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Marines in Baghdad to Boost Embassy Security as U.S. Removes Some Staff

By Jordain Carney ( @jordainc)

Welcome to NJ's Early Bird, today's best national security, defense, and foreign policy coverage. To contact us, email


U.S. to Evacuate Many Staff Members From Baghdad Embassy
(The New York Times: Tim Arango, Michael Gordon)
The American Embassy in Baghdad plans to evacuate a substantial number of its personnel this week in the face of an advance by militants.

U.S. Sends 50 Marines to Embassy in Baghdad
(The Washington Post: Karen DeYoung)
The Defense Department has sent a contingent of about 50 Marines to provide security for the massive U.S. Embassy in Baghdad.

America's Allies Are Funding ISIS
(The Daily Beast: Josh Rogin)
The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, now threatening Baghdad, was funded for years by wealthy donors in Kuwait, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia.


General to Investigate Bergdahl's Actions
(CNN: Leslie Bentz)
The general could begin his work as soon as this week.


Militants Claim Mass Execution of Iraqi Soldiers
(The New York Times: Rod Nordland, Alissa Rubin)
Insurgents from the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria boasted on Twitter that they had executed 1,700 people, posting gruesome photos to support their claim.

With Iraq gains, ISIS Closes In on Founder's Violent Vision
(The Washington Post: Joby Warrick)
The Islamists' march evokes fears of Zarqawi's brutal campaign to unite Sunnis under sharia law.

Pentagon Orders U.S. Aircraft Carrier Bush Nearer to Iraq
(Los Angeles Times: Roger Ainsley)
U.S. aircraft carrier Bush ordered to Persian Gulf to 'provide the commander-in-chief additional flexibility.'


Pentagon Said to Plan Increased Surveillance Over Iraq
(Bloomberg: Tony Capaccio)
The expanded surveillance, requested by Iraq's government, will be unmanned and unarmed.

Iraq Rebels Stall North of Baghdad as Residents Brace for a Siege
(The New York Times: Rod Nordland, Alissa Rubin)
An insurgent juggernaut that captured Iraq's second-largest city and raced nearly 200 miles south in three days.

Obama Links Iraq Aid to Efforts to Mend Sectarian Rifts
(The New York Times: Mark Landler, Michael Gordon)
The United States has asked Iraq's prime minister to work with the Kurds to persuade the Sunni minority that the next government will be an "ally not an adversary.

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Iraqi Town Near Syria Border Is Seized by ISIS
(The Washington Post: Liz Sly, Abigail Hauslohner)
Tal Afar has fallen to al-Qaeda rebels, forcing hundreds of families to flee as violence continues unabated.

Official: U.S. Air Power Options 800 Miles From Iraq
(USA Today: Tom Vanden Brook, David Jackson)
In any event, U.S. warplanes are not based close enough at the moment to conduct an air strike.

5 Questions With Ambassador James F. Jeffrey on Isis And Iraq
(War on the Rocks: Ryan Evans)
Jeffrey has served as the the envoy to Ankara and Baghdad, where he previously served as chargé d'affaires and deputy chief of mission.


Republicans Press Obama to Move Swiftly to Halt Extremists' Advances in Iraq
(The New York Times: Brian Knowlton)
Republican lawmakers called on the Obama administration to work with allies in the Middle East, and at least one suggested working with Iran to aid the Iraqi government.

U.S. Senator Graham Says Iran's Help Needed to Avoid Collapse in Iraq
(Reuters: Howard Schneider)
The United States needs Iran's involvement to prevent a collapse of the government in Iraq and should open talks toward that end.

GOP Senators Ask If Bergdahl Swap Broke Spending Law
(Roll Call: Niels Lesniewski)
The letter asks the Government Accountability Office to review the move for possible violations of the federal spending law known as the Antideficiency Act.

Senators Introduce New Veterans' Health Care Bill
(Associated Press: Cathy Bussewitz)
A new bill has been introduced in Congress that aims to offer relief to veterans that have had to pay for emergency health services.

Coburn to Expose VA 'Incompetency'
(The Hill: Kate Tummarello)
Sen. Tom Coburn's forthcoming report will expose "a culture within the VA where vets are not always a priority and in which administrators manipulate both data and employees."

Senators Urge Pentagon to End Systematic Faking of Its Accounts
(Reuters: Scot Paltrow)
The senators sent a letter to Defense Department Comptroller Robert Hale urging the Pentagon to stop an accounting practice widely known as "plugging."


