NorK rocket reaches new heights; AFRICOM nom sees ‘no grand strategy’ in Libya; Brexit could hit industry like a new sequester; and a big more.

North Korea launched two test rockets in as many hours on Tuesday, including one that reached new heights (620 miles while traveling a distance of 245 miles). The launches, the second of which the Associated Press called successful, followed five failures in roughly two months. “The North’s repeated tests of the Musudan worry Washington because the missile’s potential 3,500-kilometer (2,180-mile) range puts a lot of Asia and the Pacific, including U.S. military bases, within reach,” AP writes.

The first missile “disintegrated mid-air after a flight of about 150 km (95 miles),” Reuters reports. But the second rocket flew “more than halfway towards the southwest coast of Japan’s main island of Honshu.” Both were launched from NorK’s east coast at Wonsan and apparently fell into the Sea of Japan, U.S. Strategic Command said in a statement late Tuesday.

Such “missiles were usually fired at a certain angle to maximize range, so the high altitude of the second launch may have been chosen to avoid Japanese airspace. ‘That suggests the missile worked perfectly’” arms expert Jeffrey Lewis of the California-based Middlebury Institute of International Studies told Reuters. “‘Had it been fired at its normal angle, it would have flown to its full range.’”

For what it’s worth: “North Korea is believed to have up to 30 Musudan missiles, according to South Korean media, which officials said were first deployed around 2007, although the North had never attempted to test-fire them until April.”

And a bit more on the North’s presumed capabilities: “While North Korea has developed potential longer-range rockets, such as its 30-metre (98 ft) Unha-3, a home-grown three-stage rocket based on 1950s Soviet Scud missile technology, it needs to be fueled from a fixed launch pad making it easy to detect and impractical as a weapon. A smaller, powerful intermediate missile that is easier to deploy on a mobile launcher poses a harder threat to counter.”

Need to catch up on North Korea’s nuclear ambitions? The graphics team at Agence France-Presse put together a nice video explainer, here.

Oh, by the way, the U.S. and South Korean militaries practiced defensive drills with Cobra and Apache helicopters today with the goal of deterring a potential North Korean invasion of the South via armored vehicles. That, via South Korean Yonhap News, here.    

Whispers of more U.S. troops needed against ISIS. U.S. officials are warning that the current “U.S.-backed air and ground campaign is far from eradicating the radical Islamic group, and could even backfire,” Reuters reports this morning. “While Islamic State’s defeats in Iraq and Syria have erased its image of invincibility, they threaten to give it greater legitimacy in the eyes of disaffected Sunni Muslims because Shi’ite and Kurdish fighters are a major part of the campaign, some U.S. intelligence officials argue.”

The warnings come from recent battlefield gains against ISIS around Ramadi and, more recently, Fallujah—where protracted fights at the outskirts of the cities dragged Baghdad’s offensives out longer than if the group basically just stayed in one location and waited to get hit by an airstrike.

And if there’s one thing ISIS hates more than anything else, it is airstrikes.

One additional problem: “The Islamic State’s international appeal has become untethered from its military performance on the ground,” Middle East analyst Hassan Hassan told Reuters. More here.

U.S. generals are also advocating for “hundreds” more American troops in Iraq, the Washington Post’s Josh Rogin writes. “According to several senior military, congressional and administration officials, the generals on the ground, including Army Lt. Gen. Sean MacFarland, commander of coalition forces in Iraq, have been frustrated by what they see as arbitrary caps on troop levels set by the White House and a process that discourages them from directly asking for what they need. That may affect the numbers in the requests that are sent to Washington.”

The reason this advocacy may remain only that: MacFarland & Co. know “what not to ask for because it’s not going to happen,” said retired Gen. Jack Keane, former vice chief of staff of the Army. “It gets cut off because the White House is not going to approve it. The level of frustration over this has really been quite extraordinary.”

The consequences: the “White House’s caps on troop numbers in Iraq have forced the Army to break up units and supplement deployed forces with contractors, which harms Army operations and adds costs,” Rogin writes after an interview with Gen. Daniel B. Allyn, vice chief of staff of the Army.

Pushback: “More of everything is not a strategy,” said Derek Chollet, a former Obama administration White House and Pentagon official. “In every single military campaign in history, the military has wanted more. They are trying to do a job. It’s the natural impulse.” Read the rest, here.

