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The latest news on Defense from Business Insider

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    Type 056 Corvette

    The fact that China's been building up its military with speed and agility recently is nothing new, but Beijing is now going head-to-head with one of the U.S. Navy's most troubled programs.

    The Navy's Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) is meant to be part of the fleet being moved to the Pacific, and though a couple versions of the ship were put to sea four years ago, the program is still beset by problems and nowhere near combat ready.

    Type 056 Corvette

    Michael Fabey at Aviation Week acquired Navy documents that show the following components had issues on the LCS USS Freedom's recent voyage:

    Littoral Combat Ship Heat, flame, smoke and flood alarms; hydraulic power unit systems, airborne mission zone lift hoist and platform; lifting capstan; gypsy winch; oily water separator and transfer pump; reverse osmosis system; watertight doors, degaussing system, gas-turbine intake plenum space; and blow-in doors.

    The ship also appears to be minus one of its four engines, upon which repair and reassembly work was started this month, according to the documents.

    This is a ship that's been in service for four years, cost over $600 million dollars, and is still having trouble performing basic functions — and now China has launched a littoral ship of its own.

    Christian Le Miere at Naval Forces and Maritime Security reports Beijing put its first Type 056 craft into the water a few weeks ago where it will become part of a four-ship team patrolling China's coast.

    Apart from looking very similar to the U.S. LCS, the 056 will have stealth characteristics and carry some impressive weaponry like Type 87 anti-submarine rockets, AK-176 Russian 76 mm gun systems, and C-803 anti-ship missiles.

    It's these ships that China may look to when enforcing the exclusive economic zones in the country's territorial waters. 

    Now see the Navy's other troubled $700 million LCS ship, the USS Independence >

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    peacock mantis shrimpA four-inch tropical shrimp has made a big impression on scientists trying to create state-of-the-art military shields and military body armor.

    Jacqueline Klimas at Navy Times reports the peacock mantis shrimp's "hammer fists" are so perfectly impact-resistant, yet lightweight, that a team at the University of California has received $600,000 from the Air Force Office Of Scientific Research to study the shrimp's attributes for military use.

    Klimas spoke with lead researcher David Kisailus who explained that the shrimp's fists "can smash through clam shells, small fishes’ skulls and even aquarium glass at a velocity of 45 mph underwater with 200 pounds of force." 

    So scientists are looking to translate the shrimp's awesome capability into a new shock-resistant material for protecting troops and their hardware from enemy fire and IED blasts alike. The material could be used for helmets, Humvee, helicopters, drones, and gun-mounted shields.

    Based on the shrimp's physiology, everything comes down to understanding the little critter's "fists" which have three unique layers, explains Kisailus:

    • The outer layer, like knuckles, are composed of hard crystalline minerals. 
    • The next layer is made of softer, organic fibers that absorb impact — they're stacked into the shape of a spiral or corkscrew, like a piece of rotini pasta.
    • The final "striated" layer has fibres woven parallel to each other around the shrimp's limb, like tape around a boxer's fists.

    Altogether, the three layers can withstand repeated impacts — over a period of four months, the shrimp can deal 50,000 punches before it needs to grow a new limb, reports Klimas.

    And now the scientists are very close to to replicating this powerful gift of nature.

    They've already designed a lightweight prototype — made of epoxy adhesive material and fiberglass — that's proved to be bullet-proof and lighter than the typical steel plates used by the armed forces today. The future material could replace titanium too.

    Klimas reports that by 2015, a refined version using more more expensive carbon fibres would be ready for testing by the U.S. military. 

    Read more about the scientific research at Navy Times.

    Now see what a homemade bomb can do to the Army's toughest truck >

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    Marines tank

    One of the advantages of moving overseas is that you see home more clearly. We came to France last week. Already, America comes into clearer focus.

    The French press seems fascinated by the relationship between Francois Hollande’s two mistresses. The former — a candidate for president herself — dumped him when he took up with the latter. The former is also the mother of Hollande’s 4 children, which complicates things further.

    The latter hates the former. The former hates the latter.

    We learned all this at dinner last night with a charming French couple we have known for years. They spent half the dinner telling us about the presidential ménage…the other half was spent telling us about what they had eaten recently. They seemed to recall the details of every meal. How it was prepared…what mistakes the chef made…and what the weather must have been when the grapes were picked for their wine.

    As to the imminent financial catastrophe in Europe they were sanguine…even blasé.

    “Every week we’re told the end of Europe will arrive next week. Frankly, we don’t care anymore.”

