Ben Watson, Defense One

Ben Watson

Defense One

Washington, DC, United States

Contact Ben

Discover and connect with journalists and influencers around the world, save time on email research, monitor the news, and more.

Start free trial

  • Defense One
  • The Atlantic

Recent articles by Ben:

Author Archive

Defense One provides news, analysis, and ideas about the future of national security to defense and industry leaders, innovative decision-makers, and informed citizens. → Read More

Today's D Brief: SDF stop patrols with US in Syria; What Erdogan wants; F-15s leaving Okinawa; More DPRK sanctions; And a bit more.

The U.S. military’s partners in Syria just suspended all joint operations with the U.S.-led coalition fighting ISIS terrorists in the region, officials from the Syrian Democratic Forces told Reuters on Friday. Why? The Turkish military is preparing a ground invasion into Kurdish-held lands in northern Syria. (Kurds are often referred to as the world’s largest stateless ethnic group.) And this… → Read More

Today's D Brief: Majority of Americans 'stand with Ukraine' in new survey; 6 letter bombs in Spain; ISIS leader killed; US gun violence near 3-decade high; And a bit more.

New: American’s trust and confidence in the military increased slightly over the past year—but it’s still close to a five-year low, according to a new survey of about 2,500 people polled by the Ronald Reagan Institute. Conducted in early November after the U.S. midterm elections, the polling found that 48 percent of Amercians have trust and confidence in the military, compared to 45 percent last… → Read More

Today's D Brief: Macron to the White House; NATO eyes Balkans support; China's growing military; US, Israel drill in the Med; And a bit more.

NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg is in Berlin today speaking with German leaders, including Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht. On Thursday, Stoltenberg is set to keynote the Berlin Security Conference, which began today and features Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Wereschtschuk, the Pentagon’s Celeste Wallander, and Defense Minister Lambrecht. Also in Berlin today:… → Read More

Today's D Brief: NATO FMs meet in Romania; How Russia's military is evolving; B-21 preview; New Navy FONOP in the SCS; And a bit more.

How to help a friend in dire need? NATO foreign ministers are meeting today in the Romanian capital of Bucharest to drum up ways to assist Ukraine in repairing and rebuilding its gas and power infrastructure after two months of intense bombardment from the Russian military. And that means air defense systems are also one of the big topics today in Bucharest, the alliance’s Secretary-General Jens… → Read More

Today's D Brief: Boom times for global arms industry; SecDef Austin urges Congress; Protests sweep China, Iran; And a bit more.

U.S. and European arms makers seem to be busier than they’ve been all century now that we’re 10 months into the Russian military’s faltering invasion of its democratic neighbor Ukraine. There were at least four reports from major Western news outlets over the last several days about this new phase of weapons production. Warehouses across eastern European cities like Warsaw and Prague are newly… → Read More

Today's D Brief: Another US mass shooting; Russia sponsors terrorism, EU says; Global defense budget forecast; Erdogan again teases Syrian ground op; And a bit more.

Seven people were killed in another American mass shooting on Tuesday, this time at a Walmart in Chesapeake, Va., near several U.S. Navy bases around the Norfolk community. Four people remain hospitalized, and one of the deceased includes the shooter, who was an employee of that very Walmart, Chesapeake police said Wednesday morning, according to local WAVY news. The gunman used a pistol in the… → Read More

The D Brief: SecDef meets Chinese counterpart; Ukraine’s new offensive; Marathon tanker flight; Next IO strategy; and more...

Easing tensions? U.S., Chinese military chiefs chat at length in Cambodia. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin met with Defense Minister Gen. Wei Fenghe on the sidelines of the Association of Southeast Asia Nations Defense Ministers Meeting-Plus in Siem Reap, Cambodia, on Tuesday. It’s the third time the men have spoken in their current roles, and just the second time they’ve spoken in person; the… → Read More

Today's D Brief: Winter cold hits Ukraine; Russia's imagery problem; China's new missile; Iran strikes targets in Iraq; And a bit more.

The cold season has officially come to Ukraine. And officials are encouraging citizens in liberated cities to evacuate in the hopes of eking out an existence this winter elsewhere across the country—hopefully someplace with electricity and heat. The first snows fell across the capital city of Kyiv on Thursday. After a chilly weekend, Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk on Monday promised… → Read More

Today's D Brief: Outages affect 10 million in Ukraine; Brits ramp up artillery, naval production; NKorea launches another ICBM; Troops attacked in Syria; And a bit more.

10 million Ukrainians went to sleep without any electricity last night, President Volodymir Zelenskyy said in his evening address Thursday, which marked 38 weeks that Russia has been trying to invade its democratic neighbor. Ten million people without power amounts to nearly a quarter of the country’s prewar population of 44 million; and it follows another day of missile attacks on Ukrainian… → Read More

Today's D Brief: Milley cites WWI, pushes for Ukraine talks; $14M for more HIMARS; Zelenskyy's plans for Crimea; GOP win House control; And a bit more.

