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Ben Watson

News Editor Ben Watson is news editor for Defense One. He previously worked for NPR's “All Things Considered” and “Here and Now” in Washington, D.C. Watson served for five years in the U.S. Army, where he was an award-winning combat cameraman and media advisor for southern Afghanistan's special operations command during the 2010-11 surge.
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US accuses Russia of power-grid hacks; Seven die in helo crash; Overhaul at ODNI; A puzzling calm in the Persian Gulf; and just a bit more...

March 16, 2018 Here’s a first: “The U.S. government publicly blamed Russia for a multi-year cyber campaign to break into American nuclear power facilities and other critical industries,” Reuters’ Dustin Volz reported Thursday. The news this comes out of: New sanctions imposed by the Treasury Department Thursday morning on “19 Russian people and...

US at war in 7 countries — including Niger; US Army rebuilds Afghan firebases; F-35s to India?; and just a bit more...

March 15, 2018 The U.S. military is officially fighting wars in seven countries, according to the White House’s latest war report. Known formally as the “Report on the Legal and Policy Frameworks Guiding the United States’ Military Force and Related National Security Operations,” the unclassified portion flags ops in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Yemen,...

Assad’s forces advance in Ghouta; Former spies on CIA’s prospective chief; Trump touts Space Force; Can robot swarms do missile defense?; and just a bit more...

March 14, 2018 Pro-Syrian forces have taken back half of the rebel-held Damascus suburb of Eastern Ghouta, the Washington Post reports this morning from Beirut. As with most concerted offensives by the Assad regime and its allies, this one is seemingly as bloody as the march on Aleppo in December of 2016. One...

Trump fires Rex; Mattis visits Afghanistan; US threatens Syrian action; More troops’ wives fear deportation; and just a bit more...

March 13, 2018 Trump fires Tillerson; Pompeo to State; Haspel moves up at CIA. On Friday, President Trump asked Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to step down. This morning, he nominated CIA Director Mike Pompeo to replace Tillerson, and tapped Deputy CIA Director Gina Haspel to move up. All that and more from...

US shrinks ops at Incirlik; Mattis warns Russia about Syrian gas attacks; Conditions set on N.Korea summit; US now has 15,000 troops in Afghanistan; and just a bit more...

March 12, 2018 Drawdown in Incirlik. We may have just witnessed the next casualty of the U.S. policy in Syria: a sharply scaled-back U.S. presence at Incirlik Air Base in Turkey, The Wall Street Journal reported this weekend. Built with U.S. help in the 1950s to help counter the Soviet Union, the base...

The risks of a Trump-Kim summit; US reveals more airstrikes in Libya; Lockheed pitches F-35 multiyear buy; VA chief adds armed guard to office; and just a bit more...

March 9, 2018 Yesterday’s surprise announcement that President Trump would meet with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un in May “blindsided” America’s whittled-down diplomatic corps. Hours earlier, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson had said he did not yet know whether “the conditions are right to even begin thinking about negotiations.” (Tillerson later said that...

Turks gain ground in Syria; Drone strike in Afghanistan; Naval chiefs decry China’s Belt-and-Road effort; The poisoning of a former Russian spy; and just a bit more...

March 8, 2018 Turks gaining ground in NW Syria. Turkey and its rebels in northern Syria have taken control of the city of Jinderes, “one of the largest settlements in Syria’s northwest Afrin region,” Reuters reports now 47 days into Ankara’s latest invasion into Syria. On the other side of that conflict-within-a-conflict, “On...

Syrian Kurds pull back from ISIS fight; DoD slashes cloud contract; New data on Russia’s military; A combatant command for space?; And a bit more.

March 7, 2018 Kurds withdraw from ISIS front lines, citing disappointment with U.S. “The Kurdish-dominated Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) said they were pulling fighters off the front lines in the province of Deir al-Zour, where Islamic State fighters have been putting up a fierce fight in a pocket of territory on the eastern...

Breakthrough talks in Korea; US classifies more missile-test data; F-35Bs deploy aboard ship; B-21 bomber to test in ‘near future’; and just a bit more...

March 6, 2018 North Korea is ready to talk denuclearization — even as Seoul says it will bolster its military defenses. That’s the message from South Korean officials after departing a rare two-day meeting (photos beforehand here) with North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un on Monday in Pyongyang. About the denuclearization: The offer was...

Koreas open talks; Rebels retreat in Ghouta; Carrier visits Vietnam; State’s anti-propaganda group lacks Russian speakers; and just a bit more...

March 5, 2018 South Korean officials are in Pyongyang for the first time in a decade. The 10-member delegation, which includes Seoul’s spy chief, will spend two days talking with North Korean counterparts about various issues, including the potential for direct U.S.-DPRK talks, NPR reports. After the talks, the spy chief is expected...