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The latest news on Defense from Business Insider

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    The famously eccentric anti-virus software tycoon John McAfee stopped by Business Insider to talk about a wide range of topics. McAfee, who had been running for president as a Libertarian before he lost the party's nomination on Sunday, said that the biggest security threat facing the US is its vulnerability to cyber-crime.  

    McAfee, who was recently named CEO of MGT Technologies, says the reason China and Russia have such a substantial advantage over the US when it comes to cyber security can be traced to one thing: the type of people those governments are willing to hire. 


    Produced by Graham Flanagan

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    ISIS's rapid advancement across Iraq in the summer of 2014 has caused so far irreparable damage to any idea of unity in the country. 

    As the following map shows, Iraqi territory can be thought of as belonging to one of three factions: ISIS, the Kurds, or the Iraqi government. But in actuality, the factionalism of Iraq runs much deeper. 

    iraq faction map

    In the north of Iraq, Iraqi Kurdistan and the neighboring provinces are held by various Kurdish forces that are often antagonistic towards each other. A checkpoint on the Syrian border is held by a grouping of the PKK and YPG forces that are active in Syria and Turkey. Meanwhile, the major population centers under Kurdish control are held by either the KDP Peshmerga or the PUK Peshmerga. 

    The KDP and the PUK are political rivals in Kurdistan that fought their own intra-Kurdish civil war in the 1990s. As a holdover of the conflict, both the KDP and the PUK maintain their own standing Peshmerga forces, despite the KDP being the political party currently leading Iraqi Kurdistan. Safe to say, the two groups still are not fully integrated nor are they complete political friends.

    Likewise, the PUK and the PKK have often supported each other, much to the KDP's chagrin. 

    In central and southern Iraq, the situation is just as fluid. These regions are largely under the nominal control of the Iraqi central government. Except, in large part, the Iraqi Security Forces are often augmented, or are totally replaced, by various Shiite militia groups.

    Shiite fighters Tikrit

    And these various militia groups are often extremely varied themselves with various patrons. Some of the groups are essentially Iranian proxies and have been linked to possible war crimes against Sunni civilians, while other militia groups include sizeable Sunni and Christian contingents. 

    Either way, the lack of any central authority for the various militia groups could pose problems for a unified Iraq in the future and could lead to potential warlordism down the road. 

    Finally, ISIS still controls large sections of Iraq challenging any idea of Iraqi unity. The militant group still holds Mosul, Iraq's second largest city. And the Iraqi government is only now managing to launch a bid to retake Fallujah, a city an hour away from Baghdad, that ISIS has managed to hold since 2014.  

    SEE ALSO: 'A human catastrophe is unfolding in Fallujah'

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: Female soldiers have created a 30-woman unit to fight ISIS in Iraq


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    The US Navy is testing a railgun that it has invested $500 million in — and it plans to invest an additional $800 million.

    Military planners say that the barrel gun "would be useful if the US had to defend the Baltic states against Russia or support an ally against China in the South China Sea."

    Produced by Emma Fierberg

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    The US has easily remained the top military spender in the past 25 years. 

    Despite a decrease in the US budget, Washington still outspends the next the next 7 highest spending countries combined. The following visualization, put together by cost information website How Much, shows the global spending trends over the past 25 years. 

    There are two main things to note in the infographic. Firstly, despite an upswing in US spending after the September 11 terror attacks, military spending in the US and NATO nations is falling. In 2015, NATO only accounted for 52% of all global military spending — despite the spread of ISIS and halting relations with Russia. 

    In fact, the majority of NATO nations are failing to meet the 2% military budget requirements that the alliance requires. This decline in western military spending has been met with a continuous increase in non-NATO defense budgets. 

    The second major item of note is the continued rise in China's military spending. In 1990, Beijing spent $2 billion on defense, making its budget equivalent to only 1.47% of the world's total. 

