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The latest news on Defense from Business Insider

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    navy seal training

    With the beginning of summer, pools all over the US have opened up for recreational swimming — but in the US Navy, recruits are getting ready for the brutal Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL (BUD/S) training that will turn some of them into Navy SEALs.

    In the SEALs, where recruits to the elite special operations unit are pushed to their absolute limits, there can be no room for inefficiency, thusly they developed their own, more efficient swimming stroke, the combat swimmer stroke.

    The stroke combines the best elements of breast stroke, and freestyle to streamline a motion that not only reduces resistance on a swimmers body, but also makes swimmers harder to spot in the water.

    Take a look at a sample of the stroke below:

    Unlike freestyle, the combat sidestroke calls for the swimmer to stay completely submerged for the majority of the stroke. 

    To do the combat swimmer stroke, dive in or kick off as you would in freestyle, but at the end of your glide, execute a large horizontal scissor kick instead. Now comes the unique part — as the horizontal scissor kick tilts your body so one arm is slightly higher than the other, pull that arm back while leaving the other outstretched.

    Turn your face up towards the surface as you pull that arm down and take a breath while beginning to pull down your other arm. Another scissor kick and then reset your arms. You should not switch your orientation or the order in which you pull back your arms.

    Here's a step by step breakdown:

    Using the combat swimmer's stroke, Navy SEALs can go for miles in grueling training events that push their physical and mental strength. 

    SEE ALSO: Forget 'Hell Week' — a Navy SEAL reveals the hardest part of training

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: A Navy SEAL commander explains what his training taught him about ego

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    B 2 Spirit bomber

    The Air Force will send some of its bombers to England in June to assure allies and deter adversaries in Europe, the general in charge of Air Force Global Strike Command said Wednesday.

    Gen. Robin Rand insisted the training mission is routine and will coincide with a major airshow at the Fairford Royal Air Force base this summer.

    He declined to say what type of bombers will be sent to train at the base, which has been used for U.S. combat operations in the past. Global Strike Command oversees the service's entire bomber fleet, including its nuclear capable B-2 Spirit aircraft. The Air Force also operates B-1 and B-52 bombers.

    "We are going to have bombers heading over to Fairford, United Kingdom, here next month to spend a few weeks again just exercising and showing our presence of what we do," Rand said.

    b-2 spirit refuel

    Last month, the Air Force deployed its high-tech F-35 joint strike fighters to Europe for the first time in a bid to reassure allies there that the United States stands by them amid concerns over Russian aggression.

    The upcoming bomber deployment allows the U.S. to work those military muscles to ensure they do not atrophy and it does not signal an plans for a new permanent presence in Europe, Rand said.

    "This is just more of a normal routine [mission]," he said. "Please don't make anything of us going over to Fairford because that's just ops normal."

    SEE ALSO: Watch 2 Russian attack jets harass a Dutch navy frigate in the Baltic Sea

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: Watch the US Marine Corps' F-35 run and gun for the first time

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    Itter Castle and entrance pathway in 1979

    Five days after Hitler killed himself in his bunker in Berlin and two days before Germany surrendered, American and German troops were fighting together side by side in what has been called World War II's strangest battle.

    It was the last days of the war in Europe on May 5, 1945, when French prisoners, Austrian resistance fighters, German soldiers, and American tankers all fought in defense of Itter Castle in Austria.

    In 1943, the German military turned the small castle into a prison for "high value" prisoners, such as French prime ministers, generals, sports stars, and politicians.

    By May 4, 1945, with Germany and its military quickly collapsing, the commander of the prison and his guards abandoned their post.

    The prisoners were now running the asylum, but they couldn’t just walk out the front door and enjoy their freedom. The Waffen SS, the German paramilitary unit commanded by Heinrich Himmler, had plans to recapture the castle and execute all of the prisoners.

    That's when the prisoners enlisted the help of nearby American troops led by Capt. John "Jack" Lee, local resistance fighters, and yes, even soldiers of the Wehrmacht to defend the castle through the night and early morning of May 5. The book "The Last Battle" by Stephen Harding tells the true tale of what happened next.

    From The Daily Beast:

    There are two primary heroes of this — as I must reiterate, entirely factual — story, both of them straight out of central casting.

    Jack Lee was the quintessential warrior: smart, aggressive, innovative — and, of course, a cigar-chewing, hard-drinking man who watched out for his troops and was willing to think way, way outside the box when the tactical situation demanded it, as it certainly did once the Waffen-SS started to assault the castle.

    The other was the much-decorated Wehrmacht officer Major Josef 'Sepp' Gangl, who died helping the Americans protect the VIPs. This is the first time that Gangl's story has been told in English, though he is rightly honored in present-day Austria and Germany as a hero of the anti-Nazi resistance.

    As the New York Journal of Books notes in its review of Harding's work, Army Capt. Lee immediately assumed command of the fight for the castle over its leaders — Capt. Schrader and Maj. Gangl — and they fought against a force of 100 to 150 SS troops in a confusing battle, to say the least.

    During the six-hour battle, the SS managed to destroy the sole American tank of the vastly outnumbered defenders, and Allied ammunition ran extremely low. But the Americans were able to call for reinforcements, and once they showed up the SS backed off, according to Donald Lateiner in his review.

    ww2 world war 2 wwii M-10 tankAbout 100 SS troops were taken prisoner, according to the BBC. The only friendly casualty of the battle was Maj. Gangl, who was shot by a sniper. The nearby town of Wörgl later named a street after him in his honor, while Capt. Lee received the Distinguished Service Cross for his bravery in the battle.

    As for the book, apparently it has been optioned to be made into a movie. With a crazy story like this, you'd think it would have already been made.

