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- 07/04/17--06:00: _How US Army uniform...
- 07/04/17--06:30: _24 military movies ...
- 07/04/17--08:17: _North Korea just sh...
- 07/05/17--09:09: _Can the US wait Nor...
- 07/05/17--09:19: _North Korea's new m...
- 07/05/17--09:26: _Pentagon: North Kor...
- 07/05/17--10:37: _US GENERAL: 'Self-r...
- 07/06/17--09:28: _Trump wants to conf...
- 07/06/17--09:50: _Video appears to sh...
- 07/07/17--05:54: _Here's the mistake ...
- 07/07/17--07:00: _Only one question r...
- 07/07/17--07:22: _Secretary of Defens...
- 07/07/17--09:25: _US, Russia reported...
- 07/07/17--12:17: _A tiny detail from ...
- 07/10/17--06:44: _Video shows Trump p...
- 07/10/17--13:04: _The US’s best defen...
- 07/10/17--13:58: _Here's what happens...
- 07/11/17--07:04: _US military savagel...
- 07/11/17--07:27: _The US had a clear ...
- 07/12/17--09:00: _Dramatic drone foot...
- 07/04/17--06:00: How US Army uniforms changed over the 241 years since independence
- 07/04/17--06:30: 24 military movies to watch over the 4th of July
- North Korea just tested a nuclear-capable missile that experts say can hit Alaska.
- The US has no practical way to counter North Korea's nuclear and missile development.
- The US will just have to live with the fact that North Korean nukes can range its major cities, just like South Korea and Japan already do.
- 07/05/17--09:09: Can the US wait North Korea out?
- 07/05/17--09:26: Pentagon: North Korea tested an ICBM that 'we've not seen before'
- 07/07/17--05:54: Here's the mistake US presidents make when they meet Putin
- 07/07/17--07:00: Only one question remains for Trump after North Korea's ICBM launch
In the 241 years since the US declared independence from the English in 1776, the uniforms of those serving in the US Army have changed drastically.
Over the years, as the nation grew, uniforms too have evolved to fit the times and take advantage of changes in tactics and technology. In some cases, as this paper from US Army History notes, the changes were minor affairs, while in other cases, the look of the US Army was radically changed.
We have highlighted some of the major advancements in US Army uniforms in the graphic below.
The US will celebrate its Independence Day from Great Britain on Tuesday.
America's initial split from the British crown, which was codified in the Declaration of Independence, took a lot of political will and negotiation by the members of the Continental Congress, since many states were not open to the split at first.
But it was the Continental Army, and the militias that took up arms in support, that would go on to win the war — not to mention a little help from the French Navy.
In honor of their service, here is a list of some of the best military movies to watch on the 4th of July.
Jeremy Bender contributed to an earlier version of this post.
"The Patriot" (2000)
"The Patriot" tells the fictional tale of a colonial father who gets swept up in the American Revolution.
Haunted by his exploits during the French and Indian Wars, and initially unwilling to serve, he eventually goes on to form and lead a militia against the British.
"Top Gun" (1986)
Starring Tom Cruise and Val Kilmer, "Top Gun" follows Cruise as he attends the Top Gun aviation school. An aggressive but extremely competent pilot, Cruise competes throughout his training to become the best pilot in training. The film was selected in 2015 by the Library of Congress for preservation due to its cultural significance.
"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.
See the rest of the story at Business Insider
As Americans slept through the first few hours of July 4, Kim Jong Un personally observed the culmination of a years-long goal — the testing of a missile that he can use to nuke the US mainland.
Flying nearly 1,800 miles high above earth, the missile flew for over 35 minutes before crashing down into the sea, according to David Wright of the Union of Concerned Scientists. North Korean media stated that it shot the missile at a high arc so as not to hit any other countries.
Wright calculated that at a normal trajectory, the missile could fly 4,160 miles, or as far as Alaska from North Korea. Kim Jong Un has long threatened the US with nuclear attacks, and done everything in his power to demonstrate the capability to launch such an attack. While a single successful ICBM test doesn't mean North Korea has full combat capability, it could indicate that it's just a few months away.
