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- 02/15/17--11:49: _Palestinians warn T...
- 02/15/17--13:23: _Why you shouldn't f...
- 02/16/17--06:38: _The US military is ...
- 02/16/17--08:27: _The world's most-ad...
- 02/16/17--08:37: _The F-35 just domin...
- 02/16/17--11:00: _A Marine explains w...
- 02/16/17--11:48: _Trump: Russian prov...
- 02/17/17--07:35: _Top US generals on ...
- 02/17/17--10:19: _Russia releases vid...
- 02/17/17--11:07: _Trump: 'We are look...
- 02/17/17--14:22: _John McCain just sp...
- 02/18/17--04:26: _A Navy SEAL explain...
- 02/18/17--07:00: _Here's why the US a...
- 02/21/17--07:25: _The US just sent an...
- 02/21/17--07:32: _Russia to rely less...
- 02/21/17--07:42: _US deploys 'nuclear...
- 02/21/17--09:57: _Trump's new nationa...
- 02/21/17--10:37: _Report: CIA gave up...
- 02/21/17--13:35: _Inside the epic tan...
- 02/21/17--13:58: _Trump's envoy at UN...
- 02/15/17--11:49: Palestinians warn Trump against giving up on the 2 state solution
- 02/16/17--11:00: A Marine explains why the ‘mythical head shot’ is so lethal
- 02/17/17--07:35: Top US generals on the F-35: We have a 'war winner on our hands'
- 02/18/17--04:26: A Navy SEAL explains what to do if you're attacked by a dog
- 02/18/17--07:00: Here's why the US and Israel are such close allies
- 02/21/17--13:58: Trump's envoy at UN issues stern warning to Russia, backs NATO
Palestinians warned the United States on Wednesday against abandoning a two-state solution to the conflict with Israel after a White House official said peace did not necessarily have to entail Palestinian statehood.
U.S. President Donald Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meet later in the day for the first time since the U.S. election in November that brought the Republican to office.
On the eve of the meeting, a senior White House official said it was up to the Israelis and Palestinians themselves to decide on the shape of any future peace.
"Whether that comes in the form of a two–state solution if that's what the parties want, or something else," the official said, adding that Trump, while giving peace "high priority" would not try to "dictate" an agreement.
For Palestinians, who seek a state in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, East Jerusalem and in the Gaza Strip, even the notion of a U.S. retreat from the internationally backed goal of a future Palestine existing alongside Israel was alarming.
"If the Trump Administration rejects this policy it would be destroying the chances for peace and undermining American interests, standing and credibility abroad," Hanan Ashrawi, a senior member of the Palestine Liberation Organization, said in response to the U.S. official's remarks.
"Accommodating the most extreme and irresponsible elements in Israel and in the White House is no way to make responsible foreign policy," she said in a statement.
Netanyahu committed, with conditions, to the two-state goal in a speech in 2009 and has broadly reiterated the aim since. But given regional instability and long-running divisions in Palestinian politics, many in his cabinet argue the time is not ripe for a Palestinian state to emerge.
Far-right cabinet ministers in Israel have called for the annexation of parts of the West Bank, which was among the territory Israel captured in the 1967 Middle East war. Netanyahu has not endorsed that demand.
Commenting on the White House official's remarks, Husam Zomlot, strategic affairs adviser to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, noted that Palestinian statehood has long been at the heart of international peace efforts.
"The two-state solution is not something we just came up with. It is an international consensus and decision after decades of Israel's rejection of the one-state democratic formula," Zomlot told Reuters in Jerusalem by telephone from the West Bank city of Ramallah.
On his departure for Washington on Monday, Netanyahu sidestepped a question on whether he still backed a two-state solution, saying he would make his position clear in the U.S. capital.
But he has spoken of a "state minus," suggesting he could offer the Palestinians deep-seated autonomy - they already exercise limited self-rule in the West Bank under interim deals - and the trappings of statehood without full sovereignty.
A Russian spy ship has been floating near the edge of the US's territorial waters since Tuesday while the US media and political establishments have been rocked by story after story about Russia's aggressive military, meddling in the US election, and possible contacts with the Trump administration before and during his presidency.
But that's no reason to freak out.
"There’s been incidents like this over many years. This is not a serious incident," James Jeffrey, former deputy national security adviser to George W. Bush and a member of the Washington Institute told Business Insider.
The US Navy echoed Jeffrey's lack of enthusiasm.
"We are aware of the vessel's presence," Lt. Col. Valerie Henderson, a Defense Department spokeswoman, told Business Insider on Tuesday. "It has not entered US territorial waters."
The US often has similar spy ships in the Baltic Sea and the Black Sea, but it should be noted that the US has allies in those regions, whereas Russia is a long way off from any friendly nations.
A former US Navy officer with knowledge of signals told Business Insider that while it is possible Russia is eavesdropping on US voice transmissions, Moscow has many ways to do that. Instead, he said, the vessel is likely focusing on intercepting and analyzing US radar and sonar waveforms — something the US routinely does to Russia.
Most likely, Russia is collecting data on US Navy emissions to catalog them and plan how to use electronic countermeasures against the US emissions in the case of war, the former Navy source said. It is unlikely Russia can get much data from 30 miles out at sea however, he added.
The Navy has the ability to disrupt Russia's listening equipment, according to Jeffrey, Bush's former deputy national security adviser, but will likely do nothing but "shadow the ship."
"In a time of peace you might say ‘we’re not at war with Russia, so why should show them how we'd jam their equipment?" said Jeffrey.
Days after North Korea tested a new, dangerous missile type and allegedly engaged agents to assassinate Kim Jong Un's half-brother in Malaysia, the US plans to send the big guns to the Pacific in a massive show of force.
The USS Carl Vinson has been making its way to the Pacific, and it will be joined by the world's most lethal combat plane, the F-22s, a nuclear-powered submarine, and possibly B-1 and B-2 nuclear-capable bombers.
"The two sides have agreed to send such weapons as the F-22 stealth fighter and a nuclear-powered submarine to the Key Resolve and Foal Eagle exercises in March," a defense official told South Korea's Yonhap News Agency.
