Friday Defense Briefing

Air and missile strikes in Syria by the United States and its allies over the last month have killed more than 500 extremist fighters as well as at least 32 civilians, a Syrian monitoring group said on Thursday. – New York Times

The administration’s strategy to train Syrian rebels to defend, but not seize, territory from Islamic State militants is facing stiff resistance from America’s partners in the Syrian opposition. – Foreign Policy’s The Cable

Is the United States killing enough Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militants? It may be a macabre question but it is also a necessary one, according to some defense experts. They wonder whether the military efforts by the U.S.-led coalition, especially those centered on the Syrian border town of Kobani, are inflicting enough damage to counter-balance an influx of ISIS fighters into the area. – The Hill

The American military campaign against the Islamic State has begun to cut into the Sunni militant group’s substantial oil revenues, the top counterterrorism official at the Treasury Department said on Thursday, but starving its cash flow will be a slow process. – New York Times

The return of Marines to Beirut as full-time embassy guards for the first time in more than 30 years is a notable milestone for those who fought to maintain stability in Lebanon, a country oft-wracked with religious and ethnic tensions. – Military Times

A prestigious defense review panel has warned that the U.S. government must “sound an alarm” to build public support among the American people for increased defense spending. – Medill News Service

Airborne intelligence has arguably given the U.S. military an advantage over adversaries on the ground during the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and the Pentagon will continue to rely on high-tech sensors and cameras mounted on drones high above the battlefield for years to come, according to Andrew Hunter, the head of the Defense Department’s Joint Rapid Acquisition Cell. – Defense One

Last year, the Navy extended the deployment for Norfolk-based USS Kearsarge as hot spots in the Middle East and northeast Africa grabbed headlines. On Wednesday, the Navy’s top admiral congratulated the crew for a job well done while vowing to end those lengthy stays at sea. – Daily Press

“No one should be sleeping comfortably at night,” Rear Adm. Dave Johnson warned Navy submariners and contractors today. For the fleet’s top priority program, the replacement for the aging Ohio-class nuclear missile submarine, fiscal 2015 “is a crucial year,” the Program Executive Officer for all submarine programs said this morning. – Breaking Defense

With the first of its 631 later-model Lockheed Martin F-16s now being fitted with an automatic ground collision avoidance system (Auto GCAS), the U.S. Air Force is studying an upgrade path to add the safety device to more than 300 earlier build, non-digital fighters operated by the Air National Guard. – Aviation Week

The latest milestone in the F-35A program belongs to airmen on the ground. The first operational weapons load crew with the 58th Aircraft Maintenance Unit qualified on the aircraft during a load Oct. 10 at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, the base announced this week. The airmen, crew chief Staff Sgt. Zachary Watts and Airmen 1st Class Robert Hughes and Reece Zoller, completed the training munitions load after technical training and load training at the base. – Defense News

The U.S. Navy is preparing its first E-2D Advanced Hawkeye squadron for a maiden deployment next year after declaring initial operational capability (IOC) Oct. 10 for the first five of the carrier-based airborne command-and-control aircraft. – Aviation Week

Sub designers are puzzling out how to fit enlisted women into the berthings on the Virginia-class attack submarines already in the force. – Military Times

General David Deptula, USAF (Ret.) writes: Given the national-security implications and taxpayer benefits, it’s hard to imagine why the Air Force would continue to keep U.S. engine manufacturers and rocket providers off the launchpad. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)

The United States is damaging stability in the Asia-Pacific region by positioning a missile defense radar in Japan, China said on Thursday. – Reuters

The War

From 44 on down, U.S. officials have long expressed worry about “lone wolf” attacks motivated by extremist ideology, a lower-level sequel to 9/11. That concern is heightened after what happened in Canada. – USA Today

House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaul (R-Texas) said Thursday that the shooting at Canada’s parliament building was a “reminder” of the threat of homegrown terrorism. – The Hill’s Floor Action

The use of female troops inside the highest-security unit at Guantanamo Bay is sparking protests by prisoners. – Associated Press

Former Senator Joseph Lieberman and Christian Beckner write: Given the continuing threat that ISIS and al Qaeda pose to the homeland, and in light of the murderous ISIS-inspired attacks in Canada, the Obama administration should make this strategy a priority. That would help the U.S. combat the spread of a violent Islamist ideology, and reduce the threat of homegrown terrorist attacks in the U.S. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)

General Anthony Zinni, USMC (Ret.) and Admiral James Stavridis, USN (Ret.) write: The world has changed dramatically since the Cold War when we began our military service, and so have the threats confronting our nation. That’s why we must employ all the means of American influence and power, including strong and effective foreign aid. We’re confident the return on that investment is an essential contribution to our national security. – The Daily Caller

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Thursday Defense Briefing

Air strikes by U.S.-led forces have killed 521 Islamist fighters and 32 civilians during a month-long campaign in Syria, a monitoring group which tracks the violence said on Thursday. – Reuters

