THURSDAY PDB – Oklahoma Guard Defies DoD Vaccine Mandate, Overkill – 41 Month Sentence for Jan. 6 Riot ‘Shaman,’ Belarus Hybrid Warfare Migrant Crisis, China Threat Like No Other, Special Ops in Asia and Europe, Afghanistan on Brink of Disaster

Army Spc. Angel Laureano holds a vial of the COVID-19 vaccine, Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, Bethesda, Md., Dec. 14, 2020. / DoD photo by Lisa Ferdinando

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

READ TODAY’S PDB BELOW:

Pentagon Watch

WHERE’S THE MONEY? As Pentagon fails 4th audit, officials have ‘no doubt’ it will eventually pass. The inspector general and independent public accounting firms conducted this year’s audit of DoD’s $3.2 trillion in assets and $3 trillion in liabilities.

Oklahoma’s vaccine mandate rejection won’t apply to Guardsmen going to drill weekend, DoD argues. Both the governor and adjutant general of Oklahoma have said they will not enforce the Pentagon’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate for troops under their authority. The question now is how much authority they actually have.

Oklahoma National Guard could deploy if called upon despite some troops declining the vaccine, state’s adjutant general says. The Oklahoma National Guard will be able to deploy enough troops to federal missions despite some ignoring a Pentagon requirement that all service members must receive the coronavirus vaccine, Oklahoma Adjutant General Tommy Mancino said Wednesday.

Other states hesitant to defy Guard’s COVID vaccine mandate like Oklahoma. The new adjutant general for the Oklahoma National Guard made headlines when he issued a memo suspending the Defense Department’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate for Guard troops in a Title 32 status last week.

Homeland Security

POLITICIZED OVERKILL? – ‘QAnon Shaman’, Navy veteran, sentenced to 41 months for Jan. 6 riot. Jacob Chansley was in the Navy for about two years, enlisting in September 2005 and leaving in October 2007 as a supply clerk seaman apprentice, according to service record information.

Pentagon inspector general raises questions about ex-D.C. Guard commander’s Jan. 6 account. The D.C. National Guard’s commanding general was directed twice by Pentagon leadership to send in troops as violence engulfed the Capitol, an investigation showed.

Biden’s Afghan Disaster

Afghanistan ‘on the brink of catastrophe’: UN envoy. The UN envoy for Afghanistan says the country is “on the brink of a humanitarian catastrophe”, urging the international community to find ways to provide financial support to the Afghan people, who “feel abandoned”.

China Threat

China poses a national security threat unlike any the US has seen before. This week’s virtual summit between President Joe Biden and China’s President Xi Jinping may have restored a tone of respect between the world’s two largest powers, but U.S. intelligence is telling a different story.

US should restrict investment in China due to security concerns, panel says. A commission of security and economic experts convened by Congress recommended that the U.S. take more aggressive steps to dial back commercial ties with China, warning of heightened national security risks.

Taiwan commissions advanced new F-16s as China threat grows. Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen lauded military cooperation with Washington on Thursday as she commissioned the first combat wing of F-16 fighters upgraded with U.S. help to bolster the island’s defences during rising tensions between Taipei and Beijing.

Russia Threat

Austin: Moscow should explain its troop buildup near Ukraine. Ukraine’s Defense Ministry said last week that about 90,000 Russian troops are stationed not far from the border and in rebel-controlled areas in Ukraine’s east.

Belarus moves migrants from Polish border to warehouse, easing crisis for now. Belarus used buses Wednesday to move hundreds of migrants from the Polish border to a nearby warehouse, providing temporary shelter amid freezing temperatures and potentially easing a standoff with the European Union.

How the Belarus standoff is unlike recent migrant crises. The images at the Belarus-Poland border look familiar, but this emergency has little in common with previous waves of people from Syria, Myanmar and Afghanistan.

Iran Threat

A sign that Iran is still pursuing nukes. On November 13, Iranian media outlets revealed the name of the new director of the Organization of Defensive Innovation and Research, an entity known by its Persian-language acronym, “SPND.”

Space Threat

Virgin Orbit bullish on national security launch. Virgin Orbit launches small satellites from rockets that deploy from a Boeing 747 aircraft. The company has already won a handful of contracts to launch U.S. military satellites and is actively pursuing new business in the national security market.

Military

With special-ops drills in hotspots on opposite sides of the world, the US military says ‘they’re back.‘ In October, US special operations forces trained on their own and with partners in two important chokepoints on opposite sides of the world, reflecting an increasing focus on those hotspots and others like them amid heightened tensions in Europe and Asia.

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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