US and South Korean forces will participate in military drills together to enhance readiness and test their ability to defend against North Korean missile attacks — an ability recently challenged by North Korea's latest missile advance.
Key Resolve and Foal Eagle represent two annual major military drills carried out by US and South Korean troops that regularly rile up North Korea, who usually threaten some sort of "catastrophic outcome" to what they see as a US-initiated provocation.
The South Koreans intend to spend $114 million developing an electromagnetic pulse weapon to cripple North Korea's command and control abilities as well as laser weapons systems to pull off a surgical strike on the country's nuclear missile facilities, Yonhap reported.
The massive USS Gerald R. Ford will head out to sea for builders' trials next month in a critical test before the US Navy intends to commission the ship later this year, USNI News reports.
The Ford will improve on the Navy's Nimitz-class carriers with a rearranged flight deck, improved launching and landing systems, and a nuclear power plant with outsized capabilities that can integrate future technologies such as railguns and lasers.
The Ford's commissioning will bring the count of full-sized carriers to a whopping 11 for the United States — more than the rest of the world combined.
The ship will sail out for a test of its most basic functions like navigation and communications, as well as a test of its nuclear-powered propulsion plant.
Its most advanced features, like its electromagnetic catapults for launching bomb- and fuel-laden jets from the deck, will not undergo testing.
The Ford, like almost any large first-in-class defense project, has encountered substantial setbacks and challenges as the Navy and contractors attempt to bring next-generation capabilities to the US's aircraft carriers. Notably, the Navy has expressed doubts about the advanced arresting gear, which helps speeding planes land quickly and gently, saying it may scrap the program in favor of the older system used on Nimitz-class carriers.
After achieving an awesome air-to-air kill ratio of 15-to-one, the F-35 trounced ground targets at the US Air Force's Red Flag exercise — and now the world's most expensive weapons system may finally be ready for the front lines.
For the first time ever, the F-35 competed against legacy aircraft and simulated surface-to-air missile batteries at "the highest level threats we know exist,” according to a statement from Lt. Col. George Watkins, an F-53 squadron commander.
“Just as we’re getting new systems and technology, the adversary’s threats are becoming more sophisticated and capable,” said Watkins, nodding to the expansive counter-stealth and anti-air capabilities built up by the Russians and Chinese over the years.
But the F-35 program has long carried the promise of delivering a plane that can outsmart, outgun, and out-stealth enemy systems, and the latest run at Red Flag seems to have vindicated the troubled 16-year long program. Not only can the F-35 operate in heavily contested airspace, which render F-15s, F-16s, and F-18s as sitting ducks, but it can get more done with fewer planes.
“I flew a mission the other day where our four-ship formation of F-35As destroyed five surface-to-air threats in a 15-minute period without being targeted once,” said Maj. James Schmidt, a former A-10 pilot now flying F-35s.
Four planes taking out five SAM sites in 15 minutes represents nothing less than a quantum leap in capability for the Air Force, which prior to the F-35 would have to target threats with long-range missiles before getting close to the battle.
“We would shoot everything we had at that one threat just to take it out. Now between us and the (F-22) Raptor, we are able to geo-locate them and precision target them,” Watkins said, adding that F-35s are so stealthy, “we can get close enough to put a bomb right on them."
But that's only one of the multi-role F-35's jobs. After obliterating ground threats, F-35 pilots said they turned right around and started hammering air threats.
The F-35 came out of Red Flag a ringing success just as Defense News reports that the strike aircraft is now being considered at the highest levels for overseas deployments.
“I think based on the data that we’re hearing right now for kill ratios, hit rates with bombs, maintenance effectiveness … those things tell me that the airplane itself is performing extremely well from a mechanical standpoint and … that the proficiency and skills of the pilots is at a level that would lead them into any combat situation as required,” Brig. Gen. Scott Pleus, head of the Air Force's F-35 integration office told Defense News.
With that success on record, Pleus will now consider deploying a small group of six to eight F-35s overseas as part of a "theater security package" to help train and integrate with US allies.
UK and Australian contingents participated in this installment of Red Flag. Both countries plan to buy and operate the F-35 in the near future.
This post originally appeared as an answer by Jon Davis to the Quora question: What can kill us so quickly that we wouldn't even know it?
Firing just about any caliber round in this area will pretty much kill someone instantly.
This is called the “T-box” by police and military security forces because of its obvious shape. When these individuals are placed in lethal force encounters, this area is emphasized as a vital target area, second only to the center of the chest.
It is valued so highly because it is the single most lethal part of the body to succumb to violent kinetic pressure and if the round is delivered accurately, will guarantee the end of any adversary’s aggression.
If troops or law enforcement officers can fire within this very small field, it is virtually guaranteed to instantly kill any combatant.
The only reason it isn’t trained to be the first area shooters aim for is that the shot is extremely difficult and in situations where lethal force is required, sometimes just crossing the finish line matters more than the grace and finesse with which one does so.
The Mythical Head Shot
A simple “head shot” may not be enough to completely stop the enemy dead in their tracks. Video games and movies give the idea that, so long as you “tag” the head, a person will drop dead with no questions asked. This movie myth is factually inaccurate.
Numerous cases have shown individuals who have survived being shot in the head, not resulting in death of the intended target. Other cases will show people who have suffered varying levels of brain damage, but not death. Many times no brain damage occurred and the only resulting injury was just cosmetic damage to the face.
There are even some reports of people being shot so closely, and at such an angle, that the bullet was deflected and simply bounced off the skull, leaving literally nothing more a scratch. All of these are survivable and sometimes even result with little loss of quality of life. For that reason, most “head shots” aren’t guaranteed kills. Some won’t even end the threat happening at the moment.
Firing within the T-Box, however, is.
Why the T-Box is Lethal
The T-box covers the nose and behind the eyes. These sensory organs don’t actually matter themselves, but are simply the target area.