Don’t look now, but Obama’s pick to be the new general in charge of AFRICOM—Marine Lt. Gen. Thomas Waldhauser—“said on Tuesday that, as far as he knows, the administration has no ‘overall grand strategy’ for combating the Islamic State in Libya,” The Washington Examiner reported.

Meanwhile in Syria, President Bashar al-Assad is trying to form a new government after tasking Electricity Minister Emad Khamis to replace replace Wael al-Halaki as prime minister, Reuters reports. Four years ago, Assad tried a similar tactic, “but its prime minister at the time, Riad Hijab, fled Syria soon afterwards. Hijab is now a prominent member of the main Syrian opposition that attended failed peace talks this year.” That, here.


From Defense One

For defense firms, Brexit could be Europe’s sequester. A British departure from the European Union could slow arms purchases and collaboration across the continent. Global Business Editor Marcus Weisgerber reports, here.

And the war came: A call for unity in Orlando. A Pentagon reporter raised in Orlando returned to measure the distance from the battlefield to the homefront, and found something unexpected. By Executive Editor Kevin Baron, here.

The Pentagon is about to launch a big database for screening national security workers. The new DISS will merge two tools as part of the effort to reform the security clearance process. From NextGov, here.

Welcome to the Wednesday edition of The D Brief, by Ben Watson and Bradley Peniston. On this day in 1941, Hitler invaded the Soviet Union with nearly 4 million troops, a move that substantially contributed to Nazi Germany’s eventual defeat. Send your friends this link: http://get.defenseone.com/d-brief/. And let us know your news: the-d-brief@defenseone.com.


While Brexit drama continues through Thursday, here’s an excellent primer on “rising” far right parties across Europe today, via The New York Times. Rather a lot of intolerance to comb through, here.

Crazy fact: There are 10,000 people on France’s S List, the database of radicalized individuals. To watch just one suspect around the clock takes 20 agents, NYT’s Rukimini Callimachi reports after digging into more than 200 pages of confidential court documents on the two attackers behind ISIS-inspired violence in Orlando and north Paris, both of whom were on authorities’ watch lists. Callimachi divides those surveillance stats into France’s presumed less-than-5,000 agents for tracking such things, and the results are not pretty.

Such dilemmas are not limited to just France; security agencies across the globe are grappling with how to head off radicalized violence in the absence of traditional evidence to support a prosecution before an attack. Catch her report in full, here.

For your ears only: Dive even deeper into the problem of fighting terrorism online via WNYC’s “On the Media,” with a special episode on the topic.

The report notes recent efforts by U.S. officials, including the Pentagon, to enlist Silicon Valley to help fight extremist messages—because Palo Alto has all those magical algorithms, right? They may not be so magical after all, as you’ll discover in the episode, which you can find here.

So in the near-term, how is the CIA fighting terrorism? With diversity and with a cadre of Muslim officers, the Washington Post reports. (It just so happens to be one of the non-tech recommendations from the OTM podcast.) Read WaPo’s take, here.

F-35 fans, rejoice: Those “terrifying bugs” are said to have been worked out. Military Times: “We cleared 88 of 88 sorties, and we were on time for 100 percent of those sorties for the large force exercises,” Maj. Brad Matherne, an F-35A pilot from the 34th Fighter Squadron, told reporters during a June 21 conference call. “We had zero losses due to any software stability issues that were previously out there.” Read the rest, here.

With the UN ruling on South China Sea claims expected soon, Beijing is getting ready to fight the anticipated denial in the court of public opinion. A Hofstra University law professor Julian Ku writes to “offer a few short responses to rebut talking points spouted by any Chinese diplomats or PR hacks you happen to run into.” Read that at Lawfare, here.

Also: here’s a video explainer on SCS tensions, from AFP once more.

Lastly today—a Green Beret is headed to the National Security Council. Get to know Col. Robert Wilson, former commander of Fort Bragg’s 3rd Special Forces Group, who “after 20 years as a Green Beret… won’t serve in a Special Forces Group ever again.”

Said Wilson: “I’ve looked into it. There’s no possible way.”

Wilson will take his expertise from helping implement a new plan for 3rd SFG, shifting the group’s focus from years in Afghanistan to more emphasis on North and West Africa—which is apt to come in handy considering the presence of ISIS in Libya. More here.

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