Fdd's overnight brief

October 29, 2019

In The News

Islamic State

U.S. forces targeted and killed Islamic State’s spokesman in a strike in northeast Syria, a senior State Department official confirmed, an operation that closely followed the raid in which the militant group’s leader died. – Wall Street Journal

The U.S. military raid resulting in the death of Islamic State founder Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi also yielded an array of valuable intelligence concerning the militant group and its top leaders, defense officials said, providing details that likely will lead to future operations. – Wall Street Journal

When U.S. forces found Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of the Islamic State militant group, he was not in some forgotten border town or remote patch of desert but in Syria’s Idlib province, a place where Baghdadi surely knew he was surrounded by enemies, and eyes. – Washington Post

The “dark and dangerous” operation that claimed the life of Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was named after 26-year-old Kayla Mueller, an American who was kidnapped by the extremist group and killed in 2015. – Washington Post

One key question will be to what extent global affiliates of the Islamic State or groups linked to it will remain loyal to a network that has lost all the territory it once held. These groups’ loyalty may differ from country to country. – Washington Post

However, while the announcement on Sunday of Baghdadi’s death during a U.S. military operation in northwest Syria was welcomed in foreign capitals around the world, the reaction was clouded by differing views of President Trump’s strategy in Syria and concern about the Islamic State regrouping in the future. – Washington Post

Trump said Monday that the White House was considering what evidence of the raid could be released publicly. […]But if any is made publicly available, it would also mark another key difference in Trump’s handling of Baghdadi’s death with President Barack Obama’s 2011 operation that led to the death of Osama bin Laden, the founder of extremist group al-Qaeda. – Washington Post

The country’s top military officer said on Monday that he does not know where President Trump got his information that Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the Islamic State leader, died “screaming, crying and whimpering.” – New York Times

There is unlikely to be a tell-all book or movie based on firsthand accounts of the Delta Force commandos who assaulted the compound of the Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and chased him into a dead-end tunnel, prompting him to blow himself up, military officials say. – New York Times

One of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s last audio messages was an appeal for his followers to do everything in their power to free Islamic State detainees and the women being held in jails and camps in northeastern Syria. – Associated Press

US officials have said the body of Islamic State group chief Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was buried at sea, as fresh details surfaced about the US special forces operation that led to his death over the weekend. – Agence France-Presse

The United States wants to bolster a coalition fighting Islamic State in northeastern Syria, a senior State Department official said on Monday, after the leader of the jihadi movement, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, was killed in a weekend operation. – Reuters

Kurdish-led forces allied with the United States provided information — including used underwear for a DNA analysis — that was key to the operation that killed the Islamic State group’s leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of the Kurdish forces in Syria said Monday. – NBC News

Editorial: The death of Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in a U.S. Special Operations forces raid may demoralize the terrorist movement’s militants, but it is unlikely to slow their operations. […]So one crucial question following Saturday’s successful military operation is whether the United States will retain the capacity to strike at terrorists thousands of miles away, given the radical shifts in deployments and alliances President Trump is undertaking. The details of the Baghdadi mission suggest that it may not. – Washington Post

Michael Morell writes: Contrary to some commentaries on the death of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the elimination of the leader of the Islamic State was more than a symbolic victory. […]The fight against extremism in general, and against the Islamic State in particular, is not over. The Baghdadi operation was a great success, but all aspects of U.S. policy, including our leaders’ public comments, need to be aligned to keep the country safe. – Washington Post

Kathy Gilsinan writes: Much like the end of the territorial caliphate, Baghdadi’s death won’t end the group as a whole, or the threat it poses. The so-called kingpin strategy of pursuing terrorist leaders to defeat the groups they lead has had mixed results historically. […]The U.S. celebrates quick victories as long-term problems continue to fester. – The Atlantic

Noah Rothman writes: The dispatching of al-Baghdadi is a welcome development, but it does not make up for the strategic initiative sacrificed in the lead-up to this weekend’s successful operation. Today, as American special forces reportedly retake Syrian positions they’d abandoned only weeks or days earlier, U.S. positions in eastern Syria are reinforced with mechanized forces, and the State Department rallies a Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS in anticipation of the worst, it would behoove Trump to internalize a lesson his predecessor learned too late. He’d do well to hedge his bets. – Commentary Magazine

