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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-made weapons on the loose in Yemen; State, CENTCOM’s Syria warning; US cyber testers aren’t tough enough; Navy’s ‘ghost ship’ returns from first uncrewed voyage; And a bit more.

February 5, 2019 U.S.-made weapons appear to be falling into the wrong hands in Yemen, possibly violating U.S. export laws, according to CNN. The Saudis and the Emiratis have transferred U.S.-made MRAPs and M-ATVs, as well as anti-tank missiles and rifles to a variety of factions in the Yemen war (a sprawling conflict...

Syrian pullout timeline unclear; Navy rethinks 355-ship goal; Russia using US courts; Icemelt threatens Asian water supply; And a bit more.

February 4, 2019 When will U.S. troops come home from Syria — in a matter of months, as Trump suggested in December? CBS News’ Margaret Brennan asked President Trump in a Super Bowl-weekend interview with the president in the Blue Room of the White House. The quick answer to the question above: Trump...

US to suspend INF obligations; 3,500 more troops sent to border; Putin orders up AI strategy; Navy orders pair of carriers; And a bit more.

February 1, 2019 The U.S. will suspend its obligations under the INF treaty tomorrow. On Saturday, the United States notify Russia and U.S. allies that it is taking this first step to withdraw from the Intermediate Forces Treaty, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced this morning. He said U.S. officials would be open...

Trump slams intel chiefs; More Russian cyber attacks on US; China’s giant Patagonian antenna; Dems push no-first-use; And a bit more.

January 31, 2019 President Trump on Wednesday renewed his attacks on the intelligence community, calling the agencies “extremely passive and naive” after Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats and other senior intelligence leaders contradicted the president’s assertions on Iran, North Korea, and ISIS, D1’s Katie Bo Williams reports. “They are wrong!” Trump wrote...

Intel chiefs, POTUS diverge on threats; More troops to border; UAE hackers target US; Inside Stratcom’s new HQ; And a bit more.

January 30, 2019 The things that threaten the United States are not what President Trump says they are, the Director of National Intelligence said Tuesday. “The things that worry America’s intelligence community can’t be stopped by a wall,” Defense One’s Patrick Tucker reports off the spoken and written testimony of ODNI chief Dan...

US-Taliban peace talks; DOJ indicts Huawei; ODNI assesses threats; Mass shootings kill 20 Americans in 5 days; And a bit more.

January 29, 2019 Former U.S. Afghan Amb. Ryan Crocker warns the Taliban will retake the country if President Trump orders American troops out within 18 months, as the latest from U.S.-Taliban negotiations indicate. That’s one of Crocker’s positions in this interview with Foreign Policy posted Monday. About that 18-month plan: Taliban sources told...

Chaos rises in Venezuela; Shutdown ends; US resumes making small nukes; AFRICOM reverses secrecy move; And a bit more.

January 28, 2019 Increasing chaos in Venezuela, CNN reports from a Caracas suburb: “This hillside community is where President Nicolas Maduro has nurtured his base of poor Venezuelans, trading vital state handouts for loyalty. Yet last week, night after night, locals have clashed with police special forces. On the afternoon we visited, armed...

US, Taliban near deal; White House drafts emergency order; Shutdown delays NYC, Philly air traffic; Tiny nuclear reactors; And a bit more.

January 25, 2019 The U.S. may be about to strike a deal with the Taliban in Afghanistan. What the U.S. wants: “a pledge by the Taliban not to allow the country to host terrorist groups like Al Qaeda,” senior Taliban officials and Western diplomats told The New York Times Thursday from the Afghan...

Venezuela tries to break off US relations; Shutdown, Day 34; Saudi missile factory?; And a bit more.

January 24, 2019 Venezuela breaks off relations after U.S. recognizes opposition leader as rightful president. On Wednesday, hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans took to the streets to protest President Nicolás Maduro, twice re-elected in elections of dubious legitimacy. Opposition leader Juan Guaidó declared himself the “interim president,” and the Trump administration quickly issued...

Trump ups demands on S. Korea; ODNI sets new strategy; More shutdown problems; Drones disrupt Newark airport; And a bit more.

January 23, 2019 President Trump wants South Korea to pay the U.S. 50 percent more for American protection — more formally referred to as the “Special Measures Agreement” to pay the cost of U.S. troops on the Korean Peninsula. The problem: South Korean officials do not want anything to do with a 50...