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Ignoring bile from Pyongyang, Blinken says US ready to negotiate with North Korea

Washington Examiner logo Washington Examiner 5/4/2021 Jamie McIntyre
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‘A CALIBRATED, PRACTICAL APPROACH’: Speaking at a meeting of the G-7 foreign ministers in London, Secretary of State Antony Blinken declined to return fire in the wake of incendiary statements from North Korea in reaction to President Joe Biden’s reference to the North’s nuclear program as a “serious threat.”

“We'll look to see not only what North Korea says but what it actually does in the coming days and months,” Blinken said at a joint appearance with British Foreign Minister Dominic Raab. “We have, I think, a clear, a very clear policy that centers on diplomacy, and it is, I think, up to North Korea to decide whether it wants to engage or not on that basis.”

Blinken confirmed the monthslong review of its strategy for dealing with North Korea has been completed after consultations with Japan and South Korea. In contrast to the Trump administration approach, which sought a sweeping, comprehensive denuclearization agreement, the Biden policy aims at small incremental steps more in line with what Kim Jong Un proposed in his second summit with President Donald Trump in Hanoi in 2019.

“What we have now is a policy that calls for a calibrated, practical approach that is open to and will explore diplomacy with North Korea to try to make practical progress that increases the security of the United States, our allies, and our deployed forces,” said Blinken, who admitted that convincing North Korea to give up its nuclear security blanket is “an incredibly hard problem.”

“To state the obvious, it is yet to be solved from administration to administration, Democrat and Republican, over the years,” Blinken said, “We wanted to take account that history, to look at what works, what doesn't work, and how we could have an effective policy to advance the goal that we have, which is the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.”

WHAT BIDEN SAID: What prompted the blast of bellicose invective from North Korea was a single line in Biden’s address to a joint session of Congress last week, which lumped Tehran and Pyongyang together.

“On Iran and North Korea, nuclear programs that present serious threats to American security and the security of the world,” Biden said, promising to work closely with allies “to address the threats posed by both of these countries through diplomacy as well as stern deterrence.”

In a speech at a change-of-command ceremony for the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command in Hawaii Friday, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin did not mention North Korea by name but underscored that military strategy is to provide the leverage that America’s diplomats can use to help prevent conflict from breaking out in the first place. “You know, it’s always easier to stamp out a small ember than to put out a raging fire.”


WHAT PYONGYANG SAID: A senior Foreign Ministry official was quick to take offense at Biden’s reference to the serious threat posed by the North’s growing nuclear arsenal.

In a statement over the weekend, Kwon Jong Gun called Biden's comment “intolerable” and an “illogical and an encroachment” upon North Korea’s right to self-defense. “His statement clearly reflects his intent to keep enforcing the hostile policy toward the DPRK as it had been done by the U.S. for over half a century,” he said, according to an English language translation from the monitoring site KCNAWatch.

“It is certain that the U.S. chief executive made a big blunder,” said Kwon. “Now that what the keynote of the U.S. new DPRK policy has become clear, we will be compelled to press for corresponding measures, and with time, the U.S. will find itself in a very grave situation,” he said, using the official name of North Korea.


Good Tuesday morning and welcome to Jamie McIntyre’s Daily on Defense, written and compiled by Washington Examiner National Security Senior Writer Jamie McIntyre (@jamiejmcintyre) and edited by Victor I. Nava. Email here with tips, suggestions, calendar items, and anything else. Sign up or read current and back issues at If signing up doesn’t work, shoot us an email and we’ll add you to our list. And be sure to follow us on Twitter: @dailyondefense.


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HAPPENING TODAY: Just weeks after Russia massed more than 100,000 troops on the border with Ukraine in what it said was a routine military exercise, the U.S. and its NATO allies began a massive training exercise of their own this morning, with an opening ceremony in Albania that was broadcast on Facebook Live.

Defender-Europe 21 involves more than 28,000 troops from 26 nations conducting nearly simultaneous operations across more than 30 training areas in a dozen countries. “It's defensive in nature, focused on deterring aggression while preparing our forces to respond to crisis and conduct large-scale combat operations, if necessary,” said spokesman John Kirby at the Pentagon Monday.

