Tuesday Defense Briefing

About 250 paratroopers from the 82nd Airborne Division will deploy in support of Operation Inherent Resolve, officials announced Monday. – Associated Press

After a decade of counterinsurgency, the Army is trying to retrain the force to fight other types of conflicts. But budget cuts threaten that effort. – Stars and Stripes

The Navy should rethink traditional approaches to air defense, weapons development and maritime security so it can equip surface combatants to better defend themselves and increase their ability to outrange the enemy and conduct offensive operations. – The National Interest

The new Army commander in Europe plans to bolster the U.S. armored presence in Poland and the Baltic states and keep rotations of U.S. troops there through next year and possibly beyond to counter Russia. – Military.com

The Navy needs to move quickly to reorder its priorities. If strategic deterrence is our primary mission, then funding the next submarine for that mission is the first priority. We have to pay the mortgage. It’s common sense. – Defense One

A House Armed Services Committee member asked the Pentagon’s inspector general on Monday to conduct a formal investigation into reports that the Pentagon paid a large ransom in a failed bid to free Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl from terrorist custody. – Washington Free Beacon

A deal between House and Senate negotiators on annual legislation setting Pentagon policy won’t include language allowing for the closure of the federal prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, a top Senate Democrat said. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)

The forced resignation of Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is exposing deep tensions between the Pentagon and President Obama’s national security staff. – The Hill

Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson on Monday withdrew his name as a candidate to replace Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel. – The Hill

Will the White House tap former Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) to be the next Defense secretary? – The Hill

The War

British intelligence officials have uncovered a plot by terrorists to blow up five European passenger jets during the Christmas holiday, security analysts said. – Washington Times

A wave of attacks across northern Nigeria, including two on Monday — a suicide bombing at a market and an assault on security facilities — showed that the Islamist terrorist group Boko Haram remained able to strike at will in the region, especially against civilian targets. – New York Times

Islamist terror group Al Shabab attacked a quarry in northern Kenya on Tuesday, massacring dozens of workers, just 10 days after a bus attack when gunmen shot dead 28 passengers who couldn’t recite a Koranic verse. – Los Angeles Times

Lebanese authorities have detained a wife of Abu Bakr Baghdadi, head of the Islamic State militant group, according to unconfirmed reports circulating Tuesday in the Lebanese press. – Los Angeles Times

Facing an intensified Taliban insurgency, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani plans to fire senior civilian and military leaders in the country’s most volatile provinces to reinvigorate the battle against militants, officials have told The Associated Press. – Associated Press

Leaders of Afghanistan and NATO say they are ready to move to a new phase in their relations — the end of NATO-led combat operations in the violence-torn country effective Jan. 1. – Associated Press

U.S. and Turkish officials have narrowed their differences over a joint military mission in Syria that would give the U.S. and its coalition partners permission to use Turkish air bases to launch strike operations against Islamic State targets across northern Syria, according to officials in both countries. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)

Seventy-two Syrian rebel groups on Saturday announced a new coalition to battle the government of President Bashar Assad. But hopes that moderate rebels would dominate the meeting were dashed when extremists gained more of the 17 executive positions than had been expected. – McClatchy

Syrian rebel commander Abdulaziz says U.S. military training helped his men kill at least 15 Islamic State fighters in a recent battle near Aleppo. Three months earlier, a similar engagement had gone the other way, with two of his men killed. But his group, the Mujahideen Army, does not know if more of its men will be sent for training, such is the uncertainty surrounding plans for expanding aid to the moderate rebels who the United States hopes will fight Islamic State in Syria. – Reuters

Nato, the world’s largest military alliance, is preparing to add its weight to the international campaign against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, known as Isis, after discussions with senior Iraqi government officials in recent weeks. – Financial Times

Foreign Armies

The Ukrainian military accused Russian special forces on Monday of taking part in attacks on the strategically important Donetsk airport in eastern Ukraine, where fighting has intensified in recent days despite a September ceasefire deal. – Reuters

The Norwegian Armed Forces released a video of a Russian fighter jet flying uncomfortably close to a Norwegian F-16, highlighting potential collision risks when intercepting Russian aircraft in international airspace on behalf of NATO. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)

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Friday Defense Briefing

The Pentagon said Thursday that it would begin deploying 1,500 new troops to Iraq “in the next weeks” without first securing funding from Congress, reversing previous comments. – The Hill

Airstrikes in Syria and Iraq, aided by intelligence reports developed by airmen here from spy-plane feeds, have helped stem the momentum of Islamic State fighters in the key city of Kobane, according to top military officials. – USA Today

Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin (D-Mich.) is optimistic lawmakers will pass a joint defense policy bill by year’s end. – The Hill

The cost of the U.S. Navy’s new aircraft carrier is likely to keep rising from the $12.9 billion now estimated, with the final price masked by deferring some work until after the ship is delivered, the Government Accountability Office said. – Bloomberg

The Defense Department is poised to announce the shuttering of Fort Campbell, Kentucky’s, 159th Combat Aviation Brigade, according to Congress. The long anticipated closing means Fort Campbell will lose about 2,400 soldiers. – Military.com

