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The latest news on Defense from Business Insider

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    Jack Keane

    President Donald Trump's first choice for secretary of defense says the US may only have one option for dealing with North Korea — a large-scale military strike.

    “A pre-emptive strike against launch facilities, underground nuclear sites, artillery and rocket response forces and regime leadership targets may be the only option left on the table," Keane told The Times of London. "We are rapidly and dangerously moving towards a military option.”

    Keane, who is said to be close to Trump, declined the role of secretary of defense offered to him by the president, citing the recent death of his wife

    Keane's statement, that a military strike, which several experts have told Business Insider would involve an unthinkable number of civilian casualties, echoes sentiments from Trump in a recent interview with the Financial Times

    Ahead of his meeting with Xi Jinping, the President of North Korea's biggest backer, China, Trump took a hard line on North Korea, saying "China will either decide to help us with North Korea, or they won't," adding that "if China is not going to solve North Korea, we will."

    As North Korea's nuclear and ballistic missile programs reach the stage where they need frequent and detectable testing, Trump and his top officials have repeatedly stressed military strikes as an option.

    In particular, the type of strike proposed by Keane would require a massive air campaign to strike literally hundreds of targets across the mountainous, densely-wooded country while defending Seoul against artillery fire and nuclear missile salvos. 

    North Korean leader Kim Jong Un supervises a ballistic rocket launching drill of Hwasong artillery units of the Strategic Force of the KPA in an undated photo. 


KCNA/via REUTERS

    Of course, other pundits have proposed options besides military strikes, such as having unconditional talks with the North Koreans, or suspending or limiting the annual Foal Eagle military exercises between South Korea and the US, which Pyongyang finds provocative.

    However, Keane's statements to The Times indicate that he's lost faith in diplomacy as a tool: “Our last three presidents spanning over 20 years have failed to stop the North Korean nuclear program," he said.

    For now, the world awaits Trump's meeting with China's Xi, in what Trump has painted as a decisive conversation in determining the fate of the Kim regime. 

    SEE ALSO: For Trump to force China's hand against North Korea, he may need to convince them he's a madman

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: Meet the MQ-25A Stingray — the US's response to threats like China's 'carrier killers'


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    Truman signing North Atlantic Treaty

    On April 4, 1949, the US, Canada, and 11 European nations signed the most powerful military alliance of all time.

    NATO.

    Founded by Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, Norway, Portugal, the Netherlands, UK, and US for three key reasonsdeter Soviet expansionism, halt the revival of nationalist militarism throughout Europe, and encourage European political integration.

    Today, the now 28-nation military alliance continues to bring stability to Europe and plays a role in nearly every part of the world.

    To read more about NATO's role click here.

    SEE ALSO: Donald Trump says NATO countries must 'pay up' or 'get out'

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    NOW WATCH: NATO is flexing its muscles with its largest military exercise in a decade


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    flightdeck takeoff CH-53

    April 4 (Reuters) - Lockheed Martin Corp received Pentagon approval on Tuesday to begin production of CH-53K King Stallion helicopter for the U.S. marines, the Department of Defense said on Tuesday.

    The award includes 200 helicopters, each costing $87 million on average and $105 million including spare parts and certain service contracts, a Defense Department official had told Reuters last week.

    The $27 billion program also includes more than $6 billion in research and development costs.

    The new helicopter, developed by Lockheed's Sikorsky helicopter business, can lift 36,000 pounds and would replace the CH-53E Super Stallion, which has operated as the backbone of field logistics for the U.S. Marines since the mid-1980s.

    (Reporting by Komal Khettry in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil D'Silva)

    SEE ALSO: The US Navy's futuristic new aircraft carrier is finally hitting the seas for testing

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    NOW WATCH: I switched from Mac to Windows and I'm never going back — here's why


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    Pukguksong-2 north korea missile

    The US military goes on high alert every time North Korea conducts another missile test, because it never knows when the big one might be coming, according to the general in charge of America's nuclear arsenal.

    "Those are very concerning moments to me. Because we're not sure — every time they launch we're not sure if this is a threat missile or not," Air Force Gen. John Hyten, commander of Strategic Command, told Congress Tuesday.

    "That is the definition of unpredictable," Hyten said in testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee. "What I am concerned about most nights is North Korea."

    The four-star commander said military personnel at three separate commands pull out all the stops to make an immediate determination whether a North Korean missile poses a threat to the US or its allies in the region.

    "The whole network comes up," Hyten said. "We bring the entire power of my command to bear on the problem."

    North Korean missiles launches are analyzed in real time by Strategic Command in Omaha, Northern Command in Colorado and Pacific Command in Hawaii.

