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Situation Report: Dunford gets the nod; U.S. Navy gets into the protection game; confirmation of civilian deaths in U.S. bombing campaign; and more

By Paul McLeary and Ariel Robinson Lots happening. Let’s go. U.S. Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Joseph Dunford will get the nod from the White House this morning to be Obama’s next top military advisor, Defense Department officials confirmed last night. Dunford’s upcoming nomination hasn’t exactly been a known unknown over the past week or two, ...

By Paul McLeary and Ariel Robinson

By Paul McLeary and Ariel Robinson

Lots happening. Let’s go. U.S. Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Joseph Dunford will get the nod from the White House this morning to be Obama’s next top military advisor, Defense Department officials confirmed last night. Dunford’s upcoming nomination hasn’t exactly been a known unknown over the past week or two, as the smart money began to coalesce around the combat vet who had already been tapped by Obama to lead the war in Afghanistan and helm the Marine Corps. His deputy will be U.S. Air Force Gen. Paul Selva, the current commander of U.S. Transportation Command.

FP’s Yochi Dreazen and Paul McLeary write that the nominations “will set off a landslide of jobs changes among the upper echelons of the military leadership, kicking off the search for not only a new Commandant of the Marine Corps but also getting the ball rolling for the upcoming nominations of a new Army Chief of Staff and Chief Naval Officer later this year. By the end of 2015, the Joint Chiefs of Staff — the nation’s highest-ranking military personnel — will have been almost completely replaced. Dunford is the first piece to move, but he won’t be the last.”

And the money will roll right in. Since 2005, at least 115 enlisted personnel and military officers have been convicted of a variety of theft, bribery, and contract rigging crimes that account for about $52 million in taxpayer money. And approximately $15 million of that comes from fuel being siphoned off for sale to local Iraqis and Afghans, according to a new report by the Center for Public Integrity.

It’s Tuesday, and we’re SitRepping. Not a single one of you tipped us off to the Dunford and Selva nominations, but let’s just work through that little bit of unpleasantness. We can all hit the reset button by emailing paul.mcleary@foreignpolicy.com, or on Twitter: @paulmcleary.

Middle East

In response to a request from the British government, the U.S. Navy has agreed to begin accompanying British-flagged ships through the Strait of Hormuz in the wake of Iran’s detention of the Maersk Tigris cargo ship last week, reports FP’s Paul McLeary. A U.S. Navy destroyer and three patrol boats have already shadowed several U.S.-flagged ships through the Strait, and over the weekend a Navy vessel also accompanied one British ship through the strait.

“For years, Islamic militants have portrayed Israel as the greatest threat to Palestinians on the Gaza Strip,” writes FP’s Siobhan O’Grady. But a weekend mosque attack signals that Palestinians living on the strip may be caught in the crossfire of competing militant factions — both of which call themselves the protectors of Gaza residents.

“An internal military investigation has concluded that two civilians were killed in a U.S.-led coalition airstrike against the self-proclaimed Islamic State, two defense officials confirmed,” to The Daily Beast’s Nancy Youssef, “marking the first time the U.S. military has acknowledged killing a civilian since the air campaign began nine months ago.” This comes just days after reports surfaced that coalition airstrikes on the Syrian village Bir Mahli killed as many as 64 civilians on April 30.

Iraq

The beating heart of Iraq’s oil industry — and therefore its economy — is the Baiji oil refinery which sits about halfway between Baghdad and Mosul. And the fight for the facility is back on in a big way, with Islamic State fighters again throwing everything they’ve got at it over the past several days. Reuters reports this morning that the Iraqi forces holed up in the sprawling complex have “been battered since Monday by a wave of suicide bombings carried out by armored vehicles packed with explosives,” and there are conflicting reports from officials in Baghdad over how successful the attacks have been.

Syria

Syrian rebels, moderate or not, have been making a comeback in recent months even as official western support has started to dry up, reports The Daily Beast’s Jamie Dettmer from Gaziantep, Turkey. Syrian commanders “insist their recent gains, including the capture of Idlib, which is only the second provincial capital lost by Assad in this war, are not the result of outside assistance…Most of our weapons are those we seized from government forces or arms that were supplied by the Gulf a year and half ago. We got nothing from the Gulf or Turkey ahead of this offensive.”

Yemen

The State Department said it is “looking into,” allegations that Saudi Arabia is dropping cluster bombs on targets inside Yemen but said the notoriously imprecise weapon — banned by much of the world — could still have an appropriate role to play in Riyadh’s U.S.-backed offensive, reports FP’s John Hudson.

China

China has upgraded its J-11D fighters on its own, report Jeffrey Lin and P. W. Singer for Popular Science. Originally purchased from Russia, the Chinese upgrades include stealthier features and important improvements to its radar.

Chinese President Xi Jinping met with Taiwan’s Kuomintang Chairman Eric Chu in Beijing on Monday, Reuters reports via the Japan Times. This is the first meeting between the rivals in six years.

Turkey

For the first time in history, a state-controlled defense company is purchasing a U.S. firm. Havelsan, a military software company in Turkey will be acquiring “flight simulation assets of U.S.-based Quantum3D,” reports Burak Ege Bekdil for DefenseNews.

Intel

The number of people with access to classified information per year actually decreased in 2014, for the first time since 2010. David Kravets reports on the decrease of about 12% for ArsTechnica.

Chancellor Angela Merkel is facing backlash from her own coalition partner amidst the most recent report of U.S.-German spying, writes the BBC.

North Korea

Agence France-Presse reports that North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un “urged scientists to work harder to ‘further glorify the (North) as a space power.’”’ Kim plans to launch satellites, as per North Korea’s “‘legitimate rights.”

Counterterrorism

Torture hits home: a U.S. citizen of Egyptian descent is trying to sue the FBI for having him incarcerated without charges and tortured in East Africa. According to Jennifer Fenton for Al-Jazeera America, “Judges have described his case as troubling and the allegations against the U.S. government as embarrassing. But attempts to hold any U.S. parties accountable have repeatedly been denied.”

Al-Jazeera wire services report on another prisoner, however, whose country does not want him freed: Canada has asked for an emergency stay on bail that a Canadian judge granted to ex-Guantanamo prisoner Omar Khadr.

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