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Thursday, September 15, 2016

Early Bird Brief: U.S., Russian militaries warily prepare to tag team ISIS in Syria

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Sep 15, 2016    
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Good morning and welcome to the Early Bird Brief.
Please send news tips and suggestions to Early Bird Editor Jennifer-Leigh Oprihory: And follow her on Twitter: @jenniferleigho.

Today's Top 5
1. Distrust, uncertainty, skepticism: U.S., Russian militaries warily prepare to tag team ISIS in Syria
(Military Times) The U.S. military is now committed to begin a first-of-its-kind joint military operation with Russia, mounting airstrikes against the Islamic State group in Syria.
2. Report: Corruption undermines US efforts in Afghanistan
(Associated Press) A U.S. report released Wednesday said that widespread corruption in Afghanistan has undermined efforts to rebuild the country and urged the U.S. mission to make anticorruption efforts a top priority.
3. First female soldier in Green Beret training fails to complete the course
(Washington Times) During this week's "Land Navigation" phase of the training, she either withdrew voluntarily, was medically dropped or was administratively removed for not meeting standards, three sources who spoke on the condition of anonymity told The Times. Pending review boards, she may try again. Historically, 1-in-3 candidates pass the entire course.
4. Family of Taylor Muslim Marine: Death wasn't a suicide
(Detroit Free Press) The family of the Taylor man who died during Marines Corps training is pushing back against claims by military officials that he committed suicide.
5. Congress' inaction is hindering veterans health care reform, VA secretary says
(Military Times) Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert McDonald told Senate lawmakers Wednesday that Congress' inaction threatens to undermine the department's reform efforts. During testimony before the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, McDonald said that VA embraces 15 of 18 proposals set forth by a congressional advisory panel and wants to create a health care system that incorporates public facilities and private health networks to treat veterans.


Islamic State Group
US Official Says IS Has Lost Half Its Territory in Iraq
(Associated Press) A senior U.S. official says Iraqi forces backed by the U.S.-led coalition have retaken half the territory the Islamic State group once held in the country.
Kyrgyzstan Jails Two Women Convicted Of Recruiting For IS
(Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty's Kyrgyz Service) A court in Kyrgyzstan has sentenced two local women to prison after convicting them of attempting to recruit a young woman in the ranks of the Islamic State (IS) extremist group in Syria.
Military says strikes in Syria may have killed civilians
(The Hill) The U.S. military on Tuesday said three airstrikes over the last six days targeting the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria may have caused civilian casualties.
Officials outline new details of Syria cease-fire deal
(Associated Press) The new Syria cease-fire is rich in detail on the mechanics of ending violence in Aleppo. It says little about how the United States and Russia will establish a new military partnership that is seen as key to the long-term sustainability of the deal. Officials familiar with the document outline a highly technical series of requirements for both Syrian President Bashar Assad's government and opposition forces. These include precise calculations, in meters, on how the sides would pull back from a key artery into Aleppo and where they would have to redeploy weaponry.
Pentagon head voices support for State Dept. deal with Russia in Syria
(The Hill) Defense Secretary Ash Carter on Wednesday voiced support for the State Department's agreement with Russia in Syria, after a report that the Pentagon opposed it. The deal, reached on Saturday, would entail U.S. military cooperation with Russia to target the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and other terrorists in Syria, if a seven-day temporary ceasefire holds.
After long wait, the remains of three American militiamen killed in Syria will return to the U.S.
(Washington Post) The remains of three Americans who died in Syria after joining a U.S.-backed Kurdish militia to fight the Islamic State are expected to be repatriated Wednesday, members of their families and a congressional source said.
75,000 Syrians are trapped near Jordan's border. Satellite images show some are dying.
(Washington Post) Over the past five years, Jordan has become one of the biggest recipients of refugees fleeing its war-torn neighbor, Syria. Almost 700,000 Syrians have been registered as refugees in the country, which has a population of just 6.5 million. Those are just the ones who have registered; Jordanian officials say the real number is far over 1 million. But Jordan's hospitality may have hit a limit.
Despite truce, aid fails to reach besieged Syrian civilians
(Washington Post) Efforts to bring aid to Syrians amid a nationwide cease-fire stalled for a second day Wednesday, the United Nations and activists said, challenging a key part of a deal brokered by the United States and Russia to curb the violence and ease civilian suffering.
UN chief: Lack of safety holding up Syrian aid
(Associated Press) Humanitarian aid to Syrians is being held up by a lack of security arrangements despite a Russia-U.S. brokered cease fire deal, U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said Wednesday.
Syria launches missiles at Israeli jets
(IHS Jane's 360) Israeli defence officials have said that Syria's false claim to have shot down Israeli Air Force (IAF) aircraft on 13 September was an attempt to project a sense of success by a regime that has grown in confidence due recent battlefield success and the implementation of a Russian-backed ceasefire.


