POMPEO IN CHINA: Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is in China today, once again asking for Beijing's help in pressuring North Korea to keep its promise to fully dismantle and destroy its nuclear arsenal of bombs and missiles. The vista came just four days after Vice President Mike Pence excoriated China for alleged economic and military aggression and accused its communist government of meddling in the November midterms.

During today’s meeting, China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi told Pompeo a “shadow” has been cast over relations between the U.S. and China. Pompeo acknowledged differences but still insisted the two countries should be able to work together on North Korea.

‘SIGNIFICANT PROGRESS’: After his Sunday two-hour meeting and lunch with Kim Jong Un at the Paekhwawon State Guesthouse, Pompeo said “significant progress” was made toward implementing North Korea’s agreement to give up its nuclear weapons. Specifically, Kim has agreed to allow international inspectors to verify the dismantlement of the Punggye-ri missile engine test site, Pompeo told reporters traveling with him. “Chairman Kim said he’s ready to allow them to come in, and there’s a lot of logistics that will be required to execute that, but when we get them we’ll put them on the ground,” Pompeo said.

Pompeo was asked if the U.S. had agreed to any “corresponding measures” as demanded by North Korea, which wants a phased approach that rewards the regime with sanctions relief as it takes steps toward the denuclearization goals. “We’re not going to talk about where we are in these negotiations except for things we have agreed to release with the North Koreans,” Pompeo said.

Pompeo was accompanied by Stephen Biegun, the newly appointed special representative for North Korea, who will be the point man for crucial talks with his North Korean counterpart Choe Son-hui. “We will be having more frequent and higher-level working group discussions than we’ve had in some time on a set of issues. So that was important good news,” Pompeo said. Biegun’s job is to nail down deliverables so after President Trump’s second summit with Kim, he has something concrete to announce beyond vague promises. “So we really hope we can deliver some good outcomes when the summit takes place,” Pompeo said.

TRUMP’S PUMPED: In a tweet yesterday, Trump applauded the "progress" by his diplomats, and said he’s ready to meet again with Kim. “@SecPompeo had a good meeting with Chairman Kim today in Pyongyang. Progress made on Singapore Summit Agreements! I look forward to seeing Chairman Kim again, in the near future,” Trump said.

The time and place for the second summit are still up in the air, Pompeo told reporters. “Most importantly, both the leaders believe there’s real progress that can be made, substantive progress that can be made at the next summit, and so we’re going to get it at a time that works for each of the two leaders in a place that works for both of them,” he said. “We’re not quite there yet, but we’ll get there.”

THE HONEYMOON CONTINUES: After Pompeo’s last visit to Pyongyang, he was no sooner wheels up than the official North Korean news agency was denouncing the U.S. for employing “gangster-like” tactics to coerce Kim’s capitulation. This time it’s all hearts and flowers from the Korean Central News Agency.

“Kim Jong Un expressed satisfaction over the productive and wonderful talks with Mike Pompeo at which mutual stands were fully understood and opinions exchanged,” the state-run news agency said, noting that Kim “warmly welcomed the U.S. secretary of State,” and “spoke highly of him.” “He expressed his gratitude to President Trump for making sincere effort to this end, asking Mike Pompeo to convey his regards to Trump.”

MATTIS IN MEXICO: Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, who was originally scheduled to meet up with Pompeo in Beijing for side-by-side talks with his military counterpart, is instead in Cancun, Mexico, today for the Conference of the Defense Ministers of the Americas. Mattis’ participation in the China talks was scrapped after Beijing wouldn’t commit to having a senior military official take part, in an apparent protest over the U.S. military's continued challenges to China’s expansive territorial claims in the South China Sea.

The Conference of the Defense Ministers of the Americas is a biennial gathering that is billed as the western hemisphere's premier venue for senior leaders to discuss regional defense issues.  

Good Monday morning and welcome to Jamie McIntyre’s Daily on Defense, compiled by Washington Examiner National Security Senior Writer Jamie McIntyre (@jamiejmcintyre), National Security Writer Travis J. Tritten (@travis_tritten) and Senior Editor David Brown (@dave_brown24). Email us here for tips, suggestions, calendar items and anything else. If a friend sent this to you and you’d like to sign up, click here. If signing up doesn’t work, shoot us an email and we’ll add you to our list. And be sure to follow us on Twitter @dailyondefense.

HAPPENING TODAY: AUSA BEGINS: It’s the first day of the Association of the U.S. Army's annual meeting and exposition. The schedule includes a keynote speech by Army Secretary Mark Esper at 9:30 a.m. and a press conference with Gen. Mark Milley, the Army chief of staff, at 11:45 a.m. The event runs through Wednesday at the Washington Convention Center.

