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Obama Names Dunford’s Successor, U.S. Forces Flow Into Baghdad, Russia Sanctions Could Be Delayed Obama Names Dunford’s Successor, U.S. Forces Flow Into Baghdad, Russ...

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Obama Names Dunford’s Successor, U.S. Forces Flow Into Baghdad, Russia Sanctions Could Be Delayed

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. Forces Flow Into Baghdad to Assess Iraq Troops
(Associated Press: Lolita Baldor, Bradley Klapper)
Nearly half of the roughly 300 U.S. military advisers and special operations forces expected to go to Iraq are now in Baghdad.

New Top Officers Tapped for Afghanistan, SOCOM and NORTHCOM
(The Washington Post: Dan Lamothe)
Army Gen. John Campbell has been tapped to lead the closing salvos of the United States' combat role in Afghanistan.

Officials: Sanctions on Russia Could Be Delayed
(Associated Press: Julie Pace, Matthew Lee, Bradley Klapper)
Sanctions might be delayed because of positive signals from Russian President Vladimir Putin.



Senator: More Than 1,000 Veterans May Have Died as a Result of VA Misconduct
(Stars and Stripes: Jon Harper)
Coburn said the scandal surrounding secret waiting lists and delays in patient care at VA facilities is "just the tip of the iceberg."

CBO Says VA Overhaul Could Cost $50 Billion
(The Hill: Martin Matishak)
Republican lawmakers tasked with finalizing legislation to reform the Veterans Affairs Department slammed an independent cost estimate of the revamp.

U.S. 2015 War-Funding Request Due to Go to Congress Soon: Official
(Reuters: David Alexander, Andrea Shalal)
But it is unlikely to include money for operations in Iraq.

Sen. Inhofe to Fellow Republicans: Submit NDAA Amendments Now
(Defense News: John Bennett)
"Republicans, don't come around complaining to me in December that you don't have amendments," the Republican senator from Oklahoma said.


Carl Levin: Still No Floor Time for Defense Bill
(The Hill: Martin Matishak)
Levin would not rule out the Senate taking up the policy bill some time in July.

HASC Seeks Better Pentagon Buying Process
(Politico: Leigh Munsil)
A hearing was the second of three fact-gathering sessions meant to inform Rep. Mac Thornberry in shaping a House-led acquisition reform initiative.

House Clears Intelligence Authorization
(The Hill: Cristina Marcos)
The House cleared legislation to the president to authorize intelligence programs through fiscal 2015.

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U.S. Lawmakers: Egypt's 'Descent Toward Despotism' Risks U.S. Aid
(Reuters: Patricia Zengerle)
The chairman of the Senate subcommittee that oversees foreign aid said further funds should be withheld until Egypt's leaders demonstrate a commitment to human rights.

McCain, Inhofe: Why Was Immunity Only Possible for Troops in Iraq Now?
(The Hill: Martin Matishak)
A pair of senior GOP senators said that if the Obama administration has been able to secure legal immunity for U.S. special operations, it should have landed the deal years ago.

House Democrats Fear 'Another Vietnam'
(The Hill: Mike Lillis)
Rep. Xavier Becerra laid out a three-part test he said President Obama must clear in order to win support from the Democratic caucus for renewed operations in Iraq.


ISIS Claims Victory at Baiji Refinery, Iraqi Forces Deny Reports of Surrender
(McClatchy: Lindsay Wise)
Radical Sunni militants claimed victory in the battle for control of Iraq's largest oil refinery.

Kerry Says U.S. Airstrikes in Iraq Would Be 'Act of Irresponsibility'
(Time: Dan Kedmey)
Top American diplomat warns against strikes in a power vacuum.

ISIS Rapidly Accumulating Cash, Weapons, U.S. Intelligence Officials Say
(The Washington Post: Greg Miller)
The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria "is the strongest it has been in several years" because of recent gains in both those countries.

Islamist Fighters Reportedly Attempting to Encircle Baghdad
(McClatchy: Mitchell Prothero)
Iraq's dire situation has gone from bad dream to nightmare in two weeks of fighting that have seen Sunni Muslim gunmen assert control over a growing area.

Washington and London Ignored Warnings about the ISIS Offensive in Iraq
(The Daily Beast: Jamie Dettmer)
The strategy of the jihadist group and their allies in Iraq was evident long before their blitz started rolling toward Baghdad. But neither Maliki nor Obama wanted to listen.

