Five Things to Know, March 27, 2023
1. Fighter jets roared off the USS Nimitz as the nuclear-powered U.S. aircraft carrier and its battle group began exercises with South Korean warships on Monday, hours after North Korea fired two short-range ballistic missiles in an apparent protest of the allies’ expanding drills. The seventh missile test this month underscored heightening tensions in the region as both the North’s weapons tests and the U.S.-South Korea joint military exercises have intensified in a cycle of tit-for-tat.
2. The arrest of actor Jonathan Majors has upended the Army’s newly launched advertising campaign that was aimed at reviving the service’s struggling recruiting numbers. Majors, who authorities said was arrested Saturday in New York on charges of strangulation, assault and harassment, was the narrator of two ads at the heart of a broader media campaign that kicked off at the start of the NCAA’s March Madness college basketball tournament. Army leaders were hopeful that the popularity of the star of the recently released “Creed III” and “Ant-Man and The Wasp: Quantumania,” would help them reach the youth audience. In a statement Sunday, the Army’s Enterprise Marketing Office said that the Army was aware of Majors’ arrest and was “deeply concerned by the allegations.” It added that while Majors “is innocent until proven guilty, prudence dictates that we pull our ads until the investigation into these allegations is complete.”
3. Ukraine’s government on Sunday called for an emergency meeting of the U.N. Security Council to “counter the Kremlin’s nuclear blackmail” after Russian President Vladimir Putin revealed plans to station tactical atomic weapons in Belarus. One Ukrainian official said Russia “took Belarus as a nuclear hostage.”
4. Warm desert winds blew calmly out of the west as Lt. Amanda Lee climbed into the cockpit of her blue and gold F/A-18E/F Super Hornet for her historic first public flight as as member of the Navy’s Blue Angels. It was a perfect day to fly. Lee and Lt. Cmdr. Thomas Zimmerman were selected for the renowned flight demonstration team in September 2022, making her the first woman to earn a coveted spot on the team.
5. Capitol Hill will see a parade of top military officials this week, led by a pair of appearances by the defense secretary and featuring top leaders from each of the services. A dozen military budget posture hearings are scheduled between Tuesday and Thursday before the armed services and appropriations committees in both chambers. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and the Joint Chiefs Chairman will appear at two of them, following their testimony before the House Appropriations Committee last week.