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The latest news on Defense from Business Insider

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    South China Sea

    South Korea's coast guard opened fire at Chinese boats illegally fishing within its territorial waters on Tuesday, the Korea Times reports.

    No one was hurt and nothing was damaged after the coast guard vessel fired it's M60 into the sky as the boats fled, despite being ordered to stop. 

    South Korea has been cracking down on illegal fishing by Chinese vessels in its water, and even confiscated a Chinese ship after its crew took up arms against the Koreans, Yonhap News reports.

    These incidents between Chinese ships and coast guards of other nations is far from isolated. The Center for Strategic and International Studies Bonnie Glaser previously told Business Insider that China wields it's coast guard as a kind of "second navy."

    Additional reports point out that China uses its fishing fleet to muscle other countries out of important waterways. In March, Indonesia apprehended several Chinese sailors who were illegally fishing in Indonesian waters; however, China claimed that the sailors were still within Chinese territory.

    In the past, Chinese fishing vessels have rammed South Korean coast guard ships, sinking at least one.

    China has repeatedly shown total disregard for international laws and norms throughout East and South Asia, including claiming ownership of the South China Sea based on ancient and unofficial maps.

    South Korea has taken a hard stance against China, but a scandal has consumed the country lately, with the president accused of being a puppet for a "shamanistic cult."

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


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    German Chancellor Angela Merkel attends a meeting of the Christian Democratic Seniors Union in Magdeburg, Germany, October 7, 2016.     REUTERS/Axel Schmidt

    German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Wednesday accused Syrian government troops of committing "crimes against humanity" that could not be overlooked.

    Human rights groups and Western countries have previously accused Syria's army, backed by Russia's air force, of targeting hospitals, bakeries and other civilian areas when bombarding rebel areas, including eastern Aleppo.

    "The use of barrel bombs and incendiary bombs, and even chemical weapons, is not being shied away from," Merkel said as she received the Seoul Peace Prize in Berlin.

    "The civilian population is being starved, medical institutes are being attacked, doctors are dying and hospitals are being destroyed," she said, adding that not even United Nations aid convoys were safe from bombardment.

    "These are serious crimes against humanity. We mustn't overlook that," Merkel said.

    On Tuesday, a U.N. human rights spokeswoman said all sides fighting over the Syrian city of Aleppo may be committing war crimes through indiscriminate attacks in civilian areas.

    The U.N. Human Rights Council said late last month it would identify the perpetrators of war crimes in Aleppo, and it launched a special inquiry into the use of starvation and air strikes there.

    Merkel also urged Europeans to think about crises further afield. On North Korea's nuclear program and tensions in the East and South China Sea, she said: "Everyone involved has a duty to stick to the internationally agreed rules and to cooperate."

    A member of the Civil Defence, also known as the 'White Helmets', who have been nominated for the 2016 Nobel Peace Prize, reacts after the announcemenet of the winner, in a rebel held area of Aleppo, Syria October 7, 2016.

    SEE ALSO: Watch a US-led airstrike wipe out an ISIS fighting position near its last stronghold in Iraq

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: 'Well you can look on the map' — watch Hillary Clinton mock Gary Johnson over his Aleppo gaffe


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    Iranian women walk past the former US embassy in Tehran on November 3, 2016, during a demonstration marking the start of its 1979 siege

    Tehran (AFP) - A senior Iranian military official welcomed Thursday what he said was the "strong decline" of the United States, during celebrations marking the start of the 1979 US embassy siege. 

    "America is no longer number one and the first power of the world," deputy Revolutionary Guards commander Hossein Salami told thousands gathered outside the former US mission in Tehran. 

    "America's political will can no longer manage political and military development in... the world of Islam. America's political power has strongly declined."

    Every year on November 3-4, Iran celebrates the 444-day siege of the embassy when more than 50 diplomats, staff and spies were taken hostage by Islamist students demanding the extradition of the shah, who had fled to America after being deposed a few months earlier in the Islamic revolution.

    The crisis severed US-Iranian diplomatic ties for decades, but Tehran last year clinched a deal with world powers to curb its controversial nuclear programme in exchange for an easing of economic sanctions. 

    Protesters on Thursday chanted the traditional rallying cries of "Death to America" and "Death to the House of Saud", in reference to Iran's regional rival Saudi Arabia. 

    But the US remains Iran's main enemy, and Tehran and Washington back opposing sides in several regional conflicts, including Syria and Yemen. 

    "Our fight with the Americans will continue" Salami said. "Pursuing our ideals in the world of Islam and in Iran, we will recognise no stopping point or red line.

    He also warned the US not to criticise Iran's ballistic missiles, calling its system "the real centre of our power (that) must be strengthened."

    SEE ALSO: Video shows ISIS destroying a US-made tank, and why the US must up its game

    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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    north korea

    The Center for Strategic and International Studies's Beyond Parallel released new polls that shed light on one of the most obscure areas in global studies — the opinions of ordinary North Korean citizens.

