Fdd's overnight brief

September 9, 2019

In The News


Iran said Saturday it had accelerated its nuclear research work and threatened to take fresh steps within a month that could allow it to expand its stockpile of enriched uranium, a material that can be used to fuel a nuclear weapon. – Wall Street Journal

Iran’s atomic energy agency said Saturday that it was deliberately violating another set of limits on its nuclear research and production[…]. But the details suggested that Iran was more interested in increasing pressure on European nations to find a way around American-imposed sanctions than in carrying out a full-scale effort to restore the capabilities it gave up when it struck the deal with the West. – New York Times

Iran’s atomic agency chief hit out Sunday at European powers, saying their broken promises gave the Islamic republic little choice but to scale back its commitments under a nuclear deal. – Agence FrancePresse

France on Sunday urged Iran to halt its moves to downgrade a landmark nuclear pact, saying channels for dialogue were still open. – Agence FrancePresse

Iran’s coast guard seized a foreign tugboat and detained its 12 Filipino crew members on suspicion of smuggling fuel in the Persian Gulf. – Washington Examiner

Samples taken by the U.N. nuclear watchdog at what Israel’s prime minister called a “secret atomic warehouse” in Tehran showed traces of uranium that Iran has yet to explain, two diplomats who follow the agency’s inspections work closely say. – Reuters

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Iran’s GDP could shrink by 12% or even 14% in part because of U.S. sanctions. – Fox Business

The British-flagged oil tanker seized by Iran could be released after the imminent completion of legal proceedings against the tanker, Iranian state television reported on Sunday. – Reuters

A young cleric in Iran, who is well-known as an anti-corruption whistle blower has mysteriously disappeared in the city of Qom, 126 kilometers (78 miles) south of Tehran. – Radio Farda

U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper said on Friday that it appeared Iran was inching toward a place where talks could be held, days after U.S. President Donald Trump left the door open to a possible meeting with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani at the upcoming U.N. General Assembly in New York. – Reuters

Iran on Sunday hinted that it could release “within days” a UK-flagged oil tanker it had seized in July in sensitive Gulf waters amid rising hostilities with Britain’s ally the United States. – Agence FrancePresse

Editorial: The mystery is why, in light of all this, Mr. Macron is eager to send Iran more money—especially since Mr. Trump can block the transfer by refusing to waive U.S. sanctions. Perhaps Mr. Macron and the Europeans hope to buy off Iran in the short term as they wait to see if Mr. Trump wins re-election. But in the meantime they are advancing Iran’s nuclear ambitions. – Wall Street Journal

Yonah Jeremy Bob writes: All of this shows that Iran is closer to spoiling for a fight. […]As there is no deal this week, there will likely be no Rouhani-Trump meeting at the UN this month, and Iran did incrementally increase its violations. But all of this is the sub-headline to the headline of Iran blinking and giving the French proposal two more months to bear fruit. – Jerusalem Post

Seth J. Frantzman writes: Iran’s game plan on the international stage is one layer of its role in the region. It wants to use the centrifuges and enrichment to bypass US sanctions. It says it doesn’t want nuclear weapons. But it wants a path to get to them and a way to get around US sanctions. – Jerusalem Post


Hezbollah announced Monday it had downed an Israeli drone in southern Lebanon, part of a string of clashes between Israel and Iranian-banked groups throughout the region. – Washington Post

A former official in the powerful Iranian-backed Lebanese group Hezbollah was found dead in his flat in a Beirut neighborhood, the state-run Lebanese news agency said on Sunday. – Reuters

The Israel Defense Forces on Sunday launched a large-scale exercise simulating war against Hezbollah and other pro-Iranian forces in the north of the country. – Times of Israel

Lebanon’s President Michel Aoun warned on Friday that Israel would bear the consequences of any attack, days after a flare-up at the border between Israel and Iran-backed Hezbollah. – Reuters


Turkish and U.S. troops conducted their first joint ground patrol in northeastern Syria on Sunday as part of a so-called “safe zone” that Ankara has been pressing for in the volatile Kurdish-administered region. – Associated Press

The Iranian oil tanker Adrian Darya 1 at the center of a dispute between Tehran and Western powers, which went dark off Syria earlier in the week, has been photographed by satellite off the Syrian port of Tartus, Maxar Technologies Inc., a U.S. space technology company said on Saturday. – Reuters

