Overnight Defense

OVERNIGHT DEFENSE: US weapons end up in ISIS’s hands

THE TOPLINE: The Pentagon admitted Wednesday that Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) fighters seized an airdropped pallet of weapons and supplies intended for Kurdish fighters in Kobani.

U.S. aircraft dropped 28 bundles filled with grenades, mortar rounds and other supplies for Kurds battling ISIS in the Syrian border town earlier this week. 

{mosads}One drop went astray and was immediately destroyed, but a second fell into ISIS’s hands, the Pentagon said Wednesday

“There’s always going to be some margin of error” when airdropping supplies, said Pentagon spokesman Army Col. Steve Warren. “Wind can cause a parachute to move off its intended target.”

Officials said the incident was not of any “real concern,” and that ISIS already possessed similar weapons, but the blunder comes at a time when Americans are questioning the effectiveness of the overall campaign against ISIS. 


MOST SAY ISIS FIGHT NOT GOING WELL: According to a new Pew Research poll, a majority of Americans support the campaign against ISIS, but don’t believe it’s going well. 

Nearly 6 in 10 Americans — 59 percent — say the campaign is not working, and only 34 percent said the campaign was going “very” or “fairly well.” 

Sixty-four percent of Republicans and 52 percent of Democrats expressed doubts about the campaign, and a majority in both parties said the campaign lacks a clear goal.  

So far, the campaign, dubbed Operation Inherent Resolve, is in its third month. It began on Aug. 8, and Defense officials say it has cost $424 million. 

ISIS fighters still surround Kobani, which has become a litmus test for the strategy, but Defense officials say they have been able to halt any new advance by the militants for several days.  


IRAQ OFFENSIVE?: The Washington Post reported Wednesday that the U.S. and Iraq officials are drawing up plans for Iraqi forces to go on the offensive against ISIS.

The plan, which would not begin in earnest for several months, may include U.S. advisers in the field with Iraqis. U.S. troops though would not participate in combat, the Post reported. 

There are currently about 1,400 U.S. advisers in Iraq, according to the Pentagon. 


SCHIFF SEES TERRORISM IN OTTAWA ATTACK: The shooting in Ottawa that left a Canadian solider dead is “consistent” with calls from Islamic militants for “lone-wolf” attacks against the U.S. and its allies, according to Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.).

“We don’t know yet … whether this was a terrorist-inspired attack. But if it was, it’s certainly consistent with what [the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, or ISIS] has been urging,” Schiff, a member of the House Intelligence Committee, said in an interview with CNN.

He predicted that if terrorism was the motivation behind the attack it “will only further raise alarm bells in Canada and here at home.”

A gunman opened fire and killed a soldier guarding Canada’s national war memorial before entering the country’s Parliament, where he was killed. The attack left much of Canada’s capital on lockdown as security officials searched for other possible gunmen.

The incident comes days after another Canadian soldier was run over and killed by a man whom authorities suggest was a jihadist.

Schiff said the two incidents might be “completely unrelated” but the shooting “may have been inspired by the earlier attack.”

“If you had to diagram out what are the most approximate threats to the country, you would probably put the lone-wolf attacks, low-tech, lone-wolf attacks right in the bull’s-eye,” he said.

“Intelligence is really our best defense against something like this, but even intel, obviously, isn’t perfect,” Schiff added.


DEMPSEY TRIES TO CALM TROOPS’ EBOLA FEARS: Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, released an online video aimed at calming the fears of U.S. soldiers deploying to fight the deadly Ebola outbreak in Africa.

The Defense Department will do everything it can to protect the health of service members “before, during and after deployment,” the four-star general promised in a YouTube video released late Tuesday.

The Obama administration is deploying as many as 4,000 troops to help fight Ebola in affected West African nations.

Troops will construct treatment centers and train local healthcare workers but will not directly provide treatment to patients. However, the Pentagon has admitted that soldiers manning labs could have contact with infected samples.

Dempsey said service members will receive daily temperature and symptom checks. They will also be monitored for 21 days after returning to the U.S. “to quickly identify any signs of illness.”

While military leaders have “every interest in keeping this terrible disease an away game,” the Pentagon is also readying to meet the threat domestically by standing up a 30-person rapid response team to assist civilian healthcare professionals “if they’re needed,” he said.


BLACKWATER GUARDS FOUND GUILTY: A jury in Washington found four former Blackwater security guards guilty in a high-profile 2007 shooting of civilians in Baghdad.

One guard, Nicholas Slatten, was convicted of murder, and the other three, Paul Slough, Evan Liberty and Dustin Heard, were convicted of manslaughter.  

The Blackwater guards shot dozens of Iraqi civilians in a Baghdad square in 2007. The guards argued they were acting in self-defense, thinking that a car bomber was approaching. 

In 2009, a U.S. judge threw out the charges on the grounds that evidence was improperly obtained. An appeals court reinstated the charges, leading eventually to Wednesday’s guilty verdict. 

Lawyers for the guards have vowed to appeal, according to reports.



— Government awards $1 million to train vets as bus and truck drivers

— Obama ‘more optimistic’ about stopping Ebola

— Intel chairman: Charge Snowden with murder

— Would the US swap Russian for Snowden?


Please send tips and comments to Kristina Wong, kwong@thehill.com, and Martin Matishak, mmatishak@thehill.com.

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Tags Adam Schiff Blackwater Security Consulting Ebola Iraq ISIS Syria

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