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The latest news on Defense from Business Insider

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    Michelle Flournoy

    Michèle Flournoy met with Defense Secretary Jim Mattis in December about coming on board as his deputy, but she ultimately turned down the job. 

    A roundtable discussion in Politico Magazine published on Monday finally reveals why: Her own conscience would have made it difficult.

    "When [Mattis] called me to ask me to consider ways to help, I had to give it due consideration," Flournoy told Politico's Susan Glasser. "But I also knew that he needed a deputy who wouldn't be struggling every other day about whether they could be part of some of the policies that were likely to take shape."

    Flournoy, a cofounder of the Center for a New American Security, has served in a variety of top roles within the Pentagon in the past, and was considered a top pick for Secretary of Defense if Hillary Clinton had won. She most recently served during the Obama administration as undersecretary of defense for policy at the Pentagon, a highly-influential job that Mattis is still trying to get filled.

    But Flournoy, like others, has wrestled with the question of how effective her advice and proposals might be in an administration that seemingly ignores experts at the State Department and DoD, as was the case for rolling out a travel ban on immigrants from seven Muslim-majority countries. Even Mattis himself was frustrated when the Trump team didn't consult him on a potential pick for the Secretary of the Army.

    "I think if [nominees] can see their way to do it, I think there is — if it doesn't violate your sense of values, we should all have — feel a duty to serve when called. I think for us outside of government — I mean, I'm running a think tank. We've had to wrestle with this question and, you know, the president of the United States is the commander in chief. He is the lead person responsible for our national security. You don't want to see him fail when it comes to U.S. national security," she said.

    "So I think to the extent we can continue to offer good ideas to those in the administration who will listen, offer good analysis, offer suggestions — it’s incumbent on everyone, from all sides of the political spectrum, to do that. But as Wendy [Sherman] suggested, when decisions that violate our interests or our values or who we are, are made, we absolutely — we have a responsibility to speak out and push back and to offer smarter alternatives to advance and protect American interests, so — and our values."

    A number of top Republican national security leaders signed open letters opposing Donald Trump during the election, though Flournoy, a Democrat, was not among them. Still, her reasoning brings to mind comments made by Michael Auslin, a "Never Trump" Republican who, after the election, said he would be open to serving in a Trump administration, despite his misgivings during the campaign.

    "At some point politics ends and policy begins," Auslin told Business Insider. "It’s up to Trump himself to make that transition from politics to policy."

    Still, trying to staff up the Pentagon and other national security roles has proven difficult under Mattis, since the White House has reportedly pushed back against those who opposed Trump during the campaign. Besides the backlash against "Never Trump" security experts, the chaotic nature of the White House has also presented problems.

    One of the most coveted national security jobs in Washington — the president's national security adviser — was rejected by a well-liked retired Navy admiral, who reportedly called the offer a "sh-- sandwich."

    Though Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster accepted the role of national security adviser earlier this month, the Trump administration has not yet offered nominees for more than 50 positions at the Pentagon that require Senate confirmation.

    "I am a huge admirer of Jim Mattis. We've worked together over, you know, different incarnations over many years," Flournoy told Politico, but she concluded, "I decided I could do best by helping from the outside."

    You can read the full interview here >

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: Trump says he shaved $600M off America’s most expensive weapons system

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    us air force chief of staff david l. goldfein

    At a recent Center for Strategic and International Studies conference, US Air Force General and Chief of Staff David L. Goldfein laid out how the US would use F-35s to fight against high-end threats like China's J-31 or J-20— and he made it clear that the F-35 could dominate.

    At the conference where Goldfein touched on everything from space assets, to nuclear deterrence, to budgeting, a reporter from a Hong Kong publication and a reporter from a Japanese publication both asked questions about the F-35's role in the Pacific, where China has increasingly wielded its military might.

    Asked specifically how the F-35 stacks up to China's J-31, Goldfein balked. 

    "I hope over time we can actually evolve our discussion from platform vs. platform ... to a network vs. network," said Goldfein, who denied that a single Chinese jet would ever face off against a single US jet. 

    "It's not about what the F-35, or the J-20, or the F-22, or the J-31 can actually do in a one vs. one. It's an interesting dialogue to have, but it's not very compelling because we're not going to ever have the F-35 in there by itself — ever. We do family of systems," said Goldfein. 

    Asked more generally about how the F-35 would perform in the Pacific, Goldfein gave an example of how an F-35B led 100 aircraft into battle at 2 a.m. at Red Flag, the Air Force's top-tier training event at Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada. 

    F-35 and F-22

    According to Goldfein, the battle doesn't start when planes see or detect each other as they did in generations past. 

    "The cyber campaign had been raging ... The space campaign has been raging" before the F-35 even gets into position, and the pilot is tuned into every development along the way. 

    By the time the F-35 pushes across the line and meets "the most robust enemy integrated air defense system we could put up against him," the F-35 has absolutely unparalleled situational awareness, and is primed to shape the fight to his liking from the outset, according to Goldfein.

    The F-35 can maneuver forces against high-value targets, coordinate search-and-rescue for downed aircraft, and slam enemy air defenses all at once. 