Ukraine Claims Control of Port City
(The New York Times: Andrew Kramer)
Military momentum seemed to tilt in Ukraine's favor on Friday with government forces winning control of the port of Mariupol.

With a Choice (Unprintable) Word for Putin, Ukrainian Official Causes a Flap
(The Washington Post: Carol Morello, Michael Birnbaum)
The use of a crude term about Russia's leader has led to calls to fire the foreign minister.

After Annexing Crimea, Euphoric Russia Turns Thoughts to Ukraine
(The New York Times: Neil MacFarquhar)
Ukraine continues to dominate public discourse in Russia, and nothing else — not housing concerns, political issues or even an indoor smoking ban — really competes.

NATO Says Images Raise Suspicions That Russia Moved Tanks Into Ukraine
(Reuters:Adrian Croft)
NATO said the images showed Russian tanks arrived at a staging area close to the Ukraine border days before similar tanks appeared this week in areas of eastern Ukraine.

Russia to Cut Gas Supply to Ukraine
(Associated Press: Nataliya Vasilyeva, David Mchugh)
Since Ukraine had paid nothing for the gas by Monday Moscow has no legal grounds to supply Ukraine any more.

NORAD: Fighter Jets Scrambled After Russian Bombers Spotted Off California
(CBS News)
The incident occurred about five hours after four Russian bombers and a refueling tanker were seen entering the so-called Air Defense Identification Zone.


State Department's No. 2 Official Will Join Iran Nuclear Talks
(Los Angeles Times: Paul Richter)
As Iran talks near deadline, U.S. bolsters team.

Iran's Rouhani: Nuclear Deal Possible by July 20 With Goodwill
(Reuters: Parisa Hafezi)
President Hassan Rouhani urged world powers to cut a deal with Iran by a July 20 deadline.

U.S. Preparing to Discuss Iraq's Woes With Iran
(The Wall Street Journal: Jay Solomon, Carol Lee, Farnaz Fassihi)
Dialogue marks rapid move toward rapprochement between Washington, Tehran.

U.S., Iran Head to Nuclear Talks With Wary Eye on Iraq
(Los Angeles Times: Paul Richter)
U.S. and Iranian diplomats are taking care to prevent the upheaval in Iraq from creating another complication for their high-priority negotiations.


Syria Suicide Bombing Puts U.S. Face on Jihad Video
(The New York Times: Michael Schmidt)
American officials believe a recruitment video circulating in extremist circles shows the American who killed dozens in a recent attack, and they are concerned that others will follow in his path.


Abdullah Abdullah Moves Toward Center of Afghan Power
(The New York Times: Azam Ahmed)
Abdullah argues that he is a unity candidate capable of stitching together the country's myriad groups with a message of national resilience.

Pakistani Military Bombs Militant Hide-Outs
(The New York Times: Ismail Khan)
After fighter jets pounded militant targets in North Waziristan, the military announced that it had launched a "comprehensive operation" against militants in the region.

A-10s Saved the Day in Botched Afghanistan Raid
(War Is Boring: David Axe)
Low-flying jets better than bombers for supporting ground troops.

5th U.S. Casualty Named in Possible Friendly Fire Case in Afghanistan
(Los Angeles Times: Lauren Raab)
All 5 soldiers killed by possible friendly fire in Afghanistan last week are named.

Despite Bergdahl Swap, Peace Talks Still in Limbo
(Associated Press: Deb Riechmann)
There are few indications that the Taliban will head into peace talks with the Afghan government any time soon.

Election Day Violence in Afghanistan Higher Than Initially Reported
(Stars and Stripes: Heath Druzin)
Afghanistan's election was much more violent and deadly than authorities initially admitted.


Beijing Continues South China Sea Expansion
(Defense News: Wendell Minnick)
China appears to be constructing an airstrip and sea port on Fiery Cross Reef in the South China Sea.

U.S. Aircraft Carrier Welcomes Chinese Military Officials Aboard, Seeks Return Invite
(Agence France-Presse)
The U.S. Navy welcomed four members of China's military aboard one of its aircraft carriers — and said it hoped to receive a return invite someday.

Seabee Battalions to Move to Support Pacific Rebalance
(Seapower Magazine: Richard Burgess)
The action supports U.S. Pacific Command theater campaign plans to posture forces to be ready and improve operational availability."


U.S. Companies Pushing Vehicles at Eurosatory
(Defense News: Paul McLeary)
More than 130 American defense and security companies have packed up their gear and shipped it to the Eurosatory defense industry trade show.

Budget Got You Down, Defense Contractors? Don't Worry, the World Is Getting Crazier
(Roll Call: Tim Starks)
It's not just that foreign countries are seeking U.S.-manufactured defense products. The strategy by U.S. defense contractors to shift attention overseas is very deliberate.

Pentagon Ranks Top Suppliers to Spark Competition Among Contractors
(Government Executive: Charles Clark)
It's part of a continuing effort to improve the government's largest procurement operations by curbing costs and professionalizing the workforce.

F-35 Fighter Jets Temporarily Grounded by Engine Problems
(The Wall Street Journal: Doug Cameron)
Oil leak on one plane leads to inspection of 104-jet fleet.

F-35, Prompted By PRC Stealth Jets, Others, Starts Next-Gen Threat Planning
(Breaking Defense: Colin Clark)
The F-35 is barely out of the stable and hasn't been ridden hard yet, but the Pentagon is already beginning work on the next generation of improvements.

New Bill Would Give Civilians in Combat Zones a Tax Break
(Government Executive: Kellie Lunney
The Combat Zone Tax Parity Act aims to address a shortage of civilian workers staffing dangerous region.


Pentagon To Create 'Technology Offsets,' Encourage R&D Spending
(Defense News: Marcus Weisgerber)
Newly installed Deputy Defense Secretary Robert Work has launched a major push to encourage industry to invest in capabilities the Pentagon believes will give it the edge on the battlefield.

U.S. Missile Defense System Unreliable in Tests
(Associated Press)
The U.S. missile defense system can't be relied on to hit its targets even in scripted tests a decade after it was declared operational.


Will Sgt. Bergdahl Stay in the Army?
(Defense One: Patrick Tucker)
Army officials said that "the goal of reintegration is to return a soldier to duty."

Bergdahl Enters Final Phase of Treatment
(Politico: Philip Ewing)
Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl is settling in at an Army hospital in Texas for the final phase of his "reintegration."

Army Wants to Buy Compact, Semi-Auto Sniper Rifles
( Matthew Cox)
The U.S. Army has invited gun makers compete for the chance to build a compact version of the service's M110 Semi Automatic Sniper System.


Navy Contractor Program to Expand
(Politico: Leigh Munsil)
Business units from General Dynamics, General Electric, Lockheed Martin, Sikorsky, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon and Rolls-Royce made the Navy's list of so-called superior suppliers.

Some Ships See Time at Sea Surge; Others Fall Well Below Fleetwide Average
(Navy Times: David Larter)
New data shows the fleet's underway time is out of balance, where some ships have picked up the slack for others that, for one reason or another, haven't been out to sea as often.

Navy Releases Results of May Courts-Martial
(Navy Times)
The following special and general courts-martial were decided in May.

Navy Says 3 Tiny Holes Found in Oahu Fuel Tank
(Associated Press: Audrey McAvoy)
The holes may be the reason 27,000 gallons of jet fuel was lost, said Capt. Mike Williamson, chief engineer for Navy Region Hawaii.


U.S. Marine Corps Seeks Amtrac Upgrades
(Defense News: Paul McLeary)
The Corps has concluded that its most critical need is to improve protection of the Marines inside the vehicle while they're in the water, and when the vehicle rumbles ashore.


RFP for Bomber Coming Soon, Air Force's Top Buyer Says
(Air Force Times: Aaron Mehta)
The award date is set for the first half of 2015.


An Extra 14 Percent Keeps Cyber Pros at State -- Just Don't Call It a Bonus
(NextGov: Aliya Sternstein)
It's hard to lure hacker fighters from the lucrative private sector to the government, but once they join the State Department, they typically stay.

Local Guards at U.S. Embassies Inadequately Vetted
(The Washington Post: Karen DeYoung)
An internal audit of six embassies found that none fully complied with requirements for hiring contractors.


VA Patient Load Outpaced Budget, Led to Latest Scandal
(The Arizona Republic: Paul Giblin)
The scandal enveloping the Department of Veterans Affairs was years in the making, as patient-eligibility guidelines expanded without corresponding funding.

VA Punished Critics on Staff, Doctors Assert
(The New York Times: Eric Lichtblau)
In response to employee whistle-blowers, the Department of Veterans Affairs has made clear over the years that it would not hesitate to retaliate, disciplining and even firing those who spoke up.

Acting VA Secretary Vows Protection for Whistleblowers
(Military Times: Leo Shane III)
He promised disciplinary action against any employees seeking to punish whistleblowers.

