OILS NOT WELL IN IRAN: As America increases economic pressure on Iran by ending the waivers that allowed some U.S. allies to continue buying Iranian oil, the Iranian parliament is lashing out, labeling the entire U.S. military "terrorist."
The Tuesday vote came one day after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced the United States would stop granting exemptions to countries that import Iranian oil, subjecting them to U.S. sanctions if they keep buying oil after their waivers expire May 2. China, India, Turkey, Japan, and South Korea all still purchase Iranian oil.
CHINA DEFIANT: China, one of the countries not in an alliance with America, has already indicated it will ignore the U.S. threat.
“The normal energy cooperation under the international law between Iran and other members of the international community, China included, is legitimate and lawful; thus it must be respected and protected,” Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told reporters.
AN AGE-OLD THREAT: Even before Pompeo’s official announcement Monday, Iran was railing against U.S. sanctions. The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps naval commander threatened to close the vital Strait of Hormuz if Iranian oil exports dropped to zero because of the U.S. actions.
“The Hormuz Strait based on law is an international shipping route, and we will close it if we are banned from using it,” Rear Adm. Alireza Tangsiri told Iran’s Arabic TV channel this week. It’s a threat Iran has made dozens of times over the years.
NOT ON OUR WATCH: “The Strait of Hormuz is an international waterway. Threats to close the strait impact the international community and undermine the free flow of commerce,” said Lt. Col. Earl Brown, a spokesman for U.S. Central Command, in response to the Washington Examiner.
“The U.S., along with our allies and partners, is committed to freedom of navigation and remain well positioned and postured to preserve the free flow of commerce, and we are prepared to respond to any acts of aggression," he said.
ISIS INSPIRED: In a video released by the ISIS news agency Amaq, the terrorist group claimed that the Sri Lanka bombers were working on its behalf. "Security sources to 'Amaq agency: Perpetrators of the attacks targeting the citizens of the coalition nations and Christians in Sri Lanka two days ago are fighters of the Islamic State,” reads a statement released on Telegram, reports the terrorist monitoring group Middle East Media Research Institute.
Aside from the video, which purported to show the leader of the attackers standing amid seven others whose faces are covered, ISIS did not provide any evidence for its claim.
Authorities in Sri Lanka hare arrested some 60 people suspected of involvement in the coordinated attacks, which killed more than 350 people on Easter Sunday. Many of the suicide bombers were highly educated and came from middle- and upper-middle-class families, the junior defense minister said yesterday, according to AP.
McGURK ON SYRIA, ‘A BITTER PILL’: Brett McGurk, the former special presidential envoy to the counter-ISIS coalition, has an essay in the latest issue of Foreign Affairs in which he argues: “Washington must now lower its sights. It should focus on protecting only two interests in Syria: preventing ISIS from coming back and stopping Iran from establishing a fortified military presence there that might threaten Israel.”
“[T]he alternative,” he says, “in which the United States pretends that nothing has changed, fails to achieve even these modest goals, and further undermines its credibility in the process, is far worse. This is a bitter pill to swallow after the progress of the last four years. But stripped of other options, the United States must swallow it nonetheless.”
The essay, "Hard Truths in Syria: America Can’t Do More With Less, and It Shouldn’t Try,” concludes, "American policymakers will have to accept that U.S. influence in Syria is on the wane and rethink their objectives accordingly.”
Good Wednesday morning and welcome to Jamie McIntyre’s Daily on Defense, written and compiled by Washington Examiner National Security Senior Writer Jamie McIntyre (@jamiejmcintyre) and edited by Kelly Jane Torrance (@kjtorrance). 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: North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is in Vladivostok, Russia, for tomorrow’s meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, the first between the two leaders. Speaking to Russia’s state-owned Rossiya-24, Kim said that he is hoping for a “successful and useful” visit and would like to discuss with Putin the “settlement of the situation in the Korean Peninsula” as well as increased ties with Russia, according to AP.
1Q EARNINGS: Lockheed Martin Corporation is reporting first-quarter 2019 earnings of $1.7 billion, or $5.99 per share, compared with $1.2 billion, or $4.02 per share, in the first quarter of 2018. The profits come on sales of $14.3 billion, compared with $11.6 billion in the first quarter of 2018.
“The corporation had strong performance in the first quarter which has allowed us to increase our full year financial guidance for sales, profit, earnings per share and cash,” said Lockheed Martin chairman, president, and CEO Marillyn Hewson.
The company’s fortunes have soared along with sales of the F-35, the most advanced fighter jet in the world.
Lockheed Martin said 2019 revenue may climb even higher than it projected three months ago after sales of the F-35 fighter jet, the most expensive weapons program in U.S. history, topped $910 million.
