Air Force Times Early Bird Brief
COMPILED BY THE EDITORS OF DEFENSE NEWS & MILITARY TIMES
September 15, 2014
EARLY BIRD BRIEF
Get the most comprehensive aggregation of defense news delivered by the world’s largest independent newsroom covering military and defense.
TODAY’S TOP 5
1. Women invited to apply for Ranger School
(Army Times) The Army is looking for female soldiers who want to volunteer to attend Ranger school.
2. Obama hasn’t given specific order to strike in Syria, officials say
(McClatchy) President Barack Obama has not yet authorized the U.S. Central Command to conduct offensive combat operations in Syria, two senior defense officials told McClatchy on Thursday, underscoring the uncertainty that U.S. officials still have over how best to counter the rise of the Islamic State in that country.
3. It’s Not Airpower Vs. Boots On Ground Any More
(Robbin Laird and Ed Timperlake in Breaking Defense) As the Ukrainian and Middle Eastern crises roil our world, the debate quickly turns on which path will work best to deal with the evolving threats: boots on the ground, or planes in the air operating without boots on the ground. The specter of responses to the 9/11 attack and the various engagements in Afghanistan and Iraq naturally shade everyone’s perspectives.
4. Cameron Announces Response Plan to Beheading of British Aid Worker
(New York Times) Following an emergency meeting on Sunday with Britain’s top security and military officials to form a response to the beheading of a British aid worker by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, Prime Minister David Cameron laid out a plan to support American military action in those two countries but made no commitment to a more vigorous military role.
5. 2 al Qaeda commanders reported killed in US airstrike in eastern Afghanistan
(Long War Journal) Two al Qaeda commanders are reported to have been killed in a US airstrike in the eastern Afghan province of Paktika. The deaths of the jihadist leaders, who are members of an al Qaeda company known as the Badr Mansoor Group, have not been confirmed.
DEFENSE NEWS WITH VAGO MURADIAN
US Responds to the Islamic State: Discussion
(Defense News) As President Obama rolls out a new strategy to counter Islamic militants, our roundtable of experts share their thoughts.
Was the NATO Summit a success?
(Defense News) The alliance’s 2014 gathering wrapped up in Newport, Wales, last week. Jorge Benitez, with the Atlantic Council, and Marcin Wrona with the TVN Network, discuss what leaders missed.
Her Royal Majesty’s Ambassador Peter Westmacott
(Defense News) Britain’s ambassador to the US since 2012, shares his insight on the NATO Summitt.
AFA’s Big Show
(Defense News) Mark Barrett, the Air Force Association’s executive vice president, stops by to preview the Sept. 15 -17 Air and Space Conference and Technology Exposition.
John Kerry: “We are at war” with ISIS
(CBS) Secretary of State John Kerry backtracked on the language he had used to describe the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS, also known as ISIL), saying in an interview on CBS’ “Face the Nation” Sunday that, “we are at war” with the group.
Paths to War, Then and Now, Haunt Obama
(New York Times) Just hours before announcing an escalated campaign against Islamic extremists last week, President Obama privately reflected on another time when a president weighed military action in the Middle East – the frenzied weeks leading up to the American invasion of Iraq a decade ago.
U.S. intelligence agencies remain uncertain about danger posed by Islamic State
(Washington Post) Hours before President Obama announced a new U.S. military offensive against the Islamic State, one of his top counter-terrorism officials testified to Congress that the al-Qaeda offshoot had an estimated 10,000 fighters.
Arab Nations Offer to Conduct Airstrikes Against ISIS, U.S. Officials Say
(New York Times) Several Arab countries have offered to carry out airstrikes against militants from the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, senior State Department officials said Sunday.
Islamic State group’s war chest is growing daily
(Associated Press) Islamic State militants, who once relied on wealthy Persian Gulf donors for money, have become a self-sustaining financial juggernaut, earning more than $3 million a day from oil smuggling, human trafficking, theft and extortion, according to U.S. intelligence officials and private experts.
Syrian opposition: No ISIS cease-fire
(The Hill) Reports that the Syrian moderate opposition has entered into a cease-fire with the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in a Damascus suburb are not true, according to Syrian National Coalition officials.