Meanwhile, the US has taken every step short of military strikes to stop North Korea, saying that the era of "strategic patience" had ended and that "all options," including military strikes, were on the table for reeling back the rogue state.
In the aftermath of the test, Trump tweeted that China may try a "heavy move" against the Kim regime while hinting that South Korea and Japan could retaliate.
But North Korea's independence day missile launch wasn't a message to China, South Korea, Japan, or anyone besides the US. Kim Jong Un has told the US it's at risk of nuclear attack, so what changes now?
The short answer is nothing. Nothing will happen. The US has lived under threat of nuclear attack for over 50 years.
The US already lives with a nuclear-armed North Korea that can level Seoul, South Korea's capital and home to metro-area population of 25 million civilians. North Korea can already lay waste to the 28,000 US troops permanently stationed near the demilitarized zone.
Japan already lives with the knowledge that North Korea could most likely range Tokyo, home to a metro-area of almost 38 million, with a nuclear weapon.
Why should anything change when North Korea can reach Guam, Alaska, Los Angeles, or New York? North Korea doesn't attack Seoul, Tokyo, Guam, or any other place — because if they did, the US would absolutely destroy them.
That's the same reason that Russia, despite deep differences on foreign policy and conflicts of interest with the US, never fired on the US, or any other country, even during the height of the Cold War.
"We can deter them," retired Adm. Dennis Blair, the former head of US Pacific Command, said of North Korea at a National Committee for US-China Relations event. "They may be developing 10 to 15 nuclear weapons. We have 2,000. They can do a lot of damage to the US, but there won't be any North Korea left in the event of a nuclear exchange. That's not a good regime survival strategy, and even Kim Jong Un would understand that."
Under Kim Jong Un, North Korea wrote the possession of nuclear weapons into their constitution as a guarantor of their security. Expect the US to push for sanctions, diplomatic talks, investments in missile defenses — the types of measures taken against other nuclear powers — but don't expect a nuclear exchange.
Because for North Korea to use one of its nuclear weapons in anger would absolutely undermine its desire for security, and likely turn much of the Korean peninsula into a glowing nuclear wasteland.
On the eve of July 4th, North Korea set off the mother of all fireworks shows by test-firing a missile that flew for at least 37 minutes into space and back. On a normal trajectory, experts calculate, it would have covered 6,600 kilometers—enough to reach Anchorage, Alaska, and exceeding the technical definition of an intercontinental ballistic missile.
Yes, North Korea has an ICBM; it’s only a matter of time before it has an ICBM capable of delivering a nuclear warhead to Washington.
So much for President Trump’s boast on January 2: “North Korea just stated that it is in the final stages of developing a nuclear weapon capable of reaching parts of the U.S. It won’t happen!”
In reaction to the news that what he claimed would not happen did happen, Trump tweeted: “North Korea has just launched another missile. Does this guy have anything better to do with his life? Hard to believe that South Korea … and Japan will put up with this much longer. Perhaps China will put a heavy move on North Korea and end this nonsense once and for all!”
This is little more than a continuation of the president’s failed policy of the past five-plus months—which, to be fair, is a continuation of the failed policies of the Clinton, Bush, and Obama administrations. For years the U.S. has been hoping and wishing that China would put a “heavy move on North Korea” (even if no previous president would have put it in quite those terms).
It hasn’t happened, because China fears chaos in North Korea—potentially leading to the reunification of the entire peninsula under an American-allied regime in Seoul—far more than it fears a North Korea nuclear program.
In fact, notwithstanding Trump’s latest tweet, his administration has already been showing signs of giving up hopes that Chinese pressure would stop the North Korean missile and nuclear weapons program. Recently, the Trump administration has gone ahead with a $1.4 billion arms sale to Taiwan, stepped up U.S. Navy patrols in the Chinese-claimed South China Sea, and, most significantly of all, applied sanctions against China’s Bank of Dandong for its role in financing North Korea.
