ISIS’ bomb college; Carter in Boston; China may put nukes on a hair trigger; Jeep hits F/A-18; and a bit more.

ISIS turned Mosul U into a bomb factory. The Islamic State has been using the University of Mosul’s “well-stocked” chemistry lab to create what The Wall Street Journal calls a “new generation” of peroxide-based chemical bombs and nitrate-based explosives.

“At least since August, dozens of individuals—presumed to be foreigners because they didn’t speak Iraqi Arabic—were seen moving through the labs, the two people said. They said they were told specialized units had been set up there for chemical explosives and weapons research as well as suicide-bomb construction. A separate group at the university’s technical college was dedicated to building suicide-bomb components,” WSJ reports.

Since then, “there has been a surge in Islamic State’s use of bombs that mix chemical precursors into an explosive powdery substance known as triacetone triperoxide, or TATP, both in Iraq and Europe.”

Two recent innovations Iraqi bomb-disposal experts have flagged in recent months include “a wiring technique known as the ‘Destructive Circle,’ a booby trap running around the device designed to set the bomb off when technicians are at work trying to defuse it” and another designed dubbed “the ‘double bluff,’ or two sets of detonating triggers that serve as a backstop against possible malfunction.” Read the rest, here.

Some 250 miles south of Mosul, thousands of trapped civilians have stalled the Iraqi security forces’ push to clear the city of Hit as they continue their epic and eventual Mosul offensive, the Associated Press reports from Baghdad.  

Why does the U.S. have 21 generals running its anti-ISIS war? Some simple battlefield math casts the U.S. in some sketchy light, The Daily Beast’s Nancy Youssef reported Thursday. “There are only 5,000 U.S. troops in Iraq—about what a colonel usually commands. But for this ISIS war, as many as 21 generals have been deployed,” coming out to roughly one general for every 416 troops, she writes.

So what’s the U.S. military’s reaction to these numbers? “In a war where there are so many different types of fighters,” defense officials explained, “you need generals to coordinate. Today’s warfighter is more lethal, thanks to improved technology, and therefore needs a commander with the appropriate authority to sign off authority on the use of that power. The intelligence reaching the front lines is so complex, it demands the talents of a one-star general.”

Nevertheless, the issue here may come down to optics. “Having this many generals and flag officers gives the appearance of commitment without the substance of commitment,” Christopher Harmer, a naval analyst at the Washington-based Institute for the Study of War, said. Read on, here.

Carter woke in Boston today, where he is scheduled for breakfast at Harvard, but the main course is down Mass Ave at MIT. The Pentagon announced its latest contribution to President Obama’s manufacturing initiative, this time on fabric. DOD announced it is contributing $75 million to a $317 million consortium of 89 universities, companies and organizations. They have an appropriately bad military acronym of a name, the Advanced Functional Fabrics of America Alliance, or AFFOA.

What’s all that money pay for? “The institute will bring together nontraditional partners to integrate fabrics and yarns with integrated circuits, LEDs, solar cells, and other capabilities to create textiles and fabrics that can see, hear, sense, communicate, store energy, regulate temperature, monitor health, change color, and more.” (Anyone else remember hypercolor shirts?)

Carter’s staff provided traveling reporters an exclusive excerpt of Friday’s planned speech: “Revolutionary fibers and textiles have enormous potential for our defense mission. For example, lightweight sensors, woven into the nylon of parachutes, will be able to catch small tears that otherwise would expand in midair, risking paratroopers’ lives. Uniforms with electronics embedded in their fibers will be able to detect potential chemical and radioactive threats, help power the various networked devices our troops carry today, and know when a wounded servicemember might need an antibacterial bandage.”

Carter continued: “The reality is that, as I stand here, we don’t know all the advances this new technology will make possible—that’s the remarkable thing about innovation—and it’s another reason why America, and America’s military, must get there first.” Recall Defense One reported on the Carter’s previous manufacturing announcement was on flex technologies, from California last summer.

From Defense One

China’s military wants to put its nukes on a hair trigger.

If Barack Obama gets one thing done at the 2016 Nuclear Security Summit, it should be dissuading Xi Jinping from allowing this. The Union of Concerned Scientists’ Gregory Kulacki explains, here.

Eyeing Russia, Poland wants more NATO troops stationed on or at least rotating through its territory. But other requests — like buying anti-missile interceptors — seem to be coming unglued. Global Business Reporter Marcus Weisgerber reports, here.

