Topic A: Defense
Okinawa Villagers Sue Japan to Stop Construction of U.S. Helipads

Military.com reports that "citing noise concerns, residents from two Okinawan villages have filed a lawsuit against the Japanese government to end construction of U.S. military helipads in a remote northern training area."

"The landing zones are being built to relocate and consolidate the U.S. military presence in the northern Okinawa jungles so that 4,000 of the Northern Training Area's 7,542 hectares can be handed back to Japanese control in the largest land return since 1972."

U.S. Presidential Candidates Sharply Divided on Military Alliances

Voice of America reports that "U.S. presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump reiterated sharply opposing views on the issue of military support for American allies around the world, and for Japan and South Korea in particular, during their first televised debate on Monday."

"Clinton, the Democratic candidate, criticized past statements made by Republican nominee Trump that indicated he might withdraw troops from Asia unless allies more fairly compensate the U.S. for protection."

U.S., South Korean Missile Destroyers Show Force to North Korea

CNN reports that "the US and South Korean navies put on a show of force in the Sea of Japan on Monday, the latest in a string of displays of military might in response to North Korea's testing of nuclear warheads and ballistic missiles."

"Monday's exercises saw the US guided missile destroyer USS Spruance join ships, submarines and planes from the South Korean navy in waters east of the Korean Peninsula."

Army Mission in Europe Increases

Stars and Stripes reports that "no service has been affected more than the Army, which has received the bulk of increased military spending in Europe to augment its presence along Russia’s periphery in places such as the Baltics."

"'The Army is really attached to the Russia threat, not just as a mission, but fundamentally as an opportunity,' said Michael Kofman, a security analyst with the Wilson Center think tank in Washington."

U.S. Military Could Get '2-in-1' Grenades

Tech Times reports that "Engineers at the U.S. Army Armament Research, Development and Engineering Center (ARDEC) are designing a next-generation hand grenade, which will have two deadly modes and could offer more flexibility to U.S. soldiers."

"The U.S. military uses two types of grenades: fragmentation and concussion models. A fragmentation grenade explodes and it releases shrapnel and ball bearing that hits enemy combatants. Fragmentation grenades have a radius of about 49 feet.

Military Skills Part of College Experience at U.S. Military Academy

U.S. News & World Report writes: "Alex Werden's first impression of the U.S. Military Academy was right out of 'Harry Potter.'"

"'It's like showing up at Hogwarts,' he says. As a rising high school senior from Chapel Hill, North Carolina, he had gone to the storied Hudson Valley campus to participate in a summer leadership camp."

Self-Driving Vehicles Could Boost Military’s Arsenal

Fox News reports that "self-driving cars are grabbing headlines lately, and the military is also making inroads with similar tech— but these vehicles are mounted with weapons like machine guns."

The "MUTT, aka Multi-Utility Tactical Transport, [helps] dismounted small units. This is a smart robot designed to help lighten the load for Marines and other warfighter."

U.S. Military Assistance to Africa Grows: Analysis

Nathaniel D.F. Allen, a doctoral candidate in international relations at the Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies and a 2016-2017 Jennings Randolph Peace Fellow at the United States of Institute of Peace, writes in World Politics Review: "In July, Marine Corps Gen. Thomas D. Waldhauser officially took over command of the United States Africa Command, known as AFRICOM, from retiring Army Gen. David Rodriguez. Waldhauser inherits an organization that has overcome initial growing pains and turned into an integral player in responding to African security challenges. Although the U.S. maintains only one official base on the continent, as many as 60 smaller facilities sprawl across 34 African nations. These facilities serve as staging areas for a steadily growing array of joint special force operations, military exercises and other security cooperation activities. Under Rodriguez’s three-year tenure, AFRICOM took its response to the spread of Islamist extremism across the continent to another level, conducting massive airstrikes on al-Shabab training camps in Somalia and building a drone base in Cameroon to aid in the fight against Boko Haram."

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'

Military.com 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."