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- 07/12/17--09:35: _Photos show US, Sou...
- 07/13/17--12:57: _Hackers can take a ...
- 07/17/17--07:44: _Denmark to train NA...
- 07/17/17--10:32: _A key American defe...
- 07/17/17--11:53: _A brief anecdote su...
- 07/18/17--07:50: _North Korea celebra...
- 07/18/17--12:41: _China and Russia co...
- 07/19/17--08:20: _North Korea publicl...
- 07/19/17--08:28: _Here’s what would h...
- 07/19/17--08:38: _Chechnya's leader s...
- 07/19/17--13:33: _North Korea may be ...
- 07/20/17--05:45: _These graphics expl...
- 07/20/17--12:15: _Here's how a North ...
- 07/21/17--06:56: _The US can retaliat...
- 07/21/17--07:56: _The CIA director ju...
- 07/21/17--10:18: _3 reasons why Ameri...
- 07/21/17--12:33: _Why Russia's ballis...
- 07/22/17--07:11: _Trump just approved...
- 07/24/17--07:06: _Chinese jets interc...
- 07/24/17--07:29: _How the US's futuri...
- 07/17/17--07:44: Denmark to train NATO soldiers to combat Russian misinformation
- Russia is accused of bold intrusions into vital US infrastructure (elections, nuclear power plants), actions that one expert says were made without fear of reprisal.
- The US has not offered a strong response to Russian cyberattacks despite being aware of them for years.
- Russia has compromised the US's ability to enact independent foreign policy with its gains in cyberspace.
- 07/19/17--13:33: North Korea may be gearing up for another ICBM test launch
- 07/20/17--12:15: Here's how a North Korean nuclear attack on the US would play out
- Russia stands accused of bold intrusions into vital US infrastructure (elections, nuclear power plants).
- The US has the ability to fight back.
- Empowering ordinary Russians with cyber tools against Vladimir Putin's regime would be "kick them" where it hurts, according to one cyber security expert.
- 07/24/17--07:06: Chinese jets intercept US surveillance plane in East China Sea
Three days after North Korea demonstrated its ability to hit the US with long-range nuclear missiles, the US, South Korea, and Japan put on a display of air power expressly meant to frighten Kim Jong Un.
Flying 10 hours from Guam to the Korean peninsula, US B-1 Lancer bombers joined up with South Korean F-15s and dropped dud bombs at a range near the demilitarized border between North and South Korea. On the way back, Japanese F-2 fighters escorted the US heavy bombers.
"North Korea’s actions are a threat to our allies, partners and homeland," Gen. Terrence O’ Shaughnessy, Pacific Air Forces commander, said in a statement. "Let me be clear, if called upon we are trained, equipped and ready to unleash the full lethal capability of our allied air forces."
In the pictures below, see how the US and its allies train to respond to North Korea.
Here's a US Air Force B-1B Lancer under a nearly full moon in Guam before takeoff.
The B-1 was originally designed to carry nuclear weapons but is no longer able to. But it can carry more conventional bombs than any US Air Force plane and fly at mach 1.2.
Due to tensions in the Pacific, the US maintains a constant bomber presence in Guam.
See the rest of the story at Business Insider
As cyberattacks on the US become commonplace, disorienting, and potentially damaging to the US's fundamental infrastructure, the US Army's Cyber Command reached out to civilian hackers in a language they could understand — hidden hacking puzzles online.
In the opening sequence of a Go Army commercial for Cyber Command, green text scrolls on a vacant computer as the narrator details the ominous state of cybercrime today. Viewers who watch closely will find a URL at the bottom of the screen that leads to Recruitahacker.net.
From there, the user can enter rudimentary commands and access a hacking puzzle. Lt. Gen. Paul M. Nakasone told reporters at Defense One's Tech Summit on Thursday that of the 9.8 million people who viewed the ad online, 800,000 went on to attempt the hacking test. Only 1% passed.
Business Insider attempted the test and failed swiftly.
"We have the world’s adversaries trying to come at our nation," said Nakasone, who explained that in the next few months qualified hackers could undergo "direct commissioning" and find themselves as "mid-grade officers" in the Army's Cyber Command. Hackers who can pass the test online will be invited to apply for a role within the Department of Defense.
With Russia's attempts to hack into voting systems during the 2016 presidential election and its alleged infiltration of US nuclear power plants keeping the US's cyber vulnerabilities constantly in the news, Nakasone said Cyber Command will put together 133 teams to do battle in the cyber realm.
In light of the recent attacks, Nakasone said he's seen "more enthusiasm or desire to serve and join the government or military" and that he looks forward to bringing civilians into the battle against foreign cybercrime.
COPENHAGEN (Reuters) - Danish troops will get training in how to deal with Russian misinformation before being sent to join a NATO military build-up in Estonia in January, Defense Minister Claus Hjort Frederiksen said on Monday.
"It is a whole new world. The Danish soldiers need to be extremely aware of that. Therefore I have arranged with the armed forces that the soldiers being sent out in January are informed and educated in how to protect themselves," Frederiksen told Danish broadcaster DR.
