The D Brief: Scenes from an exit; Marines doubt amphibious edge; Work-from-home extended; Japanese WWII bomb found in Missouri; And a bit more...

Scenes from the Afghanistan pullout. At Kandahar Airfield, once the sprawling, bustling hub of the war effort in southern Afghanistan, the U.S. military is dismantling, destroying, or hauling off materiel that took two decades to build up. “The scenes over the weekend were almost as if a multitrillion-dollar effort had morphed into a garage sale,” reported the New York Times’ Thomas Gibbons-Neff. 

“The American withdrawal, almost quiet, and with a veneer of orderliness, belies the desperate circumstances just beyond the base’s wall. On one end of Kandahar Airfield that day, Maj. Mohammed Bashir Zahid, an officer in charge of a small Afghan air command center, sat in his office, a phone to each ear and a third in his hands as he typed messages on WhatsApp, trying to get air support for Afghan security forces on the ground and in nearby outposts threatened by Taliban fighters,” Gibbons-Neff wrote. 

Over the weekend, small “harrassing” attacks by the Taliban. “Kandahar Airfield received ineffective indirect fire this afternoon; no injury to personnel or damage to equipment,” U.S. Forces Afghanistan spokesperson Col. Sonny Leggett tweeted.

“The American response was not subtle,” Gibbons-Neff wrote. “A flight of F/A-18 fighter jets, stationed aboard the U.S.S. Eisenhower, a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, were in the air, making their way toward Afghanistan from the Arabian Sea—a roughly two-hour flight up what is called “the boulevard,” a corridor of airspace in western Pakistan that serves as an air transit route. Having received approval to strike, the jets swooped in, dropping a GPS-guided munition—a bomb that costs well over $10,000—on the additional rockets that were somewhere in Kandahar, mounted on rudimentary rails and aimed at the airfield.” Read on, here.


From Defense One

US Marines May Have Lost Their ‘Amphibious Edge,’ Leaders Say // Elizabeth Howe: Top Marines tell Congress that after a deadly AAV accident and years in the Middle East, the Corps and its vehicles are unprepared for waterborne operations.

US Air Force, Navy Extend 50% Work-From-Home Indefinitely // Marcus Weisgerber and Tara Copp: New memos suggest office space occupancy may never return to 100 percent.

We Don’t Have Enough Information to Evaluate Arguments for a New ICBM // Ankit Panda: The Biden administration should follow precedent and commission an independent look at the case for the Ground Based Strategic Defense program.

Welcome to this Tuesday edition of The D Brief from Bradley Peniston with Jennifer Hlad. And if you’re not already subscribed to The D Brief, you can do that here. Today in 1904, the United States took control of the faltering effort to build the Panama Canal.


Milley drops opposition to moving sex-assault cases out of chain of command. In an interview with AP and CNN, Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Mark Milley said “he is now open to considering them because the problem of sexual assault in the military has persisted despite other efforts to solve it. ‘We’ve been at it for years, and we haven’t effectively moved the needle,” he said. “We have to. We must.’” A bit more, here.ICYMI: That change is among several recommended last Thursday by the Independent Review Commission on Sexual Assault set up by SecDef Lloyd Austin.

DOJ chief to request more money to fight domestic extremism. Director Merrick Garland “will highlight proposals for a $45 million increase in funding for the FBI for domestic terrorism investigations, and a $40 million increase for U.S. attorneys to manage the ensuing caseloads,” the Washington Post reported, citing a draft of his opening statement to a Tuesday hearing before a House Appropriations subcommittee.

DHS may hire contractors to help surveil domestic groups. CNN: “The Department of Homeland Security is limited in how it can monitor citizens online without justification and is banned from activities like assuming false identities to gain access to private messaging apps used by extremist groups such as the Proud Boys or Oath Keepers.” A source familiar with the effort told CNN that DHS may use “outside entities who can legally access these private groups to gather large amounts of information that could help DHS identify key narratives as they emerge.” Read on, here.

FBI agent shoots man outside CIA headquarters. Few details have been released, but the Post cited sources as saying the man drove up to a gate of the northern Virginia complex on Monday and was engaged by law enforcement in “lengthy negotiations” for several hours before he “emerged from his vehicle with a weapon,” and was shot around 6 p.m. A bit more, here.

The U.S. may never reach COVID herd immunity. New York Times: “Widely circulating coronavirus variants and persistent hesitancy about vaccines will keep the goal out of reach. The virus is here to stay, but vaccinating the most vulnerable may be enough to restore normalcy.”

ICYMI: President Biden said Friday he’ll leave it up to the military to decide whether to order troops to get vaccinated. Defense One’s Elizabeth Howe explained the backstory, here.

Delayed: U.S. Air Force flights to haul vaccines and other medical gear to hard-hit India. On Monday, a Pentagon spokesman said “maintenance issues” would keep three C-5 Super Galaxies and one C-17 Globemaster from flying until Wednesday.

Around DC today (all times Eastern):

  • Noon: National Guard Bureau Chief Gen. Hokanson and other service reserve chiefs will testify at a HAC-D hearing on fiscal 2022 National Guard and Reserves budget
  • Noon: Army Space and Missile Defense Command Lt. Gen. Karbler speaks at AUSA Noon Report webinar. (Register at ausa.org.)

Lastly today: A Missouri family found a Japanese WWII-era bomb in their backyard. It’s been defused, and no one knows yet how it got there, local TV station KSDK reports. Key quote: “This is why women live longer than men, because here I am, scraping a bomb with a steak knife when my wife makes me stop and call the sheriff's department!” Stay safe out there, and we’ll see you on Wednesday.

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