Kendall warns about U.S. stockpiles; Allen handicaps the war; Dempsey on budget: no margin left for error; Defense One hires Peniston; What’s Barney style?; And a bit more.
After six months of airstrikes across northern Iraq and Syria, the U.S. military and its allies are re-evaluating the size of their bomb stockpiles. Defense One’s Marcus Weisgerber reports: “The Air Force alone wants to spend more than $700 million on 5,567 Hellfire missiles in 2016. Some missiles have been directly requested for the airstrikes in Iraq and Syria, according to Pentagon budget documents. The Air Force has also requested $559 million to buy nearly 13,000 Joint Direct Attack Munitions.”
Last week at the IDEX arms show in Abu Dhabi, the Pentagon’s acquisition chief Frank Kendall told Weisgerber: “We’re engaged in a conflict now that will probably go on for some time; we’re consuming munitions and obviously they have to be replaced… I think in general industry is prepared to be responsive as much as they can within their capacity to support us.” Read the rest, here.
IEDs have slowed the Iraqi advance on Tikrit, now in its second day. AP’s Sinan Salaheddin this hour from Baghdad, here.
Meantime, Baghdad may not be able to handle the aftermath of an ISIS defeat, especially in Mosul, John Allen warned an audience at the Atlantic Council yesterday. Defense One’s Patrick Tucker: “On the one hand, Allen said, ISIS is losing territory in Syria and Iraq, proving to be a bad governor and facing problems in the ranks. On the other hand, the Iraqi government is not yet ready to hold ground in key areas like Mosul… Any invading army would need to rebuild lost infrastructure and recreate mechanisms of civil government almost from scratch in Mosul, and do so rapidly. In other words, the liberation of the city of 1.5 million would expose a humanitarian crisis that the fragile Iraqi government may not yet be ready to manage.” More here.
Iran’s profile in Iraq just rose in a dramatic way. The U.S. is standing back and watching Iraq’s Tikrit offensive with drones while Iran—shoulder-to-shoulder with Iraqi security forces—throws the kitchen sink at ISIS in Tikrit. WSJ’s Tamer el-Ghobashy and Julian Barnes: “Of the estimated 30,000 fighters taking part, about half are Iraqi military and the other half volunteer Shiite militias… [representing] the most sizable Iranian support yet for an Iraqi offensive, but it is not the first.
“In addition to supplying drones, Iran’s powerful Revolutionary Guard force has fighters on the ground with Iraqi units, mostly operating artillery and rocket batteries. More here.
Iraq’s attack against ISIL in Tikrit was a bit of a surprise. The Daily Beast’s Nancy Youssef: “…The U.S.-led coalition forces that have conducted seven months of airstrikes on Iraq’s behalf did not participate in the attack, defense officials told The Daily Beast, and the American military has no plans to chip in. Instead, embedded Iranian advisors and Iranian-backed Shiite militias are taking part in the offensive on the largely Sunni town, raising the prospect that the fight to beat back ISIS could become a sectarian war.” More here.
Welcome to Tuesday’s edition of The D Brief, Defense One's 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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.
The D Brief Corrects - Yesterday we ran a provocative item posted on War on the Rocks about the military retirement system and about how it’s too sweet a deal. It was written by Tim Kane, an economist and research fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford. But we boneheadedly attributed the piece to Sen. Tim Kaine, the Democrat from Virginia. Lubold owns this. Senator Kaine did not author the piece. We recognize the egregious mistake and apologize for inadvertently confusing the two in our haste. Read the piece here.
Today for the Pentagon, it’s all about the budget and the evils of sequestration. Defense Secretary Ash Carter and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Marty Dempsey trot up to Capitol Hill this afternoon at 2:30 to defend the Pentagon’s budget before the Senate Armed Services Committee. Their message will be simple: support the Pentagon’s fiscal 2016 budget request. Carter, who some believe has the street cred to persuade the sequester-ers in Congress to back off, has been candid about the problems sequester presents.
Dempsey will tell the SASC this afternoon that the Pentagon’s budget situation puts the military – and the country – in a precarious position. Dempsey will say: “[With] threats proliferating, resources declining, and sequestration just months away, our ability to assure our allies is in question and our advantages over our adversaries are shrinking. This is a major strategic challenge affecting not only our military, but ultimately, America’s leadership in the global world order.”
He’ll also say that the current ’16 budget proposal “is what we need to remain at the lower ragged edge of manageable risk in our ability to execute the defense strategy. However, we have no slack, no margin left for error or strategic surprise.”
