Iran Revolutionary Guard patrol boats fire shots at a commercial cargo ship, the Marshall Islands-flagged M/V Maersk Tigris, and then intercept the vessel, which is crossing the Strait of Hormuz. The Tigris issues a distress call and the USS Farragut is ordered to head towards the incident. The Navy says it is “to be determined” what the USS Farragut will do when it reaches the vicinity of the incident.
The Pentagon thinks about 30 individuals are on board. According to a U.S. official, there are no Americans on board the vessel and the U.S. believes that Iranians will “send the ship on its way.” A State Department spokesperson notes that the U.S. has a security compact with the Marshall Islands on defense issues. But he adds that there hasn’t been a specific request for assistance from the Marshall Islands and says it is premature to say whether this could require the use of force.
It’s a key concern of the United States to ensure that sea lanes in the region remain open and safe.
The Pentagon says it is considering modest numbers of ground troops to fight alongside Iraqi forces. Joint Chiefs chairman Dempsey to the House Armed Services Committee:
I’m not predicting at this point that I would recommend that those forces in Mosul and along the border would need to be accompanied by U.S. forces, but we’re certainly considering it
The statement comes after Baghdadi releases an audio recording saying that the air campaign has failed.
The Pentagon says the Navy SEAL known as The Shooter is still under an NDA regarding the operation that killed Bin Laden, indicating that he may be subject to a criminal investigation if he reveals his identity on Fox News. Pentagon spokeswoman:
NDAs are voluntarily executed by Service Members. After a thorough briefing on the NDA and what each paragraph contains, the service member is aware that his/her signature signifies their understanding and intent to comply with the life-long obligation for protecting National Defense Information.
The Pentagon provides a $9.5 million funding grant to the Profectus BioSciences to manufacture trivalent VesiculoVax™-vectored vaccine. Statement:
The lyophilized trivalent vaccine is being tested in both pre-exposure and post-exposure studies to confirm protection of non-human primates from aerosol exposure to Ebola and Marburg viruses.
The Shooter will proceed with a Fox News interview that may reveal his identity despite warnings from the Pentagon and refusal by the Department of Defense to confirm that he is the person who fired the fatal shot. Fox:
The two-night presentation will feature an exclusive interview with the Navy SEAL who says he fired the shots that killed terrorist leader Osama Bin Laden
Hagel defends the decision to place the troops in quarantine in Italy. Hagel:
[It is a] smart, wise, prudent, disciplined, science-oriented decision.
Pentagon spokesman Rear Adm. Kirby says ISIS is still able to recruit in large numbers:
They are facing some attrition through these operations not just from the air but from the ground. But there’s no question that they still possess the ability to reconstitute their manpower and that’s just an indication of the strength of their ideology right now, which is why we’re working hard to counter that, and the fact that this is going to be a long struggle.
He confirms ISIS personnel have been targeted and killed, along with vehicles and installations.
The Pentagon says Hagel is considering a 21-day quarantine-like policy for all troops returning from west Africa, recommended by the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The Pentagon says there is no event to trigger the policy and that Hagel will take his time considering it.
The Pentagon says North Korea is likely able to build a missile that can reach the continental U.S., but it hasn’t tested such a weapon and the odds of effectiveness are low. A Pentagon official says the technology likely exists and could be launched from a road-mobile vehicle, making it difficult to monitor by satellite. He addresses claims that North Korea hasn’t achieved key breakthroughs, such as creating a nuclear warhead small enough to fit into a missile:
Personally I think that they certainly have had the expertise in the past. They’ve had the right connections, and so I believe they have the capability to have miniaturized a device at this point, and they have the technology to potentially actually deliver what they say they have. We have not seen it tested. And I don’t think as a commander we can afford the luxury of believing perhaps they haven’t gotten there.
The Pentagon is building portable isolation units that can carry up to 12 Ebola patients for transport on military planes. It says it doesn’t expect to need them for the 3,000 U.S. troops heading to the region, as they are focused on building clinics, training personnel and testing patient blood samples.
We want to be prepared to care for the people we do have there just out of an abundance of caution
The Pentagon drops 28 loads of military grade weapons for the Kurds. Wind shifts one of the loads, falling into the hands of ISIS militants. Turkey criticizes, but US officials say one cache of weapons in not a significant boon for the Islamic State. Apparently, amateur video footage proves militants did seize the cache of weaponry, consisting of rocket-propelled grenades, hand grenades and many other items. Army Lieutenant Colonel Warren:
One bundle worth of equipment is not enough equipment to give the enemy any type of advantage at all. It’s a relatively small amount of supplies. This is stuff [Isis] already has.
I do want to add, though, that we are very confident that the vast majority of the bundles did end up in the right hands. In fact, we’re only aware of one bundle that did not.
