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USA

A Quartet of Warnings Highlight Climate-Related Threats (Jacqueline Feldscher, Defense One)

Climate change is likely to crank up geopolitical tensions as temperatures rise and nations argue about who is responsible for fixing it, according to a new national intelligence estimate.

The intelligence community document is one of four climate-related reports released on Thursday by national-security agencies ahead of President Joe Biden’s trip to the United Nations Climate Change Conference at the end of this month. They explain how a warming planet is expected to escalate geopolitical tensions, increase instability, and drive migration. Biden will travel to Glasgow for the conference armed with this data in a bid to convince allies around the world to act.

A Quartet of Warnings Highlight Climate-Related Threats – Defense One

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USA

Booster rocket failure scuttles hypersonic test (Stephen Losey, Defense News)

A hypersonic technology test the Defense Department hoped to carry out in Alaska Thursday went awry when a booster rocket failed in a launch attempt.

In a statement, Pentagon spokesman Lt. Cmdr. Timothy Gorman said the booster that failed was not part of the hypersonic program, and was not related to the common hypersonic glide body. The test took place at the Pacific Spaceport Complex in Kodiak, Alaska.

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USA

Are adversaries using US critical infrastructure as a training range? (Jan Kallberg, Defense News)

There is a risk that we overanalyze attacks on critical infrastructure and try to find a strategic intent where there is none.

Our potential adversaries could attack critical American infrastructure for other reasons than executing a national strategy. In many cases, it can be as simple as hostile totalitarian nations that do not respect international humanitarian law using critical American infrastructure as a cyber range.

Are adversaries using US critical infrastructure as a training range? (defensenews.com)

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USA

Army CIO’s top priority is budgeting for new digital transformation strategy (Mark Pomerlau, Defense News)

Following the release of the U.S. Army’s digital transformation strategy, the service’s chief information officer said one of his top priorities is to outline the budgeting process for the next two years to execute the new plan.

Released Oct. 20, the strategy aims to synchronizes the Army’s technology modernization efforts and better posture it for multi-domain operations. Ultimately, the new strategy is intended to help the service do business differently, enabling greater collaboration with industry, coalition partners and even intergovernmental partners to modernize its digital enterprise.

Army CIO’s top priority is budgeting for new digital transformation strategy (defensenews.com)

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USA

Eastern Shipbuilding opens new C5I integration facility for offshore patrol cutter (Megan Eckstein, Defense News)

Eastern Shipbuilding Group, Northrop Grumman and their industry partners formally opened a test and integration center this week for the C5I systems at the heart of the U.S. Coast Guard’s new offshore patrol cutter program.

This OPC production facility is meant to reduce risk on what the Coast Guard calls its top acquisition priority. Within mockups of the bridge, the operations center and other key rooms, every piece of internal and external sensing and communications equipment will be networked together in this facility at Eastern’s Allanton yard first, tested for any integration hiccups and then sent up the road to the company’s Nelson Street yard where the OPC hulls are being constructed.

Eastern Shipbuilding opens new C5I integration facility for offshore patrol cutter (defensenews.com)

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Turkey USA

Intel: Turkey’s Erdogan wants to talk F-35 dispute with Biden in Rome (Al Monitor)

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan expressed optimism on Thursday that his government would recover the $1.4 billion it put toward acquiring Lockheed-Martin’s F-35 Joint Strike Fighter jet amid talks with the United States.

“We will get this $1.4 billion of ours one way or another,” state-owned Anadolu News Agency quoted Erdogan as telling journalists on a flight returning from an official visit to West Africa.

Intel: Turkey’s Erdogan wants to talk F-35 dispute with Biden in Rome – Al-Monitor: The Pulse of the Middle East

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USA

Secretary Antony J. Blinken Remarks to Mission Colombia Staff (US Department of State)

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Hello, Mission Bogotá.  It is great to see all of you, and so good to see folks here together.  Again, to the band, it really does a sound a lot better than the last time I heard it.  (Laughter.)  Amazing.  Thank you.

Phil, Ambassador Goldberg, could have sworn he was here somewhere, thank you so much for your leadership of this mission and our Venezuelan mission that is housed here.  To everyone at Mission Colombia, whether you’re here in person, whether you’re joining us on the screen – great to see all of you as well – thank you so much.  I know from experience how much work goes into one of these visits.  We get to see the fruits of all that labor, and it looks smooth and incredibly well done, without a hitch.  I know that it’s not as simple as that.  I’m incredibly grateful to you for making this visit as productive and successful as it’s been, and I wish I could join you for the wheels-up party that I know will follow soon.  (Laughter.)