The Pentagon denied Thursday that a ransom was paid for the release of Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl while refusing to either confirm or deny that money went to an informant. – Military.com

The War

A U.S. drone strike killed six suspected militants in northwestern Pakistan, security officials said on Friday, as al Qaeda said two members of the group had been killed in a previous strike. – Reuters

An Islamic State leader has been killed in an air strike in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul, residents and a local medical source said on Thursday. – Reuters

Fighters from Al Qaeda’s Nusra Front and other insurgents attacked and briefly entered Baath City in southern Syria on Thursday, the army’s last major bastion in a province flanking the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights. – Reuters

The Libyan militant group accused of leading the attack on the United States diplomatic mission in Benghazi two years ago had previously helped train a dozen fighters who went on to participate in a deadly attack on an Algerian gas plant, according to a United Nations Security Council document justifying new sanctions on the group, Ansar al-Shariah. – New York Times 
Democratic senators pressed the White House Thursday over negotiations on the release of a report criticizing the Central Intelligence Agency’s interrogation program. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)

The government transferred five low-level Guantánamo Bay prisoners to Eastern Europe on Thursday. Four of the men were Yemenis, and their resettlement was a significant policy change in the Obama administration’s effort to close the prison at the naval base in Cuba. – New York Times

Foreign Armies

China’s nuclear forces are expanding and details about the nation’s strategic weapons programs remain hidden by Beijing’s secrecy, according to the annual report of the congressional U.S. China Economic and Security Review Commission. – Washington Free Beacon

China’s advancing military capabilities will challenge the U.S.’s ability to deter conflicts, defend partners and maintain freedom of the seas and airways in the Asia-Pacific region, according to a commission mandated by Congress. – Bloomberg

North Korea recently conducted a test of an ejection launcher that U.S. intelligence agencies assess is part of Pyongyang’s recently discovered submarine-launched ballistic missile program. – Washington Free Beacon

Japan stepped up its role in large-scale war games with the United States this week, with one of its admirals commanding air and sea maneuvers that the U.S. military described as the most complex ever overseen by the Japanese navy. – Reuters

Russia and China have committed to a pair of 2015 naval exercises as a sign of growing military cooperation between the two countries, Russia’s minister of defense said this week. – USNI News

NATO said Thursday there have been around 400 intercepts of Russian military flights near its member countries this year, amid heightened tension between Moscow and the West over the Ukraine crisis. – AFP


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Monday Defense Briefing

The White House confirmed the death of the American aid worker Peter Kassig, a former Army Ranger who disappeared over a year ago at a checkpoint in northeastern Syria while delivering medical supplies. – New York Times

U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel on Saturday outlined a series of reforms designed to tackle what he views as the military’s declining prowess as China, Russia and others field new weapons technologies. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)

Systemic problems in the Pentagon’s nuclear weapons programs will require a culture change and at least $7.5 billion in upgrades, top defense officials said Friday in announcing the results of two reviews prompted by a series of scandals earlier this year. – Washington Post’s Checkpoint

After months of build-up, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel formally launched the military’s quest for a combination of new technologies to maintain America’s military supremacy over the next 20 years in the face of Russian and Chinese challenges. – Breaking Defense

As the White House and Pentagon pass drafts of the fiscal 2016 defense budget back and forth before submitting it to Congress early next year, the base budget request possibly could exceed congressionally mandated spending caps by as much as $60 billion, according to a former defense official with knowledge of the discussions. – Defense News

The fight against the self-proclaimed Islamic State is still in its early days, but already it is challenging the Pentagon’s assumptions about where and how war will be fought and what the military will need to be prepared. – Foreign Policy

After a relatively quiet summer, the battle for the future of the A-10 Warthog exploded in the last two weeks, reopening deep fissures between Congress and the US Air Force that seem to show the two sides at a total stalemate. – Defense News

After 10 days of sea trials here, the differences between the F-35C Lightning II and its predecessors are becoming readily apparent as the plane is launched, trapped and maneuvered topside. – Military Times

When the US nuclear submarine Jefferson City left its homeport of San Diego April 9, its 150-man crew expected to spend six months cruising the Western Pacific and beyond. Instead, the sub has languished since mid-June in Guam, sidelined by a tiny leak that proved difficult to find and harder to repair. – Defense News

The youngest Oliver Hazard Perry-class frigate (FFG-7) was decommissioned this week as the more than 30-year-old ship class is set to leave the U.S. fleet by the end of next year. – USNI News

US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel said: If we make the right investments in our partnerships around the world, in innovation, and in our defense enterprise, we will continue to keep our nation’s military and our nation’s global leadership on a strong and sustainable path for the 21st century. – RealClearDefense

The need to reinvest is clear. Now Congress must identify where additional funding should be allocated and in what order of priority. Policymakers can look first to the Pentagon for guidance and ensure taxpayers and those in uniform both get the most return on any additional investment. – American Enterprise Institute
Given finite and likely declining resources for defense, the nation can neither afford to continue the current “business as usual” approach to power projection, nor plan on having the resources and time to rectify the many operational and strategic problems with the current path once they fully manifest. – RealClearDefense