Asked by the Washington Examiner how the annual exercise compared to the Russian buildup last month, which appeared aimed at intimidating Ukraine, Kirby said, “We actually come to the podium and tell you about it. I told you how many troops. I told you how many nations. I talked about specifics in terms of what they're going to be exercising ... and we're not getting that out of Moscow, and we haven't. So that's a big difference right there.”

“This exercise goes through mid-June, and you're going to get sick of hearing me talk about European Defender from the podium because I'm going to continually talk about what we're doing,” he said. “It's called transparency. It's a wonderful thing.”

GILLIBRAND HAILS MILLEY’S ABOUT-FACE: In the wake of comments Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Mark Milley gave to reporters from the Associated Press and CNN, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand says her push to reform the military justice system is gaining momentum.

Speaking to the two reporters aboard his plan on a return flight to Washington from Hawaii, Milley said he is dropping his opposition to a proposal to take decisions on sexual assault prosecution out of the hands of commanders.

“I was adamantly opposed to that for years,” Milley said, but he admitted that the military’s efforts to curb the number of reported sexual assaults has failed. “I was adamantly opposed to that for years,” Milley said, “but I haven’t seen the needle move.”

“It is deeply significant that General Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has dropped his opposition to removing decisions about prosecuting sexual assault and other serious crimes from the chain of command,” Gillibrand said in a statement. “Milley’s new position is one more sign that long overdue change — which will provide justice for survivors — is coming to our military justice system.”

Gillibrand, a New York Democrat, who has been pushing for the change for years, also noted that the former Joint Chiefs chairman, retired Adm. Mike Mullen, also did an about-face on the issue, telling Politico, “I’m at a point now where I am ready to support removal, which is a huge step for me because I recognize how serious that issue is.”

LACK OF ACCOUNTABILITY: On a day when the Supreme Court refused to revisit a decades-old decision that shields against the government against lawsuits for injuries that result from military service, the father of a Marine who died in last summer’s assault amphibious vehicle accident off the coast of southern California blamed the policy a lack of accountability of commanders.

Peter Ostrovsky, the father of Pfc. Jack Ostrovsky, said the July 2020 accident which claimed the lives of nine Marines was “yet another example of what should be expected under any institution that is allowed to self-police and self-punish, allowed to deflect blame away from those at the top, all while hiding behind an antiquated law that protects it from accountability of answering legally to those it recklessly harms.”

“Yes, I'm speaking of the Feres Doctrine,” he said, referring to the 1950 decision in Feres v. United States, in which the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit ruled members of the military should not be able to sue for injuries incident to military service.

The ruling, said Ostrovsky, means “no possibility for a day in court resulting in our troops becoming second-class citizens the moment they swear in.”

A Marine Corps investigation released in March blamed the accident on a “confluence of human and mechanical failures,” including “delayed rescue effort, maintenance failures, and improper training.”

“Those nine young men volunteered to serve their country. They died because of a fully preventable training accident and a total disregard for their safety,” said Chairman Rep. John Garamendi at yesterday’s House Armed Services Readiness Subcommittee hearing. “This tragedy should never have happened. It resulted from the cascading series of failures, all of which were preventable.”

MARINE GENERAL SUSPENDED: It was revealed at yesterday’s hearing that Maj. Gen. Robert Castellvi, who was commanding general of the 1st Marine Division, of Camp Pendleton, at the time of the accident, has been suspended from his duties.

The revelation came during the questioning of Gen. Gary Thomas, the assistant commandant of the Marine Corps, by Rep. Jackie Speier.

“He was found responsible for lack of training. No action was taken against him, and up until last week, he was, in fact, the inspector general for the Marine Corp, correct?” Speier asked.

“That's correct,” Thomas replied.

“And he's on administrative leave, I believe?” said Speier.

“He's been suspended from his duties, that's correct.”