This recalls the Bush administration’s all-too-short-lived sanctions on Banco Delta Asia, a North Korean money-laundering center located in Macau. Imposed in 2005, the U.S. sanctions on Banco Delta Asia, freezing $25 million in North Korea funds, did enough damage to convince Pyongyang to agree to the 2007 “action plan,” which was supposed to culminate in the dismantlement of its nuclear program.
That, in turn, led the Bush administration to lift the sanctions, only to have negotiations break down over North Korea’s predictable refusal to engage in verifiable disarmament.
Today, China and Russia are once again raising the prospect of further talks with North Korea, which will supposedly freeze its nuclear and missile programs in exchange for a freeze on major U.S. military exercises with South Korea.
Let’s hope the Trump administration is smart enough not to fall for this ruse. It would play right into North Korea’s hands by suggesting that South Korea’s legitimate self-defense activities are somehow comparable to North Korea’s illegal nuclear and missile development activities in violation of United Nations sanctions.
If the U.S. were to stop military exercises, the quality of the deterrent confronting North Korea would deteriorate. Moreover, the already tense U.S.-South Korea alliance would be put under further strain.
If the U.S. doesn’t engage in talks with North Korea, what should it do? Sen. Lindsay Graham suggests a preemptive military strike to prevent the deployment of a nuclear-tipped ICBM. As John F. Kennedy said about calls for a military strike on Cuba during the Cuban Missile Crisis, this would be “a hell of a gamble.”
The world is lucky that Kennedy did not gamble, and we should not gamble today on military action against a nuclear-armed state with 10,000 artillery tubes zeroed in on Seoul.
Anyone who imagines that the U.S. can stage a “surgical” strike to take out all of North Korea’s missile and nuclear sites has been watching too many Jason Bourne movies. The U.S. intelligence community simply doesn’t have the “situational awareness” necessary for such an undertaking.
If the U.S. did initiate military action, there is a real risk that the conflict would spiral out of control. There’s no doubt that Pyongyang would ultimate lose Korean War II, but the cost in human life could be prohibitive—and ultimately unnecessary.
Remember that North Korea is a dysfunctional state, one of the poorest on the planet. It has defied predictions of its early demise so far, but a state so bereft of any success beyond its nuclear program cannot last indefinitely. Sooner or later—whether it is a matter of months or, more likely, decades—it will collapse.
The U.S. should not panic in the meantime even if North Korea acquires the capability to nuke Washington. We have faced the threat of a nuclear strike from the Soviet Union since the 1940s and from China since the 1960s. We successfully deterred both regimes, even when they were led by blood-thirsty lunatics such as Mao Zedong and Josef Stalin.
There is nothing to indicate that Kim Jong-un is suicidal or even expansionist; he is simply building nuclear weapons to ensure the survival of his regime.
Having nuclear weapons did not prevent the USSR’s collapse, and it will not prevent North Korea’s. The U.S. needs to stay patient, not do or say anything rash that could precipitate a crisis (please, Mr. President, no more tweets!), and rely on deterrence to contain the North Korean menace until it collapses under the weight of its own contradictions.
North Korea sent the US a message in the early-morning hours of July 4: We can hit you in your own home with a nuclear missile if we want to.
But if you were born in America after 1960, then you've been living under threat of nuclear annihilation from ballistic missiles your whole life.
When the Soviet Union deployed the R-7A Semyorka intercontinental ballistic missile with a nuclear warhead in 1960, it did it so it could hit US cities and targets without deploying forces outside its borders.
At that time, the US had nothing even remotely capable of stopping such an attack. But the US had its own forces, and its own nukes, and it was clear then, as it is now, that any attack on the US mainland would be repaid in kind.
Since then, China has built a formidable fleet of ICBMs as well. Now North Korea has ventured into that club, though in a limited capacity.
Most Americans have now lived their entire life under constant possibility of nuclear annihilation. North Korea's ICBM, though destabilizing and deeply troubling, exists as a mechanism to guarantee the stability of Kim Jong Un's regime.
If Kim ever decides to fire a nuclear missile at the US, the US will track it, fire interceptors, and release a barrage of its own, more reliable and powerful nuclear weapons in response most likely before North Korea's missile even reenters the atmosphere.
