President Trump wants to see plans for withdrawing U.S. troops from Somalia, Bloomberg reported Tuesday in the latest sign Trump is trying to deliver on his 2016 campaign promise to bring American forces home from wars abroad.
Somalia’s president even got on the phone with Bloomberg to say he wants the U.S. forces to stay, saying, “We really appreciate the U.S. support, and we are grateful for what the U.S. has done, and we would like to see the troops remain until the work is 100% accomplished,” President Mohamed Abdullahi said.
For a window into Trump’s thinking, here’s what he told Fox Business on October 8: “We’re in all these different sites, fighting in countries that nobody ever heard of. And it hurts us — because you wear out your military. And we have to be always prepared for China and Russia and these other places. We have to be prepared. Maybe North Korea.”
AFRICOM’s reax: Business as usual over here. The U.S. “remains committed to working with Somalia and international partners to enhance long-term regional stability,” Kelly Cahalan, a spox for AFRICOM, said. More from Bloomberg, here.
In re-runs: Revisit our podcast on why the U.S. military escalated its war against al-Shabaab during Trump’s presidency here.
Looking for some new ideas? Chatham House tackled the matter of Somalia’s possible futures in a July report you can review, here.
Chief recommendation: “[T]he US will need to put its diplomatic weight into securing two linked negotiated settlements in Somalia. First, there needs to be a genuine political deal between the [Federal Government of Somalia] and Somalia’s regional administrations, the Federal Member States, that would clarify the outstanding details of federal governance for Somalia and set out a new, comprehensive security strategy.” Then, “the US will then need to support the idea of peace talks between the reconciled Somali authorities and al-Shabaab.” Too easy, right? Read on, here.
From Defense One
US: Russia Has Agreed to Extend New START to Tactical Nukes. Russia: No, We Haven’t // Patrick Tucker: Disagreement leaves fate of last remaining strategic arms pact in doubt.
Pentagon Leaders Reject Calls for Militarized Election Season // Katie Bo Williams: “We support law enforcement,” Army Secretary McCarthy said Tuesday. “We don’t police American streets.”
Anti-COVID Measures Could Be Lasting In Army Weapons Factories // Marcus Weisgerber: 'You can't run an assembly line from your desktop at home.’
Chief of Naval Operations Outlines Future for Drones, Minicarriers // Patrick Tucker, Government Executive: The fleet may need fewer large aircraft carriers but more ships that can carry aircraft.
Esper’s Fantasy Fleet // John R. Kroger: The SecDef’s 500-ship plan is an exercise in wishful thinking that avoids hard choices.
The 20th Year of the Afghanistan War Should Be America’s Last // Daniel DePetris: U.S. national security interests do not depend on the outcome of the peace talks. It’s time to come home.Welcome to this Wednesday edition of The D Brief from Ben Watson with Bradley Peniston. 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 three years ago, the deadliest terror attack to hit Africa occurred when al-Shabaab extremists detonated a truck bomb in Mogadishu, Somalia, killing 632 people and injuring 316 others.
The USMC just fired its commander in charge of the unit that lost eight Marines and a sailor in a training accident off the Southern California coast on July 30, ABC News reported Tuesday. “The service members drowned after their amphibious assault vehicle sank during training on San Clemente Island.” The fired commander is Lt. Col. Michael Regnerof the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit’s 4th Marine Regiment.
RIP to the nine troops, all ranging from 18 to 22 in age. Their names were Pfc. Bryan J. Baltierra, Pfc. Evan A. Bath, Pfc. Jack-Ryan Ostrovsky, Lance Cpl. Marco A. Barranco, Lance Cpl. Guillermo S. Perez, Lance Cpl. Chase D. Sweetwood, Cpl. Wesley A. Rodd, Cpl. Cesar A. Villanueva and Navy Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class Christopher Gnem. A bit more, here.
Disinformation alert: Because it was the U.S. president saying this to his 87 million followers, we’re kind of obligated to inform you that Donald Trump on Tuesday retweeted a conspiracy theory that claimed the mission to kill Osama bin Laden actually killed bin Laden's body double. That’s completely untrue.
