Experts say missile defense alone won't stop growing North Korea nuke threat - We Are The Mighty
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Experts say missile defense alone won’t stop growing North Korea nuke threat

North Korea launched on Sunday a land-based version of the KN-11 nuclear-capable ballistic missile that may have traveled further and faster than any North Korean missile before it.


The missile flew about 300 miles before hitting the Sea of Japan, likely further than any test before it and used solid fuel that allowed it to be launched off a tank-like truck in a matter of minutes, Pentagon spokesman Capt. Jeff Davis told reporters on Monday.

Older North Korean missiles have used liquid fuel, which requires them to travel with huge convoys and to gas up prior to a launch, which gives observers time to prepare and respond.

Related: Here’s why North Korea’s latest type of missile would be a nightmare to stop

While Davis said the launch made clear the “grave threat to our national security,” he added that the US is “capable of defending against a North Korean ballistic missile attack.”

Experts on North Korea and missile defense told Business Insider a different story about the US’s ability to defend against North Korean attacks.

The US is “certainly capable of addressing the North Korean threat both regionally and to the homeland,” Abel Romero
, the director of government relations
 at the Missile Defense Advocacy Alliance,
 told Business Insider. But he added that the systems in place have considerable flaws.

Though the US has guided missile destroyers and local missile defense batteries in the region, missile defense is not “solely the answer” to stopping threats from North Korea, Romero said.

Experts say missile defense alone won’t stop growing North Korea nuke threat
The Heritage Foundation: 2016 Index of U.S. Military Strength

Kelsey Davenport, the director of nonproliferation at the Arms Control Association, told Business Insider that missile defense isn’t a good enough response to North Korea’s missile tests — diplomatic engagement is needed.

The latest test “underscores the urgency for a new approach to North Korea,” Davenport said.

“The major issue with relying on the missile defense system is capacity,” Ian Williams, associate director at the International Security Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies told Business Insider.

The US has 25,000 troops deployed to South Korea, and more than 50,000 in Japan. While most military sites have ballistic missile defenses, North Korea could potentially trick missile defenses by using decoys, exhausting the US’s supply of interceptor missiles, which can knock out incoming missiles.

The US just doesn’t “have enough interceptors to sit and play catch with everything that North Korea can throw,” Williams said. “US and allied missile defenses could likely absorb a first wave, but there would need to be coordination with strike forces to start knocking out North Korea’s missiles out before they could be launched.”

Experts say missile defense alone won’t stop growing North Korea nuke threat
Heritage Foundation

The second major issue, according to Williams, is coverage. The US uses multiple layers of missile defense systems like Patriot missile defense batteries and guided-missile destroyer ships, but they provide uneven coverage in the region.

The US has been pushing to deploy a larger range missile defense system to South Korea, known as Terminal High Altitude Air Defense (THAAD), as a kind of admission that the current systems have weaknesses and flaws.

But like other systems, THAAD isn’t perfect. It has an excellent track record within it’s range, but North Korea could simply send a submarine outside of range and fire away.

“Missile defense is not a surefire way to negate the threat posed by another country’s nuclear-capable ballistic missiles,” said Davenport.

Experts say missile defense alone won’t stop growing North Korea nuke threat
The THAAD missile system. | Lockheed Martin photo

For example, while the US may have systems in place to counter North Korea, it has no defenses built specifically to counter Chinese or Russian nuclear missiles, which are far more advanced and capable, according to Romero.

“As of right now I’ve never heard anyone come out and say we need to build a missile defense system to defend us from Russia and China,” said Romero.

Instead, the US uses diplomacy and the doctrine of mutually assured destruction to coexist with Russia and China. As the nuclear missile threat grows from North Korea, the US must find a way to coexist with them as well.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Does this picture show the US covertly moving SEALs into Korea?

The US Navy maintains that the USS Michigan, a submarine known for carrying special-ops teams, stopped in the South Korean city of Busan for a “routine port visit,” but pictures of the event suggest a more clandestine purpose that may involve US Navy SEALs.


On top of the Michigan as it arrived in Busan appeared to be two silos for SEAL Delivery Vehicles, the tiny submarines used to transport US Navy SEALs and their equipment for their most covert missions deep in enemy territory.

The Navy confirmed to Business Insider that these pods are used by Naval Special Warfare units, but as a rule it does not disclose deployments of Navy SEALs.

Experts say missile defense alone won’t stop growing North Korea nuke threat
A member of SEAL Delivery Vehicle Team Two prepares to launch one of the team’s SEAL Delivery Vehicles from the back of the Los Angeles-class attack submarine USS Philadelphia on a training exercise. Navy photo by Chief Photographer’s Mate Andrew McKaskle.

