Deadly raid in Kabul; US force in Iraq passes 4,000; How to head off a US-China arms race; What’s new in smart fabrics; and a bit more.
More than two dozen people are dead and at least 300 wounded in Kabul this morning after the Afghan Taliban claimed credit for a truck bomb detonated “in a crowded area…outside the offices of the Directorate of Security for Dignitaries, an elite security force that provides protection to senior government officials,” the New York Times reports from the capital.
The attack “represented a direct strike against the Western-aided government a week after the Taliban announced its spring offensive,” the Washington Post writes. “The raid also was a message that the reach of fighters — and their ability to stage major coordinated attacks — appears undimmed, despite rifts within the militant group’s ranks and pressures from the rival Islamic State, as it seeks to expand its influence in Afghanistan.”
After the explosion, “armed gunmen stormed the compound and waged a prolonged battle with government security forces,” AP adds. Kabul’s police chief later said just one militant had gone in, and that he had been gunned down less than 30 minutes after the bomb went off.
Reuters calls it “the worst single militant strike in Kabul since 2011,” no doubt contributing to “concerns in Afghanistan and the West that the country is being dragged into a worsening spiral of violence.”
The White House has now authorized more than 4,000 U.S. troops for Iraq after Monday’s news that the Pentagon is sending more than 200 additional troops—mostly special operators, U.S. Army Green Berets, in particular—to help with Iraq’s epic and eventual Mosul offensive, along with eight Apache attack helicopters and more High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (or HIMARS).
Said Carter: “This will put Americans closer to the action,” authorizing American troops to embed with Iraqis at the battalion level as opposed to the previous brigade and division-level embeds, the Wall Street Journal adds.
The additional 217 troops “will include advisers, force protection, logistical support and aviation support for the Apaches,” Stars and Stripes’ Tara Copp reports traveling with Defense Secretary Ash Carter—who today is in Riyadh ahead of a meeting with the Gulf Cooperation Council.
About those advisers: “Most of the advisers are expected to be special forces operators who will work with smaller-sized units then they had previously to provide tactical guidance as the Iraqi army’s 15th Division advances toward Mosul,” Copp writes.
There could well be more on the way in the coming weeks, said Lt. Gen. Sean MacFarland, the U.S. commander of the coalition campaign against the Islamic State. MacFarland said that recommendation would hinge on Iraqi troops’ performance in the near- and mid-term. If these 217 don’t do the trick, “we'll have another discussion about” more U.S. troops, he said.
For what it’s worth: “The additional troops will bring the U.S. force in Iraq to 4,087 servicemembers, a U.S. official said. The total does not include another estimated 1,000 U.S. troops who are in the country but are not part of the Pentagon’s official count, including special operations forces, some logisticians, troops on temporary duty and forces who are rotating in to replace departing forces. About 5,000 troops from the Iraqi army’s 15th Division are operating in the 70-mile swath between Makhmour and Mosul, as Iraqis work with U.S. Marines to clear villages south of Mosul.”
And not to be forgotten: Carter also “announced the United States would provide $415 million to help support ‘selected peshmerga units,’ referring to security forces controlled by the Kurdish autonomous government. Carter didn’t elaborate on the plan, but the Kurds have complained they were getting short-changed in weapons and ammunition by the Iraqi central government in Baghdad.” Read the rest, here.
Speaking of the Pesh: a joint U.S.-Peshmerga raid on Monday killed a senior ISIS fighter south of Mosul, Kurdish officials said. They listed the dead fighters as “Salman Abu Shabib al-Jebouri, who goes by the nom de guerre Abu Saif, and two of his deputies. Mr. Jebouri had been a member of Islamic State’s ‘military council’ and was responsible for acts of terrorism in Mosul and the nearby town of Makhmour,” WSJ reports.
And a bit more on the raid: “Ghayath al-Sorji, the head of the media section for the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, a leading Kurdish political party, said Monday’s operation comprised two separate airborne assaults. An additional airborne strike targeted Islamic State positions in Tel Afar, west of Mosul, he said, but the results were unclear. Six American helicopters manned by both Kurdish and U.S. troops were used in each raid, he said.” More, here.
From Defense One
Join Defense Secretary Ash Carter and some of the brightest minds in military and consumer technology to discuss the future of innovation and national security at the first-ever Defense One Tech Summit on Friday, June 10, at the Newseum in Washington, D.C. Reserve your early seat, here.
How the U.S. and China can talk each other out of a nuclear arms race. Good piece by Elbridge Colby and Wu Riqiang, writing for the Bureau of Asian Research, that illuminates how both sides look at nuclear issues. By striving for strategic stability, Beijing and Washington can relieve the pressures of one-upmanship and the risk of accidental escalation. Read it, here.
In an increasingly turbulent Middle East, U.S.-Saudi partnership is indispensable. A former EUCOM deputy commander, retired Gen. Charles F. Wald, makes the case for even tighter bonds with Riyadh, here.
The U.S. military is pouring money into smart fabrics, but there’s a holdup. A lead researcher explains why high-tech cloth could help the Pentagon with everything from solar-powered tents to sniper-detecting uniforms. Via NextGov, here.
Welcome to the Tuesday edition of The D Brief, by Ben Watson and Bradley Peniston. On this day in 1775, Massachusetts militiamen fired the “shot heard round the world” in the Battles of Lexington and Concord. Send your friends this link: http://get.defenseone.com/d-brief/. And let us know your news: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Big defense budget event today at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, as chief CSIS bean-counter Todd Harrison releases his analysis of the White House’s $678.3 billion 2017 defense budget. Catch an intro the report here, or the full product (packed with nearly 50 pages of national security math), here.
Former CNO Adm. Jonathan Greenert heads over to BAE’s board of directors, the company announced this morning. “Admiral Greenert brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise from a distinguished, 40-year career as a senior military officer and government leader,” said Michael Chertoff, chairman, BAE Systems, Inc. board of directors. “His experience in management, operations, and strategic planning will be highly valuable, and I’m pleased to welcome him to the board.”
Extra reading: Check out this op-ed by Greenert from the not-too-distant past on how the U.S. can maintain its undersea advantage.
ICYMI: Beijing has a special Syrian envoy—formerly China’s ambassador to Iran—and she’s soon headed to Damascus, Riyadh, Tehran and Russia, Reuters reports. For an indication of her position on one of the more pressing issues at play in the Syrian conflict, she reportedly told Lebanese media that “Assad's fate could never be raised in peace talks nor was it a matter that any U.N.-backed political process could deliberate.” More here.
Lastly today—Get chills from this honor flight reception in Milwaukee over the weekend, complete with bagpipes and a seemingly endless gauntlet of uniformed personnel in a sustained salute. At least one of your D Briefers has a hard time finishing this short video without tearing up. So go on and finish it for us, and have a great Tuesday!