"It is easy to imagine they will become exposed to intimidation and fake rumors," he said of the 200 Danish soldiers being deployed.
In February, Lithuanian prosecutors opened a criminal investigation into a false report of a 15-year-old girl being raped by German NATO soldiers which spread quickly on social media.
NATO accused Russia of being behind the false report and said it expected more propaganda of this sort in the future.
Both NATO and the European Union are concerned by Russia's ability to use television and the internet to project what they say is deliberate misinformation. Russia has denied being involved in any cyber warfare targeting Western governments or institutions.
For decades, the US has leveraged the world's greatest conventional and nuclear military forces to become a superpower that no country would dare attack.
But in 2017, the country finds itself under attack by nation-states in a way unseen since World War II amid a failure of one of the most important pillars of American strength: deterrence.
The US intelligence community has accused Russia of conducting cyberattacks on US voting systems and political networks during the 2016 presidential campaign and election. Cybersecurity experts also attribute a series of recent intrusions into US nuclear power plants to Russia.
While cyberattacks do not kill humans outright in the way the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor did, they degrade the faith of Americans in their political systems and infrastructure in a way that could devastate the country and that furthers the foreign-policy goals of the US's adversaries.
"When Americans have lost trust in their electoral system, or their financial system, or the security of their grid, then we're gonna be in big trouble," Eric Rosenbach, a former US Army intelligence officer who served as Secretary of Defense Ash Carter's chief of staff, said Thursday at the Defense One Tech Summit.
'A failure of deterrence'
The US has long relied on the concept of deterrence, or discouraging nation-states from taking action against the US because of the perceived consequences, for protection.
The brazen hacks during the US presidential election and the recent cyberattacks on Ukraine's power grid and infrastructure for which Russia has been blamed reveal "a failure of deterrence" on the part of the US, Rosenbach said.
"Deterrence is based on perception," Rosenbach said. "When people think they can do something to you and get away with it, they're much more likely to do it."
While the US conducts cyberoperations, especially offensives, as secretly as possible, mounting evidence suggests that the US has not fought back against hacks by adversarial countries as strongly as possible.
After receiving intelligence reports that Russia had been trying to hack into US election systems to benefit Donald Trump, President Barack Obama told Russian President Vladimir Putin to stop and brought up the possibility of US retaliation.
Obama later expelled Russian diplomats from the US in response to the cyberattack, but cybersecurity experts say Russia has continued to attack vital US infrastructure.
A former senior Obama administration official told The Washington Post earlier this year that the US's muted response to the 2016 hacking was "the hardest thing about my entire time in government to defend."
"I feel like we sort of choked," the official said.
The Post also found that Obama administration's belief that Hillary Clinton would win the election prompted it to respond less forcefully than it might have.
While the attacks on vital US voting systems and nuclear power plants highlight recent failures of deterrence, Russia has been sponsoring cybercrimes against the US for years.
"The Russians, and a lot of other bad guys, think that they can get away with putting malware in our grid, manipulating our elections, and doing a lot of other bad things and get away with it," Rosenbach said. "Because they have."
In physical war, the US deters adversaries like Russia with nuclear arms. In cyberspace, no equivalent measure exists. With the complicated nature of attributing cybercrimes to their culprits, experts disagree on how to best deter Russia, but Rosenbach stressed that the US needed to take "bold" action.
While Rosenbach doesn't find it likely that Russia would seek to take down the US's grid in isolation, he pointed out that the nuclear-plant intrusions gave Russia incredible leverage over the US in a way that could flip the deterrence equation, with the US possibly fearing that its actions might anger Russia.
Russia's malware attacks have been so successful, Rosenbach says, that the next time the US moves against Russia's interests, fear of future attacks could "cause the US to change course." The US losing its ability to conduct an independent foreign policy would be a grave defeat for the world's foremost superpower.
Buried at the bottom of a story on South Carolina senator Lindsey Graham's plan to save healthcare, The Washingtonian reported a short anecdote from Graham that perfectly encapsulates the difference between former president Barack Obama's military leadership and Donald Trump's.
Early one morning, Secretary of Defense James Mattis called Trump to ask about a troop deployment in ISIS-held Syria, according to Graham.
“We’re asking permission to send 50 of our soldiers into a village outside Raqqa,” Graham quoted Mattis as having said.
“Why are you calling me?” replied Trump, “I don’t know where this village is at.”
Graham said Mattis answered that, “Well, that’s what we’ve done for the last 8 years.”
Graham said that Trump then asked who wanted to send troops to that village, and Mattis replied that a major who was first in his class at West Point had made the request.
“’Why do you think I know more about that than he does?’” Trump replied, according to Graham. “And then he hung up,” said Graham.
For former Obama administration defense officials, this story highlights a stark contrast. Obama famously micromanaged the Pentagon, insisting on a very granular level of detail for even relatively minor military decisions.
“You know, the president is quoted as having said at one point to his staff, ‘I can do every one of your jobs better than you can,’” said former secretary of defense Robert Gates, who served under eight presidents, told MSNBC's "Morning Joe" in 2016.
