The D Brief: Is IS in Afghanistan?; CENTCOM gets hacked; The Navy’s workaround on exoskeletons; Hagel, wheels up for the last time; An architecture lesson, failed; And a bit more.
By Gordon Lubold with Ben Watson
For the first time, officials confirm that the Islamic State is active in Afghanistan. This may be part of Afghanistan’s pitch to keep American forces in the country longer. CBS/AP this hour: “Afghan officials confirmed for the first time Monday that the extremist Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) is active in the south, recruiting fighters, flying black flags and, according to some sources, even battling Taliban militants.
“The sources, including an Afghan general and a provincial governor, said a man identified as Mullah Abdul Rauf was actively recruiting fighters for the group, which controls large parts of Syria and Iraq. Gen. Mahmood Khan, the deputy commander of the army's 215 Corps, said that within the past week residents of a number of districts in the southern Helmand province have said Rauf's representatives are fanning out to recruit people.
“…Rauf was a corps commander during the Taliban's 1996-2001 rule of Afghanistan, according to Amir Mohammad Akundzada, the governor of Nimroz province neighboring Helmand, who said he is related to Rauf but has not seen him for almost 20 years. Both Khan and Akundzada said Rauf was apprehended after the fall of the Taliban in the U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan and was detained for years at Guantanamo Bay.
‘People are saying that he has raised black flags and even has tried to bring down white Taliban flags in some areas,’ said Saifullah Sanginwal, a tribal leader in Sangin district. ‘There are reports that 19 or 20 people have been killed’ in fighting between the Taliban and ISIS, he added.” More here.
Meantime, Afghan President Ghani unveils his unity government. BBC, here.
Kerry tells Pakistan: good job, but there’s more work to be done. AP’s Matthew Lee and Rebecca Santana in Islamabad just this morning: “U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on Tuesday praised the Pakistani military's operation against militants in the country's northwest… but cautioned that more work needs to be done. Pakistan launched a major operation in the North Waziristan region in June.” More here.
A Raytheon contractor and Illinois native lifted some $330,000 in laptops, cell phones, batteries and hard drives from Shindand Air Base in western Afghanistan. And he could see up to 36 months in prison, but won’t face charges until April. The Chicago Tribune’s Jason Meisner with more, here.
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Cameroon says it just killed almost 150 members of Boko Haram. AP this hour, here.
CENTCOM’s YouTube and Twitter accounts were hacked yesterday by a pro-ISIS group for about a half an hour. The group then began posting unclassified U.S. military power point slides in tweets accompanied by generally threatening messages to American soldiers. Defense One’s tech editor Patrick Tucker has more, here.
From Central Command yesterday: “Earlier today, U.S. Central Command's Twitter and YouTube sites were compromised for approximately 30 minutes. These sites reside on commercial, non-Defense Department servers and both sites have been temporarily taken offline while we look into the incident further. CENTCOM's operational military networks were not compromised and there was no operational impact to U.S. Central Command… our initial assessment is that no classified information was posted and that none of the information posted came from CENTCOM's server or social media sites.”
Mike McCaul, Republican of Texas: “…Assaults from cyber-jihadists will become more common unless the administration develops a strategy for appropriately responding to these cyberattacks—including those like the North Korea attack against Sony.
The WaPo’s Ellen Nakashima and Katie Zezima: “…The legislation is part of a broader package, to be sent to Capitol Hill on Tuesday, that includes measures to help protect consumers and students against cyberattacks and to give law enforcement greater authority to combat cybercrime. The provision’s goal is to ‘enshrine in law liability protection for the private sector for them to share specific information—cyberthreat indicators—with the government,’ the official said.” More here.
Speaking of which: Obama will announce today a plan to help protect companies from liability when they share computer threat data to prevent cyber-attacks. When it comes to getting the private sector to help in the cyber world, it’s all about overcoming the challenges posed by the proprietary nature of data. In the wake of the Sony Pictures hack, President Barack Obama will this morning announce a series of initiatives that aim to improve the security of the American networks.
The White House is targeting “botnets” as it looks to empower law enforcement investigations into cyber crime. Reuters with more, here.
California Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein is introducing a bill this week to permanently ban torture, saying there is nothing to stop a future U.S. president from authorizing the same controversial techniques her report outlined. Our politics editor Molly O’Toole has this: “The legislation would codify aspects of Obama’s 2009 Executive Order 13491, ‘Ensuring Lawful Interrogations,’ which prohibits the use of ‘enhanced interrogation techniques.’ The new law would ‘close all torture loopholes’ by clarifying existing statutes to explicitly ban torture… ‘Most of this is done by executive order, as opposed to law,’ she said, so she’s trying to ‘codify what needs to be codified, so it can’t be undone later…’”
Exoskeletons for military use have been hamstrung by battery power for years. The Navy may have found a workaround, our own Patrick Tucker writes in Defense One: “Those energy limitations matter much less on shipboard environments where exosuits can be powered by tethers that reach the ship’s power supply or where replacement batteries can be stashed around the ship… Tethered to a steady power source, some experimental models like the XOS 2 [from Raytheon] and [Lockheed Martin’s] HULC can achieve ‘bursts of speed up to 10 mph; the ability to run, walk, kneel and even crawl; the strength to lift 200 pounds or more in awkward positions repetitively; and the ability to operate almost continuously.’
