We'll start with a brief update - TriSec is "off the grid" this week during the day. The Feds are in my building doing an audit (not the bad kind - we're trying for a certification), and as such we're under a "no phones" rule. Apparently, they think we'll use our cellphone cameras to take pictures of private health information. Which tells me that somebody was actually stupid enough to do that once, but I digress.
So on to the business at hand. We'll start this morning with a look at today's Cost of War
, which we find passing through: $ 1, 671, 660, 425, 000 .00
Of course, thanks to the way we run our accounting system, there's an extra six billion dollars'
worth of war that may or may not be counted in that figure.
U.S. advisers have joined Iraqi forces mustering in central Iraq for an eventual attempt to retake Mosul, which would be the centerpiece in the campaign to defeat the Islamic State that has now cost the U.S. more than $6 billion.
Citing a Defense Department spokesman, the Hill newspaper reported Wednesday that the overall cost of U.S. military operations against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, has climbed to $6.2 billion. Each day, the missions cost an average of $11.5 million, it reported.
The majority of the costs have come from the air campaign that now totals nearly 10,000 airstrikes.
President Obama first ordered U.S. forces to the region in mid-June 2014 as ISIS fighters swept out of Syria into Iraq, and bombing began on Aug. 8, 2014.
The costs were expected to rise as Defense Secretary Ashton Carter looks to "accelerate" the campaign with help from coalition partners to focus on retaking northwestern Mosul in Iraq and Raqaa, the self-proclaimed ISIS capital in northeastern Syria.
The U.S. was expected to deploy more troops in the train, advise and assist role, and also for force protection, in the coming months if the Baghdad government agrees to the proposal, Army Col. Steve Warren, a spokesman for Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve, said in a video briefing to the Pentagon on Wednesday.
In previous briefings, Warren has said that the additional U.S. troops would number in the "hundreds," and not the thousands. The U.S. currently has about 3,800 troops in Iraq, but the number has fluctuated above 4,000 as troop rotations overlap and some troops are sent on special assignments, according to the Pentagon.
Warren said that some U.S. advisers -- he declined to give a number -- had moved into Makhmour, a Tigris River Valley town about 60 miles southeast of Mosul, to train and assist troops of Iraq's 15th Division who have begun massing in the area for an attack on Mosul that Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has pledged will come this year. The U.S. advisers were backed by additional troops for force protection, Warren said.
"There's a lot going on in Makhmour. That's where one of our operations centers is located. So there are American advise-and-assist capabilities there," Warren said. "That's going to become an area that really kind of directs, I think, the battle going forward" to retake Mosul, he said. Iraqi officials have estimated that about 4,500 troops would be needed for the Mosul offensive.
As you saw, there's a tidbit buried in that story - apparently we're sending more troops back to Iraq instead of getting the last remaining ones out of there. Allegedly to shore up the Iraqis further, but one wonders if maybe the United States shouldn't be looking for some lost...stuff.
A desperate hunt for "highly dangerous" radioactive material is on in Iraq, where officials fear it could be used to make a "dirty bomb" if in the hands of ISIS, according to a government official in Baghdad.
The material, stored in a case the size of a laptop, disappeared from a storage facility near the southern city of Basra in November, Reuters reported. It was in the possession of Houston-based oil industry contractor Weatherford, according to a document obtained by the news agency.
The document describes "the theft of a highly dangerous radioactive source of Ir-192 with highly radioactive activity belonging to SGS from a depot overseen by Weatherford in the Rafidhia area of Basra province."
Weatherford officials said SGS was responsible for safeguarding the material.
"Weatherford has no responsibility or liability in relation to this matter because we do not own, operate or control sources or the bunker where the sources are stored," the company said in a statement to Reuters. "SGS is the owner and operator of the bunker and sources and solely responsible for addressing this matter."
The report comes on the heels of news that the Islamic terrorist organization has chemical weapons that it has used on the Kurds. A spokesperson for the U.S. State Department said officials are "aware of reports," but deferred to Iraqi government.
A spokesman for Iraq's environment ministry told Reuters he could not discuss the issue due to national security concerns. A Weatherford spokesman in Iraq also declined to comment.
The missing material is used to test flaws in pipelines in a process called industrial gamma radiography, and was owned by Istanbul-based SGS Turkey, according to the document and officials.
A senior environment ministry official based in Basra, who declined to be named as he is not authorized to speak publicly, told Reuters the device contained up to 10 grams of Ir-192 "capsules," a radioactive isotope of iridium also used to treat cancer.
The material is classed as a Category 2 radioactive source by the International Atomic Energy Agency, and could be lethal for someone exposed to it for a period of hours. Reuters could not say how potent the material is, which would depend on its strength and age.
In the past, quantities of Ir-192 have vanished in the United States and other countries, raising concerns of a "dirty bomb," or a conventional explosive paced with lower-grade nuclear material.
And we'll finish up today with an actual veteran's story, but not about today's vets...it's about tomorrow's vets, and how a couple of Republican congressmen want to create even more of them.
I was going to give them props for actually offering up their own children, but it's unclear from the story if they actually have daughters of draft age. Then there's the bolded sentence below. (mine)
Two House Republicans -- both opponents of opening up combat roles to women -- introduced a bill Thursday called "Draft America's Daughters Act of 2016," which would require women to register for the draft.
The bill was offered by Rep. Duncan Hunter, a Republican from California and former Marine, and co-sponsored by Rep. Ryan Zinke, a Republican from Montana and former Navy SEAL.
It would "amend the Military Selective Service Act to extend the registration and conscription requirements of the Selective Service System, currently applicable only to men between the ages of 18 and 26, to women between those ages to reflect the opening of combat arms Military Occupational Specialties to women," according to copy of the text.
Hunter, a Major in the Marine reserves and a veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan, and Zinke, a retired Navy SEAL Commander who served in Iraq, were both likely to vote against their own bill but argued that a debate in Congress was necessary on lifting the combat exclusion rule for women.
They both stated that the bill was a response to the action taken in December by Defense Secretary Ashton Carter in ordering that all billets in the military, including infantry and armor, be opened to women who qualify. The service branches currently are working through methods of implementing Carter's order.
In a statement, Hunter said, "It's unfortunate that a bill like this even needs to be introduced. And it's legislation that I might very well vote against should it be considered during the annual defense authorization process."
However, he added, "If this administration wants to send 18-20 year old women into combat, to serve and fight on the front lines, then the American people deserve to have this discussion through their elected representatives."
There's plenty more today, but time is short - so we'll save it for later.