A couple things I wanted to share with you while we’re all together.  We were in – as you know, in Ecuador yesterday, came to Colombia.  And one of the things that’s been a thread through both of these visits is the work that we’re trying to do to renew our democracies and to make sure that they’re delivering for our people, for our fellow citizens.  And as the ambassador said, this trip to Colombia is a powerful reminder of that fact and what we’re trying to accomplish.  We did have very productive meetings, thanks to a lot of good work that you put into this, with President Duque, with the Vice President and Foreign Minister Ramírez, plus the ministerial meeting that brought together colleagues from across the hemisphere on migration, trying to deal with the urgent challenge that that poses, but also looking at ways to deal with it in a lasting way.

We had, as well, some very inspiring events with civil society here in Colombia – and I thank the team that worked on putting that together – including young people, environmental leaders.  We were over at, as well, the botanical gardens, making the connection that we have to the work that we’re doing to help us support Colombia as it protects its environmental heritage and as it shows leadership in dealing with climate change.  We’ll do some interviews after this with the media, but in a nutshell that’s kind of what a vibrant democracy is all about.  All of these different groups and constituencies hopefully working together, and a responsive government, an engaged civil society, a free press.

Not too long ago, that was not the case here in Colombia.  And a stable future, much less a democratic one, was hardly guaranteed.  As recently as a couple decades ago, we watched as the security situation actually got worse, the economy plunged, and cartels thrived.  Colombia looked on the verge of potentially becoming a failed state.  But people demanded peace, democracy delivered – not through violence, but through compromise.  And now, despite many ongoing challenges that many of you are working on, we see the thriving country Colombia has become.

And I’m very proud of the way this mission over the years, including now, has supported the peace process here.  You’ve helped implement a new counter-narcotics strategy, provided support for economic development in rural parts of the country, helped establish institutions like the disappeared persons search unit, and so much else.  So I hope that you occasionally take a minute to be proud of that record of success, even as you keep working to help push it forward.

There are so many other things that we are doing together with Colombia.  The ambassador referenced a few of them, but I think if you look at the record of these last couple of days, building on work that you’ve all been doing for a long time, you can see the breadth and depth of the relationship impacting some of the most important issues to us and our people, and to the Colombian people.

Let me just say a word as well about something we’ve all – you’ve all been living with now for a long time, and that’s COVID-19.  We know, in mission after mission around the world, including at this one, that this has been a difficult journey.  Some of you have lost loved ones.  Some of you have gotten sick or have family members who have gotten sick – I know we lost a locally employed staff member here – and you’ve gone through one of the strictest lockdowns in the world.  But what I see, what I’ve heard, what I know is that through it all you kept going.  You kept moving forward.  You kept getting the job done on behalf of our country and on behalf of our citizens.

In particular, let me just recognize a few people, a few things.  Again, Mr. Ambassador, you, for your leadership during a tumultuous time; the consular team here, continuing to work in-person all throughout COVID, and everyone who helped in the extraordinary effort to medevac sick Americans out of the country; those of you involved in the effort to deliver vaccines here in Colombia, some 6 million of them, which has made a real difference and I think is powerful evidence of the friendship and partnership that we have with Colombia.  And I very much want to thank folks in the Med Unit who worked to make sure that everyone on our team was as safe as possible as quickly as possible.

We actually hit a milestone today more broadly.  The United States has now delivered more than 200 million doses of safe and effective vaccine around the world in more than a hundred countries, including again, the more than 6 million here in Colombia, free of cost, with no political strings attached.  And that’s a story that will continue to be told.  We are committed over the next six to nine months to delivering over a billion vaccines, primarily through COVAX, to countries around the world.

Another thing that we spent some time on, as we’ve already mentioned: migration and the unprecedented challenge that we’re facing in this hemisphere.  You’ve not only been a partner to Colombians, you’ve also been a partner to those who come from beyond Colombia’s borders and who benefitted from the extraordinary generosity from the Colombian people.  And again, I want to recognize here the work of the Venezuela Affairs Unit led by Ambassador Story.  You responded to the humanitarian crisis with humanity, connecting Venezuelan migrants and refugees with host communities across the country.  And because of your work literally thousands of families have been able to remain together, and that’s a powerful human story.

Finally, there’s something I wanted to really put a note of thanks to as well.  Many of you – many of you dropped everything you were doing to help people halfway around the world in Afghanistan during our evacuation and relocation effort.  Colombia volunteered to host 4,000 Afghan refugees and with hardly any notice (inaudible).  Ultimately, we didn’t need (inaudible).

That’s our plane, so – (laughter).

