ISIS collapsing in Iraq; Russia warns US forces in Syria; Iranians may have hacked US aerospace firms; Medic to get Medal of Honor; and just a bit more...
ISIS is collapsing “faster than anyone expected,” Brig. Gen. Andrew Croft, deputy commander of the US-led mission against ISIS, told BuzzFeed News in a fairly breezy overview of where things stand in Iraq and, less so, in Syria. More here.
Russia said it would strike American special operators in Syria “if its own forces came under fire from them, something it said had already happened twice,” Reuters reports from Moscow.
The scene of the alleged incident: “The Russian Defence Ministry said the SDF had taken up positions on the eastern banks of the Euphrates with U.S. special forces, and had twice opened fire with mortars and artillery on Syrian troops who were working alongside Russian special forces.”
Should it happen again, “Fire points in those areas will be immediately suppressed with all military means,” said Major-General Igor Konashenkov.
Russia’s military also says it killed nearly 1,000 Syrian militants in a single day. Location: the de-escalation zone in Idlib governorate.
Oh, and Russia’s defense ministry has again accused the U.S. military of helping the extremists of the Nusra Front — alleging the location of Russian and Syrian forces in Idlib were given to the extremists. That (in Russian), here.
The British military released drone footage over Syria alleging to show “the moment a missile stops Isil carrying out a public execution,” The Telegraph reported Wednesday.
Terrorism and the web: “Americans are second in the world for clicks on ISIS and Al-Qaeda material,” Newsweek reported this week after a new study from British think tank Policy Exchange that examined “the online war against radical Islamist content, with a focus on Britain's national security.”
Some pull-outs: “Data collected between February 19 and May 3 show that pro-ISIS and Al-Qaeda content was viewed more in the U.S. than in every other country except Turkey, which had 16,810 clicks. By comparison, the U.S. had 10,388, followed by Saudi Arabia (10,239), Iraq (8,138) and Britain (6,107). The most popular links were from the encrypted messaging app Telegram... [and] The most popular referrer was Twitter (40 percent), followed by Telegram and Facebook." Read on at Newsweek, here.
And speaking of Twitter, Turkish state media is excited about the Russian S400 air defense system Ankara decided to purchase from Moscow earlier this summer. Anadolu news tweeted an infographic on Wednesday boasting of the system’s “versatility” — particularly as it concerns a wide range of aircraft from fellow NATO member, the United States.
From Defense One
Air Force: We're Low on Bombs Because Congress Can't Pass a Budget // Marcus Weisgerber: It's hard to persuade arms makers to boost production, even to fight ISIS, without cash on the barrelhead.
The Russians Just Test-Fired an ICBM // Patrick Tucker: Both Washington and Moscow are modernizing their nuclear arsenals, but military leaders worry that Russia is ahead.
Actually, Promising to Destroy North Korea is Nothing New // Ankit Panda: But Trump's bellicosity undermines his ability to deter the Kim regime's nuclear weapons and missiles programs.
Welcome to Thursday’s edition of The D Brief by Ben Watson and Bradley Peniston. OTD1942: First flight of the B-29 Superfortress. 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.)
The entire island of Puerto Rico has no electricity, the Washington Post reports after Hurricane Maria spiraled over the U.S. territory. “With sustained winds of 155 mph at landfall — a strong Category 4 storm and nearly a Category 5 — Maria was so powerful that it disabled radar, weather stations and cell towers across Puerto Rico, leaving an information vacuum in which officials could only speculate about property damage, injuries or deaths.”
And FEMA? "Right now we're in wait-and-see mode," said William Long, a FEMA administrator, told WaPo on Wednesday afternoon. "We know that St. Croix took a tremendous hit, and we know obviously Puerto Rico took the brunt of the storm. Once the weather clears and the seas die down, we'll be in full operation." More here.
And Mexico is racing to recover people from the country’s deadliest earthquake in more than three decades. Reuters, from Mexico City: “More than 50 survivors have been plucked from several disaster sites since Tuesday afternoon’s 7.1-magnitude quake, leading to impassioned choruses of “Yes we can!” from the first responders, volunteers and spectators gathered around the ruins. At least 237 others have died and 1,900 were injured.” More here.
Suspected Iranian hackers “recently compromised” the U.S. aerospace sector, as well as “a selection of other energy and aviation bodies across Saudi Arabia and South Korea,” The Daily Beast writes off a new report from the cybersecurity researchers at FireEye. The attacks, from a group known as APT33, "were espionage-driven and focused on stealing sensitive information," TDB writes.
The attack vector: “APT33 sent hundreds of phishing emails to targets in 2016 using a publicly available tool called ALFASHELL. The emails themselves convincingly passed off as job-recruitment ads, referencing specific job opportunities and salaries.”
The attacks also “included links to fake company websites, and registered a slew of domains designed to look like sites for companies including Boeing and Northrop Grumman Aviation Arabia.” Read on, here. Or check out FireEye’s report on it all, here.
Scenic location for an exercise. The U.S. and Japanese militaries are practicing retaking territory in a drill near Mount Fuji on Tuesday, Stars and Stripes reported.
Involved: "Six hundred members of the Alaska-based 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division worked with an equal number of Japanese troops from the 34th Infantry Regiment, 1st Division, Eastern Army during the annual Orient Shield exercise.”
What happened: “In one drill, Japanese artillery pummeled the countryside before U.S. and Japanese infantry and fighting vehicles moved forward to seize objectives. After the attack, Japanese forces took up defensive positions while U.S. soldiers stayed on offense... The focus on recapturing territory also saw troops train to enter and clear buildings, an unusual task for the defense-centric Japanese." More here.
Repairing the destroyer Fitzgerald will take more than a year. That’s what Navy Secretary Richard Spencer told reporters Wednesday, adding that fixing sister ship John S. McCain may require less time because its combat systems weren’t damaged in its own collision this summer.
USNI News: “Spencer’s time estimate comes a day after Senate Armed Services Committee chair Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said the early cost of repairs would be $600 million for both destroyers. A Navy official confirmed the initial estimate to USNI News but said the cost could be adjusted depending on further examinations of both ships.” Read on, here.
The Coast Guard just beat last year’s record for drug seizures at sea, “an effort that admirals are linking to border security as they look to build new ships while President Trump presses for a border wall,” the Washington Post reported.
“The amount of cocaine on the high seas has exploded since the Colombian government halted the aerial eradication of coca plants through spraying in 2015, and rebels with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) encouraged farmers to grow more in anticipation of government aid granted in a peace deal.” This year’s total passed 455,000 pounds of cocaine on Sept. 11 — about 85 percent seized in the eastern Pacific — passing the record of 443,790 pounds set last year. Read on, here.
Finally: Former Army medic to receive Medal of Honor, 47 years after action. In 1970, Sgt. Gary Rose helicoptered into Laos with about 115 American and Vietnamese commandos on a secret mission to disrupt the North Vietnamese supply line called the Ho Chi Minh Trail.
The plan worked — too well. Landing near a major NVA supply dump, the unit soon found itself under fire and surrounded by hundreds, then thousands of enemy troops. It took the unit four days to fight their way to an extraction zone. Rose, the medic, kept the wounded moving and alive, even after he took a bullet through his foot.
“If you’re trying to shepherd 51 injured people through the jungle in a combat environment, where you’re constantly taking rocket and mortar and machine gun and small arms fire, you really don’t have time to think about whether you’re going to get out of there or not,” Rose told USA Today. “You’re in the moment. You have to be. You have to be concentrating on what you’re doing.” Read on, here.
Last year, Congress authorized the Medal of Honor for Rose, who will receive the award on Oct. 23.