Syrian Leaders See Opportunities and Risks in U.S. Striking ISIS on Their Soil
(New York Times) The fortunes of President Bashar al-Assad have suffered over the past two months, with battlefield setbacks and new signs of doubt emerging within his political base, as the civil war in Syria drags on with no end in sight.
James Foley’s mother ‘appalled’ by U.S. government handling of case
(CNN) The mother of James Foley — an American journalist beheaded by ISIS militants — said she is “embarrassed and appalled” by how the U.S. government dealt with her son’s case, telling CNN that officials even suggested family members could be charged if they raised ransom to free him.
After Obama’s Islamic State Speech, the Real Work Begins
(U.S. News & World Report) President Barack Obama unveiled a new plan for fighting and defeating the Islamic State group in a prime-time address Wednesday, announcing previously off-limits airstrikes in Syria, training for the opposition there and the deployment of almost 500 new U.S. troops to Iraq, all while calling for international help to beat back the extremist threat.
Syrian opposition to revamp forces on the ground
(Associated Press) The head of the main Western-backed Syrian opposition movement is seeking support in the United Arab Emirates for the group’s war-battered rebel fighters.
Australia answers U.S. call to join coalition fighting Islamic State
(Reuters) Australia became the first country to detail troop numbers and aircraft for a U.S.-led coalition fighting Islamic State militants in Iraq, as Washington drums up support for global action to counter the terrorist threat.
European Nations Donate Weapons to Kurdish Fighters
(Defense News) Iraqi Kurds fighting Islamic State militants are receiving donated armaments from Europe, ranging from enough German kit to completely equip a unit, to Soviet-era weapons seized more than 20 years ago when they were en route to Serbia.
Al Qaeda denies decline, acknowledges ‘mistakes’ by its branches
(Reuters) 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.
Anti-IS Coalition Grows, But Turkey Takes Back Seat
(Defense News) US officials have shored up support from more than a dozen countries to confront Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria. But despite a top-level diplomatic push, Turkey is less likely to play an active role.
AP Enterprise: al-Qaida’s Syrian cell alarms US
(Associated Press) While the Islamic State group is getting the most attention now, another band of extremists in Syria – a mix of hardened jihadis from Afghanistan, Yemen, Syria and Europe – poses a more direct and imminent threat to the United States, working with Yemeni bomb-makers to target U.S. aviation, American officials say.
Boeing Eyes 737-700 Solution for New JSTARS
(Defense News) Boeing is officially planning a variant of its 737-700 commercial jetliner as a competitor for the Air Force’s next-generation Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System (JSTARS) replacement.
U.S. Air Force Scrimps On Jstars Recap Program
(Aviation Week) Sometimes you have to spend money to save money.
U.S. defense industry says global turmoil swaying budget hawks
(Reuters) Images of two Americans being beheaded and of Russian tanks rolling through Ukraine have boosted pressure on Congress to roll back $1 trillion in mandatory defense cuts that the defense industry blames for almost 100,000 job cuts in recent years.
USN lines up competition for OASuW Increment 2
(IHS Jane’s 360) The US Navy (USN) has confirmed plans to run a competition for a long-term Offensive Anti-Surface Warfare (OASuW) capability, with an acquisition programme expected to kick off in Fiscal Year 2017.
Air Force, Navy award contract for missile decoy
(C4ISR & Networks) Alloy Surfaces Co. has won a $22.2 million contract to produce the MJU-66 Special Material Decoy for the U.S. Air Force and Navy.
ATK to study ageing Maverick rocket motors
(IHS Jane’s 360) The US Air Force (USAF) Materiel Command at Hill Air Force Base, Utah, has awarded a contract to Alliant Techsystems (ATK) Launch Systems for an ageing identification study of the SRI 14 reduced-smoke rocket motor used in the AGM-65 Maverick air-to-surface missile.
Saab Makes Late Pitch For Australian Sub Project
(Defense News) With the clock ticking, Saab has pitched a late-hour proposal to the Australian government that could alter the outcome of that country’s submarine acquisition program, which had up to now been concentrated on bids by German and Japanese firms.
PLA and Chinese industry at odds over Russian fighter engines
(IHS Jane’s 360) Problems with China’s indigenous jet engine programmes are putting the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) at odds with the country’s defence procurement bodies.
