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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Tuesday Defense Briefing

The Pentagon on Monday provided three objectives for its plan to train and equip moderate Syrian forces to take on the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (SIS). – The Hill

The Islamic State is a threat to the United States of America, and that is the primary reason we must defeat it. The United States has capabilities that no other state or group in the world has, and that is why we must lead this effort. The partial commitment of threatened states and groups in the region is not a reason for America to hold back. It’s proof that America must lead. – NYT’s Room for Debate

The US Army is closer than ever to introducing a cyber branch to better manage troops with highly sought skills in this area, according to a senior Army cyber official. – Defense News

The United States would retaliate against Syrian President Bashar Assad’s air defenses if he were to go after American planes launching airstrikes in his country, senior administration officials said Monday. – Associated Press

The F-35 joint strike fighter will likely be protected regardless of whether the Pentagon is operating under limits imposed by the Budget Control Act in fiscal 2016, the program’s top official said Monday. – Defense News

When the F-35A exploded June 23 on the runway, it took about 10 days before the Pentagon had worked out how to communicate to the public, to the Navy, Marines and Air Force and to its international partners what had happened, was happening and would happen. Today, Air Force Lt. Gen. Christopher Bogdan said that his office was doing a “complete rewrite” of its mishap planning process. – Breaking Defense

The US Army is looking to develop a family of three lightweight, highly mobile ground vehicles for a light infantry brigade as it conducts a joint forcible entry mission. – Defense News

Rolls-Royce has completed a successful flight test of its new engine upgrade for the V-22. Company officials say the test, conducted in New Mexico earlier this summer, met expectations of a 17 percent power increase to the engines. That will enable the Osprey to fly at 6,000 feet in 95 degree temperatures, an improvement that would address a major challenge to V-22 operations in regions such as the Middle East. – Defense News

Air Force

The Air Force’s planned cutbacks of thousands of active-duty members have prompted the reserve components to try to capture as many of the airmen as possible to beef up their ranks and keep the training and experience “in blue.” – Defense News

Two of the US Air Force’s largest major commands will see their leadership change in the coming months, as both train and prepare for the shifting focus toward the Pacific. – Defense News

What began as a tumultuous year for the Air Force’s nuclear community — highlighted by a cheating scandal and reports of low morale across the missileer force — evolved into a year of change for the airmen under Global Strike Command. And more change is coming. – Defense News

Officers assigned to the Air Force’s nuclear mission will receive $300 a month in incentive pay beginning Oct. 1, Secretary Deborah Lee James announced today at the Air Force Association’s annual Air and Space Conference outside Washington, D.C. Enlisted airmen in related career fields also will be eligible for up to $300 in monthly special duty pay. – Defense News

The US Air Force plans to eliminate 21 general officer billets in fiscal 2015, as part of a review directed by Secretary Deborah Lee James earlier this year. – Defense News

The good news is the Air Force has almost finished a new strategy to protect its high-tech gear from hackers. The bad news? The problem is huge, the processes are nascent, and the intimately interrelated issue of electronic warfare is, at the moment, not part of the discussion. – Breaking Defense

The War

Three soldiers with the American-led coalition were killed and five wounded Tuesday after their convoy was targeted in a car bomb attack at the gates of a United States military base in Kabul, according to Afghan government and American military officials. – New York Times

The  administration will launch pilot programs in select U.S. cities seeking to discourage Americans from trying to join or fight on behalf of violent extremist groups like Islamic State, Attorney General Eric Holder said Monday. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)

A group of militants attacked a Pakistan army post from neighboring Afghanistan Tuesday morning, sparking a shootout that left 11 insurgents and three soldiers killed, the military said, as government warplanes killed 20 local militants elsewhere in the northwest. – Associated Press

Twenty-two people were killed in fighting between Shi’ite Muslim rebels and government-allied tribesmen in northern Yemen on Monday and Tuesday, tribal and local sources told Reuters. – Reuters
Foreign Armies East

North Korea may be trying to develop the ability to fire missiles from submarines, defense officials in Seoul say. – WSJ’s Korea Real Time

