Who may serve in uniform?; 4th soldier dies from IED; Nuclear anthropology; For DOD civilians, a dangerous double standard; And a bit more.
Thousands of green-card-holding recruits will finally head off to boot camp, thanks to a court order cancelling a Trump administration policy that has kept them in limbo for months. The year-old policy required extra background checks on top of the extra background checks already required for non-citizens who wish to serve in the U.S. armed forces. Washington Post: “The change put thousands of people in limbo, as their screening languished on average for nearly a year and specific jobs within the military promised to them slipped away.” Read on, here.
Meanwhile, the Trump administration effort to keep transgender people from serving in uniform may go to the Supreme Court, which would decide in January whether to hear a potential government appeal of a lower court’s ruling that they must be allowed to enlist.
Deference to tweets? But a Dec. 10 hearing before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit “also has important implications for the military. While the Jan. 1 enlistment deadline has already been decided, the court will now be asked to weigh in on whether President Donald Trump’s July 2017 tweets and subsequent order to Defense Secretary Jim Mattis in August 2017, which were later reflected in the Pentagon’s March 2018 policy memo on transgender service, should be subject to the military deference doctrine in the courts,” writes Military Times’ Tara Copp, here.
For your ears only: Take an audio trip back to the era when every American’s hometown was a target for Soviet nuclear weapons, or so it seemed.
This week, nuclear anthropologist Martin Pfeiffer joined Defense One Radio to talk about the ways U.S. nuclear weapons laboratories advertised to the public in the late 1950s and early 1960s — and how that reflected America’s at times quite conflicted views toward the technology. (Find his presentation on the topic, here.)
From Defense One
Assessing George H.W. Bush’s National-Security Legacy // Michael Krepon: The first president Bush made the world safer as the Soviet Union crumbled.
Deployed Civilians Can’t Get Worker’s Comp — and That’s Bad News for a Military that Depends on Them // Bruce MacKay and Debora Pfaff: Thanks to a legal double standard, a civilian injured or sickened in a warzone has an impossible burden of proof.
Germany Develops Offensive Cyber Capabilities Without A Coherent Strategy of What to Do With Them // Matthias Schulze and Sven Herpig, Council on Foreign Relations: Germany has traditionally prioritized defense over offense in cyberspace. That's now beginning to change.
US Foreign Policy Could Use Some Bush-Era Prudence // Richard Fontaine, The Atlantic: George H. W. Bush’s restraint was remarkable, and worth imitating.
Welcome to this Tuesday edition of The D Brief by Ben Watson and Bradley Peniston. Thanks for reading! And if you find this stuff useful, consider sharing it with somebody you think might find it useful, too. On this day in 2001, “a secretive, and sometimes comical, mission to strike back at the Taliban after 9/11” began to unravel way out in Russia’s Kamchatka peninsula. Yahoo News’ Sharon Weinberger wrote up the tale about a decade ago for the New York Post. Take a few minutes today and re-read her 2009 feature about some of the CIA’s early efforts in Afghanistan, here.
One of the U.S. Army soldiers who was hurt in an IED attack on Nov. 27 in Afghanistan's Ghazni province passed away, the Pentagon said Monday.
His name: Sgt. Jason Mitchell McClary, 24, from Export, Pa. His unit: 1st Battalion, 38th Infantry Regiment, 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, Fort Carson, Colo. McClary died in Landstuhl, Germany on Monday. That brings to 14 the number of American troops killed this year in Afghanistan.
For the record, “November was the bloodiest month of the year, accounting for five total deaths,” Army Times reports.
Update: 5th Fleet commander likely committed suicide, officials tell USNI News. Vice Adm. Scott A. Stearney was found dead in his quarters in Bahrain over the weekend. Vice Adm. James Malloy, deputy chief of naval operations for operations, plans and strategy (N3/N5), is expected to take interim command of naval forces in the Middle East. More, here.