Naval Air Staion Fallon trains the naval air wing for aircraft carriers; Rear Adm. Mike Manazir, director of Navy Air Warfare, works to improve its capabilities. Manazir is a battle-hardened carrier admiral. By chance our interview with the admiral occurred shortly after the successful initial tests of the F-35C aboard the USS Nimitz. He focused on the impact of fifth generation aircraft — stealthy, advanced radar and avionics etc — and the building out of the integrated capabilities of the air wing which is the focus of Fallon training. – Breaking Defense

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Wednesday Defense Briefing

Two years ago, the U.S. Air Force brought the stealthy RQ-170 Sentinel drone and the Massive Ordnance Penetrator—two of America’s most secretive weapons—together for a single test. – RealClearDefense

The US Air Force is trying to work out a compromise with Congress to retire a percentage of the A-10 fleet in order to move maintainers to the F-35 joint strike fighter, according to two service officials. – Defense News

The U.S. Army has awarded a $142 million contract to BAE Systems new M109A7 self-propelled howitzers and M992A3 ammunition carriers. – DOD Buzz

The Pentagon’s top research arm and Raytheon will test a new system designed to massively speed up air-ground coordination and reduce targeting time for close air support from as long as an hour  —  down to as little as six minutes. – Defense Tech

The War

Air strikes by U.S.-led forces in Syria have killed 865 people, including 50 civilians, since the start of the campaign in late September against Islamic State militants, a group monitoring the war said on Wednesday. – Reuters

At least 33 people have been killed in central Yemen in fighting in the past two days between Shi’ite Muslim Houthi fighters trying to expand their control and Sunni tribes allied with al Qaeda, residents said on Wednesday. – Reuters

A treaty ban on cruel treatment will restrict how the United States may treat prisoners in certain places abroad, the administration is expected to tell the United Nations on Wednesday, according to officials. – New York Times

Pakistani intelligence officials say a suspected U.S. drone strike on a sprawling Taliban hideout in a northwestern tribal region bordering Afghanistan has killed six militants. – Associated Press

Foreign Armies

China’s military upstaged the Asian economic summit in Beijing this week by conducting flights tests of a new stealth jet prototype, as the White House called on Beijing to halt its cyber attacks. – Washington Free Beacon

The first women fighter pilots to join China’s famed aerobatic team showed off their skills in J-10 jets Tuesday as Beijing put on a display of its growing military might. – Defense News

The new CM-708UNA submarine-launched cruise missile made its debut at Airshow China in Zhuhai, in the southern province of Guangdong near Hong Kong, on Tuesday. – Defense News

Aviation Industry Corporation of China unveiled its new PL-9C surface-to-air short-range missile system at Airshow China here. – Defense News

A Chinese airlifter revealed by Avic this week will go into service in the 2020s if the factory behind the project, Shaanxi Aircraft, is given a go-ahead. – Aviation Week

New shelling rocked the pro-Russian rebel stronghold of Donetsk in eastern Ukraine on Wednesday despite a fragile ceasefire. – Reuters

Analysis: What is the cause of the renewed military activity in eastern Ukraine? Here are a few possibilities – Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty

Nigeria’s envoy to Washington criticized U.S. support in the battle against Boko Haram militants as insufficient, including failure to share enough intelligence and sell needed weaponry to fight the Islamist group. – Reuters

The company behind Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense shield has come out with a digital counterpart to protect the country against cyberattacks. – Washington Times


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Tuesday Defense Briefing

More than 80 wounded U.S. combat veterans and their families have filed suit against several of the world’s largest banks, which they accuse of facilitating financial transfers on behalf of Iran that directly led to the killing and wounding of U.S. troops in Iraq, according to court documents obtained by the Washington Free Beacon. – Washington Free Beacon

The U.S. will delay delivery of F-16 fighter planes to Iraq for security reasons and will instead send them to Arizona, where Iraqi pilots are participating in a U.S.-run training program, the Defense Department said. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)

The US military can not confirm reports that the Islamic State group leader may have been struck in an airstrike, but a Pentagon official suggested Monday that lower-level figures may have been hit. – AFP

Major General Robert Scales, USA (Ret.) writes: If the American people won’t accept further escalation, they will have to accept the caliphate. So the “nine-brigade gamble” might well shape the outline and balance of power in the Middle East for generations to come. – Washington Post

The Pentagon has been unable to confirm reports that the leader of the Islamic State was injured or killed this weekend, but his loss wouldn’t necessarily spell the end of the organization. – USA Today

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency is exploring whether it would be possible to turn an existing plane into a flying fortress capable of launching and recovering numerous drone aircraft. Doing so would extend the range of drones that gather intelligence and perform other missions while saving money and limiting the risks pilots take. – Washington Post’s Checkpoint

South Korean troops fired warning shots Monday after North Korean soldiers approached too close to the border separating the rival countries, Seoul defense officials said. – Associated Press

China plans to export its stealthy twin-engine J-31 fighter, which would become the first aircraft of its kind available to global customers who cannot afford the Lockheed Martin F-35. The fighter is similar in configuration to the single-engine F-35 stealth fighter. – Defense News

China’s new stealth fighter roared out of the smog hanging over the country’s premier air show on Tuesday, as its makers sought to impress a gallery of overseas military officers whom Chinese defence contractors hope will one day buy the aircraft. – Financial Times