What makes the T-Box different from any other area is the part of the brain which rests directly behind it. Beyond this point is the lower brain, the parts most responsible for the processes that cause us to continue living. It houses the brain stem which is responsible for our organs functioning automatically, namely our heart, lungs, our central nervous system, as well as controlling the rest of our brain itself.
This means that losing it guarantees a complete and instantaneous loss of consciousness and life.
The truth is, the T-Box can actually be much larger depending on the caliber of the round. This is because ballistic effects on soft targets have cumulative effects which help to guarantee a complete loss of lower brain function.
A bullet doesn’t just pass through a medium. Another movie myth would suggest that a bullet just punctures at a given point of entry then bores a bullet sized hole all the way through. Reality is much more graphic than that.
Like any kinetic object, a moving object will release its energy into the medium with which it travels. My examples will be with a standard issue 9mm Beretta pistol, commonly issued throughout the military and law enforcement, as well as widely available to the common buyer. The energy of that weapon can be measured as an 8 gram mass moving at around 381 meters per second generating about 3 Newtons of force.
Those three or so Newtons of energy will be released into a target proportionally to the resistance it gives the bullet as it travels. A good analog for what 3 Newtons is would be the force of 3 apples falling. This doesn’t sound extremely powerful, but it must also be emphasized that this is a massive amount of force being emanated from a very narrow channel, the cavity created by the bullet. This transition of force results in the bullet slowing down as the cavity it created expands explosively.
This is what explosive expansion looks like on ballistics gel, the best analog for human bodily tissue. Ballistics experts even measure this property, referred to as “cavitation” or the measurement of the cavity produced by ballistics. This gel showcases the effects within the human body. This is an especially potent event in the brain.
It can’t be communicated enough that most of a bullet’s damage doesn’t center on the direct path it takes through the body, but through the absorption of energy. The most important factor to consider is that that cavity you see above shouldn’t just be smaller; it shouldn’t exist. We are talking about cells which once touched being violently propelled from one another. Within the brain, that represents cells and neurons that exist and operate within nanometers, momentarily separated by a space of several inches, and never able to return to their original structure.
Placing this event anywhere near the lower brain, namely the brain stem, will result in the violent and immediate fragmentation of all necessary working processes providing both awareness to the victim, as well as control of all bodily functions. That means they are instantly dead.
But Will We Know It’s Coming?
So we have shown that any bullet placed within this area will result in death, absolutely and non-negotiably, but are we sure we wouldn’t be able to realize we had been shot, or even shot at, first?
Now we are asking a question about the comparison of the speed of a bullet in flight and the cognitive capabilities of the human perceptive system. Our 9mm Beretta fires a round which has a muzzle velocity, the speed it travels through the air when it leaves the weapon, of around 1,250 ft/s or 381 m/s.
Reaction time for people is something likeif you are skilled and practiced at very certain tasks which you are prepared for and expect to occur. That isn’t the case here. Under normal conditions, you could expect to be able to react to something, given about notice.
Using our metrics from the Beretta, at the velocity the bullet is moving, you would have to be capable of watching it moving for over 570 meters, or over a third of a mile, just to have time to react to it. Considering the size and speed of the round in question, I am going to consider that, for all intents and purposes, impossible.
You also won’t be able to hear the bullet fire either. The speed of sound is 1,126 feet per second, or 343.205 m/s. Looking back at our old numbers, the 9mm Beretta clocks in at 1,250 ft/s or 381 m/s, we see that the bullet itself is supersonic. For that reason, you would never hear it coming until long after it has done its job.
For argument’s sake, in the case of the slowest bullets out there travel at 339.7504 m/s. This means they are actually only 4 m/s slower than mach 1. Given that this difference makes the slowest rounds only .01% slower than sound and the fact we still require another 1.5 seconds to process that sound, this bullet would still have had to have traveled over a fifth of a mile before you could possibly hear it in time to recognize and process.
Being that no handgun firing such a slow round is even effective at that range, and also that there is no way to know if you are diving to a safer location than you already occupy, we could say that it too is rhetorical. There is no chance that you will ever hear a round with your name on it.
The Gruesome Truth
Having said all this, you can safely know that any unfortunate victim of being shot with any caliber round aimed directly to the imaginary T-box area of the face will be dead. In fact, they will die so thoroughly and immediately, that the last cognizant thing their mind registers will be the sight of the barrel of the weapon which was about to kill them… before their brain explodes.
That was twisted. I hope you enjoyed it. If you would like to support me, please visit my. For more content like this, visit my blog – . Thanks for reading, you morbidly-curious individual.
US President Donald Trump refused to say what his response would be to a recent wave of Russian military provocations in a testy exchange with CBS News’ chief White House correspondent Major Garrett.
Garrett asked Trump at a press conference on Wednesday about three recent incidents involving the Russian military: a Russian spy ship loitering outside of a US submarine base, Russia developing and deploying treaty-violating cruise missiles, and a Russian Su-24 attack aircraft buzzing a US destroyer in the Black Sea.
As Garrett detailed each of the three incidents, Trump interjected "Not good!"
Trump then interrupted Garrett to say that the reporter would criticize Trump if he was too tough on Russia, and that Russian president Vladimir Putin assumes that he and Trump will not be able to make a deal because it is "politically unpopular" in the US to do so, given the scandal surrounding former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn's inappropriate contact with Russia.
When Garrett then asked Trump directly if he thought Putin was testing him with the military incidents, Trump said "No, I don't think so. I think Putin assumes he can't make a deal with me... I don't know if we're going to make a deal with Russia."
"I wanna do the right thing for the American people, and to be honest, secondarily, I want to do the right thing for the people of the world," Trump continued, stressing that Russia and the US have reasons to get along, and the US would benefit from improved relations between the two world powers.
"Nuclear holocaust would be like no other. [Russia is] a very powerful nuclear country and so are we. If we have a good relationship with Russia, believe me, that's a good thing, not a bad thing," said Trump
Garrett again tried to focus Trump on the specific events he listed, saying "Can we conclude there will be no response to these particular provocations?"
