Today's D Brief: Attack in Kabul; Evacs slowing down; VP Harris in Vietnam; Acquisition ‘Valley of Death’; And a bit more.

At least one “large explosion” has hit Kabul’s main airport near its Abbey Gate, the U.S. Embassy confirmed Thursday after multiple outlets reported what seemed to have been a suicide bombing. CNN and Fox News are reporting at least three U.S. service members were wounded in the attack (which may have involved more than one explosion); FP’s Robbie Gramer reports the number of wounded Americans could be “four or more.” Reuters reports casualty numbers are expected to rise. 

BTW: An attack was believed to be coming, British Armed Forces Minister James Heappey told the BBC Thursday morning. (A Taliban spokesman insisted the opposite in an exchange with the Associated Press.) A range of evacuation flights out of Kabul had already stopped or were “disappearing,” the Wall Street Journal reported Thursday morning. 

Many Afghan observers expected the local ISIS affiliate to attempt such an attack at just such a time as this, as Reuters reported in a short video ahead of the violence. Indeed, State Secretary Antony Blinken said Thursday, “We’re operating in a hostile environment in a city and country now controlled by the Taliban, with the very real possibility of an ISIS-K attack. We’re taking every precaution, but this is very high-risk.”

Before the explosion, gunshots, water cannons, and tear gas were growing constants around Hamid Karzai International Airport, according to AP. 

Evacuation latest: More than 101,000 people have been flown out of Afghanistan on United States and partner nations’ aircraft since July, White House officials said Thursday morning. “However, the number of U.S. military aircraft taking off had dropped significantly as of Thursday: 17 Wednesday compared to 42 the day before,” Defense One’s Tara Copp reports

And total departures are also falling daily: 13,400 on Wednesday compared to 19,600 the day before. And Canada formally ended its evacuation flights after helping about 3,700 people flee, ABC News reports. Denmark, Poland, and Belgium have ended flights, too. Italy’s defense minister said his military planes were getting shot at upon departure from HKIA. 

About 1,500 Americans were still in the country as of Wednesday, and the U.S. is in touch with about 500 of them, Secretary Blinken told reporters at the State Department. 

  • The CIA and the U.S. military are conducting extraction operations around Kabul, the Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday.  

About 600 U.S. troops have departed Kabul, leaving about 5,200 to help with departures until the Aug. 31 deadline for American forces to leave. A bit more below the fold.


From Defense One

Pentagon Orders Troops to Get COVID Vaccine // Caitlin M. Kenney: Austin’s order follows FDA approval of one vaccine—and the deadliest week yet for COVID-stricken troops.

Not For the First Time, COVID Takes Back Seat to a More Pressing Crisis // Elizabeth Howe: The evacuation of refugees from Afghanistan depends on cramming people into closed spaces—during a global pandemic.

Number of Objects in Low Earth Orbit Jumps 22% in 2 Years: Space Operations Command  // Tara Copp: Need to track, detect objects driving need for new space domain awareness investment.

House Bill Aims to Bridge Acquisition ‘Valley of Death’ In Race to Counter China // Patrick Tucker: A draft of the House NDAA markup outlines two provisions to fix the gap between research and acquisition.

The Curious Omission in Russia’s New Security Strategy // David Shedd and Ivana Stradner: It doesn’t mention “cyber”—and that tells us a few things.

Conference Wire: More Stuff in Space // Defense One Staff : The 2021 Space Symposium rolls on with a big jump in low-Earth-orbit objects and some early birthday cake.

Welcome to this Thursday edition of The D Brief from Ben Watson with Jennifer Hlad. If you’re not already subscribed to The D Brief, you can do that here


The two military veteran lawmakers who secretly flew to Kabul on Tuesday with a deadline extension on their mind have since changed their minds about that, they told the New York TimesCatie Edmondson on Wednesday.
Asked what takeaways their trip yielded for other lawmakers and fellow Americans, Rep. Seth Moulton, D-Mass., said, “Almost every veteran in Congress wants to extend the Aug. 31 deadline, including us, and our opinion on that was changed on the ground, because we started the evacuations so late. There’s no way we can get everyone out, even by Sept. 11. So we need to have a working relationship with the Taliban after our departure. And the only way to achieve that is to leave by Aug. 31.”
There will probably be more heartbreaking images from around Kabul in the days ahead. And this is partly because, as Moulton said, “[A]t the end of the day, we don’t have time to get everyone. That’s why our ongoing relationship with the Taliban is so important.”
And the U.S. troops helping in Kabul are gonna “need help after” because of the sheer emotional weight of what’s happening, both Moulton and Rep. Peter Meijer, R-Mich., told the Times. “Something I think people need to know is that there is no scenario that trains a soldier or Marine to take somebody in a wheelchair, and have to push them back out because they don’t meet the paperwork criteria,” said Meijer. “I think we both are just incredibly concerned.” Read the full exchange here.
Meanwhile on Capitol Hill, “There’s gonna be a food fight” over nearly $6 billion in U.S. funding that had been expected to go to Afghanistan’s military. Rep. Mike Rogers of Alabama told Politico on Wednesday, “A whole lot of people have been looking at that money now.”

Vice President Kamala Harris dropped by Vietnam on Wednesday, where she accused China of “bullying.” She also offered U.S. help “bolstering [Hanoi’s] maritime security.” The Hill has more here.
Harris also brought news the U.S. is donating 1 million COVID-19 vaccines to Vietnam. But China quickly swooped in with its announcement it would donate 2 million of its own COVID-19 vaccines to Vietnam. Business Insider has more on the curious timing for that bit of vaccine diplomacy, here.  

Some acquisition hurdles could be gone soon. Provisions in the latest version of a House defense bill could help overcome the obstacles in the acquisition process that can stop new tech from getting to the battlefield, Defense One’s Patrick Tucker reports
Consider, for example, one provision in the draft of the National Defense Authorization Act that “would establish a five-year pilot program to more quickly identify such technologies.” Another provision would expand Navy programs that foster small-business innovation. Read more, here.

And finally today: RIP, Pierre Sprey. The legendary Pentagon whiz kid was best known as a driving force behind the A-10 attack plane and F-16 fighter jet. He died at his Maryland home on Aug. 5 of an apparent heart attack. The Washington Post has his obituary.

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.