Syria condemned on Sunday joint U.S.-Turkish patrols in a border strip in the northeast of the country, saying it was a “flagrant violation” of its sovereignty, an official statement said. – Reuters

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan, speaking hours after joint U.S.-Turkey patrols began in northern Syria, said on Sunday Ankara and Washington have constantly disagreed over establishing the planned “safe zone.” – Reuters

The Syrian army said on Saturday its air defenses foiled a drone attack by “terrorist” groups on a main military base in northwestern Syria, where a Russian-brokered ceasefire has stopped months of fighting. – Reuters

Sites belonging to Iranian-backed militias in eastern Syria near the border with Iraq border were attacked late Sunday night, killing at least 18 people, according to A-Sharq Al-Awsat and the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR). – Jerusalem Post

The US welcomed Denmark’s decision on Friday to deploy military personnel to Syria in support of Operation Inherent Resolve. – Jerusalem Post

Multiple rockets were fired at Israeli territory from inside of Syria, the IDF reported Monday morning. – Arutz Sheva

Explosions heard near Syria-Iraq border. Arab media report they were the result of an attack on Iranian-affiliated Iraqi militias. – Arutz Sheva


Turkey asked the United States to lift trade barriers between the two countries during talks on Saturday aimed at sharply increasing bilateral commerce, Turkey’s trade minister said. – Reuters

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said on Sunday Turkey should not try to coerce either Greece or Europe in its attempts to get support for a plan to resettle Syrian refugees in northern Syria. – Reuters

Turkey’s top diplomat will start a two-day visit to the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) on Sunday, according to the Turkish Foreign Ministry. – Yeni Safak

A Turkish court sentenced a key figure of the main opposition party to nearly 10 years in prison on charges including terrorist propaganda and insulting President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who continues to ratchet up pressure on critics. – Bloomberg


A landmark 2018 natural-gas deal between Israel and Egypt faces legal challenges and concerns about security threats from Islamic State, casting uncertainty over a pact hailed as a sign of deepening ties between the two countries. – Wall Street Journal

A group of Palestinian terrorists piloted an armed drone into Israel from the Gaza Strip on Saturday, the army said in a statement. The Israel Defense Forces said the drone left an explosive device near the security fence along the border before returning to Gaza. – Times of Israel

The Israel Electric Corporation will begin cutting off the electricity supply to the Palestinian Authority after the upcoming September 17 elections due to outstanding debts, Kan News reported. – Jerusalem Post

Israel is cooperating with other Middle East countries on matters of defense and security against Iran, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told BBC Arabic in an exclusive interview. – Jerusalem Post

The Al-Qassam Brigades, the so-called “military wing” of Hamas, reacted furiously on Sunday to the death of a terrorist who was a member of the squad that murdered Rabbi Eitam and Naama Henkin in 2015. – Arutz Sheva

Eli Lake writes: Every few years there is a small war between Israel and Gaza. There have been no real peace negotiations, despite the best efforts from U.S. presidents. Meanwhile, both Hamas and Fatah have enriched themselves at the expense of the people they are supposed to govern. Kushner and Greenblatt didn’t create these problems, they inherited them. So it’s unfair to blame them for failing to get peace talks started again. It is fair, on the other hand, to blame them for failing to address the legitimacy crisis in Palestinian leadership. – Bloomberg

David Pollock writes: If Washington were to emphasize Palestinian political reform, economic opportunity, dialogue with Israelis and other Arabs, and even an end to terrorist subsidies, it would find significantly more resonance among the younger generation than is often supposed. Over time, this might yield some pressure on local politicians to soften their opposition to all of those worthy objectives.But in the longer term, majority popular opposition to permanent peace with Israel, even among younger respondents, suggests that real reconciliation remains a distant dream. – Washington Institute

Michael Rubin writes: Greenblatt did not bring peace but, after seven decades, it is unrealistic to expect any single figure will on his own make such a monumental achievement. His real strength, however, may have been diplomatic iconoclasm. He challenged ossified beliefs and, despite shrill criticism, probably set the stage for eventual peace far more than his contemporaries will acknowledge. – Washington Examiner

Gilad Sharon writes: Our current policy is to fire only on those who fire on us. That has to change. Why should Israelis live under attacks instigated and financed by Iran, which even supplies some of the weapons, while Iranians sleep safe and sound in their beds? Is it just because the actual shots are fired from somewhere else? Iran could not care less if Gazans or members of Hezbollah are hit by Israeli reprisals, or if the local population pays the price for Iranian aggression. They don’t fire on us from Iran and we won’t fire on them from Israel. The Iranians must be taught that as long as they’re responsible for the attacks on Israel they also won’t be safe. – Jerusalem Post