British MoD Reconsiders Assembling Scout in UK
(Defense News) General Dynamics has been asked by the Ministry of Defence to look again at the cost of assembling most of the vehicles under a major armored vehicle contract locally rather than in Spain, according to British procurement minister Philip Dunne.
Norinco reveals new features on MBT-3000
(IHS Jane’s 360) China North Industries Corporation (Norinco) has released more details of the latest version of its MBT-3000 main battle tank (MBT) being offered on the export market.
Swedish Panel To Probe Controversial Chinese Deal
(Defense News) Sweden’s Defense Ministry and other leading defense and technology organizations will be under the spotlight this week as a parliamentary committee probes whether a research cooperation initiative could have led to the sale of sophisticated aerodynamic modeling software to China.
Indonesia Muscles Up Its Military
(Aviation Week) Indonesia’s December 2012 contract with German defense contractor Rheinmetall for armored vehicles is an important component of the nation’s wide-ranging military modernization program, which involves acquisition of equipment from several countries.
New Sanctions Target Russia’s Energy and Finance Sectors; Defense Industry Also in Crosshairs
(Defense News) The newest series of sanctions issued by the United States and its European allies is targeted heavily against Russia’s energy and financial sectors, but the defense industry may also be affected.
KDB considers sale of DSME, KAI stakes
(IHS Jane’s 360) The state-owned Korea Development Bank (KDB) is considering the sale of its major stakes in Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering (DSME) and Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI), a source with direct knowledge told IHS Jane’s on 12 September.
Webcast: Use Advanced Sensors to Catch the “Bad Guys”
(Defense News, sponsored by Exelis) Remote sensing can help civil, commercial, military, and government agencies increase efficiency, reduce costs and improve safety. Register for an hour-long webcast on Sept. 18 at 2 p.m. EDT to learn how new airborne sensors can automatically extract information to reduce time, increase decision confidence, and help “catch the bad guys.”
AIR FORCE ASSOCIATION & SPACE CONFERENCE
Interview: Gen. Mark Welsh, US Air Force Chief of Staff
(Defense News) 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.
What’s Next: USAF Lays Groundwork To Replace Fighter, Tanker Fleets
(Defense News) As US Air Force leaders gather this week outside of Washington, they bring a warning: Potential adversaries are spending big on technology, and the US can’t afford to fall behind.
Recapitalizing the Future: Service Juggles Demands of 6 Foundational 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.
Rocket Engine Presents Unexpected Budget Challenge
(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?
The VA Needs To Move Fast To Better Help Its Newest Veterans
(Government Executive) Years of study notwithstanding, the Veterans Affairs Department still knows too little about the readjustment difficulties faced by the increasingly younger and more female cohort of recently separated service members.
Obama push to hire veterans into federal jobs spurs resentment
(Washington Post) President Obama’s push to hire military veterans for jobs across the government is fueling resentment in federal offices, as longtime civil servants and former troops on the other side of the cubicle increasingly question each other’s competence and qualifications.
Veteran broke barriers as a woman, African American soldier
(San Antonio Express-News) Joining the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps after World War II broke out was a civic duty for Rose Witherspoon Spence, but looking back on it all in her old age, she knows it was much more than that.
Miss. medical board sues VA for radiology records
(Associated Press) Mississippi’s state Board of Medical Licensure has sued the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs over its refusal to release the names of patients who may have suffered because of the misconduct of a former radiologist at the G.V. (Sonny) Montgomery Medical Center.
VA clinic access in question
(San Diego Union-Tribune) When the Department of Veterans Affairs opened a new health clinic in Sorrento Valley last month, it pledged to make it easier for veterans to access timely medical care amid a national probe of VA medical center wait times.
Can Obama wage war without consent of Congress?
(Associated Press) On the cusp of intensified airstrikes in Iraq and Syria, President Barack Obama is using the legal grounding of the congressional authorizations President George W. Bush relied on more than a decade ago to go to war. But Obama has made no effort to ask Congress to explicitly authorize his own conflict.
Three Ways House Work on CR, Syrian Rebels Plan Could Play Out
(Defense News) Whether or not the federal national security apparatus shuts down in October suddenly is all about Saudi Arabia, the Islamic State, Syrian rebel forces and lawmakers’ feelings about President Barack Obama.