Deliveries of the F-35 nearly doubled to 26 compared with the same period in 2018, Hewson told investors on an earnings call. "We are continuing to see increased opportunities for the F-35," she added. The Pentagon "has been very clear" about sticking to a target of buying 2,456 of the planes, Hewson said, though purchases may vary from year to year "as they look at what their overall needs are relative to the budgets that they have to work with."
ALL EYES ON BOEING: Boeing releases its financial results for the first quarter of 2019 in a conference call at 10:30 a.m. Boeing’s chairman, president, and CEO Dennis Muilenburg and CFO Greg Smith will take questions from reporters and will no doubt be asked about problems with several of the company’s high-profile aircraft, including its 737 MAX 8, 787 Dreamliner, and KC-46 tanker. “Safety is our responsibility, and we own it,” said Muilenburg earlier this month.
General Dynamics will webcast its first-quarter 2019 financial results conference call today beginning at 9 a.m., and Northrop Grumman releases its earnings at 12 p.m. Raytheon releases its earnings tomorrow.
WE ARM THE WORLD: In an op-ed posted yesterday on Fox News, Peter Navarro, director of the White House’s Office of Trade and Manufacturing Policy, argued that President Trump’s more aggressive Conventional Arms Transfer policy is paying big dividends after one year.
“The financial value of Direct Commercial Sales authorizations, in which the purchasing country consults directly with industry and which are licensed by the Department of State, rose 6.6 percent to $136.6 billion in FY 2018. The value of Foreign Military Sales (FMS) cases implemented by the Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) rose 33 percent to $55.66 billion over the same period as the DSCA closed over 1,700 FMS cases — a 42 percent increase from the previous year,” Navarro wrote.
Navarro cited the example of a new F-16 fighter jet facility that opened this week. “The F-16 production line in Greenville, South Carolina, would not be having a ribbon cutting ceremony today were it not for President Trump’s bold advocacy with our international partners. Of course, what happens in Greenville with the F-16 won’t stay in Greenville. According to Lockheed Martin, F-16 production supports over 16,000 jobs across 41 states,” he wrote.
“When the Bulgarian government decided to replace its aging fleet of Soviet-origin MiG-29 fighter jets in 2018, it opened a bidding process among Swedish, Italian, and American contractors. The U.S. government made a clear case for the unparalleled capability and support that purchase of the F-16 would convey, and, on Jan. 6 of this year, the Bulgarian parliament approved plans to purchase the made-in-America F-16 — in what will be Bulgaria’s largest military procurement since the fall of its Communist regime.”
ROBOTS IN SPACE: The Pentagon's research branch wants to use robots to repair the nation's satellites, an initiative which could lead to significant savings for U.S. space operations, my colleague Russ Read reports.
The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA, intends to partner with an outside organization to create robots and space vehicles capable of servicing satellites through its Robotic Servicing of Geosynchronous Satellites, or RSGS, program.
"The long-term vision of the RSGS program is to enable a persistent, reliable, cost-effective cooperative robotic servicing capability in [geosynchronous orbit], beginning with the robotic servicer developed under the RSGS program and operated by a commercial entity," DARPA said in a statement.
EXODUS UNDERWAY: Venezuelan strongman Nicolás Maduro’s attempt to stay in power could ultimately drive half the country’s population to seek refuge abroad, a key U.S. diplomat told our Joel Gehrke.
“Very, very, possible 15 million people leave,” Carlos Trujillo, the U.S. ambassador to the Organization of American States, told the Washington Examiner. “Right now, only four [million] have left, and four million has overwhelmed Colombia, Brazil, Chile, and Peru. ... Imagine what eight [million] does. Imagine what 10 [million] does. Imagine what 12 [million] does.”
That dire portrait, Trujillo suggested, guarantees that Maduro will not be able to withstand regional pressure to relinquish power. The regime has retained control of the military in the three months since President Trump and other major Western democracies recognized top opposition lawmaker Juan Guaidó as the legitimate interim president. Trujillo dismissed the idea that the momentum to oust Maduro is slowing, even if U.S. officials don’t have a quick-fix plan in place.
RECOMMENDED READING — ‘ARMY OF NONE’: The new book Army of None: Autonomous Weapons and the Future of War by Paul Scharre has been awarded the 2019 William E. Colby Award, given each year by Norwich University to a “first solo work of fiction or non-fiction that has made a major contribution to the understanding of military history, intelligence operations, or international affairs.”
Norwich says, “Army of None explores what could happen when next-generation weapons change warfare. In a fast-paced and exciting non-fiction narrative, Scharre examines the role of artificial intelligence, autonomous weapons, the complex legal and ethical issues involved, and their growing use worldwide. Combining military history, philosophy, science, and global policy with interviews with defense experts, activists, analysts, and psychologists, Scharre argues that technology should be utilized when it provides benefits and makes war more humane, spares civilian lives, and increases precision, but that autonomous technology is no replacement for human empathy, judgment, and decisionmaking.”