Also completely untrue: Trump next retweeted someone who claimed bin Laden was kept alive in Iran and moved to Pakistan for Obama to have a “trophy kill.” That is also completely not true.
“On some level this kind of manifest detachment from reality is grimly amusing,” tweeted Jeremy Konyndyk, who was POTUS44's disaster chief at USAID. But, he added, “on another level, it's the reason 200k Americans have been killed by COVID.”
Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Mark Milley just showed up in a Trump campaign ad — without Milley’s consent, a defense official told Politico on Tuesday. So far, it doesn’t appear as though anyone will face any sort of consequences over the decision.
Why it matters: Such images politicize the military, which violates “long-standing” Defense Department policy asserting “military service members and federal employees acting in their official capacity may not engage in activities that associate the DOD with any partisan political campaign or elections, candidate, cause or issue.”
Reax from one former Pentagon official: “Milley should denounce his inclusion in the ad, but the president never should have put him in this situation,” Jim Golby told Politico. Read on, here.
Trump is spending the evening campaigning in Iowa, with a rally scheduled for 6 p.m. CT at the Des Moines International Airport.
ICYMI: AG Barr’s “unmasking” probe of Obama-era officials quietly ended without charges or any public report, the Washington Post reported Tuesday, admitting the newspaper “was unable to review the full results of what [U.S. Attorney John Bash] found” in his probe. More, here.
Norway says Russia hacked the Norwegian Parliament’s email system in August, and called the attack “a serious incident that affects our most important democratic institution,” the Associated Press reports today from nearby Denmark. “The parliament later said private information such as social security numbers, bank information and other personal information plus contact data and preparatory political work ‘may have been lost.’”
Russia’s reax: “Such allegations are unacceptable,” and (essentially) where’s the evidence? That’s the message from the Russian embassy in Oslo, via Facebook. A bit moore on the recent spy history between the two countries, here.
Estonia says it’s upping its defense spending to 2.3% of GDP, the Baltic country’s defense ministry announced today on Twitter.
Hundreds of Turkey’s Syrian militiamen have joined Azerbaijan’s side in its conflict with Armenia “over the disputed enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh, and hundreds more are preparing to go,” two such Syrians told the Wall Street Journal’s Raja Abdulrahim Tuesday. (For the record, Turkey denies the allegations, Reuters reports.)
Groups of about 100 fighters at a time have headed to the Azeris since mid-September, and they’re making around $1,500 and $2,000 per month, which is quite lucrative for a place like Syria, where many of the militiamen come from.
“Going to Libya or to Azerbaijan has become a normal thing,” one of the Turkish-backed fighters told the Journal. “People no longer care who they are fighting with or against, now all they ask about is the money,” he added.
The battlefield is “reminiscent of World War I,” the Journal writes, with civilians “hit by artillery fire and airstrikes, while soldiers have had to hunker down in muddy trenches.” And in terms of a death toll, that’s hard to know for sure. However, “Armenia has said that 429 of its soldiers had been killed in the fighting so far. Azerbaijan hasn’t disclosed how many of its troops have been killed.” A bit more, here.
Where the conflict stands: “Azerbaijan has greater firepower than the Armenian forces and says it has made territorial gains since the latest fighting broke out on Sept. 27,” Reuters reports.
The latest allegations: “Armenia is trying to attack and take control of our pipelines,” Azeri President Ilham Aliyev told Turkish news Haberturk. Aliyev then altered his allegations subtly according to Reuters’ translation, and said, (emphasis added) “If Armenia tries to take control of the pipelines there, I can say that the outcome will be severe for them.”
Russia, meanwhile, wants to send its own “military observers” to the frontlines; but so far, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said he’ll leave it up to the two warring parties to make that call. A bit more, here. Or read AP’s coverage review, here.
And finally today: That big WWII bomb in Polish waters blew up. Yesterday, we told you about the RAF Tallboy bomb that EOD divers were working to remove. No one was hurt, and you can catch the video over on BoingBoing, here.