"I'm not going to tell you anything about what I do. I don't talk about a military response," said Trump, who then reiterated campaign points that he doesn't make a practice of announcing his intentions militarily.
"I don't have to tell you what I'm going to do in North Korea. I don't have to tell you what I'm going to do with Iran. You know why? Because they shouldn't know," said Trump.
"When you ask me what I'm going to do with the ship, the Russian ship, I'm not to tell you.... but hopefully I won't have to do anything," said Trump.
Navy officials have told Business Insider that they respect Russia's right to sail in international waters, and that they have no planned response to the spy ship off the coast of the US's main East Coast submarine base. The US carries out similar data-gathering and surveillance missions near Russia frequently.
On the issue of Russia's deployment of Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces treaty-violating missiles, several GOP senators have called for the US to respond with missile deployments to Europe.
The US ship buzzed by Russian attack aircraft has not seen a response from the Trump administration or anyone beyond naval officials. A similar incident occurred in April of 2016 and the Obama administration's response was muted.
The top aviators from the US Air Force, Marine Corps, Navy, and the head of the F-35 Joint Program office all testified before Congress on Thursday and came to a clear consensus — the US has "a war winner" on its hands with the F-35.
The F-35 program, first announced in 2001, has become the most expensive weapons project in history, with President Donald Trump calling the program "out of control" in December.
The program has delivered just 200 or so aircraft years behind schedule and billions over budget, but the top aviators in the US military said that the Joint Strike Fighter would come down in price and provide revolutionary capabilities to the US and their partners.
"We believe we are on track to continue reducing the price of the F-35 such that in [fiscal year 2019], with an engine including all fees, the F-35A model will cost between $80 million and $85 million,” Air Force Lt. Gen. Christopher C. Bogdan, program executive officer, F-35 joint program office told Congress.
Bogdan also said the program had begun a block-buying strategy for foreign nations to bring down the price per aircraft.
The Marine Corps and Navy has said their biggest problem with the F-35 is not having enough. Marine Corps Lt. General Jon Davis said the Marines need F-35s to replace their aging fleets of F-18s and Harrier jump jets, which average 22 years.
But the F-35 isn't just another fighter jet — it's a flying all-spectrum sensor node that can fight without being seen and elevate the performance of entire squadrons by sharing data on the battle space.
“The aircraft's stealth characteristics, long-range combat identification and ability to penetrate threat envelopes while fusing multiple information sources into a coherent picture will transform the joint coalition view of the battlefield,” said Navy Rear Adm. DeWolfe “Chip” Miller III.
"I'm becoming increasingly convinced that we have a game-changer, a war winner on our hands," Davis said of the F-35. "We can't get into those airplanes fast enough."
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The footage shows the Su-35S fully laden with advanced missiles taking off from the runway and performing some impressive stunts. While the Su-35S lacks the stealth of the US's fifth-generation aircraft, it packs an infrared search-and-track radar that can potentially spot even the stealthiest plane.
The Su-35S' incredibly agility and devastating weapons that can fire off boresight make it a difficult match for the US's F-35, which was not designed to out-turn and maneuver against advanced threats like the Su-35S, but rather shoot them down at a distance while remaining unseen.
“The Su's ability to go high and fast is a big concern, including for F-35,” an Air Force official with experience on the Joint Strike Fighter program told The National Interest.
China has also taken delivery of the new Russian multirole fighter, meaning US planners will be studying the plane to determine just how US forces would take it down should the unthinkable happen.
Watch the video below:
President Donald Trump again teased the prospect of placing a "big order" of F/A-18 Super Hornets to a cheering crowd at Boeing's South Carolina factory on Friday.
"We are looking seriously at a big order" of F-18s said Trump to applause from the crowd at Boeing, the company that builds the F/A-18.
Trump's Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis announced in January that the military would "review" the F-35 program and possibly opt for more "advanced Super Hornets" instead of the F-35C, the Navy's carrier-based variant of the Joint Strike Fighter that continues to struggle.
Trump continues to seriously explore the idea despite backers of the F-35 program have protested the notion that an updated F-18 can do the F-35's job.
The advanced Super Hornet package offered by Boeing builds on the company's reputation for delivering upgrades to the F-18, first built in the 1970s, on time and on cost.
This contrasts heavily with the Navy's F-35C, made by Boeing rival Lockheed Martin, which has faced significant difficulties achieving readiness in the military.
Dan Gillian, Boeing's vice president of F/A-18 and EA-18 programs, told Business Insider that even with the coming F-35C naval variant, US carrier air wings would consist of a majority of F/A-18s into the 2040s. In fact, Boeing has contracts currently underway to update the F/A-18s.
Republican Senator John McCain of Arizona just spent nine minutes picking apart President Donald Trump's worldview without mentioning his name once at the Munich Security Conference in Germany on Friday.
The panel he spoke at was ominously titled "The End of the West as We Know It."
“In recent years, this question would invite accusations of hyperbole and alarmism; not this year,” McCain said of the event's provocative title.
But McCain did not discuss any Russian provocations, military or otherwise. Without naming the president, he "systematically dismantled" Trump's "entire worldview,"according to the Washington Post.
McCain spoke frankly about the people of the West embracing "old ties of blood and race and sectarianism,""hardening resentment" towards immigrants, displaying an "unwillingness to separate truth from lies," and flirting with and romanticizing authoritarianism, a system antithetical to the West.
While Russia has been shown to support populist movements and even corresponded with the Trump campaign during the election, McCain laid the blame on the people of Western democracies for "growing complacent,""giving up on the West," and fostering a "decadence" which leads to world orders failing.
"All of us must accept our share of the blame for these events," McCain said.
"They have no meaningful allies, so they seek to sow dissent among us and divide us from each other. They know that their power and influence are inferior to ours, so they seek to subvert us and erode our resolve to resist, and terrorize us into passivity," McCain said of non-Western, authoritarian powers like Russia and China.
"These are dangerous times, but you should not count America out," said McCain to applause.
