Topic A: Defense
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."

Sports, Military Share Strong Connection in U.S.

Sports Illustrated reports that "Americans love their military, and Americans love their sports. The parallel between those attachments is irresistible. Here are two cultures bound by rule and hierarchy, animated by youth and steeped in history. They both work in teams, train relentlessly and thrive on aggression. Both apply strategy and, to varying degrees, force, in pursuit of a common goal: victory. 'Sports and military,' says outgoing Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus, 'have been close for a long, long time now.'"

"Over the past 15 years, with American servicemen and women engaged in seemingly endless campaigns overseas, the country's military and sports cultures have pulled even closer. Early expressions of post-9/11 resilience—the field-sized American flags, the fighter jet flyovers, the troop tributes and camouflage uniforms—have hardened into set pieces. Military Appreciation Night, it seems, is now every night."

Mattis Sworn in as Defense Secretary

The Washington Post reports that "retired Marine Gen. James N. Mattis was confirmed and sworn in as President Trump’s defense secretary Friday, breaking with decades of precedent as a recently retired general became the Pentagon’s top civilian leader."

"Mattis, 66, was approved with a 98-1 vote after the presidential inauguration and then sworn in by Vice President Pence. The new Pentagon chief released a statement to U.S. troops afterward that credited not only them, but intelligence personnel as 'sentinels and guardians of our nation' — rhetoric that is in line with Mattis’s past statements, but stands in contrast to the way Trump has criticized the value of U.S. intelligence in recent weeks."

U.S. Military Seeks Missile That Delivers Explosive Drones to a Target

Business Insider reports that "the US military wants a missile that can carry explosive-packed drones to a target hundreds of miles away, according to a contract solicitation from the Pentagon."

"Earlier this month, the DoD announced it was soliciting proposals for this new missile system, which would be fired by the Army's existing MGM-140 Tactical Missile System or the M-270 Multiple Launch Rocket System. But unlike traditional armaments, the Army wants this missile packed with unmanned quad-copters that will be released, fly to their target, land, and blow themselves up."

Congress Outlines Items Required to Grow U.S. Military

Popular Mechanics reports that "the Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Arizona Senator John McCain, released a paper on Tuesday calling for the Pentagon to receive a nine percent boost in defense spending next year. The plan calls for spending more than $400 billion over five years, reversing what the Senator calls 'damage done to the military over the past eight years.' The plan roughly mirrors defense spending increases proposed by President Elect Donald Trump."

"The document, called Restoring American Power: Recommendations for the FY 2018-FY2022 Defense Budget, calls for spending an additional $430 billion in defense spending during that five year period. The Senator claims that the Budget Control Act of 2011—also known as the Sequestration—created 'havoc' when it was activated in mid-2013, triggering $41 billion in cuts while failing to actually decrease the federal debt."

Sec. Carter: More U.S. Troops Will Not Solve Iraq or Syria

The Associated Press reports that "sending thousands more American troops into Iraq or Syria in a bid to accelerate the defeat of the Islamic State group would push U.S. allies to the exits, create more anti-U.S. resistance and give up the U.S. military's key advantages, Defense Secretary Ash Carter said in an Associated Press interview."

"Speaking from his Pentagon office overlooking the Potomac River on Wednesday, Carter said he favors looking for ways to speed up the counter-IS campaign, which administration critics including the president-elect, Donald Trump, have called slow-footed and overly cautious."

IBM to Build, Manage U.S. Army Private Cloud Data Center

ZD Net reports that "IBM officially announced January 18 that it's signed a deal to build, manage and operate a private cloud data center for the US Army, within the Army's Redstone Arsenal near Huntsville, Alabama. The deal marks the first time the Army has turned to a private company to run a large-scale data center on its behalf within a military installation."

"The on-premise private cloud initiative is part of a one-year task order. Under the Army Private Cloud 2 (APC2) contract, awarded to seven companies in 2011, the contract with IBM could be extended by as much as four additional years. Should it last the full five years, the contract will be worth approximately $62 million, IBM said."

Marines Train at Norway's Border with Russia

UPI reports that "the Norwegian military said about 300 U.S. Marines have arrived in Norway for a six-month deployment, which coincides with a NATO effort to reinforce its border with Russia."

"Most of the 330 Marines arrived via a U.S. military plane at the Trondheim Airport on Monday. Norway said the arrival of the U.S. forces is part of a previous bilateral agreement between Oslo and Washington, D.C."

Report: China, Russia Agree on 'Countermeasures' to U.S. Defense Plan

CBS News reports that "Chinese state media say Beijing and Moscow have agreed to take 'further countermeasures' in response to plans for an advanced U.S. missile defense system in South Korea."

"The Xinhua News Agency says the agreement was reached during security talks between the two countries in Moscow on Thursday."

Mattis Testifies about World Order, Deterrence, More

Fox News reports that "Defense secretary nominee Gen. James Mattis issued a grave warning Thursday at his Senate confirmation hearing, saying the established world order is under its “biggest attack” since World War II as he called for boosting military readiness and America’s alliances."

"Under questioning from Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain, R-Ariz., about Russia and other threats, Mattis said the U.S. should 'recognize the reality' of dealing with Vladimir Putin’s government and that he’s trying to 'break' the North Atlantic alliance."

Turkey Accuses U.S. Military over Syrian Kurds

Deutsche Welle reports that "Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's spokesman accused the US military on Thursday of legitimizing a terrorist group after it re-tweeted a statement from a Kurdish-Arab alliance fighting against the self-styled 'Islamic State.'"

"The US backs the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a multi-ethnic force dominated by Kurdish fighters battling IS in northern Syria."

Kremlin Says U.S. Military in Poland Threatens Russia, Reduces Security in Europe

UPI reports that "the Kremlin said the United States' increased military presence in Poland as part of a larger NATO operation is a threat to Russian security that destabilizes Europe."

"Dmitry Peskov, spokesman for Russian President Vladimir Putin, said the arrival of U.S. troops in Poland as part of the largest armed military brigade deployed in Europe since the end of the Cold War threatens Russia's 'interests and our security,' while Alexei Meshkov, Russia's deputy foreign minister, said the NATO operation is a 'factor destabilizing European security.'"

J.P. Morgan's Dimon: U.S. Military Has Best Job Training in World

Yahoo Finance reports that "at a panel live-streamed on Yahoo Finance Wednesday, JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon cited the US military as doing the 'best job in the world' of training people who aren’t ready to enter the workforce."

“'You know who does the best job in the world of training kids who are probably not prepared to be part of a team and train and stuff like that, they probably don’t show up on time, and a lot of them didn’t finish high school? The United States military,' Dimon said at JPMorgan’s Forum on Career Education and Economic Opportunity."