North Korea's new weapons capability will most likely lead to increased diplomatic pressure and sanctions on the country, but don't expect a nuclear exchange. If North Korea had been intent on nuking the US, it could have tried to hide a mobile missile launcher on a container ship or smuggle a nuclear weapon inside the US without having to spend years and millions of dollars perfecting a missile.
The US's superior firepower is the deterrent against North Korea or any other country striking first. That reality isn't likely to change anytime soon.
The Pentagon on Wednesday described North Korea's recently launched intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) as a new type of missile that "we've not seen before," and condemned the launch as escalatory and destabilizing.
Pentagon spokesman Navy Captain Jeff Davis told a news briefing that the ICBM was fired from a mobile launcher and confirmed the presence of a re-entry vehicle on top of it.
NOW WATCH: Secrets of the Statue of Liberty
After North Korea demonstrated for the first time its ability to build a nuclear-capable missile capable of striking the US, US and South Korean forces responded with a show of force by firing deep-strike, precision missiles into the sea.
After the dueling shows of military force by rival nations, Gen. Vincent K. Brooks, the commander of American troops in South Korea, gave a blunt assessment of the tense situation.
“Self-restraint, which is a choice, is all that separates armistice and war,” Brooks told the New York Times in reference to the Korean War, which ended in a ceasefire rather than a peace treaty in 1953.
“As this alliance missile live-fire shows, we are able to change our choice when so ordered by our alliance national leaders," said Brooks, adding that it "would be a grave mistake for anyone to believe anything to the contrary.”
North Korea has often provoked the US, most recently by detaining a healthy US student who was traveling through Pyongyang and releasing him back to the US in a coma.
North Korea's continued ballistic missile and nuclear tests also have the stated purpose of targeting the US.
But while the US does stockpile weapons and forces in South Korea to potentially thwart or initiate an attack, the US does not retaliate militarily.
Instead, US armed forces merely stand ready as North Korea's nuclear and conventional weapons hold major US-allied cities like Seoul and Tokyo at risk.
NOW WATCH: Secrets of the Statue of Liberty
After North Korea's decades-old missile program on Tuesday finally bore out a nuclear-capable weapon able to reach the US, President Donald Trump vowed to confront the country "very strongly."
Addressing an audience in Warsaw, Poland, on Thursday, Trump said the US was considering "severe things" to retaliate against a nation he said was "behaving in a very, very dangerous manner."
But there's almost nothing that can be done to stop North Korea now.
Shortly before North Korea's watershed launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile, Trump was briefed on a new range of military options for dealing with the country. As Business Insider has reported on extensively, military options for facing North Korea are extremely dangerous at best and unimaginably catastrophic at worst.
When Trump got hold of the new military options for North Korea, he again declined to act.
But according to Yun Sun, a senior associate at the Stimson Center, Trump never had any good options for dealing with North Korea, and he has even worse options now.
"The ICBM test removed the false hope that we might be able to stop North Korean nuclear provocations with either sanctions or the use of military provocations," Sun said.
North Korea has vastly accelerated the pace of its missile testing under Trump's presidency, but it had been preparing these tests for years, dating back to the Clinton administration. By the time Trump took office, North Koreans were just a few months from achieving their goal of a working ICBM.
According to Sun, nothing was going to stop them at this late stage.
In years past, North Korea had floated the idea of suspending its missile program in exchange for the US halting military drills with South Korea, but the US refused every time on the grounds that the regularly planned, completely legal drills did not at all compare with Kim Jong Un's nuclear threats and illegal development.
Now, faced with the possibility that North Korea has an unstoppable nuclear bomb, why would the US lay down its arms?
"The one thing we wanted to prevent North Korea from having, they already have it," Sun said. "What is the reasoning for us to suspend our military exercises at this point?"
The US and the international community can agree on sanctions for North Korea, which China may water down, but diplomatic talks are now strained, and the US's hand is undeniably weaker.
