Tuesday Defense Briefing

The Air Force has flown a large majority of all airstrikes in Iraq and Syria, with the mission expected to change as Islamic State fighters adjust to the aerial bombardment. – Defense News

The kid gloves appear to be fully removed from the F-22 Raptor, with a US Air Force general indicating Monday that the fifth-generation fighter will be available for future operations over Syria for the foreseeable future. – Defense News

The Pentagon on Monday said they had no evidence yet of any civilian casualties from airstrikes targeting Islamic militants in Syria. – The Hill

The US Marine Corps is preparing to deploy about 2,100 grunts to be based out of Kuwait in a new unit configuration designed to respond to crises in the region, according to Corps officials. – Defense News

House Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers (R-Ky.) on Monday said potential across-the-board spending cuts at the Pentagon next year could be problematic as the U.S. battles the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS). – The Hill

Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) is blasting President Obama’s call for cuts to defense spending, arguing they would “devastate” the Pentagon at a time of war. – The Hill

As the United States steps up its battle against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL or ISIS), defense leaders on Capitol Hill are raising concerns about a looming shortage in the Tomahawk missile supply, a key offensive weapon that the Navy has deployed against militant strongholds in Syria and elsewhere. – Washington Free Beacon

Female soldiers have until Dec. 1 to volunteer to attend Ranger School this spring as part of an assessment to determine whether and how to open combat arms military occupational specialties to women. – Military Times

Joint military exercises between the United States Navy and its Philippine counterpart kicked off on Monday in Palawan, the island closest to contested areas of the South China Sea. – New York Times

The War

This month, as officials in the administration trumpet new warnings about “credible” threats to the United States homeland, the long-ignored role of America’s primary terror alert system is under serious scrutiny for the first time. – Foreign Policy’s The Cable

Australian police said they had raided a number of properties around the southern city of Melbourne on Tuesday, part of a security crackdown on radical Islamists authorities believe are planning attacks in the country. – Reuters

The administration is seeking to close a court hearing into the government’s treatment of a Guantanamo Bay prisoner, saying that much of the information about the man is classified. He has gone on a hunger strike and is protesting force-feeding procedures administered by his jailers. – Associated Press

Perhaps Washington needs to stop making such a stark distinction between whether U.S. forces are on the ground or not in threatened countries. What matters is not so much whether they are there as what they are doing. If they are building the foundations for effective indigenous defenses or strengthening ties to local leaders, then “boots on the ground” may be the best way of avoiding the need for much bigger commitments. – RealClearDefense


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Monday Defense Briefing

As the price tag for operations in Iraq, Syria and West Africa continues to grow, Pentagon leadership insists that it is well prepared to pay for all of these previously unforeseen long-term operations. Part of the reason is that the building has been able to shift money around within its overseas contingency operations (OCO) supplemental budget, and is already working with Congress to make sure that more funding is on the way. – Defense News

The Pentagon has been pegging the operations against the terror group known as ISIL at $7 million to $10 million a day. If you extrapolate that across a year it comes very close to the $3.8 billion estimate that Todd Harrison of the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments has come up with in a new report estimating how much the American taxpayer will pay to “degrade and destroy ISIL.” – Breaking Defense

One US senator says America’s war against a violent Sunni group should lead Congress to address sequestration, but his comments suggest a deal remains elusive. – Defense News

Force-wide morale is “quite low” and sailors don’t trust senior leaders to handle the problems facing the Navy, from long and unpredictable deployments to tight budgets and proposed pay changes. Those are the key findings of an alarming new independent survey, launched and bankrolled by a career fighter pilot on a mission to alert Navy leaders to what he and colleagues see as a coming retention crisis, where fed-up sailors vote with their feet. – Military Times

The futuristic shape of the Zumwalt, DDG 1000, has become familiar after more than a decade of graphics presentations and artist drawings, and models of the destroyer have been a staple at naval expositions for years. But now the whole ship is coming together…She’ll take to the sea for the first time in the spring. – Defense News

“Everybody’s got to change.” That’s the message from Army Gen. David Perkins, about everything from concepts to training to weapons programs…The largest — and often slowest to change — of the armed services now faces a fast-paced and unpredictable world where its bureaucracy just can’t keep up, said Perkins. In particular, he said, “the acquisition-requirements process…is not going to be able to deliver what we need when we need it in the future.” – Breaking Defense

Congress needs to think anew about the national defense. The military’s readiness and ability to respond do not turn on a dime. It takes time, partnership and money to reverse. – Breaking Defense

The War

An American drone strike in northwestern Pakistan killed at least four people suspected of being militants, Pakistani officials said Sunday. – New York Times

The release of the Senate Intelligence Committee’s report on “enhanced interrogation” techniques has been delayed again, this time until late October, according to an aide to Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.). – The Hill

The rise of Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, just as the Taliban are plotting a comeback in Afghanistan, has ignited a shadowy feud within the jihadist universe: Which “emir of the believers” is the real McCoy? – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)

Police in western India have arrested 140 people after two men were stabbed during violence between Hindus and Muslims that left more than a dozen injured and was triggered by an image posted on Facebook, officials said on Monday. – Reuters