The Chinese Shenyang J-31 stealth fighter will use Russian-built engines when it enters production. The prototype was known use Klimov RD-93 engines, which were derived from the Soviet-era Mikoyan MiG-29 Fulcrum’s RD-33 afterburning turbofans. Many observers had expected the new Chinese fifth-generation fighter to eventually sport domestically developed engines. – USNI News

China has put the Shenyang J-15 Flying Shark carrier-borne multirole fighter into serial production, with at least eight production examples known to be flying already. This is in addition to the six J-15 prototypes, some of which conducted carrier trials on board China’s refurbished former Soviet Kuznetsov-class carrier, Liaoning. – USNI News

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Wednesday Defense Briefing

The U.S. Army’s 10th Mountain Division formally concluded its operations in Afghanistan on Tuesday, another sign that the war is drawing to a close even as American commanders are evaluating whether they will have enough resources to support the fledgling Afghan military. – Washington Post

The Secretary of Defense has responded to allegations that former Marine Corps commandant Gen. Jim Amos misrepresented his service record, saying his critics’ claims that he did not attend The Basic School as a young officer were “not … credible.” – Military Times

A military investigation into an Apache attack-helicopter mishap has found potential hydraulic fluid contamination that could cause “a catastrophic failure and loss of life,” government contracting records show. – Washington Times

The F-35C Joint Strike Fighter jet took a major step on Monday, making its first ever “arrested” landing on an aircraft carrier. Navy officials billed it as a historic moment, but it comes at the beginning of at-sea testing for the aircraft that will help determine when it is ready for combat missions. – Washington Post’s Checkpoint

Foreign air forces ordering the Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) will be able to customize the mission data packages loaded onto their aircraft in a compromise that defense officials say both preserves U.S. security and allows allies a greater degree of customization of their fighters. – USNI News

Navy readiness won’t fully recover from the second-order effects of the 2013 sequester for another year, the Chief of Naval Operations said this morning — and if the Budget Control Act cuts (known as sequestration) return in full force for fiscal year 2016, the nation might lose two of its five remaining major shipyards. – Breaking Defense

The War

One of Britain’s highest-ranking intelligence officials on Tuesday castigated the giant American companies that dominate the Internet for providing the “command-and-control networks of choice for terrorists and criminals” and challenged the companies to find a better balance between privacy and security. – New York Times
Hezbollah’s leader delivered a defiant speech Tuesday that sought to dispel any notion that his Lebanese Shiite group is strained by its intervention in Syria, warning that it could still confront Sunni extremists and Israel. – Washington Post

Saudi Arabian security officials moved aggressively on Tuesday to crush an outbreak of anti-Shiite violence, arresting 15 people in six cities and killing two others in connection with what the Interior Ministry called a terrorist ambush on mosque worshipers in a minority Shiite community. – New York Times

Yemeni security officials say more than 30 people have been killed in clashes between Shiite Houthi rebels and tribal fighters backed by al-Qaida militants in the embattled town of Radda south of the capital Sanaa. – Associated Press

A senior al Qaeda official wanted by the United States and a local leader of the militant group’s affiliate, Ansar al-Sharia, were killed in a drone strike in central Yemen overnight, tribal sources said on Wednesday. – Reuters

Britain, the United States and France have proposed that Islamist extremist group Ansar al-Sharia in Libya be blacklisted under the United Nations al Qaeda sanctions regime, diplomats said on Tuesday, speaking on condition of anonymity. – Reuters

Egypt’s most active militant group, Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis, denied in a Twitter message on Tuesday that it had pledged allegiance to Islamic State and it distanced itself from a statement that appeared in its name online. – Reuters

Familiar shouts of “Death to America!” rang out Tuesday as thousands of Iranians gathered to mark the 35th anniversary of the takeover of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran by militant students. – Los Angeles Times

The leader of Syria’s al Qaeda rebel wing threatened attacks against the Shi’ite Muslim militant movement Hezbollah in Lebanon in coming days that he said would make it regret fighting alongside Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. – Reuters

The Nusra Front, a Syrian rebel group affiliated with Al Qaeda, has been expanding its control in the northern province of Idlib, seizing territory from two Western-supported rebel organizations and potentially threatening a critical border crossing with Turkey, according to rebels and monitoring groups. – New York Times

A former tank commander in the Soviet military who later joined the Taliban and was captured in Afghanistan by the U.S. military appeared Tuesday in federal court in Richmond on terrorism charges after being flown to the United States. – Washington Post

Foreign Armies

A mix of Iraqi security forces and Shiite militias aligned with the government are poised to attempt to break the Islamic State’s five-month siege on Iraq’s largest oil refinery after a series of military gains along the country’s main north-south highway, according to Iraqi security officials and local residents. – McClatchy

New Zealand said it has sent a small team of military officials to the Middle East to assess how the country could aid the U.S.-led fight against Islamic State militants. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)

Britain’s defence ministry said Tuesday it was cutting short a training program for Libyan troops after reported sexual assaults allegedly involving five of the servicemen. – AFP