"We cannot allow ourselves to question the rightness and goodness of the West," said McCain in a clear shot at Trump and Vice President Mike Pence's refusal to say the West is morally superior to Russia.
But McCain blurred the clear line he drew between his pro-Western orthodoxy and Trump's new populism when he said that Pence and Trump appointee John Kelly would back him up with similar, pro-NATO, pro-democracy, pro-liberal values, pro-Western messages to the conference.
You can watch the full speech below:
Former Navy SEAL Clint Emerson, author of 100 Deadly Skills: The SEAL Operative's Guide to Eluding Pursuers, Evading Capture, and Surviving Any Dangerous Situation, explains what to do if you're ever attacked by a dog.
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Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel's prime minister, was one of the first foreign leaders to visit US President Donald Trump after his election in November and his inauguration in January for a simple reason — the US and Israel have one of the strongest military to military alliances in the world.
The US supports Israel in diplomatic and military matters not because of the strength of pro-Israel lobbies like the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee, or out of sympathy stemming from the events of World War II, but for practical reasons.
Michael Koplow, a Middle East analyst at the Israel Policy Forum, told Business Insider that the US's alliance with Israel owes to two key factors — intelligence sharing and ideological unity.
Israel's intelligence and insights into Middle Eastern affairs is "unparalleled" throughout the world and "benefits the US in all sorts of ways." For decades, intelligence analysts have regarded Israel's Unit 8200 as one of the most elite in the world. The unit functions similarly to the US National Security Agency, and the two work closely together.
In 2010, for example, the US and Israel collaborated on one of the most-sophisticated malware systems ever created, Stuxnet, to infiltrate Iran's cyber infrastructure and slow progress towards nuclear weapons without firing a shot. In missile defense as well, US and Israel have worked together to field some of the most effective systems around.
Unlike other US allies in NATO and the Pacific, the US has no forward-based troops in Israel, which could serve as a "port of last resorts," should the US ever need friendly territory to stage troops or equipment, according to Koplow.
But besides having perhaps the world's greatest intelligence sharing partnership, the US and Israel see eye to eye on something fundamental to both states — democracy.
"Israel is the only liberal democracy in the Middle East," said Koplow, who added that there are "many shared societal values between US and Israel." Like the US, Israel has regular and open elections with peaceful transitions of power. In a region with failed and failing states Israel is "really an important ideological ally," said Koplow.
The risks of the alliance
Like the US, or virtually any country on earth, Israel is not without its enemies. The United Nations has pushed back on Israel's treatment of Palestinians and their support for Jewish settlements outside of Israel's borders.
Specifically, Israel just pushed through legislation that retroactively legalizes about 4,000 settler homes built on privately-owned Palestinian land in a move that a UN spokesperson called a "contravention of international law."
"If you’re a supporter of the Palestinian cause, it’s reasonable to ask why the US is supporting Israel," said Koplow, adding that many in the US "take exception to the US funding Israel given the treatment of Palestinians." Furthermore, US military aid and weapons have been used by the Israelis against Palestinians in their territory.
Others worry about the balance of the US's aide to Israel. In 2015 more than half of the US's foreign military aid went to Israel. That's about $3.1 billion dollars. Much of this money Israel spends on US defense projects in return.
According to Koplow, Israel's treatment of the Palestinians have not gone unnoticed by its neighbors in the Middle East. "Historically, support for Israel obviously causes tension with allies in the region ... there are people who question whether our support for Israel is worth the friction it causes with other US allies."
But the US's allies have learned to deal with Israel.
Saudi Arabia and other Gulf nations no longer protest the US-Israeli relationship as they did in the 1970s with the oil embargo, as the US now has many sources of oil and the price of crude oil has plummeted.
Iran, however, is not a US ally and remains a sworn enemy of Israel. Iran openly supports Hezbollah and Hamas, militant groups in the West Bank, Gaza, and Lebanon which wage war against Israel. Iran tests ballistic missiles with "Israel must be wiped off the face of the planet," and launches naval vessels with slogans like "death to America."
Rifts in the alliance
Today the US and Israel find themselves at odds over issues such as the Jewish settlements in the West bank and Gaza or if Israel should pursue a one or two state solution to their borders, but in the past, confrontations have been much more substantial, and sometimes violent.
In 1967, Israel's air force knowingly attacked the USS Liberty, a US Navy vessel in international waters in the Mediterranean.
The attack killed 34 virtually defenseless US sailors as Israeli planes and torpedo boats made multiple attacks.
Israel apologized for the attack, claimed it was a mistake, and compensated the US, but survivors of the attack maintain that it was deliberate.
In the 1980s, Jonathan Pollard, an American naval intelligence analyst passed classified information to the Israelis that the US had withheld despite a memorandum of understanding between the two nations that such intelligence should be shared. Pollard eventually pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit espionage and served 30 years in prison.
"The decision I made was based on fear and concern" for Israeli lives being endangered because the US wasn't sharing information as they had agreed to, Pollard told Israeli TV. "Those were emotions that got the better of me," he said.
So while the US alliance with Israel puts American diplomats in some tricky situations with the UN over human rights concerns and Iran, the alliance has survived sometimes extreme difficulties to massively benefit both parties while supporting a strong, liberal democracy in the Middle East.
The strike group includes the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson, an entire destroyer squadron, and an additional Arleigh Burke class destroyer.
A US Navy carrier strike group represents one of the most powerful naval units in the world, and China has taken notice.
"China respects and upholds the freedom of navigation and overflight in the South China Sea, which countries enjoy under international law, but firmly opposes any country's attempt to undermine China's sovereignty and security in the name of the freedom of navigation and overflight," said Geng Shuang, a spokesman China's Foreign Ministry, according to CNN.
Indeed, China's military doctrine even goes as far as permitting a first strike against threats to China's sovereignty, but the USS Carl Vinson has been operating in the South China Sea for decades.
But the move to promote freedom of navigation in the South China Sea comes as China has all but nailed down the region as firmly within its control. China owns a series of artificial islands, which satellite images show it has militarized with missile launchers and radar outposts.