    What Europeans care about is their vacations! After decades of social and political struggle, the working classes of the Old World won the right to at least 4 weeks of paid vacation. Bosses could not stand in their way. And now Europe’s highest court has ruled that even nature cannot be allowed to spoil a vacation. The New York Times is on the case:

    BRUSSELS — For most Europeans, almost nothing is more prized than their four to six weeks of guaranteed annual vacation leave. But it was not clear just how sacrosanct that time off was until Thursday, when Europe’s highest court ruled that workers who happened to get sick on vacation were legally entitled to take another vacation.

    “The purpose of entitlement to paid annual leave is to enable the worker to rest and enjoy a period of relaxation and leisure,” the Court of Justice of the European Union, based in Luxembourg, ruled in a case involving department store workers in Spain. “The purpose of entitlement to sick leave is different, since it enables a worker to recover from an illness that has caused him to be unfit for work.”

    So, you see, things in France are as they should be. People are delusional. But not deadly.

    Back in the United States of America an ill wind blows. Our president is a portrait of failure and homicide. As far as we know, he doesn’t even have one mistress…which is probably why he has so much time on his hands. According to The New York Times he personally approves the list of unfortunates his drones will assassinate. And for what? Philip Giraldi does the “Terrorism Arithmetic”:

    Only three American citizens were kidnapped by overseas terrorists in 2011 (in Somalia, Afghanistan, and Iraq, all of which were war zones), and only 17 were killed in foreign lands (15 in Afghanistan, a war zone)…. Micah Zenko of the Council on Foreign Relations has determined that the number of Americans killed in terrorist attacks is comparable to the number crushed to death by falling television sets or furniture each year.

    But every president wants to be a war president. War is America’s #1 zombie industry.

    The federal government employs 2,100,000 today compared to 1,500,000 in 2001, not including the military, which has itself grown by 100,000 personnel to 2,300,000, including reserves, with more increases planned through 2013. Most of the new hires were directly related to the War on Terror for manning the 200 new military and CIA bases that have sprung up around the world and to serve as Fortress America’s defenders. The number of reported federal employees does not include contractors, who add considerably to the payroll. More than half of the employees in key sectors within the intelligence community and at the Defense Department are contractors.

    What does it cost to keep these zombies fed? Giraldi continues:

    Uncle Sam will spend $3.796 trillion in 2012 compared with $1.863 trillion in 2001…

    There is full-time security manning the entrances of nearly all federal and state and even some local office buildings. The total costs of state and local expenditures to counter the essentially bogus terrorist threat might well exceed the federal expenditures, and then there is the spending on security, often mandated by the government, in the private sector. But as bad as all those numbers are, consider for a moment the legacy costs and institutional damages that are not so readily visible. Professor Joseph Stiglitz of Columbia University estimates that Iraq will cost as much as $5 trillion when all the costs, including interest paid on borrowed money and medical treatment for life for the tens of thousands of wounded soldiers, are paid off. The bill for Afghanistan will be proportionate, depending on how long the US stays there and at what commitment level. All of the deficit-feeding spending for the War on Terror and associated military actions has gone down into a deep, dark hole….

    But what’s new? War is a racket. Always has been. Major Gen. Smedley D. Butler explains:

    [War] is possibly the oldest, easily the most profitable, surely the most vicious. It is the only one international in scope. It is the only one in which the profits are reckoned in dollars and the losses in lives.

    A racket is best described, I believe, as something that is not what it seems to the majority of the people. Only a small “inside” group knows what it is about. It is conducted for the benefit of the very few, at the expense of the very many. Out of war a few people make huge fortunes.

    Sooner or later, almost every country makes war its major racket. Then, after they are defeated and bankrupt…people are sick of it and want to string up the people who got them into it in the first place.


    Bill Bonner
    for The Daily Reckoning

    The American War Racket originally appeared in the Daily Reckoning. The Daily Reckoning, published by Agora Financial provides over 400,000 global readers economic news, market analysis, and contrarian investment ideas. Recently Agora Financial released a video titled "What Causes Gas Price to Increase?".


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    When Rob Wise left the Marine Corps to join the Army a decade ago he may have looked forward to a better life, starting a family and receiving support from the people he worked for.

    The Marines have been known to be less than accepting of new wives and fledgling families. I've met more than one soldier who left the Corps for the Army after hearing that if the Marines had wanted him to have a wife, it'd have issued him one. After all, the hard charging, oft-deployed life of a junior Marine can take its toll on girlfriends, wives, and troops alike.

    That's worth mentioning because Andy-Lee Fry at The Leaf Chronicle in Clarksville, Tn., where Wise and his wife Ashley are stationed, tells a story all too common in the military—and Ashley's dedicated response.

    Following Rob's second Iraq combat tour he started having flashbacks. Vivid moments of surprising intensity that mentally flung him back to battle when hearing a loud noise, or catching a sudden movement from the corner of his eye. 

