Today's D Brief: Delicate Israel-Gaza ceasefire; Army vs. Space Force; Shrinking SOF units; C-130 seaplane?; And a bit more.

A delicate ceasefire between Israel and Hamas seems to be holding, but no one knows how long it will last since “both sides claimed victory and gave a different version of the deal’s terms,” the Wall Street Journal reports from Tel Aviv. 

And don’t look now, but tensions are flaring again today near the Jerusalem Al-Aqsa Mosque, where Israeli-Palestinian tensions soared nearly 11 days ago, helping trigger this latest round of violence, the Associated Press reports from Gaza.

Israeli police fired stun grenades and tear gas at Palestinian protesters who gathered outside the mosque Friday morning “in a celebratory demonstration in which they waved Palestinian and Hamas flags and cheered the militant group,” AP writes. “Palestinians hurled rocks and at least one firebomb” during the exchange with Israeli police. 

Worth noting: The underlying causes of tensions remain in place, the New York Times reports. And those causes include “the dispute over land rights in Jerusalem and the West Bank, religious tensions in the Old City of Jerusalem and the absence of a peace process to resolve the conflict.” What’s more, “Gaza remains under a punishing blockade by Israel and Egypt.”

Meanwhile, Israel stands ready to attack Hamas-linked positions again, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said today while flanked by defense and security chiefs: “If Hamas thinks we will tolerate a ‘drizzle’ of rockets, it is mistaken,” Netanyahu said Friday. “We will respond with a whole new level of force to every instance of aggression against the Gaza-envelope communities or anywhere else in Israel.”

Said U.S. President Joe Biden in remarks Thursday afternoon, shortly before the ceasefire took effect: “The United States fully supports Israel’s right to defend itself against indiscriminate rocket attacks from Hamas and other Gaza-based terrorist groups that have taken the lives of innocent civilians in Israel...I believe the Palestinians and Israelis equally deserve to live safely and securely and to enjoy equal measures of freedom, prosperity, and democracy. My administration will continue our quiet and relentless diplomacy toward that end.” Read more from the White House’s transcript, here.

Related reading: 

From Defense One

Space Force’s First Battle Is With the US Army // Tara Copp: The newest force is relying on Army and Navy transfers to grow. But giving up missions is not in the military’s DNA.

Army SOF Units Are Getting Smaller, More Self-Reliant as Focus Shifts to China, Russia // Patrick Tucker: New adversaries, warfare concepts, and gear are also driving special operators to become more tech-savvy.

With Half Its Troops Unvaccinated, Pentagon Aims to Persuade Skeptics // Elizabeth Howe: Instead of a “personal health choice,” leaders now call shots a “critical part” of fighting the pandemic.

The Naval Brief // Caitlin M. Kenney: Destroyer cut from budget; LCS’ unsure future; T-45s collide; and more... 

Trump Is Marching Down the Road to Political Violence // Peter Wehner, The Atlantic: The Republican Party must counteract lies rather than indulge them.

Welcome to this Friday edition of The D Brief from Ben Watson and Bradley Peniston. And if you’re not already subscribed to The D Brief, you can do that here. On this day in 1945, U.S. Army Private First Class Desmond Doss concluded 23 days of heroic actions in the Pacific where he helped to save the lives of nearly 100 fellow soldiers. The 2016 film “Hacksaw Ridge” tells the remarkable story of Doss’s bravery, for which he would later receive the Medal of Honor. 

This afternoon President Biden welcomes Korean President Moon Jae-in at the White House. “This visit will highlight the ironclad alliance between the United States and the Republic of Korea, and the broad and deep ties between our governments, people, and economies,” the White House says in its public schedule.
A little after 1 p.m. ET, Biden will award the Medal of Honor to Army Col. and Korean War veteran Ralph Puckett. The country’s highest military recognition comes for Puckett’s actions on November 25, 1950, when he led nearly 50 soldiers through a four-and-a-half-hour, late-night assault by Chinese troops and artillery in northwestern North Korea.

Just what space assets will Space Force control? More than a year after newest service branch formally stood up, the Army, Navy, and Space Force are still playing tug-of-war over various aspects of the space mission. Defense One’s Tara Copp writes that the services have no formal agreements yet over just what assets and personnel will transfer from the older ones to their younger sibling.
There’s even some discrepancy between how the various service officials see the present state of play. Chief of Space Operations Gen. Jay Raymond recently said, “Those decisions have all been made. We’re now working with those services to put a plan in place.” But in a statement to Copp, Army officials said they “largely agree” with Space Force on what should transfer, but “planning and analysis continues and no final decisions have been made.”
The Army is worried that it won’t get the space-based services it wants if it gives up its own satellite programs, says John Ferrari, a retired Army two-star who spent eight years working on requirements and resource integration for the service and is now a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. Moreover, he noted, things like cubesats in low Earth orbit have become so (relatively) cheap that there’s no need for that capability to be the sole domain of a single service. Read on, here.

Army special operations units getting smaller and more self-reliant. Better-equipped adversaries and new gear like drones and electronic-warfare systems are driving U.S. special operations units to shrink, get more tech-savvy, and carry more of their supporting services organically, Defense One’s Patrick Tucker reports, here.
Catch an interview with the head of U.S. Special Operations Command, Gen. Richard Clarke, by Military Times, here.
Also: a C-130 seaplane variant? SOCOM’s Fixed Wing division is trying to modify the venerable airlifter to take off and land on water. Breaking Defense, here.

And finally this week: The annual Shangri-La Dialogue has been cancelled as its hosts in Singapore are busy fending off another wave of COVID-19 cases, Bloomberg reported Thursday behind its paywall. ChannelnewsAsia has more on the decision and why, here.

Have a safe weekend, everyone. And we’ll see you again next week!