Killerbots, guided by Pine Gap, same as any other weapon?

As Alice Springs hosts a military base that is intimately involved in remote warfare, Pine Gap, residents here have more than the usual stake in a debate unfolding far beyond our horizons – whether to ban or how to control Lethal Autonomous Weapons Systems, as the United Nations has dubbed them, or “killer robots” in popular parlance.

These are close to becoming a reality. The design capabilities being developed for driverless cars and AI-driven cameras are also being used for developing killer machines.

An Australian Airforce conference last year heard about nano-explosives with 10 times the force of conventional explosives that can be mounted as warheads on small drones. These drones can be manufactured in a 3D-printing process – tens of thousands a day with only 100 printers is already possible. The US and Chinese militaries are already working on launching large numbers in minutes, the conference was told.

The decision, in the conflict zone, of what to hit and what to avoid will have been programmed in at the design stage. Deployment and targeting will still be human-directed. It is the targeting function that makes the Joint Defence Facility Pine Gap relevant, as it is already, and has for a long time been, a key provider of targeting data to piloted and remotely piloted (no-one on board) weaponised airforce assets. As such, JDFPG is part of Australian and US weapons systems and is controversially involved in drone strikes in countries with which Australia is not at war.

“Machines with the power and discretion to take lives without human involvement are politically unacceptable, morally repugnant and should be prohibited by international law,” - Secretary-General of the United Nations, António Guterres.

Troops practice island-seizing in the Pacific amid US-China tensions

Marines, airmen and soldiers recently practiced seizing a small Japanese island in an exercise that honed skills some experts say may be necessary in a face-off against China.

This entire mission profile simulated the process of securing advanced footholds for follow-on forces to conduct further military operations with rapid redeployment.

It kicked off with a free-fall jump onto Japan’s Ie Jima Island for reconnaissance and surveillance before 1st Battalion, 4th Marines “conducted a 600-mile long-range raid” to seize an airfield on the island.

This kind of approach could be necessary should the U.S. need to face-off against China, said American defense and security analyst Paul Buchanan: “I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the Marines are engaging in these sorts of exercises because that’s exactly the combat environment that they’re most likely to find themselves in, at least in the near future,”

Endangered dugong found dead in Okinawa, cause unknown:The Asahi Shimbun

An endangered dugong found dead here is believed to be one of only three that had been confirmed in waters around the northern part of this southern island.

The bureau is monitoring the mammals, designated by the central government as a protected species, whose habitat could be affected by land reclamation work for the relocation of U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma in Ginowan to the Henoko district of Nago, both in Okinawa Prefecture.

Okinawa is said to be the northernmost limit of the habitat of dugongs.

Environmentalists have argued that the relocation project would destroy their critical habitat and called for a halt to the land reclamation work.

No guarantee Trump trade war deal won't hurt Australian exporters: US envoy

While South Korea and the US have signed a new deal to increase Seoul's contribution to the cost of deploying US troops, addressing one of Mr Trump's frequent criticisms that allies were freeloading off the back of the US military machine, Mr Culvahouse indicated it was unlikely similar demands would be made of Australia on the deployment of 2500 Marines in Darwin.

New US ambassador to Australia Arthur B. Culvahouse has also criticised China's "pay day loans" to impoverished Pacific nations as he arrives in Canberra.

gimme loans over bombs any day.

Pine Gap’s role in tackling terrorism

Defence Minister Christopher Pyne has delivered a stunning statement about Australia’s secretive military intelligence facility in Alice Springs that contains veiled warnings for the nation’s allies and “potential adversaries” alike.

It comes in the same week Prime Minister Scott Morrison revealed foreign spies had launched a “sophisticated” cyber attack on Parliament House’s computer network and the nation’s three major political parties on February 7 and 8.

China is the key suspect, according to cyber and strategic policy expects, but authorities say they have yet to determine which country is actually behind the attack.

Today, Mr Pyne made a rare public statement about Pine Gap, a defence intelligence facility in the Northern Territory which Australia operates jointly with the US.

In his speech, Mr Pyne declared America to be Australia’s “most important ally” and notes “potential adversaries” should understand an attack on Australia is an attack on its alliance with the US.