At least three members of Iraq’s security forces and one civilian were killed on Saturday in three separate attacks by militants, security sources said. – Reuters

A federal judge on Thursday greatly reduced the sentences of three former Blackwater security contractors, in the latest development from a complex case dating back to the 2007 shootings of unarmed civilians in Baghdad. – Associated Press

Haitham Numan writes: Ultimately, weakening Iran’s proxies in Iraq, as well as throughout the region, depends on regional factors rather than the role of the state. Here, the United States can help. Washington, if it wishes to counterbalance the strong influence of Iran in Iraq and elsewhere, must create a roadmap for establishing relationships with local communities and their political leaders, especially those cities liberated from ISIS and seen as a point of military and geographic contact between Syria and Iraq. – Washington Institute

Arabian Peninsula

When it comes to enforcing sanctions on Iran, U.A.E. authorities often look the other way to preserve business with Iran that helps support the economies of some of the country’s seven semiautonomous emirates. – Wall Street Journal

Kuwait’s 90-year-old ruling emir has cancelled a visit Thursday with President Donald Trump at the White House after being admitted to a U.S. hospital following an earlier health scare last month. – Associated Press

Fighting between their allies in southern Yemen has opened a gaping wound in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates’ coalition against the country’s rebels. If they can’t fix it, it threatens to tear the country apart into even smaller warring pieces. – Associated Press

Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates called on Yemen’s separatists and the internationally-recognised government of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi to halt all military actions in south Yemen. – Reuters

Middle East & North Africa

Fighters loyal to Libya’s internationally recognised Government of National Accord (GNA) clash with forces loyal to strongman Khalifa Haftar in the capital Tripoli’s suburb of Ain Zara. – Agence FrancePresse

At least three fighters aligned with Libya’s U.N.-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) were killed in an offensive on Saturday aimed at pushing back eastern forces led by commander Khalifa Haftar, a witness said. – Reuters

Debra J. Saunders writes: I’m an American who thinks Obama was wrong about Egypt and has supported Trump’s desire to work with this regime. But I have to wonder, what ever made el-Sissi think he could throw an American in prison without due process and get away with it? – Las Vegas ReviewJournal

Korean Peninsula

The United States hopes to get back to denuclearization talks with North Korea in the coming days or weeks, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Sunday. – Reuters

North Korea must stop blocking nuclear talks with the United States before it is too late, the US special envoy to that country said amid a stalemate in the negotiations. – Agence FrancePresse

Experts say the latest missile tests by Kim Jong Un’s regime show Pyongyang is, for the first time, actively using testing weapons to target weak points in the advanced missile defense system that protects the US, Japan and South Korea. – CNN

Japan’s surplus in spending by overseas travelers declined in July from a year earlier as the number of visitors from South Korea tumbled, a sign the souring bilateral relations are taking a toll on the world’s third largest economy. – Reuters


China’s imports fell for a fourth straight month in August as a drop-off in exports to the U.S. steepened, the most recent economic warning signs during a prolonged trade spat with the U.S. that has Beijing turning toward stimulus measures. – Wall Street Journal

US President Donald Trump on Friday said the costs of his protracted trade war are falling squarely on China, but a top adviser warned that the struggle between the economic superpowers could drag on for years. – Agence FrancePresse

U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper cautioned European allies against cozying up to China, arguing on Friday that Beijing seeks greater global influence by leveraging economic power and stealing technology. – Associated Press

Hugh Hewitt writes: If we are in fact serious about human rights and international law, the West has to settle in for a long-haul policy of containment and coexistence with the PRC, speaking firmly but without provocation. […]It will require more than words. It will require ships and submarines, missiles and planes, and a cyber- and space force. Is the United States really serious? Xi is watching what we build, not what we say. – Washington Post

Seth G. Jones and Tom Karako write: The Trump presidency started by reorienting America’s national-security focus from counterterrorism to long-term, geopolitical competition—particularly against major powers such as China and Russia. […]In the beginning, the Trump administration recognized the renewed strategic competition, showed early resolve, and matched word and deed. That focus must return. U.S. adversaries don’t deserve more patience than allies; strategic competition requires global partners. But if recent trends are uncorrected, the Trump administration’s national-security legacy will be as lackluster as that of its predecessor. – Wall Street Journal

