National Security

Weekly Ops Briefing: Next Joint Chiefs Head Tapped, Mid-air Collision, Air Strikes, ISIS in Nigeria, Operation Roundup, Niger Ambush

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.

General Milley Tapped to be Next Chairman of the Joint Chiefs

U.S. Army Chief-of-Staff General Mark Milley has been nominated by President Donald Trump to be the next Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

If he is confirmed by the Senate, General Milley would succeed Marine General Joseph Dunford, whose term ends in October 2019. General Milley has commanded troops in both Iraq and Afghanistan and has been in the Army since 1980.

President Trump tweeted: “I am pleased to announce my nomination of four-star General Mark Milley, Chief of Staff of the United States Army – as the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, replacing General Joe Dunford, who will be retiring. I am thankful to both of these incredible men for their service to our Country! Date of transition to be determined.”

One Marine Killed, Five Still Missing in Mid-air Collision off Japanese Coast

A United States Marine Corps KC-130 Hercules and an F/A-18 Hornet collided during an aerial refueling mission off the coast of Japan on Thursday. Five crewmembers of the KC-130 are still missing.

Both crew from the F/A-18 were recovered. The pilot, identified as Captain Jahmar F. Resilard of Miramar, Florida, was killed in the crash. The other crewmember has been hospitalized and is reported to be in fair condition.

A massive search and rescue operation, including members of the Japanese and U.S. armed forces, has been underway since immediately after the collision occurred.

U.S. Airstrike Targets al-Shabaab in Somalia

United States Africa Command (AFRICOM) announced Sunday that an airstrike killed four al-Shabaab militants in Somalia on Saturday. The airstrike was carried out after U.S. partner forces were attacked by the militants near the Somali town of Basra.

The latest airstrike brings the number this year to 36, making 2018 the year with the most airstrikes in the east African nation. There were 31 U.S. airstrikes reported in Somalia last year. The number of U.S. airstrikes against al-Shabaab have increased steadily since 2007, a year in which there were only two airstrikes reported.

From an AFRICOM press release: “U.S. Africa Command will continue to work with its partners to transfer the responsibility for long-term security in Somalia from the African Union Mission to Somalia (AMISOM) to the Federal Government of Somalia and its Member States, and U.S. forces will use all effective and appropriate methods to protect the Somali people, including partnered military counter-terror operations with the Federal Government of Somalia, AMISOM and Somali National Army forces.”

The Islamic State Presence in Nigeria Continues to Grow

The Islamic State West Africa (ISWA) has been carrying out a campaign in Nigeria over the past several weeks that has included attacks against the Nigerian military.

Many of the reports of attacks have been difficult to confirm, but Nigerian news sources and Reuters reported multiple attacks in the past few days. ISWA has reported that they control at least two towns after Nigerian military forces fled.

The reports that ISWA has successfully conducted a campaign in Nigeria reflect the group’s growing capabilities and influence in Africa.

Operation Roundup Targets ISIS Remnants in Syria and Iraq

U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) and Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve (CJTF-OIR) have announced that U.S. and partner forces have continued to target Islamic State holdouts in Iraq and Syria over the last several weeks.

According to CENTCOM’s weekly strike summary, CJTF-OIR conducted 90 strikes, consisting of 151 engagements in Syria and Iraq between November 25th and December 1st.

Many strikes have targeted ISIS militants near Hajin, a town in eastern Syria. Twelve strikes destroyed five vehicles, nine supply routes, one reservoir, two staging areas and one oil petroleum lubricant facility. For weeks, U.S.-backed forces have been fighting ISIS for control of Hajin, a hub for jihadists and the last remaining ISIS pocket of resistance.

Coalition forces targeted a hospital being used by Islamic State militants on December 9th, and ISIS was quick to use the strike in its propaganda.

“ISIS has no regard for human life. As we close in on them, they are getting more and more desperate and are hiding behind the safety of mosques, hospitals, and other protected sites,” said Major General Patrick Roberson, the Commanding General of Special Operations Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve (JTF-OIR).

Who’s to Blame for the Niger Ambush?

It’s been over a year since an ambush by Islamic State-linked militants killed four United States Army Special Operations soldiers in Niger. The October 2017 attack took the lives of two Green Berets, SSG Bryan Black and SSG Dustin Wright, and two soldiers assigned to 3rd Special Forces Group (Airborne), SSG Jeremiah Johnson and SGT La David Johnson.

It was apparent almost immediately that the team that was ambushed was not properly equipped or supported for the mission they were on. They received no air support until hours later and by French jets.

Last month, the United States Army punished six soldiers and officers based on their involvement in the mission. According to The New York Times, those being disciplined included Captain Mike Perozeni, the leader of the Green Beret team, his second in command, and a master sergeant.

An investigation cited “individual, organizational and institutional failures” in the preparation and planning for the special forces team’s operation in Niger. The two senior officers who approved of and oversaw the mission were not reprimanded.

Secretary of Defense James Mattis was reportedly angered during a video conference on the investigation last week, mostly by the lack of senior officers facing reprimand. Mattis has ordered a review of the investigation and of the punishments being handed down, with senior officers expected to be reprimanded.

The opinions expressed here by contributors are their own and are not the view of OpsLens which seeks to provide a platform for experience-driven commentary on today's trending headlines in the U.S. and around the world. Have a different opinion or something more to add on this topic? Contact us for guidelines on submitting your own experience-driven commentary.
Chris Castellano

Christopher Castellano is a U.S. Army Veteran. He currently serves as a firefighter in New York City.

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