    "He's calling audibles as the quarterback of the entire joint force based on the displays he's got in his cockpit and the fusion of information that he's getting from both in his cockpit and every other aspect of the network — that's the F-35."

    At Red Flag, the F-35 absolutely slaughtered the competition, achieving a 15-1 kill ratio on other planes and elevating every single squadron it worked with.

    F-35Bs, the Marine Corps variant, have already deployed to Japan. F-35As, the Air Force variant, will likely join later this year. In Australia, the US has sent F-22s and approximately 2,500 Marines.

    SEE ALSO: The US Navy may have just figured out a way to save billions on bombs

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: ACLU: Here's what you should do if you're stopped by the police as a pedestrian

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    Trump Boeing

    US President Donald Trump will head to Newport News Shipbuilding on Thursday to talk about the most expensive ship ever built, the US's new USS Gerald R. Ford, a spokesperson for the shipyard told The Virginian-Pilot.

    The news comes after Trump announced he planned to boost defense spending by a "historic" $54 billion, or about 9% in an effort to rebuild the military. Trump's proposal was met with widespread criticism, as it entailed slashing funding to the State Department.

    South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham said the proposal would be "dead in the water" upon hitting the Senate floor due to its cuts, but Sen. John McCain took issue with the proposal, essentially saying it didn't provide enough funding for the military.

    Trump campaigned on a building the Navy's 272-ship fleet up to 350, and the latest budget plan seems to support that initiative. Trump has also mentioned cutting wasteful spending and increasing efficiency within the Pentagon, something McCain has forcefully advocated throughout his career.

    USS Gerald R. Ford

    The Ford, the most complicated warship ever created, has a price tag of almost $13 billion and, like the F-35 that Trump often criticizes, has hit several cost and schedule overruns.

    Also like the F-35, the Ford promises to deliver next-generation capabilities, like a nuclear reactor that's three times as powerful as older models to accommodate future weapons like lasers and railguns.

    But despite a rocky development, the first-in-class Ford seems ready to hit the high seas for builder's trials next month. The Navy hopes to commission the Ford sometime later this year, USNI News reports.

    SEE ALSO: Mattis once said if State Department funding gets cut 'then I need to buy more ammunition'

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: Watch the US Navy shoot down a missile with another missile

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    ch 53e refuel

    The CH-53E Sea Stallion is the US military's largest and most powerful helicopter, capable of carrying a Humvee like handbag.

    But even the Stallion's seven chopping blades can't scare away US Marine Corps refueling planes.

    In the video below, see how the US transports a huge truck, with a huger helicopter, across a huge expanse of sea with the help of a KC-130J refueling plane, which is huge in its own right.

    SEE ALSO: Trump is about to deliver a speech on the world’s most expensive aircraft carrier

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    NOW WATCH: Meet the Navy's autonomous 'swarmboats' that overwhelm and confuse incoming threats

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    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 why it's so important to test your will and challenge yourself at least once a year.

    Follow BI Video: On Twitter

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    missile defense THAAD

    Chinese state media have reacted with anger and boycott threats after the board of an affiliate of South Korea's Lotte Group approved a land swap with the government that allows authorities to deploy a U.S. missile defense system.

    The government decided last year to deploy the U.S. Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system, in response to the North Korean missile threat, on land that is part of a golf course owned by Lotte in the Seongju region, southeast of Seoul.

    The board of unlisted Lotte International Co Ltd approved the deal with the government on Monday.

    China objects to the deployment in South Korea of the THAAD, which has a powerful radar capable of penetrating Chinese territory, with Beijing saying it is a threat to its security and will do nothing to ease tension with North Korea.

    Lotte should be shown the door in China, the influential state-run Chinese tabloid the Global Times said in an editorial on Tuesday.

    "We also propose that Chinese society should coordinate voluntarily in expanding restrictions on South Korean cultural goods and entertainment exports to China, and block them when necessary," it said in its English-language edition.

    The paper's Chinese version said South Korean cars and cellphones should be targeted as well.

    "There are loads of substitutes for South Korean cars and cellphones," it said.

    China has already twice issued "solemn representations" to South Korea about the most recentTHAAD-related developments, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told a daily briefing in Beijing.

    thaad range

    But it welcomes foreign companies to operate in China, he said. "Whether or not a foreign company can operate successfully in China, in the end is a decision for the Chinese market and consumer," he added.

    Late on Monday, the ruling Communist Party's official People's Daily said cutting diplomatic ties should be considered.

    "If THAAD is really deployed in South Korea, then China-South Korea relations will face the possibility of getting ready to cut off diplomatic relations," it said on the WeChat account of its overseas edition.

    The official Xinhua news agency also said in a commentary late on Monday that China "did not welcome this kind of Lotte".

    "Chinese consumers can absolutely say no to this kind of company and their goods based on considerations of 'national security'," it said.

    South Korea's defence ministry said on Tuesday it had signed a land swap deal, with Lotte exchanging the golf course for military property. A South Korean military official told Reuters the military would begin area patrols and install fences.

    Pukguksong-2 north korea missile

    The Lotte Group said on Feb. 8 Chinese authorities had stopped construction at a multi-billion dollar real estate project in China after a fire inspection, fuelling concern in South Korea about damage to commercial ties with the world's second-largest economy.

