Bibi’s Iran docs: what’s new and what’s not. On Monday, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu gave a 20-minute presentation that drew on what he said was a trove of Iranian documents newly spirited out of the country by Israeli intelligence. Standing before PowerPoint slides on a giant screen, Netanyahu made the case that “Iran lied” about its nuclear efforts.
Yes, of course. That was the reaction from most experts on the region: Explains Joshua Pollack in Defense One: “Contrary to claims that the deal required Iran to ‘come clean’ and be truthful about its past weapons research, it required only that Iran implement an agreement with the IAEA, facilitating its investigation into Iran’s past activities—which is what happened. Everyone involved understood that Iran’s leaders were lying to save face.”
Here’s the new part: “Perhaps only by accident, Bibi Netanyahu did place some fascinating new bits of information on the public record. Showing images of documents without visible dates, he described the AMAD Plan’s vision for a nuclear arsenal. It was to have consisted of five nuclear devices suitable for ballistic missile delivery. Each was to have a yield of 10 kilotons, small by nuclear standards. This is a remarkably miniscule, unambitious arsenal. It would make Kim Jong Un giggle.” Read on, here.
So here’s the question: Netanyahu put on the show to persuade President Trump to “do the right thing” about the “terrible deal” that Western powers signed with Iran in 2015. Did it work? CNBC: “Rather than shock supporters of the deal into opposing it, which may have been among Netanyahu’s aims, the presentation has left the JCPOA’s fate largely unchanged. It’s most likely to fail regardless, analysts said.” Read that, here.
Related/unrelated: Need a joke this morning? Try this take on Bibi’s presenation.
From Defense One
Did Your Company Make that Warplane? Don’t Count on the Upgrade Work Anymore // Marcus Weisgerber: The new Air Force acquisition chief wants to open more sustainment contracts to competition.
Pentagon’s Focus on Sexual Assault Has Spurred Reporting, But Also Created ‘Training Fatigue’ // Caroline Houck: Prevention-and-reporting leaders want the U.S. military to be a “bit more strategic” in how it talks to troops about sexual assault.
Netanyahu and Iran’s Atomic Archive: What’s New and What’s Not // Joshua Pollack: Among the new bits: Tehran’s nuclear planners envisioned an arsenal so small as to make Kim Jong Un giggle.
The Pentagon Is Losing the Innovation Battle. Here’s How to Turn It Around // Tim Greef: Four steps that will help better harness American innovation.
Welcome to this Tuesday edition of The D Brief by Ben Watson and Bradley Peniston. And if you find this useful, consider forwarding it to a friend or colleague. They can subscribe here for free. On this day seven years ago, President Obama announced the death of Osama bin Laden from that daring SEAL Team Six raid in Abbottabad, Pakistan. Your D-Brief-er was packing up his kit after a 12-month tour in Kandahar when the news broke in the Camp Brown Ops Center — which made the deployment feel uniquely impactful, even if the war appeared (as it does now) far from over.
An American service member was killed and another wounded Monday in combat at an undisclosed location somewhere in eastern Afghanistan, The Hill reported. Still too early to know the troops’ identity or service (pending next-of-kin notification).
Ten journalists were also killed in Afghanistan on Monday, “making it the deadliest day for media workers in Afghanistan since the fall of the Taliban,” according to The Guardian. Here’s a remembrance of one of them — AFP’s photographer, Shah Marawi — via The Atlantic. The Guardian has more on all 10, here.
Elsewhere in Afghanistan on Monday, to the south, “a suicide bomber rammed an explosives-laden van into a convoy of foreign forces near a mosque near Kandahar [City], killing 11 children,” The Hill writes, noting, “Eight Romanian soldiers who are part of the NATO-led Resolute Support mission were injured.” More here.
Pack it up, boys? “Major combat operations against the Islamic State” in Iraq have officially ended, the Washington Post reported Monday from Baghdad. “U.S. Central Command, which oversees military operations in the Middle East, marked the deactivation of the command in Baghdad with a ceremony, calling the event an acknowledgment of the ‘changing composition and responsibilities of the coalition’ the United States assembled nearly four years ago to destroy the Islamic State.”
But we all know better by now than to think it’s all over. On the contrary, “The equivalent-level special operations task force the U.S. military is using to finish off the Islamic State in Syria remains active, as does the higher-level command that oversees the broader campaign against the Islamic State in both countries,” the Post reports.
To that end, “The statement Monday from CENTCOM did not give any clues regarding troops levels, saying only that the ground mission has been ‘consolidated under a single headquarters, reflecting the Coalition’s commitment to eliminate unnecessary command structures.’”
Motivating factor: The U.S. military “presence [in Iraq — more than 5,000 troops] has been a wedge issue in the elections,” which are coming later this month. Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi “has said he wants the troops to stay to facilitate the rehabilitation of Iraq’s security forces, even as his opponents in the influential Shiite militias — some of which are aligned with Iran — have demanded the Americans leave immediately.” Read on, here.
Explainer: “Ukraine’s Got Javelins Now. So What?” The Atlantic Council spoke with no fewer than a dozen experts to give a little from each on how they see the addition of the anti-tank missile system to the Ukraine conflict on Russia’s western border.
Where the Atlantic Council takes their jump: This Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty report from Monday. “They have already been delivered,” a U.S. State Department official confirmed on April 30 in response to an RFE/RL query on the handover of Javelins.
Background: “A $47 million U.S. military-aid package approved last year and confirmed in March specified 210 Javelin antitank missiles and 37 Javelin launchers, two of them spares, for Kyiv.” On Monday, however, “The State Department provided no details beyond the confirmation of the delivery.”
Top line takeaway: “A shipment of lethal aid would appear to deepen U.S. involvement in the simmering conflict and mark at least a symbolic victory for Ukraine in its effort to maintain Western backing in the ongoing conflict.” Story, here.
The U.S. Army is betting big on “leap-ahead technologies.” Will it pay off? Military.com assesses how the last “Future Combat System” failed, and what that suggests about the Army’s pursuit of new “tanks, helicopters and other major combat systems,” here.
For the Africa-watchers among us: There is a new Horn of Africa/Somalia Security think tank — the Hiraal Institute — and it has just released its first paper, “The evolution of Al-Shabab” (PDF).
Their quick read: “While the group is still reeling from a leadership and membership crisis, it is facing disparate and poorly coordinated Somali security forces, making it easier for them to at least keep the status quo, or even gain more territory in the next two years.” It’s only five pages, so give it a look this week.
Finally today: We turn stateside, where sexual assault reporting in the U.S. military rose by 10 percent in 2017, “the highest number since the United States military began tracking reports more than a decade ago,” the New York Times reported off a Pentagon press conference Monday.
The numbers: “In 2017, 6,769 servicemembers reported being the victim of a sexual assault,” Defense One’s Caroline Houck reports, noting, “a tenth of those incidents occurred before they joined the military. That marks an increase in reports of nearly 10 percent over the previous year.”
The official line: “We view this willingness to report as the result of a decade-long effort to improve victim support, criminal investigation and military justice,” Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office (SAPRO) chief Rear Adm. Ann Burkhardt said on Monday.
What to do now? “Update and upgrade” SAPRO operations — training and awareness programs, e.g. — to combat “training fatigue” from DOD personnel who think they have been “hearing the same thing over and over again.” A bit more, here.