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The latest news on Defense from Business Insider

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    Putin Missile

    Across Russia, 40 million civilians and military personnel just finished up emergency drills aimed at preparing the general population for nuclear or chemical-weapons attacks, The Wall Street Journal's Thomas Grove reports.

    Video shows Russian civilians practicing along with officials and workers in hazardous-material protective suits.

    But as troubling as the largest civil defense drills since the height of the Cold War have been, the steps Russia has taken to improve its offensive nuclear capabilities likely overshadow them.

    Since the breakdown of US-Russia talks on the fate of Syria, Russia has pulled out of a nuclear-nonproliferation agreement with the US, citing "unfriendly acts" by America. It has moved nuclear-capable missiles to its European enclave of Kaliningrad, and threatened "asymmetrical" and "painful" actions against the US should it decide to impose sanctions on Russia over Syria.

    A Russian Yars RS-24 intercontinental ballistic missile system drives during the Victory Day parade, marking the 71st anniversary of the victory over Nazi Germany in World War Two, at Red Square in Moscow, Russia, May 9, 2016.  REUTERS/Grigory Dukor

    Additionally, Russia's state-run media has been ratcheting up anti-American rhetoric.

    Lev Gudkov, head of the Russian polling group Levada-Center, told The Journal that in Russia "most people believe that the Third World War has begun, but right now we are still in the cold phase of the war, which may or may not turn into a hot war."

    In Syria and the Ukraine, Russia has turned away from diplomacy and toward military solutions to standoffs with the West. Russia's recent installation of another missile defense battery in Syria gives the US very few options to intervene without risking serious casualties.

    Further, Russia designed its nuclear weapons arsenal as absolute doomsday devices that rain up to 10 high-yield nuclear warheads down on targets at Mach 23 in a salvo that the US can't possibly hope to intercept.

    Screen Shot 2016 10 25 at 11.46.47 AM

    The US has long relied on the doctrine of "mutually assured destruction"— that is, having a spread-out, autonomous, and effective nuclear arsenal that would return fire should another nuclear power attack — with the intent of deterring any nuclear attacks. But sources told The Journal that Moscow is now taking steps to ensure that 100% of its population would be sheltered from such an attack.

    Far from matching Russia's aggressive nuclear posturing, the US has had its attentions elsewhere. The US's long-range bomber aircraft, the most visible deterrent of a nuclear arsenal, have mainly been stationed in the Pacific in response to North Korea's nuclear aggression.

    SEE ALSO: Russia to the US: If you want a confrontation, 'you'll get one everywhere'

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: How a struggling Soviet spy became the most powerful man in Russia


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    Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei waves to the crowd in the holy city of Qom, 120 km (75 miles) south of Tehran, October 19, 2010. REUTERS/Khamenei.ir

    The Republican leaders of the US House of Representatives plan a vote as soon as mid-November on a 10-year reauthorization of the Iran Sanctions Act, congressional aides told Reuters on Tuesday.

    The act, which expires on Dec. 31, is one of the major pieces of unfinished business facing lawmakers when they return to Washington after the Nov. 8 election.

    Aides said the reauthorization of a "clean" bill, unchanged from the current legislation, was likely to pass the House, but its fate in the Senate was less certain, given administration concerns about the bill.

    SEE ALSO: Former US Navy captain: Brace for more Iranian-backed attacks against the US

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: The US struck radar sites in Yemen after rebels tried to attack a Navy ship with missiles


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    Xi Jinping

    WASHINGTON (AP) — A senior US official says China's use of a loophole in UN sanctions to purchase huge amounts of North Korean coal is "unacceptable."

    Scott Busby, a senior State Department official for human rights, said Tuesday those coal sales are probably the North's main source of foreign currency.

    He said the department's second-ranking diplomat, Antony Blinken, will raise that issue when he meets this week with Chinese officials in Beijing.

    The US wants China to agree to tighter UN sanctions on North Korea in response to a Sept. 9 nuclear test explosion and enforce restrictions already in place.

    Busby credited China with a "slight improvement" in its treatment of North Korean asylum seekers. But he added that China is still repatriating significant numbers of them back to the North.

    SEE ALSO: GOP leaders in Congress want to vote on the Iran Sanctions Act as soon as November

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: The US brought out the nuclear-powered USS Ronald Reagan in a naval drill with South Korea


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    U.S. Director of National Intelligence James Clapper addresses the third annual Intelligence and National Security Summit in Washington September 7, 2016. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

    The US policy of trying to persuade North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons "is probably a lost cause" and the best that can probably be hoped for is some kind of cap on the country's nuclear capability, the director of US National Intelligence James Clapper said on Tuesday.

    "I think the notion of getting the North Koreans to denuclearize is probably a lost cause," Clapper said at the Council on Foreign Relations think tank in New York. "They are not going to do that - that is their ticket to survival."

    Clapper said he got a good taste of how the world looks from North Korea's viewpoint when he went to Pyongyang on a mission in 2014 to secure the release of two Americans held there.

    "They are under siege and they are very paranoid, so the notion of giving up their nuclear capability, whatever it is, is a non-starter with them," he said.

    "The best we could probably hope for is some sort of a cap, but they are not going to do that just because we ask them. There’s going to have to be some significant inducements."

    Clapper said it bothered him that the United States was not capitalizing on using information as a weapon against North Korea.

    "That's something they worry about a lot ... That is a great vulnerability I don't think we have exploited. Right now we are kind of stuck on our narrative and they are kind of stuck on theirs."

    SEE ALSO: Russia is preparing for nuclear war

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: There is a secret US government airline that flies out of commercial airports


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    NSA spying surveillance

    AT&T has a secret program called Hemisphere that allows law enforcement to obtain call metadata on targeted individuals without first obtaining a search warrant, according to a new report in The Daily Beast.

