SHOWDOWN ON UKRAINE FUNDING: Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Secretary of State Antony Blinken appear before the Senate Appropriations Committee this morning to press for quick approval of President Joe Biden’s full $105 billion supplemental budget request, which includes $61.4 billion for military and economic assistance to Ukraine.
The testimony comes as new House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) is pushing a plan to approve Biden’s request of $14.3 billion for Israel in a stand-alone bill that would leave future aid for Ukraine in doubt. In an appearance on Fox News on Sunday, Johnson said the Israel funding is the more “urgent need” and deserves “immediate attention.”
The House proposal, which would be paid for by cutting an equal amount from the IRS budget, faced immediate pushback from Democrats and even some Republicans in the Senate. Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA), chairwoman of the Appropriations Committee, is drafting a bipartisan bill with Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) that would include aid for both countries, according to prepared remarks for today’s hearing obtained by the Associated Press.
“Make no mistake, we need to address all of these priorities as part of one package — because the reality is these issues are all connected, and they are all urgent,” Murray will say.
SCHUMER AND McCONNELL: ‘MOMENT OF TRUTH, TEST FOR FREE WORLD’: Senate leaders Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Mitch McConnell (R-KY) are in rare agreement on the critical need not to abandon Ukraine now that it’s in a crucial phase of its war of self-defense against the forces of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“Right now, America faces an unavoidable moment of truth: democracy and freedom are under attack around the globe in ways we have not seen since the end of the Cold War,” Schumer, the majority leader, said, adding that Republicans should resist “the false allures of isolationism.”
Minority Leader McConnell, during an event in Kentucky yesterday in which he hosted Oksana Markarova, the Ukrainian ambassador to the United States, made an impassioned argument for linking aid for Ukraine and Israel.
“If Russia prevails, there’s no question that Putin’s appetite for empire will extend to NATO, raising the threat to the U.S. trans-Atlantic alliance and the risk of war for America,” McConnell said. “So this is not just a test for Ukraine. It’s a test for the United States and the free world. And the path toward greater security for all of us is simple: Help Ukraine win the war.”
JEAN-PIERRE: HOUSE GOP ‘PLAYING POLITICAL GAMES’: The White House accused House Republicans of “politicizing national security” by demanding cuts in IRS funding in return for supporting Israel and Ukraine, which it called “a break with the normal, bipartisan process.”
“Threatening to undermine American national security unless House Republicans can help the wealthy and big corporations cheat on their taxes — which would increase the deficit — is the definition of backwards,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said in a statement. “Playing political games that threaten the source of funding for Israel’s self-defense — now and into the future — would set an unacceptable precedent that calls our commitment to one of our closest allies into question.”
The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, a citizens watchdog group, argues the move of offsetting the costs of new emergency spending is a welcome idea but agrees that the White House defunding the IRS would only make things worse.
“With high interest rates and huge deficits, even true emergency spending should be offset rather than added to the nation’s credit card, when possible,” the group’s president, Maya MacGuineas, said in a statement. “However, paying for new spending by defunding tax enforcement is worse than not paying for it at all. Instead of costing $14 billion, the House bill will add upward of $30 billion to the debt.”
“Getting into the habit of offsetting the costs of new spending and tax cuts is critical given our fiscal situation,” MacGuineas said. “But you can’t pay for borrowing with more borrowing.”
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MARINE COMMANDANT SUFFERS ‘APPARENT HEART ATTACK’: The shocking news came in the form of a brief emailed press release from Marine Corps headquarters late yesterday afternoon, which read: “Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. Eric M. Smith experienced a medical emergency on the evening of Oct. 29, 2023, and has been hospitalized.”
No other details were provided, but USNI News reported that two defense officials confirmed that Smith suffered “an apparent heart attack.” No update on Smith’s condition was released Monday.
But the Marine Corps statement said because the nominee for assistant commandant of the Marine Corps has yet to be confirmed, the service will be led by a three-star officer, Lt. Gen. Karsten Heckl, who is the most senior officer in Marine Corps Headquarters. Heckl is the deputy commandant for combat development and integration.
“Smith was last seen in public on Sunday afternoon greeting runners at the finish line for the Marine Corps Marathon in Arlington, Virginia,” USNI reported. In an address on Friday, Smith told reporters he was doing the job of both the Marine commandant and assistant commandant of the service, pending the confirmation of Lt. Gen. Christopher Mahoney, who has been nominated to be assistant commandant, USNI said.
TUBERVILLE’S HOLDS EXPANDING: The sudden vacancy in leadership of the Marine Corps comes as the list of senior officers blocked from promotion by Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-AL) has grown to 378, as Tuberville refuses to end his battle against the Pentagon’s policy of paying travel expenses for service members seeking out-of-state abortions.
