Topic A: Defense
Disconnect Beneath Praise for U.S. Military

Kori Schake is a research fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution writes in the Wall Street Journal that "at a time when public opinion of most government institutions slides ever lower, the military represents a rare bright spot: 88% of Americans describe themselves as proud of the men and women who serve in our armed forces."

"But these broad sentiments don’t appear to run particularly deep, which presents issues for effective governance."

Pearl Jam Aims to Help Veterans Through ‘Songbird Sings’

Military.com writes that "Pearl Jam is playing stadiums this summer and they stopped in Boston for two shows at Fenway Park on August 5th & 7th. The band’s Vitalogy Foundation donated $1 from each ticket sold to four non-profit charities in Massachusetts and a quarter of the take when to Songbird Sings Veterans Voices, a charity that works with veterans who suffer from trauma, addiction, and post traumatic stress."

Book: How U.S. Military is Like Walmart

Marketplace writes that "Rosa Brooks did a stint at the Pentagon as well as a civilian counselor of the undersecretary of defense for policy."

"Her experiences there are the foundation for a new book about the way the American military does what it does today — which is a whole lot."

Force of the Future Aims to Increase Military’s Geographic Diversity

The U.S. Department of Defense reports that "Defense Secretary Ash Carter has said many times that the majority of enlisted military recruits come from just six states and that he would like to see a more diverse recruitment pool. Some of his Force of the Future proposals are aimed at this issue."

"Attracting recruits aged 17 to 24 from across the country is an important goal for the secretary, and it’s a challenge in light of the composition of today’s military."

Japan, China, South Korea Unite in Condemning North Korea Missile

The Associated Press writes that "the foreign ministers of China, Japan and South Korea put aside frictions over territorial disputes and wartime history to sharply criticize North Korea's latest submarine missile test on Wednesday in a rare display of unity."

"Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida, who chaired the meeting with China's Wang Yi and South Korea's Yun Byung-se, said that North Korea's missile launch is a 'provocation that simply cannot be tolerated.'"

Iran Makes 'High Speed Intercept' of U.S. Ship: U.S. Official

Reuters reports that "four of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) vessels 'harassed' a U.S. warship on Tuesday near the Strait of Hormuz, a U.S. defense official said, amid Washington's concerns about Iran's posture in the Gulf and in the Syrian civil war."

"The official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said on Wednesday that two of the Iranian vessels came within 300 yards of the USS Nitze in an incident that was 'unsafe and unprofessional.'"

U.S. Military Launches Design Competition, Seeks Fashion, Textile Help

Yahoo reports that "the U.S. military is soliciting help from fashion designers and textile experts to assist in redesigning the protective suits soldiers wear against chemical and biological attacks."

"The Joint Program Executive Office for Chemical and Biological Defense, a division within the U.S. Department of Defense, has launched a competition dubbed 'Proof-The Chembio Suit Design Challenge' and is offering a total of $250,000 to finalists and semifinalists."

Celebrity Chef Seeks to Transform How U.S. Troops Eat -- Starting at Pentagon

Military Times reports that "lunchtime options at the Pentagon are about to change, drastically." 

"Celebrity chef Robert Irvine, host of the popular Food Network program 'Restaurant: Impossible,' is days away from opening his 'Fresh Kitchen' inside the U.S. military's massive headquarters complex in Arlington, Virginia. And it may be just the start of the food and fitness expert’s effort to reshape how American troops eat wherever they are stationed or deployed."

Conservation: Pentagon Efforts Protect Rare Species -- And Troops' Training Grounds

WUNC.com reports that "The U.S. military has joined forces with environmental groups to preserve natural habitats. More than 400 threatened and endangered species are benefiting, and so is the Pentagon."

"In the past two decades, the U.S. military has quietly built a huge national conservation network by developing formal -- and once unlikely -- partnerships with environmental groups, universities, local governments, zoos, and even prison systems."

Rep. Thornberry, HASC Chair, Offers Defense Strategy for Next President

The Wichita Falls Times Record News reports that "budget cuts, downsizing and rising global threats have put the next president of the United States in a precarious position when it comes to national security and defense, U.S. Rep. Mac Thornberry asserts in a paper published in the magazine 'Foreign Affairs.'"

"The House Armed Services Committee chairman from Clarendon, Texas, co-authored the article with Andrew Krepinevich Jr., a national defense expert at Leesburg, Virginia-based Solarium and a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments. The piece offers their thoughts on a defense strategy the new president will need deploy to successfully protect the country and its interests."

Serbia to Join U.S. Military Drills in Germany

Balkan Insight reports that "Serbian troops will participate in a multinational tactical exercise called ‘Combined Resolve VII’ organised by the US Army’s European Command at the Hohenfels military base in Germany from August 27 until September 15, the Serbian defence ministry told BIRN."

“'The aim of the exercise is the improvement of the interoperability and mutual understanding of the members of the land forces of our partners in operations at the tactical level in a multinational environment,' the defence ministry said, adding that this kind of exercise is held by the US Army twice a year in Europe."

U.S. Military Faces Asia Challenges Should TPP Trade Deal Not Pass

The Wall Street Journal reports that "President Barack Obama’s troubled Pacific-region trade deal is threatening to become a foreign policy failure in Asia, where the U.S. loaded the accord with strategic significance as a counterweight to the rise of China."

"U.S. officials have billed the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership for years as central to a shift of U.S. military and other resources to Asia. Now, with opposition toward the pact mounting on both the right and left in Washington, the likelihood of its ratification in Congress appears bleak."

China Criticizes U.S.-South Korea Military Drills, Stages Own Naval War Games

The Washington Post reports that "China and the United States have been trading accusations as both sides conduct war games across East Asia, and tensions are rising from the South China Sea to the East China Sea to the Korean Peninsula in the midst of a regional arms race."

"At the heart of the tensions lies the maritime territorial dispute in the South China Sea, as well as a growing divide on how to respond to North Korea’s nuclear weapons program, infecting China’s relations with South Korea, Japan and the United States."

U.S. Military Commander to Russia, Syria: 'We Will Defend Ourselves'

The Independent (UK) reports that "a top US military commander has warned the forces of President Bashar al-Assad 'we will defend ourselves' after Syrian planes and artillery launched operations in an area where American special forces are located."

"The US dispatched a small number of special forces troops to northern Syria to assist Kurdish Pershmerga and support Syrian rebel groups seeking to overthrow Mr Assad. Yet last Thursday, two Syrian Su-24 ground-attack planes targeted an area close to where they are based."

South Korea-U.S. Military Drill Followed By North Korea Threats

Agence France-Presse reports that "South Korea and the United States kicked off large-scale military exercises on Monday, triggering condemnation and threats of a pre-emptive nuclear strike from North Korea."

"The two-week annual Ulchi Freedom drill, which plays out a scenario of full-scale invasion by the nuclear-armed North, is largely computer-simulated but still involves around 50,000 Korean and 25,000 US soldiers."