National Defense Briefs - October 15, 2015

by W. THOMAS SMITH, JR. October 15, 2015

National Defense Briefs

National Defense Briefs is a series aimed at informing readers with timely military and homeland-security news updates, trends, definitions, and short commentaries. FSM highlights the "National Defense Briefs" that matter.

  • When it comes to mental, physical, and emotional toughness, a U.S. Navy SEAL says purpose, meaning, attitude, and preparation, preparation, preparation are all keys to "grit and resilience." He says a lot more in "Eight Secrets." [See story at]

  • The New York Times is reporting that "even as the Taliban are winning major victories against the government this year, including the capture of Kunduz, they are not exerting monolithic control. The Islamic State [aka ISIS] has made major inroads in turf battles against Taliban commanders, particularly in places in Nangarhar Province like the Maamand Valley. And the result, rather than weakening the overall insurgency, has mostly been to inflict more chaos and misery for Afghan civilians. [The full report is available at]

  • As of this writing [Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2015], the Iraqi Air Force reportedly killed nine ISIS leaders, earlier this week, including bodyguards for ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, during a strike against an ISIS convoy in Iraq's western Anbar province. The reports add, the convoy was enroute tp a meeting in Karabelah, the site of which was also struck. The fate of al-Baghdadi has yet to be confirmed. According to CNN, "Claims that Baghdadi has been hit in airstrikes have been made twice over the past year. In November, Iraqi officials said he had been wounded in an airstrike. In March, Iraq's Interior Ministry said the Iraqi air force wounded Baghdadi in an airstrike on the Iraqi town of Al-Qaem [on the Syrian border]."

  • In Syria, Russian warplanes continue striking both ISIS targets as wells as rebels opposed to the Syrian government. The U.S. is supporting the anti-government rebels. Sen. John McCain and others have "described the ongoing escalation as a ‘proxy war' between the United States and Russia." But Russian Pres. Vladimir Putin says his country's military operations in Syria benefit the world. "We are not striving for any kind of leadership over Syria," said Putin. "Syria can have only one leader - the Syrian people. We aim at making a contribution in the fight against terrorism, which is dangerous for the United States, for Russia and for the European countries, and for the whole world without exaggeration."

  • As we have reported, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) is also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and al Sham (also ISIS), the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), and the Islamic State (IS). Many Arab-speaking people refer to ISIS as Daesh, an acronym for Al Dawla al-Islamiya al-Iraq al-Sham (the Arabic translation of the Islamic State of Iraq and al Sham).

  • In the wake of the disastrous 1,000-year flood-event in South Carolina, officials have credited not only civilian emergency response, public-works personnel and supporting agencies, but federal and state military personnel, for "greatly mitigating" the loss of life and property (though lives were lost and an estimated $1-billion plus was lost in property damage statewide). Lt. Col. (P) Bill Connor - a U.S. Army Reserve Infantry officer (Ranger) and the former senior U.S. military advisor in Helmand Province, Afghanistan - spent a week in the South Carolina Emergency Operations Center near Columbia. "The historic level of rain and severe flooding in S.C. brought the engagement of all branches and components of our nation's military," Connor said. "Friday before the rains came, the South Carolina Emergency Management Division, S.C. National Guard, S.C. State Guard, even federal Title 10 - "Defense Support to Civilian Activities" - officers were activated to plan and prepare for the rains and inevitable flooding. When the flooding began, search-and-rescue operations at local, state and federal levels were in place to save lives. Military engineers and National Guard ground troops assisted local and state law enforcement with help to the hardest-hit communities. Helicopter rescue came from agencies as diverse as the N.C. National Guard and the U.S. Coast Guard. In the Emergency Operations Center, all branches and components of the military were represented, including Army, Navy, and Air Force; active, Reserve, and National Guard. Despite the tragedy, this event demonstrated the extraordinary efficiency and teamwork the military has developed over many years of operating together in places like Iraq and Afghanistan. This time, however, it was to save the lives of fellow citizens."

  • A just-released U.S. Marine Corps study has concluded that integrating females into all military units poses "risks" as regards battlefield efficiency. According to reports, "While highlighting the achievements of many outstanding female Marines, the report finds that overall elite female troops do not reach the same physical standards as their male counterparts." The 37-page report "echoes" the 1992 Presidential Commission on the Assignment of Women in the Armed Forces, which concluded, "Risking the lives of a military unit in combat to provide career opportunities or accommodate the personal desires or interests of an individual, or group of individuals, is more than bad military judgment. It is morally wrong."

W. Thomas Smith Jr. - a former U.S. Marine rifleman - is a military analyst and partner with NATIONAL DEFENSE CONSULTANTS, LLC. Visit him at

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