The US takes no side in the dispute between China and six other nations over who owns what in the region but has repeatedly expressed interest in preserving freedom of navigation in an area with vast oil reserves and about $5 trillion in annual shipping.
At an Association of Southeast Asian Nations summit on Sunday, leaders from the region tried to develop a framework for a code of conduct in the heavily contested South China Sea, but found the process "has become virtually moot and academic," former Philippines National Security Adviser Roilo Golez told ABS-CBN news
"I expect China to still resist the finalization and approval (of a code of conduct) so that China can further militarize the artificial islands with the placement of offensive medium-range and long-range missiles," said Golez.
The US deployment to the South China Sea comes just days after Chinese warships withdrew from military drills in the region.
MOSCOW (AP) — Russia will continue to see the development of its nuclear forces as a top priority, but the military will rely increasingly on conventional weapons to deter any aggression, the Russian Defense Minister said Tuesday.
Sergei Shoigu said Tuesday that weapons such as the long-range Kalibr cruise missiles carried by navy ships, long-range cruise missiles carried by Russian strategic bombers and the land-based short-range Iskander missiles will play an increasingly important role as a non-nuclear deterrent. Those missiles can carry nuclear or conventional warheads.
Shoigu pointed to the new missiles' debut in the Syrian conflict, saying they have proven themselves well.
"The development of strategic nuclear forces will remain an unconditional priority," Shoigu said in remarks carried by Russian news agencies. "Russian nuclear weapons ensure the guaranteed deterrence of aggression by any foreign power."
At the same time, he added, "the role of nuclear weapons in deterring a potential aggressor will diminish, primarily thanks to the development of precision weapons."
Until recently, Russia lacked long-range cruise missiles with conventional warheads similar to those in the U.S. inventory.
The post-Soviet economic meltdown left the Russian armed forces in disarray, but the Kremlin has beefed up the military's conventional forces in recent years amid tensions with the West.
Speaking at a conference on security issues, Shoigu described China as a key strategic partner for Russia and noted that Moscow has signed a contract to provide China with anti-ship missiles. He didn't offer any details of the deal, which follows other recent contracts that envisage the delivery of top-of-the line S-400 air defense missiles and Su-35 fighter jets to China.
Shoigu criticized NATO for identifying Russia as a threat and deploying forces near its borders, but added that Russia remains open for a security dialogue with the alliance.
He described the global situation as increasingly unstable and accused the West of spreading chaos by supporting regime change in the Middle East and North Africa.
"International relations are becoming increasingly tense," he said, noting increased competition for mineral resources and control over their transportation routes.
Last month, Shoigu had a phone call with Libya's Field Marshal Khalifa Hifter, who visited the Russian aircraft carrier returning from a mission off Syria's coast. The visit marked the strongest sign yet of Russian support for Hifter, who is allied with an eastern-based parliament that is at odds with a Western-backed government in the capital, Tripoli.
Shoigu lashed back at British Defense Secretary Michael Fallon, who warned Russia against meddling in Libya and said that "we don't need the bear sticking his paws in."
"We don't think there is an animal in their zoo that could give orders to the bear," Shoigu parried.
On Feb. 17, 2017, U.S. Air Force WC-135C Constant Phoenix Nuclear explosion “sniffer,” serial number 62-3582, using radio callsign “Cobra 55” deployed to RAF Mildenhall, UK.
As we have already reported the WC-135 is a derivative of the Boeing C-135 transport and support plane. Two of these aircraft are in service today out of the ten examples operated since 1963.
The aircraft are flown by flight crews from the 45th Reconnaissance Squadron from Offutt Air Force Base while mission crews are staffed by Detachment 1 from the Air Force Technical Applications Center.
The WC-135, known as the “sniffer” or “weather bird” by its crews, can carry up to 33 personnel. However, crew compliments are kept to a minimum during mission flights in order to lessen levels of radioactive exposure.
Effluent gasses are gathered by two scoops on the sides of the fuselage, which in turn trap fallout particles on filters. The mission crews have the ability to analyze the fallout residue in real-time, helping to confirm the presence of nuclear fallout and possibly determine the characteristics of the warhead involved: that’s why the aircraft is important to confirm the type of explosion of today’s test.
Along with monitoring nuke testing, the WC-135 is used to track radioactive activity as happened after the Chernobyl nuclear plant disaster in the Soviet Union in 1986 and Fukushima incident back in 2011.
One of these aircraft was deployed near North Korea in anticipation of Kim Jong Un rocket launches then was spotted transiting the UK airspace in August 2013 raising speculations it was used in Syria thanks to the ability to detect chemical substances down wind from the attack area days, or weeks after they were dispersed.
Although they cross the European airspace every now and then, their deployment in the Old Continent is somehow rare. As of yet, there has been no official statement from the U.S. military about the reasons why such nuclear research aircraft was deployed there. However, many sources suggest the aircraft was tasked with investigating the spike in Iodine levels detected in northern Europe since the beginning of January.
Iodine-131 (131I), a radionuclide of anthropogenic origin, has recently been detected in tiny amounts in the ground-level atmosphere in Europe. The preliminary report states it was first found during week 2 of January 2017 in northern Norway. Iodine-131 was also detected in Finland, Poland, Czech Republic, Germany, France and Spain, until the end of January.
However, no one seems to know the reason behind the released Iodine-131. Along with nuclear power plants, the isotope is also widely used in medicine and its presence in the air could be the effect of several different incidents.
Or, as someone speculates, it could have been the side effect of a test of a new nuclear warhead in Russia: an unlikely (considered the ability to detect nuke tests through satellites and seismic detectors) violation of Nuclear Test Ban Treaty.
Maybe the WC-135 will help authorities find out the origin of the Iodine-131.
US President Donald Trump's new national security adviser, Lt. Gen H. R. McMaster, has a reputation as a "warrior-scholar" and positions that make him appear an almost complete reversal from Michael Flynn.
Throughout his career, McMaster has established himself as a hawk against Russia's leveraging of geopolitical power to further its influence and a defender of the integrity of Muslim civilians caught up in the US's Middle Eastern campaign.
