MONDAY PDB – US Lawmakers Visit Taiwan-China Sends Jets, Russia-Ukraine Crisis Escalating, National Guard Scandals Raise Concern, Saving the World From Deadly Asteroids, Recovering Brit F-35 Lost at Sea, Israel and Iran’s Expanding Cyber War, Is Colombia’s FARC Still Terrorist?

Soldiers with the Maine Army National Guard, stand guard in Washington, D.C., Jan. 19, 2021. / Photo by U.S. Army National Guard photo by Spc. Christopher Hal

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


Pentagon Watch

Ooorah! As deadline approaches, Marines are the military’s least vaccinated force. Despite having a later deadline, the Army is still ahead of the Marine Corps with a 95% vaccination rate.

National Security

US Navy sending salvage ship, crew to help recover crashed British F-35B. The U.S. Navy is helping the United Kingdom recover its F-35B Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter that crashed in the Mediterranean last week.

Biden plans to lift terrorist designation from former Colombian guerrilla group. The Biden administration has informed Congress that it plans to lift a nearly 25-year-old terrorist designation against the former Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, following a peace deal the group signed five years ago with the Colombian government.

Washington Watch
Congress returns to work staring down fiscal deadlines and fights over Biden’s agenda. The clock is ticking for congressional Democrats this week as they return to Washington, where they hope to advance President Biden’s economic agenda, authorize key defense programs and resolve a slew of urgent fiscal deadlines with little time left in the year.

Homeland Security

National Guard scandals in these 13 states raise questions about culture and accountability. The National Guard system – crucial to America’s military defense and vital to state emergency operations – is reeling from corruption and misconduct that reflect overarching command failures, a USA TODAY investigation has found.

China Threat

US lawmakers visit Taiwan; China conducts military patrols. Five U.S. lawmakers have met with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen during a surprise one-day visit intended to reaffirm America’s support for the self-governing island that is claimed by China.

Taiwan sends jets after 27 Chinese planes enter buffer zone. Sunday’s incursion included 18 fighter jets and five H-6 bombers, as well as a Y-20 aerial refueling aircraft, according to Taiwan’s Defense Ministry.

DOUBTFUL (CCP INFLUENCE OP?)- As US hunts for Chinese spies, university scientists warn of backlash. A chilling effect has taken hold on American campuses, contributing to an outflow of academic talent that may hurt the United States while benefiting Beijing.

Countering China’s nuclear threat: The cost to play is cheaper than the cost of sitting out. The decision point for the future of our strategic programs is at our doorstep. China and Russia have forced us back into a numbers game, and the cost to play is cheaper than the cost to sit out.

Russia Threat

Ukraine leader alleges Russia-backed coup planned next week. In Nantucket, Massachusetts, where he is spending a holiday weekend, U.S. President Joe Biden expressed concern at the coup talk and renewed U.S. support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and self-government.

Will Russia invade Ukraine? Wednesday, the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv issued an alert to U.S. citizens, warning them of “concerning reports of unusual Russian military activity near Ukraine’s borders and in occupied Crimea.”

USS Arleigh Burke enters Black Sea to Russian consternation. Another U.S. warship has sailed into the Black Sea, again drawing intense Kremlin scrutiny amid continued concerns about a potential Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Energize NATO’s response to Russia’s threats against Ukraine. Signal new efforts to thwart a controversial Russian energy pipeline.

Biden’s Afghanistan Disaster

As Afghanistan’s economy collapses, international community looks for innovative ways to avoid humanitarian disaster. At this town’s district hospital, an hour’s drive south of Kabul, midwives resorted to using mobile phone flashlights to deliver babies during power cuts, when foreign aid was halted and they could no longer pay for generator fuel.

PTSD? Man killed by San Francisco Police was former Afghan interpreter for US Special Forces. Ajmal Amani, 41, was shot Friday morning in the narrow corridor of the building on South of Market after threatening several people with a large kitchen knife. He was shot in the stomach and leg and died at a hospital.

Iran Threat

Israel and Iran broaden cyberwar to attack civilian targets. Iranians couldn’t buy gas. Israelis found their intimate dating details posted online. The Iran-Israel shadow war is now hitting ordinary people.

Congress should support administration’s effort to sell defensive missiles to Saudi Arabia. The AIM-120C sale, therefore, is consistent with the Biden administration’s policy of ensuring Saudi Arabia has the means to defend itself. But if Congress blocks the sale, it would leave Riyadh with two options — both of which would damage American national security and humanitarian conditions in Yemen.

Space Threat

How NASA will practice saving the world from an asteroid apocalypse. NASA launched the Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) mission on a SpaceX Falcon 9 from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California on Nov. 24.


The Navy is testing a GPS-like device that doesn’t require satellites. The Navy is researching a new technology that could help sailors and Marines navigate in places where the Global Positioning System just doesn’t work.

Air Force is 120 airplanes smaller since 2020, but fighters and bombers stay about level. The Air Force trimmed 120 airplanes from its fleet in fiscal 2021, gaining the most aircraft among its F-35 fighter squadrons and giving up the most from its B-1 bomber units, according to data provided by the Air Force.


PLEASE DONATE NOW – Our Afghan Allies Still Need Help as Afghanistan Collapses

Please help us KEEP SAVING LIVES by supporting our ongoing Afghan Evacuation Effort for AT-RISK Afghans – ‘PLAN B’ – the ARC (Afghan Rescue Crew).

Our Afghan allies helped by this effort are fully vetted and proven to be at-risk.

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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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