    North Korea's 25 million citizens live under an oppressive, totalitarian government that freely detains or even puts to death citizens that stray from official messaging in any way. Simply listening to outside media not sanctioned by the state can result in death.

    But the small survey, which gives a voice to those living under unimaginable scrutiny, reveals what many in the international community believe to be true — North Koreans are unhappy with their state and risk severe punishments to cope with it in their personal lives.

    “This is the first time we’re hearing directly from people inside the country,” Dr. Victor Cha, head of Korea studies at CSIS, told The Washington Post

    Beyond Parallel carried out the survey so that it would present minimal risk to those involved. Ultimately, they wound up with a small sample size that nonetheless conveyed a sentiment with near unanimity: North Koreans know that their government does not work, and they criticize it privately at extreme personal peril.

    Kim Jong Un

    Out of the 36 people polled, zero said that the country's public distribution system of goods provides what they want for a good life.

    Out of the 36, only one said they do not joke in private about the government. 

    While it may not seem like a big deal to those in the West who enjoy free speech and can readily make jokes about their government, consider this 2014 finding from the United Nations on the state of free speech in North Korea:

    State surveillance permeates the private lives of all citizens to ensure that virtually no expression critical of the political system or of its leadership goes undetected. Citizens are punished for any “anti-State” activities or expressions of dissent. They are rewarded for reporting on fellow citizens suspected of committing such “crimes”.

    Beyond Parallel reports that formal state-organized neighborhood watches "regularly monitor their members" and report any behavior that deviates from what the state deems appropriate.

    The picture painted by Beyond Parallel's research paints a picture starkly in contrast with the images we see flowing out of North Korea's state media, which usually feature Kim Jong Un smiling broadly while touring military or commercial facilities. 

    The US and international community have long tried to lobby North Korea's greatest ally, China, to exert some influence on the isolated dictatorship to ease the suffering of the North Korean people, and protect the region from Pyongyang's nuclear belligerence

    SEE ALSO: Russia has a grand plan to undermine the West's democracies — and it's working

    SEE ALSO: 'Mr. Kim has missile lust, and he's not giving up': A timeline of North Korea's brazen missile tests so far in 2016

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: A photographer captured the dismal reality of life in North Korea on his phone


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    IRGC

    Iran now commands a force of around 25,000 Shi'ite Muslim militants in Syria, mostly made up of recruits from Afghanistan and Pakistan, the former head of Israel's domestic intelligence agency has told a visiting Swiss delegation.

    Avi Dichter, chair of Israel's foreign affairs and defense committee, told members of the Swiss parliament the Iranian-backed force was focused on fighting Sunni rebels opposed to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, not Islamic State.

    "This is a foreign legion of some 25,000 militants, most of whom have come from Afghanistan and Pakistan," Dichter told the delegation during the briefing on Wednesday, according to details provided by his office. "They are fighting in Syria only against the rebels and not against ISIS."

    It was not clear what the source of Dichter's information was, but he receives intelligence briefings in his role.

    In Syria, Iran also has the support of the Lebanese militia Hezbollah, which has long experience in the region, particularly against Israel. It is not clear how many Hezbollah fighters are in Syria, but Dichter said 1,600 had been killed.

    "The Iranians enlisted Hezbollah ... to fight in Syria because the Iranian army is better suited to fight as an army against another army, while the Hezbollah militants are adept at fighting against terror groups," he said.

    "The fighting has made (Hezbollah) a better fighting force and more adept in conventional military warfare."

    The briefing covered the fallout from the conflict, including the flow of migrants and refugees to Europe. Dichter cautioned that European states should not be naive about who was attempting to enter their borders.

    syria map

    Israel has long seen Iran as its greatest threat and campaigned hard against U.S.-led efforts to strike a nuclear deal with Tehran. At the same time, Israel frequently plays up the improving relations it has with some Sunni Arab states in the region, including Egypt and, to an extent, Saudi Arabia.

    Dichter told the delegation that Iran's "dream" was to rule the Islamic holy sites of Mecca and Medina in Saudi Arabia.

    "Everybody should ask themselves why the Iranians are building missiles with a range of 2,000 km, twice the distance (from their territory) to Israel," he said.

    "Egypt is also within their range, as is Saudi Arabia. Two thousands years ago, Iran was an empire and now it wants to recreate that."

    Echoing a common refrain from center- and right-wing Israeli lawmakers, Dichter said that was why Israel was convinced Iran had not abandoned its nuclear aspirations but only put them on hold, playing a long game against the West.

    SEE ALSO: Video shows ISIS destroying a US-made tank, and why the US must up its game

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: Obama said the White House previously announced the $400 million payment to Iran — here's the footage


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    tomahawk missile raytheon explosion

    The Navy is accelerating deployment of an upgraded Maritime Strike Tomahawk missile designed to better enable the weapon to destroy moving targets at sea, service officials said. 

