The Enemy of my enemy in Yemen; There are 750,000 civilians in DoD, and they’re growing; Is the WH hostage strategy MIA?; McCain shuts up Code Pink; And a bit more.

There’s nothing new from Jordan or Japan on the swap with ISIS, as Jordan awaits proof of life of its pilot. Reuters this hour: “Japan and Jordan were working closely on Friday to find out what had happened to two of their nationals being held by Islamic State, after a deadline passed for the release of a would-be suicide bomber being held on death row in Amman. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said every effort was being made to secure the release of journalist Kenji Goto.

“…About an hour before the new deadline was due to pass on Thursday, government spokesman Mohammad al-Momani said Jordan was still holding [jihadist Sajida al-Rishawi]. ‘We want proof ... that the pilot is alive so that we can proceed with what we said yesterday; exchanging the prisoner with our pilot,’ Momani told Reuters.” Read that bit here.

Meantime, is that new White House strategy on hostage rescues a little MIA? Seems so. The Daily Beast’s Shane Harris and Nancy Youssef: “Five months after the White House began a top-to-bottom review of its policy for rescuing hostages overseas, the congressman who spurred it and some of the families of hostages who were promised a voice in the process said they’re being left in the dark.

“The White House had pledged that families of Americans captured or killed by terrorists would be ‘integral’ to discussions on how to bring those Americans home safely. But the administration’s interactions with the family members “sucks. It’s been horrible,” Rep. Duncan Hunter told The Daily Beast in an interview.” Read the rest of that bit here.

Meantime, in Yemen, a strategic shift from the U.S., in which American officials are reaching out to Houthi rebels in Sana. Even as the Houthis took the capital of Yemen last week and fears grew of instability, there was quiet recognition that the U.S. could even work with the Shiite-based Houthis, who share American interests in eliminating Al Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, or AQAP.

The WSJ’s Jay Solomon, Dion Nissenbaum and Asa Fitch: “The U.S. has formed ties with Houthi rebels who seized control of Yemen’s capital, White House officials and rebel commanders said, in the clearest indication of a shift in the U.S. approach there as it seeks to maintain its fight against a key branch of al Qaeda.

American officials are communicating with Houthi fighters, largely through intermediaries, the officials and commanders have disclosed, to promote a stable political transition as the Houthis gain more power and to ensure Washington can continue its campaign of drone strikes against leaders of the group [AQAP], officials said.”

A senior U.S. official: “We have to take pains not to end up inflaming the situation by inadvertently firing on Houthi fighters… They’re not our military objective. It’s AQAP and we have to stay focused on that.” Read that bit here.

ICYMI: Why Yemen is more dangerous than you think, writes Barbara F. Walter and Kenneth M. Pollack of Political Violence at a Glance at War on the Rocks, here.

And in Afghanistan, the Taliban claim to have been behind a possible “insider attack” shooting yesterday that killed 3 American contractors and one Afghan man in Kabul. WSJ’s Margherita Stancati from Kabul, here.

Suspicion quickly built around the Afghan national who was killed, with no one yet able to confirm if he was in fact the shooter. WaPo’s Missy Ryan and Sudarsan Raghavan, here.

John Campbell favors U.S. troops staying in Afghanistan without the specter of a hard exit date hanging over the mission, just like Ashraf Ghani —and now - so do the Afghan people, according to a poll by the Afghan Center for Socio-Economic and Opinion Research. Sudarsan Raghavan for WaPo: “Only 29 percent of Afghans said they prefer that fewer or no U.S. troops remain… 46 percent said they want to see a greater commitment by U.S. forces than is in place… [and] two-thirds of Afghans favor a significant role for U.S. and international forces in training Afghan forces in the future, the poll found.” More on that, here.

Sen. Lindsey Graham said one of the “Taliban 5” held in Qatar has been communicating with the Haqqani network—though all 5 still remain in Qatar. AP’s Deb Riechmann on recidivism fears lingering from the Bergdahl exchange, here.

Welcome to Friday’s edition of The D Brief, Defense One's new, first-read national security newsletter. If you’d like to subscribe to The D Brief, reply to this email and let us know, subscribe here or send us a holler at glubold@defenseone.com. Please send us your tips, your tidbits, your scoops and stories, your think tank reports and best of all your candy, but send it to us early for maximum tease. And whatever you do, we hope you'll follow us @glubold and @natsecwatson.

