Thursday Defense Briefing

Aircraft from the carrier George H.W. Bush have struck about 30 targets in Iraq since the U.S. military began pounding the insurgents who are destabilizing Iraq, Navy officials said Wednesday. – Military Times

As the Pentagon works to analyze and repair widespread cracks in its F-16D fleet, it is recommending that partner nations closely inspect their F-16B and D models. – Defense News

The US Army has been saying for a decade that once the last American soldier leaves Afghanistan, the service will need at least two to three years of additional supplemental funding to reset and modernize. With the last US troops scheduled to leave Kabul at the end of 2016, ending 15 years of war, that bill is coming closer to its due date. – Defense News

The US Air National Guard has always been defined by its ability to fulfill both military and civil missions. But with budget draw downs, the service faces increasingly tough choices about how to spend what remains of its modernization budget while serving two masters. – Defense News

Interview: Over the past decade-plus, the US National Guard has established itself as a core part of America’s military action overseas. At the same time, the Guard has to balance its military actions with its responsibilities at home. Since taking over as director of the Air National Guard in January 2013, Lt. Gen. Stanley “Sid” Clarke has been in charge of laying out the future of the air component. – Defense News

The bipartisan National Defense Panel, which includes the president’s own appointees, offers him a true strategic blueprint for coping with the challenges of today and tomorrow. It has made a major contribution to the national security of the United States and the president should both make the most of its findings and act quickly on its recommendations. – Foreign Policy’s Shadow Government

The War

Despite outrage at home and abroad over the grisly beheading of an American journalist, 44 is unlikely to deepen military involvement in Iraq or Syria and will instead stay the course with U.S. air strikes, U.S. officials say. – Reuters

U.S. Special Operations troops launched an unsuccessful operation earlier this year to rescue captured American journalist James Foley and other captives from the Islamic State militant group in eastern Syria. – Washington Post’s Checkpoint

U.S. counterterrorism officials say Twitter’s crackdown on tweets from the Islamic State is complicating efforts to identify the terrorist group’s key members and activities by intelligence agencies that increasingly use social media to spy on the militants. – Washington Times’ Inside the Ring

A Saudi Arabian court has sentenced 18 men to prison terms of 10 months to 25 years for their part in a series of militant attacks against government and foreign targets between 2003-06, state media reported late on Wednesday. – Reuters

Kuwait detained a prominent Sunni Muslim cleric at the Gulf state’s airport on Wednesday after the United States included him on a sanctions list on suspicion that he is funneling money to militants in Iraq and Syria, a security source told Reuters. – Reuters

Clashes between irregular forces of a renegade general and Islamists erupted in Libya’s eastern Benghazi city on Wednesday, killing at least five people, medical and military sources said. – Reuters

Israeli airstrikes killed three senior commanders of the armed wing of Hamas early Thursday in the southern Gaza Strip city of Rafah, Israeli and Palestinian officials said, the most significant blow to the group’s leadership since Israel’s operation in Gaza began more than six weeks ago. – New York Times

Foreign Armies East

Russia is crafting a way to bolster its naval capabilities over the next six years, a move Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said Wednesday is a response to tensions with NATO. – Washington Times

The Russian defense ministry said Wednesday it was conducting fresh military exercises in the south of the country as fighting intensified between rebels and government forces in Ukraine. – AFP

Military leaders in Pakistan appear to be growing increasingly anxious about the standoff between Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and two key opposition figures seeking his resignation, adding further volatility to the country’s political crisis. – Washington Post

Heavy shelling hit residential neighborhoods in Ukraine’s rebel stronghold of Donetsk and government forces fought street battles in other towns on Wednesday as they sought to crush a four-month-old separatist rebellion. – Reuters

Germany broke with post-war tradition on Wednesday and agreed to supply weapons to Iraq to combat Islamist militants in an announcement coinciding with a decision in Washington to intensify military strikes in the region. – Financial Times

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Wednesday Defense Briefing

The U.S. military, at the request of host nations in the region, is no longer identifying the specific land-based aircraft carrying out airstrikes in Iraq, a defense official told Military Times on Tuesday. – Military Times

The mission for U.S. troops in Iraq to help Kurdish and Iraqi security forces in their fight against Islamic militants remains limited for now, but may expand after Iraqi leaders form a new government, a Pentagon spokesman said Tuesday. – Military Times

A competing rifle outperformed the Army’s favored M4A1 carbine in key firings during a competition last year before the service abruptly called off the tests and stuck with its gun, according to a new confidential report. – Washington Times

[A] Pentagon agency has launched a new, high-tech effort to protect troops while reducing armor. The Ground X-Vehicle Technology Program is investigating options available to improve both the mobility of military vehicles and the safety for troops inside. The goals, expressed here by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, appear to be a tall order – Washington Post’s Checkpoint

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has selected Rexon Ryu as his new chief of staff, picking a former trusted aide over someone from inside the building with deep Pentagon experience, Foreign Policy has learned. – Foreign Policy’s The Complex