    Hyten pointed to a Feb. 11 North Korea launch as particularly worrisome because it tested a new solid-fuel intermediate range missile, launched from new mobile launcher.

    That shows a technological advance that would allow North Korea to launch an intercontinental ballistic missile on very short notice.

    "All those things bring the time of warning down to a very small number," Hyden said.

    U.S. Air Force General John Hyten, Commander of U.S. Strategic Command, testifies in a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., April 4, 2017. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas

    As the commander of America's nuclear arsenal, Hyten's job includes providing the president with options to use nuclear weapons if that should ever become necessary.

    While saying he is a military officer, not a diplomat, Hyten called for more engagement with North Korea, and agreed with President Trump that China holds the key to deescalating the growing nuclear crisis on the Korean peninsula.

    "I look at it from a strategic perspective, and I can't see a solution that doesn't involve China," he said.

    The four-star general also called for continued investment on missile defense and said some new technologies offer promise to give the US capability to shoot down an ICBM in the boost phase, something currently the US cannot do.

    "I can't think a better thing than if somebody launched a threat missile, to drop it right back on their head."

    SEE ALSO: RETIRED GENERAL: A large-scale military strike on North Korea 'may be the only option left'

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    NOW WATCH: Here's the surprising reason highways have those concrete walls alongside them


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    donald trump

    President Donald Trump has made it very clear that when he meets with Chinese President Xi Jinping on Thursday, one topic will tower above the rest: North Korea's nuclear posturing.

    But Trump, whose administration has gone further than any before it in stressing the potential for a military strike on North Korea, may be running out of time to determine North Korea's fate on his own terms.

    As North Korea continues to test nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles, the US nears a "point of no return," Omar Lamrani, a senior military analyst at Stratfor, a geopolitical analysis firm, told Business Insider.

    Essentially, once North Korea's military perfects an intercontinental ballistic missile that can strike the US mainland, the US would no longer be able to launch a preemptive military attack without fear of casualties at home, and it may then consider recognizing North Korea's Kim Jong Un for the first time as a legitimate world leader.

    But perfecting an ICBM could take years, and South Korean politics could freeze Trump out of the conversation long before then.

    "If the Trump administration is hell-bent on significantly stepping up pressure on China and North Korea, it's going to have a serious problem," Joel Wit, a former State Department diplomat who cofounded 38North, a website that brings together experts on North Korea, told Business Insider.

    That problem's name is Moon Jae-in, a liberal South Korean human-rights lawyer who is favored to win the country's May 9 presidential election.

    "He is going to pursue a very different approach from President Park," Wit said, referring to Park Guen-hye, South Korea's conservative former president who was recently impeached and arrested after a bizarre influence-peddling scheme came to light.

    Wit said the normally ironclad alliance between the US and South Korea could be rocked by a reversal by Moon on policy toward North Korea. Moon is expected to pursue some kind of diplomacy with North Korea, a strategy that has been attempted previously in the past-quarter century to no success.

    Pukguksong-2 north korea missile

    This couldn't contrast any more with public stances from officials in the Trump administration that the"clock has now run out" on Pyongyang and"the United States has spoken enough about North Korea."

    Wit said the clash in objectives for North Korea would create "problems that the Chinese can take advantage of," further relegating the US to the sidelines without the North making a single concession.

    So if Trump can't convince Xi he's on the brink of war with North Korea and muscle out some concessions, he's looking at about a one-month window in which he could act unilaterally, before possible responses go from bad to worse.

    SEE ALSO: For Trump to force China's hand against North Korea, he may need to convince them he's a madman

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    NOW WATCH: I switched from Mac to Windows and I'm never going back — here's why


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    Martha McSally

    "A badass airplane with a big gun on it."

    That's how Republican Congresswoman Martha McSally described the A-10 Warthog to President Donald Trump, as she told the Center for Strategic and International Studies on Tuesday. 

    McSally, the first female fighter pilot and a veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan, told the crowd at the CSIS event about her experiences as an A-10 pilot laying down close air support for US troops during the 2000s.

    "It's an amazing airplane to fly, but it's really cool to shoot the gun," said McSally. "The folklore as A-10 pilots that we pass around is that we built the gun, and told the engineers 'figure out how to fly this gun.'"

    "The gun, 30 millimeters is just amazing." said McSally. "When you shoot the gun, the whole airplane shakes. The first time you shoot the gun, you think the airplane's breaking up."

