MORNING RECON: Loyalty and the Oath; Living Legacy – The Children of Fallen Patriots; An Arab NATO?; 2nd Carrier Group Deployed Off Korean Peninsula

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Morning Recon

Good Friday morning and welcome to MORNING RECON.  On this day in 1967, one of the first major treaties designed to limit the spread of nuclear weapons goes into effect as the Soviet Union ratifies an agreement banning nuclear weapons from outer space.

RealClearDefense Exclusives:

Morning Mission Brief Podcast
From China’s New Aircraft Carrier to Malabar 2017: Naval Update in the Asia-Pacific
The Diplomat with Ankit Panda and Prashanth Parameswaran

Today’s Top Stories

NATIONAL So What’s Wrong With an Arab NATO?
By Christopher J. Bolan, RealClearDefense: “President Trump will reportedly unveil plans for an “Arab NATO" during his upcoming visit to Saudi Arabia this weekend.  While possessing an innate appeal to many, Trump’s security team will need to develop answers to some basic questions about the role and functions of this organization and should carefully weigh the potential downside risks associated with this proposal."   

President Trump’s Middle East Reset
By James Phillips, The Heritage Foundation: “President Donald Trump’s first trip abroad will be a nine-day journey to Saudi Arabia, Israel, the Vatican, NATO Headquarters in Brussels, and Sicily for the summit of the Group of Seven world economic powers. The Middle East portion of the trip will focus on three key issues: the war against ISIS, Iran’s growing regional threats, and the Arab–Israeli conflict."   

HASC Chair Thornberry Introduces Latest Defense Acquisition Reform Plan
By Otto Kreisher, USNI News: “House Armed Services Chairman Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-Texas) unveiled his latest attempt to modernize the defense acquisition process, focusing this time not on the way the military buys its big, expensive weapons but on helping the Defense Department “run more like a business.""   

Mattis Appoints Three Senior Pentagon Officials
By Rebecca Kheel, The Hill: “In a statement, the Pentagon announced Mattis has appointed Stephen Kitay to deputy assistant secretary of Defense for space policy, Sergio de la Peña to deputy assistant secretary of Defense for Western Hemisphere affairs and Vayl Oxford to director of the Defense Threat Reduction Agency."   

Air Force Tests New Lightweight F-35 Helmet
By Kris Osborn, Defense Systems: “Air Force engineers are producing a new lightweight helmet and reconfigured ejection seat system to improve safety and lower the weight for its fleet of F-35 pilots."   

The Navy’s Killer New JSOW-C1
From Scout Warrior: “The Navy is arming its entire fleet with a new air-launched, precision-guided missile able to use a two-way data-link to identify and destroy moving targets at sea."   

ADM Zukunft: Arctic Challenge Could Lead to Armed Icebreakers
By Megan Eckstein, USNI News: “The U.S. Coast Guard has begun work to design and buy three heavy and three medium polar icebreakers, but the service reserves the right to increase the size of the program or even add offensive weapons to them if needed to respond to a rapidly changing Arctic environment, the commandant said."   

Air Force Boosts Space With Elevation of JFCC Space
By Colin Clark, Breaking Defense: " “… AFSPC/CC has been elevated to the Joint Force Component Commander for Space (JFCC Space) … in essence a 4-star Air Force commander focused on the joint fight." Now, I think what they really meant to say is that the three-star joint component commander is being elevated to a four-star position. However the language is revealing since, to someone in uniform, any time you get to command combat troops is an “elevation" from a staff job."   

SEALs Want Their Divers Going Deeper and Wirelessly Networked
By David B. Larter, Defense News: “U.S. Naval Special Warfare Command wants SEALs to be wirelessly networked and communicating clearly at ever-deeper depths, and to pass information to operators both over the horizon and on the beach."   