Katherine Bauer, Matthew Levitt, and Aaron Y. Zelin write: In the wake of the Baghdadi raid, another factor worth considering is the prospect of HVE attacks driven by “perceived grievance related to U.S. Government actions,” according to then director of national intelligence Dan Coats. […]the core IS leadership is either Iraqi or Syrian. The Islamic State has always been more embedded locally in Iraq and Syria than al-Qaeda had been in Afghanistan and Pakistan. This suggests that IS will likely be more resilient and have a greater reservoir for recruitment and future leaders than al-Qaeda ever could have, once its original leadership in the Afghanistan and Pakistan region became degraded. – Washington Institute


Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said on Monday the United States would increase economic pressure on Iran over its nuclear program, making the pledge during a Middle East trip that includes visits to U.S. allies Israel and Saudi Arabia. – Reuters

The plan to build a petrochemical plant near the Iranian city of Firouzabad had everything usually needed to get a project off the ground: approval from the nation’s top authority, funding from the Revolutionary Guards and plentiful gas feedstock. – Reuters

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accused Iran on Monday of seeking the means to launch precision-guided missiles at Israel from Yemen, a signal that the war-torn Gulf Arab country could come under pre-emptive Israeli attack. – Reuters

Senior defense officials have warned that Israel is facing an Iranian storm that is coming closer to her borders. But who are the men behind the storm? And what has Israel done to stop them? – Jerusalem Post 


Federal prosecutors say two brothers charged with conspiring to export drone parts and technology from the U.S. to Iranian-backed Hezbollah militia in Lebanon are “dangerous” and should remain in custody while they await trial, according to a court document filed Monday. – Associated Press 

Al Manar TV, which is affiliated with the Hezbollah terrorist movement, was forcibly prevented from filming demonstrators who were blocking a road between Bekaa and Beirut on Monday, according to Al Manar. – Jerusalem Post

Kenneth Glueck and Frank J. Grass write: There is a growing risk of war along the Israeli-Lebanese border. The United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) has failed to disarm Hezbollah, forcing Israel to expand its operations to counter the group. Recent changes to UNIFIL’s mandate are productive first steps at holding Hezbollah accountable, but greater pressure will be necessary to de-escalate the situation. – Algemeiner


The first United Nations mediator who tried to broker peace in Syria declared it “mission impossible” and abandoned the effort. That was seven years and hundreds of thousands of deaths ago. Now, as Mediator No. 4 prepares to try again, diplomats appear to be setting their sights lower and choosing their language carefully. – New York Times

The United States will repel any attempt to take Syria’s oil fields away from U.S.-backed Syrian militia with “overwhelming force,” whether the opponent is Islamic State or even forces backed by Russia or Syria, the Pentagon said on Monday. – Reuters

The United Nations special envoy for Syria on Monday called for the ceasefire in northeastern Syria to be extended as he tries to move ahead with a political process to end the eight-year-old war. – Reuters

Eli Lake writes: The Syrian Kurds have kept their promise. They have continued to assist the U.S. war against Islamic State, even as they had to seek protection from Russia. The least the U.S. can do now is to use its remaining leverage to deter Turkey — and to advocate for an autonomous Kurdish region in Syria. – Bloomberg

Peter Brookes writes: The regime’s possession and use of CWs is only part of the problem: There are serious concerns about direct Iranian and proxy Hezbollah activities in Syria and the region, as well as Iran’s and Hezbollah’s ties to the Syrian CW program, which require further consideration and study. […]The United States should lead and work with like-minded members of the international community to hold Syria accountable for its past actions involving CWs, deter future actions involving CWs, deny CW use, and work toward CW disarmament in Syria. – Heritage Foundation


Kurdish YPG forces have not fully withdrawn from a strip of northeastern Syria under a Russia-brokered accord that is about to expire, Turkey’s foreign minister said on Monday, as Ankara prepared to discuss its next steps with Moscow. – Reuters

Early in his presidency, Donald Trump’s White House explored whether the U.S. could cut off taxpayer funding for a network of charter schools affiliated with a political opponent of Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan, according to two people familiar with the matter. – Bloomberg

Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations on Monday blasted Turkey’s invasion of Syria, and accused Ankara of promoting anti-Semitism and the ethnic cleansing of Kurds. – Times of Israel

Three weeks after President Donald Trump ordered U.S. forces to pull out of northern Syria, American spy agencies are seeing disturbing intelligence. Turkish-backed militias, armed by Ankara, have killed civilians in areas abandoned by the U.S., four U.S. military and intelligence officials tell TIME. – TIME