TAX CREDITS FOR HIRING MILITARY SPOUSES: Currently, employers who hire qualified military veterans, among other targeted groups, are entitled to tax credits. Now a bipartisan group of House members are trying again to extend the same tax incentive to employers who hire the spouses of military members.

The Military Spouse Hiring Act would expand the Work Opportunity Tax Credit to include the hiring of qualified military spouses, allowing employers to claim a tax credit equal to a portion of the wages paid to those spouses.

“Frequent military moves make it very challenging for military spouses to find work and use the licenses they’ve earned in other states. As a nearly 30-year Air Force veteran who has deployed and moved multiple times, I understand the many sacrifices made by military families and spouses, and supporting them is a top priority of mine,” said Rep. Don Bacon, a Republican from Nebraska, who is also a retired brigadier general and military commander. “This legislation addresses the military spouse’s unemployment and underemployment crisis, ensuring spouses can find work and encouraging employers to hire them.”

INDUSTRY WATCH: The Pentagon announced Friday that Raytheon Intelligence and Space has been granted a $228 million contract for the Global Positioning System Next-Generation Operational Control System Follow-On from Space Force’s Space and Missile Systems Center.

“Known as OCX 3F, the program builds on ground control station improvements made in Blocks 1 and 2, now planned for delivery in 2022. This includes better cybersecurity, improved anti-jamming capability, and enhanced signal strength and accuracy, as well as the ability to connect to more satellites and shrink operations crew sizes,” reports Air Force Magazine.


The Rundown

Washington Examiner: EXCLUSIVE: Trump’s VA secretary counts 9,000 firings as a top accomplishment and sounds alarm on China

Washington Examiner: Austin's task force is toughest move yet on China as Biden Pentagon mulls options

Washington Examiner: Blinken faults Iran for taking ‘American hostages’ as hawks see ransom payments coming

Washington Examiner: Air Force weapons systems in 'dire shape' despite years of big spending

Washington Examiner: Philippines to China: ‘Get the f--- out’ after coast guard confrontation

Washington Examiner: Biden begins reuniting migrant families separated at border under Trump

Washington Examiner: Biden raises refugee cap to 62,500

USNI News: Marine Corps Suspends General Over Deadly AAV Accident, Navy Launches Own Investigation

AP: Top general drops opposition to change in sex assault policy

The New Yorker: How the Pentagon Started Taking U.F.O.s Seriously

Washington Post: ‘It’s all Taliban country now’: New militant checkpoints on key roadways choke off parts of Afghanistan

Washington Post: As the U.S. departs Afghanistan, will the old Taliban reemerge?

Business Insider: Fears Of A Chinese Attack On Taiwan Are Growing, And Taiwan Isn't Sure Who Would Help If It Happened

Air Force Magazine: Make-or-Break Time for the F-35

Air Force Magazine: Space Force, SPACECOM Working on New Communication Strategy to Fight Overclassification

Washington Post: Supreme Court declines to revisit precedent that restricts lawsuits from service members

Washington Post: John Bolton: Opinion: The Zarif tape shows why Biden should abandon reviving the Iran nuclear deal



11 a.m. — House Armed Services Subcommittee on Intelligence and Special Operations hearing: “Reviewing Department of Defense Strategy, Policy, and Programs for Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction for Fiscal Year 2022,” with Jennifer Walsh, principal deputy assistant secretary of defense for homeland defense and global security; Brandi Vann, acting assistant secretary of defense for nuclear, chemical and biological defense programs; Vice Adm. Timothy Szymanski, deputy commander, U.S. Special Operations Command; and Rhys Williams, acting director, Defense Threat Reduction Agency.

12 p.m. — House Appropriations Defense Subcommittee hearing: “FY2022 National Guard and Reserves,” with Lt. Gen. David Bellon, commander of the Marine Forces Reserve; Lt. Gen. Jody Daniels, chief of the Army Reserve; Gen. Daniel Hokanson, chief of the National Guard Bureau; Vice Adm. John Mustin, chief of the Navy Reserve; and Lt. Gen. Richard Scobee, chief of the Air Force Reserve.

