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Joseph Dunford next to chair Joint Chiefs?

Marine Corps Gen. Joseph Dunford, commandant of the Marine Corps, has emerged as a leading candidate to replace Army Gen. Martin Dempsey as the next chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, according to defense officials familiar with internal discussions of the matter.

Before leaving office, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel got a look at high-tech projects being developed by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. Brad Tousley demonstrated a robot that would assist wounded warriors. (Associated Press)

Gearing up for robot wars

Deputy Defense Secretary Robert Work on Wednesday outlined the Pentagon's plans for an advanced war-fighting strategy involving robot weapons and remote-controlled warfare.

Maj. Eric Geyer, an F-18 Hornet instructor with Marine Aviation Weapons and Tactics Squadron 1, and Capt. Kyle Haire, also an F-18 Hornet instructor with MAWTS-1, top left, and Maj. Clint Webber, the tactical aviation department head for MAWTS-1, bottom right, train in their aircraft during the spring Weapons and Tactics Instructors' Course at Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, Ariz., March 30.  (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. William Waterstreet)

Marine fighter jets landing on Taiwan sends China message

- The Washington Times

The emergency landing of two U.S. Marine Corps F-18 fighter jets on the island of Taiwan appears to have been a political message from the Pentagon to Beijing following a recent Chinese bomber drill near the island nation that is a key rival to Beijing's rule.

"Social media is another component of unconventional strategies, and the security environment in general, that is playing a central role in recruiting individuals to causes," Army Gen. Joseph L. Votel, commander of U.S. Special Operations Command, said Wednesday in prepared testimony to the House Armed Services Committee.

Special Ops targets social media

- The Washington Times

U.S. special operations forces, elite commandos engaged in high-risk operations around the world, are adding a new focus to their portfolio of activities: social media and other unconventional information warfare threats.

The North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un does not appear interested in holding sincere talks on giving up his nuclear arms. (Associated Press)

Secret North Korea talks?

A U.S. government source tells Inside the Ring there are signs the Obama administration is quietly working to open secret talks with North Korea as part of a plan to eventually normalize relations with the communist regime in Pyongyang. The discussions or plans for them are said to be similar to the secret diplomacy that led to the December 2014 announced initiative to normalize relations with Cuba.

China conducts JL-2 sub missile test

China carried out a flight test of its new JL-2 submarine-launched ballistic missile last month, highlighting Beijing's nuclear buildup of missile submarines. The JL-2 flight test took place Jan. 23, according to defense officials familiar with details of the test.

Lisa Monaco, assistant to the president for homeland security and counterterrorism, this week announced the creation of the Cyber Threat Intelligence Integration Center, a "czar" bureaucracy. (Associated Press)

Cyberthreat center coming

The White House national security adviser for counterterrorism announced this week that the Obama administration is setting up a cyberintelligence center aimed at providing better information and coordinated responses after cyberattacks that she said are growing more diverse and dangerous.

Ashton Carter outlines acts of cyber war

- The Washington Times

Defense Secretary nominee Ashton Carter told the Senate Committee on Armed Services that an act of cyberwarfare is defined as a cyberattack on critical infrastructure, the economy or U.S. military operations.

Russia is increasing military operations in eastern Ukraine, but the U.S. and NATO have not supplied urgently needed lethal weaponry to the Ukrainian army. Moscow has proposed restoring an agreed line of division to end an escalation of fighting. (Associated Press)

Russians advance on Ukraine

Russian military forces are crossing into eastern Ukraine in larger numbers, according to Phillip A. Karber, a Georgetown University professor currently on a fact-finding tour of the region.

Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl was released in May after nearly five years as a hostage, and perhaps after a failed ransom payment to an Afghan national. (Associated Press)

Pentagon IG to query five in Bergdahl ransom probe

Despite an official denial from Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel that a ransom was paid, the Pentagon's inspector general last week moved a step closer to launching a formal investigation into charges that the military's Joint Special Operations Command paid a large sum in a failed bid to win the release of Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl in Afghanistan last year.