Fearing fear in Philly; What really drove Turkey’s coup; The insurgents formerly known as Nusra; Okinawa hero on the silver screen; And a bit more.
Laying out what The Wall Street Journal called a distinctly different worldview from Donald Trump, Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton gave her pitch to American voters Thursday night in Philadelphia, “promising steady leadership in the face of terrorism and an optimistic vision of the nation’s future,” Military Times wrote after the Democratic National Convention’s final night. Clinton called the U.S. military a “national treasure,” in contrast to Trump’s line that it’s a “disaster”; she promised to stand by NATO allies; and delivered (rigidly, at times) a message of inclusion, optimism and resolve—rhetoric the Journal writes stood in sharp relief from “Trump’s fiery message of unfairness and decline in America [that] has resonated with white, working class voters in particular.”
The DNC also brought to the stage Khizr Khan, the father of a Muslim U.S. soldier, Army Capt. Humayun Khan, who was killed 12 years ago by a suicide bomber in Iraq. Military Times’ Leo Shane III laid out what Khan’s appearance meant for the DNC’s broader counter-Trump messaging here.
And there was also President Obama’s former ISIS war czar, retired Marine Gen. John Allen—who brought his command voice to the stage, prompting some viewers unfamiliar with his background to ask, “Who’s that man yelling at the crowd?”
Trump vs. Clinton, on national security, in two minutes. With the conventions now behind us, we have a little more than 3 months of campaigning and point-counterpoint to endure across TV and news headlines before America gets its new commander-in-chief. But you can skip to the important national security stances from the two major party candidates via this short videographic from Defense One, produced in conjunction with the Council on Foreign Relations.
Let’s now move far from the campaign trail, to the nation often referred to as “where East meets West,” in Turkey. The U.S. now says the post-coup Turkish purge is getting in the way of the war against the Islamic State group.
The latest backdrop: Ankara’s “military announced late on Thursday the promotion of 99 colonels to the rank of general or admiral, part of a shake-up that left General Staff chief Hulusi Akar and the army, navy and air force commanders in their posts,” Reuters reports this morning from Turkey. “The announcement came shortly after the dishonorable discharge of nearly 1,700 military personnel over their alleged roles in the abortive July 15-16 putsch, in which at least 246 people were killed and more than 2,000 injured. About 40 percent of all generals and admirals have been dismissed since the coup.”
The U.S. reax: “Many of our interlocutors have been purged or arrested,” U.S. Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, said Thursday from the Aspen Security Forum in Colorado. “There's no question this is going to set back and make more difficult cooperation with the Turks.”
So what really drove the Turkish coup? Ankara getting too cozy with the Kurds, reports Buzzfeed News’ Borzou Daragahi after getting his hands on the coup-plotters’ “three-and-a-half-page draft indictment... aimed to drag President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his top officials into court on charges of colluding with terrorists for their part in a six-year attempt to negotiate a settlement with the Kurdistan Workers Party, or PKK, a militant group considered a terrorist organization by the US and the West.”
Also in Turkey: the hack you may have missed—and what it says about the purported transparency enthusiasts at Wikileaks. The story concerns the so-called “AKP emails,” purported government messages which, after further scrutiny, appear to actually have been “big chunks of archives from various far-from-top-secret online discussion groups,” New York Magazine reported this week.
But what’s more, Wikileaks appears not to have done its due diligence on the documents prior to releasing them to the wilds of the internet—effectively “doxxing” most of Turkey’s female population in the process. Read a tick-tock of the events, along with the twists and turns from the Wikileaks team, right here. And here’s a cautionary note on the broader phenomenon of releasing hacked data in the post-DNC hack era. It comes from the open data nonprofit, the Sunlight Foundation, entitled “On Weaponized Transparency.” The skinny: “We are not alone in raising ethical questions about Wikileaks’ shift from whistleblower to platform for weaponized transparency. Any organization that ‘doxxes’ a public is harming privacy.”
Oh by the way: There may be another hack of the Democratic party that’s taken place, Reuters reported after speaking to unnamed U.S. officials. And this “previously unreported incident” concerns the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, or DCCC—and this one is potentially tied to Russian hackers as well. More here.
About that previously known DNC hack: Russia wanted to be caught, said the cybersecurity company FireEye, Defense One Tech Editor Patrick Tucker reported Thursday. “Pointing a finger at Russia is easy. Punishing them is hard. That's why they hacked the DNC, according to the company that first named one of the key suspects.” Read, here.