French prosecutors Saturday filed preliminary charges of terrorism against three suspected jihadists returning from Syria, as France struggles to handle the scores of people coming back from the war-torn region who may have been radicalized. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)

A splinter group of Al Qaeda said that it fired a rocket that landed near the United States Embassy in Sana on Saturday, wounding several guards, to retaliate for what it said was an American drone strike in a northern province of Yemen on Friday. – New York Times

Shiite rebels in Yemen who overran much of the capital signed a security deal on Saturday that stipulates disarmament and withdrawal from areas they have seized in recent months. – Associated Press

A suicide bomber linked to Al Qaeda drove a car filled with explosives into a hospital used as a base by Yemen’s Shiite Muslim Houthi movement on Sunday, killing at least 15 people, officials said. – Reuters

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Friday Defense Briefing

The U.S. military is carrying out an average of five strikes a day against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) since the campaign began in August, according to the Pentagon. – The Hill

The Pentagon on Thursday predicted Islamic militants will try to adapt to U.S. airstrikes in Syria and said the U.S. air campaign could be complicated by the group’s ability to blend into civilian populations. – The Hill

The 1st Infantry Division headquarters will deploy to Iraq in the coming weeks as the U.S. expands its war against the Islamic State, officials announced Thursday. – Military Times

U.S. lawmakers and the wider American public do not understand why it is important to win land wars because the Army has a hard time explaining it, said retired Lt. Gen. David Barno. – Military Times

Though reluctant to reduce military training to a bumper sticker, the Army’s top doctrine commander on Thursday chose “win in a complex world” as the most succinct expression of his approach to future warfare preparations. – Defense One

The F-35 joint strike fighter is on track to conduct trials aboard a US Navy aircraft carrier in November, but there are still variables as to what may be tested, the program’s top official said – Defense News

There are no political wolves moving to sink their teeth into the Pentagon’s F-35 fighter program, despite a speckled past, says one veteran US senator. – Defense News

Sierra Nevada Corp. (SNC) and Embraer have delivered the first A-29 Super Tucano to the US Air Force, with company officials pledging Embraer’s Jacksonville, Florida, facility will produce the remainder of its order on time. – Defense News

A small number of immigrants living in the U.S. illegally will have an opportunity to join the military for the first time in decades under a new Defense Department policy unveiled Thursday. – Military Times

Two safety violations by civilian workers have prompted the Navy to suspend most nuclear work at Norfolk Naval Shipyard. – Associated Press

The paucity of carriers where they are—or might soon be—needed is a here-and-now crisis. But it is congruent with, and a harbinger of, the strategic crisis that will unfold if the political will cannot be found to build the U.S. attack submarine fleet at a rate to assure, at a minimum, its current strength over the next three decades, as events around the globe point toward a darkening future. – The Weekly Standard

A Marine Corps civilian who wrote a scathing internal report arguing that the Corps could have saved hundreds of lives by approving a 2005 request for Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles in Iraq has won his whistle blower compliant. – Military Times

The head of U.S. Pacific Command said the bombing campaign against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria isn’t slowing down or impacting U.S. military operations in the Pacific theater or thwarting its momentum to continue a rebalance of equipment and forces to the region. – Military.com

The War

Zawahiri’s involvement reflects his own unwillingness to step away from a movement that in recent years has often seemed to evolve without him. But it also underscores how much remains unfinished for the United States in the conflict with al-Qaeda, even in Afghanistan and Pakistan, after 13 years of war. – Washington Post

The idea that there is a geographically confined “core” of al Qaeda is undermined by a mountain of evidence. Al Qaeda is still a cohesive international network of personalities and organizations. The details of al Qaeda’s plotting in Syria make this clear. And, according to the administration itself, al Qaeda was close to striking the West once again. – The Weekly Standard

Members of the Taliban torched an estimated 60 homes and beheaded 12 civilians — all of whom are believed to have been relatives of police — in an assault in the eastern portion of Afghanistan, in the Ghazni province. – Washington Times

As Taliban fighters kill a growing number of Afghan soldiers, the country’s leaders are blaming Pakistan, an accusation that has sent the neighbors’ relations to one of the lowest points in more than a decade. – Washington Post

Yemen freed at least three suspected Iranian Revolutionary Guard members on Thursday who had been held for months over alleged ties to a Shi’ite Muslim insurgent group that has seized control of much of the capital Sanaa, a senior official said. – Reuters

Foreign Armies East

France carried out a fresh round of airstrikes in Iraq Thursday as it renewed its determination to fight Islamic State jihadists after the beheading of hostage Herve Gourdel. – AFP

Iran has built a drone equipped with missiles to shoot down aircraft, according to the semi-official news agency Fars. – Military Times

The commanding officer of Colombia’s military forces made a quiet appearance at the Pentagon on Thursday for talks with Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Martin E. Dempsey — a rare face-to-face between the highest-level uniformed commanders from the two nations, military officials said. – Washington Times

Land Mines

The administration has banned the U.S. military from using anti-personnel landmines in a unilateral decision that goes against warnings from top military leaders and many in Congress. – Washington Free Beacon

