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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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4 US troops believed dead in Syria; DIA’s China report; Shutdown, Day 25; DPRK negotiator in DC; And a bit more.

10:20 AM ET Developing: four U.S. service members are believed to have been killed along with nearly a dozen nearby Syrians in an ISIS-claimed suicide attack today in Manbij, Syria, at about 1 p.m. local time. Initial reports of the attack surfaced on social media shortly before the sun rose in Washington. According...

Trump talked about leaving NATO; Shutdown, Day 25; Ukraine buys Turkish drones; Troops’ border duties extended; And a bit more.

January 15, 2019 President Trump discussed pulling the U.S. from the “most successful military alliance in history,” The New York Times' Helene Cooper and Julian Barnes reported Monday. The short read: NATO allies do not seem to have spent significantly more on their militaries in 2018, all but ignoring President Trump’s demands to...

Trump threatens NATO ally; POTUS investigated as Russia asset; Shutdown and the damage done; SpaceX layoffs; And a bit more.

January 14, 2019 President Trump promised to “devastate Turkey economically” if Ankara’s military attacks U.S.-backed Kurdish troops fighting ISIS inside Syria. (Turkey, a NATO ally, responded that the threat changes nothing.) The tough talk came in a tweet on Sunday amid a snowstorm that dumped about 10 inches on the White House lawn....

Syrian drawdown starts; Shutdown, Day 21; Drone attack in Yemen; Pompeo’s partisan Cairo speech; And a bit more.

January 11, 2019 The U.S. military has begun exiting Syria, Pentagon officials confirmed to multiple news agencies overnight. The Wall Street Journal got word of U.S. equipment movement out first, followed shortly afterward by CNN, AP, Fox News and other outlets. The quick read: “Scores of ground troops are headed toward Syria to...

Shutdown nears record; Ginning up a “crisis”; Another Syria-policy reversal; DOD’s phantom real estate; And a bit more.

January 10, 2019 The U.S. government shutdown has entered its 20th day, and tomorrow is critical for many furloughed workers. That’s because for the first time during this shutdown, hundreds of thousands of the furloughed won’t receive a full paycheck on Friday, CNN reports. “This is the second longest government shutdown since 1976,”...

Trump’s wall address; Russia preps AI roadmap; US Navy mulls Arctic port; China’s 5G fixation; And a bit more.

January 9, 2019 Trump’s Oval Office address. In a 9-minute speech on Tuesday evening, the president painted a dire threat picture of security at America's southern border — but offered little new to persuade Congress to provide $5.7 billion to beef up border barriers. Fact-check: As foreshadowed, the address contained several false or...

Erdogan slams Bolton over Syria; Trump’s false case for a wall; Shutdown starts to pinch industry; Kim visits Xi; And a bit more.

January 8, 2019 Turkey’s Erdogan says John Bolton has made a "serious mistake" in trying to slow down President Trump’s mid-December order to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria. Not only that, but Erdogan tried to pull rank on Bolton in a public address this morning, saying, “Mr. Trump’s views on Syria and his...

US troops sent to Gabon; Americans captured with ISIS; What’s going on in Somalia?; DOD seeks AI combat ethics; And a bit more.

January 7, 2019 At least one and possibly two Americans have been captured from ISIS in Syria, the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces announced this weekend. One of the two men: Warren Clark, a 34-year-old Texas man who joined after sending his resume and cover letter to the group. His story, via Seamus Hughes...

RIP, US strategy; Troops returning to border; Bolton heads to Turkey; DOJ admits errors in immigration report; And a bit more.

January 4, 2019 Bye, bye, U.S. defense strategy? Defense One Executive Editor Kevin Baron takes stock of President Trump’s recent foreign-policy moves, and finds a definitive retreat not just from his administration’s professed strategies — but even from strategy itself. “After deferring to establishment national security advisors like Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, Chief...

Shutdown, Day 13; Chinese probe lands on moon; Women in defense power jobs; Surprising recruiting moves; And a bit more.

January 3, 2019 Today is Day 13 of the U.S. government shutdown. Today is also Day One for the 116th United States Congress. Overnight in space, China became the first nation to land on the far side of the moon. And on TV Wednesday — seated beside the new Pentagon chief, Patrick Shanahan...