    Asked if South Korea had demanded the Chinese government suspend any economic retaliation, South Korean Defence Ministry spokesman Moon Sang-kyun said: "We have continuously persuaded China so far and will keep continuing efforts to do so."

    South Korean government officials have said THAAD is a defensive measure against North Korean threats and does not target any other country.

    South Korea's central bank said this month the number of Chinese tourists visiting the tourist island of Jeju had fallen 6.7 percent over the Lunar New Year holiday from last year, partly because of China's "anti-South Korea measures due to the THAAD deployment decision".

    SEE ALSO: Beijing cements South China Sea land grab with missile defense sites while the world awaits US response

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: Samsung's billionaire chief is now in a jail cell with a mattress on the floor and no shower

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    Donald Trump military gun

    President Donald Trump's proposed $54 billion bump to defense spending may be a good idea — but cutting foreign aid and funding for the State Department to pay for it may actually undermine US national security interests.

    In 2013, current-Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis put the need for diplomacy over strict military power succinctly, saying: “If you don’t fund the State Department fully, then I need to buy more ammunition ultimately."

    As Mattis' point makes clear, the military is great at fighting, but diplomacy is how many problems are ultimately solved. In the past, he's described the military as "buying time" for US diplomats to solve issues the military cannot.

    But Trump's proposed budget flips that view on its head.

    The $54 billion represents a historic increase of about 10%, and would bring total funding to around $603 billion. Coupled with additional Overseas Contingency Operations funding, defense spending would total some $640 billion — more than the next 12 countries spend on their militaries combined, according to figures provided by IHS Jane's Guy Eastman.

    To be fair, the bump in spending is unprecedented, but so was the condition that preceded it — sequestration. 

    Sequestration, a provision of the 2011 Budget Control Act froze military spending while intra-government gridlock prevented the president and Congress from agreeing on other cuts that would reduce the national deflect. 

    Since 2011, defense spending as a share of overall GDP has taken a nosedive, and its deleterious effects have been felt throughout all branches of the military. In 2016, chiefs of staff from the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps joined together to tell Congress that sequestration alone represented the single biggest threat to the readiness of the US military

    Meanwhile, the US has remained at war for over 15 years.

    Today, threats from ISIS in the Middle East and North Africa continue to pose real threats to the US and our allies. Military experts predict that Russia could take capitals of NATO states in the Baltics in as little as two days. China continues to menace their neighbors with the militarization of artificial islands in the South China Sea.

    In short, demands on the US military have only grown, while funding has remained frozen, and in fact shrunk due to inflation over time. In constant 2014 dollars, US military spending peaked in 2010, at just under $758 billion dollars

    marine special operations team afghanistan

    While military officials support sizeable increases in military spending with near unanimity, more than 120 retired US generals and admirals urged Congress on Monday to fully fund US diplomacy and foreign aid — the very programs Trump threatened to cut to fund the defense spending. 

    "We know from our service in uniform that many of the crises our nation faces do not have military solutions alone," they wrote. "The State Department, USAID, Millennium Challenge Corporation, Peace Corps and other development agencies are critical to preventing conflict and reducing the need to put our men and women in uniform in harm's way."

    As those top military officers, intelligence officials, and the current defense secretary know, you can't kill your way out of war. 

    Let's just hope congressional leaders — and the president — come to understand that, too.

    SEE ALSO: Most problems 'do not have military solutions' — Top generals warn Trump on dangers of cutting State Department

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: Watch the US Navy shoot down a missile with another missile

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    us navy guam

    China has for years been whittling away at the US military's asymmetrical advantage in conventional military strength with a naval buildup, building and militarizing artificial islands in the South China Sea, and creating systems and weapons custom built to negate the US's technological advantage.

    By all indications, China is building aircraft carriers and getting ready to place surface-to-air missiles deep into the South China Sea.

    Meanwhile, China's neighbors have grown increasingly worried and timid as it cements a land grab in a shipping lane that sees $5 trillion in annual trade and has billions in resources, like oil, waiting to be exploited. 

    Six countries lay claim to parts of the South China Sea, and the US isn't one of them. But the US doesn't need a dog in this fight to stand up for freedom of navigation and international law.

    Here's how the US counters China in the region.

    SEE ALSO: Trump boosts defense spending by $54 billion: 'We have to start winning wars again'

    For the US, checking Beijing in the Pacific often means sailing carrier strike groups through the region — something the Navy has done for decades, whether China protests or not.

    As Navy Vice Adm. Joseph Aucoin, commander of 7th Fleet, said recently at a military conference: "We’re going to fly, sail, operate wherever international law allows."

    The strike group has plenty of aircraft along with them, like this A F/A-18E Super Hornet and a nuclear-capable B-1B Lancer from Guam.

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    Iran navy movie battle of the persian gulf ii

    TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — In a climactic battle at sea, an Iranian commander orders his forces to open fire on a much larger U.S. fleet, obliterating it with a barrage of rockets, some of which tear American flags from their masts.