    Perhaps better known is the iconic "BRRRT" sound of the A-10's 30 mm, 1,174 round gun as heard from the ground, a sound that US infantrymen have come to equate with salvation and safety

    GAU 8 vw a-10 gun

    In practice, the A-10's gun is actually more precise than even the newest, most accurate GPS or laser-guided bombs, which can often cost up to a million dollars each.

    "In Afghanistan ... we used mostly the gun," said McSally, "It's a very precise weapon and it allows for minimizing collateral damage and fratricide because the weapon's footprint is so tight. We can roll in and precisely go after the target while it keeps Americans safe."

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

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: Meet the MQ-25A Stingray — the US's response to threats like China's 'carrier killers'


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    mexico drugs

    A Mexican federal police commander has been charged for allegedly leaking confidential law enforcement information to warn members of a Mexican drug cartel about a U.S. narcotics probe, the U.S. Justice Department said on Wednesday.

    U.S. Justice officials said a complaint had been filed against 45-year-old Ivan Reyes Arzate of Mexico City in February for "conspiring with others to corruptly impede a U.S.-based narcotics investigation." The record was made public on Wednesday, it added in a statement.

    SEE ALSO: Without evidence, Trump says Susan Rice may have acted criminally

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    NOW WATCH: Here's the surprising reason highways have those concrete walls alongside them


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    Syria Attack

    Russia will argue at the United Nations that an apparent chemical attack that left scores dead in Syria was in fact contamination caused by rebels' chemical munitions, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Wednesday.

    Russia has already suggested it would publicly stand by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

    "Russia and its armed forces will continue their operations to support the anti-terrorist operations of Syria's armed forces to free the country," Peskov told reporters.

    "In our work with the Security Council, Russia will, as part of its argument, present the facts which have already been laid out by our defense ministry," he added.

    A Russian defense ministry statement said earlier that poison gas which killed scores of people in northwestern Syria had leaked from an insurgent chemical-weapons depot after Syrian warplanes hit it.

    Washington, Paris and London have drawn up a draft U.N. Security Council statement condemning the attack and demanding an investigation. Russia has the power to veto it, as it has done to block all previous resolutions that would harm Assad.

    SEE ALSO: Steve Bannon has been removed from the National Security Council

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    NOW WATCH: A $2.5 trillion asset manager just put a statue of a defiant girl in front of the Wall Street bull


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    Rex Tillerson NATO

    Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov and U.S. Secretary of State RexTillerson will discuss global security, including the Syria, North Korea and Ukraine situations, during the latter's visit to Moscow, the ministry said on Wednesday.

    Tillerson is to visit Russia on April 11-12, and Russia's foreign ministry said in a statement it "positively evaluated the new U.S. administration's efforts to improve ties" with Moscow.

     

    SEE ALSO: Steve Bannon has been removed from the National Security Council

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: I switched from Mac to Windows and I'm never going back — here's why


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    U.S. Air Force General John Hyten, Commander of U.S. Strategic Command, testifies in a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., April 4, 2017. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas

    Gen. John Hyten of STRATCOM, the branch of the US military in control of nuclear forces, told the Seante Armed Services Committee on Tuesday that the US has no good defense against Russia's latest cruise missile.

    "We have no defense for it, especially in defense of our European allies," said Hyten, according to AFP. "That system can range and threaten most of the continent of Europe depending on where it is deployed. ... It is a concern and we're going to have to figure out how to deal with it as a nation."

    But the US hasn't simply been surpassed by superior Russian missile technology. The Russian missiles in question violate the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF), one of the most successful disarmament treaties of all time.

    Essentially, the INF prevented the nuclearization of Europe in the 1980s. The new Russian cruise missiles can strike anywhere in Europe from Russia with a nuclear payload, according to experts who spoke with Business Insider.

    However, defending against cruise missiles is extremely difficult, as they fly fast and close to the surface, meaning radars usually can't find them among the bumps and obstructions in the earth's terrain. Defending against cruise missiles across an entire continent would require airborne detection and tracking — a costly solution.

    Instead, the US may opt to return to its original posture that scared the Russians away from intermediate range nuclear missiles in the first place.

    Jeffrey Lewis, founding publisher of Arms Control Wonk, told Business Insider that the US should puruse a two-track solution to addressing Russia's treaty violation.

    Putin Missile

    First, the US should continue to press Russia to comply with the treaty, and as an important second, the US should "start a lot of programs to scare the hell out of the Russians," like conventional cruise missile systems across Europe that could return fire should Moscow ever let one of its banned missiles fly in anger. 

    "We need to remind Russians why they wanted this treaty in the first place," said Lewis, who explained that the Russians quickly abandoned their intermediate-range nuclear forces when it became clear that the US would respond in kind.