    SEE ALSO: Trump, with a decommissioned battleship as a backdrop, vows to overhaul veterans' care

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: Startling facts about World War II

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    anti-ISIS air strike

    The US military carried out an air strike on Thursday against militia supported by the Syrian government that posed a threat to US and US-backed Syrian fighters in the country's south, US officials told Reuters on Thursday.

    The militia, who numbered in the dozens and drove a tank and a small number of construction vehicles, ignored warning shots from US aircraft and, according to a US-led coalition statement, even "apparent Russian attempts to dissuade" their advance.

    One of the US officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, speculated that the group might have been trying to establish a position near the garrison in Syria used by US and US-backed forces around the town of At Tanf.

    "They were potentially probing to see how close they could get to At Tanf," the official said.

    A member of the US-backed Syrian rebel forces told Reuters the convoy comprised Syrian and Iranian-backed militias and was headed toward the Tanf base when they clashed with some rebel forces.

    The militia were struck after they had advanced to about 17 miles (27 km) from the base.

    "We notified the coalition that we were being attacked by the Syrian army and Iranians in this point, and the coalition came and destroyed the advancing convoy," said Muzahem al Saloum of the Maghawir al Thwra group.

    Since they appeared defensive in nature, Thursday's strikes did not suggest a shift in the US military's focus in Syria, which has been on battling Islamic State militants.

    US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said America's role in Syria's conflict was unchanged.

    "No. We are not increasing our role in the Syrian civil war. But we will defend our troops," Mattis said, when asked about the strikes.

    Under pressure

    Syria strike map

    But the latest move showed that the area around the Tanf garrison in southern Syria could be under pressure.

    Tanf is part of a region known as the Badia, which consists of vast, sparsely populated desert territory that stretches all the way to the Jordanian and Iraqi borders and was declared a military priority by Syria's foreign minister earlier in May.

    Two months of US-backed rebel advances against Islamic State militants have allowed them to secure swaths of territory in the Badia, alarming the Syrian government and its allies.

    But rebel sources had warned last week that the Syrian army and Iranian-backed militia moved hundreds of troops with tanks to the town of Sabaa Biyar, which is in the Badia, and is near the strategic Damascus-Baghdad highway.

    That highway was once a major weapons supply route for Iranian weapons into Syria.

    A Western intelligence official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the strike sent a strong message to Iranian-backed militias that have been spearheading the advance that they would not be allowed to reach the Iraq border from Syria.

    isis militants in syria

    The US-led coalition did not signal it would cede ground around Tanf.

    "Coalition forces have been operating in the At Tanf area for many months training and advising vetted partner forces engaged in the fight against ISIS," according to a statement by the US-led coalition, using an acronym for Islamic State.

    US officials said an agreement existed with Russia on a so-called "deconfliction" area around Tanf garrison, meant to avoid an accidental clash of forces.

    operation inherent resolve coalition air forces isisThe statement by the US-led coalition acknowledged a zone but did not offer any details about it, other than to say it was still active.

    "The agreed upon deconfliction zone agreement remains in effect," the statement said.

    A commander in the alliance fighting in support of Assad called the strike a "warning raid," adding it was not aimed at causing casualties but instead stopping the advance.

    Still, the strikes would be the first against fighters aligned with Syria's government since the United States launched cruise missile strikes on a Syrian air base in April.

    The April strikes were ordered in retaliation for a chemical weapons attack that Washington blamed on Damascus, and were described as a one-off measure to deter any future chemical weapons use.

    SEE ALSO: Watch an Iraqi journalist’s GoPro deflect an ISIS sniper’s bullet in Mosul

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: Here's the workout routine a retired US Navy admiral uses to stay in tip-top shape

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    f-22 f22 raptor inherent resolve arabian sea

    A U.S. military strike in Syria on Thursday was "government terrorism" and caused a massacre, Syrian government negotiator Bashar al-Ja'afari said on Friday, while Russia called it an unacceptable breach of Syrian sovereignty.

    U.S. officials told Reuters that the U.S. military carried out the air strike on Thursday against militia supported by the Syrian government that posed a threat to U.S. forces and U.S.-backed Syrian fighters in the country's south.

    Ja'afari said he had raised the incident with U.N. mediator Staffan de Mistura at peace talks in Geneva.

    "We discussed the massacre that the U.S. aggressor committed yesterday in our country. This subject was widely discussed," Ja'afari told reporters.

    "The important thing is that our political ambition is higher because we want to focus on fighting terrorism represented by armed groups and the state and government terrorism happening against our country.

    "This includes the American aggression, French aggression and British aggression, whether on civilian or military targets."

    The U.S. strike was the second deliberate military attack on forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. In April U.S. President Donald Trump ordered cruise missile strikes in retaliation for a chemical weapons attack that Washington blamed on Damascus.

    Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov said the U.S. action would hamper efforts to find a political solution to the conflict.

    Syria strike map

    "It is utterly unacceptable and a violation of Syria's sovereignty," Russian news agencies quoted him as saying.

    "Any military action leading to an escalation of the situation in Syria has an impact on the political process."

    A military source on the Syrian government side said the air strike had hit "one of our military points", without elaborating, Syrian state TV reported.

    The strike killed several people and caused material damage, the source said, saying that this hampered efforts by the Syrian army and its allies to fight Islamic State.

    Gatilov complained about what he said was a separate strike that had occurred on Wednesday May 17.

    "Literally a day before this (Thursday's strike) a strike was carried out which resulted in a large number of civilian deaths, which is also unacceptable," Gatilov was cited as saying.

    The United States has not spoken about any strikes carried out by the U.S.-led coalition on that date.

    SEE ALSO: The US just struck an Assad-supported militia in Syria after it rushed US-backed forces

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: This man spent 6 weeks working undercover in an iPhone factory in China — here's what it was like

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    Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte speaks during a visit in Baguio city, Philippines March 11, 2017. Picture taken March 11, 2017. REUTERS/Harley Palangchao

    Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said on Friday Chinese counterpart China Xi Jinping had warned him there would be war if Manila tried to enforce an arbitration ruling and drill for oil in a disputed part of the South China Sea.

