The Kearns Group Daily Defense Update With Tripp Skipper

We pull the most important aviation news coming out of Washington D.C. each day and compiled it in one spot. Check back daily for the latest news. 

TOP NEWS — YATES SAYS SHE WARNED THE WHITE HOUSE ABOUT FLYNN: "Former acting Attorney General Sally Yates cast a harsh light on the White House on Monday, detailing how she had informed Trump administration officials that then-national security adviser Michael Flynn was susceptible to blackmail from Russia, only to watch President Donald Trump take 18 days to fire him.

"'We believed that Gen. Flynn was compromised,' she testified at a highly anticipated Senate Judiciary subcommittee hearing. 'To state the obvious, you don't want your national security adviser compromised with the Russians.'

"Yates said she warned White House counsel Don McGahn in late January that Flynn, a retired Army lieutenant general, had misled Vice President Mike Pence and other senior officials and that as a result, public statements by White House officials were inaccurate.

"Yates' testimony was the first time she has publicly addressed what has become a major controversy for the White House, given that Trump waited nearly three weeks after Yates' warning to fire Flynn. By then, it had been reported in the news media that Flynn had misled Pence and other officials when he told them his phone calls with Russia's ambassador did not include a discussion of sanctions. Yates said Russia was aware that Flynn had misled his colleagues and could have used that information against him."

Afterward, Trump slams the Yates hearing as 'nothing but old news,'.

And the hearing comes amid reports Obama warned Trump not to hire Flynn to work for his administration.

SENATE APPROVES WILSON AS AIR FORCE SECRETARY, FILLING A SECOND CONFIRMED PENTAGON POST: "The Senate confirmed Heather Wilson to be Air Force secretary Monday, making her only the second of President Donald Trump's nominees to be approved for a Pentagon post.

"The vote was 76-22. Only Democrats opposed Wilson, a former Republican congresswoman from New Mexico.

"Her confirmation was a rare victory for the Trump administration in its long slog to fill senior vacancies at the Pentagon. Dozens of national security positions remain unfilled, with Obama holdovers or civil servants filling many senior jobs on an acting basis."

TRUMP ADVISERS URGE MORE TROOPS IN AFGHANISTAN, via The New York Times: "Senior Trump administration and military officials are recommending sending several thousand additional American troops to Afghanistan to try to break a military deadlock in the 15-year war there, in part by pressuring the Taliban to negotiate with the Afghan government.

"The added troops would allow American advisers to work with a greater number of Afghan forces, and closer to the front lines.

"The recommendation, which has yet to be approved by President Trump, is the product of a broad review by the Pentagon, the State Department, intelligence community and other government agencies on America's longest war. It is broadly consistent with advice Gen. John W. Nicholson, the top American commander in Afghanistan, gave Congress in February."

Marines deployed to Afghanistan return to the fight, writes the Marine Times.

HAPPENING TODAY — SASC CONSIDERS DoD FINANCE NOMINEES: The Senate Armed Services Committee hears from three Defense Department nominees: David Norquist for comptroller, Elaine McCusker for deputy comptroller and Robert Daigle to lead the Office of Cost Assessment and Program Evaluation.

— SASC HEARS FROM CYBERCOM CHIEF, TOO: Senate Armed Services also hears this morning from NSA Director and U.S. Cyber Command chief Adm. Mike Rogers.

FOR YOUR RADAR — TILLERSON-LAVROV TET-A-TET WEDNESDAY: Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will meet with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov Wednesday in Washington to "discuss Ukraine, Syria and bilateral issues," according to the State Department.

EXCLUSIVE — MCCAUL LEADS A CODEL TO EUROPE TO STUDY RUSSIAN AGGRESSION: House Homeland Security Chairman Mike McCaul is leading a congressional delegation in Europe this week, exploring how the U.S. might forge regional partnerships to combat Russian cyber threats, a committee spokeswoman confirmed. The delegation was in Poland Monday, hits Estonia today and will also visit Paris and Ukraine. Broadly, the delegation wants to figure out how to counter Russian aggression.

McCaul and crew will examine counterterrorism and security cooperation with European allies, foreign fighters flowing between Europe and the Middle East, evolving security threats to the U.S. homeland and the U.S. defense posture in Eastern Europe.

TOP DOC — CNA: RUSSIA LOCKED IN 'EXISTENTIAL' CYBER STRUGGLE: Russian officials believe Moscow is locked in "existential" struggle with forces seeking to challenge its security in the information realm, CNA writes in a report.