    While Hemisphere was first revealed in 2013 by The New York Times, the Daily Beast reported on new documents it obtained that showed the program is much larger than initially thought, and that law enforcement does not need a search warrant before using the database, but instead needs only an administrative subpoena.

    Probable cause is needed before issuing a search warrant, but an administrative subpoena only requires a government agent to declare the information they may obtain could be "relevant" to an investigation.

    AT&T received more than 103,000 subpoenas from January to June of this year, but only about 20,000 search warrants showing probable cause, according to the company's transparency report. The report does not offer specifics.

    The Times reported in 2013 that Hemisphere was a "partnership" between AT&T and federal and local law enforcement engaged in drug investigations, where the government was paying the company to place its employees with counter-drug units throughout the country. 

    The program, started in 2007, is highly secretive. Training slides obtained by the Times detail steps to protect the program from public view and "keep the program under the radar." Law enforcement agencies who use the program, the slides show, are also instructed to never refer to Hemisphere by name in official documents.

    How it actually works

    To query Hemisphere, law enforcement agencies — which pay anywhere from $77,000 to $1 million a year for access — need to make a request for data on a given phone number, according to the Daily Beast's report. The request is made to an AT&T employee who will mine the database and give law enforcement the information within, which includes phone metadata, such as call times, who was called, and the location of the subscriber's phone, the report says.

    This data, however, is not to be used as evidence in court, documents obtained by the Daily Beast show.

    Since evidence obtained through Hemisphere cannot be used, it's clear that law enforcement must instead use it to find other evidence it can legitimately use in a courtroom without indicating the initial source — a controversial practice known as "parallel construction." 

    The DEA routinely uses this method in investigations they are initially tipped to by classified intelligence given by the CIA or NSA.

    "Our investigations must be transparent. We must be able to take our information to court and prove to a jury that our bad guy did the bad things we say he did," a training slide from the DEA, made public in 2014, reads. "However, we are also bound to protect certain pieces of information so as to protect the sources and methods."

    While the Times focused on the anti-drug aspect of the program, it turns out that Hemisphere has been used in other ways, such as in homicide investigations or Medicaid fraud.

    "Like other communications companies, if a government agency seeks customer call records through a subpoena, court order or other mandatory legal process, we are required by law to provide this non-content information, such as the phone numbers and the date and time of calls," Fletcher Cook, a spokesperson for AT&T, told Business Insider.

    SEE ALSO: The US told Ecuador to give Wikileaks 'an eviction notice,' according to intelligence officials

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: Here's why the time is always 9:41 in Apple product photos


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    ash carter

    U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter has ordered the Pentagon to stop seeking repayments of enlistment bonuses given to California National Guard members who served overseas.

    His decision comes in the wake of angry reaction from members of Congress who demanded he relieve the burden on the Guard members.

    And the White House said President Barack Obama has warned the Defense Department not to "nickel and dime" service members who were victims of fraud by overzealous recruiters.

    In a statement issued during a meeting of defense ministers in Brussels, Carter said effort to collect reimbursement should stop "as soon as is practical" and will continue until a process to help the troops deal with the problem is worked out.

    Here is Carter's full statement:

    "There is no more important responsibility for the Department of Defense than keeping faith with our people. That means treating them fairly and equitably, honoring their service and sacrifice, and keeping our word. Today, in keeping with that obligation, I am ordering a series of steps to ensure fair treatment for thousands of California National Guard soldiers who may have received incentive bonuses and tuition assistance improperly as a result of errors and in some cases criminal behavior by members of the California National Guard.

    While some soldiers knew or should have known they were ineligible for benefits they were claiming, many others did not. About 2,000 have been asked, in keeping with the law, to repay erroneous payments. There is an established process in place by which service members can seek relief from such obligations. Hundreds of affected guard members in California have sought and been granted relief. But that process has simply moved too slowly and in some cases imposed unreasonable burdens on service members. That is unacceptable. So today, on the recommendation of Deputy Secretary Work, I am ordering measures to make sure we provide affected service members the support they need and deserve.

    First, I have ordered the Defense Finance and Accounting Service to suspend all efforts to collect reimbursement from affected California National Guard members, effective as soon as is practical. This suspension will continue until I am satisfied that our process is working effectively. Second, I have ordered a team of senior department officials, led by the senior personnel official in the Office of the Secretary of Defense, Peter Levine, to assess the situation and establish no later than Jan. 1, 2017 a streamlined, centralized process that ensures the fair and equitable treatment of our service members and the rapid resolution of these cases. The objective will be to complete the decision-making process on all cases as soon as possible - and no later than July 1, 2017.

    Ultimately, we will provide for a process that puts as little burden as possible on any soldier who received an improper payment through no fault of his or her own. At the same time, it will respect our important obligation to the taxpayer.

    I want to be clear: this process has dragged on too long, for too many service members. Too many cases have languished without action. That's unfair to service members and to taxpayers. The steps I've outlined are designed to meet our obligations to both, and to do so quickly."

    SEE ALSO: The Pentagon is demanding soldiers pay back huge cash bonuses that were given out by mistake

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: The ‘Apple of China’ just unveiled a phone that’s more powerful and better looking than the iPhone


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    Ukraine Russia

    One in three Germans worry that tensions between the West and Russia over Crimea, Ukraine and Syria could lead to a military confrontation, according to an opinion poll by the respected Forsa institute published on Wednesday.

    The survey found that 32 percent of 2,504 Germans polled believe it is possible that war could break out between Russia and the European Union and its allies in the United States. But a majority of 64 percent said they did not share those fears.

    Fears of war traditionally run high in Germany, a country sensitive to tensions that could lead to conflict after the devastation of World War Two and the partition of the nation into West Germany and East Germany during the Cold War.