The Pentagon confirmed Wednesday that Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) fighters took possession of a stray bundle of U.S.-airdropped weapons and other supplies in the Syrian border town of Kobani earlier this week. – The Hill

A Marine Corps quick-reaction force in the Middle East for missions such as embassy evacuations and humanitarian aid will be fully manned by Nov. 1, according to the general behind the unit’s expansion. – Bloomberg

A new generation of generals is rising in the Army. It’s a generation forced to get creative by more than a decade of ugly unconventional conflicts. It’s a generation disillusioned by the mistakes of superiors, military and civilian alike. It’s a generation willing to take on the Army’s bureaucratic culture of top-down management, which dates back to Elihu Root becoming Secretary of War in 1899. – Breaking Defense

As head of Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA), Hilarides has come to the unpleasant realization that seemingly mundane data-collection for maintenance purposes has created vulnerabilities that could, in theory, be used to shut down key components on a sub. – Breaking Defense

As it rethinks its global posture for a possible shift to the Asia-Pacific region, the U.S. Army wants to buy a new fleet of small boats and upgrade existing watercraft, an official said. – DOD Buzz

The Marine Corps is conducting ground, humidity and endurance testing on its new CH-53K Super Stallion heavy lift helicopter slated to fly next year. – Defense Tech

The US Army Stryker brigade set to begin exercises in Japan next week as part of its third stop in the Army’s Pacific Pathways rotation brought its own aviation assets to the venerable exercise for the first time. – Defense News

Interview:  Gen. Mike Hostage, the head of Air Combat Command,  has overseen the Air Force’s transition to fifth generation aircraft with the introduction of the F-22 and preparations for introduction of the F-35 fleet. – Breaking Defense

Col. Michael Rauhut, USA writes: Among the many conceptual arguments posited by the U.S. Army’s new Operating Concept (AOC), “Win in a Complex World,” one of its more practical directions is the explicit embrace of special and conventional force integration. A decade’s worth of joint, interorganizational, and multinational combat experience has validated the utility of combining special operations and conventional forces and its critical importance for success in future operational environments. – Defense One

The War

Sunni Al Qaeda militants and Shi’ite Muslim rebels have fought a bloody battle in central Yemen, tribal sources said on Wednesday, amid fears of worsening sectarian tension in the impoverished Arabian country. – Reuters

Lebanon’s army killed three men and arrested several others during a raid on an apartment containing weapons and ammunition where authorities suspected an attack was being planned, security sources said on Thursday. – Reuters

A federal appeals court Wednesday cast doubt on the government’s post-Sept. 11 effort to prosecute foreign terrorism suspects by military commissions for offenses that aren’t conventional war crimes. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)

The U.S. terrorism trial of suspected al Qaeda figure Abu Anas Al-Liby and accused Osama Bin Laden associate Khalid al-Fawwaz has been postponed for more than two months until Jan. 12, 2015. – Reuters

Foreign Armies

Syria’s air force has destroyed two of three warplanes reportedly seized by fighters of the Islamic State group in the north of the country, Information Minister Omran al-Zohbi said. – AFP

China wants to have closer military ties with Iran, the Chinese defense minister told the visiting head of the Iranian navy on Thursday, state media reported, reaffirming diplomatic links despite controversy over Iran’s nuclear plans. – Reuters

Germany is sending a mission to northern Iraq to examine whether its military, and possibly other European nations, can expand the training of Kurdish forces battling jihadists there, Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said Thursday. – New York Times

A Russian intelligence aircraft briefly crossed into NATO airspace earlier this week, the Alliance said Wednesday, a minor incident that nonetheless highlights the current tension between Russia and Western Europe. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)

Poland wants to buy cruise missiles from the U.S. Air Force “without delay” if the price comes down, according to a spokesman for the embassy in Washington. – Bloomberg

Large-scale NATO war games underway in Europe this week include the deployment of B-52 nuclear-capable bombers, as non-NATO member Sweden hunts for a Russian mini-submarine in its territorial waters. – Washington Times’ Inside the Ring

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Wednesday Defense Briefing

Operation Inherent Resolve, the newly named war against Islamic State forces in the Middle East, has cost the U.S. government more than $424 million in 10 weeks. – WSJ’s Washington Wire

John Nagl writes: With luck, we have learned a few things from these decades of war in Iraq: that the enemy has a say about when wars end, that in the absence of American leadership such evil forces will rise to power that we get dragged back in to fix things again, that wars are messy and slow and last a long, long time. Unless we finally get it right, I expect a fourth war in Iraq. I’m not optimistic. – Foreign Policy

Fear that utility companies remain vulnerable to hackers, terrorists and natural disasters has the Pentagon pushing construction of independent power grids at military bases across the U.S., including one nearing completion here at the Marine Corps combat center. – Wall Street Journal

