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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: What if Kobani falls? The military doesn't need more money for war; The Pentagon finally names the problem; Hagel sees a role for the Army as a coastline force; Building a better military robot; and a bit more.

October 16, 2014 Learning to share: Kurdish fighters are feeding coalition war planners targeting data on ISIS around Kobani—and the escalated air campaign seems to be working. Eric Schmitt and Kareem Fahim for The New York Times: Pentagon spokesman Rear Adm. John Kirby said “the airstrikes had killed ‘several hundred’ Islamic State fighters....

The D Brief: Mustard gas and chems offer battlefield perils past and present in Iraq; Defense firms target European customers; CIA rebel training largely ineffective; US contractor shot dead in Saudi Arabia and a bit more.

October 15, 2014 Some American troops suffered nerve or mustard gas exposure during the Iraq war, suggesting ISIS getting their hands on the stuff there is not out of the question. C.J. Chivers for The New York Times on Page One: “Since the outset of the war, the scale of the United States’...

The D Brief: Was the Turkey basing announcement premature?; Hagel seizes climate change; Surprise! Industry is courting Army leaders, big time; Jacob Freedman gets a new gig and a bit more.

October 14, 2014 Welcome to the inaugural edition of The D Brief, Defense One’s new, first-read national security newsletter. We may be familiar to you from other national security newsletters. Indeed, The D Brief is nat-sec newsletter version 3.0 for us. Just like before, we’ll deliver to your inbox our brand of news,...

Review Finds the Military’s Health System Is Good, But Far from ‘World-Class’

October 1, 2014 The good news: One year after the rollout of the Pentagon’s enormous Military Health System, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said the network of clinics and hospitals performs largely on par with private sector health care. The bad news: In a system of more than 600 clinics and 50 hospitals, some...

Syria Says It Supports the Fight Against ISIL

September 29, 2014 The Assad regime may not get notification from the United States or its coalition allies as they strike Islamic State targets in Syria, but that appears to be OK with Syria’s foreign minister. “The Syrian Arab Republic reiterates that it stands with any international effort aimed at fighting and combating...

US Will Destroy Landmines Everywhere But Korea

September 23, 2014 The United States is limiting its use and stockpiling of landmines outside the Korean Peninsula, but will not join more than 160 other nations who signed a total ban on the weapons, citing the threat from North Korea, the Obama administration said Tuesday. “This means that United States will not...

Petraeus, Crocker Support Plan To Arm and Train Syrian Rebels

September 17, 2014 Retired Gen. David Petraeus and former ambassadors Ryan Crocker and Robert Ford are throwing their support behind the plan to train and equip vetted moderate rebels in Syria. In a letter to House Armed Services Committee Chairman Rep. Buck McKeon, R-Calif., Petraeus, Crocker and Ford, along with retired Gen. Jack...

Obama Says Still No Ukraine Intervention As More Russians Cross Border

August 28, 2014 In the face of the most damning evidence to date that Russian troops and equipment have invaded Ukraine, President Barack Obama on Thursday stuck to previous statements that there is no military solution to the ongoing crisis there. “We are not taking military action to solve the Ukrainian problem,” Obama...

Fort Lee Incident Now the Third Active Shooting This Year on U.S. Military Bases

August 25, 2014 For a very tense hour and a half early Monday, officials from Virginia U.S. Army base Fort Lee responded to an active shooting incident at one of its training headquarters buildings. “An active shooter incident has been reported on Fort Lee at [Combined Arms Support Command headquarters building],” the Fort...

U.S. Military Tried to Rescue Foley; Obama Defies Threats With New Iraq Airstrikes

August 20, 2014 This story has been updated. Rejecting the Islamic State’s demands that United States airstrikes in Iraq stop or more journalists would be executed, U.S. military officials announced fresh strikes on the fighters and said President Barack Obama could deploy up to 300 new troops. The announcement on Wednesday came less...