    The missile, which has been in development by Raytheon for several years, draws upon new software, computer processing and active-seeker technology, which sends an electromagnetic ping forward from the weapon itself as a method of tracking and attacking moving targets. The electronic signals bounce off a target, and then the return signal is analyzed to determine the shape, size, speed and contours of the enemy target. This technology allows for additional high-speed guidance and targeting.  

    The Navy’s acquisition executive recently signed rapid deployment paperwork for the weapon, clearing the way for prompt production and delivery, an industry source said.

    “The seeker suite will enable the weapon to be able to engage moving targets in a heavily defended area,” Navy spokeswoman Lt. Kara Yingling told Scout Warrior.  “The Maritime Strike Tomahawk enables the surface fleet to seek out and destroy moving enemy platforms at sea or on land beyond their ability to strike us, while retaining the capability to conduct long range strikes,” she said.  

    The active seeker technology is designed to complement the Tomahawk’s synthetic guidance mode, which uses a high-throughput radio signal to update the missile in flight, giving it new target information as a maritime or land target moves, Raytheon’s Tomahawk Program Manager Chris Sprinkle said in an interview with Scout Warrior. 

    The idea is to engineer several modes wherein the Tomahawk can be retargeted in flight to destroy moving targets in the event of unforeseen contingencies. This might include a scenario where satellite signals or GPS technology is compromised by an enemy attack. In such a case, the missile will still need to have the targeting and navigational technology to reach a moving target, Sprinkle added.

    An active seeker will function alongside existing Tomahawk targeting and navigation technologies such as infrared guidance, radio frequency targeting and GPS systems.

    tomahawk missile raytheon explosion

    “There is tremendous value to operational commanders to add layered offensive capability to the surface force.  Whether acting independently, as part of a surface action group, or integrated into a carrier strike group or expeditionary strike group, our surface combatants will markedly upgrade our Navy's offensive punching power,” Yingling said.

    Rapid deployment of the maritime Tomahawk is part of an ongoing Navy initiative to increase capability and capacity in surface combatants by loading every vertical launch system cell with multimission-capable weapons, Yingling explained.

    Tomahawks have been upgraded several times over their years of service. The Block IV Tomahawk, in service since 2004, includes a two-way data link for in-flight retargeting, terrain navigation, digital scene-matching cameras and a high-grade inertial navigation system, Raytheon officials said.

    The current Tomahawk is built with a “loiter” ability allowing it to hover near a target until there is an optimal time to strike. As part of this technology, the missile uses a two-way data link and camera to send back images of a target to a command center before it strikes.  

    The weapon is also capable of performing battle damage assessment missions by relaying images through a data link as well, Raytheon said.

    The Navy is currently wrapping up the procurement cycle for the Block IV Tactical Tomahawk missile.  In 2019, the service will conduct a recertification and modernization program for the missiles reaching the end of their initial 15-year service period, which will upgrade or replace those internal components required to return them to the fleet for the second 15 years of their 30-year planned service life, Yingling said.

    “Every time we go against anyone that has a significant threat, the first weapon is always Tomahawk,” Sprinkle said. “ It is designed specifically to beat modern and emerging integrated air defenses.”

    SEE ALSO: The Pentagon wants a half-billion more dollars for the F-35

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: The richest village in China is one of the most mysterious places on earth


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    World peace index

    According to this year's edition of an annual report from the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP), Botswana, Kuwait, Morocco, Kazakhstan, Vietnam, Angola, and Burkina Faso all have one surprising thing in common: They are more peaceful than the US.

    The Global Peace Index from the IEP compiles yearly rankings of peacefulness in 162 nations based on 23 different types of data.

    The IEP attempts to answer a simple question: Is the world getting more or less peaceful?

    While the most peaceful nations in the world are growing more peaceful, with some reaching historic highs, the least peaceful countries are descending further into chaos and war.

    The report also includes an analysis of the economic impact of containing and dealing with the consequences of global violence. Last year violence containment was estimated to cost $13.6 trillion, which is approximately 13.3% of the world's gross domestic product.

    Here's a look at the highlights of the report (and here's the full report):

    SEE ALSO: What North Koreans really think of their supreme leader

    Europe holds a virtual monopoly on the world's most peaceful countries.



    Nations like Vietnam and Kosovo that were mired in ugly conflicts decades ago have bounced back and have become relatively peaceful.



    The US ranked 103 out of 163 nations.



    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    f22 raptor tho

    The F-22 Raptor combines extreme stealth with supermaneuverability, and the pilots of the US Air Force, through excellent training, make it the most lethal combat plane in the world.

    In the clip below, an F-22 performs several mind-bending moves in the air. More than once, the Raptor goes completely vertical, nose up to the sky, while draining off nearly all of its speed, and for a brief, shining moment, pauses at the crest of it's ascent.

