Overnight Defense: Pentagon dipping into missile, spy plane funds for border wall | Pompeo briefs European allies on Iran | Preps for meeting with Putin | B-52s conduct first mission to deter Iran | Lawmakers set for clash on nuke policy
Happy Monday and welcome to Overnight Defense. I’m Rebecca Kheel, and here’s your nightly guide to the latest developments at the Pentagon, on Capitol Hill and beyond. CLICK HERE to subscribe to the newsletter.
THE TOPLINE: We now have the detailed breakdown of where the Pentagon finding $1.5 billion to pay for President TrumpDonald John TrumpStates fight Trump rollback of Obama lightbulb rules Authorities investigating shooting near Trump resort in Florida Trump: ‘China is dreaming’ Biden, other Dems get elected MORE‘s border wall.
Among the dollars in the transfer announced Friday are funds originally meant to upgrade Air Force surveillance planes and an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) system, according to Pentagon budget documents.
Also, as previously reported, millions are being taken from a fund meant to help build up Afghan forces.
Here are the specifics:
— $604 million from the Afghan Security Forces Fund, meant to assist the Afghan military
— $77.5 million from the Coalition Support Fund (CSF), used to reimburse coalition partners for support to U.S. military operations.
— $24.3 million from the Air Force’s Minuteman III ICBM program, which needs updates to its launch control center. The document said the funds were available due to a “slip in the production schedule.”
— $52.6 million from savings negotiated on air-launch cruise missiles and Predator Hellfire missiles
— $57 million meant for upgrading the E-3 Sentry, an airborne early warning and control aircraft. The money was available due to “schedule delays,” according to the document.
— $209.7 million designated for an Air Force space vehicle launch. The next launch isn’t scheduled until after a 24-month planning period, according to the document.
— $223.8 million from the Pentagon’s Blended Retirement System, which launched in January 2018 and had “fewer than planned opt-ins from the legacy retirement system.”
— $251 million from a program to destroy chemical agents and munitions.
Reminder: Recall that the $1.5 billion approved last week is in addition to $1 billion approved in March. That $1 billion was moved from Army personnel funds to Pentagon counter-drug funds and then to the wall fund.
And both of these transfers are separate from the $3.6 billion the administration has said it plans to take from military construction funds as part of Trump’s national emergency declaration. The Pentagon has not yet touched that pot of money.
More to come?: Over the weekend, acting Defense Secretary Patrick ShanahanPatrick Michael ShanahanDHS asks Pentagon for help amid influx of migrants Acting Pentagon chief: military is ‘not going to leave until the border is secure’ Overnight Defense — Presented by Huntington Ingalls Industries — Pentagon approves transfer of .5B to border wall | Dems blast move | House Dem pushes Pelosi to sue over Trump’s Yemen veto MORE visited U.S. troops at the border in Texas.
While there, he discussed with acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan a request for more assistance at the border. The request included providing tents for detained migrants.
During the trip, Shanahan also said the Pentagon will try speed up planning to secure the border without military help, but that U.S. troops won’t leave prematurely.
“We’re not going to leave until the border is secure,” Shanahan said. “This isn’t about identifying a problem. It’s about fixing a problem more quickly.”
LATEST ON IRAN TENSION: Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoSchumer urging Pompeo to warn Putin of consequences if Russia interferes in election The threat of Iran is in our backyard Calling out Code Pink’s ignorance and hypocrisy MORE was supposed to be in Moscow on Monday to meet with workers at the U.S. Embassy and American business leaders.
Instead, he redirected his plane to Brussels to meet with European allies to discuss “threatening actions and statements” by Iran, the State Department said Monday morning.
“Secretary Pompeo will continue to coordinate closely with our allies and partners to ensure the security of our mutual interests in the Middle East and around the world,” department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said in a statement.
Pompeo is still going to Sochi, Russia, on Tuesday to meet with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and President Vladimir PutinVladimir Vladimirovich PutinAnother kindred spirit comes to Trump’s White House Schumer urging Pompeo to warn Putin of consequences if Russia interferes in election Pompeo faces myriad challenges in Putin meeting MORE.