Boeing Co. is revising its master schedule for developing the new U.S. Air Force aerial tanker, adding to uncertainty about a plane that already has run up an estimated $1 billion in excess costs for the contractor. – Bloomberg

The U.S. Army’s top weapons buyer said temporary funding keeping the government open until December is actually a good thing for the service’s weapons acquisition programs. – DOD Buzz

The Navy is preparing to deploy its new carrier-launched E2D Advanced Hawkeye early warning radar aircraft designed to protect ships from enemy ships, aircraft, missiles and other threats over long distances. – Defense Tech

Foreign Armies

Senior Iraqi officials and commanders are calling for intensified U.S. airstrikes and more military aid, arguing that the 10-week-old American-led effort has been too modest to drive Islamic State fighters out of key towns and districts. – Los Angeles Times

The US State Department has cleared the sale of M1A1 Abrams tank ammunition to Iraq, according to an announcement by the Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA). – Defense News

The Indian Defense Ministry — faced with a shortage of ammunition for its Russian-made T-90 tanks, coupled with an inability to produce ammunition at home — has no choice but to give in to Russian terms and purchase marked-up ammo from Moscow, an MoD source said. – Defense News

The Syrian air force carried out more than 200 air strikes around the country in the past 36 hours, a group monitoring the war said on Tuesday, a rapid increase in government raids as U.S.-led forces bomb Islamist insurgents elsewhere. – Reuters

Japan’s Ministry of Defense claims incursions into its airspace by Russian jets have doubled in the past six months. – Washington Times

Taiwan serves as a “pivot point” from a geostrategic perspective and a cornerstone for Asia-Pacific regional stability, Taiwan’s Navy chief warned last week. – Defense News

Japan said on Tuesday it would hold a bilateral military exercise with the United States in November to ensure smooth joint operations between the two countries’ militaries and bolster island defense capabilities. – Reuters

South Korea and the U.S. will this week set out conditions for Seoul to take control of its military in the event of war on the Korean peninsula, South Korea’s vice defense minister said. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)

The War

The slow-footed federal response to Ebola shows that the United States would be overwhelmed by a biological attack, experts warn. – The Hill

At least one bundle of U.S. weapons airdropped in Syria appears to have fallen into the hands of ISIS, a dangerous misfire in the American mission to speed aid to Kurdish forces making their stand in Kobani. – The Daily Beast

Online hosts could refuse to take accounts with Islamic State, or ISIS, and other names popular among terrorists and their supporters. Until steps like that are taken, we can expect to see brave men and women in Libya and elsewhere pay with their lives for using social media. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Tuesday Defense Briefing

US forces have conducted more than 135 airstrikes against IS in the area around Kobani over the past week, claiming to have killed hundreds of IS fighters in the process, but have not been able to break the stalemate between the attacking forces and the Kurdish fighters holding the town, which sits up against the Turkish border. There’s little chance that the operation will sit well with Turkish authorities, who have long battled with fighters from the Kurdistan Workers Party, whom the Turkish government claims is fighting in Kobani. – Defense News

The War

The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria’s (ISIS) oil production is estimated to be worth $800 million per year, according to a new analysis. – The Hill

Pentagon spokesman Rear Adm. John Kirby said Monday there is no evidence the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has acquired warplanes or pilots capable of flying them. – The Hill

The U.S. State Department has cleared a $600 million sale of 46,000 120-millimeter armor-piercing tank rounds for the Iraqi Army’s M1A1 Abrams tank fleet. – Defense One

Militants unleashed a flurry of deadly attacks against Shiite targets in Iraq on Monday, including a quadruple car bombing near two of the holiest shrines in Shiite Islam and a suicide attack inside a mosque, officials said. – New York Times

Islamic State fighters launched a series of attacks against Peshmerga positions across northern Iraq on Monday, the Iraqi Kurdish news agency Rudaw reported. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)

Britain said on Tuesday it was authorizing armed and unarmed drones to fly surveillance missions over Syria “very shortly” in order to gather intelligence on Islamic State (IS) militants. – Reuters

A Saudi detainee who has been held for more than 12 years without trial at the American military prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, should be repatriated, a military parole-style board said in a statement on Monday. – New York Times

The Ukrainian Army appears to have fired cluster munitions on several occasions into the heart of Donetsk, unleashing a weapon banned in much of the world into a rebel-held city with a peacetime population of more than one million, according to physical evidence and interviews with witnesses and victims. – New York Times

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Monday Defense Briefing

The commander of the U.S.-led military campaign against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) sought to manage expectations Friday in his first press briefing since military action began in August. – The Hill

An assessment of the damage done by airstrikes against an al Qaeda cell in Syria remains a “work in progress,” the head of U.S. Central Command said Friday. – The Hill

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has asked his military chiefs and service-branch secretaries to look into questions about the medical care and treatment of about 20 service members who were exposed to chemical weapons during the Iraq war, a senior defense official said Friday. – Associated Press