North Korea celebrated decades of hard work on its first-ever intercontinental ballistic missile with a giant concert complete with pyrotechnics, an orchestra, and a simulation video of its missile destroying the entire US mainland.
The concert not only featured the simulation video, but photos of the real missile tested by the North Koreans, providing missile analysts in the US and elsewhere tons of hidden details to study.
Because North Korea remains one of the most closed-off nations on earth, the imagery it posts of its missiles is an excellent source of intelligence for civilian and military analysts alike.
Watch the clip below:
USA is destroyed by an HS-14- as seen at the triumph concert. Turn the music on, and let the North Koreans pimp the missile.... pic.twitter.com/dQMK9yOi8I— Tal Inbar (@inbarspace) July 14, 2017
In 2007, China fired a missile that flew 537 miles above the earth and smashed one of its weather satellites, causing thousands of pieces of debris to drift endlessly through Earth's orbit.
Just a year later, the US Navy responded by shooting down a satellite in danger of falling out of earth's orbit at 133 miles and traveling at 17,000 mph with an SM-3 missile, which the US military fields hundreds of.
Since then, Russia has completed at least five anti-satellite missile tests.
Though US astronauts aboard the Apollo 11 left behind a plaque on the moon in 1969 with the inscription "We came in peace for all mankind," in the intervening decades, space has become militarized as major superpowers now rely on satellite communications.
"Space is not a sanctuary, it is a war fighting domain," US Air Force Brigadier General Mark Baird said at the Defense One Tech Summit last week.
The US military relies on space-based operations for everything including communications, coordination, navigation, and surveillance, Peter Singer, a senior fellow at non-partisan think tank New America and the author of "Ghost Fleet: A Novel of the Next World War," told Business Insider.
Even civilian systems like the stock market are reliant on satellites because GPS systems "time-stamp" stock trades, according to Singer.
"If you were an adversary attacking the US, you’d start by attacking satellites," said Singer. "The first shots in a war between the US and China or Russia, no one would likely hear."
China and Russia also rely on space systems for numerous functions, but the US is more heavily dependent. Chinese and Russian jets still use analogue systems in their older jets and tanks and boats, and could operate better without satellites.
In that way, the US's strength in space assets has become a dragging liability.
New defenses emerging
While the concept of a space-based conflict terrifies Baird, he said a range of growing technologies and possibilities also has him excited.
In response to the growing space threat, the House of Representatives passed a National Defense Authorization Act with money set aside for a proposed sixth military branch, the Space Corps. While the Space Corps seems unlikely to make it through the Senate, the Senate version of the NDAA does set aside extra money for increased space operations.
But even with a dedicated military branch, there is just no protecting satellites, which sit defenseless in geosynchronous or predictable orbits above earth.
Instead, companies and the military are leveraging shrinking processors and cameras to develop constellations of small satellites that can be easily launched, thus ending a reliance on large satellites that cost billions. The US would then be able to quickly replace downed satellites with smaller, cheaper ones that would simultaneously create more, lower-value targets for adversaries to find and destroy.
For example, the massive Stratolaunch airplane, founded by billionaire Paul Allen, could one day fly high in the atmosphere and launch three rockets, each carrying multiple small satellites into orbit.
Additionally, reusable rockets from companies like SpaceX could save the US time and money on launches, making it less damaging when a satellite is lost.
The space debris problem
While replacing large satellites with smaller ones works as a quick fix, it comes with major environmental concerns.
Space debris from destroyed satellites clutters the domain and makes it harder for sensors and trackers to operate. In a worst-case scenario, the debris could potentially get into a very fast orbit around the earth and end up smashing holes into existing space systems.
"I worry about anti-satellite business from the orbital debris mitigation point of view," Dr. Bhavya Lal, a research staff member at the IDA Science and Technology Policy Institute, said at the Defense One Tech Summit.
According to Lal, the Chinese anti-satellite test in 2007 added approximately 3,000 pieces of debris to the more than half a million pieces "bigger than a marble" in Earth's orbit.
With enough high-velocity debris flying around, the entire upper atmosphere of Earth could become unsuitable for satellites, possibly resetting technology back decades before the proliferation of space systems.
Like all conflicts between major powers, space combat doesn't happen because it is deterred.
The US's anti-satellite tests have demonstrated that it too can down another nation's satellites, to say nothing of the US's ability to counter any serious attack with its formidable nuclear forces.
However, new technologies like Stratolaunch and others show that the US can can survive an initial space attack and get a new cluster of critical satellites up within a matter of hours if needed.
For the US, the world's most powerful country, commanding forces is mainly about deterring aggression rather than fighting wars.
As Vice Adm. Charles Richard, of the US's Strategic Command said in March: “While we’re not at war in space, I don’t think we could say we’re exactly at peace either.”
SEOUL (Reuters) - North Korea carries out public executions on river banks and at school grounds and marketplaces for charges such as stealing copper from factory machines, distributing media from South Korea and prostitution, a report issued on Wednesday said.
The report, by a Seoul-based non-government group, said the often extra-judicial decisions for public executions are frequently influenced by "bad" family background or a government campaign to discourage certain behavior.