    The survey found supporters of the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party were especially worried, 63 percent of them telling Forsa that war could break out.

    Some 41 percent of all those polled said relations between Russia and the West were poor, 51 percent not good and only six percent said relations were good.

    Chancellor Angela Merkel met in Berlin last week with Russian President Vladimir Putin and French President Francois Hollande about Syria and Ukraine.

    Merkel and Hollande pressed Putin to extend a pause in air strikes on rebels in Syria and halt the "criminal" bombardment of civilians, and said four-way talks aimed at ending violence in eastern Ukraine made some progress.

    SEE ALSO: Russia is preparing for nuclear war

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: The story of Lisa Brennan-Jobs, the daughter Steve Jobs claimed wasn't his


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    A-10 thunderbolt warthog cannon

    After years of threatening to cut funding to the A-10 program and funnel the money to the newer F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, the Air Force seems to have finally faced facts — the A-10 is just too effective to get rid of.

    Air Force Materiel Command chief Gen. Ellen Pawlikowski recently told AviationWeek that the depot line that maintains and repairs the Air Force's 283 A-10s has been reopened to full capacity.

    “They have re-geared up, we’ve turned on the depot line, we’re building it back up in capacity and supply chain,” said Pawlikowski. “Our command, anyway, is approaching this as another airplane that we are sustaining indefinitely.”

    This move echoes the sentiments of many, many people across the defense community. Senator John McCain, former Navy pilot, and Representative Martha McSally, former A-10 pilot, both fought hard for the Warthog in their respective Armed Services Committees against the Air Force's claims that the F-35 could replace the Cold War-era bird.

    The move also follows trials initiated by the Air Force to determine if the F-35 or A-10 better executes the close air support role, which suggest that the A-10 came out on top.

    The Government Accountability Office debunked the Air Force generals' contentions that the A-1o could be replaced, arguing that the plane's low flight costs, unique airframe, and hyper competent, impeccably trained pilot community was without peer in today's Air Force.

    a-10 f-16 elephant walk warthog south korea

    Now maintainers at Hill Air Force Base in Utah can finally make good on a 2007 contract with Boeing to keep the aging birds air worthy for years to come.

    For now, the Warthog still faces the chopping block in the 2018 budget requests, but fans and friends of the bird can breathe a sigh of relief and celebrate with this hour long compilation of the best of BRRRRT.

    SEE ALSO: Dogfighting in an F-35 is 'like having a knife fight in a telephone booth'

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: The Air Force's A-10 Warthog targets ISIS fighters with this massive gatling gun


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    F 35C Zumwalt navy

    In the above picture we see just one large boat, the USS Zumwalt, and just one plane, an F-35C, but that's likely all the US Navy will need to dominate the seas in the future.

    Despite being the US Navy's largest-ever destroyer, the USS Zumwalt is a ship so stealthy that it appears as a small fishing boat on enemy radars and sometimes has to deploy mirrors to make it more visible to friendly traffic on the open ocean.

    "If Batman had a ship, it would be the USS Zumwalt," Adm. Harry B. Harris, Jr., commander of the US Pacific Command, told CNN

    Both the Zumwalt and the F-35 share one key concept of the Navy's vision looking forward — modularity. With a large rear flight deck and a oversized power plant, the Zumwalt can accommodate weapons of the future like lasers,  railguns, and the F-35B short takeoff variant. 

    The F-35 has options too. It can deploy with a detachable gun pod, it can carry external ordnance on pylons under the wings, or go out in full stealth mode with only the bombs in the internal bay. 

    Together, the Zumwalt and the F-35 can achieve things that would have previously taken entire fleets and months of planning to do. The F-35 can talk to the Zumwalt and have the ship fire missiles at targets marked from the plane. The F-35 can also command fleets of drones to do it's surveillance and firing for it.

    The Navy of years past imposed its will with massive fleets of battleships billowing smoke, but tomorrow's Navy will use surgical, stealthy tools to get the job done with just a few ships and hardly a blip on the radar.

    SEE ALSO: Take a look at the US Navy flying some of its most advanced planes above its new $4.4 billion destroyer

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: The US Navy is set to take over this $4.4 billion futuristic-missile destroyer


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    RS-28 sarmat satan 2

    On Sunday, Russian state-run media unveiled a new intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), the RS-28 Sarmat, or the "Satan 2" as NATO calls it. The Satan 2 is is due to replace Moscow's current standby, the R-36, or "Satan."

    The new Satan 2 has largely the same capabilities as the Satan: Both missiles can reach the East and West coasts of the US, both can travel miles in a single second, many times quicker than the speed of sound, and both can carry multiple independently targetable warheads.

    Both missiles also use a mixture of liquid fuel, a less stable, more volatile configuration than the US's preferred solid fuel weapons.

    Neither missile can be stopped by the US's existing missile defenses. Only, with the introduction of the Satan 2, the electronics, targeting, and reliability will noticeably improve over the former missile.

    According to Dr. Jeffrey Lewis, founder of Arms Control Wonk, Russia's newest nuke doesn't just threaten international stability, it is itself unstable.

    Minuteman III ICBM intercontinental ballistic missile"Russians love liquid fuel so much," said Lewis in an interview with Business Insider. 

    "In the US, we don’t think liquid fueled missiles are a great idea. They’re dangerous," said Lewis. "One exploded in Arkansas and blew the silo top off and threw the warhead a far distance," almost causing a disaster, said Lewis.

    So why then do the Russians prefer this dangerous fuel type?

    "The advantage is, you can put a whole bunch of warheads on them," said Lewis. Indeed, having multiple nukes on a single missile makes Russia's nuclear arsenal very potent, but also destabilizing.

