The bipartisan House task force on America’s future defense is path-breaking

Late last month, a bipartisan congressional task force issued a timely report that, apart from purely security-oriented outlets, received far less media coverage than it deserved. Congressional bipartisanship has become virtually an oxymoron in the current political climate. Nevertheless, Republicans and Democrats on the House Armed Services Committee Task Force on the Future of Defense were able to come together to produce a serious, thought-provoking essay that focuses on implementing a defense strategy that is responsive to the threats that will confront America far into the future, indeed as far as the end of this century.

Many of the task force’s proposals have been outlined in previous studies and in congressional testimony. They include a greater focus on funding and developing advanced technologies and incorporating them into military systems and structures; concluding a new arms control agreement with Russia; and controlling the leakage of technology by expanding the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States’s (CFIUS) purview and the scope of Foreign Investment Risk Review Modernization Act (FIRRMA) legislation.

Similarly, as others have done, the report called for revitalizing — indeed, “modernizing” — America’s relationships with allies, partners and friends. It went even further, however, by calling on Washington to establish “new alliances to meet emerging threats.” Whether the United States can do so is an open question, not merely because Washington has walked away from a host of international agreements in the past several years, but also because states have become chary about formalizing alliance relationships. On the other hand, America certainly can deepen its political and military ties to friendly countries, in Europe, Asia and elsewhere, as it has done with Sweden, Finland and Singapore in recent years. 

The report recognizes that America’s security fundamentally depends on a civilian and military workforce that is open to innovation and experimentation; meaningful cooperation with the non-defense commercial sector; and an overhaul of budgetary priorities to move away from legacy programs and incorporate cutting-edge technology in the “program of record.” In particular, the report recognizes that the national security workforce is woefully ignorant of the latest technological developments. 

The Department of Defense (DOD) bureaucracy relies far too heavily on consultants and contractors as intermediaries between government and private industry. Moreover, the bureaucratic culture in the Pentagon is suspicious, if not downright hostile, to advances in technology that emerge from the commercial sector. While former Secretary of Defense Ash Carter, in particular, strived to close the psychological gap between the DOD and Silicon Valley, the report correctly posits that there is considerable room for improvement — in terms of funding for advanced technologies and contracting with the non-defense industrial base to obtain them. 

Most significantly, the report underscores the importance of a “whole-of-government” approach to national security and recommends that the State Department lead such efforts. Regrettably, the term “whole of government” has become a mantra that bureaucrats utter but do not act upon. Unfortunately for them, and the nation they serve, America’s most dangerous potential adversaries, China and Russia, have

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‘Freedom’: Pence Offers First Defense Of Rose Garden Superspreader Event

Vice President Mike Pence offered up the first direct defense of the Rose Garden COVID-19 superspreader event to unveil Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett, casting it as a matter of freedom of choice.

During Wednesday’s vice presidential debate, Pence cast the Rose Garden event, where dozens are thought to have been infected with the virus, as an epiphenomenon of the larger pandemic.

Pence said that the story of both that pandemic and the Rose Garden event is not one of incompetence, or dangerous negligence on the part of the government. Rather, it’s a divide between those who love freedom and liberal statists who want to impose yet another mandate on the tired millions, yearning to breathe free.

“President Trump and I trust the American people to make choices in the best interests of their health,” Pence said. “Joe Biden and Kamala Harris consistently talk about mandates and not just mandates with the coronavirus, but a government takeover of health care.”

“We’re about freedom and respecting the freedom of the American people,” Pence added.

Pence framed that response not just as a defense of the Rose Garden event, however.

Rather, he teed up that divide as a way of accounting for the whole pandemic – and as a way of painting criticism of the Trump administration’s response as just another whine from the meddlesome left.

Pence, head of the White House coronavirus task force since February, argued that when New York City, New Orleans, and Detroit were hit hard with COVID in March and April, the Trump administration “told the American people what needed to be done.”

“And the American people made the sacrifices,” Pence added.

In theory, those sacrifices have been made in part to allow the Trump administration to organize a coherent response to the virus, which would then allow us all to return to normalcy on a faster timeframe.

