Pentagon strengthens China ties; US-N. Korea tensions ease; Contractors start shutdown prep; Service chiefs’ Charlottesville statements; and just a bit more…

Pentagon, China to forge closer bond after Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Joseph Dunford signed a deal with his Chinese counterpart on Tuesday “to formalize and increase operational communication between the U.S. and Chinese militaries,” The Wall Street Journal reported this morning from Beijing. “The agreement calls for a formal dialogue to commence in Washington in November, U.S. military officials said…Officials stressed that the new agreement was a “hopeful first step” in bringing closer together the two militaries so they can coordinate better. But they cautioned it would only be valuable if it led to substantive discussion between the Pentagon and the PLA.”

Adds the Journal: “The context of North Korea was clear as the two sides met.” Story, here.

President Trump took to Twitter this morning to praise North Korea’s Kim Jong Un for making “a very wise and well reasoned decision” by backing off somewhat from his threat to launch missiles near Guam by “mid-August.” Noted the president, “The alternative would have been both catastrophic and unacceptable!”

And on the diplomacy question re: Kim, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told reporters Tuesday, “We continue to be interested in trying to find a way to get to dialogue, but that’s up to him.” More from The Hill, here.

Reminder: If President Trump ordered a pre-emptive strike on North Korean weapons facilities, “North Korea would surely retaliate, and this retaliation could include use of chemical weapons,” McClatchy News reported Tuesday. “While a surprise U.S. strike might be able to eliminate some of these stockpiles, North Korea’s artillery guns are thought to be preloaded with chemical weapons, allowing them to be deployed instantly.” More on that possibility, here.

From Defense One

Turkey’s Potemkin Defense Industry // Caglar Kurc and Selim C. Sazak: Why does President Erdogan want the appearance of a self-sufficient defense industry more than the actual existence of one?

The Government Must Review What Bioresearch Journals Publish // Philip R. Egert: It’s getting too easy to create dangerous viruses. The upcoming national biodefense strategy should ensure that scientific journals don’t help terrorists learn how.

Defense Contractors Begin Early Shutdown Preparations // Eric Katz: Private firms are already ahead of the government in their planning, experts say.

With Terrorism Worsening, Africa’s Sahel Countries Need More Than Another Military Coalition // Joe Penney: Four and a half years after losing control of northern Mali, jihadists are not only back — they appear to be spreading.

US Tech Firms Race to Hire Israeli Army Engineers // John Detrixhe: New offices and nonstop flights from Silicon Valley to Tel Aviv illustrate a talent rush for prized former military specialists.

Welcome to Wednesday’s edition of The D Brief by Ben Watson and Bradley Peniston. It’s National Airborne Day today because 77 years ago on this day, the U.S. Army carried out its first official parachute jump at Fort Benning, Ga. Those paratroopers would be busy over the next four years fighting Nazis in the Second World War. Have something you want to share? Email us at (And if you’re reading this on our website, consider subscribing. It’s free.)

Service chiefs speak out against intolerance, racism, and hatred. Army Chief Gen. Milley became the latest joint chief to denounce the forces that led to the death of a woman in Charlottesville, Va., over the weekend: “The Army doesn’t tolerate racism, extremism, or hatred in our ranks. It’s against our Values and everything we’ve stood for since 1775.” (Good words, though @sfrantzman notes that the Army didn’t desegregate until 1948, while @toddharrison wonders why the service still maintains 10 bases named for Confederate officers.) Read tweets and statements by other top military leaders, including the first and longest by CNO Adm. John Richardson, here.

“War Room 2.0” at al-Udeid Air Base. Speaking of Gen. Goldfein, he’s in the Middle East this week. And he’s given reporters a tour of what Reuters calls “War Room 2.0” in Qatar. Reuters: “The Combined Air Operations Center, known in military-speak as the ‘CAOC,’ is grappling with a dizzying amount of data and intelligence flowing in from sources like satellites, drones, radar and U.S. aircraft flying over Middle East hot spots and bombing Islamic State positions.”
So, what’s new? Software that’s been “developed in partnership with the Pentagon’s Silicon Valley arm, known as the Defense Innovation Unit Experimental, the goal of which is to speed delivery of technology to the front lines.” There’s also something called the “tanker planning tool,” which reduces refuel jobs by about half. Read on, here.

Beijing will not expand in the South China Sea, says the Philippines’ defense and foreign secretaries. Reuters: “The defense minister, Delfin Lorenzana, told a congressional hearing the Philippines and China had reached a ‘modus vivendi’, or a way to get along, in the South China Sea that prohibits new occupation of islands… China’s foreign ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment.” More here.

Thousands of Iraqis are fleeing Tal Afar while coalition airstrikes fall ahead of an upcoming counter-ISIS operation in a region with a long reputation for breeding jihadis. “The town, about 150 kilometers (93 miles) east of the Syrian border, sits along a major road that was once a key IS supply route,” the Associated Press reports from Badoush, Iraq, just outside of Mosul.
Where the military focus is now: “Lt. Gen. Anwar Hama, of the Iraqi air force, told The Associated Press that airstrikes this week have targeted IS headquarters, tunnels and weapons’ stores. But Iraqi forces, closely backed by the U.S.-led coalition, are not expected to push into the town for another few weeks.”
Expected to take part in the Tal Afar offensive: “Iraqi army, federal police and special forces units… as well as state-sanctioned mostly Shiite militias known as the Popular Mobilization Forces.” Read the rest, here.

Afghan Taliban to Trump: Don’t send more American troops. The group sent what Reuters calls an “open letter” in English warning “the military situation in Afghanistan was ‘far worse than you realize.’” Not too many surprises in this bit of messaging; but you can read more on it, here.

More than two dozen Nigerians were killed and more than 80 others wounded in a triple suicide-bombing in the country’s northeastern city of Maiduguri on Tuesday. The attack, Reuters reports, appeared to illustrated “the hallmark of Boko Haram militants,” including the use of a female suicide bomber.
This bears repeating: “The Boko Haram insurgency has killed 20,000 people and forced some 2.7 million to flee their homes in the last eight years,” writes Reuters. More here.

And finally today: Escape to an island off the coast of Kuwait — Failaka, “which was seized by Iraqi forces” in August 1990, The New York Times writes for one of their latest 360-degree videos. There you’ll find “bullet-riddled and abandoned buildings, and decaying military tanks — relics of the Gulf War.” U.S. forces used loudspeakers from helicopters to convince Iraqi troops to give up the island without a fight. Since then, Kuwait has been using it for military drills. Peek around and discover more about Failaka, here.

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