A prominent federal budget analyst is predicting the best Congress will do this year on spending bills is pass two massive government-wide measures. – Defense News

[N]ow as crunch time begins inside the Pentagon as the services’ craft their 2016 budget plans, sequestration fears have returned. And at the annual Space and Missile Defense Symposium here last week, numerous officials used speeches to warn of the looming defense budget caps. – Defense News

The US Air Force has grounded over half of its F-16D Fighting Falcons, the service’s Air Combat Command (ACC) announced Tuesday. – Defense News

The plan laid out by Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jon Greenert aims to grow the fleet’s forward presence from about 97 ships at any given time this year to 120 ships by 2020. To do this, Greenert plans to grow the Asia-Pacific presence from 50 to 65 ships by 2019, and to boost the Middle East presence from 30 to 40 ships, including the four littoral combat ships to be stationed in Bahrain by 2019. – Military Times

It’s crunch time for UCLASS. On September 10th — after multiple delays — the Pentagon’s top weapons buyer and his Defense Acquisition Board will sit in judgment on the proposed combat drone. The question: how best to bring the robot revolution to the deck of the 90-year-old aircraft carrier. – Breaking Defense

The U.S. Navy is hard at work developing new underwater transports for its elite commandos. The SEALs expect the new craft—and improvements to large submarine “motherships” that will carry them—to be ready by the end of the decade. - Real Clear Defense

The Pentagon’s personnel chief is taking exception to statistics from a recent study that concluded 25 percent of military households use food banks. – Military Times

The War

Read the latest Iraq update – Institute for the Study of War

Accused terrorists being held in a Guantanamo Bay detention camp in Cuba have cost the federal government roughly $300,000 for liquid nutritional supplements due to hunger strikes. – Washington Times

The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria posted a video on Tuesday that it said showed the beheading of James Foley, an American journalist who was kidnapped in Syria nearly two years ago, according to a transcript released by the SITE Intelligence Group. – New York Times

Thousands of new fighters joined Islamic State in Syria last month in its fastest expansion to date, a body monitoring the war said on Tuesday. – Reuters

Hamas fighters, clad in black and armed with assault rifles, navigated the dimly lit tunnel with ease, saying they felt at home in their network of underground passages in the Gaza Strip. A rare tour that Hamas granted to a Reuters reporter, photographer and cameraman appeared to be an attempt to dispute Israel’s claim that it had demolished all of the Islamist group’s border infiltration tunnels in the Gaza war. – Reuters

Al Qaeda’s affiliate in Yemen is declaring its support for the Sunni extremist group that has taken over large swaths of Iraq and Syria, creating the potential for a new alliance against the United States. – The Hill

An offensive by a militant Shia movement in Yemen that has taken its fighters to within 50km of the capital has reignited fears of a new wave of sectarian violence on the Arabian Peninsula. – Financial Times

Saudi Arabia’s Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdulaziz Al al-Sheikh, the highest religious authority in the country, said on Tuesday the militant groups Islamic State and al Qaeda were “enemy number one of Islam” and not in any way part of the faith. – Reuters

Libyan militiamen fired rockets into an affluent district of Tripoli early on Tuesday, moving a battle with a rival armed faction closer to the center of the capital after fighters on one side came under air attack. – Reuters

Algeria has arrested 200 Syrians who had been hoping to reach Italy with the help of Libyan Islamists who had promised to smuggle them by boat, a security source said on Tuesday. – Reuters

Foreign Armies East

The Japanese defense ministry has brought forward a proposal to construct at least one large amphibious assault ship that will enlarge the country’s naval aviation capability. The program may also enhance sales prospects for the Bell Boeing V-22 Osprey. – Aviation Week

Japan’s military is showcasing its ability to defend remote islands, as its role expands at home and abroad under Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. – Associated Press

China recently conducted the second flight test of a new, ultra-high-speed missile that is part of what analysts say is Beijing’s global system of attack weapons capable of striking the United States with nuclear warheads. – Washington Free Beacon

Chinese troops have advanced in recent days into disputed territory claimed by India, echoing a similar incursion last year that raised tensions between the two rival giants, official sources said Tuesday. – AFP

The PAK Army has assumed security responsibility of the sensitive “Red Zone” in Pakistan’s capital as opposition forces camped out in the capital enter it demanding the government’s resignation. – Defense News

NATO will stop short of basing substantial combat forces in eastern Europe to avoid a complete rupture in relations with Russia, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said. – Bloomberg

Russia on Tuesday tested surface-to-air missiles during army exercises in the southern Russian province of Astrakhan, a defense ministry spokesman was quoted as saying, in a move to show its military might as fighting rages in neighboring Ukraine. – Reuters

Russia announced plans Tuesday to bolster its navy with more advanced weapons in response to NATO’s vow to halt the Kremlin’s push into Ukraine and feared expansion into eastern Europe. – AFP

Ukrainian forces pushed deeper into territory controlled by pro-Russian rebels on Tuesday, fighting street battles in the besieged city of Luhansk and pressuring the outer defenses of Donetsk in a further blow to the separatists’ crumbling virtual state. – New York Times