Gen. Joseph Dunford, who led coalition military forces in Afghanistan for most of the last two years, took over as the new top officer in the Marine Corps on Friday, replacing retiring Gen. James F. Amos in a ceremony on the lush green lawn at Marine Barracks Washington. – Washington Post’s Checkpoint

The head of US Air Force Global Strike Command wants the service to consider installing new engines on its aging B-52 fleet, but budget realities could intervene. – Defense News

Andrew Marshall — a Pentagon institution who influenced policy makers from the Cold War to today — has signaled his intention to step down in January, according to sources. – Defense News

The War

Attorneys for a hunger-striking detainee at the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, said in court filings Friday that the manner in which military officials are force-feeding their client is akin to “torture” and a federal judge should order them to use what they view as more humane practices. – Washington Post

The Army Research Lab and the Joint IED Defeat Organization (JIEDDO) have just wrapped up a critical new test of small ground and air unmanned assets aimed at detecting improvised explosive devices in culverts in subterranean environments, and officials say the experiment represents a new way for the DoD to collaborate with industry on innovative new products. – Defense News

Foreign Armies

India’s homemade subsonic cruise missile Nirbhay, capable of carrying a nuclear payload and considered similar to the US Tomahawk cruise missile, was test-fired for the second time Friday from the missile testing center in the eastern state of Odisha. – Defense News

South and North Korean troops exchanged gunfire across their tense border on Sunday, even as the South reaffirmed its desire to hold high-level talks with the North. – New York Times

South Korea is threatening to break an agreement with BAE Systems to upgrade its fleet of KF-16s, opening a window of opportunity for competitor Lockheed Martin to reclaim its dominance in the lucrative F-16 upgrade market. – Defense News

Japan will send officials to North Korea for an update on the reclusive country’s investigation into the fate of Japanese citizens abducted decades ago to train spies, Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said on Monday. – Reuters

Taiwan’s navy successfully test-fired two anti-ship missiles from a submarine, in the first such exercise since the weapons were acquired from the United States, local media reported Sunday. – AFP

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Friday Defense Briefing

Something surprisingly unusual will take place at the Pentagon Friday. The general directing U.S. operations against the Islamic State will brief reporters for the first time since U.S. bombs started falling on Iraq and Syria — and for the first time in his entire tenure overseeing the military command in charge of the Middle East. – Foreign Policy’s The Complex

The top U.S. Army commander in Europe said Thursday he was concerned by an “acceleration” in the recruitment of Europeans by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS). – The Hill

The Carl Vinson Carrier Strike Group reported for duty on Wednesday in the Middle East, where it will take over from the George H.W. Bush, which has been heavily engaged in the bombing campaign against Islamic militants. – Stars and Stripes

The US Navy’s senior leadership briefed top Pentagon officials Oct. 6 on proposals for a new Small Surface Combatant (SSC), but no decisions have been made, said the US military’s top spokesman. – Defense News

The Pentagon’s long-awaited deal with Pratt & Whitney to build the seventh low-rate production lot of F135 engines for the multinational F-35 fighter has finally been signed, though officials have not yet outlined a clear path forward to address the design issue that led to an engine fire that grounded the fleet of single-engine aircraft this summer. – Aviation Week

Gen. Joe Dunford will become the 36th commandant of the Marine Corps on Friday during a formal ceremony held at Marine Barracks Washington. – Military Times

How the Army fits into the changing world of the U.S. military as it draws down in Afghanistan and shifts its focus to the Navy-heavy Asia-Pacific region has been a much-debated question. Here’s how the Army plans to move forward – National Journal

The Army has found enough friends on Capitol Hill to fund a fourth brigade of double V-hull (DVH) eight-wheeled Stryker vehicles, service officials said. Without that order, most work on the vehicle would come to a halt in 2017, according to Army officials. – Defense News

The E-2D Advanced Hawkeye has been declared to be operational, meaning that deployment training for the US Navy’s newest airborne warning and control aircraft can begin in earnest. – Defense News

“Electronic warfare is a weapon,” fumed Col. Joe Dupont. But as the Army’s project manager for EW programs — and its recently declassified offensive cyber division — Dupont faces an uphill battle against tight budgets and Army culture to make that case. – Breaking Defense

Raytheon is testing a new laser-guided 155mm artillery shell which adds laser-designation to GPS guidance in order to provide more targeting options and better pinpoint targets on-the-move, company officials said. – DOD Buzz

Rep. Randy Forbes (R-VA) writes: China’s own Mahanian-drive for naval power to challenge U.S. and allied forces across its near-seas demands that we consider cross-domain opportunities to sustain access along the Asian archipelago. As Secretary Hagel has noted, the Army has a real opportunity to lead this mission. – The National Interest

