Monday Defense Briefing

Defense

Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr. took command of both the American and the international military missions in Afghanistan in a traditional handoff ceremony on Sunday, becoming the 15th general to lead the international command here — and he is expected to be its last. – New York Times

The U.S. armed services, widely recognized as the world’s most ready and mobile military, is painting a picture of itself as a stagnant force trapped at home under automatic spending cuts just three weeks away. – Washington Times

The White House is preparing to submit top line budget proposals to Congress in mid-March with more detailed documentation to follow later that month, Defense News has learned. – Defense News

Pro-military Republicans continue criticizing 44 over pending budget cuts, and one is “stunned” the commander in chief is not directly working to void them. – Defense News

The defense industry is joining forces with health, education and other domestic sectors to wage a last-minute push to stop the across-the-board sequestration cuts from taking effect. – DEFCON Hill

On the heels of a two-day policy retreat on the Maryland shore, a senior U.S. Senate Democrat says members of his party will craft a plan to avert pending Pentagon spending cuts. – Defense News

The fiscally conservative Club for Growth said Friday that it was opposed to the plan put forward by a group of House and Senate Republican defense hawks to avoid the first year of sequestration. – DEFCON Hill

The refueling overhaul of the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier Abraham Lincoln has been postponed by the U.S. Navy — another manifestation of Congress’s inability to pass a 2013 defense funding bill. – Defense News

Forty-four former U.S. government officials and national security leaders signed an open letter to Congress today, urging House and Senate leadership to work together to “stop sequestration now.” – Foreign Policy Initiative

The War

The U.S. military Friday strongly rejected reports cited by a United Nations committee indicating that American forces had killed hundreds of children in Afghanistan over the last four years. – Los Angeles Times

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) on Sunday defended the administration’s use of armed drone strikes, saying there was “plenty of oversight.” – Hill Tube

The number of innocent victims of drone strikes remains “extremely small” and doesn’t outweigh the benefits of using drones to take out al Qaeda operatives, former Defense Secretary Robert Gates argued Sunday. – CNN’s Security Clearance

A drone court would face constitutional, political and practical obstacles, and might well prove unworkable, according to several legal scholars and terrorism experts. But with the war in Afghanistan winding down, Al Qaeda fragmenting into hard-to-read offshoots and the 2001 terrorist attacks receding into the past, they said, it is time to consider how to forge a new, trustworthy and transparent system to govern lethal counterterrorism operations. – New York Times

Four years into his tenure, the onetime critic of 43 finds himself cast as a present-day 43, justifying the muscular application of force in the defense of the nation while detractors complain that he has sacrificed the country’s core values in the name of security. – New York Times

With an American withdrawal, Afghanistan will likely become a black hole for reliable HUMINT. The coming darkness regionally is probably unavoidable. And if the terrorists successfully strike, the debates and recriminations will recycle as painfully as before. – TWS

Drone strikes can be an appropriate tool of war, but one wonders whether they have increasingly become a substitute for a comprehensive counterterrorism policy. Given the rise of jihadist forces throughout the Middle East and parts of Africa, that’s the discussion we should be having. – TWS

In short, the white paper is an odd hybrid of sound and unsound analysis. Although it is broadly correct in its conclusions, its account of constitutional law is flawed and its effect on U.S. counterterrorism operations could cause serious damage. In the end, it seems to be driven by the administration’s desire to straddle a difficult political issue rather than by a genuine concern for the nation’s good. – Foreign Policy

Nuclear Weapons/Nonproliferation

44 will use his State of the Union speech on Tuesday to reinvigorate one of his signature national security objectives — drastically reducing nuclear arsenals around the world — after securing agreement in recent months with the United States military that the American nuclear force can be cut in size by roughly a third. – New York Times

44 will renew his push for a nuclear treaty at the United Nations in his second term, administration officials say. – The Hill’s Global Affairs

Senior administration officials have agreed that the number of nuclear warheads the U.S. military deploys could be cut by at least a third without harming national security, according to sources involved in the deliberations. – Foreign Policy

Cybersecurity

A new intelligence assessment has concluded that the United States is the target of a massive, sustained cyber-espionage campaign that is threatening the country’s economic competitiveness, according to individuals familiar with the report. – Washington Post

Missile Defense

The multi-billion-dollar missile defense shield planned for Europe may not be able to ever protect the U.S. from Iranian missiles as intended, according to secret Defense Department studies obtained by the Associated Press. – DEFCON Hill

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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