“But what would robo-suit wearing sailors be doing if not punching through doors? There’s plenty of hard and dirty jobs on board many of today’s cramped Navy craft, like reloading, repairing and replacing parts, arms or equipment.”
Meantime, noting with architectural egg on our faces: We mentioned yesterday that Defense Secretary-nominee Ash Carter is working primarily out of the EEOB, the old executive office building that is next to the White House. We mentioned in passing that it was Gothic. We stand corrected; it is actually French Second Empire. From our former colleague Patty Kime, a medical reporter at Military Times who is also an architecture buff and wrote Moon Handbooks Washington, D.C.: “DC really has only a handful of French Second Empire buildings: OEB/EEOB, the Willard, the Mandarin Oriental (the latter obviously a modern take on the form).”
Here’s the bit on the EEOB from whitehouse.gov, here.
What Paris tells us about the jihadist movement. Clint Watts, a counter-terrorism analyst and former FBI agent, writes “Inspired, Networked and Directed: The Muddled Jihad of ISIS and al-Qaeda post Hebdo,” in War on the Rocks, here.
Turkey is defending its border controls policy after one of the Paris attackers, Hayat Boumeddiene, slipped over that border into Syria Jan. 8. The WSJ’s Joe Parkinson and Ayla Albayrak, here.
The White House acknowledged yesterday that it messed up. It should have sent someone, anyone, to Paris for the big rally on Sunday. McClatchy’s Lesley Clark and Hannah Allam: “Under fire for seemingly snubbing one of its closest allies, the White House conceded Monday that it should have sent a high-ranking U.S. official to Paris over the weekend to demonstrate U.S. support in the wake of last week’s terrorist attacks. White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest admitted the mistake, siding with critics who assailed President Barack Obama for not attending the rally or sending a high ranking representative such as Vice President Joe Biden in his stead.” More here.
Why did the White House “process” fail? The WaPo’s Greg Jaffe and Katie Zezima: “…[Josh Earnest] declined to say who inside the White House was responsible for selecting the senior U.S. representative at the rally, though he said it was ‘not a decision that was made by the president.’ Still, the decision offered some insight into how Obama has managed his relationships with European leaders, who have sometimes felt neglected by a White House focused on the Middle East and Asia.
Jeremy Shapiro, a former senior State Department official and fellow at the Brookings Institution: “These process mistakes happen when the top leader isn’t pushing the system… “The fact that the president didn’t get on the phone [to his foreign policy team] and say, ‘I’ve got to go,’ makes it more likely the process will fail.” More here.
Paris no-show is a lost opportunity for Obama. The WSJ’s Jerry Seib, here.
Mitt Romney is putting the band back together for an “almost certain” run ’16. Page One of the WaPo, here.
But Paul Ryan says he’s out. The WSJ, here.
CNAS is serious about generating a consensus on national security ahead of the next presidential election. Nearly 20 defense and foreign policy experts joined the Center for a New American Security for a project called Extending American Power: Strategies to Expand U.S. Engagement in a Competitive World Order. “This group intends to challenge those arguing for retrenchment and examine the costs of a minimalist approach to American engagement in the world,” said Julianne Smith, project director.
The list includes: Madeleine Albright, Steve Biegun, Bill Burns, Kurt Campbell, Richard Danzig, Eric Edelman, Michèle Flournoy Richard Fontaine, Stephen Hadley, Jane Harman, David Ignatius, Robert Kagan and James P. Rubin (as co-chairs), Leo Mackay, Jim Steinberg, Jake Sullivan, Margaret Warner and Robert Zoellick.
Why the GOP likes Ike. In the National Interest by Colin Dueck and Roger Zakheim, here.
Eight U.S. senators sent Iraq’s prime minister a letter asking that Baghdad keep aiding the Kurdish population. The Hill’s Kristina Wong, here.
An IS affiliate in Tripoli captured 21 Egyptians it calls “crusaders” in Libya. AP from Cairo, here.
The Pentagon wants to more than triple the number of Marine crisis response troops based in Morón, Spain. Stars and Stripes, here.
Russia and Ukraine’s latest round of peace talks just fell apart. Los Angeles Times’ Carol J. Williams, here.