In April, when the Michigan last visited Busan, South Korean media reported that it carried SEALs to train with South Korean forces for a “decapitation” mission, in which the US and South Korea would work together to kill North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and take out North Korea’s nuclear command structure.

The US military, however, maintains it does not train for attempts at regime change, and it does not typically comment on SEAL deployments.

Now, as the US and North Korea trade nuclear threats and the US and South Korea gear up for another round of military drills, the Michigan has returned, sending a powerful message. The Michigan, a nuclear-powered submarine, used to carry nuclear missiles but now carries 150 Tomahawk precision-guided missiles.

The US operates only four such submarines, known as SSGNs, and rarely discusses their whereabouts.

Experts say missile defense alone won’t stop growing North Korea nuke threat
The guided-missile submarine USS Ohio (SSGN 726) transits the Puget Sound on its way to Puget Sound Naval Shipyard and Intermediate Maintenance Facility to commence a Major Maintenance Period. Navy photo by Chief Mass Communication Specialist Paul Seeber.

In 2011 it was the USS Florida, a fellow SSGN, that kicked off US operations in Libya by launching more than 90 Tomahawks at targets there, beating down Libyan defenses before airpower and surface ships took control of the situation.

With not one but two SEAL Delivery Vehicle silos attached, the Michigan could deliver a considerable number of highly mobile SEALs to South Korea. Silos add drag and decrease the stealthiness of the Michigan, suggesting they were included for a reason.

Additionally, as the US continues efforts to put “maximum pressure” on North Korea, South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency posted pictures of F-22 Raptor stealth jets training for an air show in South Korea.

Experts have told Business insider that the F-22 fits the profile of the type of weapon the US would use in the early salvos of fighting with North Korea.

Experts say missile defense alone won’t stop growing North Korea nuke threat
An F-22 deploys flares. Photo by USAF.

On Oct. 15, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said the US would continue diplomatic efforts with North Korea “until the first bomb drops,” as President Donald Trump repeatedly hints at using force to solve the crisis.

Despite the outward appearance of war preparations, the Trump administration’s aggressive approach to North Korea has yielded economic and diplomatic results. China has gone further than ever before in sanctioning North Korea, and a handful of other important nations have also cut or reduced ties.

Trump is scheduled to visit South Korea in November.

MIGHTY CULTURE

5-year-old grandson gets veteran to quit smoking

United States Army veteran Tony Fife-Patterson started smoking when he was 17 because “the cool guys in the neighborhood were doing it, and I wanted to fit in.” Eventually, he settled in to a pack a day habit, and never considered that he might be addicted to nicotine. Occasionally, someone would tell him he ought to quit, but it only made him want to smoke more.

A couple of years ago, Tony’s daughter called him about his 5-year-old grandson who was crying after watching a “Truth Ad” on television. The ad is part of a national campaign to eliminate teen smoking. Tony’s grandson never liked how smoking made Tony smell, but the advertisement made him worry about how smoking could hurt his grandfather’s health.


Although Tony began contemplating his cigarette smoking, he still didn’t think he had a problem. Yet a few days later, after lighting a cigarette, Tony had an epiphany.

“At that moment, I realized I really was getting tired of this habit,” Tony said. “It had become something that no longer was fun.”

At his next VA appointment, Tony asked his provider about quitting and learned about Truman VA’s “Thinking About Quitting?” program.

Experts say missile defense alone won’t stop growing North Korea nuke threat

(Photo by Paweł Czerwiński)

“This really DOES control me!”

Tony agreed to attend the program’s orientation class. At first, he had doubts; however, once he learned that his smoking was an addiction, he knew he didn’t want tobacco to control him.

“Wait a minute,” Tony thought. “This really DOES control me!”

The realization that he was controlled by cigarettes offended him and he was determined to do something about it.

Tony enrolled in Truman VA’s Quit program with other veterans who wanted to quit tobacco. The first three classes helped Tony develop a personal plan to manage the physical, psychological and habit parts of his smoking addiction. He also learned how to get through urges to smoke without giving in. On the program’s “Quit Day,” Tony found it was helpful to quit with other motivated veterans. The final three classes focused on lifestyle changes to help him remain tobacco-free and avoid a relapse.

In the photo above, proud “Thinking About Quitting” graduate Tony poses with Joseph Hinkebein, Ph.D., Truman VA psychologist and tobacco cessation coordinator.

It’s now a year-and-a-half since Tony’s “Quit Day,” and he remains tobacco-free.