"How," Sun asked, "can we reward ICBM tests with engagement?"
North Korea's July 4 test of an intercontinental ballistic missile shocked the world by displaying how advanced and potent the missile forces of the hermit kingdom had become.
But a short video clip laid bare another shocking reality: North Korean missile forces allowed Kim Jong Un, the supreme leader of the country, to smoke a cigarette feet from the base of an untested, liquid-fueled rocket engine.
In the clip, first spotted by Ankit Panda, the Senior Editor of the Diplomat, Kim casually puffs a cigarette as the missile is positioned onto the launch pad. North Korea's fueling practices of missiles has raised concern before, as liquid fuel is volatile and dangerous in even the most controlled settings.
In 1980, a US Titan II liquid-fueled missile exploded in the silo due to a single socket falling out of place. Today the US uses solid fuel for its rocket engines.
Watch the clip below.
Kim Jong-un just casually strolling around while the Hwasong-14 ICBM is erected is quite something. (Wouldn't want a VIP that close.) pic.twitter.com/a3FDIenZYU— Ankit Panda (@nktpnd) July 5, 2017
US President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin met for the first time Friday at the G-20 summit in Hamburg, Germany, beginning a new chapter in the relationship between the world's two largest military and nuclear powers.
With Russian foreign policy in direct opposition to US interests abroad, and a grinding investigation into the Trump campaign's possible collusion with Russian hackers in the 2016 presidential election, pundits look to the meeting as a high-stakes first step in a relationship that could be defining for both men.
But even before Putin came to power in 2000, all US presidents have made a fundamental mistake in dealing with Russian leaders, said Anna Borshchevskaya, an expert on Russia’s foreign policy at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.
"Every American president, Democrat and Republican alike, comes in thinking that the problem lay with his predecessor, and he will be the one to fix the US-Russian relationship. But it never works out because the problem is not with the American side," Borshchevskaya said. "It’s important to recognize that Putin doesn’t want to build democracy in Russia, and he doesn’t want Russia to move closer to the West — to the contrary, he sees Russia as standing in opposition to Western values."
Former President Barack Obama, the US frequently rebuked Russia for its incursions into Ukraine and Syria, and then for its meddling in the 2016 election. But while Obama did declare the US's commitment to Western values, his words did not stop Russia from pursuing a very aggressive foreign policy and annexing the Crimean peninsula from Ukraine.
Far from acknowledging Obama's rebukes or starting a dialogue, Putin still hasn't admitted that Russia has had a role in backing the Ukrainian insurgency or in trying to sway the 2016 election.
Borshchevskaya said that no matter what the US offers, Russia does not want to be courted. For that reason, a US leader should "communicate to Putin that the US will stand by its values and protect its interests" with words that are backed up by action.
Rather than looking for Putin to cooperate with the US or chastise him for his foreign policy, Borshchevskaya said Trump must simply and credibly assert the US's goals and his resolve in pursuing them.
"A productive conversation would be one where President Trump clearly communicates to Putin that the US won’t be quick to offer concessions, but to the contrary, that Trump is going to be a tough negotiator, one who Putin feels is committed to protecting American interests and values, and someone who he will back his talk with action, not just as a one-off, but on a consistent basis," Borshchevskaya said.
After North Korea's groundbreaking test of a missile purpose-built to hold US cities at risk of nuclear attack, President Donald Trump now has to face a brand new question in the decades-long standoff between the West and North Korea: What now?
Trump, in office a mere six months before North Korea's test, never really had a chance to thwart Kim Jong Un's push towards an intercontinental ballistic missile. US presidents since 1994 have tried and failed to achieve the same feat.
Trump could have pushed harder for diplomatic engagement, but that failed repeatedly. Trump could have leaned less on the military option, but there's no evidence that his posturing caused any real damage. Trump could have worked more closely with China, but there's no evidence the Chinese would have actually allowed North Korea to fail by withdrawing their trade.
"I think it’s very easy to criticize Trump for what he has not done, but if he had done those things, they probably still would not have changed the result," Yun Sun, a senior associate at the Stimson Center, told Business Insider.