A proposed sale of Israeli weapons including drones to Ukraine has been blocked for fear of antagonizing Russia, Channel Two television reported on Monday. – AFP

Turkey’s military is drawing up plans for a possible “buffer zone” on the country’s southern border, where it faces a threat from Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, Turkish media quoted President Tayyip Erdogan as saying on Monday. – Reuters

Norway said Monday it was considering making a military contribution to the US-led coalition against the Islamic State jihadist group including providing training assistance for armed forces. – AFP

Syrian special forces on Monday destroyed a bridge over the Euphrates River used by Islamic State to move supplies in eastern Syria, media run by Hezbollah said, a blow to the group in the swathe of Syrian territory it controls near Iraq. – Reuters


The four-star general in charge of NATO operations in Europe wants the alliance to come up with an international norm for helping nations that are not a part of the 28-member coalition. – Washington Times

Supreme Allied Commander Gen. Philip Breedlove on Monday called for a reset of the NATO alliance — one that assumes Russia is not a partner. – The Hill

NATO alliance members still do not have enough guided bombs and missiles to conduct a long-lasting battle, the alliance’s top general said Monday. – Defense News

NATO partners need to do a better job putting noncommissioned officers and junior officers in alliance leadership roles, Gen. Philip Breedlove, commander, US European Command and NATO Supreme Allied Commander, told audience members during this week’s Air Force Association annual conference. – Defense News

On Monday, NATO Commander Gen. Philip Breedlove had a not-so-subtle message for Russia: it will consider stealth and unofficial invasions to be a trigger for war. – The Daily Beast

NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen writes: This is a time when our values are being challenged and our will is being tested. Keeping NATO strong and North America and Europe united has never been more important. It is the only way to preserve our freedom, protect our people, and promote our values. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)

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Monday Defense Briefing

The administration said Sunday that “several” Arab nations had offered to join in airstrikes against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, but any sustained military campaign does not appear imminent, and is likely to require an even more significant commitment from other nations and fighting forces in the region. – New York Times

General James Cartwright said on Sunday that an air campaign alone probably will not destroy the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS.) – The Hill

Air Force

The Air Force has made dozens of changes to basic military training in an effort to avoid a repeat of the sexual misconduct scandal that shook the military three years ago, but the service has yet to create a system to gauge whether the changes are working, a government oversight agency said this month. – Military Times

With the Hill dug in, the Air Force seems prepared to stick to its guns on its FY 2016 proposal. Multiple sources tell Defense News that the service’s budget proposal hews closely to what was submitted in 2015, despite expected congressional pushback. – Defense News

Much of the focus of the Air Force Association conference will be on a series of recapitalization programs that will get underway in the next few years. But even as the Air Force tries to inject new systems into its fleet, it has its eyes on the horizon and what could be the next wave of recapitalization programs. – Defense News

The US Air Force has six major aircraft recapitalization programs it must balance in the next five years during an era of budget reductions. – Defense News

The US Air Force has spent the last 20 years reducing its footprint in Europe, but the last six months of Russian military aggression, among other world events, could force the service to rethink that strategy. Airmen rotating through Europe should expect a higher op tempo that includes rapid deployments, joint training and more temporary assignments in Eastern Europe. – Defense News

As budget restrictions and sequestration-related cutbacks have hit most of the US Air Force, the service’s special operators have largely been protected, and that has been necessary to keep air commandos ready to face the battles they are uniquely suited for, according to their new commander. – Defense News

Renewed tensions with Russia has made it clear the US Air Force will have to develop a homegrown rocket engine to launch military equipment. The question is: What does that mean for the rest of the service’s budget? – Defense News

The US Air Force has weathered a difficult year of personnel cuts, tough budget decisions and a cheating scandal that rocked the nuclear force. But Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James, on the job for eight months, said the service has made tremendous strides in improving its communication with airmen, Congress and the public. – Defense News

Interview: The US Air Force represents the largest source of air power in the world, but finds itself at an inflection point in its history, facing dramatic choices in technology, manpower and mission areas. Gen. Mark Welsh took over as chief of staff two years ago. – Defense News

