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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 D Brief: Sexual assault rates up; $100 million dropped from commissaries; Don’t put Dakota in (the social media) corner; NBC’s Kube has a couple of bruisers; And a bit more.

December 4, 2014 An “inevitable fate” may await an American in captivity in Yemen. The WaPo’s Adam Goldman on 33-year-old Luke Summers, abducted more than a year ago: “Al-Qaeda’s affiliate in the Arabian Peninsula threatened to kill an American hostage in Yemen after U.S. commandos launched a rescue operation to free him, according...

The D Brief: Could Ash put the band back together?; Why industry loves the Pentagon trifecta; Iranian jets strike IS; Black Suburbans surround the Pentagon; Bob Work’s sweaters; And a bit more.

December 3, 2014 Ash Carter’s expected nomination to become the next Defense Secretary could come as early as today but will at least come by the end of the week. Various schedules, and the fact that the combatant commanders and service chiefs are all in town, dictate that the White House will give...

The D Brief: Jeh Johnson’s out; Ash Carter still standing; Congress has a ton of nat-sec decisions to make; A buffer zone for Turkey under consideration; A British Pat Tillman? And a bit more.

December 2, 2014 DHS chief Jeh Johnson removed himself from the running for Hagel’s replacement yesterday—leaving Ash Carter and Bob Work high on the list that gets shorter every few days. Although the White House seemed to be floating Johnson’s name pointedly, it was never clear that Johnson, the Pentagon’s former top lawyer,...

The D Brief: Kabul grows dangerous; Wendy Anderson leaves Commerce; What about Bob (McDonald)?; Embedded media, the military and blind dates; And a bit more.

December 1, 2014 Former Hagel deputy chief of staff Wendy Anderson is leaving Commerce. Anderson, who also served Ash Carter, the former Deputy Secretary of Defense as his chief of staff, is announcing this morning that she will leave the Commerce Department after only five months for a job back inside the national...

The D Brief: The horse race for the Pentagon; Flournoy out, Carter in?; Hagel’s ear for the military and taste for Runzas; Odierno on Iraq; And a bit more.

November 26, 2014 The horse race is now in full stride, but who’s running? Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel’s resignation Monday naturally began speculation about just who would replace him. Two names floated to the top immediately: Michele Flournoy and Ash Carter. But Flournoy, the former policy chief for the Pentagon who would be...

The D Brief: An American rescued from Yemen?; All the reasons why Hagel wasn’t fired; WH Friendly Fire; Needing a journo on the Pentagon’s wall; Twitter problems for the AF; And a bit more.

November 25, 2014 Update from this morning: U.S. military officials tell The D Brief that despite wide reporting, no U.S. military personnel were rescued in the Yemen operation. More to follow. Overnight: A person identified as a U.S. service member or “military expert” was rescued along with other hostages from Yemen this morning....

Who Will Be the Next Secretary of Defense?

November 24, 2014 Following Monday’s surprise announcement from the White House, the Pentagon will soon be led by its fourth defense secretary since President Barack Obama took office in 2009. Here’s a brief review of some of the names being tossed around as possible replacements for the soon-to-be-departing Chuck Hagel, who will leave...

The D Brief: A nuke deal deadline extension?; The admiral used paint and stickers to make poker chips; A turnabout in U.S. policy in Afg; ISIS explained in three mins; And a bit more.

November 24, 2014 A deadline missed: Nuclear talks with Iran are expected to resume next month. Reuters this hour: “Iran and six world powers are expected to break off negotiations on Monday and meet again next month after missing a deadline to clinch a final deal to resolve their 12-year standoff over Tehran's...

The D Brief: Islamic State calls for attacks in France; Rogers on a U.S. attack by China; Nancy Lindborg to USIP; “Major Trouble” at the Pentagon’s Fort America; The Back story on Robin Raphel; And a bit more.

November 21, 2014 In a new propaganda video from the Islamic State, a call for terrorist acts against France. The NYT’s Dan Bilefsky and Maia de la Baume: “…The seven-minute film, released on Wednesday by Al Hayat Media Center, an affiliate of the Islamic State, also shows what appear to be French jihadist...

The D Brief: Dempsey says ME strategy will change; A PR war in Kobani; CIA to reorg; A former Marine PAO wins the National Book Award; Hagel doesn’t lose sleep; And a bit more.

November 20, 2014 Marty Dempsey, just back from Iraq, spoke at the Defense One Summit and said the U.S. has a sound strategy- but at the same time that strategy will change. Defense One’s Lubold: “…Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey, who returned from the Middle East on Sunday, said he was ‘encouraged’...