Can social media play a role in SOCOM’s operators gaining positive ID on a combatant? Officials say yes, and believe that data mining and behavior modeling may hold the key to special operation’s future. Our own tech editor Patrick Tucker with the technological and legal implications: Many publicly available “data mining capabilities are still limited and special operations tools and SOCOM has been looking to build beyond them. The end goal of much of this activity is something referred to as ‘human entity resolution’ [or] figuring out not just the identity of the person visible in the sniper scope but the identities of the people connected to him or her… But how much of it can now be obtained quickly and legally? That’s become something of a murky issue…[and] if the military waits for the courts before building next generation intelligence capabilities ‘it will take too long.’” Read the rest here.

A former Marine who once saved the life of Hamid Karzai is now the head of the CIA’s National Clandestine Service. WaPo’s Gregg Miller: “The CIA did not reveal the identity of its new espionage chief, saying that he remains undercover. But the officer’s first name and middle initial — Greg V. — have appeared in numerous books cleared by agency censors, including the memoir of former CIA director George J. Tenet... A former U.S. Marine known for his bushy mustache and lean physique, Greg was described by former colleagues as a popular figure at CIA headquarters, a veteran in his early 50s known more for strong leadership than innovative thinking… The operative is best known for his repeated tours in Afghanistan after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, and his involvement in an episode at the outset of the war in which he and Hamid Karzai, who later became president of Afghanistan, narrowly escaped an accidental U.S. bombing of their location.” More here.

Moviegoers in Baghdad flocked to the theaters to watch “American Sniper,” and their reactions might surprise you. Susannah George for Global Post, here.

On Monday, the Pentagon will request a $20 billion increase over last year for weapons and research. Bloomberg’s Tony Capaccio: “The Defense Department blueprint for the year that begins Oct. 1 calls for $177.5 billion in procurement and research spending. It includes funds to replenish weapons used in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan, from Lockheed Martin Corp.’s Hellfire missiles to tactical wheeled vehicles made by Oshkosh Corp.” Check out an itemized breakdown—which includes money for Global Hawk UAVs, Apaches, JDAMs and more—here.

Only in D Brief: On the budget, it’s the process, stupid, and it’s broke. CSBA’s Todd Harrison, in his first column on Forbes.com, lays out the issues surrounding the massive defense budget, to be unveiled Monday. Harrison, of the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments: “…Given the newly elected Republican majority in both chambers of Congress, one might think that things are beginning to look up for the defense.  But the Pentagon shouldn’t pop the Champagne corks just yet.  Raising the defense budget isn’t that easy because when it comes to the budget, process matters. In recent years, the process has broken down.

The president has repeatedly been late in submitting budget requests to Congress, and Congress has been unusually late in passing appropriations bills,” Harrison said in his first column in Forbes. Read that here.

How late? Defense One’s Marcus Weisgerber gives us a little context: “During the Clinton administration, Congress passed the defense spending bill an average of 13 days late. That slipped to an average of 25 days late during the Bush administration, but has jumped to a staggering average of 121 days late since President Obama took office in 2009, Harrison said. Even though many Republicans and Democrats want to boost defense spending, they cannot agree on where the money should come from offset the increase. Harrison said he is not optimistic that Congress will be able to strike a deal to address the caps.

This morning, Harrison will conduct his annual briefing on the coming DOD budget proposal at 10 a.m. Check out the live stream of his presentation, here.

Meantime, if you remember one data point from today, remember this one: American Enterprise Institute’s Mackenzie Eaglen, writing on the op-ed page of the WSJ this morning about “The Pentagon’s Growing Army of Bureaucrats”: “…Since 2009 the Pentagon’s civilian workforce has grown by about 7% to almost 750,000, while active-duty military personnel have been cut by roughly 8%. At the same time, dozens of military-equipment and weapons programs have been canceled, including a new Navy cruiser, a new search-and-rescue helicopter, the F-22 fifth-generation fighter, the C-17 transport aircraft, missile defense and the Marine Corps’ Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle.”