Fate of Obama’s ISIS Plan Hangs on the House
(National Journal) Now that President Obama has made his case for military action against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, it falls to those in Congress who have worked to stymie his agenda at every turn to round up support for a key piece of his strategy.
GOP Member Offers Window Into Lawmakers’ Concerns Over Syrian Rebel Authorities, Funds
(Defense News) A conservative US House member on Friday provided a window into concerns about a White House counterterrorism request that has delayed a bill to avert a government shutdown.
For Defense in Georgia, Novice or Progeny
(Real Clear Defense) After a defense industry favorite went down in the primary, a political neophyte battles the daughter of a former Senate Armed Services Committee chairman for a Senate seat in one of the most defense-heavy states.
Special Operations Chief Wants More Training with Conventional Units
(Military.com) The head of U.S. Special Operations Command mapped out the Pentagon’s plan to keep SOF and conventional combat units working side-by-side long after U.S. forces leave Afghanistan.
DoD rescinds DISA cloud-broker memo
(C4ISR & Networks) The Defense Information Systems Agency is no longer the Pentagon’s officially designated cloud broker. Defense Department officials have apparently rescinded the 2012 memo, signed by then-DoD CIO Teri Takai, that designated DISA as the priority choice for defense agencies seeking cloud services. The move was part of a broader military cloud strategy.
Delays affect 80 percent of troops’ overseas auto shipments
(Military Times) The on-time delivery rate for troops’ vehicles being shipped to and from overseas was about 20 percent in July, according to a senator who wants more information from U.S. Transportation Command about what is being done for military families, and what is being done to improve the new contractor’s performance.
Here’s the ‘Game-Changing’ Tech Special Operators Want for Tomorrow’s Wars
(NextGov) The Special Operations Command requires “revolutionary game-changing” technologies to support its mission, including portable lasers, color night vision systems and advanced battlefield wound dressings, SOCOM chief Adm. William H. McRaven said in written responses to questions submitted by the House Armed Services Committee after hearings this spring.
2015 board shuffles NCO schedule; separation reviews planned
(Army Times) The board schedule has been revised for fiscal 2015, which begins Oct. 1, re-ordering NCO boards and scheduling retention screenings for staff sergeants and above.
New Fort Carson bomb boss: Gender doesn’t matter
(Colorado Springs Gazette) Col. Heidi Hoyle is the first woman to command Fort Carson’s 71st Ordnance Group, but she says gender is the least important thing when it comes to explosive ordnance disposal.
Green Beret Club featured on ‘Restaurant: Impossible
(Fayetteville Observer) In July, the Food Network brought chef Robert Irvine and his “Restaurant: Impossible” team to Fort Bragg to give the Green Beret Club an extreme makeover.
Army’s app offerings to expand thanks to faster development tools
(Army Times) Army-branded mobile applications aren’t a new development: Soldiers already can learn how to call in a medevac, get a refresher on social media policy, even study the ins and outs of operating the Patriot missile system, all via app.
Fort Bragg soldier charged with statutory rape
(Fayetteville Observer) A Fort Bragg soldier was charged Friday with statutory rape after turning himself into police.
Navy identifies Hornet pilot presumed dead after collision
(Navy Times) The Navy has identified the F/A-18C Hornet pilot who is presumed dead after his aircraft collided with another Hornet on Friday as Lt. Nathan Poloski.
Sailor rescued off South Carolina coast
(Navy Times) A sailor from amphibious transport dock New York was rescued off the coast of South Carolina late Thursday night by an MH-60R Seahawk helicopter crew. A search and rescue swimmer from Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron 46, operating from the destroyer Jason Dunham, secured the sailor shortly after 11 p.m., according to a Navy release.
Chicago hospital trains Navy doctors for battle
(Associated Press) The patient had been shot on the streets of Chicago, but when Dr. Jared Bernard stood over his open body in the operating room, he could see that the single bullet had unleashed the same kind of massive infection inflicted by roadside bombs in Afghanistan.
Navy overhauls spot promotions
(Navy Times) Thousands more sailors will soon be eligible to advance without the hassle of an advancement exam, and make the move up to 12 months early.
USS Saratoga arrives in South Texas to be scrapped
(Associated Press) The decommissioned aircraft carrier USS Saratoga has arrived at its final destination in South Texas, where it will be scrapped.
