Friday Defense Briefing

Thirty Republicans on the House Armed Services Committee are urging the leaders of the House-Senate budget conference to reach a deal that spares defense spending from sequestration. – DEFCON Hill

Sequestration may not be the worst-case scenario for Pentagon budgets — defense spending could drop even lower in the next decade, a new report argues. – DEFCON Hill

Sequester-forced furloughs and more recent workdays lost when the government shut down for two weeks killed productivity at U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command, Gen. Robert Cone said Wednesday at a luncheon during the Association of the U.S. Army conference in Washington. – DOD Buzz

The Thunderbirds are returning in fiscal 2014, but the Air Force’s overall budget for their shows and other community outreach programs will be less than half of what it was before sequestration hit. – Military Times

The half helicopter, half airplane vehicle makes little news anymore. For Bell Helicopter, that’s good news. So, the end of the Afghanistan war couldn’t be a better time to start planning for the next generation tilt-rotor. Meet the V-280, a medium-lift concept aircraft that Keith Flail, Bell’s director of future vertical lift, said is the next best thing. – Defense One

General Electric and a Honeywell/Pratt & Whitney team are testing new 3,000-shp. turboshaft engines amid signs that, despite current budget challenges, the U.S. Army remains committed to re-engining its Boeing AH-64 Apaches and Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawks in the 2020s. – Aviation Week

After more than a decade in development, an experimental landing ship aimed at boosting the ability of special operators, like the Navy SEALs, to make rapid and stealthy sea landings is targeted for more testing next year by the Pentagon. – USA Today

As Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel tries to make do with less, he is weighing the possibility of taking away the independence of a small internal Pentagon think tank beloved by many in Washington’s national security elite. – The Daily Beast

The War

A flurry of recent attacks by al Qaeda-linked militants in Iraq—strengthened by their alliance with jihadist fighters in Syria—is threatening to undo years of U.S. efforts to crush the group, widening sectarian conflict in the Middle East. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)

Algerian troops discovered a huge arms cache near the border with Libya, including hundreds of surface-to-air missiles, rockets and landmines, an Algerian security source said on Thursday. – Reuters

The American Civil Liberties Union asked the Justice Department on Thursday to investigate efforts by the New York City Police Department to conduct surveillance in you know what communities. – Washington Post

The top US House Armed Services Committee Democrat on Thursday applauded a White House plan to shift America’s armed drone program from the CIA to the Pentagon. – Defense News

The White House should acknowledge and justify the drone strikes it launches against terrorist targets in the Middle East, the top Democrat on the House Armed Services Committee said Thursday. – DEFCON Hill

Just how busy America’s UAV force has become is evident in this statistic: The Air Force’s MQ-1 Predator and MQ-9 Reaper unmanned aircraft have accumulated 2 million flight hours as of Oct. 22, according to the service. – Defense News

The defense teams for the five accused 9/11 co-conspirators sparred with officials from the military prison’s security staff claiming guards are confiscating legal documents, violating attorney-client privilege. – DEFCON Hill

An appeals court on Thursday upheld the conviction of an ex-Guantanamo detainee in the 1998 bombings of two U.S. embassies in Africa, in a boost to U.S. efforts to gain intelligence from terrorism suspects before prosecuting them. – Associated Press

The Amnesty report acknowledges the existence of the army’s violence, and the Taliban insurgency. But by myopically focusing on American drone strikes, it makes no comparisons between these. It fails to acknowledge the judgment that at least some of the villagers in the Economist story appear to have made: that American drones are what they claim to be, and they are attractive compared to the realistic alternative to them. And for some people, at least, the drones are killing their enemy: Taliban insurgents and militants who have moved to take over their villages. – The New Republic

While in public the missile attacks produced furious denunciations and angry posturing from Pakistani politicians and generals, in private they led to a more muted process: discreet negotiations, secret deals and, in some drone strikes, full Pakistani cooperation. But now the volume has been turned up, driven by pressure from advocacy groups, news media leaks and public demands in both countries for greater transparency in the drone program. – New York Times

A former Pakistani prime minister strongly denied Thursday that he had quietly authorized U.S. drone strikes inside his country, but he didn’t rule out secret deals made without his knowledge. – Washington Post

Foreign Armies East

The People’s Liberation Army’s (PLA) navy has begun a massive exercise in the western Pacific that is widely seen as a response to the recently completed U.S.-Japan-South Korean joint naval drills led by the aircraft carrier USS George Washington near the Korean Peninsula. – Washington Times’ Inside China

Myanmar’s military – feared by many after decades of strong-arm government rule – is taking another step toward modernization by changing its admissions process to allow in a new type of recruit – women. – WSJ’s Southeast Asia Real Time

The United States is “seriously concerned” about NATO ally Turkey’s controversial decision to select a Chinese company for its long-range air and missile defense system, the US ambassador said on Thursday. – AFP

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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