Wednesday Defense Briefing

The U.S.-led coalition stepped up airstrikes around the Syrian border town of Kobane on Tuesday after Turkey appealed for help, enabling Kurdish fighters to reverse the advance of Islamic State militants for the first time since the extremists launched their assault about three weeks ago. – Washington Post

Former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta on Tuesday said 44 damaged U.S. credibility, when he decided not to take military action against Syrian leader Bashar Assad, despite drawing a “red line” against the use of chemical weapons. – The Hill

Policy decisions by 44 contributed to the rise of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), former CIA director Leon Panetta said Tuesday. – The Hill’s Briefing Room

The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said he believes that airstrikes in Syria that targeted the Khorasan Group succeeded in disrupting the group’s plots on U.S. and western targets. – ABC News

The Navy’s top officer said Tuesday he would oppose sending a second carrier to the Persian Gulf region. – Military Times

Two Norfolk-based carriers have swapped places in the deployment cycle, Fleet Forces Command announced Monday. – Defense News

The U.S. Air Force says the Pentagon’s inspector general got the numbers wrong in asserting that the service risks wasting $8.8 billion on MQ-9 Reaper drones. – Bloomberg

As the world has gone wireless, the electromagnetic spectrum has become a vast, invisible battleground — and we don’t even have a general in command. While US Strategic Command has the responsibility to “advocate” for Electronic Warfare, STRATCOM’s own chief of operations said bluntly today that it lacks the authorities and funding it needs to make things actually happen. – Breaking Defense

Fix the way the Pentagon buys weapons?  What you might not expect is widespread agreement — 70 percent — that one significant problem is the Defense Department’s acquisition workforce itself. – Defense One

The War

The Islamic State has made some notable gains throughout Anbar province in western Iraq, while the U.S. military and its allies have focused airstrikes on northern Iraq, Pentagon officials say. – Washington Time

Two suspected U.S. drone strikes on Taliban compounds in a Pakistani tribal region bordering Afghanistan on Tuesday killed at least 10 militants, officials said. – Associated Press

Shiite rebels who control Yemen’s capital rejected the president’s choice of a new prime minister on Tuesday, a move that threatened to derail a United Nations-brokered peace deal. – Associated Press

Fighters from al Qaeda attacked security and government buildings in al-Bayda in the southern part of Yemen on Wednesday, killing at least four soldiers before they were beaten back, local officials said. – Reuters

In an attack that ended months of relative quiet on the border between Lebanon and Israel, Hezbollah, the Lebanese Shiite militant group, said it set off an explosive device on the Israeli-controlled side of the border on Tuesday, wounding two Israeli soldiers. – New York Times

A Minnesota doctor testified Tuesday that officials at the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, were abusive in the way they force-fed a hunger striking detainee, sometimes ordering the feedings when they weren’t necessary and using methods that run counter to accepted medical standards. – Washington Post

It’s a report that’s been the talk of Washington’s intelligence community for months, yet lawyers for the nation’s premier intelligence agency—the CIA— improbably maintained it didn’t have a copy. – Politico

A Libyan man facing trial in New York in the 1998 bombings of two U.S. embassies in Africa says his statements to the FBI were coerced from him and should be kept from his trial next month. – Associated Press

Foreign Armies

Syria has revealed the existence of four chemical weapons facilities that were previously undisclosed, a top United Nations official said on Tuesday, raising new concerns about the government’s commitment to eliminating its chemical weapons under an agreement struck last year. – Washington Free Beacon

Lebanon’s army will soon receive military equipment as part of a $1 billion grant from Saudi Arabia to help it fight Islamist militants encroaching into Lebanon from Syria, former Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri said on Tuesday. – Reuters

Military chiefs from more than 20 countries — many already involved in the fight against the Islamic State and some who are considering joining the group — will meet in Washington early next week to discuss progress on airstrikes in Iraq and Syria as well as plans to create a ground force to consolidate gains against the group. – Foreign Policy’s The Complex

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Monday Defense Briefing

US Army pilots for the first time used an Apache attack helicopter to strike Islamist militant targets in Iraq over the weekend, according to a statement by CENTCOM. – Defense News

Instead of large wars, the Army of the future is likely to focus on deployments of smaller formations of soldiers to hotspots around the globe, Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno said in a recent interview. – Stars and Stripes

The company that built the first workable helicopter rolled out a (potential) revolution in chopper technology yesterday: Sikorsky’s high-speed S-97 Raider. A year ago, Sikorsky made a splash at the huge Association of the US Army conference with just a life-size mock-up. Now, just in time to talk it up at AUSA 2014, they’ve built a working prototype, which is supposed to start actually flying later this year. – Breaking Defense