    Ashley told Fry the situation demanded professional attention when Rob took all the weapons he had in their home, some booze, went to a local hotel and after she called him, told her, "Life’s just really hard, I might do something stupid."

    She called the Army's Family Advocacy program, an organization that supports families in crisis. After the counselor put her hand on Ashley's arm, told her she was in a safe place and to trust her, Ashley opened up. "I hadn't slept in over 24 hours," she told me on the phone. "It's the only reason she got me."

    What she meant was that as soon as she outlined the difficulties she and Rob had been going through, the session stopped, the advocacy worker got up and Rob was promptly picked up by the Military Police.

    Rob was now facing 72 hours confinement, domestic assault charges, and a dishonorable discharge that would cause the family to lose all the benefits they were entitled to. It didn't take Ashley long to realize Army officials were preparing to make her and Rob the "civilian sector's problem."

    None of this is unusual, but facing few options Ashley did something that's started a viral Facebook movement, garnered thousands of followers, and has so far saved her family. Without a voice and ignored, she wrote a pledge on her back, took a picture of it holding Rob's M4 assault rifle over her head and uploaded it.

    The response from other wives watching their husbands suffer post traumatic stress was immediate, and the sudden interest in her case from Rob's command soon followed.

    The Facebook Group Battling BARE was born and now receives pictures from military wives around the country silently screaming the same pledge on their naked backs.

    A few of the photos are below, but you can check out the page here and see the movement in its entirety.

    Rob is now on staff at with the Army Warrior Transition Battalion at Fort Campbell.

    I spoke with Ashley on the phone following this post and we've agreed she and Battling BARE will join our pool of Smoke Pit contributors at BI Military & Defense immediately. Look for the amazing things they're doing posted here in the coming days.

    Battling Bare

    Broken by battle, Wounded by war, I love you forever

    Battling Bare

    To you this I swore: I will quiet your silent screams, Help heal your shattered soul

    Battling Bare

    Until once again, my love, you are whole.

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    Urban combat is a way of life for Special Forces troops, and they need the kind of training facility that simulates the claustrophobic intensity of indoor battle.

    That's where a new facility in Virginia Beach comes in, profiled recently by Kate Wiltrout at the Virginian Pilot. 

    A recently dedicated $11.5 million training compound the size of a supermarket is what the Navy hopes will meet the challenge. 

    The facility is massive. 

    The compound has 52 rooms and enough space that four squads can train independently. There are mock  bathrooms, houses, a bank, a market, mosques and classrooms with each locale designed after a realistic situation. There's even a torture chamber room. 

    All of the targets are mounted on tracks, and designed to activate and "sprint" across rooms, simulating the realistic behavior of entrenched insurgents. 

    Here's the kicker. They're using live bullets.

    The rooms, designed with "Hollywood" style styrofoam covering a layer of rubber and steel, are designed to catch bullets and stop ricochet. Every locale and prop is designed like this. 

    Entire missions can be observed from above, on a high-flying trail of catwalks where commanders and simulation coordinators can walk an observe. 

    The trajectory of each bullet can, apparently, also be tracked for more learning after the mission. 

    With the exits from Afghanistan and Iraq, this is a chance for the military to apply lessons learned over the course of a decade of urban warfare. 

    Now, check out what the huge defense cuts are going to do to the military >>

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    London Olympics

    The head of MI5, Britain's counter-intelligence agency, described the recent levels of cyber assaults on the United Kingdom's computer systems as "astonishing"

    Jonathan Evans is dealing with the security nightmare that is the upcoming London 2012 Olympic Games, and described how cyber attacks against UK industry — from both criminals and states — have increased exponentially recently. 

    The BBC reported that Russia and China had been previously cited as the nations most involved in state-based attacks.

    Their attackers are organized on "an industrial scale."

    The cyber assaults are being perpetrated by both state-sponsored espionage agencies as well as organized cyber criminals, all trying to access secret information and take down networks. 

    There's an immense amount at stake for Britain — it's not just the success of the Olympics at risk. 

    "What is at stake is not just our government secrets but also the safety and security of our infrastructure," Evans told the BBC, "the intellectual property that underpins our future prosperity and... commercially sensitive information."

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    The numbers flung about when speaking of defense acquisitions are so large and so many that it's easy for the amounts to lose their meanings.

    This infographic from Military Education shows the money spent on a handful of prominent defense contracts and compares each with something most average Americans can relate to. 

    Cost of Military

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    When the Marines want to haul infantry troops and the gear they'll need to fight on any shoreline they send the Landing Craft, Air Cushioned (LCAC).