According to Sun, when Trump took office in January, Kim Jong Un was only a few months away from the missile his regime has desired so badly, and it was never likely the regime would negotiate away its ability to test weapons.
"They were already so close to it, why would they give up? Why would they negotiate away the most important security guarantee promise they can get?" asked Sun, referring to North Korea's nuclear capabilities, which they consider a hugely important safeguard against an invasion from the US or other nations.
Unlike past presidents who have tried and failed to stop North Korea from advancing their nuclear and ballistic missile programs, Trump finds himself faced with a brand-new question: Where do we go from here?
"We need to reassess what we’re trying to achieve here," said Sun of the future of diplomatic relations with North Korea.
According to Sun, now is not the time to hand over diplomatic concessions to North Korea after a provocative, illegal missile test. Such a move would amount to blackmail, and show the world that the US will cave to nuclear threats.
"How can we reward ICBM tests with engagement?" said Sun.
Kim Jong Un's major success in building an ICBM puts the US in a hard position where the US under Trump may have to abandon goal of a denuclearized North Korea.
Defense Secretary James Mattis told reporters at the Pentagon on Thursday that despite North Korea demonstrating its ability to hit the mainland US with a nuclear missile, the US came no closer to war with the rogue state.
"I do not believe this capability in itself brings us closer to war," Mattis said of North Korea's recent intercontinental ballistic missile test, as Fox News notes.
Mattis said the US would continue to focus on a diplomatic solution to the North Korean crisis.
"The president has been very clear and the secretary of state’s been very clear that we are leading with diplomatic and economic efforts," said Mattis.
Mattis did warn that "any effort by North Korea to start a war would lead to severe consequences," a war that he previously characterized as being winnable, but at an extreme human toll.
HAMBURG, Germany (AP) — The United States and Russia have reached agreement on a cease-fire in southwest Syria, three U.S. officials said Friday as President Donald Trump held his first meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The deal marks a new level of involvement for the U.S. in trying to resolve Syria's civil war. Although details about the agreement and how it will be implemented weren't immediately available, the cease-fire is set to take effect Sunday at noon Damascus time, said the officials, who weren't authorized to discuss the cease-fire publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity.
Jordan and Israel also are part of the agreement, one of the officials said. The two U.S. allies both share a border with the southern part of Syria and have been concerned about violence from Syria's civil war spilling over the border.
The deal is separate from "de-escalation zones" that were to be created under a deal brokered by Russia, Turkey and Iran earlier this year. The U.S. was not a part of that deal. Follow-up talks this week in Kazakhstan to finalize a cease-fire in those zones failed to reach agreement.
The U.S. and Russia have been backing opposing sides in Syria's war, with Moscow supporting Syrian President Bashar Assad and Washington supporting rebels who have been fighting Assad. Both the U.S. and Russia oppose the Islamic State group in Syria.
North Korea demonstrated its ability to reach the continental US with a nuclear-capable ballistic missile on July 4, but close analysis of launch footage may point to another dangerous technological development.
Unlike other North Korean missiles, the intercontinental-range Hwasong-14 missile uses a "shroud," or a hollow cover instead of a more solid nosecone, researchers have discovered.
ICBMs generally use shrouds if one is "planning on launching multiple reentry vehicles or added countermeasures," David Schmerler, a research associate at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies told Business Insider.
Shrouds usually indicate that a missile has multiple, independent reentry vehicles for a payload, according to Schermler. A missile with multiple nuclear warheads can not only do more damage to its target, but also pose a greater challenge for missile defenses.
While Schmerler said there is "no indication" that North Korea has developed technology to miniaturize warheads such that it could fit multiple nukes in a single missile, it could have installed countermeasures in the shroud that would render US defenses all but useless.
A typical countermeasure, like a handful of mylar balloons that inflate with one of them surrounding the warhead, greatly limit missile defenses' ability to deter or defeat threats. When a missile interceptor heads towards the warhead, a crowd of balloons release, making it difficult for the interceptor to find the warhead.
