Topic A: Defense
U.S. Military Develops Drone That Can Fly Week Straight

Motherboard reports that "while America’s most expensive surveillance drone, the Northrop Grumman RQ-4 Global Hawk, can stay aloft for 32 hours, the Pentagon is looking for a drone that can fly nonstop for a week or more at a time, if two recently submitted solicitations are to go by."

"In a solicitation published last November, the Department of Defense (DoD) is calling on contractors to submit designs for a low cost, ultra-long endurance UAV that can perform intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) missions for seven days or more. Specifically, the DoD wants to eliminate the need for launching new waves of drones to replace the ones that have run out of fuel and have to return to base."

Opening of Communications Spectrum Raises Questions for Military

Popular Mechanics reports that "America's infrastructure—its highways, bridges, airports—has been in some state of degradation for decades. But there is another "highway" few people talk about that's vital to our way of life. You likely use it every single day, but you've never even seen it."

"We're talking about spectrum, the information superhighway that carries voice, video, and data to our smartphones and televisions. It's a part of the electromagnetic spectrum (hence the name) once dominated by radio communication and broadcast users. Now certain spectrum bands have been overwhelmed by billions of new wireless devices over the past decade, and they need more room to breathe."

Duterte Warns U.S. Military: Don’t Build Arms Depots

The Manila Times reports that "President Rodrigo Duterte has warned the United States to stop building 'permanent' arms depots in the Philippines because it will disrupt regional security."

"Duterte claimed that the US military is unloading arms in some parts of the country."

U.S. Military Fights Islamic State Online

The Associated Press reports that "on any given day at MacDill Air Force Base, web crawlers scour social media for potential recruits to the Islamic State group. Then, in a high-stakes operation to counter the extremists' propaganda, language specialists employ fictitious identities and try to sway the targets from joining IS ranks."

"At least that's how the multimillion-dollar initiative is being sold to the Defense Department."

U.S., Polish Troops Hold First Joint Training in Poland

Military Times reports that "the first joint training exercises in Poland for freshly deployed U.S. troops and their Polish counterparts are underway."

"A U.S. armored brigade of 3,500 troops from Fort Carson, Colorado, arrived this month in Zagan, southwestern Poland, as a deterrence force on NATO's eastern flank."

North Korea and Sec. Mattis' Asia Trip

Fox News reports that "North Korea will be casting a dark — and nuclear — shadow over U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis' first foray abroad.

"When Mattis calls on South Korea and Japan from Wednesday he will be visiting Washington's two staunchest allies in Asia. Both host tens of thousands of American troops and both will be looking for reassurances the new administration in the U.S. is not going to drop the ball on North Korea."

Vets Protest Travel Ban

The Associated Press reports that "U.S. combat veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan say they are outraged at the temporary ban on immigration from seven Muslim-majority countries and the suspension of the U.S. refugee program that has blocked visas for interpreters who risked their lives to help American troops on the battlefield."

"Thousands of veterans have signed petitions. One soldier says he has bought a plane ticket for his Afghan translator in case that country is added to the list of banned nations."

Pentagon Lists Iraqis Who Helped U.S. Military to Keep Off Trump's Travel Ban

The Los Angeles Times reports that "the Pentagon is compiling a list of Iraqi citizens who have worked with the U.S. military and is recommending that they be exempt from President Trump’s temporary ban on entry to the U.S. by people from Iraq and six other predominantly Muslim countries, according to the U.S. military."

"The move could potentially shield tens of thousands of Iraqi interpreters, advisors, and others who have assisted the American military from the president’s controversial executive action that blocked visitors from Iraq, Iran, Syria, Sudan, Somalia, Libya and Yemen."

Nikkei Poll: Japan Pays Enough for U.S. Military Bases

Stars and Stripes reports that "Japanese citizens do not want to pay more for hosting U.S. military personnel and are now more likely to predict a downturn in bilateral relations, according to a Nikkei poll released Monday."

"The survey taken this past weekend found that 57 percent of Japanese favored maintaining spending on U.S. bases at current levels, while 30 percent said Japan is spending too much. Five percent said Japan should spend more, the poll said."

Report: Army Ground Combat Systems Need Update

Military Times reports that "the core of the Army’s ground combat systems is under threat of being seriously outmoded by foreign adversaries like Russia, China, and North Korea, according to the Congressional Research Service."

"Developed primarily in the 1970s, the Army’s fleet of main battle tanks, tracked infantry fighting vehicles, tracked self-propelled artillery and multiple launch rocket systems were designed to battle a larger Cold War adversary, a report produced by CRS explains."

Military May Purchase Drones We Find in Department Stores

Wired reports that "Tiny drones could scout high-rise buildings and underground tunnels for possible threats to US troops in cities of the future. But instead of spending years cooking up the necessary drone technologies in military research labs, the Pentagon might be better off shopping for the latest civilian drones coming soon to stores."

"US military leaders have discussed the need for a new generation of scout drones for some time. After all, kicking down doors is a dirty and dangerous business for US troops trying to clear enemy-held buildings. It would be far safer to deploy diminutive drone buddies to provide an initial peek inside, and identify any potential threats."

Cambodia Shifts Away from U.S., Towards China

Asia Times reports that "on January 16, Cambodia announced that its annual joint military exercises with the United States, known as Angkor Sentinel, will be canceled until at least 2019. The surprise move came just days before the inauguration of US President Donald Trump and underscored Cambodia’s ever-growing economic and strategic ties with China."

"Defense Ministry spokesman Chhum Socheat attributed the decision to two key reasons. First, the military was too busy enforcing a national anti-drug campaign, which was launched last month. Second, with commune elections scheduled for June, the armed forces are needed to 'protect the good security and public order for the people,' he said."

Pentagon Says Russia Did Not Join U.S.-Led Coalition in Anti-ISIS Airstrikes

The Associated Press reports that "the Russian military says its warplanes have flown a joint mission in Syria against the Islamic State group together with the U.S.-led coalition."

"However, the Pentagon denies Russia's claim."

U.S. Army’s New Pistol of Choice

The Washington Post reports that "after more than two years of searching the Army has finally settled on the pistol that will replace the branch’s nearly 32-year-old sidearm."

"The up-to $580 million contract for the 'Modular Handgun System' has been awarded to Sig Sauer, a German firearms company, according to a release from the Army. The Army’s aging 9mm M9 Beretta will be replaced by a variant of Sig’s P320 pistol."

U.S. NATO Troops Grow in Europe after Russian Aggression

PBS NewsHour reports that "in the port city of Bremerhaven on Germany’s North Sea coast, approximately 4-thousand American troops and 25-hundred vehicles began arriving in early January. Known as the Iron Brigade, they’re from the Army’s 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team of the 4th Infantry Division, based in Fort Carson, Colorado."