    "If you put all your eggs in one basket (weapons on one missile) it makes a really tempting target. [The US] like[s] to spread our missiles out across many missiles," said Lewis. The US places its nuclear arsenal on individual missiles spread out across many bases and platforms.

    According to Lewis, "the Russians are terrible with submarines [for launching nuclear missiles], so they do land-based missiles and make big commitments to land-based ICBMS."

    In fact, Russia's commitment to these missiles may just be Moscow spinning its wheels, according to Lewis.

    "Russia has a number of missile design bureaus, not just one." Each of these bureaus specialize in a different type of missile. This creates a situation where the bureaus constantly dream up new missile ideas, and Russia sometimes takes them up on these proposals.

    Lewis suggested that the new missile, with its limited improvements on the older system, may not entirely be a strategic move, but also a bureaucratic one. Russia may have simply seized this opportunity to again brandish its nuclear power at a time of peak tensions with the West.

    So while Russia's newest nukes have an absurd, diabolical offensive potential, they demand constant attention and protection. For actors looking to knock out Russia's nuclear arsenal, they have fewer missiles to worry about neutralizing.

    For the Russians looking to maintain the nuclear arsenal, Moscow now has dangerous liquid-field missiles to maintain with costly maintenance for decades to come.

    SEE ALSO: Russia is sending its sole aircraft carrier to Syria to mimic US naval power

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: 'America has lost': The Philippines president just announced that he's allying with China, wants to talk to Putin


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    Houthi RPG

    Earlier this month US Navy ships had to fire defensive interceptor missiles after they were targeted by attacks launched from Houthi-controlled Yemen.

    This was likely the first time in history the Navy had to take such measures, and officials are now saying they think Iran is behind the attacks.

    "We believe that Iran is connected to this," Vice Admiral Kevin Donegan told NBC News. In fact, the US has intercepted many shipments of weapons from Iran to the Houthi militants, who oppose Yemen's internationally recognized government in a conflict that has seen thousands of civilian deaths and mass starvation of the civilian population.

    The intercepted shipments "were filled with coastal defense cruise missiles, boats that we believe were explosive boats, other weapons that were clearly on the decks of their ships that we saw," Donegan said.

    Iran has long harassed and bothered the US Navy in international waters, but now it seems the nation has found a way to ratchet up the offense through its Yemeni proxy.

    Indeed the anti-ship cruise missiles used in three failed attacks against the US Navy, and one successful attack against a UAE navy ship on a humanitarian mission, require sophisticated training to operate. And the missiles are not easy to come by.

    HSV Swift

    “I guarantee that Yemen by itself is not going to produce a Silkworm missile, a bunch of different radars – it just isn’t going to happen in a third-world country,” Vice Adm. Joseph Mulloy told USNI News.

    For now, the Houthi-controlled radar sites used to target the US ships have been destroyed by US Navy destroyers, but attacks on shipping in the region persist.

    We Are The Mighty reports that another ship, this time a Spanish tanker, was attacked by RPG fire. 

    SEE ALSO: Iran sends warships to Yemen after the US struck Iranian-backed Houthi radar sites

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: The US struck radar sites in Yemen after rebels tried to attack a Navy ship with missiles


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    swcc navy

    Often referred to as the Navy's best kept secret, Special Warfare Combatant-craft Crewmen (SWCC) operators drive well-armed, fast boats in support of special ops missions including stealthy insertion and extraction of SEALs, clandestine reconnaissance, and combat gunfire support. 

    SWCCs are the Navy's high-risk water mission experts and therefore, must be physically fit, mentally tough, focused, and responsive in high stress situations — and getting to that point requires brutal mental and physical training.

    The Discovery Channel's "Surviving the Cut" shows what SWCCs undergo at a 35-day basic course in Coronado, Calif.

    SEE ALSO: The 11 most incredible weapon systems used by the Russian army

    SEE ALSO: 41 pictures that show why a US aircraft carrier is such a dominant force

    These 26 sailors begin their first day of the 5 week Special Warfare Combatant Craft Crewman Training Center in Coronado, California. Each year, 240 sailors start SWCC training and about half pass.



    The instructors are prepared to weed out the weakest sailors. "This is a gut check for these guys. They have a small idea of what they have gotten themselves into at this point and we are really going to open their eyes on day one," said one SWCC instructor.



    Sailors run a quick 2 miles to the beach and spend the next six hours completing brutal workouts in the sand.



    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    Iraq Soldier Mosul Iraqi ISIS

    Most military analysts believe it’s only a matter of time before Mosul falls.

    Mosul is Iraq’s third largest city. The Islamic State captured it in June 2014 during a campaign that left it in control of territory the size of the United Kingdom. But on Oct. 16, 2016, a coalition of the Iraqi army, military forces from Iraq’s autonomous Kurdish region and paramilitary units, began an attack to recapture the city.

    Military prowess does not explain IS’ initial success in Iraq. Rather, it depended on the collapse of the Iraqi army and Sunni disaffection with the Shi’i-dominated Iraqi government.

    But, then, between 2015 and 2016, IS territory in Iraq shrank by an estimated 50 percent. IS has lost major population centers, including the cities of Tikrit, Ramadi, Kobani, Fallujah and Palmyra.

    The next target on the coalition’s agenda is Raqqa, Syria, the capital of IS. It may only be a matter of time before IS’ territorial “caliphate” is no more.

    What then will be the fate of IS? Can the group survive without controlling any territory? Will it rebound? Or will it disappear?

    Five possible scenarios

    Iraqi special forces soldiers wave to a group of newly trained police formed from people displaced by Islamic State militants, as the group sits on a truck bound for the frontline of the Mosul offensive against Islamic State, near Bazgirtan, Iraq, October 26, 2016. REUTERS/Zohra Bensemra

    Scenario #1: IS goes underground, only to emerge in the future.