Iraq and ISIS: Waging War With Hashtags
(The Washington Post: Thomas Gibbons-Neff)
The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria might have won an early victory, but that doesn't mean the battle with social media is lost.

Even Former Commandos Call Iraq 'an Impossible Mission'
(The Daily Beast: Jacob Siegel)
Special operations forces are the elite troops of the U.S. military. But sending them to Iraq without a clear purpose won't lead to a good outcome.


Syria Bombs Sunni Militant Targets Inside Iraq, Broadening Mideast Crisis
(The Washington Post: Karen DeYoung, Anne Gearan, Ben Van Heuvelen)
The attacks by Syrian government aircraft came as Secretary of State Kerry met with Kurdish leaders.

Losses to ISIS in Iraq Spur U.S. to Rethink Syria
(The Wall Street Journal: Dion Nissenbaum, Julian Barnes)
Obama administration debates hitting Sunni insurgent strongholds on either side of border.


Iran Expects Deal Soon on Russia Building New Nuclear Reactors
(Reuters: Michelle Moghtader, Fredrik Dahl)
Iran said it expected to sign a deal with Russia in late August on the building of two new 1,000-megawatt nuclear reactors.

Long Absent, Nuclear Expert Still Has Hold On Iran Talks
(The New York Times: David Sanger)
Mohsen Fakhrizadeh is considered by Western intelligence officials to be the closest thing Iran has to J. Robert Oppenheimer.


Hamid Karzai: 'I Didn't See a War in Afghanistan—I Saw a Conspiracy'
(The Atlantic: Mujib Mashal)
An exit interview with the Afghan president.

Top Marine: Taliban 'Desperate' to Inflict U.S. Casualties
(The Hill: Kristina Wong)
The nation's top Marine said Taliban attacks had grown "more desperate" as they looked to attack American troops drawing down from Afghanistan.


At Navy Drills, U.S. and China Try to Forge Relationship
(Agence France-Presse)
It's a significant but mainly symbolic effort by the two powers' fighting forces to make friends, not war.

U.S. Ambassador Baucus Says China hHacking Threatens National Security
(Reuters: Michael Martina)
Baucus' remarks come as commercial ties between the world's two largest economies have been strained over cyber espionage charges. 

U.S. Says Thai Military Rule Likely to Last Longer Than Expected
(Reuters: David Brunnstrom)
Washington is still looking at whether the big regional Cobra Gold military exercise held annually in Thailand could go ahead there next year given the military takeover in May.


Violence Jeopardizes Ukraine Cease-Fire
(The Wall Street Journal: Lukas Alpert, James Marson)
New fighting in Ukraine claimed the lives of 11 soldiers despite a day-old cease-fire agreement with separatists and amid signs Russian leader Vladimir Putin wants to calm the crisis.

Putin: Cease-Fire in Ukraine Should Be Extended
(Associated Press: Laura Mills, Vladimir Isachenkov)
The weeklong cease-fire declared by the Ukrainian president should be extended and accompanied by talks between the government and the rebels.

Russian Lawmakers Cancel OK for Ukraine Force
(Associated Press: Vladimer Isachenkov)
The vote comes a day after Putin asked lawmakers to rescind his earlier request for using troops in Ukraine.

NATO: "No Signs" Russia Is Respecting Commitments
(Associated Press: John-Thor Dahlburg)
Anders Fogh Rasmussen, NATO's top civilian official, made the comments ahead of a meeting of the alliance's foreign ministers.

Obama Speaks with Cameron
(USA Today: David Jackson)
"The two leaders consulted principally on the current situation in Ukraine," said White House spokesman Josh Earnest.


White House Addresses Ambassador Backlog
(The Washington Post: Colby Itkowitz, Al Kamen)
The White House weighed in—we believe for the first time in a while—about the Senate GOP's unwillingness to confirm President Obama's ambassadorial nominees.

After Benghazi, U.S. Sends Its Diplomatic Agents Through More Intensive Training
(The Washington Post: Richard Leiby)
Diplomatic Security agents since last fall have sweated through motorcade ambushes and helicopter evacuations as part of stepped-up training.


Pentagon Eyes Remedies as Spending 'Bow Wave' Looms
(Reuters: Andrea Shalal)
Robert Hale, the Pentagon's comptroller, said he worried that increases in military requirements would undermine a range of efforts under way to drive down the cost of weapons systems.

NDIA Official: DoD's Red Tape Could Become 'Most Dangerous Enemy' to U.S.
(Defense News: John Bennett)
The processes that govern—and often stymie—how the U.S. military buys weapons could be the biggest threat to America.


