Smith: Continuing Resolution Use is the Worst Thing Congress Does for National Security

The constant reliance on continuing resolutions to keep the government open is a terrible way to do things and the worst thing Congress does for national security, the ranking democrat on the House Armed Services Committee told reporters on Thursday. The appetite of Congress, and of the broader American public, for large-scale government programs, including the military, does not match its willingness to pay for them, Rep. Adam Smith, D-Wash., said. Read the full story by Brian Everstine and Wilson Brissett.

Survivability, Reliability Driving Nuclear Modernization Efforts

In the Air Force’s ongoing efforts to modernize its nuclear forces, the service is focusing on survivability and reliability in its new systems, Gen. Robin Rand, commander of Air Force Global Strike Command, said Thursday at the Association of Old Crows Symposium in Washington, D.C. In pushing along the B-21 bomber, the Long Range Standoff Weapon, and the Ground Based Strategic Deterrent programs, Rand said his primary goal is to “make sure there’s improvement over what we currently have in the survivability and reliability.” These two principles of deterrence are joined by a third, Rand said, which is “you have to have the will” to deploy the weapon in the first place. But he insisted that technical advances are crucial to the modernization efforts because “the enemy has closed the gap quickly” in nuclear technologies. —Wilson Brissett

Reducing the Stockpile, Not Platforms, to Lower Nuke Costs

The US government simply can’t afford the coming bill for nuclear modernization, and needs to take steps to reduce the stockpile while maintaining a credible deterrence, the top Democrat on the House Armed Services Committee said Thursday. The military will face a bill of $1.2 trillion over the next 30 years to operate, modernize, and recapitalize its bomber fleet, cruise missiles, and intercontinental ballistic missiles, according to a Congressional Budget Office report released Oct. 31. That overall bill is “way more than we need to spend for a credible nuclear deterrence,” Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.) told reporters Thursday. Instead of looking to move away from a triad or reducing the number of platforms, the military should look at reducing the overall stockpile to reduce the overall cost. But, currently, there is not a strategy to meet the coming costs. “I don’t know where this ends, I just know that it doesn’t end well,” Smith said. “At some point, we don’t have money anymore.”—Brian Everstine

US Needs Old Fashioned Defense Strategy, Experts Tell Senate

The US military is desperately in need of a defense strategy, experts told the Senate on Thursday, but that strategy needs to focus on traditional strengths rather than whiz-bang technological breakthroughs. The Department of Defense has an increasingly complex set of “global objectives,” retired Army Lt. Gen. Thomas Spoehr told the Senate Armed Services Committee, but “only a fraction of the necessary resources” to accomplish them. Within the limitations of this reality, a national defense strategy is essential to help prioritize where the military focuses its time and money. Read the full report by Wilson Brissett.

Coalition: 801 Civilians Have Been Killed in Inherent Resolve Airstrikes

US and coalition airstrikes have killed at least 801 civilians since the air war targeting ISIS in Iraq and Syria began in 2014, according to the most recent tally of investigations released Thursday. Between August 2014 and October 2017, the coalition has conducted 28,198 total strikes including 56,976 separate engagements. Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve determined that 15 more civilians were killed in various strikes in October, with 55 reports found to not be credible, according to the most recent monthly civilian casualty report. A total of 695 reports of possible civilian casualties are still open. The coalition’s tally is much lower than other lists, such as the minimum tally of 5,961 claimed by the monitoring group Airwars. While the coalition has determined it has killed civilians in airstrikes, the congressionally created fund to compensate the families of victims has not been used, House Armed Services Committee ranking member Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.) said Thursday. No payment has been made either during the Obama administration’s handling of the operation, or so far under the “marked increase” of strikes under President Trump, Smith said. —Brian Everstine

Pentagon Delays Cluster Bomb Ban

The Pentagon is planning to indefinitely delay a ban on older cluster bombs, which was slated to go into effect in 2019, because safety developments in munitions technology have not advanced enough to replace stockpiles. The ban, announced in 2008 by the Bush administration, claimed the US would only use cluster bombs if they met a standard of failing to detonate one percent or less of the time to avoid civilian casualties, according to The Associated Press. The new policy removes the 2019 deadline and claims the weapon is legitimate and needed for attacks on “area targets” such as troop formations, according to the AP. The Defense Department said the military has not used a “significant amount” of the weapons in years, and that it cannot sell older munitions. The US did not sign on to a 2010 international treaty outlawing the use of the bombs. —Brian Everstine



—US and Chinese military leaders conducted an unpublicized meeting at the National Defense University in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday to discuss how the two militaries might work together in the event of a crisis on the Korean Peninsula: Associated Press.

—A year-long wargame funded by the Defense Department and various contractors found that increasingly sophisticated and available satellite imagery creates a “strategic problem” for the US and favors its adversaries: Space News.

—Romania signed an agreement on Wednesday to purchase Patriot missiles from the US Army: Raytheon release.

—The final version of the defense authorization bill did not include proposed language that would create a new Space Corps, but House leaders expect the issue will be revisited next year: Jane’s.