    In 2015, however, China leapfrogged other nations to have the world's second largest defense spending of $214.7 billion, 12.37% of the global total. 

    Despite Beijing's continuous increases in spending, though, China still only spends 1/3 of what the US does on defense annually. 

    SEE ALSO: This is the only chart you need to see about China's increasingly global ballistic missile capabilities

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: This is why a US aircraft carrier is a force to be reckoned with


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    chillinWhile hiding in a fortified two-level 3,000-square-foot underground bunker, one of history's most brutal tyrants promised the world that his empire would last 1,000 years.

    Hitler's Third Reich lasted 12 years, officially ending on April 30, 1945, when the Führer committed suicide in his bunker with his new wife after learning that Allied forces had surrounded Berlin.

    Before retreating to the Führerbunker, Hitler and top Nazi officials enjoyed lavish compounds in Berchtesgaden, a resort village in the Bavarian Alps.

    These are the best surviving photographs of Allied troops reveling in the spoils of war at Hitler's private residence and at Eagle's Nest.

    SEE ALSO: Hitler's secret Nazi war machines of World War II

    Easy Company after taking the Eagle's Nest, Hitler's former residence.



    A paratrooper of the 101st Airborne Division enjoys the view and a cognac while lounging on the terrace of Hitler's retreat at Berchtesgaden after the end of the war in 1945.



    Maj. Dick Winters, Lewis Nixon, Harry Welsh, and two other battalion staff members, celebrate VE-Day in Berchtesgaden, Germany.



    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    The US Civil War was the most costly conflict that the country has ever faced. 

    The fighting was responsible for more American deaths than almost every other war the US has fought combined. And the financial cost of the conflict radically changed the entirety of the US economy with repercussions still being felt today. 

    The following photos, from the Library of Congress, highlight the individuals affected by the conflict with stunning images from that period of conflict.

    SEE ALSO: Incredible colorized photos show Russia before the Communist revolution

    An unidentified young soldier in Union uniform with musket and bayonet in scabbard.



    A girl holds a framed image of her father. Judging from her necklace, mourning ribbons, and dress, it is likely that her father was killed in the war.



    An unidentified young soldier in Confederate uniform.



    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    a-10 warthog close air support

    On May 9, more than 40 aircraft, including 15 A-10 Thunderbolt II aircraft with the 25th Fighter Squadron “Draggins” and F-16 Fighting Falcon aircraft from the 36th FS “Flying Fiends” with the 51st Fighter Wing, Osan Air Base, South Korea, with some additional F-16 aircraft with the 179th Fighter Squadron “Bulldogs” from the 148th Fighter Wing out of Duluth Air National Guard Base, Minnesota, took part in a cool Elephant Walk exercise at Osan Air Base.

    a-10 warthog close air support

    Few days later, some of the 51st FW A-10s and F-16s took part in an air-to-air photo session with photographer Jake Melampy.

    a-10 warthog gun close air support

    Some of the incredible photographs taken by Melampy from the backseat of an F-16D showing, among the others, mixed formations of Hogs and Vipers, an A-10 firing the 30mm GAU-8 Avenger rotary gun, F-16 releasing flares, etc., were later released by the U.S. Air Force on the Osan Air Force Base image gallery (where you can download the high-rez version of the shots).

    a-10 warthog f-16 close air support

    f-16 south korea flares

    SEE ALSO: This folding machine gun hides in plain sight

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    NOW WATCH: America's B-2 stealth bomber is unlike any military aircraft in the world


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    poland tank nato strong europe tank challenge leopard 2a5

    During NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg's recent visit to Poland, Polish Minister of Defense Antoni Macierewicz announced that NATO would station four battalions in Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia on a rotating basis, Newsday reports.

    The multi-national battalions will be comprised of between 300-800 soldiers each.