The Transitional Justice Working Group (TJWG) said its report was based on interviews with 375North Korean defectors from the isolated state over a period of two years.
Reuters could not independently verify the testimony of defectors in the report. The TJWG is made up of human rights activists and researchers and is led by Lee Younghwan, who has worked as an advocate for human rights in North Korea.
It receives most of its funding from the U.S.-based National Endowment for Democracy, which in turn is funded by the U.S. Congress.
The TJWG report aims to document the locations of public killings and mass burials, which it says had not been done previously, to support an international push to hold to account those who commit what it describes as crimes against humanity.
"The maps and the accompanying testimonies create a picture of the scale of the abuses that have taken place over decades," the group said.
North Korea rejects charges of human rights abuses, saying its citizens enjoy protection under the constitution and accuses the United States of being the world's worst rights violator.
However, the North has faced an unprecedented push to hold the regime and its leader, Kim Jong Un, accountable for a wide range of rights abuses since a landmark 2014 report by a United Nations commission.
U.N. member countries urged the Security Council in 2014 to consider referring North Korea and its leader to the International Criminal Court (ICC) for crimes against humanity, as alleged in a Commission of Inquiry report.
The commission detailed abuses including large prison camps, systematic torture, starvation and executions comparable to Nazi-era atrocities, and linked the activities to the North's leadership.
North Korea has rejected that inquiry's findings and the push to bring the North to a tribunal remains stalled due in part to objections by China and Russia, which hold veto powers at the U.N. Security Council.
TJWG said its project to map the locations of mass graves and executions has the potential to contribute to documentation that could back the push for accountability and future efforts to bring the North to justice.
It said executions are carried out in prison camps to incite fear and intimidation among potential escapees, and public executions are carried out for seemingly minor crimes, including the theft of farm produce such as corn and rice.
Stealing electric cables and other commodities from factories to sell them and distribution of South Korean-produced media are also subject to executions, which are most commonly administered by shooting, it said.
Testimonies also showed people can be beaten to death, with one interviewee saying: "Some crimes were considered not worth wasting bullets on."
Government officials were executed on corruption and espionage charges, and bureaucrats from other regions would be made to watch "as a deterrence tactic", the report said.
Defectors from the North have previously testified to having witnessed public executions and rights abuses at detention facilities.
(Reporting by Christine Kim; Editing by Paul Tait)
North Korea shocked the world in the early morning hours of July 4 by launching a ballistic missile that could reach the US mainland — but North Korea has long had the ability to make and detonate nuclear devices.
But North Korea does not sell, export, or use such nuclear devices on anyone because if they did, the consequences would be phenomenal.
“North Korea sells all kinds of weapons” to African countries, Cuba, and its Asian neighbors, according to Omar Lamrani, a senior military analyst at Stratfor, a geopolitical consulting firm.
"The most dangerous aspects of that trade has been with Syria and Iran in terms of missiles and nuclear reactors they helped the Syrians build before the Israelis knocked that out with an airstrike,” said Lamrani. “The most frightening is the potential sale of nuclear warheads."
With some of the harshest sanctions on earth imposed on North Korea, it’s easy to imagine the nation attempting to raise money through illegal arms sales to the US’s enemies, which could even include non-state actors like al Qaeda or ISIS.
While procuring the materials and manufacturing a nuclear weapon would represent an incredible technical and logistical hardships for a non-state actor, a single compact warhead could be in the range of capabilities for a non-state actor like Hezbollah, said Lamrani.
Furthermore, the US’s enemies would see a huge strategic benefit from having or demonstrating a nuclear capability, but with that benefit would come a burden.
If US intelligence caught wind of any plot to arm a terror group, it would make every possible effort to rip that weapon from the group’s hands before they could use it. News of a nuclear-armed terror group would fast-track a global response and steamroll whatever actor took on such a bold stance.
And not only would the terror group catch hell, North Korea would too.
"North Korea understands if they do give nuclear weapons, it could backfire on them," said Lamrani. "If a warhead explodes, through nuclear forensics and isotope analysts, you can definitely trace it back to North Korea."
At that point, North Korea would go from being an adversarial state that developed nuclear weapons as a means of regime security to a state that has enabled and abetted nuclear terrorism or proliferation.
This would change the calculus of how the world deals with North Korea, and make a direct attack much more likely.
Right now, North Korea has achieved regime security with long-range nuclear arms. If they sold those arms to someone else, they would effectively risk it all.
Ramzan Kadyrov, the leader of Chechnya, gave a rare interview to a US outlet that aired Tuesday. In speaking to HBO's "Real Sports," he denied that gay people are humans, that they exist in his region, and that his government regularly detains or tortures them, despite ample reports to the contrary.
He also made a troubling comment about his country's nuclear arsenal.
Kadyrov, known for his forceful style of speaking, said: "America is not really a strong enough state for us to regard it as an enemy of Russia. We have a strong government and are a nuclear state.
"Even if our government was completely destroyed, our nuclear missiles would be automatically deployed. We will put the whole world on its knees and screw it from behind."