    In remarks that could infuriate China, Duterte hit back at domestic critics who said he has gone soft on Beijing by refusing to push it to comply with an award last year by the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, which ruled largely in favor of the Philippines.

    Duterte said he discussed it with Xi when the two met in Beijing on Monday, and got a firm, but friendly warning.

    "We intend to drill oil there, if it's yours, well, that's your view, but my view is, I can drill the oil, if there is some inside the bowels of the earth because it is ours," Duterte said in a speech, recalling his conversation with Xi.

    "His response to me, 'we're friends, we don't want to quarrel with you, we want to maintain the presence of warm relationship, but if you force the issue, we'll go to war."

    Duterte has long expressed his admiration for Xi and said he would raise the arbitration ruling with him eventually, but needed first to strengthen relations between the two countries, which the Philippines is hoping will yield billions of dollars in Chinese loans and infrastructure investments.

    The Hague award clarifies Philippine sovereign rights in its 200-mile Exclusive Economic Zone to access offshore oil and gas fields, including the Reed Bank, 85 nautical miles off its coast.

    South China Sea Map

    It also invalidated China's nine-dash line claim on its maps denoting sovereignty over most of the South China Sea.

    Duterte has a reputation for his candid, at times incendiary, remarks and his office typically backpeddles on his behalf and blames the media for distorting his most controversial comments.

    Duterte recalled the same story about his discussion with Xi on oil exploration in a recorded television show aired moments after the speech.

    He said Xi told him "do not touch it".

    He said Xi had promised that the arbitration ruling would be discussed in future, but not now.

    Duterte said China did not want to bring up the arbitral ruling at a time when other claimant countries, like Vietnam, might also decide to file cases against it at the arbitration tribunal.

    csis south china sea

    It was not the first time the firebrand leader has publicly discussed the content of private meetings with other world leaders.

    His remarks came the same day that China and the Philippines held their first session in a two-way consultation process on the South China Sea.

    They exchanged views on "the importance of appropriately handling concerns, incidents and disputes involving the South China Sea", the Chinese Foreign Ministry said in a statement that gave few details.

    SEE ALSO: Chinese fighter jets reportedly fly upside down, right above a US Air Force plane

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: 9 phrases on your résumé that make hiring managers cringe

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    finnish f-18 hornet baana 16

    As part of the Nordic Defence Cooperation, Finland, Norway, and Sweden are joining forces for a large air exercise with help from the Netherlands, Belgium, Great Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Switzerland and the US nuclear-capable B-52H bombers.

    The exercise will feature multi-role fighters, electronic warfare aircraft, airborne warning and control system aircraft, and ground-based air defense "for the purposes of crisis management," according to a statement from the Finnish Air Force

    The Scandinavian countries remain neutral militarily, but have seen their airspace and territorial waters regularly breached by Russian aircraft. Russia has also conducted mock nuclear strikes against Sweden

    The event promises to bring together some of the best platforms in Western aviation. US F/A-18s, F-16s, and F-15s with a variety of air forces will fly with Sweden's domestically-built Gripen and France's Dassault Mirage 2000 and Rafale fighters.

    Saab Gripen E

    To top it off, a US nuclear-capable B-52H will make the long range trip to join the fighters and electronic attack craft near Russia's border. Meanwhile, the US has send B-2 Spirit nuclear-capable stealth bombers to the UK.

    As it stands, Russian forces in the region outnumber NATO and Scandinavian forces significantly, and Finland and Norway share about 900 miles of border with Russia. 

    The exercise runs from May 22 to June 2.

    SEE ALSO: Watch 2 Russian attack jets harass a Dutch navy frigate in the Baltic Sea

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: A Navy SEAL explains how to escape if you've been tied up

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    strong europe tank challenge m1 abrams

    For the second year in a row, a US armored brigade competed in the Strong Europe Tank Challenge against a range of European partners — and lost.

    Austria, which didn't participate last year, took gold, while Germany came in second. The US came in third, but given the purpose of the challenge, that's nothing to be ashamed of.

    "This is a competition, but it's not really about the competition," Sgt. Maj. David Glenn, 7th Army Training Command's operations senior noncommissioned officer, said in a US Army statement. "It's really about training, partnership, esprit de corps, and interoperability."

    Because of Russia's invasion of Ukraine — one of the participating states — the competition takes on an air of seriousness beyond a medal or ranking. Russian forces in eastern Europe outnumber deployed NATO forces in the region, and the US has sought to bolster the smaller European states with ground forces and even F-35s.

    See how the NATO and the Ukraine push themselves to stand ready against the looming threat of Russia:

    SEE ALSO: Watch 2 Russian attack jets harass a Dutch navy frigate in the Baltic Sea

    Here's the Austrian Leopard 2A4 tank that ended up taking gold.

    Crew: Four soldiers

    Armament: 120 mm smoothbore, 2x 7.62 mm

    Speed: 45 mph

    Range: 310 miles

    Length: 32 feet

    Weight: 62.5 tons

    Here's the German tank that competed, the Leopard 2A6.

    Crew: 4 soldiers

    Armament: 120 mm smoothbore, 2x 7.62 mm

    Speed: 42 mph

    Range: 310 miles

    Length: 36 feet

    Weight: 62 tons

    Poland brought the Leopard 2A5

    Crew: 4 soldiers

    Armament: 120 mm smoothbore, 2x 7.62 mm

    Speed: 45 mph

    Range: 310 miles

    Length: 32 feet

    Weight: 62.5 tons

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    nuclear football

    On President Donald Trump's first foreign trip, on which he will travel to Saudi Arabia, Israel, Italy, and Brussels, the "nuclear football" will follow him.

