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Aug 10, 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: joprihory@sightlinemg.com. And follow her on Twitter: @jenniferleigho.

Today's Top 5
    1. ISIS Intel Was Cooked, House Panel Finds
(Daily Beast) A leading U.S. general pressured his intelligence analysts into playing down the ISIS and al Qaeda threats, according to a congressional task force.
    2. Iraq Militia Leader Once Held by US a Battlefield Threat to Americans
(Fox News) The powerful commander of an Iran-backed Shiite militia in Iraq -- whom the U.S. freed after the kidnapping deaths of four American soldiers in 2007 -- has hinted that his fighters could blend in with Iraqi forces to kill Americans on the battlefield in Mosul.
    3. Meet Command Sgt. Maj. John Troxell, the voice for all enlisted military personnel
(Military Times) At the highest levels of power in Washington, when top national security officials meet behind closed doors, there is often only one enlisted service member in the room: Army Command Sgt. Maj. John Troxell. As the senior enlisted adviser to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Troxell is the military’s highest ranking noncommissioned officer. It’s a unique post that was created just a few years ago and is only vaguely defined by law and tradition.
    4. Four more U.S. sailors disciplined in Iran boat seizure incident
(Navy Times) More officers and enlisted have been disciplined for their conduct in the January Farsi Island debacle, which lead to the capture of 10 sailors and two riverine command boats by Iranian paramilitaries.
    5. Report offers details about Guantanamo detainees on way out
(Associated Press) Following a lengthy tug-of-war with Capitol Hill, the Pentagon has given a senator the first-ever, unclassified report detailing the suspected militant backgrounds of more than 100 detainees at or recently released from the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay - a report that will likely spur more debate over shutting it down.
Islamic State Group
    The Islamic State and its allies have killed 33,000 people, University of Maryland study finds
(Baltimore Sun) The self-declared Islamic State, its predecessors and allies have killed more than 33,000 people since 2002, researchers at the University of Maryland say in a report to be released Tuesday.
    U.S. Special Operations troops aiding Libyan forces in major battle against Islamic State
(Washington Post) U.S. Special Operations forces are providing direct, on-the-ground support for the first time to fighters battling the Islamic State in Libya, U.S. and Libyan officials said, coordinating American airstrikes and providing intelligence information in an effort to oust the group from a militant stronghold.
    Pentagon: Islamic State down to 350 fighters in Sirte, Libya
(Stars & Stripes) Sirte, once a city of 80,000 people, has about 1,000 residents remaining. Islamic State militants there totaled up to 1,000 fighters at one time. But their numbers have dwindled as well.
    Afghan military claims it killed emir of Islamic State’s Khorasan province
(Long War Journal) A senior Afghan military officer claimed that his forces killed Hafiz Saeed Khan, the emir for the Islamic State’s Khorasan province, during an ongoing military operation in the eastern province of Nangarhar. However Khan’s death has not been confirmed by the Islamic State. The Long War Journal cannot independently confirm the Afghan officer’s claim that he was killed.
    Christians say defeating IS won't make Iraq safe for them
(Associated Press) As operations to retake the militant-held city of Mosul ramp up, Iraqi Christians displaced from the area by the Islamic State group say that even if the militants are defeated militarily, the country will not be safe for minorities.
    Germany: Police Detain Alleged High-Ranking IS Member
(Associated Press) A German special police unit has detained an allegedly high-ranking member of the extremist Islamic State group in the southwestern town of Mutterstadt.
    Battle for Syria's Aleppo leaves 2 million without water
(CBS News and Associated Press) The battle for Syria's contested city of Aleppo crippled its infrastructure and left 2 million residents without running water, the U.N. children's agency said on Tuesday.
    U.N. urges Aleppo ceasefire to repair water system, stem outbreaks
(Reuters) The United Nations called on Tuesday for an urgent ceasefire in the divided Syrian city of Aleppo, where it said two million people lacked access to clean running water, with children most at risk of disease.
    UN Aid in Syria Held up by Security Concerns
(Associated Press) The United Nations and its partners are "ready to roll" with aid to Syrians in besieged areas, but the deteriorating security situation in the country is keeping it from being delivered, the U.N. humanitarian chief said Tuesday.
Defense Industry
    Kuwait Orders French Airbus Transport Helicopters in $1.1 Billion Deal
(Defense News) Kuwait on Tuesday ordered 30 Airbus Helicopters Caracal military transport helicopters in a deal worth more than €1 billion ($1.1 billion), the latest step in a long-term tie between the Gulf nation and France, the French ministry of defense said.
    Saudi Losses in Yemen War Exposed by US Tank Deal
(DefenseOne) The U.S. State Department says Riyadh can buy 153 Abrams tanks, 20 of which will replace ones destroyed in combat.
    USAF’s Joint Direct Attack Munition Kits Follow-On Tees Up Industry Battle
(Aviation Week & Defense Report) As Boeing Defense, Space & Security works to double the output of satellite-guided Joint Direct Attack Munition tail kits to 36,500 per year, the U.S. Air Force is eyeing a sizable follow-on contract in fiscal 2019 that would sustain that level of production into the 2020s.