The War

A soon-to-be released Senate report on the CIA doesn’t assess the responsibility of 43 or his top aides for any of the abuses of the agency’s detention and interrogation program, avoiding a full public accounting of one of the darkest chapters of the war on terror. – McClatchy

The military now has female soldiers escorting former CIA captives around Guantánamo’s high-value prison, an apparent personnel change that defense lawyers say is causing an uproar over religious insensitivity. – Miami Herald

At least 10 people were killed in fighting between Houthi tribesmen and militants linked to al Qaeda in central Yemen on Thursday, witnesses said, part of a growing struggle over territory and influence between the two enemy sides. – Reuters

Foreign Armies

NATO militaries must share intelligence on the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) to prevent “lone wolf” attacks against U.S. troops in Europe, the No. 2 U.S. Army commander in Europe said Thursday. –

Peace talks between Myanmar’s military and ethnic minority insurgents may collapse if the army scales up operations in rebel-controlled areas, an organization representing rebel groups said on Friday. – Reuters

Britain is adding Reaper remotely piloted aircraft to its forces deployed to fight Islamic State militants in Iraq, the government announced Thursday. – Defense News

Iraqi pilots who have joined Islamic State in Syria are training members of the group to fly in three captured fighter jets, a group monitoring the war said on Friday, saying it was the first time that the militant group had taken to the air. – Reuters

Uganda will start buying weapons and other military hardware for South Sudan’s government under an agreement signed this week, sparking fears of an escalation in the nearly yearlong fighting between government forces and rebels. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Wednesday Defense Briefing

US-led aircraft will continue bombing near the Syrian town of Kobane and in western Iraq, 44 said Tuesday after talks with military leaders from an international coalition fighting the Islamic State group. – AFP

At his final AUSA conference as Army chief of staff, Gen. Raymond Odierno called on the Army to be ready for an era when the “velocity of instability is ever increasing around the world,” and that time is now. – Defense News

The U.S. Army’s top officer spoke in his strongest terms yet about the harmful effects of automatic budget cuts on the military. –

Nearly a year after the US Army canceled the Ground Combat Vehicle, officials defended the program as on-budget and called the decision to scuttle it a pragmatic move to improve further-along armored vehicle programs with available money. On Tuesday, Maj. Gen David Bassett, commander PEO Ground Combat Systems, noted that the Future Fighting Vehicle (FFV) program, a follow-on to the GCV, is largely a science-and-technology development effort, meant to help the Army explore its options while it pursues various engineering-change proposals for its existing armored vehicles. – Defense News

The Honorable Shyu, as everyone in the military calls the head of Army acquisition, is often bright, humorous and insightful. [Yesterday], she got passionate in public, clearly frustrated at the painful limits that the automatic budget cuts known as sequestration have forced her to adopt. – Breaking Defense

The U.S. Army is outfitting another one of its Stryker Brigade Combat Team with Double V-Hull vehicles to better protect them from enemy bombs. – DOD Buzz

There is no funding in the Army budget for a Humvee upgrade, Northrop Grumman officials on Tuesday presented an upgrade to the military workhorse that would lighten the truck and extend its life in the fleet. –

Now the Army is looking to field a stronger, more efficient engine for its Sikorsky Blackhawks and Boeing Apache attack helicopters, which could create a massive, multi-billion dollar competition down the road for American engine makers. – Defense One

The SB-1 Defiant, being developed by Boeing and Sikorsky for the Army’s Joint Multi-Role (JMR) program, is on track for first flight in fiscal 2017, executives for the companies said Tuesday. – Defense News

Bell Helicopter has added the first international partner to its V-280 Valor program to build an advanced medium-utility rotorcraft for the U.S. Army’s Joint Multi Role (JMR) technology demonstration. – Aviation Week

The U.S. Army had a record year for foreign military sales, with rising demand in the Middle East and elsewhere for such weapons systems as Apache attack helicopters, as well as Patriot and Javelin missiles, a top general said. – DOD Buzz

[A]s the Army digs in for the budget fight, defense companies have used the event to pitch their products to visiting international delegations, including many from Europe. – Defense One

As the Defense Department grapples with cutbacks across its broad budget, one of the military’s premiere war colleges is feeling the pinch, with a funding drop of 29 percent in the past few years. But some critics say that even at reduced levels, professional military education is still receiving more than enough funding. – Medill News Service

The US military’s mysterious robot space plane is expected to land this week after a 22-month orbit, officials said Tuesday, but the craft’s mission remains shrouded in secrecy. – AFP

For now, what the U.S. and the world most need is credible and sufficient American military power to deter and defeat our enemies. Issuing politically correct bows against a speculative threat from climate change when ISIS is at the gates of Baghdad will only convince those enemies that we lack the will to do so. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Tuesday Defense Briefing

Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno said Monday he is “somewhat” confident that the Iraqi army can defend Baghdad from the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS). – The Hill