Saudi Arabia and France sealed an agreement Tuesday for Riyadh to finance the delivery of $3 billion worth of French weapons to the Lebanese army, which has come under mounting jihadist attack. – AFP

India’s navy withdrew two warships from the eastern port of Kolkata on Tuesday after intelligence agencies warned of an attack on the port and the city, police and navy officers said. – Reuters

The Russian Navy’s submarine force has been more active this year against the backdrop of soured relationships with the West over the ongoing internal conflicts in Ukraine and the forced annexation of Crimea by Russia, U.S. Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) Adm. Jonathan Greenert said on Tuesday. – USNI News

Russia test-fired a Sineva intercontinental missile from a submerged submarine in the Barents Sea on Wednesday as part of a check on the reliability of the navy’s strategic forces, the Defense Ministry said. – Reuters

Georgian Prime Minister Irakly Garibashvili fired his defense minister on Tuesday hours after he criticized the arrests of several officials in his ministry as politically motivated and aimed at those who favor better relations with the West. – Reuters

NATO member Poland said Tuesday it will acquire combat drones as part of a multi-billion-euro revamp of its armed forces amid heightened tensions with Russia over its role in the Ukraine crisis – AFP

NATO’s commander said Monday that the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) poses a threat to the alliance and Europe along with the Mideast. – Military.com


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Tuesday Defense Briefing

The Pentagon on Monday sought to play down the significance of reports that two moderate Syrian rebel groups, armed by the United States, had surrendered to an al Qaeda affiliate. – The Hill

The last of 63 Russian Mi-17 transport helicopters that the Pentagon ordered for Afghanistan’s military were delivered in October, according to multiple reports. – DOD Buzz

The U.S. Air Force’s new commander in the Pacific said Saturday she’s hoping to continue talks with China on avoiding dangerous encounters in the air that have added to regional tensions. – Associated Press

The U.S. Marine Corps will phase out the Boeing AV-8B Harrier II jump jet by 2025 — about five years earlier than planned — and will instead extend the life of its fleet of aging Boeing F/A-18 Hornet strike fighters, according to the service’s recently released 2015 aviation plan. – USNI News

The US military’s F-35 fighter jet made its first landing aboard an aircraft carrier on Monday, in what officials called a milestone for the new hi-tech warplane. – AFP

The U.S. faces a tough hurdle in identifying Americans seeking to join Islamic extremists in part because there is “no typical profile” of those seeking to join the fight, Federal Bureau of Investigation Director James Comey said on Monday. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)

The United States plans to impose tightened screening measures on travelers from European countries and other allied nations amid growing concern over the rising number of Islamist militants who have fought in Syria and hold Western passports, U.S. officials said. – Washington Post

Transfers of Guantanamo Bay detainees threaten national security. – The Hill’s Floor Action

Foreign Armies

Hundreds of Russian troops are still training and equipping separatists in Ukraine, NATO’s top military commander said Monday, activities that are heightening tensions with the West and Ukraine’s government that were aggravated by Sunday’s elections in the breakaway regions of eastern Ukraine. – New York Times

Taiwan will start building a new fleet of six mine counter measure (MCM) ships with help from Lockheed Martin and Italian shipbuilder Intermarine S.p.A., Lockheed announced last week during the EURONAVAL 2014 show in Paris. – USNI News

A Chinese airshow official has confirmed that China will unveil its stealthy J-31 fighter aircraft at China’s biggest commercial and defense airshow next week in Zhuhai, in the southern province of Guangdong near Hong Kong. – Defense News

Chengdu’s J-20 stealth fighter represents the pinnacle of China’s aerospace engineering, but its existence and development have posed mysteries since the unexpected appearance of the first prototype at the end of 2010, followed in May 2012 by the debut of a second, similar aircraft. – Aviation Week

A Libyan navy ship was hit and 13 people killed during heavy fighting with aircraft and tanks on Monday between the army and Islamist militants near the port of Benghazi, residents of the Mediterranean city said. – Reuters

Pakistan and India on Monday held their popular nightly military parade at the main border crossing between the two countries, reversing an earlier decision to cancel the event after a suicide bombing the day before killed dozens on the Pakistani side of the checkpoint. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)

Two retired generals who led Turkey’s armed forces at the time of an alleged 2003 coup plot told a retrial of hundreds of officers on Monday that they knew of no plans to topple then-Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan. – Reuters

Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait are discussing the creation of a military pact to take on Islamic militants, with the possibility of a joint force to intervene around the Middle East, The Associated Press has learned. – Associated Press

Singapore will contribute military personnel and aerial-refueling equipment to the international effort fighting Islamic State in the Middle East, the city-state’s defense minister said Monday. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)

Saudi Arabia and Iran have offered apparently competing aid packages to Lebanon’s small and modestly armed military as it confronts rising attacks at home by militants with ties to extremists fighting in Syria’s civil war. – Washington Post

Shehab and others in his battalion describe Iraq’s security forces as poorly led and sparsely equipped, with soldiers suspicious of commanders and uncertain they would get enough food, water and ammunition in the heat of battle. Discipline is ragged, men disappear or go on leave at will, and commanders list “ghost soldiers” while collecting their paychecks, they said. – Los Angeles Times