On Day 2 of Syria Cease-Fire, Out at Playgrounds and Protests
(New York Times) In rebel-held areas of Syria, Day 2 of a shaky cease-fire offered a rare chance to go outside. For some, that meant enjoying the simple pleasure of playing on a swing. For others, it meant protesting. But no matter, it was a change from the routine of lives in a war zone, where days were often spent cowering in fear of airstrikes.
Can Putin's Aircraft Carrier Stay Afloat on Its Syria Mission?
(Foreign Policy) The troubled Admiral Kuznetsov has had lots of problems but will soon head out on its first combat deployment.
After Years of War, Celebrities Find a Syrian Group to Back
(New York Times) The complex and brutal conflict in Syria has defied the best efforts of peace negotiators and humanitarian officials for more than five years, but a new group of luminaries is weighing in on a war that has cost hundreds of thousands of lives: celebrities.
Defense Industry
Northrop Grumman Awarded $108M Contract for 10 MQ-8C Fire Scouts
(USNI News) Naval Air Systems Command awarded Northrop Grumman a $108.1 million contract for ten MQ-8C Fire Scout unmanned rotary wing aircraft last week, according to a Pentagon contract announcement.
Airbus set to deliver C295W to Brazil
(Flightglobal) Airbus plans to deliver the first C295W search and rescue aircraft to the Brazilian air force in the first quarter next year, the company tells FlightGlobal.
Congress & Politics
House passes bill to make it easier to fire VA employees
(Military Times) House Republicans on Wednesday passed a controversial Veterans Affairs reform bill that would make it easier to fire department workers despite concerns of prominent Democrats that the changes would do little to provide better services.
House panel approves bill prohibiting cash payments to Iran
(Associated Press) In an election-year broadside, the Republican-led House Foreign Affairs Committee approved legislation Wednesday to prohibit the United States from making cash payments to Iran and require that Congress be notified before any future claims settlements with Tehran are conducted.
Lawmaker wants to force Congress to use VA health care
(Military Times) An Ohio congressman wants to force all Capitol Hill lawmakers and their staff to receive health care from the Department of Veterans Affairs to ensure they have incentive to improve the system.
Is Obama the Last Hope for American Hostages?
(Daily Beast) Officials who've been implementing new hostage recovery policies may find themselves out of a job in a Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump administration. A new president could decide to modify or even abandon the current path, which has relied particularly on the State Department to work with foreign government officials who may have influence over the hostage takers.
House wants to block Obama from releasing any more Guantanamo detainees
(Washington Post) House Republicans are rallying around an effort to prevent President Obama from releasing any more detainees from Guantanamo Bay until Congress can come up with a new defense policy bill.
20 Gitmo inmates could be stuck because Congress won't pay for them to leave
(NextGov) 'Ignoring the issue, as the White House has done, is not an option,' said the Senate Armed Services Committee chairman on Tuesday.
A veto threat, and threated override, surround 9/11 lawsuit legislation
(Philadelphia Inquirer) President Obama is threatening to veto legislation that would make it easier for victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks to sue Saudi Arabia. Supporters of the bill vow that they will push for a congressional override.
US adds F-15 to $38 billion military aid package for Israel
(Flightglobal) US and Israeli diplomats announced the largest military assistance package in US history on 14 September in a $38 billion, 10-year package that will deliver an assortment of American-designed weapon systems, including Lockheed Martin F-35 and Boeing F-15 fighters to Tel Aviv.
Graham Rips Israel Aid Package as Too Low
(Defense News) Israel and the Obama administration have agreed to a historically large sum in defense aid to Israel, but several pro-Israel lawmakers are saying the amount is just not enough.
Graham to introduce $1.5 billion bill for Israel
(The Hill's Floor Action) Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said Wednesday that he's planning to introduce legislation next week to provide additional financial support to Israel, arguing a new agreement with the United States doesn't go far enough.
Obama Prods Netanyahu After Signing of U.S.-Israel Aid Deal
(New York Times) President Obama on Wednesday renewed his call for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and argued that it was crucial to Israel's security, using the completion of a new agreement to provide $38 billion in American military aid as an occasion to prod Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on a long-running dispute.
Former defense secretary describes 'new world order'
(Tribune News Service) Former Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel described a globe in the midst of a "historic, redefining, rebuilding of a new world order" in which the U.S. retains strong — but not exclusive — leadership.
Obama administration lifts sanctions on Ivory Coast
(Associated Press) The Obama administration is lifting sanctions on the Ivory Coast in recognition of its steps to strengthen democratic institutions.
Obama Pledges to Lift All Sanctions Against Myanmar
(New York Times) President Obama pledged on Wednesday to lift all remaining sanctions against Myanmar, seeking to reward the country's recent moves toward democracy after decades of brutal military rule.
Myanmar's Leader Has a Longtime Champion in Mitch McConnell
(New York Times) Mr. McConnell, Republican of Kentucky and the majority leader, has spent nearly three decades trying to promote democracy in the country formerly known as Burma, about which he once lamented, "I have never spent more time on an issue and made less difference."
Iran to meet world powers over nuclear deal 'differences'
(Associated Press) Iran's semi-official ISNA news agency reports that the country's foreign minister and his international counterparts will meet this month to discuss "some differences" over the implementation of the landmark nuclear deal.