The US Navy says it will soon use armed, robotic patrol boats with no sailors on board to escort and defend warships moving through sensitive sea lanes. – Defense News

So whatever happened to Jo Ann Rooney? “Wow, I haven’t heard that name in quite awhile,” one Pentagon-based US Navy officer said when asked a few weeks ago about her status. “No one talks about her.” And yet Rooney’s nomination to become undersecretary of the Navy, the second-highest office in the Navy Department, remains in force. – Defense News

While it remains much too early to declare a new day in Pentagon acquisition and export control circles, the turn of the building’s fiscal page to 2015 has brought with it several high-profile initiatives to begin to reform and streamline several long-stultified lines of effort. – Defense News

Three women have passed the grueling Combat Endurance Test on the first day of the Marine Corps Infantry Officer Course, officials told Marine Corps Times Friday morning. – Military Times

The Navy plans to begin putting senior enlisted female sailors on submarines in December, officials announced on Friday. – The Hill

Overlooked amid the coverage of U.S. air strikes against the Islamic State, on Sept. 17 Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) gave a speech on defense issues. It deserves to be viewed and read in its entirety, but three aspects of it struck me. – Foreign Policy’s Shadow Government

The War

Within days of a military defeat, the group would release images of more beheadings — at least nine over six weeks — of Western journalists, aid workers and Muslim soldiers. The tactic signals that even as the Islamic State group suffers battlefield losses, it is holding on to its edge in the propaganda war. U.S. officials say that’s the only way the militants can continue to maintain support and attract new recruits. – Associated Press

Pay no attention to the Shi’ite militias threatening to kill U.S. troops in Iraq. The elite Iranian forces backing those militias have been ordered not to attack the Americans. That’s the conclusion of the latest U.S. intelligence assessment for Iraq. And it represents a stunning turnaround for Iran’s Quds Force, once considered America’s most dangerous foe in the region. – The Daily Beast

A suspected U.S. drone strike killed five militants in Pakistan’s tribal north-west on Sunday including a senior ethnic Uzbek commander, intelligence sources said. – Reuters

At least 16 insurgents from the Nusra Front, Al Qaeda’s wing in Syria, were killed in clashes with the Shiite group Hezbollah in eastern Lebanon on Sunday as the Nusra Front launched a major offensive, a person close to Hezbollah said. – Reuters

A Federal District Court judge on Friday ordered the public disclosure of 28 classified military videotapes showing the forced cell extraction and forced feeding of a hunger-striking Guantánamo Bay detainee, rejecting the Obama administration’s arguments that making the videos public would endanger national security – New York Times

Vice President Biden argued Thursday night in a foreign policy address at Harvard University that Americans “face no existential threat” from terrorism. – The Hill

Now the Houthis, who many believe are backed by Shiite-led Iran, are poised to become Yemen’s version of Lebanon’s Shiite Hezbollah — top power brokers dominating the government and running a virtual state-within-a-state. – Washington Post

Foreign Armies

America’s most advanced stealth fighter poses a great risk to China’s air defense network — and the military is going to great lengths to learn how to shoot one down. – Defense News

The security campaign is part of a two-pronged war that Jordan has launched as a key Arab member of the US-led anti-Isis coalition. Amman has put its airfields, training centres, and assets of its powerful state security service at the coalition’s disposal. Jordanian jets have carried out at least two air strikes against Syria. – Financial Times

The decision by the US to legalize the sale of lethal equipment for maritime security to Vietnam could have major impacts on both the regional balance of power and US industry. – Defense News

A military agreement with the Philippines and easing an arms embargo against Vietnam show the Obama administration wants deeper security ties with Asia, even as turmoil in the Mideast has undermined its hope of making Asia the heart of its foreign policy. – Associated Press

Australian Defence Minister Sen. David Johnston announced Friday that up to four more Boeing C-17A Globemaster III strategic airlifters could be acquired for the Royal Australian Air Force. – Defense News

An Afghan army desperate for more advanced military equipment is suffering death rates 30 percent higher in the 2014 fighting season, the army’s first against the Taliban without large-scale assistance from the U.S.-led international military force, officials said. – Associated Press

The Indian government, acting on Air Force demands, has offered to spend $12 billion to encourage private firms to establish an aircraft manufacturing facility — a move that would break Hindustan Aeronautics Limited’s monopoly on aircraft manufacturing after years of delays on several projects. – Defense News