Her advice to Ash Carter: “…[Carter]… should make streamlining the Pentagon’s civilian workforce a priority. If confirmed, Mr. Carter should implement a recent proposal by the Defense Business Board to take his predecessor’s initiative to reduce the number of staff at military headquarters by 20% and apply it to the entire Defense Department. This would recoup more than $20 billion that could then be reinvested in our fighting forces.” More here.

What are the 15 recommendations from the long-awaited military compensation and retirement report released yesterday? WaPo’s Dan Lamothe rolled them all up, beginning with a “new blended program [that] would provide some retirement benefits to those who serve just a few years, but also provide new flexibility to the services as they grapple with maintaining the mix of ranks and experiences they want...” Read the full roll-up, here.

Also check out Military Times’ multimedia explainer on the proposed changes, here.

Who’s up to what today – Air Force Secretary Debbie James has returned from Antarctica and Operation Deep Freeze—the Department of Defense’s support to the U.S Antarctic Program—and is meeting with her counterparts in Australia… Both Army Secretary John McHugh and Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno attend the retirement ceremony for Sergeant Major of the Army Ray Chandler at 10 a.m. and then at 3p.m., attend the swearing-in ceremony for Sgt. Major Dan Dailey as the Army’s 15th Sergeant Major of the Army… Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jon Greenert travelled to Naval Station Newport, R.I. this morning for meetings with various groups aboard the base… and Navy Secretary Ray Mabus is traveling in Chile today.

Meantime, Nigerian refugees fleeing Boko Haram, are a crisis in the making which is receiving little attention. The Atlantic Council’s Joshua Meservey in the WaPo this morning: “…As Boko Haram has advanced, tens of thousands of people have fled into fragile neighboring countries that are ill equipped to provide shelter. This influx of refugees is sowing the seeds of a prolonged humanitarian and security crisis. The United States should lead an urgent international response to address the emergency and prevent greater damage.” Read the rest here.

A Nigerian mob stones the president’s car over Boko Haram, on CNN, here.

What's being called Africa's "most important annual meeting" wraps up tomorrow night in Ethiopia. CFR's Jason Warner is on location and shares 7 key concerns on the mind of observers in Addis Ababa--including Ebola, Boko Haram and possibly redundant rapid reaction units trying to help police conflicts across the continent. That here.

Hamas just ran 17,000 teenagers and young men from Gaza through a training camp, allowing its reporter, Hazem Balousha, a half-hour visit at two locations. At the camps, WaPo’s William Booth writes, the teens “climb ropes, practice close-order drills and fire Kalashnikov rifles, all of them pledging to defend the coastal enclave and ready to fight the next war against their Zionist enemies. They also learned how to perform first aid and throw a grenade. They watched—but did not touch—as instructors showed them the basics of improvised explosive devices…

“Military commanders for Hamas, which has been branded a terrorist organization by the United States and Israel, said the camps were designed to boost the Palestinian resistance and to give Gaza’s frustrated and unemployed youths a way to blow off steam—and shoot some guns.” More here.

A Navy jet flew a little too close to the UC-Berkeley campus this week, prompting upset students and an investigation into possibly violating FAA and Navy regs. Navy Times’ Meghann Myers, here.

A former Idaho National Guard soldier and city official in the Washington town of Snoqualmie lied about receiving a Purple Heart and raked in more than $250,000 in benefits as a result. AP’s Gene Johnson from Seattle, here.

“Get out of here, you low life scum.” Sen. John McCain, flexing his rhetorical muscles as the new Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, chastised Code Pink war protesters at a hearing yesterday with the 91-year-old Henry Kissinger as chief witness. Code Pink protesters chanted, with little inspiration, “Arrest Henry Kissinger for War Crimes,” while holding up a big banner and dangling handcuffs behind Kissinger’s head. McCain, who seemed as angry at Capitol Police as he was at Code Pink, blasted the protesters, saying in a statement later that they had exhibited physical intimidation of Kissinger. That part’s not entirely clear, though, as a video shows. Still, McCain, at the hearing: “I’ve been a member of this committee for many years and I’ve never seen anything as disgraceful, and outrageous and despicable” as the demonstration he’d just witnessed. When a protester started to talk over him, McCain went in for the rhetorical kill:  “You’re going to have to shut up or I’ll have you arrested… get out of here you low life scum,” McCain said, to awkward applause. Watch the video here.

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