DOJ hints at shaming Russia for political hacks
(The Hill) Top Justice Department officials dropped hints on Wednesday that they plan to hold Russia accountable for what is suspected to be a broad hacking campaign targeting U.S. political organizations and election databases.
U.N. Chief Says North Korea Has Spawned Unprecedented Tension
(New York Times) Secretary General Ban Ki-moon warned on Wednesday that North Korea's repeated tests of nuclear bombs and ballistic missiles had created unprecedented tension in the region.
Romania: US Ambassador in Minority Group Flag Controversy
(Associated Press) The U.S. ambassador to Romania has caused a stir in the eastern European country by posing for a photo holding a flag of an ethnic Hungarian minority group.
Election 2016
This crowdfunding campaign will donate $6 million to veterans groups if Trump releases his tax returns
(Washington Post) A 26-year-old Marine Corps veteran has launched a crowdfunding campaign that he says will donate $6 million to veterans organizations if Donald Trump releases his tax returns.
Clinton to meet with Egyptian and Ukrainian leaders at U.N. General Assembly
(Washington Post) Hillary Clinton plans to hold meetings with world leaders during the United Nations General Assembly meeting in New York next week, according to a campaign aide.
Potential Clinton Defense secretary calls for lifting budget caps
(The Hill) A key Defense Department figure thought to be a candidate to be Hillary Clinton's secretary of Defense is calling for caps on the defense budget to be lifted early in the next administration.
GOP congressman wants to know why FBI keeps releasing Clinton news on holidays
(Washington Post) The FBI's decision not to pursue a criminal case against Hillary Clinton over her private email server did nothing to stop House Republicans from continuing to investigate it.
How the Trump Organization's Foreign Business Ties Could Upend U.S. National Security
(Newsweek) A close examination by Newsweek of the Trump Organization, including confidential interviews with business executives and some of its international partners, reveals an enterprise with deep ties to global financiers, foreign politicians and even criminals, although there is no evidence the Trump Organization has engaged in any illegal activities. It also reveals a web of contractual entanglements that could not be just canceled. If Trump moves into the White House and his family continues to receive any benefit from the company, during or even after his presidency, almost every foreign policy decision he makes will raise serious conflicts of interest and ethical quagmires.
Russia Accuses Obama of 'Russophobia' Over Donald Trump Critique
(NBC News) Vladimir Putin's government accused Barack Obama of "Russophobia" on Wednesday after he criticized Donald Trump for cozying up to Moscow.
Obama's former VA secretary pleaded with Colin Powell to make late entry into the 2016 GOP race
(Washington Post) Many people have asked Colin L. Powell to run for president over the years. And according to Powell's hacked emails, we can now count former Obama Veterans Affairs secretary Eric Shinseki among them. On March 2 — the day after Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump's big victories on Super Tuesday — Shinseki emailed Powell to make his plea.
Emails show Colin Powell unloading on Clinton, Rumsfeld and Trump
(Politico) The newly leaked trove of Colin Powell's emails offers a rare window into the former secretary of state's unvarnished, at-times scathing thoughts on Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump and old political adversaries who served with him in the George W. Bush administration.
Powell emails were leaked on a site linked to the Russian government
(Washington Post) Donald Trump is "a national disgrace and an international pariah" who gave voice to a "racist" movement to question President Obama's citizenship, former secretary of state Colin L. Powell tapped on his keyboard.
RNC denies it was hacked
(Politico) House Homeland Security Chairman Mike McCaul said that he "misspoke" Wednesday when he told CNN that Russian hackers had penetrated the computer systems of the Republican National Committee.
US official: Difficult to alter US elections through hacking
(Associated Press) President Barack Obama's homeland security adviser said Wednesday that it would be very hard for someone to hack into America's voting systems in a way that could alter an election outcome.
VA secretary says ideologues, corporations behind push for more private care
(Stars & Stripes) The secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs on Wednesday pushed back against new recommendations on private health care and blasted "ideologues" and corporate interests for trying to privatize the veteran medical system.
VA uses cash payouts to get rid of problem employees, lawmaker says
(Military Times) House lawmakers want to know whether Veterans Affairs officials are using employee settlement policies to dismiss problem staffers instead of punishing them and push aside whistleblowers rather than address their allegations.
Indiana Republicans want to give back GI Bill money to veterans at ITT Tech
(Indianapolis Star) An Indiana Republican wants to fast-track a solution to what he calls a "crisis" of veterans losing their education benefits to the collapse of ITT Technical Institute.
Technical college prospect? How veterans can make a smart pick
(Military Times) As a network operator, Army Sgt. Chance Mangham rarely sat at a desk. Stationed at Fort Richardson, Alaska, his "whole network was on the back of a Humvee, and we were constantly on the go," he said.
Center for student-veterans opens at Kansas State University
(Associated Press) A new, private center on the Kansas State University campus aiming to help veterans transition into student life has opened.