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Tuesdeay Defense Briefing

Almost 8,000 senior enlisted personnel must go before a continuation board later this year to determine whether they can continue to serve or must retire. – Navy Times

The Navy’s Standard Missile-6 successfully intercepted a mock cruise missile flying low and slow over land. Hitting that target is one sign of how far Navy missile defense programs have cast their net beyond their traditional domain. – Breaking Defense

Sources say the U.S. will eventually need to send 5,000 to 10,000 U.S. troops to help the Kurds and Iraqis launch a serious offensive against the Islamists. The U.S. has a strategic interest in defeating ISIS and preventing a safe haven for global jihad, so get on with it, Mr. President. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)

The United States said Monday that it had completed the destruction of the deadliest chemical weapons in Syria’s arsenal, a rare foreign policy achievement for President Obama at a time when the Middle East is embroiled in violence and political turmoil. – New York Times

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is banning flights over Syria due to the “ongoing armed conflict and volatile security environment” in the country, the agency announced on Monday night. – The Hill

The State Department defended missile sales to Turkey just hours after news emerged that Ankara is hosting and abetting a senior Hamas operative who planned to violently overthrow the Palestinian government in the West Bank and wage war on Israel. – Washington Free Beacon

The War

Unidentified warplanes on Monday bombed a small arms depot and other locations in the Libyan capital, Tripoli, that are controlled by Islamist-aligned militias, suggesting that a foreign state had intervened in the escalating battle for control of the city. – New York Times

Struggling to hold the insurgents back, the riposte from commanders of the Afghan security forces has been clear: across the country, they are now telling their men to kill captured Taliban fighters instead of taking prisoners. – Reuters

A roadside bomb killed six people traveling to school in northwestern Pakistan on Tuesday, officials said, as the military reported further air strikes against the Taliban. – Reuters

The motorcade of a Saudi prince was attacked Sunday evening in a suburb of Paris, with up to eight armed men stopping the convoy and taking a suitcase containing more than $335,000 in cash and sensitive documents. – Washington Post

Foreign Armies East

South Korea and the United States on Monday launched an annual military drill, Seoul’s defense ministry said, despite condemnation by North Korea which has threatened a “merciless” retaliatory strike. – AFP

As tensions spike between China and other countries in Asia’s disputed waters, serving and retired Chinese military officers as well as state media are questioning whether China’s armed forces are too corrupt to fight and win a war. – Reuters

After angrily insisting for months that “friends don’t spy,” the German government struggled Monday to respond to news media reports that its intelligence services routinely spy on Turkey, a NATO ally, and inadvertently captured at least one conversation each involving Hillary Rodham Clinton when she was secretary of state and her successor, John Kerry. – New York Times

Separatist rebels on Monday attacked a caravan of cars carrying refugees trying to flee war-ravaged eastern Ukraine, killing “dozens” of people in a devastating barrage of artillery fire, Ukrainian military officials said, though rebel leaders denied there had been any attack at all. – New York Times

Israel’s Shin Bet security service [yesterday] reported the uncovering of a plot by Hamas to oust the Palestinian Authority (PA) from control of the West Bank in an armed uprising. – Washington Free Beacon

As the U.S. military strikes the Islamic State group in Iraq, Syrian President Bashar Assad’s forces have significantly stepped up their own campaign against militant strongholds in Syria, carrying out dozens of airstrikes against the group’s headquarters in the past two days. – Associated Press

Iraqi forces launched an offensive on Tuesday to drive Islamic State fighters out of Tikrit, hometown of executed dictator Saddam Hussein, while the militants warned they would attack Americans “in any place”. – Reuters


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Monday Defense Briefing

Navy jets are again at the tip of the spear, striking targets inside Iraq. But they had to break off air support operations over Afghanistan to do it, Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jon Greenert said. – Military Times

Last summer, the X-47B UCAS (Unmanned Combat Air System) became the first pilotless aircraft to take off and land from a carrier — but the Navy cleared everything else off the flight deck first. Today, though, for the first time in history, the X-47B both took off and landed alongside a manned aircraft, the Navy’s standard F/A-18E Super Hornet fighter. – Breaking Defense

The California legislature has passed a last-minute measure to equally offer a tax incentive package to both contracting teams vying for the next-generation U.S. Air Force bomber program, overturning an earlier law that gave a $420 million discount to the Boeing/Lockheed Martin team alone. – Aviation Week

As the midterm elections loom, voters should keep in mind not only the price of American power, but the costs of American disengagement. As Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel put it this week, “The world is exploding all over.” If America’s military decline continues, this trend will only grow worse, putting an already stalled economy on even shakier ground and threatening our security at home and our interests abroad. – US News and World Report’s World Report

The War

A drone attack killed three suspected al Qaeda militants on Saturday in Yemen’s eastern Hadramout province, a local official told Reuters. – Reuters