Ultimately, this capacity wasn’t needed, but again, it’s amazing how you were able to come together so quickly to give us that possibility if we needed it.  One team can indeed make it happen.

What strikes me, and I’ve found this in the various missions that I’ve visited over the last nine months around the world – I think it’s a common denominator of this department, the people who make up this department, and all of the many agencies and departments working with us – that you simply persist in your work, in the mission, no matter what the situation is, with integrity and with compassion.

I’ve heard about the care that you’ve shown to each other, plus to your families, and to Colombians across the country during this period.  I’ve heard about the care packages to new staff and the virtual flower arrangements and cooking classes during lockdowns.  And that really gets to something that is important to me and I know important to the ambassador, and that is we come together.  We come together as a team; we come together as a community; we come together as a family to look out for each other.  We have each other’s backs, especially in difficult times.  And I’m so grateful to you for doing just that.

Whatever your role here at the embassy, whether you’re Foreign Service, whether you’re Civil Service, whether you’re locally employed staff, whether you work for the State Department or one of the many other agencies represented here at Mission Colombia, thank you.  Thank you for all you’re doing to contribute to the partnership between the United States and Colombia.  Thank you for all the work you’re doing that in ways that most of our fellow citizens will probably never really know, but the work that you’re doing in ways big and small to make life just a little bit better for them, a little bit safer, a little bit healthier, a little bit more prosperous, a little bit more full of possibility.  Thank you very much.

Categorie
USA

Secretary Antony J. Blinken Remarks at a Climate/Sustainable Products Event (US Department of State)

SECRETARY BLINKEN: Well, again, thank you. Thank you all. And it’s very wonderful to be here today. It’s always wonderful to be outside or almost outside. But let me just start by, Mr. Minister, thanking you for your partnership today and in the important months ahead. And Madame Mayor, to you as well.

I think there’s a very powerful thing represented right here, which is a country at a national level showing remarkable leadership on climate and on preserving our planet, and a city doing the same thing. And the two together – the leadership of cities, municipalities, urban areas, and national leadership shown by President Duque – that’s a very powerful combination. And I think it’s going to be on evidence at COP26 when Team Colombia is very much present. So I thank you so much for that.

And I really do want to thank President Duque for his leadership, for his vision, congratulate him as well for receiving the International Conservation Award this year from the International Conservation Caucus Foundation – further evidence of the very good work that he and Colombia are doing.

And then finally, thank you again to everyone here, including our terrific speakers, for everything that you showed me, you showed the colleagues traveling with us, for all that you’re each doing to help build a sustainable future.

Places like this Botanical Garden remind us of the extraordinary natural beauty of our world. And again, in an extraordinary country like Colombia – but where, nonetheless, I think 75 percent of the population is in urban settings – it’s so important to connect those of us living in urban environments to rural environments, but especially to the natural habitat that we share and that we all have a responsibility to preserve.

This is a gift to our people; it’s a gift to the world. It’s a gift that’s been given to us by previous generations, and we have a responsibility to care for it and to pass it on. And again, Colombia’s leaders and citizens take this responsibility seriously. We see this in the new environmental crimes law, Mr. Minister, in the recent decision to strengthen and to show remarkable leadership with the goals that Colombia set going into COP26, in Colombia’s leadership in the Renewable Energy for Latin America and the Caribbean initiative. In these and so many other ways, Colombia is helping to show the way.

We also know that the climate crisis is a national security issue. It’s about the safety and well-being of our people. It’s about building a global economy that is genuinely inclusive and sustainable. And it’s about equity. We know that communities and countries who are most negatively impacted by the climate crisis are rarely those who did the most to cause it.

One of the reasons that I wanted to come here today is because the United States is deeply committed to rising to the challenge of the climate crisis, and we want to do so in partnership with Colombia. There’s one area in particular that stands out – the minister mentioned – and that is conserving the Amazon and other important ecosystems. As you know, deforestation is a key contributor to the climate crisis because the Amazon and other forests are carbon sinks, absorbing a massive amount of carbon dioxide, while at the same time deforestation itself produces more CO2 emissions. Deforestation in Colombia increased by about 8 percent last year, most of it in the Amazon. And in fact, about 75 percent of Colombia’s climate emissions come from deforestation and unsustainable agricultural production practices like clearing land to expand beef and dairy production.

By conserving Colombia’s forests, promoting more sustainable agriculture, we can make major strides in dealing with the climate crisis as well. In the coming days we’re going to expand these efforts as we work to develop a new regional partnership specifically focused on addressing commodity-driven deforestation in the Amazon. Together we’ll help provide actionable information to companies so that they can reduce their reliance on deforestation. We’ll give much-needed financial assistance to help manage protected areas and indigenous territories, and we’ll help scale up low-carbon agricultural practices to farmers throughout the Amazon.