    Lockheed Martin's dual mode plus LGB kit improves weapon's accuracy, precision
(IHS Jane’s 360) Lockheed Martin is testing a new Dual Mode plus laser-guided bomb (LGB) kit that integrates an inertial guidance package with the weapon's semi-active laser guidance system.
    Gulfport composites maker to invest $4.6M, hire 42 workers
(Associated Press) A Harrison County maker of resin composite parts plans to invest $4.6 million and hire 42 workers after winning a U.S. Navy contract.
(NextGov) Attention, startups creating the next smartwatch or heart-rate sensing fabric: The Homeland Security Department wants your products. DHS on Monday opened applications for the second round of its federally focused tech "accelerator," in search of wearable devices that can be customized for first responders.
    Anaconda USV development progresses
(IHS Jane’s 360) Switfships has cemented the second phase in the development of the Anaconda Special Operations Craft Riverine (SOCR) unmanned surface vessel (USV) following a research and development agreement with Virginia-based sister company, ICS Nett.
    Report: Finland growing Middle-East defence sales
(IHS Jane’s 360) The government of Finland has awarded 50 permits to companies to export arms to Middle East countries over the past 18 months, according to a report by Finnish Broadcasting Corp.
    Saudi Arabia Requests US Tanks, Vehicles for $1.15 Billion
(Defense News) Saudi Arabia has requested to buy General Dynamics Land Systems-made M1A2S Abrams tanks and M88A1/A2 Heavy Equipment Recovery Combat Utility Lift Evacuation System (Hercules) Armored Recovery Vehicles (ARV) in a foreign military sale worth approximately $1.15 billion, according to a Defense Security Cooperation Agency statement Tuesday.
    ​Seoul sets timeline for indigenous KFX AESA development
(Flightglobal) South Korea has set a timeline for the development of an indigenous active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar to be use aboard the planned KFX fighter.
    Raytheon/Rafale to Bring Iron Dome to US | US State Dept Approves $1.15B Saudi Deal | Japanese Mil to Engage NK Missiles Approaching Airspace
(Defense Industry Daily) Raytheon and Rafale are to partner on marketing the Iron Dome for the US Army’s Indirect Fire Protection Capability Increment 2 — Intercept (IFPC Inc 2-I) program.
    What’s Really Going On With Veteran Employment?
(Task & Purpose) Veteran unemployment is on the decline, but it’s still difficult to know how veterans are doing in the economy long term.
    This WWII Marine was killed in the Pacific Theater. Now, 72 years later, ‘our boy is coming home.’
(Washington Post) For more than 70 years, Geddes’s remains were buried on the island of Betio, where he was killed. As time passed, it looked as though they might never be found and returned to his family, according to a local newspaper report. But in 2015, a group told authorities that it had discovered a burial site on that island in the Pacific, according to a news release from the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency.
    Gold Star parents to speak at Islamic convention
(Associated Press) The Pakistani immigrant parents of an American soldier who died fighting in Iraq are to speak at a convention in suburban Chicago next month.
    Court: Meriden Mosque Shooter Pleads Guilty To Drug Charge
(Hartford Courant) The shooting happened Nov. 14, the day after attacks in Paris by Muslim terrorists left 130 dead. Hakey, a former Marine who is a sharpshooter, posted on Facebook: "What is gonna be the breaking point to go 'weapons free' against Islam."
Election 2016
    Trump Hits Back at GOP National Security Critics
(Defense News) Donald Trump and friends have fired back at a group of GOP national security officials who signed a letter saying he would be “a dangerous President” and “unqualified” for the Oval Office.
    FBI probe of Clinton's emails prompted by espionage fears, secret letters say
(VICE News) Two secret letters the FBI sent to the State Department have revealed for the first time that the bureau's investigation into Hillary Clinton's private email server, and the classified emails sent through it, stemmed from a so-called "Section 811" referral from the Intelligence Community's Inspector General (ICIG). The ICIG determined that classified, national security information in Clinton's emails may have been "compromised" and shared with "a foreign power or an agent of a foreign power."
    In Miami, Clinton to call on Congress to act on Zika virus
(Associated Press) Hillary Clinton will call on Congress to return to Washington and pass emergency funding for the Zika response during a visit to a Miami neighborhood dealing with the first U.S. outbreak of the disease.
    Donald Trump brushes off the concerns of 50 national security experts
(The Week) Donald Trump doubled down on his dismissal of the concerns raised by dozens of former GOP national security officials during a Fox Business appearance on Tuesday.
    Is It OK for Spies to Elect a President?
(Daily Beast) This is new territory for American spies, who, when they do criticize politicians, tend to do it retrospectively in score-settling memoirs or op-eds, and not in the heat of a presidential campaign. But just as the 2016 election has departed from tradition in so many ways, intel professionals are now feeling unleashed to try to block Trump and help his opponent get elected.
    China ridicules Trump's criticism of its trade practices
(Associated Press) Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is playing the "China-bashing card" in an attempt to rescue his falling poll numbers but has no real ideas to resolve the two nations' differences, China's official news agency said Tuesday.