The War

Al Qaeda dismissed as “lies” a U.S. assessment that it is in decline, but a defiant online message issued by the network on Sunday made no mention of the ultra-hardline Islamic State group widely seen as its rival for the leadership of global jihad. – Reuters


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Friday Defense Briefing

44’s new strategy for confronting the extremists known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant is unlikely to have an immediate impact on the U.S. military’s operational tempo or overall budget. – Military Times

44 has authorized the Pentagon for the first time to target and kill individual leaders of Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, a key component of his plan to go on the offense against the Sunni extremist group, according to U.S. military officials. – Washington Post

US combat aircraft will soon start flying out of a base in the Kurdish region of northern Iraq as part of a “more aggressive” air campaign against Islamic State jihadists, the Pentagon said Thursday. – AFP

John R. Allen, the retired Marine general who served as the top American commander in Afghanistan, has been picked by the administration to coordinate the international effort against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, a senior administration official said Thursday. – New York Times

The CIA estimates the Islamic States in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) is made up of anywhere between 20,000 to 31,500 fighters, according to reports Thursday night. – The Hill

A full-fledged strategy would not require U.S. combat troops, but it would take more than the 475 additional advisers 44 committed Wednesday. And it would take an understanding that a sustained, long-term commitment would be more fruitful over time than cycles of intervention and withdrawal. – Washington Post

As he laid out his strategy to combat the Islamic State in both Iraq and Syria, 44 rejected the “best military advice” of his top military commander in the Middle East. – RealClearDefense

U.S. officials’ discussions with Iran about the militant threat in Iraq are one-way conversations, with Americans doing all the talking, a spokeswoman for Iran’s Foreign Ministry said Thursday. – Los Angeles Times

The Republican chairman of the House Armed Services Committee on Thursday said U.S. ground troops will be required to meet 44’s objective of destroying Islamic State terrorists. – The Hill

Read the text of Chairman McKeon’s remarks – American Enterprise Institute

The United States is not at war with the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS or ISIL), Secretary of State John Kerry said Thursday. – The Hill’s Briefing Room

Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) on Thursday said the battle against Islamist militants could spur lawmakers to finally reverse the spending cuts to the Pentagon under sequestration. – The Hill

As more E/A-18G Growler electronic attack aircraft make their way in the fleet, U.S. Navy aviators are starting to extol the capability they see in the jets now – and the potential missions they envision in the fleet’s future. – Aviation Week

The War

In declaring that the United States would degrade and “ultimately destroy” an al-Qaeda offshoot in Iraq and Syria, 44 articulated an objective that the United States has yet to achieve against any of the Islamist adversaries it has faced since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. – Washington Post

The head of the Senate Intelligence Committee is confident that her panel’s declassified review of the CIA’s so-called “enhanced interrogation techniques” will be out by the end of the month. – The Hill

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Thursday Defense Briefing

44 on Wednesday authorized a major expansion of the military campaign against rampaging Sunni militants in the Middle East, including American airstrikes in Syria and the deployment of 475 more military advisers to Iraq. But he sought to dispel fears that the United States was embarking on a repeat of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. – New York Times

Read the text of the President’s address – The White House

The full Senate will likely not vote on the 2015 defense policy bill before lawmakers adjourn next week, Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin (D-Mich.) said Wednesday. – The Hill

Despite concurrent crises in Ukraine and Iraq, defense issues will hardly decide the November elections — but the outcome of those elections will prove decisive for defense. The top candidates for the chairmanship of the House Armed Services Committee both told me that they have their fingers crossed for a GOP takeover of the Senate as the best chance of sparing the military budget from sequestration cuts. – Breaking Defense

All in all, the Defense Department wants to shift $2.6 billion among its accounts to respond to new national security priorities. But world events are not the only driving force behind the request. The Pentagon intends to move $1.5 billion so it can buy fifth-generation fighter aircraft that won’t be available in time to respond to what’s going on in Africa or the Middle East. – Foreign Policy’s The Complex

A new research program aims to get the next-generation ground combat vehicle off the drawing board. And if the drawings of it by an Army civilian are any indication, future soldiers could be riding in a lightweight, agile, easy-to-deploy platform ripped straight from the pages of a graphic novel. – Defense News