The U.S. Army says it just spent $14 million to replenish High Mobility Artillery Rocket System rounds, which have been sent to Ukraine for the past several months, and have helped prepare the battlefield for a Ukrainian counteroffensive that’s been retaking occupied territory since September. HIMARS-maker Lockheed Martin won the contract on Oct. 6, Army officials announced Thursday. One big Q… → Read More

Today's D Brief: Ukraine suffers largest Russian missile attack yet; Errant missile kills 2 in Poland; Judge strikes down WH border policy; Tanker attack near Oman; And a bit more.

Spillover violence in Poland: Amid Russia’s most intense missile attacks on Ukraine to date, a Ukrainian S-300 air defense missile appears to have gone off course and landed just across the border with Poland, killing two farmers in a rural area in the eastern part of the country on Tuesday. News of the Polish deaths seems to have first surfaced via commercial radio station Radio Zet, which… → Read More

Today's D Brief: Zelenskyy's 10-step peace plan; Putin rails against history; 70 tons of explosives seized near Yemen; Brits depart Mali; And a bit more.

Ukraine’s president just laid out a new 10-step roadmap for peace with the invading Russian military, including the withdrawal of all Russian forces and the restoration of Ukraine’s territorial integrity. President Volodymir Zelenskyy delivered the plan in a video presentation to G20 leaders Tuesday in Bali. “If Russia wants to end this war, let it prove it with actions,” Zelenskyy said to the… → Read More

Today's D Brief: Zelenskyy visits liberated Kherson; Xi-Biden bilat in Bali; DCIA Burns in Turkey; Bombing in Istanbul; And a bit more.

Leaders of the world’s two most powerful economies met today in Bali. U.S. President Joe Biden sat down for an in-person meeting with China’s autocratic leader Xi Jinping, who recently secured an unprecedented third term as Beijing’s General Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party. The two met Monday on the sidelines of the G20 summit, which this time does not involve Russia’s Vladimir… → Read More

Today's D Brief: 'Over 100K Russians killed or wounded' in Ukraine, Milley says; ASEAN, G20 preview; Biden, on China, Musk; And a bit more.

America’s top military officer estimates Russia and Ukraine have both lost around 100,000 troops each, he told an audience Wednesday at the Economic Club of New York. That estimate includes killed and wounded troops, he said; and he suggested around 40,000 civilians have also died from the Russian invasion, which has shaken up energy markets around the world since it began over eight months ago,… → Read More

Today's D Brief: Russian military withdrawal in Kherson; Ukraine air defense, in review; Kyiv wants counter-drone gear; RoK pulls missile from ocean floor; And a bit more.

New: Russia’s military chief just ordered a retreat from the occupied Ukrainian city of Kherson, with troops instructed to form a defensive line on the left bank of the Dnipro river, in southern Ukraine. That’s according to state-run media, RIA Novosti, reporting Wednesday. A military withdrawal from Kherson has been rumored for weeks, but official Kremlin-linked outlets like RIA and TASS had… → Read More

Today's D Brief: Russians dig in near Mariupol, Kherson; Kremlin in damage control mode; Election day; 5G towers in NYC; And a bit more.

Russia’s invading forces are digging in for a rough battle ahead at several locations along Ukraine’s occupied south. And that includes the southern city of Mariupol, British military intelligence said Tuesday. Dozens of concrete pyramidal anti-tank obstacles called “dragon’s teeth” are being produced at two different plants near the strategic port city of Mariupol, which “forms part of Russia’s… → Read More

Today's D Brief: Xi's nuclear warning for 'Eurasia'; Putin orders Kherson evacuation; 180 DPRK sorties; UK's F-35 problem; And a bit more.

Russian leader Vladimir Putin has ordered a civilian evacuation of the invaded Ukrainian city of Kherson, describing it as “necessary to relocate those who live in Kherson from the most dangerous zone,” according to the Kremlin’s state-run media, TASS. Putin otherwise spent Friday publicly marking a patriotic holiday on Moscow’s Red Square and citing 17th-century tales of olde Russian glory,… → Read More

Today's D Brief: N. Korea's new ICBM test; US-RoK extend sortie drills; S. Korea missile failure; Russian retreat in Kherson?; And a bit more.

North Korea appears to have launched an ICBM that possibly failed mid-flight, or had its engine shut off early as an altitude control motor test for satellite orbital missions. Or, perhaps more ominously, Pyongyang may have been testing multiple independently targetable reentry vehicle technology, as Ankit Panda of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace speculated and explained back in… → Read More

Today's D Brief: North Korean artillery headed to Russia, WH says; Nuclear chatter in the Kremlin; Pyongyang fires 23 missiles; Space Force gets a new leader; And a bit more.

New: North Korea is allegedly hiding artillery sent to Russia “by trying to make it appear as though they are being sent to countries in the Middle East or North Africa,” White House National Security Council coordinator for strategic communications John Kirby told CNN Wednesday—though he did not offer evidence to back up the claim. “We will continue to monitor whether these shipments are… → Read More