Don’t let China steal the U.S. military’s logistical edge. One of the things that makes the American armed forces so formidable is their ability to go places and sustain operations there. But Chinese state-sponsored hackers and state-owned companies are trying to buy or steal their way to logistical expertise on the cheap. Congress and the executive branch need to step up, argues retired Brig. Gen. John Adams, here.

Welcome to Friday’s April Fool’s edition of The D Brief, by Ben Watson and Bradley Peniston. Able-bodied U.S. men had to register for their country’s first wartime draft by this day in 1863 — or buy an exemption for $300. No fooling. Subscribe to the D Brief: Got news? Let us know:

North Korea tried to jam GPS signals in South Korea before launching another rocket into the waters off its east coast this morning. So far, “no disruption of mobile communications or of air or ship traffic” resulted, The New York Times reports. “However,” AP adds, “more than 130 fishing boats reported problems with their navigation systems and some were forced to return to their ports, the Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries said.”

“South Korea traced the signals to Haeju, a town on North Korea’s southwestern coast, and to Diamond Mountain in the country’s southeast,” NYTs reports. “The jamming signals were still being sent on Friday, said Moon Sang-gyun, a spokesman for the South’s Defense Ministry.” The last of North Korea’s jamming efforts occurred in 2012, AP notes.  

Who around the world has nukes, and how many do they have? NBC News has your answer, here.

Don’t look now, but the U.S. Air Force wants a mobile ICBM, Arms Control Today’s Kingston Reif writes. “A decision by the United States to deploy ICBMs on a mobile platform would represent an unprecedented development in U.S. nuclear strategy. The United States explored two mobile ICBM options during the Cold War—the Peacekeeper, which would have been carried by railcars, and the small ICBM, or Midgetman, which would have been carried by trucks—but both programs were canceled before they became operational.”

The price tag(s): “Initial Air Force estimates suggest that it would cost roughly $400 million in development funding to provide the ‘modularity’ that would allow this option,” according to a “knowledgeable source.” Developing these transportable ICBMs “would cost at least $80 billion more over the next 50 years than retaining only silo-based missiles, according to Air Force estimates.” More here.

A very troubling security breach at California’s Lemoore Naval Station has triggered “many investigations,” The Fresno Bee reported Thursday. A man and a woman crashed their Jeep Cherokee through a security gate and drove straight into an F/A-18E fighter jet late Wednesday night, killing both in the car.

What we know about what happened: “The California Highway Patrol investigated a vehicle stopped alongside the road on Highway 41 and Jackson Avenue. The vehicle sped away and began to weave, CHP Lt. Dave Knoff said. ‘We don’t know why they were running,’ Knoff said… About 11:30 p.m., the Jeep went through the gate and onto the base. Naval security forces pick[ed] up the pursuit while a CHP helicopter tracked the vehicle. The driver collided with the horizontal stabilizer of an FA-18E fighter jet, authorities said. The driver was taken to a hospital, where he died. The passenger died at the scene.”

A bit of context on the base: “Lemoore is the largest naval installation in the country for carrier-based aircraft, and soon will be getting larger. Currently, 15 active F-18 fighter jet squadrons and one auxiliary squadron are stationed there. One more is on its way in August, and another will move to Lemoore in 2018. A year from now the station also will get some of the first crews to fly the F-35, America’s newest fighter jet.” More here.

Warplane contract marks the largest deal at Middle East naval show. More than $8.9 billion in defense contracts were signed this week at the Doha International Maritime Defence Exhibition and Conference, known as DIMDEX. But despite its naval focus, Qatar and French defense firm Dassault inked the most notable deal, $7.5 billion for 24 Rafale fighter jets. More here.

India buys Stinger missiles. India will buy 245 Stinger missiles for its attack and light attack helicopters, Raytheon, maker of the weapon, announced. The missiles are part of a larger, $3.1 billion deal for combat helicopters, weapons, radars and electronic warfare suites.  More here.

Lastly today—the F-35 drops a new bomb. A Navy F-35C Joint Strike Fighter launched a Raytheon-made Joint Standoff Weapon over the Atlantic Ocean a little more than a week ago. The 1,000-pound bomb has wings, which allows it to fly further than other gravity bombs like JDAMs. “The JSOW is a medium range all-weather standoff weapon that enables aircraft to remain outside the threat envelopes of typical enemy anti-aircraft and counter air defenses while effectively engaging and destroying targets,” the F-35 program office said in a statement. The test took place on March 23, but was announced yesterday. Here’s a photo of the launch. Have a great weekend, everyone!