    This scenario is not very likely. It ignores the unique circumstances that gave rise to IS and enabled it to win victory after victory in 2014: the political and military vacuum created by the Syrian civil war, the dysfunction of the Iraqi government of Nuri al-Maliki, the collapse of the Iraqi army and the indifference of much of the world to the group’s ambitions until it was too late. A similar set of circumstances is unlikely in the future.

    Scenario #2: IS will simply set up shop elsewhere.

    Over the years, IS has established franchises in West and North Africa, Libya, Yemen, the Sinai and other locations. In some places, such as Libya, IS deployed fighters from Syria and Iraq to establish its franchises. In others, preexisting groups pledged allegiance to the caliphate. Boko Haram in West Africa is one such group.

    IS assumed that each of its franchises would expand the territory under its control until it met up with other franchises and, eventually, with the caliphate based in Syria and Iraq. Observers call this an “ink spot” strategy because each affiliate would widen like an ink spot on blotting paper.

    This scenario, too, is unlikely. None of IS’ franchises is doing well, and those that have not already failed are on the verge of failing. Internal conflicts tore some apart, including those in Yemen and West Africa. External enemies have rolled back others, such as those in Libya and Algeria.

    IS franchises have not been able to forge alliances with similar-minded groups because IS doesn’t play well with others. Rather than building partnerships, IS insists on unconditional loyalty to its caliphate project and organizational uniformity. It has thus turned potential collaborators into enemies.

    Iraqi special forces soldiers look at Christian religious books inside a church damaged by Islamic States fighters in Bartella, east of Mosul, Iraq October 21, 2016.  REUTERS/Goran Tomasevic     TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY

    Scenario #3: IS fighters continue to wage an insurgency in Syria or Iraq, or both.

    This is exactly what the Taliban did in Afghanistan after the American invasion in 2001. Indeed, after the American invasion in Iraq, al-Qaida in Iraq – a precursor of IS – and members of the disbanded Iraqi army who joined IS did the same.

    This is a more likely scenario than the first two. However, fighting an insurgency is quite a step down from establishing, defending and expanding a territorial caliphate – what IS devotees consider an epochal event. And establishing, defending and expanding a territorial caliphate is precisely what differentiated IS from al-Qaida and similar groups. IS true believers deem a territorial caliphate cleansed of non-Islamic influences necessary for the survival of true Islam.

    IS fighters might continue the struggle. Revenge is a powerful motivator. But IS would no longer be IS were its fighters to limit their vision to waging a guerilla-style campaign. It would be indistinguishable from Jabhat al-Nusra, for example, the former al-Qaida affiliate and IS spin-off fighting the Syrian government. Jabhat al-Nusra’s goal of overthrowing the government of Syria – less grandiose than reestablishing a territorial caliphate that would unite all Muslims – was one of the reasons the split between the two groups occurred.

    Scenario #4: IS disappears.

    What if IS fighters just give up, or move on to other criminal enterprises? For true believers, the defeat of their caliphate might persuade them that their goal is unobtainable. It might therefore be extraordinarily dispiriting. Those who signed on for the thrill might find their kicks elsewhere, or merely fade back into the woodwork.

    This too is a strong possibility, particularly if other nations besides Denmark offer their citizens who have joined IS incentives for returning home. Similar groups, such as al-Qaida, have experienced defections in their ranks as members became disillusioned or discouraged or isolated.

    Scenario #5: Former fighters and freelancers continue their attacks globally with or without organizational backing.

    This too is a possibility, if only for a while. After all, a number of attacks outside of IS-held territory – including the attack in San Bernardino, California – occurred without the knowledge and assistance of IS.

    The destruction of IS’ caliphate could reduce its capacity to produce and disseminate propaganda. This would diminish IS’ ability to capture the imagination of would-be followers in the future. Nevertheless, in the short term, the world is not lacking in gullible and disturbed individuals.

    Short shelf-life

    An Iraqi soldier stands next to a detained man accused of being an Islamic State fighter, at a check point in Qayyara, south of Mosul, Iraq October 27, 2016. REUTERS/Goran Tomasevic

    Whatever the case, history provides lessons on how to effectively deal with movements and individuals who wage war against the international order.

    During the 19th and early 20th centuries, anarchists struck out at rulers and symbols of capitalism throughout the world. Anarchists assassinated the presidents of France and the United States, an empress of Austria, a king of Italy and numerous government ministers in Russia. They also bombed symbols of oppression, from the haunts of the bourgeoisie to Wall Street itself.

    Then, suddenly, the wave of anarchist violence ceased. By the onset of the Great Depression, anarchist activity was limited to a few isolated pockets. Historians point to a number of reasons the anarchist moment passed. Anarchism competed for hearts and minds with other dissident groups. Nations undertook political and social reforms that addressed the grievances of potential anarchists. They adopted new methods of policing and surveillance. Police agencies cooperated across borders.

    But perhaps most important was the fact that high-risk movements that attempt to realize the unrealizable have a short shelf life. Such might be the case for IS.

    James L. Gelvin, Professor of Modern Middle Eastern History, University of California, Los Angeles

    This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

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    NOW WATCH: Watch millennials try a McDonald's Big Mac for the first time


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    china coast guard scarborough

    Chinese coastguard ships are still patrolling the disputed Scarborough Shoal in the South China Sea but are not stopping Filipinos from fishing there, a Philippine defence spokesman said Sunday.

    The information -- from fishermen who have just returned from the shoal -- came despite earlier Philippine government statements that the Chinese had left the outcrop they seized in 2012.

    A spokesman for President Rodrigo Duterte had said Saturday there were no longer signs of Chinese ships at the shoal, after Duterte visited China to repair frayed ties.

