Deception and booby-traps as forces enter Mosul; Russia suspends Syrian peace talks; Surrogates describe Trump’s defense stance; Stop misusing ‘strategic’; and just a bit more…

Iraq’s Golden Division has retaken a TV station in the eastern Mosul neighborhood of Kogceli (also spelled Gogjali), an industrial district on the outer edge of the city, where they are dealing with fears of sleeper cells as well as “pockets of resistance and booby traps,” the Washington Post and AP news report this morning.

Iraqi troops told WaPo “Islamic State militants attacked using a sand-colored Humvee, flying the Iraqi flag, in an attempt to look like a friendly Iraqi army vehicle.”

Fighting Monday at Bazwaya, the last village between [Iraq’s CT police] and the city,” was expected “to take two or three days, but it lasted six hours,” WaPo reports. “The militants dispatched three cars rigged with bombs, but they were all detonated by airstrikes.”

ISIS has reportedly sent calls out from mosques to all men and boys in eastern Mosul this morning, instructing them to take “their belongings” the nearest school along “with their papers.”

Apropos of nothing: Said one U.S. soldier of Republican 2016 contender Donald Trump’s plan to take Iraq’s oil: “There’s not going to be much left,” writes Buzzfeed’s Mike Giglio, reporting from the Mosul front.

Turkey is making moves in the region, too, according to this short Reuters story, reporting “Turkish armed forces have begun deploying tanks and other armored vehicles to the Silopi area of Sirnak province near the border with Iraq.”

Why? Fears of the Shi’a-dominated Popular Mobilization Units staging west of Mosul. Reuters: “President Tayyip Erdogan said on Saturday Turkey was aiming to reinforce its troops deployments in Silopi and that it would have a ‘different response’ for Shi’ite militia groups if they ‘cause terror’ in the Iraqi city of Tal Afar.”

Do Mosul’s civilians have a safe route out of the city, should they make the harrowing decision to flee their homes? Hard to say with certainty, U.S. News’ Paul Shinkman writes.

“A mass exodus from that city is not necessarily something that the Iraqis believe will be in the best interest of that population,” Pentagon spokesman Peter Cook said Monday.

Adds Shinkman: “Even if Iraqis can return home safely, it will take years if not decades of work ahead to clear these areas fully of unexploded ordnance and the prolific booby traps the Islamic State group has set.” More on the humanitarian dynamics of the Mosul offensive, here.

ICYMI: How ISIS tried to fight back in Kirkuk could be a formula for how the group tries to push back across the country as Mosul slowly falls, The New York Times reported after a post-attack assessment and interviews with survivors. That, here.

Get ready for even more fighting in Syria. Russia just announced an indefinite suspension of peace talks in Syria, citing “a Western failure to rein in violent Islamists,” Reuters reports.

The announcement came via Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, addressing a meeting of Russian military officials, saying, “It is time for our Western colleagues to determine who they are fighting against: terrorists or Russia… Maybe they have forgotten at whose hands innocent people died in Belgium, in France, in Egypt and elsewhere? In order to destroy terrorists in Syria it is necessary to act together, and not put a spanner in the works of partners. Because the rebels exploit that in their own interests.”

Meanwhile, more footage continues to pour out of the Aleppo front, with pro-Assad Hezbollah fighters sharing fairly intense street-to-street fighting against al-Qaeda-linked Jabhat Fatah al-Sham in the west of the city.

There’s a lot more footage where that came from—via the BBC’s Riam Dalati. Follow him on Twitter, here.

For your eyes only: watch rebels show off their remote-controlled DshK in west Aleppo, here.

As well: Digital Globe released an overhead shot of Russia’s carrier, the Admiral Kuznetsov, from last Friday with what appears to be 5 Su-33s, 3 MiG-29s and 5 helos (4 Ka-27/31 and a Ka-52) on the deck. That, here.

Over in Raqqa, Syria, the U.S. has now upped its estimate of ISIS fighters believed to be in the city, WaPo writes, reportedly nearly doubling the figure to roughly 10,000 militants holding out there.

The U.S. read on any offensive on Raqqa: “This is one of the situations in which we have contacts and influence over all the actors. But we’re not in perfect control,” a U.S. official told WaPo. Read on to get a good sense of the muddled dynamics leading up to Raqqa—a city with now three different alliances licking their chops at the chance to take it—here.


From Defense One

Stop Using “Strategic” To Mean Everything Under the Sun // Josh Kerbel

Linguistic sloppiness is impeding the U.S. government from coming to grips with today’s interconnected security challenges.