    "We wanted the treaty because we didn't want" the Russian intermediate range missile systems, said Lewis. "But can you imagine the horrifying things we can put in Poland?"

    SEE ALSO: The US Navy's futuristic new aircraft carrier is finally hitting the seas for testing

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    world war i artillery

    The US joined World War I three years after it started, but there were few parts of the world that weren't touched by the Great War

    The war started on July 28, 1914, just a month after Austro-Hungarian Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife were gunned down on the streets of Sarajevo, Bosnia, by a Serbian nationalist.

    The assassination, and the subsequent political and military upheavals, led to the start of World War I, which would eventually roil much of the globe.

    Less than three bloody years later, the US would be drawn into the conflict on the side of the Allies, declaring war on the Central Powers on April 6, 1917.

    It is hard to comprehend the breadth World War I.

    Though it was sparked by regional tensions, a web of entangling defensive alliances quickly pulled in almost the entire world and hastened the end of the European empires.

    In May 2014, Reddit user Srirachachacha shared this map showing how the conflict spread across the world while distinguishing between Allied and Central Powers and their colonies, dominions, and territories.

    World War I GIF

    By the time the war ended, the Russian, Ottoman, Austro-Hungarian, and Prussian Empires had collapsed. The war claimed over 37 million lives, and large swathes of Europe were in ruin.

    Only two decades later — with the memories of World War I and its resolution still fresh — the world would be on the brink of World War II.

    SEE ALSO: 72 years since the Battle for Remagen — 8 photos of the Allies' first toehold in the Nazi heartland

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: Rare color film shows what it was like for Marines during WWII, the Vietnam War, and the Korean War


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    Donald Trump

    US President Donald Trump is reportedly considering military retaliation against Syrian President Bashar Assad after blaming him for a "heinous" chemical attack that killed at least 70 people, including at least a dozen children.

    Unnamed sources told CNN that Trump spoke to members of Congress about a potential hit to Assad's forces, but that no decisions had been made yet.

    "Yesterday's chemical attack, a chemical attack that was so horrific, in Syria, against innocent people, including women, small children, and even beautiful little babies, their deaths were an affront to humanity," Trump said on Wednesday in the White House's Rose Garden alongside King Abdullah II of Jordan.

    However, military strikes against Assad have been considered several times throughout the six-year Syrian civil war. In December, President Barack Obama said the option of military strikes against Assad was not "easily available to us."

    Not only are Russian service members in eastern Syria with Assad's forces, but Russia's advanced air defenses would make it a nightmare for the US to strike any of Assad's targets without putting US pilots in grave danger.

    Igor Sutyagin of the Royal United Services Institute, who is an expert on US-Russia relations and air defenses, previously told Business Insider that even in the US's stealthiest plane — the F-22 — pilots and planners would have to be "operationally, tactically brilliant" to strike Assad's forces without losing American lives.

    Russia S 400 Triumph Missile Systems

    US Navy destroyers could sail to Syria's Mediterranean coast and fire a salvo of cruise missiles at Syrian targets without directly risking the lives of pilots — much like how Obama sent ships to fire on Libya in 2011 — but Russian defense systems could shoot those down, too.

    However, Sens. Lindsey Graham and John McCain, members of the Senate Armed Service Committee, have called for a "punitive cost for this horrific attack" to be imposed on Assad via "an international coalition to ground Assad's air force." That likely would mean bombing the runways that Syrian and Russian forces use to launch airstrikes.

    Cruise Missile LaunchJonathan Schanzer, vice president of research at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, told Business Insider that while "six years of policy paralysis" under Obama had given Russia and Syria the upper hand in the conflict, Trump still had options.

    A covert military strike, short of a loud air campaign, could send a message to Assad that would keep military action out of the public eye.

    A second option would be an overt military strike, where US planes would bomb Assad and hope to avoid Russia's advanced anti-aircraft batteries.

    This option would directly risk the lives of US soldiers and has become less and less credible as Russia cements the Assad regime's power and its position in Syria.

    "The Obama administration ceded Syria to the Russians," Schanzer said. "We did not put up a fight when the Russians stepped in."

    In light of the dangers of an air war with top-of-the-line Russian defenses, Schanzer suggested another, less violent option: financial pressure.

    "Additional sanctions against Iran and Syria and their enablers could include Hezbollah and any other actor that could be providing support for the Syrian slaughter," Schanzer said.

    putin assad

    Trump has repeatedly talked tough on Russia, and the US's ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, has called on Russia and Iran to stop chemical warfare in Syria.