    Orlando shooter’s father spotted at Clinton rally
(Washington Post) Asked about his son Omar Mateen, who killed 49 people in one of the biggest massacres in American history, Mateen said that he'd wished "that my son joined the army and fought ISIS" instead.
    Trump ignites firestorm with remarks on gun rights, Clinton
(Reuters) Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump suggested on Tuesday that gun rights activists could act to stop his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton from nominating liberal U.S. Supreme Court justices, igniting yet another firestorm of criticism just as he sought to steer clear of controversy.
Congress & Politics
    US Gives Lebanon $50 Million of New Military Assistance
(Associated Press) The United States on Tuesday delivered $50 million worth of military assistance to Lebanon's army to help it battle against Muslim extremists near the border with Syria.
    US says more military transparency needed in South China Sea
(Associated Press) The response from Beijing and others to an arbitration panel's ruling invalidating China's vast South China Sea maritime claims has brought no surprises, but much more military transparency is needed to reduce tensions in the region, the commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet said Tuesday.
    Florida says four new locally transmitted Zika cases, Congress must act on funds
(Reuters) Florida has four new cases of people likely infected with Zika through mosquito bites in Miami, Governor Rick Scott said on Tuesday, as he urged Congress to reconvene and approve additional money to combat the virus.
    FBI whistleblower who made sex claims against colleagues headed back to court
(McClatchy) A former Sacramento-based FBI special agent who turned whistleblower and successfully challenged his subsequent firing now must take his case to court again.
    Indonesia and Ukraine sign military technology accord
(IHS Jane’s 360) Indonesia and Ukraine have signed an agreement to expand co-operation in defence trade and military technologies, official statements in Jakarta have said. The agreement was signed during Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko's visit to Indonesia, which ended 7 August.
National Security & Intelligence
    The US government will track killings by police for the first time ever
(VICE News) The US Department of Justice, for the first time, will keep a comprehensive database of fatal officer-involved incidents, amid rising skepticism around police accountability.
    Dallas attack spurs Frisco PD to spend $1M on military gear, safety needs: 'It could happen anytime, anywhere'
(The Dallas Morning News) One month after five of their Dallas brethren were slain in a brazen downtown ambush, Frisco police plan to spend more than $1.1 million on what the city deems crucial public safety needs, including military-style gear for all 138 sworn officers.
    Civil rights probe of Baltimore Police Department finds serious flaws
(Washington Post) The lengthy report details what federal investigators concluded after a so-called “pattern or practice” review that lasted more than a year and examined the Baltimore department’s use of force, searches, arrests and other policing methods. The probe found discriminatory policing practices, and local and federal officials will now have to negotiate a court-enforceable order to ensure future reforms, one of the people said.
    Warming seas could lead to an 'unprecedented' rise in cholera infections
(VICE News) Warming seas might be making us sicker. Researchers have found that Vibrio bacteria — small organisms that can cause lethal infections such as cholera in humans — have become more abundant in coastal regions of the North Atlantic as water temperatures increased over a 50-year period. And that change might be responsible for an "unprecedented" rise in human infections, scientists say.
Cybersecurity, Space and Surveillance
    Pentagon Not Ready to Launch Biggest Spy Satellites on SpaceX Rockets
(Wall Street Journal) Despite efforts to foster competition for launching Pentagon spacecraft, senior Air Force and intelligence officials aren’t ready to put their biggest, most advanced spy satellites into orbit on top of Space Exploration Technologies Corp.’s rockets.
    Iran Improving Cyber Abilities Since Nuclear Deal, Pentagon Says
(Bloomberg) Iran has gradually improved its offensive cyber abilities and developed more advanced ballistic missiles since signing an accord last year to curb its nuclear program, the U.S. Defense Department said.
    Here’s the Internal Presentation the FBI Uses to Train Surveillance Pilots
(Motherboard) A few days ago, the American Civil Liberties Union published 18 hours of spy plane footage from Black Lives Matter protests, and multiple investigations have identified the front companies used by the FBI and tracked thousands of flights. Now, a presentation released to Motherboard under the Freedom of Information Act details how the FBI briefs pilots and agents about its aviation programs.
    DARPA awards contract to restore power grid after cyberattack
(C4ISRNET) SRI International has been awarded a $7.3 million DARPA contract to restore the U.S. power grid after a cyberattack.
    Missile Defense Gap: Cruise Missile Threat
(Defense News) Thomas Karako, senior fellow with the International Security Program and director of the Missile Defense Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, discusses the impact of the cruise missile threat.
(Popular Science) While SpaceX is making news with its recoverable rockets, China announced that it is working on the next big thing in spaceflight: a hypersonic spaceplane.
    Final policy requires feds to publicly release 20 percent of code
(Federal Times) Nearly four months after issuing a draft policy to release most — if not all — code produced by government agencies as open source, the Office of Management and Budget dropped the final mandate on Aug. 8.
    We Shouldn’t Destroy Computer Viruses
(The Conversation) Cultural heritage institutions should seek to archive malware in ways that render it safely accessible to researchers and historians.