Poll: Fixing VA Health Care Top Issue
(Politico: Jonathan Topaz)
The most widespread legislative concern for Americans is improving health care for veterans.


The U.S. Hoped Snowden Would Slip Up. He Didn't.
(The Washington Post: Greg Miller)
Officials scrambled for a way to nab him before Russia granted asylum. Now the former NSA contractor appears to have moved further beyond U.S. reach.

Obama-Congress Intelligence Pipeline Broken
(Politico: Burgess Everett)
The Senate's spy watchdogs are abuzz over what lawmakers describe as a low point in relations with the Obama administration and its intelligence policymakers.


The FBI Is Getting Its Own, Personal 3D Printer For Studying Bombs
(NextGov: Aliya Sternstein)
At least one lucky G-Man will get to toy around with a 3D printer to study homemade explosives.


States Concerned About Proposed Coast Guard Rules
(Associated Press: Phuong Le)
The Coast Guard released proposed rules that outline a number of regulations that it says would override state and local law.


Pentagon Prosecutor: Gitmo Detainees in Bergdahl Swap Couldn't Be Successfully Prosecuted
(The Miami Herald: Carol Rosenberg)
Martins replied that in 2009 a task force of federal and military prosecutors concluded: "There was not a successful prosecution to be had of any of those five."

How to Close Gitmo Without Swapping Prisoners
(National Journal: Stacy Kaper)
Obama can release those who have been cleared to their home countries, or to other host nations if releasing them to their own country could be dangerous and result in persecution.

Gitmo Inmates Love Their World Cup
(USA Today: Tom Vanden Brook)
They may be inmates of the world's most infamous prison — accused of being the world's most notorious terrorists — but they're still soccer fans.


Can General Linder's Special Operations Forces Stop the Next Terrorist Threat?
(The New York Times: Eliza Griswold)
Linder is "myopically focused" on seeing the continent through the lens of threat: "Africa is the battleground of the future."


Biden Adds Stop in Guatemala
(Associated Press)
Vice President Joe Biden will highlight the plight of unaccompanied minors trying to cross the U.S.-Mexico border in a visit to Guatemala.


Fighting Terrorism With More Money
(The New York Times)
Investing $5 billion in the fight against extremists sounds sensible, but the new program seems too heavily dependent on military responses.

Nuclear Peace
(The Washington Post: Mohammad Javad Zarif)
The Western myth that Iran is building a bomb could derail a deal.

The Fog Machine of War
(The New York Times: Chelsea Manning)
I saw firsthand how the United States military rationed what the American public knew about its operations in Iraq.

The Real Cancer That Caused the VA Scandal
(USA Today: Richard Levick)
Veterans just don't trust the system.

Fight Between Two Watchdogs in VA Drama Could Affect Federal Whistleblowers
(The Washington Post: Joe Davison)
The IG and POGO both want to get the whole truth about the VA scandal. They should be able to do that before this squabble gets nasty and without forcing POGO to reveal its sources.

The Next Afghan President
(The Wall Street Journal)
Sectarian failure in Iraq offers a lesson in what to avoid.

Summer of Discontent
(Defense News: John Bennett)
Obama's deal to free Bergdahl could be the political heat wave that poisons the political soil and destroys ripening grapes for a sequestration-relieving fiscal deal.

Iraq Exposes Failed U.S. Policy
(USA Today)
Bush and Obama have mostly made things worse.

Al-Maliki's Missteps Have Made a Mess of Iraq
(The Washington Post: David Ignatius)
He cannot put a splintered Iraq together again, no matter how many weapons the Obama administration sends him.

Welcome to the New Iraq War
(The National Interest: John Allen Gay)
As rebels make rapid gains, there are few good options for the United States.

The Pros and Cons of U.S.Drone Strikes in Iraq
(Defense One: Patrick Tucker)
Unfortunately, armed drones by themselves would be relatively ineffective against an enemy like ISIS.

Australia's U.S.-China Balancing Act
(The Diplomat: Shannon Tiezzi)
Australia's ability to walk a geopolitical tightrope was on display during Abbott's visit to DC.

Five Japanese Weapons of War China Should Fear
(The National Interest: Kyle Mizokami)
While China's rising military might gets all the press, Japan's Self-Defense forces pack quite a punch.

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Don't Miss Today's Top Stories

Keeps me informed about national leadership concerns."

Senior Military Officer

The best!"

Mark, Compensation Analyst

Timely and informative."

Dave, HR specialist

I can browse over breakfast or while on the metro."

AJ, US Army Officer

Sign up form for the newsletter