“Mask it or casket”; US carriers in South China Sea; Explosion in Iran; Islamic extremists in Mozambique; And a bit more.

For new recruits at the Coast Guard Academy, “There will be no haircuts, no drilling, no running as a group from place to place,” AP reports this morning from New London, Conn. “They won't even be issued their uniforms.” The coronavirus has also cancelled “The big ceremony at the end of that first day on the parade field in front of their families.”

The governors of Texas, Kansas, Pennsylvania, and Oregon mandated mask-wearing last week; a selective order took effect in Oklahoma City, too. City council members in Missouri will consider it today.

"Mask it or casket" is a slogan you might hear more soon (even if it is an internet meme dating to at least early May). Texas Emergency Management Chief Nim Kidd mentioned it to reporters shortly after Texas reached a new record for new cases last week. More on the difficulties of getting Texans to don masks, via Austin’s NBC affiliate KXAN, here.

Have a look at Texas via this tracker from the state’s Department of Health and Human Services. 

We’re not enforcing a mask order. That’s how some police in Texas (north of Houston and in northern Denton County) and New Mexico (southeastern Lea County, e.g.) responded to their governors’ decision. 

“We need to live with it.” That’s a new coronavirus message the White House is reportedly workshopping before launch, NBC News reported Friday.

In holiday messaging, President Trump spoke for about 50 minutes at South Dakota’s Mount Rushmore on Friday. 

One notable theme out of that: Trump vowed to defend America’s “heritage” in the face of a “radical ideology attacking our country advanc[ing] under the banner of social justice.” POTUS45 used the words “heritage” and “justice” seven times apiece on Friday. Find a full transcript from the White House, here.

On Saturday, he spoke again for about 40 minutes from the South Lawn of the White House for the 2020 Salute to America event. “Heritage” was mentioned four times in his speech, and “justice” notched five. Full transcript, here.

Dive deeper: One professor emeritus at the College of Charleston in South Carolina assessed Trump’s weekend messaging on NPR’s “Morning Edition” today. And you can find that four-minute conversation, here.

The Pentagon recently authorized two awards for service members helping with the COVID-19 response for at least 30 days, Task & Purpose reported. These include the Armed Forces Service Medal and the Humanitarian Service Medal. Read the 30 June memo authorizing the awards, here.

Not now, plague. Chinese officials today say they’re dealing with “a suspected bubonic plague case in the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region,” AP reports from Beijing. Tiny bit more on that historic and surprisingly durable threat, which “can be fatal in up to 90% of people infected if not treated,” here.


From Defense One

Mozambique Is Emerging As The Next Islamic Extremist Hotspot // Patrick Tucker: A terror group affiliated with the Islamic State has been stepping up tactics and claiming bigger targets.

Why Is Russia Undermining International Efforts in Syria? // Emma Beals: Western negotiators must give no ground in Moscow’s attempts to evade its responsibilities.

Global Business Brief // Marcus Weisgerber: CEO’s work-from-home silver lining; Tomorrow’s military bases; HASC finishes NDAA; and more...

In Russian Bounties, Former Diplomats See Effort To Mess With US — But Not Much More // Katie Bo Williams: Moscow’s strategic calculus is much harder to parse.

'How Much and How Fast': Biden Watchers Anticipate Defense Spending Crunch  // Marcus Weisgerber: Part 4: From the size of the US military to outdated 'legacy' weapons, experts say something has to give.

Welcome to this Monday edition of The D Brief from Ben Watson. Send us tips from your community right here. And if you’re not already subscribed to The D Brief, you can do that here. On this day in 1917, the Red Sea port of Aqaba was legendarily taken from the Ottomans by a force led by Bedouine leader Auda ibu Tayi and British advisor T. E. Lawrence.


Two U.S. Navy carriers are conducting flight drills in the South China Sea “as Chinese ships watch,” Reuters reports today in a shorty from Tokyo.
Involved: the USS Ronald Reagan and the USS Nimitz. “About 12,000 sailors are on ships in the combined carrier strike groups,” Reuters writes. Tiny bit more to all that, here.
For what it’s worth, Serbia now has armed drones courtesy of China. Joseph Dempsey of the International Institute for Strategic Studies flagged it on Twitter this morning, here.

A mysterious explosion hit a very sensitive site in Iran last week. A Middle Eastern intelligence official told the New York Times that an explosive device planted inside the Natanz nuclear facility in Iran detonated and destroyed many aboveground parts. 
See for yourself. Planet imagery gave us a revealing satellite’s eye view of destruction to Iran’s nuclear facility in Natanz (h/t to Arms Control Wonk Jeffrey Lewis).

A segment of the U.S.-led counter-ISIS coalition in Iraq is changing its name and structure, “reduc[ing] its number of personnel and reorganiz[ing] as part of a new approach to support” the Iraqi Security Forces, according to a Saturday press release. The name now formally switches from “Task Force-Iraq, of Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve” to just simply “Military Advisor Group,” or MAG.
By the way: The U.S. used F-35s to attack ISIS in Iraq back in late June, OIR announced on Twitter last Thursday, along with a video clip.

Points for consistency: India will buy $2.4 billion in Russian combat jets, Reuters reported Thursday. For several years, Russia has been the chief exporter to India, as SIPRI noted back in 2017 (when Moscow accounted for nearly seven in 10 arms deals for New Delhi). Today, Reuters writes, “More than half of India’s military hardware is still of Russian origin even though over the last decade India has turned to the United States and Israel for high-tech arms transfers.” More here.

Russian bounty update: Counter to the CIA’s assessment, Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe produced a memo highlighting doubts over that alleged Russian bounty on U.S. troops in Afghanistan, the New York Times reported.
Meanwhile in Afghanistan, a vehicle rollover killed a U.S. Army E-4 on Friday, the Defense Department announced this week. Spc. Vincent Sebastian Ibarria, 21, from San Antonio, Texas, died in the accident in western Afghanistan’s Farah province. Ibarria was from the 10th Mountain Division’s 2nd Battalion, 22nd Infantry Regiment, 1st Infantry Brigade Combat Team.

And finally: Javelin anti-tank missile systems from the U.S. have at last moved to the front line in Ukraine, Kyiv’s military announced last week. The decision to bring them to the western front comes nearly two years after the weapons were first authorized for sale by the U.S.
As for what to expect now, according to Buzzfeed’s Christopher Miller, who noticed the change on Twitter, “knowing that Javelin systems are on the Ukrainian front line and ready to be used by Ukrainian soldiers trained on them could be a deterrence against possible escalation; or it could be viewed as a provocation and actually spark more serious clashes. We'll have to wait & see.”

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