MORNING RECON: USAF Pilot Shortage; An Early N. Korean Provocation; Race for New Rocket Engines; Redesign U.S. Missile Defense; Kinetic Energy Weapons

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4/13/2017
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Morning Recon

Good Thursday morning and welcome to MORNING RECON.  On this day in 1941, the USSR and Japan sign a five-year Neutrality Agreement. For Stalin this is an invaluable piece of diplomacy which, backed by secret information from Soviet spies in Tokyo, will allow him to transfer forces from Siberia to face a possible German attack.

RealClearDefense Exclusives:

Morning Mission Brief Podcast
The Race to Develop New Rocket Engines
Aviation Week with Jen DiMascio, Frank Morring, Jr. and Lara Seligman

Today’s Top Stories

NATIONAL Trump Says It’s Likely Russia Knew of Syrian Gas Attack in Advance
From Julie Hirschfeld Davis and David E. Sanger, The New York Times: “In an interview that aired on Wednesday, Mr. Trump said that Mr. Putin was partly to blame for the conflict in Syria and denounced him for backing President Bashar al-Assad, whom he called an “animal." Later at the White House, Mr. Trump said that Russia had likely known in advance of the Syrian government’s plan to unleash a nerve agent against its own people, and asserted that the United States’ relations with Moscow were at an “all-time low."" The Trump Administration and the 115th Congress Should Support Ukraine
From Luke Coffey and Daniel Kochis, The Heritage Foundation: “Although Ukraine is not a NATO member, there are things the U.S. can and should do to help. These include continuing and, when necessary, expanding economic sanctions against Russia; providing advanced weaponry and military training to the Ukrainians; issuing a nonrecognition declaration over Crimea; pressuring Russia to live up to its commitments under the Minsk II cease-fire agreement; and helping Ukraine to uproot entrenched corruption and cronyism within its economy and governing system." Trump Prepared to Take on North Korea Without China
From Steve Holland, Reuters: “The president made the comments at a joint news conference with visiting NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg. Trump met Chinese President Xi Jinping last week and spoke to him by phone on Wednesday night."

Congress, Military Are Running Out of Time
From David Deptula, Breaking Defense: “The looming deadline for the Congress to act on the budget is April 28.  It must pass a military budget before that date or the Congress of the United States will again reduce America’s security — without any help from foreign enemies. This is the message the leaders of the Air Force, Army, Navy and Marines have been trying to get across to Congress. For the good of the nation it is one Congress should heed, or admit that it poses a larger threat to our nation’s security than our most capable adversaries."

Boeing Enters Into Missile Defense
From Richard R. Burgess, Seapower Magazine: “A new Boeing business unit with specialization in signals intelligence (SIGINT) and other electronic warfare areas is branching into the strategic missile defense area."

Boeing and Sikorsky’s New Gunship Helicopter Concept
From Jared Keller, Task & Purpose: “The two firms are teaming up to develop a brand new gunship for the US military: The SB-1 assault helicopter."

Navy Considering More Hulls for Frigate Competition
From Sam LaGrone, USNI News: “The Navy is considering increasing its future frigate’s anti-air firepower and may open up the frigate design competition to hulls beyond the current two small surface combatant , the service told USNI News on Wednesday."

U.S. Military Considers New Superweapon to Counter Russian Nukes
From Luke Coffey and Daniel Kochis, The Heritage Foundation: “Although Ukraine is not a NATO member, there are things the U.S. can and should do to help. These include continuing and, when necessary, expanding economic sanctions against Russia; providing advanced weaponry and military training to the Ukrainians; issuing a nonrecognition declaration over Crimea; pressuring Russia to live up to its commitments under the Minsk II cease-fire agreement; and helping Ukraine to uproot entrenched corruption and cronyism within its economy and governing system."

INTERNATIONAL U.S., SAUDI ARABIA: Saudi Arabia Pledges Intelligence Sharing with U.S.
From Paul Bedard, Washington Examiner: “Saudi Arabia’s military has pledged a new era of intelligence sharing with the United States, a move seen as critical in the fight against terrorism, ISIS, Iran and Russian-backed Syrian strongman Bashar al-Assad."

U.S., SYRIA: More Us Troops May Be Needed to Fight Isis in Syria
From Nick Paton Walsh, CNN: “The US general commanding the coalition fight against ISIS expects the fight for its de facto capital to have hit the city center by this summer, and in an exclusive interview with CNN, he held out the possibility that more US troops may be needed for that tougher fight."

