation of alliances.”
“In this moment of global uncertainty, as the world still grapples with a once-in-a-century pandemic, this trip is about realizing America’s renewed commitment to our allies and partners, and demonstrating the capacity of democracies to both meet the challenges and deter the threats of this new age,” Biden wrote in a weekend op-ed. “This is a defining question of our time: Can democracies come together to deliver real results for our people in a rapidly changing world? Will the democratic alliances and institutions that shaped so much of the last century prove their capacity against modern-day threats and adversaries? I believe the answer is yes. And this week in Europe, we have the chance to prove it.”
BOLTON: BIDEN-PUTIN SUMMIT ‘PREMATURE’: Former national security adviser John Bolton predicts little of substance will come from Biden’s sitdown with Putin in Geneva, and in an interview on MSNBC, Bolton suggested the meeting was premature.
“I don't think Biden fully understands what his objectives with Russia are or how to achieve them,” he told NBC’s Andrea Mitchell. “Having a meeting where you just go down a list and check off, ‘OK, we raised Russian election hacking, we raised Russian interference in the Donbass in Ukraine,’ I don't think accomplishes much.”
Bolton says Putin has a well-rehearsed script to push back against U.S. complaints, whether the SolarWinds hack or the ransomware attack on Colonial Pipeline. “He said it directly to me. ‘Look, the Russian state didn't do this. Maybe there were actors on Russian territory. Let us know who they are, and we will take care of them.’ It's a way of dodging. It's a kind of plausible deniability,” Bolton said. “What Biden needs to tell him is, we don't believe any of that. We think you're responsible for all of it. We will hold you accountable. And we will take offensive actions to prove to you that you cannot do this to us without finding yourself imposed with even heavier costs.”
HAVANA SYNDROME: At a Senate Appropriations Committee hearing yesterday, Maine Republican Sen. Susan Collins pressed Secretary of State Antony Blinken about whether Biden would confront Putin about the so-called Havana Syndrome, a series of suspected directed energy attacks that have targeted U.S. diplomats and produced debilitating symptoms, including headaches and dizziness.
“Will he raise the issue of directed energy attacks against American personnel since Russia is one of the countries that is suspected of wielding this weapon?” Collins asked.
“Here's the hard reality right now,” Blinken replied. “We do not know what caused these — these incidents. We do not know who, if anyone, is actually responsible, state actor, individuals,” Blinken said. “So, certainly, if we have concerns, suspicions, beliefs that any state actor, Russia or otherwise, was involved, engaged in this, you can be sure that we will take it to them. But right now, we simply do not know.”
Blinken said Biden has ordered an “intensive effort” to get to the bottom of what happened.
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 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 delivers remarks at the 10th Annual LGBT Pride Month Celebration in the Pentagon Auditorium. The event at 9:30 a.m. will be livestreamed on Defense.gov.
COUNTERING CHINA: On a bipartisan 68-32 vote, the Senate voted yesterday to authorize spending $250 billion in scientific research and development to bolster competitiveness against China.
The bill, which began as the modest 160 page, $100 billion Endless Frontier Act, morphed into a more comprehensive quarter trillion dollar bill that runs 2,400 pages and won support from 19 Republicans, including Minority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell.
Still, not everyone was happy with the bill that now goes to the House. In a statement, Sen. Jim Inhofe, ranking Republican on the Armed Services Committee, complained the bill was “incomplete” without adequate defense funding.
“Choosing between technology and military priorities when it comes to competition with China is a false choice,” Inhofe said. “The strongest signal we can send to deter China is by competing on all levels: in technological innovation, in domestic manufacturing, and in providing resources to our military to create the strongest military deterrent possible.”
Self-declared China hawk Sen. Josh Hawley opposed the bill because he said it cuts tariffs on China and fails to put American workers first or crack down on multibillion-dollar corporations that are heavily invested in China.
“For decades, U.S. policy makers have watched as millions of American jobs were shipped overseas, corporate America sold out to the Chinese Communist Party, and our industrial economy was replaced by slave labor in Xinjiang,” Hawley said in a statement. “We must correct the failed Washington consensus that has allowed Beijing to thrive at the expense of working Americans.”
KILLING THE NUCLEAR SLCM: Following a report that acting Navy Secretary Thomas Harker has proposed defunding the nuclear sea-launched cruise missile program, the ranking Republicans on the House and Senate Armed Services committee are expressing “deep concern.”
“Reports that an Acting Secretary of the Navy would cancel a new Nuclear Sea Launched Cruise Missile after submission of the FY22 budget, and before a Nuclear Posture Review has been started — much less completed — is bewildering and short-sighted,” said Rep. Mike Rogers and Sen. Jim Inhofe in a joint statement. “The Biden administration has decided to project weakness ahead of a summit with Vladimir Putin — another gift to our adversaries. We have serious questions for senior Pentagon leaders on this reported decision and how it was reached.”