No North Korea statements have announced work on countermeasures, according to Schmerler. But shrouded missiles can easily lend themselves to countermeasures.
"If you want to fit countermeasures, penetration aides, or chaff, you would need more space" in the tip of the warhead, said Schmerler.
In the clip below, watch for the shroud dropping off the missile after the first stage, and then the interstage of the missile drop off.
amazing. nosecone is not nosecone but a shroud. NK miniaturization might be far more advanced than anticipated. pic.twitter.com/ckSSvBZzug— xutianran (@stoa1984) July 5, 2017
Cameras recording President Donald Trump's exit from the G-20 summit in Hamburg, Germany, caught a light-hearted moment as Trump tried not once, but twice to retrieve a Marine's hat.
As Trump approached the presidential helicopter, Marine One, the strong winds from the rotors blew off the hat of one of the Marines assigned to the president. Trump, apparently amused, clapped as he bent over to pick up the hat, and place it back on the Marine's head.
But the wind blew it off again.
Watch the full clip below:
The US has spent at least $40 billion on a missile defense system intended to knock down or deter incoming North Korean intercontinental ballistic missiles, but actually using the system could lead to an accidental nuclear war with Russia, according to an expert.
Jeffrey Lewis, the founding publisher of Arms Control Wonk, took to Twitter to detail how the US could find itself exchanging nuclear salvos with Russia if it ever tried to shoot down an incoming North Korean ballistic missile.
The US's Missile Defense Agency, which operates the Ground-based Midcourse Defense (GMD) missile shield, told Business Insider in May that in the event of a real incoming threat, they would launch several interceptors to increase the chances of knocking out the missile.
Lewis pegs this figure at about four or five interceptors.
But only one interceptor missile could hit the threat. The others would continue streaking through the high atmosphere towards Russia and China.
The problem is that, in that moment, while US missile defense forces are praying their interceptor hits North Korea's nuclear missile, they're also relying on Russia to be able to tell that the other interceptor missiles aren't a salvo of US nukes.
There's plenty of reason to believe Russia can't do that.
So, now the fun part. Let's say one hits. What do you think happens to the other interceptors? They keep going. Into Russia. 5/ pic.twitter.com/FJu63JjPAo— Jeffrey Lewis (@ArmsControlWonk) July 7, 2017
While North Korea, the US, Japan, South Korea, and much of the world agree that North Korea's Hwasong-14 missile flew for about 37 minutes to a high point of about 1,800 miles, Russian intelligence assesses that the missile flew for just 14 minutes and reached a height of only 332 miles.
It is possible that Russia's public estimation was so different because it wanted to block UN condemnations and further sanctions on North Korea, by objecting to the consensus that the missile was an ICBM, as it already has.
It is also possible Russia legitimately thinks the missile was far short of an ICBM because their early warning system "stinks" as Lewis put it on Twitter.
For years, Russia has come out with assessments of North Korea's missile launches that wildly diverge from the global consensus. Unlike the US, which uses a mix of satellites and ground-based radars, Russia only uses radars to detect incoming launches.
The US's monitoring system provides the US as much as 20-30 minutes to detect missile activity and to determine a response. Russia's system, meanwhile, provides only a few minutes to determine whether the streaks across its radar screens constitute unarmed interceptors, or nuclear-armed ICBMs.
Russia's missile detection difficulties are well-documented. M. Elaine Bunn, the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Nuclear and Missile Defense Policy, wrote in 2004 that the US needed to consider how to notify Russia of interceptor missiles launches during a crisis given "the possibility for Russian misidentification of a GMD or Aegis interceptor launch."
However since Bunn's suggestion in 2004, US and Russian lines of communication and deconfliction have only suffered.
With little communication or cooperation between the US and Russia about missile launches, Lewis warns that an attempt at intercepting a North Korean nuclear attack could spook the Russians so bad that they respond with a full-on nuclear attack that would leave much of the US reduced to ashes.
The US Armed Forces widely uses the M249 SAW light machine gun, as it's tried and tested on the battlefield, but all weapons have limitations, as a new video from West Coast Armory shows.