Experts say missile defense alone won’t stop growing North Korea nuke threat

(Photo by Gilles Lambert)

Tracks progress…and SAVINGS…with app

As part of his success, Tony uses a quit smoking smart phone app to track how long he has been tobacco-free and how much money he has saved since quitting. He’s saved almost id=”listicle-2641557022″,400 so far.

More importantly, Tony loves the tobacco-free lifestyle. His sense of taste and smell has improved, and he no longer gets complaints from his grandson about smelling like smoke.

“I didn’t realize how bad I smelled, but now I get it,” Tony said.

Most of all, he is proud to no longer be controlled by cigarettes. While the thought of smoking still crosses his mind every now and then, when stressed, he reminds himself, “I don’t need a cigarette to cope with stress anymore!”

Experts say missile defense alone won’t stop growing North Korea nuke threat

Tony tries to lead by example and never “lectures or nags” those who still smoke. He just wants other veterans to know that they can quit when they are ready to do it for their own reasons. He encourages veterans to attend the “Thinking About Quitting” orientation class to learn how to successfully quit. The program provided education and support to help him be successful, but Tony gets all the credit.

“I never thought I could do this,” Tony said. “But I did it. It is something I am immensely proud of!”

This article originally appeared on VAntage Point. Follow @DeptVetAffairs on Twitter.

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5 reasons why Ronald Reagan was a great commander-in-chief

The passing of Nancy Reagan gives occasion to think back on the Reagan years and their impact on the warfighting capability of the American military. Here are five things that the Reagan administration gave to the troops that endure today:


Experts say missile defense alone won’t stop growing North Korea nuke threat
The Reagan presidency began in a dramatic manner on January 20, 1981. As Reagan was giving his inaugural address, 52 U.S. hostages, held by Iran for 444 days, were set free. (National Archives photo)

1. Reagan’s defense spending was the hallmark of his presidency

Reagan believed the Cold War policies of Containment and Détente were both outmoded. He opted for a new way forward with a strategy determined by his National Security Council. This theory was one of a long-term strategic offense and was neither reactive or proactive. The strategy was designed to pressure the Soviets through a massive military buildup, which raised defense spending from $214 billion in 1982 to $258 billion in 1983. The Soviet Union was compelled to raise its defense spending from 22 percent to 27 percent of GDP. The total number of uniformed personnel didn’t change much, but the Bradley Armored Fighting Vehicles, F-117 Stealth Fighters, Apache Helicopters, and M-1 Tanks that rolled over Saddam Hussein’s Iraqi Army in 1991 did so because Ronald Reagan helped put them there.

Experts say missile defense alone won’t stop growing North Korea nuke threat
A view of an Iraqi T-72 main battle tank destroyed in a Coalition attack during Operation Desert Storm near the Ali Al Salem Air Base (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Joe Coleman)

While most historians (and former Soviet officials) agree the Soviet Union collapsed under its own weight, Reagan’s defense policies, including providing $1 billion worth of support to Afghan Mujahideen, certainly sped up the process.

2. Reagan began the tradition of presidents saluting U.S. troops

President Obama caught some flak from the U.S. right wing a while back when he saluted U.S. Marines with a Starbucks cup in his hand. Obviously, while rendering a salute holding something in the right hand is a no-go (which is why you’d be hard pressed to find military members in uniform holding briefcases in their right hand on base), the tradition of the President saluting military personnel is just that: tradition.

Experts say missile defense alone won’t stop growing North Korea nuke threat
President Reagan salutes a military cadet (wikimedia commons)

The fact is, military members do not salute while in civilian clothes. The tradition started with President Reagan in 1981 and even then, it was a curious thing. Reagan had served in the Army Air Corps during WWII and likely knew salutes weren’t rendered out of uniform, it also means he knew it was a courtesy, and allowed the airmen and Marines who transported him to drop their salute after he returned it. Plus, the Commander-In-Chief can do what he wants. RHIP.

3. He raised the military’s pay and gave them better gear for the fight

General Edward Meyer, Army chief of staff under President Reagan, warned him that the Army was a “hollow force,” beaten around by the Vietnam War. When Reagan took over, Meyer’s assessment of the Army for the new President found one full of racial conflict, drug and alcohol problems, and full of recruits who were barely qualified to join. He also opened large training centers for the military, such as the Army’s National Training Center in California’s Mojave Desert. Meyer to the President the military needed to be told by the top person that they were honored and appreciated, and President Reagan took the time do just that.