This new regional partnership will help prevent up to 19 million metric tons of carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere while capturing another 52,000 metric tons of carbon, and we estimate it will save – save – more than 45,000 hectares of forest.

We know these programs can work. Take, just for example, the Amazon Alive partnership which we recently launched. We’re working with the Colombian Government to tackle environmental and conservation crimes and protect areas that are important for biodiversity. Or take the Paramos and Forests program, another collaboration between Colombia and the United States. Through that program we’re working with 19 Afro-Colombian indigenous communities to protect 500,000 hectares of Colombian forest, and that collaboration has already significantly reduced deforestation. It’s generated about 6.2 million tons of carbon offsets.

And it’s done – and this is critical and we heard this as well – while supporting local business, local community leaders, in their economic endeavors, including a couple that we just heard about. (Inaudible) experiences prove that we do not have to choose between conserving the environment and earning a living; we can do both. And that’s what tackling the climate crisis is all about, and that’s what it will take – partnership between governments, private sectors, civil society activists working together in new ways with a shared focus on and commitment to protect our climate and to preserve a better future for our children.

Again, I’m very honored that the United States is able to be a partner in this. I’m especially grateful for the work of our colleagues at the U.S. Agency for International Development who are doing remarkable work every single day to make this partnership real. So I thank you. I’m grateful to our Colombian colleagues. We have a partnership. We’re building it, we’re strengthening it, and I think it will be to the benefit of all of our citizens. Thank you very much.

Categorie
USA

Secretary Antony J. Blinken Remarks at the U.S.-Colombia High-Level Dialogue (US Department of State)

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Buenos días a todos.   Wonderful to be here with all of you, with both of these remarkable teams, the teams behind the teams, because we know where the real work gets done.  We’re grateful to all of you.  And Marta Lucia, thank you so much for hosting us.  I had the chance to welcome you to the State Department a few months ago, so I’m very grateful to be here in Bogota, to the Palacio San Carlos, and to be with all of you.

So this is, in fact, the ninth High-Level Dialogue.  I am not new to the High-Level Dialogue.  I actually participated in at least two of them, maybe even three of them, back in 2015, 2016.  And I think what the continuity tells you is that this relationship transcends any administration or any political party in either of our countries, and that’s important.  It also extends far beyond our governments, civil society, the private sector, families, communities.  So while this High-Level Dialogue is taking place, there are countless other dialogues happening every single day at every level between Colombians and Americans, and that really is the fabric that joins us.

I think if anyone needed to be convinced of the breadth and depth of the relationship between our countries, the areas that we’re working on together, that are having an impact on the lives of our citizens, all they had to do was listen to the vice president, because with tremendous eloquence, you covered so much that we’re working on together.  And I think that’s evidence of everything that brings us together.

The core focus of this trip for me, my first trip to South America as Secretary of State, is how we can make democracies deliver for our people.  That is our common challenge; it’s our common responsibility.  And that’s true in our countries, and it’s true across the hemisphere.  And we know that one way we can deliver is by working closely with our partners and allies on the biggest challenges we face.  And that’s exactly what the United States and Colombia are doing.

Today’s dialogue, as you heard, will touch on many of them.  But let me just focus on a few, because I think they stand out at this particular moment:  COVID-19, the climate crisis, the migration challenge.  The way we’re tackling these challenges reveals some defining characteristics of the partnership between our countries.  And I think it will inform many of the discussions that we’re all going to have today.

First, we have to confront these vexing challenges together, because they’re simply too big and too complex for either of us to address alone.  That is a defining principle of what brings us here today.  The climate crisis, for example, no country – no group of countries, even, can do enough alone to limit the Earth’s warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, which science tells us is our ceiling if we want to avoid catastrophe.  In the pandemic, the spread of the virus everywhere – anywhere, excuse me, threatens people everywhere.  We know that.

Second, in addressing these challenges, we both have to deal with the immediate consequences, but also, at the same time, we have to work to long-term, sustainable solutions.  COVID-19 – we’ve provided from the United States six million doses of safe, effective vaccines to Colombia.  We donated over $80 million in funding to support efforts to beat back the virus.  When the virus surged here and the country’s ICUs were overwhelmed, we sent more than 200 ventilators to Colombia.

Meanwhile, we’re deepening cooperation between the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Colombia’s National Public Health Institute to strengthen Colombia’s public health system and security, from better integrating the use of data, to bolstering emergency preparedness and response.  And that’s not only going to help with this pandemic; it will help prevent, or if necessary, deal with the next one.

