Commandant on women in combat: They are your teammates

San Diego Union Tribune – When Gen. Robert Neller was promoted to commandant about 10 days ago, he inherited one of the most contentious issues in Marine Corps history – whether women should serve as infantry. During a talk Monday at Camp Pendleton, the new leader of Marines made it clear they would salute and carry on whether or not restrictions barring women from ground combat jobs are lifted by year’s end, ensuring that combat effectiveness does not suffer.

Chinese Threats to U.S. Surface Ships: An Assessment of Relative Capabilities, 1996–2017

RAND – Over the past two decades, China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) has transformed itself from a large but antiquated force into a capable, modern military. A RAND Project AIR FORCE report assesses trends in the relative capabilities of U.S. and Chinese forces in diverse operational areas, and at varying distances from the Chinese mainland, between 1996 and 2017. The overall conclusion is that although China continues to lag behind the United States in terms of aggregate military hardware and operational skills, it has improved its capabilities relative to those of the United States in many critical areas. Moreover, the report finds that China does not need to catch up fully to the United States to challenge the U.S. ability to conduct effective military operations near the Chinese mainland. To be clear, the goal is to avoid war, which the authors do not anticipate and which would be disastrous for both countries. Rather, this research provides an open-source assessment of trends that could affect U.S. defense and deterrence efforts and establishes a baseline for future analysis.

Aboard a U.S. nuclear sub, a cat-and-mouse game with phantom foes

Los Angeles Times – America’s most advanced nuclear submarine was slicing through the water off Hawaii last month, 400 feet under the surface, when a sonar operator suddenly detected an ominous noise on his headphones. It was a faint thump … thump … thump — the distinctive sound of a spinning, seven-bladed propeller on a Chinese attack submarine called a Shang by the Pentagon and its allies.

What it’s like onboard a US aircraft carrier in the coalition against the Islamic State

Washington Post – The USS Theodore Roosevelt, whose homeport is San Diego, is a key element of the U.S.-led coalition known as Operation Inherent Resolve that is targeting the militants in Syria and Iraq. This island of steel in the Persian Gulf, some 1,090 feet (330 meters) long, is home to some 5,000 U.S. Navy aviators, sailors and Marine pilots, carrying about 70 aircraft involved in the fight.

China’s Island Building Campaign Could Hint Toward Further Expansions in Indian Ocean

USNI News – China’s creation of military-relevant facilities on its newly-created islands in the South China Sea is a cause for concern for countries in Southeast Asia, and several of its investments in the Indian Ocean are raising more questions over the possibility of China’s first dedicated naval support facility overseas.