Force-wide training consolidated
(Navy Times) The general military training plans for fiscal 2015 bear good and bad news for the fleet.
Is Guantanamo Navy base part of the USA? Well, that depends…
(Miami Herald) U.S. troops blare The Star Spangled Banner across this 45-square-mile base each morning at 8 o’clock sharp. Fireworks crackle overhead on the Fourth of July.
Navy Yard workers plan emotional return to Building 197
(Washington Post) When 2,800 workers return to Building 197 at the Washington Navy Yard in February, the move will mark a new chapter of healing for those still scarred by the shooting rampage that killed 12 people and injured five a year ago. But it will also be a moment of trepidation, Navy officials acknowledge.
James’ mission: Prioritize wisely to maintain capable, agile Air Force
(Air Force Times) The Air Force has weathered a difficult year of personnel cuts, tough budget decisions and a cheating scandal that rocked the nuclear force.
Sources: Expect Next Year’s USAF Budget To Continue Push for Cuts
(Defense News) When the US Air Force rolled out its budget request in March, it was billed as a realistic look at the post-sequestration world, one filled with necessary tough choices but still maintaining current capabilities.
Air Force expects high op tempo for Europe rotations
(Air Force Times) The 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.
Amid Layoffs, Uncertainty Pervades Air Force Officer Corps
(Military.com) For the first time in her nearly 27 years in the Air Force, Maj. Teresa Rivers faced a board of officers this summer who debated whether she should be retired from the service.
Special operators prepare for fight against extremism
(Air Force Times) As budget restrictions and sequestration-related cutbacks have hit most of the 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.
Air Force seeks SIGINT automation
(C4ISR & Networks) The U.S. Air Force is seeking more automation for signals intelligence (SIGINT).
Units to deploy together, spend more time at home under AEF-Next
(Air Force Times) Beginning Oct. 1, active-duty agile combat support airmen will begin to deploy under a revised system that seeks to keep airmen with their own units and sets a standard battle rhythm.
Can the Air Force require airmen to swear ‘So help me God’ to reenlist?
(Christian Science Monitor) An atheist airman scratched out ‘So help me God’ in his Air Force reenlistment document. The Air Force alone among US military services requires that phrase, which has raised legal questions about freedom of – and from – religion.
GAO: No way to tell if changes at basic are working
(Air Force Times) 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.
Errant bird leads to precautionary F-16 aircraft landing at Fort Drum, brief road closure
(Watertown Daily Times) An errant bird led to a precautionary landing for an F-16 aircraft from the Vermont National Guard, briefly closing Route 26 between Route 3 and Route 11 Friday afternoon.
6 convicted of sex offenses May through July
(Air Force Times) Six airmen were convicted of sexual offenses at courts-martial in May, June and July, the Air Force announced this month, bringing the total number of sex crime convictions to 46 since the service first began publishing them a year ago.
Testing and cutoff dates announced for staff, technical sergeants looking to move up
(Air Force Times) Staff sergeants competing for promotion to technical sergeant next year will get an extra month of eligibility, the Air Force announced Friday.
Air Force announces new general promotions, assignments
(Air Force Times) Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced Thursday that the president has nominated:
MARSOC vet relives elite Marines’ fight for survival in Afghan wasteland
(Marine Corps Times) It’s a rare individual who can, in one breath, wax poetic about his bar band’s adaptation of Pink Floyd’s early psychedelia and, in the very next, deconstruct his Marine special operations team’s quixotic foray in Afghanistan’s hopeless Bala Murghab valley. But Michael Golembesky is just that sort of dude.
Marine wounded alongside Kyle Carpenter featured in new documentary project
(Marine Corps Times) Many are familiar with the story behind Cpl. Kyle Carpenter’s Medal of Honor, but few know much about the friend and fellow Marine he was trying to protect. Now a documentary filmmaker is sharing the story of Lance Cpl. Nick Eufrazio, a young man who was told he’d never speak again, highlighting his trying recovery.
Pendleton investigating Facebook shooter hoax
(Marine Corps Times) Camp Pendleton law enforcement officials are investigating what they are calling an “active shooter hoax,” which spread via social media Thursday, said base spokesman Jason Johnston.