SOUTH KOREA'S MOON COULD BUCK TRUMP, writes The Washington Post: "The man set to become South Korea's next president has earned an unusual nickname on the campaign trail. One of his rivals was called 'Sprite' because he was considered refreshing and a female candidate was dubbed 'Lovely.' But Moon Jae-in has been called 'sweet potato' — because he's considered stodgy and dense...

"Although domestic issues have dominated this campaign, foreign affairs is much higher up the agenda than usual, in large part because of Trump's election in the United States and the stance he has taken on both North and South Korea.

"In a surprisingly detailed foreign policy statement released at the end of last month, Moon stated: 'Nothing is more dangerous than letting others decide our fate.'

"He has vowed to review the Park government's decision to host a controversial American missile defense system and to resume economic cooperation with North Korea at a time when sanctions are all the rage."

South Koreans look to set record turnout in the vote today, reports Reuters.

And North Korea claims it was the victim of terrorism as a result of an alleged U.S. plot to assassinate Kim Jong Un, reports The Associated Press.

Meanwhile, the White House expresses concern about the detention of another U.S. citizen,adds Reuters.

U.S. PACIFIC FLEET COMMANDER REASSURES ALLIES IN ASIA, writes The Wall Street Journal: "America's allies and partners in Asia are feeling angst over security matters as Washington's commitments come under question, U.S. Pacific Fleet Commander Adm. Scott Swift said.

"Adm. Swift, who oversees U.S. Navy assets in the Pacific, said during an interview on Monday with media outlets in Singapore that his goal is to work with Asian navies on security issues including North Korea and piracy—but that he has had to reassure allies that the U.S. will back up words with action.

"'I think if the entire United States Navy was forward-deployed to the Western Pacific there would still be this sense of uncertainty of commitment,' Adm. Swift said. 'It's a reflection of the uncertainty and angst in the region.'"

As the U.S. and Philippines kick-off a scaled-back exercise in the face of increased Chinese activity in the South China Sea, reports Stars and Stripes.

WAR REPORT — AFGHAN FORCES DRIVE INTO TALIBAN TERRITORY, reports The Washington Post: "Seeking to capitalize on the death of a top Islamic State commander, Afghan forces have surged through districts in eastern Afghanistan long held by the radical Islamist group as warplanes pounded militant hideouts in the past week, officials said Monday.

"The offensive in Nangahar province is targeting Islamic State fighters at a time when their numbers are down and their leadership is in disarray after a U.S.-Afghan commando raid 10 days ago killed the group's senior regional leader, Abdul Hasib."

The offensive comes as the Taliban extends its reach in villages across Afghanistan, the WSJwrites.

— SYRIA REJECTS FOREIGN FORCES IN SAFE ZONES, via the AP: "Syria on Monday dismissed the idea of foreign forces patrolling four so-called de-escalation zones that are to be established under a deal struck by Russia, Iran and Turkey, suggesting Damascus would only settle for Russian "military police" who are already on the ground.

"Damascus would abide by the agreement signed in Kazakhstan last week, Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem told reporters in the Syrian capital, but cautioned it was 'premature' to say whether the deal would succeed.

"'There will be no presence by any international forces supervised by the United Nations,' al-Moallem said."

But it continues to welcome Russian forces at its military bases, as satellite imagery shows reconnaissance aircraft from Assad's patron at Latakia Air Base, reports Defense News.

ISIS says it beheads a Russian officer in Syria, reports Reuters.

And a watchdog group sues the Trump administration to force it to disclose its legal rationale for launching its April missile strike on the Assad regime, adds the NYT

INDUSTRY INTEL — EUROPE MILITARY TRANSPORT PLANE FACES DELAYS, reports Reuters: "A confidential report by the German Defence Ministry has warned that technical challenges and contractual wrangling with Airbus (AIR.PA) could impair full operational use of Europe's A400M military transport plane.

"The A400M, Europe's largest defense project, was ordered in 2003 to give Europe an independent military transport capability but costs have since spiraled and Airbus has warned of 'risks ahead' for the program.

"'Given the under-financing of the program and the expected demands for delay-related damages, Airbus will not make the needed investments to carry out required improvements,' said the ministry report seen by Reuters on Monday. 'The operational use of the plane is therefore in jeopardy.'"

TOP DOCS — SURVEY REPORTS ON VETS' ISOLATION: A survey by Vettix finds that veterans attend fewer events a year than average Americans, possibly isolating them from civilian life.

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