    The scenario unfolds in "Battle of the Persian Gulf II," a new Iranian animated film more than four years in the making that imagines a devastating response to an American attack on the country's nuclear program.

    It might have seemed out of date this time last year, when a nuclear accord reached with world powers had lifted sanctions and raised hopes for a broader rapprochement between Iran and the West.

    But now tensions are rising again. President Donald Trump has repeatedly criticized the nuclear deal, and his administration put Iran "on notice" last month after it tested a ballistic missile. Iranians were meanwhile angered over Trump's travel ban, which temporarily barred their entry to the United States before it was blocked by the courts.

    Director Farhad Azima says the timing of the film's release is purely coincidental. The movie has begun showing in the city of Mashhad, where it was produced, and will open in other cities in the coming weeks.

    The nearly 90-minute film, a sequel to a production about the 1980s Iran-Iraq war, begins with a U.S. attack on an Iranian nuclear reactor. Washington has long warned it would take military action to prevent Iran from developing an atomic weapon, while Iran insists its nuclear program is entirely peaceful.

    That sets up a showdown in the Persian Gulf, where the real-life U.S. Navy has accused Iranian forces of harassing its vessels in recent months.

    In the film, a character who closely resembles Gen. Qassem Soleimani, head of Iran's elite Quds Force, leads a single vessel against more than a dozen American warships. When a U.S. commander orders him to surrender or die, he replies: ""General, I am not a diplomat, I am a revolutionary!"

    Qassem Soleimani Iran Revolutionary Guard

    He warns that any American soldiers taking part in an attack on Iran "should order their coffins," before his forces destroy the whole U.S. fleet.

    The U.S. Navy's 5th Fleet, which is based in Bahrain and is responsible for naval operations in the Persian Gulf, declined to comment on the film when contacted by AP.

    The real-life Soleimani has directed Iranian-backed forces in Syria, where they are aiding President Bashar Assad, and Iraq, where they are helping the government battle the Islamic State group. In recent years he has gained near-mythic status in Iran, where he is seen as resisting U.S. hegemony in the region.

    Azima says his film cost $250,000 to make, and that producers raised the funds from ordinary people. He said there was no government involvement in the project.

    "This is a response to hundreds of (anti-Iranian) American movies and video games," he said. "We are saying that if you fire one bullet against Iran, a rain of hot lead will be poured on your forces."

    SEE ALSO: Trump's plan to spend more on the military may actually put US national security at greater risk

    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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    a 10 combat hammer

    About 35 local boat captains simulated swarming attack maneuvers in fishing boats rigged with machine guns while fighter jets, attack helicopters, and the A-10 "Warthog" simulated attacks from above in the Choctawatchee Bay, Florida.

    The Air Force at Eglin Air Force Base organized the simulation, called Combat Hammer, to address one of the more pressing threats to the US navy — attacks from swarming fast-attack craft.

    In the Persian Gulf, Iran has repeatedly used small, agile attack craft to harass US Navy ships in dangerous encounters that could lead to a broader conflict in a moment's notice.

    US Navy ships have had to go as far as firing warning shots at approaching vessels, but that was before Iranian-backed Houthi militants used a suicide boat laden with explosives to kill two aboard a Saudi Arabian Navy vessel off the coast of Yemen.

    The Navy was already aware of the threat posed to their large, multimillion-dollar ships by small, cheap ships — but the January Houthi attack demonstrated the threat was even more acute.

    The Air Force's annual Combat Hammer exercise sought in part to answer the question of how the Navy would deal with a large mass of erratic attack craft — and that involved A-10 Warthogs firing inert 30-millimeter rounds at unmanned ships.

    The exercise also included attack helicopters, multi-role fighter jets, and Canadian F-18s dropping simulated guided munitions.

    fast attack craft

    “We evaluate precision guided munitions against realistic targets with realistic enemy defenses,” said Lt. Col. Sean Neitzke, the 86th Fighter Weapons Squadron commander in an Air Force statement. “There are plenty of places in the world where low-tech adversaries can mount 50-caliber machine guns and rocket launchers on small boats for use against us. They could also use other types of shoulder launched weapons, all of which could be a threat to American assets.”

    The situation described by Neitzke bears eerily similarities to the situation with Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy.

    Patrick Megahan, an expert on Iran's military with the Foundation for Defense of Democracy, told Business Insider that even without the Air Force, the US Navy has plenty of ways to counter the threat posed by Iranian-style swarm attacks.

    "US Army Apache attack helicopters also frequently drill aboard US Navy vessels in the Persian Gulf for countering exactly this threat," Megahan said of the swarming boats.

    MH 60 Seahawk

    "This doesn’t include the Navy’s own Hellfire-equipped Seahawk helicopters or the Marine Corps’s very capable attack helicopter squadrons that maintain an almost constant presence in the waters off the Persian Gulf and Arabian Sea. In fact, two fully load American attack helicopters would likely wreak havoc on an Iranian small boat swarm."

    SEE ALSO: Trump talks tough on defense spending aboard the world's most advanced combat ship

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: ACLU: Here's what you should do if you're stopped by the police as a pedestrian

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    mosul iraq civilian isis bombing

    The number of civilians escaping the fighting in Mosul has increased significantly as battles intensify between U.S.-backed Iraqi forces and Islamic State militants, and some have been exposed to chemical agents, the Red Cross said on Friday.

