Topic A: Defense
U.S. Defense Sec Says Military ‘Stronger Than Ever’ 5 Years After Repeal of ‘Don't Ask, Don’t Tell’

Stars and Stripes reports that "today’s military is 'a cross-section of America' that’s stronger than ever, Defense Secretary Ash Carter said while marking five years since the ban on homosexuals openly serving in the military was repealed."

“'Don’t ask, don’t tell,' instituted in 1994 by the Clinton administration, prohibited those who 'demonstrate a propensity or intent to engage in homosexual acts' from military service because their presence 'would create an unacceptable risk to the high standards of morale, good order and discipline, and unit cohesion that are the essence of military capability.'”

U.S.-Philippine Combat Drills Announced

Military Times reports that "Philippine military officials on Thursday announced the first large-scale combat exercises between U.S. and Filipino forces under President Rodrigo Duterte, who has been critical of American security policies."

"Military officials said the annual maneuvers by about 1,400 U.S. military personnel and 500 Philippine marines will involve amphibious landing and live-fire exercises at a northern gunnery range from Oct 4 to 12."

Sec. Carter to Troops: U.S. Military Will Be in Mideast for 'Long Time' reports that "Defense Secretary Ashton Carter told troops Wednesday the U.S. military will be heavily engaged in the Mideast long after the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria is defeated."

"From Baghdad, Army Staff Sgt. Rory Radtke, a combat engineer with the 101st Airborne Division, asked whether U.S. troops would stay in the region indefinitely, much as they have in South Korea."

U.S. Military Chief: 'Concerning' Mustard attack on U.S. Base

CNN reports that "the military assesses that the shell fired on a joint US-Iraqi base Tuesday was indeed a chemical weapon, according to Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford."

"We assess it to be a sulfur mustard blister agent," Dunford told the Senate Armed Services Committee Thursday. It is the first time the military has confirmed its assessment on the record since CNN reported the development Wednesday."

Potential StratCom Chief Praises Military's Space-Related Capabilities

The Omaha World-Herald reports that "America’s potential adversaries are swiftly pursuing the ability to cripple the U.S. military’s space-related capabilities, the head of Air Force Space Command warned lawmakers on Tuesday."

“'We have amazing force structure in space,' Gen. John Hyten testified. 'Both the Chinese and the Russians in particular have been watching those capabilities being deployed on the battlefield for the last 20 years, and in response to that they’re building counter-space capabilities to deny us those capabilities in conflict.'”

U.S. Military to Use Lasers to Shoot Down Missiles

MarketWatch reports that "warfare is constantly evolving. We’ve got weaponized drones, military exosuits, all-seeing satellites and, now, lasers — on warplanes."

"No, they’re not “Star Wars”-like. With these weapons, the key word is 'defense.' In other words, you won’t see them mowing down enemy infantry or human targets."

Group to Support Military Counter-Narcoterrorism Efforts

UPI reports that "CACI International is to provide support services for the U.S. military's effort against international threats funded by illicit drug activity."

"The work will be in the areas of command, control, communications, information, detection, and monitoring and will be performed for the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations and Low Intensity Conflict, or OASD-SO/LIC."

U.S. Delivers Show of Force in South Korea

Deutsche Welle reports that "Television footage on Wednesday showed two supersonic B-1B Lancers flying low over the US Osan Air Base at Pyeongtaek, 64 kilometers (40 miles) south of Seoul."

"One of the bombers returned to a US base in Guam while the other touched down at Osan which US military officials said was designed to send a message."

Iran 'Determined' to Strengthen Military After U.S.-Israel Deal

The Associated Press reports that "Iran's chief of staff of the armed forces said Wednesday a $38 billion aid deal between the United States and Israel makes Iran more determined to strengthen its military."

"In comments broadcast live on Iranian state TV, Gen Mohammad Hossein Bagheri said the U.S.-Israel aid deal 'will make us more determined in strengthening the defense power of the country.' He spoke at an annual military parade."

U.S. Military Poll: Gary Johnson Tied with Donald Trump in Presidential Race

Military Times reports that "if American military personnel alone were selecting the next president, the contest would be a dead heat between Republican nominee Donald Trump and Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson, according to an exclusive new survey by Military Times and Syracuse University's Institute for Veterans and Military Families."

"Conducted in September, it is the first scientific breakdown of voting preferences among service members, and includes more than 2,200 responses from active-duty troops. And it shows a very different race than the one playing out on the broader national stage."

Enlisted 'Remote Piloted Aircraft' Training to Begin in October

Air Force Times reports that "the first four enlisted airmen training to fly remotely piloted aircraft will start class in October, the head of Air Education and Training Command said Monday."

Series: Military Issues the Next President Will Face

Stars and Stripes publishes "the first installation of 'Facing the Future: Military matters facing the next president,' a five-part series."

Upcoming pieces include: "Europe: Russia, rotational brigades and will Europe need to divert more into security (Sept. 26); Pacific: Challenges in Japan, China and S. Korea, operations in Philippines and Russia (Oct. 3); Middle East: The war against terrorism and the Islamic State group (Oct. 10) and Force of the future: The U.S. conventional force needs an overhaul (Oct. 17)."

Secretary James: More Air Force Diversity Initiatives on Way

Air Force Times reports that "the Air Force is planning a second round of initiatives to improve the diversity of the service’s ranks, Secretary Deborah Lee James said Monday at the Air Force Association’s Air Space Cyber conference."

"In March 2015, James announced a sweeping set of nine programs that aimed to improve the opportunities for women and minorities in the Air Force. Those initiatives included waiving height restrictions for pilots, increasing the pool of female officer applicants, allowing airmen to take time off to start a family or go back to school, and extending the post-pregnancy deployment deferment from six months to a full year."

U.S. Military Official: Syria Cease-Fire Not Derailed

USA Today reports that "an alleged U.S.-led coalition airstrike on Syrian soldiers has not derailed a cease-fire agreement between Russia and the United States to halt fighting in Syria, the top U.S. military officer said Monday."

“'There’s been a lot of unhelpful rhetoric over the last couple days,' said Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. 'It hasn’t yet … derailed the process we're involved in with the Russians to seek a verifiable cessation of hostilities.'”