FRIDAY PDB – Biden Bows to Putin, Fighting Both Russia and China Together, Boycott China Winter Olympics? India’s ICBM Threat to China, DoD Bureaucracy Kills, Sudanese General Ignored Biden Warning Before Coup, Army Predicts Fierce Close Combat in Next War, Afghan Intelligence Failure?

President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin participate in a tete-a-tete during a U.S.-Russia Summit on Wednesday, June 16, 2021, at the Villa La Grange in Geneva. (Official White House Photo by Adam Schultz)

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


Pentagon Watch

BUREACRACY KILLS – Risk aversion and secrecy are costing US its military advantage, No. 2 general says. Air Force Gen. John Hyten will step down in November.

Military chaplains weighing religious exemptions ahead of vaccine deadlines. Military chaplains say they are navigating a nuanced process of determining which service members get religious exemptions to avoid the mandated coronavirus vaccine as attorneys representing some troops contend their methods have led to unfair treatment in some cases.

Washington Watch

SERIOUSLY? White House had Pentagon delay a hypersonic missile test before Biden-Putin summit. With less than a week to go before President JOE BIDEN met Russian President VLADIMIR PUTIN for a June summit in Switzerland, the White House ordered the Pentagon to delay a long-planned hypersonic missile test so as not to raise tensions with Moscow.

YES, PLEASE – US senators propose adding boycott of China’s Winter Olympics to defense bill. A bipartisan group of U.S. senators on Thursday proposed an amendment to an annual defense policy bill that would impose a diplomatic boycott of China’s Winter Olympics – less than 100 days away – amid accusations of rights abuses by Beijing.

National Security

YUP – Don’t assume the US will fight China and Russia one at a time. Beijing and Moscow are boosting their strategic coordination along with their militaries.

HOPE SO – Iraq is not Afghanistan and we are here to stay, says top US official. “Iraq is not Afghanistan, we are here in the long term, we view Iraq as a key strategic partner and we are committed to this partnership,” Jennifer Gavito, the deputy assistant secretary of state for Iran and Iraq, said.

Nuclear-powered submarines for Australia? Maybe not so fast. When Australia made its trumpet-blast announcement that it would build nuclear-powered submarines with the help of the United States and Britain, the three allies said they would spend the next 18 months sorting out the details of a security collaboration that President Biden celebrated as “historic.”

Biden’s Afghan Disaster

Four US intelligence agencies produced extensive reports on Afghanistan, but all failed to predict Kabul’s rapid collapse. Agencies offered scattershot assessments of the staying power of the Afghan military and government, a review of wide-ranging summaries of classified material by The Wall Street Journal shows.

Khalilzad urges US engage with Taliban to avert Afghan collapse. The former United States special envoy for Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad said the Biden administration should engage with the Taliban to help ease the humanitarian crisis unfolding in the country now.

China Threat

REALLY? US military ‘well postured’ for any Chinese cyber onslaught, CIO nominee says. The Department of Defense is “well postured” to fend off any potential Chinese cyberattack deluge in the event of conflict over Taiwan, the Pentagon’s presumptive chief information officer told a Congressional hearing today.

Satellite images show China may be using closed civilian airport to launch Taiwan overflights. China is likely using an unused civilian airport just across the Strait of Taiwan to conduct its overflights near the island, with satellite imagery on different occasions showing military aircraft parked on the ground that correspond with Taiwanese military reports.

India conducts successful user test of nuclear-capable ICBM. India on Wednesday conducted the first user trial of its fully indigenous nuclear-capable intercontinental ballistic missile, covering a range of about 5,000 kilometers and representing a second-strike capability against China.


BIDEN WAS IGNORED – Sudanese general ignored US warning as army rolled out coup plan. Hours before Sudan’s army seized power and dissolved its government, a senior U.S. envoy warned the country’s top general not to take any steps against the civilian administration that was overseeing a democratic transition, diplomats said.


All 3 Marine law enforcement battalions are now deactivated. The 3rd Law Enforcement Battalion, stationed out of Okinawa, Japan, was deactivated as part of the Marine Corps’ Force Design 2030 plan.

Army expects fierce, close combat in next war despite advanced tech. While the Army recovers from decades of fighting guerrilla forces in the Middle East, leaders are setting their eyes on the wars of tomorrow. And despite rapid advances in cyberweapons, drones and artificial intelligence, they’re stressing the next war will still feature bloody, close quarters combat.



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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. - - PAULCRESPO.COM

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