Twin bombs hit Kabul; US SOF raid in Syria; Work may stay on; Pakistan claims test of sub-launched missile; and just a bit more…

Twin suicide bombs hit Kabul. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the Tuesday attacks near Afghanistan’s parliament building, which have left more than 20 dead so far. Al Jazeera, here.

Details emerge on U.S. SOF raid in Syria. Yesterday, your D Briefers cited local sources who said coalition forces might be executing a hostage rescue operation: “Of particular note is the local report ‘that Isil leaders’ bodies were then taken out of Syria is strange. Very unusual.’” Today, the Washington Post cites unnamed U.S. officials who said “U.S. forces intercepted a vehicle carrying an Islamic State militant whom the U.S. military hoped to capture and interrogate.” Read on, here.

U.S. ups support for Turkey’s anti-ISIS ops. Ankara’s offensive in northwestern Syria is now receiving the kind of aerial intelligence surveillance that the U.S. has been providing to anti-Assad rebels further south, the Washington Post reports. The intel aid is expected to precede “increased U.S. support for the flailing Turkish military operation around the town of al-Bab.” Read on, here.

Iranian boats draw fire from US warship. Four Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps patrol boats approached a trio of U.S. Navy ships transiting the Strait of Hormuz on Sunday; one got within 900 yards of the destroyer Mahan “with a sailor manning its main gun,” said Navy Capt. Jeff Davis, a Pentagon spokesman. In response, the Mahan fired three warning shots from a .50-caliber machine gun, and the Iranian craft withdrew, Davis said. Incidents of this sort, which Davis described as “unsafe and unprofessional,” had been on the rise in 2015 and early 2016, but this was this first such since August. Read on, here.

Work may stay on as Pentagon’s No. 2. The Trump team is reportedly considering extending the tenure of Deputy Defense Secretary Robert Work, most prominently known as the shepherd of the Third Offset, shorthand for the military’s search for technological capabilities intended to vault it far beyond its potential adversaries. WaPo, here.

Work’s extension would be the exception in a transition that will see the immediate departure of most DoD senior leaders — and indeed many senior leaders across the government. In December, the Trump team told all politically appointed ambassadors that their tenure would end on Inauguration Day, breaking the precedent that allowed them to stay on for a little while — a few weeks or months — upon request.

Meanwhile, the pick for defense secretary, retired Marine Gen. James Mattis, has been clashing with Trump staff in “an increasingly acrimonious dispute over who will get top jobs in the Defense Department — and who gets to make those decisions.” The Post’s Josh Rogin reported Friday that Mattis was blindsided by Trump’s selection of billionaire Army vet Vincent Viola for Army secretary. “Mattis was furious,” said the source. “It made him suspicious of the transition team, and things devolved from there.” Read, here.

While we’re on Mattis, his mandatory financial disclosure was released by the Office of Government Ethics, revealing that he has received “millions of dollars of income since leaving the military, including through lucrative speaking engagements with companies such as Goldman Sachs and Northrop Grumman and paid positions with Theranos, Stanford University and General Dynamics.” WaPo’s Dan Lamothe (who’s having a busy week) reports, here.

Updated: Trump has neither released his own tax return nor removed himself from his global web of businesses. We’ve updated our Trump natsec conflict-of-interest tracker, here.


From Defense One

The U.S. Navy’s CNO will be our guest for the next Defense One Leadership Briefing. Join us on Tues., Jan. 17, at 8:30 a.m. EST, as Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson talks with with Defense One Executive Editor Kevin Baron. What does the Navy really want in 2017, and what will Donald “rebuild the military” Trump do about it? Stay tuned for details.

The Pentagon Needs Its Own Google For All Its Data, Says Eric Schmidt // Patrick Tucker: The Alphabet chairman says a giant data warehouse would give the military Google-like capability. It would also create the richest intelligence target ever conceived.

Welcome to the Jan. 10 edition of The D Brief by Bradley Peniston. (Enjoy the D Brief? Send your friends this link: http://get.defenseone.com/d-brief/. And let us know your news: the-d-brief@defenseone.com.)


“Putin does not seek American greatness. As your allies, we do.” Seventeen current and former officials of Eastern and Central European countries are worried enough about Trump’s turn toward their former hegemon that they have penned a letter to the president-elect reminding him of American values and treaty obligations. Rogin, again, here.

Pakistan claims test of nuclear-capable sub-launched missile. Defense News’ Usman Ansari parses military statements as saying that a 450-kilometer sea-skimming Babur 3 missile was successfully test-launched recently (no date was given) from an Agosta-70 or Agosta-90B submarine. This marks progress toward completing Pakistan’s nuclear triad and second-strike capability, says Mansoor Ahmed, a postdoctoral research fellow at Harvard University’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs and an expert on Pakistan’s nuclear program and delivery systems. Read on, here.

More plagiarism found in NSC pick’s work. Politico went through the Ph.D dissertation of Monica Crowley, Trump’s choice for senior director of strategic communications for the National Security Council, and found “more than a dozen sections of text that have been lifted, with little to no changes, from other scholarly works without proper attribution.” That’s on the heels of CNN’s recent report that Crowley’s 2012 book What the (Bleep) Just Happened includes more than 50 plagiarized passages, “copying directly from conservative columns, news articles, Wikipedia and in one case a podiatrist’s website.” Read on, here.

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