He’ll continue: “Congress – and the American people – challenged us to become more efficient and to determine the minimum floor we need to be able to do what the nation asks us to do. PB16 is that answer. Funding lower than PB16, especially if sequestration-level cuts return next year, combined with a lack of flexibility to make the reforms we need, will render the overall risk to our defense strategy unmanageable. In other words, our nation’s current defense strategy will no longer be viable.”
So Defense One has some news this morning – we just hired Brad Peniston from Defense News to be our new deputy editor. Defense One Executive Editor Kevin Baron: "I'm thrilled Brad has decided to join Defense One… His expertise and knowledge of issues from foreign policy to military life to the defense industry is invaluable. I can’t wait to see his deep experience put to work managing our daily news flow and helping to decipher and drive analysis on the biggest issues facing the national security, defense and military communities."
From the press release: “Peniston comes to Defense One after more than a decade at Defense News, where as managing editor for product development, he helped oversee the relaunch of its website, mobile apps, and custom print publications. In 2011, while at Defense News, Peniston was named editor of Armed Forces Journal, America’s oldest military-themed publication, founded in 1863. During his tenure, AFJ was named one of the nation’s top-10 small magazines by the American Society of Business Press Editors; it also published an essay that won its author the Ridenhour Prize for Truth-Telling. Before that, in 2000, he helped launch Military.com.
“As deputy editor of Defense One, Peniston will manage editorial staff and oversee the direction of the publication’s news coverage and reporting assignments. He will work closely with Baron to guide commentary and analysis on the site, and to develop and execute on Defense One’ s editorial calendar."
Who’s doing what today? The Intelligence and National Security Alliance hosts a symposium on the impact of the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 that ushered in the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. That begins at 8:30 a.m. at the Pentagon City Ritz Carlton (more here) … The House Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense talks AFRICOM’s budget with Gen. David Rodriguez in a classified session at 9 a.m. … CENTCOM’s Gen. Lloyd Austin and DOD’s Christine Wormuth talk the ISIS strategy with the House Armed Services Committee at 10 a.m. … SecDef Ash Carter chats with the POTUS about an hour before Carter and Gen. Marty Dempsey review the Pentagon’s FY16 budget request with the Senate Armed Services Committee at 2:30 p.m. … and ODNI’s Michael Dempsey and State’s Brett McGurk gives the Senate Foreign Relations Committee a classified briefing on the war against ISIS at 4 p.m.
Also today: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has his moment before a joint session of Congress at 10:45 a.m. … and the Pentagon’s Frank Kendall and Director of Operational Test and Evaluation Michael Gilmore keynotes the 30th Annual National Test & Evaluation Conference at the Waterford Conference Center, Springfield, Va., at 8:10 a.m.
Israel again lobbies Congress to add more money for Israel’s defense programs – to the tune of $300 million more. Bloomberg’s Tony Capaccio: “…The $317 million wish list that Israeli’s missile defense chief gave lawmakers this month is in addition to the $158 million the Pentagon proposed for the fiscal year that starts Oct. 1. The Israeli request would provide first-time production funds for two programs -- David’s Sling and Arrow-3.
“Israel’s latest lobbying on Capitol Hill, instead of through the White House and Pentagon, comes at a low point in political relations between the U.S. and Israel over Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s planned speech to Congress on March 3 to derail what he calls an emerging ‘bad deal’ by the Obama administration to curb Iran’s nuclear program.”
Also today version 2.0: Stimson and the George C. Marshall Foundation will be holding an event today at 3 p.m. to launch a new report and “examine the impact of the ideas of the Marshall Plan on the post Arab Spring Middle East,” we’re told. Deets for the event and the report here.
New today: Desertion drives heavy losses for the Afghan army in 2014. The NYT’s Matt Rosenberg and Azem Ahmed: “The Afghan Army lost more than 20,000 fighters and others last year largely because of desertions, discharges and deaths in combat, according to figures to be released Tuesday, casting further doubt on Afghanistan’s ability to maintain security without help from United States-led coalition forces.
“The nearly 11 percent decline from January to November 2014, to roughly 169,000 uniformed and civilian members from 190,000, is now an issue of deep concern among some in the American military… the former No. 2 American commander in Afghanistan, Lt. Gen. Joseph Anderson, called the rate of combat deaths unsustainable before he departed at the end of last year.
“…The newly available numbers also lay bare the challenge faced by the 10,000 American troops and thousands of private contractors who have remained in Afghanistan since the end of the combat mission in December to help prepare Afghan forces to fight the Taliban on their own.” More here.