The Palestinian Authority wants Israel to ease roadblocks stalling the upgrade of its telecommunications infrastructure, and is using a global regulatory gathering to pressure it to cooperate. – Bloomberg

A 16-year-old Palestinian tried to stab Border Police officers in Jerusalem s Old City on Monday. The teen was shot by police and moderately wounded. – Haaretz

A well-known Palestinian activist critical of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas says that Facebook has taken down his page, which had approximately 998,000 followers. – Times of Israel

US President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner visited Israel on Monday, meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his top rivals, Benny Gantz and Yair Lapid of the Blue and White party. – Algemeiner

As Israel and the United States grapple with uncertain politics that could have a massive effect on the future of Israel-Palestinian relations, politically progressive Jewish Americans are showcasing their influence. – Associated Press

Hamas leaders in Gaza say they are ready to hold Palestinian elections — a potentially significant step that could help end a 12-year rift with the rival Palestinian Authority. – Associated Press


The Iraqi government announced a midnight-to-dawn curfew in Baghdad on Monday, as it struggled to contain growing antigovernment protests that have gained support around the country, including from a leading Shiite cleric who has called for early elections. – New York Times

Iraqi Defense Minister Najah al-Shammari said on Tuesday a missile fell near a military base hosting U.S. forces north of Baghdad but caused no damage. – Reuters

Iraqi security forces wearing masks and black plainclothes opened fire at protesters in the Shiite holy city of Karbala on Tuesday, killing 18 people and wounding hundreds, security officials said, in one of the deadliest single attacks since the country was engulfed by protests this month. – Associated Press

When Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi took to the pulpit of Iraq’s historic al-Nuri mosque to declare his caliphate in 2014, residents of Mosul had no idea the extent to which their city would be devastated. – Reuters

Michael Rubin writes: The current protests, and the dangers they represent, also highlight how quickly malign forces can hijack popular movements. During the Arab Spring, both the Muslim Brotherhood and then the Egyptian military sought to co-opt and then eviscerate the democratic yearnings of the younger generations. Today in Iraq, Sadr and the Iranian-backed militias may be doing the same. The point is to recognize how fragile democracy can be and how much the outside word should seek to nurture it when possible. That the White House is missing once-in-a-life opportunities in Hong Kong and Lebanon will not be recalled by historians as evidence of “great and unmatched wisdom.” – Washington Examiner

Arabian Peninsula

A year after the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, Saudi Arabia is struggling to draw a diverse mix of global executives to its signature investment conference, in another sign that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s ambitious drive to overhaul the kingdom’s economy is hitting headwinds. – Wall Street Journal

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said on Monday that the situation in south Yemen had shown “positive signals” for the first time in months. – Reuters

Saudi Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman and U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry met in Riyadh on Monday and will work together to ensure the security of global energy supply, Saudi state news agency SPA reported. – Reuters

Middle East & North Africa

An Islamic State cell broken up last week planned to attack Casablanca and its port, but a Syrian militant who assisted the group remains at large, the head of Morocco’s BCIJ security agency said on Monday. – Reuters

David Ignatius writes: The post-Baghdadi vacuum could produce another charismatic extremist who will ignite the fires of rage again. So vigilant counterterrorism is still the essential requirement in dealing with what’s left of the Islamic State. But there’s something else animating the Arab world these days, and it isn’t the Islamic chanting that accompanied videos of beheading. It’s something different — a militant, secular movement demanding change. – Washington Post

Walter Russell Mead writes: Baghdadi’s death was more than a meaningless episode in an endless game of Middle Eastern Whac-A-Mole. The fall of his so-called caliphate brings the U.S. a little closer to the end of its longest war. […]President Trump understands how tired Americans are of the seemingly endless wars the U.S. military has been fighting in the Middle East since 2001. He knows Americans have lost faith in the development economists and democracy “experts” whose Middle East plans never quite work. The question is whether he understands how important the region still is. – Wall Street Journal

Korean Peninsula

The governments in Seoul and Tokyo aren’t the best of friends at the moment. That’s a shame, since South Korea has a particularly important economic lesson to learn from Japan. – Wall Street Journal

Japan and South Korea on Tuesday rejected a media report that the two governments were studying plans for a joint economic program that aims to ease strains over the issue of forced Korean labor in World War Two. – Reuters

