Thursday Defense Brief


A sharp decline in defense spending led the U.S. economy to contract at the end of 2012 by 0.1 percent, but it did little to change the fight over further cuts to the Pentagon set to begin in March. – The Hill’s On the Money

Two leading Republican defense hawks say they’re worried about the lack of urgency over the sequestration deadline, now just weeks away. – DEFCON Hill

For Pentagon officials, defense-sector CEOs and congressional hawks, it is perhaps the most inconvenient of all truths: Most Americans want Washington to spend less on the military. – Defense News

The Shipbuilders Council of America now believes that sequestration ­– those wonderful congressionally-mandated spending cuts ­– will result in the loss of 100,000 jobs just because of cuts to one service ­the Navy. And those are the jobs that will be lost as a direct result of
sequestration. In addition, the group estimates up to 400,000 other jobs will vanish as well, mainly because of cuts to ship maintenance. – AOL Defense

Political gridlock has gotten so bad that the best bet to stop sequestration is after it starts, Rep. Mac Thornberry believes. Only a real crisis — not just an impending one — can force the two parties to cut a deal, he told AOL Defense. But, the conservative Republican emphasized, he stuck to the House GOP line that further tax revenues are off the table. – AOL Defense

Investigators have found six additional fueldraulic lines with manufacturing defects on the Pentagon’s young F-35B fleet, which was grounded Jan. 18 after a takeoff incident at Eglin AFB, Fla. – Aviation Week

The U.S. Marine Corps could launch a request for proposals for its next-generation Amphibious Combat Vehicle within the next few months, following another review of what is needed, the commandant said. – Defense News

In the five years since U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) was created, there have been rumblings that its duties would be absorbed by another regional combatant command amid other global and budgetary priorities. But that could be changing, as the Pentagon plans to boost military training and engagement in the coming months across Africa, a continent that has seen a recent uptick in fighting and terrorist attacks. – Defense News

Two efforts are underway to give Congress a say in lifting the combat exclusion for military women. – Military Times

Given the uncertain global security environment, we are more skeptical than others of the need to downsize defense. But even those who disagree should recognize that sequestration is no way to go about it. It’s become a cliche of sorts to predict that partisan gridlock will undermine national security. If sequestration goes forward unchanged, that prediction will come true. – Washington Post

The U.S. spends more on defense than the next 10 countries combined. It is—guilty as charged—the world’s superpower. This has, among other fruits of a Pax Americana, kept Europe peaceful, Asia mostly stable, the seas secure for trade and the U.S. safe for nearly 70 years. The Obama defense retrenchment will save some money. At what price? – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)

Nuclear Weapons

Vice President Joe Biden will meet Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov this weekend in Munich and National Security Advisor Tom Donilon will travel to Moscow next month to try to kick-start a new round of U.S.-Russia nuclear reduction negotiations, The Cable has learned. – The Cable

The War

The drone strike, which killed Mr. Khan and dozens of others at a tribal council meeting in North Waziristan in 2011, spawned a lawsuit that accuses British officials of becoming “secondary parties to murder” by passing intelligence to American officials that was later used in drone strikes. – New York Times

The Defense Department released a transcript on Wednesday of what it said was an exchange that had been censored from the public video feed of a military tribunal at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, this week. – New York Times

Defense attorneys representing the five 9/11 co-conspirators on trial here want extended access to the U.S. military’s highly classified detention center where their clients are being housed. – DEFCON Hill

French forces have made great strides driving al-Qaeda-linked insurgents out of Mali’s major cities, said the Pentagon’s top counterterrorism official, Michael Sheehan. But any long-term solution requires local forces in the lead — not Westerners. And those recent successes in Yemen and Somalia provide a model for Mali — and for Afghanistan after 2014. – AOL Defense

The 44th administration is working with its allies to frame a strategy to combat what might be called “al-Qaeda 2.0” — an evolving, morphing terrorist threat that lacks a coherent center but is causing growing trouble in chaotic, poorly governed areas such as Libya, Yemen, Syria and Mali. – Washington Post

A jihadist website posted a new threat by al Qaeda this week that promises to conduct “shocking” attacks on the United States and the West. – Washington Times’ Inside the Ring


NATO’s military power and global influence could be put at risk if allies continue to slash their defense budgets while emerging powers boost theirs, NATO’s chief will warn on Thursday. – Reuters

Foreign Armies East

Yemen suspended a military operation against al Qaeda-linked militants in the south on Wednesday while tribal leaders tried to secure the release three Western hostages the Islamists are holding, a tribal leader said. – Reuters

Israeli warplanes carried out a strike deep inside Syrian territory on Wednesday, American officials reported, saying they believed the target was a convoy carrying sophisticated antiaircraft weaponry on the outskirts of Damascus that was intended for the Hezbollah Shiite militia in Lebanon. – New York Times

About Courtney Messerschmidt

Is a personae for the contact, co creator, poster girl and correspondent of GrEaT sAtAn"S gIrLfRiEnD a collective of diplopolititary junkies. A real girl, she is an annoying, arrogant, audacious, bloodthirsty, conniving, cool, cruel, deceitfully sweet, discombobulated, flirtacious, jealous, hedonistic, lazy, machiavellian, manipulative, militaristic, self absorbed, self aggrandizing, self centered, semi charmed, semi retarded, shallow, spoiled, stuck up, high maintainance ne'er do well pixie with a penchant for immense libraries, depleting strategic cash reserves and wrecking cars every 10 months. Super saavy history and current events. My superior intellect and easy going smartassticness armed with a chaotic emotion meter gave me a formidable ability to be independently dependent. Currently exiled in Hillbillyland, I wield a vocabulary far above my tiny tiny weight class and have traveled widely including Europe, the Middle East and Alabama. I like Am Ex, Carte Blanche, Discover, Mastercard, Ray Bans, Visa and devouring American Dollars in alarming quantities.
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