    Iraqi armed forces meanwhile said they had captured another district as they push towards the densely packed old city center where the fighting is expected to become tougher.

    Among casualties in the past 48 hours, five children and two women were treated for exposure to chemical agents, suffering blisters, eye redness, vomiting and coughing, said the International Committee of the Red Cross. 

    The United States has warned that Islamic State could use weapons containing sulfur mustard agents to repel the offensive on the northern Iraqi city.

    Iraqi forces captured the eastern side of Mosul in January after 100 days of fighting and launched their attack on the districts that lie west of the Tigris river on Feb. 19.

    Defeating Islamic State in Mosul would crush the Iraqi wing of the caliphate declared by the group's leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, in 2014, over parts of Iraq and Syria, although the group is expected to continue a campaign of insurgent attacks.

    The Iraqi military believes several thousand militants, including many foreigners, are hunkered down in Mosul among the remaining civilian population, which aid agencies estimated to number 750,000 at the start of the latest phase of the battle.

    Iraq ISIS Mosul map February 5

    The battle for Mosul has killed and wounded several thousand people since it started on Oct. 17, according to aid agencies.

    "We have noted a significant increase in displacement in last week, 30,000 in west Mosul, 4,000 a day or so," Matthew Saltmarsh, a spokesman for the U.N. refugee agency UNHCR, told a news briefing in Geneva.

    "Of course the military fighting is intensifying by the day," Bastien Vigneau, the emergency director for Mosul operations at the U.N children's agency UNICEF, told the briefing.

    Speaking from Erbil, east of Mosul, he said over 100,000 children are among the 191,000 who have been displaced in total from the city since October.

    Among them, UNICEF identified 874 children who were unaccompanied or separated. More than half have been reunited with parents, and the rest are being taken care of by extended family.

    The militants are using suicide car bombers, snipers and booby traps to counter the offensive waged by the 100,000-strong force of Iraqi troops, Kurdish peshmerga fighters and Iranian-trained Shi'ite Muslim paramilitary groups.

    The Iraqi forces captured the Wadi Hajar district on Friday, an advance that allows them to link up all their forces in the south of the city, starting from the Tigris river and ending in the Mamoun district, according to military statements.

    A female Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) fighter stands near a security position in Sinjar, March 13, 2015. Women fighters at a PKK base on Mount Sinjar in northwest Iraq, just like their male counterparts, have to be ready for action at any time. Smoke from the front line, marking their battle against Islamic State, which launched an assault on northern Iraq last summer, is visible from the base. Many of the women have cut links with their families back home; the fighters come from all corners of the Kurdish region.

    Intra-Kurdish fighting erupted on the sidelines of the battle, highlighting the risk of conflict and turf war between the multiple forces arrayed against Islamic State, many of which lean on regional patrons for political support and arms.

    The clash broke out when Peshmerga Rojava forces moved towards the border with Syria, encroaching on territory controlled by a local affiliate of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).

    The Peshmerga Rojava is made up of Kurds from Syria and was formed and trained in Iraq with the backing of Masoud Barzani, president of the Kurdish Regional Government in northern Iraq.

    Lamiya Aji Bashar and Yazidis Nadia Murad BaseeThe clashes, which lasted several hours, pitted them against the YBS, which was set up there by the PKK after it came to the aid of the Yazidi population when the area was overrun by Islamic State in the summer of 2014.

    Most Yazidis are still displaced from their homes, but some families who returned to Sinjar fled again on Friday.

    "It's a struggle between two political parties but the victims are the Yazidis," said 19-year from the town of Khanasor where the clashes took place. "Aren't they supposed to be fighting Daesh (Islamic State)? Let them go and get rid of them."

    SEE ALSO: In aftermath of fatal SEAL raid, US hits al Qaeda in Yemen with new wave of strikes

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    NOW WATCH: Trump's doctor and a hair surgeon explain what's going on with his hair

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    Pukguksong-2 north korea missile

    Just after North Korea carried out a missile test and a high-profile assassination of Kim Jong Un's half-brother in Malyasia, the Wall Street Journal reported that the US was considering direct military action against the Kim regime. 

    US President Donald Trump has apparently honed in on North Korea as his most serious external challenge, and has reportedly declared them the single greatest threat to the United States. In January, Trump tweeted that North Korean missile hitting the US, as they've often threatened, "won't happen!"

    But in reality, taking out North Korea's nuclear capabilities, or decapitating the Kim regime, would pose serious risks to even the US military's best platforms.

    Business Insider spoke with Stratfor's Sim Tack, a senior analyst and an expert on North Korea, to determine exactly how the US could potentially carry out a crippling strike against the Hermit Kingdom. 

    SEE ALSO: Here's how the US military is sticking it to Beijing in the South China Sea

    First, a decision would need to be made.

    Military action against North Korea wouldn't be pretty. Some number of civilians in South Korea, possibly Japan, and US forces stationed in the Pacific would be likely to die in the undertaking no matter how smoothly things went.

    In short, it's not a decision any US commander-in-chief would make lightly. 