    The so-called nuclear football is a black leather briefcase that contains top-secret items capable of allowing the US president to authorize a nuclear strike while away from fixed command centers, such as the Situation Room.

    Officially referred to as the "president's emergency satchel," the unsophisticated-looking portable football is hand-carried by one of five military aides and is always within reach of the commander in chief, just in case.

    According to Bill Gulley, a former director of the White House Military Office, the ubiquitous football does not contain a doomsday red-button keypad, but rather four items:

    • A 75-page black book of retaliatory nuclear-strike options printed in black and red ink;
    • Another black book with a list of classified sites to shelter the president;
    • A manila folder containing 10 pages of instructions on how to operate the Emergency Broadcast System;
    • An index card with authentication codes.

    Sometimes an antenna can be seen poking out of the briefcase, which suggests that there may be communications equipment inside.

    The nickname "football" comes from "dropkick," a code name given to a secret nuclear-war plan, according to former US Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara. Initiating a dropkick would require one of these footballs, according to Smithsonian Magazine.

    The military aides selected to carry the briefcase are trained to administer the president for a nuclear attack in minutes.

    nuclear football

    "You're always kind of on edge," recalls then Air Force Major Robert Patterson, who toted the football for President Bill Clinton. 

    "I opened it up constantly just to refresh myself, to always be aware of what was in it, all the potential decisions the president could possibly make," Patterson told The Associated Press.

    The ubiquitous football is always in the same airplane, helicopter, car, and elevator alongside the president. When the president is at home, the football is stored in a secure location inside the White House, the AP reported.

    nuclear football

    According to Patterson, some aides chased after Clinton while he jogged around the White House compound — all the while lugging the 45-pound briefcase.

    The football first appeared during the Kennedy administration, shortly after the Cuban missile crisis in 1962.

    It became immediately clear to top national-security officers that the president needed unlimited access to nuclear war plans after he reportedly posed the following questions during a National Security Council meeting:

    kennedy nuclear football

    Amanda Macias contributed to an earlier version of this post.

    SEE ALSO: 16 US federal officials have been impeached in history — here are the craziest reasons why

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: The number of times Obama has had to respond to mass shootings during his presidency is staggering

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    U.S. President Donald Trump listens to a question during a joint news conference with Colombia's President Juan Manuel Santos (not pictured) at the White House in Washington, U.S. May 18, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin LamarqueNews item after news item dominated the week, from the death of Roger Ailes to the revelation that Trump asked FBI director James Comey to end his Russia investigation

    Here's the rundown of what happened:

    Natasha Bertrand covered the consequences of Trump sharing highly classified information with Russia. National security experts told her Trump may have “breached his oath of office” while statements from McCain and HR McMaster deepened the intrigue.

    She then explained why Trump’s decision matters and followed an interesting development about the information’s source.

    Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein announced on Wednesday that he would appoint former FBI director Robert Mueller as special counsel overseeing the Trump-Russia investigation.

    Former intelligence officials and national security experts told Sonam Sheth that Trump may have "gone from the frying pan into the fryer" and legal experts told Natasha that it might be time for Trump to lawyer up. Meanwhile, Sonam answered the question on everyone's lips: How would an impeachment play out?

    Mark Abadi noticed weeks ago that the Trump administration has a spelling problem, so he connected with pollsters to get them to find out how it could be affecting his image with the public. The verdict: not good.

    Jeremy Berke talked with an unlikely activist for a revamp in marijuana policies — former Baltimore Ravens offensive tackle Eugene Monroe, who wants the NFL to let players treat their injuries with medical marijuana instead opioid painkillers.

    Veronika Bondarenkofound a church that is helping undocumented immigrants elude the current immigration crackdown and make their way to Canada.


    Allan Smith had a detailed story on Trump's trade agenda, explaining how competing factions could shape trade policy. He also pulled together reactions to the series of bombshells Trump has faced in the past week, taking a look at how the Republican wall around Trump is starting to crack.

    Max Tani detailed the story that was blowing up in the conservative media universe early this week — the allegation that murdered DNC staffer Seth Rich was in contact with Wikileaks before his death. He talked to a representative for the family, who said there's a "special place in hell" for people who tried to politicize Rich's death. Max also broke the news about Gizmodo's president leaving the company amid turmoil that has followed its acquisition by Univision.

    Eliza Relman interviewed Deputy National Security Adviser K.T. McFarland and came out with two stories — one on her instructing federal officials to come up with some "creative solutions" on North Korea, and another on her discussing her reported ouster from the National Security Council.

    Pamela Engel took an in-depth look at the Palmer Report, a left-leaning website with a mysterious founder that has been gaining influence among prominent anti-Trumpers lately.


    Alex Lockie continued to detail the ins and outs of the F-35 stealth fighter. A former pilot gave him the details on why counter-stealth systems are no match for the aircraft.

    Alex also laid out the "combat swimmer stroke" that Navy SEALs use to swim for miles without getting tired. Hundreds of thousands of people were quite interested.

    Chris Woody explained efforts by the US and Mexico to fight against heroin.

    Daniel Brown teamed up with Skye Gould to put together this awesome feature on US military deployments to "hotspots" around the world. Daniel taken on a beat focused on the Russian military, and his latest on "hybrid war" was a great start.

    Paul Szoldra broke the news of the US Army quietly pulling a recruiting ad after they learned it featured a soldier who was convicted of rape that was later picked up by the Army Times, the Daily Mail, and others. 

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: WATCH: Putin reacts to Trump firing FBI Director James Comey

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    Kim Jong Un Missile

    North Korea's latest round of missile tests has shocked even the more bullish experts on the Kim regime's nuclear and ballistic missile programs, who place it a few months from testing a weapon that could put a nuclear warhead on Washington. But now more than ever, the US must show resolve and not cave into nuclear blackmail, experts say.