    However Defence Department spokesman Arsenio Andolong said the fishermen who visited the shoal on Saturday still saw Chinese coastguard ships there.

    "Filipino fishermen, who have been to Bajo de Masinloc, (the local name for Scarborough Shoal) say that they have observed an undetermined number of Chinese white ships in the area but (the Filipinos) were not subjected to any harassment by these vessels and they were able to fish in peace," he said in a statement on Sunday.

    China took control of Scarborough Shoal, 230 kilometres (140 miles) west of the main Philippine island of Luzon, in 2012. It drove Filipino fishermen away from the rich fishing ground, sometimes using water cannons.

    In a case brought by then-president Benigno Aquino, the Philippines won a resounding victory over China at an international tribunal earlier this year.

    A fisherman repairs his boat overlooking fishing boats that fish in the disputed Scarborough Shoal in the South China Sea, at Masinloc, Zambales, in the Philippines April 22, 2015. REUTERS/Erik De Castro/File Photo In a judgement that infuriated Beijing, the tribunal ruled in July there was no basis for China's claims to most of the South China Sea -- where several nations have competing partial claims. 

    However Aquino's successor Duterte played down this victory in a visit to China earlier this month, putting territorial disputes on the back-burner and focusing instead on Chinese aid.

    Chinese President Xi Jinping told Duterte there was no reason for hostility and difficult topics "could be shelved temporarily".

    The Chinese occupation of the shoal has been a sore point in relations, with Filipino fishermen frequently complaining that Chinese  ships drive them away from their fishing grounds.

    Duterte had hinted at the possibility of a Chinese withdrawal upon his return from Beijing, saying: "We'll just wait for a few more days. We might be able to return to Scarborough Shoal." 

    Newspaper reports on Sunday also said fishermen from the northern province of Pangasinan were able to fish at Scarborough Shoal, with the Chinese watching but not interfering.

    "Happy days are here again," the Philippine Star quoted one fisherman as saying.

    Disputed claims in the South China Sea 

    SEE ALSO: South Korea's president has been linked to a 'shamanistic cult' and the country is furious

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    NOW WATCH: The ‘Apple of China’ just unveiled a phone that’s more powerful and better looking than the iPhone


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    f22 yall

    The US Air Force is the world's premier aerial power. 

    With 39 distinct types of aircraft, and many more subvarieties of each airframe, it is easy to understand why the US Air Force has no peers. Each airframe is custom-made to carry out a select mission effectively, and each pilot knows their aircraft perfectly. 

    Below are the 39 distinct types of aircraft that the US Air Force fields, according to the Air Force Fact Sheets

    SEE ALSO: This chart shows the incredible cost of operating the US Air Force's most expensive planes

    SEE ALSO: These are the most incredible photos of the US Air Force in 2015

    A-10 Thunderbolt II

    Mission: The A-10 is specifically designed to carry out close-air support at low altitude and low speed. The A-10 is built to be highly survivable and can takeoff and land in locations near to the front lines.

    Source: US Air Force



    AC-130

    Variants: AC-130U "Spooky" and AC-130W Stinger II 

    Mission: Both AC-130 variants are highly modified versions of the original C-130 airframe. The variants are both tasked with close-air-support missions, convoy escort, and point air defense.

    Source: US Air Force



    B-1B Lancer

    Mission: The B-1B Lancer is the Air Force's bomber backbone. It has the largest payload capacity of any aircraft in the fleet, is multi-mission capable, and can carry and deliver huge quantities of both precision and nonprecision weaponry. 

    Source: US Air Force



    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    An honor guard opens the door as Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) enters a hall to attend a meeting with members of the Presidential Council for Civil Society and Human Rights at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, October 1, 2015.  REUTERS/Yuri Kochetkov/Pool/File Photo

    Not since the height of the Cold War have tensions between Russia and the West reached the terrifying heights we've seen in the past months.

    Russia now challenges the West in virtually every arena possible from cyber attacks, to nuclear posturing, to military invasions of Western-leaning countries, and the intimidation of US allies and neutral states.

    According to Dr. Jeffrey Lewis, founding publisher of Arms Control Wonk and an avid Kremlin-watcher, Russia's resurgence owes mainly to one thing — paranoia.

    "We’ve seen the failure of democratic institutions in Russia. It’s not the open and free society that we had hoped for at the end of the Cold War, and with that failure comes an insecurity on the part of Moscow’s leaders," said Lewis on Russia's decent back towards dictatorship after the fall of the Soviet Union.

    Democracy provides countries like the US with a stable, established path for power changing hands. In the US, politicians serve at the pleasure of the people, who have legal and political means to replace their leadership without revolting.

    But in Russia, where rampant inequality exists between powerful, connected oligarchs and regular Russian citizens, the rulers are "terrified that they’re going to be toppled from power, which they don’t hold democratically or temporarily. They fear a coup."

    Lewis said that the wisdom from George F. Kennan's 1946 "Telegram from Moscow" still holds. Kennan argued that the USSR saw itself in a "capitalist encirclement," and that it could not peacefully coexist with the capitalist, or Western, world. 

    Paratroopers Day Moscow Russia

    "At bottom of Kremlin's neurotic view of world affairs is traditional and instinctive Russian sense of insecurity," Kennan argued. "Russian rulers have invariably sensed that their rule was relatively archaic in form, fragile and artificial in its psychological foundation, unable to stand comparison or contact with political systems of Western countries."

    Lewis contends that these conditions persist, and that "the way they deal with that insecurity is bullying and threatening their neighbors," which we see many examples of today.

    Russia has committed to "build their security on the insecurity of their neighbors," said Lewis. Lucky for Russia, creating instability is as easy as casting doubt, while creating stability requires accountability and transparency, which the Russian state need not bother with as it increasingly takes control of the country's media.