Saudi Arabia: A Kingdom Coming Undone // Council on Foreign Relations’ Sagatom Saha: As Riyadh embarks on a rocky journey to economic diversification, the U.S. should offer help — but not unconditionally.

Judge: U.S. Army Must Let Palantir Compete to Build Combat Data System // Tech Editor Patrick Tucker: The much-maligned DCGS-A combat data system program is put on hold, thanks to a Silicon Valley company’s lawsuit.

Welcome to Tuesday’s edition of The D Brief by Ben Watson and Bradley Peniston. On this day in 1951, the U.S. detonated the first hydrogen bomb, Ivy Mike, on a Pacific atoll. (Send your friends this link: http://get.defenseone.com/d-brief/. And let us know your news: the-d-brief@defenseone.com.)


Australia mulls joint SCS patrols with Indonesia, calling “Indonesia’s request for joint patrols at a bilateral meeting in Bali last week ‘consistent with our policies of exercising our right of freedom of navigation,’” The Guardian reports.

For a little background, “Australia has previously drawn criticism from China for running surveillance flights over disputed islands in the South China Sea and supporting US freedom of navigation exercises there. China, which claims almost the entire South China Sea, last month urged Australia to “speak and act cautiously” on the issue. Australia and Indonesia already conduct joint patrols in the Timor Sea as part of the countries’ partnership on combating people smuggling and illegal fishing.”

But, The Guardian cautions, “Indonesia’s defence ministry spokesman, Djundan Eko Bintoro, said on Monday it was no more than a proposal at this stage.” More here.

Russia’s military is carrying out joint exercises in Serbia as NATO drills with the Montenegrin military nearby on the same day, AP reported Monday.

On the NATO side: “The five-day drill in Montenegro that started Monday includes fighting floods and chemical attacks. It will involve 680 unarmed personnel from seven NATO countries and 10 partner states.”

On the Russian side: “The 13-day armed exercise in Serbia, dubbed “The Slavic Brotherhood 2016,” begins Wednesday. It will include 150 Russian paratroopers, 50 air force staffers, 3 transport planes and an unspecified number of troops from Serbia and Belarus, Russia’s Defense Ministry said.”

And for some recent history on the Montenegrin side, “Officials [there] have accused Russia of standing behind an alleged coup on election day earlier in October to topple the pro-Western government because of its NATO bid. Some 20 Serbian citizens were arrested in Montenegro during the vote, suspected of trying to stage the coup, while Serbian authorities reportedly deported an unspecified number of Russian operatives from their territory.” More here.

Donald Trump’s defense positions, maybe: The GOP candidate’s own pronouncements about national security policy have included the shocking (allow nukes to proliferate, tell NATO allies to pay up or fend for yourselves) and the purely incorrect (Russia’s not in Ukraine). So here to tell us about Trump’s defense stances are Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala. a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee who “has been widely mentioned as the leading candidate to become secretary of defense should Trump win” and Rep. Randy Forbes of Virginia, chairman of the House Seapower Subcommittee, whom voters ejected in his primary but who “is widely respected for his knowledge of naval affairs and could be a contender to become secretary of the Navy.” Interviewed competently by Defense News, Sessions and Forbes say Trump wants to “focus on core national interests” but also “have the capability and capacity to be able to defend around the world.”

But much of Trump’s platform still comes down to the plan that he’s going to get from the military. says Forbes: “We are going to have an international defense strategy that is driven by the Pentagon…It’s going to answer all the questions about specificity.”

ICYMI: See how top U.S. generals and admirals view elements of Trump’s vision, here.)

Don’t look now, but El Salvador’s security forces are involved in more firefights these days than Mexico’s, WaPo reported Monday from Mexico City. Their jump: “The website Insight Crime, which tracks security issues in Latin America, pointed out that this means El Salvador’s authorities are clashing with criminal groups more often than in Mexico, which is still engulfed in a drug war, and Colombia, whose half-century-long civil war is ending — despite those countries having far larger populations.” More here.

Finally — Another LCS accident. It’s not unusual for warships to get scraped up damage coming through the tight confines of the Panama Canal, but boy, doesn’t it just seem like it’s one thing after another for the U.S. Navy’s littoral combat ships? On Oct. 29, USS Montgomery hit a lock wall and took hull damage while heading from the Atlantic to its new homeport of San Diego. USNI News has the story, here.

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