Afghan get your gun: A viral vid appears to show an Afghan soldier repeatedly shooting a tin can off the shoulder of another soldier on a military base – but is this sharpshooter all that sharp? Watch the vid and read the WaPo’s Dan Lamothe’s post on it here.
Women’s shelters are maybe one of the most provocative legacies the West will have on Afghanistan. The NYT’s Alissa Rubin does a Page Oner – with an impressive online version with beautiful images and layout – of the role that women’s shelters play in the line between women and “honor killings.” Rubin: “…These shelters, almost entirely funded by Western donors, are one of the most successful — and provocative — legacies of the Western presence in Afghanistan, demonstrating that women need protection from their families and can make their own choices. And allowing women to decide for themselves raises the prospect that men might not control the order of things, as they have for centuries. This is a revolutionary idea in Afghanistan — every bit as alien as Western democracy and far more transgressive.” More here.
Meantime, transparency where you don’t expect it: China’s PLA released a list of 14 generals under investigation or convicted of graft. The NYT’s Dan Levin: “…The generals were the latest prominent officers to fall under President Xi Jinping’s sweeping anticorruption campaign.
“…the list identifies a host of leading officers, the majority of whom are in the political and logistics departments of the military, navy, missile corps and other branches.” More here.
Ray Odierno wonders aloud if defence cuts in the U.K. undermine the U.S.-U.K. mil-to-mil relationship. The Telegraph’s Con Coughlin, in an interview with Odierno in Washington, here.
Read this story only “if you like saucy stories of CIA backstabbing and spy-on-spy love,” to quote Daily Beast editor Noah Shachtman, who tweeted this gem from TDB’s Shane Harris: “On January 5, 2010, the chief of the CIA’s secretive paramilitary operations division accused one of the agency’s elite undercover operatives of financial shenanigans and getting too friendly with a female colleague.
“The operative, who uses the alias Mack L. Charles, said the allegations are not only false but part of a larger smear campaign to tarnish his stellar CIA career, run him out of the agency, and keep him from marrying the woman he loves. And now he’s suing the CIA, demanding a jaw-dropping $25 million in damages, and accusing one of his bosses of launching a conspiracy against him, all while she abused alcohol and helped run a failed multibillion-dollar intelligence program rife with fraud, waste, and abuse. It’s a legal fight that threatens to expose some of agency’s dirty laundry, involving tales of internal rivalries and bureaucratic backstabbing rarely seen in public.” More here.
Watch these mere mortal civilians try to define military slang, terms like “Barney style,” and “Blue Falcon” and “Whiskey Tango Foxtrot.” Reasonably funny on Buzzfeed, here.
More than 6,000 have died from fighting in Ukraine since last April, including nearly a thousand since mid-January, the U.N. said yesterday. NYT’s Nick Cumming-Bruce and Michael Gordon from Geneva, here.
For most Ukrainian citizens and soldiers, the past year has been a demoralizing string of defeats. McClatchy’s Matthew Schofield from Kiev, here.
Yemen’s president said he’s ready to talk to Houthi rebels about the country’s Next Step, just not in the capital of Sanaa. AP: “…[President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi] offered the headquarters of the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council in Riyadh as an alternative venue if the Houthi rebels continue to oppose moving the talks from Sanaa, which has been under their control since September, to either Aden or Taiz in the south...” Meanwhile: “The U.S. ambassador to Yemen met with the embattled Hadi in Aden on Monday, reflecting Washington's continuing support for the president.” More here.
Say it isn’t so: Could behavior patterns within the Defense Department replace the current security standard, the password? CSM’s Sara Sorcher with the latest on DARPA’s multi-faceted Active Authentication program for those who work among the halls of the Pentagon, here.
Speaking of email: Hillary Clinton’s exclusively private email use during her time at State may have violated the Federal Records Act requiring official correspondence be turned over for an agency’s record. NYT’s Michael Schmidt: “Mrs. Clinton is not the first government official—or first secretary of state—to use a personal email account on which to conduct official business. But her exclusive use of her private email, for all of her work, appears unusual... [U]se of the private account was alarming to current and former National Archives and Records Administration officials and government watchdogs, who called it a serious breach... [but] Penalties for not complying with federal record-keeping requirements are rare, because the National Archives has few enforcement abilities… A spokesman for Mrs. Clinton, Nick Merrill, defended her use of the personal email account and said she has been complying with the ‘letter and spirit of the rules.’” More here.