defenseDefense Watch  


HOUSE DEFENSE APPROPRIATIONS: The U.S. House of Representatives passed its defense appropriations bill in June, appropriating $570.4 billion in defense spending. Among other amendments, the House overruled the Chairman and Ranking Member of the HAC-D and blocked the planned retirement of the Air Force's A-10 Warthog fleet.


OVERSEAS CONTINGENCY OPERATIONS (OCO) FUNDING: The White House formally submitted its request for supplemental war funds to Congress, requesting $58.6 billion for DOD and $1.5 billion for the State Department. Because the OCO budget is not constrained by sequestration-related budget caps, the Pentagon is using it to shift costs from its base budget to its supplemental war account, a trend analysts argue will continue even after the war in Afghanistan winds down.


F-35 TROUBLES: In June, a Marine Corps version of the F-35 lost its oil while returning to Air Station Yuma, and another F-35 Joint Strike Fighter was severely damaged in a fire on the runway at Eglin Air Force Base. These incidents led to a suspension of all F-35 flights while DOD investigated the incidents and conducted inspections of the aircraft's engines. Although Secretary Hagel praised the F-35, and DUSD for Acquisitions, Logistics, and Technology Frank Kendall said the investigation did not reveal a fundamental design flaw in the F-35's engine, the F-35 flight ban was not lifted in time for the jet to make its international debut at the Farnborough airshow in England. Subsequently, defense industry partners agreed to contribute $170 million on internal research and development to help bring down the F-35's price.


NAVY UPDATES: Faced with large-scale Congressional opposition to its plan to decommission the aircraft carrier USS George Washington, the Navy is preparing to begin the process to refuel and modernize the ship. Meanwhile, the Navy's latest 30-year shipbuilding plan assessed that it will be unable to meet its funding needs for surface ships and new nuclear attacks submarines unless spending levels are increased.


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terrorWar on Terror Watch 


BENGHAZI SUSPECT CAPTURED: U.S. special operators and law-enforcement agents in Libya captured Ahmed Abu Khattallah, who is suspected of masterminding the deadly 2012 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi. Khattallah was interrogated aboard a Navy ship in the Mediterranean, and reportedly talking freely, prior to being transferred to the United States for trial in a civilian court.


EXPANDING THREATS: The Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) reportedly gained a dangerous new recruit -- Ibrahim Hassan al-Asiri, the AQAP designer of the "Underwear Bomb. Separately, the FBI believes that up to 15 Somali-American men from Minnesota have joined ISIS in the Middle East. Meanwhile, U.S. officials are worried that al-Qa'ida has developed a new kind of bomb that can go undetected by airport security.


EXPANDING OPERATIONS: President Barack Obama reportedly authorized the targeted killing of Abu Bakr al Baghdadi and other leaders of ISIS. The Pentagon is increasing funding for intelligence programs and military operations in Africa as it shifts focus on its counterterrorism programs to that continent from the Middle East. And the State Department is expanding a program to counter al-Qa'ida and other extremist groups using Twitter, YouTube, and other digital media.


HEZBOLLAH: The U.S. Treasury Department sanctioned a network of companies in Lebanon, the United Arab Emirates and China for allegedly procuring sophisticated military equipment for Hezbollah, including materials for aerial drones. 

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syriairaqSyria and Iraq Watch 


SYRIA: International weapons inspectors issued preliminary findings that chlorine gas was used in a "systematic manner" in Syria this year, long after the government of President Bashar al-Assad pledged to give up other toxic weapons such as sarin. Meanwhile, Syria's al Qaeda wing has pledged loyalty to the rival ISIS group in a Syrian border town, boosting ISIS's control on both sides of the frontier.


IRAQ: Approximately 750 U.S. troops have been deployed to Iraq for security and advisory missions as the United States and Iraq reached a deal for troop immunity in Iraq and established a joint operations center. The United States has sent Apache helicopters and unarmed

Militants of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria waving their trademark flag after they allegedly seized an Iraqi army checkpoint in the northern Iraqi province of Salahuddin.
surveillance drones to Iraq, and has delivered about 400 Hellfire missiles with plans to sell Iraq 4,000 more. However, a pre-existing plan to begin delivering F-16s to Iraq in September has been put on hold until the security situation improves.Consequently, the Iraqi government has resorted to negotiating the return of decades-old planes from Iran, and says Russia is providing 12 warplanes for the military operations against ISIS.


