MOSUL FREE, RAQQA NEXT: After nine months of the deadliest, dirtiest urban combat in recent military history, Iraqi Security Forces and Kurdish Peshmerga fighters, with air and artillery support from the U.S.-backed coalition, have wrested the city of Mosul from the brutal rule of the Islamic State. The top U.S. commander in Iraq issued a formal statement congratulating the Iraqi troops on their "hard-fought victory,” even as some areas of the old city of Mosul still must be cleared of explosive devices and possible ISIS fighters in hiding.
"Make no mistake; this victory alone does not eliminate ISIS and there is still a tough fight ahead," Lt. Gen. Stephen Townsend said in statement yesterday. "But the loss of one of its twin capitals and a jewel of their so-called caliphate is a decisive blow." Later President Trump added his congratulations in a statement from the White House. “The victory in Mosul, a city where ISIS once proclaimed its so-called ‘caliphate,’ signals that its days in Iraq and Syria are numbered,” Trump said. “We will continue to seek the total destruction of ISIS.”
REBUILDING A ‘HELLSCAPE:’ The liberation effort has taken a heavy toll on Mosul, which is evident from the images coming from what was once Iraq’s second-largest city. Some streets resemble a post-apocalyptic hellscape, with not a single habitable structure left. “The old city is absolutely in ruins. Like some sort of extraordinarily awful supernatural element has hit it. I've never seen anything like it,” said CNN correspondent Nick Paton Walsh in a report yesterday. “Nearly every car you see is torn up like a piece of paper and a pancake. The roads are all pushed to one side by bulldozers because the rubble blocked them. It's extraordinary to imagine anyone could possibly ever live there ever again.”
THE WAR GOES ON: While there are still other parts of Iraq where ISIS remains in control – including a village less than 50 miles south of Mosul – Townsend said the coalition’s top priority now shifts to Syria, where U.S.-backed fighters have ISIS surrounded in Raqqa, its other self-proclaimed capital. “What was job number 2 for us, Raqqa, Syria, is now job number 1,” Townsend told CNN yesterday. “We're prosecuting that fight there just like we did there, by, with and through our local partners. And we're performing the same kind of missions,” Townsend said. “We'll take Raqqa, with our partners.” Townsend is set to brief reporters at the Pentagon today, live from Baghdad at noon. Live streamed at www.defense.gov/live.
BY, WITH, THROUGH: As Townsend pointed out, the strategy for defeating the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria has not changed substantially under President Trump, despite his campaign pledges to revamp policies to speed up the defeat of the terrorist group. The ‘by, with, through,” strategy, which is to rely on local forces to take and hold the ground, with air support, and tactical advice from U.S. special operations troops, remains the basic approach. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis seemed to acknowledge as much in an interview he gave on Memorial Day to a high school student in Washington state. “I think also under the Obama administration, there was more of an accelerated campaign against the terrorists than perhaps the Obama administration was willing to sustain,” Mattis said, adding “I think the two administrations are more variations on a theme than they are dramatically different approaches.”
EDUCATING EXTREMISTS: In that interview, Mattis expounded on his theory that the best way to combat extremist ideologies is through education, not warfare. “I sometimes wonder how much better the world would be if we funded for nations where they have ideology problems, where the ideologies are hateful, full of hatred,” Mattis told the student journalist for the The Islander, published by Mercer Island High School in the Seattle area. “I wonder what would happen if we turned around and we helped pay for high school students, a boy and girl at each high school in that country to come to America for one year and don’t do it just once, but do it ten years in a row,” Mattis said in his most wide-ranging interview since he assumed the top job at Pentagon.
THAAD NOW 14 FOR 14: The U.S. Missile Defense Agency announced a successful intercept test of its Terminal High Terminal High Altitude Area Defense ballistic missile shield, known as THAAD. A U.S. Air Force C-17 cargo plane launched the target missile from the air over the Pacific Ocean north of Hawaii, and the land-based THAAD interceptor missile was launched from Kodiak, Alaska. The THAAD system “detected, tracked and intercepted the target,” according to an MDA release. “Preliminary indications are that planned flight test objectives were achieved and the threat-representative, intermediate-range ballistic missile (IRBM) target was successfully intercepted by the THAAD weapon system,” the statement said. THAAD is now 14 for 14 in missile tests.