From Defense One
The dirty secret of US-Israel missile defense cooperation. We need a way to fund Israel’s missile defenses without undercutting our own, writes CSIS’s Thomas Karako, here.
A new path to foreign sales; NATO by the numbers; USAF budget shortfalls. Welcome to Vol. 2 of our new weekly newsletter about the future of the business of defense, by Global Business Editor Marcus Weisgerber. Read (and subscribe!) here.
Trump’s plea to Russian hackers foreshadows a dangerous stance on NSA surveillance, writes The Atlantic’s Conor Friedersdorf. “His call out to Russian hackers validates the worst suspicions of security-state critics.” Read on, here.
Imagine a Russian invasion of the Baltics, if Trump were president. A former NATO general imagines a ‘frightening scenario.’ Via The Atlantic, here.
Welcome to Friday’s edition of The D Brief by Ben Watson and Bradley Peniston. On this day in 1965, the first troopers of the 101st Airborne arrive at Cam Rahn Bay, Vietnam. Send your friends this link: http://get.defenseone.com/d-brief/. And let us know your news: email@example.com.
Exclusive on the future of American missile defense, from the Center for Strategic and International Studies. If the U.S. wants its Missile Defense Agency to remain an effective and sustainable deterrent, it’s going to need to do a good deal of fiscal soul-searching, writes CSIS’ Tom Karako in a new report published today. The tease: “As adversary missile arsenals develop in both size and sophistication, continued improvements to our current missile defense systems will be required to keep pace with the threat. The combination of an ever-shrinking top line and new roles and missions being assigned to MDA make that task difficult.” Read the report in full over here.
In the Pacific: Japan is planning the biggest improvements to its missile defenses in a decade: range and accuracy upgrades to its Patriot PAC-3s to better ward off improving North Korean ballistic missiles, Reuters reports. The work is slated to be done in time to protect the 2020 Olympic Games, to be held in Tokyo. Read that, here.
And the U.S. is sending B-1 bombers to Guam for the first time in a decade, replacing B-52s currently deployed there, Military Times reports. It’s the first deployment for the Bones since they returned to the U.S. for maintenance after flying combat missions against ISIS in Iraq and Syria. That, here.
The leader of al-Qaeda’s Syrian wing, formerly known Jabhat al-Nusra, has initiated a re-branding effort—and just in time for very fraught U.S.-Russia talks on the war in Syria. News of Nusra’s attempt to “break away” from al-Qaeda had been whispered by Syrian analysts since at least this past weekend; but the “split” at last was made public on Thursday, The Long War Journal reports. Why? Perhaps more than any other reason, to avoid airstrikes, LWJ’s Thomas Joscelyn wrote on Twitter (if you don’t want to read his broader take).
See also this read from the Middle East Institute’s Charles Lister, writing in Foreign Policy on Thursday.
Or read Lister’s 55-page deep-dive on the group, published just days before Nusra’s announcement.
Also in Syria, the U.S. military may have killed more civilians near Manbij, CENTCOM said Thursday. The Guardian has more, here.
And with six more investigations into civilian casualties completed, the U.S. military raised its declared CIVCAS total by 14 to 55.
And in Afghanistan, 5 American troops were wounded battling Islamic State-affiliated fighters in the east. Military Times has more here.
But in a bit of uplift from that country, a 6-year-old daughter of a Taliban fighter is about to walk out of a U.S. military hospital on Bagram after getting shot in the leg during a firefight back in May. NPR’s All Things Considered tells the story of the girl being called “Ameera,” here.
What is Russia tying up at the Black Sea naval base that it seized from Ukraine? Among other warships, the sleek frigate Admiral Grigorovich. The Russian Navy invited NPR’s Corey Flintoff aboard the 400-foot vessel pierside in Sevastopol, Crimea; you can read his report, here. The kicker? Flintoff asked one of the sailors whether he expected to meet American sailors in the Black Sea. “‘No,’ he said, ‘I think we’ll meet somewhere farther out in the ocean.’”
Meanwhile: the U.S. Navy just named one of its new destroyers for a Vietnam War Medal of Honor winner, and told Congress that it intends to name an oiler for gay-rights pioneer Harvey Milk. USNI News has that latter scoop, along with names for four other upcoming oilers, here.
And finally: on the bloody battlefields of Okinawa, U.S. Army medic Desmond Doss saved scores of fellow soldiers without carrying a gun. His story is coming to the silver screen, via director Mel “Freedom!” Gibson and Lionsgate Pictures, which just dropped the trailer. Watch, here.