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Thursday Defense Briefing

44 charted a muscular new course for the United States in a turbulent world, telling the United Nations General Assembly in a bluntly worded speech that the American military would work with allies to dismantle the Islamic State’s “network of death” and warning Russia that it would pay for its bullying of Ukraine. – New York Times

Read the text of the President’s remarks to the U.N. General Assembly – The White House

The U.S. and Arab allies launched a second major wave of airstrikes in Syria targeting mobile oil refineries controlled by Islamic State, the Pentagon said. – Wall Street Journal

U.S. missile strikes against an obscure al-Qaeda cell in Syria killed at least one of the group’s leaders, delivering what U.S. officials described as a significant but not decisive blow to a terrorist group accused of plotting attacks against Europe and the United States. – Washington Post

A key US senator believes Congress will pass a Pentagon policy bill this year, but he cast further doubt on the upper chamber ever taking up its own version of the legislation. – Defense News

Sustainment estimates for the F-35 joint strike fighter may not be realistic and require further study before a plan is finalized, the government’s watchdog wrote in a new report. – Defense News

In line with the US Marine Corps’ new strategy document, “Expeditionary Force 21,” future amphibious assaults could be launched 65 to 100 miles from shore, with small landing teams exploiting gaps in enemy defenses. Gone are the days of deploying a large contingent across a beach, moving them from ship to shore in a major assault. – Defense News

US Marine Corps’ officials told reporters they are very focused on sea basing, particularly as a means of dealing with the “anti-access, area denial” problem. – Defense News

New equipment being developed by the Marine Corps Warfighting Lab is tailor-made to fit inside the service’s most expeditionary aircraft — the MV-22B Osprey. – Defense News

The U.S. Navy’s MQ-4C Triton unmanned aircraft program could be cut – not due to draconian budget changes but because of the aircraft’s own higher-than-expected reliability. – Aviation Week

Hagel’s choice in Kendall to deliver the remarks he had already penned is the latest in a series of actions that demonstrates the close relationship two have developed over the past year, defense officials close to both men say. – Defense One

The War

A new security agreement authorizing the presence of American forces in Afghanistan after 2014 will be signed just days after the nation’s new president is inaugurated on Monday, a senior State Department official said Wednesday. – New York Times

A suspected U.S. drone fired four missiles at a vehicle carrying Uzbek and local militants in Pakistan’s northwestern tribal region near the Afghan border on Wednesday, killing 10 of them, two Pakistani intelligence officials said. – Associated Press

The United Nations Security Council demanded Wednesday that members nations make it harder for would-be terrorists to travel abroad to join extremist groups, or use their home-country passports to return and carry out attacks. – Washington Post

The Treasury Department on Wednesday imposed sanctions on 11 people and one entity it said were sending financial and other support to terrorist groups, including the Islamic State. – New York Times

The FBI and the Department of Homeland Security on Tuesday issued an intelligence bulletin to local law enforcement urging vigilance in the wake of U.S. airstrikes launched in Syria. – The Hill’s Floor Action

Al Qaeda, wary of being upstaged by even more ruthless Islamic State fighters, may try to show its relevance by carrying out attacks in Europe, the United States or Israel, the European Union’s counter-terrorism coordinator said on Wednesday. – Reuters

President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi has warned Yemenis their country is heading toward civil war after the takeover of the capital by Shi’ite Muslim rebels, a move that has allowed the insurgents to dictate terms to a weakened, fractured government. – Reuters

Foreign Armies East

France on Thursday opened the door to possibly joining air strikes in Syria just hours after an Algerian Islamist group beheaded a French tourist in retaliation for Paris’ military action against Islamic State militants in Iraq. – Reuters

The Netherlands on Wednesday agreed to participate in the U.S.-led military campaign against Sunni militant group Islamic State, saying it would join airstrikes in Iraq, though not in Syria. – Wall Street Journal

A top Iranian general and 70 of his forces were on the ground in Iraq this summer, helping Kurdish fighters defend the regional capital Irbil against Islamic State militants, a senior commander from Iran’s Revolutionary Guard said Wednesday. – Associated Press

Around 200 Iraqi soldiers were trapped in an army camp in western Iraq on Wednesday, besieged by Islamic State militants who routed hapless army forces in a raid on a base close to Baghdad at the weekend. – Reuters

South Korea has finalized a deal with the US government to buy 40 F-35As built by Lockheed Martin, the Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) announced Wednesday. – Defense News

Russia has withdrawn a large number of troops from Ukraine, but maintains a significant force near the border that could quickly re-enter the country, NATO officials said Wednesday. – New York Times

The Philippine military said Thursday that there were no ties between domestic extremist organizations and the Islamic State, despite a threat by local rebels to kill two German captives if Germany continues to support the United States-led military campaign against the group, also known as ISIS. – New York Times

A war plane attacked a port in Benghazi on Wednesday in a strike claimed by forces loyal to former general Khalifa Haftar, bringing their battle against Islamists to the heart of the eastern Libyan city. – Reuters

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Wednesday Defense Briefing

The F-22 Raptor has flown its first combat operation, a major milestone for the small air dominance fleet. – Defense News

