Today’s D Brief: Army misses recruit goal; Ukraine aid: what’s next; Kenyan force OKd for Haiti; National alert test; And a bit more.

by Braxton Taylor

New: The U.S. Army missed its recruiting goal for the fiscal year by about 10,000, Army Secretary Christine Wormuth told reporters Tuesday morning at the Pentagon. The service added just 55,000 contracts in FY23, which is short of the service’s goal of 65,000 new recruits, Wormuth said. The number is also quite close to what Defense One’s Sam Skove reported three weeks ago.

“There are a lot of things happening that are outside of the United States Army’s ability to control,” Wormuth said. That includes “the declining percentage of young Americans who are eligible to join the military, the declining propensity—a lot of that is beyond the Army’s ability to singly change,” she said. And that’s why she’s hoping a few new initiatives will yield more recruits in the months and years to come. 

Coming soon: The Army is elevating its recruiting command to a three-star billet. The service is also adding a new job, 42-T, as “talent acquisition,” Wormuth said. “Unlike the private sector, we do not have a specialized, permanent recruiting workforce,” she said. That will soon change, and current “high-performing” recruiters will be tasked with additional training to accommodate this new focus. The service will also create a new warrant officer associated with this permanent recruiter shift.

Recruiters will also soon be expected to focus more on age groups beyond the typical high school audience, the secretary said. That means by 2028, service officials want to recruit as many as a third of new contracts from Americans who are already out of high school and have “more than a high school education,” Wormuth said, referring to this deliberate shift as an “expanded prospect market” of possible future soldiers. This is largely because many more high school graduates are attending college today than 20 years ago, said Wormuth. 

“We’re, of course, going to continue to seek high school graduates,” the secretary said. But they’re also going to begin “piloting large-scale career fairs in major population centers,” similar to how private sector companies recruit, she said. Stay tuned to Defense One for a bit more on the Army’s ongoing recruiting woes. You can also read more about these new changes from Army Public Affairs, here.

In obscure Army acquisitions news, the service just bought more than 700 of these post-“Hurt Locker” bomb disposal suits in a five-year contract worth $84 million with the Virginia-based firm, QinetiQ. 

Officially, they’re known as “Next Generation Advanced Bomb Suits,” or NGABS. The idea is to replace the older Advanced Bomb Suits, which have been in use for at least 20 years. The new suits add a Heads Up Display and a Modular Sensor Suite to help with low- and no-light circumstances. Learn more from QinetiQ (PDF), here. 


Welcome to this Tuesday edition of The D Brief, brought to you by Ben Watson with Bradley Peniston. If you’re not already subscribed, you can sign up here. On this day in 1952, the British became the world’s third nuclear power when they detonated a 25-kiloton plutonium implosion device in western Australia. 

Two days after averting a government shutdown with a bill that did not include aid for Ukraine, President Joe Biden cautioned lawmakers to not lose sight of what’s at stake for Kyiv and its allies. “We cannot, under any circumstances, allow American support for Ukraine to be interrupted,” Biden said Monday afternoon before a cabinet meeting. “Too many lives are at stake—too many children, too many people.” 

Looking ahead, the president added, “I fully expect [House Speaker Kevin McCarthy] and the majority of the Republicans in Congress to keep their commitment to secure the passage of the support needed to help Ukraine as it defends itself against Russian aggression and brutality.”

“We have enough for a [Presidential Drawdown Authority] to meet Ukraine’s urgent battlefield needs for a bit longer,” said Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre, speaking Monday to reporters at the White House. However, she added, “It is not the long-term solution.” When it comes to how much longer the current Ukraine aid might last, she declined to elaborate, citing “the changing dynamics of the battlefield.”

A new aid package is expected to be announced soon, Jean-Pierre said Monday.  “If Putin thinks he can outlast us, he’s wrong…And so, we will have another package of aid for Ukraine soon to signal our continued support for the brave people of Ukraine,” she said. 

How much is left? “The Defense Department still has $5.4 billion worth of weapons available to send to Ukraine, but is fast running out of money to replenish its own stockpiles,” Politico reported Monday. That $5.4 billion is what remains from the presidential drawdown account after an “accounting error” was revealed in May. 

As for Speaker McCarthy and the future of Ukraine aid, the White House is placing a fair amount of trust in him, Jean-Pierre said. After all, she reminded reporters, “He himself said yesterday [on CBS “Face the Nation”] that ‘I support being able to make sure Ukraine has the weapons that they need.’ He said that. And we expect him to keep his word on that,” said Jean-Pierre. 

The Kremlin says it knows well that a longer war hurts Ukraine’s allies. “America will remain involved in the conflict,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Monday after the weekend shutdown drama back stateside. “But we have repeatedly said that according to our forecasts, fatigue from this conflict, from the absurd sponsorship of the Kyiv regime will grow in different countries, including the United States,” he said. “This fatigue will lead to the fragmentation of the political establishment and the growth of contradictions,” Peskov predicted. 

Germany’s plans to arm Ukraine meets resistance in an unexpected place: a town of 20,000 picked as the site of a new munitions plant. “Sixteen of 22 members of the City Council signed a letter to Chancellor Olaf Scholz urging him to block the project,” the New York Times reports, while members of right and left parties registered their opposition. Read, here.

Russia deploys cannon-fodder ‘punishment battalions’ in echo of Stalin’s. Reuters reports that there are few survivors among the “hundreds of military and civilian offenders who’ve been pressed into Russian penal units known as “Storm-Z” squads and sent to the frontlines in Ukraine this year, according to 13 people with knowledge of the matter, including five fighters in the units.” 

Read more: 

The United Nations Security Council approved sending a Kenya-led force to Haiti to fight violent gangs. It’s unclear how many troops will be involved, or even when they’ll travel to Haiti, the Associated Press reported Monday after the UNSC vote.  

With 13 nations approving, China and Russia were the only two to oppose the intervention. Jamaica, the Bahamas, and Antigua and Barbuda all pledged to send troops for the Haiti mission. Reuters and CNN have more.

White House National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan called the UNSC’s decision “an important milestone in bringing much-needed help to the people of Haiti who have suffered for far too long at the hands of violent criminals,” according to a statement released Monday. 

“The people of Haiti deserve to feel safe enough to leave their homes, restore their livelihoods, and go to the polls to democratically elect a government that represents their interests,” Sullivan added. 

Predictive policing software is terrible at predicting crimes. Before ChatGPT and LLMs were all the rage, there was a wave of products that touted the power of algorithms to read the future in the past. One of these was purchased by the police department of Plainfield, N.J., which apparently should have saved its money. “In the end, the success rate was less than half a percent,” according to a review of the data by The Markup and Wired. Read, here.

Related reading: “Pentagon official charged with running dog fighting ring from his home,” Task and Purpose reported Tuesday. 

And lastly: U.S.-based cell phones, TVs, and radios will receive a nationwide emergency alert test on Wednesday. The test comes from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Federal Communications Commission, which want to make sure the system works as intended, NPR reports. The last such test occurred in 2021. 

The Wednesday test is scheduled to begin at about 2:20 p.m. ET. And “If an actual emergency happens that day, the test could be postponed” for next week, according to NPR. Read more, here.



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