Al-Qaida urged the family of an American aid worker it abducted in Pakistan three years ago to demand that the U.S. government negotiate a prisoner exchange for his release. – Associated Press

Disrupting safe havens where terrorist-in-training are groomed for future attacks at times may require preemptive military action. But the United States cannot fix all of the failed states or eliminate all of the ungoverned spaces where terrorists can set up shop. That means the best approach is one that continues international efforts to quarantine conflict zones, maintain a hostile operating environment for terrorists, discourage foreign recruitment and identify returning fighters before they can act. – The Hill

Chadian troops have rescued 85 Nigerians kidnapped Monday by Boko Haram militants, CNN sources in Nigeria said Saturday. – Washington Times

An attack in the very early hours of Friday morning on two Pakistani air bases was thwarted largely due to improved security measures that show the military has learned lessons from previous attacks, say analysts. – Defense News

The Islamic State militant group has executed 700 members of a tribe it has been battling in eastern Syria during the past two weeks, the majority of them civilians, a human rights monitoring group and activists said on Saturday. – Reuters

Foreign Armies East

When will Japan’s ATD-X indigenous stealth fighter prototype make its first flight? Hard to tell. The consortium that is developing the jet is planning a test flight for January, according to an Aug. 12 report in the Mainichi Shimbun newspaper. But the following day, a spokesman for Japan’s Defense Ministry told IHS Janes that the organization, led by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, has “not firmed up” when the first flight will occur. – Defense News

North Korea warned Sunday of a possible “merciless” pre-emptive strike as it blasted an upcoming joint US-South Korean military exercise as a rehearsal for nuclear war. – AFP

China’s use of swarming tactics with fishing vessels to project and protect Beijing’s territorial claims in the South China Sea appears unstoppable, experts say. – Defense News

Although no defense projects were established during US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel’s recent visit to India, US-Indo defense ties are developing and announcements on new initiatives are antici­pated next month, Ministry of Defence officials and defense analysts said. – Defense News

The Ukrainian military on Sunday moved into the heart of the separatist hub of Luhansk for the first time, officials said, chipping at one of the cornerstones of the pro-Russian rebels’ disintegrating virtual state. – New York Times

Unidentified war planes flew over the Libyan capital Tripoli early on Monday and explosions could be heard, residents said. – Reuters

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Thursday Defense Briefing

There are now almost 1,000 U.S. troops in Iraq, the Pentagon said Wednesday.  Another 129 troops were sent to Iraq this week. Including 100 or so troops who are assigned to the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, a total of about 964 troops are now in the country.  – The Hill

The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter test fleet will be able to fly six hours between engine inspections for weapon test and refueling missions, as restrictions on the fifth-generation fighter continue to ease. – Defense News

U.S. Army contracting officers overpaid an American company upgrading Russian-made Mi-17 helicopters as contract costs increased almost 70 percent, according to an audit by the Pentagon inspector general. – Bloomberg

The Pentagon needs to fundamentally change the way it buys satellites in an effort to lower costs as US defense spending contracts, a top Air Force general said. – Defense News

The U.S.’s top-ranked military officer met his Vietnamese counterpart here Thursday, as the U.S. capitalizes on tensions between China and its Asia-Pacific neighbors to revamp its own regional alliances. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)

Defense officials said late Wednesday that United States airstrikes and Kurdish fighters had broken the siege on Mount Sinjar, allowing thousands of Yazidis trapped there to escape. – New York Times

US helicopters and MV-22 Ospreys are on the ground in northern Iraq and operating from a secure airfield protected by Kurdish forces, the latest sign of an expanding Iraq mission that now includes about 1,000 US troops, defense officials said Wednesday. – Defense News

The War

Read today’s Iraq updates – Institute for the Study of War

Islamic State militants are massing near the Iraqi town of Qara Tappa, 122 km (73 miles) north of Baghdad, security sources and a local official said, in an apparent bid to broaden their front with Kurdish peshmerga fighters. – Reuters

After seizing five oil fields and Iraq’s biggest dam, Sunni militants bent on creating an Islamic empire in the Middle East now control yet another powerful economic weapon – wheat supplies. – Reuters

An Army judge at Guantanamo Bay reversed himself Wednesday, deciding that all five Sept. 11 defendants would be tried together after prosecutors objected that a separate trial for one would be too much for victims to bear. – Los Angeles Times

The government in Pakistan attempted to seal off the capital Islamabad on Thursday to prevent mass protests by its opponents amid a deepening political crisis and fears of further street violence or a military coup. – Financial Times

A fiery Pakistani cleric will be allowed to lead his supporters on an anti-government protest march to the capital, a senior policeman said on Thursday, reversing an earlier government decision. – Reuters

Saudi Arabia donated $100 million Wednesday to a U.N. body established to coordinate and assist international counter­terrorism efforts and called on other nations to match its support. – Washington Post

A top leader of al Qaeda’s Yemeni branch has hailed the seizure of swathes of Iraqi territory by the Sunni guerrilla group Islamic State, raising the possibility of cooperation between two of the most active Islamist militant networks. – Reuters