Other speakers:

  • 11:45 a.m. — Army Maj. Gen. Cedric Wins, commander, U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command.
  • 12:30 p.m. — Vice Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. James McConville; Sergeant Major of the Army Daniel Dailey; Army Gen. Gustave Perna, commander, U.S. Army Materiel Command; and Army Gen. Stephen Townsend, commander, U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command, speak at various luncheons.
  • 1:25 p.m. — Army Maj. Gen. Ken Kamper, former chief of staff, Combined Joint Task Force - Operation Inherent Resolve.
  • 2 p.m. — Army Lt. Gen. Timothy Kadavy, director, Army National Guard.
  • 2 p.m. — Army Undersecretary Ryan McCarthy and Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics and Technology Bruce Jette participate in a panel on force modernization hosted by Army Gen. John Murray, commander, U.S. Army Futures Command.
  • 2 p.m. — Army Gen. Paul Nakasone, director, National Security Agency, and commander, U.S. Cyber Command, Principal Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence Kari Bingen, Army Lt. Gen. Robert Ashley, director, Defense Intelligence Agency, and Robert Cardillo, director, National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, participate in a panel on future disruptive threats.
  • 2 p.m. — Vice Adm. Raquel Bono, director, Defense Health Agency, participates in a panel on military family readiness.

F-35’S NEXT BIG STEP: In a sign that the $400 billion F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program is getting closer to its goal of moving to full-rate production, the Lockheed Martin jet will move into a phase known as Operational Test and Evaluation next month.

“On October 2, 2018, Undersecretary of Defense Ellen Lord convened an operational test readiness review, which assessed the readiness of the F-35 system and supporting resources required to execute the operational test plan,” the Pentagon said in a statement.

The F-35B made it U.S. combat debut last month in Afghanistan, and Lockheed Martin announced it has managed to cut the price for the standard A-model to under $90 million a copy in its latest contract with the Pentagon. But by the time the plane begins full-rate production in 2020, assuming no unexpected setbacks, the price per aircraft is expected to be about $80 million.

There are 320 planes in operation around the world along with 680 pilots who have logged more than 155,000 flight hours. The plane suffered its first major crash last month, which is still under investigation.

NAILING DOWN A SYRIA STRATEGY: Congress is set to begin a months-long review of Trump’s evolving strategy in Syria. The creation of a 12-member Syria Study Group was tucked inside an unrelated bill Trump signed into law on Friday, the reauthorization of the Federal Aviation Administration. The legislation allows Republicans and Democrats to appoint experts to the panel, which is mandated to hand a final report to Congress in six months.

The review panel, championed by Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, “will bring outside experts together to finally develop a U.S. strategy in Syria,” she said in a statement. The final report will include a full assessment of activity by Iran, Russia and others in the country, military and diplomatic recommendations, and “options for a gradual political transition to a post-Assad Syria,” according to the legislation. The panel will make a progress report to lawmakers in January.

RUSSIA’S UNDERSEA THREAT: When Adm. James Foggo, commander of U.S. Naval Forces in Europe and NATO Joint Force commander, looks at the threat from Russia’s navy, he’s focused on the undersea domain. “Russia is not 10 feet tall, but they do have capabilities that keep me vigilant, concerned,” Foggo told reporters Friday at the Pentagon. “If you were to look at the surface Navy versus the submarine force, you wanted to compare apples to apples and aircraft carrier to an aircraft carrier, Kuznetsov does not even come close to a Nimitz-class carrier or a Ford-class carrier,” he said.

But under the sea, it’s a different picture. “Russians have produced the new Dolgoruky-class submarine. They've produced the Savorod-class submarine. They've produced the new Kilo hybrid-class submarines. Six of them are operating in the Black Sea of the eastern Mediterranean right now. They're firing the Kalibr missile, very capable missile,” Foggo said. “So, we have to continue to put a capital effort into the development of our technologies and antisubmarine warfare. This is not just submarines, it's maritime patrol aircraft, it's sensors of all types.”

MOSCOW’S ACCUSATION: Russia's Foreign Ministry is accusing the U.S. of using a secret facility in a former Soviet satellite state to develop biological weapons that will target Russia.

Russian officials allege that the Richard Lugar Public Health Research Center in the former Soviet state of Georgia, which has been in a territorial dispute with Russia since 2008, is being used to develop biological weapons that are banned under international law. U.S. officials flatly deny the charge, an accusation that comes on the heels of Russia’s top diplomat suggesting that a Western power would stage a biological attack and blame it on Moscow.

PENTAGON DENIES WILSON ON THE OUTS: The Pentagon's top spokeswoman is dismissing a report that Trump is considering replacing Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson after the midterm elections over her alleged lack of enthusiasm for his new Space Force initiative.

"This is nonsense," Dana White said in a statement Friday. "The Department of Defense leadership team is focused on defending our great nation and working together to be worthy of the blood, treasure and faith entrusted to us by the American people."

White was responding to a story in Foreign Policy posted Thursday, which quoted three anonymous sources saying Wilson would be replaced soon.