    The Baltics have long been an area of concern for the alliance, as several generals and military analysts have warned that Russian forces could storm Baltic capitals like Riga and Tallinn in as little as 36 hours

    Positioning NATO battalions and increasing military exercises in the Baltics and Poland has been identified as part of possible solution to Russia's increasing aggression in eastern Europe.

    In response to increased NATO drilling earlier this year, Russia announced it would form three new military divisions (up to 10,000 troops in each) on the European border, as well as deploying five strategic nuclear missile regiments on combat duty, Reuters reports.

    Before the announcement, Poland had asked for a "battalion plus," of NATO troops to bolster their domestic forces as Russia increasingly threatens military action in response to NATO operations. Poland has also sought to spend $33 billion on military modernization by 2022, and to increase the size of their military by 50%.

    But Macierewicz was clear that such a force would still not be capable of defeating Russia, and would merely increase the likely hood of deterring them in statements he made to DefenseNews.

    nato exercise us soldiers

    "From the military point of view, the problem so far has been that we have almost 100 percent certainty that in a situation of an aggression, NATO would lose the territory under attack and would have to reconquer it later," Macierewicz said.

    "Thanks to the forward presence [of additional battalions] it would be possible to maintain and defend the territory for a period sufficient” for NATO to regroup and eventually repel Russian forces, Macierewicz continued.

    Stoltenberg explained in a speech at Warsaw University how the upcoming summit was a "critical moment for our Alliance."

    Stolengberg nato warsaw university

    "To the east, we see Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea, its continuing actions against Ukraine and a significant build-up of its military forces, stretching from the Barents Sea, to the Baltic and the Black Sea, and the eastern Mediterranean,” said Stoltenberg.

    "To carry out NATO’s mission in this more dangerous world, we need to strengthen our collective defense, and to project stability beyond our own borders,” he concluded.

    SEE ALSO: Beijing might soon declare an air defense zone in the disputed South China Sea

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    NOW WATCH: Here's the high-tech military equipment Russia could use against the world


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    F-15 Eagle

    Recent footage released by the Combined Joint Task Force's Operation Inherent Resolve shows a US-led coalition warplane destroying an ISIS weapons cache near the group's Syrian capital of Al-Raqqah on May 20.

    The footage shows a careful strike that waits for a vehicle to clear the area before leveling the building. Secondary explosions after the precision bomb hits indicate that the building was being used to store explosives.

    Syria map

    Currently, the US is backing the Syrian Democratic Forces to take back the Manbij pocket in northwestern Syria, and then to continue southwest toward Raqqah, where ISIS is most established.

    Watch the strike footage below:

    SEE ALSO: A new US plan against ISIS might be 'dangerously counterproductive'

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    EQ9 Reaper drone

    The British Ministry of Defense has released a video showing a Royal Air Force Reaper drone obliterating an ISIS truck with a Hellfire missile. 

    The airstrike was conducted on May 31 outside of Fallujah, Iraq. The Reaper drone conducted surveillance over ISIS militants as they loaded weapons, including a heavy machine gun, onto the truck before launching the missile and obliterating the truck. 

    The British airstrikes outside of Fallujah come as Iraqi forces are attempting to retake the city from ISIS. ISIS has held the city since 2014 and is heavily embedded. Iraqi progress against the militants in the city has been slow as ISIS is believed to have seeded the area with improvised explosive devices, as well as using civilians in the city as human shields. 

    The US has also been actively carrying out strikes against ISIS in and around Fallujah. On June 1, the US carried out four strikes against ISIS tactical units, weapons caches, and fighting positions across its zone of control by the city. 

    You can watch the British airstrike below:

    SEE ALSO: This map shows the extreme factionalism that is tearing Iraq apart

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: Female soldiers have created a 30-woman unit to fight ISIS in Iraq


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    India Aircraft Carrier Viraat

    Aircraft carriers are the ultimate symbol of a country's military power and prestige. These floating islands of military power take years to build, and they do not come cheap. The first of the US's new Ford-class of supercarrier has a $13 billion price tag.

