With Global Tensions Elevated, Timely Defense Funding Is Essential

America’s Adversaries Will Not Wait While Democrats Play Politics With The Defense Appropriations Bill


SENATE MAJORITY LEADER MITCH McCONNELL (R-KY): “In the face of surging great-power adversaries, simple upkeep is not enough to keep America and our allies safe from aggression. Comprehensive funding for research, development, and readiness programs is what’s needed. In Afghanistan, Syria, Somalia, Yemen, and beyond we continue to face sustained threats from terrorist organizations. And in the Middle East we have seen how Iran’s bid for regional hegemony and its investments in terror, missiles, and cyberactivities threaten the United States, our allies and partners, key shipping lanes, and global energy markets. This bipartisan defense bill would help us adapt to meet these new threats while ensuring our commanders can prosecute existing operations without being consumed by the instability of short-term Continuing Resolutions.” (Sen. McConnell, Remarks, 9/16/2019)


Democrats Agreed To Increased Defense Funding In July But Are Now Threatening To Block The Bill

SEN. McCONNELL: “One week in, our Democratic colleagues tried to stonewall the defense funding bill in committee, and are now indicating they may even filibuster a motion to begin considering the House-passed defense funding later this week.” (Sen. McConnell, Remarks, 9/16/2019)

“The Senate on Thursday gave final passage to a budget agreement approved by the House last week that would raise spending limits that would otherwise take effect and suspend the debt ceiling through mid-2021. … The two-year budget deal was reached last week among Democratic and Republican congressional leaders as well as the president, who urged GOP lawmakers to vote in favor of the bill.” (“Senate Gives Final Passage To Budget Increasing Military Spending And Deficit, Trump To Sign,” NBC News, 8/1/2019)

HOUSE SPEAKER NANCY PELOSI (D-CA) AND SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY) Press Release: “Today, a bipartisan agreement has been reached that will enhance our national security and invest in middle class priorities that advance the health, financial security and well-being of the American people. Importantly, Democrats have achieved an agreement that permanently ends the threat of the sequester… which have threatened our investments to keep America Number One in the global economy and to ensure our national security.” (Speaker Pelosi, Press Release, 7/22/2019)


American Security Challenges Have Only Increased In The Last Two Months

SEN. McCONNELL: “As partisanship bogs us down here in Washington, Moscow and Beijing are not exactly slowing down to wait for us. Our two most capable great-power adversaries are expanding their own capabilities and modernizing their forces by the day…. As Russia rattles its saber and develops weapons like hypersonic cruise missiles and quiet submarines, we need to deliver funding for research and development of our own cutting-edge capabilities. We have to provide for the modernization of infrastructure and update defenses against cyberthreats, so that China’s ever-bolder meddling in this domain cannot bring about the cyber-hegemony it craves. And we can’t turn our back on our interests and partners in the broader Middle East.  In Afghanistan, Syria, Yemen, and Somalia, and beyond, we face on-going terrorist threats. Iran’s violent aggression certainly highlights the need for vigilance and strength. All of this is needlessly more difficult if we don’t do our job and fund the military’s modernization and readiness.” (Sen. McConnell, Remarks, 9/17/2019)


IRAN: Shot Down An American Drone And Is Accelerating Uranium Enrichment, Saudi Oil Infrastructure Attacked

“The US blamed Iran [in August] for the shooting down of a US MQ-9 drone over Yemen by a surface-to-air missile, an apparent escalation of tensions between Washington and Tehran. The US believes the missile was provided to Houthi rebels by Iran, a US official said … The downing of a US drone by Iran in June nearly led to a US military strike …” (“US Blames Iran After Drone Is Downed In Yemen,” CNN, 8/21/2019)

“Iran has activated a chain of advanced centrifuges to speed up uranium enrichment in defiance of a 2015 nuclear accord, a senior Iranian official said Saturday… Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said this week that Iran would set aside the accord’s restrictions on nuclear-related research and development and would expand its use of advanced centrifuges.” (“Iran Now Operating Advanced Centrifuges In Breach Of Nuclear Pact,” The Washington Post, 9/7/2019)

“Explosions and towering fireballs struck the heart of Saudi Arabia’s oil empire on Saturday in an apparent wave of drone attacks claimed by Yemen’s Houthi rebels. The blows knocked out more than half the kingdom’s oil output for days or more and threatened to drive up already high tensions between Iran and its foes in the Persian Gulf. The predawn blasts on facilities of the state-run oil giant Aramco — which the rebel group claimed were carried out by a fleet of 10 drones — marked one of the most devastating strikes into Saudi territory claimed by the Iranian-allied Houthis in more than four years of war in Yemen. It was also the most serious attack on Saudi Arabia’s oil infrastructure in decades …” (“Saudi Arabia Oil Output Takes Major Hit After Apparent Drone Attacks Claimed By Yemen Rebels,” The Washington Post, 9/14/2019)