Syrian government forces backed by Lebanon’s Hezbollah took almost full control of a town just outside Damascus from Islamist rebels on Thursday, a pro-opposition monitoring group said, a blow to the rebels who had held it for more than a year. – Reuters

Militants with the Islamic State group seized several towns in northern Syria’s Aleppo province early Wednesday, dealing a blow to rival rebel factions who were forced to withdraw from areas they took this year, according to fighters reached near the front line. – Los Angeles Times

Foreign Armies East

The Royal Navy,“is seeing signs of expansion—which is a really weird place to be.” Including its new aircraft carriers, the evolving Type 26 Global Combat Ship—a Swiss-army-knife  warship for antisubmarine warfare and a multitide of other missions -and a forthcoming replacement for its ballistic missile submarines, the navy will have half of the U.K. military’s procurement budget for buying weapons by the early 2020s. – The Daily Beast

Germany is preparing to deliver military equipment to Iraqi Kurds in a decision that could weaken Berlin’s longstanding ban on supplying arms to conflict zones. – Financial Times

France will deliver weapons to Kurdish forces fighting Islamic extremists in Iraq, President Francois Hollande announced on Wednesday. – AFP

A Russian aid convoy destined for rebel-held territory in eastern Ukraine resumed its southward journey on Thursday, in apparent defiance of demands by the government in Kiev that the shipment be stopped. – New York Times

Britain will be part of an international mission to rescue Yazidi refugees stranded in northern Iraq, Prime Minister David Cameron said Wednesday. – Defense News

The SAS is on the ground in Iraq as part of the operation to rescue 30,000 “desperate” Yazidi refugees, it emerged on Wednesday, as US forces landed on Mount Sinjar. – The Telegraph

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Tuesday Defense Briefing

The U.S. intelligence community Monday pushed back at reports that the White House was not warned about the growing strength of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) ahead of the group’s recent offensive. – The Hill

Air strikes aimed at halting the advance of Sunni Islamic State militants in Iraq have been effective and the US is open to further requests for help, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel said Monday. – AFP

The building program of the US Navy’s Virginia-class submarines has an outstanding reputation, both for keeping to cost and for on-time delivery…Bets are off, however, for the North Dakota, the 11th and newest unit of the class. – Defense News

The War

A pretrial hearing for suspects in the Sept. 11 terror attacks is in recess until mid-week while the U.S. military judge decides whether to reconsider his decision to try one of the men separately from the other four. – Associated Press

An appeals court ruled Monday an Iraqi-born man should be extradited to the United States to face charges that he helped coordinate Tunisian jihadists believed responsible for a suicide attack in Iraq in 2009 that killed five American soldiers outside a U.S. base. – Associated Press

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi accused Pakistan on Tuesday of waging “proxy war” by sending militants to attack India and he used a trip to the disputed Kashmir region to stress that reconciliation between the nuclear-armed neighbors needs peace. – Reuters

Airstrikes and night raids by U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan have left “thousands” of victims and their families without justice, the human rights group Amnesty International said Monday in a detailed and hard-hitting report. – Washington Post

Israel is preparing to build a network of sensors to try to detect tunnel building into its territory from the Gaza Strip, but it could take months to prove the technology works, a senior army officer said on Monday. – Reuters

The Yemeni president vowed on Monday a relentless fight against al Qaeda insurgents who killed 14 soldiers last week, as the army dispatched troops and warplanes to try and track down the militants. – Reuters

Thousands of people from Iraq’s Yazidi minority trapped on a mountain in northern Iraq by Islamic State militants have been able to escape in the past three days with help from Kurdish security forces and others, a U.N. official said on Monday. – Reuters

The former NATO chief commander and military leader in Europe says he thinks the U.S. needs to put boots on the ground to fight with Iraqi and Kurdish troops against the Islamic State. – Military Times



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Monday Defense Briefing

With American strikes beginning to show clear effects on the battlefield, Kurdish forces counterattacked Sunni militants in northern Iraq on Sunday, regaining control of two strategic towns with aid from the air. – New York Times

Retired U.S. Army Gen. Carter Ham said on Sunday that targeted airstrikes in Iraq have given “pause” to Islamic extremists, but it will be difficult to respond more effectively without ground forces. – The Hill

The U.S. military carried out a new series of airstrikes Sunday against ISIS targets in Iraq, while some 20,000 Yazidi Iraqis who had been trapped on Mount Sinjar were rescued and taken to the Syrian-Iraqi border. – CNN

Despite the near-total withdrawal of US ground troops from the country in the past five years, the Pentagon has many options for more airstrikes — and many options on deployment, given the air dominance US forces will have. – Defense News

The War

The $5 billion counterterrorism fund that the White House requested in the Pentagon and State Departments’ 2015 budget proposal would likely fund missions like the ones the US military has been conducting in Iraq over the past several months, an expert said. – Defense News