    Then the pilot twists the F-22 into flips and rolls. At one point, the Raptor goes into a "falling leaf" maneuver, where it spins and drifts in a way that makes you almost forget that two massive jet engines power it. Seconds later, the engines roar back to life, and the plane is on its way again.

    In a dogfight, figures like maximum speed don't mean a whole lot. Sure, the F-22 can supercruise, but the ability to slow down and bear down on a target matters more in an air-to-air confrontation at close range.

    In the clip below, see how a US Air Force pilot in an F-22 owns the sky with incredible maneuvers:

    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: The F-35 has hit another snag — this time because it’s too stealthy


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    In less than a week, the 2016 election will have come to an end. 

    From over 20 candidates having declared their aspirations to be president and commander-in-chief, the election on November 8 will decide between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. And, unsurprisingly, both candidates are from or represent states that have in the past given the US its presidents. 

    The following map shows the breakdown of past US presidents by the state of their birth:

    bi_graphics_presidents by state of birth

    Virginia by far leads as the state that has produced the most US presidents at birth, with eight of 43 commander-in-chiefs originally hailing from there. New York, which in the past has produced four US presidents, could have the honor of having produced a fifth US president come the 2016 election.

    If Texas Senator Ted Cruz, who had come in second in the Republican primaries, had gone on to win the election, he would have been the first president not born inside the US (excluding presidents such as George Washington, who were technically born outside of the US as the country was yet to be established). 

    However, not all presidents remained affiliated with the states in which they were born. The following map shows a breakdown of US presidents based upon their primary affiliation, which is determined by where the presidents listed their residency before becoming commander-in-chief.

    bi_graphics_presidents by primary affiliation

    Taking into account primary affiliation, New York and Ohio are tied for having been the chosen home of the most presidents in history with six each. If Ohio Governor John Kasich had clinched the Republican nomination and then went on to win the election, he would have become the seventh president from Ohio.

    Conversely, if Sanders had won the Democratic nomination and the general election he would have become the first commander-in-chief primarily affiliated with Vermont.

    SEE ALSO: Super powers of 9 world leaders that may surprise you

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: POWER RANKINGS: Who has the best chance of becoming the next president


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    People watch as U.S. Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump speaks to the Veterans of Foreign Wars conference at a campaign event in Charlotte, North Carolina, U.S., July 26, 2016.  REUTERS/Carlo Allegri

    Donald Trump has trashed-talked Senator John McCain, who as a POW was tortured during the Vietnam War.

    He has skipped a GOP primary debate before the Iowa caucuses, instead holding a fund-raising event for vets. Then the money he raised had to be pried out of his small hands.

    He has said he knows more about ISIS than the generals.

    He has called the American military “a disaster.”

    He has accepted a Purple Heart awarded to one of his supporters, saying he always wanted one – as if a medal for getting wounded in battle were the Flexible Flyer he didn’t get for Christmas in 1950.

    He has been at war with the Muslim parents of Army Captain Humayun Khan, who was killed in Iraq in 2004 as he cautioned his men to stand back while he moved to examine a suspicious vehicle. It was a car bomb.

    He has said he learned all about being a soldier when he was sent to a military-themed boarding schoolbecause he was a badly behaved boy.

    And yet, as The New York Times reports , the man of the people who called in sick to the Vietnam draft while getting five deferments counts military veterans — many of whom served in Iraq or Afghanistan — as his most loyal supporters.

    Why would an overweight Twitter jockey who couldn’t low-crawl on his belly under barbed wire if he wanted to or pilot anything more complicated than a Cadillac Escalade appeal to America’s former fighting men and women?

    It’s simple: They resent having been sent cavalierly to fight again and again in senseless conflicts that don’t leave them proud, just exhausted and broken.

    Politicians like to puff out their chests, pledge allegiance and wrap themselves in the Stars and Stripes when veterans are mentioned, but it usually seems like a drill you learn at snag-a-vote school — along with phony smiling, hand pumping and talking out of both sides of your mouth.

    Vietnam war veterans

    But if the personally bellicose Trump can be taken seriously about anything, it’s that he doesn’t want to be a war president, that he doesn’t want America to be the world’s sentry, that he doesn’t want to send troops into harm’s way with abandon.

    In this election year, no candidate other than Bernie Sanders has talked more forcefully about not getting involved in foreign adventures than Trump. And in some ways, he has gone further, suggesting — sometimes ham-handedly or even frighteningly -- that countries defend themselves, or at least pay for their own defense.

    The media has played “gotcha!” with him over his claim that he never supported the invasion of Iraq, trotting out a half-hearted endorsement of the war in a passing moment during an interview with Howard Stern in 2002.

    But he wasn’t a senator who got a briefing and voted against the war, like Sanders -- or a senator who got a briefing and authorized the war, like Hillary Clinton.

    If middle and upper-class Americans are surprised that those who defend them are turning to Trump, that’s understandable: The all-volunteer enlisted men and women have become an easily ignored underclass with whom many people never have much contact.

