Fourteen dead in Kabul; A new approach for NSA data collection?; Rubio on repeat; Marines snub China; And a bit more.

An American was among 14 killed, including 8 other foreigners, during a five-hour siege at an upscale guest house in central Kabul on Wednesday. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack, which reportedly involved a suicide bomber who was killed before he could detonate his vest of explosives, according to The Washington Post.

If Iran fires a missile in the Middle East, Arab states would have four minutes to respond before impact. They have the missile defenses, they just refuse to talk to each other. Marcus Weisgerber has more on the missile shield the U.S. wants Gulf states to form. It’s one agenda item at President Barack Obama’s Arab summit of Gulf Cooperation Council leaders.
America’s Gulf allies have vowed to match whatever nuclear enrichment capabilities Iran is allowed to pursue, The New York Times’ David Sanger reports from the summit sidelines. The second day of talks are expected to take a more substantive turn as they shift from the White House to Camp David, Md. There, Sanger writes, “Mr. Obama will have a difficult time overcoming the deep suspicions that the Saudis, and other Arab leaders, harbor about the Iran deal. Several of them have said that the critical problem with the tentative agreements, as described by the White House and Secretary of State John Kerry, is that they assure nothing on a permanent basis.”
At the Pentagon Wednesday, Saudi Defense Minister (and Crown Prince) Mohammed bin Salman met Defense Secretary Ash Carter for the first time in their new roles, who made a point to say the U.S. was committed to its bilateral relationship with the Saudis, as well.
If the U.S. is reticent, France stands ready to capitalize even further on Gulf allies’ security concerns after closing a recent $7 billion deal with Qatar for Rafale fighter jets, NYT’s Alisa Rubin reports from Paris.   

Two Joint Chiefs nominations came in yesterday: The Navy’s head of nuclear propulsion, Adm. John Richardson, has been selected by the president to be the next chief of naval operations, or CNO; and Army Gen. Mark Milley is Obama’s choice to succeed Gen. Ray Odierno as the new Army chief of staff. That no regional combatant commanders got the call-up is notable. But both men come with their own credibilities. Milley has had the eye of defense leaders at least since he was military assistant to former Defense Secretary Robert Gates, Defense One reports.

From Defense One

Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio’s newly-announced foreign policy doctrine is hardly a new approach more money for defense, greater economic freedom, and an emphasis on restoring America’s “moral clarity” to shape global affairs in a way Obama has failed to achieve. But it was far more vision than many other 2016 candidates yet laid out. Molly O’Toole has more from Rubio’s Wednesday appearance at the Council on Foreign Relations.

The intelligence community has a few workarounds at its disposal for the bill that overwhelmingly passed the House to end the NSA’s bulk metadata collection. Some workarounds include targeted as opposed to bulk collection, and “artificial intelligence agents” programmed to abide by any new restrictions on data analysis, Patrick Tucker explains.

The NSA should be collecting a lot more data from American’s phones, Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., says. National Journal’s Lauren Fox has more on his indignation following a classified briefing on Tuesday.

Speaking of the Navy’s future, here are three areas where the service is altering its approach to surface warfare in the 21st century, from Navy SEAL Capt. Robert Newson.

While the Islamic State group’s use of the internet for propaganda has been well documented, it’s now showing a disturbing ability to mount attacks as it conveniently picks and chooses what it wants to take credit for. Quartz’ Bobby Ghosh has more.


Welcome to Thursday’s edition of The D Brief, from Ben Watson and Defense One. If you’d like to subscribe to The D Brief, click here or drop us a line at the-d-brief@defenseone.com. If you want to view it in your browser, you can do that, here.


Yemen’s ceasefire is not holding. The Saudi-led coalition conducted at least one air strike in southern Abyan province yesterday while its warships shelled rebel positions west of the port city of Aden. Amnesty International says Houthis attacked civilians and medical personnel in Aden with mortars, AP reports.

NDAA moves to the full House today. The House Rules Committee cleared 135 out of some 350 amendments—including one that gives Secretary Carter the authority to clear so-called “Dreamers” to serve in the military—to the FY16 National Defense Authorization Act late last night, The Hill’s Martin Matishak reported. The full House takes up the bill today, with a vote expected to come Friday.
Democrats are lining up to lampoon the Republicans’ draft of the defense bill, as The Hill’s Kristina Wong and Martin Matishak report this morning.