LATEST AFGHANISTAN KIA IDENTIFIED: The Pentagon has identified the U.S. service member killed in action in Helmand Province, Afghanistan Thursday as Sgt. James A. Slape.

The 23-year-old from Morehead City, N.C., died of injuries from an improvised explosive device. Slape was assigned to 60th Troop Command, North Carolina Army National Guard, Washington, N.C.

AFGHANISTAN ANNIVERSARY: Yesterday marked 17 years of U.S. involvement in Afghanistan and the beginning of the 18th year of the conflict that began less than a month after the Sept. 11 attacks when a small number of U.S. special operations forces and CIA paramilitary fighters joining with the Northern Alliance to try to topple the Taliban.

What are the lessons learned? Stephen Biddle, professor of International and Public Affairs, Columbia University, suggests two takeaways:

“The best opportunity to avoid a prolonged, grinding insurgency may be at the beginning. If the U.S. had offered power sharing to the Taliban back in 2002, when we were strong and they were weak, we probably would've gotten a better deal than we're going to get now, 17 years later.”

He also said: “Counterinsurgency isn't impossible, but it is expensive and it takes a very long time to succeed unless you get lucky with an enemy realignment (see "Surge, Iraq"). If you're not willing to make the full investment, then half measures will usually get you a lot less than half a loaf.”

“Even with direct costs that now seem likely to exceed one trillion dollars, more than 2,200 dead, and more than 20,000 wounded in action, the U.S. commitment is as open ended as ever,” wrote Anthony Cordesman in a recent analysis for the Center for Strategic and International Studies.


New York Times: 17 Years to the Day the U.S. Invaded, 54 Are Killed Across Afghanistan

Army Times: This year’s AUSA annual meeting will be the biggest in half a decade

Defense News: The decline of the defense industrial base – and what to do about it

CNN: Trump set to shuffle top generals

Marine Corps Times: Marines connect F-35 jet to HIMARS rocket shot for first time

Defense One: The War in Afghanistan is Bad Politics and Bad Foreign Policy

New York Times: U.S. General Considered Nuclear Response in Vietnam War, Cables Show

Fox News: Two years after pastor Andrew Brunson was jailed in Turkey, Sen. Lankford demands his release

Military Times: Has safety improved a year after Navy and Marine aviation crisis?

Daily Beast: As Vladimir Putin Celebrates His Birthday, Bad News Pours In



6:30 a.m. 801 Mt Vernon Pl. NW. 2018 AUSA Annual Meeting and Exposition with Army Secretary Mark Esper; Dan Coats, Director of National Intelligence; Gen. Mark Milley, Army Chief of Staff; and others. ausameetings.org


7:30 a.m. 801 Mt Vernon Pl. NW. 2018 AUSA Annual Meeting and Exposition with Army Secretary Mark Esper; Gen. Mark Milley, Army Chief of Staff; Director of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen; and others. ausameetings.org

9 a.m. 1030 15th St. NW. The Arc of Crisis in the MENA Region. atlanticcouncil.org

5 p.m. 901 Massachusetts Ave. NW. Cocktails and Conversation: Army Futures, Near and Far with Gen. Gary Volesky, Commanding General of Army iCorps. defenseone.org


7 a.m. 14750 Conference Dr. NDIA TRIAD Meeting. ndia.org

7 a.m. 801 Mt Vernon Pl. NW. 2018 AUSA Annual Meeting and Exposition with Deputy Defense Secretary Pat Shanahan and others. ausameetings.org

8 a.m. 2401 M St. NW. Defense Writers Group Breakfast with Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Robert Neller.

8:30 a.m. Dirksen 342. Full Committee Hearing on Threats to the Homeland. hsgac.senate.gov

9:30 a.m. Russell 222. Subcommittee Hearing on United States Air Force Readiness with Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson; Gen. Stephen Wilson, Air Force Vice Chief of Staff; and John Pendleton, Director of Force Structure and Readiness Issues at the Government Accountability Office. armed-services.senate.gov

1 p.m. 214 Massachusetts Ave. NW. Identifying – and Isolating – Jihadi-Salafists through their Ideology, Practices, and Methodology. heritage.org


1 p.m. 929 Long Bridge Dr. U.S.-ROK Defense Industry Consultative Committee (DICC). ndia.org


8 a.m. 300 1st St. SE. Space Threats to the US:  A Discussion with Jeff Gossel, Senior Intelligence Engineer with the Space and Missiles Analysis Group at the National Air and Space Intelligence Center. mitchellaerospacepower.org

12 noon. 214 Massachusetts Ave. NE. The Perfect Weapon: War, Sabotage, and Fear in the Cyber Age with David Sanger. heritage.org

“There are many steps along the way and we took one of those today; it was another step forward.”
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, after meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Pyongyang Sunday.