Remains of NY Marine killed in WWII set to return home
(Associated Press) Relatives of an American Marine killed in a World War II battle 73 years ago will be at the Syracuse airport when his remains are brought home for reburial.
Man charged with killing Army veteran heads to trial
(Associated Press) A Massachusetts man charged with gunning down a former Army sniper who served in Iraq and Afghanistan is heading to trial.
5 Haunting Portraits Of Post-9/11 Vets
(Task & Purpose) This photo project by an Army vet reveals the complexity, compassion, and bravery of our most recent generation of veterans.
National Security and Intelligence
As Russia reasserts itself, U.S. intelligence agencies focus anew on the Kremlin
(Washington Post) U.S. intelligence agencies are expanding spying operations against Russia on a greater scale than at any time since the end of the Cold War, U.S. officials said.
Confessed al-Qaida foot soldier tortured by the CIA: 'Just move on'
(Miami Herald) Confessed al-Qaida foot soldier Majid Khan withdrew a legally clouded terror charge from his 2012 guilty plea Wednesday and invoked President Barack Obama's attitude toward the CIA's secret prison program that tortured captives like him: "Just move on."
The NSA Is Using Bomb-Defusing Software to Grow the Next Generation of Analysts
(NextGov) This year's annual codebreaking contest has a twist: the college teams must remotely locate and neutralize a roadside bomb.
White House to increase number of refugees to 110k in 2017
(CNN ) The White House is planning to increase the number of refugees accepted into the United States from around the world to at least 110,000 in 2017, a senior administration official told CNN.
Aurora theater shooting victims won't have to pay $700,000 in legal costs after Cinemark drops request
(The Denver Post) Cinemark, the company that owns the Aurora movie theater where 12 people were murdered and 70 people were wounded four years ago, has dropped a request for victims of the shooting to pay nearly $700,000 in legal costs after an unsuccessful lawsuit.
Edward Snowden Says Serving a Long Prison Term in U.S. Would 'Erode' Democracy
(Associated Press) National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden says it would "chill speech" and "erode the quality of our democracy" if he serves a long prison term in the U.S.
Rubio warns of terror attack from Cuba flights
(The Hill's Floor Action) Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) is warning that flights from Cuba could be used to carry out a terrorist attack, after the Obama administration said Wednesday the island nation hasn't signed an air marshals agreement.
The Zika Case That Has Experts Stumped
(Time) An investigation into an infected person with no known risk factors provides few answers.
New director chosen for Mississippi Homeland Security
(Associated Press) A longtime U.S. Secret Service agent has been chosen to direct the Mississippi Office of Homeland Security.
Cybersecurity, Space and Surveillance
Whoever did this, U.S. says of latest hacks, we're coming after you
(McClatchy) Top White House and Justice Department officials asked for patience from the public Wednesday as they refused to say whether Russia or another nation may be behind a new series of headline-grabbing hacks affecting the realms of politics and sports. But they promised that the hacks will not go unpunished – once they are certain who is responsible for them.
Can ICITE and JIE work together?
(C4ISRNET) Without a doubt, technological advancements have been critical in getting information to commanders and troops to make clear decisions and execute missions. As the government writ large moves to more streamlined IT architectures, efforts within the intelligence community and the Defense Department seek to integrate and synchronize information while also hardening the defenses of information systems from outside – and inside – intrusions.
Space Agency Starts to Unfold Atlas of 1 Billion Stars in 3D
(Associated Press) If space is the final frontier, it will help to have an accurate map, and the European Space Agency said Wednesday its mission to chart more than 1 billion stars in the Milky Way is on track for completion in a year's time.
Defense Department
Tricare makes it easier to get mental health services
(Military Times) The Defense Department is expanding mental health coverage under Tricare, eliminating annual limits on inpatient mental health and residential treatment stays and increasing substance abuse services to include outpatient treatment for opioid addiction.
Philippines' reversal on troops, patrols could upend US-China strategy
(Stars & Stripes) America's strategy for confronting China in the South China Sea is threatening to unravel as the new leader of a key frontline state backs away from military cooperation — including joint naval patrols — with the U.S.
SecDef Carter Wants YOU For The Defense Digital Service
(Breaking Defense) Uncle Sam wants you, Defense Secretary Ash Carter told a skeptical tech community yesterday. It's part of an all-out effort by the military's civilian leader to get the technologically best and brightest to work with or even for the often-hidebound Pentagon.
Carter: $65 Million in DIUx Contracts in Pipeline
(Defense News) Secretary of Defense Ash Carter today officially launched the third outpost of his Defense Innovation Unit-Experimental (DIUx) program, opening the doors to an office in Austin, Texas – and announced that the office has around $65 million in contracts that will be awarded soon.
DIU(X) Lite: Carter Announces New Innovation Unit In Austin
(Breaking Defense) Defense Secretary Ashton Carter is trying a new, low-cost way of plugging the Pentagon into private sector innovation. Today, he'll announce the latest location for his Defense Innovation Unit (Experimental) — but DIU(X) Austin will be organized differently from the home office in Silicon Valley or its offshoot in Boston.