    Mike Elleman, the senior fellow for missile defense at the International Institute for Strategic Studies, told Business Insider that a recent North Korean missile launch featured a new rocket engine that improved on the earlier Musudan design that had failed multiple times.

    "If that's indeed the case, and I have no reason to believe it's not, an intercontinental ballistic missile test could happen this year," Elleman said.

    But although North Korea could be a few steps from testing such a missile, it has repeatedly offered to curb its tests for a seemingly small concession from the US.

    Every year, the US holds joint military drills with South Korea. Every year, they get a bit bigger, and every year, they spook North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

    North Korea, through Chinese diplomats, has repeatedly floated the idea of curbing its nuclear and missile-testing programs if the US stopped the frightening exercises.

    According to Yun Sun, a senior associate at the Stimson Center, while the North Koreans have a point — the US acted aggressively toward them during the Korean War, and military exercises have in the past become military conflicts — the US can't cave in to being blackmailed by North Korea.

    One reason the US can't make this trade is international law.

    "What we're doing in terms of our defense cooperation with South Korea is in no way comparable to the blatant disregard that North Korea has shown with respect to international law and international concerns repeatedly about its nuclear weapons program," Mark Toner, the acting State Department spokesman, said in March.

    Foal Eagle 2015

    Simply put, the US's military drills are legal, and North Korea's nuclear testing is not. The UN has resolutions against North Korea — the only country to test nuclear devices in the 21st century — while military exercises take place all over the world without incident, for the most part.

    But despite the illegal nature of its response, North Korea has legitimate security concerns. South Korean, Japanese, US, and even Chinese forces have likely thought about removing the Kim regime before.

    According to Sun, it isn't just a legal matter keeping the US from folding to North Korea.

    "This is a matter of principles, and should we be blackmailed out of it?" Sun said.

    If the US dropped its legal military exercises to please the Kim regime, then "what if tomorrow North Korea says, 'We don't like South Korea's political system,' or 'We don't like the Republic of Korea-US military alliance'?" Sun said.

    Kim Jong Un

    "It's a matter of whether you want to create a precedent where North Korea can blackmail us to stop doing what we believe is right," Sun said. "If the US is seen as being blackmailed by a rogue state out of something we've been doing for decades, it will create questions, and once that cycle starts, there's no end to it."

    Although the US committed atrocities against North Koreans during the Korean War, that doesn't grant North Korea the legitimacy to develop nuclear weapons, Sun said.

    While the US and North Korea differ on the issue of human rights and forms of government, the world can stand behind the issue of nuclear nonproliferation, experts say. If North Korea developed nukes, then what would stop South Korea or Japan from doing the same?

    On this issue, experts speak with near unanimity: A more nuclearized world is a less safe one.

    SEE ALSO: The UN vowed to push all countries to tighten sanctions against North Korea

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: A Navy SEAL commander explains how he learned to never give up

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    A-10 thunderbolt warthog cannon

    A US Air Force spokeswoman just confirmed a huge win for Congress and the infantry who have come to know and love the A-10 Warthog, telling Defense News that the beloved flying gun would not be retired.

    Once facing retirement in favor of the world's most expensive weapons system, the F-35, the A-10 was placed on the chopping block time and time again, while Congress members like Rep. Matha McSally, a former A-10 pilot, and Sen. John McCain, a former Navy pilot, stood up for the Cold War-era tank killer.

    At one point, airmen even came together to produce an excellent video on the A-10 community and its impact on morale and capability in the military.

    At one point, the A-10 was slated to have a "fly-off" with the F-35 to see which platform could provide better close air support. Though the Air Force did not announce the winner of the contest, the latest move seems to indicate a satisfactory performance for the Warthog.

    Along with the Warthog, the U-2 spy plane and the RQ-4 Global Hawk will remain funded, according to the fiscal year 2018 budget.

    SEE ALSO: An F-35 pilot explains why Russia and China's counterstealth can't stop him

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: Here's the massive cargo jet Boeing uses to carry plane parts around the world

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    Kim Jong nam

    Days before he was killed by a toxic nerve agent, Kim Jong Nam, the brother of North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un, met with a Korean-American who Malaysian officials suspected was a US intelligence agent, The Asahi Shimbun reported.

    Kim arrived in Malaysia, where he later died, on the same day as "a middle-aged Korea-American based in Bangkok," the Asian news outlet reported. Two women accused of killing Kim have said they thought they were pranking him for a reality-TV show.

    According to the report, the two met on February 9, and Kim's computer showed a record of a thumb drive being inserted, which some have speculated was used to offload vital information to the suspected US agent. The report includes a photo that purports to show the two meeting, though the suspected agent's face is cropped out.

    Four days later, Kim was dead.

    While reports about Kim's life say he was a gambler with no ambitions to rule North Korea, he would make sense as someone whom the US — and even China — would want to groom and leverage to possibly remove Kim Jong Un from power.

    At 33 years old, Kim Jong Un could lead North Korea for another three to five decades. While his leadership makes obvious its hostility to the US, he is also no fan of China.

    Unlike his predecessors, Kim has never visited Beijing nor had Chinese President Xi Jinping visit Pyongyang. Kim also has had top officials with ties to China brutally assassinated with packs of dogs or anti-aircraft guns, according to reports.

    As a result, China has little influence in North Korea today. Besides their trade relationship, the Chinese have few channels through which they could effect change in the Hermit Kingdom.

    kim jong un congress

    Through Kim's reported violent purges of top officials, he has insulated himself from any outside influence and is on a direct course to developing an intercontinental ballistic missile that could eventually land a nuclear warhead on Washington, DC. Experts have told Business Insider that this weapon could start testing in as little as a few months.

    Despite its concerted effort, the US has made little progress in removing or reasoning with Kim. The Kim dynasty has for decades ruled North Korea, which is still technically under the rule of Kim Il Sung, its "forever leader."

