Trump’s 3rd FONOP; McCain pushes his Afghanistan strategy; North Korea doubles down on Guam threat; Russian jet overflies DC, New Jersey; and just a bit more...

President Trump’s third freedom of navigation operation (FONOP) happened this morning in the South China Sea. The “USS John S. McCain traveled close to Mischief Reef in the Spratly Islands, among a string of islets, reefs and shoals,” a U.S. official told Reuters this morning. Here are photos of Mischief Reef’s development, via CSIS’s Asia Maritime Tracker.

Worth noting: “This FONOP comes just 39 days since the last FONOP, living up to PACOM commander's [Adm. Harry Harris] commitment to two a quarter,” wrote Zack Cooper of the Center for Strategic and International Studies this morning on Twitter. “Also worth mentioning that the decision to go forward occurred despite DPRK tensions. Admin trying to show that it can walk and chew gum.”

Sen. McCain’s new strategy for Afghanistan. The Maverick just put out a statement this morning dinging former President Obama’s “don’t lose” strategy in Afghanistan before McCain aimed his guns for the current president: “Now, nearly seven months into President Trump’s administration, we’ve had no strategy at all as conditions on the ground have steadily worsened. The thousands of Americans putting their lives on the line in Afghanistan deserve better from their commander-in-chief.”

It’s all part of a PR push for a new amendment McCain added to the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2018 (PDF) that his office says “offers a new strategy for success for the ongoing war in Afghanistan.”

The pitch and the intent: "to ensure that Afghanistan never again becomes a sanctuary for terrorists to plot and conduct attacks against America, our allies, or our interests... we need an integrated civil-military approach to bolster U.S. counterterrorism efforts, strengthen the capability and capacity of the Afghan government and security forces, and intensify diplomatic efforts to facilitate a negotiated peace process in Afghanistan in cooperation with regional partners." Read his 8-point plan, here.

The Taliban released “235 villagers held since the insurgents seized control of an area in northern Sari Pul province five days ago” in an alleged joint raid with the local ISIS affiliate, the Associated Press reported. “Since the insurgents took control of the area, 52 civilians, including women and children, have been killed in the village of Mirzawalang in Sayad districts. The victims were mostly Shiites and minority Hazaras.”

Elsewhere outside of Bagram, a “gunmen opened fire on a group of four female employees… killing one and wounding a second woman, said Gen. Zaman Mamozai, the provincial police chief.” More here.


From Defense One

After the Marines United Scandal, 'All Options' Are on the Table // Caroline Houck: The Corps is considering integrating female recruits into West Coast training camps to help address subconscious biases, the assistant commandant said.

America Is Not Ready for a War in North Korea // Eliot A. Cohen: If loose words about fire and fury are a mere negotiating tactic, they will not deliver what the United States desires.

Are Mercenaries Really a Cheaper Way of War? // David A. Graham: The founder of Blackwater says privatizing the 16-year war could save taxpayer money. History, both recent and farther back, suggests a different outcome.

Welcome to Thursday’s edition of The D Brief by Ben Watson and Bradley Peniston. OTD1988: Reparations are granted to Japanese Americans interned by their government during World War II. Have something you want to share? Email us at the-d-brief@defenseone.com. (And if you’re reading this on our website, consider subscribing. It’s free.)


President Trump may have improvised that “fire and fury” line to North Korea on Wednesday, White House officials told reporters after the warning dominated news coverage. However, “press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said the president discussed the ‘tone and strength’ of the message beforehand with advisers including White House Chief of Staff John Kelly,” The Wall Street Journal reports.

North Korea, meanwhile, doubled down on its threat to strike Guam. “Pyongyang said the missiles would land about 20 miles offshore and could be launched as soon as mid-August,” the Journal reports.
Adds the NYTs: “The North’s official Korean Central News Agency reported that, according to the plan, four of the country’s Hwasong-12 intermediate-range ballistic missiles would fly over the three southern Japanese prefectures of Shimane, Hiroshima and Koichi before hitting the ocean about 19 to 25 miles from the coast of Guam. In addition to serving as a warning to the United States, the proposed missile firings would also be a challenge to Japan.”
And why telecast the launch? Gen. Kim Rak-gyom, commander of the Strategic Force of the Korean People’s Army, was quoted in state media saying "he was disclosing the details of the plan to 'give stronger confidence in certain victory and courage to the Korean people and help them witness the wretched plight of the U.S. imperialists.'" More from the Times, here.

Amid the ongoing war of words between the White House and North Korea, Defense Secretary James Mattis issued a warning of his own Wednesday: “Kim Jong Un should take heed of the United Nations Security Council’s unified voice, and statements from governments the world over, who agree the DPRK poses a threat to global security and stability. The DPRK must choose to stop isolating itself and stand down its pursuit of nuclear weapons. The DPRK should cease any consideration of actions that would lead to the end of its regime and the destruction of its people… The DPRK regime’s actions will continue to be grossly overmatched by ours and would lose any arms race or conflict it initiates.”
Just how many ICBMs does America have? Following President Trump’s tweet Wednesday — that the country’s “nuclear arsenal… is now far stronger and more powerful than ever before” — Todd Harrison of the Center for Strategic and International Studies shared a chart illustrating the ICBM force over time. It’s part of an upcoming report from CSIS.
South Korea’s president just called for a “complete and thorough overhaul” of the military in the face of North Korea’s growing threats, Yonhap News Agency reported Wednesday.  

That unarmed Russian air force jet that flew over the Pentagon, Capitol, and the CIA on Wednesday? It was a long-planned Open Skies flight. The actual scandal is that Russia’s cameras are better than ours.

ISIS is putting up fierce resistance in Raqqa, the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces tell Agence France-Presse. “SDF forces had seized nine districts in the city's west and east, while IS was putting up a fierce defence of the seven remaining neighbourhoods.” The big threats — same as Mosul: tunnels, snipers, IEDs ("in every centimetre" of the city, one fighter says), drones and “commando-style attacks” on turf retaken by the SDF. More here.

Finally: “China’s answer to Rambo is about punishing those who offend China—and it’s killing it in theaters,” Quartz reported Wednesday. “Set in a war-torn African country, Wolf Warrior 2 tells the story of a former special-forces soldier saving his compatriots and locals from the hands of American-led mercenaries.” Hollywood Reporter: “American audiences, at least, may also be put off by the relentless Chinese jingoism on display, although, to be fair, it seems a fair price to pay for such American movie characters as Rambo.” Watch the trailer, here.

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.