CYBERCOM's Force Takes Shape
(Air Force Magazine) ​US Cyber Command's full cyber mission force is expected to reach initial operational capability by the end of the month, CYBERCOM chief Adm. Michael Rogers, told lawmakers Tuesday.
Military Hospitals Start Drug Take-Back Program
( Military families, troops and retirees now can return unused medication to pharmacies at military treatment facilities as part of a new drug take-back effort.
Defense Schools to Require Flu Vaccines for All Students
( Department of Defense Education Activity public schools soon will require all students worldwide to get an annual flu vaccine as part of an updated vaccination policy, officials said.
Air Force
Air Force gets ball rolling on UH-1N Huey replacement
(Air Force Times) The Air Force is taking the next steps toward finding a replacement for the UH-1N "Huey" used by the service's nuclear forces.
B-2 Bomber to Receive New Ejection Seats, Other Upgrades
( The B-2 Spirit, America's sole heavy stealth bomber, is getting upgraded ejection seats, the latest in a series of upgrades for the multi-role bomber to keep the aircraft flying into the 2050s.
Casing of the colors next for 440th Airlift Wing inactivation
(Fayetteville Observer) The remaining members of the 440th Airlift Wing will mark the unit's pending inactivation this weekend in ceremonies on Fort Bragg and in downtown Fayetteville. The Air Force Reserve wing, which until earlier this year flew the only remaining Air Force planes permanently based at Fort Bragg, will officially inactivate later this month.
Army fires commander of Bliss-based 1st BCT
(Army Times) The commander of the 1st Armored Division's 1st Brigade Combat Team has been relieved of command after an investigation found "multiple violations of Army regulations and policies," officials said Wednesday.
Army Taking Look at Case of Paralyzed Green Beret Facing Discharge
(Fox News) The Army is taking a second look at the case of a Green Beret who was paralyzed in an accident last year and now faces the possibility of a discharge that could jeopardize his medical care, has learned.
Army Reserve one-star 'temporarily suspended' from command
(Army Times) The commander of the 316th Expeditionary Sustainment Command has been temporarily suspended from his job because of an ongoing investigation, the Army Reserve confirmed Wednesday.
Airman's Purple Heart battle with TBI finds champion in a Green Beret
(Stars & Stripes) Nothing was the same after a 2005 blast of incoming mortars at a base in Balad, Iraq, that left no outward injuries. For eight years until his head injury was diagnosed, birthdays were inexplicably forgotten, anniversaries missed and Nafe's job performance suffered. Now, 11 years later, Nafe's war wound has finally been acknowledged with the Purple Heart, the result of a push from a Stuttgart special operations headquarters that has made the recognition and treatment of traumatic brain injuries among those in its ranks a centerpiece of the command's culture.
Exclusive: Chelsea Manning says she's shocked her gender reassignment surgery was approved
(VICE News) "This is a big deal," Manning said in response to emailed questions from VICE News. Manning dictated her answers by phone to a volunteer who manages her Twitter page. "For my whole life I have fought for dignity, respect, and adequate medical care," she said from prison in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.
Army breaks ground on long-awaited national museum
(Army Times) After years of work, the Army on Wednesday broke ground on the site of the National Museum of the United States Army.
Army moving forward on data center pilot
(C4ISRNET) The Army is gearing up to award a contract for its data center pilot at Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, Alabama, one Army official said.
Fort Bragg officer dies of gunshot wound
(Army Times) A 39-year-old officer stationed at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, died Sunday at a nearby medical center as a result of a gunshot wound suffered at his off-post residence, installation officials announced Wednesday.
Pilot and flight officer promotion rates recover from historic lows
(Navy Times) Naval aviation has come through the other side of a promotion debacle, after a 2014 lieutenant commander selection rate hit rock bottom at just over 50 percent, prompting outcries from junior officers throughout the community.
New NAVSEA Commander's Intent: Complete Ship Maintenance On Time
(USNI News) New commander of Naval Sea Systems Command Vice Adm. Tom Moore said shipyards are nearing an opportunity to "reset" after struggling in recent years to get aircraft carriers and submarines out of availabilities on time, and he hopes the yards can take measures now to keep the next wave of availabilities on track.
Navy Develops Laser Weapon Prototypes for Destroyers, Cruisers - maybe Carriers
(Scout Warrior) The Navy plans to arm its destroyers and other ships with high-tech, low-cost ship-board laser weapons engineered to quickly incinerate enemy drones, small boats, aircraft, ships and missiles, service officials told Scout Warrior.
Disturbing details emerge in case of Navy commander accused of sex assault
(Navy Times) A Navy commanding officer is accused of attempting to sexually assault a woman officer at her San Diego residence and was arrested while trying to flee the scene, according to new details released Tuesday by the San Diego police.
USS San Antonio comes to mariner's aid in Gulf of Aden
(Virginian-Pilot) The USS San Antonio provided medical assistance to a civilian mariner after his ship made a distress call in the Gulf of Aden, the Navy said Wednesday.