In Harker’s memo obtained by USNI News, he calls on the Navy to choose one of the three programs to initially pursue in earnest in the 2023 budget cycle, funding either a new next-generation fighter, destroyer, or submarine.
“The Navy cannot afford to simultaneously develop the next generation of air, surface, and subsurface platforms and must prioritize these programs balancing the cost of developing next-generation capabilities against maintaining current capabilities,” the memo reads.
POSTER CHILD FOR FLAWED ACQUISITION: At yesterday’s House Armed Services Subcommittee on Seapower and Projection Forces, ranking member Rep. Rob Wittman launched into a scathing critique of the Air Force’s troubled KC-46A tanker program.
The plane, made by Boeing, is years overdue, billions over budget, and still not performing as advertised. A report Monday by Bloomberg detailed how Air Force officials believe Boeing overcharged Japan for spare parts for the plane by a whopping 1,500%
“Boeing has reported to have lost over $5 billion to date on this seemingly simple 767 conversion effort and is late in delivering a myriad of aircraft, in some cases dating back to aircraft ordered over five years ago. The Air Force has reported that it does not anticipate having a fully functional tanker until 2024,” said Wittman. “To date, the KC-46A has problems holding the fuel it has, delivering fuel it provides, and in some cases, has the potential to severely damage receiving aircraft. It even has problems being able to hold the sewage from onboard passengers.”
“I think that the root cause of this increasingly troubled aircraft is a bad contract, and I further believe that Boeing has little incentive to correct these debilitating deficiencies,” said Wittman, adding that it’s time to “change course.”
“The Air Force could either change the contract incentive structure and actively manage the KC-46A development; or, seek a new path and pursue a non-developmental recompete of the tanker effort,” he said. “Without pursuing one of these paths, at this point, I am confident that we will continue to see poor performance and an increasingly negative impact as tanker capacity is diminished.”
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WEDNESDAY | JUNE 9
All Day — President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden travel to the United Kingdom for Biden’s first overseas trip.
9:30 a.m. Pentagon Auditorium — DOD Pride holds the 10th annual LGBT Pride Month Celebration, with the theme "Pride in all Who Serve,” with Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin; Maj. Gen. Steven Schaick, chief of chaplains of the Air Force; Maj. Gen. Leah Lauderback, director of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance at the Space Force; Lt. Kristopher Moore, surface warfare officer at the U.S. Naval Academy; Staff Sgt. Kyle Tomlin of the U.S. Army Chorus; and Rudy Coots, chair of DoD Pride. https://www.defense.gov/Watch/Live-Events/
10 a.m. 192 Dirksen — Senate Appropriations Committee Subcommittee hearing: “A Review of the Fiscal Year 2022 Budget Submission for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and the Bureau of Reclamation,” with Jamie Pinkham, acting assistant secretary Army (civil works); Lt. Gen. Scott Spellmon, chief of engineers and commanding general, David Palumbo, deputy commissioner of operations, Bureau of Reclamation. https://www.appropriations.senate.gov/hearings
10 a.m. — Middle East Institute virtual Cyber Conference, with pre-recorded remarks from Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Mark Warner, D-Va. https://www.mei.edu/events/meis-second-annual-cyber-conference
10:45 a.m. — Defense News virtual discussion: “Next-Gen Readiness — Mobilizing at the Speed of Data,” Air Force Lt. Gen. Brian Robinson, deputy commander of Air Mobility Command. https://www.defensenews.com/events
12:15 p.m. — New America virtual discussion: “Bringing Americans Home 2021: A Non-Governmental Assessment of U.S. Hostage Policy and Family Engagement,” with former Acting Secretary of Defense Christopher Miller; and State Department Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs Roger Carstens. https://www.newamerica.org/international-security/events
1 p.m. — Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments webinar on the current U.S. Department of Defense Fiscal Year 2022 Presidential Budget Request, with Thomas Mahnken, president and CEO, CSBA; Travis Sharp, research fellow and director of defense budget studies, CSBA; Eric Edelman, counselor, CSBA; and Rachel Hoff, policy director, Ronald Reagan Institute. https://us06web.zoom.us/webinar/register
2:15 p.m. — Atlantic Council virtual discussion: “Competition and Deterrence in Europe,” with Air Force Gen. Tod Wolters, commander of U.S. European Command and Supreme Allied Commander Europe. https://www.atlanticcouncil.org/event
2:30 p.m. — Senate Select Committee on Intelligence confirmation hearing for Christine Abizaid to be director of the National Counterterrorism Center, and Robin Ashton to be inspector general for the Central Intelligence Agency. https://www.intelligence.senate.gov/hearings