The Army’s top general said Monday that an increase in threats around the world requires that the U.S. rethink plans to cut the size of the American military’s ground force. – WSJ’s Washington Wire

490,000 Army soldiers may not be enough to cope with an increasingly unstable world. Two years ago — before the rise of the Islamic State, before Russia’s stealth invasion of Ukraine, before Ebola erupted in Africa – Army Chief of Staff Ray Odierno testified that an army of 490,000 active-duty troops, 350,000 Guard soldiers, and 205,000 reservists would suffice to execute President Obama’s strategy for the post-Afghan War world. – Breaking Defense

Expanding on Chief of Staff Ray Odierno’s concerns, the Army’s new Vice-Chief of Staff detailed how “fragile” the service’s readiness is in the face of a 2016 sequester. – Breaking Defense

The US Army will be gutted and in danger of “wasting away” if the sequestration stranglehold on its budget continues, the service’s secretary said Monday at the opening of the Army’s largest annual gathering. – Defense News

[T]he Army this month is unveiling its new concept — one that radically shifts how the Army will train its soldiers, organize the force, buy new equipment and grow its leaders. The new strategy, named Unified Land Operations, is the first step in a long-term process that will determine the Army’s way ahead. – Military Times

All three US Army components must be ready to respond to “the entire range of military operations” in an uncertain, volatile world, the commanding general of Forces Command (FORSCOM) said Monday. – Defense News

Despite concerns that his earlier plans to reduce the U.S. Army’s end strength should be revised in light of emerging global threats, Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno says the service’s Aviation Restructuring Initiative (ARI) should stand without major changes. – Aviation Week

Like most everyone else involved in the Army’s ground vehicle industrial base, the prime contractors who at one point were working on the service’s Ground Combat Vehicle (GCV) program are waiting for the Army’s next move. – Defense News

The Army’s new annual war game for developing new technologies and concepts will emphasize joint and international cooperation, said Brig. Gen. John Charlton, of Brigade Modernization Command. – Defense News

The Army’s top officer said his service needs to re-evaluate why black officers are not choosing careers in the combat arms, which has left those soldiers vulnerable in the ongoing drawdown. –

Interview: The deep cuts the Army is absorbing, coupled with the threat of sequestration, present an “unacceptable risk” to the nation, the president of the Association of the United States Army said. – Defense News

Drastic weather, rising seas and changing storm patterns could become “threat multipliers” for the United States, vastly complicating security challenges faced by American forces, the Pentagon said in a new report on the impact of climate change released Monday. – Washington Post’s Checkpoint

The U.S. Army is engineering its Apache AH-64 attack helicopters with additional avionics, radar and sensor technology to perform better in maritime environments, service officials said Monday at the Association of the United States Army’s Annual Meeting and Exposition in Washington D.C. – DOD Buzz

Military leaders will continue to broaden opportunities for women in each of the four service branches, officials said. – Fayetteville Observer

The Army’s role in the Pacific is projected to grow in the coming months to meet the increasing needs of the US military and foreign allies. – Defense News

The Army plans to conduct more maritime exercises with Navy ships in the Pacific as part of the services’ rebalance to the region, service leaders said Monday at the Association of the United States Army Annual Meeting and Exposition in Washington D.C. – DOD Buzz

Symposium: Does the United States need a new defense budget to fight 44’s new war on terror? And if so, what should that new budget look like—where should the Pentagon cut, and where should it add? We asked a dozen top military thinkers, and here’s what they had to say. – Politico

The War

John Nagl writes: Defeating ISIL will require American troops in numbers far greater than have been committed to date. And ISIL grows stronger by the day—and harder to defeat—as we dither. – Politico

The Iraqi army is struggling to hold its ground in the fight against Islamic State militants, prompting the U.S. for the first time this year to airdrop bundles of food and ammunition for Iraqi units under siege at their nation’s largest oil refinery in Bayji. – Military Times

In the annals of crime, one time-honored tradition is the oath, spoken or not, of not cooperating with law enforcement… But time and time again, terrorists break that mold. – New York Times

The British counterterrorism police arrested six people on Tuesday in raids across southern England following other detentions in London and the English Midlands. – New York Times

A man charged with terrorism offences at a trial so sensitive that prosecutors sought to have it heard entirely in secret might have been planning an attack on former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, a court heard on Tuesday. – Reuters

Afghan security officials said Islamic State is beginning to seek a foothold here in an apparent effort to extend its reach at a time when foreign combat troops are leaving. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)

A Taliban ambush in a relatively calm area of northern Afghanistan killed 14 members of the Afghan security forces, the latest example of a deadly campaign of violence that has taken a serious toll on soldiers and police officers across the country in recent months. – New York Times

Foreign Armies

Turkey has carried out airstrikes against Kurdish militants for the first time since a halting peace process began last year, the latest sign that fighting in Syria and Iraq is fuelling sectarian strife across the border. – Financial Times

