The scene at STRATCOM as NK missile overflies Japan; Bomb blast in London; Mattis heads to Mexico; Navy sends cyber investigators to damaged warship; and just a bit more…

For the second time in a month, North Korea launched a missile over Japan early this morning. And “In a rare move,” The Wall Street Journal reports, “South Korea responded to the launch by immediately conducting a simulated strike of the North Korean launch site, an air base near Pyongyang.”

The need-to-knows from the North’s launch: “This test appears to have been a Hwasong-12 missile… [that] followed a standard trajectory—rather than the highly lofted trajectories North Korea used earlier this year—and it flew over part of the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido,” writes David Wright, physicist and co-director of the Union of Concerned Scientists’ Global Security Program. “The missile reportedly flew 3,700 kilometers (km) (2,300 miles) and reached a maximum altitude of 770 km (480 miles). It was at an altitude of 650 to 700 km (400 to 430 miles) when it passed over Hokkaido.”

The outlook for Guam is not good, Wright says. Read on, here.

On-the-scene report from STRATCOM. When the missile flew, Defense Secretary James Mattis happened to be at U.S. Strategic Command headquarters at Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska. And so was Defense One’s Marcus Weisgerber, who was talking with STRATCOM CO Gen. John Hyten when aides rushed into the room. “Is there something going on?” Hyten asked. Read Weisgerber’s on-the-scene report, here.

For your eyes only: A new, interactive graphic from the Union of Concerned Scientists shows every U.S. nuclear weapon, [with] each dot labelled with the weapon type it represents.

And this morning: a “crude” bomb detonated in London’s subway during rush hour, wounding nearly two-dozen people “at Parsons Green Tube station in southwest London,” NBC News reports. Metropolitan Police Deputy Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu said investigators are treating the developments as a “terrorist incident.”

Assistant Commissioner Mark Rowley of the Metropolitan Police said at a morning news conference, “This was a detonation of an improvised explosive device.”

The New York Times reports “It was the fifth major terrorist attack in Britain this year, following a vehicular and knife attack near Parliament in March, a suicide bombing at a rock concert in Manchester in May, and a van and knife attack around London Bridge and a van attack outside a London mosque, both in June. Taken together, the terrorist violence has been the deadliest on British soil since July 7, 2005, when suicide bombers set off explosions on three subway cars and a double-decker bus in London, killing 52 people and injuring scores of others.” Read on, here


From Defense One

‘Is There Something Going On?’: Onscene at STRATCOM HQ During North Korea’s Launch // Marcus Weisgerber: The head of U.S. Strategic Command is whisked to his operations center as a missile flies over Japan.

Future US Navy Accident Investigations Will Look for Cyber Attacks // Bradley Peniston and Joseph Marks: The fleet’s info-warfare chief has a team aboard the damaged USS McCain. The main thing she expects to learn is how to do this kind of investigation.

The Only Path to Peace is a Kurdistan Independent of Iraq // Staff Brig. Gen. Hajar Ismail: A Peshmerga commander says Iraq had its chance and failed to live up to its security promises to the people of Kurdistan.

Trump’s Tech Crackdown on China Has Begun // Tripti Lahiri: The White House just blocked a $1.3 billion plan to sell an Oregon-based semiconductor company to a Chinese equity firm, citing possible technology risks to national security.

The Global Business Brief: September 14 // Marcus Weisgerber: Inside a nuclear weapons base; L3 boosts undersea portfolio; Free drinks at AFA conference and more.

Welcome to Friday’s edition of The D Brief by Ben Watson and Bradley Peniston. OTD1916: The tank makes its combat debut. Have something you want to share? Email us at the-d-brief@defenseone.com. (And if you’re reading this on our website, consider subscribing. It’s free.)


Mattis goes to Mexico. U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis is en route to Mexico City this morning where he will meet with security official and attend an Independence Day reception.
Among those he is scheduled to meet with: Mexican Foreign Affairs Secretary Luis Videgaray Caso, National Defense Secretary Gen. Salvador Cienfuegos Zepeda and Navy Secretary Admiral Vidal Francisco Soberón Sanz.
Mattis has also scheduled a bilateral meeting with a representative of Colombia today, and a meeting with Gen. Lori Robinson, head of U.S. Northern Command, before attending a reception this evening.

Almost a dozen African countries will be probed by the UN over alleged military ties with North Korea, Quartz reported Thursday. “Using private companies and embassies as a front, the communist state was able to sell arms and offer security and military training to these African nations.”
The nations include Tanzania, Uganda, Angola, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Eritrea, Mozambique, Namibia, Benin, Botswana, Mali, and Zimbabwe.