    Still, despite the cost, a number of countries have succeeded in building or acquiring a carrier. Although the US has the largest number of carriers with the most advanced technology and the largest flight decks, a variety of carriers of various sizes and sophistication are in use around the world.

    The following graphics, created by US Naval Institute member Jeff Head at World-Wide Aircraft Carriers, breaks down the various carrier classes in use around the world today.

    The first class, Catapult Assisted Take-Off, Barrier Assisted Recovery (CATOBAR), are the largest and most complex carriers currently in use.

    aircraft carrier CATOBARThe catapult-based launch system allows the carriers to fly a greater variety of heavy and lightweight planes and at a greater takeoff rate and velocity, compared to noncatapult systems. The majority of CATOBAR carriers are nuclear-powered.

    Short Take-Off, Barrier Assisted Recovery (STOBAR) carriers differ from CATOBARs in more than just their launch technology. The carriers are equipped with "ski-jump" ramps that allow for aircraft to take off from the carriers. They are technologically simpler and thus easier to operate than CATOBAR carriers, although aircraft must be lighter to successfully take off from their decks.

    STOBARs, like CATOBARs, still use assisted-recovery methods such as trap wires that help aircraft land and decelerate on a dangerously short runway.

    aircraft carrier STOBARShort Take-Off and Landing (STOL) carriers are the cheapest type to build. Like STOBARs, they run off of conventional rather than nuclear power. Although the carriers sometimes feature a ski-jump to assist with takeoffs, the vessels do not feature any recovery systems to help aircraft land.

    aircraft carrier STOL

    SEE ALSO: This is why US aircraft carriers are a force to be reckoned with

    DON'T MISS: Thailand has an aircraft carrier with no aircraft

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    NOW WATCH: This is why US aircraft carriers are a force to be reckoned with


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    f-35 lightning ii thunderbirds usaf air force

    An Air Force Thunderbird jet has crashed after performing a flyover over a commencement ceremony attended by President Barack Obama. 

    The Associated Press reported that the jet crashed after the flyover at an Air Force Academy commencement in Colorado Springs, Colorado. The Thunderbird jet crashed south of Colorado Springs minutes after completing the flyover ceremony.

    The Colorado Springs Gazette, citing Air Force Academy officials, notes that the plane suffered engine failure before the crash. However, there will be an official investigation into the cause of the incident.

    According to local station KRDO, the pilot ejected safely from the plane and is being evaluated by Air Force Academy paramedics. And the US Air Force Air Combat Command has tweeted that the pilot is able to walk around.

    Press Secretary Josh Earnest told reporters that President Obama has met with the downed pilot upon arriving at Peterson Air Force Base. 

    "The president thanked the pilot for his service to the country and expressed his relief that the pilot was not seriously injured," Earnest said. "The president also thanked the first responders who acted quickly to tend to the pilot."

    The US Air Force Thunderbirds are an air demonstration team. The group flies modified F-16s and routinely perform flyovers over US Air Force Academy commencement ceremonies.

    SEE ALSO: Nothing beats the precise art of America's Blue Angels and Thunderbirds

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    NOW WATCH: This is why a US aircraft carrier is a force to be reckoned with


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    blue angels

    A US Blue Angels jet has crashed in Smyrna, Tennessee.

    At least one person has been killed in the crash, local station WSMV reports, citing the Rutherford County Emergency Medical Service.

    But the status of the pilot and the cause of the crash are not currently known. WKRN reports that helicopters from Vanderbilt University Medical Center were called to the scene.

    According to local ABC affiliate WKRN, citing the fire chief of the neighboring town of La Vergne, the crash took place around 3 p.m. local time. The Blue Angels were scheduled to perform in Tennessee this weekend.

    The jet crashed soon after takeoff during a practice flight. Following the crash, all other Blue Angels jets have been safely grounded, The Tennessean reports.