Syria’s air force carried out strikes against rebels at more than double its usual rate on Monday, according to a monitoring group, ramping up its offensive near the capital while Washington strikes Islamic State fighters far away. – Reuters

China’s decades-long buildup of strategic and conventional military forces is shifting the balance of power in Asia in Beijing’s favor and increasing the risk of a conflict, according to a forthcoming report by a congressional China commission. – Washington Free Beacon

The Army is awarding Lockheed Martin a $90 million contract to help Qatar’s air force enhance its Apache helicopter attack fleet, the defense giant announced Monday. – The Hill

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Monday Defense Briefing

The U.S.-led air war in Syria has gotten off to a rocky start, with even the Syrian rebel groups closest to the United States turning against it, U.S. ally Turkey refusing to contribute and the plight of a beleaguered Kurdish town exposing the limitations of the strategy. – Washington Post

The top U.S. military officer says the U.S. called in Apache helicopters to prevent Iraqi forces from being overrun by Islamic State militants in a recent fight near Baghdad’s airport. – Associated Press

Within the U.S. Air Force, there’s mounting frustration that the air campaign against ISIS in Syria and Iraq is moving far more slowly than expected. Instead of a fast-moving operation with hundreds of sorties flown in a single day—the kind favored by many in the air service—American warplanes are hitting small numbers of targets after a painstaking and cumbersome process. – The Daily Beast

The Pentagon is estimating the cost of U.S. air operations in Iraq and Syria at about $7.6 million a day. – Bloomberg

A top State Department official said the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has a “dark, nasty” online presence and that the U.S. needed to be more aggressive to counter the group on social media. – The Hill

The mysterious workings of a Pentagon office that oversees clandestine operations are unraveling in federal court, where a criminal investigation has exposed a secret weapons program entwined with allegations of a sweetheart contract, fake badges and trails of destroyed evidence. – Washington Post

Forces might be converging that could lead to significant Pentagon acquisition reform, and a group of House Democrats is pushing pages of ideas. – Defense News

Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-Ala.) on Friday accused President Obama of using the military as a “budgetary bargaining chip” in a deal to avert sequestration cuts. – The Hill’s Floor Action


The Army is unveiling a new global strategy for reshaping the largest American military force for a world where the U.S. faces many small and indirect threats, rather than just a few large ones. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)

At this year’s Association of the US Army annual expo here, Army leaders are expected to tout a new operating concept that puts greater focus on smaller units expected to adapt and innovate to combat faceless enemies in a formless battlefield. – Defense News

Under the US Army’s new operating concept, its forces must be tailorable, scalable, have a smaller logistical footprint and be able to operate in austere environments. The size of an infantry squad, nine soldiers today, may yet change — and perhaps vehicle requirements along with it. – Defense News

[M]omentum is solidly behind fielding manned-unmanned teaming (MUM-T) technologies for Army aviation platforms. Combining video feeds and weapons from manned and unmanned platforms provides significantly improved situational awareness to troops on the ground and dramatically improved efficiency in focusing weapons to support ground elements. – Aviation Week

Interview: Ask US Army Chief of Staff Gen. Raymond Odierno what he worries about and he will say he wakes up thinking about whether the Army is ready enough to meet its commitments. Over the past six months, those commitments have grown to encompass missions in Europe, Asia, the Middle East and Africa, where forces are “all doing very important missions simultaneously,” Odierno said. – Defense News

General Gordon Sullivan, USA (Ret.) writes: Today’s Army leadership can design the appropriate force for our uncertain future. The need for every element in that force must be clearly articulated in ways that our citizens can understand. AUSA is committed to help spread the message that we cannot keep cutting force structure and the budget without consequences and increased risk. – Defense One


Bigger often means better, especially when the discussion is about one gun versus another. But a decision to replace a secondary weapon on the US Navy’s new Zumwalt-class destroyer with a smaller gun caliber is raising some eyebrows within the surface warfare community. – Defense News

China has an arsenal of long-range ship-killing missiles, based on land but able to hit US warships hundreds of miles offshore. Now the chairman of the House Seapower subcommittee suggests we give them a taste of their own “anti-access/area denial” medicine. Why shouldn’t the US Army develop its own land-based anti-ship missile force? – Breaking Defense

The Navy is crafting a battle plan to retake control of the electromagnetic spectrum, which the Pentagon’s chief of research says we’ve lost. – Breaking Defense

An investigation into the command climate aboard a Norfolk-based destroyer at sea has resulted in discipline against three of its former leaders. – Daily Press


In the coming month or so, Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, will be transformed into a laboratory as some 90 researchers and 650 Marine volunteers and staffers embark on a first-of-its kind experiment to test the dynamics of co-ed units in combat. – Military Times

The War

Abusalha had made two trips to a conflict zone seen as the largest incubator of Islamist radicalism since Afghanistan in the 1980s. Between those visits he wandered inside the United States for more than six months, U.S. officials said, attracting no attention from authorities after their brief telephone conversation with his mother. – Washington Post

Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) on Friday slammed reported White House proposals to go around Congress and close the detention facility in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. – The Hill’s Floor Action

The State Department is renewing its global terrorism alert for Americans traveling abroad, saying it sees a heightened risk of reprisal attacks from the Islamic State group and its supporters. – Associated Press

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Friday Defense Briefing

As the US approaches the end of major combat operations in Afghanistan, the number of airstrikes there hit their highest point in two years in August. – Defense News

An overwhelming majority of Americans want Congress to reconvene and vote before the November elections on an authorization for use of military force against the terrorist army known as Islamic State, found a new poll released Thursday. – Washington Times

Former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta on Wednesday urged President Obama to call Congress back to authorize the use of military force against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS). – The Hill

The Army had hopes of putting DVH refits on all vehicles in its eight active-duty and one National Guard Stryker brigades, but that plan has been on hold since the cost-cutting Congressional sequester process went into effect last year. – DOD Buzz

The U.S. Army is immersed in testing with two industry teams contracted to develop and build a fuel-efficient, high-speed, next-generation medium-lift helicopter to enter service by 2030. – Defense Tech

The rise of asymmetrical warfare, advances in weapons and systems, and the mundane but no less relevant impact of budget cuts are changing how many armies structure their forces and conduct operations. – Aviation Week

The head of Air Force Global Strike Command wants to modernize his fleets at a rapid pace, and he believes Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC) may be the model to follow. – Defense News

The service’s joint surveillance target attack radar system (JSTARS) aircraft fleet is due for a replacement, but questions remain whether the program is viewed as a large enough priority in Congress to secure funding. – Defense News

NASA today confirmed long-known plans for a secretive military space plane program to take over the use of two former shuttle hangars at Kennedy Space Center. – Defense News

Just three women have applied to be advisers at the U.S. Army’s elite Ranger School so far, an official said. –

The War

The barrage of U.S. cruise missiles last month aimed at a Syrian terrorist cell killed just one or two key militants, according to American intelligence officials who say the group of veteran al-Qaida fighters is still believed to be plotting attacks against U.S. and European targets. – Associated Press

The White House is drafting options that would allow 44 to close the detention facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, by overriding a congressional ban on bringing detainees to the U.S., senior administration officials said. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)

Two suicide bombers struck in Yemen on Thursday, one targeting a gathering of Shiite rebels in the country’s capital San’a, and another hitting a military outpost in the south. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)

The Baltic nation of Estonia said Thursday it had agreed to resettle one of Guantánamo’s 79 pre-cleared captives — a day after Uruguay’s president linked his commitment to take in six prisoners to a dialogue with his successor. – Miami Herald

Police in Finland said on Thursday they want to keep in detention three Finnish nationals whom they suspect of murder as members of a foreign armed, terrorist organization, the first arrests of their kind in the Nordic country. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)

Tens of thousands of Kurds turned several Turkish cities into flames in order to protest the Ankara government’s reluctance to save their kinship in Kobani, a northern Syrian city bordering Turkey and beseiged by Islamic radicals. – Defense News

At least ten people died in eastern Turkey when gunmen opened fire on police, and Kurds angry over a siege by Islamist militants on their ethnic kin in Syria clashed with other groups in the country’s sixth largest city, local media said on Friday. – Reuters

Sunni insurgents in Pakistan increased attacks on Iranian border posts in the southeast of the country this week, employing methods similar to those used by Islamic State militants in Syria and Iraq. – New York Times
Foreign Armies

A spectacular explosion on Sunday night outside Tehran took place deep inside the Parchin military base, where Iran produces crucial elements of its missiles and other munitions, raising new questions about whether the blast was an accident or sabotage. – New York Times

A South China Sea island–claimed by both China and Vietnam–now contains a runway for Chinese military aircraft. – Washington Free Beacon

The South Korean military said it exchanged fire with North Korea at their heavily fortified border Friday after North Korea’s military targeted balloons launched by activists from the South. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)

At 7,000 troops, the Peace Mission 2014 military exercise of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) was not large militarily. But its geopolitical importance was considerable: It was the biggest exercise to date for a budding anti-democratic alliance that includes two nuclear powers and could soon gain three more. – Aviation Week

Sixteen unusable transport aircraft that the US government bought for the Afghan Air Force have been scrapped for pennies on the dollar, according to the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction. – Defense News

Fighting between India and Pakistan paused on Friday after days of heavy shelling and gun battles across their disputed Himalayan border in Kashmir, the worst skirmishes between the nuclear-armed rivals in more than a decade. – Reuters

The Indian defense minister blamed Pakistan on Thursday for an escalating conflict that has claimed about 20 lives on both sides of the Kashmiri boundary and left thousands of villagers homeless in recent days. – New York Times


Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments