Breaking: Syrian rebels down Russian helo; Turkey shoots down Russian jet; Obama hosts Hollande; A Vietnamese-American take on Syrian refugees; DARPA seeks disaster-resistant cities; and a bit more...
Breaking: Syrian rebels using anti-tank missiles reportedly forced a Russian helicopter into a crash landing in northwest Syria, Lebanon NOW news reports.
Turkish F-16s shot down a Russian Su-24 fighter jets on the border with Syria, sending Turkish markets down sharply on fears of an escalation between the two countries. Footage of the downed jet surfaced overnight of what appears to be the jet soaring through the sky in flames, then disappearing over the horizon before apparently erupting in a column of smoke just moments later.
It’s the first time since the 1950s that a NATO country has downed a Russian or Soviet aircraft. Russia’s defense ministry denied its jet entered Turkish airspace, so the Turks released flight radar data to back up their claim. Ankara also said it issued 10 warnings to the aircraft in roughly five minutes before the downing.
“The data we have is very clear. There were two planes approaching our border, we warned them as they were getting too close,” a senior Turkish official told Reuters.
The fate of the pilots remains uncertain. But Reuters reports, “Separate footage from Turkey’s Anadolu Agency showed two pilots parachuting out of the jet before it crashed. A Syrian rebel group sent a video to Reuters that appeared to show one of the pilots immobile and badly wounded on the ground and an official from the group said he was dead.”
The incident follows other alleged airspace violations, the BBC reminds readers: “Last month, Ankara said Turkish F-16s had intercepted a Russian jet that crossed its border, and two Turkish jets had been harassed by an unidentified Mig-29.”
Russian-Turkish relations have suffered of late, the New York Times reports, noting that just “last week, Turkey summoned the Russian ambassador, Andrey G. Karlov, to discuss Ankara’s concerns over the bombing of Turkmen villages in northern Syria and called for an immediate end to the Russian military operation close to the Turkish border.”
NATO ambassadors will receive a briefing on the matter from the Turkish foreign ministry today at 11 a.m. EDT.
Back stateside, the bodies of four U.S. Army soldiers were found by emergency workers near Fort Hood, Texas, after a UH-60 Black Hawk crashed late Monday afternoon, base officials said in a statement overnight.
Obama welcomes French President Francois Holland to the White House today; he must pressure France to hold the line on sanctions against Moscow over the conflict in Ukraine even if everyone’s interests are converging in the war against the Islamic State, argue Vikram Singh of the Center for American Progress and Julianne Smith of the Center for a New American Security, writing in Defense One.
“The enemy-of-my-enemy logic against ISIS can make many strange international bedfellows: Russia and the U.S., Iran and Arab states, Assad and the Syrian forces fighting him all want to defeat ISIS,” they write. “But any cooperation against ISIS cannot be traded against broader strategic interests.”
And the path forward should be built on trust and verification. How exactly? Read on, here.
The U.S. may have just received its updated draft authorization to go to war against ISIS, U.S. News reports. It comes from “Minnesota Republican Rep. Tom Emmer, who has stepped up with a measure to declare war on the terrorist group seeking to establish a caliphate in the Middle East and more.” That bit, here.
More bad news from CENTCOM on allegedly doctored ISIS intel reports. Two officials now stand accused of “a possible cover-up, with some analysts accusing the senior intelligence officials at CENTCOM, Maj. Gen. Steven Grove and his civilian deputy, Gregory Ryckman, of deleting emails and files from computer systems before the inspector general could examine them, three individuals familiar with the investigation told The Daily Beast.” That, here.
As 2016 hopefuls flood New Hampshire with pledges to block refugees from Syria, Vietnamese-American voters in the Granite State responded with a conflicted mix of caution and compassion, Defense One’s Molly O’Toole reports. But Arizona Sen. John McCain and his South Carolina colleague and 2016 hopeful Lindsey Graham have other thoughts, with Graham calling a weekend event at the Phuoc Dien Temple “the highlight of my entire campaign for president.”