    But the US would have to choose between a full-scale destruction of North Korea's nuclear facilities and ground forces or a quicker attack on only the most important nuclear facilities. The second option would focus more on crippling North Korea's nuclear program and destroying key threats to the US and its allies. 

    Since a full-scale attack could lead to "mission creep that could pull the US into a longterm conflict in East Asia," according to Tack, we'll focus on a quick, surgical strike that would wipe out the bulk of North Korea's nuclear forces.

    Then, the opening salvo — a stealth air blitz and cruise missiles rock North Korea's nuclear facilities.

    The best tools the US could use against North Korea would be stealth aircraft like the F-22 and B-2 bomber, according to Tack.

    The US would slowly but surely position submarines, Navy ships, and stealth aircraft at bases near North Korea in ways that avoid provoking the Hermit Kingdom's suspicions.

    Then, when the time was right, bombers would rip across the sky and ships would let loose with an awesome volley of firepower. The US already has considerable combat capability amassed in the region.

    "Suddenly you'd read on the news that the US has conducted these airstrikes," said Tack.

    While the F-22 and F-35 would certainly do work over North Korea missile production sites, it really a job for the B-2.

    As a long-range stealth bomber with a huge ordnance capacity, the B-2 could drop massive, 30,000 pound bombs on deep underground bunkers in North Korea — and they could do it from as far away as Guam or the continental United States.


    The first targets...

    The initial targets would include nuclear reactors, missile production facilities, and launching pads for ICBMs, according to Tack.

    Cruise missiles would pour in from the sea, F-22s would beat down North Korea's rudimentary air defenses, and B-2s would pound every known missile site into dust.

    Planes like the F-35 and F-22 would frantically hunt down mobile missile launchers, which can hide all over North Korea's mountainous terrain. In the event that North Korea does get off a missile, the US and South Korea have layered missile defenses that would attempt to shoot it out of the sky. 

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    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 someone tries to mug you and how you can defend yourself if you need to. Following is a transcript of the video.

    You always want to keep your eyes on their hands. What their hands are doing, where they’re going, if they’re telegraphing, if they’re communicating that they have something else, whether it be a gun or a knife. If you have something sentimental, give it up. It’s not worth holding on to or risking your life.

    If he’s going for a weapon and you can confirm that you should always follow the mantra: run, hide, fight. Run, increase distance from the threat will increase survivability every time. Move away rapidly, if you can’t than fight. The most important thing if you find yourself face-to-face [with] an adversary with a weapon is gaining control of the weapon. As long as that weapon is free you are in danger. So, gain control of the weapon. You try to trap it, you try to strip it, and then immediately start beating the guy with it.

    If you’re not comfortable trying to trap and strip a weapon from someone than you want to kind of adapt to your environment, improvise. Maybe you have some things on you that you can then in return use as a weapon, you know. I talk a lot about steel barrel pens and using those as a weapon. Your messenger bag, a purse, whatever you’re carrying can be a weapon. Anything to create enough pain so that you can create distance and get away.

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    North Korea missile BI graphics

    A recent New York Times report uncovered a secret operation to derail North Korea's nuclear-missile program that has been raging for three years.

    Essentially, the report attributes North Korea's high rate of failure with Russian-designed missiles to US meddling in the country's missile software and networks.

    Though North Korea's missile infrastructure lacks the competence of Russia's, Russians using the same type of missiles achieved a 13% failure rate, while North Korean attempts failed a whopping 88% of the time, according to the report.

    But to those in the know, the campaign against North Korea came as no surprise. Dr. Ken Geers, a cybersecurity expert for NATO with experience in the NSA, told Business Insider that cyberoperations like the one against North Korea were actually the norm.

    While the fact that the US hacked another country's missile program may be shocking to some, "within military intelligence spaces this is what they do," Geers said. "If you think that war is possible with a given state, you're going to be trying to prepare the battle space for conflict. In the internet age, that means hacking."

    North Korea's internal networks are fiercely insulated and not connect to the larger internet, however, which poses a challenge for hackers in the US, but Geers said it's "absolutely not the case" that computers need to connect to the internet to be hacked.

    A recent report on Russian hacking in The New Yorker detailed one case in which Russia gained access to a NATO computer network in 1996 by placing bugged thumb drives for sale in local shops near a NATO base in Kabul, Afghanistan. NATO operators bought the thumb drives, used them on the network, and just like that, the Russians were in.

    north korea

    "That’s where SIGINT (signals intelligence) or COMINT (communications intelligence) comes into collaboration with HUMINT (human intelligence)," said Geers, who described the present moment as the "golden age of espionage," as cyberwarfare remains nonlethal, unattributable, and almost completely unpunished.

    But the recent missile salvo from North Korea suggests that even a prolonged, sophisticated cyberattack can't fully derail North Korea's nuclear-missile program.

    "Imagine you're the president — North Korea is a human-rights abuser and an exporter of dangerous technology," Geers said. "Responsible governments really need to think about ways to handle North Korea, and one of the options is regime change."

    Pukguksong-2 north korea missile

    Furthermore, Geers said, because of the limited number of servers and access points to North Korea's very restricted internet, "If it ever came to cyberwar between the us and North Korea, it would be an overwhelming victory for the West."

