Welcome to Threat Status, our weekly roundup of the biggest news inside the Pentagon, on the southern border, and around the world.
There’s nostalgia in the air at the Pentagon. In its latest bid to address the worst recruiting crisis in decades, Army leaders have revived the famous “Be All You Can Be” marketing campaign, aiming to tap into Gen-Z’s appetite for all things ‘80s and ‘90s. It’s part of the U.S. military’s increasingly urgent push to bring in more soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines at a time when each service is struggling to meet its end-strength goals.
The Defense Department has one eye on its recruiting woes and another way, way over the horizon — perhaps even in another galaxy. Military and intelligence officials last week revealed that U.S. troops reported hundreds of new UFO sightings since March 2021. The Pentagon’s latest bombshell report found that most of those UFO encounters remain unexplained, with many of the strange craft exhibiting “unusual flight characteristics or performance capabilities.”
Goodbye peace talks?
It seems like only yesterday Russian President Vladimir Putin was pitching a temporary holiday cease-fire and Ukraine expressed openness to at least the underlying idea of peace negotiations with Moscow. How quickly things change.
The weekend’s Russian military missile strike on an apartment building in the Ukrainian city of Dnipro seems to have altered the atmosphere on the ground. With 40 civilians dead, Ukraine is vowing revenge against its enemy. Mr. Putin, meanwhile, is laying the groundwork for an extended military campaign in Ukraine that could last all of 2023, Western war analysts say.
The Russian military will play a central role in that effort, but so, too, will the shadowy mercenary outfit known as the Wagner Group. Pentagon correspondent Mike Glenn takes a deep dive into the Wagner Group, its history, its role in Mr. Putin’s foreign policy and exactly how the mysterious paramilitary force could affect the trajectory of the Russia-Ukraine war.
Across the Middle East, friends and foes alike are expanding their international footprints. Military correspondent Ben Wolfgang examines the fascinating behind-the-scenes intrigue at WWE, with rumors swirling that the U.S. pro wrestling empire may be exploring a sale to deep-pocketed Saudi investors.
With the Saudis expanding their presence in Western sports and media, America’s leading adversary in the region is eyeing a very different kind of expansion. Mr. Wolfgang and Mr. Glenn took a hard look at Iran’s plan to station warships in the Panama Canal, with leading Iranian news outlets boasting that the mission will bring its military closer to the coasts of the Americas.
We’re also tracking key developments in Asia. Washington Times National Security Correspondent Bill Gertz reports on a Chinese military music video boasting of the country’s increased military drills near Taiwan, while Washington Times Asia Editor Andrew Salmon kept a close eye on Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s meeting with President Biden last week. Their conversation came at a crucial time for U.S.-Japanese security cooperation, with threats building from both China and North Korea.
On the border
Claiming that the Biden administration is failing to secure the southern border, House Republicans are trying to take matters into their own hands. The Times’ Stephen Dinan, as always, is watching every aspect of the immigration crisis, including a move by the new House GOP majority to stop illegal immigrants from voting in local D.C. elections.
The life-or-death implications of the border crisis were also on full display recently, as an illegal immigrant received a seven-year sentence for the attempted murder of a Border Patrol agent.
In our opinion
President Biden’s recent trip to the U.S.-Mexico boundary has done little to stem the flow of illegal immigrants. And as a matter of fact, Mr. Biden is actively making the national security crisis at the border even worse, Times’ national security and foreign affairs columnist Jed Babbin writes.
But that’s just one of the many fires raging around the world. Washington Times columnist Billy Hallowellexplores the unfolding humanitarian crisis in Nagorno-Karabakh — and the world’s moral responsibility to push for peace between Armenia and Azerbaijan before more people die.