3 p.m. — House Armed Services Subcommittee on Readiness hearing: “Fiscal Year 2022 Budget Request for Military Readiness,” with Gen. Joseph Martin, vice chief of staff of the Army; Adm. William Lescher, vice chief of naval operations; Gen. David Allvin, vice chief of staff of the Air Force; Gen. Gary Thomas, assistant commandant of the Marine Corps; and Gen. David Thompson, vice chief of staff space operations. https://armedservices.house.gov/hearings
3 p.m. — American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research web event, “Transforming the U.S. Army,” with Army Chief of Staff Gen. James McConville; Gen. John Murray, commander, Army Futures Command; and Mackenzie Eaglen, Resident Fellow, AEI. https://www.aei.org/events/transforming-the-us-army
4:30 p.m. 232A Russell — Senate Armed Services Subcommittee on Strategic Forces hearing: “Missile defense strategy, policies, and programs in review of the Defense Authorization Request for fiscal year 2022 and the Future Years Defense Program,” with Vice Adm. Jon Hill, director Missile Defense Agency; Lt. Gen. Daniel Karbler, commander U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command/Joint Functional Component Command For Integrated Missile Defense; Gen. Glen VanHerck, commander United States Northern Command and North American Aerospace Defense Command; Leonor Tomero, deputy assistant secretary of defense for nuclear and missile defense policy; Ankit Panda, senior fellow, Nuclear Policy Program Carnegie Endowment for International Peace; Robert Soofer, former deputy assistant secretary of defense for nuclear and missile defense policy. https://www.armed-services.senate.gov/hearings
THURSDAY | JUNE 10
TBA — President Joe Biden meets with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson during his visit to the United Kingdom.
9:30 a.m. G50 Dirksen — Senate Armed Services Committee hearing: “Department of Defense budget posture in review of the Defense Authorization Request for Fiscal Year 2022, with Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin; Gen. Mark Milley; and Michael McCord, undersecretary of defense (comptroller). https://www.armed-services.senate.gov/hearings
11 a.m. — House Armed Services Subcommittee on Strategic Forces hearing: “FY22 Budget Request for Nuclear Forces and Atomic Energy Defense Activities,” with Melissa Dalton, acting assistant secretary of defense for strategy, plans, and capabilities; Charlie Verdon, acting administrator, National Nuclear Security Administration; Vice Adm. Johnny Wolfe, director, Strategic Systems Programs; and Air Force Lt. Gen. James Dawkins, deputy chief of staff for strategic deterrence and nuclear integration. https://armedservices.house.gov/hearings
11 a.m. — Center for a New American Security National Security Conference panel: “Protecting Democracy, Protecting National Security,” with Rep. Peter Meijer R-Minn; Rep. Elissa Slotkin, D-Mich; Carrie Cordero, CNAS senior fellow, and Jonathan Swan, Axios national political correspondent. https://www.cnas.org/2021-conference-registration
12 p.m. — McCain Institute virtual book discussion on "The Kill Chain: Defending America in the Future of High-Tech Warfare,” with author Christian Brose, head of strategy at Anduril Industries; and former National Counterterrorism Center Director Nicholas Rasmussen, executive director of the Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism. https://www.eventbrite.com/e/authors-insights
FRIDAY | JUNE 11
All Day — President Joe Biden attends the G7 Summit in Cornwall, U.K., and takes part in bilateral meetings with fellow G7 leaders.
11 a.m. — House Armed Services Subcommittee on Intelligence and Special Operations hearing: “FY22 Defense Intelligence Enterprise Posture Hearing,” with David Taylor, performing the duties of the undersecretary of defense for intelligence and security; Gen. Paul Nakasone, director, National Security Agency; and Lt. Gen. Scott Berrier, director Defense Intelligence Agency. https://armedservices.house.gov/hearings
SUNDAY | JUNE 13
TBA — President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden meet with Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II at Windsor Castle, before departing for Brussels, Belgium.
MONDAY | JUNE 14
All Day — President Joe Biden participates in the NATO Summit and a separate U.S.–EU Summit.
WEDNESDAY | JUNE 16
All Day — In Geneva, Switzerland President Joe Biden will meet face to face with Russian President Vladimir Putin for the first time since assuming office.
THURSDAY | JUNE 17
10 a.m. 106 Dirksen — Senate Appropriations Committee hearing: “A Review of the FY 2022 Department of Defense Budget Request.” https://www.appropriations.senate.gov/hearings
QUOTE OF THE DAY
“The ransom payment. I made the decision to pay, and I made the decision to keep the information about the payment as confidential as possible. It was the hardest decision I made in my 39 years in the energy industry, and I know how critical our pipeline is to the country, and I put the interests of the country first … I believe with all my heart it was the right choice to make, but I want to respect those who see this issue differently.”
Joseph Blount, CEO of Colonial Pipeline, testifying before the Senate Homeland Security Committee Tuesday.
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Original Author: Jamie McIntyre
Original Location: Biden’s first overseas trip aims to ‘rally the world's democracies’