ISIS: ISIS obtained Black Hawk helicopters, howitzers, Humvees, and - perhaps most worrisomely - advanced radio equipment from its conquest of northwestern Iraq. U.S.-made equipment captured in Iraq is already being used by al-Qa'ida-affiliated rebels in Syria, according to U.S. officials.


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irangulfIran and Gulf Watch 


IRAN: U.S. officials say Iran is directing surveillance drones over Iraq and is supplying Iraq with tons of military equipment. Meanwhile, a United Nations panel has concluded that that shipment of rockets and other weapons seized aboard the Klos-C in March came from Iran and represents a violation of the UN arms embargo on Tehran. Finally, a Pentagon report to Congress on Iran's military concluded that Iran is continuing work on a long-range ballistic missile that could be flight-tested by next year.


SAUDI ARABIA: Saudi Arabia fired its fourth deputy defense minister in less than 15 months amid concerns over extremist militants gaining more ground in neighboring Iraq and getting closer to the borders with the kingdom. It also has deployed 30,000 soldiers to its border with Iraq after Iraqi soldiers withdrew from the area.


QATAR: The United States and Qatar agreed to an $11 billion arms deal in which the Qataris will buy AH-64 Apache attack helicopters, Patriot surface-to-air missiles, and Javelin anti-tank missiles.


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usisraelU.S.-Israel Cooperation 

Israel's Iron Dome has shot down about 90 percent of Palestinian rockets it engaged, allowing Israelis to endure the thousands of rocket attacks from Gaza with minimal casualties. Additionally, an Israeli official said that Israel has found funding for three new Iron Dome batteries.


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northafricaNorth Africa Watch 


EGYPT: While on a surprise visit to Cairo in June, Secretary of State John Kerry said he was "confident" the AH-64 Apaches Egypt has purchased will be delivered soon.


LIBYA: Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs Derek Chollet admitted in Congressional testimony that Libya has become a "magnet" for terrorists since the U.S.-led removal of Moammar Qaddafi in 2011.


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missileMissile Defense


SUCCESSFUL TEST: The Ground-based Midcourse Defense system successfully intercepted an intermediate-range ballistic missile during a June test, its first successful test since 2008. DOD Comptroller Robert Hale said the successful test would pave the way to proceed with acquisition plans for 14 additional Ground Based Interceptors.


ALLIED COOPERATION: Amid concerns over North Korean nuclear missile developments, top U.S. and Australian leaders are discussing options for deepening joint antimissile efforts. Also, the Canadian government is studying a recommendation that it become a partner in the U.S. continental missile defense system, either by contributing locations for radars or by conducting research into improving the system.


PATRIOTS LEAVING TURKEY?: Amid pressure on Turkey to abandon its selection of a Chinese missile defense system, Raytheon has been asked by the governments of Turkey and the US to keep its Patriot offer open until August 30. Also, although it was reported that Germany, the Netherlands and the United States are weighing ending their deployment of Patriot interceptors in Turkey by the end of the year, Germany has denied it is considering withdrawing its Patriots from Turkey.


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technologyTechnology Watch 


CYBER: After several years of planning, the Pentagon's Cyber Command is finally beginning to conduct operations such as tracking adversaries overseas to detect attacks against critical computer networks in the United States. Meanwhile, Israel's National Cyber Bureau reports that Israeli exports of cyber-related products and services last year reached $3 billion, some 5 percent of the global market and more than all other nations combined apart from the United States.


DRONES: A Washington Post investigation revealed that more than 400 large U.S. military drones have crashed in major accidents around the world since 2001. Meanwhile, U.S. export-control officials appear poised to ease some rules that have sharply restricted sales of American-made military drones overseas.


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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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