The THAAD system is currently deployed to South Korea in response to North Korea’s stepped up missile test program. The battery has an initial operating capability, but not all elements of the system are in place, because South Korea’s new President Moon Jae-in has asked for a review of the system before allowing the deployment to be completed. “The successful demonstration of THAAD against an IRBM-range missile threat bolsters the country’s defensive capability against developing missile threats in North Korea and other countries around the globe and contributes to the broader strategic deterrence architecture,” the MDA statement said.
MARINE KC-130 CRASH: The reports from Mississippi say all 16 people on board a Marine KC-130 refueling jet died when the plane spiraled out of control and hit a soybean field in rural Leflore county. The plane, essentially a flying gas station, charred a large section of ground as local fire crews struggled to put out the burning wreckage, presumably fed by the fuel in the plane’s massive tank. Debris was spread over a 5 mile area, and some bodies were found far from the crash site, suggesting the plane may have broken up before it hit the ground.
At 8:30 last night the Marines put out a brief statement acknowledging the crash, but providing no details. “A USMC KC-130 experienced a mishap the evening of July 10,” said Capt. Sarah Burns, a Marine Corps spokesperson “Further information will be passed as available.” As of this morning no further update has been provided.
Good Tuesday morning and welcome to Jamie McIntyre’s Daily on Defense, compiled by Washington Examiner National Security Senior Writer Jamie McIntyre (@jamiejmcintyre), National Security Writer Travis J. Tritten (@travis_tritten) and Senior Editor David Brown (@dave_brown24). Email us here for tips, suggestions, calendar items and anything else. If a friend sent this to you and you’d like to sign up, click here. If signing up doesn’t work, shoot us an email and we’ll add you to our list. And be sure to follow us on Twitter @dailyondefense.
HAPPENING TODAY, SPENCER FACES MCCAIN: Trump’s pick for Navy secretary, Richard V. Spencer, appears before Sen. John McCain and the Senate Armed Services Committee this morning at 9:30 a.m. The midsummer hearing comes after Spencer’s June nomination hearing was postponed due to the Senate’s Obamacare debate. Nearly six months into his term, Trump has yet to fill the Navy’s top civilian post and approval by Armed Services could send Spencer, a financier and former Marine aviator with no apparent red flags so far, to a final confirmation vote on the chamber floor. But he will first have to face McCain, who berated deputy defense secretary nominee Pat Shanahan last month and threatened to hold up that nomination.
GRAHAM TARGETS ‘PAY TO SLAY:’ Tomorrow the Senate Foreign Relations Committee will consider Sen. Lindsey Graham’s bill to cut off funding to the Palestinian Authority if it continues a policy of paying monetary rewards to terrorists and their surviving family members. The legislation is called “The Taylor Force Act,” named for a former U.S. Army officer who was part of a Vanderbilt University tour group visiting Israel when he was brutally stabbed and killed by a Palestinian terrorist. Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah faction praised the terrorist as a “heroic martyr” and the Palestinian Authority has yet to condemn the terrorist attack, Graham said in a statement. Stuart and Robbi Force are constituents of Graham’s in South Carolina, and are backing Graham’s bill to end what he calls the practice of “pay to slay.”
IMPENETRABLE CYBER UNIT: Proposed amendments to the House’s National Defense Authorization Act continued to roll in Monday after a filing deadline, including one by Rep. Don Beyer that would put a stake in Trump’s joint cybersecurity unit with Russia. The legislation would bar any spending on intelligence sharing, equipment, personnel and facilities needed for such an operation. It was one of nearly 400 proposals that may or may not get a vote when the NDAA goes to the House floor, possibly later this week.
But after touting it Sunday morning, it was unclear by Sunday evening whether Trump even wanted to pursue his idea of a cyber unit with Russia, which the U.S. intelligence community determined meddled in the 2016 election. "The fact that President Putin and I discussed a cybersecurity unit doesn't mean I think it can happen. It can't," Trump tweeted. The proposal was mocked by some top Republicans. Sen. Lindsey Graham called it one of the stupidest ideas he had heard.
TARGETING TRANSGENDER CARE: Rep. Vicky Hartzler is again taking aim at transgender military service. The Missouri Republican led the GOP outcry over transgender integration late last month during House Armed Services’ marathon markup of the NDAA, saying that forcing troops to sleep and shower with those “born of the opposite sex” is ruining readiness. “If the DOD fails to act decisively on this policy, future action must be taken by us,” she warned at the time. This week, she appeared to be making good on her warning with a proposed NDAA amendment that would bar the military from providing gender transition medical care to troops.