That did not happen.

Rather, as Pence pointed out, the Sun Belt was hit next.

“Americans stepped forward,” Pence intoned. “But the reality is, the work of the President of the United States goes on.”

And it was then, Pence added, that “a vacancy in the the Supreme Court has opened up.”

So, the Rose Garden superspreader event wasn’t just an expression of the Trump administration’s love of freedom. Rather, Pence implied, it was yet another milestone in the pandemic that has now claimed the lives of 210,000 Americans.

And in the world of Pence’s reply, that’s not a failure. It’s a simple result of the fact that the “work of the President of the United States goes on.”

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Air National Guard Volunteers Assist at Alaska Kitchen > U.S. DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE > Story

Since mid-August, Alaska Air National Guardsmen assigned to the 176th Force Support Flight Sustainment Services, who are local to the Matanuska-Susitna Borough area, have been volunteering their time to assist the Five Loaves, Two Fish Kitchen in Wasilla, Alaska.

“As a force in readiness, the relevancy of the National Guard increases through the flexibility of these Airmen,” said Air Force Master Sgt. Franz Deters, the senior noncommissioned officer in charge of the volunteer effort.

The kitchen relies on donations from the Food Bank and other foundations to prepare quality meals for local Mat-Su residents in need. The organization employs only one professional chef, Air Force veteran Mike Gordon, and the rest of the staff is completely made up of unpaid volunteers. The kitchen is next door to Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, whose kitchen committee heads up the operation.

“When the guard started volunteering here, we were very short staffed,” said Duane Hanson, one of the kitchen’s dedicated civilian volunteers. “Their work here has kept us on track in our efforts to help as many people as we can.”

The airmen work twice a week for three hours each day, preparing about 600 meals per month.



We get to help Alaskan citizens, filling in at a time when there are fewer available volunteers, all while getting training that allows us to gain additional experience in our jobs that we do for the guard.”

Air Force Master Sgt. Franz Deters, Alaska Air National Guard

The airmen are certified in food handling, with years of experience cooking in the Air Guard. They have been assisting the kitchen in food preparation, which consists of peeling, cutting, dicing and cooking various food items, before being put into sealed packages.

“I take pride in the fact that I work with a team that never says ‘It’s not my job,'” Deters said. “I work with men and women who will volunteer to go where they can have the biggest impact.”

According to Deters, this unique volunteer opportunity to serve the local community also helps his team meet mission essential training requirements for their work in service career fields for military service.

“We get to help Alaskan citizens, filling in at a time when there are fewer available volunteers, all while getting training that allows us to gain additional experience in our jobs that we do for the guard,” Deters said. “It’s really a win-win.”

Good Shepherd Pastor Rick Cavens, retired Alaska National Guard chaplain, oversees the kitchen staff. The kitchen provides meals to My House Homeless Teens Resource Center, Knik House and Family Promise. Recently, the kitchen started a meal program for Mat-Su School District families, with the intention of providing a food portion big enough to feed an entire family.

“I have two extended families, my church and my military family,” Cavens said. “The National Guard has offered a tremendous helping hand during this difficult time of uncertainty. We’re very thankful for their hard work and dedication to helping the local community.”

(Army Sgt.

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Overnight Defense: Trump says he’s leaving Walter Reed, ‘feeling really good’ after COVID-19 treatment | White House coronavirus outbreak grows

Happy Monday and welcome to Overnight Defense. I’m Rebecca Kheel, and here’s your nightly guide to the latest developments at the Pentagon, on Capitol Hill and beyond. CLICK HERE to subscribe to the newsletter.



a person driving a car: Overnight Defense: Trump says he's leaving Walter Reed, 'feeling really good' after COVID-19 treatment | White House coronavirus outbreak grows | Dems expand probe into Pompeo speeches


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Overnight Defense: Trump says he’s leaving Walter Reed, ‘feeling really good’ after COVID-19 treatment | White House coronavirus outbreak grows | Dems expand probe into Pompeo speeches

THE TOPLINE: President Trump is expected to leave Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on Monday evening after three days of treatment for COVID-19.

