waronterrorWar on Terror Watch 


WAR ON ISIS (I): In a primetime address to the nation, President Obama announced a major expansion of the military campaign against the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), to include deploying additional advisers to Iraq and U.S. airstrikes in Syria (see below). The President laid out a four-point plan: Begin taking offensive actions against the group; increase support for Iraqi and Kurdish forces battling ISIS on the ground; Cutting off ISIS's funding and stemming the flow of foreign fighters; and providing humanitarian assistance to those affected by ISIS. The President insisted, however, military action would not include U.S. combat troops or a protracted conflict similar to the wars Iraq or Afghanistan. Retired General John Allen, the former top commander in Afghanistan, has been picked to coordinate international efforts to battle ISIS.


WAR ON ISIS (II): Concurrent with the escalation of the military campaign against ISIS, the Treasury Department announced new sanctions on eleven individuals and one entity believed to have provided financial support to ISIS and other terror groups. The Obama administration also set up a new interagency team, led by the Treasury Department, to track down ISIS's foreign donors, crack down on its smuggling, and identify individuals and institutions that help the group transfer or hide its money. However, citing U.S. intelligence officials and other experts, the Associated Press reports that rather than depending upon donors ISIS has become financially self-sustaining, earning more than $3 million a day from oil smuggling, human trafficking, theft, and extortion.


AMERICANS IN ISIS?: FBI Director James Comey said he is worried about "a terrorist diaspora" out of Iraq and Syria as fighters leave there and return home. The New York Times reported that U.S. intelligence and law enforcement agencies have identified nearly a dozen Americans who have traveled to Syria to fight for ISIS, a number the Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee puts in the hundreds. Other reports say the reason for such disparate estimates is because U.S. intelligence simply doesn't know the answer to the question. Meanwhile, a 19-year old Colorado women pled guilty for conspiring to provide material support for ISIS, a Rochester, NY, man was indicted for attempting to help three men travel to Syria to join ISIS, and multiple reports suggest a Massachusetts man could be in charge of social media for ISIS.


THE KHORASAN GROUP: During the initial wave of airstrikes against ISIS in Syria (see below), the United States also targeted a cell of veteran al-Qa'ida operatives known as "The Khorasan Group." The strikes were intended to thwart an "imminent" attack using concealed explosives to blow up airplanes. Although there were initial reports that the cell's leader - Osama bin Laden confidante Mushin al-Fadhli - had been killed, subsequent reports suggest the barrage of cruise missiles may have only killed one or two of the terrorists.


SUCCESS AGAINST AL-SHABAAB: A U.S. drone strike targeting senior leaders of al-Shabaab in southern Somalia is believed to have successfully killed the group's leader, Ahmed Abdi Godane. Although al-Shabbab quickly named a successor to Godane, it was subsequently pushed out of the coastal town of Barawe, its last significant stronghold in Somalia.


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syriairaqSyria and Iraq Watch 


TRAIN, EQUIP, AND STRIKE: Shortly after both the House and Senate voted to authorize the Obama administration's request to train and arm vetted Syrian rebels - an effort General Allen says could take years - the United States and its allies began launching airstrikes against ISIS in Syria. The first wave of attacks targeted ISIS bases, training camps, and combat vehicles. A second wave of strikes subsequently targeted mobile oil refineries controlled by ISIS, which are believed to be a major source of the terrorist group's financing. Although, thousands of civilians and rebels across Syria protested the strikes due to reports they caused civilian casualties and the perception they are aiding the Assad regime, the U.S.-led coalition is conducting strikes around the Syrian Kurdish border town of Kobane to prevent it from being overrun by ISIS.


AL QA'IDA IN THE GOLAN: Islamist opposition fighters, including members of the al-Nusra Front, seized the Quneitra crossing point on the demarcation line with the Israeli-held Golan Heights, marking the first time the al-Qa'ida affiliated group has established a permanent presence on Israel's border. Additionally, a spokesman for the moderate Free Syrian Army claimed that ISIS has begun operating sleeper cells in southern Syria near the Golan. Unrelatedly, the Israeli military confirmed that it had shot down a Syrian fighter jet over the Golan Heights after the aircraft crossed into Israeli airspace, the first such incident in at least 25 years.


IRAQ: The 475 new U.S. advisers announced by President Obama (see above) will bring the total U.S. military personnel in Iraq to 1,600. Meanwhile, the United States and its allies have stepped up efforts to train Kurdish forces on the advanced weapons systems the West is expected to supply in the coming months. Yet despite the United States' conducting more than 190 strikes in six weeks against ISIS in Iraq, Iraqi forces had barely budged ISIS from their hold on more than a quarter of the country, and the terrorist group's encroachment upon the suburbs near Baghdad's airport necessitated the first use of U.S. Apache attack helicopters

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defenseDefense Watch 


FUNDING THE WAR ON ISIS: The Pentagon has estimated that operations against ISIS are costing between $7 million to $10 million a day, which adds up to close to $3.8 billion per year. Although Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey warned that the Pentagon will face budget problems in the coming years due to increased military commitments, in the near-term the Department of Defense will be able to pay for operations by shifting money around within the overseas contingency operations (OCO) supplemental budget. However, defense leaders on Capitol Hill are raising concerns about a looming shortage in the Tomahawk missile supply.