The Hornet’s Nest’ emphasizes humanity, nobility of war
(Marine Corps Times) Wildly jerky and almost nauseating hand-held camera shots hit the viewer in the early minutes of the film, producing a gut-tensing feeling of running in the middle of a firefight in Afghanistan.
Afghan perpetrator of Bastion attack gets death sentence
(Marine Corps Times) The last surviving perpetrator of the deadly 2012 insurgent attack on Camp Bastion, Afghanistan has been sentenced to death by an Afghan court, though the case remains in review.
Final stage of leaving an Army base in Afghanistan
(Washington Post) Forward Operating Base Lightning is in its final days. The small base near the city of Gardez in Paktia province, Afghanistan, is down to its final stages as an operational hub for U.S. troops, set to end combat operations in December. Lightning itself is attached to the considerably larger FOB Thunder, home to around 4,000 Afghan National Army (ANA) personnel.
Afghans See Option of Karzai Staying On
(Wall Street Journal) Supporters of Afghanistan’s deadlocked presidential contenders now are suggesting that President Hamid Karzai could remain in office to ensure stability while the rivals try to resolve their dispute over who won a June 14 runoff vote.
Stand-off in Pakistan capital as political crisis deepens, protests against Sharif grow
(Washington Post) Pakistan’s opposition leaders told supporters Saturday to resist any government attempt to quash protests against Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, deepening a political crisis in the coup-prone nation.
Rights group calls for probe into Iraqi airstrike
(Associated Press) An international rights group called Sunday for an investigation into an Iraqi airstrike on a school housing displaced families that killed 31 civilians, including 24 children, a day after the country’s new prime minister ordered the army to stop shelling militant-held populated areas to minimize civilian casualties.
Iraqi forces close to pushing ISIL out of Amerli region
(Reuters) Iraqi forces say they are close to pushing out Islamic State fighters from the region surrounding Amerli, a northern town they liberated two weeks ago.
Iraq PM orders halt to shelling of civilian areas
(Associated Press) Iraq’s prime minister said Saturday he has ordered the army to stop shelling populated areas held by militants in order to spare the lives of “innocent victims” as the armed forces struggle to retake cities and towns seized by the Islamic State extremist group this summer.
French jets to begin Iraq reconnaissance flights
(Reuters) French aircraft will begin reconnaissance flights over Iraq on Monday, Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said before a conference bringing together some 30 countries to discuss how to fight against Islamic State militants.
In a land of death, Iraq’s morgue workers seek answers
(Washington Post) The middle-aged man was killed at night, walking to his car in the Iraqi capital. No one seemed to know who did it or why.
Potential U.S. allies? Syrian rebel groups at a glance
(Los Angeles Times) President Obama has said a key part of his strategy to degrade and defeat Islamic State militants will be working with moderate Syrian opposition groups. He has called on Congress to authorize $500 million to train and arm Syrian rebels to become America’s partners. But who are these groups, and to what degree can the U.S. rely on them?
Reprisals for Israeli Soldiers Refusing to Spy
(New York Times) The Israeli military on Sunday threatened disciplinary action against a group of veterans and active reservists of a secretive military intelligence unit who declared that they would no longer participate in surveillance activities against the Palestinians.
Yemen troops clash with Shiite rebels in capital
(Associated Press) Yemeni troops on Saturday clashed with Shiite rebels who have been demonstrating in the capital for weeks demanding the resignation of the government, throwing a deal to end the standoff into question and raising fears of a wider conflict.
Al Qaeda Militants Flow Into Yemen’s Capital
(Wall Street Journal) Scores of al Qaeda militants have moved into Yemen’s capital San’a in an attempt to exploit swelling political unrest and destabilize the government, officials said.
NATO countries have begun arms deliveries to Ukraine: defense minister
(Reuters) Ukraine’s defense minister said on Sunday that NATO countries were delivering weapons to his country to equip it to fight pro-Russian separatists and “stop” Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Ukraine prime minister slams Putin; cease-fire again under strain
(Washington Post) Fighting flared near an airport in eastern Ukraine on Saturday in breach of a fragile eight-day cease-fire as the Ukrainian prime minister accused Russian President Vladimir Putin of planning to destroy his country.
Two NATO Ships Leave Black Sea
(USNI News) A U.S. guided missile destroyer and a French signals intelligence ship have left Black Sea, according to U.S. Navy officials and local press reports.
