FRIDAY PDB – Russia Tries Stealth Takeover of Kazakhstan, China Denies Reality – Its Rapidly Expanding Nukes, Democrats Push One-sided Narrative of Capitol Riot, DoD – What is ‘Extremism’? And is it a Real Threat? Russian Troops to Mali

Students with Infantry Training Battalion practice basic marksmanship techniques at Camp Geiger, N.C., Sept. 26, 2013. The students are part of the first ITB company to include female Marines as part of ongoing research into opening combat-related job fields to women. / (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Tyler L. Main/Released)

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


Pentagon Watch

STILL NO METRICS TO JUSTIFY A REAL THREAT – New in 2022: Next steps in DoD’s fight against extremism, including a new definition. The Pentagon hopes to get a better grasp on the problem of extremist activity among troops.

China Threat

BALD-FACED LIE – China denies US report it’s rapidly growing its nuclear arms. A senior Chinese arms control official denied Tuesday that his government is rapidly expanding its nuclear arsenal, though he said it is taking steps to modernize its nuclear forces.

Japan and US vow more defence cooperation to counter Chinese threat. The United States and Japan on Friday voiced strong concern about China’s growing might in unambiguous terms and pledged to work together against attempts to destabilise the region.

Russia Threat

Russian troops intervene in protest-roiled Kazakhstan, where security forces have killed dozens of demonstrators. The troops landed in Kazakhstan after the Central Asian country’s president asked for help to quell sweeping anti-government protests — a major test of a Moscow-led military alliance as the Kremlin deepened its role in the crisis.

Analysis: In Kazakhstan, Putin seizes on unrest to try to expand influence. The turmoil has presented Russia with another opportunity to reassert its influence in its former Soviet domain, one of Vladimir Putin’s cherished goals.

Iran Threat

Attacks on US in Iraq meant to send ‘harsh’ message — without spilling blood. On the anniversary of the death of former IRGC commander Qasem Soleimani and with the resumption of the nuclear talks in Vienna, Iran stakes out a hard line.

North Korea Threat

North Korea says it has tested hypersonic missile, launched from Russian-made vehicle. North Korea has conducted its first missile test of the new year, firing what it calls a hypersonic weapon into waters east of the Korean Peninsula on Jan. 5.

International Security

New Albanian HQ to serve as hub for US special operations in Balkans. The U.S. has established a forward operating headquarters in Albania and will use the facility in the Adriatic Sea-facing country as a home base for missions in the broader Balkans.

Russian troops deploy to Mali’s Timbuktu after French exit. An Army spokesperson says the Russian soldiers are in the northern city to train Malian troops.

Homeland Security

ONE-SIDED NARRATIVE – How Congress marked one year since the deadly U.S. Capitol insurrection. The president and the vice president gave commemorative speeches, and Democratic lawmakers recounted the sense of panic in the building as a violent mob broke in.

Jan. 6 investigation enters second year with unanswered questions about the National Guard. As the nation marked the first anniversary of the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol on Thursday, there was plenty of praise heaped on the National Guard for its help restoring order to the seat of American democracy.

Biden’s Afghan Disaster

Keeping the generals out of the Afghanistan investigation is a great idea. Our general officers should not be allowed to investigate themselves, and any conclusions about the rapid collapse of the Afghan government and its military forces inevitably will be tied to the actions of those officers who for two decades shaped U.S. strategy.

Military and Space

The Navy’s next-gen unmanned minesweeper passed a critical test: It didn’t blow up. The Navy’s next generation of unmanned minesweepers passed an important test this week: not sinking when close to a large, underwater explosion.


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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