The War

The former director of the US Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) is convinced that force alone is not the key to a US strategy for defeating Islamic State militants in the Middle East or winning the “war of ideas” with extremism worldwide. – Defense News

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) said he would introduce a bill this week to ensure terrorists cannot take advantage of student visa programs. – The Hill’s Floor Action

The House border security subcommittee’s top ranking Democrat said Wednesday that the federal government should beef up its no-fly terrorist watchlist in light of threats posed by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS). – The Hill

A 19-year-old Colorado woman pleaded guilty on Wednesday for conspiring to provide material support to the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and a number of al Qaeda affiliates. – The Hill


The US Army on Sept. 5 activated a new Cyber Protection Brigade — the first of its kind in the Army — at Fort Gordon, Georgia – Defense News

One lesson of the 9/11 story is that, as a nation, we didn’t awaken to the gravity of the terrorist threat until it was too late. We must not repeat that mistake in the cyber realm. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)

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Wednesday Defense Briefing

44 is prepared to authorize airstrikes in Syria, a senior administration official said on Tuesday, taking the military campaign against the Sunni militant group, the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, into new and unpredictable terrain. – New York Times

44 told top congressional leaders at a meeting Tuesday that he has the authority he needs to conduct operations against Islamic State militants as he gave them a preview of the strategy he will lay out in a prime-time address to the nation on Wednesday evening. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)

One of the most eagerly-anticipated stories in naval circles this fall is what findings and recommendations a special US Navy task force has come up with for a new small surface combatant (SSC) warship. The task force’s report was completed at the end of July, but the Navy so far has been relentlessly tight-lipped about its contents. – Defense News

As the future amphibious assault ship LHA 6 USS America makes its way past the countries of the Americas to get to San Francisco for its scheduled Oct. 11 commissioning, U.S. Navy leaders continue to tout the ship’s aviation capabilities. – Aviation Week

The U.S. military says it launched five more airstrikes in support of Iraqi government troops and Sunni tribesmen protecting the Haditha Dam against fighters of the Islamic State group that controls parts of northern and western Iraq. – Associated Press

The War

Convicted al Qaeda terrorism plotter José Padilla, a U.S. citizen jailed for years as an enemy combatant, was handed a new 21-year prison sentence Tuesday because an appeals court determined his previous 17-year term was too lenient. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)

The administration is directing all U.S. diplomatic posts overseas to review security and will assist embassies and consulates needing help – Associated Press

Air strikes in Iraq, ongoing unrest in Syria and the beheadings of two American journalists are casting a long shadow over the 13th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks. – Associated Press

Greece’s National Intelligence Service said Tuesday that it was at “a heightened state of vigilance” for suspected militants, keeping close tabs on radical Muslims, and had detected at least six foreign fighters with the terrorist group Islamic State transiting through the country in recent months. – Los Angeles Times

Pro-government forces in the [Yemen] capital opened fire on Tuesday at thousands of demonstrators from the Shiite religious minority, killing six and injuring dozens, officials and witnesses said. – New York Times

Kuwait has vowed to pursue legal action against its nationals designated as “terrorist financiers” as Arab states seek to boost co-ordination against the threat from Sunni jihadis in Iraq and Syria. – Financial Times

Saudi Arabia will hold talks about militant violence in the region on Thursday with the United States and Muslim allies, the kingdom announced on Tuesday, in an apparent attempt to support international efforts to tackle crises in Iraq and Syria. – Reuters

Foreign Armies East

Japan and the United States are exploring the possibility of Tokyo acquiring offensive weapons that would allow Japan to project power far beyond its borders, Japanese officials said, a move that would likely infuriate China. – Reuters

Canadian troops set to be deployed to Iraq as part of a U.S.-led push to fight the Islamic State will not take part in combat activity, government officials said Tuesday. – Wall Street Journal

The Indian Defense Ministry has sent a global request for information for short-range, surface-to-air missiles (SRSAMs), throwing into question an existing deal with the French for the same weapon for the Indian Navy. – Defense News

