Army quietly booting immigrant recruits; 3 out, 1 in at Bolton’s NSC; Pompeo’s soundtrack; Air Force’s $1,200 coffee cups; And a bit more.

The U.S. Army is quietly discharging immigrant recruits, the Associated Press reported Thursday from San Antonio.

The short read: “Some of the service members say they were not told why they were being discharged. Others who pressed for answers said the Army informed them they’d been labeled as security risks because they have relatives abroad or because the Defense Department had not completed background checks on them.”

AP has confirmed less than four dozen cases to date, but these “abrupt” changes to previous policy have been in the works for a few months, the Washington Post’s Alex Horton reminded folks Thursday on Twitter.

Or as Horton puts it: “If you’re shocked the Army would cut loose immigrant recruits and expose them to deportation through incredible indifference, buddy, you haven’t been paying attention. This began to erode last June.”

He goes on to list six reportsJune 2017, July 2017, July 2017 again, Sept. 2017, March 2018, April 2018 — from WaPo and Buzzfeed outlining the quiet, gradual erosion of Army protections for immigrants.

Said spokesmen for the Pentagon and Army: Nothing yet, due to pending litigation, they say.

BTW: Where is SecDef Mattis in all this? Said Horton: “I asked him in January why he/DoD has failed to fix this (this transcript conveniently left that word out). He gave a meandering answer that made it clear his staff has not articulated any issues with the program to him.” Very little appears to have changed in that public affairs angle in the six months since January.

For what it’s worth: “Since Sept. 11, 2001, nearly 110,000 members of the Armed Forces have gained citizenship by serving in the U.S. military,” AP writes, according to DOD data. Read AP’s report in full, here.

Related reading, via Military Times’ Tara Copp reports: “New immigration data shows Trump's rejection rate of veteran requests to protect spouse/dependents from deportation is now twice that of Obama's.” That one is worth the click, here.

From Defense One

Trump Not Planning to Threaten US Troop Withdrawal from Europe; Solo Putin Meeting Was His Idea // Kevin Baron: Previewing the NATO Summit and Putin meeting, officials say Trump has the facts on Russian meddling, wants Putin meeting to start "dialogue."

Deputy Commander in Iraq Misused Staff for Personal Tasks // Charles S. Clark: IG absolves Brig. Gen. Rick Uribe of charges he wore unearned medals and skipped weigh-ins.

Donald Trump Actually Considered Invading Venezuela Last Year // Luiz Romero: Trump first floated the idea at a meeting in the Oval Office while discussing sanctions on Venezuela.

The Rise of Iraq's Young Secularists // Alice Su: On Facebook and in the cafés of decimated Mosul, they envision a country free from political Islam. Do they have a shot?

The Global Business Brief, July 5 // Marcus Weisgerber: Spending showdown at NATO summit; Boeing & Embraer join forces; Does the Air Force still push the envelope? and more.

Welcome to this Friday edition of The D Brief  by Ben Watson and Marcus Weisgerber. And if you find this useful, consider forwarding it to a friend or colleague. They can subscribe here for free. On this day in 1982, President Reagan agreed to send U.S. troops on a peacekeeping mission to Beirut, where a civil war had been tearing the country apart since 1975. (Fifteen months after Reagan’s 1982 promise — on Oct. 23, 1983 — 241 U.S. and 58 French peacekeepers and 6 civilians would die when a suicide bomber drove his truck into U.S. Marine Corps barracks at Beirut’s airport.)

Lost paperwork grounds fighter wing. The Air Force grounded an a wing of F-15 fighter jets earlier this year, partially because of misplaced paperwork, reports. Back in March, the Air Force said the grounding was due to “structural issues.” Still, this week the service acknowledged that some F-15Cs — they’re the Air Force’s oldest Eagles built solely for air-to-air combat — need structural beams replaced. A little history, this is not the first time the F-15 fleet has had structural problems. Back in 2007, an Eagle broke apart over Missouri prompting the grounding of the military’s entire fleet of F-15s. The Air Force blamed the crash on structural issues.

This week we learned: The Air Force has $1,200 coffee cups. That revelation comes just months after Defense One reported that a C-17 toilet seat costs $10,000. The pricy cups are “can reheat coffee and tea on air refueling tankers,” reports. “According to Air Mobility Command officials, the 60th Aerial Port Squadron purchased 10 hot cups for $9,630 in 2016. The price for each cup surged from $693 to $1,220 in 2018, resulting in a cost of $32,000 for 25 cups -- a price jump of $527 per cup, the release said.” The handles on the cup often break when dropped. Now the service wants to use 3D printing to fix the handles. The cost: 50 cents per handle. Sounds a little more fiscally responsible decision. More details here.

Bolton makes a few more changes at the WH National Security Council. The National’s Joyce Karam reports three new departures:

  • James Sindle, NSC's Director for Lebanon;
  • Joel Rayburn, the senior director for Iran, Iraq, Syria and Lebanon at the White House National Security Council; he’s expected to slide over to spot at the State Department;
  • and Mike Bell, a “top Middle East adviser.”

One new guy: “Bob Greenway, a former defense official” will be taking Rayburn’s job. A bit more, here.

Here are a few enthusiastic and/or inaccurate military-related things POTUS told Americans last night in Montana, via the Toronto Star’s Daniel Dale:

  • On NATO: "We're the schmucks that are paying for the whole thing,” shelling out "anywhere from 70 to 90 percent to protect Europe." As of this year, U.S. defence spending represents 72% of total NATO defence spending. There's no basis for the "90 percent" estimate.
  • The U.S. president also falsely claimed that this year's $700 billion military budget is "the biggest ever." (The last U.S. president signed a bigger version of the same bill for 2011.) Worth noting: U.S. military spending in 2017 was $610 billion — larger than the next 7 biggest spenders combined, SIPRI reminds us this morning.
  • And what would a 2018 Trump rally be without a Space Force reference: "You got the Air Force, you will have the Space Force. You know, people are so excited by fact, in Russia, they said, 'We consider that very threatening.'" Follow along with Dale’s live fact check of the entire performance last night in Montana, here.

Russia wants you to pay attention to next week’s NATO meeting in Brussels. It’s there  that, according to state-run media TASS, “Trump may unveil Mideast ‘deal of the century’ and pull US out of WTO”
In other things Russians have said this week: “Russia's armed forces now have almost 2,000 drones; they are used in training and proved invaluable in combat operations in Syria.” That’s according to — check this long title — chief of the Department (construction and development of the system of unmanned aerial vehicles) of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation, Major-General Alexander Novikov. (Hat tip to NPR’s Lucian Kim for spotting this one.)

Lebanon is reportedly in the midst of its biggest data breach yet after it was first noticed two weeks ago that hackers had targeted security agencies and private companies. A bit more to that (in Arabic), here.

And finally this week: SecState Pompeo has a gift for North Korea’s Kim Jong-un. It involves an album of music released in the early 1970s, but we will say no more about what it is. Give it your best guess, then click this report from Japan’s Chosun news agency to find out if you were right — or even close.
Don’t burn out your fuse out there alone this weekend, gang. Be safe, and we’ll see you again on Monday!