Newport News Shipyard Cites Progress on Carrier Kennedy
(Daily Press) Newport News Shipbuilding recently moved a 900-ton component into place during construction of the aircraft carrier John F. Kennedy. The Navy's second Ford-class aircraft carrier is scheduled to join the fleet in 2022.
Sleek Zumwalt arrives in Norfolk on way to commissioning
(Navy Times) The Navy's newest and sleekest-looking destroyer pulled into Naval Station Norfolk here this morning, making an historic first transit into the Chesapeake Bay and through the Hampton Roads waterways to the Norfolk Naval Base at about 9 am EST.
US Navy premieres assets at Australia's largest naval exercise
(IHS Jane's 360) The US Navy (USN) has deployed the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Hopper (DDG 70) and a P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft to the international naval exercise 'Kakadu' hosted by Australia.
Sink exercise takes down retired frigate near Guam
(Stars & Stripes) A decommissioned guided-missile frigate went down in about 30,000 feet of water Tuesday during a SINKEX drill connected to Valiant Shield exercises underway near Guam.
Two Navy men arrested for Saratoga Springs Pan statue vandalism
(Albany Times-Union) Two Navy men were charged with damaging the Pan statue in Congress Park, city police said Monday.
Marine Corps
Lawmakers Visit Parris Island After Recruit's Death Highlights Hazing
( Two lawmakers say they are reassured the Marine Corps is working to enact policies to root out hazing after a recruit's tragic suicide brought public attention to a pattern of mistreatment and abuse by drill instructors within his battalion.
Lawyers for Marine in Academy Sex Case Allege Prosecutorial Misconduct
( Lawyers for a former Naval Academy instructor who faces court-martial in January on charges of lying about a sexual affair with two midshipmen are accusing prosecuting attorneys of misconduct, alleging they violated ethics rules by denying a key witness the right to counsel.
Coast Guard
Alaska prepares for vessel disasters
(Alaska Public Media) Thousands of vessels every year move through Alaska's waters. If something goes awry, their cargo and fuel could end up in the ocean.Cleanup efforts for past groundings near Unalaska have proven difficult and costly. The city and Coast Guard want to be prepared. Zoe Sobel, from Alaska's Energy Desk, hopped aboard a tug participating in a rescue drill.
Nation's Oldest Lighthouse Celebrates 300 Years
(Associated Press) Coast Guard Commandant Paul Zukunft and Boston Mayor Martin Walsh are among the dignitaries expected to attend a Wednesday morning celebration in downtown Boston. The Coast Guard band is slated to perform.
Europe, Russia & Ukraine
EU executive: Bloc must do more in defense field
(Associated Press) The chief of the European Union's executive arm says the bloc's economic and cultural influence isn't enough to safeguard its place in today's uncertain world, and it must do more in the defense field, starting with creation of an EU military headquarters and working toward a common military force.
France Arrests Minor in Counterterrorism Raid, Official Says
(Associated Press) Kassim's precise role is under investigation, but officials say he has become a key instigator who directs recruits in encrypted forums on how and where to carry out the Islamic State's call for European Muslims to strike at home. Most recently, he was believed to be in contact with a 19-year-old in an unprecedented cell of French women who failed in their attempts to detonate a car bomb and kill police.
'Hunter Troop' Is The World's First All-Female Special Operations Unit
(Task & Purpose) In 2014, Norway created the world's first all-female special operations unit — out of necessity.
Sweden ups defense of strategic Baltic island amid tensions
(Associated Press) The head of Sweden's armed forces says the country will station permanent troops on the strategic island of Gotland amid increasing tensions in the Baltic Sea region.
IMF Approves $1 Billion Loan For Ukraine After One-Year Delay
(Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty) The International Monetary Fund on September 14 approved a loan disbursement for Ukraine of $1 billion after a delay of more than a year that reflected concern about corruption and stability in the war-torn nation.
French, German ministers in Ukraine to revive peace deal
(Associated Press) French and German foreign ministers visited Ukraine Wednesday in a bid to shore up a 2015 peace deal that has floundered amid continuing fighting in eastern Ukraine.
Prosecutor Cites 'Criminal Probe' Into Ukraine's Top Cop
(Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty) Ukrainian Prosecutor-General Yuriy Lutsenko has announced that his office has opened a criminal probe of Interior Minister Arsen Avakov, raising the specter of another public blow to a fractious ruling coalition.
Protests At German, French Embassies In Kyiv
(Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty's Ukrainian Service) Protestors picketed the German and French embassies in Kyiv, as the two countries' foreign ministers arrived in Ukraine to try to revive peace talks with Russia-backed separatists.
Crimean Tatar Leader Nominated For EU's Sakharov Prize
(Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty) The Sakharov Prize -- with a cash prize of 50,000 euros ($57,206) -- has been handed out since 1988 to honor individuals and organizations who defend human rights and fundamental freedoms.
Split Cyprus' rival leaders to meet UN chief on peace talks
(Associated Press) The rival leaders of ethnically split Cyprus said Wednesday they would meet with U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon later this month to take stock of ongoing reunification talks and ask him to step up his personal involvement in the months ahead.