F-35: Pratt & Whitney suspended deliveries of F-35 engines after discovering a supplier might have provided "suspect" titanium. The company says its next two batches of F-35 engines will result in cost savings of 7-8 percent from previous batches, and reportedly has agreed to pay for fixes that will be needed on all engines to prevent the excessive rubbing that led to a June engine fire during an aborted takeoff. However, a draft Government Accountability Office report says the sustainment estimates for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter may not be realistic, that its long-term costs appear to be substantially higher than those of the existing combat aircraft fleets it will replace and that it might "not be affordable."


ARMY OPERATING CONCEPT: The Army released its new operating concept, designed to "prevent conflict, shape security environments and win wars" in a world where the United States faces many small and indirect threats rather than just a few large conflicts. The concept puts greater focus on smaller, more adaptable units with a reduced logistical footprint capable of operating in an austere environment against faceless enemies in a formless battle.


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irangulfIran and Gulf Watch 


IRAN: According to regional reports, Iran's military leaders claim they have resumed weapons deliveries to Palestinian terrorists in the West Bank. Meanwhile, Iran's news agency reported that the Islamic Republic has built a drone equipped with missiles to shoot down aircraft and a new surface-to-surface cruise missile capable of being launched from an airplane. At the same time, the United Nations probe into the history of Iran's nuclear weapons research and development has stalled due to a lack of cooperation by Tehran, diplomats said. Shortly after Israel claimed that Iran has used its Parchin military base as the site for secret tests of technology that could only be used for detonating a nuclear weapon, an explosion deep inside the base shook Tehran. It was unclear whether the blast was due to an accident or sabotage. 



Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates took part in the U.S.-led airstrikes against ISIS's oil refineries (see above). The UAE fighter jets participating in the strikes were led by a female pilot, according to the country's ambassador to the United States. In addition to allowing use of their bases to launch airstrikes against ISIS, the Gulf countries will reportedly play a major role in the effort to cut the terrorist group's financing and develop a counter narrative to ISIS ideologues. Saudi Arabia has also agreed to host a training center for moderate Syrian rebels.


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usisraelU.S.-Israel Cooperation  

Israel has reportedly provided satellite imagery and other intelligence in support of the U.S.-led aerial campaign against ISIS, and a U.S.-Israel defense agreement will support coordinated air power in Syria if and when the Israel Air Force (IAF) is tasked to operate in close proximity to American-led coalition air forces. The joint U.S.-Israeli developed Iron Dome counter-rocket system scored 735 interceptions of rockets and mortar bombs for an almost 90% success rate during Operation Protective Edge. However, Israel has determined that a September 9 intercept test of the joint U.S.-Israel Arrow-2 missile missed its target.  


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alliesAllies Watch 


JORDAN: Jordan joined the U.S. airstrikes against ISIS after the government determined a number of its operatives crossing its border with Iraq.


TURKEY: Although the Turkish Parliament voted to authorize military actions in Iraq and Syria against ISIS, its armored formations sat and passively watched ISIS take one-third of the Syrian Kurdish town of Kobane just across the border even as the United States launched airstrikes to prevent the city's fall. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said Turkey will not get more involved with the fight against ISIS unless the United States agrees to increase support to rebels fighting Syrian president Bashar al-Assad and/or a buffer zone is established along its frontier with Syria.


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northafricaNorth Africa Watch 


EGYPT: On the heels of news that Russia and Egypt have reached a preliminary deal for Cairo to buy $3.5 billion worth of arms from Moscow, U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel confirmed U.S. plans to deliver ten Apache helicopters to Egypt to support Cairo's counter-terrorism efforts. Previously, a Sinai-based militant group beheaded four Egyptians it accused of providing Israel with intelligence for an airstrike that killed three of its fighters and eight policemen were killed in a bomb attack on a convoy in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula near the Gaza border. Egypt's army later killed a field commander in Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis, the country's most dangerous Islamist militant group during a clash in the northern Sinai Peninsula.


LIBYA: Egypt announced it will train Libyan forces to fight terrorism and help secure a shared border. Last month Islamist militias in Libya seized nearly a dozen commercial jetliners, and western intelligence agencies issued a warning that the jets could be used in terrorist attacks across North Africa.


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missileMissile Defense 


Saudi Arabia has requested to buy $1.8 billion in Patriot Advanced Capability-3 missiles. The State Department has approved the possible sale, which needs congressional approval to be concluded. Meanwhile, despite its strong performance during Operation Protective Edge, Israel's Iron Dome rocket interceptor has yet to make an impact on the export market.


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techTechnology Watch 


CYBER: As the chief executive of FireEye warns that by hoarding black market cyber weaponry ISIS will pose the next great cyber threat, the U.S. Army announced the creation of a cybersecurity-focused operational specialty.


ELECTRONIC WARFARE: A classified Defense Science Board study presented to the Deputy Secretary of Defense recommends that the Defense Department invest an additional $2 billion a year in electronic warfare (EW) and create a high-level executive committee to oversee the four services' EW spending.


RADAR: Raytheon was selected to produce the U.S. Air Force's next-generation expeditionary radar in a deal valued at around $1 billion.


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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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