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"A senior State Department official said Saturday that the U.S. was concerned about the Islamic State group’s efforts to try to establish a stronghold in Afghanistan."

"Suicide bombings, improvised explosive devices and combatants with little regard for the rules of war are making the work of UN peacekeepers look like counterterrorism operations."

“The outgoing Joint Chiefs chairman bids farewell to an alliance beset by crises.”

Continue on for one perspective on sleep numbers.

"A State Department official says there has been a 'sharp decline' in the volume of Islamic State messages on social media in the last few months."

"Saudi Arabia, of course, is a world champion of human-rights abuse. Freedom, in all of its manifestations, is absent from the country."

Links to two articles and the leaked CMC Memo.

Congressional Research Service Insight Brief via the U.S. Naval Institute.

"A sophisticated farm-to-arm supply chain is fueling America’s surging heroin appetite, causing heroin to surpass cocaine and meth to become the nation’s No. 1 drug threat."

Continue on for a link to this excellent Best Defense essay. A  must read - and we don't say say that very often.

"Hooker is the leader of a group of analysts accusing commanders of changing intelligence reports to paint an overly optimistic portrait of the American bombing campaign against the IS."

"Colombia's president and FARC rebels reached a major breakthrough late Wednesday in the effort to end more than 50 years of bloodshed."

"Afghanistan's government says it has undertaken 'serious measures' to enforce the law and prevent sexual abuse committed by local police commanders against children."

"Whether the primary mission is combat, humanitarian assistance, counterinsurgency or other, Soldiers and leaders need a robust and varied set of capabilities, especially mission command."

"While the Obama administration haggles over Syria strategy, a Kurdish militia that claims more than 25,000 fighters is poised several dozen miles north of the IS capital."

Dempsey Discusses Unsettled, Unpredictable World Situation and Dempsey Talks Caution, Whole-of-Government Approach.

"I have personally spoken with President Ghani on this issue and he made it clear to me that the Afghan government will not tolerate the abuse of its children."

Continue on for "Lessons Encountered: Learning From the Long War", a National Defense University Press online book.

"In what surely is the most cringe-worthy excuse offered by a commander-in-chief, President Obama complained that his critics - whom he routinely ignored and scorned - forced him to make a...

"Rebels who have inflicted big losses on Syrian President Assad say Russia's intervention in support of its ally will only lead to an escalation of the war."

"Al-Qaeda’s strategy is better positioned for the long term, though IS’s emergence has placed significant pressures on al-Qaeda’s network."

"Soldiers and Marines have been increasingly troubled that instead of weeding out pedophiles, the American military was arming them and placing them as the commanders of villages."

"Bergdahl left his outpost in the middle of the night intending to run 20 miles to another base, hoping to tell a commander there about leadership problems in his platoon."

"Attacking the motives of Marine officials was out of line, opening the secretary up to charges that his decisions are being shaped by politics."

This announcement is on behalf of the Special Operations Research Association. Continue on for details.

"The refugee crisis roiling Europe presents a win-win opportunity for Islamic State extremists, says international terrorism research consultancy TRAC."

"Europe is only now being forced to take seriously the refugee crisis that’s been roiling the Mideast and North Africa."

"Japan’s Upper House of Parliament passed security measures that ease some restrictions placed upon the military by the country’s post-World War II pacifist constitution."

"The CSIS Federated Defense Project has released a report that examines the potential for a federated defense approach to U.S. action in the Middle East."