    The Times story Thursday examining why so many veterans are backing Trump pointed out that less than 1 percent of Americans serve their country these days.

    U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump addresses the media regarding donations to veterans foundations at Trump Tower in Manhattan, New York, U.S., May 31, 2016.  REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

    For all its faults, a conscripted military was more representative of the nation because it included soldiers, sailors and Marines from all backgrounds, ethnicities and economic circumstances. Sure, the wealthier were always better able to come up with ways to avoid the draft, but it didn’t always work.

    Now instead of being an army of your sons and daughters or the children of your relatives, friends and co-workers, the military is made up of hired guns who don’t have the same connection to the population at large. They are our national bodyguards. We trust them to protect us. We honor their service. But at the end of the day, the sorry truth is we treat them as expendable.

    It is fair to ask if George W. Bush and Dick Cheney would have been as quick to start the Iraq War and commit troops to a dangerous mission far from home if those soldiers were draftees.

    With an all-volunteer military, the danger of a political blowback is significantly lower, and so the temptation to play cowboy with other people’s lives is much higher.

    In Clinton, many of those who have been grunts on the ground no doubt see yet another politician who could have an itchy trigger finger and who already made one wrong decision about going to war.

    In Trump, if they take him at his very dodgy word, they see an outsider who says he wants to strengthen the military enormously but keep American troops out of conflicts that don’t threaten national security. He has also promised to upgrade the care that former soldiers are getting from a still-troubled Veterans Administration.

    Trump has said to another group of Americans: “What the hell have you got to lose?”

    Surely a lot of veterans backing him have asked that question of themselves. 

    Join the conversation about this story »

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


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    Montenegrin Prime Minister and leader of Democratic Party of Socialists, Milo Djukanovic, reacts while he speaks to the media after voting in Podgorica, Montenegro, October 16, 2016. REUTERS/Stevo Vasiljevic

    A special prosecutor investigating an alleged plot to sway last month's election in Montenegro said on Sunday a group of "Russian nationalists" had planned to assassinate Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic to get an opposition party into power.

    Montenegro, a former Yugoslav republic, has been abuzz with conspiracy theories since the Oct. 19 election when authorities arrested 20 Serb citizens at the border with Serbia, accused of planning armed attacks against state institutions.

    Opposition parties had said the suspected plot was fabricated and accused Djukanovic of using the security services to help extend his quarter century of dominance over Montenegro.

    Before the vote, Djukanovic said Russia was financing the opposition in order to derail Montenegro's imminent NATO membership. Opposition parties, many also pro-NATO, deny this.

    No opposition members were available for comment.

    "The organizers of this criminal group were nationalists from Russia whose initial premise and conclusion was that the government in Montenegro led my Milo Djukanovic cannot be changed in election and that it should be toppled by force," Milivoje Katnic, special prosecutor for organized crime, said on Sunday.

    The aim was to assassinate the prime minister and to help an opposition party take over parliament, Katnic said. He did not name the party suspected of having been linked with the group.

    "State authorities revealed that a criminal group had been formed on the territories of Montenegro, Serbia and Russia with a task to commit an act of terrorism," he said.

    A person who was a skilled long-distance shot was sought to carry out the assassination, Katnic said.

    His investigation was carried out in cooperation with Serbian authorities, he said. Serbia also detained a number of people suspected of having links to the alleged plot.

    Djukanovic, whose party came out ahead in the election but without a parliamentary majority, had presented the vote as a chance for Montenegro's 620,000 citizens to endorse his policy of joining NATO and the EU, instead of pursuing deeper ties with traditional allies in Serbia and Russia.

    SEE ALSO: Russia has a grand plan to undermine the West's democracies — and it's working

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: Russia just introduced a new missile nicknamed 'Satan 2' — here's a look at their other formidable weapon systems


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    paratroopers operation dragon spear

    What happens when all hell breaks loose and the US military needs to act within hours?

    Enter the 5,000 specialists of Global Response Force, from the Army's 82nd Airborne Brigade, Joint Special Operations Command, and the US Air Force, capable of deploying anywhere in the world within 18 hours.

    "We need to have demonstrated legitimacy in this capability," Staff Sgt. Dillon Heyliger said of the GRF. "It's our muscle. It's us flexing our muscle. Nobody wants to get in the ring with the undefeated heavyweight champion."

    In the slides below see how the GRF trains to take enemy airfields with overwhelming force.

    SEE ALSO: The world's largest maritime exercise just got bigger

    The first wave is an airborne assault with the goal of taking control of an enemy airfield.



    Within minutes, paratroopers are on the ground putting heavy lead downrange.



    As with any good military exercise, casualties and injuries are simulated to help train field medics.



    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    The blood-stained floor of a kindergarten following reported shelling in the rebel-held area of Harasta, on the northeastern outskirts of Damascus, on November 6, 2016

    Beirut (AFP) - At least six children were killed on Sunday in Syrian government shelling that hit a kindergarten in the rebel-held town of Harasta outside the capital Damascus, a monitor said.

