Iraq’s non-withdrawal withdrawal deal with the US is just what Afghanistan needs, argue former officials
US ROLE, ‘JUST TO BE AVAILABLE’: The United States and Iraq have formalized an agreement made last year to pull back U.S. troops in Iraq but not pull them out.
The announcement that the U.S. will end its combat mission in Iraq by year’s end came in an Oval Office meeting between President Joe Biden and Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al Kadhimi , in which Biden promised continued military support that both sides agree Iraq still needs to pursue remnants of ISIS and maintain U.S.-provided equipment.
“Our role in Iraq will be ... just to be available, to continue to train, to assist, to help, and to deal with ISIS,” Biden said. “But we're not going to be, by the end of the year, in a combat mission.”
The timeline for ending the combat mission is a bit of political theater, given that once former President Donald Trump cut U.S. troops levels in Iraq in half last year, from 5,000 to 2,500, the U.S. role was effectively limited to a “train, advise, and equip” mission.
WHAT AFGHANISTAN NEEDS: Former national security adviser retired Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster , in an op-ed co-authored with Bradley Bowman of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, argues that the U.S. needs to take immediate steps to prevent the fall of the U.S.-backed government in Kabul, which would result in a dangerous, destabilizing humanitarian and political disaster.
“American air assets in Afghanistan should help Afghan forces defend Kabul and provincial capitals, as well as attack Taliban forces that target Afghan civilians or attempt to fire their newly captured artillery into population centers,” write McMaster and Bowman in the Wall Street Journal . “Some may cite the 2020 U.S.-Taliban agreement as a reason not to take this step. But the Taliban never honored the agreement ... Why should the U.S. adhere to an agreement that the other party has abrogated?”
The two call for “comprehensive contractor maintenance and logistics support based in Afghanistan” and “extensive intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance support.”
BOOSTING MORALE: Ronald Neumann , who was U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan from 2005 to 2007, writes in a Washington Post op-ed that the U.S. needs to take actions that will help shore up the flagging morale of the Afghan government forces who feel abandoned.
“Afghan garrisons are isolated, yet the United States has withdrawn aerial resupply resources. It also withdrew the foreign contractors on whom the Afghans depended to run its supply system, and those who maintained Afghan fighters and helicopters,” writes Neumann. “Given Afghans’ limited airlift capabilities, soldiers now wonder, if they fight, whether they’ll be resupplied or evacuated.”
“The popular impression — that only Afghan commandos are fighting, while the Afghan army is passive — is exaggerated. The regular army in Helmand province is fighting hard and remains intact around the provincial capital despite being hard-pressed,” Neumann argues.
“But it is also critical for the United States to realize how its actions have hurt morale, and to do its part to shore it up again ... If morale gives this time and the army starts losing in cities, there could be a rapid fragmentation, and the United States might suddenly find itself in a nasty evacuation situation in Kabul.”
AIRSTRIKES CONTINUE FOR NOW: In a statement after meeting with Afghanistan’s president, Ashraf Ghani , in Kabul, U.S. Central Commander Gen. Frank McKenzie said the U.S. is doing those things now but made no promise about what will happen after Aug 31.
“The United States has increased airstrikes in the support of Afghan forces over the last several days, and we're prepared to continue this heightened level of support in the coming weeks if the Taliban continue their attacks,” McKenzie said.
“We continue to provide contract maintenance and logistics support here in Kabul to maintain Afghan defense capabilities, including their aviation capability. We continue to provide maintenance, advising them from over-the-horizon, and we're prepared to execute over-the-horizon aircraft maintenance and refurbishment with aircraft that will be flown to a third country, repaired, and returned to service in Afghanistan with the Afghan Air Force.”
McKenzie said he was “heartened” by the military strategy drawn up by Ghani and his advisers.
“They have a good plan. A plan that will concentrate their forces. And it's going to require taking a risk to execute as any good plan does.”
Good Tuesday morning and welcome to Jamie McIntyre’s Daily on Defense , written and compiled by Washington Examiner National Security Senior Writer Jamie McIntyre ( @jamiejmcintyre ) and edited by Victor I. Nava . Email here with tips, suggestions, calendar items, and anything else. Sign up or read current and back issues at DailyonDefense.com . If signing up doesn’t work, shoot us an email and we’ll add you to our list. And be sure to follow us on Twitter: @dailyondefense .
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HAPPENING TODAY: President Joe Biden will pay a visit to the Office of the Director of National Intelligence in McLean, Virginia, which oversees the 17 U.S. intelligence organizations. In an address scheduled for 2:20 p.m., Biden will “express his admiration for their work and underscore the importance that our national security of intelligence collection and analysis be free from political interference.”