The Pakistan Navy last night revealed it had foiled a waterborne terrorist attack on a naval facility in Karachi on Sept. 6, killing two of the attackers and apprehending four more. However, a Navy petty officer was killed in the attack, and an officer and six sailors lightly wounded. – Defense News

The outcome of today’s test of the US-Israel Arrow-2 interceptor is inconclusive and will remain so, officials here say, until data is fully analyzed over the next few days. – Defense News

Russia said emphatically on Tuesday it did not want Ukraine to become a NATO member, describing such a possibility as an “unprecedented challenge to European security.” – AFP

Little noticed by the outside world, a Kurdish-led army known as the Popular Protection Units — YPG, its Kurdish-language initials — has been perhaps the most effective force to date against the militants. – Los Angeles Times

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Tuesday Defense Briefing

44 is pushing congressional leaders to authorize a $5 billion counterterrorism fund that could be used to support  operations against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS). – The Hill

The U.S. military is coordinating some airstrikes with Sunni tribal militias on the ground in Iraq’s Anbar Province after Islamic State militants began to build up forces near the Haditha Dam, a Pentagon official said Monday. – Military Times

The US House soon could vote on a spending measure that would keep the Pentagon and other federal agencies funded while lawmakers hit the campaign trail. – Defense News

US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said he plans to forge ahead with bureaucratic Pentagon reform initiatives despite the uptick of global threats and military activities in recent months. – Defense News

The War

The shirt a Navy SEAL wore in the raid that killed Osama bin Laden and a special coin given to a CIA officer who played a key role in finding him are being displayed at the Sept. 11 museum, adding potent symbols of the terrorist attacks’ aftermath days before their anniversary. – Associated Press

Nigeria’s military has recaptured the flashpoint town of Bama in northeast Borno state from Boko Haram and blocked the Islamist militants’ advance towards the state capital Maiduguri, a senior official said on Monday. – Reuters

Four men accused of helping al Qaeda-linked militants launch a deadly attack on a Nairobi shopping mall last year have said they were tortured in prison and a state-funded rights body is investigating, a lawyer for two of them said on Monday. – Reuters

Anti-tank weapons that were likely once owned by moderate Syrian rebels have landed in the hands of Islamic State militants, according to a newly released field investigation conducted in both northern Iraq and Syria. – Washington Post’s Checkpoint

The Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility on Tuesday for an attack last week on a naval dockyard in the country’s south, in which at least one official was killed. – Reuters

German police on Saturday arrested three men suspected of being members of the Somali terror organization Al Shabab when they arrived at Frankfurt airport, Germany’s attorney general said Monday. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)

Yemeni soldiers opened fire on Shi’ite Muslim protesters attempting to storm the cabinet building in the capital Sanaa on Tuesday, killing one, a Reuters photographer said. – Reuters

Foreign Armies East

A Russian Defense Ministry official dismissed on Tuesday a complaint by Ottawa that Russian military aircraft had acted provocatively by flying near a Canadian warship sailing in the Black Sea. – Reuters

The INS Tanin, Israel’s fourth of six planned Dolphin-class submarines, has departed Howaldtswerke-Deutche Werft (HDW) shipyard in Kiel, Germany, for the 4,000-mile trip to its home port in Haifa. – Defense News

Israel has provided satellite imagery and other intelligence in support of the U.S.-led aerial campaign against Islamic State in Iraq, a Western diplomat said on Monday. – Reuters

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Monday Defense Briefing

44 will use a speech to the nation on Wednesday to make his case for launching a United States-led offensive against Sunni militants gaining ground in the Middle East, seeking to rally support for a broad military mission while reassuring the public he is not plunging American forces into another Iraq war. – New York Times

44 escalated the American response to the marauding Islamic State in Iraq and Syria on Friday, recruiting at least nine allies to help crush the organization and offering the outlines of a coordinated military strategy that echoes the war on terror developed by his predecessor, George W. Bush, more than a decade ago. – New York Times

Major General Robert H. Scales, USA (Ret.) writes: The only sure means for defeating the group is with a renewed, expanded and overwhelming legion of capable special fighters who have learned through painful trial and error how to do the job. – Washington Post