A landmark terror financing trial is set to begin in New York on Monday as Jordan’s Arab Bank is pitted against the families and victims of attacks allegedly carried out by Hamas between 2001 and 2004. – Financial Times

A suicide attack on a coalition convoy passing through Kabul on Sunday killed four civilians and wounded 35, a potent reminder of the Taliban’s capacity to strike the capital. – New York Times

Kosovo police arrested 40 men on Monday on suspicion of having fought with Islamist insurgents in Syria and Iraq, a crackdown aimed at deterring recruitment of volunteer fighters, authorities in the small Balkan state said. – Reuters

An al Qaeda-affiliated group in Yemen said it killed 14 soldiers in an eastern province as revenge for an army offensive against its members, while a U.S. drone attack killed three suspected militants in central Yemen on Saturday, an official said. – Reuters

Bahrain has banned three Muslim clerics from preaching in mosques, accusing them of violating the “ethics and principles of religious discourse”, in what opposition activists said was part of a crackdown on dissent. – Reuters

Saudi Arabia’s Specialised Criminal Court has sentenced four men to prison for traveling abroad to fight in Syria’s civil war, local and state media reported on Sunday. – Reuters

Foreign Armies East

The Ukrainian military said on Monday it was preparing for a “final stage” of taking back the city of Donetsk from pro-Russian separatists after making significant gains that have split rebel forces on the ground. – Reuters

Russian state news agencies say the country’s navy claims to have driven away a submarine believed to be American that entered Russia’s northern waters. – Associated Press

Israel’s early failure to detect the vast Hamas tunnel network that its forces destroyed in Gaza is triggering a wave of recriminations within the country’s security and political establishment. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)


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Friday Defense Briefing

44 announced limited airstrikes against Islamic militants in Iraq, scrambling to avert the fall of the Kurdish capital, Erbil, and returning the United States to a significant battlefield role in Iraq for the first time since the last American soldier left the country at the end of 2011. – New York Times

Read the President’s statement – The White House

The United States began to drop relief supplies to beleaguered Yazidi refugees fleeing Islamist militants in Iraq, but there was no immediate sign on Friday of U.S. air strikes to halt the sweeping advance of Islamic State fighters. – Reuters

Read today’s Iraq updates – Institute for the Study of War

he relationship between the US Air Force and Congress has been strained for several years, but budget documents show the four major defense committees are at least willing to consider most of the service’s funding priorities. – Defense News

Lockheed Martin’s head of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program rejected on Thursday recent criticism of the costly, troubled project after it failed to make its air show debut. – DEFCON Hill

The Navy’s recently released 2015 30-year shipbuilding plan says the service is in danger of not realizing its anticipated vision for a fleet size of more than 300 ships and submarines because there simply is not enough money available to meet stated requirements. – DOD Buzz

The War

The International Committee of the Red Cross said Thursday that waterboarding is torture, the first time the group has publicly declared that a specific interrogation technique—one employed by the U.S.—violates the Geneva Conventions. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)

We are still engaged in the longest war in America’s history. Perhaps it is time to return to first principles. During the Cold War, George Kennan penned a seminal “Long Telegram” explaining why the Soviet Union behaved the way it did and what it truly wanted. Today, we must write a similar strategic guidance for al-Qaeda—an analysis of where the ideology and strategy of global jihad comes from, which does not shy away from the religious context of the enemy’s threat doctrine. Only when this is done, and done without political distortion, can we prepare an effective plan to defeat our enemy – Journal of International Security Affairs

Islamist insurgents from Boko Haram killed at least 50 people as they stormed a town in northeastern Nigeria, residents and vigilantes stationed there said, dealing the Nigerian army its latest setback. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)

As the Chinese authorities in Xinjiang intensify an increasingly deadly campaign framed as a battle against Islamic separatists, they have cast their net over a wide range of Uighur practices, including the wearing of veils and long beards, which are seen as dangerous signs of religious extremism.  – New York Times

Bankrolled chiefly by the United States and the European Commission, with headquarters split among Gaza, Jerusalem and Amman, Jordan, the [UNRWA] is one of the U.N.’s most perverse, destructive creations. In Gaza it essentially functions as Hamas’s handmaiden. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)

Foreign correspondents emerging from the Gaza Strip since a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas went into effect two days ago are confirming Israel’s claims that Hamas was firing rockets during the month-long confrontation from residential areas and near UN facilities. – Washington Free Beacon

Foreign Armies East

A prominent leader of pro-Russian rebels in eastern Ukraine resigned his post Thursday as fighting flared there, with militants reportedly downing a Ukrainian military plane. – CNN


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Thursday Defense Briefing

Russian strategic nuclear bombers conducted at least 16 incursions into northwestern U.S. air defense identification zones over the past 10 days, an unusually sharp increase in aerial penetrations, according to U.S. defense officials. – Washington Free Beaco

The insider attack death of Army Maj. Gen.  Harold J. Greene dealt a severe blow to the revamped U.S. plan to set up an Afghan National Security Force (ANSF) able to fend for itself. –

