The D Brief: War’s lessons for Army SF; Russia’s GPS jamming; Gaza pier photos; The next Doomsday plane; And a bit more.

What Green Berets learn from the Ukrainians they train. “Since the start of Russia’s full-scale invasion more than two years ago, Col. Lucas VanAntwerp and other Army special-forces soldiers have trained thousands of Ukrainian commandos in Poland and elsewhere,” Defense One’s Sam Skove reported Monday. “And U.S. troops have learned as well—not just about the Ukrainians’ special brand of resilience, but lessons from European battlefields that are now shaping Army special operations and modernization efforts.”

One key lesson: innovation must be swift and unceasing. Weapons used in Ukraine must make a big impact on the very first day they’re used, because Russia will be working on a countermeasure by day two, said VanAntwerp, who now leads Army Special Operations Command’s Force Modernization Center. Read on, here. 

Developing: Russia is jamming the heck out of GPS around the Baltic Sea, the Financial Times reported Sunday, citing the foreign ministers of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. The jamming, which seems to have escalated since December, is so disruptive that two Finnish airliners en route to the Estonian city of Tartu were forced to turn around on Thursday and Friday last week. 

The jamming is also affecting boats in the region, “leading to warnings from the Swedish navy about the safety of shipping,” FT reported. Unnamed experts told the outlet they believe there to be possibly three different sources for the jamming, “with one seemingly based in Kaliningrad, another responsible for the disturbances in Estonia and Finland, and a separate source affecting the far north of Norway and Finland.”

“Such actions are a hybrid attack and are a threat to our people and security, and we will not tolerate them,” Estonia’s Margus Tsahkna said. 

If this sounds familiar, Defense One’s Patrick Tucker reported on the topic earlier this month after the chief of Sweden’s navy, Rear Adm. Ewa Skoog Haslum, elaborated on some of the risks of GPS jamming at the Navy League’s Sea-Air-Space conference outside Washington, D.C., here. 

Frontline latest: We have a little bit more supporting data for Moscow’s apparent meat-grinder approach to invading more of Ukraine. The data is courtesy of open source researcher Naalsio, who has created a spreadsheet of documented equipment losses during Russia’s ongoing Pokrovsk Raion offensive, in the vicinity of the recently captured Ukrainian city of Avdiivka, in central Donetsk. 

According to the latest update (spreadsheet here), the Russian military seems to be suffering a 6-to-1 ratio of equipment loss compared to the defending Ukrainians. 

Context: “Russian forces have long aimed to seize four major cities that form a fortress belt in Donetsk Oblast (Slovyansk, Kramatorsk, Druzhkivka, and Kostyantynivka),” analysts at the Washington-based Institute for the Study of War wrote Sunday evening. Invading and occupying that belt would go a long way toward Russia’s goal of annexing the entire Donetsk region. But until then, Russia wants to seize the Donetsk city of Chasiv Yar, which is about 50 miles north of Avdiivka. “Chasiv Yar is operationally significant because it would provide Russian forces with a staging ground to launch offensive operations against Druzhkivka and Kostyantynivka,” ISW explained. 

UN confirms: A North Korean ballistic missile was used to attack the Ukrainian city of Kharkiv in early January, according to an internal United Nations report seen by Reuters Monday. Russia appears to have used one of Pyongyang’s Hwasong-11 series missiles, which was first tested publicly five years ago. If confirmed, transfer of the missile to Russia would be a violation of a UN arms embargo on North Korea.

Relatedly, “Russia last month vetoed the annual renewal of the U.N. sanctions monitors” for North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs, Reuters reports. “The mandate for the current panel of experts will expire on Tuesday.”

New: A former NSA worker was just sentenced to more than 21 years in prison for trying to pass secret information to Russian intelligence officials. Thirty-two-year-old Colorado native Jareh Sebastian Dalke worked as an information-security specialist at the NSA for less than a month in mid-2022. During that time, Dalke retained at least three Top Secret//Sensitive Compartmented Information documents and later tried to pass them to an individual he believed to be a Russian agent for about $85,000. “That person was an FBI online covert employee,” the Department of Justice said in its Monday update to the case. 

The FBI arrested Dalke on Sept. 28, 2023, moments after he transmitted the files. He pleaded guilty the following month. Now he faces 262 months in prison for attempted espionage.

Welcome to this Tuesday edition of The D Brief, brought to you by Ben Watson with Bradley Peniston. Share your newsletter tips, reading recommendations, or feedback for the year ahead here. And if you’re not already subscribed, you can do that here. On this day in 2004, the U.S. military’s Abu Ghraib prison scandal burst out into the open when multiple media outlets published the disturbing images.

We’ve got some new imagery of the temporary pier the U.S. military is building for Gaza. Central Command officials posted the imagery to social media Monday, including four photos of the pier in-progress miles off the Israeli coast in the Mediterranean Sea. 

The pier is expected to open sometime in the “coming days,” National Security Communications Advisor John Kirby said in a call with reporters Tuesday. “It’s moving along quite quickly,” he said. 

Land corridors—via Egypt, e.g.—remain the best way to get aid to Gazans most efficiently, and the temporary pier isn’t expected to change that, said Kirby. Otherwise, the U.S. has airdropped more than 30 deliveries of humanitarian aid to Gaza so far.

National Guard and Reserve leaders are testifying before House appropriators Tuesday morning in a hearing that began at 10 a.m. ET. The lineup includes National Guard Bureau Chief Army Gen. Daniel Hokanson, Army Reserve Chief Lt. Gen. Jody Daniels, Navy Reserve Chief Vice Adm. John Mustin, Marine Forces Reserve Commander Lt. Gen. Leonard Anderson IV, and Air Force Reserve Chief Lt. Gen. John Healy. Details and livestream, here. 

Assistant Secretary of Defense for Space Policy John Plumb is set to discuss his current raison d’etre before an audience at the Meridian Space Diplomacy Forum 2024. That begins at 11:40 a.m.; livestream here.  

Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering Heidi Shyu will join DARPA Director Stefanie Tompkins at a virtual event hosted by the National Defense Industrial Association. That’s slated for 1 p.m. Details here.

Air and Space Force leaders will speak to House appropriators in an afternoon hearing scheduled for 2 p.m. ET. 

Service vice chiefs will discuss readiness with House lawmakers at 3 p.m. ET. Catch it live here. 

And America’s nuclear forces are the focus of an open hearing slated for 3:30 p.m. Details here.

How digital engineering could produce new weapons faster. A new platform from GDIT called Ember “enables process automation more broadly,” Mike Nash, the company’s engineering director tells D1’s Patrick Tucker. Ember aims to replace the documents that humans need—“spreadsheets, PowerPoints, PDFs, Word docs, things like that” with “a model-based alternative.” Read on, here.

ICYMI: Air Force picks the builder of its next Doomsday planes. Sierra Nevada gets a $13 billion contract to replace the E-4B Nighthawk by 2036. A bit more, here.

And lastly today: America’s largest nuclear plant just got a boost on Monday when two new reactors became operational at Plant Vogtle in Waynesboro, Ga. “The two newest reactors can each deliver power to around 500,000 homes and businesses,” making Vogtle “the nation’s largest nuclear plant, as well as its largest generator of carbon-free electricity,” the Wall Street Journal reported Monday. Read more in nonpaywalled coverage at Axios or the Associated Press. 

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