    The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitor said 17 people, most of them children, were also injured in the shelling.

    An AFP photographer saw the body of one child, a girl, lying on a bed at a makeshift hospital, her face bloodied and her clothes torn. 

    At the kindergarten, smears of blood were left on the tiled floor, underneath a small red slide propped against a wall painted with children's drawings.

    Harasta is in the rebel stronghold of Eastern Ghouta, outside Damascus, a region that is regularly targeted by government air strikes and shelling.

    More than 300,000 people have been killed in Syria since the conflict began in March 2011 with anti-government protests

    SEE ALSO: How the US military trains to take any airbase, anywhere in the world, in just 18 hours

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: This Syrian refugee makes a special candy to remind him of home


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    us soldiers jordan military base

    WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Defense Department on Sunday identified three U.S. Army trainers killed on Friday when their convoy came under fire as it entered a military base in Jordan.

    The Pentagon said the three were members part of an Army Special Forces Group based at Fort Campbell, Kentucky.

    In a statement, it identified the dead soldiers as Staff Sergeants Matthew C. Lewellen, 27, of Lawrence, Kansas; Kevin J. McEnroe, 30, of Tucson, Arizona; and James F. Moriarty, 27, of Kerrville, Texas.

    Details of the deadly incident - unusual given the close political and military ties between Washington and Amman - remain under investigation.

    A Jordanian military source told Reuters the U.S. trainers were fired on by Jordanian security forces when they failed to stop at the gate of Prince Faisal air base in the south of the country.

    Other Jordanian sources, however, said they could not rule out political motives in the incident.

    Join the conversation about this story »


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    Demonstrators scuffle with riot police during a protest against the arrest of pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) lawmakers, in Ankara, Turkey, November 4, 2016. REUTERS/Umit Bektas

    Luxembourg's foreign minister said on Monday that the Turkish government's handling of civil servants dismissed after a failed coup attempt reminded him of methods used by the Nazis, and that sooner or later the EU would have to respond with sanctions.

    But Berlin appeared to dismiss the idea, saying it was important to keep channels open to a key partner in fighting terrorism.

    More than 110,000 public servants - from soldiers and judges to teachers, politicians and journalists - have been detained, suspended or sacked since the failed military coup in July, in what President Tayyip Erdogan's critics say has turned into a crackdown on all forms of dissent.

    Turkish officials say the measures are justified by the threat posed by the coup attempt, in which more than 240 people were killed as rogue soldiers commandeered fighter jets and tanks, bombing parliament and other buildings.

    The names of those barred from public service are published in the official government gazette, potentially making it hard for them to find work elsewhere. In addition, their passports are canceled.

    Luxembourg Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn said people were also being stripped of their university degrees, and that many were being left with no income. Some dismissed teachers who were sole breadwinners have complained of being unable to feed their families.

    "To put it bluntly, these are methods that were used during the Nazi era and that's a really, really bad development," Asselborn said.

    turkey coup

    He suggested imposing economic sanctions, pointing out that 50 percent of NATO member and EU aspirant Turkey's exports go to the EU and 60 percent of investment in Turkey comes from the bloc.

    "At a certain point in time, we won't have any choice but to apply it (sanctions) to counteract the unbearable human rights situation."

    The German government poured cold water on the proposal.

    Interior Minister Thomas De Maiziere said while it was important to criticize the arrests of politicians and the limitation of press freedom, one should also keep in mind that Turkey, bordering Syria and Iraq, was a key ally in the fight against terrorism.

    "A differentiated look, also to safeguard our interests, is the right approach," De Maiziere told fellow party members of the conservative bloc.

    Chancellor Angela Merkel's spokesman said Berlin would not get involved in discussion about potential sanctions.

    "We have to make it clear to Turkey what impact the repression of the press and the repression of the opposition will have on its relations with the European Union," Steffen Seibert told a regular government news conference.

    "That's why it's important to keep the channels of communication open."

    Erdogan says Turkey alone can decide how to respond to the coup attempt, which they accuse U.S.-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen of orchestrating through a network of supporters. Gulen has condemned the action and denied any involvement.

    Turkey's President Tayyip Erdogan attends a Republic Day ceremony at Anitkabir, the mausoleum of modern Turkey's founder Ataturk, to mark the republic's anniversary in Ankara, Turkey, October 29, 2016.  REUTERS/Umit Bektas

    Turkey's EU Minister Omer Celik said Ankara's actions should be equated to efforts to "protect democracy during the fight against the Nazis".

    "The Nazis are like apprentices when compared with Gulenist terror organizations ... We are talking about an organization that has massacred its own people with warplanes, tanks, warships and helicopters. Nobody should think that we will take a step back in our fight against them."

    Erdogan said on Sunday he did not care if Europe called him a dictator and accused European nations of abetting terrorism by supporting Kurdish militants.