Military deterrence: Meanwhile, the B-52s the Trump administration sent to the region have conducted their first patrol flights meant to deter Iran.
The bombers conducted their first mission Sunday, U.S. Air Forces Central Command said Monday.
“This was the first mission of the Bomber Task Force deployed to U.S. Central Command area of responsibility in order to defend American forces and interests in the region,” Air Forces Central Command (AFCENT) said in a brief statement alongside photos of the bombers taking off.
AFCENT also released images Monday of F-15Cs and F-35As taking part in “deterrence” flights in the region Sunday. The photos showed the F-15s, F-35s and B-52s being refueled by a KC-135 in the air over an undisclosed location in the region.
Neither release elaborated on the flights.
In response to a request for more information, a spokeswoman said the flights include going over the Persian Gulf, also known as the Arabian Gulf.
“The B52’s were deployed to U.S. Central Command to defend U.S. Forces and deter any aggression,” AFCENT spokeswoman Maj. Holly Brauer said in an email. “They have begun flying deterrence missions in the region, including over the Arabian Gulf.”
Sabotage?: Four oil tankers off the coast of the United Arab Emirates were reported damaged in what the country described as a “sabotage attack.” Two of the tankers were Saudi, one was Emirati and one was Norwegian.
Officials have not blamed Iran for the attack. But it came after the United States warned ships Iran or “its proxies” could target maritime traffic in the region.
WHAT TO EXPECT IN RUSSIA: As noted above, Pompeo will be in Russia this week, his first time traveling to the country as secretary of State.
Over the weekend The Hill’s Morgan Chalfant took a look at myriad challenges he faces during the trip:
A number of thorny bilateral and global issues are likely to surface during the meeting, including arms control, the political upheaval in Venezuela and Russia’s efforts to interfere in foreign elections, an area of continued concern for many back in Washington.
State Department officials said Friday that Pompeo plans to confront Putin on Russian efforts to meddle in U.S. and other elections, something Trump declined to do during a lengthy phone call with Putin earlier this month. The pair are also likely to address other pressing issues, including over Iran and North Korea.
Among the issues high on Pompeo’s agenda for his meeting with Putin is arms control, an area that experts say the Trump administration might be able to make some headway.
“There are a million other issues where we aren’t going to agree with them,” said Evelyn Farkas, a former Pentagon official in the Obama administration who worked on Russia issues. “On the arms control, maybe there’s a possibility.”
Got caught up here.
Trump, Putin face-to-face: Trump said Monday he also plans to meet with Putin at the Group of 20 summit in Japan next month.
Trump also said he’ll meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping at the G-20.
Trump predicted his meeting with Xi would be “very fruitful” and argued he would be negotiating from a position of strength after trade talks broke down last week between the world’s two largest economies.
“We’re in a great position right now, no matter what we do,” Trump told reporters during a meeting with Hungary’s prime minister. “Yeah, I think China wants to have it.”
NUCLEAR FIGHT: Those watching House and Senate Armed Services Committee hearing this year have noticed a theme: the respective chairmen have been laying out their cases for their stances on nuclear weapons.
Over the weekend, your Overnight Defense correspondent took a look at the debate and how it might affect the upcoming National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which the Senate committee begins marking up next week.
Read more here.
ON TAP FOR TOMORROW
Maj. Gen. Christopher Ghika, deputy commander of Operation Inherent Resolve, will brief Pentagon reporters at 11 a.m. Watch live at facebook.com/CJTFOIR.
— The Hill: Rubio asks Barr to investigate Kerry over Iran meetings
— The Hill: Schumer urging Pompeo to warn Putin of consequences if Russia interferes in election
— The Hill: Iranian commander: US forces in gulf a target, not a threat
— Associated Press: Iraq hunts IS remnants spreading fear in former ‘caliphate’
— Reuters: Yemen warring parties hold fresh talks as Houthis withdraw from Hodeidah