defenseDefense Watch


HOUSE DEFENSE AUTHORIZATION AND APPROPRIATIONS: By a 325-98 vote, the House approved its 2015 national defense authorization bill, which would authorize $601 billion in 2015 U.S. defense spending. The House rejected Pentagon proposals to rein in its own spending, such as the proposed retirement of the Air Force's A-10 Warthog attack jets, cuts to troop benefits, and an independent group to study the Army's future. The House also beat back a Democrat-led effort to ease restrictions on transferring inmates at the military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to the United States despite President Obama's threat to veto the measure if it included these restrictions.


Following the authorizing bill, the House Appropriations Committee's marked-up its fiscal 2015 defense spending bill, and also rejected many of the Pentagon's proposals for cost savings. The HAC approved $570.4 billion in base and war spending for the Pentagon, including funds for an 11th aircraft carrier, added funding for 12 Navy EA-18 Growler electronic warfare jets, but did not include funding to retain the A-10. Also, like the authorization bill, the appropriations bill would bar the Army from transferring AH-64 Apache attack helicopters from the Army National Guard to the active Army next fiscal year.


MEANWHILE IN THE SENATE: The Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) approved their version of the 2015 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). The SASC's legislation, which authorizes $514 billion in defense spending, both reverses many of the Pentagon's cost-cutting proposals, but differs in several ways from the House's authorization bill. The SASC measure rejects a new round of base closures, retains the A-10, maintains the 11th carrier and E-18G Growlers, and rejects DOD plans to overhaul the Tricare system and reduce the commissary benefits. But the Senate bill includes no money for the Overseas Contingency Fund that pays for operations in Afghanistan, for which the House authorized about $80 billion. Although SASC Chairman Senator Carl Levin (D-MI) hopes to avoid a repeat of 2013's eleventh hour passage of the NDAA, U.S. Senate leaders have yet to schedule floor time for the bill.


SEMPER FI: After leading coalition operations in Afghanistan for more than two years, the Pentagon announced that General Joseph F. Dunford has been nominated to become the Marine Corps' next Commandant, succeeding General James F. Amos.


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terrorWar on Terror Watch


COUNTER-TERRORISM PARTNERSHIPS FUND: During his commencement address to the United States Military Academy's Class of 2014, President Barack Obama announced the creation of a $5 billion Counter-Terrorism Partnerships Fund to help create "a network of partnerships from South Asia to the Sahel." Although U.S. counter-terrorism strategy already relies on partnerships with allied or indigenous troops - such as those in Libya, Niger, Mauritania, and Mali - the announcement was met with some skepticism on Capitol Hill, where 1206 and 1208 funds already cover the costs of training security forces and compensating allies for counter-terrorism operations.  


THE THREAT FROM SYRIA: Shortly after FBI Director James Comey admitted that he underestimated the threat the United States still faces from terrorism and the Justice Department announced a new initiative to probe the flow of foreign fighters joining Syria�€™s rebels and the potential domestic terrorism threat they pose, an American citizen carried out a suicide bombing in Syria on behlf of the al-Qa'ida affiliated al-Nusra Front. U.S. officials say that more than 100 Americans have joined the jihad in Syria to fight alongside Sunni militants there, and that the ultra-violent Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) is stepping up efforts to recruit Americans and other westerners for jihad in Syria and possibly for future domestic terror attacks.


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syriaSyria and Iraq Watch


HEZBOLLAH IN SYRIA : U.S. officials announced a senior commander in Lebanon's Shiite Hezbollah movement who was on the FBI's most-wanted terrorist list has been killed in fighting in Syria. Yet although Hezbollah's victories have come at a great cost in lives and resources, it has also gained the rare opportunity to display its military mettle and earn new battlefield experience.  


AMBASSADOR FORD ON SYRIA : Former U.S. Ambassador to Syria Robert Ford, who resigned his post last month because he "was no longer in a position where I felt I could defend the American policy," urged the United States and its allies to substantially increase the supply of arms to the moderate Syrian rebels in order to increase the opposition's leverage in potential peace talks and to combat the rise of extremist groups there.  


ISIS TAKES MOSUL : ISIS forces equipped with little more than small-arms weaponry and pickup trucks spilled over the border from Syria to seize control of Iraq's second largest city, Mosul, and several other key cities in Iraq's Sunni Triangle. Despite outnumbering the jihadists by roughly 30:1, Iraqi police and army forces abandoned their posts in Mosul, leaving behind a bounty of U.S.-supplied arms and equipment. ISIS declared its own state in the Iraqi and Syrian territory it occupies, and threatened the outskirts of Baghdad. In response to ISIS' rapid territorial gains and potential threat to Iraqi Shi'a, Iranian security officials deployed Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) units to Iraq.  


