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Thursday, March 23, 2017

Early Bird Brief: 7 held after London attack

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Mar 23, 2017    
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Good morning and welcome to the Early Bird Brief. Please send news tips and suggestions to: earlybird@militarytimes.com.

Today's Top 5
    1. London attack: Seven held after Westminster attack
(BBC) Seven arrests have been made in raids following the Westminster attack that left four dead, police have said.
 
    2. Strategic District in Southern Afghanistan, Sangin, Falls to Taliban
(New York Times) The Taliban captured the strategic district of Sangin in the southern province of Helmand on Thursday, the culmination of a yearslong offensive that took the lives of more combatants than any other fight for territory in Afghanistan, according to local officials.
 
    3. Trump team 'incidentally monitored' after election
(BBC) Post-election communications of Donald Trump's team were swept up in an "incidental collection" by intelligence agencies, a Republican lawmaker says.
 
    4. Boeing, Army make multi-billion, multi-year AH-64E deal official
(Defense News) Under the base contract worth $3.4 billion, Boeing will deliver to the U.S. Army 244 remanufactured AH-64Es. The multi-year also includes 24 new build Apache Echo-models for Saudi Arabia.
 
    5. With U.S. advisers and firepower, Syrian forces aim to sever the Islamic State's last escape route from Raqqa
(Military Times) U.S. military advisers, aircraft and artillery are helping Syrian fighters secure a strategic dam outside the Islamic State's capital of Raqqa, where they're battling to cut off the militants' only remaining escape route, officials said.
 
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Overseas Operations
    Mattis: Expect U.S. troops in Iraq even after ISIS falls
(Military Times) U.S. troops will remain in Iraq years after the main fight against Islamic State group militants is over, the Defense Department's top leaders warned Wednesday.
 
    Expeditionary cyber forces fighting drones on the front lines
(Fifth Domain) Nonstate groups have been employing commercially available unmanned aerial systems for some time, but as many have feared, these small devices have now been weaponized.
 
    This is the M777 Howitzer [Video]
(Military Times) U.S. Marines are using the M777 Howitzer in Sryia to fight ISIS.
 
    Hunt for Joseph Kony, No Longer Seen as a Threat, May Shrink
(New York Times) The Pentagon is poised to significantly scale back a decade-long mission to capture or kill Joseph Kony, one of Africa's most notorious warlords, in a sign that the United States and its African allies no longer see him as a regional threat.
 
SMOY Nominations
    Military Times Service Members of the Year nominations open
(Military Times) Recognize a soldier, sailor, Marine, airman and Coast Guardsman who demonstrate pride, dedication and courage beyond their call of duty. Nominate a service member at smoy.militarytimes.com.
 
Pentagon
    Mattis: Big defense spending boost needed now to fix readiness woes
(Military Times) Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said a $30-billion boost in defense funding this fiscal year will produce immediate readiness dividends for the military, but Senate Democrats shrugged off his promises as an unrealistic, incomplete plan.
 
    China Bets on Sensitive U.S. Start-Ups, Worrying the Pentagon
(New York Times) Chinese firms have become significant investors in American start-ups working on cutting-edge technologies with potential military applications.
 
    U.S. General Urges Nuclear Upgrade as Russia Grows 'More Aggressive'
(New York Times) The general who oversees the United States' atomic weapons arsenal has expressed concern over what he described as "much more aggressive" behavior by Russia in recent years, saying it justifies the need for a strengthened and modernized nuclear deterrent force in this country.
 
Army
    Hurry up and extend: The $10,000 bonus to stay in the Army one more year is dropping to $5,000
(Army Times) The window is closing rapidly for soldiers to extend their contracts by a year and score a $10,000 bonus.
 
    Allyn: Dollars for Army readiness will run out in July
(Defense News) U.S. Army Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Dan Allyn said the service's budget for force readiness in 2017 will run out by mid-summer should a continuing resolution extend farther out.
 
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    Former Fort Carson soldier gets life for fatal stabbing
(Associated Press) A jury has convicted a former Fort Carson soldier of stabbing a woman to death in Colorado Springs.
 
    Rapid Capabilities Office: More funding needed to accelerate efforts
(Defense News) The Rapid Capabilities Office is doing what it was designed to do and has already kicked off major efforts with goals to field some initial capability to soldiers by the end of the year.
 
    Army May Have to Buy More JLTVs to Replace Humvees
(DoD Buzz) U.S. Army modernization officials told lawmakers Wednesday that the service will soon have to rebuild its outdated Humvee fleet or buy more Joint Light Tactical Vehicles, or JLTVs, than expected.
 