    A huge hovercraft that skims the surface of the water at nearly 50 mph carrying up to 75 tons of equipment, the LCAC is as fast as it is versatile.

    See the pictures >

    The Navy says the craft can carry troops, tanks, and whatever else the military wants, to 70 percent of the world's coastlines — but it's not only used in combat.

    The hovercraft, like the amphibious assault ships that transport them, are also used in disaster relief and humanitarian aid missions. The LCACs are what brought supplies to the shores of Haiti following the 2010 earthquake, and the assault ships that carried them there became immense floating hospitals.

    While the LACC is not new, it was designed in the 1980s, but it remains effective and essential to many Naval maneuvers.

    When we visited the USS Wasp last month, the one in the following slides was brought into the ship's well deck and a member of the crew was good enough to show us around.

    This is the part of the USS Wasp called the well deck

    That metal gate folds down allowing cargo to be brought aboard while the ship is far from shore

    And that's how the LCAC came aboard — unfortunately there was a 'man overboard' drill and we missed its arrival

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    C-124 Globemaster

    Thanksgiving was just five days away on November 22, 1952 when a huge Air Force plane nicknamed "Old Shaky" went down East of Anchorage, AK killing all 52 servicemembers on board.

    The U.S. was in the thick of the Korean War at the time and the plane was filled with troops from the Air Force, Army, the Navy, and Marines — all of whom were likely eager to enjoy the holiday with family and friends.

    As they flew above the Chugach Mountains, only minutes away from landing at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, the massive C-124 Globemaster suffered a malfunction and began losing altitude.

    The reason even this is known, explains Casey Grove and Mike Dunham at Stars & Stripes, is because a nearby Northwest pilot deciphered a scratchy radio signal over his headset that said, "As long as we have to land, we might as well land here."

    Aside from a splash of debris spotted by a squadron of searchers that was lost to the elements within days, nothing was heard from Old Shaky's crew or passengers ever again — until now.

    The Joint Prisoners of War/Missing in Action Accounting Command (JPAC) announced yesterday they'd finally found the plane, along with its missing passengers and crew.

    For 60 years the debris was etched into Colony Glacier, moving with the ice through time as family members held on and refused to let their loss be forgotten.

    Alaskan historian Doug Beckstead told Stars & Stripes that when the plane went down, the weather was brutal and the crew were flying blind, using their altimeter, a stopwatch, and a radio signal to find their way home.

    They plowed into the mountain at full speed and the bits of debris were re-covered by snow before an Army National Guard UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter found them again only days ago.

    It's welcome news to families left behind who maintain a Facebook page, and have been waiting for this news for six decades.

    Tonja-Anderson Dell posted to the page Wednesday night: "Families and Friends, what we all have been waiting for has come true. It would have been 60 years this November. There are no words I can state on this page or any other page that explains how I am feeling right now...I pray and ask for JPAC to bring our Airmen home to us; one airman at a time or all at once just home to the families member waiting."

    The Facebook page is powerful and scrolling the comments through the years it's impossible to miss the loss and lack of closure that all family members who lose loved ones in accidents that go un-found must suffer.

    On November 22, 2011, the anniversary of the crash, another member posted: "Today has been 59 Years since this crash. In Remembrance of everyone that died ... You all are truly missed. "

    The remains will be brought home in an official arrival ceremony and reunited with those who will finally say their goodbyes.

    Arrival Ceremony

    C-124 Debris Field


    Now see how you're supporting the defense industry every time you buy these household products >

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    Walmart, prices, shopping, grocery store

    Regardless of how you may feel about America's military industrial complex, chances are some items in your home we're made by the same companies that makes drones and fighter jets.

    Fact is, a lot of the defense contractors make a bunch of other stuff.

    Here are eleven items that you probably own that were probably made by weapons manufacturers. 

    Nearly every aluminum can is made by Ball...

    Most of the cans in your house– whether they contain Coca Cola, peas, or  beer — were probably manufactured by the nation's largest producer of cans of all sizes, Ball Incorporated. They're also into plastics. 

    ...Ball also makes gear that goes into drones

    Ball also manufactures a huge amount of aerospace components — gimbles, lasers, cameras, and a ton of sensors — that can be found throughout everything in the Defense industry from the Predator drone to high flying space gear. 

    The Roomba is made by iRobot...

    Or a Scooba? The robotic vacuum for your pool? They're extremely capable devices from iRobot, and they're only going to get more complex. But consumer electronics isn't iRobot's only market. 

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    Regardless of how you may feel about America's military industrial complex, chances are some items in your home we're made by the same companies that makes drones and fighter jets.