The White House proposed a plan two months ago for the Pentagon to train and equip vetted Syrian rebel forces in that nation’s civil war. But, since then, there’s been lots of talk and not much action. – The Hill

If tensions between Russia and the West continue to mount, the Pentagon this fall may launch a far-reaching review of the U.S. military’s footprint in Europe, the Defense Department’s number two official said. – Military Times

The Navy announced last night, the commander of the US 7th Fleet and his flagship, USS Blue Ridge, are visiting the PLA Navy base at Qingdao for talks involving “more than 50 senior officers” from both sides. – Breaking Defense

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel on Wednesday rejected suggestions that the military should have greater flexibility to rethink its withdrawal from Afghanistan in 2016 and allow commanders to make some decisions based on the conditions in the country. – Associated Press

The U.S. Marine Corps just got a blast from the past: Its elite Special Operations Command will adopt the iconic “Raiders” name used by commandos during World War II to describe its Special Operations troops in the 21st Century. – Washington Post’s Checkpoint

“We’ve been complacent,” Frank Kendall said. For decades, the Pentagon’s top weapons buyer said yesterday, the US has assumed its forces will be better equipped than any foe, but that’s increasingly in doubt: “Our technological superiority is very much at risk, there are people designing systems [specifically] to defeat us in a very thoughtful and strategic way, and we’ve got to wake up, frankly.” – Breaking Defense

Bonus pay is being cut for most Marines reporting to special duty assignments. The rate cuts will affect a wide range of Marines, including recruiters, drill instructors, combat instructors and embassy security guards, according to a Marine Corps news release announcing the changes. – Stars and Stripes

The construction strategy for the Kennedy, which is thus far only 6 percent built, is using a handful of techniques intended to lower costs and call upon lessons learned from the building of the first Ford-class carrier in recent years, the USS Gerald R. Ford. – Defense Tech

New Hampshire Sens. Jeanne Shaheen (D) and Kelly Ayotte (R) on Wednesday hailed the Air Force’s decision to send a new KC-46A air refueling tanker to Pease Air National Guard Base in their home state. – The Hill

The U.S. Army is seeking “one-way” tracers that can only be seen from the vantage point of a shooter — a big advantage that would solve an age-old drawback with the technology by not giving away his position. –

The United States, as leader of the Free World, has vital interests that span the globe…We cannot defend these interests without a foundation of hard power that is sized and shaped to protect America’s national security and international interests, rather than to meet arbitrary budget numbers. – Journal of International Security Affairs

The War

Lawyers for a Guantanamo Bay detainee accused of orchestrating the deadly bombing of the USS Cole are asking a judge to dismiss six of the 11 counts because of what they call U.S. hypocrisy. – Associated Press

The Senate Intelligence Committee’s majority report on CIA interrogation efforts contains new information about U.S. cooperation with foreign intelligence agencies that reportedly includes the revelation of still-undisclosed CIA “black site” prisons in foreign countries, where abuses may have occurred. And now the White House must decide whether or not masked references to specific foreign countries and individuals who helped the CIA will be allowed to come out. – The Daily Beast

The Treasury Department sanctioned three Kuwait-based financiers on Wednesday for allegedly funding extremist groups in Syria and Iraq, underscoring the Obama administration’s growing concern about Kuwaitis’ links to al Qaeda and other terror groups. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)

Yemeni security forces killed seven suspected al Qaeda militants on Thursday when they tried to attack an army facility in the volatile eastern region of Wadi Hadramout, where the government is perceived to be weak. – Reuters

Suspected members of Nigerian Islamist group Boko Haram killed 10 people and kidnapped one in a raid on the village of Zigague in remote northern Cameroon on Wednesday, state radio reported. – Reuters

An American drone strike against a compound in the North Waziristan tribal district on Wednesday killed at least six people, Pakistani officials and local residents said. It was the latest in a series of strikes by C.I.A.-operated drone aircraft to coincide with a major offensive by the Pakistani military in the area, which is notorious as a sanctuary for militants. – New York Times

Foreign Armies East

An Indian warship is to take part in exercises with the Vietnamese navy this week in the tense waters of the South China Sea, where maritime disputes between China and its neighbors have intensified. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)

Japanese fighter jets shadowed Chinese aircraft patrolling over disputed waters, China’s Ministry of Defense said on Thursday, in the latest flare-up of a spat over air space that has deepened a rift between the two countries. – Reuters

China’s military last week conducted flight tests of two intercontinental ballistic missiles, including one of its newest road-mobile DF-31As that can reach the United States with a nuclear warhead, according to U.S. officials. – Washington Times’ Inside the Ring

Pakistan has appointed a new defense secretary, Mohammad Alam Khattak, a retired lieutenant general. His predecessor, Asif Yasin Malik, stepped down this week after two years on the job. – Defense News

The steadily advancing Ukrainian army is setting its sights on the largest rebel-held city in eastern Ukraine, while Western officials on Wednesday warned that a Russian military buildup on Ukraine’s border could herald a major incursion to protect the separatists. – Associated Press