    Though sanctions would not be an eye for an eye, as striking Assad's weapons and runways would be, Schanzer said they would be "easier to implement" with a "significantly lower cost than the deployment of forces or testing the anti-aircraft tech the Russians deployed."

    SEE ALSO: If Trump wants to take military action against North Korea, he may have to do it this month

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    On July 28, 1914, a month after a Bosnian-Serb assassinated Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand on a street corner in Sarajevo, the Austro-Hungarian Empire declared war on Serbia, beginning World War I.

    Three bloody years later, the US would enter the conflict on the side of the Allies, declaring war on the Central Powers on April 6, 1917.

    WWI Color

    World War I saw a number of military innovations, including the use of planes, tanks, and chemical weapons. An armistice on November 11, 1918, was followed by the Treaty of Versailles, officially ending World War I, on June 28, 1919.

    Here are a few colorized photographs published by The Open University showing life during World War I.

    Amanda Macias and Jeremy Bender composed an earlier version of this post.

    SEE ALSO: The US entered World War I on this day in 1917 — here's the massive scope of that conflict in one GIF

    One of World War I's most devastating features was trench warfare. Here, soldiers scale a sandbag wall to exit a trench.



    Soldiers could spend the majority of their deployments in the trenches. Here, a soldier receives a haircut from an Alpine barber on the Albanian front.



    Here, a German Field Artillery crew poses with a 7.7 cm Feldkanone 96 field gun in 1914.



    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    US Syria missile strike

    The United States launched a salvo of 59 cruise missiles on Shayrat airfield and nearby military infrastructure controlled by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, in response to a chemical attack that killed at least 80 people in the northwestern part of the country on Monday.

    The Tomahawk missiles, launched from the USS Ross and the USS Porter at dawn local time, represent the first US strikes on the Assad regime, according to a statement from the Pentagon.

    US President Donald Trump, initially resistant to the idea of becoming involved in Syria, said it was in the vital national security interest of the US to prevent the use of chemical weapons.

    "No child of god should suffer such horror," Trump said in a televised address after the cruise missile strikes. “It is in this vital national security interest of the United States to prevent and deter the spread and use of deadly chemical weapons."

    Autopsies have confirmed that the attack involved sarin gas, and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said there can be "no doubt" that Assad's forces carried out the attack.

    Both Syrian and Russian forces have denied responsibility for the attack, with Russian forces claiming a conventional airstrike hit a cache of chemical weapons owned by rebels in Syria. International experts have dismissed this as an "infantile argument."

    National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster said "there were measures put in place to avoid hitting what we believe is a storage of sarin gas there," CNN's Josh Rogin reports.

    Though the US strike targeted infrastructure and runways, a large volley of cruise missiles carries the risk of collateral damage to troops stationed nearby. Initial reports from Syrian military sources say the strikes "led to losses," as Reuters notes.

    Rep. Adam Schiff, ranking member on the House Intelligence Committee, told MSNBC that the airfield had been vetted by US forces to ensure civilians weren't endangered and Russians in the area were aware. The Trump administration said key US allies had prior warning to the strikes.

    Russia's deputy envoy to the UN told reporters earlier Thursday that there would be "negative consequences" for "those who initiated such doubtful and tragic enterprise" should attacks occur in Syria.

    Syria map march 2017

    Russian and US warplanes have operated over Syria's contested airspace since Russia's entrance into the Syrian conflict in October 2015. The US became involved in the country by training and equipping vetted groups of rebels fighting against Assad as early as 2011. 

    In 2014, the US and a coalition of 68 other nations joined together to destroy ISIS, a terrorist group that declared territory in the eastern part of Syria and parts of Iraq. The US currently has a limited number of ground troops in eastern Syria, away from the Assad regime, to support local forces in the fight against ISIS.

    The strikes seem to have gained bipartisan support from Congress, with several key GOP senators calling for action before the strike and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer issuing a statement saying that"making sure Assad knows that when he commits such despicable atrocities he will pay a price is the right thing to do."

    "Tonight I call on all civilized nations to join us in seeking to end the slaughter and bloodshed in Syria and also to end terrorism of all kinds and types," said Trump after the strikes.

    Read Trump's full remarks below:

    "On Tuesday Syrian President Bashar al Assad launched a horrible chemical attack on innocent civilians using a deadly nerve agent. Assad choked out the lives of helpless men, women and children. It was a slow and brutal death for so many. Even beautiful babies were cruelly murdered at this very barbaric attack. No child of God should ever suffer such horror.