Third, we’re using our alliance to model the kinds of collaborative responses that we want to see in the world and marshaling greater regional collaboration.  Migration that we spent yesterday focused on.  Colombia and the United States are working hand-in-hand to attend to the urgent humanitarian needs of 1.8 million displaced Venezuelans in Colombia, thanks in large part to the remarkable generosity of President Duque and the Colombian people.  At the same time, we’re encouraging partners in our region to join the effort to address this and other migration challenges in the hemisphere, which was the aim of the ministerial-level meeting that we held yesterday that our two nations convened together.

Fourth, we’re focusing on addressing the root causes of these challenges, not just the symptoms.  Inequity, discrimination, corruption, and the lack of access to opportunity underlie many of these challenges, and they have to be addressed if we’re serious about overcoming them.  Together, we’re finding innovative ways to do exactly that.  Multiple discussions today will touch on this urban-rural gap that you talked about, Marta Lucia, and the digital divide that often comes with it.  Expanding rural broadband, which is critical to employment, to education, even access to basic services in the 21st century.  It’s a problem that both of our nations need to make great strides on and learn from each other as we go along, if we’re going to actually deliver for all of our communities.

And tackling root causes is critically important to another key issue that cuts across today’s dialogue, and that’s security.  We are as committed as ever to working with Colombia on implementation of the peace accords.  But as we carry this work forward, the United States is bringing a new, more comprehensive approach to promoting security.  The approach maintains a firm pillar of cooperation on strengthening law enforcement and our efforts to reduce violence, particularly in underserved rural communities, where the state, as we’ve heard, has limited albeit growing presence.

The approach keeps human rights at its core.  We’re continuing to focus on building the capacity and resources of prosecutors, judges, and other key actors to ensure accountability for human rights violations and abuse, and we’re working together to improve the protection of journalists, human rights defenders, and other brave advocates in the face of ongoing threats and attacks.  But our new approach also seeks to broaden the tools that we have at our disposal and that we use by doing things like developing more inclusive economic opportunity for young people, who otherwise might feel that they have no other option besides illicit activity.  And investing in substance abuse prevention, treatment, recovery, which will not only help those struggling with addiction, but also reduce the demand of the United States, which is fueling so much criminal activity.

Fifth, every one of these challenges is also an opportunity – an opportunity to Build Back Better, to fix parts of our system that may be broken.  That’s ultimately what democracy is all about.  Both of our countries have made ambitious commitments to cut emissions and adapt to the inevitable changes to our climate that we’re already seeing.  As President Biden has made clear, the investments required to meet these commitments represent once-in-generations opportunity to invest in good-paying jobs that will also preserve our majestic planet, and to create these opportunities in communities that have consistently been marginalized like the Afro-Colombian community, the indigenous communities in this country, black and brown communities in the United States.

Build Back Better World, which the vice president talked about, is one way we help – we hope and help to create these opportunities together, not just in climate, but in infrastructure, by deepening social and economic support for working families.  There’s a lot that we can and will do with Build Back Better World.  We were very pleased to have some of our experts here, as you noted, in recent weeks talking to our partners in Colombia about that, and I think there’ll be lots more to say about that in the coming months.

Critically, we will do this in a way that is consistent with our two countries’ values: transparency, environmental sustainability, empowering local communities.  All of these things are vital in the approach that we’re taking.

We’ve heard as well – and I just want to say a note about this – on the importance and, I think, vitality of exchanges between our countries in all different areas from arts to culture, to academia, science and technology, STEM.  I’m a profound believer in these, in these exchanges.  I think that they do extraordinary things in developing understanding and ties between our countries that last for years and generations.  And also, they bring talented young people together, and when you bring talented young people together, the results are extraordinary.

Now, as I like to say, even if I was not a firm believer in these programs, I’d have no choice because my wife used to be the assistant secretary of state for Education and Cultural Affairs, responsible for these programs.  But I strongly believe in them.  I hope that our groups will continue to find ways to energize them.  Of course, COVID has made things difficult, but I believe we have to build back better there as well.

One final point:  This relationship persists, indeed it gets stronger, because it continues to evolve.  It continues to evolve to reflect the needs, the hopes, the aspirations of our people, just like our democracies.  That’s what it’s all about.  Marta Lucía, you said at dinner last night something I took note of.  This work, these groups are very, very important.  And the conversations that we’re going to have today, the work we’re doing today, all of you are doing today is very important.  But we have to move from the conversations, we have to move from the discussions, we have to move from the dialogue to, as you said, action and results.  So we are looking to all of you, our colleagues, to help us do that, to achieve that, and to carry the United States and Colombia forward.

Thank you.

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