Johan Eliasch writes: I endorse Mr. Trump’s call for U.S.-owned businesses to relocate manufacturing away from China. But we all need help—in the shape of an exemption from tariffs—during the time that it will take to shut down a Chinese factory and move production elsewhere. Otherwise, the policy risks turning into a self-inflicted double fault. – Wall Street Journal

Nicholas Phillips writes: Trump’s decision to change our posture toward China from free trade to trade war is one of the most significant policy shifts in recent American history — and one of the most misunderstood. […]When geopolitical advantage rather than low consumer prices is the desired end, tariffs help get us there. Out of patriotism, we must now be willing to eat some bitterness of our own. – National Review


President Trump ’s decision to suspend talks with the Taliban stemmed from opposing views within his administration, the group’s refusal to meet certain conditions and growing bipartisan criticism of an emerging deal to withdraw U.S. troops from Afghanistan. – Wall Street Journal

On the Friday before Labor Day, President Trump gathered top advisers in the Situation Room to consider what could be among the profound decisions of his presidency — a peace plan with the Taliban after 18 years of grinding, bloody war in Afghanistan. – New York Times

President Trump’s decision to break off peace talks with the Taliban, at least for now, left Afghanistan bracing for a bloody prelude to national elections this month, while the administration declined on Sunday to rule out a withdrawal of American troops without a peace accord. – New York Times

Afghan officials, analysts and citizens on Sunday cautiously welcomed President Trump’s announcement that he was calling off the troubled U.S.-Taliban peace talks aimed at ending the 18-year conflict. – Washington Post

Amiri’s violent death last week came amid a spike in Taliban violence in the days since the top U.S. negotiator in peace talks with the group said the two sides had reached an agreement “in principle.” […]Afghan officials and civilians have expressed concerns that a U.S. deal with the Taliban that excluded the Afghan government would fail to protect civilians and security forces in the event of a U.S. troop drawdown.  – Washington Post

Six Afghan journalists, all identified as radio news reporters, were kidnapped by Taliban insurgents Friday while traveling to a media conference in the eastern province of Paktia, according to provincial officials and a Taliban spokesman. – Washington Post

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Sunday defended President Trump’s now-scuttled plan to host members of the Taliban leadership and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani at Camp David, amid a backlash from members of both parties. – Washington Post

President Donald Trump’s weekend tweet canceling secret meetings at Camp David with the Taliban and Afghan leaders just days before the anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks is the latest example of a commander in chief willing to take a big risk in pursuit of a foreign policy victory only to see it dashed. – Associated Press

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has not ruled out reopening talks with the Taliban after Trump cancelled a secret meeting, but warned of renewed military pressure if they keep up attacks. – Agence FrancePresse

The Department of Defense on Friday released the identity of the American soldier who was killed in Afghanistan Thursday. – Washington Examiner

President Donald Trump’s decision to cancel Afghan peace talks will cost more American lives, the Taliban said on Sunday while the United States promised to keep up military pressure on the militants, in a stunning reversal of efforts to forge a deal ending nearly 20 years of war in Afghanistan. – Reuters

The European Union’s special envoy for Afghanistan Roland Kobia said on Sunday presidential elections must be held this month as the country needs a political leadership that has received a renewed democratic mandate from its citizens. – Reuters

U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper said on Saturday that while it was seeking a political agreement with the Taliban, Washington would not accept just any deal after a wave of violence cast a shadow over its talks with the insurgent group. – Reuters

A Taliban video published earlier this summer justified the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks as caused by the “interventionist policies” of the United States. – Jerusalem Post

Editorial: Mr. Trump might be tempted to resume talks with the Taliban, but he should be in no hurry. The Taliban have been thinking amid Mr. Khalilzad’s mediations that they have the U.S. on the run. Mr. Trump’s show of backbone will make them think twice. You can’t have a successful peace negotiation if one side has no interest in peace. – Wall Street Journal

Tom Rogan writes: An unconditional withdrawal from Afghanistan would inspire Salafi-Jihadist confidence around the world, and invite the Taliban to help rebuild al Qaeda. It would betray our allies abroad and endanger us at home. Maintaining military pressure on the Taliban while strengthening the Afghan government is a far better course. It strengthens us while incentivizing the Taliban to pursue what is most needed: a serious peace. – Washington Examiner