Gender reassignment surgery and hormone therapy are now covered medical procedures under the Pentagon's year-old integration policy. Hartzler’s proposal could get a floor vote later this week. She voluntarily withdrew an earlier amendment during the Armed Services NDAA debate that would have abolished the policy allowing transgender troops to serve openly.
THE QUOTABLE MATTIS: In that remarkable interview with high school journalist Teddy Fischer, Mattis rolled out a few more choice “Mattisisms.” Here’s a sample:
Ideologues: “I don’t care for ideological people. It’s like those people just want to stop thinking.”
War: “It’s still full of fear and courage, cowardice and duplicity, treachery, and clarity, honesty and confusion. It’s a fundamental and predictable phenomenon.”
Diplomacy: “The way that you get your diplomats listened to in an imperfect world is you make certain you back them up with hard power.”
“What you have to do is make certain that your foreign policy is led by the diplomats, not by the military.”
Isolationism: “Like it or not, we’re part of a world. We can’t just be isolationist like we were after World War I.”
Lessons of history: “If you study history, you realize that our country has been through worse and here’s how they’ve found their way through that.”
The federal budget: “There’s nothing in the constitution that says the president sends a budget to Congress. I’ve read the Constitution a couple times and Article I of the Constitution says it’s up to Congress how much to tax, and how much of the money in the budget goes where. So, we’ve fallen into this in the last 70 years or so where the president sends a proposed budget to Congress and they can do with it what they wish. Congress will not probably tolerate all those cuts anyway.”
Advice to young people: “Get involved. You’ll gain courage when you get involved. You’ll gain confidence, you’ll link with people, some of whom will agree with you and some won’t, and as a result, you’ll broaden your perspective.’
Wall Street Journal: North Korea’s missile can take off but might not survive reentry, South says
Bloomberg: F-35 program costs jump to $406.5 billion in latest estimate
Real Clear Defense: F-35 Joint Strike Fighter at a tipping point
Reuters: Donald Trump Jr. hires lawyer for Russia probes
New York Times: India, U.S. and Japan begin war games, and China hears a message
Defense News: Mulvaney opens door to bigger DOD budgets
AP: 5 things to know about Iraq's Mosul
Washington Post: Soldier in Hawaii arrested in terrorism probe, officials say
USNI News: Navy releases details of new FFG(X) guided-missile frigate program in request to industry
USA Today: You'd be surprised by the trend in Europe's terrorist attacks
DoD Buzz: UK plans to buy $1 billion worth of JLTVs
Stars and Stripes: U.S. deployed Patriot missiles to Lithuania for multinational war games
Task and Purpose: This never-before-seen nighttime F-35 helmet cam footage is both intense and revealing
Roll Call: Congress still grappling with cybersecurity concerns
War on the Rocks: The historical resonance of Trump’s speech in Poland
Defense Tech: Marine artillery strike devastates Syrian ISIS target in new video
Wired: The Pentagon ponders the threat of synthetic bioweapons
Military.com: First Marine sentenced to jail time for Marines United photo-sharing
TUESDAY | JULY 11
7:30 a.m. 300 First ST. NE. Air Force Gen. James Holmes, commander, Air Combat Command, provides remarks at the Air Force Association breakfast series Capitol Hill edition, at the Capitol Hill Club.
8 a.m. 2101 Wilson Blvd. Procurement division meeting. ndia.org
9 a.m. 1030 15th St. NW. Russia’s Zapad 17 exercise and its implications for NATO and the United States. atlanticcouncil.org
9:30 a.m. Dirksen G-50. Nomination hearing for Richard V. Spencer to be Navy secretary. armed-services.senate.gov
10 a.m. Dirksen 419. Nomination hearing for Jay Patrick Murray to be alternate U.S. representative for special political affairs at the UN. foreign.senate.gov
10 a.m. Dirksen 342. Nominations of David J. Glawe to be undersecretary for intelligence and analysis at the Department of Homeland Security, and David P. Pekoske to be assistant secretary of the Transportation Security Administration. hsgac.senate.gov
10 a.m. 1775 Massachusetts Ave. NW. A blueprint for maximizing the impact of U.S. foreign aid. Brookings.edu
11 a.m. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis welcomes Italian Defense Minister Roberta Pinotti to the Pentagon on the steps of the River Entrance.