South Korea is intensifying its campaign to ban the Japanese “rising sun” flag from being displayed at next year’s Tokyo Olympics, in the latest diplomatic row linked to the countries’ bitter wartime history. – The Guardian


Chinese investors are pressing ahead with investments into startups and venture-capital funds, emboldened in part by ambiguities in U.S. efforts to limit foreign access to technology deals. – Wall Street Journal

It’s been almost two years since President Xi Jinping last convened a full meeting of the Communist Party’s Central Committee. But at this week’s closed-door session, which ends Thursday, Xi looks poised to pick up where he left off: solidifying control over the ruling party and the country of almost 1.4 billion people. State media have reported that the so-called plenum would discuss issues related to maintaining and improving China’s socialist system and national governance. That suggests a sweeping agenda focused on further centralizing power around the president. – Bloomberg

Chinese officials confirmed over the weekend that the U.S. and China are close to finalizing the “phase one” deal Presidents Donald Trump and Xi Jinping are expected to sign on the sidelines of a Nov. 16-17 meeting in Chile of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation. So it’s a good time to review what’s in the deal — and what’s not. – Bloomberg

Tensions between the United States and China have given new impetus to a China-backed trade pact and there is a chance of major progress, if not final agreement, when Southeast Asian leaders meet in Bangkok this week, analysts say. – Reuters

U.S. President Donald Trump said on Monday he expected to sign a significant part of the trade deal with China ahead of schedule but did not elaborate on the timing. – Reuters

The United States Trade Representative is studying whether to extend tariff suspensions on $34 billion of Chinese goods set to expire on Dec. 28 this year, the agency said on Monday. – Reuters

China’s ruling Communist Party is holding a key meeting this week amid a drastically slowing economy, ongoing protests in Hong Kong and pushback abroad against Beijing’s global ambitions. – Associated Press

Peter Harrell writes: But the reality is that American companies are going to face increasing pressure from both Beijing and Washington in coming years as China and the United States compete. A corporate code of conduct would give American companies greater influence over their own fates, while standing for values against a China that increasingly tries to reject them. – The Hill 

Michael Beckley writes: China’s economic woes will make it a less competitive rival in the long term but a greater threat to the United States today. When rising powers have suffered such slowdowns in the past, they became more repressive at home and more aggressive abroad. China seems to be headed down just such a path.  – Foreign Affairs

Joseph Bosco writes: A revived and vigorous Western information campaign would achieve a measure of informational reciprocity, exploit this Chinese Communist vulnerability, and avoid a disastrous shooting war. In so doing, the West would turn the strategic tables and achieve the ultimate success advocated both by the ancient Chinese strategist, Sun Tzu, and today’s Chinese Communists: winning without fighting. It was the way Ronald Reagan and the United States won the first Cold War. – The Hill

South Asia

After months of denying journalists, Indian lawmakers and an American senator access to the locked-down Kashmir region, the Indian government on Tuesday allowed a visit by mostly far-right members of the European Parliament, representing anti-immigration parties with histories of anti-Muslim rhetoric. – New York Times 

Washington’s Afghan peace envoy remained in Pakistan on Tuesday as part of efforts to find a negotiated end to Afghanistan’s 18 -year war, even though President Donald Trump hasn’t expressed any interest in resuming talks with the Taliban. – Associated Press

A group of EU lawmakers will visit Indian Kashmir on Tuesday, the first foreign delegation since the special status of the region was revoked, Indian officials said, hours before a grenade attack underlined the volatility of the situation. – Reuters


Authorities on Tuesday barred Hong Kong democracy activist Joshua Wong from contesting local elections, citing concerns that he does not respect China’s sovereignty over the territory, a step that threatens to inflame tensions after months of civil unrest. – Washington Post

Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam dismissed reports of her looming replacement as “very malicious,” reiterating that she had Beijing’s support despite more than four months of unrest. – Bloomberg

Matthew P. Goodman and Amy Searight write: President Donald Trump will join leaders from around the Pacific Rim at the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation forum (APEC) Leaders’ Meeting in Santiago, Chile this November 16 and 17. […]President Trump and his designee at the EAS will have an opportunity to reinforce U.S. commitment to the region through the administration’s “Free and Open Indo-Pacific” (FOIP) strategy. The APEC summit will likely feature a closely watched bilateral meeting between President Trump and Chinese president Xi Jinping, which could culminate in a “phase one” trade deal. – Center for Strategic and International Studies