Senate will get CIA briefing on Khashoggi murder after all. Last week, senators voted to open debate on a measure to rein in U.S. support for the Saudi-UAE campaign in Yemen. Several lawmakers said they voted yes because the White House apparently barred CIA Director Gina Haspel from coming to Capitol Hill to explain why her agency concluded that the Saudi crown prince ordered the killing, a conclusion that President Trump has sought to cast doubt on.
Haspel will meet today with top leaders of the Senate’s Armed Services Committee, Foreign Relations Committee, and Intelligence Committee, a source told Politico, here.
The Houthis are headed to Sweden, Reuters reports in an update of a developing story which could turn the direction of the war in Yemen. U.N. special envoy Martin Griffiths accompanied the Houthi delegation from Sanaa for Sweden today.
Next? “The warring parties are expected to convene in Sweden as early as Wednesday to discuss confidence-building measures and a transitional governing body, as the U.S. Senate is set to consider a resolution to end support for the coalition in the war.” Read on, here.
The Israeli military just launched an anti-tunnel operation near the border with Lebanon. The reason: The IDF found a few tunnels leading into Israel from “a house around the Lebanese village of Kfar Kela” and leading to Israel’s northernmost town of Metula, Reuters reports.
Some context: “Israel’s vulnerability to tunnels was laid bare during its war with Palestinian militant group Hamas in Gaza in 2014 when Palestinian militants used dozens of secret passages dug from Gaza into Israel to launch surprise attacks.” More from the Associated Press, reporting separately, here.
ICYMI during its Friday news dump, Homeland Security officials “submitted a request for assistance to the Department of Defense to extend its support [read: U.S. troops deployed to the U.S.-Mexico border] through January 31, 2019,” the Pentagon announced in a 3:54 p.m. EDT email on November 30.
Mattis was asked about that request Monday at the Pentagon. Had he signed that request? His answer: “The question has to do with the troops. There's a request for extending troops on our own southwest border, and no, I have not signed off on it. Joint Staff has worked it with their military factors and my OSD policy staff has worked the policy matters. I expect that to be on my desk probably within 24 hours.” So… standby, everyone.
Meanwhile U.S. officials are numbering migrants by writing on the bottom of their wrists as they await the asylum application process. That photo via Adria Malcolm of Yahoo News, here.
And ICYMI on Saturday: DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen “requested the deployment of civilian law enforcement officers from several other Cabinet departments to the U.S.-Mexico border” as early as this week, Politico reported over the weekend.
What’s going on here? Possibly an attempt to workaround the Posse Comitatus Act limitations on those deployed U.S. troops being able to search or make arrests while assisting border patrol officials. Read on, here.
Denmark’s dilemma. Immigration hardliners in Copenhagen want “to banish rejected asylum seekers or those with a criminal record to a remote island,” even though it might break international law. The Associated Press has that input from a lawmaker with “the anti-immigration Danish People’s Party,” here.
PSA: “Federal court records should be free. But they’re not. That’s ridiculous,” writes Seamus Hughes of the Program on Extremism at George Washington University. So he decided to raise attention to just a few remarkable cases he spotted using the Public Access to Court Electronic Records, or PACER, system in 2018. Like when:
- “A search warrant [was issued for] a sitting congressman,” here.
- “ISIS funded [a] terror plot in Maryland,” here.
- “A previously unknown case of a correctional officer who joined ISIS,” over here.
- The “FBI running informants in border militia groups” right here.
- And a “bombing on a pipeline” in North Dakota. Lots more in Hughes’ Twitter thread, here.
Something you can do: capture the PACER documents you download and add them to the crowdsourced RECAP archive. Install this browser extension that does it automatically. And if you want the history behind RECAP (PACER backwards, ha ha), read here.
And finally today, this punchy tweet speaks for itself: “Ex-Marine admits he lured Seth Rich conspiracy theorist Jack Burkman to a hotel parking garage, then shot him in the butt.” Read the full story from the tweet’s author, Rachel Weiner of the Washington Post, here.