11 a.m. 214 Massachusetts Ave. NE. The U.S.-Tunisia strategic partnership and its importance to regional stability with Sen. John McCain and Youssef Chahed, Tunisia chief of government. Heritage.org
12 noon Pentagon Briefing Room. Army Lt. Gen. Stephen Townsend, commander, Combined Joint Task Force - Operation Inherent Resolve briefs the media live from Baghdad. Live streamed at www.defense.gov/live.
WEDNESDAY | JULY 12
9 a.m. 1300 Pennsylvania Ave. NW. Post-conflict peacebuilding: Key issues, challenges, lessons learned and best practices. wilsoncenter.org
9:30 a.m. Dirksen G-50. Nomination hearing for Ryan D. McCarthy, for Army under secretary; David J. Trachtenberg, for principal deputy under secretary of defense for policy; Owen O. West, for assistant secretary of defense for special operations and low-intensity conflict; Charles D. Stimson, for Navy general counsel. armed-services.senate.gov
9:30 a.m. 1300 Pennsylvania Ave. NW. The war on ISIS and the forgotten need for congressional authorization with Sens. Tim Kaine and Jeff Flake. wilsoncenter.org
10 a.m. Dirksen 419. Consideration of the Taylor Force Act. foreign.senate.gov
2 p.m. Rayburn 2172. Advancing U.S. interests in the Western Hemisphere with the Fiscal Year 2018 budget request with Francisco Palmieri, acting assistant secretary of state and Sarah-Ann Lynch, acting assistant administrator with USAID. foreignaffairs.house.gov
2:30 p.m. Rayburn 2200. Subcommittee hearing on black flags over Mindanao and terrorism in Southeast Asia. foreignaffairs.house.gov
2:30 p.m. Dirksen 124. Subcommittee markup of the Fiscal Year 2018 Military Construction, Veterans Affairs Appropriations bill. appropriations.senate.gov
THURSDAY | JULY 13
7 a.m. 11100 Johns Hopkins Rd. Integrated air and missile defense symposium. ndia.org
8 a.m. 555 Pennsylvania Ave. NW. Annual technology summit with Lt. Gen. Paul Nakasone, commanding general of U.S. Army Cyber Command. defenseone.com
8:45 a.m. 1616 Rhode Island Ave. NW. Cross-Strait relations re-examined: Toward a new normal? csis.org
9 a.m. 529 14th St. NW. The July 15 coup attempt in Turkey, one year on. press.org
9:30 a.m. Dirksen G-50. Attempted coup in Montenegro and malign Russian influence in Europe with Ambassador Nebojša Kaludjerovic. armed-services.senate.gov
10 a.m. House Visitor Center 210. The persistent threat: Al Qaeda’s evolution and resilience. homeland.house.gov
10:30 a.m. Dirksen 106. Full committee markup of the Fiscal Year 2018 Military Construction, Veterans Affairs Appropriations bill. appropriations.senate.gov
12 p.m. 1030 15th St. NW. Regime change in Iran: From the 1953 coup to the Trump policy review. atlanticcouncil.org
1 p.m. Rayburn 2172. America’s interests in the Middle East and North Africa and the president’s Fiscal Year 2018 budget request with Stuart Jones, acting assistant secretary of state, and Maria Longi, acting assistant administrator with USAID. foreignaffairs.house.gov
2 p.m. House Visitor Center 210. The terrorist diaspora after the fall of the ISIS caliphate. homeland.house.gov
FRIDAY | JULY 14
12 p.m. 1211 Connecticut Ave. NW. Lost in translation? U.S. defense innovation and Northeast Asia. stimson.org
MONDAY | JULY 17
10 a.m. 1616 Rhode Island Ave. NW. The Russia challenge in Europe with Sen. Tom Cotton. csis.org
3:30 p.m. 1030 15th St. NW. Cyber risk Monday: The darkening Web. atlanticcouncil.org
TUESDAY | JULY 18
9 a.m. 1616 Rhode Island Ave. NW. Seventh Annual CSIS South China Sea Conference: Renewing American leadership in the Asia-Pacific with Sen. Cory Gardner. csis.org
9:30 a.m. 1030 15th St. NW. A discussion with Iraqi Speaker of Parliament H.E. Salim al-Jabouri. atlanticcouncil.org
10:30 a.m. 1030 15th St. NW. Central Asia and U.S. foreign policy at a great power crossroads. atlanticcouncil.org