Trump, whose oxygen levels dropped as recently as Saturday and who is on several medications following his coronavirus diagnosis, tweeted that he is “feeling really good” and that Americans should not allow COVID-19 to “dominate your life,” downplaying a virus that has killed more than 210,000 people in the country.

“I will be leaving the great Walter Reed Medical Center today at 6:30 P.M. Feeling really good!” Trump tweeted. “Don’t be afraid of Covid. Don’t let it dominate your life. We have developed, under the Trump Administration, some really great drugs & knowledge. I feel better than I did 20 years ago!”

Caveats: While Trump urged Americans not to be afraid of the virus, the president has access to medical resources unavailable to most in the country. For example, Trump was given an experimental Regeneron antibody cocktail under a compassionate use agreement that is not available to the public.

There is also the risk Trump could experience a setback while he receives treatment at the White House and have to return to the hospital, something that could be damaging for both his health and his re-election chances. Trump is 74 and overweight, putting him at higher risk for serious coronavirus complications.

What Trump’s doctors say: White House physician Sean Conley told reporters that Trump’s symptoms have continued to improve and that he has met or exceeded all discharge criteria. But he acknowledged that Trump may not yet be “out of the woods,” underscoring the degree of uncertainty surrounding his condition.

“Though he may not entirely be out of the woods yet, the team and I agree that all of our evaluations, and most importantly, his clinical status, support the president’s safe return home,” Conley said.

Trump’s doctors had told reporters on Sunday that he could be discharged as early as Monday as they painted a rosy portrait of his condition and recovery while continuing to evade some questions about his treatment and health. At the same time, the doctors also revealed that Trump had a high fever on Friday and experienced two transient drops in his oxygen levels on Friday and Saturday.

According to the medical team, the president is currently on multiple medications, including the antiviral medication remdesivir, the steroid dexamethasone and the Regeneron antibody cocktail.

The president’s doctors said Monday that he would receive his fourth dose of remdesivir at the hospital and his fifth on Tuesday when he is back at the White House. They

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Judge appears skeptical of Bolton’s defense of publishing book without White House approval

A federal judge on Thursday appeared skeptical of former national security adviser John BoltonJohn BoltonMaximum pressure is keeping US troops in Iraq and Syria Woodward book trails Bolton, Mary Trump in first-week sales Ex-NSC official alleges ‘unprecedented’ intervention by White House aides in Bolton book review MORE‘s defense against the Trump administration’s allegations that he published his new memoir without proper clearance from officials reviewing it for classified information.

Judge Royce Lamberth heard arguments from both sides during a hearing on Thursday, a day after an official said in a court filing that the White House’s national security leaders took an “unprecedented” level of interest in the customary prepublication review of Bolton’s book.

But Lamberth, who was appointed to the federal district court in D.C. by former President Reagan, appeared unmoved by Bolton’s legal team, who argued that the submission from the official was further evidence that the White House is seeking to harm the book in retaliation for its unflattering portrayal of President TrumpDonald John TrumpBiden on Trump’s refusal to commit to peaceful transfer of power: ‘What country are we in?’ Romney: ‘Unthinkable and unacceptable’ to not commit to peaceful transition of power Two Louisville police officers shot amid Breonna Taylor grand jury protests MORE.

“I’m very much of the notion that I just let you engage in that whole political diatribe that really has no place in what we are arguing today,” Lamberth said in response to one of Bolton’s lawyers who pointed to the filing as evidence of bad faith from the Trump White House.

Lamberth had rejected the administration’s effort in June to block the publication of “The Room Where it Happened,” saying it was too late to prevent the release when copies had already been shipped across the country and were widely available.

But he still chided the former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations for moving forward with the publication without receiving express written authorization from the government.

“In taking it upon himself to publish his book without securing final approval from national intelligence authorities, Bolton may indeed have caused the country irreparable harm,” Lamberth wrote in his June decision.

The Trump administration is now seeking to have Bolton’s book royalties seized, alleging that he violated a nondisclosure agreement forbidding him from discussing any classified information from his time in the White House.