CIA Sued for Failing to Disclose Senate Torture-Probe Records
(National Journal: Dustin Volz)
A pair of open-government advocates are suing the CIA for its continued secrecy regarding its alleged hacking of Senate computers.

DIA Tries to Get Better, Faster Stronger in Harder Times
(Roll Call: Tim Starks)
With fewer resources, the agency needs to get more efficient, something Gen. Michael Flynn admitted wasn't happening much in flusher budget times around fiscal 2008.


Army's New Plan: Active and Guard Brigade Team-Ups
(Army Times: Michelle Tan)
To make up for lost time and money, the Army has ramped up its combat training center rotations this year.


Navy Identifies Decorated SEAL Who Died in Skydiving Accident
(Associated Press)
Authorities say he was Bradley S. Cavner, 31, of Coronado, California.


Lawyer Asks for Patience from Marine's Supporters
(Fox News)
Sgt. Andrew Tahmooresi has been held by Mexican authorities since March 31.


U.S. Air Force to Resume F-35A Fighter Jet Flights 
(Reuters: Andrea Shalal)
The U.S. Air Force said it will resume flights of Lockheed Martin Corp's F-35 A-model fighter jets at a Florida air base, two days after one of the jets caught fire.

Air Force Academy's Alternate Field Cuts Noise
(The Colorado Springs Gazette: Tom Roeder)
The incessant buzzing from the sky drones on as student pilots circle and land, take off and circle again.


Survey: Many Vets With PTSD or TBI Say Treatment Doesn't Help
(Air Force Times: Leo Shane III)
It echoes larger concerns that the extra focus on treating those illnesses has not produced clear, reliable metrics for care.

Top 10 Outrageous VA Behaviors
(Stars and Stripes)
Sen. Tom Coburn released a report detailing some of the department's most egregious employee misconduct.


U.S. No-Fly List Process Is Ruled Unconstitutional
(The Verge: Russell Brandom)
Judge Anna Brown concluded that the process did not meet the standard for due process, and was unconstitutional in its current form.


Guantánamo Detainee Rebuffed
(The New York Times: Charlie Savage)
A Federal District Court judge on Tuesday rejected a request that the judge order his release because he is suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and other ailments.


As Libya Teeters Near Chaos, U.S. Keeps Hands-Off Policy
(Reuters: Missy Ryan, Arshad Mohammed)
Among all countries swept by the Arab Spring uprisings, few today are as dysfunctional as Libya.

Egyptian Leader Refuses to Intervene in Al Jazeera Case
(The New York Times: Alan Cowell)
Brushing aside protests from the governments of Western countries, including the United States, President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi of Egypt said he would not interfere in the case of three journalists.

Sudan Summons U.S., South Sudan Ambassadors in Row Over Christian Convert
(Reuters: Maaz Alnugomi)
The move escalated a diplomatic row over Mariam Yahya Ibrahim, 27, who was detained as she and her American husband and two children sought to fly out of Khartoum.


Hypocrisy on Egypt
(The Washington Post)
The U.S. embraces autocrats but expresses shock at their repression.

The Awlaki Drone Memo
(The Wall Street Journal)
Obama had the legal right to kill the U.S. citizen-terrorist.

There May Be Nothing America Can Do to Save Iraq
(The Verge)
Growing ISIS insurgency threatens to pull Obama back into Iraq, but his options are limited.

(The New York Times: Thomas Friedman)
The past month has presented the world with what the Israeli analyst Orit Perlov describes as the two dominant Arab governing models: ISIS and SISI.

Why American Air Power Won't Save Iraq from ISIS
(The National Interest: Erica Borghard, Costantino Pischedda)
At first glance, Iraq would seem to be an ideal setting for reenacting the Afghan/Libyan model.

Pentagon Sending a Message to Iraq by Dragging Its Boots
(Time: Mark Thompson)
Slow-motion U.S. reaction is designed to push Baghdad to compromise.

The Jihad Next Door
(Politico: Rania Abouzeid)
The Syrian roots of Iraq's newest civil war.

Are National Security Lawyers a National Security Threat?
(Real Clear Defense: Marshall Erwin)
Lawyers' outsized role in America's intelligence debate.

GOP Defense Hawks Take Flight
(The National Interest: James Kitfield)
Republican hawks are embattled. The 2016 election will reveal whether they can go back on the attack.

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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