To test the durability of a suppressor, a device used to mask muzzle flash and muffle sound from firearms, the guys at West Coast Armory, a Washington state-based gun range, set up the M249 on a bipod and fed a belt of 700 rounds through it.
To be clear, this qualifies as ridiculously overdoing it and is not advisable in any but the most controlled scenarios.
In the clip below, watch the suppressor get utterly destroyed and the M249's barrel become red hot.
US military spokespeople trolled ISIS savagely on Tuesday after the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that the group's leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, had been confirmed dead.
When asked to confirm whether or not the ISIS leader had died, a spokesperson told CBS News' Cami McCormick "We strongly advise ISIS to implement a strong line of succession, it will be needed."
The latest wave of reports of Baghdadi's death come as ISIS' territory in Iraq and Syria shrinks and the group's remaining militants run out of places to hide.
On Sunday, the Iraqi government declared the city of Mosul, where ISIS declared it's "caliphate" or territory in 2014, as having been liberated.
The US has led a coalition of 67 nations in training and equipping ground forces to fight ISIS and providing air support for those troops since 2014, but according to all official estimates, ISIS' days controlling territory in Iraq and Syria are numbered.
When North Korea launched its first intercontinental ballistic missile in the early-morning hours of July 4, US military and intelligence personnel watched for a full 70 minutes, a source told The Diplomat's Ankit Panda.
During that time, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un smoked cigarettes and strolled around the launchpad under the US's gaze.
The US knew North Korea was in the final stages of building an ICBM after a recent rocket-engine test. The US knew North Korea liked to test missiles on the American Independence Day to send a message. The US knew this missile was different from any it had seen before, and the US knew it could destroy it with a variety of precision-fire platforms in the region. Importantly, the US also had Kim in its crosshairs for over an hour — and did nothing.
Those facts speak volumes about the security climate in the Koreas.
While it's "fairly standard that the US didn't strike the missile ahead of the launch," Rodger Baker, the lead analyst of Asia Pacific and South Asia at Stratfor, a geopolitical consulting firm, told Business Insider, "the unusual aspect may be saying they were watching, or at least allowing that to leak."
Video of the launch clearly shows Kim on-site, sometimes feet away from the missile. The next day, the US and South Korea put on a blistering display of precision-guided firepower demonstrating they could have both killed Kim and stopped the launch. But they didn’t.
By letting North Korea know it watched Kim as he prepared for one of his country's most provocative missile tests ever, Baker says, the US may have sent two powerful messages.
The decision fit with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson's statement that the US wanted "to bring Kim Jong Un to his senses, not his knees" and that regime change was not the US's ultimate goal.
But regime security is the reason North Korea wants long-range nuclear weapons in the first place.
If the US demonstrates it's not intent on killing Kim, that could communicate that there's "no need to continue" the missile program, according to Baker.
But "if the program is continued," Baker said, the US showed it could "strike it and Kim." Though North Korea varies and tries to hide its launch points, the US tracks them vigorously, and footage of the launches always shows Kim nearby.
Perhaps rather than kill Kim and trigger a North Korean response, which could be massive, the US elected to signal that the best path to regime security would be to stay indoors and not play around near dangerous rocket engines, which have a habit of blowing up.
On Sunday, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi declared victory in Mosul, ending a grueling eight-month campaign against ISIS in the country's second largest city.
Now the city lies in utter ruin after years of ISIS attacks and US-led coalition bombings.
The jihadist group took control of Mosul in June 2014, and immediately burned the city's library and historical documents.
ISIS then destroyed the Sheikh Fathi mosque, despite civilians forming a human chain around the site to protect it. ISIS destroyed the historical tombs of Nebi Yunis and Nabi Jerjis and many other historical sites. Most recently, when coalition forces were were poised to take back the city, they blew up the ancient Great Mosque of al-Nuri, where ISIS first declared its caliphate in 2014.
The UN has estimated that it will cost about $1 billion to rebuild the city's infrastructure.
Below is what Mosul looked like in 2008:
And this drone footage shows what Mosul looks like now: