THURSDAY PDB – GOP vs DOD Vaccine Mandate Fight, China’s ‘Space Nuke’ a Big Deal, Report Calls Air Force and Space Force ‘Weak,’ 36 Navy Officials-Including 5 Admirals-Face Discipline over Bonhomme Ship Fire, Army and Navy Future vs China

U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Paul Kovari, left, a medic with 2nd Cavalry Regiment, administers a COVID-19 vaccination to a fellow Soldier at the 7th Army Training Command's (7ATC) Rose Barracks, Vilseck, Germany, May 3, 2021. The U.S. Army Health Clinics at Grafenwoehr and Vilseck conducted a "One Community" COVID-19 vaccine drive May 3-7 to provide thousands of appointments to the 7ATC community of Soldiers, spouses, Department of the Army civilians, veterans and local nationals employed by the U.S. Army. / Photo Credit: U.S. Army photo by Markus Rauchenberger

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Today’s PDB includes a variety of critical national security issues.

READ TODAY’S PDB BELOW:

Washington Watch

‘Black Hawk Down’ pilot Durant enters Alabama Senate race. Mike Durant, best known as the helicopter pilot shot down and held prisoner in the 1993 “Black Hawk Down” incident, is joining the U.S. Senate race in Alabama.

Pentagon Watch

36 officials, including five admirals, face potential discipline over Bonhomme Richard fire. The command investigation report’s “accountability” section recommends disciplinary action against 36 Navy officials, from the amphib’s enlisted ranks up to the former three-star head of Naval Surface Force Pacific.

Pentagon squares off with congressional Republicans over vaccine mandate. A political fight looms as vaccine mandate opponents prepare for the Defense Department’s deadlines to come into effect next month.

Homeland Security

Does the Army Guard need more soldiers? Maybe, top general says. The Army National Guard’s top general said Wednesday that he would not lobby to expand the size of the increasingly busy force, but if top Army officials proposed adding new troops he “would accept that mission immediately.”

National Security

Cash, shredded documents found at couple’s home in spy case. The FBI found a trash bag of shredded documents, thousands of dollars in cash, latex gloves and a “go-bag” when they searched the home of a Maryland couple accused of trying to sell information about nuclear-powered warships to a foreign country, an agent testified Wednesday.

The U.S. Navy surface fleet needs distribution, not ‘Death Stars.’ U.S. Navy leaders are caught in the classic innovator’s dilemma. To counter the threat posed by China and its world’s largest fleet, U.S. admirals could continue incrementally improving the reach and survivability of their large, multi-mission ships; or they could evolve the force to embrace concepts that prioritize new metrics such as diversity of kill chains or the distribution of forces.

The Army is getting great power competition all wrong. The U.S. Army does not need to go abroad in search of missions to make itself appear relevant. What it very much needs to do is focus on its core warfighting skills and hone its ability to fight and win battles that might crop up involving major opponents — in the defense of our country, rather than risk our soldiers getting dragged into fighting wars for other countries.

Heritage Foundation Ranks Air Force and Space Force as ‘Weak’ in New Report. The Heritage Foundation ranked both the Air Force and the Space Force as “weak” in its 2022 Index of U.S. Military Strength released Oct. 20.

China Threat

China’s test of an orbital hypersonic missile is a big deal. Earlier this week, the Financial Times reported that China had combined two advanced missile technologies in a test of a new nuclear capability. The test featured a so-called “Fractional Orbital Bombardment System” (FOBS), which is launched into space and can orbit the globe before releasing a missile at its target.

Chinese hypersonic missile test unlikely to trigger arms race, experts say. The August test of a Chinese space-based hypersonic missile is unlikely to trigger an arms race but could influence the White House and Defense Department’s effort to shape new missile defense and nuclear posture strategies, experts say.

US must build space ‘superhighway’ before China stakes claims: senior Space Force officer. Brig. Gen. John Olson, who advises CSO Gen. Jay Raymond on space logistics issues, believes the US must rapidly act to take the “first-mover advantage” for itself to block Chinese ambitions, which could include territorial claims in space.

It’ll take more than American military might to shore up Taiwan. Team Biden needs a fuller strategy that includes international recognition and new regional alliances.

North Korea

US, Europe condemn N Korea ballistic missile launch at UN. US, UK and France say country has advanced its weapons program, while Pyongyang accuses the US of ‘double standards.

S.Korea prepares to launch first domestically produced space rocket. South Korea is scheduled to conduct its first test launch into space of a domestically-built rocket on Thursday in a major step toward jumpstarting the country’s space program.

Military

B-1B bombers return to Diego Garcia Island base after 15 years. Lancers showed up after China began holding military air drills near Taiwan and launched a joint naval exercise with Russia in the Sea of Japan.

This Alaskan air base will host an experimental mini nuclear reactor. The U.S. Air Force recently announced that it has picked Eielson Air Force Base in Alaska as the base to host a new small nuclear reactor as part of a pilot program.

END of PDB

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Paul Crespo is the Managing Editor of American Defense News. A defense and national security expert, he served as a Marine Corps officer and as a military attaché with the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) at US embassies worldwide. Paul holds degrees from Georgetown, London, and Cambridge Universities. He is also CEO of SPECTRE Global Risk, a security advisory firm, and President of the Center for American Defense Studies, a national security think tank.

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