Dead Drop: May 19
By Anonymous, The Cipher Brief: “GET OUT OF GAOL FREE CARD: The Guardian reports that Edward Snowden and 100 others have signed an open letter to President Trump to “immediately close the Grand Jury investigation into WikiLeaks and drop any changes against Julian Assange and other WikiLeaks staff members."  Before you say, “that’ll never happen," remember that Trump said I love WikiLeaks when he was on the campaign trail.  And as folks recall – he also praised the work of FBI Director Jim Comey before he fired him – so a flip-flop is certainly not out of the question.  Of course, if Trump had the ability to shut down investigations – we suspect the one into WikiLeaks would not be the first on his list . . . "   

INTERNATIONAL U.S., CHINA: China’s “Unprofessional" Intercept of U.S. Air Force Jet in East China Sea
By Matthew Brown, AP: “A pair of Chinese fighter jets conducted an “unprofessional" intercept of an American radiation-sniffing surveillance plane over the East China Sea, the U.S. Air Force said Friday, the latest in a series of such incidents that have raised U.S. concerns in an already tense region." U.S., NORTH KOREA: U.S. Deploys 2nd Carrier Group Off Korean Peninsula
By Yoshihiro Makino, The Asahi Shimbun: “As part of efforts to guard against military provocations by North Korea, the United States will deploy a second aircraft carrier to waters off the Korean Peninsula."

U.S., IRAQ: Iraqi Factions Divided Over Whether U.S. Troops Stay
By Hamdi Malik, Al-Monitor: “Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi is talking with the US administration to keep US troops in Iraq after the fight against the Islamic State (IS) is over, the Associated Press (AP) cited Iraqi and US officials as saying on May 5. US officials confirmed to the AP on condition of anonymity that the United States and Iraq agreed on the need for a long-term US presence aimed at warding off the threat of another armed rebellion. However, the growing polarization in the region and the tightening policy of regional rivalries are hindering the conclusion of such an agreement."

U.S., SAUDI ARABIA: Saudis Forge $6B Deal for Lockheed’s Littoral Combat Ships
By Anthony Capaccio & Margaret Talev, Bloomberg: “Lockheed Martin Corp. has reached a $6 billion deal to sell Saudi Arabia four of its Littoral Combat Ships as U.S. President Donald Trump travels to the kingdom, people familiar with the transaction said."

Living Legacy – The Children of Fallen Patriots
By Bonnie Carroll, RealClearDefense: “When the unthinkable happens and a service member dies, whether as a result of hostile action, in an accident, to illness or to suicide, the loss is devastating. The parent they knew (or in some cases, were too young to know) is never coming home. Compounding the devastation and grief, a death in the military brings a profound period of adjustment for children who suffer such a loss."   
Meeting of the Minds: How Presidents and Generals Stake out Their Territory
By Dan Maurer, Lawfare: “They shall have wars and pay for their presumption. —Shakespeare, Henry VI – Like many a new president before him, President Trump is opening his administration with bold—and sometimes contradictory—actions that have many wondering what to make of his relationships with his most senior admirals and generals.  The cost of such uncertainty, as Shakespeare might suggest, could be unbearably high."   

The Competition Revolution in Military Space
By Robert S. Walker, The Cipher Brief: “There has been a revolution in the cost of space launch for civilian purposes and defense during the last decade. New and innovative companies such as SpaceX and Blue Origin have rapidly reduced the cost of space launch through technological innovations such as the reusable rocket and by introducing new competition into a relatively staid market."   

Loyalty and the Oath
By Anthony Cowden, RealClearDefense: “Punching the dictionary, a good working definition of “personal loyalty" is to be loyal and faithful to a person to the point of undeviating attachment and tenacious adherence to that person."   

With Latest Airstrikes, U.S. Signals to Iran: Containment Is Back
By Michael Weiss & Hassan Hassan, CNN: “This marks only the second time in the history of the six-year conflict that American warplanes have intentionally targeted Iranian proxies in Syria. The convoy appears to have consisted not of regular Syrian army soldiers but of international Shia militiamen."   

NATO: Abandon the 2 Percent Obsession
By Garrett Martin & Balazs Martonffy, War on the Rocks: “When Donald Trump travels to Brussels for his first NATO summit on May 25, an organization he labeled as “obsolete" during the presidential campaign, he will encounter an alliance trying to project a more modern look."   

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