Deadly day in Iraq; F-16s strike from Turkey; Odierno’s last presser; SpecOps helo crashes on ship; and a bit more.

Deadly day in Iraq. A powerful truck bomb tore through a civilian market in Baghdad’s Sadr City, killing at least 59 people in the predominantly Shia district, the BBC reports: “Thursday’s bomb attack in Sadr City was one of the deadliest in the capital since Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi took office a year ago.”

And in Fallujah, more than 20 civilians were killed “when bombs dropped by the Iraqi air force hit a maternity and children’s hospital,” the BBC reports.

A list of the deadliest attacks in Iraq since the withdrawal of American troops in December 2011 is here, compiled by AP.

F-16s target ISIS. In the first manned U.S. airstrike from Turkish airfields, Air Force F-16s bombed Islamic State targets in Syria, AP’s Bob Burns reports. “In a brief statement the Pentagon announced the F-16 strikes were launched from Incirlik air base in southern Turkey but provided no details on the number or types of targets struck. A U.S. defense official said later that two of the six F-16s based at Incirlik flew the mission over Syria to hit one or more targets that had been selected in advance.” More here.

Odierno weighs in on ISIS, Iraq, and Trump. Those were some of the themes during the final press conference held by Gen. Raymond Odierno, the outspoken Army chief of staff, who is retiring tomorrow.

The chief waded into the debate over the Iraq war, renewed recently by feuding on the 2016 campaign trail, and reminded a packed Pentagon briefing room that the Bush administration negotiated the 2011 departure of American troops. “That was always the plan. We had promised them that we would respect their sovereignty,” said Odierno, who commanded troops in Iraq for more than five years between 2003 and 2010, including two years as the top American general in the country. Defense One’s Marcus Weisgerber has more here.

On embedding U.S. soldiers with Iraqi Security Forces: “I believe that if we find in the next several months we’re not making the progress … we should probably absolutely consider embedding some soldiers with them, see if that would make a difference.That doesn’t mean they would be fighting, but it maybe embedding them and moving with them. I think that’s an option we should present to the president when the time is right.”

Disagreeing with ‘The Donald.’ The Washington Post’s Dan Lamothe: “Odierno said Wednesday that he disagrees with Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s idea that the United States should go into Iraq and seize oil being used to fund the Islamic State militant group, saying that there are limits on what military power can do.”

Women on the front lines? Asked about the female soldiers now in the final stage of Ranger training, Odierno “endorsed the idea of women being able to attend the Army’s Ranger School if they can meet the standards, but stopped short of saying whether they will allowed to become Rangers when the Pentagon opens as many combat positions as it can to women by the end of the year,” The Hill’s Kristina Wong reports. “Odierno praised the two women, saying they ‘are another example of ‘If they can meet the standard, they should be able to go, and they should be able to earn their Ranger tab.’’” More here.

And for more on the two women in Ranger School’s final, swamp phase, check out this feature by Lamothe.

Russia, top threat. Odierno reprised the refrain, offered frequently by brass in recent months, that Russia is the top threat to the United States. “They are more mature than some other of our potential adversaries, and I think they have some stated intents that concern me in terms of how the Cold War ended,” Odierno said of Russia. “They have shown some significant capability in Ukraine to do operations that are fairly sophisticated, and so, for me, I think we should pay a lot of attention.” More here from CNN.


From Defense One

Defense One woke up in Des Moines this a.m. Politics Reporter Molly O’Toole is hitting the campaign trail in Iowa, a key early state in the presidential election, as the candidates make their way to town halls across the state and of course, the Iowa State Fair. Beyond the big names, expect to hear from some of the American voters listening to the presidential hopefuls rail against the Iran deal or warn of homegrown terrorist threats or the dangers of intervention as they munch on ears of corn and any food you can think of frying — and stay tuned for more from the 2016 campaigns at Defense One.

What’s Vladimir Putin doing in the Arctic? Stuck in Ukraine, stymied by global energy trends, the Russian president is launching an icy adventure aimed at least in part at shoring up his still-stratospheric popularity at home, writes RFE/RL’s Brian Whitmore at The Atlantic.

Welcome to Thursday’s edition of The D Brief, from Marcus Weisgerber and Brad Peniston. Ben Watson is off, but we’re still here for you. Want to share The D Brief with a friend? Here’s our subscribe link. And please tell us what you like, don’t like, or want to drop on our radar right here at the-d-brief@defenseone.com.