    Thailand Plans to Track Foreign Tourists Through Their Cell Phones
(Time) Thailand announced plans Tuesday that would require foreigners visiting the popular Southeast Asian country to have location-tracking SIM cards in their phones so authorities can easily monitor their whereabouts.
Defense Department
    Effectiveness of some counter-IED efforts unproven, IG finds
(Military Times) The Pentagon’s agency tasked with developing technology to counter improvised explosive devices failed to determine whether more than $100 million in equipment actually worked, according to a new report from the Defense Department’s Inspector General.
    OPM gets new CIO from DoD
(Federal Times) In the wake of the massive breach of the Office of Personnel Management’s networks in 2015, the agency has been working closely with the Department of Defense to shore up the security of its most sensitive IT systems.
    Giant WWII kissing statue comes to Royal Oak
(Detroit Free Press) The temporary installation is aimed at helping promote and raise money for the Michigan World War II Legacy Memorial.
Air Force
    B-2s head to the Pacific, demonstrating U.S. commitment to the region
(Air Force Times) Three B-2 Spirit stealth bombers are headed to the Pacific theater, the Air Force announced Tuesday.
    2,300 airmen must take distance learning courses back-to-back
(Air Force Times) Roughly 2,300 airmen are now having to take the Air Force's senior noncommissioned officer distance learning course almost immediately after finishing their previous NCO distance learning course.
    Lockheed’s F-35 Deals Barred Until Air Force Vouches for Fixes
(Bloomberg) As negotiations drag on over Lockheed Martin Corp.’s biggest U.S. contracts yet to build F-35 jets, one potential impediment hasn’t attracted public attention: a congressional requirement that the Air Force secretary certify the fighter will be in top shape within two years.
    In the Nevada desert, the U.S. military prepares for a new kind of warfare
(Washington Post) U.S. military officers had just finished a mission in the Air Force’s premier exercise to train pilots for air-to-air combat, and something had gone wrong: Rank-and-file troops expected to carry out cyberattacks on enemy air defenses deviated from their plan without warning commanders and pilots.
    908th Airlift Wing reservists bond with Romanian pilots
(Montgomery Advertiser) Nearly 100 members of the 908th Airlift Wing returned home Sunday from a historic and successful training mission abroad. They made their first step in partnering with Romania.
    The $432,000 bonus? Air Force may nearly double fighter pilot retention pay
(Air Force Times) The Air Force wants to nearly double pilots' retention bonuses to $48,000 per year — and this means some pilots could net themselves a whopping $432,000 if they stay in the service.
    Florida F-22 experiences landing troubles during exercise at Hill AFB
(Standard Examiner) An F-22 pilot from Florida is safe after an undisclosed landing mishap Saturday at Hill Air Force Base.
    Air Force seeks suspected deserter
(Valdosta Daily Times) The Air Force is searching for a suspected deserter with ties to Valdosta who is wanted for questioning in a woman's death, according to military officials.
    Grissom command chief saves stranger's life
(Kokomo Tribune) Descending the escalator at the Indianapolis International Airport, it was just a normal Thursday night for Chief Master Sgt. Robert Herman, 434th Air Refueling Wing command chief. He was going through the motions of Thursday nights before a unit training assembly, waiting for his baggage, when he saw out of the peripheral of his eye that a middle-aged woman had fallen unconscious.
    Air Force Academy Cadet Accused in Sex Assault Faced Other Charges
(Colorado Springs Gazette) Prosecutors say an Air Force Academy cadet was facing charges in another sexual assault case when he allegedly crept into a sleeping classmate's dorm room and attempted to sexually assault her.
    Conan O'Brien ends up on the wrong side of an Air Force dog
(Air Force Times) Comedian and talk show host Conan O'Brien had several adventures with airmen last year when he took a trip to Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar. And this week, one of those Mission Conan videos is getting another look from airmen. Conan's Facebook page and Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James re-posted this hilarious clip of Conan learning about military working dogs — and even ending up in the jaws of one.
    Army Chief Goes Silent at ‘Mad Scientist’ Event
(Military.com) Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley rattled a conference on future military challenges Tuesday by abruptly ordering the live-stream cut off and putting his remarks off the record.
    Soldier sentenced for stealing night vision items from Army
(Associated Press) Federal prosecutors say a soldier has been sentenced to six months in prison for stealing night vision technology from the Army and selling it on eBay.
    Fort Carson to have second Afghanistan homecoming in a week
(Colorado Springs Gazette) Fort Carson will celebrate its second Afghanistan homecoming ceremony in less than a week when 10 soldiers return to the post at 1 a.m. Wednesday.
    Warrant: Soldier gave 16-year-old tequila shots before rape
(Fayetteville Observer) A soldier gave a 16-year-old girl tequila shots before raping her, an arrest warrant said.
    Army major rescues man burned in King's Grant home fire
(Fayetteville Observer) An Army Major ran into a burning home in the King's Grant neighborhood Monday morning to save a man inside.