Jennifer Dickey, an attorney with the Department of Justice, argued on Thursday that there was legal recourse Bolton could have pursued before rushing ahead with the publication.

“He could have filed a suit at any time during the process if he thought the government was engaging in bad faith,” Dickey said. “He could have notified the government in any way if he thought there was bad faith, but he did not do so. Instead, he walked away, opted out and sent his manuscript to the publisher.”

The ongoing lawsuit is a civil matter, but the Department of Justice is reportedly investigating whether to bring criminal charges against

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House Races Feature Party-Switcher Van Drew, Dems on Defense | Pennsylvania News

By MIKE CATALINI, Associated Press

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — The presidential contest in New Jersey doesn’t look competitive, with Joe Biden leading Donald Trump by double digits, but a handful of the state’s dozen House districts are shaping up as competitive.

New Jersey voters will be electing representatives in all 12 U.S. House districts in November’s first-ever mostly mail-in election.

Democrats are on defense in three seats they picked up in 2018, but perhaps the highest-profile race is in the 2nd District where Republican incumbent Rep. Jeff Van Drew faces Democrat Amy Kennedy for the seat he won as a Democrat in 2018.

Van Drew gained national attention for switching parties during the House impeachment of the Republican Trump, saying there was no place for him in the Democratic Party as an opponent of impeachment. The defection won Van Drew, who pledged his “undying support” to the president, an Oval Office visit as well as a Trump rally in Wildwood. He also had a speaking role at the Republican National Convention.

In all of the most watched districts, unaffiliated voters have the most registrations, followed by Democrats. Republicans are outnumbered by Democrats across New Jersey by more than 1 million registered voters. Democrats recently surpassed people registered as unaffiliated and currently have 177,000 more registrations.

A look at some of the most-watched races:

Van Drew is well known in the district, and the GOP there has embraced him, even after spending years trying to defeat him in the state Legislature, where he served as a Democrat.

Kennedy is a former teacher and the spouse of former Rhode Island Democratic Rep. Patrick Kennedy. Kennedy is the son of former U.S. Sen. Ted Kennedy.

New Jersey’s 2nd District covers about the southern third of the state and includes all or part of eight counties. It runs from the southern Philadelphia suburbs in the west to the shore resort towns along the Atlantic Ocean, including Atlantic and Ocean cities.

There are about 707,000 people in the district, according to the Census Bureau. More than 500,000 residents are white, while over 91,000 are Black. Hispanics account for 121,000. The median income is $68,000.

Van Drew won the district in 2018 by eight points over Republican Trump supporter Seth Grossman.

Freshman Democratic incumbent Rep. Andy Kim faces former Hill International executive David Richter, the Republican in the race. Richter had planned to run against Van Drew but changed districts when he switched parties.

The 3rd District stretches from suburban Philadelphia’s Burlington County in the west, across the Pinelands, to Ocean County in the east. Burlington is a Democratic stronghold, while Ocean is reliably Republican.

The district’s 736,000 people have a median income of about $86,000, according to the Census Bureau. About 582,000 residents are white. Eighty-five thousand are Black, while 67,000 are Hispanic.

Kim defeated Republican Rep. Tom MacArthur in 2018 by one point, in part because of Democratic strength in Burlington.

Freshman Democrat Tom Malinowski is taking on Tom Kean Jr., the state Senate

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White House tries to play defense with falsehoods about former Pence aide Troye



Donald Trump wearing a suit and tie: CNN


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The White House moved quickly Thursday to try to discredit Olivia Troye, the former aide to Vice President Mike Pence, after she released a video charging that President Donald Trump failed to protect the public from coronavirus and that he only cared about getting reelected.

In a flurry of statements from White House aides and President Donald Trump, the administration sought to paint Troye as a disgruntled, low-level employee who was fired. But in doing so, the White House made a series of misleading and sometimes outright false statements about the role Troye had on the White House Coronavirus Task Force and the circumstances of her departure.

