Topic A: Defense
Sec. Carter Visits Afghanistan

CNN reports that "Secretary of Defense Ash Carter made an unannounced visit to Afghanistan Friday, a trip that comes amid major questions regarding the future of America's 15-year-long mission there."

"Carter is set to consult with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani at the presidential palace in Kabul and meet with US military commanders and thank the troops at Bagram Air Base."

Russia Military Buildup to Test Trump on NATO

The Wall Street Journal reports that "military maneuvering here in the Baltic region by Russia and NATO presents a challenge for President-elect Donald Trump and his commitment to America’s European allies."

"The North Atlantic Treaty Organization plans to station a multinational force on its eastern flank by May as a deterrent following Moscow’s aggression in Ukraine. But already in January, a brigade from the U.S. Army 4th Infantry Division will arrive in Germany and then move to Poland—before Inauguration Day, according to U.S. military officials."

India, U.S. Finalize 'Major Defense Agreement'

The Indian Express reports that "Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar and United States Secretary of Defence Ashton Carter Thursday finalised India’s designation as a Major Defense Partner of the United States. This was announced in the India-US joint statement on Carter’s visit to New Delhi."

"The designation as a Major Defense Partner, the joint statement noted, is a status unique to India and institutionalises the progress made to facilitate defence trade and technology-sharing with India to a level at par with that of the United States’ closest allies and partners, and ensures enduring cooperation into the future."

Congress Informed of Possible U.S. Military Sales to UAE, Saudi, Qatar

Reuters reports that "the U.S. State Department notified Congress on Thursday of possible military sales to Saudi Arabia worth $3.51 billion, to the United Arab Emirates worth $3.5 billion and to Qatar for $781 million, the Pentagon said in a statement."

"The possible sale to the UAE involves Apache AH-64E helicopters and services; the Saudi Arabia sale is for CH-47F Chinook cargo helicopters and related equipment; and the possible sale to Qatar is for logistics support and spare engines and equipment for C-17 aircraft, the statement said."

Duckworth Concerned Congress is Ignoring Importance of Civilian-Run Military

Military Times reports that "Rep. Tammy Duckworth worries her congressional colleagues don’t fully appreciate the importance of a civilian-run military. As a combat-wounded Iraq War veteran and incoming Illinois senator, she finds that troubling."

“'I believe so strongly that the military is subservient to civilian leaders,' she said Wednesday. 'I went to fight in a war I didn’t believe was one we should be engaged in, but the president and Congress believed it was the right thing to do. So I’m proud of that. I would go back."

U.S. May Not Gain Access to Philippines for Military Patrols Aimed at China

CBS News reports that "the Philippine defense secretary said Thursday it’s highly unlikely his country will allow the U.S. military to use it as a springboard for freedom of navigation patrols in the disputed South China Sea to avoid antagonizing China."

"Delfin Lorenzana said U.S. ships and aircraft could use bases in Guam, Okinawa or fly from aircraft carriers to patrol the disputed waters."

Commander at Pearl Harbor: Stand for National Anthem

The Associated Press reports that "U.S. Pacific Command Commander Adm. Harry Harris says those who served during the attack on Pearl Harbor never failed to stand for the national anthem."

"His remarks Wednesday at a ceremony marking the 75th anniversary of the Japanese attack generated a lengthy standing ovation from the crowd, with people whistling and hooting."

US Air Force Launches Advanced Military Communications Satellite

Space.com reports that "the U.S. Air Force has launched the newest member of the military's core communications-satellite constellation."

"The Wideband Global SATCOM-8 spacecraft, or WGS-8, lifted off atop a United Launch Alliance (ULA) Delta IV Medium rocket today (Dec. 7) at 6:53 p.m. EST (2353 GMT) from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. The Delta IV deployed the satellite as planned at 7:35 p.m. EST (0035 GMT on Dec. 8), as the duo were flying over Madagascar, ULA representatives said. You can see more launch photos for WGS-8 here."

U.S. Military Sees Russia as Biggest Threat

Reuters reports that "Russia's increasing military activities around the world have unsettled top US military officials, who say they are reshaping their budget plans to better address what they now consider to be the most pressing threat to US security."

"'Russia is the No. 1 threat to the United States. We have a number of threats that we're dealing with, but Russia could be, because of the nuclear aspect, an existential threat to the United States,' Deborah James, the secretary of the Air Force, told Reuters in an interview at the annual Reagan National Defense Forum."

Carter Seeks to Strengthen US-Japan Military Alliance

CNN reports that "Secretary of Defense Ash Carter arrived in Japan Monday, a visit that comes amid fears that President-elect Donald Trump might pivot away from the decades-long US-Japan security alliance and heightened concern over the North Korean threat."

"'Our alliance with Japan has never been stronger," Carter told reporters while en route to Yokota Air Base near Tokyo."

Carter: U.S., Partners Should Stay in Iraq After ISIS Defeat

The Associated Press reports that "the American military, along with its international partners, will need to remain in Iraq even after the expected defeat of the Islamic State group, Defense Secretary Ash Carter said Saturday."

Japan Prime Minister to Visit Pear Harbor

The New York Times reports that "Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will become the first sitting Japanese leader to visit Pearl Harbor, he said on Monday, with a symbolic visit this month to the site of the Japanese attack 75 years ago that pulled a stunned United States into World War II."

"Mr. Abe said in a televised news conference that he would travel to the American naval base with President Obama during a trip to Hawaii on Dec. 26 and 27."

U.S. Navy, Shipbuilders Prepared for Expansion Under Trump

Reuters reports that "the U.S. arms industry is ready and capable of boosting production of new ships if President-elect Donald Trump makes good his vow to expand the U.S. Navy to 350 ships, Chief of Naval Operations Admiral John Richardson told Reuters."

"Shifting the current target of 308 ships upwards would be 'remarkably easy' as long as there is funding to pay the bill, the top uniformed Navy official said in an interview at the annual Reagan National Defense Forum in southern California."

U.S. Military Prepares for Possible Conflict in Space

WDEL-FM reports that "the U.S. is preparing for a possible conflict in space as military brass fear outdated satellites are vulnerable to attack, meaning our Internet connections could crash, TV screens could go black, and modern business and banking institutions could descend into chaos."

U.S. Military Creates 'Multi-Object Kill Vehicle' to Destroy Enemy Nukes

Space.com reports that "defensive weapons that can intercept and destroy enemy missiles before they can harm the United States or its allies have been a key part of military strategy for decades, but the rules of the game are changing."

"More countries have or are developing long-range missile technology, including systems that can carry multiple warheads, known as Multiple Independently Targetable Re-entry Vehicles (MIRVs) and/or decoys."