American forces, Iraqi government troops and their militia allies say they have cleared Islamist militants threatening the crucial Haditha dam in Anbar province in Washington’s first attack in direct support of Baghdad since the launch of US operations a month ago. – Financial Times

Read the most recent Iraq Situation Report – ISW

The Pentagon held talks with top Georgian military officials Sunday about moving forward with Tbilisi’s desire to purchase Sikorsky Blackhawk helicopters. – Defense News

Widespread cheating by Air Force officers who oversee the U.S. nuclear missile arsenal embarrassed the service this year and prompted questions about what can be done to change their culture. But it also did something else: It gave rank-and-file troops who provide security at nuclear missile sites a voice to express concerns about their aging equipment. – Washington Post’s Checkpoint

Potential 2016 presidential candidates are using hawkish terms when it comes to Russia and the Islamic State. But while some are banging the drums of war, few are calling for larger annual US defense budgets. – Defense News

It won’t happen tomorrow, but the Pentagon may have to start eating its young to pay for two of the most expensive weapons in US history: the Air Force’s Long Range Strike bomber and the Navy’s replacement for the Ohio class nuclear missile submarine. – Breaking Defense

A group of the most senior civilian Pentagon officials took to the hustings late last week to outline what it promises will be a sustained, multipronged effort to improve how the Defense Department develops, buys and sustains its equipment. – Defense News

The long-delayed operational debut for the Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter is at risk of further slippage due to a safety-critical problem with its Pratt & Whitney F135 engine for which no single root cause has yet been identified…Aviation Week has learned that at least five engines have been removed from F-35s after showing signs of premature wear. – Aviation Week

The US Air Force and Lockheed Martin have reached agreement on a fix for a series of cracks impacting F-16B and D fleets around the world. – Defense News

It’s good to learn from your mistakes. The panel’s theme: how FVL, which plans to replace a host of current helicopters, can avoid the errors of past programs like the F-35. – Breaking Defense

The War

The Justice Department released two decade-old memos Friday night, offering the fullest public airing to date of the Bush administration’s legal justification for the warrantless wiretapping of Americans’ phone calls and e-mails — a program that began in secret after the 2001 terrorist attacks. – Washington Post

Federal prosecutors have turned over more than 2,900 pages of documents and 45 hours of videos to the defense for Ahmed Abu Khattala, the suspected ringleader of the September 2012 attacks in Benghazi, Libya, that killed the U.S. ambassador and three other Americans, but need more time to prepare the terrorism conspiracy case, according to a court filing released overnight Friday. – Washington Post

The United States is bracing for the anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, with embassies around the world likely to bolster security against the possibility of a strike from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and other extremist groups. – The War

A Massachusetts man could be in charge of social media for the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), according to multiple reports. – The Hill

The Senate could move to strip Americans fighting alongside Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL or ISIS) of their U.S. citizenship under a new bill set to be introduced next week by Sen. Ted Cruz (R., Texas), according to a source close to the senator’s office. – Washington Free Beacon

Ali Sayyed’s murder last week epitomises the dilemma of Lebanon’s Sunnis, who are increasingly both the source and victims of radical Islamists seeking a foothold in the Mediterranean state. – Financial Times

Islamic State pamphlets and flags have appeared in parts of Pakistan and India, alongside signs that the ultra-radical group is inspiring militants even in the strongholds of the Taliban and al Qaeda. – Reuters

Islamic State fighters attacked a riverside town north of Baghdad on Monday with gunboats and a car bomb, killing 17 people and wounding 54, a security source said. – Reuters

Al Nusra Front, Al Qaeda’s affiliate in Syria, has released an online video assailing the Shiite Muslim group Hezbollah and showing images of what appear to be Lebanese police officers and soldiers captured last month. – Los Angeles Times

Saudi Arabia’s Specialized Criminal Court jailed six people for up to six years for security offences including traveling abroad to fight, adopting militant ideology and “breaking obedience to the ruler”, state media reported late on Sunday. – Reuters


NATO struggled to find responses to new challenges as it concluded its summit meeting here on Friday, announcing limited steps to deter Russia in Eastern Europe and starting to marshal broader international support to confront radical Islamists in the Middle East. – New York Times