    "North Korea can do a Sony attack or attack the White House, but that's cause that's the nature of cyberspace," Geers said. "But if war came, you'd see Cyber Command wipe out most other countries' pretty quickly."

    SEE ALSO: The US is considering a direct strike against North Korea — here’s how it would go down

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    USNS Invincible

    Multiple fast-attack vessels from the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps came close to a US Navy ship in the Strait of Hormuz on Saturday, forcing it to change direction, a US official told Reuters on Monday.

    The official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said the IRGCN boats came within 600 yards of the USNS Invincible, a tracking ship, and stopped.

    The Invincible was being accompanied by three ships from British Royal Navy and forced the formation to change course.

    The official said attempts were made to communicate over radio, but there was no response and the interaction was "unsafe and unprofessional."

    Lawrence Brennan, a former US Navy captain and an expert on maritime law said the Invincible is a scientific research vessel and was unlikely armed except for "small arms for self defense."

    Part of the Invincible's mission is to record sonar emissions from ships and record them, so as to devise countermeasures to disrupt adversary communication should a time of war arise.

    The Invincible carries out a similar mission to the Russian spy ship that sat outside a US submarine base in Connecticut.

    iran irgc navy fast attack craft

    "This generic type of unarmed ship has been a target a number of times," said Brennan citing attacks on the USS Liberty and Pueblo as examples of similar harassment.

    However, the Iranian navy and IRGC Navy have made a habit of harassing US ships near the Strait of Hormuz, and experts contacted by Business Insider believe that Iran provided Yemeni Houthi rebels the means to carry out a suicide boat attack on a Saudi Arabian navy vessel that killed two sailors. 

    This attack made the US Navy acutely aware of the danger from Iran's swarming ships, which the US Navy has had to resort to firing warning shots at before.

    The US recently tested the efficacy of using A-10 Warthog guns and percision-guided munitions dropped from jets on Iranian fast-attack craft like the ones that harassed the Invincible on Saturday. 

    SEE ALSO: US military test shows the A-10 'Warthog' can obliterate the small-boat swarms that Iran uses

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    US-led airstrike on ISIS in Iraq

    The Pentagon said on Monday that a March 2 strike against al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula in Yemen killed a former detainee from the US detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

    "We can confirm the death of a former Guantanamo Bay detainee, Yasir al Silmi," said Navy Captain Jeff Davis, a Pentagon spokesman, adding al Silmi had been held at the detention center from 2002 to 2009.



    SEE ALSO: The US is considering a direct strike against North Korea — here’s how it would go down

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

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    Six years after China's Chengdu J-20 strike aircraft made its first flight, the innovative jet has entered service with the People's Liberation Army's air force — and it exposes weaknesses in the US military in more ways than one.

    On the surface, China's quick turnaround on the J-20 and other defense projects outpaces the US, where the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, first flown in 2006, still struggles to meet operational requirements in its naval variant.

    The J-20, which bears some resemblance to the US F-22, also raises questions about the extent to which China has been able to steal US military secrets.

    Furthermore, China built the J-20 specifically to counter a weak point in the US Air Force: unarmed aerial refuelers and airborne early warning and control aircraft.

    A senior scientist working on stealth programs told Business Insider the J-20's stealth wasn't all aspect or nearly as effective as its US counterparts. However, the J-20's stealth on the front end and its extremely long-range missiles make it ideal for knocking back US support planes and keeping the US Air Force away from the battle.

    F 22

    Peter Singer, a strategist at New America and author of "Ghost Fleet"— a novel that depicts a World War III situation with China, Russia, and the US — told Business Insider that this fits with a Chinese strategy called "assassin's mace."

    According to Singer, in the Middle Ages, "Chinese assassins would carry a little mace under their sleeves" when facing a guard armed with a long sword.

    Instead of the assassin carrying their own long, conspicuous sword to match the guard's strength, they used a mace designed to smash the guard's sword, turning the guard's strength into a weakness.

    China's J-20 brings this ancient strategy into the modern world.

    "These things you see as your strengths, we're going to invert that," Singer said, describing Chinese military doctrine.

    SEE ALSO: Here's how the US military is sticking it to Beijing in the South China Sea

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    General Joseph Votel, the head of the U.S. military?s Central Command, speaks aboard the USS New Orleans, an amphibious dock ship, as it travels through the Strait of Hormuz July 11, 2016.  REUTERS/Phil Stewart

    The top US commander in the Middle East signaled Thursday that there will be a larger and longer American military presence in Syria to accelerate the fight against the Islamic State group and quell friction within the complicated mix of warring factions there.

    Gen. Joseph Votel, head of US Central Command, told senators Thursday that he will need more conventional US forces to insure stability once the fight to defeat Islamic State militants in their self-declared capital of Raqqa is over.

    The US military, he said, can't just leave once the fight is over because the Syrians will need help keeping IS out and ensuring the peaceful transition to local control.

    Votel's testimony to the Senate Armed Services Committee comes as up to 400 US forces have moved into Syria in recent days.

