Terror in Jakarta; US may expand ISIS fight; A-10 escapes retirement, for now; SOCOM’s next minisubs; And a bit more.
- ISIS advance in NW Syria; Surprise, surprise—USSOF are in Syria; The Shi’a side of the Fallujah offensive; Captured IS fighters are snitching on Baghdadi; Memorial Day and the National Parks; And a bit more.
- Russia alters Syria bombing plan; Taliban are not interested in peace; DoD playing the long game in Asia; USAF open to F-22 restart; and a bit more.
- Taliban appoint a new leader; Not all Taliban like this new leader; Eyes on Raqqa—and the nearby Kurds; SOCOM wants to predict the future; Moral risk and the citizen soldier; And a bit more.
Multiple explosions and a tense gunfight broke out outside a Starbucks in Indonesia’s capital of Jakarta this morning. Seven people were killed, including five attackers allegedly tied to the Islamic State group, and another 20 were wounded.
A witness told the Associated Press “he was out on the street when he saw the three men entering Starbucks and saw them blowing themselves up one by one. He says the other two attackers, carrying handguns, entered a police post from where he heard gunfire. He said he later saw one policeman dead and three seriously injured.”
Reuters reports authorities took another two attackers alive before Jakarta’s police chief told reporters, “ISIS is behind this attack definitely.”
The chief also said the attack was planned by an Indonesian militant called Bahrun Naim, whom police believe is now in the ISIS HQ city of Raqqa, Syria. The AP is keeping a running log of the latest in the attack and follow-on investigations, here.
Indonesia had largely been immune to ISIS, or so The Atlantic wrote earlier this month.
Defense Secretary Ash Carter outlines upcoming offensives against ISIS. Carter shared some of the broad strokes of the plan at Kentucky’s Fort Campbell, home of the 101st Airborne Division—of which some 1,800 troops will be headed to Iraq between February and late spring to backfill soldiers from the 82nd Airborne.
What’s new? That “expeditionary targeting force”—the troops that can come in through the window to kill and capture ISIS—is on the ground in Iraq, and has “already established contact with new forces [in Syria] that share our goals, new lines of communication to local, motivated and capable partners, and new targets for airstrikes and strikes of all kinds,” Carter said.
But Carter’s broader message, writes the AP, “signaled the completion of a military plan to help Iraqi and Kurdish Peshmerga forces retake Mosul in northern Iraq and to assist the Syrian moderate forces oust Islamic State militants from their headquarters in Raqqa. He described operations that would send Iraqi forces from the south and Peshmerga forces from the north to encircle and cut off Mosul. But he warned that taking it back will not be quick or easy, and he offered no timelines.”
Carter on Wednesday also mentioned the possibility of widening the fight against ISIS, using “the security infrastructure we’ve already established in Afghanistan, the Middle East, East Africa, and southern Europe into a network to counter transnational and transregional threats.”
Carter also said he will be meeting with his counterparts from France, Australia, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom to convince them to step up their contributions to the overall campaign (again), even as Australia has signaled its lack of interest in escalation from Canberra.
Meanwhile, French airstrikes hit an ISIS comms depot near Mosul last night, Defense Minister said this morning.
ICYMI: “The Pentagon is weighing a request from Turkish officials to help train and equip Sunni Arab fighters inside Syria as part of an effort to secure Turkey’s southern border,” the Wall Street Journal’s Gordon Lubold reported Tuesday. The request would “create a more diversified regional fighting force, potentially helping to assuage Ankara’s concerns about the territorial ambitions of Kurdish fighters operating in the area.”
For what it’s worth: “U.S. officials said Turkey has begun to do more [to seal off its porous border], constructing concrete barriers, adding razor wire, building trenches and adding lighting along stretches of the 900-kilometer (560-mile) border.” More here.
“Warthog” fans rejoice: The U.S. Air Force is delaying its plan to retire the cheap, fast and effective A-10 ground attack plane, Defense One’s Marcus Weisgerber reported Wednesday. The reason: ISIS.
