Intel Agencies: COVID-19 Not a Biological Weapon, Likely Not Engineered

The COVID-19 pandemic likely isn't due to a genetically engineered virus and wasn't a biological attack, the national Intelligence Community says in a new report on the origins of the disease. But the agencies are divided on the likelihood of plausible origins. The findings are part of an “updated assessment” of COVID-19's origins that Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines' office released Nov. 2.
vice chairman joint chiefs

Biden Nominates Navy Adm. Grady to Replace Hyten as Vice Chairman of JCS

President Joe Biden has nominated Adm. Christopher W. Grady, head of the Navy’s Fleet Forces Command, to take over as Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff just weeks before Air Force Gen. John E. Hyten is set to retire from the position. Assuming Grady is confirmed by the Senate, it will mark the first time since July 2015 that an Air Force general will not be serving as either Chairman or Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs.
house armed services committee

DOD to Brief Congress on China’s Military Progress

Defense Department officials will visit Capitol Hill on Nov. 3 to brief staffers on the department's annual report on the Chinese military amid heightened concerns about China's military buildup, a DOD spokesperson confirmed. The report, “2021 Military and Security Developments Involving the People’s Republic of China,” commonly called the "China Military Power Report," comes amid technological developments by the Chinese military that reportedly surprised members of the U.S. Intelligence Community, plus the apparently rapid growth of the Chinese intercontinental ballistic missile program and aggressive moves toward Taiwan.
united nations space

UN Committee Advances Proposal on Rules Governing Behavior in Space

A United Nations panel overwhelmingly approved a resolution Nov. 1 to create a working group aimed at preventing an arms race in outer space, setting up the measure to pass in the General Assembly. The resolution, introduced by the United Kingdom with the support of more than 30 other nations, including the U.S., would establish an open-ended working group that would “​​make recommendations on possible norms, rules and principles of responsible behaviors relating to threats by States to space systems."
turkey

Reports: Erdogan Relays Pledge by Biden to Help With F-16 Sale

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told journalists on his return home from the G20 summit in Rome on Oct. 31 that President Joe Biden had told Erdogan that Biden would do “his best” to help usher through a $6 billion sale of F-16 fighters and modernization kits, according to reports. The biggest variable in the F-16 acquisition, Erdogan reportedly indicated, is the U.S. Congress.

Radar Sweep

Nuclear Weapons Noteworthy in Russia's Defense Budget Request

Defense News

Russia plans to gradually increase spending on its nuclear weapons capabilities over the next three years, according to the draft of the national budget currently under debate in parliament. The funding proposal to upgrade Russia’s nuclear arsenal comes as the military awaits new hypersonic missiles to replace its Soviet-era strategic weapons.

South Korea, US Kick Off Joint Air Exercise

Yonhap News Agency

South Korea and the United States kicked off a combined annual air exercise Nov. 1, a military source said, in a low-key manner apparently to back ongoing diplomacy over resuming dialogue with North Korea. For the five-day exercise, the allies mobilized some 100 air assets each, including F-15K and KF-16 jets from South Korea, and F-16s from the U.S., the source said on the condition of anonymity, noting that no military assets were deployed from the U.S. mainland this time.

‘Nine Eyes’? Bill Would Look at Adding Four Countries to Intel-Sharing Pact

Defense One

The United States’ “Five Eyes” intelligence-sharing pact is a World War II relic that needs updating to better keep tabs on China, the chairman of a key house subcommittee on intelligence told Defense One. Arizona Democrat Rep. Ruben Gallego, chairman of the House Armed Services subcommittee on special operations and intelligence, has added language to this year’s defense bill that opens the door for the decades-old pact’s first expansion.

Lockheed Martin and Verizon to Partner to Develop 5G Tech for the Military

Defense One

The world’s largest defense contractor is working with the United States’ largest wireless provider to develop technology for a military 5G mobile network. Announced Nov. 2, the agreement between Lockheed Martin and Verizon comes after the two companies linked a commercial 5G mobile network with a military communications network used by fighter jets to send and receive targeting coordinates.

US Strategic Command to Begin Exercise Global Thunder 22

Air Force release

U.S. Strategic Command announced it would commence its annual nuclear command and control exercise, Global Thunder, on Nov. 2, 2021. Global Thunder 22 (GT22) provides training opportunities that exercise all USSTRATCOM mission areas, with a specific focus on nuclear readiness. GT22 will include the headquarters staff, USSTRATCOM components, and subordinate units to enhance readiness and ensure a safe, secure, ready, and reliable strategic deterrent force.

SOCOM Head on Global Terrorism: ‘I Think It’s Spread’

Breaking Defense

The commander of U.S. special operations forces believes the global terrorist threat has “metastasized” and that counterterrorism operations remain a requirement for his forces, even as the Defense Department shifts its focus to the Pacific. “The threat—I think a good description is metastasized,” Army Gen. Richard D. Clarke said. “It’s gone into areas of Africa where they could seek sanctuary and where there may be some areas of sanctuary that we have to look at. And when I say it is not diminished, I think it’s spread.”

Subscription Required

US Aviation Regulator Warns of Potential Interference From 5G Spectrum Plan

Reuters

The Federal Aviation Administration said Nov. 2 it had issued a special information bulletin alerting manufacturers, operators, and pilots that action may be needed to address potential interference with sensitive aircraft electronics caused by the use of 5G telecommunications technology.

OPINION: Moving Beyond Assured Access to Space

Breaking Defense

For years, the Pentagon has been required to have two military space launch providers available at all times. But that system means a slow process, with long-scheduled launch plans. Now, with the rise of alternative launch providers around the globe and the reliance on smaller systems, Joshua C. Huminski of the Center of the Presidency & Congress argues that it’s time for the U.S. to change how it handles getting the military’s assets into orbit.

One More Thing

NASA Astronauts Harvest Green Chile on the ISS, Make Space Tacos

CNET

Take fajita beef. Add rehydrated tomatoes and artichokes. Put it in a tortilla. Top with Hatch chile you spent months growing. Do all of this while in orbit around Earth on the International Space Station. And that's the recipe for space tacos. Astronauts on the ISS indulged in a special treat after harvesting peppers that have been growing on the ISS since July. The plants are from NuMex "Española Improved" seeds, a hybrid Hatch chile. Hatch refers to a town and region in New Mexico known for peppers.