U.S. military leaders said Tuesday their aerial bombardment of Syria was only the beginning of a prolonged campaign that will continue intermittently for months and will become more difficult as targeted militants seek refuge in populated areas. – Washington Post

American forces took advantage of the airstrikes against the Islamic State extremist group in Syria to try to simultaneously wipe out the leadership of an unrelated cell of veterans of Al Qaeda, who were said to be plotting an imminent attack against the United States or Europe, officials said Tuesday. – New York Times

As the U.S. expands its war against the Islamic State, the Army is preparing to deploy a division headquarters to Iraq. – Military Times

The Army’s new vice chief expects in 2016 that sequestration will once again rear its ugly head, and that means thousands more force-cuts in the service. – Army Times

The Pentagon should improve its cost estimates for sustaining a Joint Strike Fighter jet that’s expected to replace a number of military aircraft in the next four years, a government report said Tuesday. – The Hill

While Rolls-Royce has completed a successful flight test of its new engine upgrade for the V-22, it is unclear whether the US Marine Corps will pursue a re-engine plan. – Defense News

Two vehicle manufacturers are banking on their stripped-down, jeep-like, ultra-light vehicle offerings, on display at Modern Day Marine this week. – Defense News

Boeing Co. is planning for an era in which it no longer builds fighter jets, according to a news report. – Military.com

It can be argued that the U.S. is unlikely to face simultaneous conflicts in four regions of the world. But it is already evident that this country’s interests and friends are threatened by well-armed competitors, if not outright adversaries, in at least three. Can the U.S. afford to become just another regional power? Which region would you choose to ignore when the crises multiply? – RealClearDefense

The United States will limit its use of antipersonnel mines to the Korean Peninsula and will destroy its other stockpiles, but cannot yet support a total ban because of the “unique circumstances” of the tensions with North Korea, U.S. officials said Tuesday. – Washington Post

The War

The Islamic State group on Tuesday paraded Iraqi troops captured in battle earlier this week in a militant stronghold west of Baghdad, residents said. – Associated Press

A U.S. drone strike killed at least five suspected militants near the Afghan border in northwestern Pakistan on Wednesday, intelligence officials said, amid a rise in such attacks since after the military announced an anti-Taliban offensive. – Reuters

Al-Qaeda linked militants in the southern Philippines have threatened to kill two Germans hostages they have been holding since April unless Germany stops supporting U.S. action against Islamic State militants, the SITE monitoring service said. – Reuters

Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah rejected on Tuesday the U.S.-led coalition against the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL or ISIS), despite the Lebanese terror group’s own violent opposition to ISIL. – Washington Free Beacon

The leader of a Shi’ite rebel group on Tuesday hailed the takeover by his fighters of much of the Yemeni capital after four days of fighting last week as a “successful revolution” for all citizens. – Reuters

With a landmark judgment on Monday declaring Arab Bank liable for knowingly supporting terrorism, the case now turns to another complicated calculation: the cost of that liability. – New York Times

Osama bin Laden’s son-in-law was sentenced in life in prison Tuesday for conspiring to kill Americans. – The Hill’s Briefing Room

A United Nations Security Council committee blacklisted on Tuesday more than a dozen foreign extremist fighters, fundraisers and recruiters tied to militant groups in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Tunisia and Yemen, including a senior Islamic State leader. – Reuters

Foreign Armies East

A proposed $4.8 billion sale to Iraq of the latest Apache AH-64E helicopter may have fallen through because Baghdad failed to sign an offer made by the US government for 24 of the aircraft. – Defense News

Russia plans to add 80 new warships to its Black Sea fleet by 2020 and expects to have construction on a new naval base near the city of Novorossiysk completed by 2016. – Washington Times

Jordan was compelled to join US airstrikes against the Islamic State (IS) in Syria after the government uncovered a number of militants crossing its border with Iraq, a Jordanian government source told Defense News. – Defense News

The five Arab states who participated in Tuesday’s early morning strikes against Islamic State targets in Syria remained muted about their roles in the attacks, underlining the political sensitivities of being seen to ally with the U.S. or Syrian regimes. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)

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Tuesday Defense Briefing


The United States and five Arab allies launched a wide-ranging air campaign against the Islamic State and at least one other extremist group in Syria for the first time early Tuesday, targeting the groups’ bases, training camps and checkpoints in at least four provinces, according to the United States military and Syrian activists. – New York Times

The first U.S. airstrikes inside Syria, announced by the Pentagon on Monday night, went beyond hitting the Islamic State militant group, also targeting a second extremist group that U.S. officials say represents a more direct threat to the U.S. homeland. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)

As American airstrikes began raining down on the de facto capital of the Islamic State in Syria on Monday night, the militant group issued a new installment in its “lecture series” delivered by a British hostage, John Cantlie. – New York Times

The extremist group Islamic State will drive the United States to its “death, grave and destruction,” a spokesman for the militants declared in a recording that also called on Muslims living in the West to kill civilians. – Los Angeles Times

Some of an estimated 100 Americans who have traveled to the Middle East and joined terrorist organizations like the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) have returned to the United States, a senior administration official said Monday. – The Hill


The Pentagon is deploying 300 airmen and 12 A-10 combat jets to the Middle East in early October, according to the Indiana Air National Guard. – The Hill

