Topic A: Defense
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."

Obama Backs Inclusion of Women in U.S. Military Draft

The Boston Herald reports that "the Obama administration declared its support yesterday for requiring women to register for the military draft, a symbolic but significant shift that reflects the U.S. military’s evolution from a male-dominated force to one seeking to incorporate women at all levels."

"President Obama has been considering whether to adopt the position since last December, when Defense Secretary Ash Carter ordered the military to open all jobs to women, including the most arduous combat posts. Ned Price, a spokesman for the White House’s National Security Council, said Obama believes women have 'proven their mettle,' including in Afghanistan and Iraq."

Trump Chooses Mattis for Defense Secretary

The New York Times reports that "President-elect Donald J. Trump said on Thursday he had chosen James N. Mattis, a hard-charging retired general who led a Marine division to Baghdad during the 2003 invasion of Iraq, to serve as his secretary of defense."

"Mr. Trump made the announcement at a rally in Cincinnati, calling General Mattis 'the closest thing we have to Gen. George Patton.'”

U.S. Military Vets Join North Dakota Pipeline Protest Camp

Reuters reports that "hundreds of U.S. military veterans on Friday have been arriving at a protest camp in North Dakota where thousands of activists, braving frigid conditions, are demonstrating against a pipeline project near a Native American reservation."

"Veterans Stand for Standing Rock will spend the day building a barracks at the Oceti Sakowin camp near Cannon Ball and coordinating with protesters who have spent months rallying against plans to route the Dakota Access Pipeline beneath a lake near the Standing Rock Sioux reservation, organizers said."

Gen. Joseph Dunford: Joint Force Needs to Integrate US Military Capabilities

ExecutiveGov reports that "Marine Corps Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has said the joint force needs to integrate all components of national power and U.S. military capabilities worldwide amid security threats associated with what he calls the 'four-plus-one' model, DoD News reported Thursday."

"Jim Garamone writes Dunford said at a Center for the National Interest-hosted event in New York that the four-plus-one framework includes threats related to Russia, North Korea, Iran, China and violent extremism."

Taiwan: Ministry Welcomes Bill for Taiwan-U.S. Military Exchanges

The Taipei Times reports that "The Ministry of Foreign Affairs yesterday welcomed the US Senate’s and the US House of Representatives’ call for military exchanges between senior Taiwanese and US officials in the US National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for the 2017 fiscal year, expressing gratitude to the US Congress for its continuous efforts to promote military cooperation between Taiwan and the US."

“'Such words were already included in the two houses’ separate versions of the NDAA for next year when they deliberated in the first half of this year,' ministry spokeswoman Eleanor Wang said."

How Much Do U.S. Military Troops Make?

The International Business Times reports that "America’s armed servicemen and women could receive their largest pay raise in five years under a congressional bill that seeks to override President Barack Obama’s more limited orders for defense spending in fiscal year 2017, which began Oct. 1, and would leave room for 'a new president' to beef up the military budget within his first year in office."

"The 2017 National Defense Authorization Act, which Congress unveiled Tuesday, would increase troops’ pay by 2.1 percent—ahead of Obama’s planned 1.6 percent—giving members of the armed forces their first raise above 2 percent since 2011. That brings baseline salaries for enlisted service members up to nearly $19,194 from $19,099 under Obama’s budget plan. Highest-paid officers will receive more than $242,130 annual from Obama’s planned $240,944."

U.S. Military Edge over Russia, China Focus on Air

Business Insider reports that "since World War II, the US has dominated the skies in any region in which it wishes to project power — but recent competition from countries like Russia and China threaten to erode that edge, and only a small group of elite pilots maintain the US's edge in air superiority."

"Russia has deployed powerful missile-defense batteries to Syria and its European enclave of Kaliningrad. The US Air Force can't operate in those domains without severe risk. US President Barack Obama himself has acknowledged that these missile deployments greatly complicate and limit the US's options to project power in Syria."

Compromise Reached on U.S. Defense Bill

Reuters reports that "a compromise version of a massive U.S. defense policy bill omits controversial provisions such as a clause Democrats said allowed discrimination against homosexuals and a requirement that women register for the draft."

"The $618.7 billion National Defense Authorization Act, or NDAA, will likely come up for a vote in the House of Representatives late this week, and the Senate next week, senior committee staff members told reporters at a background briefing on Tuesday."