As the director of the Army Capabilities Integration Center, McMaster worked on envisioning the Army's structure in 2025 and beyond, which means countering the growing, multifaceted threat from Russia.
In a 2016 speech to the Virginia Military Institute, McMaster stressed the need for the US to have "strategic vision" in its fight against "hostile revisionist powers"— such as Russia, China, North Korea, and Iran — that "annex territory, intimidate our allies, develop nuclear weapons, and use proxies under the cover of modernized conventional militaries."
McMaster's speech framed the issue around geopolitics instead of military strategy or deployments.
"Geopolitics have returned as US rivals from Europe to the greater Middle East to East Asia attempt to collapse the post-WWII economic and security order," McMaster said.
In McMaster's view, the US needs to establish what a "win" means when it comes to threats, including nonmilitary sources of leverage.
"Establishing an objective other than winning is not only counterproductive but also irresponsible and wasteful. Under some circumstances, an objective other than winning is unethical," McMaster said at the VMI, evoking his past criticisms of the Iraq and Vietnam wars.
In 1997, McMaster published "Dereliction of Duty" on the strategic failures of the Vietnam War; the book was part of his Ph.D. thesis at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Rep. Adam Schiff, a Democrat from California, said in a tweet that McMaster "wrote the book on importance of standing up" to the president.
McMaster doesn't fall in line with the hardline view of Muslims held by Flynn and White House chief strategist Steve Bannon that led Trump to issue an executive order banning immigration and travel from seven majority-Muslim nations.
In an interview with NPR, Schiff said McMaster once began "dressing down" a subordinate who suggested that the Afghan military officials the US was working with had an "innate tendency" toward corruption.
At the 2016 VMI speech, McMaster blamed groups like ISIS for "cynically use a perverted version of religion," to push their hardline beliefs.
This contrasts sharply with Flynn, who once tweeted that "Fear of Muslims is RATIONAL" and included a link to a YouTube video that claims the religion of Islam wants "80% of people enslaved or exterminated."
Ultimately, it was Flynn's relationship with Russia that brought about his resignation, as he was accused of misleading Vice President Mike Pence about a call with the Russian ambassador to the US in which Flynn had discussed easing of Obama-era sanctions against Moscow.
On the National Security Council, McMaster will have to contend with Bannon and senior adviser Stephen Miller, authors of Trump's immigration ban.
CIA-coordinated military aid for rebels in northwest Syria has been frozen since they came under major Islamist attack last month, rebel sources said, raising doubts about foreign support key to their war against President Bashar al-Assad.
Rebel officials said that no official explanation had been given for the move this month following the jihadist assault, though several said they believed the main objective was to prevent arms and cash falling into Islamist militant hands. But they said they expected the aid freeze to be temporary.
The halt in assistance, which has included salaries, training, ammunition and in some cases guided anti-tank missiles, is a response to jihadist attacks and has nothing to do with U.S. President Donald Trump replacing Barack Obama in January, two U.S. officials familiar with the CIA-led program said.
The freeze reflects the troubles facing Free Syrian Army (FSA) rebels in the almost six-year-old revolt against Assad, who now appears militarily unassailable in his core western region largely thanks to direct intervention on his side by Russia and Iran.
"The reality is that you have changes in the area, and these changes inevitably have repercussions," said an official with one of the affected FSA rebel groups. He said no military assistance could "enter at present until matters are organized. There is a new arrangement but nothing has crystallized yet".
The support funneled to vetted FSA factions has included contributions from Turkey, Qatar and Saudi Arabia - states that have opposed Assad. It is one of several foreign aid channels to rebels. Others still function.
The CIA declined comment on the reported freeze in support. A Qatari official said his government had nothing to say on the matter. Turkish officials said only they could not discuss "operational details". There was no word from Saudi Arabia.
Reuters confirmed the freeze with officials from five of the FSA groups that have been recipients of financial and military support from the so-called "MOM operations room". It was also confirmed by two other senior FSA figures briefed on the matter.
They spoke on condition of anonymity given the covert nature of the CIA-backed program and the sensitivity of the subject.
Several rebels believed the aid halt was temporary, with new arrangements expected, but there was no clarity yet. Confirming the freeze, two senior FSA sources said donor states were aiming to send the aid to one, unified fighting force - a coherence that has eluded rebels throughout Syria's civil war.
One of the FSA officials said he did not expect the rebels to be abandoned as they represent the best hope for blocking a further expansion of Sunni jihadist influence in Syria, and to fight back against the growing role of Iran there.
Declining rebel fortunes
Idlib and nearby areas of Aleppo, Hama and Latakia provinces are among the last footholds of the anti-Assad insurgency in western Syria - the part of the country where he has shored up his rule by holding onto the main cities and the coast.
Islamists have long been seen as the more formidable insurgent force in the northwestern Idlib area though a dozen or more U.S.-vetted FSA groups have also operated there and nearby.
Last month's militant assault on the FSA groups was launched by a group formerly known as the Nusra Front, al Qaeda's official affiliate in the war until last year when it formally cut ties and renamed itself Jabhat Fateh al-Sham.
The jihadist onslaught led several FSA groups to merge with the powerful Islamist faction Ahrar al-Sham, widely believed to be backed by Assad's foreign adversaries in the region.
That will likely give pause to foreign donors: Ahrar al-Sham is set apart from the FSA factions by a strongly Sunni Islamist ideology and it has previously fought alongside the Nusra Front.
Military aid to rebel groups has ebbed and flowed throughout the life of the program, U.S. officials said, as Washington and its allies have kept a close eye on any leakage to more militant factions, something one official called "a constant problem".
Trump's Syria policy not yet clear
Before assuming office, Trump suggested he could end support for FSA groups and give priority to the fight against Islamic State (IS), whose well-armed jihadists hold large tracts of eastern and central Syria.
But Trump's administration has yet to declare a firm policy towards Syria and Iraq, despite his repeated vows to eradicate IS, so it has been "business as usual" with covert and overt training and military support programs, one U.S. official said.