“So the holds continue and continue to grow, unfortunately,” Sabrina Singh, deputy Pentagon press secretary, said in a meeting with reporters yesterday before the news about Smith broke. “It’s not just the CENTCOM AOR that is impacted by these holds; it’s also EUCOM; it’s here at the Pentagon.”
Republicans who support Tuberville say Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) could be alleviating the problem by scheduling individual votes on some of the most senior nominees who remain in limbo, such as Adm. Lisa Franchetti to be chief of naval operations and Gen. David Allvin as chief of staff of the Air Force.
“We are continuing to be in touch with the Senate on the best way forward,” said Singh. “That’s really up to them to decide on how they decide to lift these holds. But we’re going to continue advocating for all of our general and flag officers.”
NETANYAHU: NO CEASEFIRE: In a defiant speech posted on his Facebook page, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rejected calls from the international community for an “immediate humanitarian ceasefire” as thousands of Palestinian civilians are facing life-threatening circumstances in Gaza, as Israel expands its ground campaign.
“I want to make clear Israel’s position regarding a cease-fire. Just as the United States would not agree to a ceasefire after the bombing of Pearl Harbor or after the terrorist attack of 9/11, Israel will not agree to a cessation of hostilities with Hamas after the horrific attacks of October 7th,” Netanyahu said. “Calls for a ceasefire are calls for Israel to surrender to Hamas, to surrender to terrorism, to surrender to barbarism. That will not happen.”
“In fighting Hamas and the Iranian axis of terror, Israel is fighting the enemies of civilization itself. Victory over these enemies begins with moral clarity. It begins with knowing the difference between good and evil, between right and wrong,” he said. “It means making a moral distinction between the deliberate murder of the innocent and the unintentional casualties that accompany every legitimate war, even the most just war.”
In an interview with CNN, White House NSC spokesman John Kirby said while the U.S. has condemned Russia’s targeting of civilians in Ukraine, the situation in Gaza is not comparable.
“Atrocities against the Ukrainian people, that’s part of Putin’s war aims. That’s built into his strategy,” Kirby said. “That is not what we’re seeing from Israel. I am not discounting the fact that civilians have been killed and injured, and absolutely not discounting the fact that there is a humanitarian need … But Israel is not deliberately trying to kill civilians. They are going after Hamas.”
“We want to make sure that they do it in a cautious, careful, deliberate way,” he said. “But it is not a war aim of Israel to kill innocent civilians the way it is a war aim of Vladimir Putin to do that to Ukraine.”
Washington Examiner: Marine Commandant Gen. Eric Smith hospitalized after ‘medical emergency’
Washington Examiner: Speaker Johnson unveils $14.3 billion Israel aid bill paid for with cuts to IRS
Washington Examiner: Benjamin Netanyahu invokes Pearl Harbor in Israel’s refusal to pursue ceasefire
Washington Examiner: Israel war: Hamas releases video of hostages criticizing Benjamin Netanyahu
Washington Examiner: Israel war: Rishi Sunak fires government aide after call for ceasefire
Washington Examiner: Israel war: White House pressed on anti-Israel protests on campus
Washington Examiner: Israel war: Captured soldier is rescued from Gaza during IDF operation
Washington Examiner: Iranian proxies continue attacks against US troops in Middle East following US strikes
Washington Examiner: GOP lawmakers concerned about adversaries exploiting southern border vulnerabilities
Washington Examiner: Opinion: Sen. Roger Marshall (R-KS): The message Biden must send to Iran
Washington Examiner: Opinion: Israel war: Press Hamas’s state sponsors to end the war
Washington Post: As Israel Pummels Gaza, The Crisis In The West Bank Comes Into Focus
New York Times: ‘A Very Slow Game;’ Why the Pace of Israel’s Ground Operation Counts
Defense News: Jordan Asks US to Deploy Patriot Air Defense Systems
AP: An Israeli ministry, in a ‘concept paper,’ proposes transferring Gaza civilians to Egypt’s Sinai
Reuters: China, US Should Have ‘Objective’ Understanding Of Strategic Intention – Chinese Foreign Ministry
Air & Space Forces Magazine: Minot Leaders See ‘Extremely Real’ Threat from China for Both Bombers and ICBMs
AP: China’s Declining Aid To Pacific Islands Increasingly Goes To Allies, Think Tank Reports
Air & Space Forces Magazine: Attacks on US Forces in Iraq and Syria Continue After American Airstrikes
New York Times: Both Sides Pay A Bloody Price For Coveted Ukrainian City
VOA: Putin Ally Warns EU Against Seizing Russian Assets For Ukraine’s Reconstruction
Military.com: Iraq Campaign Medal Returns Amid Surge in Drone, Rocket Attacks on US Forces There
Forbes: Russian Hackers Breached 632,000 DOJ And Pentagon Email Addresses In Massive MOVEit Cyberattack, Report Says
Air & Space Forces Magazine: US, South Korea, Australia Kick Off Large-Scale Exercise with 130+ Aircraft
DefenseScoop: Biden Tasks Pentagon to Carry out New AI Pilot for Cyber Defense
Breaking Defense: The US Space Force and Saying the Quiet Parts Out Loud
Air & Space Forces Magazine: SDA Hands Out Contract for 38 New Satellites, Considers Tweak for Future Batch
SpaceNews: Space Force to Begin Procurement of Missile-Tracking Satellites for Medium Earth Orbit Constellation
Military Times: Guard, Reserve Troops Get Fewer Veterans Disability Claims Approved
The Cipher Brief: A Call to Action for the Intelligence Community Following Hamas Terror Attack
The Cipher Brief: Conflict is One Part History, One Part Petraeus Memoir
Forbes: Boeing Focuses On European Defense As Equipment Sales Surge
TUESDAY | OCTOBER 31
8 a.m. 1331 Pennsylvania Ave. NW — National Defense Industrial Association Annual SO/LIC (Special Operations-Low Intensity Conflict) Symposium, with Chris Maier, assistant secretary of defense for special operations and low-intensity conflict; former Deputy Defense Secretary David Norquist; Richard Tilley, director of the Joint Staff J7 Office of Irregular Warfare and Competition; Ukrainian Air Force Maj. Gen. Borys Kremenetskyi, Ukrainian defense attache to the U.S.; Rep. Michael Waltz (R-FL); Erin Logan, deputy assistant secretary of defense for special operations policy and programs; Air Force Lt. Gen. Dag Anderson, director of the Joint Staff J7; retired Navy Vice Adm. Timothy Szymanski, former deputy commander of the U.S. Special Operations Command; Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA); Elizabeth Phu, principal deputy assistant secretary of defense for special operations and low-intensity conflict; Air Force Brig. Gen. Michael Conley, director of operations at the Air Force Special Operations Command; retired Air Force Lt. Gen. Dan Caine, associate CIA director for military affairs; Maren Brooks, deputy assistant secretary of defense for irregular warfare and counterterrorism; and David Hale, former U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan, Lebanon, and Jordan. RSVP: [email protected]
9 a.m. — Henry Stimson Center virtual discussion: “China in South Asia: Understanding Beijing’s Evolving Influence in Smaller South Asian States,” focusing on Nepal, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka, with Kalpit Mankikar, fellow at the Observer Research Foundation’s Strategic Studies Program; Shafi Mostofa, associate professor at the University of Dhaka; Gaurab Shumsher Thapa, president of the Nepal Forum of International Relations Studies; Nilanthi Samaranayake, visiting expert at the U.S. Institute of Peace; and Kithmina Hewage, senior adviser at the Center for Asian Philanthropy and Society https://www.stimson.org/event/china-in-south-asia
9 a.m. — Center for Strategic and International Studies virtual discussion: “Unpacking Recent Developments in the Chinese Military: What’s Happening within the People’s Liberation Army (PLA)?” with Roderick Lee, director of research at the Air University’s China Aerospace Studies Institute; Shen Ming-Shih, director of the Taiwan Institute for National Defense and Security Research’s Division of National Security Research; and Joel Wuthnow, senior research fellow at the National Defense University’s Center for the Study of Chinese Military Affairs https://www.csis.org/events/unpacking-recent-developments-chinese-military
9:30 a.m. 106 Dirksen — Senate Appropriations Committee hearing: “A Review of the National Security Supplemental Request,” with testimony from Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin https://www.appropriations.senate.gov/hearings
10 a.m. — Arab Center virtual discussion: “War on Gaza: Causes and Implications, Seen and Unseen,” with Dalia Hatuqa, Middle East journalist; Rami Khouri, adjunct professor at the University of Beirut; Daniel Levy, president of the U.S.-Middle East Project; and Mairav Zonszein, senior analyst on Israel-Palestine at the International Crisis Group https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register
10 a.m. — Hudson Institute virtual discussion: “Preparing the Department of Defense for Irregular and Special Warfare,” with Ezra Cohen, Hudson adjunct fellow; Chris Miller, former acting secretary of defense; and Col. Mark Mitchell, former assistant secretary of defense for special operations and low-intensity conflict https://www.hudson.org/events/preparing-america-special-operations-forces
12:30 p.m. — Center for Strategic and International Studies virtual discussion: “The Ideology of Putinism,” with Sergei Guriev, provost and professor of economics at Sciences Po; Maria Snegovaya, CSIS senior fellow; and Max Bergmann, director of the CSIS Europe, Russia, and Eurasia Program https://www.csis.org/events/ideology-putinism-sergei-guriev
2 p.m. 1779 Massachusetts Ave. NW — Carnegie Endowment for International Peace discussion on a new report: “Indo-Pacific Missile Arsenals: Avoiding Spirals and Mitigating Escalation Risks,” with Masashi Murano, Hudson Institute Japan chairman; Jenny Town, Stimson Center senior fellow; and Ankit Panda, senior fellow at the CEIP Nuclear Policy Program https://carnegieendowment.org/2023/10/31/new-missile-age
2:30 p.m. Pentagon River Entrance — Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin hosts an enhanced honor cordon to welcome Australian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defense Richard Marles to the Pentagon
WEDNESDAY | NOVEMBER 1
9 a.m. 1030 15th St. NW — Atlantic Council and Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies second annual Pakistan Conference, with Pakistani Ambassador to the U.S. Masood Khan; and Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Elizabeth Horst https://www.atlanticcouncil.org/event/second-annual-pakistan-conference/
9:00 a.m. — Center for a New American Security virtual discussion of a report: “Campaign of Denial: Strengthening Simultaneous Deterrence in the Indo-Pacific and Europe,” with Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Eric Smith; and Becca Wasser, senior fellow at the CNAS Defense Program https://www.cnas.org/events/the-challenge-ahead-campaigning-to-deter-global-threats
10 a.m. 2121 K St. NW — International Institute for Strategic Studies discussion: “President Emmanuel Macron: Interpreting his Vision for European Security,” with Rym Momtaz, IISS consultant research fellow for European foreign policy and security, and Paul Fraioli, editor of IISS’s “Strategic Comments” https://www.iiss.org/events/2023/11/president-emmanuel-macron-interpreting-his-vision
10:30 a.m. Pentagon River Entrance — Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin hosts an enhanced honor cordon to welcome Saudi Defense Minister Khalid bin Salman at the Pentagon
1:30 p.m. — Center for Strategic and International Studies virtual discussion: “Geostrategic challenges and how DIA is posturing to meet them,” with Defense Intelligence Agency Director Lt. Gen. Scott Berrier; Kari Bingen, director of the CSIS Aerospace Security Project; and Emily Harding, director of the CSIS Intelligence, National Security, and Technology Program https://www.csis.org/events/fireside-chat-ltg-berrier
3:30 p.m. 418 Russell — Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee hearing: “Foundation of Care: Examining Research at the Department of Veterans Affairs” https://www.veterans.senate.gov/2023/11/foundation-of-care-examining-research
THURSDAY | NOVEMBER 2
12 p.m. — Carnegie Endowment for International Peace virtual discussion: “The Israeli-Hamas War,” with Khalil Shikaki, director of the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research; and Aaron David Miller, CEIP senior fellow https://carnegieendowment.org/2023/11/02/israeli-hamas-war
4:30 p.m. — Center for a New American Security discussion: “Artificial Intelligence Governance and National Security,” with Lauren Khan, senior analyst at the Center for Security and Emerging Technology; Landon Heid, professional staff member of the House Select Committee on the Chinese Community Party; Ainikki Riikonen, independent analyst; and Noah Greene, research assistant at the CNAS AI Safety and Stability Project https://www.cnas.org/events/make-room-study-session-ai-governance-and-national-security
FRIDAY | NOVEMBER 3
12 p.m. — American Security Project virtual discussion: “Combating the Military Obesity Crisis,” with Courtney Manning, ASP national security research fellow https://www.americansecurityproject.org/event/combating-the-military-obesity-crisis
6 p.m. 14th and F Sts. NW — National Press Club film screening and discussion of “20 Days in Mariupol,” focusing on the Russia-Ukraine war, with director Mstyslav Chernov and producer Raney Aronson-Rath. RSVP: [email protected]
QUOTE OF THE DAY “In fighting Hamas and the Iranian axis of terror, Israel is fighting the enemies of civilization itself. Victory over these enemies begins with moral clarity. It begins with knowing the difference between good and evil, between right and wrong. It means making a moral distinction between the deliberate murder of the innocent and the unintentional casualties that accompany every legitimate war, even the most just war.” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in a speech on Monday.