    Bragg Boulevard Will Close Permanently To Through Traffic Next Week
(Fayetteville Observer) The change will create a new traffic pattern for a major thoroughfare that sees 55,000 to 60,000 vehicles each day.
    A Poker Champ Explains What Gambling Teaches Us About War
(Task & Purpose) An Army veteran and poker champion explains what gambling can teach about war.
    Navy develops new fleet uniforms: the latest
(Navy Times) The Navy’s search for a comfortable and flame-resistant uniform continues.
    Outgoing Navy secretary still urging a base-closing round
(The Day) Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus said submarines have become more important to the national defense and the Navy has less excess capacity than the other armed services, but he also said all Navy facilities would be on the table — even sub bases — if there is a new base-closing round.
    Squadrons return to Lemoore from aircraft carrier deployment
(Fresno Bee) Jet fighter pilots from three squadrons returned to Lemoore Naval Air Station Tuesday afternoon following a seven-month deployment on the USS John C. Stennis, and a fourth squadron was due later in the day.
    El Faro 'Black Box' Recovered From 15K-Feet Beneath the Se
(Associated Press) Search crews have retrieved the "black box" from the wreckage of the freighter El Faro that sank in 15,000-feet of water near the Bahamas during Hurricane Joaquin last year, officials said Tuesday.
    U.S. Pacific Fleet’s Swift Calls for Military Transparency in China Visit
(USNI News) The head of U.S. naval forces in the Pacific emphasized the importance of military-to-military transparency to his Chinese counterparts in a visit to the Qingdao headquarters of the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) North Sea Fleet on Tuesday, according to a readout of the meeting from the Navy.
    Who’s Got a Carrier to Rival the U.S. Navy’s? (Hint: Not Russia.)
(New York Times) It’s the Charles de Gaulle, the flagship and pride of the French Navy, and it’s been dispatched several times to join the fight against the Islamic State in Syria and in Libya. The carrier’s strike group performed so well in pounding the militants in the region that the United States Navy awarded it a Meritorious Unit Commendation in June. And President François Hollande of France announced on July 13 that the Charles de Gaulle would be redeployed to the Middle East this fall.
    Fast-Attack Sub's Chief of Boat Loses Job
(Stars & Stripes) The USS Oklahoma City's chief of the boat was relieved of duty late last month -- the second time this year the vessel has lost a superior.
    Navy man, nurse, team to stop a bridge suicide
(San Diego Union-Tribune) It was a life-or-death moment on the San Diego-Coronado Bridge Monday when a Naval aircrewman pulled over to stop a man from leaping into the bay.
    Failure puts Navy satellite off orbit
(Honolulu Star-Advertiser) The Navy is trying to remedy an orbital failure on a “next generation” military communications satellite launched June 24 that was supposed to reach geosynchronous orbit 22,000 miles above Hawaii for testing.
Marine Corps
    Is the US Marine Corps Ready for the Wars of the Future?
(The National Interest) The United States Marine Corps will have to adapt to face off against emerging threats in 2025 and beyond. While the Marines had developed a deep counterinsurgency expertise for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the future is more likely to mirror more recent conflicts in Eastern Europe and Syria, the service’s top uniformed official told an audience at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS).
    Marines may add assistant squad leaders to infantry units
(Marine Corps Times) The Marine Corps is looking to add assistant squad leaders to infantry units to fly unmanned aircraft, said Commandant Gen. Robert Neller.
    Top Marine Wants Troops to Retrain on Camouflage for Next Fight
(Military.com) During a recent field exercise, a Marine headquarters group set up an expeditionary operations center and facilities, then hung camouflage netting over every building and structure -- a time-honored Marine Corps practice that has fallen out of popularity during recent wars, in which the enemy did not possess aircraft.
    Marine commandant: Corps must be modified for modern warfare
(Stars & Stripes) The U.S. Marine Corps will adjust its force structure in the near future as it identifies gaps in capability and technology that it could face in a battle with a modern enemy, Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Robert Neller said Tuesday.
    CMC Neller: Marines Now Training to Battle Drones, Fight Without Comms
(USNI News) The Marine Corps must train for the environment it expects to face going forward, which means a near-peer adversary with a capable air force, a savvy web presence, the ability to leverage unmanned systems, and cyber and electronic warfare capabilities, the commandant said today.
    Turn Off That iPhone, Commandant Tells Marines
(Breaking Defense) Marines, turn off your iPhone and dig yourself a foxhole. That’s the Commandant’s message to young Marines, based on embarrassing experiences in recent exercises. As cheap drones and other surveillance technologies spread worldwide, said Gen. Robert Neller, US forces must re-learn how to hide — both physically and electronically — from increasingly tech-savvy adversaries.
    USMC to continue deploying, disaggregating Amphibious Ready Groups
(IHS Jane’s 360) The US Marine Corps (USMC) will continue to deploy multi-ship Amphibious Ready Groups (ARGs) despite regularly needing to disaggregate the groups to meet global commitments, General Robert Neller, the USMC commandant, said on 9 August.
    Marine Corps Digging Itself Out of Aviation Readiness Hole
(National Defense) The Marine Corps is in a “difficult place” when it comes to the readiness of its aviation fleet, the service’s top officer said Aug. 9.