ALSO TODAY: The Democrat-run House select committee investigating the origins of the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol building will hear from its first witnesses, Capitol Police officers Harry Dunn and Aquilino Gonell and Metropolitan Police officers Michael Fanone and Daniel Hodges .
The nine-member panel has seven Democrats and two Republicans — Reps. Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger — all of whom have blamed President Donald Trump for inciting the crowd to violence.
House Republicans, led by Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy , are holding a news conference at 8 a.m. to denounce the proceedings. McCarthy says House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has appointed members “who share her preconceived narrative” and that the hearing “will not yield a serious investigation.”
KENDALL CONFIRMED AS AF SEC: After having his nomination placed on hold for weeks, Frank Kendall was finally confirmed last night by voice vote in the Senate to be the next secretary of the Air Force.
Kendall, who served as undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics during the Obama administration, will have to oversee several Air Force weapons acquisitions, including the expensive F-35 fighter jet program and the new B-21 long-range stealth bomber.
INDUSTRY WATCH: Lockheed Martin reported its second-quarter earnings yesterday, and while sales were up compared to last year ($17 billion, compared to $16.2 billion), profits were down based on what was described as “performance issues experienced on a classified program.”
Second-quarter 2021 net earnings include a loss of $225 million, and cash on hand was also down from $2.2 billion in the second quarter of 2020 to $1.3 billion.
But Lockheed should benefit from the next defense budget, which the Senate Armed Services Committee has boosted by $25 billion, including funding of Lockheed Martin contracts.
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TUESDAY | JULY 27
6 a.m. Fullerton Hotel, Singapore — International Institute for Strategic Studies virtual lecture: “The Imperative of Partnership," as part of the 40th IISS Fullerton Lecture, with U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin. http://www.iiss.org/en/iiss-us/iiss-us-s-events and https://www.defense.gov/Watch/Live-Events/
8:30 a.m. — American Enterprise Institute web event; “Scoping the threat: Do African Salafi-jihadi groups threaten the West?” with Idriss Lallali , deputy director, African Centre for the Study and Research on Terrorism; Nathaniel Powell , associate researcher, Centre for War and Diplomacy, Lancaster University; Yan St-Pierre , CEO, Modern Security Consulting Group; Katherine Zimmerman , fellow, AEI; and moderator, Jason Warner , assistant professor, Department of Social Sciences, U.S.Military Academy at West Point. https://www.aei.org/events/scoping-the-threat
11:30 a.m. — Woodrow Wilson Center Polar Institute and Kissinger Institute on China and the United States virtual discussion: “Progress on the Department of the Air Force Arctic Strategy,” with Deputy Air Force Undersecretary of International Affairs Kelli Seybolt ; Lt. Gen. S. Clinton Hinote , deputy chief of staff for strategy, integration and requirements at Air Force Headquarters; and Lt. Gen. William Liquori , deputy chief of space operations, strategy, plans, programs, requirements, and analysis at U.S. Space Force. https://www.wilsoncenter.org/event/arctic-security-dialogues
11:45 a.m. — McCrary Institute and Space Policy Institute event: “Securing Space,” with Gen. James Dickinson , Commander U.S. Space Command. https://www.youtube.com/watch
1 p.m. — Center for Strategic and International Studies virtual discussion: “ Food Security in the Military: What We Know and Why It Matters," Deputy Assistant Defense Secretary for Military Community and Family Policy Patricia Montes Barron ; Shelley Kimball , senior director of research and program evaluation at the Military Family Advisory Network; and Matthew Rabbitt , economist at the Agriculture Department's Economic Research Service. https://www.csis.org/events/food-security-military
2 p.m. — German Marshall Fund of the United States virtual discussion: “Taiwan Peace and Stability Act,” with Rep. Ami Bera , D-Calif.; Rep. Steve Chabot , R-Ohio; and Bonnie Glaser , director of the GMFUS Asia Program. https://www.gmfus.org/events/discussing-taiwan
2 p.m. — Center for the Study of the Presidency and Congress virtual discussion: “Building Over the Horizon Space Capabilities,” with Jeffrey Manber , CEO, Nanoracks; Payam Banazadeh , founder & CEO, Capella Space; and Brig. Gen. Steve “Bucky” Butow , director of the space portfolio, Defense Innovation Unit. https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register
WEDNESDAY | JULY 28
9 a.m. — House Armed Services Committee bipartisan staff members hold conference call briefings on background for Capitol Hill credentialed media only to discuss subcommittee markups for the FY2022 National Defense Authorization Act. 9 a.m., Tactical Air and Land Forces Subcommittee; 11 a.m., Readiness Subcommittee; 1 p.m., Intelligence and Special Operations Subcommittee. RSVP at https://docs.google.com/forms
