5 Things to Start Your Week: March 12, 2018

Grim cost predicted in effort to destroy North Korea's nukes
A man watches President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un during an Aug. 17 news program in Seoul, South Korea. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon, File) -- The Associated Press

1. NORTH KOREA MUM ON SUMMIT WITH TRUMP

From Richard Sisk at Military.com:

"Days after news emerged of a proposed summit between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and President Donald Trump, Kim's government has yet to make a formal response. But North Korean propaganda outlets are keeping up a drumbeat against U.S. sanctions and military threats.

The North's silence contrasted with a Twitter burst from Trump Saturday in which he expressed his enthusiasm for face-to-face talks with Kim and touted international backing for a meeting that would be the first between a U.S. president and the head of the Stalinist state.

'North Korea has not conducted a Missile Test since November 28, 2017 and has promised not to do so through our meetings,' Trump tweeted. 'I believe they will honor that commitment!'

Trump's overtures have thus far been ignored by North Korean outlets in favor of routine pronouncements of the North's strength and resolve."

 

2. CONGRESS WANTS NATO MEMBERS TO PAY THEIR DUES

From Military.com's Matthew Cox:

"The Trump administration has long criticized some NATO members for failing to invest enough money into defense and relying on the United States to shoulder the majority of the burden. Members of the Senate Armed Services Committee on Thursday continued to share that concern at a hearing with Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti, commander of United States European Command.

Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-New Hampshire, asked if there are acceptable alternatives to investing in defense.

'One of the things our European allies in NATO have suggested is, rather than looking at sort of an arbitrary 2 percent of GDP contribution to NATO, that we ought to be looking at capabilities instead,' she said.

Scaparrotti said that NATO really needs three requirements from its members -- cash, contributions and capabilities.

'It's not one or the other, or more of one and less of the other two; 2 percent is a reasonable percentage of GDP given the threat we are under today, in my opinion,' he said."

 

3. TANKS OUT FOR TRUMP'S MILITARY PARADE

From Military.com:

A Pentagon memo that surfaced March 9 reveals the first official guidance for President Donald Trump's controversial military parade in Washington, D.C. The memo tells planners to include wheeled military vehicles, but skip tanks, for fear of damaging local infrastructure. An air element will be included, but the memo calls for "older aircraft as available."

The memo appears to offer a budget-conscious approach to a parade event that has been estimated as likely to cost between $10 and $30 million. Other guidance dictates that Trump, observing the parade, will be joined by Medal of Honor recipients, and that nods be made to history, with period uniforms and a section on the evolution of women in the military.

In the memo, the Joint Staff are tasked to plan the parade, while U.S. Northern Command is instructed to execute it.

"This parade will focus on the contributions of our veterans throughout the history of the U.S. Military, starting from the Revolutionary War and the War of 1212 to today, with an emphasis on the price of freedom," the memo reads.

 

4. A-10 PILOTS EARN AWARDS IN ISIS FIGHT

From Military.com's Oriana Pawlyk:

"Two A-10 Thunderbolt pilots were recently awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for providing close-air support to U.S. Army forces in the fight against the Islamic State in Syria last May.

Maj. Tyler Schultz and Capt. Samantha Harvey, with the 354th Fighter Squadron at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, were presented with the military's fourth-highest medal by Air Combat Commander Gen. Mike Holmes at the Arizona base on March 2, according to a news release.

Schultz and Harvey got a call from a Joint Terminal Attack Controller near al-Shaddadi in northeast Syria that ISIS fighters had surrounded U.S. forces and begun a direct assault on their location on the night of May 2, 2017.

With Harvey's command and Schultz's response under pressure, the team was able to save more than 50 U.S. personnel with zero casualties, the release said.

 

5. NAVY CHARGES AHEAD ON RAILGUN

From Military.com:

"Following a flurry of reports in December predicting the Navy's $500 million electromagnetic railgun experiment was dead on arrival, the chief of Naval Operations told lawmakers this week that the death of the program was greatly exaggerated.

'[We are] fully invested in railgun; we continue to test it,' Adm. John Richardson told the House Appropriations subcommittee on defense during a Wednesday hearing on Navy and Marine Corps budget issues. 'We've demonstrated it at lower firing rates and ... shorter ranges. Now we have to do the engineering to, sort of, crank it up and get it at the designated firing rates, at the 80- to 100-mile range.'

Photos showing what appears to be a railgun mounted on the Chinese landing ship tank Haiyang Shan emerged in February. The evidence of what appears to be deployable Chinese railgun technology came to light following a handful of reports indicating the Navy's own gun development program was losing steam.

The Navy has never acknowledged a loss of interest in railgun technology, however. Last July, officials with the Office of Naval Research told reporters that the power behind the gun would be increased to 32 megajoules over the summer, giving the weapon a range of 110 miles."

-- Richard Sisk, Matthew Cox and Oriana Pawlyk contributed to this report.

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