With Connor O’Brien
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— A bipartisan bill to compete technologically with China moves ahead with a proposal to double DARPA’s budget.
— A top Republican says he plans to use the defense bill to protect conservatives in the military from “left-leaning voices.”
— A new global survey concludes that U.S. military operations alienate some in foreign countries, but other allies are eager for more defense ties.
HAPPY WEDNESDAY AND WELCOME TO MORNING DEFENSE, where we quite enjoyed this rundown of legendary stand-up comics who served in the military. It’s a true list of greats, from George Carlin to Richard Pryor and Don Rickles — and a mix of officers and enlisted. “…I was so incensed with patriotic fervor that I rushed down to the draft board and volunteered. But they didn’t need anybody else on the draft board and I wasn’t thinking about going to the Army,” quipped Nipsey Russell, who served as a medic in World War II and returned home a second lieutenant. Rickles, one of our favorites, served in the Navy in the South Pacific. “It was so hot and humid,” he once joked, “the crew rotted.” We’re always on the lookout for tips, pitches and feedback. Email us at [email protected], and follow on Twitter rybryandbender, @morningdefense and @politicopro.
GETTING THERE FIRST: The Senate on Tuesday advanced bipartisan legislation aimed at confronting China’s economic and strategic ambitions, including boosting research and development, revitalizing manufacturing, and outlining a diplomatic and national security strategy for the Indo-Pacific region, POLITICO’s Andrew Desiderio reports for Pros.
The Senate voted 86-11 to move forward on the Endless Frontier Act, which includes $100 billion in funding for the National Science Foundation and also reauthorizes NASA. Other details of the bill are still being negotiated.
Majority Leader Chuck Schumer called the legislation, which President Joe Biden supports, a “once-in-a-generation investment in American science and American technology.”
“We can either have a world where the Chinese Communist Party determines the rules of the road for 5G, artificial intelligence and quantum computing — or we can make sure the United States gets there first,” he said on the floor.
Related: Competition, not war, with China is the future, top Marine says, via Marine Corps Times.
DOUBLING DARPA? As part of the Endless Frontier Act, Sen. Ben Sasse on Tuesday proposed an amendment to double the budget of the Pentagon’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.
“My amendment is simple,” he said in a floor speech. “It doubles DARPA’s budget, from $3.5 billion to $7 billion, for each of the next five years. DARPA’s research is directly applied to our most critical national security challenges.”
Sasse argued that DARPA, which is responsible for a series of game-changing breakthroughs over the decades, “is on the frontlines” of the competition with China. “If we want American democracy to outlast Chinese techno-authoritarianism,” he said, “we can make this investment.”
Sasse’s office explained that “the substitute amendment has not yet been completed or considered but initial votes may take place later this week.”
SUBCOMMITTEE SHUFFLE: The House Armed Services Committee’s ranking Republican, Rep. Mike Rogers, named two new top GOP subcommittee members in a shuffle that resulted from Rep. Elise Stefanik’s election as the party’s conference chair, our colleague Connor O’Brien reports for Pros.
Rep. Jim Banks will replace Stefanik as the ranking member on the Cyber, Innovative Technologies, and Information Systems Subcommittee, while Rep. Mike Gallagher will replace Banks as ranking member of the Personnel Subcommittee.
‘BEING SILENCED’: Rogers also issued a statement late Tuesday calling on fellow GOP members and “any free-speech minded Democrats” to join him in drafting legislation as part of the National Defense Authorization Act to make sure the military is not muzzling conservatives in the ranks or punishing troops for their political leanings.
“I am greatly concerned by numerous press reports of conservative voices being silenced in the Department of Defense while Departmental leadership defends and protects left-leaning voices,” Rogers said in a statement. “The United States Armed Forces should be focused on preparing to face and win any battles against the threats posed by China and other foreign adversaries and not imposing political beliefs on those who chose to serve in uniform.”
“My Republican colleagues and I hear regularly from active duty and retired service members that even holding conservative values is now enough to endanger a servicemember’s military career,” the statement added. “I believe that this is an issue that must be addressed in this year’s NDAA and look forward to working with my Republican colleagues on the committee and any free-speech minded Democrats interested in joining our cause.”
Related: Pentagon pushes back on report of anti-extremism social media surveillance program, via Military Times.
The House Armed Services Committee holds a hearing on the recommendations of the National Commission on Military, National, and Public Service at 11 a.m.
The Senate Appropriations Military Construction Subcommittee holds a hearing on military infrastructure and climate resilience at 3 p.m.
The Senate Armed Services Strategic Forces Subcommittee holds a hearing on the Department of Energy’s atomic weapons programs with the head of naval reactors and acting head of the National Nuclear Security Administration at 4:30 p.m.
The Hayden center hosts a discussion with former senior officials on the future of intelligence at 7 p.m.
TRAINING CRUNCH: “The costs of deploying thousands of National Guard troops to the U.S. Capitol for months after the Jan. 6 insurrection will hurt upcoming training unless it’s reimbursed by August, the top Guard officer told senators,” our colleague Connor O’Brien reports for Pros.
Gen. Daniel Hokanson, chief of the National Guard Bureau, told the Senate Defense Appropriations subcommittee on Tuesday that the deployment from January to late May will cost approximately $521 million.
A HARD NO: The U.S. is still favorably viewed by much of the world for its soft power, or cultural and political appeal, but globe-spanning military operations and bases are responsible for “resentment over U.S. hard power,” according to a new assessment by the Eurasia Group Foundation.
The war in Afghanistan has played a central role. “Disapproval of America’s continuation of the war in Afghanistan was a significant driver of anti-American sentiment,” the survey found. “Respondents who wanted the U.S. to withdraw troops ‘as soon as possible’ were on average about 2.4 times more likely to have an unfavorable view of the U.S.”
The report noted that the Pentagon’s Global Posture Review, a reexamination of worldwide basing, offers an opportunity to address some of the concerns “in an era when the primary threats to the United States and its democracy are arguably non-military.”
Some bright spots: Several nations where the U.S. is seeking to deepen defense ties have mostly favorable views of America’s military presence. “India values military cooperation with the United States,” the researchers found. “More than 75% of respondents believe U.S.-India military collaboration is positive, with 40% indicating it is ‘very positive.’ On the other hand, Indians are averse to anything that would compromise their independence.”
“In Nigeria, America’s global influence is also viewed positively by the majority of people there,” it adds. “Majorities believe American democracy and free market economy set a positive example for the world (82% and 79% respectively). This makes sense given majorities also indicate globalization has benefited them, their towns, and their country.”
Mark Esper, former secretary of defense, secretary of the Army and Raytheon executive, has joined the board of directors of Epirus, a venture-backed start-up.
Michele Pearce, former acting Army general counsel, has joined Covington’s Public Policy practice in Washington.
— Fear of Taliban conquering Kabul are overblown, says US envoy to Afghanistan: The Associated Press
— Aerospace industry can;t handle the future, Mitchell Institute warns: Breaking Defense
— Biden administration clears 3 Guantánamo detainees for release: The New York Times
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