Situation Report: Police gunned down in Dallas
Terror continues in Baghdad; Clinton's email saga isn't over yet; Troubling new data on vets and suicide; and a bit more.
Five officers killed and six others injured by snipers in Dallas: Four Dallas Police officers and one Dallas Area Rapid Transit officer were shot and killed Thursday evening during a protest against police shootings that took place earlier this week in Minnesota and Louisiana. Law enforcement believes four suspects positioned themselves strategically to take the officers down. One suspect is dead, while three others are in custody.
It’s unclear what the motive for the shooting was. It’s the worst attack against law enforcement since 9/11.
Speaking in Warsaw, Poland, on Friday morning, President Obama called the attack “vicious, calculated and despicable.”
“I believe I speak for every single American when I say we are horrified over these events,” Obama said.
The incident comes after Alton Sterling was fatally shot by police in Baton Rouge on Tuesday morning. Less than 48 hours later, Philando Castile was fatally shot by an officer in Minnesota. For two hours Thursday evening, protesters marched peacefully to condemn these incidents. The shooting began around 9 p.m. local time.
As of this morning, only one of the slain officers has been identified. Dallas Area Rapid Transit officials said 43-year-old Brent Thompson was one of five killed.
Suicide bombers, gunmen target Shiite shrine: Reports indicate attackers killed 35 and wounded 52 at a shrine north of Baghdad where worshippers were celebrating Eid al-Fitr. It comes after last Sunday’s morning attack in central Baghdad, where a minivan packed with explosives blew up and killed 281 people, according to the BBC. The Islamic State claimed responsibility for that attack, the deadliest in Iraq since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion. So far, no one has claimed credit for Thursday’s assault.
Bloodiest Ramadan ever? A wave of global attacks claimed by the terror group has made the Muslim holy month a time of chaos and death. USA Today’s Oren Dorell reports, “This year’s month of daytime fasting and prayer included a massive suicide bombing in Baghdad that killed nearly 300 people, an Istanbul airport attack that killed 45, a hostage-taking in Bangladesh that killed 22, an attack on security officials in Saudi Arabia, a bombing in Afghanistan that killed 64 and a shooting massacre at a gay nightclub in Orlando that killed 49.”
Meanwhile, according to the Pentagon, Islamic State fighters are using commercial drones armed with improvised explosives devices or spy cameras. As Bloomberg’s Anthony Capaccio reports, “The threat led the Defense Department office charged with monitoring and countering improvised explosive devices to ask that Congress approve shifting $20 million to provide seed money for a counter-drone effort.”
State re-opens Clinton email probe: Days after FBI Director James Comey closed the door on the Justice Department’s investigation into Clinton’s emails without charges, the State Department announced it was is taking another look at how Hillary Clinton and her top aides handled classified information. From the Associated Press, “The State Department started its review in January after declaring 22 emails from Clinton’s private server to be ‘top secret.’ It was suspended in April so as not to interfere with the FBI’s inquiry. “
As the controversy over Clinton’s use of a private server continues, House Speaker Paul Ryan has asked Director of National Intelligence James Clapper to exclude Clinton from classified briefings on national security matters traditionally given to presidential candidates.
FP’s Molly O’Toole and Elias Groll report, “Ryan argued that such a move — which would severely hamstring the Clinton campaign’s argument that it is presumptive GOP nominee Donald Trump who fails to pass the commander-in-chief test — is ‘necessary to reassure the public that our nation’s secrets are secure.’”
Roughly 20 veterans per day commit suicide nationwide: That’s according to new data from the Department of Veterans Affairs. As Leo Shane III and Patricia Kime of the Military Times report, the number “dispels the often quoted, but problematic, ’22 a day’ estimate yet solidifies the disturbing mental health crisis the number implied.”
Welcome to Friday’s Situation Report. Your regular presenter, Paul McLeary, will be back in the saddle Monday. It was a pleasure to grace your inboxes this week. You can reach Paul at firstname.lastname@example.org. SitRep is on Twitter at @paulmcleary and @arawnsley.
Donald Trump’s foreign policy advisor is in Russia where he blasted U.S. efforts to promote “democratization” and regime change and reduce corruption and income inequality. Carter Page, a member of Trump’s foreign policy team, founder of an energy private equity firm and former advisor to Russia’s state-run Gazprom, spoke before an audience in Moscow but refused to speak about the presidential election or go into great detail on U.S.-Russian relations. He did, however, criticize the United States for failing to show proper deference to countries like Russia and China.
North Korea is predictably grumpy in response to the recent sanctions leveled by the United States on Kim Jong Un. The state-run Korean Central News Agency labeled the act an “open declaration of war,” saying that “relations with the US will be handled under the latter’s wartime law.” Pyongyang is prone to over-the-top rhetoric when criticizing the United States, but experts say this particular spin is unique and likely signals more confrontation to come — particularly during the upcoming U.S.-South Korean military exercises in August.
The United States and South Korea have reached an agreement to deploy a Terminal High Altitude Air Defense (THAAD) battery to Korea, according to the Defense Department. The move is an attempt by the United States to reassure its ally as North Korea ratchets up its testing and development of ballistic missiles. A Pentagon statement on the decision emphasizes that the THAAD system “will be focused solely on North Korean nuclear and missile threats and would not be directed towards any third party nations.”
The throat clearing is a nod to anxieties from China, which has lobbied hard against the deployment on the grounds that the system could be used to peer into Chinese airspace or directed at its forces. China swiftly condemned the agreement in the state-run People’s Daily, with a statement from its foreign ministry registering “strong discontent and resolute opposition” to the upcoming deployment.
The U.S. House of Representatives has blocked a $25 billion deal for Boeing to sell passenger jets to Iran. Boeing had hoped to cash in on the slight thaw in relations after the United States agreed to lift some sanctions against the Islamic Republic in exchange for signing the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action nuclear deal. But Members nixed the deal in a 239-185 vote on two amendments banning any sales from the Chicago-based aviation giant. Rep. Peter Roskam, (R-Ill) argued that the planes could be used to transport military equipment by Iran’s armed forces
A relative of Siamak Namazi, a prominent Iranian-American businessman imprisoned in Iran since October, is kicking off a lobbying campaign in Washington to secure Namazi’s release. FP’s Dan De Luce reports that Bijan Khajehpour has been meeting with State Department and Congressional officials, urging them to use newly-established diplomatic channels to Iran to negotiate the release of Namazi and his 80-year-old-father, imprisoned since February.
The Air Force wants to start training enlisted drone pilots, Air Force Times reports. The service already has 10 non-commissioned officers (NCOs) lined up for training and hopes to have around 100 by 2020. Until recently, drone pilot jobs were only open to officers, with NCOs limited to sensor operator roles. At the moment, the Air Force is opening slots for enlisted airmen only on the RQ-4 Global Hawk but could expand the program to include Reaper and Predator drone pilot roles.
Bots o’ war
Last week, the Navy was experimenting with brain-hacked, bomb-sniffing locusts. This week, the Naval Research Lab is talking up its robotic squirrel project. The Navy is building on its research making robotic pack mules to design a smaller, quieter quadrupedal robo-vermin that can scout ahead of troops for reconnaissance and sniff out bombs.
The Wall Street Journal‘s Julian Barnes illustrates the problem of NATO defense spending through the prism of the Atlantic alliance’s short-staffed band. In music, as in defense spending, the U.S. military fronts the bulk of what’s needed for NATO’s band while other countries are falling behind in their contributions to the group’s woodwind and brass sections.