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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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The Mueller report’s national security angles; Afghan peace talks ‘postponed indefinitely’; Iran is getting ShadowBrokered; American militia detaining migrants; And a bit more.

April 19, 2019 The Mueller report is finally out, which means “the argument over what Team Trump did and didn’t do will move out of the legal forum and into the political arena,” the Wall Street Journal reported after Thursday’s big (and still substantially-redacted) reveal from Attorney General Bill Barr. The national security...

North Korea’s weapon test; Taliban side-eye Afghan 250-member peace delegation; New Pakistani group executes troops; McGurk’s plan for Syria; Army Day in Iran; And a bit more.

April 18, 2019 North Korea claims to have tested a new kind of weapon, and now it wants Secretary of State Mike Pompeo removed from talks over the North’s nuclear program, according to state-run KCNA messaging Wednesday evening. About the weapon: KCNA referred to it as a "New-Type Tactical Guided Weapon,” and it...

Trump vetoes US exit from Yemen; Sisi’s power grab; Inside Syria’s bulging ISIS prisons; SOF beard bacteria; And a bit more.

April 17, 2019 President Trump used his second veto to keep alive U.S. support for the Saudi-led war in Yemen, the White House announced Tuesday afternoon in a statement. The bill Trump vetoed — which would have ended U.S. logistical support to the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen — passed the Senate last month...

Saudi Arabia’s next war: Libya; 7 more years (at least) in Somalia; Bolton’s ICC win; North Korean words; Coffee and the border; Natsec rock bands; And a bit more.

April 15, 2019 Rogue Libyan General Khalifa Haftar’s offensive on Tripoli has stalled, so he decided to drop by Cairo this weekend for a chat with Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. “Egypt has close ties with Haftar, whose Libyan National Army (LNA) controls the east and swept through the mainly desert south earlier...

Afghan ‘fighting season’ begins; Shakeup in North Korea; Key research program, killed; Why US is escalating in Somalia; And a bit more.

April 12, 2019 The Taliban just announced the official start of the 2019 fighting season in Afghanistan with “a lengthy missive in five languages,” the Associated Press reports from Kabul. Obligatory caveat: “The announcement is something the militant group does every year,” AP writes, “even though Taliban attacks never really ceased during the...

Assange arrested; Space Force windfall; F-35s or F-15s?; Huawei’s underwater cables; And a bit more.

April 11, 2019 Wikileaks founder Julian Assange was arrested and “taken into police custody on Thursday after being evicted from the Ecuadorean Embassy in London,” The New York Times reports this morning. On what grounds? “[T]hat Mr. Assange had been arrested by officers at the embassy on a warrant issued by Westminster Magistrates’...

Japanese F-35 crashes; Escalating in Somalia; Libya fighting nears Tripoli; New border-wall contracts; And a bit more.

April 10, 2019 Japan did indeed lose an F-35A to a crash on Tuesday, Defense News’ Mike Yeo reported Tuesday evening. The aircraft “was one of four JASDF F-35As that had taken off from nearby Misawa Air Base for a training mission at 7:00 p.m. local time.” A U.S. Navy P-8 Poseidon aircraft...

A terror-designation first; US troops die in Afghanistan; Turmoil atop DHS; Army wants mind-reading AI; And a bit more.

April 9, 2019 In a first, the Trump administration designated Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps as a terrorist organization on Monday. The U.S. State Department had never before designated a part of another government as a terrorist organization, Voice of America writes. The declaration, “which takes effect in one week and includes the...

DHS’ Nielsen quits; US troops leave Libya; ICC prosecutor barred; Russia tests missile; And a bit more.

April 8, 2019 DHS Sec. Nielsen resigns in two-page letter to POTUS. After 16 months on the job, Kirstjen Nielsen tendered her resignation Sunday evening after meeting with President Donald Trump at the White House. Context: “Ms. Nielsen had been blindsided by Mr. Trump’s sudden decision to drop the nomination of Ron Vitiello,...

Saudi reactor nears completion; Taliban besiege Afghan troops; Japan detonates space bomb; US rejects Turkey’s F-35 idea; And a bit more.

April 5, 2019 Saudi Arabia is about a year away from having its first nuclear reactor, Bloomberg reported this week off satellite imagery. And the big question now is how soon will Riyadh allow international inspectors inside? Location: the King Abdulaziz city for science and technology, just outside of Riyadh. The reactor there...