By Gregory Hellman | 04/20/2017 08:31 AM EDT

With Zach Montellaro and Connor O'Brien

WHITE HOUSE EYES HARDER LINE ON SHUTDOWN TALKS, report POLITICO's Josh Dawsey and Jake Sherman: "The White House, under internal pressure to show legislative achievements ahead of the 100-day mark, is gearing up for a government shutdown fight to secure money for a border wall, more immigration enforcement officers and a bigger military, according to White House and congressional sources familiar with the plan.

"It is a risky gambit. With almost uniform Democratic opposition to nearly all of the Trump administration's spending proposals, the fight could lead to a government shutdown next Friday - the day government spending expires, and right before the 100th day of Donald Trump's presidency. Officials could also strike a one-week compromise, giving them more time for a broader agreement.

"Congressional Republicans, desperately looking to avoid a shutdown scare, are eyeing a modest increase for border security - perhaps an increase in funding for surveillance technology - and a small uptick in military spending. But two senior White House officials say they want a bigger win out of the fight, and an important deadline might help."

Lawmakers push for retroactive pay for federal workers during any government shutdown via our colleague Connor O'Brien.

And five reasons the government might shut down, write POLITICO's Jennifer Scholtes and Sarah Ferris.

AIRCRAFT CARRIER HEADING TO KOREA...REALLY, via The Washington Post: "It was supposed to be steaming toward North Korea more than a week ago, an "armada" signaling American resolve. Then it wasn't.

"Now, it seems the USS Carl Vinson may finally be heading north.

"'Our deployment has been extended 30 days to provide a persistent presence in the waters off the Korean Peninsula,' Rear Adm. Jim Kilby, commander of Carrier Strike Group One, said in a message posted on the Carl Vinson's Facebook page addressed to 'families and loved ones' of the personnel on board."

White House press secretary Sean Spicer deflects responsibility for confusion about the carrier mission, writes POLITICO's Louis Nelson.

North Korea warns of a "super-mighty preemptive strike" as the U.S. plans next move, Reuters adds.

- AND SOUTH KOREA FEELS CHEATED, reports The New York Times: "When news broke less than two weeks ago that the Trump administration was sending the aircraft carrier Carl Vinson to the Korean Peninsula, many South Koreans feared a possible war with North Korea. Others cheered for Washington, calling the deployment a powerful symbol of its commitment to deterring the North.

"On Wednesday, after it was revealed that the carrier strike group was actually thousands of miles away and had been heading in the opposite direction, toward the Indian Ocean, South Koreans felt bewildered, cheated and manipulated by the United States, their country's most important ally.

"'Trump's lie over the Carl Vinson,' read a headline on the website of the newspaper JoongAng Ilbo on Wednesday. 'Xi Jinping and Putin must have had a good jeer over this one.'

""Like North Korea, which is often accused of displaying fake missiles during military parades, is the United States, too, now employing 'bluffing' as its North Korea policy?' the article asked."

HAPPY THURSDAY AND WELCOME TO MORNING DEFENSE, where we're always on the lookout for tips, pitches and feedback. Email us at ghellman@politico.com, and follow on Twitter @greg_hellman, @morningdefense and @politicopro.

U.S. WEIGHS NEW MILITARY AID FOR SAUDI ARABIA, reports The Associated Press: "The United States is considering ways to boost military support for the Saudi-led fight against Iran-backed rebels in Yemen, believing military pressure is needed to prod the militants into a negotiated end to the conflict, U.S. officials said Wednesday...

"The Trump administration is considering how to help the Saudis advance their campaign, according to officials, who briefed reporters on condition they not be quoted by name. The assistance could involve more intelligence support but won't include a commitment of U.S. ground troops, they said, adding that any moves would reflect the administration's effort to aggressively counter what it sees as Iran's malign influence across the region."

- AS MATTIS CALLS FOR POLITICAL SOLUTION IN YEMEN, writes the NYT: "Defense Secretary Jim Mattis called on Wednesday for a political solution in Yemen between Sunni Arabs, supported by a Saudi-led coalition, and Iranian-backed Houthis, but he stopped short of publicly warning America's Sunni allies against a planned bombing campaign targeting the port city of Al Hudaydah.

"Human rights officials have warned that bombing Al Hudaydah could lead to a humanitarian crisis in Yemen, and Mr. Mattis's remarks were in line with those of many officials in the region that the Saudi coalition's war against the Houthis, begun two years ago, cannot be won militarily."

- AND U.S. STRIKES REPORTEDLY KILL YEMEN MILITANTS, the AP adds: "Yemeni security officials say a suspected U.S. drone strike has killed four alleged al-Qaida fighters in the country's central Marib province.