12 p.m. — Association of the U.S. Army Noon Report webinar with Lt. Gen. Daniel Karbler, commanding general, Army Space and Missile Defense Command and Joint Functional Component Command for Integrated Missile Defense; and Col. Andrew Morgan (M.D.), commander, U.S. Army NASA Detachment.

12 p.m. — Institute for Defense and Government Advancement webinar: “How Information Technology and Cloud Accelerate DOD Missions,” with Stuart Wagner, chief digital transformation officer at the U.S. Air Force and U.S. Space Force; Steven Wert, program executive officer for digital at the Air Force Life Cyber Management Center; Bereket Tanju, command data officer at Air Combat Command; Air Force Deputy Program Executive Officer for Command, Control, Communications, Intelligence and Networks Scott Owens; and Bob Ritchie, vice president of software at SAIC.

1 p.m. — Johns Hopkins University Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies virtual discussion with former National Security Council Senior Director for European and Russian Affairs Fiona Hill, senior fellow, Brookings Institution, and Eliot Cohen, dean of SAIS.

3 p.m. — Carnegie Endowment for International Peace webinar “Negotiating the New START Treaty,” with author and former Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Rose Gottemoeller, nonresident senior fellow at the CEIP Nuclear Policy Program; and Peter Baker, chief White House correspondent for the New York Times

4:30 p.m. — Labor Secretary Marty Walsh and Commerce Secretary Gina Marie Raimondo visit the General Dynamics Electric Boat site in Groton, Conn., the primary builder of submarines for the U.S. Navy and afterwards discuss the Biden administration's investments in Registered Apprenticeships and training programs. Also participating: Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn.; Rep. Joe Courtney, D-Conn.; Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn.; Gov. Ned Lamont, D-Conn.; and Kevin Graney, president of General Dynamics Electric Boat.


10:30 a.m. — Brookings Institution webinar: “China's Arctic Activities and Ambitions,” with State Department Coordinator for the Arctic Region James DeHart; former Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Heather Conley, senior vice president of the Center for Strategic and International Studies; Camilla Sorensen, associate professor at the Royal Danish Defense College; and Bruce Jones, director of the Brookings Project on International Order and Strategy.

10:30 a.m. — Center for Strategic and International Studies Project on Nuclear Issues virtual Capstone Conference, with Adm. Charles Richard, commander of U.S. Strategic Command.

11 a.m. 2118 Rayburn — House Armed Services Committee “Member Day” hearing, in which committee members testify on their national defense priorities for the FY22 NDAA, and can offer legislative proposals as amendments when the full House considers the bill.

11:30 a.m. — Woodrow Wilson Center Global Europe Program webinar: “Global Britain: The Future of the Kingdom's Security, Defense, Development and Foreign Policy,” with U.K. Ambassador to the United States Karen Pierce.

12 p.m. — House Appropriations Defense Subcommittee hearing: “Fiscal Year 2022 United States Army Budget, with Gen. James McConville, chief of staff of the Army; and John Whitley, acting secretary of the Army.

1 p.m. — National Security Institute and the Federalist Society virtual event: “Getting Out of Gitmo: Dangerous or Smart?” with Karen Greenberg, director of the Center on National Security at Fordham University School of Law; David Rivkin, partner at BakerHostetler; Stephen Vladeck, Charles Alan Wright chair in federal courts, University of Texas School of Law; and moderator Jamil Jaffer, founder and executive director of the National Security Institute at the Antonin Scalia Law School at George Mason University.

2 p.m. — Government Executive Media Group webinar: “Zero Trust: Get Beyond the Buzzword with Real Time Data Instrumentation at the Edge," with Air Force Chief Data Officer Eileen Vidrine; and Matthew Marsden, vice president of Tanium's Technical Account Management Public Sector.

3 p.m. — House Armed Services Subcommittees on Strategic Forces and International Development, International Organizations and Global Corporate Social Impact hearing: “Creating a Framework for Rules Based Order in Space,” with Lt. Gen. Stephen Whiting, commander, Space Operations Command, U.S. Space Force; John Hill, performing the duties of assistant secretary of defense for space policy; Bruce Turner, senior official, State Department Bureau of Arms Control, Verification and Compliance; Jonathan Moore, principal deputy assistant secretary bureau of oceans and international environmental and scientific affairs, State Department.