    Turkey has also threatened to cancel a deal with the EU to prevent refugees from the Middle East crossing into Europe in return for an acceleration of its EU membership application and visa-free entry for Turks.

    SEE ALSO: French Islam foundation head: French Muslims need to 'make a little effort' to integrate

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    isis mass grave

    BAGHDAD (AP) — Iraqi investigators are probing a mass grave that was discovered the previous day by troops advancing further into Islamic State-held territory near the city of Mosul.

    Associated Press footage from the site shows bones and decomposed bodies among scraps of clothing and plastic bags dug out of the ground by a bulldozer after Iraqi troops noticed the strong smell while advancing on Monday into the town of Hamam al-Alil.

    The first investigators inside the town, some 30 kilometers (19 miles) from Mosul, say that the mass grave likely holds about 100 bodies, many decapitated.

    The site lies behind an earthen embankment near an agricultural college.

    Iraq's Joint Military Command spokesman Brig. Gen. Yahya Rasool says investigators from Baghdad would be inspecting the site on Tuesday and in the coming days.

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    Consulate General of Russia in New York City

    Police found a 63-year-old security official dead with head trauma inside the Russian consulate in New York City on Tuesday.

    "Right now there does not appear to be any criminality. We're just waiting for the M.E. (medical examiner) to determine a cause of death," said officer Sophia Mason of the New York Police Department.

    The man apparently collapsed because of a medical issue, New York Daily News reports.

    Officers found the man unconscious when they arrived, and paramedics later pronounced him dead at the scene, police said in a statement.

    Police responded less than an hour after polls opened in New York following a presidential campaign in which Russia was a leading issue.

    The Russian consulate is less than two miles from Trump Tower, the home and campaign headquarters of Republican candidate Donald Trump.

    Police were withholding identification of the man pending family notification. Russian consulate officials were unavailable for comment.

    SEE ALSO: Russia has a grand plan to undermine the West's democracies — and it's working

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    Russian President Vladimir Putin delivers a speech during celebrations for Navy Day as it rains in Baltiysk, Kaliningrad region, Russia, July 26, 2015. REUTERS/RIA Novosti/Mikhail Klimentyev/Kremlin

    In the November issue of the US Naval Institute's Proceedings magazine, Commander Daniel Thomassen of the Royal Norwegian Navy argued that Russia's dream to build a blue water, or global, navy remains a "pipe dream." 

    Russia's navy has made headlines recently with high profile cruise missile strikes on Syria, and the deployment of the core of its norther fleet, including the Admiral Kuznetsov carrier, to the Mediterranean. 

    According to Thomassen, Russia's navy has considerable regional defense and anti-access/area-denial (A2AD) capabilities, but no reasonable path towards the type of naval power the US wields. 

    "Russia is capable of being a regional naval power in local theaters of choice. But large-scale efforts to develop an expensive expeditionary navy with aircraft carriers and amphibious warfare ships only would diminish Russia’s geographically overstretched homeland defense forces," writes Thomassen.

    Thomassen goes on to point out that strong navies have strong allies and healthy fleets. While Russia has been improving its fleet with some particularly good submarines, it lacks a big fleet that can build partnerships with allies around the world through bilateral exercises. 

    The US, on the other hand, regularly engages with allies to strengthen joint operations. The US can do this in part because it has enough ships around the world.

    But the state of Russia's navy now is only part of the picture. Russia has never been a major naval power, Thomassen points out. At times Moscow has established itself as a coastal naval power, but it never had a truly global reach on par with historic powers like England or Spain.

    Russia navy

    Furthermore, Russia's future as a naval power isn't that bright. Russia has been in a recession for 3 solid years. International sanctions tied to its illegal annexation of Crimea have greatly reduced Moscow's ability to bulk up its fleet.

    But that doesn't seem to matter to Russian leadership, which has set "highly ambitious governmental guidelines for developing and using sea power over the next decades."

    In addition to its submarine fleet, Russia wants new frigates, cruisers, and even carriers. These prospects seem especially dubious because Russia's Kuznetsov isn't really a strike carrier like the US's Nimitz-class carriers.

    The Kuznetsov has never conducted a combat mission. Mechanical troubles plague the Kuznetsov, so much so that it often sails with a tugboat. Also, the Kuznetsov just isn't built for the kind of mission it will undertake off Syria's coast.

    kuznetsov russia navy aircraft carrier

    Taylor Mavin, writing for Smoke and Stir, notes the following:

    "Since a major confrontation between NATO and Warsaw Pact would most likely take place in Europe, during the later Cold War Soviet planners focused on protecting the heavily defended 'bastions' shielding their ballistic missile submarines and not seaborne power projection. 

    In fact, Russia itself doesn't have the makings of a global sea power. While it has both Pacific and Atlantic coasts, like the US, the population of Russia's far east is about as sparse as you'll find anywhere in the world. 