The New York Times points out that Russia built a system in the 1980s that could do what Kadyrov described, known as the Perimeter System. Essentially, if there were a nuclear attack to destroy the government of Russia — or anything a 1980s-era system would perceive as an attack — an automated system would empty Russia's missile silos in a counterattack.
Bruce Blair, the former US nuclear officer who broke the story of the Perimeter System for The Times in 1993, told Business Insider that the system works when it detects nuclear explosions. Only a small crew, deep in a bunker, has a hand in the otherwise automated system, according to Blair.
"One concern is that it's highly automated, and cyberattacks, for example, or other phenomena, natural or man-made, could set it off," Blair said. "It poses a risk of accidental nuclear attack by Russia."
"This was designed to retaliate massively against the US. What the specific targets are in this plan no one really knows, but it can be safely assumed it's large-scale," Blair said, adding that it would destroy most Americans and most large US cities.
The US requires the president to sign off on all nuclear strikes, with the aim of avoiding such catastrophes. If Washington were incapacitated by a nuclear strike, it's unclear whether it could respond. The US's nuclear weapons are code-locked, and, absent the president and a backup in the Pentagon, the US may not be able to respond.
Moscow code-locks its weapons as well, but this system would allow it to retaliate even after a nuclear decapitation.
North Korea may be gearing up to test an intercontinental or intermediate-range ballistic missile, US intelligence sources told CNN on Wednesday.
Officials who viewed new satellite imagery and studied North Korean radar emissions said that the country could test another missile in two weeks, according to CNN. This would be its first test since the original test of the ICBM, the Hwasong-14, on July 4.
Shea Cotton, a research associate at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies, pointed out on Twitter that North Korea has launched, on average, one missile every 14 days during 2017.
Although North Korea's development of an ICBM represents a huge milestone, it still has some considerable distance to go before perfecting the missile and therefore needs to continue testing.
"I am reasonably confident in the ability of our intelligence community to monitor the testing but not the deployment of these missile systems," Air Force Gen. Paul Selva, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told the Senate Armed Services Committee on Tuesday.
"Kim Jong Un and his forces are very good at camouflage, concealment, and deception," Selva said, meaning that missile launchers actually deployed present more of a challenge to locate, and therefore military action cannot necessarily destroy them before a possible counterattack.
The US closely monitors North Korea's missile tests, and The Diplomat's Ankit Panda reported that at the July 4 launch, the US had observed the preparations for the ICBM for a full 70 minutes.
Few pilots can claim to be as talented as the acrobatic aces flying in the US Blue Angels and UK Red Arrows display teams.
Both teams perform choreographed and synchronized displays at incredible break-neck speeds. The teams update their performances every year, according to How It Works Annual Volume 6, and the displays can last up to 30 minutes.
Although the individual skills and stunts of each pilot is admirable, what sets the pilots of the Blue Angels and Red Arrows apart is their ability to work as a synchronized team.
The teams, consisting of 6 and 9 planes respectively, must be able to effectively fly and perform tricks while maintain perfect distance from their fellow pilots. How It Works notes that aircraft during the displays can fly as close as six feet from each other.
Below are some of the teams' most amazing tricks explained.
Source: YouTube/Varun Thangamani
See the rest of the story at Business Insider
After North Korea shocked the world on July 4 by launching an intercontinental ballistic missile, the US has picked up the pace and urgency of ballistic missile defense despite major flaws in existing systems and tactics.
US plans in the event of a North Korean missile attack would center around spotting the launches early on and prepare to intercept them.
The US has had plans since 2013 to have 44 missile interceptors stationed in Alaska and California by the end of 2017, and North Korea would need at least that long to perfect the missiles for its attack.
But missile interceptors are far from a guarantee, Lauren Grego, the senior scientist in the Global Security Program at the Union of Concerned Scientists, said on Twitter last week. The "single shot kill probability" of an ICBM is unknown, according to Grego, but is unlikely to be higher than a 50% even in "optimistic conditions."
Of course, the US wouldn't fire a single interceptor. Missile Defense Agency previously told Business Insider that in a real world combat scenario, the US would fire multiple interceptors at a single threat.
Grego further calculated that, assuming that 50% probability, if the US shot 4 interceptors at a single threat, it would have a 94 percent chance of taking down the missile.
But North Korea would be foolish to commence nuclear war with the world's foremost nuclear power by firing a single missile. Grego said that if North Korea fired 5 missiles, the probability that the US can defend against them all shrinks to 72 percent, even in a best-case scenario, which she called "uncomfortably high."
Multiple missiles aren't the only issue. North Korea could send decoys or employ countermeasures, which could confuse or disrupt US missile defenses by presenting multiple, false targets for each launch. This would effectively make missile defenses useless and allow all warheads to hit US targets unhindered.
Increasing the US's number of interceptors beyond 44 does little to erase the fundamental problems with hit-to-kill missile defense.
"Discrimination of warheads from decoys is an unsolved but clearly fundamental issue," wrote Grego, who sees "little point" in spending more on the already $40 billion ground-based midcourse defense before addressing its clear, conceptual limitations.