    Fact is, many defense contractors make a bunch of other stuff and you probably never would have guessed the companies that make simple things like the items here also make advanced weapon systems.

    Here are eleven items that you probably own that were probably made by weapons contractors. 

    Nearly every aluminum can is made by Ball...

    Most of the cans in your house — whether they contain Coca Cola, peas, or  beer — were probably manufactured by the nation's largest producer of cans of all sizes, Ball Incorporated.

    They're also into plastics. 

    ...Ball also makes gear that goes into drones

    Ball also manufactures a huge amount of aerospace components — gimbles, lasers, cameras, and a ton of sensors — that can be found throughout everything in the Defense industry from the Predator drone to high flying space gear. 

    The Roomba is made by iRobot...

    Or a Scooba? The robotic vacuum for your pool? They're extremely capable devices from iRobot, and they're only going to get more complex.

    But consumer electronics isn't iRobot's only market. 

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    Ashley Wise Battling BAREThis is the first in a series of letters written by a military wives from a group called Battling BARE for BI Military & Defense — Smoke Pit. These women are attempting to show that the system set up for PTSD treatment in the military is severely broken. This is Ashley's first contribution following a story about her that went viral June 26.

    Hi Everyone,

    The international attention that followed sent our small group of wives here at Ft. Campbell called Battling BARE into a spotlight we'd never imagined possible.Most of you Ashley Wise Battling BAREprobably haven't heard of me. A small paper here in Clarksville, TN wrote the story about my family's struggle with the Army and its handling of my husband's Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) this week.

    We went from a handful of us last week pushing for someone to listen, to receiving a call from Glenn Beck after the story was published at Business Insider Military & Defense — we're determined to keep that momentum going.

    I'm taking this opportunity to offer a bit about myself and ask other military spouses who are helping their husbands with PTSD, to join me in telling their stories that I will contribute here and post on Battling BARE, to highlight the changes that need to be made.

    My husband Rob kicked in many doors during company level operations with Bobby Bales when we were stationed at Fort Lewis together, and we all know how the experience affected Bobby and his alleged March shooting spree in Afghanistan. I mention this because my fellow Army wives and I saw that and it changed the way we looked at everything. 

    That showed what could happen when our husbands' units didn't listen and drove them back into deployments when they simply weren't up to the task. We've all seen men break, and we're all trying to hold things together in whatever way we can.

    I have gone through my own painful crisis with Rob, the Army mental health system, and Family Advocacy that's briefly summed up here. What I'd like to do next is invite you — whether you are a wife, husband, mother, father, son, or daughter; your story needs to be heard, so that top levels will understand my story isn’t unique. Being an American isn’t a requirement to share your story either. Stories have been shared from all over the world already—and we just want to keep the lines of communication open.

    Yesterday, I had the privilege of speaking with the commanding general and his staff here at Fort Campbell regarding the care of my husband. Rob was supposed to be away at temporary duty (TDY) for 6 months, but the decision was made at the top to bring him back to receive care by the best Fort Campbell has to offer.

    I was assured this is not preferential treatment—that the top levels wanted all service members to receive the very best care. 

    Just because I got national attention doesn't mean I should be special.

    From the very beginning of the Battling BARE campaign, I've said my story wasn’t unique. In fact, I really don’t think that my story is unique, especially since no one was hurt. Those are the stories that scare me, but everyone has a right to be heard. So, I am asking that you write a letter.

    Please send them not only to Battling BARE, but also send them to your Commanding Officers. My only request is that you make sure names are spelled correctly. That's really important.

    Also, Battling BARE, Inc. isn’t just an awareness campaign. We are actively preparing the paperwork to request our non-profit status. Once those forms are submitted we wil begin scheduling the events we have planned.

    Our main effort will be modeled on the highly successful program called Operation: Restored Warrior—a 5 day program created by Paul Lavelle and that bring service members back to a place of healing, peace and hope in the future. Our program will be two fold—one especially for the spouses and another especially for restoring marriages. We are also discussing a program to heal families as a whole.

    Next will be “Soldiers in the Sand” that will be a three day event especially for the families affected by combat stress and PTSD with the primary focus on how the soldier’s PTSD affects children. As we have more information available on these programs, I will be happy to share with you all—and in fact, request your feedback and thoughts on other activity/program ideas. The entire Battling BARE executive team believes awareness is amazing but ACTION is necessary—so we are working on those programs and getting the state pages operating smoothly.

    So Battle Buds, the top says they want each and every service member to receive the very best care—let’s all help them accomplish this task and share our stories.

    Mine will be first, and published here soon, so everyone knows that it's OK to open and honest — and that together we can save our husbands, our families — and ourselves.