Navy
    First U.S. aircraft carrier of Trump presidency enters the Persian Gulf
(Associated Press) American sailors watched as the first Revolutionary Guard vessels appeared on the horizon of the Strait of Hormuz, beginning a daylong face-off that has become familiar to both Iranian paramilitary and U.S. naval forces that pass through the narrow mouth of the Persian Gulf.
 
    Norfolk sailor accused of sex crime with a minor
(Navy Times) A sailor attached to the destroyer Bulkeley at Naval Station Norfolk has been accused of raping and abusing a child in Virginia Beach, according to a local news report.
 
Marine Corps
    Shotgun conversion kit should give Marines improved capability
(IHS Jane's 360) The US Marine Corps is testing a new Marine Corps Systems Command Military Enhancement Kit (MEK) that will enable personnel to convert their M500A2 shotgun into a more compact weapon for use during breaching or visit, board, search, and seizure (VBSS) operations.
 
    Enhancing command and control
(C4ISRNET) Since July 2016, the Marine Corps has rolled out 1,100 units of its next-generation blue force tracker. While end users may not have noticed much of a change, the new device is more robust on the back end and sets the stage for a future round of upgrades.
 
Air Force
    Are the F-15 Eagle's days numbered? Top generals say maybe
(Air Force Times) The Air Force is considering retiring its F-15 C and D fighter aircraft and replacing them with F-16s.
 
    U.S. Air Force orders KC-10 engine overhauls
(UPI) The U.S. Air Force placed a $16.9 million order to Northrop Grumman to provide engine overhauls for the branch's KC-10 Extender aircraft.
 
    Air Force: $147M funding increase needed to keep future fighter on schedule
(Defense News) The Air Force needs a sharp increase in funding this budget cycle — an extra $147 million, to be exact.
 
    Officials: Man arrested after going AWOL 45 years ago
(Associated Press) Authorities say they've arrested a Florida man who went AWOL from the U.S. Air Force 45 years ago.
 
    Air Force bomber trains with Japanese and Korean fighters as tensions rise with North Korea
(Air Force Times) An Air Force B-1B Lancer bomber conducted training missions with fighters from the Japanese and South Korean air forces on Tuesday, Pacific Air Forces said in a Wednesday release.
 
Coast Guard
    U.S. Coast Guard seizes 1.5 tons of cocaine
(UPI) U.S. Customs and Border Protection said officers based in Jacksonville, Fla., discovered two ships carrying nearly 3,000 pounds of cocaine in the Eastern Pacific Ocean.
 
Defense Industry
    Top Pentagon official takes aim at F-35 cost, supply chain
(Defense News) The Pentagon's director of defense pricing announced plans for a major review of F-35 joint strike fighter program costs, with an emphasis on getting companies up and down the supply chain to find savings for the famously expensive jet.
 
    Lockheed working on solution for F-35 nose gear problem
(Defense News) In the next few weeks, Lockheed Martin expects to see a preliminary report on a potential fix for a nose gear problem on the F-35C, with an eye on doing live carrier trials in the fall.
 
    Mixed signals around MRCA fighter deal
(FlightGlobal) Kuala Lumpur appears to be sending mixed signals about the status of its multi-role combat aircraft (MRCA) acquisition to replace its Mikoyan MiG-29s with 18 modern fighters.
 
    Lockheed still weighing light attack plane offering, but T-50 is likely out
(Defense News) Lockheed Martin is considering whether it has a plane in its inventory that can meet the U.S. Air Force's nascent light attack aircraft requirement.
 
    Singapore picks vendor for new armored fighting vehicle
(Defense News) Singapore's Defense Ministry has announced that it has awarded a contract to Singapore Technologies Engineering for the production and supply of its Next Generation Armored Fighting Vehicle.
 
    Thales makes inroad into Malaysian market with Air Force helicopter flight simulator delivery
(IHS Jane's 360) The Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF) has received and operationalised a helicopter flight simulator from Thales, the company announced on 22 March at the Langkawi International Maritime & Aerospace (LIMA) exhibition.
 
    Lockheed to Move F-16 Production to South Carolina
(DefenseOne) The new, smaller line will better suit the dwindling orders for the venerable fighter jet, while freeing up space for F-35 production.
 
Veterans
    Best for Refs: New nonprofit helps veterans become sports officials
(Military Times) Athletics-minded veterans seeking community involvement, or some extra cash, can receive a significant head start on the path to becoming a sports official thanks to a nonprofit recently started by a former top NFL referee.
 
    Green Berets who liberated Afghanistan from the Taliban tell their stories in new documentary
(Army Times) In the days following the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, the Defense Department sent two teams of Army Special Forces soldiers to Afghanistan to bring down the Taliban.
 
    USO honors actor Gary Sinise
(Defense News) The USO of Washington-Baltimore honored actor Gary Sinise with its Legacy of Hope award for his work with disabled veterans.
 
    Today in history: actor Jimmy Stewart enlisted in the Army, later becoming first Hollywood star to join military in World War II
(HistoryNet) Actor Jimmy Stewart enlisted for military service with the U.S. Army, later becoming the first Hollywood star to wear a military uniform in World War II. Stewart had attempted to enlist in the Army before, but came in underweight.
 
    Ohio university offering military ethics graduate degree
(Associated Press) Officials with Case Western Reserve University say the Ohio school's new graduate program in military ethics is the first of its kind in the country.
 
    Human resources problems causing hiring, retention headaches for VA
(Military Times) Veterans Affairs has a human resources problem, and it's complicating an already difficult recruiting process for the embattled department, outside analysts told lawmakers Wednesday.
 
    Clash of Characters update: Your vote could save, or sink, these icons
(Military Times) Well-known actors in well-known roles could be shown the door as we close in on our top on-screen fictional military character.
 
Congress & Politics
    Defense budget prospects a murky tale of 'irresistible forces and immovable objects'
(Defense News) A week after the White House made its budget request, there are more questions on Capitol Hill about how defense is funded than answers.
 
    Key congressional Republicans grow frustrated with Defense Secretary Mattis
(Military Times) Defense Secretary James Mattis is frustrating key Republicans in Congress after pushing Obama administration holdovers for top Pentagon posts, while not pushing hard enough for defense budget increases, reports Politico.
 
    Trump Meets With Congressional Black Caucus Leaders
(Voice of America) President Donald Trump has met with members of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC), some of his strongest critics in Congress.
 
    Trump's rumored pay raise doesn't wow unions
(Federal Times) If the Trump administration makes good on the rumor that it will give federal employees a 1.9 percent raise in 2018, don't expect much praise from federal employee unions.
 
Cyber, Space & Surveillance
    Hacking is so easy, even a reporter can do it [Video]
(C4ISRNET) Fifth Domain Reporter Mark Pomerleau plays cyber capture the flag with the Cyber Security Forum Initiative's demo at AUSA Global Force in Huntsville.
 
    Trump funds NASA, officially adds Mars to agency mission
(Associated Press) President Donald Trump signed legislation Tuesday adding human exploration of Mars to NASA's mission. Could sending Congress into space be next?
 
    Group sues for EPA docs on employees using encrypted apps to talk Trump
(Federal Times) Employees of the Environmental Protection Agency have reportedly used Signal, an encrypted messaging application, to discuss the Trump administration's impact on their agency mission.
 
    ​Lockheed and NASA move toward design review for supersonic X-plane
(FlightGlobal) Lockheed Martin should complete a preliminary design review of its quiet supersonic X-plane by June and will move onto a critical design review with NASA, a Skunk Works programme lead says.
 
    Brazil ramps up domestic space satellite, rocket programs
(Reuters) Brazil is developing technology to send domestically-made satellites into space with its own rockets by the end of the decade, aerospace executives and officials said ahead of the launch of the nation's first defense and communications satellite.
 
    Illinois governor announces cybersecurity plan
(Associated Press) The plan outlines goals to protect state information systems. But it covers only executive branch agencies directly. It wouldn't have prevented incidents like the cyberattack on Illinois voter data last fall.
 
    Hackers demand Apple pay ransom to save user iCloud accounts
(Fifth Domain) A group of hackers claims to have breached Apple's iCloud platform and gained access to hundreds of millions of user accounts. If Apple doesn't pay a ransom, the hackers say they will remotely wipe the accounts.
 
    Ninth WGS satellite launched
(C4ISRNET) "WGS-9, the third Block II Follow-on satellite, supports communications links in the X-band and Ka-band spectra," said United Launch Alliance.
 
International Affairs
    4 dead in vehicle, knife attack near British Parliament
(Associated Press) A knife-wielding man went on a deadly rampage at the heart of Britain's seat of power Wednesday, mowing down pedestrians on London's Westminster Bridge before stabbing an armed police officer to death inside the gates of Parliament.
 