    "Tonight I ordered a targeted military strike on the airfield in Syria from where the chemical attack was launched. It is in this vital national security interest of the Untied States to prevent and deter the spread and use of deadly chemical weapons. There can be no dispute that Syria used banned chemical weapons, violated its obligations under the Chemical Weapons Convention and ignored the urging of the UN Security Council.

    "Numerous previous attempts at changing Assad’s behavior have all found and failed very dramatically. As a result, the refugee crisis continues to deepen and the region continues to destabilize, threatening the United States and its allies.

    "Tonight I call on all civilized nations to join us in seeking to end the slaughter and bloodshed in Syrian and also to end terrorism of all kinds and all types. We asked for God’s wisdom as we face the challenge of our very troubled world. We pray for the lives of the wounded and for the souls of those who passed. And we hope as long as America stands for justice and peace and harmony will in the end prevail.

    "Good night and God Bless America and the entire world."

    SEE ALSO: WATCH: US Tomahawk missiles launching toward Syrian airbases

    Join the conversation about this story »


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    Russia S 400 Triumph Missile Systems

    Russia's airbase in Latakia province and its naval facility in Tartus are protected by S-300 and S-400 air missile defense systems, a Russian lawmaker was quoted as saying by RIA news agency on Friday.

    "The S-300 and S-400 missile complexes....adequately guarantee the security of our armed forces on land as well as by sea and air," Viktor Ozerov, the head of the defense and security committee of Russia's upper house of parliament, said.

    SEE ALSO: US launches more than 50 cruise missiles at Assad regime airfields over Syrian chemical attack

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    Screen Shot 2017 04 07 at 8.01.22 AMDefense stocks are up in pre-market trading following US air strikes on Syria last night.

    The US Navy fired at least 59 Tomahawk Missiles from two battleships, the USS Ross and the USS Porter, at dawn local time on Friday in retaliation for a chemical weapon strike earlier this week attributed to the Assad regime.

    The company that makes those missiles, Raytheon, is up more than 2% in early morning trading. Lockheed Martin, the producer of the new F-35 fighter jet and the Hellfire missile, is up more than 1%.

    Boeing, which has millions in government defense contracts, is up slightly this morning. Boeing makes the JDAM GPS, a guidance system for bombs.

    The iShares Dow Jones US Aerospace & Defense ETF that tracks the performance of air and defense stocks is up  14.03% since the Presidential election, outpacing the Dow Jones industrial average.

    Screen Shot 2017 04 07 at 8.07.31 AM

    SEE ALSO: US launches more than 50 cruise missiles at Assad regime airfield over Syrian chemical attack

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    U.S. Navy guided-missile destroyer USS Ross (DDG 71) fires a tomahawk

    World leaders rallied around the United States after it launched a missile strike early Friday on a Syrian air base in response to this week's chemical attack, while Russia condemned the move as "aggression" and suspended crucial coordination with Washington in Syria's congested skies.

    The overnight missile attack, which marked the first time the U.S. has directly targeted Syrian President Bashar Assad's forces, was condemned by his allies in Russia and Iran but welcomed by the Syrian opposition and its supporters, who expressed hope it signaled a turning point in the devastating six-year-old civil war.

    The bombing represents Trump's most dramatic military order since taking office and thrusts the U.S. administration deeper into the complex Syrian conflict. The Obama administration threatened to attack Assad's forces after previous chemical attacks, but never followed through. Trump called on "all civilized nations" to join the U.S. in seeking an end to the carnage in Syria.

    About 60 U.S. Tomahawk missiles hit the Shayrat air base, southeast of Homs, a small installation with two runways, where aircraft often take off to bomb targets in northern and central Syria. The U.S. missiles hit at 3:45 a.m. (0045 GMT) Friday morning and targeted the base's airstrips, hangars, control tower and ammunition areas, U.S. officials said.

    They were fired from two warships in the Mediterranean Sea, in retaliation for Tuesday's deadly chemical attack, which officials said used chlorine mixed with a nerve agent, possibly sarin.

    Assad's office called the U.S. missile strike "reckless" and "irresponsible." The Syrian military said at least seven people were killed and nine wounded in the strike. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, an opposition monitor, also put the death toll at seven, including a general and three soldiers.

    Syria strike map

    The Kremlin said President Vladimir Putin believes the U.S. strike is an "aggression against a sovereign state in violation of international law." Spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Putin believes the U.S. launched the strikes under a "far-fetched pretext."

    "Washington's move deals a significant blow to the Russia-U.S. relations, which are already in a deplorable shape," Peskov said. He added that the attack creates a "serious obstacle" for creating an international coalition against terrorism.