    "Interference with Ukraine and Baltics is part of that" will to destabilize Russia's neighbors, says Lewis. Moscow's push for chaos in the West can be seen in its "desperate effort to sure up Syria" as well as its hacks on the US election system.

    "It’s important to [Russian legitimacy] to tear us down to prove that we’re just as bad and corrupt as they are," says Lewis.

    Unfortunately for the US, much of Russia's campaign to discredit Western institutions works. GOP nominee Donald Trump often touts information exposed by Wikileaks, an organization with ties to Russia, as well as attacking the legitimacy of US democracy and threatening to ignore the results of the election

    Putin's favorability numbers, which he keeps artificially high by controlling the media and oppressing dissenters, have also improved dramatically among Republicans in the US this election cycle.

    trump

    Lewis states that Russia has funded several far-right nationalist organizations in Europe, like France's Marine Le Pen. The rise of nationalistic, law-and-order seeking, authoritarians on the far-right, a well documented phenomenon in Europe, seems to favor autocratic regimes like Vladimir Putin's. 

    In countries like Turkey and Hungary, powerful leaders with nationalist rhetoric erode the democracies that brought them to power. Those leaders then increasingly turn to Putin as an ally who won't fault them for attacking the press or other democratic institutions..

    "[Russian leadership] want[s] Americans [and others in the West] to say 'the people who run [our countries] are just as bad as the people who run Russia,'" said Lewis, who finds the manipulation "infuriating."

    While examples of corruption and abuse can certainly be found in Western, democratic governments, regular citizens, and a free press, can freely speak out when they disagree with the rich and powerful. This brings accountability to the government.

    Putin, on the other hand, doesn't want free speech, dissent, or rule by consensus; he wants order to provide the security his authoritarian government so sorely lacks.

    "Russians just want a free hand to bully their neighbors. There is no level of Russian power that will make Putin feel secure. There is nothing we can do that can make them happy," said Lewis.

    Obama and Putin

    "If we gave them the Baltics, they’d ask for Finland and Poland," said Lewis of Russia. 

    But the US has very few options to deal with this menace. The US allows free speech, and Russian propaganda and talking points will no doubt continue to find their way into Western society. Within Russia, "Putin is consolidating power, and he’s paranoid. There's not much you can do. You can’t fix it for the Russians, they have to fix it themselves," said Lewis.

    SEE ALSO: Why Russia just introduced an extremely dangerous new nuclear missile called the 'Satan 2'

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    NOW WATCH: 'You're the puppet': The last debate spiraled out of control over Russia and Putin


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    TALOS concept

    U.S. Special Operations Command is making progress researching, developing and testing a next-generation Iron Man-like suit designed to increase strength and protection and help keep valuable operators alive when they kick down doors and engage in combat, officials said.

    The project, formally called Tactical Light Operator Suit, or TALOS, is aimed at providing special operators, such as Navy SEALs and Special Forces, with enhanced mobility and protection technologies, a Special Operations Command, or SOCOM, statement said.

    "The ultimate purpose of the TALOS project is to produce a prototype in 2018. That prototype will then be evaluated for operational impact,” Lt. Cmdr. Matt Allen, SOCOM spokesman, told Scout Warrior.

    Industry teams have been making steady progress on the technologies since the effort was expanded in 2013 by Adm. William McCraven, former head of SOCOM.

    “I’m very committed to this because I would like that last operator we lost to be the last operator we ever lose,” McCraven said in 2013.

    Defense industry, academic and entrepreneurial participants are currently progressing with the multi-faceted effort.

    The technologies currently being developed include body suit-type exoskeletons, strength and power-increasing systems and additional protection. A SOCOM statement said some of the potential technologies planned for TALOS research and development include advanced armor, command and control computers, power generators, and enhanced mobility exoskeletons.

    Also, scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology are developing a next-generation kind of armor called “liquid body armor.”

    It “transforms from liquid to solid in milliseconds when a magnetic field or electrical current is applied,” the Army website said.

    TALOS will have a physiological subsystem that lies against the skin that is embedded with sensors to monitor core body temperature, skin temperature, heart rate, body position and hydration levels, an Army statement also said.

    “The idea is to help maintain the survivability of operators as they enter that first breach through the door,” Allen added.

    SEE ALSO: It's been 76 years since the Battle of Britain — here are 14 photos of the Nazi onslaught in the skies of England

    Join the conversation about this story »

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    us aircraft carrier

    "If we look to the answer as to why for so many years we achieved so much, prospered as no other people on Earth, it was because here in this land we unleashed the energy and individual genius of man to a greater extent than has ever been done before."

    So opens the 40 second video from the Texas Cinema Club on the might and glory of US aircraft carriers. The quote comes from Ronald Reagan's inaugural address in 1981.

    The clip plays perfectly with Reagan's quote. The clip shows sailors and airmen operating one of the biggest and most complicated machines in history — a US Nimitz class aircraft carrier.

    But as riveting as carrier operations are, the F-35C naval variant may have stolen the show.

    Watch the full clip below:

    SEE ALSO: The future of US naval dominance summed up in one picture

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    NOW WATCH: This incredible time-lapse shows what a day is like on an aircraft carrier


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    Chengdu J-20

    Two Chengdu J-20 stealth fighters headlined China's Airshow China in Zhuhai on Tuesday, flying for just a few minutes, Reuters reports.

    But Justin Bronk, a research fellow specializing in combat airpower at the Royal United Services Institute, said the display left many questions unanswered.

    On paper, the J-20 represents a "big leap forward in terms of the capabilities of the PLA (People's Liberation Army) have on scene," Bronk said.