Leaders talk peace, some Ukrainians contemplate guerrilla war
(Washington Post) Their leaders back in Kiev may be offering peace. But here on the front lines, the battle-scarred patriots staring down pro-Russian rebels talk of giving Russian President Vladimir Putin just the opposite – a Ukrainian version of Chechnya’s guerrilla war.
Germany’s defence budget to drop further in 2015
(IHS Jane’s 360) Germany’s headline defence budget is set to shrink again in 2015, despite NATO leaders recently agreeing to aim towards spending 2% of gross domestic product on defence.
Caucasus Emirate eulogizes slain Ahrar al Sham leaders
(Long War Journal) The Dagestani branch of the Islamic Caucasus Emirate recently issued a statement that praised the assassinated leaders of Ahrar al Sham, an al Qaeda ally in Syria.
North Korea sentences American Matthew Miller to six years with labor
(Los Angeles Times) Californian Matthew Miller, who was detained in April in North Korea, was sentenced Sunday to six years with labor on charges of entering the country illegally and trying to commit an act of espionage, according to KCNA, the official North Korean news agency.
Valiant Shield 2014: 18,000 servicemembers gathering for Guam joint exercise
(Stars & Stripes) An estimated 18,000 servicemembers are arriving in Guam for the Valiant Shield, which remained on track despite the crash of two fighter jets scheduled to participate.
Malaysia Risks Enraging China by Inviting U.S. Spy Flights
(New York Times) Malaysia’s reported invitation to the United States to fly spy planes out of East Malaysia on the southern rim of the South China Sea seems likely to intensify China’s anger at American surveillance of the strategic waterway and its disputed islands, analysts say.
Korea mayor boycotts concert after alleged US troop assault
(Stars & Stripes) The Uijeongbu mayor boycotted a friendship concert at Camp Red Cloud last week after a 2nd Infantry Division soldier allegedly assaulted a taxi driver.
Obama Plans Major Ebola Offensive
(Wall Street Journal) President Barack Obama plans to dramatically boost the U.S. effort to mitigate the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, including greater involvement of the U.S. military, people familiar with the proposal said.
U.S. Embassy in Uganda tells citizens to seek shelter amid anti-terror operation
(Washington Post) The U.S. Embassy told Americans in Uganda to seek safety on Saturday, warning that local authorities had uncovered a “terrorist cell” run by Somali militant group al-Shabab, which they believed was planning an imminent attack.
Al-Shabaab militants arrested in Uganda over suspected bomb plot
(The Guardian) Ugandan police said on Sunday that 19 suspected Islamist al-Shabaab insurgents arrested in weekend raids had planned to carry out bomb attacks, as the US embassy said the immediate threat had been “countered”.
Nigerian jet missing in battle with extremists
(Associated Press) The Nigerian Ministry of Defense says an Air Force Alpha jet on a mission against Islamic extremist insurgents in the country’s northeast has gone missing with its two crew members.
Algeria aims to expand defence industry, increase economic output
(IHS Jane’s 360) Algeria is looking to expand its defence industrial workforce and output as foreign investment in the country’s industry approaches USD1 billion, the head of Algeria’s military manufacturing body has told local media.
Algeria’s al-Qaeda defectors join IS group
(Al Jazeera) A new armed group calling itself the “Soldiers of the Caliphate in Algeria” has split from al-Qaeda’s North African branch and sworn loyalty to the group calling itself the Islamic State (IS), fighting in Syria and Iraq.
Libyan Parliament Fires Central Bank Chairman
(New York Times) Libya’s newly elected Parliament voted on Sunday to fire the chairman of the central bank, setting off a struggle for control of the country’s wealth and vast oil reserves.
COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS
The US Needs a Third Missile Defense Site
(U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., in Defense One) Ten years ago this month, the United States began to address its vulnerability to limited long-range nuclear missile strikes when the first ground-based interceptor (GBI) became operational at Fort Greely, Alaska. The president and Congress share a joint duty to protect the American people and not allow potential adversaries to hold U.S. foreign policy hostage by threatening nuclear attacks against our homeland.
Column: Betting on the F-35
(Defense News) The afternoon drive team on Washington’s WTEM sports radio station has some advice for, ahem, sports fans: Keep betting on the Dallas Cowboys’ opponents to cover the spread until one fails to.
