Turkish tanks and special forces are racing toward Syria’s northern border town of Jarablus. Ankara wants to reach the city before U.S.-backed Kurdish forces can arrive from the east, The New York Times reports this morning. “Turkish officials said the operation started at 4 a.m. with Turkish and United States warplanes pounding Islamic State positions in Jarabulus. The special operations troops entered Syria to clear a passage for a ground operation by Turkish-backed rebel groups, the state broadcaster TRT reported. The assault comes days after Turkey vowed to ‘cleanse’ its borders of the Islamic State following a deadly suicide attack at a Kurdish wedding, which killed at least 54 people.”
Already, Turkish-backed rebels have taken “the village of Keklijah five kilometres (three miles) west of the IS-held main regional town of Jarabulus and three kilometres (two miles) from the border, Anadolu agency said, in the first reported military success of the operation launched before dawn,” AFP reports this morning.
And all of this just as U.S. Vice President Joe Biden arrived to Turkey for the first high-level visit to Washington’s NATO ally since the failed coup in mid-July. Reuters has a bit more on that dynamic, here.
What no one seems to be saying much about so far: the many civilians that the Islamic State group has taken with them from the city of Manbij and to Jarablus. Coalition surveillance tracked “a couple hundred” cars “with civilians either in or on them” when Syrian Democratic Forces pushed most ISIS fighters from Manbij nearly two weeks ago.
And over in Syria’s eastern governorate of Hasakah, Russia helped broker a ceasefire between the Assad regime’s troops and Kurdish fighters who have largely taken control of nearly all of the city, save some government buildings for the remaining troops. The Wall Street Journal has more on that front, here.
And over in Iraq, take a tour of some of the newly discovered tunnels Kurds have found after pushing ISIS fighters back from villages on the outskirts of Mosul. VOA again with video, here.
North Korea launched a ballistic missile from a submarine just off its coast Tuesday afternoon (east coast time), traveling inside Japan’s air defence identification zone for the first time, according to Reuters.
The missile is believed to be capable of traveling 620 miles; but due to its launch angle, it traveled only 300 or so miles and crashed into the waters of the Sea of Japan, according to a statement released by U.S. Strategic Command Tuesday evening.
If you’re North Korea, here’s one benefit of a sub-launched missile: It “makes an excellent countermeasure to THAAD, which has radar with a 120° field of view,” arms expert Jeffrey Lewis tweeted last night.
The main takeaway: “We don’t know the full range, but 500 km is either full range or a full range on a lofted trajectory. Either way, that missile works,” Lewis told Reuters.
China’s foreign minister just happened to be in a pre-planned meeting with his South Korean and Japanese counterparts, all of whom voiced their opposition to the launch.
And a bit more on DPRK’s sub fleet: “South Korea believes the North has a fleet of more than 70 ageing, limited-range submarines - a mix of Chinese, Russian and locally made boats. Acquiring a fleet of submarines large and quiet enough and with a longer range would be a next step for the North, experts said.” More here.
From Defense One
The U.S. should contain ISIS and move on. Writing in The Atlantic, Stephen Biddle and Jacob Shapiro say it’s a wiser choice than the “destroy IS” or “smash-and-leave” options. Read on, here.
When campaigns smear generals and intelligence officers. I worked with Gen. Allen and CIA Deputy Director Mike Morell. They deserve better than personal attacks and campaign lies, writes Samantha Vinograd. Read that, here.
Boeing wants to patent a fire-fighting howitzer round. The suppressant-filled shell would help firefighters gun down wildfires. Tech Editor Patrick Tucker has the story, here.
Al-Qaeda’s war on America just entered its third decade. Two decades ago, Osama bin Laden officially launched the group’s struggle against the United States. Neither side has won. That, from The Atlantic’s Dominic Tierney, here.
“Autonomy” is a smart overview of the Pentagon’s robotic plans, writes the Council on Foreign Relations’ Micah Zenko. But the long-awaited Defense Science Board study tiptoes around the question of armed autonomous systems, he says, here.