UK Parl't Committee Slams Former PM Cameron's Libya Policy
(Associated Press) Former Prime Minister David Cameron's 2011 decision to intervene militarily in Libya was misguided and helped give rise to Islamic extremism in North Africa, a key British parliamentary committee said Wednesday.
Former News Corp Executives Accused of Misleading U.K. Parliament; Company Cleared
(Wall Street Journal) A panel of British lawmakers accused two former News Corp executives of misleading Parliament when the pair were questioned about the phone-hacking scandal at the firm's now-closed News of The World tabloid, while exonerating a third one as well as the company's U.K. division.
UK Ebola nurse Pauline Cafferkey cleared of misconduct
(BBC News) A Scots nurse who survived Ebola has been cleared of misconduct charges by the Nursing and Midwifery Council.
European Commission President Calls for Increased EU Military Cooperation
(Defense News) European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker has called for closer military cooperation at EU level.
German Air Force Typhoons have just completed the very last training campaign at Decimomannu airbase
(The Aviationist) A dozen German Eurofighter Typhoons, including a couple of two-seaters, deployed to Decimomannu airbase, Italy, at the end of August for what is probably the last use of the German facilities in Sardinia, since the first detachment 56 years ago.
Afghanistan & Pakistan
India, Afghanistan call for end to all support of militants
(Associated Press) India and Afghanistan on Wednesday called for an end to all sponsorship, support and sanctuaries to militants, including those who have committed violence in the two countries.
Taliban increasingly using seized weapons against ANDSF
(IHS Jane's 360) The Taliban have been increasingly seizing large amounts of military weapons and equipment and using them against the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF), officials from Afghanistan's northeastern Badakhshan Province were quoted by TOLONews as saying on 13 September.
Afghan militants kill warlord, 4 others in ambush
(Associated Press) Jawed Basharat, the spokesman for the provincial police chief, says the Wednesday ambush targeted Samar, who served as a mujahedeen commander during the 1980s struggle against the Soviet Union. Like many Afghans, he has no surname.
Indian, Russian Leaders To Discuss Big-Ticket Defense Projects
(Defense News) India has lined up several big-ticket defense projects for discussion between its prime minister, Narendra Modi, and Russian President Vladimir Putin at a summit meeting in Goa next month, according to a Ministry of Defence (MoD) official.
Why Maritime Logistics Pacts are Vital for Asia's Strategic Balance
(The Diplomat) Countries are turning from permanent military bases overseas to flexible logistics pacts, like the recent US-India deal.
The Changing Face of ASEAN
(The Diplomat) Myanmar, Laos, and Vietnam offer an unlikely breath of fresh air
After North Korea Flooding, Relief Agencies Help Tens of Thousands
(New York Times) International relief agencies said on Wednesday that they had begun delivering food and other assistance to tens of thousands of North Koreans who lost homes in some of the worst flooding to hit the country in years.
South Korea Will Try to Blow Up Kim Jong-un If He Launches a Nuclear Weapon
(The National Interest) If North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un orders a nuclear strike on South Korea, Seoul will attempt to kill him with missiles and devastate Pyongyang in the process.
Witness Says Philippine President Duterte Ordered Killings
(Bloomberg) A former Filipino militiaman testified before the country's Senate on Thursday that President Rodrigo Duterte, when he was still a city mayor, ordered him and other members of a liquidation squad to kill criminals and opponents in gangland-style assaults that left about 1,000 dead.
Nepal's Upcoming 'Reset' With India
(The Diplomat) Nepal's new prime minister is enthusiastic about restoring ties with India back to normal.
China's first-generation guided-missile destroyer decommissioned
(IHS Jane's 360) China's People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) decommissioned its Luda-class (Types 051) guided-missile destroyer Nanchang on 8 September, according to the China Military Online website.
20 Years After She Warned Australia About Asians, Lawmaker Says Muslims Are the Threat
(Foreign Policy) Hanson argued in her Wednesday speech that Australians have never been given the chance to vote on becoming a multiracial society. Her suggested solution? An immigration ban, as well as a moratorium on future mosques and Islamic schools. She also said Australia should introduce a new identity card with electronic fingerprints, and increase monitoring of existing Islamic groups.
Constitutional Changes Pave Way for Turkmen President-for-Life
(The Diplomat) Not that it was really in much doubt.
Indonesia's first SIGMA 10514 frigate completes sea trials
(IHS Jane's 360) The first SIGMA 10514 Perusak Kawal Rudal (PKR) guided-missile frigate on order for the Indonesian Navy (Tentara Nasional Indonesia - Angkatan Laut, or TNI-AL) has completed sea trials and is on track to meet its delivery schedule, shipbuilder Damen announced on 13 September.
Middle East & Turkey
Yemeni Officials: Drone Kills 5 Suspected Al-Qaida Fighters
(Associated Press) Yemeni security officials say a suspected U.S. drone has struck a car traveling in the southern Bayda province, killing five suspected al-Qaida fighters.