So while missile interception doesn't promise much by way of defense yet, the best defense in nuclear war remains a good offense.
By the time the US detected the launches and verified their origin and bearing, a salvo of more reliable, more powerful missiles would streak across the sky towards North Korea before its missiles even landed. Moments after US cities rose into mushroom clouds, the entirety of North Korea would do the same. North Korea has no missile defenses, and could do nothing to stop the US from flattening every inch of its sovereign territory.
This assured destruction of the entirety of North Korea has a deterrent effect, making it far less likely that North Korea would ever strike the US.
Not only would the US bomb North Korea into oblivion, the US would hunt down North Korea's leadership from hidden bunkers and caves before bringing them to justice.
For these reasons, a North Korean missile attack on the US remains unlikely, but nearly impossible to stop.
It's been nearly a year since US intelligence agencies accused top Russian officials authorized hacks on voting systems in the US's 2016 presidential election, and mounting evidence suggests that the US has not fought back against the hacks as strongly as possible.
But attributing and responding to cyber crimes can be difficult, as it can take "months, if not years" before even discovering the attack according Ken Geers, a cybersecurity expert for Comodo with experience in the NSA.
Even after finding and attributing an attack, experts may disagree over how best to deter Russia from conducting more attacks.
But should President Donald Trump "make that call" that Russia is to blame and must be retaliated against, Geers told Business Insider an out-of-the-box idea for how to retaliate.
"It's been suggested that we could give Russia strong encryption or pro-democracy tools that the FSB [the Federal Security Service, Russia's equivalent of the FBI] can’t read or can’t break," said Geers.
In Russia, Putin's autocratic government strictly controls access to the internet and monitors the communications of its citizens, allowing it suppress negative stories and flood media with pro-regime propaganda. If the US provided Russians with tools to communicate secretly and effectively, new, unmonitored information could flow freely and Russians wouldn't have to fear speaking honestly about their government.
The move would be attractive because it is "asymmetric," meaning that Russia could not retaliate in turn, according to Geers. In the US, the government does not control communications, and Americans are already free to say whatever they want about the government.
"What if we flooded the Russian market with unbreakable encryption tools for free downloads?," Geers continued. "That would really make them angry and annoy them. It would put the question back to them, 'what are you going to do about it?'"
To accomplish this, the NSA could spend time "fingerprinting" or studying RUNET, the Russian version of the internet, according to Geers. The NSA would study the challenges Russia has with censorship, how it polices and monitor communications, and then develop a "fool-proof" tool with user manuals in Russian and drop it into the Russian market with free downloads as a "big surprise," he added.
"You’re just trying to figure out how to kick them in the balls," Geers said of the possible tactic. "But they’d probably figure out how to defeat it in time."
Geers acknowledged that such a move could elicit a dangerous response from Russia, but, without killing or even hurting anyone, it's unclear how Russia could escalate the conflict.
As it stands, it appears that Russian hacking attempts have continued even after former president Barack Obama expelled Russian diplomats from the US in retaliation last year. Cybersecurity experts attribute a series of recent intrusions into US nuclear power plants to Russia.
Taking bold action, as Geers suggests, would leave Russia scrambling to attribute the attack to the US without clear evidence, while putting out fires from a newly empowered public inquiry into its dealings.
The ball would be in Russia's court, so to speak, and they might think twice about hacking the US election next time.
CIA Director Mike Pompeo dropped heavy hints at the Aspen Security Forum Thursday that the US was looking into regime change in Kim Jong Un's North Korea.
"It would be a great thing to denuclearize the peninsula, to get those weapons off of that, but the thing that is most dangerous about it is the character who holds the control over them today," Pompeo said in Aspen, as reported by CNN.
"So from the administration's perspective, the most important thing we can do is separate those two. Right? Separate capacity and someone who might well have intent and break those two apart," said Pompeo of North Korea's nuclear-weapons capacity.
Pompeo's talk echoes statements early in Trump's presidency when he said that the US would take care of North Korea unilaterally if needed. In May, the US had two aircraft carriers to the Korean peninsula while senior administration officials declared the policy of "strategic patience" dead.
Around that same time, reports of US Navy SEALs training with their South Korean counterparts popped up in South Korean media. South Korea has been preparing a "decapitation force" to eliminate Kim and the country's nuclear command-and-control system.
But no strike on North Korea ever took place. And despite Trump tweeting that a North Korean missile that could hit the US mainland would "never happen," one was tested on July 4. Furthermore, the US had a clear shot at killing Kim when North Korea tested it's intercontinental ballistic missile but opted not to.
Pompeo said that the CIA and Department of Defense had both drawn up plans to accomplish "ultimately needs to be achieved" in North Korea and said he was confident the US could take on "every piece" of the threat. North Korea has vast and hidden nuclear and conventional weaponry that the US has been reluctant to strike.
Because of the intense secrecy around the positions of possibly nuclear-armed missiles, any attack on North Korea runs the risk of drawing a massive retaliation against heavily populated cities in the region, like Seoul, South Korea.
