Thursday PDB – Guard QRF for Capitol? China’s Air Forces are World’s 3rd Largest, Russian Nukes in Europe? Lasers-Drones & Chemical Weapons in Mideast, 5 More States Challenge DoD Guard Vax Mandate, Retired Army Col. Claims Louisiana Voting Vulnerable to ‘Fake Voters’ and ‘Fake Ballots’

Arizona National Guard Soldiers from the 158th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade stand in formation on the field at Arizona State University's Sun Devil Stadium, Dec. 7, 2014 in Tempe, Ariz. / U.S. Army National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Brian A. Barbour

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

READ TODAY’S PDB BELOW:

Pentagon Watch

EXCELLENT – 5 more states challenge Pentagon’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate for Guardsmen. Following Oklahoma’s lead, five additional states are pushing back against the Defense Department’s COVID-19 vaccine policy, putting their objections in a letter addressed to Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin on Tuesday.

EXCELLENT – Kan. senator’s effort to require honorable discharges for troops who refuse vaccine passes Congress. Kansas Sen. Roger Marshall succeeded on Wednesday in his effort to restrict how members of the military who refuse to get vaccinated against COVID-19 are punished.

Washington Watch

FAR BIGGER THAN BIDEN BUDGET – Congress passes defense policy bill with budget boost, military justice reforms. After months of debate and weeks of angst, the Senate on Wednesday voted 89-10 to finalized plans for a $740 billion authorization bill for the Department of Defense, sending the sweeping military policy measure to the White House for the 61st consecutive year.

Retired Army colonel who circulated election-denying PowerPoint speaks to Louisiana election commission. He claimed Louisiana’s electoral system was “vulnerable to fake voters, fake ballots” and “fake counts.”

Homeland Security

Capitol Hill police can request National Guard backup quicker under new plan. Capitol Hill security officials will be able to more quickly request emergency aid from National Guard troops under a measure finalized by Congress on Tuesday evening.

The growing discontent within the National Guard. Last year, more than a third of the National Guard was on active duty. It’s the highest utilization they’ve seen since World War II.

International Security

Russia’s Putin, China’s Xi hail ties amid tensions with West. Leaders hold virtual summit as Putin declares Russia-China relations ‘a proper example of interstate cooperation’.

Biden’s Afghanistan Disaster

STARVATION AND DISEASE – On the front line as Afghan children battle malnutrition and measles. The war in Afghanistan is over, but its economy is collapsing and at this hospital, in the remote, central province of Ghor, they’re struggling to cope with the fallout.

China Threat

China now has the world’s 3rd-largest aviation force. Here are the combat jets it’s using to catch up with the West. China’s air force and navy now field roughly 2,800 aircraft, about 2,250 of them combat aircraft.

Lithuanian diplomats leave China as relations sour over Taiwan. Lithuania’s diplomatic delegation to China left the country on Wednesday in a hastily arranged exit, diplomatic sources said, as relations soured further over Taiwan, which opened a de facto embassy in Vilnius last month.

Russia Threat

HOW SCARY – EU, Germany, UK send new warnings to Russia over Ukraine. Western powers say if Moscow decides to invade neighbouring Ukraine, a round of tough sanctions awaits.

Nuclear missiles in Europe become latest thorn in tensions between NATO, Russia. Russia’s latest threat to deploy intermediate-range nuclear missiles in Europe if NATO doesn’t make new promises has one hitch: the U.S.-led NATO alliance says Moscow has already activated such weapons.

PUTIN’S MURDER INC – German court convicts Russian in brazen Berlin assassination, links it to Moscow. A court in Berlin on Wednesday convicted a Russian national of the murder of a Georgian citizen of Chechen ethnicity in broad daylight in 2019 and sentenced him to life in prison.

Iran Threat – Syria – Israel

US military shoots down drone near US base in Syria. A second drone that came near the at base flew away. U.S. officials said they believe the incident and an earlier attack on the base are linked to Iran or Iranian-backed groups.

US Navy fires laser weapon in Mideast amid drone boat threat. The Navy announced Wednesday it tested a laser weapon and destroyed a floating target in the Mideast, a system that could be used to counter bomb-laden drone boats deployed by Yemen’s Houthi rebels in the Red Sea.

Israel hit chemical weapons facilities in Syria over past two years. Israel twice struck chemical weapons facilities in Syria over the past two years in a campaign to prevent Syria from renewing chemical weapons production, the Washington Post reported on Monday.

Military

INSTANT FOOD – Pentagon looks to microbes to feed troops with air, water, maybe even trash turned to protein. Chow halls and “warrior restaurants” of the future could serve deployed troops meals made by microorganisms using water, air, electricity and little else.

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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