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iranIran and Gulf Watch 


IRANIAN DEVELOPMENTS : A confidential United Nations report says that despite apparently reducing illicit purchases that breach U.N. sanctions, Iran is still pursuing development of ballistic missiles. Meanwhile, in an interview printed in Iran's state-run media, a top Iranian naval commander said that he is prepared to order suicide attacks, drone strikes, and missile technology to "destroy the U.S. Navy" in any upcoming confrontation, and Iran's IRGC posted a strategy for attacking U.S. warships on Twitter


GCC REASSURANCES: Despite a string of changes to the kingdom's defense posture - including a reshuffling of its top military leadership in which hardliners were replaced by moderates - Saudi Arabia is reassuring its allies that it is still strong on defense. Conversely, despite American reassurances during May's US-GCC defense ministerial meeting, Gulf states are still eyeing strong Kremlin relations


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usisraelU.S.-Israel Cooperation

JUNIPER COBRA: The United States and Israel joined forces for a five-day ballistic-missile defense exercise. Held biennially since 2001, more than 4,000 American and Israeli troops participated in this year's Juniper Cobra exercises. The Israeli government has agreed to spend more than half the funding the Pentagon provides for the Iron Dome missile defense system in the U.S.


UAV-JSF COOPERATION: America's RIX Industries and Israel's Bental Motion Systems have agreed to cooperate on producing unmanned aerial vehicles and flight components. Additionally, Israel's Rafael will be supplying the communication system for the U.S.-developed F-35 Lightning II. The F-35s are manufactured by Lockheed Martin and will begin to integrate into Israel's air force in December 2016. Meanwhile, Israel Aerospace Industries is steadily readying its facilities to produce the wings of the future combat aircraft.


IDF BUDGET SQUEEZE: Israel's Defense Ministry has for weeks been engaged in a public battle with the Finance Ministry, which is seeking to slash Israel's largest budget and dismisses warnings that cuts will make it harder to protect the Jewish state. As a result, the Defense Ministry has suspended planned procurement contracts, slowed work on major research and development projects and warned of a wave of industry layoffs to come from programs it will be forced to ax due to budget shortfalls.


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oldandnewAllies Watch 


LEBANON: Lebanon's military, a bulwark of stability in one of the Middle East's most fragile countries, is coming under immense strain from the Syrian conflict spilling across the border, army and government officials said.


TURKEY: An Istanbul court ordered the arrest of four former senior Israeli commanders that it blames for the lethal storming of a Turkish ship in 2010. Also, Turkey and Iran signed several economic cooperation agreements and pledged to improve relations that have been fraught for years, largely because of deep differences over Syria and Iraq.


JORDAN: More than 13,000 troops from 24 countries, including the United States, took part in the annual "Eager Lion" military exercise in Jordan. 


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gulfNorth Africa Watch


LIBYA: The U.S. State Department recommended all Americans in Libya leave the country immediately, and an amphibious assault ship with 1,000 Marines was deployed off Libya's coast in case the American Embassy needs to be evacuated. Separately, U.S. officials reported that militia fighters stole hundreds of American-supplied automatic weapons and other equipment in a raid on a Libyan base in 2013 where the US was training local forces, bringing an abrupt end to the secretive program.


EGYPT: As concerns persist in Congress over the authoritarian crackdown since last year's military takeover, the 10 Apache helicopters the U.S. promised to deliver to Egypt remain in storage in Texas.


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Missile Defense

The first launch of an anti-ballistic missile from a new shore-based version of the classic Aegis missile system was successfully carried out Tuesday night in Hawaii. Meanwhile, talks between the U.S. and Australia have given fresh momentum to Washington's plans to create a larger ballistic-missile defense shield for its allies in Asia. The United States is also weighing a plan - supported by General Curtis Scaparotti, Commander of U.S. forces in South Korea - to deploy the Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense system to South Korea.


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CYBER: According to a newly declassified document, utilities on at least three continents have been "penetrated or shut down" by hackers and insiders. Meanwhile, senior administration officials appear to disagree on whether the U.S. has a coherent national strategy to address cyber threats. Cyber security firm iSight Partners also exposed a creative campaign of cyber-espionage by Iranian hackers targeting hundreds of high-ranking U.S. defense, diplomatic and other officials. Victims were lured to fake Web sites through an elaborate social media network that features a bogus online news site and LinkedIn invites from a phony account purporting to be from former Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton.


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Security Digest newsletter is a monthly bulletin covering U.S.-Israel security cooperation and much more. Distributed by e-mail, Security Digest is compiled by Benjamin Runkle. Look for Security Digest every month in your e-mail inbox. To give us feedback, simply reply to this email.
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