    The Blue Angels are the US Navy's flight-demonstration team. Aviators in the Blue Angels come from the Navy and the US Marines and fly F/A-18 Hornets.

    The crash of a Blue Angel comes on the same day that a US Air Force Thunderbird also crashed after completing a flyover at the Air Force Academy commencement.

    SEE ALSO: An Air Force Thunderbird jet crashed after performing a flyover at a commencement ceremony

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: The US Navy is putting the finishing touches on a 32-foot barrel gun with 4,500 mph firepower​


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    Since the 1960s, the US and Cuba have had a fraught and broken relationship. 

    In 1960, President Kennedy put in place the first trade embargo on Cuba following the communist revolution in the country. This embargo was followed by decades of political tensions and lost trade between the nations. 

    But a landmark agreement between Havana and the US in December 2014 to normalize relations will have a huge impact on the two nations. The following graphic, from the Norwich Masters of Diplomacy online, details the positive impact that the improving of relations between the two nations will have. 

     

    SEE ALSO: These are the 6 countries on board with Russia's illegal annexation of Crimea

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: We snuck a camera inside a Cuban supermarket


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    Admiral Yuan Yubai

    Since the establishment of modern China following World War II, both China and Taiwan have claimed nearly the entirety of the South China Sea as their own. 

    The countries established such a claim with a Nine Dash Line throughout the region that, Beijing and Taipei assert, show how the entirety of the South China Sea belongs to them.

    Whether the Nine Dash Line has any basis in international law or not, it is far from the most ridiculous basis for a claim that China has over the sea. 

    Instead, Chinese Vice Admiral Yuan Yubai was responsible for the most ridiculous claim for why all of the South China Sea belongs to Beijing. 

    Speaking at a defense conference in London on September 14, 2015, Yuan said that “the South China Sea, as the name indicates, is a sea area that belongs to China."

    "And the sea from the Han dynasty a long time ago where the Chinese people have been working and producing from the sea," Yuan continued. 

    Yuan's remarks came following a comment at the conference by Japanese Vice Admiral Umio Otsuka, who said that deterrence was becoming increasingly important throughout East and South Asia. To back up his views, Otsuka pointed at China's expansionism throughout both regions. 

    After Yuan responded to Otsuka that the region belonged to China due to the sea bearing China's name, Yuan took a slightly more conciliatory measure by saying that "the real situation in the South China Sea at present is safety and freedom of navigation."

    Currently, the various islands and atolls in the South China Sea are claimed and disputed by a mix of countries, principally by Taiwan, Vietnam, China, the Philippines.

    South China Sea Map_05

    SEE ALSO: These are the advanced missiles China sent to militarize the South China Sea

    SEE ALSO: 7 charts that show why the tit for tat over crumbs in the South China Sea isn't for nothing

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: The US Navy's last line of defense is this ultimate gun


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    turkish jets acrobatic HUD

    The following video was filmed from aboard the NF-5A #3 of the Turkish Stars (Turkish: Türk Yıldızları), the aerobatic demonstration team of the Turkish Air Force during an airshow.

    The footage includes captions that let you understand what happens during the “2×2 cross” maneuver, when the #1 and #3 aircraft cross with the #2 and #4 coming from the opposite direction at an altitude of around 270 feet above the ground and a relative speed of about 1,600 km/h.

    Towards the end the clip you’ll see how close the aircraft of the two section pass one another.

    Enjoy.

    SEE ALSO: The legendary RAF 'Dambusters' of WWII are now flying F-35s with US Marines

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    NOW WATCH: Scientifically proven features men find attractive in women


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    US Army light medium tactical vehicle 1240 (DC)

    Five soldiers were killed and four others were missing Thursday when their light truck overturned in a rain-swollen creek at Fort Hood, Texas.

    Three other soldiers on the truck were pulled from the water near the overturned vehicle at the sprawling Army post and were reported in stable condition while they were transported from the Coryell Memorial Healthcare System in Gatesville, Texas, to the Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center on Fort Hood, the Fort Hood Public Affairs office said in a statement.