The Pentagon is proposing significant changes to how it develops and buys new weapons, but some in the industry say the biggest hurdle to success could lie in the agency’s own staff. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)

The F-35′s long-term costs may “not be affordable” and appear to be substantially higher than those of the existing combat aircraft fleets that the Joint Strike Fighter will replace, the Government Acocuntability Office says in a draft report. – Breaking Defense

Supporters of the A-10 “Warthog” fighter say the Pentagon should halt plans to scrap the jet, saying it is needed in the campaign against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS). – The Hill

Lawmakers have rejected the Pentagon’s request to shift as much as $1.5 billion in war spending to buy eight new Lockheed Martin Corp. F-35 jets and 21 additional Boeing Co. AH-64 Apache helicopters. – Bloomberg

Adm. Harry Harris is the president’s pick for the next head of U.S. Pacific Command, according to a Monday release from the Defense Department. – Defense News

Interview: Frank Kendall, US defense undersecretary for acquisition, technology and logistics, oversees hundreds of billions of dollars in procurement programs. On Sept. 19 he unveiled the first draft of his Better Buying Power 3.0 initiative that seeks to push the Pentagon and industry to collaborate more on projecting future needs and meeting them through closer collaboration. – Defense News


When Gen. Joe Dunford becomes commandant of the Marine Corps Oct. 17, he’ll inherit the last stages of a war and a host of uncertainties — about the Marine Corps’ future missions and role in national defense, its capabilities amid downsizing and budget cuts, and its physical requirements for service as new combat jobs open to women. – Defense News

The next few years will be rife with uncertainty for manpower planners and Marines in uniform. Current drawdown plans, which take across-the-board budget cuts into account, call for the service to shrink to 174,000 by the end of 2017. But, Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. Jim Amos recently ordered a force structure review that would detail exactly what the Marine Corps would look like if lawmakers on the Hill resolve sequestration and the service were able to maintain 182,000 Marines in uniform. – Defense News

The top general in charge of Marine Corps Combat Development Command sees uncertainty in the road ahead. One thing remains perfectly clear though: The force is heading back to its traditional role as the nation’s amphibious shock troops, which requires new vehicles, new gear and new ways of operating. – Defense News

Two-thirds of the Marines with HMM-364 will make the switch to the Corps’ newer tiltrotor aircraft, said Lt. Col. John Field, the squadron’s commanding officer. Most of the captains with the squadron are in the midst of training to fly the Osprey, Gibson said. They’re also making preparations for a change of command since they’ll get a new CO along with the MV-22s. – Defense News

The War

The United States and France are asking the United Nations Security Council to impose sanctions on as many as 15 suspected terrorist fighters, recruiters and fund-raisers, including some connected to the Islamic State, American officials said on Monday. – New York Times

A federal jury on Monday found Arab Bank liable for knowingly supporting terrorism efforts connected to two dozen attacks in the Middle East, the first time a bank has ever been held liable in a civil suit under a broad antiterrorism statute. – New York Times

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Monday Defense Briefing

A “small number” of U.S. ground forces will be needed to vanquish the threat of Islamic extremists galloping through the Middle East, former Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Sunday. – The Hill

The U.S.-led military campaign plan to retake Iraqi territory held by the Islamic State group calls for attacking the extremists from several directions simultaneously, and its success depends on getting more Arab help, the top American military officer said Sunday. – Associated Press

Gen. Ray Odierno, the Army chief of staff, said Friday it might be necessary to deploy more U.S. forces to Iraq beyond the 1,600 troops already there, warning that the fight against the Islamic State will intensify and could go on for years. – Washington Post

The Army’s highest-ranking officer on Friday said the rapid spread of threats around the world and growing demands on the U.S. military should prompt a review of deep cuts scheduled in the size of America’s ground forces. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)

Gen. Ray Odierno has gotten letters from some 40 members of Congress asking why they’re losing troops from their home districts. His answer: Look in the mirror. “I wrote back and I said, ‘The reason I’m taking soldiers out of the installation in your state is because of sequestration. Not that I want to do it.’ And that’s the dilemma we have.” – Politico

With new threats arising and complexity increasing as funding declines, Gen. Ray Odierno said, a new “Army Operating Concept” will help reorient the service for the post-Afghanistan era. – Breaking Defense

While the plan to keep new, unmanned Global Hawks over the aging manned U-2 has support among top Defense Department officials, the top combat general in the US Air Force says it is not the best military solution. – Defense News

The Pentagon’s top weapons buyer formally released a draft of his proposed new guidance for acquisition reform this morning, calling for a renewed focus on research and innovation to maintain the increasingly tenuous lead that the US holds in military technology over its adversaries. – Defense News

The consolidation of 26 standalone military bases into 12 joint facilities has not resulted in increased efficiency nor cost savings, the Government Accountability Office said in a report published today that suggested the Pentagon re-evaluate the project. – Defense One

September weekend drills for Army National Guard soldiers are back on track after a $101 million shortfall forced multiple states to postpone their training. – Military Times