Mary Beth Long writes: Regardless of any deal we get, we need to stop focusing on troop numbers and instead, focus on capability. We must carefully craft a strategy with robust counterterrorism and intelligence operations to achieve our most important goal — to foresee and forestall an attack on the U.S homeland. – The Hill

Yigal Carmon writes: Mr. Trump, instead of leaving unilaterally, while reinforcing the democratically elected government in Kabul without boots on the ground, is unfortunately empowering his Taliban enemy by protracted negotiations, where America makes successive concessions and ultimately throws its Afghan allies under the bus. […]Why do they prefer to overlook the public announcements by the Taliban such as: “the reason behind war… in Afghanistan is the presence of Americans forces and it will only find an end when American forces leave Afghanistan.” The answer (surprise) is Qatar, which talked the U.S. administration into this self-destructive process. – Gatestone Institute


Pro-democracy protesters made a direct appeal to the U.S. for support in a peaceful mass rally that took marchers past the American consulate, a new strategy after three months of demonstrations have yielded few concessions from the city’s government. – Wall Street Journal

Luckily for Australia, the U.S.-China trade war happened. Australia faced a personal-credit crunch, housing slump and weak business confidence, threatening to derail the longest-running growth streak in the developed world. Then it got a trade boost as U.S.-China relations soured. – Wall Street Journal

Chinese officials are trying to solidify an ideological iron curtain between Hong Kong and mainland China — tracking people who go back and forth, ratcheting up propaganda, and intimidating protest sympathizers — to ring-fence the mainland from protesters’ pro-autonomy viewpoints. – Washington Post

Hong Kong’s economy took another hit Friday as a major ratings agency downgraded the territory’s debt rating, saying the ongoing pro-democracy protests raise questions about political stability in one of Asia’s commercial hubs. – Washington Post

Now, after months of political tumult in Hong Kong, the warning seems prescient. Only it is Mr. Xi himself and his government facing criticism that they are mishandling China’s biggest political crisis in years, one that he did not mention in his catalog of looming risks at the start of the year. – New York Times

The Solomon Islands’ top diplomat is set to arrive in Taiwan on Sunday, Taipei’s foreign ministry said, as the Pacific nation mulls switching its diplomatic allegiance to China. – Agence FrancePresse

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Friday the rights and freedoms of people in Hong Kong “must be guaranteed”, after meeting with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang in Beijing. – Agence FrancePresse

A woman suspected of being a suicide bomber was killed in an explosion near a military detachment in the southern Philippines on Sunday, but there were no other casualties, the army said. – Reuters

The Islamic State militant group has claimed responsibility for an explosion at a public market in the southern Philippines that wounded at least seven people early on Saturday. – Reuters

Tom Rogan writes: Merkel deserves credit for her comments in China on Friday. She rebuked China for its treatment of Hongkongers and warned that Germany would protect its critical infrastructure from Chinese infiltration. Made on Chinese soil, both statements will enrage Beijing. – Washington Examiner


After five years of grinding conflict stoked by Russia in eastern Ukraine, the two bitterly estranged neighbors swapped dozens of prisoners on Saturday in a long-anticipated exchange that Ukraine’s new president hailed as “the first step to end the war.” – New York Times

Russians voted in local elections on Sunday that will test the popularity of President Vladimir Putin and his allies after a crackdown on opposition protests in Moscow. – Agence FrancePresse

French President Emmanuel Macron and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin spoke by phone on Sunday ahead of a meeting of the joint Franco-Russian Council on security issues scheduled for Monday in Moscow, the French presidency said in a statement. – Reuters

Ukraine has included a man suspected of involvement in the downing of a Malaysia Airlines flight over eastern Ukraine in 2014, which killed 298 people, in a prisoner swap with Russia, the Dutch government said on Saturday. – Reuters


In his customary crumpled white shirt, Dominic Cummings, the prime minister’s chief aide, could be heard cursing over the phone at lawmakers and seen prowling the corridors of Parliament, laying waste to the careers of Conservative politicians who stood in the way of an abrupt withdrawal from the European Union. – New York Times

France’s foreign minister said on Sunday that, as things stand, the European Union would not grant Britain an extension beyond Oct. 31 to negotiate its exit from the bloc. – Reuters

As Russia becomes increasingly determined to project its military power over the Black Sea, Romania and Bulgaria are accelerating programs to modernize their armed forces and replace Soviet-designed gear with Western-made weapons and equipment. – Defense News