    Russia's Foreign Ministry said it is suspending a memorandum with Washington — signed after Russia began an air campaign in support of Assad in September 2015 — under which the two countries exchange information about sorties over Syria.

    The Kremlin later moved to diminish the attack, saying that just 23 of 59 cruise missiles reached the air base, destroying six Syrian jets but leaving the runway intact. Moscow also confirmed it had been informed of the attack in advance.

    A U.S.-led coalition has been bombing Islamic State targets in Syria since 2014, while Russia's air force has been striking both extremist groups and Syrian rebels in order to aid Assad's forces.

    Saudi Arabia and Turkey, which support the Syrian opposition, welcomed the missile strike, with Riyadh calling it a "courageous decision" by Trump. Iran called it a "dangerous" unilateral action that would "strengthen terrorists" and further complicate the conflict.

    Turkey's Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said Assad's government "must be removed from leading Syria as soon as possible, and the best way to do that is by starting the transitional process."

    putin assad

    The British government says it was informed in advance about the strike and firmly supports the American action.

    Prime Minister Theresa May's office says the action was "an appropriate response to the barbaric chemical weapons attack launched by the Syrian regime, and is intended to deter further attacks." France, Italy and Israel also welcomed the strikes.

    A Syrian opposition group, the Syrian Coalition, said the U.S. attack puts an end to an age of "impunity" and should herald the start of a larger campaign against Damascus.

    Maj. Jamil al-Saleh, a U.S-backed rebel commander based in the area where the U.S. attack took place, told The Associated Press he hoped the strike would be a "turning point" in the six-year-old war, which has killed an estimated 400,000 people.

    Assad's government had been under mounting international pressure after the chemical attack, which killed 87 people, including 31 children. Even Russia has said its support is not unconditional.

    Syria rejected the accusations, and blames opposition fighters for stockpiling the chemicals. Russia has said the toxic agents were released when a Syrian airstrike hit a rebel chemical weapons arsenal on the eastern outskirts of Khan Sheikhoun, and that blame should not be apportioned until a full investigation has been carried out.

    Russia's intervention in Syria since September 2015 has turned the balance of power in Assad's favor, and Moscow has used its veto power at the Security Council on several occasions to prevent sanctions against Damascus.

    Trump had said the chemical attack crossed "many, many lines," and put the blame squarely on Assad's forces. Speaking Thursday on Air Force One, Trump said the attack "shouldn't have happened, and it shouldn't be allowed to happen."

    FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Donald Trump speaks about the gas attack in Syria during a joint news conference with Jordan's King Abdullah II in the Rose Garden at the White House in Washington, U.S., April 5, 2017. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas

    A survivor of the chemical attack on Khan Sheikhoun told the AP he hopes the U.S. missile attack puts an end to government airstrikes, creating a safe area for civilians.

    Alaa Alyousef, a 27-year old resident of Khan Sheikhoun, said the U.S. missile attack "alleviates a small part of our suffering," but he said he worried it would be an "anesthetic" that numbs their pain and saves face for the international community.

    "What good is a strike on Shayrat air base alone while we have more than 15 other air bases," he said. Alyousef lost at least 25 relatives in the chemical attack.

    The U.S. had initially focused on diplomatic efforts, pressing the U.N. Security Council to adopt a resolution drafted with Britain and France that would have condemned Syria's suspected use of chemical weapons. But the vote was canceled because of differences among the 15 members.

    SEE ALSO: Russia beefs up Syrian air defenses after calling US strike 'a significant blow to Russian-American relations'

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    U.S. Navy guided-missile destroyer USS Porter conducts strike operations against Syria while in the Mediterranean Sea. 

Ford Williams/Courtesy U.S. Navy

    The European Union said on Friday it understood the aim of US missile strikes in Syria as an effort to deter any more chemical attacks there, but highlighted political solutions as the only way to end the war.

    The nuanced line taken by the bloc's 28 states reflects their disgust at a chemical attack that killed scores of people in a rebel-held area this week, but also a worry about any more escalation in the conflict following the unilateral US move.

    "The US has informed the European Union that ... (it) launched a strike on Shayrat Airfield in Syria with the understandable intention to prevent and deter the spread and use of deadly chemical weapons," the bloc's top diplomat, Federica Mogherini, said in a statement on behalf of all member states.

    "The US also informed us that these strikes are limited and focused on preventing and deterring further use of chemical weapons atrocities," the statement read.

    She added that the use of chemical weapons was a war crime and perpetrators of such acts "should be sanctioned within the framework of the United Nations."

    The bloc supports Syrian opposition rebels and some moderate rebels negotiating under U.N.-mediated talks with representatives of Damascus. The talks have long been stalled and the war, which is in its seventh year, has killed more than 400,000 people and sent millions from their homes.