Graham: “See, the people on the Republican side who are demagoguing [the refugee issue] … it’s a copout,” he said. “They wanna focus exclusively on how tough they are on the refugees, when what we want to be doing is be reasonable balancing our national security against the need to help the refugees. But we want to go to the source of the problem, that’s the difference.” More here.
Why is the White House picking a fight on an issue that’s been called a “political winner” for the GOP? Because he’s talking to history rather than his political opponents, writes The Atlantic’s Peter Beinart.
A new report from the RAND Corporation finds that, as of November, there are 700,000 Syrian refugee children not receiving formal education in Jordan, Turkey or Lebanon, up from 542,000 in August of 2014. "Given that the Syrian civil war is ongoing, it will be many years until the Syrians can return home. Yet the refugee education response has mainly been addressed as a short-term effort. There has been little longer term planning to manage refugee education into the future." RAND wrote in a statement. Read the report in full, here.
From Defense One
Is ISIS rational? Until the Islamic State attacked Paris, the group had seemed coldly focused on taking territory — and actually governing it. “It may have been mad, but there was a method to the madness,” writes Brookings’ Shadi Hamid. “But why, then, attack France—one of the more militarily aggressive Western powers—and potentially provoke a massive retaliatory response that would threaten the very ‘caliphate’ it had spent so much time building?” Hamid carefully walks through the various ways to think about and counter ISIS, and the pitfalls of each. Read it, here.
The U.S. is relying on Iraqis to keep tabs on ISIS bomb technology. When American troops withdrew (mostly) from Iraq, so did the cadre of U.S. bomb techs who had helped the Pentagon keep track of advancements in IED tools and tactics. Now, they rely heavily on Iraqi security forces to do the reporting — and that’s got to get better, the head of the Pentagon’s IED-tracking office tells Technology Editor Patrick Tucker, here.
Can the U.S. military help design a disaster-resilient city? DARPA wants to try. Cities are incredibly complex, and break in complicated ways. Understanding that complexity will be key to mitigating tomorrow’s disasters, reports Tucker, here.
Welcome to the Tuesday edition of The D Brief, from Ben Watson and Bradley Peniston. Tell your friends to subscribe here: http://get.defenseone.com/d-brief/. Want to see something different? Got news? Let us know: email@example.com.
Tokyo and Washington are building complementary forces in the Pacific, writes McClatchy’s Adam Ashton from Naha, Japan. “Japan is bulking up with new conventional weapons and searching for amphibious training grounds where it can practice the kind of beach assaults it may need to take an island. Its main ally, the United States, is matching the moves by steering more troops and newer weapons to the Pacific.” McClatchy also gives you a nifty graphic laying out a raft of security concerns throughout the region in Ashton’s piece, here.
And for what it’s worth: Japan is footing a third of the bill for nearly 5,000 U.S. Marines to be based at Guam in the months ahead.
See also this take on five reasons why U.S. plans to move troops to Okinawa has dragged on for 19 years and counting.
The U.S. would be wise to assess what a post-ISIS Iraq and Syria would look like, Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Robert Neller said Monday during a troop talk at Okinawa’s Camp Kinser. “So we’re in Raqqa and they’re all dead or captured or killed or wounded, and we’re standing in Raqqa and we’re like, ‘Now what?’ So before we go do that, I think it’s fair we ask our political leadership...when we’re done, what’s next?”
“Rebuilding, sir,” a Marine shouted from the audience.
Neller: “I don’t want to rebuild anything in Syria. I’ve been to this movie once before. It was called Iraq. I’ve been to this movie and it didn’t end the way we wanted it to end.”
But at the end of the day, he said, “I’m going to do what the president tells me. That wasn’t the answer you were looking for, was it?” Stars and Stripes has more, here.
The Air Force is rigging another weapon for the B-52, the bomber with more lives than your average nuclear-armed alley cat. This time, it’s the extended-range version of the Lockheed Martin Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Weapon, a missile with about twice the 200-plus-mile range of the JASSM it currently carries. FlightGlobal has the story, here.
NEXT STORY: Is ISIS Rational?