Meantime, Interpol is seeking Kiev’s former reigning president, Viktor Yanukovych, for embezzlement charges. Reuters, here.
Who’s up to what today – Obama will deliver remarks at what’s known as the National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center in Arlington, Va. this afternoon… Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Marty Dempsey will deliver remarks and dedicate a room in honor of Brent Scowcroft at NDU's Roosevelt Hall's auditorium today at 2pm…
Hagel is wheels up today for what is likely his last trip. Defense One’s Marcus Weisgerber, who’s headed out with Hagel: “Hagel is wheels up this morning for a three-day domestic trip where he will visit soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines that is being billed as his last domestic trip as defense secretary. Today’s first stop: Whiteman Air Force Base in Western Missouri where Hagel will meet B-2 stealth bomber pilots and crews. “This will be the secretary's sixth visit to see the nuclear force, reflecting his commitment to reforming the nuclear enterprise and to keeping our nuclear deterrent safe, secure and effective,” Rear Adm. John Kirby, the Pentagon press secretary, said Friday.
From Whiteman, Hagel will fly to Marine Corps Air Station Miramar in San Diego where he will meet with member of the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force. Marines here have served in Afghanistan and Iraq. The base is home to Boeing F/A-18 Hornets, Lockheed Martin KC-130J tankers, Sikorsky CH-53E Super Stallions and Bell-Boeing MV-22 Ospreys.
The rest of the trip: One Wednesday, Hagel is scheduled to fly out to the USS America (LHA-6), an amphibious assault ship operating off the California coast. Thursday he will visit Fort Bliss, Texas, where he completed basic Army training in 1967. He will stop by the White Sands Missile Range.
Of note: Hagel’s wife Lilibet and son Ziller will be accompanying Hagel.
Staffers on a plane: Chief of Staff Rexon Ryu, Special Assistant for P&R Stephanie Miller, Chief of Protocol Adrienne Schweer, Trip Director J.P. Eby, Pentagon Press Secretary Rear Adm. John Kirby, Deputy Spokesman Carl Woog, Speechwriter Aaron Sherman.
Reporters on a plane: AP’s Bob Burns, Military Times’ Andrew Tilghman, Talk Radio News Service’s James Cullum, Stripes’ Jon Harper, Omaha World Herald’s Joe Morton, Politico’s Phil Ewing and Defense One’s Marcus Weisgerber.
Weisgerber notes that he is looking forward to getting the curtain pulled back at Whiteman and the special climate controlled hangars where the B-2s sleep. As for Miramar, a pretty famous movie starring Tom Cruise, Val Kilmer, Anthony Edwards and Kelly McGillis was filmed there in the 1980s when it was home to the Navy Fighter Weapons School. Top Gun moved to Naval Air Station Fallon in Nevada in the mid 1990s. Follow @MarcusReports for updates and, as he says, “more Top Gun references than you can handle.”
A Fox News host last weekend became unhinged. Jeanine Pirro advocates for the mass murder of Muslim extremists by Muslims as the solution to the problem, here.
A Marine dies suddenly after experiencing a massive brain injury in Iraq 10 years ago. The Post and Courier’s Jennifer Berry Hawes, here.
An experimental PTSD treatment is getting rave reviews for its incredible results with neurological diseases including autism. WaPo’s Richard Leiby: Former Army staff sergeant Jonathan Warren, who suffered traumatic brain injury in a 2006 IED blast in Iraq, “credits his recovery to something called magnetic resonance therapy, or MRT—a procedure that pulses energy from magnetic coils into his cortex. He and scores of other combat vets have been drawn by word of mouth to a private clinic here for what some of them call ‘brain zapping.’” Read the rest here.
Buried in the defense bill: Cities taking out the trash and repairing roads on U.S. military bases. Jeff Mullin for Oklahoma’s Enid News & Eagle, here.
The threat from today’s terrorists makes nuclear spending seemingly obscene and irrelevant, argues WaPo’s Walter Pincus of the United States’ $100 billion program to replace its Ohio class subs, with construction not set to begin for another six years, here.
RIP Petty Officer 1st Class “Blake” Marston. The Virginia-Pilot’s Mike Hixenbaugh: “A Navy SEAL stationed in Virginia Beach died Saturday during a parachute training exercise in Florida, the Navy confirmed Monday.” More here.
Think the evolution of the F-35 has gotten complicated? The Bradley fighting vehicle had its own absurd issues, as the HBO film “The Pentagon Wars” reminds viewers 17 years after it first aired. Matthew Gault and Kevin Knodell, writing for War is Boring writes about the Bradley and Air Force Col. James Burton's chronicles to reform the Defense Department’s procurement process in the 1980s, here.