    Well more than half of those are Marines, bringing in large artillery guns for the Raqqa fight, and the rest are Army Rangers who went into northern Syria to tamp down skirmishes between Turkish and Syrian forces near the border. The numbers have been fluctuating, often on a daily basis, as troops move in and out.

    "I think as we move towards the latter part of these operations into more of the stability and other aspects of the operations, we will see more conventional forces requirements," Votel said. Until recently, the US military presence in Syria was made up of special operations forces advising and assisting the US-backed Syrian troops.

    It will be critical, Votel said, to get humanitarian aid, basic working services and good local leaders in place in Raqqa so that businesses can return and the city can move on.

    Syria map 2017

    He also told senators that the US is looking for options to ease the tensions with Turkey over the plan to use US-backed Syrian Kurds in the fight to oust Islamic State fighters from Raqqa. But he offered no details on what those options could be.

    The US is considering arming the Syrian Kurdish forces, which the Pentagon considers the most effective fighters against IS militants in northern and eastern Syria. But Turkey, a key NATO ally, considers the Syrian force, known as the YPG, a terrorist organization. Turkey wants to work with other Syrian opposition fighters known as the Free Syrian Army to liberate Raqqa.

    Pentagon leaders sent a new plan to defeat IS to the White House late last month that included a variety of options for the ongoing fight in Iraq and Syria. The White House hasn't yet approved the plans, but the recent deployments into Syria suggest that President Donald Trump may be leaning toward giving the Pentagon greater flexibility to make routine combat decisions in the IS fight.

    A Syrian Democratic Forces(SDF) fighter poses for a picture near Euphrates River, north of Raqqa city, Syria. REUTERS/Rodi Said

    Military commanders frustrated by what they considered micromanagement under the previous administration have argued for greater freedom to make daily decisions on how best to fight the enemy

    In separate comments, Votel also reaffirmed that more American forces are needed in Afghanistan, a point the top US commander in that country made to Congress several weeks ago. Votel agreed that the fight against the Taliban is in a stalemate, and said "it will involve additional forces" to ensure the US can better advise and assist the Afghan forces.

    US Gen. John Nicholson, the top American commander in Afghanistan, told the Senate Armed Services Committee last month that he needs a few thousand more troops to help end the stalemate there. And Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said in recent weeks that he will make decisions soon on whether to recommend an increase in the US force.

    SEE ALSO: US troops seem poised to take a prominent role in attacking the ISIS capital

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    Foal Eagle 2015

    China's foreign minister said on Wednesday that North Korea could curb its nuclear weapons program if the US agreed to stop conducting military drills with South Korea — something the US rejected.

    Foreign Minister Wang Yi rehashed the offer, one that the US has heard from North Korea before, on Wednesday, saying that the US, South Korea, and North Korea were like two trains on a collision course.

    "The question is: Are the two sides really ready for a head-on collision?" Wang told reporters, according to the Military Times. "Our priority now is to flash the red light and apply the brakes on both trains."

    But Mark Toner, the acting spokesman for the State Department, stressed that "the onus is on North Korea to take meaningful actions toward denuclearization and refrain from provocations," saying at a press briefing that comparing the US's transparent, planned, defensive, and 40-year-old military drills with North Korea's 24 ballistic missile launches in 2016 was a case of "apples to oranges."

    However, Toner admitted that "all of the efforts that we have taken thus far to attempt to persuade North Korea to, again, engage in meaningful negotiations, have fallen short," and that the US needs to consider new ways to engage the rogue regime. 

    The suggestion from Wang comes at a time when China appears increasingly worried about the situation between North and South Korea. China has heavily protested the deployment of a purely defensive missile system to South Korea in the wake of the latest tests.

    Pukguksong-2 north korea missile

    Wall Street Journal article cited sources as saying the US may be considering military action against the Kim regime, and Japanese defense officials told Reuters they would seek to develop their own first strike capability to cripple North Korea's nuclear infrastructure before the Hermit Kingdom could fire a shot. 

    SEE ALSO: The US is considering a direct strike against North Korea — here’s how it would go down

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    NOW WATCH: Top foreign policy expert: Here's why China isn't more outspoken about North Korea's nuclear ambitions

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    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 how you can make your home more secure. Following is a transcript of the video. 

    We tend to look at home security as just our home, the locks, and the alarm system. But the reality is there’s more layers than that that start well outside your front yard. So first is communicating with your neighbors and becoming friends again. That way if you see an odd car or a person that doesn’t belong there someone can make a phone call to either 911 or to you while you’re at work and let you know “Hey, there’s something going on in your driveway.”

    It’s not so much about the bolt that goes in the door as it is the door frame. Reinforce your door frames with two and a half inch to three-inch wood screws. That’ll basically turn the door into a one kick and open to a five kick and open. Your illumination on your house, you want to light it up. Anytime I was operating against bad guys and the target was lit up. It makes you feel almost naked and it’s the last thing a bad guy wants to feel when he’s approaching your home.

    Burglars can not stand animals or kids, both are unpredictable. So if you can litter your yard with toys, that’ll keep a lot of daytime burglars away or if you can put up some hint that you have a dog, whether you do or not, will also keep them away.




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