US to pitch joint HQ to Russia; China’s stealth-jet fleet is growing; The future of Boeing Defense; Pentagon welcoming ‘novel concepts’; and a bit more...

It’s a day of unity on the Syrian diplomacy front as Iraq’s prime minister told the Assad regime “the war carried on by the Syrian and Iraqi armies is one,” and the U.S. is reportedly looking to share intelligence with Russia’s military in the war against ISIS and al-Qaeda in Syria. Baghdad’s national security advisor Falah al-Fayad visited Damascus Wednesday carrying the letter from Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi with that message of cooperation to the regime ahead of the more busy and kinetic half of the current Mosul offensive, according to state-run media: “The President stressed that the war carried on by the Syrian and Iraqi armies is one, saying that any victory which is being realized against terrorism in any of the two countries is a victory for both sides and all other sides which have seriousness in fighting and overcoming terrorism.” More here.

By the way, the effort to clear ISIS from Mosul could also displace as many as 600,000 Iraqi civilians, according to a new UN report on the Anbar and Mosul corridors.

On U.S.-Russian military relations, the Washington Post’s Josh Rogin got his hands on a draft of the text State Secretary John Kerry is said to be carting to Moscow today. “The [Obama] administration is proposing joining with Russia in a ramped-up bombing campaign against Jabhat al-Nusra, al-Qaeda’s Syria branch,” Rogin writes. “What hasn’t been previously reported is that the United States is suggesting a new military command-and-control headquarters [known as a Joint Implementation Group, to be based in Amman, Jordan] to coordinate the air campaign that would house U.S. and Russian military officers, intelligence officials and subject-matter experts.”

Leaving the door cracked for joint operations: “First, the United States and Russia would share intelligence. Then, if both governments agreed, ‘the participants should coordinate procedures to permit integrated operations.’”

The next step(s): “The document concludes by declaring that the United States and Russia should complete another agreement by July 31 on military and intelligence cooperation, a plan for a nationwide cease-fire and a new framework for a political transition in Syria.”

All of which kind of fits in with Kerry’s previous aim to working out a path for Assad to step down from power by August 1—something the State Department hasn’t harped on a great deal since initially pitched by Kerry almost three months ago, shortly after Russia’s military “withdrawal” (that was anything but) from Syria.

Now, as Rogin writes, “Even in the best-case scenario, where Russia and Syria hold up their end of the bargain, the result could be major advances for the Assad regime.” Read his write-up in full, here.

Here’s a decent read on the prospects of a U.S. military solution in Syria, via former National Security Council member Steven Simon and Jonathan Stevenson, writing in the op-ed pages of The New York Times. The skinny: “If the United States has a direct military interest in Syria, it is as a jihadist killing field.” And that’s pretty much where it ends.

Speaking of which: the Islamic State’s “minister of war” has died, the group said Wednesday—nearly four months after the US said it probably killed him in a strike near Mosul. ISIS on Wednesday said he died near the Iraqi town of Shirqat, south of the new airbase Baghdad’s troops seized over the weekend. For what it’s worth, one source Reuters spoke to said the man, known as “Omar the Chechen,” died shortly after the U.S. supposed he did, expiring somewhere outside of Raqqa in the Syrian countryside. Bucolic views, no doubt. But true? Impossible to verify presently. The Long War Journal has a good summary of the events (and each side’s accounts), here.

Meanwhile, ISIS has apparently shot down a Syrian jet, killing the pilot, near the oil-rich fields of Deir ez-Zour, in the east, SITE Intel Group reports.

For what it’s worth: Here are four photos of U.S. artillery pounding ISIS in Iraq.

And while we’re on weapons, France is deploying its Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier to fight ISIS. But not until the fall. More here.

From Defense One

The future of Boeing Defense, according to its new CEO. In an interview with Global Business Editor Marcus Weisgerber, Leanne Caret laid out five she wants to focus on — and a few things she wants to stop doing. Read that, here.

After delay, new Air Force tanker successfully refuels C-17. The Boeing-made plane, with some new hardware, successfully refueled a C-17 during a test Tuesday night. Weisgerber, reporting from the Farnborough Air Show, here.