"The officials say the men were killed on Wednesday and have yet to be identified but the area is a known al-Qaida hotbed. They say that a day earlier, five other suspected al-Qaida operatives were also killed in a similar drone attack in the neighboring Shabwa province."

WAR REPORT - U.S. APPROVES WEAPONS FOR IRAQI KURDS, reports Reuters: "The U.S. State Department has approved the sale of $295.6 million worth of military equipment to Iraq for artillery and infantry Kurdish peshmerga units, a Pentagon agency said on Wednesday.

"The equipment requested by the Iraqi government would outfit two peshmerga infantry brigades and two support artillery battalions, the Defense Security Cooperation Agency said in a statement."

- ISRAEL: ASSAD STILL HAS CHEMICAL WEAPONS, via the AP: "Israeli defense officials say that Syrian President Bashar Assad still has up to three tons of chemical weapons.

"The officials delivered the assessment on Wednesday, weeks after a chemical attack in Syria killed at least 90 people. Israel, along with much of the international community, believes that Assad's forces carried out the attack.

"A senior military official says Israeli military intelligence estimates that Assad has 'between one and three tons' of chemical weapons."

And a watchdog group confirms the use of sarin in the chemical attack that killed scores of civilians in Syria earlier this month, writes The Washington Post.

FOR YOUR RADAR - TRUMP SET TO MEET WITH ERDOGAN: "President Trump plans to meet next month with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, according to Turkish and U.S. officials, just weeks after Erdogan claimed victory in a referendum that vastly increased his powers and has been questioned by the opposition and international observers.

"Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said Wednesday that the two leaders would sit down together before a NATO summit scheduled for May 29-30 in Brussels," reports The Washington Post.

But first Trump plans to meet with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in May when he visits Washington, via POLITICO's Kelsey Sutton.

NAVY AND MARINES CRIMINALIZE NUDE PHOTO SWAPPING, reports The Navy Times: "Posting nude pictures of service members without consent is now, for all intents and purposes, a crime in the Navy and Marine Corps - a response to the nude photo-sharing scandal that surfaced when a reporter outed a private Facebook group of Marines and sailors that was used at times to swap nudes.

"An interim revision to Navy regulations prohibits Navy and Marine Corps personnel from posting intimate photos 'if the person making the distribution or broadcast does so without legal justification or excuse,' the regulation reads."

INDUSTRY INTEL - DEFENSE EXECS PONDER 'BUY AMERICAN,' writes Defense News: "Ever since U.S. President Donald Trump's election win in November, international governments and industry have tried to sort out what his 'America First' policies would mean for the global partnerships that define the defense industry in 2017.

"Those questions will remain in focus following an April 18 executive order calling for a look at how the 1933 Buy American Act is applied across government, including to the Department of Defense. While the administration enters a review period, including a look at how waivers for foreign products are used, industry figures are trying to understand how this will impact them and whether American companies now have a leg up on competition."

TRUMP SIGNS VA CHOICE EXTENSION, reports Connor: The president Wednesday signed legislation extending the Veterans' Choice Program, ahead of its anticipated expiration in August.

The legislation removes the program's August sunset date and allows the Veterans Affairs Department to spend nearly $1 billion in remaining emergency funding to subsidize non-VA medical care for veterans who face long wait times or distances to access VA medical facilities.

SPEED READ

- Turkey arrests dozens of members of the political opposition in a new crackdown: NYT

- An Iraqi unit with U.S. and Australian advisers suffers a mustard gas attack by ISIS: CBS News

- The Israeli Navy says it needs three new submarines "as fast as possible": Defense News

- The U.S. Air Force releases details on a deadly U-2 training crash in September: Stars and Stripes

- How Navy submarines are being built to accommodate female crew members: AP

- Secretary of State Rex Tillerson toughens the tone on Iran after the U.S. confirms compliance with the nuclear deal: NYT

- The Russian navy visits the Philippines as President Rodrigo Duterte tightens ties with U.S. foes: Reuters

- Uganda's military announces it will end its pursuit of Central African Republic warlord Joseph Kony: AP

- The U.S. Africa Command seeks Africa liaison officers at its Stuttgart headquarters in Germany: Stars and Stripes

- The Army's intelligence branch is in the midst of a "bottom-up review" to determine its force structure demands: Defense News

- The Trump administration should leverage its missile strikes in Syria to force the Syrian president to the negotiating table, Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.) writes: Townhall

- Trump and his aides sow confusion by sending mixed signals on foreign affairs: The Washington Post

- The president is scheduled to give the commencement address at the Coast Guard Academy in New London, Conn.: Hartford Courant

To view online:
http://www.politico.com/tipsheets/morning-defense/2017/04/white-house-eyes-harder-line-on-government-shutdown-talks-219874

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