The Pentagon on Monday sought to play down the significance of reports that two moderate Syrian rebel groups, armed by the United States, had surrendered to an al Qaeda affiliate. – The Hill

Iraqi Kurdish peshmerga fighters and moderate Syrian rebels bombarded Islamic State positions in Kobani on Monday, but it was unclear if their arrival would turn the tide in the battle for the besieged Syrian border town. – Reuters

Fighters from al Qaeda’s Syrian branch have advanced along a northern area bordering Turkey after driving out several moderate factions from longtime strongholds, rebels said, complicating the U.S. effort to recruit and train the Syrian opposition battling Islamic State and trying to oust President Bashar al-Assad. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)

Fighters linked to al-Qaeda massed near a key Turkish border crossing Monday as they closed in on U.S.-backed rebels who were routed from their main bases in northern Syria over the weekend, in a major setback for Washington’s Syria strategy. – Washington Post

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Defense Briefing Friday

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel acknowledged for the first time Thursday that the U.S.-led airstrikes against the Islamic State are benefiting Syrian President Bashar Assad — highlighting a strategy that sources close to the White House say was hotly contested by some of President Obama’s national security advisers. – Washington Times

An American drone strike killed at least six militants early Thursday in the South Waziristan tribal region of Pakistan, a senior Pakistani security official said. – New York Times

American airstrikes have killed thousands of Islamic State terrorists and destroyed scores of vehicles and buildings, but the administration acknowledges it’s still losing the information war. – Politico

The U.S. military has begun classifying its summaries of the Afghan national security forces’ capabilities, an action which denies the public insight into their readiness as the U.S. withdraws most of its troops by year end, according to a government watchdog. – Bloomberg

Former US Defense Secretary Robert Gates ripped Washington on Thursday over sequestration budget caps, saying Congress’ inability to reach a budget compromise was causing “grave damage” to the US military, homeland security and other essential government operations. – Defense News

The Pentagon’s top weapons buyer is meeting with a leading industry group and several top defense CEOs over the weekend to talk through his latest acquisition reform initiative. – Defense News

In the conference room where the F-35 program makes its biggest decisions two signs mark the wall. They count down the days to Initial Operational Capability of the F-35 for the Marines and for the Air Force: 244 days for the Marines and 641 for the Air Force. While the Marine date is still doable — though Bogdan concedes it will be tight — the Air Force date is the most threatened. – Breaking Defense

Lockheed Martin Corp. (LMT)’s latest contract for 43 F-35 fighters has a value of about $4.55 billion, with prospects for a deal for as many as 153 more aircraft about a year from now, according to the Pentagon. – Bloomberg

The Pentagon has signed an agreement with Pratt & Whitney for the eighth lot of F135 engines to power the F-35 joint strike fighter. – Defense News

Today’s U.S. power-projection forces, and those currently planned for the future, will not be able to operate effectively or efficiently against anti-access/area-denial (A2AD) weapons and doctrine being developed by China and other adversaries, according to a new report by the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments (CSBA) that details a new approach to defense strategy known as Third Offset. – Aviation Week

Military facilities around the U.S. are on alert, urging troops and their families to take precautions amid continued threats of violence from the Islamic State group. – Military Times

The Navy is upgrading its suite of electronic warfare technology currently on surface ships across the fleet in order to keep pace with emerging threats, service officials said. – DOD Buzz

The Antares rocket destroyed in a fireball off a Virginia launchpad could speed efforts by the U.S. space industry to end its reliance on Russian-made engines, Boeing Co. (BA)’s defense chief said. – Bloomberg

[Video Interview]: The National Interest’s Managing Editor, Harry J. Kazianis, spoke with James Jay Carafano, a vice president of the Heritage Foundation, on the size of the defense budget – The National Interest

Top military leaders in the Pentagon and in the field are growing increasingly frustrated by the tight constraints the White House has placed on the plans to fight ISIS and train a new Syrian rebel army. – The Daily Beast

Foreign Armies

British Defence Minister Michael Fallon said Thursday he raised a $12 billion fighter jet deal being negotiated by French company Dassault during talks with his Indian counterpart. – AFP

A Chinese intelligence unit carried out a massive cyber espionage program that stole vast quantities of data from governments, businesses and other organizations, security analysts who uncovered the operation said Thursday. – Washington Free Beacon

China’s submarine fleet made its first known trip into the Indian Ocean, according to a report by the Wall Street Journal. A Chinese attack submarine passed through the Straits of Malacca between Malaysia and Indonesia with sightings near Sri Lanka and the Persian Gulf. – Defense Tech

Lebanese troops detained 50 people in raids on towns and Syrian refugee camps in the north of the country, the army said on Thursday, part of a security crackdown after battles with Islamist gunmen over the weekend. – Reuters

Norway’s prime minister says her country will send 120 soldiers this year to join the international campaign against Islamic State militants in Iraq and help train local troops there. Another 75 Norwegian soldiers will go to Afghanistan next year. – Associated Press

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and Gen. Martin Dempsey gave mixed reviews Thursday to the progress made by U.S. and Iraq forces in the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). – Military.com