    Ash E. Wise


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    China Ship

    After months of mounting tensions that flared up with the Philippines at the Scarborough Shoal in April, China announced it's sending "combat ready" naval and aerial patrols to the Spratly Islands.

    Jojo Malig at ABS-CBNews reports the Chinese Defense Ministry said the planes and ships will be sent to "protect Beijing's interests" in the area.

    From ABS-CBNews:

    Defense Ministry spokesman Geng Yansheng said China will "resolutely oppose any militarily provocative behavior" from other countries also claiming ownership of the Spratlys.

    "In order to protect national sovereignty and our security and development interests, the Chinese military has already set up a normal, combat-ready patrol system in seas under our control," he said.

    "The Chinese military's resolve and will to defend territorial sovereignty and protect our maritime rights and interests is firm and unshakeable," Geng added. Vietnam has launched regular air patrols over the Spratly Islands.

    Vietnam and the Philippines are also claiming territory in the region which is believed to hold significant deposits of energy reserves.

    This deployment comes just a week after China denounced Vietnam's law claiming the Paracel and the Spratly's are its own.

    Reuters reports the South China Sea could be the biggest flashpoint for confrontation in Asia, a prediction that becomes only more severe as the U.S. tries to restore its influence in the region.

    To that end the situation is made even more interesting with the U.S. - Philippine exercise called Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) set to commence July 2.

    The exercises will continue until July 10 with the U.S. Navy deploying two ships and the Philippines sending four more.

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    Obscured in the news by the Supreme Court ruling on the Affordable Care Act, the Supreme Court also weighed in on the legal challenge to the Stolen Valor Act. 

    The Act — which makes it a federal crime to lie about receiving medals for military service — was ruled unconstitutional by the highest court in the land. 

    Signed into law in 2005 and originally  introduced by Rep. John Salazar (now the head of the Department of the Interior) and Sen. Kent Conrad (D-ND), the act was intended to "protect the reputation and meaning of military heroism medals"

    The act was prompted by the fact that — despite the fact that there are only 120 living Medal of Honor recipients and fewer Navy SEALS than active NFL players— impostors often claim to have received prestigious military honors for personal gain. 

    The 6-3 decision to strike down the law completely strikes down the legislation.

    The decision, written by Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy, argues that the act “would endorse government authority to compile a list of subjects about which false statements are punishable,” according to the Washington Post. 


    Now, check out which common household items are made by huge defense contractors >>

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    Syrian Tanks

    Both Turkey and Syria have reportedly sent troops to their shared border in the aftermath of the downing of a Turkish jet last week.

    Yesterday Al Arabiya reported that Turkey was deploying troops and at least 30 Turkish military vehicles equipped with anti-aircraft rocket launchers to the border, straight west of Aleppo — Syria's largest city — as a precautionary measure after one of its jets was shot down on June 22 after the jet had strayed into Syrian airspace for five minutes.

    Today Free Syria Army (FSA) General Mustafa al-Sheikh, head of the association of senior officers who defected from President Bashar al-Assad's forces (i.e. Higher Military Council), told Reuters that about 170 Syrian tanks had assembled north of Aleppo, about 19 miles from the Turkish border.

    Rebels told Reuters that last night Syrian helicopter gunships bombarded a strategic town in northern Syria overnight and tanks closed in on Aleppo, but stayed away from the new Turkish defenses on the border.

    All of this comes at a time when the violence and tempo of the conflict is increasing as June 21 marked the deadliest day since the U.N.-backed ceasefire came into force on April 12 and Syrian insurgents have been increasingly effective as they have struck three high-profile targets this week.

    On Tuesday al-Assad told government officials that they "live in a real state of war from all angles" and that "all policies and all sides and all sectors need to be directed at winning this war."

    About 3,000 civilians and opposition fighters have been already killed so far this month, according to Britain-based expatriate group Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

    On June 22 Syria shot down an unarmed, Turkish two-seat F-4 Phantom jet — Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc said it was a reconnaissance aircraft — over the Mediterranean. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan accused Syria of a “hostile” and “heinous attack” in shooting down the army jet without warning and ordered his troops near the border to treat any approaching Syrian military element approaching as a military target.

    Turkey claimed that Syria also shot at one of the search and rescue planes that were looking for the downed jet's two pilots. Investigators eventually found two pairs of boots and two helmets near the wreckage but no pilots.

    Turkey subsequently appealed to NATO under Article 4, which deals with what happens when the "territorial integrity, political independence or security of any of the Parties is threatened," and pushed the international community to consider the incident as an attack on the whole military alliance.

    Western officials, including U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and British Foreign Minister William Hague, strongly condemned Syria's actions while UN accuses Assad-directed Syrian forces of killing more than 10,000 people during the conflict.

