Searching for Osprey crash victims; US vs. al Qaeda in Yemen; Army says stop flying DJI drones; Iran’s big new push into Afghanistan; and just a bit more...
The MV-22 Osprey that crashed has been located off Australia’s northeast coast after the Marine Corps aircraft crashed on Saturday, leaving three Marines missing after 23 were recovered. An Australian navy ship located the Osprey in Shoalwater Bay, and now Canberra is sending navy drones to comb the waters for the missing Marines, Reuters reports.
What we know: “The aircraft was in Australia for a joint military training exercise held by the U.S. and Australia last month in Shoalwater Bay in Queensland state,” AP reports. “The Talisman Sabre exercise, a biennial event between the two nations, involved more than 30,000 troops and 200 aircraft.” The MV-22 launched from the USS Bonhomme Richard before it crashed into the water, the Marine base Camp Butler in Japan said in a statement on Sunday.
In response, Tokyo’s Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera this weekend “asked Washington to refrain from flying the controversial MV-22 in Japan,” Japan Times reports. “The U.S. military has deployed 24 MV-22s to Marine Corps Air Station Futenma in Ginowan, Okinawa Prefecture… The U.S. had planned to fly Ospreys at night as part of an upcoming joint exercise with the GSDF in Hokkaido between Thursday and Aug. 28, but it is now unclear whether the aircraft will take part.”
AP rolls up a few recent Osprey accidents, including a crash in Hawaii that killed two Marines in 2015. As well as, “Last December, [when] a U.S. military Osprey crash-landed off Japan’s southern island of Okinawa. Its five crew members were rescued safely. And in January, three U.S. soldiers were wounded in the ‘hard landing’ of an Osprey in Yemen.” RIP, Marines, Sailors and servicemembers.
Navy IDs sailor who went missing from the USS Stethem (DDG-63) last week in the South China Sea. His name: Lt. Steven D. Hopkins. More on the incident from U.S. Naval Institute News, here.
From Defense One
How Green Energy Will Help Slow Nuclear Proliferation // Selim C. Sazak: The move to renewable energy offers the ability to delineate between 'good' and 'bad' nuclear actors in a way that we simply can't today.
Can Trump’s National Security Council Handle a Real Crisis? // Loren DeJonge Schulman: The people in the Situation Room inevitably neglect basics that will keep them, and the rest of us, alive. In this White House, the risks are especially high.
The US Army Just Ordered Soldiers to Stop Using Drones from China's DJI // Ben Watson: An Aug. 2 memo cites 'increased awareness of cyber vulnerabilities' with drones from China's market-leading DJI.
The US Balance-of-Power Strategy in the Gulf is Collapsing. But It Never Had a Chance Anyway // Christopher J. Bolan: The Qatar dispute deals a death blow to Trump Administration dreams of an Arab NATO arrayed against Iran.
Why Leaking Transcripts of Trump's Calls Is So Dangerous // David Frum: When the president's opponents violate norms to undermine him, they do lasting damage to American security.
Transgender Soldiers Want the Dignity of Serving Their Country // Jenny Hall: A CIA officer writes about the men and women in uniform alongside whom she serves.
Welcome to Monday’s edition of The D Brief by Ben Watson and Bradley Peniston. OTD1782: George Washington creates the Badge of Military Merit, the decoration that would become the Purple Heart. Have something you want to share? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. (And if you’re reading this on our website, consider subscribing. It’s free.)
China rebukes North Korea, and wins praise from the Trump administration after steep, new sanctions on Pyongyang from the UN Security Council. The sanctions would cut about a third of North Korea’s foreign earnings, or about $1 billion annually, The New York Times reports from Manila, where SecState Tillerson met this weekend with his South Korean and Chinese counterparts.
About that Chinese rebuke: “Do not violate the U.N.’s decision or provoke the international society’s good will by conducting missile launching or nuclear tests,” Chinese foreign minister, Wang Yi, said he told Foreign Minister Ri Su-yong of North Korea. But Wang also said he and Ri “would like to urge other parties like the United States and South Korea to stop increasing tensions.” More from that angle, Reuters reports via Chinese state media this morning.
The North Korean reax: The sanctions are “a 'violent infringement of its sovereignty' that was caused by a 'heinous U.S. plot to isolate and stifle' North Korea,” the Associated Press reports. “The North said it will take 'action of justice' but didn’t elaborate."
FWIW: South Korea’s foreign minister proposed talks with the North in Manila. But Pyongyang wasn’t interested. That, here.
Also in Manila: Tillerson met with his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov. But, the Times writes, “neither said anything to a contingent of journalists briefly ushered into their presence.”
U.S. backs a large operation vs. al-Qaeda in Yemen. It began “overnight Wednesday with Yemeni fighters traveling from Hadramawt Province, where they had been receiving training from Emirati advisers, toward oil and gas facilities in northeast Shabwa Province,” NYTs reports this morning from the Yemeni coastal city of Mukalla. That’s where “the United States, with help from the United Arab Emirates and allied Yemeni tribesmen, has been waging a shadow war against more than 3,000 members of the Qaeda affiliate and their tribal fighters.”
