Today's D Brief: US jets hit arsenal in Syria; MQ-9 downed off Yemen; Hamas seeks ‘permanent’ war; Commandant’s health update; And a bit more.
Iran-backed Houthi militants shot down a U.S. military drone as it flew off the coast of Yemen this week, U.S. officials said Thursday. Houthis themselves claimed the shootdown earlier in the day, as spotted by Charles Lister of the Washington-based Middle East Institute.
“We can confirm that a U.S. military MQ-9 remotely-piloted aircraft was shot down today off the coast of Yemen by Houthi forces,” a U.S. official told reporters in a brief statement Thursday.
- By the way: The U.S. Coast Guard has nearly a half dozen ships sailing around Yemen, Central Command officials posted on social media Wednesday.
Also new: Two U.S. F-15 fighter jets attacked a weapons storage facility in eastern Syria on Wednesday in response to “a series of attacks against U.S. personnel in Iraq and Syria by the [Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps]-Quds Force,” Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin told D1’s Lauren C. Williams and other reporters traveling with him to the Pacific region on Wednesday.
The Wednesday strikes “are not connected to what Israel is doing in its efforts against Hamas,” Austin said. “So, in terms of deterrence overall, our goal is to make sure that the conflict that’s in Gaza doesn’t expand and become a region-wide conflict.”
SecDef Austin: “The President has no higher priority than the safety of U.S. personnel, and he directed today’s action to make clear that the United States will defend itself, its personnel, and its interests,” Austin said in a separate statement Wednesday evening. “The United States is fully prepared to take further necessary measures to protect our people and our facilities,” he warned.
For the record, U.S. forces in Iraq and Syria have been targeted by militant attacks more than 60 times over the past three weeks, Charles Lister noted Wednesday on social media. (Fox is separately tracking at least 40 attacks since October 17.) Fortunately, no troops have been injured and there has been no damage to bases since October 26, according to defense officials.
America’s top uniformed officer encouraged an end to the conflict in Gaza so as to limit the number of people possibly considering joining the ranks of Palestinian militants. That was one of the messages Thursday from Joint Chiefs Chairman Air Force Gen. Charles Q. Brown, Jr., while traveling in the Pacific.
“I think the longer this goes, the harder it can become,” Brown told reporters. “The faster you can get to a point where you stop the hostilities, you have less strife for the civilian population that turns into someone who now wants to be the next member of Hamas,” he said. Reuters has more.
French President Emmanuel Macron called for restraint as Israel continues its war on Hamas-held Gaza City. Macron threw his support behind Israel in the name of self defense; however, he cautioned Thursday at a Gaza aid conference in Paris, “Fighting terrorism can never be carried out without rules. Israel knows that.” The Associated Press has more.
ICYMI: Hamas says it’s gearing up for a “permanent” state of war, the New York Times reported this week in a sort of psychological and historical explainer for the current war in Gaza. For example, “I hope that the state of war with Israel will become permanent on all the borders, and that the Arab world will stand with us,” one Hamas official told the Times.
- “US considers Israeli request for hundreds of Switchblade 600 attack drones,” Defense Scoop reported Tuesday;
- “Hezbollah's anti-ship missiles bolster its threat to US navy,” Reuters reported Wednesday from Beirut;
- “A Gaza ‘Cease-Fire’ or a ‘Pause’? Even World Leaders Are Confused,” the New York Times reported Wednesday after Emanuela-Chiara Gillard of the London-based Chatham House explored the issue in an essay published Monday;
- “Michigan couple back from Gaza, recall fear and desperation of being trapped amid war,” AP reported Thursday from Dearborn.
Welcome to this Thursday edition of The D Brief, brought to you by Ben Watson with Bradley Peniston. If you’re not already subscribed, you can sign up here. On this day in 1918 and following more than four disastrous years of war, Germany's Kaiser Wilhelm II abdicated his throne after protests in Berlin swelled to a full-blown revolution, ending the House of Hohenzollern's 500-year rule, and ushering the end of Germany’s involvement in the war with signing of the armistice at Compiègne, France, two days later on November 11.
Wagner vets, wooed. Since August, when the chief of the once-powerful Wagner paramilitary organization died in a suspicious plane crash, its battle-hardened fighters have been recruited by various Russian forces, the New York Times reports. These include the Russian Army, naturally enough, but also Rosgvardia, a national-guard force that has recently been given heavy military weapons. “Before the war, Rosgvardia had mostly guarded public events and broken up protests; during the invasion, its troops crossed into Ukraine to help occupy the conquered territory,” the Times writes.
The Kremlin is also funding a disinformation campaign to undermine support for Ukraine among South American audiences, according to the U.S. State Department. That includes Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Cuba, Mexico, Venezuela, Brazil, Ecuador, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, and Uruguay, among other countries in Latin America.
A second opinion: Despite what you may have read elsewhere, the Ukraine conflict is not “frozen,” according to a Ukrainian soldier who pleaded his case on social media Thursday, citing Russian strategic doctrine. Read over his lengthy take, here.
How’s the commandant doing? The Marine Corps has an update on Gen. Eric Smith, who was hospitalized with a heart attack on Oct. 30: “General Smith continues to make progress as he continues on his path to full recovery. Based on his baseline physical health and his rapid improvement over the last week, his medical team has recommended that he transition to inpatient rehabilitation to expedite his recovery. They are confident that with focused attention and daily interaction, he will be back to full duty status sooner than if utilizing outpatient rehabilitation.”
Gen. Smith adds: “I appreciate the outpouring of support for my family and me. My recovery is going well, and I look forward to getting back in the fight as soon as I can. Until that time, our Corps is in Gen. Mahoney’s capable hands.”
He notes that the Marine Corps will celebrate its 248th birthday on Friday. “Like many of you, I’ve celebrated our birthday in a variety of ‘climes and places’ over the years, but what matters most is that we’re together as a family—spiritually, if not physically. I’d ask you to take a moment to reach out to your brothers and sisters sitting next to you, as well as those you may not have connected with in a while. Have fun, and Happy Birthday Marines!”
The Marines released a birthday video early last week, warning its audience early that, “If you desire peace, prepare for war.” The entire video is nine minutes long, and you can watch it over on YouTube, here.
And lastly: Veterans Day is Saturday, though lots of businesses will begin offering discounts on Friday. The usual crew have assembled helpful webpages gathering what restaurants are offering what; that ensemble includes Military.com, USA Today, the American Legion, the National Guard Association of the United States, and the fairly exhaustive list compiled by the Department of Veterans Affairs, to name just a few.
Some of our food favorites involve free donuts (Krispy Kreme and Dunkin) and the meal voucher offered each year by Texas Roadhouse.
An assortment of short-term retail discounts are open to veterans on Saturday as well. Those can be found at Cabela’s outdoor supply, Jiffy Lube, Michaels, Sherwin-Williams, Tractor Supply, and much more.
Many other special events are scheduled around the country depending on where you live, and not just on Saturday. For some of us in the DC area, we’re looking forward to “Military Appreciation Day” Friday at the Movement climbing gym in Crystal City, which is about a half-mile south of the Pentagon.
The gym is offering free day passes as well as free classes for any veterans looking to drop in at any point Friday. And for the physically adventurous, there’s a paid-entry climbing competition in the afternoon to fundraise for Make-A-Wish Operation Dream Maker, which is an organization “dedicated to granting wishes for children from military families who are battling critical illnesses this year.” Details, here.
Have a safe weekend, everyone. We’re off on Friday, so we’ll see you again on Monday!
NEXT STORY: F-15s strike weapons facility in Syria