Riley Walters writes: The U.S. and Japan are significant partners in trade, investment, and security matters. Both countries should strive to build a free and open relationship by pursuing more opportunities for trade and investment. The USJTA is just one step to building this relationship. – Heritage Foundation


Russia and Ukraine need a sense of urgency in their talks on gas transit for Europe, the European Union’s energy chief Maros Sefcovic said after the latest round of talks he chaired in Brussels on Monday failed to yield progress. – Reuters

Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak said on Monday that the gas talks between Ukraine, Russia and the European Union will continue at the end of November, just a month before the current deal expires. – Reuters

Gideon Rachman writes: The lesson is that countries that have been major European powers for centuries are unlikely simply to drift into irrelevance. Their interests need to be accommodated. If that cannot be done, they will have to be confronted. Either way, a European construction that excludes Britain and Russia is unlikely to be either stable or secure. – Financial Times


British Prime Minister Boris Johnson suffered two political drubbings on Monday: He was forced to grudgingly accept the European Union’s offer to delay Brexit until January, and then lost a motion in Parliament to stage a general election before Christmas. – Washington Post

Police detained a supporter of Marine Le Pen’s far-right party on suspicion he opened fire on a mosque in southwestern France on Monday, injuring two people. – Wall Street Journal

A Russian diplomat who Bulgarian prosecutors suspect was involved in espionage has the left Bulgaria, the Bulgarian foreign ministry said on Monday. – Reuters

Dozens of unmanned underwater, surface and air vehicles from NATO countries gathered in Portugal in September for Exercise REP (MUS) 19 to do just that: test technological advances in unmanned maritime systems networks. – Defense News


Russia has been playing for power in Africa in recent years by sending arms, offering mercenaries, and cinching mining deals. More quietly, it has started to set up a low-profile infrastructure of political influence that bears echoes of the Kremlin’s strategy in Europe and the United States. – New York Times 

Suspected jihadists killed 16 villagers in northern Burkina Faso on Monday in an incident highlighting the increased presence of Sahel-based Islamists in the area, local and security sources said. – Reuters

Rising demand for high-speed internet across Africa has made the tower industry a hotbed for deal making, with wireless carriers looking to sell out to specialist providers. South Africa is seen as a particularly attractive market, as the country is looking to start 5G services over the next two years. – Bloomberg

The Americas

After defeating his political rival in Argentina’s presidential election, President-elect Alberto Fernández now faces another adversary and longtime nemesis of the nationalist Peronist movement: the International Monetary Fund. – Wall Street Journal

Over the last year Russia has sent Cuba 1,000 minibuses, 50 locomotives, tens of thousands of tourists and a promise to upgrade the island’s power grid with a multi-million dollar improvement plan. – Associated Press

The European Union and the U.N. refugee agency appealed Monday for support for millions of Venezuelans who have fled the political crisis, and for help to bolster the poverty-wracked country’s neighbors as they strain under the burden of hosting most of them. – Associated Press


Russian state hackers attacked the computer networks of at least 16 national and international sports and antidoping organizations, Microsoft said Monday. The attacks are the latest in a series of brazen Russian cyberattacks on foreign politicians, sporting officials and antidoping regulators. – New York Times

The Federal Communications Commission is moving to place another restraint on the U.S. business of Huawei Technologies Co. and ZTE Corp. ZTCOY 1.06% by banning U.S. companies receiving federal subsidies from purchasing the Chinese firms’ equipment. – Wall Street Journal

A cyberattack afflicted 2,000 websites in Georgia on Monday, the local press reported, including those of the president, courts, several mayors’ offices and three television channels. The hacker or hackers took over the sites and displayed a photo of former president Mikheil Saakashvili with the words, in English, “I’ll be back.” – Washington Post 

Chinese President Xi Jinping has led the way in asserting what’s become known as cybersovereignty. That means government control over how the internet is run and used, as well as what happens with the masses of data generated — the backbone of the digital economy. Other authoritarian regimes are following suit. The U.S. and some other democracies have also taken steps to assert control over homegrown data, even as they defend an open internet as promoting free speech and innovation.  – Bloomberg

Amazon.com Inc’s (AMZN.O) firm grip on the cloud computing market could be threatened by Microsoft Corp’s (MSFT.O) multi-billion dollar contract with the Pentagon, Wall Street analysts said on Monday. – Reuters