    Forcefully decapitating the Kim regime could lead to an exceptionally violent fight between the US and North Korea in which 25 million North Koreans may be loyal enough to fight against what they see as US imperialism.

    One possible silver bullet in a seemingly impossible solution would be to push another Kim, Kim Jong Nam, as the true leader of North Korea.

    NOrth Korea missile launch kim may 2017

    Chinese diplomats, through their limited contacts in North Korea, could have persuaded generals and senior officials to back Kim Jong Nam over Kim Jong Un to initiate a coup. For China, that would have installed a favorable regime in North Korea without risking large numbers of refugees pouring into its borders or a US-aligned democratic power.

    For the US, it would have benefitted from the removal of the most dangerous man in the Pacific.

    Whether or not he was interested in leading North Korea, Kim Jong Nam could have been a powerful point of leverage for the US and China to try to reel in a dangerous regime. If Kim did meet with a US agent, that very well could have been a tipping point for the North, which South Korea has accused of orchestrating the killing.

    SEE ALSO: Trump could stop North Korea's nuclear program tomorrow — but it would send the US down a dark path

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    NOW WATCH: Watch the US Marine Corps' F-35 run and gun for the first time

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    phone call Donald Trump

    President Donald Trump told Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte in a phone call last month that two nuclear submarines were somewhere in the waters near North Korea.

    "We have a lot of firepower over there," Trump said of the Korean Peninsula, according to a transcript of the call obtained by the New York Times and verified by White House officials.

    "We have two submarines — the best in the world," Trump said, according to The Times. "We have two nuclear submarines, not that we want to use them at all."

    Business Insider previously reported that the nuclear-powered USS Michigan submarine would head to North Korea's coast, joining the USS Carl Vinson carrier strike group. The Michigan does not carry nuclear weapons, but it does carry Tomahawk missiles — the same type used in the April 7 strike on a Syrian air base. It also carries special forces, and South Korean media has reported that Navy SEALs are in the region and may be training to take out North Korea's leadership.

    All US submarines are nuclear-powered — though at any time, four or five are nuclear-armed and on "hard alert, in their patrol areas, awaiting orders for launch," Stephen Schwartz, the author of "Atomic Audit: The Costs and Consequences of US Nuclear Weapons Since 1940," told Business Insider.

    It is unclear whether Trump was referring to the USS Michigan or the USS Cheyenne, another nuclear-powered but not nuclear-armed submarine in the region, or to another submarine armed with nuclear weapons. The locations of nuclear-armed submarines have to remain a secret to even the highest commanders in the US military.

    However, even if Trump were discussing nuclear-armed submarines, it is highly unlikely his disclosure was inappropriate, because he did not appear to give specifics.

    USS Michigan submarine us navy SEALs

    Nuclear-armed submarines make up the most secretive part of the US's nuclear deterrent. Essentially, even if an attacker could somehow neutralize all the US's nuclear weapons on land, they'd be unable to find the submarines. As a matter of national security, only the captains and crew of the submarines know for sure where they're located.

    "In fact, we don't even know where they are — they run silent," Schwartz said.

    SEE ALSO: Kim Jong Un's brother reportedly met with a US agent before his murder — and it could have been a coup

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    kim jong un

    Despite reports of US and Chinese military buildups, North Korea's increased pace of provocations, and the Trump administration's claims that "all options are on the table," the US would have to be insane to attack North Korea.

    To the untrained eye, the preparations for war are all there. The US has deployed the world's most advanced missile-defense system to South Korea, to protect against ballistic missiles. The world's most advanced jet, the F-35, has been sent to Japan.

    The US has a carrier strike group, the most powerful unit of naval power in existence, near North Korea's shores. And the US has permanently stationed 25,000 members of the world's best-organized fighting force near the North's borders — and they just finished a massive military exercise.

    But even the best systems can't stop a determined foe with a handful of nukes.

    Adm. Dennis Blair, who was the director of national intelligence under President Barack Obama, recently told a crowd at the Harvard Club that there was just no way to safely knock out all of North Korea's nuclear capabilities in one go.

    "If I were to run the national intelligence again and the president comes to me and says, 'Here is General Mattis' strike plan, and can you ensure me that this will take out of all the North Korea nuclear capabilities?' it won't be easy to say yes," Blair said, according to The South China Morning Post.

    Blair said that before he'd advocate an attack on North Korea, he'd accept it as a nuclear-armed state.

    Blair's statement echoes Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis' recent admission that a fight with the North would be "tragic on an unbelievable scale."

    Foal Eagle 2015

    The US has 2,300 nuclear weapons, any one of which could hit North Korea at a moment's notice. North Korea may have about a dozen nuclear weapons and the ability to hit a few close targets within an hour or so of planning.

    But it takes only a single nuclear detonation to make conflict inevitable. Unlike the US's surgical and virtually unpunished April 7 strike on a Syrian airfield, North Korean missiles would likely return fire thick and fast.

    Experts say North Korea probably would respond with artillery fire that would light up Seoul and its 10 million residents, decoy missiles would streak across the sky to overwhelm missile defenses, and ground forces would pour in through hidden tunnels.

    The US and South Korea undoubtedly would smash North Korean forces in time, but not before a missile touched down or another catastrophic act of war befell thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of innocent South Koreans.

    According to Bonnie Glaser, director of the China Power Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, only one military option even begins to make sense for North Korea.

    "If North Korea has a ballistic missile on a launchpad that we think is armed with a nuclear warhead," then the US would seek to eliminate that one single missile, Glaser said. "But even a strike on a missile on a launchpad could result in retaliation."

    Pukguksong-2 north korea missile

    After all, how should the North Koreans know that incoming missiles from the US had a limited objective? The risk remains that they'd misinterpret a limited strike as a full-on attack.