    USMC mulls battalion restructures as it sheds end-strength
(IHS Jane’s 360) The US Marine Corps (USMC) is mulling some changes in how units are structured as it seeks to maintain capabilities while dropping to 182,000 active-duty marines.
National Guard
    Longtime Chinook pilot to take command of Washington State Guard
(Tri-City Herald) Rep. Brad Klippert, R-Kennewick, is to take command of the 80-member Washington State Guard following a promotion ceremony Aug. 13 at Camp Murray near Tacoma.
Europe, Russia & Ukraine
    Russia ‘Seriously Concerned’ as Fighting Picks Up in Ukraine
(Bloomberg) The Russian government is “seriously concerned” by an uptick in fighting in Ukraine’s easternmost regions, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said.
    Kiev braced for new separatist offensive amid reports of Russian build-up
(IHS Jane’s 360) Moscow's military planners are taking advantage of the many distractions in other regions of the world (such as the civil war in Syria, the US presidential race etc) and are quietly preparing to kick off a new wave of hostilities in eastern Ukraine's Donbas region, according to various specialists watching recent events there. There is also a simultaneous effort to keep the conflict off the collective radar screens of US and EU leaders until it would be too late for those nations to meaningfully intervene.
    Guns Of August: Fears Of Full-Scale War Return As Casualties Mount In Ukraine
(Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty) Framed by a tiny cutout in the fortified bunker, this particular piece of no-man's land is tinted a blood-reddish orange by the setting summer sun.
    Putin and Erdogan Vow to Repair Ties as West Watches Nervously
(New York Times) Against a backdrop of rising tensions between Turkey and the West, Presidents Vladimir V. Putin of Russia and Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey pledged on Tuesday to repair relations after nine months of open antagonism.
    Nagorno-Karabakh Peace Plan On Agenda Of Putin-Sarkisian Talks
(Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty) Russian President Vladimir Putin and Armenian President Serzh Sarkisian are meeting on August 10 to discuss Armenia’s ongoing dispute over Azerbaijan’s breakaway region of Nagorno-Karabakh.
    Putin and May speak over the phone, agree to meet
(Associated Press) In Tuesday's call, both leaders "expressed dissatisfaction with the current parameters of cooperation in both the political and economic sphere," according to the Kremlin.
    RAF helicopter catches fire after emergency landing in Snowdonia
(The Guardian and agencies) An RAF helicopter has been forced to make an emergency landing in Snowdonia in north Wales, police said.
    German Police Detain Asylum-Seeker Suspected of Plotting Terrorist Attack
(New York Times) A German special police unit has detained a Syrian asylum-seeker who they said they suspected of plotting a terrorist attack during the opening of the national soccer league season, German officials said Tuesday.
    ​Why the British Navy Needs Special Tea
(Motherboard) Why do British sailors need special tea? It’s not the start of a dad joke; the answer is based in science. The drinking water onboard a warship is different to your regular tap variety, and therefore results in a different brew that can affect the taste of a cuppa.
    Sister's tip led to Bulgaria arrest of French jihadi suspect
(Associated Press) The arrest in Bulgaria of a French citizen with ties to the attack on the Charlie Hebdo satirical newspaper in Paris followed a tip from his sister, new details showed Tuesday.
    Syrian refugees create app to help navigate German bureaucracy
(Washington Post) A team of six Syrian refugees are trying to solve one of the main obstacles the hundreds of thousand of refugees who flocked to Germany in the past two years must overcome: excessive bureaucracy. They're building an app for smartphones and computers designed to help recent arrivals to the German capital, Berlin, navigate the piles of paperwork required to receive social benefits, health care and a place to stay.
Afghanistan & Pakistan
    Afghan official: Taliban closing in on key city in the south
(Associated Press) Afghan troops are being deployed to the capital of the key southern province of Helmand amid intense fighting with the Taliban in surrounding areas and fears the city could fall to the insurgents within days, officials said Wednesday.
    Afghans Who Translated for the U.S. Military Are Stuck in Limbo on Visas
(New York Times) If the Taliban find him — or any of the Afghans hoping the United States will grant them visas — “they will kill us,” he said. But congressional infighting, infused with nativist tones, has left in question whether the special visa program would be renewed at all, a potentially devastating blow to the approximately 12,000 Afghan translators and interpreters whose immigration applications are in limbo.
Middle East & Turkey
    Israel Charges U.N. Employee With Assisting Hamas
(Associated Press) Israel on Tuesday said it indicted a Palestinian U.N. employee in the Gaza Strip, accusing him of assisting the territory’s Islamic militant Hamas rulers, just days after it charged the Gaza manager of the international charity World Vision for allegedly funneling millions to the group.
    Kuwait signs for 30 Caracal helicopters
(IHS Jane’s 360) Kuwait has signed a contract with Airbus Helicopters for the procurement of 30 H225M Caracal medium-lift helicopters, the company announced on 9 August. The contract follows-on from a type selection made in mid-2015, and includes support and services.
