A quadruple suicide bombing in northern Cameroon killed more than two dozen people this morning—a bloody reminder that Boko Haram-linked violence is in its sixth year, Reuters reports. Cameroon is among the four Nigerian neighbors who have contributed some 8,700 troops toward defeating the jihadist insurgency. More on Monday’s attack, here.
Is the U.S. military ready to roll in Syria? U.S. Vice President Joe Biden made waves on Saturday when, standing beside Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, he said the U.S. is prepared for a military solution in Syria, should peace talks fail.
“We do know it would better if we can reach a political solution but we are prepared,” Biden said, “if that’s not possible, to have a military solution to this operation and taking out Daesh.”
U.S. officials raced to clarify Biden’s comments, saying the military action was intended only for the Islamic State and not against Syrian forces, BBC reported. But, they added, one of the dominant topics in the Biden-Davutoglu meeting was Turkey’s distaste toward the Syrian Kurdish force known as the YPG—which is aligned with the U.S.—and the need to build up a Sunni Arab force to eventually take on Syrian troops. More on that angle from the Washington Post, here.
For what it’s worth: the Czechs are sending “6,500 new and used automatic rifles and some 7 million rounds of ammunition to Iraq via the U.S. government, and a separate shipment of ammunition to Jordan,” Reuters reports this morning here.
U.S. State Secretary John Kerry has no clear picture of how or precisely when Syrian peace talks will begin again—though the UN’s Syrian envoy, Staffan de Mistura, said this morning the talks will resume on Friday. They were due to start today, but the main Sunni Arab opposition group wants nothing to do with the process until Russia stops dropping bombs in Syria.
By the way: Moscow says it has no plans to build another base in Syria, the Associated Press writes on reports that Russia “could be preparing to set up another base in Qamishli in northeastern Syria near the border with Turkey.”
While we’re at it: How much has Russia helped the Assad regime? “The Syrian government expanded its territory by 1.3% with Russian military support between 29 September 2015 and 11 January 2016, according to the latest IHS Conflict Monitor estimate. These gains represent a turnaround in the government’s position, considering it lost 18% of its territory in the first eight months of 2015, and was edging towards the loss of Aleppo and intensified attacks against the Alawite heartland in Latakia… All of the government’s net gains between 29 September 2015 and 11 January 2016 were achieved against Sunni rebels (590 km2 gained vs 205 km2 lost), whereas the government suffered an overall net loss of 5 km2 to the Islamic State (205 km2 gained vs 210 km2 lost).”
Your snowy Monday #LongRead: From Angola and Afghanistan in the ’80s to training Syrian rebels today—the CIA and Saudi Arabia have had a long and prosperous relationship throughout the years, the New York Times Mark Mazzetti and Matt Apuzzo reported this weekend.
How many U.S. National Guard troops are deployed in your state to help with “Snowzilla” recovery? Find out in this nifty interactive from the folks at Military Times.
From Defense One
We’re long overdue for due diligence in defense. Douglas Macgregor argues that Defense Secretary Carter deserves applause for cutting the Navy’s LCS, and encouragement to think more broadly. More, here.
The GOP’s Iran frustration reflects a lack of options in the months ahead. Republicans are irate over the Obama administration’s handling of Iran—and there’s little they can do to stop it. National Journal reports, here.
Drone pilots are breaking the old definitions of valor. Traditional notions of heroism don’t always leave room for those U.S. troops engaged in high-tech, cutting-edge warfare, writes a former soldier in The Atlantic, here.
After OPM hack, security-clearance requests will run through the Pentagon. That’s the order from the White House; meanwhile, OPM is shifting its background investigations to a new National Background Investigations Bureau. NextGov has the story, here.
New video: “Maintaining Force Readiness in the New Era of Global Threats.” If you missed Thursday’s livestream, here’s the video of a conversation between Brig. Gen. Thomas Murphy, deputy commander of Air Forces Cyber; Robert Naething, deputy to the Commanding General of U.S. Army North; and Brig. Gen. Peter Lambert, vice commander of 25th Air Force, ISR and Air Combat. Moderated by Defense One’s deputy editor, Bradley Peniston. Watch, here.
Welcome to Monday’s “snowed-in” 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.
A new video from ISIS has Europe on edge. The group’s latest release—titled “Kill Them Wherever You Find Them”—shows “seven of the militants…standing behind bound captives, described as ‘apostates,’ who were either beheaded or shot,” AP writes.
Europol this morning warned that ISIS is planning “large-scale” attacks in Europe, Agence France-Presse reports.
Last week, the international police agency released a report on changing ISIS tactics along with some information they’ve gleaned from foreign fighters who have joined ISIS. According to the report: a “significant portion of foreign fighters have been diagnosed with mental problems prior to joining IS.” That, here.
Iran’s president is touring Europe this week to shore up support some nations have ready to go—like Italy’s pledge last week to spend nearly $9B with companies looking to invest in a post-sanctions Iran, the Wall Street Journal reports here.
A bit more on those investment dollars: “Officials in Rome said Italian companies were poised to sign deals worth up to 17 billion euros ($18.4 billion) over the next two days, including in the energy and steel sectors,” Reuters adds here.
Meanwhile, it’s Groundhog Day in Yemen’s war. Civilians are still being killed in Saudi-led airstrikes and the country’s “prime minister and his Cabinet returned on Monday to the volatile southern port city of Aden, months after he was targeted in a suicide bombing that forced them to leave the country,” the AP reports.
Boeing quietly passes an important test. The Air Force’s new KC-46 refueling tanker, which has seen its share of development problems, just refueled an F-16 fighter jet. The test on Sunday marked the first time the Boeing-made plane refueled another aircraft in flight. The tanker must pass tests by refueling four types other aircraft before the Pentagon decides to buy more of them. Read more, here.
ICYMI: Epic Navy bribery scandal shows how easy it can be to steal military secrets. Washington Post: On Thursday, former Petty Officer First Class Daniel Layug “became the first person to be sentenced in an epic corruption investigation that has paralyzed the Navy since 2013. He had previously pleaded guilty to accepting bribes from Glenn Defense Marine Asia, a Singapore-based firm that did a rich business with the Pentagon for a quarter century by supplying hundreds of Navy ships during port visits in the Pacific and Indian oceans.” More, here.
Were Chinese soldiers “on the clock” or simply “moonlighting to enrich themselves” when they collaborated with a Chinese resident of Canada to steal F-35, C-17 and F-22 secrets? Canada’s Globe and Mail digs into the known knowns of one of the highest-profile hacking cases to date, here.
Lastly today—Donald Rumsfeld is making a videogame. A simulation of a card game that Winston Churchill purportedly played throughout World War II, “‘Churchill Solitaire’ is likely the only videogame developed by an 83-year-old man using a Dictaphone to record memos for the programmers,” writes the Wall Street Journal. Here’s one such snowflake: “We need to do a better job on these later versions. They just get new glitches…We ought to find some way we can achieve steady improvement instead of simply making new glitches.” Leadership! More, here.