We live in a busy world with a lot of information being thrown at you. Don’t feel overwhelmed. OpsLens will give you a weekly briefing on the major stories you need to know about and cut out all the extra information that isn’t important. Here’s your weekly briefing on what’s going on in national security and military news.
Afghanistan Announces Ceasefire with Taliban
Afghanistan’s President Ashraf Ghani has announced a temporary ceasefire with the Taliban between June 12 and 21, during the Muslim festival of Eid al-Fitr. Afghan security forces, along with U.S. and NATO troops, will stop offensive combat operations against the Taliban during this period.
“In support of the Afghan government’s initiative, NATO’s Resolute Support Mission and US forces in Afghanistan will respect the ceasefire, as it applies to the Taliban,” U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement Thursday. “It does not apply to ISIS and al-Qa’ida, nor does it prohibit operations to defend Afghan and Coalition forces from attack.”
The level of violence in Afghanistan has risen in recent months, despite the possibility some factions of the Taliban have expressed an interest in engaging in peace talks with the U.S. and the Afghan government.
Preparing for a Russian Attack in Europe
The United States and NATO are growing increasingly concerned about the threat of a Russian ground attack in Europe. U.S. troops are currently deployed to the region for Operation Atlantic Resolve, an American-led operation that serves as a show of force against the Russians. Saber Strike 18, an annual test of eastern Europe’s defenses is also underway, with thousands of American and Allied nation troops conducting military exercises in Estonia, Latvia, Poland, and Lithuania.
Secretary of Defense James Mattis will meet with NATO defense ministers this week and pitch them a plan to counter the Russian threat in Europe. The meeting may also be used to address concerns over the amount of troops countries like Britain and France can contribute as well as balancing troops and assets between the continuing counterterrorism mission and Russian deterrence.
President Trump Considers Options in Yemen
The ongoing civil war in Yemen is often overshadowed by the one in Syria but it might be the world’s largest humanitarian crisis. The war has been going on since 2014 and the United States has remained on the sideline for much of it, providing limited aid and support to a Saudi-led coalition since 2015.
President Trump and his administration are reportedly considering a direct support package to seize the country’s main port to allow humanitarian aid to flow into the country and reach the people who need it. The consideration comes after a request from the United Arab Emirates government for the U.S. to assist the Saudi-led coalition in retaking the port city of Hodeidah.
ISIS in Trinidad
In February 2018, U.S. forces assisted Trinidadian security forces in capturing several “high value targets” and thwarting a potential terror attack in Trinidad and Tobago. The high value targets were believed to be members of an Islamic State cell operating in the island Caribbean nation.
Trinidad and Tobago has been an area of concern for U.S. intelligence officials as it has been identified as home for many ISIS sympathizers. Some citizens have even traveled to Iraq and Syria to join the Islamic State in their fight against the U.S.-led coalition.
U.S. Southern Command will continue to assist local security forces in Trinidad and Tobago in countering the ISIS threat there, while the island nation learns to develop better law enforcement techniques and prosecution methods for bringing terrorists to justice.
American Soldier Killed in Somalia
An American special operations soldier was killed and four others were wounded during a combat operation in Somalia on Friday. The name of the soldier killed during the operation is being withheld pending notification of next-of-kin.
A combined Somali National Security Forces (SNSF), Kenyan Defense Force (KDF), and U.S. force came under mortar and small-arms fire at approximately 2:45p.m. Mogadishu time on Friday. The force consisted of 800 troops conducting a multi-day operation south of Mogadishu when the attack occurred.
The mission’s objectives were to clear al-Shabaab from contested areas, liberate villages from al-Shabaab control, and establish a permanent combat outpost designed to increase the span of the Federal Government of Somalia’s (FGS) security and governance.
One of the wounded Americans received medical care in the field and returned to duty. Three U.S. servicemembers and one member of the partner nation force were wounded and medically evacuated to receive additional treatment.
There are around 500 American troops in Somalia, mostly composed of Special Operations units, including Army Green Berets, Marine Raiders and Navy SEALs.
Former DIA Officer Charged for Helping the Chinese
A former Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) officer is being charged for attempting to send national security information to the Chinese. Ron Hansen was arrested last week as he attempted to board a flight to China and had a court appearance earlier this week.
“His alleged actions are a betrayal of our nation’s security and the American people and are an affront to his former intelligence community colleagues,” Assistant Attorney General for National Security John C. Demers said in a statement. “Our intelligence professionals swear an oath to protect our country’s most closely held secrets, and the National Security Division will continue to relentlessly pursue justice against those who violate this oath.”
Hansen reportedly traveled back and forth to China a number of times between 2013 and 2017 and received as much as $800,000 from the Chinese in exchange for information he obtained at military and intelligence conferences.