    Saudi Arabia Requests $1.15 Billion For Abrams Tanks, Hercules Vehicles
(Defense News) Saudi Arabia has requested to buy General Dynamics Land Systems-made M1A2S Abrams tanks and M88A1/A2 Heavy Equipment Recovery Combat Utility Lift Evacuation System (Hercules) Armored Recovery Vehicles (ARV) in a foreign military sale worth approximately $1.15 billion, according to a Defense Security Cooperation Agency statement Tuesday.
    Saudi-Led Coalition Resumes Bombing of Yemeni Capital After Talks Collapse
(New York Times) The Saudi-led military coalition resumed its bombing campaign over Yemen’s capital, Sana, early Tuesday, and there were immediate reports of civilian deaths.
    Saudi-led coalition hits food factory, killing 14 civilians
(Associated Press) Airstrikes by the Saudi-led coalition bombed a food factory in the Yemeni capital of Sanaa early on Tuesday, killing 14 civilians working on an overnight shift, according to a factory official and medics.
    Investigation largely clears Saudi-led airstrikes in Yemen
(IHS Jane’s 360) The Joint Incidents Assessment Team (JIAT) set up by the Saudi-led coalition to investigate claims that its air campaign in Yemen have hit civilian targets has largely exonerated the coalition in eight alleged such incidents, including one where it previously admitted accidentally bombing a hospital.
    Israel charges UN employee in Gaza Strip for assisting Hamas
(Associated Press) Israel on Tuesday indicted a Palestinian U.N. employee in the Gaza Strip, accusing him of assisting the territory's Islamic militant Hamas rulers, just days after it charged the Gaza manager of international charity World Vision for allegedly funneling millions to the group.
    Lebanon receives more artillery
(IHS Jane’s 360) The United States delivered another installment of 155 mm M198 towed howitzers to the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) as part of a shipment that arrived in Beirut on 9 August.
    Turkey’s Failed Coup Leaves Military Weakened
(Defense News) A massive purge among government servants in the aftermath of a failed coup in Turkey on July 15 is feared to have weakened Turkey’s security apparatus.
    Shabaab promotes ‘newly established’ Islamic police
(Long War Journal) Radio Andalus, a Shabaab media outlet, has released photos proclaiming to show a “newly established” Islamic police force in the town of Jilib, which is under the control of Shabaab in Somalia’s Middle Jubba region.
    3 Arrested After Jihadi Flag Hung From Hotel in Mali Capital
(Associated Press) An intelligence official says soldiers have pursued extremists who entered a hotel in Mali's capital and hung a black jihadi flag from the roof before escaping into the neighborhood.
    China Launches Yet Another ‘Carrier Killer’ Destroyer
(The Diplomat) The new class of destroyers will be larger than expected.
    New images suggest China has built reinforced hangars on disputed islands: think tank
(Reuters) Recent satellite photographs show China appears to have built reinforced aircraft hangars on its holdings in the disputed South China Sea, according to a Washington-based think tank.
    Chinese media touts Liaoning's 'growing combat capability'
(IHS Jane’s 360) China's state television revealed footage on 1 August of the country's only operational carrier, Liaoning (CV-16), carrying eight Shenyang Aircraft Corporation (SAC) J-15 fighters as well as a Z-18 and a Z-9 helicopter on its deck.
    Shenzhen destroyer set to re-join China's South Sea Fleet
(IHS Jane’s 360) China's only Luhai-class (Type 051B) destroyer, Shenzhen (167), has completed a major weapon systems upgrade and is set to return to operations with the People's Liberation Army Navy's (PLAN's) South Sea Fleet.
    China city suspends search for nuclear fuel facility
(Associated Press) A city in eastern China city on Wednesday suspended preliminary work on site selection for a nuclear fuel reprocessing facility following days of protests by area residents that underscored a growing willingness by the public to oppose projects seen as threatening lives and property.
    Exclusive: Vietnam moves new rocket launchers into disputed S.China Sea - sources
(Reuters) Vietnam has discreetly fortified several of its islands in the disputed South China Sea with new mobile rocket launchers capable of striking China's runways and military installations across the vital trade route, according to Western officials.
    India to Test Fire Nuclear-Capable Cruise Missile From Fighter Jet
(The Diplomat) The BrahMos cruise missile will be test fired in December following a drop test from a Sukhoi Su-30 MKI in August.
    Leaks Detail Abuse of Asylum Seekers Sent to Nauru by Australia
(New York Times) Leaked documents published Wednesday reveal extensive details about the harsh conditions faced by asylum seekers who have tried to reach Australia by boat and are being held on the remote Pacific island of Nauru.
    Japan orders second E-2D Hawkeye
(Flightglobal) Japan has placed an order for a second Northrop Grumman E-2D Advanced Hawkeye airborne early warning and control aircraft through a $163 million deal with the US government.
    Nagasaki mayor urges world to use collective wisdom to abolish nuclear arms
(Japan Times) Nagasaki Mayor Tomihisa Taue on Tuesday urged the international community to draw upon its “collective wisdom” to free the world of nuclear weapons as the city marked the 71st anniversary of its atomic bombing by the United States.