  • “A congressional source says Democrats familiar with the details do not dispute that the attack was carried out by Iran — an important signal of bipartisan agreement … ‘This attack had a level of sophistication we have not seen before,’ the congressional source said. ‘You will not see Democrats pushing back on the idea that Iran was behind it.’ Three U.S. officials said there was extremely compelling evidence showing the origination point of the strikes, and one official with direct knowledge described that evidence as imagery.” (“Attack On A Major Saudi Oil Facility Was Launched From Iran, U.S. Intelligence Shows, NBC News, 9/16/2019)

“The spate of alleged Iranian attacks on oil ships in the Gulf of Oman has raised global fears of a return to the ‘Tanker Wars’ of the 1980s, when oil tankers were regularly targeted and US warships fought cat-and-mouse battles with Iranian forces. Shipping analysts said that [June’s] attack on two oil tankers had sent tensions in the Gulf to their highest point since 1987, when Iraq and Iran began destroying each other’s oil infrastructure … The Tanker Wars ended only after the US deployed its largest naval convoy since the Second World War to protect Kuwaiti oil vessels and after American forces engaged in direct combat with Iranian ships.” (“Attacks On Oil Tankers In Gulf Spark Fears Of Return To 1980s ‘Tanker Wars,’” The [UK] Telegraph, 6/17/2019)


NORTH KOREA: ‘Eighth Time North Korea Has Tested Ballistic Missiles Or Other Projectiles Since Late July,’ North Korean Cyberattacks Identified As ‘Rising National-Security Threat’

“North Korea launched two short-range projectiles on Tuesday [September 10th] … It was the eighth time North Korea has tested ballistic missiles or other projectiles since late July … While negotiations stalled, North Korea is believed to have continued to produce fissile materials. Its latest series of weapons tests was seen as an attempt to raise tensions and increase its leverage against Washington, while at the same time testing new, short-range ballistic missiles and large-caliber multiple-tube rocket launchers that threatened South Korea and Japan, American allies.” (“North Korea Launches 2 More Projectiles, Its 8th Weapons Test Since July,” The New York Times, 9/09/2019)

  • “Experts say the latest missile tests by Kim Jong Un's regime show Pyongyang is, for the first time, actively using testing weapons to target weak points in the advanced missile defense system that protects the US, Japan and South Korea…. The altitudes of the missile's tested concern … experts because they indicate that North Korea appears to be targeting a gap in two missile defense systems -- the Patriot missile defense system and the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD)…. Kim Dong-yub, an analyst at the Institute for Far Eastern Studies at Kyungnam University in Seoul, said the missiles tested could evade South Korean missile defense systems because at those altitudes they would fly too high for the Patriot batteries to target and too low for THAAD to easily intercept.” (“North Korea Testing 'Creative' Weapons That Could Threaten US, Experts Say,” CNN, 9/09/2019)

“New U.S. sanctions against North Korean hackers and revelations about North Korean malware show how Pyongyang’s cyber operations have become a crucial revenue stream and a security threat that soon could rival its weapons program, U.S. and industry officials say. North Korea’s hacks of financial systems and critical infrastructure world-wide reveal sophisticated cyber capabilities developed to counter global sanctions and expand Pyongyang’s geopolitical power, according to these officials. The U.S. Treasury Department, in blacklisting the three hacking groups allegedly run by North Korea’s primary intelligence service, said Friday they collectively were responsible for operations across 10 countries, stealing hundreds of millions of dollars from banks and cryptocurrency exchanges, pilfering military secrets, destabilizing infrastructure and intimidating adversaries.” (“U.S. Targets North Korean Hacking as Rising National-Security Threat,” The Wall Street Journal, 9/16/2019)


AFGHANISTAN: Taliban Continues Campaign Of Terror Attacks On American and Allied Forces And Afghan Civilians

“A U.S. service member was killed in Afghanistan on Monday, the NATO-led Resolute Support mission said, after the collapse of talks between the United States and Taliban to end the nearly 18-year old war. It said the service member was killed in action but did not provide further details. This brings the number of U.S. service members killed in combat in Afghanistan to 17 this year.” (“U.S. Service Member Killed In Afghanistan,” Reuters, 9/16/2019)

“A blast targeting a campaign rally held by Afghan President Ashraf Ghani on Tuesday killed 24 people but left the country’s leader unharmed, according to Afghan officials. Shortly afterward, the Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack in a statement, saying … that Afghans had been warned to stay away from campaign rallies and other election events. Thousands of Afghans had packed into an open airfield in a police training compound Tuesday morning in Parwan province north of Kabul when a suicide bomber struck just outside.” (“Taliban Bomb Kills 24 Near Afghan Election Rally; President Ashraf Ghani Unhurt,” The Washington Post, 9/17/2019)

“A Taliban car bomb exploded and killed U.S. and Romanian service members and 10 civilians in a busy diplomatic area near the U.S. Embassy in Kabul on [September 5th], the second major attack this week … Another 42 people were wounded, Interior Ministry spokesman Nasrat Rahimi said…. The explosion followed a Taliban attack against a foreign compound late Monday that killed at least 16 people and wounded more than 100, almost all of them local civilians…. The violence continued hours later when the Taliban claimed responsibility for a car bombing outside an Afghan military base in the Logar provincial capital, Puli Alam, with local officials saying four civilians were killed and 11 others wounded.” (“Taliban Blast Kills US Soldier, Several Civilians In Kabul,” The Associated Press, 9/05/2019)