10 a.m. — Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies virtual Spacepower Forum, with Gen. David “DT” Thompson , vice chief of space operations. Video posted afterward at https://mitchellaerospacepower.org/event/space-power-forum
11 a.m. — Institute for Defense and Government Advancement virtual Homeland Security Conference, with remarks on "Coordinating Responses to Emerging Homeland Security Threats,” by William Bratton , chairman of the Homeland Security Advisory Council. https://www.idga.org/events-homelandsecurityweek
12 p.m. — Center for the National Interest virtual forum, “How Stable is North Korea?” with Bruce Bennett , adjunct international/defense researcher, RAND Corporation; Jessica Lee , senior research fellow in the East Asia Program, Quincy Institute; Frank Aum senior expert on Northeast Asia, U.S. Institute of Peace; Harry Kazianis , senior director of Korean Studies at the Center for the National Interest. https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register
12 p.m. — Hudson Institute virtual discussion: “Iran's Record of Smuggling, Kidnapping and Extortion,” with David Albright , founder and president of the Institute for Science and International Security; Olli Heinonen , fellow at the Stimson Center; Kenneth MacDonald, former special agent at the U.S. Customs Service; and Joshua Block , adjunct fellow at Hudson. https://www.hudson.org/events/1995-virtual-event
1:30 p.m. — United States Institute of Peace virtual discussion: “Nuclear Security Policy in an Era of Strategic Competition,” with Rep. Jeff Fortenberry , R-Neb.; Rep. Bill Foster , D-Ill.; and USIP President and CEO Lise Grande . https://www.usip.org/events/nuclear-security
3 p.m. — Center for Strategic and International Studies “Smart Women, Smart Power” event: “U.S. National Security Policy in the Indo-Pacific: A Conversation with Sen . Tammy Duckworth .” https://www.csis.org/events/us-national-security-policy
THURSDAY | JULY 29
9 a.m. — George Washington University Project for Media and National Security Defense Writers Group conversation with Mr. John Sopko , special inspector general for Afghanistan reconstruction (SIGAR). https://nationalsecuritymedia.gwu.edu/
10 a.m. 1789 Massachusetts Ave. N.W. — American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research in-person event: “America’s ever-shrinking fighting force,” with Mackenzie Eaglen , senior fellow, AEI; Arnold Punaro , former staff director of the Senate Armed Services Committee and CEO, Punaro Group; and former Sen. Jim Talent , senior fellow, Bipartisan Policy Center. https://www.aei.org/events/americas-ever-shrinking-fighting-force
3:30 p.m. — Washington Pos t Live virtual discussion: “Securing Cyberspace,” former Homeland Security Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency Director Chris Krebs , partner at the Krebs Stamos Group. https://www.washingtonpost.com/washington-post-live
FRIDAY | JULY 30
8:30 a.m. — Center for Strategic and International Studies virtual 11th annual South China Sea Conference, with Rep. Elaine Luria , D-Va.; Zack Cooper , senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute; and Nguyen Nam Duong , deputy director-general of the Diplomatic Academy of Vietnam's East Sea Institute. https://www.csis.org/events
TUESDAY | AUGUST 3
8 a.m. — The virtual Aspen Security Forum, Day 1, with Michele Flournoy , former undersecretary of defense for policy; Zalmay Khalilzad , special representative for Afghanistan reconciliation; retired Gen. David Petraeus , former director, Central Intelligence Agency; Roya Rahmani , Afghan Ambassador to the U.S.; Rep. Liz Cheney , R-Wyo.; and more. See full agenda and register at https://www.aspensecurityforum.org/2021-virtual-asf
9:15 a.m. — Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies virtual Spacepower Forum: “The SASC version of the Fiscal Year 2022 National Defense Authorization Act, particularly its implications for the Space Force, with South Dakota Sen. Mike Rounds , and Matt Donovan , director of the Mitchell Institute Spacepower Advantage Research Center. Video posted afterward at https://mitchellaerospacepower.org/event/spacepower
WEDNESDAY | AUGUST 4
8 a.m. — The virtual Aspen Security Forum, Day 2, with Anne Neuberger , deputy national security adviser for cyber and emerging technologies; Victoria Nuland , undersecretary of state for political affairs; Adm. John Aquilino , commander, U.S. Indo-Pacific Command; Stephen Biegun , former deputy secretary of state; Matt Pottinger , former deputy national security adviser; Sen. Dan Sullivan , R-Alaska; and more. See full agenda and register at https://www.aspensecurityforum.org/2021-virtual-asf
QUOTE OF THE DAY
“They have a good plan. A plan that will concentrate their forces. And it's going to require taking a risk to execute, as any good plan does. Let me say again, there are going to be hard days ahead, but there's a path that can lead us to a political solution to this war.”
U.S. Central Commander Marine Gen. Frank McKenzie, speaking in Kabul after meeting with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani about his strategy to battle the Taliban.