Today's D Brief: 6K Guard troops for Ida; Taliban prep parade; Most Americans support Afghan exit; Javelins to Ukraine; And a bit more.
The U.S. plans to keep targeting terrorists inside Afghanistan even though there are no more American troops inside the country, President Joe Biden said Tuesday at the White House.
“We will maintain the fight against terrorism in Afghanistan and other countries,” Biden said. “We just don’t need to fight a ground war to do it. We have what’s called over-the-horizon capabilities, which means we can strike terrorists and targets without American boots on the ground—or very few, if needed. We’ve shown that capacity just in the last week” when the U.S. allegedly targeted ISIS-Khorasan fighters in Kabul and Nangarhar province. “And to ISIS-K: We are not done with you yet,” Biden said.
Defense One’s Jacqueline Feldscher has more from Biden’s Tuesday message, here.
HKIA’s future is still TBD. The Qataris and Turks are trying to work out an arrangement with the Taliban to provide security for Kabul’s Hamid Karzai International Airport, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Tuesday. Ankara’s Daily Sabah has a tiny bit more on that developing situation, here.
- Here’s Reuters’ lead story this morning: “Now in control, Taliban confront economy in turmoil, humanitarian crisis”
Unsurprisingly, the Taliban are preparing for a parade of equipment to show the world what they’ve picked up that the U.S.-led coalition left behind. That includes humvees in Kandahar, Agence France-Presse reports.
Qatar, Kuwait, the UAE, Bahrain, Germany, Canada, and Norway. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin called his counterparts from all seven of those nations on Tuesday to thank them for their nations’ roles in the evacuation and withdrawal from Afghanistan.
In new public opinion polling, 54% of American adults agree with the decision to leave Afghanistan—while 42% think it was the wrong decision, according to data from Pew Research Center (gathered as recently as Aug. 29).
Another foreseeable takeaway revealed “69% of the public says the United States mostly failed in achieving its goals in Afghanistan,” though it’s anyone’s guess what those goals were, or if those polled could agree on what they were. In other notable public perceptions:
- “Republicans (61%) are far more likely than Democrats (33%) to view a Taliban-controlled Afghanistan as a major security threat”;
- “A sizable majority of Democrats (70%) support the decision to withdraw U.S. forces from Afghanistan, while most Republicans (64%) say it was the wrong decision”;
- “A large majority (71%) of Americans say the Biden administration has done a poor (42%) or only fair (29%) job handling the situation in Afghanistan.”
Dive into the full dataset via Pew, here.
From Defense One
The War on Terror—in Afghanistan and Elsewhere—Is Far from Over, Biden Says // Jacqueline Feldscher: The president vowed to continue counterterrorism efforts.
No US Military Dogs Were Left Behind in Afghanistan, DOD Says // Elizabeth Howe: Pentagon officials say the caged dogs in viral photos aren’t military working dogs, all of which were evacuated.
The Two Blows America Is Dealing to the Taliban // David Frum, The Atlantic: The exit from Afghanistan may seem like a failure. But it can also be seen as a display of power.
Welcome to this Wednesday 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. On this day in 1880, Britain’s second war in Afghanistan came to an end with the defeat of Ayub Khan in the Battle of Kandahar. (The British empire’s so-called Third Anglo-Afghan War would end almost exactly 39 years later, and gave us the modern day border that separates Afghanistan from what we now refer to as Pakistan.)
Developing: A U.S. Navy MH-60S helicopter crashed about 60 nautical miles off the San Diego coast on Tuesday, U.S. Pacific Fleet announced around 4:30 p.m. PST, and updated after one crew member was rescued hours later.
Five crew members are still missing, and “multiple Coast Guard and Navy air and surface assets” are involved in the search. The Navy’s Third Fleet is tracking updates on its Facebook page, here.
Nearly 6,000 National Guard troops are helping with Hurricane Ida relief efforts, according to the National Guard Bureau, whose leaders will brief reporters this afternoon via Zoom. For Ida, the Guard is evacuating folks using “high-water vehicles, boats, and helicopters” while engineers are working to clear roads.
More than 350 people had been rescued by boat or by air as recently as 3 p.m. ET Tuesday, according to the Louisiana National Guard.
Elsewhere in the U.S., another 1,250 Guard troops “are responding to multiple wildfires that continue to ravage the western states,” which has lost nearly 5 million acres of wildfires this year alone, according to the NGB.
And in Idaho, as many as 370 National Guard troops are being deployed to hospitals throughout the state to help with the surging number of COVID-19 cases, The Hill reports. Unvaccinated patients with coronavirus have overwhelmed Idaho’s medical facilities, Gov. Brad Little said when announcing he would activate the Guard; and as of Tuesday, only four adult ICU beds were available in the state.
The U.S. will send $60 million in new Javelin anti-tank weapons to Ukraine, SecDef Austin announced Tuesday during a visit with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and Minister of Defence Andrii Taran. The deal also involved “other [unspecified] defensive lethal and non-lethal capabilities,” which total more than $400 million in security assistance for this calendar year alone, according to the Pentagon’s readout.
Ukraine’s President Zelenskyy is dropping by the White House at 2 p.m. ET for his first in-person visit with President Biden. In his public schedule for the day, the White House promoted a number of joint priorities with Kyiv, including “the United States’ unwavering support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity in the face of Russia’s ongoing aggression in the Donbas and Crimea, our close cooperation on energy security, and our backing for President Zelenskyy’s efforts to tackle corruption and implement a reform agenda based on our shared democratic values.”
By the way: Austin and Taran signed a five-year defense framework on Tuesday, which echoed many of the White House’s emphases above. Not too many surprises that we spotted in the Defense Department’s fact sheet on the framework; feel free to review it yourself (PDF) here. Or read Defense One’s coverage via Jacqueline Feldscher’s reporting, here.
Lastly: Marine Corps Commandant Gen. David Berger is speaking today at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, which is hosting its Maritime Security Dialog with the U.S. Naval Institute. That’s scheduled to start at 11:30 a.m. ET, and is livestreaming at CSIS, here.
Also speaking today: Deputy Secretary Kathleen Hicks, who will discuss “modernization and innovation” at the 30th annual Pennsylvania Showcase for Commerce. According to a preview from the Pentagon, “Hicks will highlight the instrumental role and contributions of Pennsylvania manufacturing companies and small businesses in advancing the Department’s mission and objectives, as well as how industry can continue supporting America’s national security and defense priorities.” That’s slated for 4 p.m. ET.