Leaders of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, reacting to Russia’s intervention in Ukraine, agreed to establish a so-called spearhead force of several thousand troops designed to move into trouble spots at short notice. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)

NATO leaders are praising a commitment from heads of state to spend 2 percent of their gross domestic product (GDP) on defense, a guideline long ignored by many alliance members. – Defense News

NATO intends to use US V-22 Ospreys in upcoming exercises across the alliance, which could lead to increased interest in the aircraft by European countries, a top commander said on Friday. – Defense News


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Friday Defense Briefing

Senior officials have been giving wildly disparate estimates of how many Americans are fighting for ISIS—because U.S. intelligence doesn’t really know the answer to the question. – The Daily Beast

Despite some loosening of spending caps in the past year, Pentagon budget planners need to present Congress with some stark choices, an experienced specialist said on Thursday in releasing a new analysis of President Obama’s fiscal 2015 defense budget. – Defense One

The readiness of American troops for combat could be “worse than most people think,” according to a top budget analyst. – The Hill

The War

Fighters affiliated with the extremist Islamic State (IS) group have reportedly kidnapped some 50 men from a Sunni village north of Baghdad. – Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty

More than 20 people were killed and dozens injured after two bombs went off in Iraq’s capital Baghdad on Thursday. – BBC

Taliban militants detonated two truck bombs and tried to storm police and intelligence buildings in eastern Afghanistan, killing 33 people and wounding more than 150, officials said Thursday. – Los Angeles Times

In a 55-minute video, Mr. Zawahiri announced the expansion of al Qaeda into the Indian subcontinent while denouncing Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and the caliphate—or religious empire—he declared in June. The Islamic State’s shocking success has outdone that of al Qaeda’s, taking more ground than any other contemporary Arab militant group in a bid to become the leader of the global jihadist movement. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)

India put several provinces on heightened alert on Thursday after al Qaeda announced the formation of a wing of the militant group in India and its neighborhood, a senior government official said. – Reuters

Some 600 British citizens are waging jihad in Iraq and Syria with U.K. passports tucked in their pockets. The masked men appearing in Internet videos showing the murders of American journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff spoke with London accents. So it’s not a moment too soon for Whitehall and other European governments to address the threat such terrorists pose. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)

In a rare public reference to intelligence sources by an Israeli intelligence officer, an official of the Shin Bet intelligence agency said today that not one of the Palestinians executed by Hamas last month for allegedly spying for Israel was in fact an Israeli asset. – Washington Free Beacon

A British-backed team has been quietly investigating Islamic State for war crimes since January, with operatives in Syria collecting evidence for future prosecution of the militant group’s leaders, people familiar with the matter say. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)

Foreign Armies East

NATO Summit Day One Wrap-Up – BBC

The UK Prime Minister David Cameron has pledged 3,500 troops to a new Nato high-readiness force, which is likely to be agreed upon at the final day of the Nato Summit in Newport. – International Business Times

Eighteen foreign fighters from the Islamic State, including an American jihadist, were killed in a Syrian air raid on a town near the militant group’s main stronghold city of Raqqa in eastern Syria, a human rights monitoring group said on Thursday. – Reuters

Two days after British Defence Secretary Michael Fallon told a Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) conference in London that the government would be urging its NATO alliance partners at this week’s summit to invest more in defense, a report has come out saying Britain will miss a key spending target itself as soon as 2015. – Defense News

The U.N. nuclear watchdog said it has seen releases of steam and water indicating that North Korea may be operating a reactor, in the latest update on a plant that experts say could make plutonium for atomic bombs. – Reuters

South Korea said Thursday it would create a joint military unit with the United States, as a report suggested the contingent would target North Korea’s weapons of mass destruction if a full-scale conflict broke out. – Defense News

Much ink has been spilt over the volume and complexity of the almost overwhelming set of security challenges facing Western leaders as they convene in Wales for the 2014 NATO Summit. Missing from that agenda: industry. – Defense One