RUSSIA: Testing Nuclear-Powered And Hypersonic Missiles

 “Despite a slew of unsuccessful tests, Russia’s nuclear-powered missile with so-called unlimited range will be ready for war within the next six years, a slightly accelerated timeline than previously reported, according to a U.S. intelligence assessment…. Last March, Russian President Vladimir Putin unveiled several hypersonic weapons, as well as Burevestnik. Putin said it was nuclear powered and had unlimited range. Burevestnik, also known as Skyfall, has been tested once earlier this year and prior to that, the weapon was tested four times between November 2017 and February 2018, each resulting in a crash.” (“Russian Nuclear Missile With ‘Unlimited’ Range To Be Ready By 2025, US Intelligence Says,” CNBC, 9/11/2019)

“The Russian Navy is expected to be the first country to field hypersonic cruise missiles on its submarines, potentially giving it some strategic advantages in naval warfare. The greater speed will better enable Russia to strike time-critical targets and will increase the missile’s survival rate against modern air defenses. The plan, originally reported in Russian sources in March, is for the first test launch from a submarine to take place next year. This will involve firing a Zircon type missile from the latest nuclear powered cruise missile submarine K-561 Kazan, which is already armed with subsonic and supersonic missiles…. Zircon can reportedly fly at Mach 8 (i.e. 8 times the speed of sound) with some estimates being even higher. For comparison the Tomahawk cruise missiles carried by U.S. Navy and Royal Navy submarines fly at around Mach 0.75.” (“Russian Navy To Be First To Field Hypersonic Cruise Missiles On Submarines,” Forbes, 9/15/2019)


CHINA: ‘China Seeks To Erode U.S. Military Advantages,’ Crackdowns On Pro-Democracy Protesters In Hong Kong

RANDALL G. SCHRIVER, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Indo-Pacific Security Affairs: “[W]e continue to see that China seeks to erode U.S. military advantages. And seeks to gain and maintain influence. And it backs these ambitions with significant resourcing, which translates into real capabilities and capacity. Our 2019 report finds that in the coming decades, China seeks to become both prosperous and powerful, and the report notes that China has a stated goal of becoming a world-class military by 2049…. China continues to grow its inventory of DF-26 intermediate-range ballistic missiles…. China has begun construction of its second domestically built aircraft carrier in 2018.  Their first domestically built aircraft carrier will likely join the fleet this calendar year…. We also noted, at the Zhuhai Airshow this year in November, the PLA air force conducted a demonstration of its J-20 fighter, its fifth-generation, most modern fighter.” (U.S. Department of Defense Press Briefing, 5/03/2019)

  • ASSISTANT SEC. SCHRIVER: “[I]t’s important to note that all these developments occur in a larger context.  China's leaders are leveraging their growing diplomatic, economic, as well as their military clout to secure China's status as a great power, and with the aim of becoming the preeminent power in the Indo-Pacific.” (U.S. Department of Defense Press Briefing, 5/03/2019)

“Riot police, tear gas and water cannons spraying stinging blue dye sent protesters fleeing Sunday following another massive, unauthorized but initially peaceful march through Hong Kong, as authorities intensified their efforts to quash the unrest that has gripped the city for months…. Protesters are marching under an intensifying threat of arrest and prosecution. Police said Thursday they had arrested 1,365 people so far between the ages of 12 and 76 since the start of the protests. More were arrested over the weekend.” (“Hong Kong Police Disperse Protesters With Tear Gas And Water Cannon, Stinging Blue Dye In 15th Weekend Of Unrest,” The Washington Post, 9/15/2019)

“Tensions mounted in Hong Kong on [in late August] as police arrested prominent pro-democracy activists and at least three lawmakers in a crackdown ahead of a banned mass march as the city braced for the 13th straight weekend of anti-government protests. Among those arrested were young activists Joshua Wong Chi-fung and Agnes Chow Ting, both from the political party Demosisto, Andy Chan Ho-tin, convenor of the now-outlawed Hong Kong National Party, and three pro-democracy lawmakers, Cheng Chung-tai, Au Nok-hin and Jeremy Tam Man-ho.” (“Prominent Activists And Lawmakers Arrested In Hong Kong Police Crackdown, Fuelling Tensions As Protesters Vow To Defy March Ban Over The Weekend,” South China Morning Post, 8/30/2019)

“By massing the troops within view of Hong Kong, the semiautonomous territory convulsed by protests, China’s Communist Party is delivering a strong warning that the use of force remains an option for Beijing. It is also a stark reminder that military power remains a bedrock of the party’s legitimacy. ‘It’s a credible threat,’ Minxin Pei, a professor at Claremont McKenna College in California, said. ‘The Chinese government does not want to leave any doubt that, if necessary, it will act.’” (“With Troop Buildup, China Sends a Stark Warning to Hong Kong,” The New York Times, 8/19/2019)



Related Issues: Appropriations, China, War on Terror, Iran, America's Military, North Korea, Afghanistan, National Security, Russia