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Friday Defense Briefing

Former CIA director David H. Petraeus said Thursday that U.S. ground troops may still be needed to destroy Islamic State extremists in Iraq, but the administration’s current strategy of only deploying advisers to the war zone has “a reasonable chance of success” without a large number of American boots on the ground. – Washington Times

Former U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta takes a swing at the administration in his forthcoming book, according to an excerpt published Thursday, saying the White House failed to push hard enough for a residual U.S. force in Iraq, which he said could have helped advise Iraqi troops on how to counter Islamic State militants. – WSJ’s Washington Wire

Leon Panetta writes: To my frustration, the White House coordinated the negotiations but never really led them. Officials there seemed content to endorse an agreement if State and Defense could reach one, but without the President’s active advocacy, al-Maliki was allowed to slip away. The deal never materialized. To this day, I believe that a small U.S. troop presence in Iraq could have effectively advised the Iraqi military on how to deal with al-Qaeda’s resurgence and the sectarian violence that has engulfed the country. – Time

Marine Gen. John Allen, who is coordinating the international effort against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), traveled to Iraq on Thursday to meet with local leaders. – The Hill

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said he spoke with the French defense minister Thursday about the possibility of France participating in airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria, something the French have so far declined to do. – Associated Press

A former American soldier has joined Kurdish forces fighting against Islamic State militants in northern Syria, a rare case of a lone U.S. citizen joining the fight against extremists in Syria. – Reuters

The commander of the war in Afghanistan said he will “reserve the right” to recommend changes to the American military’s drawdown plans should the circumstances on the ground dictate the need for a change. – Defense One

Soldiers will soon see new deployments and rotations to hot spots around the world, even as the Army slashes its active-duty force to fit a tightening budget…One of Odierno’s top concerns is making sure these soldiers are ready and properly trained before they deploy, he said, but that’s getting tougher and tougher. Heavy and rapid budget cuts are steadily chipping away at the force, and readiness is the next victim – Military Times

Amid continuing uncertainty over future defense budgets and potential budget caps, the US Army’s force development chief says he has made one five-year spending plan for sequestration and one for a reprieve. – Defense News

After months of preparation, the US Navy was set Thursday morning to brief Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel on its recommendations for a new Small Surface Combatant (SSC), and a delegation led by Navy Secretary Ray Mabus waited to make a personal presentation….But the SecDef never appeared. According to several Pentagon sources, he was delayed by a prior engagement, and the briefing is waiting to be re-scheduled — no easy task, given the hectic schedules of many of the principles. – Defense News

44’s decision to keep ground troops away from the battlefield in Iraq and Syria has thrust the Air Force into the premier role in America’s latest fight against Islamic militants, bolstering the service’s stature during a time when all branches of the military are competing for limited funds. – Stars and Stripes

The US Air Force issued a quick rebuttal to a Defense Department Inspector General report on its MQ-9 Reaper acquisition program, saying the agency used outdated information to criticize the service’s purchase of the drones. – Defense News

Even as the Navy pursues cheaper ships such as LCS and JHSV, the Marines’ message is: Amphibious Warships; Accept No Substitutes. There’s real interest and opportunity in non-traditional ways to deploy Marines, assistant commandant Gen. John Paxton said today, but a purpose-built amphibious ship remains the Marine’s top choice to go to war with. – Breaking Defense

The Navy is upgrading the guidance control systems on its inventory of 500 air-launched AGM-65 Maverick missiles in order to give the weapon semi-active laser targeting technology, Raytheon officials said. – DOD Buzz

After being grounded by Defense Department budget cuts, the Air Force has been cleared to conduct four flyovers at major sporting events in October. – Military Times

Pentagon ought to be thinking strategically about how it might use a little extra “juice” next year to preserve a bedrock of military capability—a bedrock upon which it can rebuild further down the line. – The National Interest

The War

When Islamic State fighters tried to storm the Tigris River town of Dhuluiya north of Baghdad this week, they were repelled by a rare coalition of Sunni tribal fighters inside the town and Shi’ites in its sister city Balad on the opposite bank. – Reuters

44’s failure to make good on his promise to close the detention center for terrorist suspects at Guantanamo Bay has forced the FBI counterterrorism division to approve a new, no-bid contract for air charter services to and from the military base on Cuba. – Washington Times

Half of Americans think there’s a high risk of a terrorist attack on U.S. soil, yet only a third are closely following news of U.S. airstrikes against Islamic extremists in the Middle East. – Associated Press