Hagel orders the 30-member team to prepare in line with a Department of Health and Human Services request. Pentagon spokesman Rear Adm. John Kirby:
[The team is] an added, prudent measure to ensure our nation is ready to respond quickly, effectively and safely in the event of additional Ebola cases.
The team’s members will be selected and led by Northern Command Commander Gen. Chuck Jacoby.
An entrance to the Pentagon and South parking lot are closed due to an Ebola scare. A woman who claims she recently returned from western Africa is found ill and vomiting in the South parking lot by police. The woman is transported to Inova Fairfax Hospital in Falls Church, Va. Lt. Col. Tom Crosson, a Pentagon spokesman:
Out of an abundance of caution, all pedestrian and vehicular traffic was suspended around the South Parking lot, while Arlington County responded to the scene.
Protracted contract negotiations, long manufacturing lead times and slow bureaucracy are delaying planned deliveries of 36 F-16 multi-role jet fighters and 24 Apache helicopters to the Iraqi airforce. The aircraft just beginning to roll off Lockheed Martin Corp. production lines. Four years after Congress was first notified of the sale, only two of the $65 million fighters have been handed over to the U.S. government and none have reached Iraq. The deliveries are now held up by apparent payment problems and the conflict, which is preventing work needed to prepare Balad air base to receive the jets. A U.S. defense official:
The F-16s are not being delivered at this time because the Iraqis did not make the latest installment and because the installation security plan at Balad was not completed because of the security situation in Iraq.
Hassan Jihad Ameen, a lawmaker on the security and defense committee in the Maliki government, says the U.S. may have been slow to deliver because of concerns the previous Shi’ite-led administration could have used the planes in ways that intensified sectarian divisions with Sunnis:
Now … there is a hope that we have this new government which doesn’t differentiate between Iraqis and (is) able to create better atmospheres.
He says that while Iraq is running budget deficits, the payments issue isn’t a significant barrier.
Iraq has money and allocations, and the payments will be agreed upon
The Pentagon denies deliberately slowing-down deliveries, saying the U.S. has a $15 billion military sales program with Iraq and has worked to accelerate deliveries of equipment where possible. Lockheed Martin says production of the Iraqi planes will be completed in late 2017, months sooner than outlined in the initial contract.
A total of five airstrikes by U.S. forces succeed in pushing ISIS militants back from an assault on the Haditha dam in Anbar province. The militants had sought to seize the water supply in order to expand their control in the province and gain a strategic staging point for assaults elsewhere in the country. Pro-government paramilitary leader Sheik Ahmed Abu Risha:
They were very accurate. There was no collateral damage … If Islamic State had gained control of the dam, many areas of Iraq would have been seriously threatened, even Baghdad
The Pentagon says the strikes destroyed four ISIS Humvees, four armed vehicles – two of which were carrying antiaircraft artillery – a fighting position, one command post and a defensive fighting position. All aircraft left the strike areas safely.
The U.S. government is seeking interest from contractors to advise the Iraqi Defense Ministry and Counter Terrorism Service in a range of capacities including force development, logistics and planning and operations. A notice posted by the U.S. Army Contracting Command seeks contractors willing to work on an initial 12-month contract, who should be ‘cognizant of the goals of reducing tensions between Arabs and Kurds, and Sunni and Shias.’ Defense Department spokesman Commander Bill Speaks says the services sought ‘fall within the existing mission’ of the Office of Security Assistance-Iraq…
…to help build institutional capacity of Iraq’s security ministries.
The Pentagon confirms that U.S. airstrikes in Somalia earlier in the week killed al-Shabab leader Godane. Colonel Steve Warren:
I think this will degrade their morale and hopefully it will also cause some internal strife as they try to determine who their next leader will be. Of course, whoever their next leader is will immediately need to worry about his safety as well.
Godane is killed as U.S. forces fire Hellfire missiles and laser-guided munitions onto an al-Shabab encampment and a vehicle. The Pentagon says several other militants were killed but it is confident there were no civilian casualties. The military declines to discuss whether it cooperated with the Somali government on the raid.
The Pentagon says operations in Iraq are now costing the U.S. more than $7.5 million a day as the military steps up airstrikes and advisory operations against ISIS. Rear Admiral John Kirby:
So as you might imagine, it didn’t start out at $7.5 million per day. It’s been—as our [operational tempo] and as our activities have intensified, so too has the cost.
He says the Pentagon continues to believe it will be able to fund the operations through the fiscal year ending Sept. 30 using its existing resources.
The White House clarifies a remark by Obama that ‘we don’t have a strategy yet’ on combating ISIS – also known as ISIL and Islamic State – in Syria, saying that he was referring to plans still under development by the Pentagon. Press Secretary Josh Earnest:
The president was asked a specific question about possible military action in Syria against ISIL, and he was explicit that he is still waiting for plans that are being developed by the Pentagon for military options against ISIL in Syria. But when it comes to confronting ISIL in Iraq, the president has been very clear for months about what our comprehensive strategy is.