The D Brief: Troops to leave Iraq?; Taliban: no peace under Ghani; SOCOM & AI; Border-wall builder seeks buyer; And a bit more...

U.S. and Iraqi officials are expected to call for the departure of U.S. combat troops from Iraq this year, the Wall Street Journal reports. But intelligence and training troops would remain to assist Iraqi forces.

Iraqi Foreign Minister Fuad Hussein told WSJ: “We don’t need any more fighters because we have those.…What do we need? We need cooperation in the field of intelligence. We need help with training. We need troops to help us in the air.”

The statement is expected to be released on Monday, when Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi meets with President Biden. 

Removal, or just redefinition? One U.S. official told WSJ that “Washington plans to meet the terms of the statement mainly by redefining the role” of some of the American troops in the country, rather than reducing the number of troops. Read more, here.

From Defense One

SOCOM Members Got an All-Star Crash Course in AI // Patrick Tucker: Over a unique six-week course, participants met virtually with tech leaders to talk about AI's future.

Army Dealing with Tough Moving Season as US Sees Shortage of Housing, Movers // Caitlin M. Kenney: The number of household goods shipments in late May rivaled what the service typically sees during the season’s peak, at the end of June.

Pregnant Cadets, Midshipmen Must Give Up Their Child Or Their Career. Two Senators Want To Change That.  // Jacqueline Feldscher: Sens. Ted Cruz and Kirsten Gillibrand have introduced a bill to give pregnant students at military schools more options.

Coerced Ethics Pledges Harm National Defense // Thomas W. Spoehr: There is a process for changing the law, and extortion of individual DOD nominees is not it.

Welcome to this Friday edition of The D Brief from Bradley Peniston and Jennifer Hlad. If you’re not already subscribed to The D Brief, you can do that here. On this day in 1921, the Chinese Communist Party was established—though the party has since declared July 1 to be its actual birthday.

Taliban: No peace in Afghanistan until President Ashraf Ghani is removed. Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen called Ghani—who has said he would stay in office until new elections are held—a war monger, AP reports

Shaheen: “I want to make it clear that we do not believe in the monopoly of power because any governments who (sought) to monopolize power in Afghanistan in the past, were not successful governments.”

The Taliban now controls about half of Afghanistan’s 419 district centers, though none of the provincial capitals have been seized, Gen. Mark Milley told reporters this week. Shaheen told AP that all the districts that had fallen “were through mediation of the people, through talks,” and not “through fighting.” More, here.

U.S. has made several airstrikes to support Afghan forces in recent days, officials said—declining to say where and when. AP, here. 

A bit of good news for Afghans who helped U.S. forces: The House voted 407-16 on Thursday “to expand the number of available special immigrant visas for Afghans to 19,000 from 11,000 and broaden the universe of people eligible for them by removing some application requirements,” the New York Times reports

Women would register for the draft under the SASC’s version of the 2022 National Defense Authorization Act. The version approved by the Senate Armed Service Committee behind closed doors Wednesday “amends the Military Selective Service Act to require the registration of women for Selective Service,” according to a summary released Thursday and reported by The Hill. 

Rep. Duncan Hunter proposed this in 2016 to make a point and was surprised when it was approved by HASC. (Politico).

A congressional commission also recommended this in 2020. (The Hill) 

British carrier exercises with Indian Navy. USNI News: “The British aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth (RO8) and its carrier strike group carried out a two-day exercise called Exercise Konkan with the Indian Navy from July 21 to 22 in the Bay of Bengal.” More, here

Senators aim to change academies’ student-pregnancy policy. Under current policy, students at military schools are not allowed to have dependents, Defense One’s Jacqueline Feldscher reports. “As a result, women who get pregnant or men who father a child have three options. To stay at school, they can either get an abortion or give the baby up for adoption, severing their legal and financial responsibility. To keep the baby, they must leave the military academy. Any student that leaves the school in their junior or senior year has to repay the government for their education, since they will not fulfill their commitment to serve in the military after graduation.”

Now Sens. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., have introduced a bill that would ensure that students at military universities have the option to continue their education while also maintaining their parental rights. Read on, here.

Lastly today: Guy who built a border wall on his own dime is looking for a buyer. Bloomberg: “The structure is 3 miles long, hugging a severe bend in the river, and consists of roughly 15,000 18-foot-tall gray steel bollards, spaced 5 inches apart and set in a wide concrete foundation. (In this sense it’s more like a fence, but for simplicity’s sake I’ll mainly call it a wall.)” Read on, here.