Amid a wave of bombing attempts in this northwestern Pakistani city on Thursday, a bomb rigged to a timer exploded inside a passenger van, killing seven and wounding six, the police said. – New York Times

Yemeni rebels in control of the capital ordered the finance ministry on Thursday to suspend all payments except salaries to state employees, in an apparent tightening of their control over government bodies. – Reuters

Foreign Armies

Australia will join the United States and its allies in launching airstrikes in Iraq against Islamic State militants in the coming days, Prime Minister Tony Abbott said Friday. – New York Times

Analysts say the crash of a Pakistani fighter jet Wednesday outside the city of Quetta will not affect the likely service life of the aircraft type, although it may be relegated to the role of lead-in fighter trainer. – Defense News

Turkey appeared to take a big political step toward joining the American-led campaign against the militants of the Islamic State when its Parliament voted Thursday to authorize expanded military operations in Iraq and Syria and to allow foreign forces to launch operations from its territory. – New York Times

The recent Gaza War has proven the impossibility of a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian problem, Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon declared this week. – Washington Free Beacon

Egypt’s army killed a field commander in Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis, the country’s most dangerous Islamist militant group, during clashes on Thursday in the lawless north of the Sinai Peninsula, security sources said. – Reuters

Almost 30 Libyan soldiers were killed and 70 wounded in a double suicide bombing and clashes in the port city of Benghazi on Thursday, medics said. – Reuters

 

 

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Thursday Defense Briefing

The Pentagon is grappling with significant intelligence gaps as it bombs Iraq and Syria, and it is operating under less restrictive targeting rules than those imposed on the CIA drone campaign in Pakistan and Yemen, according to current and former U.S. officials. – Associated Press

Marine Gen. John Allen said Wednesday that it could take years to train moderate Syrian rebel forces to fight the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), a linchpin of the president’s strategy against the terrorist group. – The Hill

Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus on Wednesday said the U.S. needs to have a fleet of 11 aircraft carriers, siding with lawmakers who have sought to save the USS George Washington from budget cuts. – The Hill

The U.S. Air Force didn’t justify its plans to buy a total of 401 MQ-9 Reaper drones worth about $77 billion, according to a report on a Pentagon Inspector General audit. – DOD Buzz

The Army and Marine Corps may have wasted more than $100 million returning vehicles from Afghanistan that they don’t need over just a one-year period, according to a Government Accountability Office report released Tuesday. – USA Today

Designed for 24-hour-plus patrols at 50,000 feet, Triton still can’t do the job by itself, say both the program manager and the admiral in charge of all Navy drones. It will provide the high-altitude, theater-spanning coverage that cues more tactically-focused recon aircraft to zoom in (in both senses of the word). Primarily, that means the manned, land-based P-8 Poseidon and the Unmanned Carrier-Launched Airborne Surveillance & Strike (UCLASS) drone. – Breaking Defense

The Navy test-fired a Norwegian long-range precision strike missile from the deck of its Littoral Combat Ship to assess whether the weapon should be permanently integrated onto the ship, service officials said. – DOD Buzz

The Pentagon office in charge of leading the sales of US defense equipment to foreign governments released a strategy document Wednesday aimed at streamlining the foreign military sales (FMS) process, while helping Washington to equip NATO partners in contingency operations. – Defense News

 

Foreign Armies

British fighter jets fired on Islamic State (IS) militants west of Baghdad and in northwest Iraq in two rounds of airstrikes Wednesday, the defence ministry in London said. – AFP

The French military said Wednesday it would deploy three more fighter jets and a warship to the Middle East to boost support to Iraqi forces fighting Islamic State jihadists. – AFP

Australia was sending two unarmed air force planes to support U.S.-led coalition combat operations against the Islamic State movement in Iraq, but would not yet launch its own airstrikes, the prime minister said Wednesday. – Associated Press

The US State Department has cleared a potential sale of enhanced Patriot air defense system missiles to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. – Defense News

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Tuesday Defense Briefing

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The War

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

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

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

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

 

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Monday Defense Briefing

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The War

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Friday Defense Briefing

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The War

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

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

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

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

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

Foreign Armies East

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

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

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

Land Mines

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

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Thursday Defense Briefing

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The War

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Foreign Armies East

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Wednesday Defense Briefing

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The War

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Foreign Armies East

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

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

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

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

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Tuesday Defense Briefing

ISIS

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

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

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

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

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

Defense

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Marines

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

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

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

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

The War

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

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

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