    And the idea of eliminating a single, consolidated threat from North Korea simply is a dream. North Korea may very well be beyond using launchpads, as its recent missile tests have taken off from mobile launchers, many of which have tank-like treads to allow it to fire from hidden locations in the wilderness.

    All three options for dealing with North Korea — ineffective sanctions, conceding to nuclear blackmail, and military action— are terrible. But the most terrible and unlikely is direct military action.

    SEE ALSO: Kim Jong Un's brother reportedly met with a US agent before he was killed — and it could have been a coup

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    FILE PHOTO:  A Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) interceptor is launched during a successful intercept test, in this undated handout photo provided by the U.S. Department of Defense, Missile Defense Agency.  U.S. Department of Defense, Missile Defense Agency/Handout via Reuters/File Photo

    MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia and China agree that the development of North Korea's nuclear program should not be used as an excuse for deploying elements of a U.S. global anti-missile system on the Korean peninsula, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Friday.

    Moscow and Beijing also favor measures that would counter North Korea's nuclear program, but at the same time not hamper a political settlement in the region, Lavrov told a joint news briefing with his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi.


    (Reporting by Denis Pinchuk; Writing by Dmitry Solovyov; Editing by Christian Lowe)

    SEE ALSO: Russia just released this video of its elite Spetsnaz taking over a cargo ship

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    USS Dewey

    President Donald Trump has apparently issued his long-awaited first challenge to Beijing's moves in the South China Sea.

    China said the USS Dewey, a guided-missile destroyer, sailed just a few miles off the coast of the Mischief Reef on Wednesday; the reef is an artificial island built and militarized by China.

    On the US side, there was silence — the US did not issue a press release acknowledging the maneuver, and Navy officials refused to comment on the specifics of the challenge.

    From China, there was outrage.

    "Stop taking further provocative actions that hurt China's sovereignty and maritime interests, so as to avoid hurting peace and security of the region and long-term cooperation between the two countries," China's foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang said, according to AFP.

    The Chinese official went on to say that the US had entered Chinese waters "without permission," that the ship "trespassed" in violation of the law, and that it was "warned" to leave.

    But according to Lawrence Brennan, a former Navy captain who is an expert of maritime law, the US doesn't need and would never ask for permission for the type of mission the Dewey was said to have carried out Thursday.

    The Dewey seems to have engaged in a Freedom of Navigation Operation, or Fonop as they are known within the military. Essentially, the US respects the maritime borders of all legitimate nations and won't sail within 12 miles of their coast.

    mischief skitch

    But when a country makes excessive, unlawful maritime claims, as an international court ruled China has done in the South China Sea, the US sends a Navy ship, usually a destroyer, to sail within 12 miles of the disputed territory's coast as a way of demonstrating that extrajudicial claims won't be respected by the world's most powerful Navy.

    Cmdr. Gary Ross, a Navy spokesman, told Business Insider that the Navy challenged excessive claims from 22 nations in 2016. Of those, he said, only challenges to China make headlines.

    Fonops against Chinese claims in the South China Sea — once a semiregular occurrence — had taken a hiatus under Trump, despite a presidential campaign filled with fiery rhetoric against Beijing, as he has since warmed to Chinese President Xi Jinping and sought to work together against North Korea's military provocations.

    Andrew Shearer, a senior adviser on Asia-Pacific security at the Center for Strategic and International Studies who was previously a national security adviser to Australian prime ministers John Howard and Tony Abbott, told Business Insider that Trump's Fonop was "better late than never."

    Shearer said it was "imperative to have these things happen routinely and without fanfare," as a Fonop represents standard procedure for the Navy. But not all Fonops are created equal.

    map south china sea

    Shearer questioned whether the Dewey made an "innocent passage," which would entail simply sailing along, or whether the maneuver "was conducted using normal military prerogatives, which would be a proper assertion of Fonops," meaning the Dewey would do a bit of flexing — firing up its radars, emitting signals, maybe even flying armed helicopters around the ship to make a point.

    But the problem here is that China, without international law or precedent on its side, threatened to escalate the conflict not with direct military confrontation, previously the sole main concern, but by slowing down cooperation in other, vital areas like on North Korea.

    "What the US has done is cause severe disruptions to this process of dialogue and consultation," the Chinese official told AFP.

    Indeed, Trump didn't discuss the South China Sea, human rights, or climate change when Xi visited Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida this year. Instead, they discussed North Korea, according to reports.

    Donald Trump and Xi Jinping

    China, North Korea's biggest backer, has been distancing itself from Pyongyang while Trump has repeatedly stressed the strength of his personal relationship with Xi. But if Trump bargains away the US's legal, historical right to sail the open seas for a little help with North Korea, the US could be in for hard times at the negotiating table in the future.

    "There's this attempt to trade Chinese support in the form of more pressure on North Korea for US acquiescence in the South China Sea," Shearer said. "But it's really important that the US take a principled, continuous position on the South China Sea."

    SEE ALSO: Here's why the US would have to be insane to attack North Korea

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    Few things have the power to transport people like the cinema.

    Who can forget Robert Williams' "Good morning, Vietnam" or Marine Corps DI Hartman's memorable quotes?

    The following list is of our favorite military movies.

    Jeremy Bender contributed to an earlier version of this post.

    SEE ALSO: The US lost track of $1 billion in weapons, and they might end up in ISIS' hands

    "The Longest Day" (1962)

    "The Longest Day" tells the story of heroism and loss that marked the Allies' successful completion of the Normandy Landings on D-Day during World War II.

    The film stands out due to its attention to detail, as it employed many Axis and Allied D-Day participants as advisers for how to depict the D-Day landings in the movie.

    "Lawrence Of Arabia" (1962)

    Based on the exploits of British Army Lieutenant T. E. Lawrence during World War I, "Lawrence of Arabia" tells the story of Lawrence's incredible activities in the Middle East.