The military is growing more “sensitive” under the Obama administration, Pentagon observers say, by relaxing long-standing restrictions on soldiers’ religious and personal liberties. – The Hill

Analysis: Congress again is hung up on a budget, but lawmakers have left town to fight the midterm elections, leaving the Pentagon to wait and see what happens in one budget year before it can nail down the next. Meanwhile, there’s work to do, and the US Navy has several major decision points coming up — questions that need to be decided regardless what Congress ultimately comes up with. – Defense News
The War

An Egyptian terrorism defendant pleaded guilty in Manhattan on Friday to charges that he had helped Osama bin Laden pass messages that claimed responsibility for the deadly 1998 bombings of two United States Embassies in East Africa and that issued new threats. But in an unusual step, the judge, Lewis A. Kaplan of Federal District Court, did not immediately accept the guilty plea, saying he wanted more information about the government’s decision to allow the defendant to plead guilty to three counts that carried a maximum sentence of 25 years. – New York Times

Nearly a quarter of Americans killed in action over 10 years—almost 1,000 men and women—died of wounds they could potentially have survived….The findings appeared in the Journal of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery in 2012 to almost no public attention. But in military medical circles, they have fueled a behind-the-scenes controversy that rages to this day over whether American men and women are dying needlessly—and whether the Pentagon is doing enough to keep them alive. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)


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Friday Defense Briefing

Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno believes that Iraqi ground forces, not U.S. troops, are needed to defeat Islamic State militants in Iraq, according to his spokeswoman. – Military Times

The Pentagon’s top leadership has approved an ambitious target list for U.S. airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel said Thursday, but President Obama has not signed off on the plan, adding a level of uncertainty to the military strategy. – Los Angeles Times

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and Secretary of State John Kerry faced a grilling from lawmakers in both parties Thursday as they defended 44’s strategy for fighting the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS). – The Hill

While the U.S. Air Force pursues development of the Long-Range Strike Bomber project, striving to launch full-scale development next year, both Russia and China are also proceeding with bomber plans. In the case of Russia, the PAK-DA (perspektivnyi aviatsionnyi kompleks dal’ney aviatsii, or future long-range air system) is the first all-new bomber to start development since the Tupolev Tu-160, in 1977, while China’s prospective new system would be the nation’s first indigenous bomber. – Aviation Week

At 7:53 a.m., one of the 131-foot wide [MQ-4C Triton] aircraft landed at Naval Air Station Patuxent River in Maryland following its first cross-country flight, the Navy said. The drone soared at heights of more than 50,000 feet at times; it departed from a facility in Palmdale, Calif., owned by its maker, Northrop Grumman, late Wednesday. – Washington Post’s Checkpoint

No need for troops to worry about the beginning of the fiscal year approaching Oct. 1. For the first time in years, the Defense Department is not expecting any major shocks at the official end of the bureaucratic calendar. – Military Times

“Strategic deterrence is more than the triad platforms,” the bombers, submarines, and ICBMs, Haney said. Other aspects — from EMP-proof communications to early warning satellites are equally important — and potentially as expensive. In particular, Haney said today, “moving forward with the replacement for the Air-Launched Cruise Missile [ALCM] is just as important as having a future bomber.” – Breaking Defense

Navy Secretary Ray Mabus has named the 19th Virginia-class attack sub after the “Freedom and Unity” state. The boat with hull number 792 is to be named the USS Vermont, to honor that state’s naval history, including the 1814 naval victory at the Battle of Lake Champlain that ended a British invasion of the mid-Atlantic states. – Military Times

A bipartisan group of congressmen have written a letter to 44 asking him to back funding for a new American-made rocket engine. – Defense News

Advanced munitions build on enduring Western asymmetric advantages and counter many of those our adversaries currently possess. They leverage the investments the military has made in long-range guns and payload capacity of our tactical and strategic aircraft. The Pentagon needs to continue to invest in developing the kinds of low-cost, precision projectiles and weapons that can turn the numbers game into one that favors our military. – RealClearDefense

Greater numbers, middling cost, a heavier punch in battle. That’s a major contribution from such humble craft. U.S. submariners’ diesel-propelled past could be, and should be, part of their future. – The National Interest

The State Department has made only limited progress in its pledge to boost the number of Marine security guards at high-threat diplomatic posts around the world, the agency’s internal watchdog said Thursday. – Associated Press

The War

Intercepted intelligence allegedly showing that Islamic State supporters may be planning to attack Australian lawmakers prompted a security alert Friday at the country’s parliament. – Wall Street Journal

Armed Shi’ite rebels shelled Yemen’s state-run television building in Sanaa on Friday and hundreds of residents were fleeing in a dramatic escalation of violence after weeks of fighting and protests in the capital, local officials said. – Reuters

Close to a thousand Syrian Kurds gathered on the border seeking to cross into Turkey on Friday after Islamic State fighters seized 21 villages and besieged a Kurdish city in northern Syria, a Reuters witness said. – Reuters

A series of attacks, including several bombings in commercial areas of Baghdad, killed at least 15 people in Iraq on Thursday, officials said. – Associated Press