The joint force includes “about 2,000 Yemeni forces backed by dozens of advisers from the United Arab Emirates, and a handful of United States Special Operations commandos providing intelligence and planning assistance
The objective: Secure “major cities in the province — such as Azzan, Ataq and Jardan — from Qaeda militants and are also conducting clearing operations in the surrounding areas.” One local official told the Times “the military operation was explicitly designed to secure oil and gas facilities in Shabwa Province.” Read on, here.
Great, long look into the U.S.-led push to clear ISIS from Raqqa, Syria, by Buzzfeed’s Borzou Daragahi, who spent a week reporting alongside the Syrian Democratic Forces — many fighting on the ground with no body armor, and a few helping direct the fight above with Samsung tablets. U.S. officers told Daragahi no one expected the battle to be easy; and it is proving everyone to have been right. For example: "There is Raqqa and then a second Raqqa hidden underground and in the cracks, said one commander who described a 14-hour battle just to get to the second floor of a building after taking control of the first floor."
The Raqqa offensive needs just about two more months, U.S. officials told Buzzfeed, “even as fighters continue to chase the militants to the cities of Mayadin, Deir Azzour, and Abu Kamel, where the group’s leaders are believed to be holding up.” Read the rest, here.
In northern Afghanistan this weekend, an alleged joint Taliban-ISIS attack killed more than four dozen, officials told The New York Times. Where it happened: "Sayad district, in northern Sar-e-Pul province," where "local officials say the Taliban joined forces with Sher Mohammed Ghazanfar, a local commander claiming allegiance to the Islamic State, to overrun the Mirza Olang area. Then he turned to blocking local militiamen, as well as civilians, from fleeing."
The death tolls is reportedly at 50, District Governor Sharif Aminyar told the Times. “18 of the people killed had been members of the Afghan Local Police, a government militia, and other local militias on the government payroll. The rest were civilians.”
Said DG Aminyar, a man who would presumably know the population, the ALP, and the threats to each very well: “The Taliban were led by Mullah Nader and Daesh was led by Sher Mohammed Ghazanfar.” As part of Aminyar’s portrayal, he said he phoned Kabul for air support and special forces assistance, but was told those assets were unavailable.
The Taliban told the Times it’s all a misunderstanding, and that Ghazanfar is actually "our commander in Sar-e-Pul, a very active commander, and he is under our command, our flag. He has allegiance with us."
Whethere Ghazanfar is still ISIS or not, the DG certainly got folks’ attention. Read the rest from the Times, here.
Elsewhere in the country — to the west — Iran has reportedly sent “squads of assassins, nurtured spies and infiltrated police ranks,” more Afghan officials told the Times. It’s part of Tehran’s “biggest push into Afghanistan in decades,” stemming off a better understanding of what played out last fall in Farah province, bordering Iran, after U.S. airpower put down a Taliban offensive and found “four senior Iranian commandos were among the scores of dead.” There was also the U.S. drone strike on former Taliban leader, Mullah Mansour, who was traveling back and forth — often taking the same path — from Pakistan to Iran.
The BLUF: “Iran has conducted an intensifying covert intervention, much of which is only now coming to light. It is providing local Taliban insurgents with weapons, money and training. It has offered Taliban commanders sanctuary and fuel for their trucks. It has padded Taliban ranks by recruiting among Afghan Sunni refugees in Iran, according to Afghan and Western officials.”
Worth noting: “The biggest competition is for water, and Afghans have every suspicion that Iran is working to subvert plans in Afghanistan for upstream dams that could threaten its water supply.”
Said the governor of Herat: “The fact is that America created this void. This vacuum encouraged countries to get involved. The Syria issue gave confidence to Iran and Russia, and now that confidence is playing out in Afghanistan.” Worth the click, here.
ICYMI: Check out this image of an Airbus A320 passenger airliner that tried to fly from Istanbul to Cyprus in late July — but encountered a dangerous, “supercell” at 4,000 feet where the temperature dropped 10 degrees celsius and hail began pelting the plane’s exterior.
The photographed damage to the nose is almost indescribable. The hail also rendered the pilots’ windshield almost entirely opaque — before disabling the plane’s autopilot entirely. The crew used side windows to land the aircraft back at Istanbul, just 25 minutes after departure. More on all that, here.
Lastly today: Let’s go back in time 73 years to the Siege of Bastogne — in Legos. CNN’s Jake Tapper provides the crane shot above the scene — with his phone flipped vertically — to reveal an impressively-detailed recreation of the fateful battle at the 2017 BrickFair Lego Expo in Chantilly, Va., this weekend.
Also on-site: the USS Missouri; the band Rush; and the president, in three types — smiling, talking, and talking while wearing a red cap.