Syrian hospital, bombed; Army’s first female infantry officer; Boeing eats $156M on tanker; Hunting for missile launchers; and a bit more.
Direct airstrike on a Doctors Without Borders hospital in Aleppo leaves nearly three dozen dead, including six staff, three children and one of the city’s last pediatricians, the Associated Press and the Washington Post report this morning.
“A video posted online by [volunteer first-responders known as] the White Helmets showed a number of lifeless bodies, including those of children, being pulled out from a building and loaded into ambulances amid screaming and wailing,” AP writes. “It also showed distraught rescue workers trying to keep onlookers away from the scene, apparently fearing more airstrikes.”
It’s just the latest bloodshed from Syria’s largest city where more than 60 have been killed in the past day and nearly 190 have died since Friday as regime and its allied troops began a long march to flush out rebels who have been there since 2012. Doctors Without Borders said the Al Quds hospital “was the main referral centre for paediatrics and [the facility] had 8 doctors & 28 nurses.” There’s been no immediate response from the Assad regime, the Post writes.
Aleppo is on the brink of a humanitarian disaster, the International Committee for the Red Cross said this morning.
Even before the bombing, the UN’s chief negotiator for Syrian peace talks tossed the white flag, calling on a “U.S.-Russian initiative at the highest level” to stop the violence in Syria.
Staggering statistic: “[I]n the last 48 hours, we have had an average of one Syrian killed every 25 minutes, one Syrian wounded every 13 minutes,” Staffan de Mistura said in frustration from Geneva. “How can you have substantial talks when you have only news about bombing and shelling?” De Mistura will take his case to Moscow next week, Russian media announced this morning.
This is what it’s like to fight for the Islamic State — in Iraqi Kurdistan, anyway. There are hundreds of ways to describe this video, acquired by Vice News, but we’ll leave today’s summary to War Is Boring’s David Axe: “Vice has video an ISIS fighter shot with a GoPro attached to his helmet. It’s a combat clown show and everyone dies.”
Said one U.S. military officer to The D Brief: “The kinds of mistakes [the ISIS fighters] make are incredulous.” The list is really too long to get into, so check out the video for yourself, here.
40 down, and counting. That’s how many ISIS “external operations leaders, planners, and facilitators” have been killed by U.S. special forces, The Daily Beast’s Kim Dozier reports this morning. But don’t expect to hear about them all “in order to see how ISIS responds,” one official explained.
Lebanese troops just killed an ISIS leader near the Syrian border. The deceased: Fayez al-Shaalaan, known as Abu Fawz, described “as the militant group’s leader in the Arsal area” who was killed when “the army attacked an Islamic State position on the edge of the town of Arsal in north Lebanon.” More here.
What drives ISIS foreign fighter flows? Contrary to what many believe, it is “not economic or political conditions but rather ideology and the difficulty of assimilation into homogeneous Western countries,” according to a new report from the National Bureau of Economic Research, which claims to present “the first systematic analysis of the link between economic, political, and social conditions and the global phenomenon of ISIS foreign fighters.” Find that, here.
From Defense One
The increasingly automated hunt for mobile missile launchers. The U.S. intelligence community is quietly experimenting with algorithms that might help keep tabs on mobile missile launchers like the ones North Korea has used in recent tests, affording more warning before an attack. Global Business Editor Marcus Weisgerber reports, here.
Trump makes his own head spin talking foreign policy. The Republican front-runner delivered his most scripted address yet laying out what he called his “consistent” and “unpredictable” national security ambitions. Via The Atlantic, here.
Obama offers rhetoric as Assad drops barrel bombs. // Frederic C. Hof, of the Atlantic Council’s Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East, says that as long as Syrian civilians are on the bullseye, nothing will be accomplished at peace talks. Read on, here.
Welcome to the Thursday edition of The D Brief, by Ben Watson and Bradley Peniston. On this day in 1792, Acting Lieutenant Fletcher Christian led the mutiny on HMS Bounty. Send your friends this link: http://get.defenseone.com/d-brief/. And let us know your news: email@example.com.
Boeing eats more money while building Air Force tanker — $156 million, to be exact. To date, the company has spent nearly $1.3 billion to fix various problems that have cropped up in development of the KC-46 tanker, a militarized version of the 767 jetliner. The latest charge “primarily reflects the cost incorporating engineering changes identified during testing into aircraft already built and in production along with the certification of those changes,” Dennis Muilenburg, the firm’s chairman, president and CEO, said during the company’s quarterly earnings call yesterday. The four test tankers have flown more than 500 test hours. More here.