Some FSA groups hope Trump's animosity towards Iran could yet result in enhanced U.S. support.
Jihadist forces attacked while FSA envoys attended Russian-backed Syria peace talks in Kazakhstan, accusing the rebels of conspiring with Moscow and Washington against Jabhat Fateh al-Sham. The United States has carried out a deadly series of air strikes against Fateh al-Sham in Idlib this year.
MOM-backed rebels had suffered a heavy blow in December when Syrian government forces ousted them from eastern Aleppo with decisive help from the Russian air force and Iranian-backed militias. Eastern Aleppo had been seen as an FSA stronghold.
An official with an FSA group that has received MOM aid said none came this month "and there are no signals". Another said a regular meeting of the MOM had been canceled this month.
"I expect a reorganization," he said, adding that there were still around 15,000 combatants with FSA groups in the northwest.
The CIA-backed program has regulated aid to the rebels after a period of unchecked support early in the war - especially from Gulf states - helped give rise to an array of insurgent groups, many of them strongly Islamist in ideology.
A similar program continues to operate in southern Syria with Jordanian backing. Some of the FSA groups backed through the MOM in the north continue to receive Turkish support as they participate in the Turkey-led Euphrates Shield offensive against IS and Kurdish groups to the northeast of Aleppo.
FSA groups have long complained that the aid provided falls far short of what they need to confront the better armed Syrian army. Their demands for anti-aircraft missiles have been consistently rebuffed.
U.S. intelligence and military officials said the leakage, sale and capture of U.S.-supplied and other weapons from units of the FSA to Islamic State, the Nusra Front, and other splinter militant groups have been a concern since the CIA and U.S. military began arming and training a limited number of rebels.
From the start, said one of the officials, some U.S.-backed rebels have migrated from groups that were battered by Syrian government forces to others such as IS that were seizing and holding territory at the time. Aid has slowed or stopped in Idlib and nearby areas, officials said, amid fears the pattern may be continuing after rebels lost ground there.
Another U.S. official said FSA groups continue to mount significant challenges to Assad. "Despite the setbacks and no assistance in fighting back against a brutal Russian onslaught, the fact is they remain a viable fighting force," the official said.
President Donald Trump announced US Army Gen. H.R. McMaster as the new leader of the National Security Council on Monday, casting a spotlight on McMaster's storied past.
A particularly formative and epic episode in McMaster's career was a lopsided victory in a tank battle under McMaster's command in February 1991.
After months of roaming the Iraqi countryside with only sporadic contact with enemy forces, McMaster, on few hours of sleep, led a force of nine M1A1 tanks and 12 Bradley fighting vehicles near Iraq's 73 Easting line, a north-south running line used by militaries to navigate.
Around 4:18 p.m., McMaster's tank rolled ahead of the rest of his group and crested an "almost imperceptible rise" during a sandstorm and spotted a group of enemy tanks.
"In an instant, I counted eight tanks in dug in fighting positions. Large mounds of loose dirt were pushed up in front of the vehicles and they were easily discernible to the naked eye. They had cleverly established their position on the back slope of the ridge (reverse slope defense) so they could surprise us as we came over the rise. We, however, had surprised them. We had destroyed their scouts earlier in the day and, because of the sandstorm, they had neither seen nor heard us."
Suddenly exposed to eight Soviet-made T-72 Iraqi tanks, McMaster ordered his crew to fire high explosive and tank-defeating rounds. Within seconds, McMaster and company had defeated several enemy tanks, and before the unaware Iraqis could respond, the rest of his company crested the hill and opened fire as well.
The crew of McMaster's Abrams tank had the difficult job of weaving through a minefield while keeping the thick armor on the front of the tank pointed toward enemy fire, as Iraqi tank rounds fell short of returning fire on McMaster's tank.
"The Troop had assaulted through four kilometers of heavily defended ground. In twenty-three minutes, Eagle Troop had reduced the enemy position to a spectacular array of burning vehicles," by 4:40 p.m., despite enemy tanks, infantry fire, and RPGs, wrote McMaster.
Within a half hour, McMaster's men had destroyed 25 Iraqi tanks, 16 personnel carriers, and 30 trucks without a single US loss. The encounter proved the efficacy of the M1A1 Abrams, which was relatively new to battle, and proved to be a formative experience for McMasters.
United Nations (United States) (AFP) - US Ambassador Nikki Haley on Tuesday said the United States is ready to improve ties with Russia but will not compromise on its support for NATO and the European Union.
Haley told a Security Council debate on conflicts in Europe that "Russia's attempts to destabilize Ukraine" were among the most serious challenges facing the continent.
"The United States thinks it's possible to have a better relationship with Russia - after all, we confront many of the same threats," Haley said.
"But greater cooperation with Russia cannot come at the expense of the security of our European friends and allies."
The remarks came as European governments are seeking reassurance after US President Donald Trump applauded Britain's decision to leave the European Union, criticized NATO members over burden-sharing and praised Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Haley said the United States was committed to "the institutions that keep Europe safe" and that it "will not waver" in its support for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.
The United States wants to deepen cooperation within NATO while "keeping the door open to new allies," she said.
Enlarging NATO has been a major bone of contention with Russia, which sees any expansion of the military alliance in eastern Europe as a policy of containment directed against Moscow.
Haley described US ties with the European Union as "deep and enduring" and said differences with European governments should not be seen as a shift in US support.
"No one should misinterpret occasional policy differences and debates as a signal of anything less than total commitment to our alliances in Europe. That commitment is strong," she said.
The ambassador stressed that the US and the EU were united in the view that sanctions against Russia would remain in place until Russia returns Crimea to Ukrainian rule.
A recent flareup of fighting in east Ukraine "show the consequences of Russia's ongoing interference in Ukraine," said the US ambassador.
Haley said Russia's decision to recognize passports issued by separatists in Ukraine's Lugansk and Donetsk regions was "another direct challenge in the efforts to bring peace to eastern Ukraine."