    India's Prime Minister Appeals to Kashmiris to Shun Violence
(Associated Press) Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday appealed to the people of Indian-controlled Kashmir to shun violence in his first public comments on the region's situation after a month marked by massive anti-India protests and deadly violence.
    South Korean air force to integrate Taurus KEPD 350K missiles
(IHS Jane’s 360) The Republic of Korea Air Force (RoKAF) plans to arm its F-15K Slam Eagle fighters with 'jamming proof' air-to-surface guided missiles in a bid to bolster its strike capabilities amid growing threats from North Korea, Yonhap news agency quoted military officials as saying on 9 August.
    Terrorism May Tear Singapore Apart: Prime Minister
(The Diplomat) Premier issues ominous warning about the threat terrorism poses to the country’s unity.
    China Backlash Over U.S. Missile Shield Puts North Asia on Edge
(Bloomberg) The tensions, which could crimp Chinese tourism to South Korea and even the appetite for that country’s K-pop music, could also go some way to resetting the geopolitical landscape in North Asia. South Korea may move back toward the U.S., and that in turn could bring South Korea and Japan closer. China, meantime, finds itself potentially in North Korea’s corner.
    Bangladesh Sentences Ex-MP to Death for War Crimes in 1971
(Associated Press) A special tribunal dealing with war crimes committed during Bangladesh's independence war against Pakistan in 1971 on Wednesday sentenced a former lawmaker to death and seven others to life in prison for murder and other crimes.
    Uruguay appoints new defence minister following Fernandez Huidobro's death
(IHS Jane’s 360) Uruguay's minister of defence, Eleuterio Fernandez Huidobro, died from illness on 5 August and is to be replaced by former Ministry of Defence vice secretary Dr Jorge Menendez.
Commentary and Analysis
    How the Pentagon Became Walmart
(Rosa Brooks in Foreign Policy) Our armed services have become the one-stop shop for America’s policymakers. But asking warriors to do everything poses great dangers for our country — and the military.
    USMA Superintendent Discusses Preparing Future Leaders for Modern War
(The Modern War Institute Podcast) The Modern War Institute has an exclusive discussion with Lieutenant General Robert L. Caslen Jr., 59th Superintendent of the United States Military Academy about his recent trip to Iraq and what it means for the development of future Army leaders.
    This Is Why The Best NCOs Self-Develop
(Harlan Kefalas in Task & Purpose) If the Army won’t provide real direction for self-development, aside from pushing civilian education, where will today’s leaders self-develop? Well, today self-development options are more plentiful than ever. Anybody can publish a blog, video, or podcast. That’s a good thing and a bad thing. With so many possibilities, it can be difficult to know which ones are worthwhile. To save you some time, or at least to help get the gears turning, here’s a short list of advice and useful resources from my own self-development journey.
    Don’t celebrate ISIS setbacks too soon
(William McCants in Brookings' Markaz blog) There’s a broad consensus in the analytical community that the Islamic State’s legitimacy would be damaged if it lost its government—the only debate is over how much. A state without a state would be a laughingstock, the argument goes, which I agree with in the main. But if the group’s previous incarnation is any indication, the laughter will be a long time coming—perhaps as long as a generation.
    Russia's Checkered History of Intelligence Sharing with the U.S.
(Michael Sulick in The Cipher Brief) The Syria proposal is initially predicated on exchanges of information on targets, and the Russians have historically manipulated intelligence sharing for their own purposes.
    How Not to Plan for ‘The Day After’ In Libya
(Dominic Tierney in The Atlantic) Once again, the Obama Doctrine has encouraged improvisation over long-term strategy.
    This is the War Against al-Qaeda the Next US President Will Inherit
(Ben Watson in DefenseOne) Fifteen years after invading Afghanistan in pursuit of the 9/11 attackers, the U.S. is bombing a half-dozen more countries.
    Obama administration can secure another win for data privacy
(Julie Anderson in Federal Times) The United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit just granted data privacy a huge victory. In a surprise unanimous 3-0 decision, the court ruled in favor of Microsoft and protecting the privacy of individual email messages. Although the court took an important step in guarding privacy, those rights in the digital world still lag behind the long-established privacy rights in the physical one. Now the other two branches of government must act to address this gap. Congress needs to pass legislation to modernize a 30-year-old law governing electronic communications. And the Obama administration should implement the Privacy Shield agreement as soon as possible to address the ongoing confusion between data privacy and security practices across national boundaries.
    China May Hate THAAD, But There’s Not Much It Can Do About it
(Scott Snyder, Council on Foreign Relatiosn) Beijing is blustering as the US prepares to deploy a new anti-missile system in South Korea.
    Ethiopia’s regime has killed hundreds. Why is the West still giving it aid?
(Washington Post) The weekend’s bloodshed should prompt the West to reconsider its aid to the regime. Ethiopia has been hailed as a model of economic development and touts its progress on global anti-poverty indicators as proof that its “developmental democratic” style is working. But the repeated use of force to silence dissent threatens development by sowing seeds of future unrest.
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