    The four missing soldiers were from the 3rd Battalion, 16th Field Artillery Regiment, 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division. The search continues for them, according to an updated statement from the base.

    The bodies of the three soldiers were recovered from waters downstream from where their Light Medium Tactical Vehicle overturned at the Owl Creek Tactical low-water crossing and East Range Road on Fort Hood, the statement said.

    Fort Hood emergency personnel were the first to arrive at the scene in response to a "swift-water rescue call" at about 11:20 a.m. local time, the statement said.

    Other first responders from the Fort Hood Directorate of Emergency Services and local and state agencies have now joined the search for the six missing soldiers with a combination of aircraft, canine search teams, heavy ground equipment, and swift-water rescue watercraft.

    The accident occurred as parts of Texas were still recovering from heavy rainfall and bracing for new storms that could dump up to 10 inches of rain and worsen flooding in rivers and other waterways that already have risen to record levels. High water reportedly covered roadways and highways throughout the Fort Hood area Thursday.

    SEE ALSO: These 14 photos show how infantrymen bring down tanks

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    NOW WATCH: An Army Ranger reveals how you get a top secret clearance


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    ground force one

    The president has no shortage of transit options, from Air Force One and Marine One to Cadillac One. Now meet Ground Force One, the president's armored bus and the most recent edition to the presidential fleet.

    We've compiled some of Ground Force One's most impressive features:

    SEE ALSO: There is no other helicopter in the world like Marine One — the president's No. 1 getaway vehicle

    Ground Force One is a 45-foot-long bus specially designed by the Secret Service.

    Source: America's Book of Secrets "Presidential Transports"



    And just like "Cadillac One," Obama's Ground Force One is painted jet-black.

    Source: America's Book of Secrets "Presidential Transports"



    The Secret Service purchased Ground Force One and its twin decoy from the Tennessee-based company Hemphill Brothers Coach for a cool $1.1 million each. But ultimately the buses are cost-effective.

    Source: America's Book of Secrets "Presidential Transports"



    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    File photo of Taliban fighters training with their weapons in an undisclosed location in Afghanistan July 14, 2009. REUTERS/Stringer/Files

    The US Department of State said that “Pakistan did not take substantial action against the Afghan Taliban or HQN [Haqqani Network]” and has done little to deter home-grown jihadist groups such as Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammad. The US government continues provide nearly $800 million in financial aid despite Pakistan’s historical and continuing support for jihadist groups that are actively fighting US troops in Afghanistan and plotting terrorist attacks across the globe.

    The Department of State noted Pakistan’s unwillingness to deal with its preferred jihadist groups in the newly released Country Reports on Terrorism 2015.

    “Afghanistan, in particular, continued to experience aggressive and coordinated attacks by the Afghan Taliban, including the Haqqani Network (HQN), and other insurgent and terrorist groups,” the State report says. “A number of these attacks were planned and launched from safe havens in Pakistan.”

    After noting the military and government target jihadist groups such as the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan that continue to launch deadly attacks against the state and civilian institutions, State says that Pakistan has done little to deal with jihadist groups fighting in Afghanistan.

    “Pakistan did not take substantial action against the Afghan Taliban or HQN, or substantially limit their ability to threaten US interests in Afghanistan,” State notes.

    “Pakistan has also not taken sufficient action against other externally-focused groups such as Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM), which continued to operate, train, organize, and fundraise in Pakistan,” State continues.

    Additionally, while Pakistan “reportedly banned media coverage of US- and UN-designated terrorist organizations such as Jamaat-u-Dawa (JuD) and the Falah-e-Insaniyat Foundation (FiF), both of which are aliases of Lashkar-e-Taiba … the government did not otherwise constrain those groups’ fundraising activities.”