Is It Peacetime or Wartime in America?
(Uri Friedman in The Atlantic) Barack Obama delivered a bewildering speech on Wednesday. The pledge to “destroy” the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria; the deployment of U.S. troops to do just that; the flag-flanked, sober-sounding president addressing the American people behind a podium in prime-time-all appeared to amount to a declaration of war.
Four Terror Threats More Grave Than Islamic State
(Michael Kugelman in the Wall Street Journal) President Barack Obama warned in his speech Wednesday that “if left unchecked,” Islamic State militants “could pose a growing threat beyond that region, including to the United States.”
To Stop ISIS in Syria, Support Aleppo
(Jean-Marie Guehenno and Noah Bonsey in The New York Times) President Obama’s speech last week signaled a likely expansion into Syria of American airstrikes against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, yet offered little indication of an immediate strategy to halt ISIS’ gains there. The administration’s first focus thus remains on Iraq, while familiar pledges to work with regional allies and increase support to moderate rebels in Syria – if Congress approves sufficient funding – appear divorced from the urgency of the situation on the ground.
The Foreign Policy Essay: Is this How to Win the “War on Terrorism”?
(Audrey Kurth Cronin in Lawfare) Two years ago, President Obama declared the decimation of al-Qaeda’s core leadership and described the group as “on the run.” Now Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel is warning that the Islamic State (ISIS, ISIL, or IS), al-Qaeda’s jihadist successor, is “beyond anything we’ve seen” and “an imminent threat to every interest we have.” So political rhetoric ratchets up in response, critics on both the Right and the Left react, and we lurch again from panic to complacency and back to panic again.
Not Fighting ISIS Could Be Worse Than Fighting It
(Jeffrey Goldberg in The Atlantic) My friend and colleague David Frum makes a compelling case against America’s ramped-up war on the terrorist group ISIS. The thrust of David’s argument is that the U.S. will be waging this war on behalf of the Iranian regime, which, of course, is our prime adversary in the Middle East, one that is more wily, more consequential, and (of course) much closer to crossing the nuclear threshold than ISIS is:
Drones and the Democracy Disconnect
(Firmin DeBrabander in The New York Times) The use of drones raises not just strategic and political problems, but ethical questions as well. In particular, what does our use of and reliance on drones say about us?
The Administration Should Explain Its International Legal Basis to Attack ISIL in Syria
(John Bellinger in Lawfare) Over the last several days, Administration officials have tried valiantly to explain the Administration’s surprising 11th hour discovery that the 2001 AUMF and indeed the 2002 AUMF provide a domestic law basis for the U.S. use of force in Iraq and Syria.
If You Liked Vietnam, You’ll Love the War With the Islamic State
(Gary Anderson in Small Wars Journal) Vietnam analogies are often overused, particularly by people who want to stay out of a proposed war or get us out of one we are fighting. Although I agree that the Islamic State, or whatever it is calling itself this week, must be dealt with militarily; the strategy with which the Obama administration is going about it is deeply disturbing and its basic elements bring vividly to mind the War in Vietnam which began in earnest when I was in the Tenth Grade; American involvement did not end until I was a senior Marine Corps First Lieutenant in 1973. I am not yet senile enough to have forgotten key details.
A Review of Rory Kennedy’s ‘Last Days in Vietnam’
(Dan Southerland in Cicero Magazine) I was aboard one of the last helicopters out of Vietnam in late April 1975. Having covered the wars in Vietnam and Cambodia for The Christian Science Monitor in the early 1970s and worked for UPI in Vietnam for several years before that, I was not surprised that a new documentary on Vietnam would engulf me with a flood of memories, some of which I wish I could erase from my mind.
Reflections on the Modern Battlefield: A Discussion with General Anthony Zinni
(Interview by Octavian Manea in Small Wars Journal) Together with Tony Koltz General Zinni co-authored the just released book “Before the First Shots are Fired. How America Can Win or Lose Off the Battlefield”, published by Palgrave Macmillan, September 2014.
With Russia, Eyeball to Eyeball Again
(Chris Miller in Cicero Magazine) Many U.S. analysts predicted Russia would be content with the seizure and annexation of Crimea. After all, Vladimir Putin permanently secured Russia’s centuries-old naval base and vital port on the Black Sea.