    The film captures Lawrence's daring, his struggles with the horrific violence of World War I, and the incredible British role in the foundation of the modern Middle East and Saudi Arabia.

    "The Great Escape" (1963)

    "The Great Escape" is based on a novel of the same name, which was a nonfiction account of a mass escape from a German prison camp in Poland during World War II. The film follows several British German prisoners of war as they try to escape from the Nazis and make their way back to Allied-controlled territory. 

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    bless IT

    With the rhetoric about global trade deficits heating up on the campaign trail, it might be appropriate to momentarily shift our focus away from the asymmetric threats of the Taliban and ISIS and look at the world of conventional warfare.

    Here’s how the world’s three most powerful militaries stack up in four major categories:

    SEE ALSO: This battle between US Marines and ISIS has largely been kept secret — until now

    1. Stealth fighters

    While America holds the current stealth-jet lead with the only fielded fifth-generation fighter, Russia and China are both gunning for it.

    There are only 187 F-22s, and the F-35 that is supposed to be joining them is running into all sorts of problems in test phase, including the hi-tech helmet that is supposed to put all kinds of info in the pilot’s visor but doesn’t work right yet.


    Meanwhile, China is developing four stealth fighters.

    The J-31 debuted in air shows in 2014 and is the most advanced current threat, and the J-20, which may have just entered full-scale production, is probably a match for the F-35, if not the F-22.

    The two newest designs, the J-23 and J-25, are mostly rumors and Chinese propaganda right now.

    Russian PAK FA T-50

    Russia is developing only one stealth fighter but it has capabilities that some put on par with the F-22.

    The T-50 will likely enter service in late 2016 or early 2017. Also known as the PAK FA, it’s less stealthy than the Raptor but more maneuverable. The F-22 would likely get a jump on the Russians in a war, but would be in serious trouble if it was spotted first.

    Likely winner: As long as the other planes are still more hypothetical than real, the F-22 remains the clear victor.

    Still, Raptor drivers can’t rest easy knowing that multiple aircraft are being developed with the primary mission of bringing them down, and those planes are being developed with engineers who have the F-22’s schematics.

    2. Tanks

    The US Army fielded the first M-1 Abrams in 1980.

    But the tank has undergone so many upgrades, including those to the armor, drivetrain, and weapons systems, that everything but the shell is new.

    It has a 120mm main gun, great electronics, remote-operated weapon stations, and an armor configuration that incorporates uranium, Kevlar, reactive, and Chobham armor layers.

    t-90 russia tank

    Russia is developing the prototype T-14 on the Armata platform, but right now it relies on the T-90A, which is still an awesome tank.

    One even survived a direct hit from a TOW missile in Syria. Originally fielded in 2004, the T-90A features an autoloader, reactive armor, a remotely operated machine gun, and a 125mm cannon. The crew can fire antitank guided missiles from the main gun.

    type 99 china tank

    Like Russia, China fields a few varieties of tanks and has new ones in development. It’s go-to for tank-on-tank engagements is the Type 99. It features a 125mm smoothbore gun with auto-loader that can also fire missiles.

    The tank has been upgraded with reactive armor and is thought to be nearly as survivable in combat as Western or Russian tanks.

    Likely winner: Strictly looking at the gear in a one-on-one fight, it’s a draw. But America has more top-tier tanks and a better history of training crews, plus (Ukraine notwithstanding) US forces have more recent combat experience than their rivals.

    3. Surface ships

    With the largest Navy in the world, America has any surface fight in the bag if it happens in the middle of the ocean.

    The crown jewels are the Navy’s 10 full-sized aircraft carriers and nine landing helicopter docks. But the Navy’s technological advantages and sheer size might not be enough to overcome China’s missiles or Russia’s diesel subs if it had to fight in enemy waters.

    Russia navy krivak

    Russia still struggles with force projection, but the launch of Kalibr cruise missiles at ground targets in Syria proved that Russia has found a way to give even their small ships some serious bite.

    An anti-ship version of the missile is thought to be just as capable and, if fired in a large enough salvo, may be able to overcome US ship defenses like the Phalanx. Russia also fields the Club-K missile system, a land-attack and anti-ship cruise missile system that can be hidden in shipping containers.

    china navy destroyer pearl harbor

    China is pushing for a maritime revolution in both its Coast Guard and the People’s Liberation Army Navy. The Coast Guard is used to establish sovereignty in contested waters and is getting the world’s largest and most heavily armed Coast Guard ships. The Navy features hundreds of surface ships with advanced missiles and other weapons in addition to great sensors.

    Likely winner: The US Navy is still the undisputed champ across the world but it would take heavy losses if it fought China or Russia at home. A full-scale invasion might even fail if planners aren’t careful.

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    china air force air show j-10

    Chinese fighter jets have once again engaged in "unsafe and unprofessional" behavior around a US Navy plane flying over the contested South China Sea, ABC News reports.

    The US Navy plane was reportedly a P-3 Orion, which is used for maritime surveillance.

    China has built and militarized artificial islands in the South China Sea and frequently asserts its sovereignty over the land features despite an international court ruling against its claims.

    Recently, the USS Dewey, a guided-missile destroyer, contested China's claims in the South China Sea by sailing past the Mischief Reef, one of China's militarized islands.

    The US intends to bring this incident up with Chinese authorities at the next opportunity, according to ABC.

    This incident is similar to another occurrence earlier in May, when a Chinese jet reportedly flipped over and flew upside down about 150 feet above a US Air Force WC-135. 

    map south china sea

    SEE ALSO: Trump just checked Beijing in the South China Sea for the first time — and it's a risky bet

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    NOW WATCH: The US's most advanced missile system is operational in South Korea — and it has China and Russia alarmed

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