Black Hawk crash-lands on ship. Five Americans and two Japanese soldiers were injured when an Army special forces Black Hawk helicopter crash-landed on the deck of a military cargo ship off the coast of Japan. The injuries were described a “non-life threatening.” U.S. Forces, Japan: “U.S. special operations forces were conducting a maritime training exercise as part of a demonstration of the range of U.S. SOF capabilities to members of the Japan Self-Defense Forces.”

But what kind of helicopter were they really flying? A Pentagon statement on the incident simply refers to the chopper as an “H-60,” a generic Black Hawk designation. But video of helicopter captured by Japanese media tell a different story. The helicopter appears to be an MH-60M, a special version of the Black Hawk used only by the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment, or the Night Stalkers. If you recall, the unit flew those Navy SEALs on the 2011 mission when Osama bin Laden was killed.

Nothing to see here: In another video of the downed helicopter off the Japanese coast, men on the ship are moving quickly to cover the top of the helicopter and its main rotors with a yellow tarp. The tail rotor, which snapped off from the rest of the aircraft, had already been covered with a black tarp when the video was taken. As David Cenciotti of The Aviationist points out, the “main and tail rotors were covered, most probably to hide some details (maybe noise reduction devices and other interesting sensors) of the Special Operations helicopter.” Cenciotti says the aircraft does not appear to be a stealth Black Hawk, like the one used in the raid on bin Laden’s compound. More here.

Report: Army, Air Force wasted $500 million on drones. Rivalry between the two services led them to waste nearly a half-billion dollars buying Predator drones, according to a Pentagon Inspector General report obtained by The Intercept’s Sharon Weinberger under the Freedom of Information Act. “The report blasts both the Army and the Air Force for spending $115 million in 2008 and 2009 on research efforts that were supposed to help combine their Predator programs, in other words, to buy the same drone. Those efforts were ‘ineffective,’ the report said, depriving the Pentagon of an estimated $400 million in savings that would have resulted.” More here.

Power’s out. The Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction says a $335 million U.S.-built powerplant in Afghanistan is extremely underused and in danger of being wasted, the Fiscal Times reports. “USAID attempted to defend itself by saying the plant was only built to provide occasional backup and insurance for Kabul’s electrical grid, not for electrical power on a continuous basis. SIGAR’s report provides evidence that the plant was built for regular usage.” More here.

Green Beret killed in Kabul recommended for Silver Star. Master Sgt. Andrew McKenna, the Special Forces soldier killed in Afghanistan last week, has been recommended “the nation’s third-highest award for valor, for his actions during a vicious and bloody attack in Kabul,” Army Times’ Michelle Tan reports. He will also receive a Purple Heart posthumously. “McKenna, 35, was killed Aug. 7 during a complex attack on Camp Integrity, a special operations forces facility in Kabul, Afghanistan. The Rhode Island native died from his wounds after he was attacked by enemy small arms fire, according to the Defense Department. Eight contracted civilians also died in the attack.” More here.

Putin rattled by American paratroopers in Ukraine. “The Kremlin is worried about not just what the American troops are teaching the Ukrainians, but what they may be learning from them and the Donbas battlefield,” The Daily Beast’s Anna Nemtsova reports. “Indeed, U.S. troops and Ukrainian troops learning from each other seems to be just the kind of thing that Russian President Vladimir Putin was worrying about when he called an emergency meeting of his security council on Wednesday…The paratroopers are in Ukraine for the second of three rotations scheduled to last through November.” More here.

Speaking of Russia: Ukrainian forces have reportedly arrested Vladimir Starkov, a Russian military officer who was allegedly driving a truck loaded with ammunition. From Euronews: “Questioned by the Ukrainian security service, he said that around 2,000 Russian servicemen are currently deployed in Eastern Ukraine. Many of them did not volunteer, just like Starkov. When he was ordered to move to the Rostov region bordering Ukraine, little did he know that he would serve in Eastern Ukraine.” More here.

Army recruiting gets tougher as economy improves. Army Times’ Kyle Jahner sat down with Major Gen. Jeffrey Snow, the new head of the service’s Recruiting Command, who faces an uphill battle to find new soldiers. “Snow steps into a job overseeing a crucial mission: Finding roughly 60,000 new soldiers each year, along with about 17,000 reservists. The challenge has only risen of late: Snow faces an improving economy, and a populace where only 29 percent of young people meet physical, academic and behavioral requirements to join. More here.

And finally: You can buy the home of legendary Marine Lt. Gen. Lewis “Chesty” Puller. We are the Mighty’s Paul Szoldra has the details: Puller’s 2,253-square-foot, 3-bedroom, 2-bath home in Saluda, Virginia, lists for $395,000. More here.

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