Troye told CNN she left the Trump administration on her own, and that much of the behavior from the President she cited in the video — such as accusing the President of suggesting Covid-19 was a good thing because he wouldn’t have to shake hands with people — was witnessed by others.

The White House denied her claims, and in doing so, downplayed her role. White House deputy press secretary Judd Deere said Troye was “never in private meetings with the President,” while White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany tweeted Troye “typically sat in the overflow room of task force.”

But there are pictures of Troye sitting behind Trump and Pence at a task force meeting, and a White House aide acknowledged she was “present a few times when the President addressed large groups — like the task force — where dozens of people were present.”

Asked for clarification on defining a “private meeting,” the White House aide said “she’s never met the President, she definitely never briefed the President, and to the best of my knowledge never stepped foot in the Oval and she was never in small meetings with the President.”

But Troye tells CNN much of this is also false. She claims that she has met the President, and that in fact, he asked her who she was in one of the first task force meetings. Troye claims she was present for every meeting when the President joined for calls with governors about Covid-19, and that she was in the Oval Office a few times with task force members, including when Trump asked her boss at the time, the vice president, to lead the task force.

“What I’ve said about him and his behavior was also witnessed by all of these other people because yes, they were in the meetings with me,” Troye told CNN in an interview. “I’m not claiming to be in small meetings with him. And it didn’t take a small meeting to make the President speak freely because he is who he is.”

Trump joined in the attacks on Troye Thursday evening, falsely claiming she had been fired and touting the goodbye letter she sent to colleagues in July.

“We have a letter from her, I was just told, that is absolutely, the most beautiful going away letter. She was terminated. They

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Overnight Defense: Dems divided on length of stopgap spending measure | Afghan envoy agrees to testify before House panel

Happy Monday and welcome to Overnight Defense. I’m Rebecca Kheel, and here’s your nightly guide to the latest developments at the Pentagon, on Capitol Hill and beyond. CLICK HERE to subscribe to the newsletter.



Chuck Schumer wearing a suit and tie: Overnight Defense: Dems divided on length of stopgap spending measure | Afghan envoy agrees to testify before House panel | Trump leans into foreign policy in campaign's final stretch


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Overnight Defense: Dems divided on length of stopgap spending measure | Afghan envoy agrees to testify before House panel | Trump leans into foreign policy in campaign’s final stretch

THE TOPLINE: The House is back in session this week, joining the Senate, and funding the government before money runs out in a couple weeks is a top to-do item.

Congress is expected to pass a stopgap spending measure. But over the weekend, The Hill’s Jordain Carney looked at how Democrats are divided over how long the continuing resolution (CR) should last.

The November election is complicating the Democratic strategy in the looming government shutdown fight.

Feeling momentum as they aim to win back the Senate and the White House, Democrats are divided over whether to agree to the GOP-favored stopgap bill that lasts into December or push for a longer deal to fund the government into early 2021.

A shorter bill, supporters hope, would force Congress to reach a larger funding deal before the end of the year. But a bill that lasts into next year would take a lame duck shutdown fight off the table and give Democrats more leverage if Democratic nominee Joe Biden is elected president.

“We’ve gone back and forth, it’s a split decision in the caucus. If you can tell us what happens Nov. 3 it is a lot easier. … The uncertainty about the presidential election is an element,” Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin (Ill.) said when asked about the length of a bill.

Neither Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) nor Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer (N.Y.) have publicly endorsed a timeline. A House Democratic aide noted that behind-the-scenes negotiations about what the strategy should be are ongoing.

Why it matters to defense: The Pentagon is no fan of CRs or shutdowns, warning that readiness is harmed by unpredictable funding.

Defense officials also often warn that the longer CRs go on the more damage is done to the military because the stopgap measures generally prohibit starting new programs or adjusting existing ones.

You’ll recall we reported last week that the administration asked for several exceptions to that rule, including flexibility to fund the Space Force, new submarines and a new nuclear warhead.

AFGHANISTAN DEVELOPMENTS: Much-delayed talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban started this weekend in Doha, Qatar, a historic development that is raising hope, however little, of ending two decades of war.

