Thursday Defense Brief

Defense

For the past month, the U.S. military has experienced something not seen for five years in Afghanistan: No combat deaths. – CNN’s Security Clearance

The Navy plans to shut down four of its active aircraft carriers in one of the worst-case scenarios presented to Congress by the service since the debate on budget cuts heated up this winter. – Washington Times

The U.S. Defense Department Wednesday will furlough almost 800,000 employees — essentially its entire civilian workforce — beginning in late April. – Defense News

A pro-military U.S. House Republican wants lawmakers to examine whether Pentagon officials, while warning about dire consequences of pending spending cuts, will undermine military operations and training to protect underperforming, unnecessary programs. – Defense News

As senior congressional Republicans and President Barack Obama continue trading barbs over pending defense spending cuts, a prominent Washington think tank is offering what it dubs a “moderate” plan for $200 billion in Pentagon spending reductions. – Defense News

The U.S. Army’s chief of doctrine development and future plans outlined the service’s top priorities as it looks to again becoming an “Army of preparation,” as opposed to the forward-deployed war-fighting force that is transitioning home after 12 years of combat. – Defense News

Despite the threat of additional spending cuts, Army leaders are not backing away from a plan to add more firepower to its brigade combat teams. – DOD Buzz

The next defense secretary will likely have to decide on a series of Army base closings to meet the challenge of looming military spending cuts, a top Army budget official said Wednesday here at the Association of the U.S. Army Winter Symposium. – DOD Buzz

Impending budget cuts could delay the move of nearly 3,000 sailors in the Iwo Jima Amphibious Ready Group from Norfolk, Va., to Mayport, Fla. – Defense News

The U.S. Military Academy at West Point will take the biggest hit from planned Army budget cuts in New York. – Gannett Washington Bureau

The Defense Department’s new internal intelligence agency is now operational — at least virtually. – DEFCON Hill

But even as they raise the alarm about everything from layoffs to reduced flying hours, defense officials are trying to assess how much flexibility they have to protect their most vital missions from the worst effects of the cuts. – Reuters

Foreign Aid

The U.S. initiative to fight AIDS around the world should scale up its programs, better target resources and direct more focus toward prevention, according to a new assessment. – The Hill’s Healthwatch

Josh Rogin reports: U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry used his first major speech since taking office to argue that the State Department and its activities serve U.S. communities here at home, an effort to defend the budgets for diplomacy and development against an axe-wielding Congress. – The Cable

Rogin also reports: Forty international humanitarian organizations are warning that the impending arbitrary budget cuts known as the “sequester” will have dire consequences for people in crisis situations in the world’s most conflict-affected areas. – The Cable

The War

The White House is refusing to share fully with Congress the legal opinions that justify targeted killings, while maneuvering to make sure its stance does not do anything to endanger the confirmation of John O. Brennan as C.I.A. director. – New York Times

American-led unmanned drone strikes have killed roughly 4,700 individuals worldwide, since the beginning of those counterterrorism operations in 2007, according to Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.).  – DEFCON Hill

Cybersecurity

The White House threatened China and other countries with trade and diplomatic action over corporate espionage as it cataloged more than a dozen cases of cyberattacks and commercial thefts at some of the U.S.’s biggest companies. – Wall Street Journal

Unveiling a strategy Wednesday to respond to the theft of U.S. trade secrets,  administration officials seemed to go out of their way to downplay the notion that the policy is aimed at troublesome China. – Washington Times

A new White House strategy designed to protect trade secrets from economic espionage limits United States government action to diplomatic and law enforcement measures. – Washington Free Beacon

Nuclear Weapons

One of the United States’ most prominent nuclear weapons experts on Wednesday urged the government to develop nuclear weapons that could be used to short-circuit enemies’ electrical infrastructure, to counter similar capabilities possessed by Russia and China. – Global Security Newswire

For 21st century deterrence, the value of first-strike stability is now at least equally important as maintaining an assured retaliation capability. Those of us in the new generation of strategic thinkers have liberated our minds from Cold War thinking to make sure that today, nuclear weapons are never used. – AOL Defense

Missile Defense

While the last of six Patriot anti-missile batteries are deployed in Turkey, ostensibly to protect Turkish airspace from a potential missile strike from neighboring Syria, some officials claim the primary purpose is to protect a radar that would track Iranian missile launches. – Defense News

Foreign Armies East

New military aircraft will soon begin filling Taiwan’s skies as it takes delivery of new fixed-wing maritime patrol aircraft along with attack and utility helicopters. – Defense News

Taiwan’s Air Force plans to overhaul 16 T56-A14 single-shaft turboprop engines for its new fleet of Lockheed Martin P-3C Orion Maritime/Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) aircraft. The $10.6 million contract was awarded to Texas-based StandardAero-San Antonio Inc. – Defense News

NATO is considering holding a summit in mid-2013 to mark a milestone in the handover of security responsibilities in Afghanistan to local forces, alliance Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said on Wednesday. – Reuters

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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