Scharre is director of the technology and national security program at the Center for a New American Security.
GRANT GETS STATUE AT WEST POINT: The U.S. Military Academy plans to unveil a statue tomorrow of Ulysses S. Grant, West Point class of 1843, in celebration of the sesquicentennial of his inauguration as the 18th president of the United States and the culmination of Inspiration Week at the academy.
“Ulysses S. Grant embodied the West Point motto of Duty, Honor, Country,” said professor and history department head Col. Ty Seidule. “As a soldier, he led an army that emancipated four million people, ended slavery, and saved the United States of America. The Grant statue will inspire generations of cadets to become leaders of principle and integrity for the nation.”
The full-figure seven-and-a-half-foot bronze statue is the first to be positioned in the vicinity of the Plain since 1983, when Dwight D. Eisenhower got the honor.
AP: UN: Pro-government forces kill more Afghans than insurgents
Reuters: Putin-Kim Summit Sends Message To U.S. But Sanctions Relief Elusive For North Korea
Washington Examiner: 'Mother of all caravans' heads north: 10K migrants due in Mexico City any day
USA Today: Trump administration appeals ruling finding that the male-only draft is unconstitutional
CNN: In The Mediterranean, U.S. Aircraft Carrier Operations Serve As Floating American Diplomacy
Wall Street Journal: China Exploits U.S. Satellites to Bolster Police and Military
Reuters: China Navy Chief Takes Dig At U.S. Freedom Of Navigation Patrols
The Diplomat: Russia Launches Project 09852 Special Purpose Submarine
USNI News: Lockheed Martin Working $2.5B in Hypersonic Weapon Contracts
War on the Rocks: Powerful lessons from spring break in World War II France
New York Times: Navy SEALs Were Warned Against Reporting Their Chief for War Crimes
Stars and Stripes: California mulls changes in National Guard IG structure following allegations of whistleblower retaliation
Air Force Magazine: B-1B Fleet Returning to Flight After Extended Grounding
Politico: U.S. Navy drafting new guidelines for reporting UFOs
USNI News: VT Halter Marine to Build New Coast Guard Icebreaker
Air Force Magazine: Historic Northrop N-9M Crashes in California, Killing Pilot
WEDNESDAY | APRIL 24
8 a.m. 2201 G St N.W. Defense Writers Group Breakfast with John Sopko, special inspector general for Afghanistan reconstruction. Crain Center Duques Hall, George Washington School of Business. nationalsecuritymedia.gwu.edu
8:30 a.m. 1819 L St. N.W. Sasakawa USA hosts its 6th Annual Security Forum, “The U.S.-Japan Alliance: New Security Challenges.” Speakers include Japanese Ambassador to the U.S. Shinsuke Sugiyama, U.S. Ambassador to Japan Bill Hagerty; former Director of National Intelligence retired Adm. Dennis Blair; and chairman of the Asia Pacific Initiative Yoichi Funabashi. Livestreamed at spfusa.org/event. Register at events.r20.constantcontact.com.
3:30 p.m. 1616 Rhode Island Ave N.W. Center for Strategic and International Studies launches a new report from the International Security Program, “Shifting the Burden Responsibly.” Speakers: James Anderson, assistant secretary of defense for strategy, plans, and capabilities; Cara Abercrombie, principal director, Security Cooperation Workforce Development Directorate, Defense Security Cooperation Agency; Kevin O'Keefe, acting deputy assistant secretary and director, Office of Security Assistance, Bureau of Political-Military Affairs, U.S. Department of State; Tommy Ross, senior associate, International Security Program, CSIS; Melissa Dalton, senior fellow and deputy director, International Security Program, CSIS. www.csis.org/events.