U.S. President Donald Trump said in a letter Monday the United States plans to cooperate with “like-minded nations” to promote security in next-generation 5G networks. – Reuters

Worried about internet trolls and foreign powers spreading false news, census officials are preparing to battle misinformation campaigns for the first time in the count’s 230-year history. – Fifth Domain

Ajit Pai writes: Thanks to recent incidents involving the National Basketball Association, Apple and others, Americans have become more aware of how the Chinese government uses its influence over global commerce to export antidemocratic values. […]When it comes to 5G and America’s security, we can’t afford to take a risk and hope for the best. We need to make sure our networks won’t harm our national security, threaten our economic security or undermine our values. That requires a comprehensive effort, one the administration has been undertaking, including through a May 2019 executive order. – Wall Street Journal


A Virginia-class submarine, the second America-class amphibious warship and a Littoral Combat Ship marked significant production milestones last weekendm the service annouced. – USNI News

The Navy has concentrated more capability – and therefore more cost – onto a smaller number of ships, and that force design may not work well in a high-end fight against a peer adversary, the under secretary of the Navy said last week. – USNI News

The Navy is unlikely to field a 355-ship fleet in the near- or even mid-term future if funding doesn’t change dramatically, the department’s top leadership said during a pair of appearances last week. – USNI News

A Huntington Ingalls Industries shipyard has delivered the Virginia-class attack submarine Delaware to the U.S. Navy, almost nine months later than projected just last year. – Defense News

The U.S. Navy is preparing to ink one of the largest contracts in its history with General Dynamics Electric Boat and the firm’s partner shipyard Huntington Ingalls Industries Newport News that will make the new generation of attack submarines a major force in strike warfare. – Defense News

Submarine building, the pride of the U.S. Navy’s shipbuilding efforts over the past decade, is facing a mountain of uncertainty, a point underscored by the replacement of senior members of General Dynamics leadership, compounding delays with construction of the Virginia-class submarine and nagging questions about the quality of the work after a high-profile welding issue threatened to trip up the Columbia-class ballistic missile sub program at the starting line. – Defense News

Derek Tournear will become the next permanent director of the nascent Space Development Agency, the Department of Defense announced Oct. 28. – C4ISRNET

The cat-and-mouse nature of electronic warfare means systems need to always be up to date, but the Pentagon’s acquisition authorities don’t always allow for the Department of Defense to move fast enough, a senior acquisition official said Oct. 28. – C4ISRNET

Videos from battlefields in Iraq, Syria and Ukraine have shown the potential havoc that small drones can bring to unsuspecting ground forces, including scouting for call-for-fire missions and dropping grenades on exposed positions. U.S. troops are already deploying abroad with counter-drone capabilities, including CACI International’s SkyTracker suite, according to company officials at this year’s Association of the U.S. Army conference in Washington, D.C. – Army Times

Key Senate Democrats signaled Monday their caucus is likely to filibuster a proposed 2020 defense spending bill, which Senate Republican leaders plan to offer for a vote this week. – Defense News

Mackenzie Eaglen writes: The Pentagon can’t seem to shed missions and requirements to better focus on great powers — especially China. […]Consensus between uniformed and civilian defense officials and consistency in arguing for (or against) the use of forces will be required. Change demands leadership and political courage. It also requires that defense leaders take a public role in advocating for the strengthening of non-military tools of national power and statecraft to ensure others are capable of stepping up when the Pentagon stays back. – War on the Rocks

Trump Administration

A top official with the National Security Council plans to tell House impeachment investigators that he was concerned by President Trump’s July phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, saying that the president’s request to have the Ukrainians investigate Joe Biden and his son may have been interpreted as a “partisan play.” – Wall Street Journal

President Trump and his re-election campaign are moving swiftly to capitalize on the death of Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, casting the risky mission that resulted in his demise as a sign of strong leadership while seizing the moment for fundraising appeals. – Wall Street Journal

The White House’s top expert on Ukraine twice notified superiors about concerns that the president and those working for him were linking foreign aid to Ukraine with investigations that would help President Donald Trump politically, a push that he said could undermine U.S. national security, according to an opening statement obtained by USA TODAY. – USA Today

President Donald Trump’s administration on Monday said it has appealed a judge’s ruling ordering it to turn over an unredacted copy of former Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report detailing Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. election to a Democratic-led congressional committee. – Reuters