Refugees Pour Out of Turkey Once More as Deal With Europe Falters
(New York Times) The number of Syrians and others fleeing Turkey for Greece is growing rapidly once again as an agreement reached months ago to curb the flood of refugees into Europe seems to be on the verge of collapse.
German Embassy, Consular Offices Temporarily Close in Turkey
(Associated Press) Germany has temporarily closed its embassy, all other consular offices and a school in Turkey, reportedly due to fears of a possible attack.
Libyans Hope to Export From Oil Terminals Seized by General
(Associated Press) Libya's state oil company says it hopes to resume exports from three terminals seized this week by forces loyal to a powerful general based in the east.
Fighting in Niger Kills 5 Soldiers, 30 Boko Haram Militants
(Associated Press) Niger's defense ministry says at least five soldiers and 30 Boko Haram militants have been killed after an ambush by the Nigeria-based Islamic extremists led to fighting.
UN says South Sudan arms embargo possible
(Associated Press) The U.N. Security Council called on South Sudan to honor commitments to allow a regional protection force into the country and grant peacekeepers freedom of movement or face a possible arms embargo.
UN Extends Liberia Peacekeeping Mission
(Associated Press) The U.N. Security Council has extended its peacekeeping mission in Liberia for three more months.
Justin Trudeau, Nearing a Year in Office, Tries to Recast Himself
(New York Times) With his first anniversary in office approaching, Mr. Trudeau has been subtly trying to recast both himself and his party. Analysts say that in the next few months, he will have to demonstrate that he is not just the latest YouTube sensation, but also the head of a government that will deliver on a long and often ambitious list of election promises.
Former Gitmo detainee in coma after hunger strike in Uruguay
(Associated Press) A Syrian freed from Guantanamo nearly two years ago was in a coma early Thursday after a hunger strike to dramatize his unhappiness about being resettled in Uruguay and his demand to be moved to another country.
Bolivian Army H425/Z-9 helicopters meet with mixed success
(IHS Jane's 360) Six Chinese-built Harbin H425/Z-9 multirole helicopters, delivered to the Bolivian Army on 12 September 2014, have completed two years of operations in Bolivian territory with mixed success, as training and maintenance issues have arisen.
Commentary and Analysis
The Myth of American Retreat
(William Ruger in The American Conservative) Rather than protecting the conditions of our prosperity, primacy has cost Americans dearly, with the annual defense budget now set to rise to around $600 billion and the Iraq War alone wasting trillions of dollars. As for our values, the U.S. approach has placed our nation in the uncomfortable position of defending illiberal regimes abroad, stained our reputation for the rule of law with Guantanamo and drone campaigns, and sacrificed the Constitutional authority of Congress.
I treated kids in a Syrian hospital. We have no idea how to heal their trauma.
(John Kahler in Washington Post) I'm a pediatrician in Chicago. But this summer, I traveled with two colleagues from the Syrian American Medical Society (SAMS) to Aleppo. There, I saw firsthand the way this war is maiming children emotionally as well as physically. The kids I encountered often struggled with debilitating trauma. Some had stopped eating; others were barely able to communicate.
Global Migration Is a Security and Moral Challenge. Here's How to Address It
(Adm. James Stavridis (ret.) in Time) The numbers are staggering: globally, nearly a quarter of a billion people live in a country other than their place of birth, an increase of 41% from 2000 to 2015. That number includes more than 21 million refugees—often vulnerable, dissatisfied and volatile. Given the geopolitical turmoil around the world, this migration will only increase, putting pressure on more stable societies and posing an enormous policy, humanitarian and security challenge. What should the global community be doing about it?
Why Hiring Former Terrorists Is a Good Idea
(Kevin Reagan in The National Interest) Recently, George Washington University was the subject of many sensationalist headlines when its Center for Cyber and Homeland Security announced that it had hired former Al Qaeda recruiter Jesse Morton to work for its nascent Program on Extremism. While it may indeed be newsworthy that a former terrorist is now employed at a prestigious university (where, it should be noted, he will not teach), it should not be a matter of scandalous intrigue. In fact, the move should be lauded as a prescient one—a step in the right direction for the development of counterterrorism policy.
Analysis: Russian Military Activities from South China Sea to Sevastopol
(Donald Thieme in USNI News) Russia is simultaneously conducting operations along the eastern Ukraine border, participating in large bilateral naval exercises with China in the South China Sea and conducting large-scale amphibious exercises in the Black Sea around the Crimean peninsula. The Russian Navy has subs operating in the Baltic Sea off Latvia, continues to professionalize its force, and is attempting to sustain a large upgrade in force capabilities matched with no-notice military inspections in most military districts. At the same time, it continues operations in Syria and the eastern Mediterranean, demonstrating resolve and constancy there.
Powerful Countries Don't Nuke First
(Dominic Tierney in The Atlantic) A no-first-use approach toward nuclear weapons is the policy of Goliath, not Gandhi.
Where have all the big international relations theories gone?
(Daniel W. Drezner in Washington Post) Now it could be that international relations theory is simply part of a larger trend in which ideas don't seem to matter as much as they used to — but I don't buy that claim at all.

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