1 p.m. 800 Florida Avenue N.E. National Commission on Military, National, and Public Service holds selective service hearing: “How to Meet Potential National Mobilization Needs.” Witnesses: Donald Benton, director of selective service, U.S. Selective Service System; Maj. Gen. John Evans, U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command; Maj. Gen. Linda Singh, adjutant general of Maryland National Guard; Jacquelyn Schneider, assistant professor, U.S. Naval War College; Bernie Rostker, senior fellow, RAND Corporation. www.inspire2serve.gov
THURSDAY | APRIL 25
8:15 a.m. 1000 North Glebe Rd, Arlington. Intelligence and National Security Alliance and the National Capital Region Intelligence Studies Consortium forum on "Emerging Trends: New Tools, Threats and Thinking,” at Marymount University. Principal Deputy Director of National Intelligence Sue Gordon delivers keynote. www.insaonline.org/event
9 a.m. 800 Florida Avenue N.E. National Commission on Military, National, and Public Service holds selective service hearing: Should Registration be Expanded to All Americans? – Arguments against expansion.” Witnesses: Mark Coppenger, professor of Christian Philosophy and Ethics, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary; Jude Eden, U.S. Marine Corps Iraq veteran and freelance journalist; Edward Hasbrouck, editor and publisher, Resisters.info; Ashley McGuire, senior fellow, The Catholic Association; and Diane Randall, executive secretary, Friends Committee on National Legislation. www.inspire2serve.gov
10 a.m. Center for Strategic and International Studies discussion on "Civil-Military Relations." Speakers: former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta; John Hamre, president and CEO of CSIS; and Alice Hunt Friend, senior fellow in the CSIS International Security Program. www.csis.org
1 p.m. 800 Florida Avenue N.E. National Commission on Military, National, and Public Service holds selective service hearing: Should Registration be Expanded to All Americans? – Arguments for expansion.” Speakers: Lt. Gen. Flora Darpino, U.S. Army, Retired, former judge advocate general; Jason Dempsey, senior adviser at the Columbia University School of Professional Studies; Jill Hasday, Professor in Law, University of Minnesota; Maj. Gen. Bengt Svensson, defense attaché, Embassy of Sweden; and Katey van Dam, U.S. Marine Corps combat veteran. www.inspire2serve.gov
1:30 p.m. 2301 Constitution Avenue N.W. United States Institute of Peace conference on “China's Belt and Road Initiative at Year Six: Still the 'Project of the Century?” www.usip.org
2 p.m. 1620 L St N.W. Daniel Morgan Graduate School of National Security event, “Challenges and Opportunities for US - Japan - Korea Trilateral Security Cooperation,” featuring James Schoff, senior fellow, Asia Program, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Register at www.eventbrite.com.
6:30 p.m. 37th and O Streets N.W. Georgetown University's Berkley Center for Religion, Peace and World Affairs book discussion on "The World As It Is." Featuring: author Ben Rhodes, former deputy national security adviser under President Obama. berkleycenter.georgetown.edu
FRIDAY | APRIL 26
8:15 a.m. 1777 F Street, N.W. FBI director Christopher Wray discusses the bureau's role in protecting the United States from today’s global threats with Richard Haass, president of the Council on Foreign Relations. Live streamed at www.cfr.org/event.
8:30 a.m. 300 First Street S.E. National Defense Industrial Association, the Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies, the Air Force Association and the Reserve Officers Association forum on "Perspectives on Nuclear Modernization." Speakers: retired Air Force Gen. Kevin Chilton, senior fellow at the National Defense University; and retired Air Force Gen. Robert Kehler, senior fellow at the National Defense University. www.afa.org/hbs
10 a.m. 1779 Massachusetts Avenue N.W. Carnegie Endowment for International Peace discussion on "Ukraine's Post-Election Landscape." Speakers: Serhii Plokhii, director of Harvard University's Ukrainian Research Institute; Matthew Kaminski, global editor of Politico; Balazs Jarabik, non-resident scholar at CEIP; and Andrew Weiss, vice president for studies at CEIP. carnegieendowment.org
MONDAY | APRIL 29
8:30 a.m. 1300 Pennsylvania Avenue N.W. New America and Arizona State University’s annual Future Security Forum. Featured speakers: Rep. Seth Moulton D-Mass.; Gen. Robert Neller, Marine Corps commandant; Adm. John Richardson, chief of naval operations; Kiron Skinner, director of policy planning, State Department; Lt. Gen. David Thompson, Air Force space vice commander, Heather Wilson, Air Force secretary. Register here: NewAmerica.cvent.com. Agenda here: www.newamerica.org.
WEDNESDAY | MAY 1
10 a.m. 2118 Rayburn. House Armed Services Committee hearing on “National Security Challenges and U.S. Military Activity in North and South America.” Witnesses: Adm. Craig Faller, commander, U.S. Southern Command; and Gen. Terrance O’Shaughnessy, commander U.S. Northern Command; and Kenneth Rapuano, assistant secretary of defense for homeland defense and global Security. armedservices.house.gov
WEDNESDAY | MAY 8
9 a.m. 801 Wharf St. S.W. Foundation for Defense of Democracies event “Rising to the Threat: Revitalizing America's Military and Political Power.” Speakers include retired Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster, former national security adviser; Gen. Kenneth McKenzie, U.S. Central Commander; Rep. Mac Thornberry, ranking member of the House Armed Services Committee; and retired Lt. Gen. Ed Cardon, former U.S. Army's Cyber Commander. Invitation only.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
“The Strait of Hormuz is an international waterway. Threats to close the strait impact the international community and undermine the free flow of commerce. The U.S., along with our allies and partners, is committed to freedom of navigation and remain well positioned and postured to preserve the free flow of commerce and we are prepared to respond to any acts of aggression.”
U.S. Central Command spokesman Lt. Col. Earl Brown, in response to Iran’s threats to close the vital strait.