Overnight Defense: Officials brief Congress on North Korea | 3,500 more troops reportedly headed to Afghanistan | Navy, industry to consult on ship collisions

Overnight Defense: Officials brief Congress on North Korea | 3,500 more troops reportedly headed to Afghanistan | Navy, industry to consult on ship collisions
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THE TOPLINE: House and Senate lawmakers conferred with top administration officials Wednesday on North Korea days after the rogue regime carried out its sixth and most powerful nuclear test.

Lawmakers emerged from the briefings with Defense Secretary James MattisJames Norman MattisOvernight Defense: Trump recognizes Jerusalem as Israel's capital | Mattis, Tillerson reportedly opposed move | Pentagon admits 2,000 US troops are in Syria | Trump calls on Saudis to 'immediately' lift Yemen blockade Trump has yet to name ambassadors to key nations in Mideast Mattis, Tillerson warned Trump of security concerns in Israel embassy move MORE, Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Joseph Dunford, Secretary of State Rex TillersonRex Wayne TillersonOvernight Defense: Trump recognizes Jerusalem as Israel's capital | Mattis, Tillerson reportedly opposed move | Pentagon admits 2,000 US troops are in Syria | Trump calls on Saudis to 'immediately' lift Yemen blockade Trump has yet to name ambassadors to key nations in Mideast Mattis, Tillerson warned Trump of security concerns in Israel embassy move MORE and Director of National Intelligence Dan CoatsDaniel (Dan) Ray CoatsNational counterterrorism chief to retire at the end of year Former intel chief Hayden: Think twice on a Trump job offer Counterintelligence needs reboot for 21st century MORE saying officials used a more measured tone than President Trump's threat of "fire and fury" if North Korea continues to threaten the United States.

But for some Democrats that difference was concerning.

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"What they said makes a lot of sense, but it is directly contradictory to everything the president says," Sen. Chris MurphyChristopher (Chris) Scott MurphyAvalanche of Democratic senators say Franken should resign Senate passes tax overhaul, securing major GOP victory Dem senator compares GOP tax bill to unicorns, Tupac conspiracy theories MORE (D-Conn.) said. "They're laying out a relatively sensible strategy that is not consistent with what the president says the strategy is. They're talking about a diplomacy-first strategy that has been clearly rejected by their boss, and it leaves the entire world scratching their head.

"There is an unbelievable disconnect between the people in that room and their boss, and that freaks the hell out of me."

Read the rest here.

 

REMAINING MISSILE DEFENSE LAUNCHERS TO BE INSTALLED IN SOUTH KOREA: Earlier Wednesday, South Korea's defense ministry said the remaining launchers for a U.S. missile defense system deployed to the country will be installed Thursday, in the wake of North Korea's latest nuclear test.

In addition to the launchers, the ministry said that construction and related equipment will also be installed, according to South Korean news agency Yonhap.

The system, known as THAAD, was first deployed to a former golf course in the rural southern area of Seongju in April.

A THAAD battery has a maximum six truck-mounted launchers that can fire up to 48 interceptor missiles. But it was deployed earlier this year with just two launchers.

Read more here.

 

AFGHANISTAN TROOP NUMBERS: Though most of the focus was on North Korea, Wednesday's congressional briefing also covered the administration recently announced Afghanistan strategy.

Lawmakers said that officials did not say how many more U.S. troops will be sent to the country.

But Reuters, citing unnamed U.S. officials, reported Wednesday that 3,500 more U.S. troop will deploy to Afghanistan.

Mattis last week signed orders to send additional troops to Afghanistan but did not specify the size of the force. He added that he will not discuss the details until after he briefs Congress.

The Hill's Ellen Mitchell has more on the Reuters report here.

 

NAVY TO CONSULT INDUSTRY ON SHIP COLLISIONS: The Navy readiness review prompted by a spate of deadly collisions this year will consult BP North America and other outside firms, the Navy secretary said at a conference Wednesday.

Via The Hill's Ellen Mitchell:

"We have reached out to industry who have gone through various different meaningful events and come out the other side," Spencer said at a defense industry conference.

"We're going to [look at] this as best practices for people who have come out the other side, and we really do expect this to be a learning experience as we're set to go forward," Spencer added.

The independent review, ordered on Sept. 1, will seek input from companies that have experienced public disasters including BP, Boeing, shipping business Crowley Marine, shipping container firm Maersk and Sandia National Laboratories.

Two guided missile destroyers, the USS Fitzgerald and the USS John McCainJohn Sidney McCainGOP strategist donates to Alabama Democrat Meghan McCain knocks Bannon: 'Who the hell are you' to criticize Romney? Dems demand Tillerson end State hiring freeze, consult with Congress MORE, collided with other vessels in recent months. The Fitzgerald collision on June 17 killed seven sailors, while the Aug. 20 McCain crash resulted in the death of 10 others.

Read more here.

 

ON TAP FOR TOMORROW:

A House Foreign Affairs subpanel will hold a hearing on maintaining U.S. influence in South Asia with testimony from government officials at 10 a.m. at the Rayburn House Office Building, room 2172. http://bit.ly/2eMrYRx

A House Foreign Affairs subcommittee will hear from the State Department's coordinator for counterterrorism in deciding the department's counterterrorism bureau fiscal 2018 budget at 2 p.m. at Rayburn 2172. http://bit.ly/2eMsxe7

The House Armed Services Committee will have a hearing on Navy readiness and the underlying problems tied to the USS Fitzgerald and USS John S. McCain collisions with testimony from Navy officials at 2 p.m. at Rayburn 2118. http://bit.ly/2xbxh4r

 

ICYMI:

-- The Hill: US commander apologizes for drop of 'highly offensive' leaflets in Afghanistan

-- The Hill: Casualties reported after explosion at US base in Afghanistan

-- The Hill: US pushing to cut off oil to North Korea with UN resolution

-- Washington Post: U.S. military preparations for Hurricane Irma now include four Navy ships and thousands of troops

-- Associated Press: UN probe finds Syrian government behind April sarin attack

 

Please send tips and comments to Rebecca Kheel, rkheel@thehill.com, and Ellen Mitchell, emitchell@thehill.com

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