Today's D Brief: ISIS vs. Taliban; 'Horrible mistake' in Kabul; UNGA preview; Killer robots in Iran; And a bit more.
ISIS is attacking the Taliban in Jalalabad, and seems to be exaggerating its impact—claiming nearly three dozen were killed in at least five attacks Saturday, attacks which locals said killed just four people, according to the Washington Post. (Reuters put the death toll in Saturday’s attacks at three people killed and “about 20” wounded.)
Surprise: Taliban fighters miss war against the U.S., some of them told Susannah George of the Washington Post on Sunday. Said one fighter to George: “Many of my fighters are worried that they missed their chance at martyrdom in the war. I tell them they need to relax. They still have a chance to become martyrs. But this adjustment will take time.” Worth the click, here.
Also unsurprisingly: The Taliban are telling Kabul’s female government workers to stay home, CNN reports in some of the latest known restrictions to follow a return to Taliban rule. On Sunday, women in Kabul protested the Taliban decision to shut down the Ministry of Women’s Affairs and replace it with the comparatively draconian Ministry of the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice. This time (unlike, e.g., Sept. 5) the Taliban do not appear to have violently broken up the protest, according to Reuters.
ICYMI: The U.S. military killed 10 innocent people on its way out the door in Afghanistan, officials announced Friday afternoon. What happened: “The decision to fire a Hellfire missile that accidentally killed 10 Afghan civilians last month was based not on the solid identification of ISIS-K fighters, but a series of coincidences and assumptions,” Defense One’s Tara Copp reported Friday.
Worth noting: The New York Times visual investigations team came to this “errant strike” conclusion early—reporting on the accountability angle as early as Sept. 10.
“Clearly, our intelligence was wrong on this particular white Toyota Corolla,” U.S. Central Command Marine Gen. Frank McKenzie told reporters Friday. Read Copp’s full reporting from Friday, here.
For the record: Afghanistan has fallen below the fold on today’s Wall Street Journal and Washington Post front pages, terrorism analyst Bruce Hoffman noticed this morning on Twitter. The subject also seems to be AWOL for the New York Times, the paper that famously promised “All the news that’s fit to print” (which is now on a sweatshirt the Times will sell you for $85).
Meanwhile in Bamiyan province, Taliban fighters brought an RPG to a game of bumper boats. Photos here.
From Defense One
Trade Versus Subs: The Risky U.S. Tradeoff in the Asia-Pacific // Ian Johnson, Council on Foreign Relations: Which will matter more, a dozen more nuclear subs on the U.S. side of the ledger or a trade pact that could draw many of the world's largest economies ever-closer toward China?
‘Horrible Mistake’: Pentagon Admits Drone Strike Killed Children, Not Terrorists // Tara Copp: After just eight hours of surveillance and a tip about a “white Toyota Corolla,” the U.S. fired a Hellfire missile on Aug. 29 at the wrong target.
Defense One Radio, Ep. 88: How Air Warfare is Changing // Defense One Staff : Four experts describe lessons from Iraq, Azerbaijan, Gaza, and more.
Defense Business Brief // Marcus Weisgerber: Defense Business Brief: Flat military spending; Defense exports fall 17 percent; Expensive armored Suburbans, and more.
The Taliban PR Campaign Has Not Ended, But Transformed // Tanya Goudsouzian: Messages of liberation and inclusiveness have given way to ones that serve the consolidatation of power.
How Chinese Strategists Think AI Will Power a Military Leap Ahead // Chris Bassler and Ben Noon: The U.S. military should ready itself for a warfighting environment in which the PLA’s realizes its vision of “intelligenization.”
Welcome to this Monday edition of The D Brief from Ben Watson. If you’re not already subscribed to The D Brief, you can do that here. On this day 20 years ago, U.S. President George W. Bush announced the start of an American-led “war on terror” in an address to a joint session of Congress.
Ahead of its annual meeting in New York, the UN’s chief says the U.S. and China need to find a way to get along. That’s Secretary-General António Guterres’s opening message ahead of this week’s United Nations General Assembly, which begins Tuesday, the Associated Press reports from United Nations Headquarters in New York. (Recall that at last year’s UNGA, former President Donald Trump used his allocated time to lampoon China over COVID-19 and, among many other boasts, brag about U.S. nuclear weapons.)
Another thing in U.S.-China relations: The U.S. Army’s professional journal Military Review features quite a cover on its latest issue, which is entitled, “China Reader Special Edition.”
Next in UNGA developments: President Biden flies to NYC this evening for a bilateral meeting with Guterres, according to his public schedule. He speaks Tuesday before holding two bilateral meetings with … take a guess—did you say Boris Johnson and Scott Morrison, the prime ministers of the UK and Australia, respectively? The three, of course, held a trilateral virtual meeting last week about a nuclear submarine deal—to France and Europe’s still ongoing dismay this week.
The U.S. Border Patrol is flying thousands of Haitian migrants back home after nearly 13,000 were photographed last week beneath a bridge that links Del Rio, Texas, with Ciudad Acuña, Mexico, according to Reuters. Coast Guard flights began departing Sunday, and have helped ferry 3,300 migrants out of Del Rio since Friday. U.S. officials are planning daily flights to Haiti’s capital city, and it’s unclear just yet when those might conclude.
Behind the surge: “Many Haitians told Reuters they had been in South America, including Brazil and Chile, before deciding to head north because they could not attain legal status or struggled with racism and landing jobs.” Meanwhile, “A Haitian immigration official, who was not authorized to speak to media, said the country was not prepared for an influx of possibly thousands of returning migrants.” Read on, here.
In alarming new technology, the New York Times just completed a months-long investigation, which found that Mossad operatives assassinated Iran’s top nuclear scientist using a killer robot late last November.
At least six people were killed in Russia on Sunday when a gunman opened fire at a university campus in the city of Perm, almost 900 miles east of Moscow, near the Ural Mountains. The shooter was reportedly an 18-year-old student who used a hunting rifle during the rampage. He’s since been taken into custody and is being treated at a hospital. CNN has more, here.
Happening today: Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall and Chief Gen. Charles Q. Brown are both speaking at the virtual 2021 Air, Space and Cyber Conference, where in-person exhibits are set up at Maryland’s National Harbor.
Kendall is slated to speak just after 11 a.m. ET, and Brown is scheduled for about 1:15 p.m. ET. Registration is required. More info, here.
And tomorrow: Don’t miss an interesting look at the recent past and possible future of Iraq’s ancient city of Mosul in a morning webinar Tuesday at 10 a.m. ET hosted by Omar Mohammed, a research fellow at George Washington University’s Program on Extremism. You may remember Omar as the man behind the secretive Twitter account, @MosulEye. (He was also a guest in our late-June 2019 episode of Defense One Radio, when we traveled to Paris to meet him during his graduate studies.)
Omar is also launching the fourth and final episode in GWU’s limited series podcast, “Mosul and the Islamic State” on Tuesday. Find the first three episodes here. Read more about Tuesday’s webinar, here.