Accordingly, the West urgently needs a major rethinking of its strategy. On August 30, Ukrainian prime minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk opened the door, telling his cabinet that Kiev should apply for NATO membership, reviving an idea widely discussed a decade ago. Former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko said her party will press for legislation authorizing a nationwide referendum, perhaps in October, on joining NATO. – The Weekly Standard

Ukrainian forces and pro-Russian rebels clashed just east of the strategic port of Mariupol on Friday, hours before envoys from Ukraine and Russia were expected to announce a ceasefire as the starting point for a wider peace plan. – Reuters

About 2,000 Russian servicemen have been killed so far in the conflict in eastern Ukraine, Ukrainian military spokesman Andriy Lysenko said on Friday, citing intelligence data. – Reuters


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Thursday Defense Briefing

44 pledged Wednesday to “degrade and destroy’’ the Islamic State and said that the militant group’s latest beheading of a U.S. journalist will only serve to galvanize those seeking to punish the militants. – Washington Post

Approximately 200 U.S. soldiers are headed to Ukraine for peacekeeping exercises in mid-September, the Pentagon announced Wednesday. – The Hill

The Pentagon is pushing its strategy to develop new technologies and capabilities alongside allies to drive down costs and foster innovation, the assistant secretary of defense for research and engineering said on Wednesday. – Defense News

U.S. intelligence agencies last month reported that a group of 22 Yemeni-Americans were training in Houston to be seamen on oil tankers, raising terrorism concerns over the unusual activity. – Washington Times

In vowing in Estonia on Wednesday to defend vulnerable NATO nations from Russia “for as long as necessary,” 44 has now committed the United States to three major projections of its power: a “pivot” to Asia, a more muscular presence in Europe and a new battle against Islamic extremists that seems very likely to accelerate. – New York Times

Foreign Armies East

French officials said Wednesday that they will not deliver the first Mistral-class amphibious warship that Russia had ordered from Paris as part of a $1.7 billion weapons sale, a strong rebuke after months of aggressive actions by Russia in eastern Ukraine. – Washington Post

Britain is considering providing arms and training to Kurdish forces to help its fight against Islamic insurgents, Prime Minister David Cameron said on Thursday. – Reuters

A senior Israeli military intelligence official acknowledged on Tuesday that only several hundred Hamas operatives out of a total that he put at 16,000 were killed during this summer’s 50-day war in Gaza, leaving the group’s fighting force largely intact. – New York Times


A long-term NATO Readiness Action Plan to deal with global upheaval in areas such as Russia, the Middle East and North Africa will be a key focus of NATO’s summit in Wales, an alliance official said. – Defense News

The War

Nigeria’s militant Islamist group Boko Haram has captured the town of Banki, which borders Cameroon, after government troops fled, residents say.  The military has not yet commented on the latest town to reportedly fall to the insurgents in recent weeks. – BBC

Somalia’s government has offered an amnesty to fighters of Islamist group al-Shabab, amid uncertainty over whether its leader survived a US air strike.  The militants would be reintegrated into society if they surrendered over the next 45 days, a statement said. – BBC

India ordered several provinces on Thursday to be on increased alert after al Qaeda announced the formation of a wing of the militant group in India and its neighborhood, a senior government official said. – Reuters

Al Qaeda and the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL or ISIS) have significantly stepped up their recruiting efforts in Pakistan and other South East Asian countries, highlighting the competition between the two terror groups to enlist radicalized fighters. – Washington Free Beacon

In a video message released by al-Qaeda’s media arm, terrorist leader Ayman al-Zawahiri announced the creation of a new branch of the organization in South Asia. Al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent would “raise the flag of jihad” through Muslim lands it now deems “occupied” by nonbelievers. In the 55-minute video, Zawahiri designated Umar Asim, a militant with ties to the Pakistani Taliban, as the new al-Qaeda branch’s head. – Washington Post

Taliban insurgents detonated two powerful truck bombs outside the office of Afghanistan’s spy agency and a police compound in the central town of Ghazni on Thursday, killing 18 people and wounding around 150, the provincial governor said. – Reuters

Turkey is struggling to close a “jihadist highway” that lets foreign militants slip across its border into Syria, amid pressure from Western governments and mounting security fears at home. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)




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