What should the role of a bank be when it is forced to operate in areas torn apart by terrorist attacks? That was a central theme Thursday during closing arguments in a landmark terrorism-financing trial in Federal District Court in Brooklyn, pitting victims of terrorist attacks in the Middle East against Arab Bank. – New York Times

Foreign Armies East

French fighter jets embarked on their first airstrikes against militants of the Islamic State, President François Hollande said Friday, one day after he pledged to join the United States in its air war against the group in Iraq. – New York Times

An order for 20 Hawk advanced jet trainers for the Indian Air Force worth $333 million has been delayed as the file detailing the purchase has been misplaced, an Indian Defence Ministry source said. – Defense News

A North Korean patrol boat crossed a disputed western sea border with South Korea on Friday and retreated after warning shots were fired by the South Korean Navy, according to the South’s military. – New York Times

Syria has retained caches of combat-ready chemical weapons after giving up raw materials used to produce such munitions under pressure from foreign powers, a senior Israeli official said on Thursday. – Reuters

As Iraqi forces and various militias, backed by American airstrikes, have sought to beat back fighters calling themselves the Islamic State, Mr. Nujaifi has pursued his own military response, narrowly tailored toward reclaiming Mosul. He is trying to assemble a 3,000-person militia of mostly Sunni Muslims from Nineveh Province to deploy against the militant group, also known as ISIS. – New York Times 

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Thursday Defense Briefing

44 on Wednesday repeated his vow to destroy Islamist terrorists in Syria and Iraq, but he insisted that the United States would not go it alone and promised a military audience that he would not send them back into direct combat. – New York Times

Read the text of the open letter from Ambassadors Ford and Crocker and Generals Keane and Petraeus – House Armed Services Committee

The United States general who beat back Islamic extremists in Iraq in 2007 suggested on Wednesday that the battle against Islamic State jihadis would only succeed with the use of ground forces. – New York Times

A majority of Americans continue to say they want the United States to assume an active role in global affairs after more than a decade of wars in the Middle East, according to a new survey released this week. – Washington Free Beacon

After an airman was unable to complete his reenlistment because he omitted the part of a required oath that states “so help me God,” the Air Force changed its instructions for the oath. – Washington Post’s Checkpoint

In a 2,800-word treatise that earned first place in the Marine Corps Gazette’s Maj. Gen. Harold W. Chase Essay Contest, Capt. Lauren Serrano argues that women don’t belong anywhere in the U.S. infantry, an assertion that immediately sparked a firestorm of controversy. – Military Times

The leadership of the US Air Force has a clear message for Congress: Help. “I and the chief both are calling upon Congress for some bold leadership at this time,” Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James told reporters Tuesday. “What that means to me is, certainly first and foremost, we need a [continuing resolution] we need it promptly.” – Defense News

“Our industrial base has eroded and we’re reducing our military down to a skeletal size at a time when the world is looking crazier by the day,” Gen. Mike Hostage told reporters Tuesday at the Air Force Association’s annual conference. “[But] there is nothing happening right now that is going to make sequestration go away, so we’re going to live with the sequestered federal budget.” – Breaking Defense

Top officials in Air Force, Navy, and the Office of the Secretary of Defense keep talking about how there is no higher priority than the nation’s nuclear deterrent. It’s so crucial, they all say, that someone else should pay for it. – Breaking Defense

Weeks of disagreement over the future of the Navy’s biggest supply ships has ended with a decision to inactivate one of the four vessels. – Defense News

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) called Wednesday for the United States to return to a Reagan-era U.S. military by greatly increasing its spending at the Pentagon. – The Hill

Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) said: The world needs American Strength just as much as our people and our economy do. No other nation can deter global conflict by its presence alone. No other nation can offer the security and benevolence that America can. No other nation can be trusted to defend peace and advance liberty. – Sen. Rubio’s Office

Listening to America’s military leadership testify about the options for defeating the Islamic State group this week, it is increasingly clear that these are not tomorrow’s problems. The heightened risk, reduced options, degraded readiness and elongated time to victory are all possible – and avoidable – consequences today. Perhaps the reality of U.S. forces returning to Iraq will be enough to reverse course and reinvest in America’s military strength. – U.S. News and World Report’s World Report

A former civilian defense contractor working at the U.S. military’s Pacific headquarters was sentenced to seven years and three months in prison on Wednesday for divulging military secrets to his Chinese girlfriend and keeping classified documents at his Honolulu home. – Associated Press

Top U.S. Navy officials welcomed China’s first-time attendance at a 113-nation naval forum on Wednesday but made clear that despite progress in U.S.-Chinese military interaction, more work is needed to avoid incidents that could trigger a crisis. – Reuters

The War

Islamic State fighters have seized 16 Kurdish villages in northern Syria in a major advance towards the city of Ayn al-Arab at the border with Turkey, a Kurdish military official and a group that tracks the civil war said on Thursday. – Reuters

Police carried out early morning raids in two major Australian cities, including Sydney, in a pre-emptive strike aimed at disrupting what they said were plans by local Islamic State supporters to engage in random and violent attacks. – Wall Street Journal

An Afghan woman has become the seventh journalist killed in Afghanistan so far this year, an Afghan media group said Wednesday, adding to a toll that has already made 2014 by far the deadliest year for the news media here since the fall of the Taliban. – New York Times

Gunmen stormed a higher education college in northern Nigeria on Wednesday, firing on fleeing students and setting off an explosion in an attack that killed at least 15 people and wounded 35, police said. – Reuters

Fifteen influential Muslim leaders have been arrested across Kosovo in a crackdown targeting what authorities say is a recruiting network for Islamic State militants and Al-Qaeda’s branch in Syria, the Al-Nusra Front. – Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty

Qatar’s emir told German Chancellor Angela Merkel that his country “has never and will never support terror organizations,” assuring her that his country’s security is also at stake in the fight against militant group, Islamic State. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)

National security officials warned Congress on Wednesday that Al Qaeda’s branches in Yemen and Somalia remain “extremely active.” – The Hill

At least 20 people were killed when Shi’ite Muslim rebels clashed with army soldiers and allied tribesmen in an outer suburb of the Yemeni capital of Sanaa, tribal and medical sources said on Wednesday. – Reuters

A Saudi suicide bomber with the Islamic State group called on fellow Saudis to wage jihad and expressed hope that the group would expand into Saudi Arabia and “expel the disbelievers from the Arabian Peninsula”, the SITE monitoring service said. – Reuters

Saudi Arabia’s top clerical council, the only body in the country authorized to issue fatwas or Islamic legal opinions, declared on Wednesday that “terrorism is a heinous crime” under Sharia, and perpetrators should be made an example of. – Reuters

Tunisian police killed two Islamist militants in clashes near the Algerian border, the interior and defense ministries said on Wednesday, after Tunis raised the security alert level before elections next month. – Reuters

Foreign Armies East

Israel has determined that a Sept. 9 intercept test of the joint US-Israel Arrow-2 missile missed its target. – Defense News

Russia and Egypt have reached a preliminary deal for Cairo to buy arms worth $3.5 billion from Moscow, Interfax news agency quoted the head of a Russian state arms agency as saying on Wednesday. – Reuters

The campaign near Hama against al Qaeda-linked fighters and other groups shows how the Syrian military can quickly redeploy its forces to push back enemies using its superior fire power. But it also shows how the army is spread thinly in Syria, leaving at risk even areas of vital importance to the government. – Reuters

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Wednesday Defense Briefing

Air Mobility Command tankers have flown more than 1,000 missions in support of airstrikes against the Islamic State, AMC commander Gen. Darren McDew said Tuesday. – Defense News

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said 44 will receive completed military plans Wednesday to strike Syrian safe havens of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS or ISIL). – The Hill

House and Senate lawmakers are holding informal talks on cobbling together a joint 2015 defense policy bill in the hopes that they could approve the must-pass legislation during a lame-duck session of Congress, Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-Texas) said Tuesday. – The Hill

The head of the US Air National Guard wants to launch a study on the path forward for the component’s fleet of C-130 transport aircraft. – Defense News

Air Force

The Air Force believes that the prep work has been done on building the next long range stealth bomber and that it’s time to start “heavy lifting” on the project within the next year. – Washington Times

Air Force leaders are crossing their fingers that F-15 fighters will stay at least another year in Europe through the “Europe Reassurance Initiative,” a $1 billion funding plan the White House proposed in June currently in the hands of congressional members. – Defense News

Retrofitting a fix to the F135 propulsion systems in the 21-aircraft-strong F-35 test fleet could begin in November and be complete as soon as early next year, according to Bennett Croswell, president of Pratt & Whitney military engines. – Aviation Week

In response to two of its CV-22 Ospreys being shot up over Juba, South Sudan, in December, critically injuring two service members, the US Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC) has added optional armor to the flooring of the aircraft and may also incorporate forward-firing weapons. – Defense News

The first flight of the KC-46A program’s test aircraft has been pushed back until mid-to-late November, with the first next-generation tanker not expected to fly until April, the program’s top officer said – Defense News

Developed over the past half decade under a program called Counter-electronics High-powered Microwave Advanced Missile Project (CHAMP), the technology for a steerable counter-electronics weapon will be “available” in 2016, said Maj. Gen. Tom Masiello, who commands the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL). – Defense News

Lt. Col. Jeff Schreiner, USAF writes: Stealth works, but as it will eventually be the only game in town, the Air Force has to provide a reliable fleet that is ready to fight in large numbers at any time.  Decades of experience are out there to help LRS-B become history’s greatest bomber if policy makers and industry are ready to listen – Breaking Defense

The War

This is the story of the first armed drone ever to be flown by intercontinental remote control and used to kill human beings on the other side of the globe, a major coup for military futurists that has come to shape American foreign policy ever since. But it is also the story of how confusion over the technology’s first deployment effectively ruined the U.S. military’s clearest opportunity to kill the elusive Mullah Omar. – Politico

Thirteen years ago, soon after the 9/11 attacks, letters laced with anthrax killed five Americans. Just as 9/11 revealed the country’s vulnerabilities to terror attacks, the anthrax episode exposed the need for better routine surveillance and strategic stockpiling of key countermeasures against viral outbreaks or bioterror attacks. We’re still far less prepared than we should be, and far more vulnerable than we’re admitting. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)


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