Russia and China are about to begin joint naval drills near the Korean peninsula, in the Sea of Japan, the Associated Press reports this morning. “A destroyer, missile frigate, supply ship and submarine rescue ship departed Wednesday from the port of Qingdao, home to China’s north sea fleet, the official Xinhua News Agency reported… The exercises are the second stage of an annual joint drill, the first part of which was held July 22-27 in the Baltic Sea — the first time the countries had exercised together in the northern European waterbody.”
Adds AP, “China already has the world’s largest navy, with slightly over 300 vessels, compared to the U.S. Navy’s 277 ‘deployable battle force ships,’ according to the U.S. Naval War College’s China Maritime Studies Institute. The U.S. Office of Naval Intelligence forecasts it will have 313-342 warships by 2020.” More, here.

An American ISIS fighter surrendered the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces this week, and is now “being legally detained by Department of Defense personnel as a known enemy combatant,” the Pentagon confirmed Thursday. The development “set[s] up a major decision for Donald Trump about the future of wartime captures,” The Daily Beast reported. “What the Trump administration does next – hold him in military detention, at Guantanamo Bay or elsewhere, or charge him in civilian court – will be a crucial test for how it handles wartime detentions… [extending a] dispute between successive administrations, Congress, federal courts, military commands, and international bodies for 16 years.”
Reminder: “The U.S. has not detained an American citizen as an enemy combatant since January 2006, when Jose Padilla was indicted,” wrote Steve Vladeck, University of Texas national security law professor, on Twitter. “And just to be clear,” he added, “[the U.S. Supreme Court] has never settled the legality of such detention for citizens captured anywhere other than in Afghanistan.”

Russia fired more cruise missiles into Syria on Thursday — this time as “part of a public relations offensive,” The Wall Street Journal reported on location aboard the Admiral Essen in the Mediterranean Sea. “The Russian military brought the journalists aboard the frigate Admiral Essen to observe the Kalibr launches—a fairly new piece of precision weaponry—and showcase its confidence in Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime… [with] two Russian submarines [that] launched seven Kalibr cruise missiles” aimed at “command centers, weapons stores and fighting positions of [the] Islamic State.” Read on, here.

In southern Iraq, a “coordinated attack” by alleged ISIS gunmen in military uniforms killed more than 80 people on Thursday, the Washington Post reported. The attackers “stormed into a restaurant in Nasiriyah, about 200 miles south of Baghdad, around lunchtime and opened fire… Moments later, a car driven by a suicide bomber exploded at a police checkpoint near the restaurant, which sits along Highway 1, the road that connects Baghdad with Dhi Qar province, where the attack took place. An additional 93 people were injured in the double attack.”

In Afghanistan: a return of the Afghan Local Police? Maybe, or maybe just something like it — with an Indian twist, The New York Times reports from Kabul. The impetus, this time: “A delegation of American and Afghan military officials” visited New Delhi “to learn more about the Indian Territorial Army, which has been deployed in contentious areas to ease the burden on India’s regular army. The American military has turned to that force as a potential model for how to maintain the Afghan government’s waning control.”
For some recent history, the Times reminds us “The Afghan Local Police, or A.L.P., began in 2010 as a 10,000-strong force but now stands at more than 20,000 members. Despite significant training, American officials concluded that the force had brought about mixed results at best, with only one-third of the areas they patrol seeing improvements in security.”
As for what we know about this possibly new iteration of local policing, “The size of the new force is yet to be finalized, but it could number more than 20,000, according to a senior Afghan official who was granted anonymity because the concept is still being discussed,” the Times writes. “The new local force would be under the command of the army, and recruits would go through similar training as regular soldiers. But the new force would serve primarily in local communities, holding areas cleared by the regular army, whose units would take on a primarily offensive role.” Read on, here.

Back stateside on Fort Bragg, 32-year-old Staff Sgt. Alexander Dalida died Thursday on the base during a training accident while going through the Special Forces Qualification Course, Army Times reported. “Seven others were injured in the Thursday morning incident, which happened during demolitions training, according to U.S. Army Special Operations Command.”
Said Maj. Gen. Kurt Sonntag, commander of the U.S. Army John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School: “Staff Sgt. Dalida’s death is a reminder that a soldier’s job is inherently dangerous. Our thoughts and prayers are with Staff Sgt. Dalida’s family and friends.” More, here.

Lastly this week: Irma relief update. The aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln is headed back to Norfolk, Va. — accompanied by the guided-missile cruiser, USS San Jacinto — as the Pentagon began recalling forces on Thursday, the Miami Herald reports. To date, “an estimated 10,000 Air and Army national guard forces [remain] arrayed across the state — still staffing a dozen shelters and some local Emergency Operation Centers and armories.”
And in the Keys, “three ships remained: the amphibious assault ship USS Iwo Jima; amphibious transport dock ship USS New York; and the destroyer USS Farragut. Between the three, about 2,400 sailors and Marines were ‘providing expeditionary logistic support, medium and heavy lift air support, medical support, maritime civil affairs, and maritime security,’ according to a Navy statement.” The support continues, here.

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