    But one powerful reason dictates why Russia's leadership still marches towards this seemingly unattainable goal — prestige. Being seen as a credible alternative to Western naval power seems important to Russian leadership, and operating a carrier is one way to do that. Additionally, Moscow will spin its carrier deployment as propaganda, or a showcase for its military wares.

    So while Russia has capable, credible naval forces to defend its homeland and near interests, it will likely never project power abroad like the US and other naval powers of the past have. 

    SEE ALSO: Man found dead with head trauma at Russian consulate in New York

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    dump truck trump tower

    As Americans around the country vote for the US's next president, a strange sight unfolded in Manhattan.

    Dump trucks filled with sand surround Trump Tower and the Javits Center, where Hillary Clinton will watch the election results.

    The trucks and police surround both Manhattan addresses, though Trump will spend the evening at the Hilton Hotel on Sixth Avenue.

    The massive trucks filled with sand provide a dense, protective barrier in the event of a bomb.

    While it is an unusual sight, the truck tactic has been used before.

    The New York Times reported in 1983 that the Reagans ate their Thanksgiving dinner while dump trucks filled with sand surrounded the White House in response to an apparent bomb scare.

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    trump foreign policy speech

    Professor Andrew J. Bacevich of Boston University is perhaps the most well-known and persistent advocate in the academic community for a more restrained, less aggressive, and less knee-jerk foreign policy.

    He has written columns, books, op-ed’s and has given lectures on the danger of U.S. overreach for decades, and one can reasonably be certain that Bacevich’s personal experience as a combat veteran during the Vietnam and Gulf Wars helped shaped the way he viewed the world and America’s place in it.

    Bacevich fiercely challenges many of Washington’s foreign policy scholars, but even his detractors recognize he is a principled man whose message about careful, deliberative, results-based U.S. foreign policy is an important component of the wider debate.

    Bacevich’s latest op-ed in the Los Angeles Times is in keeping with that tradition. Writing that foreign policy officials very rarely are held accountable for decisions that later turn out to be unwise and damaging to the U.S. national interest, he goes on to implore the next generation of American leaders to break the mold by engaging in independent thinking and actual debate before critical decisions are made. Today’s policy elite, an exclusive club that has come to dominate the foreign policy machinery over the past two decades, needs a kick in the rear.

    This is an argument that is particularly suitable during this election season, when anti-establishment, anti-elite, and anti-government sentiment is strongly embedded among the American voter. According to the Pew Research Center, 73 percent of Americans don’t have trust in their elected officials, regardless of which ideology or political party these officials happen to subscribe. The U.S. Congress hasn’t cracked 25 percent approval rate since 2009.

    The United States Capitol Dome is seen before dawn in Washington March 22, 2013.  REUTERS/Gary Cameron

    As the numbers indicate, the U.S. Congress has plenty of work to do in order to regain the trust of the American people on foreign policy. Both the House of Representatives and the Senate, Democrats and Republicans included, have largely overlooked the current war against the Islamic State with the exception of the usual hearings — an oversight process that is generally used by members for political purposes rather than serious discussion about strategy.

    Americans have been at war for 15 consecutive years, and yet the people’s elected representatives go about their jobs as if war is a normal part of today’s discourse.

    This is not what our founders intended. All too often, substantive debate is truncated for time constraints or because it’s politically inconvenient. The congressional debate on Iraq was a searing experience for many lawmakers who voted to forcefully remove Saddam Hussein’s regime.

    Some members who voted to provide President Bush with the authority would later be defeated four years later once the conflict went badly. Others won re-election, but came to the conclusion that future war authorization votes should be avoided at all costs lest they get booted out of a job.

    bush mission accomplished

    Today, Congress has traveled a full 180-degrees; whereas a vote for war in the past was usually quick and painless, it is now a debate that is politically dangerous and should be avoided entirely. U.S. pilots, advisers, and special operations troops are already fighting the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq, these lawmakers may ask, so what is there to gain politically by formally providing the president with power that the White House is already exercising?

    Therein lies the main problem: war and peace should never be viewed through a political sense, but from the standpoint of what best serves U.S. national security and America’s interests around the world.

    A full, open, and honest discussion in front of the American public about the benefits and costs of U.S. military force, the dangers associated with it, and how much U.S. taxpayer money will be needed to prosecute it are immensely important questions that a lawmaker acquires as soon as he or she is elected by their constituents.

    These same questions, though, are rarely given the weight from Congress that they deserve. Instead, Congress seems to defer all of the power to the executive branch, assuming that the president’s national security team knows what a smart war strategy looks like.

    Just as Bacevich worries about the indifference of the American public during a period when war is a constant fact of life, we should worry just as much about the distressing record of our elected officials when the most important question that a lawmaker can ever debate arrives on their desks: should Congress allow the president to send American servicemembers into harms way.

    Daniel DePetris is a fellow at Defense Priorities.

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