"As for the regime, I am hopeful we will find a way to separate that regime from this system," Pompeo said, according to CNN. "The North Korean people I'm sure are lovely people and would love to see him go."
As a father of two young children, I am often perplexed when I hear senior leaders from the Department of Defense speak before civilian and military audiences and say something like, “If I could uninvent nuclear weapons, I would. But since we can’t put the genie back in the bottle, we must maintain a safe, secure, and effective nuclear force.”
What makes this statement so perplexing is that creating a world free of nuclear weapons wouldn't ensure my son and daughter live in a world safe from the great power wars that killed eighty million people between 1914 and 1945.
During World War II alone more one million people died per month because of the war.
For those critics of nuclear weapons who argue that the world would be safer if we put the genie back in the bottle, the historical record presents a number of inconvenient truths that they cannot overcome.
Nuclear weapons save lives
Since 1945, nuclear weapons have eliminated great power wars, saving the lives of untold millions. This is because a conflict between nuclear armed states has the potential to escalate to a nuclear conflict. Fortunately, the leaders of nuclear powers are not only unwilling to go to war, but they go to great lengths to constrain their allies and partners from engaging in conflicts that might eventually drag them in a conflict with another nuclear armed state.
The net effect of this risk averse behavior is that there has been an approximately ninety percent reduction in conflict related deaths over the last seven decades. This is not to say that all conflict has disappeared. It has not. What it does mean is that the wars that are fought are on a much smaller scale and are much less costly in blood and treasure. This is very good news for parents like me who would be expected to send their sons and daughters to fight in the next great power war.
Modernizing the nuclear triad is necessary
Nuclear deterrence only works if an adversary believes the other side has the capability and will to use its weapons. For the United States, both have eroded over the past two decades. During the Cold War, the United States replaced its arsenal about every ten to fifteen years.
However, when the Soviet Union collapsed, President George H. W. Bush cancelled the modernization programs that were set to replace both weapons and delivery vehicles designed and fielded in the 1960s and 1970s. Twenty five years later, those same weapon systems are still defending our families and deterring our adversaries.
The problem with our current nuclear arsenal is that it was never designed to last five, six, or seven decades. Not only is the technology outdated, but keeping these weapons functional is becoming increasingly difficult.
What is even more dangerous are the developments taking place in Russia and China where they are, for example, replacing their 1970s era intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM) with modern ICBMs that are more capable—putting American families at greater risk?
In fact, our adversaries are modernizing every aspect of their nuclear triads. And in the case of Russia, they have a modernized triad which they can use as part of their “first use” policy, which allows for a first strike as part of Russian nuclear doctrine.
Ensuring the continued credibility of deterrence depends on the nation placing the necessary value on nuclear modernization. It is really that simple.
The nuclear arsenal is cheap
Without question, the nuclear arsenal is the most cost effective component of our national defense. Currently, American taxpayers spend about $25 billion per year on nuclear weapons and operations. That is less than five percent of the defense budget and less than half of one percent of the federal budget. At the height of modernization, that cost will rise to seven percent of the defense budget.
When you compare what Americans spend on sovereignty insurance, which is what nuclear weapons are, you will find that they are the most inexpensive form of insurance we can buy. For example, the average American taxpayer spends about $225 per year on the nuclear arsenal (sovereignty insurance), while at the same time they spend an average of about $1325 on auto insurance and $12,000 on health insurance.
What many American do not realize is that the money we spend on the nuclear arsenal allows us to spend less money on national defense and more money on new cars and better healthcare. Because nuclear weapons deter our adversaries from attacking the United States, we are able to redirect our hard earned money to areas that allow us to better take care of our families.
When it comes to nuclear weapons, I am very thankful that they were invented. Neither my father nor I fought the Soviets in World War III. It is my hope that Americans will continue to see the value of nuclear weapons in ensuring peace and will guarantee that we have a nuclear arsenal second to none. I have devoted my life to that mission because I believe it is a crucial way to ensure the safety of my children.
Dr. Adam B. Lowther is the director of the US Air Force's School of Advanced Nuclear Deterrence Studies.
The US has spent $40 billion on the ground-based midcourse ballistic-missile-defense system.
By the end of 2017, the US wants to have 44 missile interceptors stationed in Alaska and California to fend off a possible nuclear-missile attack.
While the ground-based midcourse missile-defense system has had some success in tests, real-world conditions could easily stress the system to the max, leaving the US vulnerable to nuclear attacks.
On the other hand, Russia has 68 nuclear-tipped ballistic-missile interceptors around Moscow. US missiles interceptors do not have explosive payloads and have to actually slam into an incoming warhead to incapacitate it.
"We have to actually hit a bullet with a bullet," Bruce Blair, a former US nuclear-launch officer and an expert on nuclear security, told Business Insider. "The general expert estimate is that any one interceptor in the US side would have no better than a 25% chance of making impact with a Russian nuclear warhead." So the US would have to fire at least four interceptors to every one missile threat.
So with the US's 44 interceptors, "at most you could destroy 11 warheads," Blair said, "and Russia could throw 1,000 at us."