If I knew then, what I know now (about Iraq): Marco Rubio became the latest 2016 candidate to refute Jeb Bush’s statement he would’ve invaded Iraq as his brother did in 2003, knowing what we know now (though Jeb has since said he misunderstood the question).
Rubio: “Not only would I not have been in favor of it, President Bush would not have been in favor of it, and President Bush has said so … I don’t think Congress would’ve voted for it if they knew the intelligence was faulty.”
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie: “I don’t think you can honestly say that if we knew then that there was no [weapons of mass destruction], that the country should have gone to war.”
Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas: “Knowing what we know now, of course we wouldn’t go into Iraq.”
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky.: “…a real problem if he can’t articulate what he would have done differently.”

And following yesterday’s House passage of the USA Freedom Act, Republican Senate leaders are calling its reforms dangerous. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., who wants a straight extension of section 215 of the Patriot Act, is now on the spot. The bill “undercuts the Intelligence Community’s capability to stop terrorist attacks here and abroad,” Intelligence Committee Chairman Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., said in response to the vote. “[It’s] trying to fix a system that isn’t broken.”

In central Africa, rival factions of Burundi’s military claimed control of the country after a general ordered a coup against President Pierre Nkurunziza for his decision to run for a third term in spite of a two-term limit. Some 50,000 residents have fled fighting between protesters and police that’s left more than a dozen dead in the capital of Bujumbura. More from The Wall Street Journal’s Heidi Vogt.

Are America’s B-1 Bombers pivoting to Australia? That’s what David Shear, the assistant secretary of defense for Asian and Pacific security affairs, told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee yesterday. “We will be placing additional Air Force assets in Australia as well, including B-1 bombers and surveillance aircraft,” Shear said.
Meantime in Hawaii, U.S. Marines will meet with their counterparts from 23 different nations—excluding China—at the upcoming U.S. Pacific Command Amphibious Leaders Symposium, Reuters reports: “Asked about China’s exclusion, the Marine spokesman said U.S. law prohibited military-to-military exchanges with China at such events.”
Ahead of his trip to China this weekend, State Secretary John Kerry plans to push back on Beijing’s bold new territorial claims in the South China Sea, Reuters’ David Brunnstrom reports.
One little discussed facet of the South China Sea tensions: China’s nuclear subs are “hemmed in” on the sea’s northern Hainan Island, WaPo’s Will Englund reports: “If Beijing could effectively keep the reconnaissance at bay by establishing its sovereignty over most of the sea at the expense of its neighbors… that would clear the way for the subs to ease out into the Pacific without being so obvious about it.”

And in Nepal, a U.S. civilian team is using a drone to search for the still-missing Marine Corps UH-1 Huey with 6 Marines and 2 Nepalese soldiers on board.

The fatal Philadelphia Amtrak crash Tuesday night claimed the life of a 20-year-old midshipman from the U.S. Naval Academy. The latest from the tragic incident whose death toll has risen to seven here.

Pursuing the “nuclear taboo” in the name of peace. Can the U.S. make its citizens more secure by minimizing its role in the defense of American interests abroad? Barry Blechman and Russell Rumbaugh believe so in this report from The Stimson Center just released today.
Carter, Clapper want more Russian rocket engines. Secretary Carter and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper want Congress to elaborate exactly how many Russian rocket engines the U.S. would be authorized to use (according to the latest version of the NDAA) for executing its defense and intelligence missions in space. Bloomberg’s Tony Cappacio has the story.

A 4-pound Army recon drone at Colorado’s Fort Carson wound up in the yard of a subdivision a dozen miles away in Colorado Springs. The Gazette’s Tom Roeder has a bit more on the RQ-11 that lost its link to controllers while conducting escalated force protection measures at Carson.

From the Department of Oddball Promotions and Advertising: Retired four-star Wesley Clark is adding his name and promotional authority to sketchy companies, which are mostly failing. The various firms make everything from grilled cheese sandwiches and hunting apparel to dietary supplements. Bloomberg’s Zachary Midler Zeke Faux have more.

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