    Russia's foreign minister says ready to discuss reducing nuclear arms
(Reuters) Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Thursday Russia was willing to discuss reducing nuclear weapons, news agency RIA reported.
 
    NATO to reschedule meeting to accommodate Tillerson
(The Hill) The head of NATO on Wednesday said the alliance will reschedule its upcoming meeting of foreign ministers to accommodate Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, the Associated Press reported.
 
    Ukraine munitions blasts prompt mass evacuations
(BBC) Some 20,000 people are being evacuated after a series of explosions at a massive arms depot in eastern Ukraine described by officials as sabotage.
 
    India's Sukhoi fleet faces problems despite Russian spare parts deal
(Defense News) Despite signing a long-term agreement with Russia for the supply of spare parts and the rendering of technical assistance for five years for India's Sukhoi Su-30MKI aircraft, the fleet continues to face maintenance problems and a lack of spare parts.
 
    North Korea's latest missile test fails, say US and South Korea
(Associated Press) North Korea's latest missile launch ended in failure on Wednesday as the United States sent a supersonic bomber streaking over ally South Korea in a show of force against the North, officials said.
 
    French Navy's intermediate frigates cleared for development
(Defense News) The French defense minister has approved administrative steps to launch a €3.8 billion program for five intermediate frigates for the French Navy, procurement chief Laurent Collet-Billon said March 22.
 
    Israeli drone downed over Syria
(C4ISRNET) The Israeli military confirmed reports in Syrian and Lebanese media that the Elbit Skylark tactical drone was downed by Syrian air defenses, according to the Times of Israel. Hezbollah posted photos online of the wreckage.
 
    U.N. peacekeepers, not just militants, occupied schools in CAR - rights group
(Reuters) Armed groups and even United Nations peacekeepers have occupied schools or set up bases nearby in the Central African Republic, preventing countless pupils across the conflict-torn from receiving an education, a rights group said on Thursday.
 
    Breaking down China's electronic warfare tactics
(C4ISRNET) In the wake of Russia's demonstrations of advanced electromagnetic spectrum and communications jamming capabilities, most recently displayed in their incursion into Ukraine, China also is upping its game in this space, demonstrating similar capabilities in the Pacific.
 
    China says U.S. should respect China's air defense zone
(Reuters) China said on Thursday the United States should respect its air defense identification zone (ADIZ), after CNN reported China had warned a U.S. bomber it was illegally flying inside China's self-declared zone in the East China Sea.
 
Commentary & Analysis
    THE DARK SIDE OF GENDER SEGREGATION IN THE MILITARY
(War On The Rocks) Tailhook. Aberdeen. Lackland. All of the service academies. Now the Marine Corps social media photo scandal. Military sex scandals have been happening for decades, and in that time leaders have implemented reforms from all angles.
 
    Al Qaeda in Syria Can Change Its Name, But Not Its Stripes
(The Cipher Brief) Following recent infighting with other Syrian rebel groups in the northwestern part of the country, al Qaeda in Syria appears to have recognized the need to secure legitimacy and present itself to the civilian population it seeks to influence as an authentically Syrian entity.
 
    The Real Lesson from the London Attack: Perfect Counterterrorism Is Impossible
(The National Interest) No amount of resources can stop a single human being from doing something destructive to other human beings.
 
    The Intelligence Community's Critical Role
(The Cipher Brief) The Intelligence Community (IC), comprised of 16 agencies and departments, responsible to the Director of National Intelligence, is our front line of defense in addressing all national security issues affecting the U.S. and its allies and partners.
 
    China's Defense Budget Needs Transparency to Transcend Suspicion
(The Cipher Brief) Two decades of an expanding defense budget coupled with a multi-dimensional modernization effort have enabled China to field one of the world's most capable militaries.
 
    Rebuild Our Defenses for the Information Age
(Wall Street Journal) President Trump has pledged to rebuild both America's military and its infrastructure—priorities that are more intertwined than they might appear. In the 21st century, "infrastructure" means more than roads, bridges and airports.
 
    German Nukes: The Phantom Menace
(National Institute for Public Policy) According to some recent press reports, Germany is considering acquiring nuclear weapons. If this were in fact the case, the prospects for international security would indeed be grim: fears of German nuclear militarism would haunt Europe; the European integration process might well be over; NATO could be thrown into a terminal crisis; Russia's reaction would be intense, and global nuclear non-proliferation efforts might be dealt a fatal blow.
 
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