More US troops for the Mosul push?; FBI warns of coming ‘terrorist diaspora’; USAF’s controversial no-bid spy-plane purchase; Unplug, soldier!; and just a bit more.

Iraq says more U.S. troops are coming for the Mosul offensive. Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi says President Barack Obama has been “consulted on a request from the Iraqi government for a final increase in the number of trainers and advisers” needed to retake Mosul, Reuters reports—without specifying troop counts—according to a statement this morning from Abadi’s office.

Some 4,400 U.S. troops are currently part of the 65-nation coalition fighting the Islamic State, which, of course, is “still a fraction of the 170,000 deployed at the height of the nine-year occupation that toppled Saddam Hussein in 2003.”

From Baghdad, the U.S. military said Tuesday “definitive tests” on last week’s alleged mustard agent attack at the coalition’s new staging area south of Mosul, in Qayyarah West Air Base, came up negative.

In Syria, airstrikes hit the largest two hospitals in rebel-held east Aleppo, taking out one of the facilities’ oxygen and power generators at around 4 a.m. local. Also struck: a bakery. At least “six people were killed by artillery shelling in the al-Maadi neighborhood while they queued for bread.”

By the way: “Among the roughly 250,000 people trapped in the insurgent redoubt of the divided northern Syrian city are 100,000 children, the most vulnerable victims of intensified bombings by Syrian forces and their Russian allies,” The New York Times’ Rick Gladstone reported Tuesday.

And on the med side, “Aid groups estimate that there are only 35 doctors remaining in East Aleppo — one for every 7,143 people, assuming a population of 250,000 people. By comparison, in New York — which has the worst doctor-patient ratio of any American city — it is one for every 912 people. However, some groups say the population of eastern Aleppo is much lower, in the tens of thousands.” More here.

Some Syrian rebels just received surface-to-surface missiles in direct response to the Assad allied offensive in Aleppo, Reuters reports this morning. “The Grad rockets with a range of 22 km and 40 km have been supplied in “excellent quantities” and will be used on battlefronts in Aleppo, Hama and the coastal region, rebel commander Colonel Fares al-Bayoush said…While Grad missiles have previously been supplied to rebels, Bayoush said it was the first time this particular type had been delivered. Each salvo contains 40 rockets, he said, without giving further details. The rebels had previous stocks of the rocket captured from army stores.” That, here.

The U.S. just added $384 million for Syrian humanitarian assistance—food, shelter, safe drinking water, medical care— bringing total American aid to the country to nearly $6 billion. The State Department said Tuesday the new aid is in part a response to the Syrian government’s Aleppo offensive.

And “the United States had admitted some 85,000 refugees over the past fiscal year, which ends Sept. 30. That figure included about 12,500 Syrian refugees, exceeding the administration’s goal of 10,000.” More here.

Agence France-Presse’s photographer reminds us that the battle to retake Sirte, Libya, from ISIS is still grinding on.

Line of the day: “There will be a terrorist diaspora sometime in the next two-to-five years like we’ve never seen,” FBI Director James Comey told lawmakers from the Senate Homeland Security Committee Tuesday, The Wall Street Journal reported, during a hearing “about whether the FBI should have investigated longer before closing its probes into Omar Mateen and Ahmad Khan Rahami, which took place long before authorities say they undertook their acts of mass violence.”

Comey on ISIS: “The so-called caliphate will be crushed. The challenge will be, through the fingers of that crush are going to come hundreds of very, very dangerous people.’’

Comey’s “fix” to this: “Western countries will have to knit their information-sharing systems together tightly so that suspects can be tracked and detected quickly,” the Journal wrote. Read the rest, here.


From Defense One

U.S. Air Force Preps a Controversial No-Bid Purchase of Spy Planes // Global Business Editor Marcus Weisgerber: Lawmakers balk at replacing aging EC-130Hs with smaller Gulfstream G550s without open competition.

Unplug, Soldier! Too Much Online Time is Hurting the Army // West Point scholar John Spencer argues that team bonding — the bedrock of military effectiveness — is being undermined by electronic distractions.

Welcome to Wednesday’s edition of The D Brief by Ben Watson and Bradley Peniston. On this day in 1066, William the soon-to-be Conqueror invaded England. (Send your friends this link: http://get.defenseone.com/d-brief/. And let us know your news: the-d-brief@defenseone.com.)


Russia was the source of the Buk missile launcher that brought down an airliner over Ukraine in 2014, Dutch investigators said Wednesday. Citing communications intercepts and other evidence, Wilbert Paulissen, head of the Central Crime Investigation department of the Dutch National Police, said that “it may be concluded MH17 was shot down by a 9M38 missile launched by a Buk, brought in from the territory of the Russian Federation, and that after launch was subsequently returned to the Russian Federation.” AP, here.

Hogwash! the Kremlin says, via Reuters, here.

U.S. airstrike in eastern Afghanistan may have killed civilians. Reuters is calling it a “suspected U.S. drone strike” with a death toll of 21, only some of whom (at least three of the dead and another 11 wounded) may not have been combatants: “One of the wounded told Reuters that the attack struck a house where people were sleeping after a gathering to welcome a local elder who had recently returned from the Hajj pilgrimage.”

A local police spokesman told AP the strike meant to hit ISIS fighters in the Achin district of Nangarhar province.

The U.S. military reax: “We are aware of some claims of Afghan casualties, and are currently reviewing all materials related to this strike. We are continuing to look into these allegations.”

For your ears only: Let’s talk about some of the underappreciated aspects of the science of war. Things like why hearing is a big problem in war and what the military has done to solve it; why the military spends so much money on researching clothing; how the military uses cadavers to make vehicles safer in IED attacks, and why the military spent $100 million on a stink bomb during WWII. All of that and more from Mary Roach, author of “Grunt: The Curious Science of Humans at War,” who went on the Art of Manliness’s podcast to talk it all over. Listen, here.

Lastly today: The domestic spat that almost ruined D-Day. The BBC brings us the tale of Spaniard Juan Pujol and his wife, Araceli, who had a direct line to German intelligence, sending them false reports at least a year before the Normandy invasion. The couple was living in London at the time and Araceli missed her home country of Spain so much, her husband had to hatch plans to convince her he’d been arrested—even allowing his allied handlers to bring his wife into a fake detention camp to visit her blind-folded husband for the purposes of allaying her homesickness. Juan would go on to help “convince the Nazis the landings would take place in the Pas-de-Calais, not Normandy.” That story of deception and desperation in wartime, here.

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