Russia has increased its presence of troops on the Ukraine border to 20,000, from 12,000 in mid-July, creating a “dangerous situation” and stoking concerns Moscow could intervene in its neighbor by force, NATO said Wednesday. – AFP

Israel is seeking a “robust” and complete disarmament of Hamas in the Gaza Strip in order to ensure that there is no resumption in hostilities, according to a senior Israeli Foreign Ministry official who briefed the Washington Free Beacon on upcoming Egyptian-brokered ceasefire talks between the terror group and Israeli government. – Washington Free Beacon

An Iraqi army airstrike in the militant-held northern city of Mosul on Wednesday killed 60 fighters from the extremists Islamic State group, Iraq’s state television reported. – Associated Press

Iranian military leaders announced on Wednesday that Tehran is readying new mid-range and long-range missile defense systems reminiscent of Israel’s Iron Dome system, which destroys rockets in mid-air before they strike the ground. – Washington Free Beacon


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Tuesday Defense Briefing

The U.S. Navy late last week awarded a contract to begin planning to defuel a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier that may be targeted for decommissioning due to budget cuts – DOD Buzz

The 6th Fleet boss has been tapped to return to the states to helm the Norfolk-based Fleet Forces Command, the Defense Department announced Monday. – Defense News

As the Pentagon’s effort to dismantle its massive wartime infrastructure kicks into high gear, defense personnel are jettisoning materiel on an industrial scale. Since last year, Pentagon contractors in Afghanistan have used shredding machines to turn vehicles, generators, housing containers, furniture and other items into scrap. – Washington Post
From Nigeria to Somalia, US military presence on the continent is a creeping reality. US troops may be thin on the ground, with the Pentagon preferring to rely on training and financial support to allied forces, but special forces are now operating at any given moment. – Financial Times

The War

A group of retired military generals and flag officers is calling on the White House to support an “expansive declassification” of a Senate report on CIA interrogations expected to be released as early as this week. – The Hill

A lawyer for the Guantanamo Bay detainee accused of orchestrating the 2000 bombing of the USS Cole in Yemen asked the new judge in the case to recuse himself Monday, citing possible conflicts stemming from the judge’s involvement in an earlier case. – Associated Press

Senate Intelligence Committee Republicans are claiming that CIA harsh interrogation techniques were key to finding Osama bin Laden. It’s part of the senators’ larger critique of a soon-to-be-released report by the Democratic staff that will detail what 44 said was “torture” of prisoners in CIA custody. – The Daily Beast

Footage obtained by human rights group Amnesty International and released on Tuesday appears to show Nigerian soldiers slitting the throats of Boko Haram suspects and dumping their bodies in a mass grave. – Reuters

Hamas is able to fire missiles into Israel because Tehran provided weapons technology to the militant group to defend itself against Israeli attacks, a senior Iranian official said Monday. – Associated Press

Militants have killed at least nine soldiers in attacks in south and eastern Yemen over the past three days, local officials said on Monday, just as the government sent more troops to the east to confront a growing al Qaeda threat. – Reuters

A deadly confrontation worsened on Monday between Lebanon’s armed forces and Islamist insurgents from Syria who seized the border town of Arsal over the weekend in what appeared to be the most serious spillover of the Syrian civil war into Lebanese territory since the conflict began more than three years ago. – New York Times

Two young Spanish women, one of them under 18, have been arrested in the Spanish North African enclave of Melilla on suspicion of trying to join an Islamic State militant cell in the Middle East, the Interior Ministry said on Monday. – Reuters

Foreign Armies East

US defense experts and the US State Department are describing China’s successful July 23 so-called “anti-missile test” as another anti-satellite test (ASAT). It is the third such kinetic strike ASAT launch by China and raises fears the US will be unable to protect its spy, navigation and communications satellites. – Defense News

Israel said Tuesday it was withdrawing all ground forces from the Gaza Strip at the start of an Egyptian-brokered 72-hour cease-fire intended to bring to a halt the nearly month-long war after multiple broken truces. – Washington Post

Pakistan has denied a media report that it has deployed or has plans to do so to protect ally Saudi Arabia from the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS). – Defense News

Russia has roughly doubled the number of its battalions near the Ukrainian border, Western officials said Monday, and could respond to the Kiev government’s gains there by launching a cross-border incursion with little or no warning. – New York Times

The Ukrainian military on Monday appeared to be readying a long-awaited major assault on the rebel stronghold of Donetsk, warning civilians to leave as troops tightened their ring around the city amid heavy fighting. – Washington Post

Japan continues to keep a close eye on China’s defense posture as one of the major challenges to the region’s security environment, even as Prime Minister Shinzo Abe attempts to smooth the way for a possible face-to-face meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping in November. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)

Turkey aims to reach $1.6 billion in arms exports this year, up 14.3 percent from $1.4 billion in 2013, Defense Minister Ismet Yilmaz said Aug. 1. – Defense News

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