    "The EU firmly believes that there can be no military solution to the conflict," the joint statement said. "Only a credible political solution... will ensure peace and stability."

    While France and Britain have led calls for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to go, some other EU states, including the Czech Republic, Hungary, Spain and Italy, are more dovish.

    FILE PHOTOS: A combination photo shows U.S. President Donald Trump (L) in Washington, U.S., April 3, 2017 (L) and Syria's President Bashar al-Assad in a handout picture taken January 8, 2015 by Syria's national news agency SANA.  REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque (L) and SANA/Handout via Reuters/File photos

    But the bloc's role in international peace efforts has been largely marginal as it lacks influence on the ground, where Russia's military intervention has given Assad the upper hand.

    The EU is the largest aid donor in Syria, and has threatened it will not pay for reconstruction of the country if Assad and his allies take full control by wiping out the opposition.

    The EU says a "credible political transition" must start first with the aim of giving the opposition and Syria's various ethnic and religious groups political representation.

    The chairman of EU leaders Donald Tusk, French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault, the Polish foreign ministry as well as a British government spokesman supported Washington.

    "US strikes show needed resolve against barbaric chemical attacks. EU will work with the US to end brutality in Syria," Tusk said on Twitter.

    Donald Tusk

    But German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel, Belgium's Didier Reynders and the head of the EU's executive arm stuck to a more cautious line, saying they "understood" the aim of the strikes, but highlighting more strongly the need for a negotiated end to the war.

    "There is a clear distinction between air strikes on military targets and the use of chemical weapons against civilians," said the head of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker.

    "Efforts to stem the spiral of violence in Syria and work toward a lasting peace should be redoubled. Only a political transition can lead to such an outcome."

     

    SEE ALSO: Russia just suspended key military agreements with the US — raising the risk of war

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    U.S. Navy guided-missile destroyer USS Porter (DDG 78) conducts strike operations while in the Mediterranean Sea which U.S. Defense Department said was a part of cruise missile strike against Syria on April 7, 2017.

    The situation in Syria "amounts to an international armed conflict" following U.S. missile strikes on a Syrian airbase, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) told Reuters on Friday.

    The United States fired cruise missiles at a base from which President Donald Trump said a deadly chemical weapons attack had been launched on Tuesday, the first direct U.S. assault on the government of Bashar al-Assad in six years of civil war.

    "Any military operation by a state on the territory of another without the consent of the other amounts to an international armed conflict," ICRC spokeswoman Iolanda Jaquemet told Reuters in Geneva in response to a query.

    "So according to available information - the U.S. attack on Syrian military infrastructure - the situation amounts to an international armed conflict."

    Previous air strikes on Syrian territory by a U.S.-led coalition have been against only the militant group Islamic State, which is also the enemy of the Syrian government.

    Russia has carried out air strikes in tandem with its ally Syria since Sept. 2015, while Iranian militias are also fighting alongside the troops of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

    ICRC officials were raising the U.S. attack with U.S. authorities as part of its ongoing confidential dialogue with parties to the conflict, Jaquemet said, declining to give details.

    FILE PHOTO: Syria's President Bashar al-Assad speaks during an interview with Yahoo News in this handout picture provided by SANA on February 10, 2017, Syria. SANA/Handout/File via REUTERS

    The ICRC, guardian of the Geneva Conventions setting down the rules of war, declared Syria an internal armed conflict - or civil war, in layman's terms - in July 2012.

    Under international humanitarian law, whether a conflict is internal or international, civilians must be spared and medical facilities protected. Warring parties must observe the key principles of precaution and proportionality and distinguish between combatants and civilians.

    SEE ALSO: EU: US strikes on Syria 'understandable' but political solution needed to 'ensure peace'

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    Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev visits Alexandra Land in remote Arctic islands of Franz Josef Land, Russia March 29, 2017. REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhin

    Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said on Friday that U.S. cruise missile strikes on a Syrian airfield were one step away from clashing with the Russian military.

    U.S. officials informed Russian forces ahead of the strikes — intended to punish the Syrian government for what they say was a chemical attack earlier this week — and avoided hitting Russian personnel.

    Satellite imagery suggests the Shayrat air base that was struck is home to Russian special forces and military helicopters, part of the Kremlin's effort to help the Syrian government fight the Islamic State and other militant groups.

    Medvedev, writing on social media, said the U.S. strikes were illegal and had been "one step away from military clashes with Russia."

    SEE ALSO: Russia just suspended key military agreements with the US — raising the risk of war

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