    Compared with the US's fifth-generation fighter jets, the F-22 and the F-35, the J-20 has "longer range, more internal fuel capacity, and larger internal weapons capability," Bronk said.

    This combination of factors presents a real risk to US forces in the Pacific. Long-range, capable strike fighters like the J-20 put the US AWACS, or airborne warning and control system, as well as "refueling tankers, and forward bases at risk much more than current types if flying in relatively large numbers" should any kind of kinetic conflict flare up in the Pacific, Bronk said.

    David Goldfein, the chief of staff for the US Air Force, told Breaking Defense he was not overly troubled by the new Chinese jet.

    "When I hear about F-35 versus J-20, it's almost an irrelevant comparison," Goldfein said in August.

    Indeed, nothing indicates that the Chinese have built in the type of hyper connectivity and sensor fusions that make the US's fifth-generation fighters so groundbreaking. Of the F-35 in particular, Bronk said: "Pilots are not spending a huge amount of time managing inputs — the machine does it for him. It produces one unified picture, which he can then interrogate as required."

    F-35 cockpit

    This gives F-35 pilots a situational awareness the Chinese most likely leverage in combat.

    But what exactly goes on under the hood of the J-20 remains a mystery. What is known is that the Chinese have managed to steal a considerable amount of info from US defense aviation projects.

    "We don't know how much F-35 technology the Chinese have managed to steal," Bronk said, adding that while it was "impossible to say for sure" what the J-20 is capable of, common sense dictates that the "the sensor fusion and network integration is significantly behind what the US has managed with the F-35 and F-22.

    "This is purely based on the fact that sensor fusion has taken the most effort, time, and money," he continued.

    But one-on-one combat scenarios or feature-for-feature comparisons don't capture the real threat of the J-20.

    Long-range stealth fighters, if fielded in large numbers along with older Chinese aircraft, surface-to-air missile batteries, radar outposts, missiles, and electronic-warfare units, present another wrinkle in an already complicated and fraught operating envelope for US and allied forces in the Pacific.

    But is it real?

    Chengdu J-20

    Whether the Chinese will actually be able to field this plane by 2018, as Beijing has projected, remains the real question.

    Bronk pointed out that it took a decade between US developers building a flying model of the F-22 and getting real, capable F-22s in the air. Even if the Chinese have accelerated the process through espionage, Bronk says, "We know how much money and time it takes to make a lethal and effective fighter like the F-22," and it's "very unlikely that China is that far along."

    Additionally, the J-20s in Zhuhai flew for only about one minute. They didn't do low passes. They didn't open up the weapons bay. They didn't do much except fly around a single time.

    F-35 and F-22"We learned very little," Greg Waldron, the Asia managing editor of FlightGlobal, told Reuters. "We learned it is very loud. But we can't tell what type of engine it has, or very much about the mobility."

    Bronk speculates that the models on display at Airshow China were not much more than showpieces: "It's possible that the aircraft that were shown are still instrumented production aircraft," or planes with "loads of sensors to monitor performance" instead of in a combat-ready formation.

    Bronk points out that the aircraft most likely flew with underpowered engines and not the engines that would fly on the final version. "Engine performance is a key function of any aircraft," he said, adding, "China and Russia continue to lag behind because of the really top-end manufacturing processes you need" to create and tune high-quality aircraft engines.

    So while China's new "impressive low-observable heavy strike" fighters could change the balance of power in the Pacific, whether they can field the planes in significantly large numbers at any time in the near future remains an open question.

    Watch footage of the J-20's flight below:

    SEE ALSO: The future of US naval dominance summed up in one picture

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: China flexes its military might by unveiling a new stealth fighter jet


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    m1 abrams 1979

    A video showing an ISIS-fired, Russian-made anti-tank guided missile (ATGM) obliterating a US-made M1 Abrams tank illustrates the disturbing degree to which the US's tanks have fallen behind on the modern battlefield.

    The video shows what Dan Goure of The Lexington Institute identifies as a Kornet ATGM striking the back of an Iraqi Abrams tank. The tank then spews a spectacular stream of fire, and there can be little doubt that the crew was killed.

    Such an attack represents a big win for ISIS, a loss for the Iraqi people trying to reclaim the city of Mosul, and a glaring warning to US soldiers and Marines: Next time it could be you.

    In Syria alone, eight different types of ATGMs threaten any armored division, the Congressional Research Service states. There's no reason to believe a more favorable situation exists in Iraq. 

    The US's M1 Abrams, first introduced in 1979, has undergone a number of updates to deal with evolving threats on the battlefield, but it has fallen behind in a key area — active protection.

    Active protection systems (APS) involve a range of sensors that see incoming missiles and counter them with a hail of shrapnel or an explosion, thereby intercepting the incoming missile before the tank takes the hit.

    But only one battle-tested APS exists in the world, and it's Israeli. In 2006, top tier Israeli Merkava tanks fought against largely unarmored Hezbollah divisions, but ATGMs defeated a considerable number of the tanks.

    In the 2014 Gaza conflict with Hamas, Israel faced a similarly armed opposition, but it didn't lose a single tank. The difference was APS.

    Merkava tank israel

    The US hasn't faced a near-peer adversary in ground combat in some time, and during that time its tank operations have atrophied. Currently, researchers are trying to source a good APS to deploy on US tanks, but no decisions have been made yet. 

    Meanwhile, Russia claims to have succeeded in creating an APS for its new Armata tank family. 

    The destruction of the Iraqi tank by ISIS fire should serve as a wake up call to the US armed forces: Lead the pack or be left behind.

    Watch the ISIS attack on a Iraqi tank below:

    SEE ALSO: How China's stealthy new J-20 fighter jet compares to the US's F-22 and F-35

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: Footage reveals ISIS' secret underground tunnels near Mosul


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