WEDNESDAY PDB – Texas Massively Expands Guard Border Mission, Terror Attacks from Afghanistan in Six Months? Iran-US-Syria – the Next War? Say No to F-15EX – Yes to More Stealth Fighters, Can China Take a Bite Out of Taiwan? Marines Fly Jets with Harpoon Anti-Ship Missiles in Pacific

A Marine with Echo Company, Battalion Landing Team 2nd Battalion, 1st Marines, 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit, simulates engaging a potential threat as part of a mechanized raid training event during Composite Training Unit Exercise (COMPTUEX), May 20. COMPTUEX is the second at-sea period during the 11th MEU's predeployment cycle, during which the MEU will conduct concurrent mission planning and execution integrated across all elements of the Marine Air Ground Task Force while supporting Amphibious Squadron 5 in their evaluated training. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Melissa Wenger/Released

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

READ TODAY’S PDB BELOW:

Pentagon Watch

Biden under pressure to drop vaccine mandates for federal defense contractors over national security concern. Republican lawmakers are pressuring President Joe Biden to drop or pause his vaccine requirements for federal defense contractors over fears they will compromise national security supply chains.

Too many civilians? Pentagon officials and House lawmaker disagree. The number of civilian workers compared to military service members is the highest in the history of the Pentagon, and that’s unsustainable, according to Rep. Ken Calvert of California, the top Republican on a key defense panel.

Pentagon AI chief responds to USAF software leader who quit in frustration. Weeks after the Air Force’s first chief software officer resigned in frustration, a top military official says Nicholas Chaillan was wrong to assert that China is gaining advantage while the Pentagon moves too slowly to develop software.

Homeland Security

Texas spending millions to expand border mission. The Texas National Guard is massively expanding its state active duty mission at the U.S.-Mexico border, with “thousands” of troops already there and “thousands more on the way” via unit-level involuntary mobilizations, report Texas Military Department officials.

Biden’s Afghan Disaster

Terrorist groups in Afghanistan could launch international strikes within six months, officials warn. Defense officials say the threat demands vigilance from American forces, including counter-terrorism strikes in the country.

Nearly 200 Americans and thousands of Afghans who seek visas remain in Afghanistan nearly two months after US troops pulled out, Pentagon officials told senators Tuesday.

China Threat

US, China sparring over Taiwan heats up anew. While the disagreement over Taiwan isn’t new and has long vexed relations between the countries, recent developments suggest the two are coming closer to confrontation.

In Taiwan war game, few good options for US to deter China. The United States has “few credible options” to respond if China were to seize a set of islands administered by Taiwan in the South China Sea, underscoring the need for Washington and Taipei to build deterrence “against limited Chinese aggression,” according to the results of a war game conducted recently by foreign policy experts.

Russia Threat

Pentagon chief stresses security cooperation as key to stopping Russia’s Black Sea ‘aggression.’ On a single day last week, 40 Russian warships staged a mock landing in Crimea, 20 Russian fighters and bombers repelled a notional enemy from landing on the Crimean coast ― and U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin began the first leg of his trip to Black Sea nations.

Iran Threat

Drone attack in Syria may be warning of things to come. With the US now pointing the finger at Iran as the source of last week’s armed drone attack against American forces in Syria, government sources here are casting the situation as part of a broader Iranian-led expansion campaign in Syria — with armed drones serving as the main weapon.

US military exit from Syria unlikely anytime soon, officials say. Speculation has been rife American forces would withdrawal from Syria after the Afghanistan pullout in an effort to end ‘forever wars’.

Iran wanted US out of Afghanistan. It may be sorry the wish came true. Iran is glad the Americans are gone, but the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan creates a host of problems for Tehran, with no easy solutions.

North Korea Threat

Ready to fight tonight? Not so much, some Army troops say. The Pentagon has said for years that the U.S. Army forces stationed on the Korean Peninsula are ready to “fight tonight” if a war breaks out between North and South Korea—or almost anywhere else. But not everyone in the Army is so sure about that, according to an internal survey, especially the grunts who could be doing most of the fighting—and dying.

Africa

US Embassy in Sudan warns Americans to ‘shelter in place’ amid apparent coup. The U.S. Embassy in Sudan is advising Americans to shelter in place amid an apparent military coup in the country and warning that flights are grounded.

Military

Marine fighters fly with live Harpoon anti-ship missiles from base in Japan. A squadron of Marine reservists from Texas recently flew their F/A-18 Hornets from the air station with live, anti-ship Harpoon missiles, a practice a Marine spokesman says may become more frequent.

Mitchell Institute: Ditch F-15EX for more F-35s, new stealth fighters. The U.S. Air Force should abandon its plans to revive fourth-generation fighters under the F-15EX program, and instead focus on building more F-35As and new stealthy fighter jets, according to a new paper.

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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