Air Force officials say they still need to retire the A-10 to make room for newer warplanes, but that the calculus for its sunsetting has been thrown off by commanders’ demands for the Warthog now. Putting the A-10’s retirement plans on hold is a key policy shift that will be laid out next month when the Pentagon submits its 2017 budget request to Congress, said Pentagon officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the Obama Administration’s spending plan before its official release.” Weisgerber digs into the political and budgetary implications of the Big Decision, here.
Speaking of the Air Force: Secretary Deborah Lee James outlines in a Defense One op-ed the service’s new acquisition system, the “Bending the Cost Curve” initiative. What’s involved? Secretary James lays it out, here.
From Defense One
China is on a collision course with ISIS. Bejing’s ambitious plan to build links to central Asia and Europe will demand a better counter-terrorism policy, says the Council on Foreign Relations’ Rachel Brown, here.
The right way to fight Boko Haram — and how the U.S. should help. Sarah Chayes at the Carnegie Endowment writes that Nigeria’s new president is wrong to separate his terrorism problem from his corruption problem, here.
VA’s new paperless claim system has nearly doubled in costs. The agency’s deputy IG told lawmakers the billion-dollar (and counting) system may not be worth the money. NextGov reports, here.
A cyber treaty is hurting U.S. defenses. Tech execs and DHS’ cyber czar say a multinational pact keeps them from sharing information about intruders’ tools. NextGov again, here.
After Guantanamo, two detainees try to put their lives back together in Ghana. Here’s how the Yemeni men are being treated and what they say about their long incarceration. From Quartz, here.
Welcome to Thursday’s edition of the The D Brief, by Ben Watson and Bradley Peniston. Get your friends off on the right foot in 2016 by telling them to subscribe here: http://get.defenseone.com/d-brief/. Want to see something different this year? Got news? Let us know: email@example.com.
Say what you will about a possibly broken navigation system in the Arabian Gulf, if the U.S. were really going to invade Iran, it would have used a “a claustrophobic torpedo-like, 30-foot mini-submarine capable of putting six to ten Navy SEALs on enemy shores,” writes Defense One Tech Editor Patrick Tucker.
“Currently, U.S. Special Operations Command, or SOCOM, is testing a couple of different versions of a mini submarine for commandos: the 31-foot ‘Button’ 5.60 by General Dynamics and Giunio Santi Engineering of Italy and the S351 by Submergence Group out of Connecticut and Britain’s MSUBS. (In October of last year, they successfully completed testing on a 23-foot test sub called the S301i by Lockheed Martin.) They’re piloted by humans and directed by sonar. The Button has a speed of 60 nautical miles at 5 knots. The picture above is of the technology demonstrator for the ‘Button.’ The sub that the military ultimately deploys may look a bit different.” Read his report in full, here.
For all the apparent propaganda victories Tehran secured from its capture of 10 U.S. sailors and their Riverine Command Boats on Tuesday, it’s worth noting how quickly the situation de-escalated, writes Daniel Drezner of the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, writing in the Washington Post, here.
Emptying Gitmo continues apace, with another 10 detainees from Yemen shipped off to Oman for a “temporary stay,” Agence France-Presse reports.
The move sends the number of detainees at the facility down below 100 for the first time since 2002, writes WaPo, which rolls up some hefty pushback from U.S. lawmakers, here.
Meet the new head of SOUTHCOM, Vice Adm. Kurt Tidd, in this Miami Herald profile from October. SecDef Carter will drop in on Tidd’s change-of-command ceremony today in Florida.
Tidd is taking over from Marine Gen. John Kelly, whom you can read all about in our own Molly O’Toole’s profile posted just this week, here.
Lastly today—Seven GOP candidates take Fox Business’s main debate stage this evening in Charleston, S.C. at 6 p.m. EDT. Expect the participants to play up the recent Iranian detention and subsequent release of U.S. Navy sailors, and less so ISIS-attributed attacks in Turkey and Indonesia, to reinforce a narrative the Obama administration and Democrats are weak and feckless on foreign policy. NYT has a preview, here.