But the Russian system, though horribly dangerous, works much better. According to Blair, because Russia's interceptors do explode with tremendous nuclear blasts, "it could miss a missile by half a mile and still get it."
So how does the US deter nuclear attacks from Russia? Blair said that the US has at least 100 nuclear missiles targeted at Moscow.
In the event of an attack, the US would fire missile after missile after missile at Moscow as Russia's own nuclear missiles stop them in the sky. Eventually the supply of interceptors would be exhausted, or, more likely, one would fail. It would be the most violent and catastrophic event in human history, but US missiles would eventually get through as missile silos in Siberia open and fire missiles toward the US.
However, just because nuclear-tipped interceptors work doesn't mean they're a good idea. A nuclear blast above earth could easily cause an electromagnetic pulse or a blast that would wipe out satellites and electricity, potentially costing lives. Furthermore, accidental interceptor fires do happen, so it's probably best not to arm them with nuclear warheads.
It says something about now insecure Russia's leadership that it would surround its most populous city with 68 dangerous nuclear missiles.
President Donald Trump approved a plan to check Beijing over its continued militarization of and actions in the South China Sea, Breitbart News Kristina Wong reports.
Over the last few years, China has ambitiously built up islands on reefs and atolls in the South China Sea and militarized them with radar outposts, military-grade runways, and shelters for missile defenses.
Military analysts believe China hopes to expand its air defense and identification zone into the western Pacific and build a blue-water navy to rival the US's, but six other countries also lay claim to parts of the region.
In 2016, an international court at The Hague deemed China's maritime claims unlawful and excessive, but China rejected the ruling outright and has continued to build military installations and unilaterally declare no-fly and no-sail zones.
When a country makes an excessive naval claim, the US Navy challenges it by sailing its ships, usually destroyers, close to the disputed territory or through the disputed waters as a way of ensuring freedom of navigation for all. In 2016, the US challenged the excessive claims of 22 nations— China's claims in the South China Sea, through which $5 trillion in annual shipping passes, were the most prominent.
China has responded forcefully to US incursions into the region, telling the US the moves were provocative and that they must ask permission, which doesn't align with international law or UN conventions.
"China's military will resolutely safeguard national sovereignty, security and regional peace and stability," China's Foreign Ministry said in response to US bombers flying in the region.
Under former US President Barack Obama, the US suspended freedom of navigation operations in the South China Sea from 2012 to 2015. In 2016, the US made just three such challenges. So far, under Trump, the US has made three challenges already.
“You have a definite return to normal,” chief Pentagon spokesperson Dana White told Breitbart News.
“This administration has definitely given the authority back to the people who are in the best position to execute those authorities, so it’s a return to normal,” she said.
Freedom of navigation operations work best when they're routine in nature and don't make news.
They serve to help the US establish the facts in the water, but in the South China Sea, those facts all indicate Chinese control.
When Chinese military jets fly armed over head, when Chinese navy ships patrol the waters, and when Chinese construction crews lay down the framework for a network of military bases in the South China Sea, the US's allies in the region notice.
An increased US Navy presence in the area won't turn back time and unpave runways, but it could send a message to allies that the US has their back and won't back away from checking Beijing.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Two Chinese fighter jets intercepted a U.S. Navy surveillance plane over the East China Sea over the weekend, with one coming within about 300 feet (91 meters) of the American aircraft, two U.S. officials told Reuters on Monday.
The officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said initial reports showed one of the Chinese J-10 aircraft came close to the U.S. EP-3 plane on Sunday, causing the American aircraft to change direction.
(Reporting by Idrees Ali; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)
President Donald Trump took part in the commissioning of the USS Gerald R. Ford on Saturday, ushering in the first new aircraft carrier design in four decades to the US Navy with in “100,000-ton message to the world,” according to Trump.
The Ford will join the US Navy's 10 Nimitz-class flat-top aircraft carriers, which are already the envy of the world. But while the Ford looks much like its predecessors, it has key technological advances that shine a light on what US military planners envision as the future of naval warfare.
Named after President Gerald Ford, the $12.9 billion titan is the first of four planned ships in its class. In the slides below, see how the Fords improve on America's already imposing fleet of aircraft carriers.
New reactor and an all-electric ship.
The new Ford class carriers will feature an improved nuclear reactor with three times the power-generation capacity as the Nimitz class.
This outsized power-generation capacity provides the Fords an opportunity to grow into new technologies that come up during their service life.
With ample power to draw from, the Fords could one day house directed-energy weapons like the Navy's upcoming railgun.
Watch an F-35 seamlessly take off using an Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System (EMALS).
The Nimitz class cruisers use an elaborate steam-powered launch system to send F/A-18s and other planes on their way, but the Ford class, drawing on its huge power-generation capacity, will use an electronic system to do the same.
Not only will the EMALS launch heavier planes, but it will also carefully launch planes in order to reduce wear and tear. Additionally, the increased capacity of these launchers to make planes airborne will allow new plane designs in the future.
Example of a steam-powered launch:
See the rest of the story at Business Insider