Bombing runs by the Syrian air force over the past 10 days have killed at least 221 civilians, a third of them children, a group monitoring Syria’s civil war said on Thursday. – Reuters

U.S. military leaders want to expand the advise-and-assist mission into Iraq’s Anbar province and put combat advisers on the ground to help support the fight against Islamic State militants. But that won’t happen until they get support from the Shiite-led government in Baghdad. – Military Times

More than 1,000 foreign fighters are streaming into Syria each month, a rate that has so far been unchanged by airstrikes against the Islamic State and efforts by other countries to stem the flow of departures, according to U.S. intelligence and counterterrorism officials. – Washington Post

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Tuesday Defense Briefing

The cost of the military campaign against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) is crossing the $1 billion mark, according to a group that tracks federal spending. – The Hill

Lockheed Martin has reached an agreement with the Pentagon to procure the eighth lot of F-35 joint strike fighters, including the first stealthy jets for Israel and Japan. – Defense News

Swarms of highly intelligent militarized robots are predicted to hit the battlefield in the near future and could spark a modern day arms race, according to a report released Monday by the Center for a New American Security (CNAS). – Washington Free Beacon

The US government helped facilitate the sale of $34.2 billion worth of defense equipment to allies during fiscal 2014, the Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) announced on Monday, a slight uptick from the roughly $30 billion in sales in 2013. – Defense News

The Navy’s recent decision to swap two scheduled aircraft carrier deployments revealed a problem plaguing the service: After years of conflict in the Middle East, its aging fleet of warships has been overtasked and under-cared for, leading to a growing maintenance backlog that threatens its ability to respond to future threats. – Virginian Pilot

The Navy is outfitting a prototype Virginia-class attack submarine platform with a series of upgrades designed to improve sonar detection and make boats less detectable and more stealthy. – Defense Tech

Foreign Armies

Talks are gathering pace on the sale of Indian naval patrol vessels to Vietnam, an Indian official said, the first significant military transfer to Hanoi as it improves its defenses in the South China Sea where it is embroiled in a territorial dispute with China. – Reuters

Pakistan’s army says its jets have killed at least 18 militants as part of an ongoing offensive to eliminate militants’ hideouts and ammunition stockpiles in the Khyber tribal region. – Associated Press

Rafael Ltd. is developing ship-based versions of Iron Dome, the system credited with intercepting nearly 90 percent of the thousands of Gaza-launched rockets designated as direct threats to the Israeli home front in last summer’s 50-day war. – Defense News

Hezbollah has won grudging respect, even from some foes, for its tenacious guerrilla campaigns against Israel. But now Lebanon’s most powerful military organization is losing its aura of invincibility. – Washington Post

Poland is planning a major realignment of its military structure because of the conflict in neighboring Ukraine, the country’s defense minister said Monday, a move that could shift thousands of troops to its eastern border. – Associated Press

French shipbuilder DCNS is awaiting the government’s decision on whether to deliver a Mistral-class helicopter carrier to Russia, but the company has not drawn up contingency plans for the warship, Chairman Hervé Guillou said Monday. – Defense News

The man steering a revived Royal Navy is Adm. Sir George Zambellas, the First Sea Lord, who has made capability and readiness his mantra and increased cooperation with the US a top priority. – Defense News

The War

Islamist insurgency Boko Haram has kidnapped scores of mostly young people in Nigeria over the past week, part of a forced-recruitment campaign that is escalating even as the government says it is in peace talks with the group. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)

France’s defense minister on Monday criticized the slow deployment of U.N. peacekeepers in Mali’s volatile northern region, saying the delay had encouraged a fresh wave of Islamist militant attacks there. – Reuters

South Sudan government forces and rebel troops clashed in oil-rich Unity State on Monday, President Salva Kiir said, days before the two sides are to hold talks to end a 10-month conflict that has ravaged the world’s youngest nation. – Reuters

The killing last Thursday of eight Shia Muslims in the southwestern city of Quetta also prompted an uncomfortable question: Is Pakistan poised to become the next target for militants belonging to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, commonly known as Isis? – Financial Times

Four Taliban insurgents dressed in police uniforms stormed government offices in the northern provincial capital of Kunduz on Monday, killing eight people and wounding 10 others amid a sustained offensive that has put residents and the security forces under siege. – New York Times

The Lebanese army took the last position held by Islamist militants in the northern city of Tripoli on Monday, ending two days of battles that marked some of the worst fighting to spill over into Lebanon from the Syrian civil war next door. – Reuters

Jordanian security forces arrested influential al Qaeda spiritual guide Abu Mohammad al Maqdisi on Monday on suspicion of fomenting terrorism on the Internet, security sources said. – Reuters

A Saudi court in Riyadh on Monday sentenced three lawyers to up to eight years in jail after they criticized the Ministry of Justice on Twitter. The lawyers were also hit with travel bans of varying lengths and an indefinite ban on appearing in the media or using social networking websites. – WSJ’s Middle East Real Time

Fighting in central Yemen between Shiite Houthi rebels and an influential tribe in the town of Radda killed at least 250 people over three days of clashes, security officials said Monday. – Associated Press

The Islamic State has put in place a far-reaching and well-organized system for recruiting children, indoctrinating them with the group’s extremist beliefs, and then teaching them rudimentary fighting skills. The militants are preparing for a long war against the West, and hope the young warriors being trained today will still be fighting years from now. – Foreign Policy

Two car bombings in Iraq, including one where a suicide attacker drove a Humvee into a checkpoint manned by Iraqi troops and pro-government Shiite militiamen, killed at least 38 people Monday, authorities said. – Associated Press

Islamist militants linked to al Qaeda entered Idlib in northern Syria on Monday and opened up a new front in a city that has been controlled by President Bashar al-Assad’s forces for more than a year, both sides said. – Reuters



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Monday Defense Briefing

Top U.S. military planners want to expand the limited advise-and-assist mission in Iraq and are talking to allied partner nations about potentially putting non-American troops on the ground to help support the fight against Islamic State group militants, according to several military officials. – Military Times

As the counteroffensive against the Islamic State enters a more aggressive phase in Iraq, allied airstrikes will also intensify. American officials say they fully expect that the push will bring out more proof of the jihadists’ antiaircraft abilities, with potentially serious consequences for how the Iraqis and their coalition partners wage their war. – New York Times

Elite Army Green Berets are knocking the performance of the Afghan National Army, telling war tales of its soldiers hiding and quitting the fight. – Washington Times

The odds of rolling back the sequester are improving with the fight against Islamic militants and the possibility that Republicans will control the Senate, budget experts and defense firm analysts say. – The Hill

If sequestration budget cuts remain in effect, the Army will take a $14 billion hit in 2016, jeopardizing modernization and its ability to respond to a major conflict, Army officials told reporters Friday. – Defense News

The US military must prepare for murky, undeclared wars in which foreign entities use proxy insurgencies against established governments, typified by Russia and Iran, US Army Special Operations Command (USASOC) writes in a new white paper. – Defense News

The civilian team at the top of the Pentagon’s acquisition structure is charging in several directions at once, pushing initiatives aimed at revamping how the building thinks through technology development, shares those burdens with allies and finds the next leap-ahead capability. – Defense News

Before the Navy’s oldest active aircraft carrier docks for a 16-month maintenance period, it’s helping other ships get ready for deployment, and next month, will host the first landing of the F-35C on a carrier. – Stars and Stripes

The U.S. commander in South Korea on Friday praised the vital close air support role performed by the A-10 Thunderbolt in deterring North Korean aggression but backed the Air Force decision to retire the aircraft. – DOD Buzz

For the first time, one Navy ship shot down a simulated cruise missile — two of them in a row, actually — that its own radars couldn’t see, relying entirely on data relayed from another vessel – Breaking Defense

The U.S. Navy is starting early preparation work to design a new nuclear attack submarine to replace the Virginia-class boats (SSN-774) in the 2030s. The new attack boat would become operational in 2044 after the last Block VII Virginias are built. – USNI News

The Navy said it will deploy enlisted female sailors in 2016 aboard submarines with female officers already assigned to them. – Military.com

The Navy’s newest attack submarine was commissioned Saturday at Naval Submarine Base New London, where 2,400 guests gathered to welcome USS North Dakota to the fleet and salute its crew. – Associated Press

James Jay Carafano writes: Americans don’t want the world’s cheapest military. They want a military that can defend their interests and deliver a dollar of capability for a dollar invested. That’s the standard our government should aim to achieve. – The National Interest

The War

A dozen Nobel Peace Prize laureates are urging President Obama to make “full disclosure to the American people of the extent and use of torture” by the United States, including the release of a long-delayed Senate report about the C.I.A.’s torture of terrorism suspects after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. – New York Times

At first glance, the attack outside a Queens department store seemed simply the act of a deranged man acting alone. But to a growing number of local and national law-enforcement officials, the attack represented terrorism inspired by extremist websites and social media that exhorts alienated people to take up the cause with acts of violence. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) on Sunday described the threat of lone wolf terrorists as “huge,” and getting worse. – The War

Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein warned on Sunday that police and military personnel should be “on guard” for lone wolf attacks inspired by Islamic jihad. – The War

Aly Salem writes: Unfortunately, you can’t kill an idea with a bomb, and so Islamism will continue to propagate. Muslims must tolerate civilized public debate of the texts and scripture that inform Islamism. To demand any less of us is to engage in the soft bigotry of low expectations. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)

Foreign Armies

India has chosen to buy anti-tank guided missiles from Israel, rejecting a rival US offer, as the right-wing government clears projects worth $13.1 billion to modernize its aging military, official sources said Sunday. – AFP

China’s growing fleet of nuclear-missile submarines poses a delicate question: Can a highly centralized communist system entrust a submarine commander to carry nuclear weapons far from China’s shores? – Wall Street Journal

Japan’s response to Chinese anti-access/area-denial threats rest on three planks: increasingly large helicopter carriers, next-generation 3,300-ton Soryu-class submarines and new Aegis destroyers. – Defense News

Taiwan is moving ahead with plans to build its own submarines, with an initial design to be completed by the year-end, after lengthy delays in getting eight vessels under a 2001 U.S. defense deal and as China’s navy expands rapidly. – Reuters

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