U.S., CHINA, NORTH KOREA: China Warns Against U.S. Force As North Korea Prepares Nuke Test
From Michael Martina and Sue-Lin Wong: “Commercial satellite imagery of North Korea’s Punggye-ri Nuclear Test Site from April 12 shows continued activity around the North Portal, new activity in the Main Administrative Area, and a few personnel around the site’s Command Center."

NORTH KOREA: North Korea Primed and Ready for Nuclear Test
From Joseph S. Bermudez Jr. and Jack Liu, 38 North: “Commercial satellite imagery of North Korea’s Punggye-ri Nuclear Test Site from April 12 shows continued activity around the North Portal, new activity in the Main Administrative Area, and a few personnel around the site’s Command Center."

NORTH KOREA: Japan: North Korea May Be Capable of Sarin-tipped Missiles
From Kiyoshi Takenaka, Reuters: “North Korea may have the capacity to deliver missiles equipped with sarin nerve gas, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said on Thursday, amid concerns that the reclusive state could soon conduct its sixth nuclear test or more missile launches." 

COMMENTARY & ANALYSIS
 
U.S. Air Force Pilot Shortage – Creative Solutions for a Key Concern
From Richard McCool, RealClearDefense: “In June of 1944, the U.S. and Japan grappled in a dizzying air battle, now commonly called the Great Marianas Turkey Shoot due to the devastating losses of Japanese aircraft and pilots at the hands of American forces.  Several factors contributed to the U.S. victory, but prominent among them was the lack of Japanese pilots with the aptitude and experience to wage an effective fight.  The battle was, in fact, a set-piece culmination of what had steadily plagued the Japanese since Pearl Harbor – a continued erosion of air combat capability, including a shortage of trained pilots."   

An Early North Korean Provocation Remembered
From Todd Crowell, RealClearDefense: “A North Korean provocation, a U.S. President new to the job and untested, a show of force by a naval armada: a date pregnant with meaning. All point to a half-forgotten but seminal episode of the Cold War more than 40 years go that still resonates."   

Assessing North Korea’s Weapons Programs
From Will Edwards, The Cipher Brief: “North Korea has concluded preparations for a sixth nuclear test, and it may do so on or around April 15th to coincide with the 105th birthday of founding North Korean leader Kim Il-sung, according to most experts. North Korea’s progress, and the war of words that has followed, has created the highest level of tension on the peninsula in recent memory." 

Congress Must Fix 10 U.S. Code § 12304b
From Brian E. Wish, RealClearDefense: “Late last year the Stars and Stripes reported the saga of over 200 Marine reservists who were involuntarily mobilized and sent to Honduras, then told upon their return that they were ineligible for benefits that all other military members earn, including the Post 9/11 GI Bill. Their story started in 2012 when military leadership determined the need for new flexibility to mobilize National Guard and Reserve personnel involuntarily."   

The (Limited) Mission Accomplished in Syria
From Clifford May, The Washington Times: “If you’re still unsure about whether President Trump did the right thing when he launched 59 cruise missiles at Syria’s Shayrat air base last week, consider the alternative." 
 
Redesign U.S. Missile Defense
From Richard Weitz, The Hill: “Last week’s Chinese-U.S. presidential summit yielded no evident progress on North Korea — the most immediate threat to U.S. security. Beijing will not soon save us from Pyongyang’s nuclear-armed missiles, which are becoming more deadly with each passing month. The Trump administration is considering arming South Korea with nuclear weapons or trying to assassinate Kim Jung-un but a wiser path would be to reinforce U.S. defenses against North Korean missiles." 

Advising in Small Wars
From Zachary Griffiths, Small Wars Journal: “Good advisors rebuilt the PRC with trust earned through shared sweat and combat. Neither the small war fundamentals nor considerations explain how to be a good advisor. The Institute for National Strategic Studies codified the strategic lessons of our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan in Lessons Encountered: Learning from the Long War. Though Lessons Encountered takes a high-level view of those conflicts, Colonel Hammes strikes center-of-mass in his chapter Raising and Mentoring Security Forces in Iraq and Afghanistan when he describes local security forces as “our ticket home."" 

A Punch in the Nose for Iran
From Steven Ward, The Cipher Brief: “Despite what the Trump Administration might think, however, Iran has been more or less “on notice" since—well, basically since shortly after the Islamic Republic’s creation in 1979. In the subsequent 38 years, Republican and Democratic administrations alike have wrestled with the issue of deterring Iranian behavior, such as its ongoing military activities in Iraq and Syria and the recent spate of incidents involving Iranian speedboats operating dangerously around U.S. warships in the Persian Gulf.  " 
 
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