U.S. gets serious about portable nuke-detector prototypes. Homeland Security spends $20 million to develop devices to find bombs being transported in ships, on metro systems, or in public places. Via NextGov, here.
Welcome to Wednesday’s edition of The D Brief by Ben Watson and Bradley Peniston. On this day in 1812, British forces occupied Washington, D.C., and set fire to the White House. (Send your friends this link: http://get.defenseone.com/d-brief/. And let us know your news: firstname.lastname@example.org.)
In other submarine-related news this week: “I understand there has been a case of hacking,” Indian Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar told reporters after news broke Tuesday of “a massive leak of secret documents, raising fears about the future security of top-secret data on the navy’s future fleet,” The Australian reported.
“The stunning leak, which runs to 22,400 pages and has been seen by The Australian, details the entire secret combat capability of the six Scorpene-class submarines that French shipbuilder DCNS has designed for the Indian Navy,” The Australian writes. “Marked ‘Restricted Scorpene India’, the DCNS documents detail the most sensitive combat capabilities of India’s new $US3 bn ($3.9bn) submarine fleet and would provide an intelligence bonanza if obtained by India’s strategic rivals, such as Pakistan or China. The leak will spark grave concern in Australia and especially in the US where senior navy officials have privately expressed fears about the security of top-secret data entrusted to France.”
So what was leaked? Lots: “details the secret stealth capabilities of the six new Indian submarines, including what frequencies they gather intelligence at, what levels of noise they make at various speeds and their diving depths, range and endurance — all sensitive information that is highly classified. The data tells the submarine crew where on the boat they can speak safely to avoid detection by the enemy. It also discloses magnetic, electromagnetic and infra-red data as well as the specifications of the submarine’s torpedo launch system and the combat system.”But that’s not all: “It details the speed and conditions needed for using the periscope, the noise specifications of the propeller and the radiated noise levels that occur when the submarine surfaces. The data seen by The Australian includes 4457 pages on the submarine’s underwater sensors, 4209 pages on its above-water sensors, 4301 pages on its combat management system, 493 pages on its torpedo launch system and specifications, 6841 pages on the sub’s communications system and 2138 on its navigation systems.”
An unnamed source “close to the matter” told Reuters the leak “seems to be sensitive information but appears neither critical nor confidential.” But the source had nothing further to add to this two-sentence story.
War-zone surveillance comes to the city that brought us “The Wire.” Citizens in Baltimore have been subject to a surveillance test since January that no one bothered to tell the public about. And if you know anything about the system, you know why that might be: “Imagine Google Earth with TiVo capability,” said the system’s creator, Ross McNutt, an Air Force Academy graduate, physicist, and MIT-trained astronautical engineer who in 2004 founded the Air Force’s Center for Rapid Product Development, Bloomberg reports.
“The Pentagon asked him if he could develop something to figure out who was planting the roadside bombs that were killing and maiming American soldiers in Iraq. In 2006 he gave the military Angel Fire, a wide-area, live-feed surveillance system that could cast an unblinking eye on an entire city.”
The science news podcast Radiolab profiled McNutt and his system back in June 2015, and the episode is worth a listen. Their description: “With a small plane and a 44-megapixel camera, they figured out how to watch an entire city all at once, all day long. Whenever a bomb detonated, they could zoom onto that spot and then, because this eye in the sky had been there all along, they could scroll back in time and see — literally see — who planted it.” It’s already been in use in Juarez, Mexico, and Dayton, Ohio. Their take, here.
How do you take down the world’s longest airship? With a telegraph pole, evidently. That’s the fate so far of the 302-foot-long “Airlander 10 airship, [which] has crashed during a test flight in Bedfordshire in central England,” Reuters reports this morning.
The project, coming in at a cost of over $33 million, and carrying with it the promise of “surveillance, communications, delivering aid and even passenger travel… was first developed for the US government as a surveillance aircraft but the project was shelved amid defence cutbacks,” BBC reports, adding the company hopes to begin building 10 of the airships by 2021.