    Western- and Arab-backed efforts to form a joint diplomatic approach with Russia have so far failed while all sides agree that Turkish military intervention would require full NATO support.

    Turkey shelters the rebel Free Syria Army and hosts 32,000 Syrian refugees on its southeastern border with Syria (i.e. about 30 miles from where the Turkish jet was shot down). It denies providing arms for the insurgents, but the U.S. and Arab states have provided rebels with "non-lethal communication equipment and other technical assistance" and there are reports that the U.S. sent mercenaries to fight with the insurgency.

    Over the weekend Syria said that it had killed several "terrorists" infiltrating from Turkey.

    SEE ALSO: These Are The Weapons Facing Any Country That Intervenes In Syria >

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    Today a the last Department of Defense press briefing before the Fourth of July, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta opened up to the press.

    He gave a deep answer to a personal question.

    One journalist asked a somewhat personal question of the Secretary: what were his interactions with soldiers gravely wounded in a war where winning outright no longer seems the goal?

    Panetta was visibly emotional when discussing his repeated trips to hospitals to speak with the severely wounded, and was surprised with what he learned. 

    "Most of them want to go back," he said.

    Panetta talked about going to both Hospitals and the Center for the Intrepid rehabilitation center

    "You cannot help but be inspired by the spirit they have to fight on," the Defense Secretary said. "They've got incredible wounds as a result from the IEDs and yet they have a smile on their face and their going to fight on."

    He was taken aback by both the medical advances and the wounded troops' ability to a recover from devastating wounds. "Miracles are being produced each day with regards to these kids," he said.

    The troops also gave Panetta encouragement with how the war is going for the soldiers on the ground, a frequent question on the Secretary's mind. "They thought they were doing well," he said "They felt very good about the mission they were involved with with."

    "I'm getting very good reports about what they were able to achieve."

    Chairman of the Joint Chiefs General Martin Dempsey stressed that the military leadership understood that the civilian population puts immense trust in them to take care of the troops.

    When Panetta and Dempsey left, the Secretary finished by wishing all the present a happy Fourth. 


    Leon Panetta and General Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, is addressing the media right now: Check it out

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    A research team at the University of Texas has successfully hijacked an unencrypted drone for the first time by overtaking its GPS signals with $1,000 worth of equipment and custom software.  

    The feat raises alarm about the new federal mandate that allows for up to 30,000 drones to patrol U.S. skies with little discretion by the end of the decade. Raising alarm is precisely what Texas assistant professor Todd Humphreys wanted his students  to accomplish.

    "We're raising the flag early on in this process so there is ample opportunity to improve the security of civilian drones from these attacks, as the government is committed to doing," Humphreys said in a press release.

    Using a small but sophisticated unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) along with a system running on more than three years of custom-built software, the research team repeatedly overtook navigational signals going to the GPS-guided vehicle.

    The technique — known as "spoofing" — creates false GPS signals that trick the drone's GPS receiver to think that nothing is wrong as an outside hacker induces it to steer a new navigational course.

    Iran claimed to spoof the advanced stealth drone that went down in Iran in December while the U.S. insisted that an American error caused the RQ-170 Sentinel to crash with sensitive data onboard while on a CIA fact-finding mission.

    Humphreys told BBC that "it wouldn't be too hard for [a very skilled person] to work out how to un-encrypt military drones and spoof them, and that could be extremely dangerous because they could turn them on the wrong people."

    The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) invited the team to attempt the feat in New Mexico this month. The demonstration definitively shows that it is possible to commandeer a drone via GPS spoofing.

    And since spoofing fools GPS receivers' on both location and time, most GPS-reliant devices, infrastructure and markets are potentially vulnerable to attacks. 

     "I think this demonstration should certainly raise some eyebrows and serve as a wake-up call of sorts as to how safe our critical infrastructure is from spoofing attacks," said Milton R. Clary, a senior Department of Defense (DoD) Aviation Policy Analyst, in the press release.

    Humphreys told Fox News that spoofing a GPS receiver on a drone "is just another way of hijacking a plane.” 

    During the spoofing demonstration in White Sands, New Mexico, the research team took control of a hovering drone from a little more than a half-mile away. Next year the team plans to perform a similar demonstration on a drone from a little more than 6 miles away.

    Here is a video staged exhibition of the spoofing operation held at the Longhorns' football Stadium (via Fox News):

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    Yesterday, the Air Force revealed that 31 female victims have been identified in a sex scandal at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas. Twelve male training instructors have been accused of seeking improper relationships, adultery and rape with their trainees and six men have been charged.

