Arming recruiters gains steam; Carter, Netanyahu meet, disagree; Khorasan Group leader killed; Making a country vanish; Gitmo closure hiccup; And a bit more.

The U.S. Army should “seriously consider” arming military recruiters if legal obstacles are removed, says Gen. Mark Milley, the head of Army Forces Command — and Obama’s pick to be the next Army chief of staff. Speaking at his confirmation hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee on Tuesday, Milley said there are “a variety of both active and passive” measures that can be taken to protect recruiting centers, such as installing bulletproof glass and increasing law enforcement patrols, Defense One’s Marcus Weisgerber reports.
“I think under certain conditions, both on military bases and in outstations, we should seriously consider it, and, under certain conditions, I think, it’s appropriate,” Milley told SASC Chairman John McCain, R-Ariz. But as Military Times notes, Milley stopped short of describing just “what conditions might warrant arming a recruiter.”
Gen. Raymond Odierno, the outgoing Army chief, also flagged the need to rewrite long-established legal hurdles as a precursor to any policy changes in arming recruiters in an interview with Fox News. But he voiced strong opposition with the idea of arming all soldiers on all military bases. “That I have a problem with,” he said.
Bicameral bill introduced on Capitol Hill: Sen. Steve Daines, R-Mont., and Iraq war veteran Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., put forward legislation—a bill titled the Securing Military Personnel Response Firearm Initiative Act, or “SEMPER FI”—on Tuesday authorizing “an eligible member of the Armed Forces assigned to duty at an Armed Forces recruitment center to carry a service-issue sidearm as a personal- or force-protection measure while on duty at the recruiting center.” Read the full text of the bill here.
Other officials wondered aloud why the attack wasn’t predicted by law enforcement and national security agencies with greater surveillance powers and data-collection abilities. Defense One’s Technology Editor Patrick Tucker explains the limits of predictive analysis — and how they might be pushed back.
Not just one, but two of the troops in Thursday’s attack were in fact armed, Navy Times’ David Larter writes: “A report distributed among senior Navy leaders during the shooting’s aftermath said Lt. Cmdr. Timothy White, the support center’s commanding officer, used his personal firearm to engage Abdulazeez, Navy Times confirmed with four separate sources. A Navy official also confirmed a Washington Post report indicating one of the slain Marines may have been carrying a 9mm Glock and possibly returned fire on the gunman.”
The well-armed populace is showing up in force: Armed residents across Alabama, Georgia, Ohio, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania and Kentucky are pulling security for recruiting stations as Pentagon officials work up the best way forward on the issue, with recommendations from each of the services due by the end of the week, The Daily Beast reports. AP has a similar angle.
President Barack Obama ordered flags to be flown at half-staff on Tuesday, shortly after House Armed Services Chairman Rep. Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, said it was the “right thing” to do “immediately.”
And Marine Corps officials ordered recruiters in Chattanooga, Tenn., to don their uniforms once again after a temporary halt was issued earlier in the week by the Marines’ Recruiting Command, the Washington Post reports.

“Friends can disagree.” In the first high-level meeting between U.S. and Israeli officials since forging the Iran deal, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu shared his “clear and blunt” assessment of the agreement in private talks lasting more than an hour with U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter.
“Netanyahu restated his objections to the agreement, including his contention that Iran would use more than $100 billion in funds made available through sanctions relief to threaten adversaries, chief among them Israel,” WaPo’s Missy Ryan reported from Jerusalem. In later discussions Tuesday with Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, Netanyahu called the accord a “historic mistake” that will free up Iran to produce “dozens of nuclear bombs in zero time in a decade or so.”
“We don’t agree on everything and the prime minister made it quite clear that he disagreed with us on the nuclear deal with Iran,” Carter told reporters during a stopover to visit U.S. troops in Jordan, the New York Times reported. “But friends can disagree,” he added.
Despite the consistently strong words from Netanyahu, numerous “prominent members of [Israel’s] security establishment have come out at various stages of the negotiations in support of the Obama administration's efforts,” WaPo reports in this roll-up of former Israeli security and military officials’ views culled from across the web.
The Iranian Parliament sees U.S. lawmakers’ 60-day review of the nuclear deal—and raises it 20 days “as a way to avoid losing face by appearing to look weak if the agreement is rejected by their counterparts in the United States,” the NYTs reports.
Lifting sanctions on Iran’s economy could well be a boon to the Tehran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps, “which the U.S. accuses of involvement in terrorism overseas and human-rights abuses” and who, it turns out, have their hands in an “opaque-but-vast network of industries” including construction, manufacturing, banking and shipping, the WSJ reports.
Meanwhile, the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory is offering about $10 million to companies that can help find “‘hard and deeply buried’ targets, a description that fits some of Iran’s nuclear facilities” including the underground Fordow facility, Bloomberg’s Tony Capaccio reported yesterday.

U.S. airstrike in northwestern Syria takes out Khorasan Group leader Muhsin al-Fadhli. The Pentagon announced Tuesday it killed “the leader of a network of veteran al-Qaida operatives, sometimes called the Khorasan Group,” nearly two weeks ago while al-Fadhli travelled in a car near Sarmada, Syria, Long War Journal reports in a lengthy bio of the insurgent that ties into al-Qaeda’s operations in Iran and al-Fadhli’s “effort to reconcile the Islamic State with the Al Nusrah Front and other jihadist groups. That effort failed, but al Fadhli carried on, eventually finding himself in the crosshairs of American missiles.”
In Baghdad, at least 18 people were killed and another 43 wounded in two suicide car bombings in largely Shiite neighborhoods yesterday claimed by the Islamic State group. Two other car bombings occurred across Iraq, killing at least nine and wounding another nearly three-dozen, CNN reports.
After Iraqis shared photos of themselves on Twitter beside a downed U.S. Army MQ-1C Gray Eagle recon drone in southern Iraq’s Samawa province Tuesday, Pentagon officials confirmed the crash, citing “technical complications” and a loss of communication with the aircraft. The Hill has more.
An Iraqi businessman who got rich off the telecom industry and from running a private security firm “says he’s fielding an autonomous, Sunni army to go toe-to-toe with ISIS” and he’s taken a former CIA agent and former Idaho Sen. Steve Symms with him to Capitol Hill to plead their case to U.S. officials, TDB’s Shane Harris reports.

From Defense One

On Tuesday, voters got a chance to finally meet their 16th potential presidential pick — again. Ohio Gov. John Kasich ran for president once before, in 2000, before deferring to then-Texas Gov. George W. Bush, and he spent 18 years in Washington as a congressman on the House Armed Services Committee. During the Clinton years, when Washington balanced its budget, he served as chairman of the powerful House Budget Committee. During his time in Congress, he earned a reputation as a crusader against wasteful Pentagon spending — which puts him in a unique position amid a 15-person Republican field crawling over themselves to throw more money at the military in order to flex their muscle on defense. Defense One’s Molly O’Toole has more on the fiscal-defense hawk you don’t remember, here.

No birth-er jokes, please: Obama is going to Kenya this week, where counterterrorism—and basic security—are grave concerns that need greater U.S. attention. Brian Dooley of Human Rights First lays out the problems.

But first: Nigeria’s new president is in Washington for wide-ranging talks with Obama and various cabinet secretaries, including about fighting the Boko Haram insurgency. No big announcements are expected during the July 20-24 visit by Nigeria’s first opposition-candidate-turned-president, but it’s a chance to shore up relations with a country that Obama will skip during his Africa visit. Council on Foreign Relations’ John Campbell explains.

How do you make a country vanish? In eastern Donetsk, Russia is everywhere and Ukraine is fading as mailboxes, license plates, and much else get a Russian makeover. Amie Ferris-Rotman reports from a fascinating journey into a land transformed.

Welcome to Wednesday’s edition of The D Brief, from Ben Watson and Brad Peniston. Want to share The D Brief with a friend? Find our subscribe link here. (And if you want to view today’s edition in your browser, you can do that here.) And please tell us what you like, don’t like, or want to drop on our radar right here at

White House’s Gitmo closure plan “faltering.” Defense Secretary Ash Carter last week was given “an unsigned National Security Council memo stating that he would have 30 days to make decisions on newly proposed transfers” from the prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. But that meeting ended “inconclusively” with officials telling the NYT’s Charlie Savage that it wasn’t even “clear whether [Carter] accepted the 30-day deadline.”
“Officials say interagency tensions with Mr. Carter have not reached the levels they did by last fall with Mr. Hagel, who eventually resigned under pressure.” But, Savage notes, authority rests with Carter to approve any future detainee transfers to foreign countries like Oman, where six detainees were sent in June, ending a five-month pause.
Carter and Lisa Monaco, the White House’s top counterterrorism advisor, have promised Senate Armed Services Chairman John McCain a plan to close the prison, and Savage reports that “officials said they may do so next week. But the administration has been putting forward a closing plan for years, and radical changes to it are not expected.”

In Afghanistan, at least 15 people were killed this morning when a suicide bomber struck a crowded market in northern Faryab province, AP reports.
Across the country, fighting is so tense—and desertion has once again risen to such levels—that Kabul has chosen to restrict soldiers from going home on leave from certain parts of the country, NYT’s Joseph Goldstein reports from the capital. “And after a casualty rate last year that the previous American commander called unsustainable, the numbers this year are even worse: up more than 50 percent compared with the first six months of 2014. About 4,100 Afghan soldiers and police officers have been killed, and about 7,800 wounded, according to statistics provided by an official with the American-led coalition here.”

The U.S. won’t publicly accuse China of the OPM data theft, partly to avoid revealing its evidence and how it obtained it, U.S. officials tell the Washington Post. Washington also appears to have decided not to directly retaliate for the breach, so “China has so far escaped any major consequence for what U.S. officials have described as one of the most damaging cyberthefts in U.S. government history — an outcome that also appears to reflect an emerging divide in how the United States responds to commercial vs. traditional espionage,” Ellen Nakashima reports, here.
U.S. Navy patrol planes will continue to keep a close aerial eye in the South China Sea despite Beijing’s warnings to stay clear of its burgeoning artificial islands, the U.S. Pacific Fleet commander tells USA Today’s Kirk Spitzer.
That assertion comes as China presses the Philippines to return to bilateral talks about the disputed region—part of a broader strategy to resolve claims in a series of two-way talks rather than a regional approach. But that strategy may become unworkable now that an international court in The Hague has taken up a Philippines lawsuit against China. Reuters reports.

In about a half an hour, the folks at the Center for Strategic and International Studies host a discussion on the U.S. Defense Department’s “Future of Vertical Lift: From Concept to Acquisition.” Catch the line-up for the Washington event and a livestream link right here.
Also this afternoon: The Stimson Center talks “The Cost of Wars: Overseas Contingency Operations and Future Defense Spending” with a host of panelists including Amy Belasco, Laicie Heeley, Matthew Leatherman and Defense One’s own Marcus Weisgerber. Things get underway at 3:30 p.m. EDT. Details and RSVP link right here.

And lastly today, here are 21 secrets to success from the military’s best generals, courtesy of former Army officer Jason Criss Howk, writing in Task & Purpose. Included: “Look first at capability, not rank”; “Let incompetent people go”; and “Don’t forget your family.”