Back in the United States, a House panel said Monday it has secured an agreement for the Trump administration’s envoy to Afghan peace talks to testify before the committee after it issued a subpoena threat.

Zalmay Khalilzad, the special representative for Afghanistan reconciliation, will testify before the House Oversight and Reform National Security Subcommittee when he returns from his trip to Qatar, the

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‘Victory Garden’ Approach Could Aid AI Effort > U.S. DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE > Defense Department News

Americans bolstered the war effort during World War II by planting “victory gardens.” Every citizen’s small contribution to the war effort added up to a lot of support. The same can be done to further the Defense Department’s efforts to advance artificial intelligence, said the acting director of the Joint Artificial Intelligence Center.

“The first step in doing this involves thinking critically about the work that you do,” said Nand Mulchandani yesterday during the opening session at the DOD AI Symposium. “Can you do it more efficiently? Can you rethink it? Could it benefit from automation, analytics or predictive capabilities? Is it ‘data-rich?’ If so, it might be a perfect candidate to build your own AI victory garden around.”

Mulchandani said DOD employees can plant “technological seeds” by learning more about AI, defining areas within their own work environment where AI could help solve problems, developing business strategies to implement AI capabilities, organizing and preserving data, starting an AI project, and sharing lessons learned from their own AI efforts with others across the department.

“The good news is that you’ll have support from the JAIC and the AI community that we’re building across the government, industry and academia,” Mulchandani said.

The JAIC was begun in 2018 to accelerate DOD’s adoption and integration of AI. From the start, Mulchandani said, the JAIC was meant to serve as an AI center of excellence and to provide resources, tools and expertise to the department.

Today, the JAIC is involved in pathfinder technology projects, coordinating with industry and academia on AI, training and education, AI governance and policy, testing and evaluation, international engagement, and AI ethics implementation.

While the mission of the JAIC is broad and far-reaching, Mulchandani said the JAIC alone can’t make AI happen across the department.

“This is a massive effort and is one that the JAIC embraces because we understand that all of these initiatives will help create the conditions for us to achieve victory with AI,” he said. “But we cannot do this alone … no single organization can tackle the challenges of fielding AI on their own — it will take our entire community.”

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Defense Department Official Says ‘Victory Garden’ Approach Could Aid AI Effort > U.S. DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE > Defense Department News

Americans bolstered the war effort during World War II by planting “victory gardens.” Every citizen’s small contribution to the war effort added up to a lot of support. The same can be done to further the Defense Department’s efforts to advance artificial intelligence, said the acting director of the Joint Artificial Intelligence Center.

“The first step in doing this involves thinking critically about the work that you do,” said Nand Mulchandani yesterday during the opening session at the DOD AI Symposium. “Can you do it more efficiently? Can you rethink it? Could it benefit from automation, analytics or predictive capabilities? Is it ‘data-rich?’ If so, it might be a perfect candidate to build your own AI victory garden around.”

Mulchandani said DOD employees can plant “technological seeds” by learning more about AI, defining areas within their own work environment where AI could help solve problems, developing business strategies to implement AI capabilities, organizing and preserving data, starting an AI project, and sharing lessons learned from their own AI efforts with others across the department.

“The good news is that you’ll have support from the JAIC and the AI community that we’re building across the government, industry and academia,” Mulchandani said.

The JAIC was begun in 2018 to accelerate DOD’s adoption and integration of AI. From the start, Mulchandani said, the JAIC was meant to serve as an AI center of excellence and to provide resources, tools and expertise to the department.

Today, the JAIC is involved in pathfinder technology projects, coordinating with industry and academia on AI, training and education, AI governance and policy, testing and evaluation, international engagement, and AI ethics implementation.

While the mission of the JAIC is broad and far-reaching, Mulchandani said the JAIC alone can’t make AI happen across the department.

“This is a massive effort and is one that the JAIC embraces because we understand that all of these initiatives will help create the conditions for us to achieve victory with AI,” he said. “But we cannot do this alone … no single organization can tackle the challenges of fielding AI on their own — it will take our entire community.”

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