11 a.m. — Association of the U.S. Army “Thought Leaders” webinar, with British Army Deputy Chief Lt. Gen. Christopher Tickell, who will discuss the implications of the U.K. Integrated Security and Defence Review for the British army as it transforms into a modern, expeditionary force.

11:35 a.m. — Center for Strategic and International Studies Project on Nuclear Issues virtual Capstone Conference panel discussion: “Deep Dive into Hypersonic Missiles and Artificial Intelligence,” with James Johnson, assistant professor, School of Law and Government, Dublin City University and non-resident fellow, Modern War Institute, West Point; Aaron Kennedy, graduate systems engineer, Lockheed Martin; Julia Balm, Ph.D. candidate, King’s College London; Shahrukh Nasim, project manager, Department of Energy;  and Raymond Wang, Ph.D. student, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

12 p.m. — Government Executive Media Group "Genius Machines" forum on "How Humans and AI Are Working Together,” with Philip Root, deputy director of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency's Defense Sciences Office.

1:30 p.m. — U.S. Navy Memorial virtual discussion with Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Michael Gilday.

3 p.m. — House Armed Services Subcommittee on Readiness hearing: “Ship and Submarine Maintenance: Sustainment Considerations for a Changing Fleet,” with Vice Adm. William Galinis, commander Naval Sea Systems Command; Rear Adm. Eric Ver Hage, director, surface ship maintenance and modernization, Naval Sea Systems Command; and Rear Adm. Howard Markle, deputy commander, logistics, maintenance, and industrial operations, Naval Sea Systems Command.


9:30 a.m. — Center for Strategic and International Studies webinar: “Reordering Priorities: Republic of Korea-U.S. Alliance in the Indo-Pacific Century,” with former South Korean Minister and Acting President Hwang Kyo-ahn; Ji Seong-ho, member of the South Korean National Assembly; former U.S. Ambassador to South Korea Mark Lippert, Korea chair at CSIS; and Victor Cha, senior vice president of CSIS.

11:30 a.m. — Brookings Institution webinar: “The Future of Strategic Deterrence and Nuclear Modernization,” with Adm. Charles Richard, commander of U.S. Strategic Command

12 p.m. — House Appropriations Defense Subcommittee hearing: “Fiscal Year 2022 United States Air Force and Space Force Budget,” with Gen. Charles Q. Brown, Jr., chief of staff of the Air Force; Gen. John Raymond, chief of operations, U.S. Space Force; and John Roth, acting secretary of the Air Force.

1 p.m. — Center for Strategic and International Studies webinar: “Project Overmatch," the Navy's Joint All Domain Command and Control implementation program, with Rear Adm. Douglas Small, commander of Naval Information Warfare Systems Command.

3:30 p.m. — Woodrow Wilson Center Polar Institute webinar: “Understanding the New Dimensions of Trans-Atlantic Arctic Security,” with Capt. J.F. French, deputy commander of Joint Task Force North; Col. Petteri Seppala, defense attache at the Embassy of Finland; Col. David Hanson, commander of the 821st Air Base Group; retired Maj. Gen. Mats Engman, military fellow at the Institute for Security and Development Policy; and retired Rear Adm. Lars Saunes, professor at the U.S. Naval War College


“Even after all the recklessness and gross negligence that took our only son, my wife and I are still not anti-military. On the contrary, we believe we owe it to our son to do what we can to effect the change that leads to a better, stronger and safer military.”

Peter Ostrovsky, the father of Pfc. Jack Ostrovsky, one of nine Marines who drowned in an “entirely preventable” assault amphibious vehicle accident last July.

Tags: National Security, Daily on Defense

Original Author: Jamie McIntyre

Original Location: Ignoring bile from Pyongyang, Blinken says US ready to negotiate with North Korea


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