The Pentagon’s secret weapons guru asked for your crazy ideas — and got 1,000 in a month. Will Roper, director of the Defense Department's Strategic Capabilities Office, got “exactly what we want” from the public. Defense One Editorial Fellow Caroline Houck has the story, here.

After NATO Summit, transparency must accompany the tanks. The alliance’s comparative advantage lies not only in military capabilities, but also in its ability to drive institutional reform within and beyond its member countries. That’s the argument from Transparency International’s Karolina MacLachlan and Katherine Dixon; read it, here.

Welcome to Thursday’s edition of The D Brief by Ben Watson, Bradley Peniston, and Marcus Weisgerber. On this day in 1789, French revolutionaries stormed the Bastille. Send your friends this link: And let us know your news:

America’s allies in Europe need integrated air and missiles defenses “tailored to deter and defeat low-tier Russian threats while enhancing strategic stability,” the Center for Strategic and International Studies’ Thomas Karako writes in a new report that just went live today. Part of the problem presently, he writes, is the current Integrated Air and Missile Defense (IAMD) network “does not deter Russia.” And so Karako goes on to envision his own update “designed to protect deployed and rapid response forces, complicate nonstrategic Russian missile attack, protect freedom of movement within NATO territory, and permit the flow of forces to respond to aggression. Such a multinational or alliance-wide network would make deterrence more credible, raise the threshold for conventional attack, diminish prospects for coercion, and thereby support assurance and alliance cohesion. Its character would also remain ‘purely defensive’ in nature.” Read the report in full, here.

The U.S. military says it killed a Pakistan Taliban planner responsible for “the December 2014 attack on a Pakistani school that left more than 130 children dead” in a drone strike over eastern Afghanistan last week, the Washington Post reported Wednesday. “Khalifa Omar Mansour along with four other ‘enemy combatants’ were killed Saturday in Nangarhar Province, Pentagon press secretary Peter Cook said in a statement.”

A bit more on this fella: “Besides the 2014 assault on the Pakistani Army Public School in Peshawar that left 141 people dead altogether, Mansour also had a hand in the Bacha Khan University attack that killed at least 20 and a 2015 attack on a Pakistani airfield that killed dozens, according to the Pentagon.”

Additionally, “Mansour was a leader with the Tariq Gidar Group, also known as the Pakistani Taliban or TTP,” the Post reports. “Though predominately Pashtun like their Afghan counterparts, the TTP has its own set of objectives, many of which are relegated to attacking the Pakistani government from their hideouts in the country’s lawless northern tribal areas. Despite seemingly local aims, the group has taken responsibility for high-profile attacks outside Pakistan’s borders, including the 2009 suicide bombing against the CIA facility at Forward Operating Base Chapman in Khost, Afghanistan, as well as the failed 2010 Times Square car bombing.” Read the rest, here.

China’s stealth fighter jet arsenal is growing, Jeffrey Lin and Peter Singer report in Popular Science: “In July 2016, the Chengdu Aircraft Corporation rolled out two more low rate initial production (LRIP) J-20 stealth fighters. This brings to a total of four J-20 fighters built for service into the Chinese air force, as opposed to the original eight J-20 prototypes, which are still undergoing a rigorous flight testing regimen. At this rate of production, China may have 12 production J-20 ready to hand off to a PLAAF squadron for operational and flight familiarization, with an initial operating capability (IOC -- meaning those fighters can conduct combat operations) in 2017-2018.”

These new jets “will give China a technological edge in air to air combat over all its Asian neighbors, who do not yet have 5th generation planes. As a heavyweight stealth fighter, it is armed with long range missiles, electronic warfare, advanced radar and passive sensors, making it a respectable competitor to even the new US F-22 and F-35 stealth fighters. CAC is already planning a series of future updates to keep the J-20 state of art; domestic WS-15 engines are just one of them.”

Lastly today: “Be brief, be brilliant, be gone,” Doctrine Man says of this CNN story on how DARPA stays innovative—in part, by kicking employees out after four years. “In a new report released this month, the agency revealed how it creates cutting-edge, world-changing innovation. For starters, DARPA doesn't like to keep its employees around for long. It has about 220 employees in six offices, most of whom hold their jobs for four or five years. The agency has a 25% annual turnover rate, according to the report. The typical turnover rate in most industries is about 15%.” Read the new report mentioned above, right here.