    Allegations were first made last June when a trainee reported sexual misconduct. According to General Edward Rice, commander of the Education and Training Command, the sexual misconduct began in 2009.

    The first allegations were made against Staff Sgt. Luis Walker who is scheduled to be court-martialed next month and faces over 28 charges including rape, aggravated sexual misconduct and multiple counts of aggravated sexual assault.  

    Nine of the twelve commanders were in the same squadron but Gen. Rice said he does not think the misconduct is endemic to the military base

    All of the airmen report for basic training trained at Lackland, which totals about 35,000 every year. Only one in five trainees are female and 90 percent of the flight instructors are male. Gen. Rice said he will look into whether the base needs to hire more female flight instructors or have only female instructors to oversee female trainees. 

    Here is video of Gen. Rice's press conference addressing the scandal:

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    U.S. embassy BaghdadThe State Department is planning to spend $115 million to upgrade the the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad only three and a half years after American diplomats moved into the massive $700 million facility, reports Walter Pincus of the Washington Post.

    The 104-acre compound — already its biggest and most expensive in the world — currently houses 1,350 U.S. government employees in the heart of Baghdad’s International Zone and will increase its capacity because the U.S. is consolidating overall diplomatic property in Baghdad down by one-third.

    The most interesting upgrade is the construction of a data hall in an existing classified embassy annex building that will cost $20 to $35 million. It will require “electrical/telecommunication system upgrades [and] extensive mechanical and plumbing systems,” according to a June 12 notice from the State Department.

    The statement estimated cost ranges but the State’s Bureau of Overseas Buildings Operations (OBO) noted that real project costs are not available.

    At the same time the U.S. is in the process of scrapping the once-hailed Iraqi police training program in the face of "spiraling costs and Iraqi officials who say they never wanted it in the first place," according to the New York Times

    The training effort — considered the largest component of a mission billed as the most ambitious American aid effort since the Marshall Plan — began in October and has already cost $500 million, including $343 million worth of construction projects around the country.

    For example the U.S. spent about $100 million on the Police College facility — which includes a living quarters, dining facility, office building, new gymnasium and a helicopter landing site — that will be turned over to the Iraqis at year's end because State did not get land rights use for more than one year.

    The Obama administration original requested for $2.26 billion for the fiscal 2013 Iraq budget, but the Senate Appropriations Committee set it at $1.1 billion with the biggest cut being $850 million that was to pay for the Iraqi police training program.

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    Americans have heard about China's military expansion for years at this point.

    Some say it's a minor threat, others claim Chinese expansion is to everyone's benefit, and still others think it spells doom for American world dominance. 

    Here's a look at many of the weapons that China's betting on to establish its new military might.

    The People's Liberation Army (PLA) makes up the whole of China's military machine. The Ground Forces, Navy, Air Force, and Second Artillery Corps all fall under the PLA. 

    The PLA is the world's largest military, with more than 2.25 million active personnel. Currently, Chinese forces are only deployed fighting piracy, so — while not battle-hardened — this army is fresh, well equipped, and in excellent health. 

    The Type 99 Main Battle Tank is the most advanced tank in all of China

    The Type 99 is a third-generation Main Battle Tank (MBT) tank, like the American M1 Abrams. 

    The U.S. rolled out its MBT in 1980 and pays about $8.6 million for each one while the Type 99 sells for less than a third that price and went into production in 2001.

    It's packing a 125mm cannon, three machine guns, and also hosts an array of countermeasures to disable an enemy tank's night vision and targeting systems. 

    The HQ-19 missile system can track up to 100 airborne targets at once

    The HQ-19 is likely a complete version of the Russian S-400 Surface to Air Missile system. 

    Not only can the HQ's radar track 100 airborne targets, engage up to a dozen as far out as 250 miles, it is also effective for attacks on low-orbit satellites. 

    The system has three missile variations for targeting at different ranges and they can all be fitted into the same truck mounted canisters.

    One thing prompting the recent American scramble to upgrade or replace the Patriot system is the fact that the S-400 is — allegedly, arguably, possibly, etc — a lot better. 

    The PGZ-95 anti-aircraft system fires up to 800 25mm rounds a minute

    This self-propelled anti-aircraft artillery (SPAAA) has four 25 mm cannons, and four infrared homing missiles effective to almost 11,500 feet. 

    The vehicle weighs 22 tons, is 20 ft long, has a crew of three and cannon can be brought to bear on ground targets making short work of light armored fighting vehicles.

    A simple PGZ-95 battery consists of six units led by a command vehicle and three resupply trucks. 

    The PGZ 95 is manufactured by Chinese Defense powerhouse Norinco, and is another example of the homegrown Chinese engineering making China a genuine military power.


    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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