Northrop happy to be working on the new Air Force bomber, and that’s about all it’ll say about the subject “The highlight during the quarter was getting back to work on the B-21 program,” Wes Bush, the company’s chairman, CEO and president, said during the company’s quarterly earnings call yesterday. We are absolutely committed to outstanding execution on this program and we are off to a strong start.” More here.
Germany’s foreign minister has some hopes for America this election season: “I can only hope that the election campaign in the USA does not lack the perception of reality,” FM Frank-Walter Steinmeier said. “The world's security architecture has changed and it is no longer based on two pillars alone. It cannot be conducted unilaterally,” referring to Trump’s “America First” message.
The rub: “Steinmeier said international conflicts could only be solved nowadays if heavyweights like the United States and Russia and others joined forces,” Reuters reports. “‘No American president can get round this change in the international security architecture,” Steinmeier said, adding that this was why America first is actually no answer to that.”
North Korea’s fifth recent launch goes kaput. “Around 6:40 a.m. local time, North Korea fired what appeared to be a Musudan-type midrange missile near the eastern coastal city of Wonsan, a South Korean Defense Ministry spokesman said,” The Wall Street Journal reports. “The missile crashed soon after launch, he said.”
An earlier test nearly two weeks ago “resulted in a huge fireball as the weapon exploded just after liftoff, according to U.S. defense officials. The Musudan has been displayed at recent North Korean military parades and has an estimated range of 3,000 to 4,000 kilometers (1,864 to 2,485 miles), putting U.S. bases in Japan and the island of Guam in theoretical range.” More here.
U.S. military planners may be keeping an eye on the Philippine elections as front-runner Rodrigo Duterte said the U.S. “should not meddle in our affairs,” Stars and Stripes reports. “Duterte has presented himself to voters as a straight-talker who is not part of the Manila elite – someone who can get things done even if he needs to bend the rules to do so. That includes the country’s foreign affairs.” His message of change to voters includes the view that “we really don’t need the Americans to deal with the Chinese because the Chinese want to talk to us alone.” But he still faces a considerable uphill climb “to garner support from an elite-controlled Manila,” according to Carl Baker, an expert on the U.S.-Philippines alliance at Pacific Forum CSIS in Honolulu. Read the rest, here.
Kunduz report due Friday. That’s the word from TDB’s Nancy Youseff and The Guardian’s Spencer Ackerman, who has a bit of context for the decision, here.
It’s been now five years and one day since the deadly green-on-blue attack in Kabul that left eight U.S. airmen and an American contractor dead. Air Force Times’ Oriana Pawlyk has a remembrance with surviving family members, here.
Carter says oh-no to the Thornberry OCO. U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter railed into House Armed Services Committee Chairman Mac Thornberry’s new spending plan that would take “$18 billion from the special overseas contingency operations (OCO) wartime fund and investing it into buying more weapon systems. Thornberry’s language would also end OCO come April, forcing the next president to request a new war-funding supplemental,” Defense News reported. “Carter flashed a bit of anger — unusual for the secretary — when discussing the plan, particularly the April end date for OCO, saying it amounts to ‘gambling’ with troops' funding at a time of war and calling it ‘deeply troubling’ and ‘flawed.’” More on that beef, here.
Congrats to Capt. Kristen Griest, one of the U.S. Army’s first Ranger-qualified females. She’s about to make history again today when she’s “expected to graduate from the Maneuver Captain's Career Course on Thursday wearing the distinctive blue infantry cord,” officials told Army Times.
And for a different take on females in combat, trace the path of a 9-year-old who was held hostage by FARC rebels and forced to become a child soldier in Colombia’s long insurgency. Her tough story of re-integration back into even her own family’s village is just one of dozens The New York Times’ Nicholas Casey found reporting from Caldas.
Finally today: We have an official update on that alleged drone collision at Heathrow in London. Turns out the object the pilot of an Airbus A320 flying from Geneva hit a…well, something—just not a drone, Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin said this morning. The UK’s Air Accidents Investigation Branch also announced this morning that it had ended its investigation into the incident.
“We made initial inquiries but there was insufficient information on what object was involved for us to take it further,” it said.
For what it’s worth, AP notes that “last week, junior Transport Minister Robert Goodwill speculated that the plane might have struck a plastic bag.”