A Labour MP who served in the House of Commons for 18 years has resigned, citing antisemitism within the party. – Algemeiner

Heiko Borchert and Christan Brandlhuber write: As the United States, China and Russia are accelerating their use of artificial intelligence in military settings, Europe risks falling behind unless leaders on the continent take steps to bundle their efforts. […]Europe should take bold steps toward channeling its collaborative defense AI activities, building on the strengths of each partner – Defense News


Days after Sudanese soldiers massacred pro-democracy demonstrators in Khartoum in June, an obscure digital marketing company in Cairo began deploying keyboard warriors to a second front: a covert operation to praise Sudan’s military on social media. – New York Times

Flags flew at half mast in Harare on Saturday, but a day after former president Robert Mugabe’s death many Zimbabweans preferred to work as usual than publicly mourn the independence hero turned despot. – Agence FrancePresse

Unidentified attackers killed two aid workers who were returning from a refugee camp in an western Ethiopia region that shares a border with South Sudan, their aid group and a U.N. organization said. – Reuters

Editorial: Africa’s postcolonial era produced many tyrants, but few as destructive as Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe. The perverse accomplishment of the dictator, who died Friday at age 95, was to make a thriving country impoverished, corrupt and oppressed. […]Mugabe’s legacy is a nation in tatters with few mourners among average citizens. His admirers in Africa and the West, including New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, might ponder why that is. – Wall Street Journal


Australia has ordered internet service providers to block access to eight websites still showing footage of deadly attacks on two mosques in New Zealand earlier this year. – Reuters

U.S. prosecutors have charged a Chinese professor with fraud for allegedly taking technology from a California company to benefit Huawei, in another shot at the embattled Chinese telecommunications equipment maker. – Reuters

Popular online reference website Wikipedia went down in several countries after the website was targeted by what it described as a “malicious attack.” – Agence FrancePresse

Britain’s newly declared focus on combating hybrid threats will have no bearing on the Army’s priority to invest in armored vehicle programs, according to officials. The creation of a new formation, known as the 6th Division, to counter Russia, among others, in cyberspace, information operations and other non-kinetic tactics is a sign of the changing nature of warfare. – Defense News

Tom Rogan writes: Cultivating close technology relationships with China, Israel has escaped U.S. warnings of the kind that Esper delivered to Britain on Friday, and which Secretary of State Mike Pompeo presented in London back in May. That must change. The U.S.-China struggle will determine the future freedom and prosperity of the world. The least America can ask of its allies is that they not support the enemy. – Washington Examiner


Defense Secretary Mark Esper urged allies during a trip to Europe this week to fund U.S. military construction projects in their countries, after the Pentagon diverted money from the overseas projects to pay for portions of a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. – Wall Street Journal

When Congress returns to work Monday, authorizers will aim for quick passage of the National Defense Authorization Act, even though a host of differences in the separate House and Senate versions of the bill have yet to be resolved formally. – Defense News

With both variants of the Littoral Combat Ship in serial production at two yards and those ships now kicking off an enduring multi-ship overseas presence, the Navy is turning its focus to increasing the lethality and survivability of the hulls. In the near term, the Naval Strike Missile is being installed on all LCSs as fast as the Navy can support, giving each ship an offensive punch regardless of what mission package it deploys with. – USNI News

Though the Multi-Domain Task Force in Europe is only beginning to take form, it’s already expected to help the U.S. Army shape its doctrine relevant to possible ground campaigns against near-peer competitor Russia. – Defense News

Rebeccah L. Heinrichs writes: To intercept the highly sophisticated non-ballistic missile threats from China and Russia, the United States would have to leverage current technologies in new ways as well as build new interceptors and sensors altogether. But the threat from ballistic missiles from a variety of adversaries continues apace. The Pentagon has already invested $121 million in the SM-3 Block IIA program to evaluate its ability against an ICBM, as directed. It would be smart to see that that money is not wasted and that the clear opportunity to do good in the near term isn’t either. – Real Clear Defense

Long War

Federal prosecutors have arrested a German Tunisian woman on charges of being a member of a terror organization and for joining the Islamic State group in Syria. – Associated Press

The war with the Islamic State may be winding down in Syria and Iraq, but the battle over how to bring its detained fighters to justice is only just beginning. – Haaretz

The Southern District Prosecutor’s Office filed indictments last Thursday in the Be’er Sheva District Court, against an Islamic Jihad terrorist from Gaza, charged with committing offenses against state security. – Arutz Sheva