    US aid Pakistan chart

    Hafiz Saeed, the leader of LeT/JuD/FiF, “who is also a UN-designated terrorist, was able to make frequent public appearances in support of the organization’s objectives,” without Pakistan raising a finger to stop him.

    Also, State points out the “slow pace of trial proceedings” for the accused in the 2008 Mumbai terror attack, which was plotted and executed from Pakistan. Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi, Lashkar-e-Taiba’s operational planner of the deadly Mumbai assault, has been freed from detention.

    “Lakhvi was released from prison on bail in April 2015 and the Government of Pakistan reports he remained under house arrest at the end of 2015,” State reports. However, Pakistan has placed other terrorist leaders, such as Hafiz Saeed, under house arrest in the past, but this has done nothing to constrain their activities.

    Despite State’s criticism of Pakistan, the department said the country “remained a critical counterterrorism partner in 2015.”

    Additionally, State says that Pakistan continues to receive large sums of “Foreign Assistance.” While the amount of aid has decreased over the past three years, US continues to give Pakistan hundreds of millions of dollars a year. Pakistan received $1.237 billion in total foreign assistance in 2013 (including $280 million in military aid), $853 million in 2014 ($270 million in military aid), and $787 million in 2015 ($265 million in military aid).

    Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of The Long War Journal.

    SEE ALSO: This political cartoon is a perfect encapsulation of the US's future in Afghanistan

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: A teacher in Afghanistan turned his bike into a mobile library and cruises the countryside giving kids a chance to read


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    Liaoning china navy PLAN

    Satellite imagery reveals the progress China has made on its new Type 001A aircraft carrier project. Construction on the carrier began at the Dalian New Shipbuilding Heavy Industry Co.'s shipyard in northeastern Liaoning province in early 2015 and has since proceeded at a brisk pace.

    The imagery, acquired from Stratfor's partners at AllSource Analysis, suggests that the project is a modular construction, in which sections of the vessel are built separately and then fitted together, allowing for shorter build times and greater flexibility. At this rate, the Type 001A could be launched as soon as early 2017, though commissioning it into the fleet would take several years more.

    china aircraft carrier buliding

    China's aircraft carrier program is the centerpiece of its strategy to project force as a global naval power. Not only do Chinese aircraft carriers lend Beijing military prestige, but they will also be instrumental in securing crucial overseas supply lines. For now, China's aircraft carrier program remains in its early stages, but Beijing plans to eventually commission at least three carriers.

    China purchased its sole existing carrier, the Liaoning, from Ukraine in 1998 as a stripped hulk. The ship was fully rebuilt in Chinese shipyards and commissioned in September 2012. The Liaoning could someday serve a combat role, but it has functioned primarily as a training ship, developing carrier deck operations and training an initial cohort of pilots in at-sea takeoff and landing.

    The new Type 001A aircraft carrier will follow the Liaoning's basic design, though slightly improved. Like the Liaoning, the new ship will have a displacement of approximately 50,000 to 60,000 tons, and it will feature a Short Takeoff But Arrested Recovery (STOBAR) system.

    aircraft carrier STOBAR

    STOBAR allows aircraft to take off under their own power, using a curved ramp for assistance; when landing, planes hook onto arrestor wires. STOBAR, though effective, is not as capable as the catapult system, known as CATOBAR, used on U.S. Nimitz-class fleet carriers. Relative to STOBAR, CATOBAR enables launched aircraft to carry significantly more fuel and greater payloads.

    Therefore, the new Type 001A is simply a stepping-stone that will enable China to build up its aircraft carrier program while it develops carriers with CATOBAR systems and, perhaps, nuclear propulsion. In time, China could attain supercarriers of the same size and displacement as Nimitz-class carriers. But this is a distant goal. To reach a level of global operations comparable to that of the U.S. Navy, China will need decades of additional experience. 

    SEE ALSO: These graphics show the crucial differences between the world's 3 types of aircraft carrier

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: This is why a US aircraft carrier is a force to be reckoned with


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