Experts say missile defense alone won’t stop growing North Korea nuke threat
(White House photo)

Reagan gave the military a much-needed pay raise. He modernized attack aircraft, like the F-14 Tomcat and F-15 Strike Eagle. The Navy grew from 479 combat ships to 525. The military soon rolled out the B-1 Bomber, Trident Attack Submarines, and Peacekeeper Missiles. M-1 Tanks replaced aging M-60 tanks used in Vietnam. Jeeps gave way to Humvees, and money flooded into training centers. He also made sure the right men were in them. It was a military an American would be proud to join.

“Regardless of the political consequences, Reagan bought us what we needed,” Reagan’s Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger to The Baltimore Sun. “You can see it today.”

4. Reagan improved the morale of the force by shaking off the spectre of Vietnam

The 40th President believed the United States needed a win. Like a college football team in week one, he scheduled an easy start to what could have been a tough season. With the Cold War in full swing, the Gipper gave the troops the warmup they would have needed to fight the Russians, consequences be damned.

Experts say missile defense alone won’t stop growing North Korea nuke threat
82nd Airborne artillery personnel load and fire M102 105 mm howitzers during Operation Urgent Fury. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. M.J. Creen)

After ordering 7,000 U.S. troops to storm the beaches of the tiny Caribbean island, President Reagan declared “Our days of weakness are over!” in a speech to the Congressional Medal of Honor Society. “Our military forces are back on their feet and standing tall.” After the United Nations condemned the invasion, the President replied: “It didn’t upset my breakfast at all.”

5. Reagan’s ‘Good Cop, Bad Cop’ routine kept the peace with the Soviets

During his first term, he famously called the Soviet Union an “Evil Empire,” a phrase which worried critics of the U.S. military buildup at the time and earned him the dreaded “warmonger” label. Worried that his hard stance hurt his image, Nancy encouraged the president to have a direct relationship with Mikhail Gorbachev, the Soviet General Secretary. President Reagan reconsidered his strategy.

Experts say missile defense alone won’t stop growing North Korea nuke threat
Gorbachev and Reagan sign the INF Treaty at the White House in 1987 (National Archives photo)

In his 2004 book Nancy: A Portrait of My Years with Nancy Reagan, senior presidential adviser Michael Deaver wrote that Soviet Foreign Minister Andrei Gromyko once asked her, “Does your husband believe in peace or war?” Nancy told the Russian minister Reagan wanted peace and that she would remind him of that every night.

She also said that she would whisper it in Gromyko’s ear as well.

MIGHTY TRENDING

This veteran is being forced to give up his support dog

Seventy-year-old Robert L. Brady has until Jan. 11 to give up Bane, the mixed-breed sidekick that his psychologist deemed as an emotional support dog.


His Conway-area condominium association won an arbitration order Dec. 12 requiring the Vietnam veteran to surrender the 4-year-old dog because it exceeds the community’s 35-pound weight limit for pets. Bane weighs about 41 pounds. The canine now faces an uncertain future even as assistance dogs have gained greater access to communities, restaurants and shops.

“The reason I don’t want to lose him is that he keeps my mind off the war and everything. He’s just a wonderful companion,” said the widower, who retired last year from working as a theme-park bus driver. “My life would be lost without a good companion and that’s why I’m doing all I can to keep from having to get rid of him.”

Brady’s attorney, Jonathan Paul, said the association discriminated by looking only at the dog’s weight without considering the disabled military veteran’s documented need for an emotional support animal. He said they are also seeking guidance under federal fair housing laws aimed at protecting housing rights of disabled residents.

Homeowner and condo associations are among those grappling with the boundary lines for emotional support dogs. Unlike service dogs trained to assist disabled people with daily tasks, emotional support animals don’t require training. They can be any species and require no certification to assist owners who have psychological disabilities, according to a June article published by the National Institutes of Health. In Florida, one association lawyer is seeking legislation to further clarify issues related to emotional support animals.

Florida law allows service dogs that calm “an individual with post traumatic stress disorder during an anxiety attack.” Dogs that simply provide comfort, companionship and security don’t qualify as service dogs, according to statutes.

Experts say missile defense alone won’t stop growing North Korea nuke threat
Bane’s fate is uncertain since he exceeds community weight limits but is deemed an emotional support dog. (Orlando Sentinel)

Orlando Veteran Administration psychologist Matthew Waesche wrote in an October 2015 letter that Brady was under his care and that the dog appears to help keep his owner’s mental health issues in remission.

Orlando attorney Peter McGrath, who represents Orange Tree Village Condominiums, said Brady is a sympathetic figure but the association’s animal restrictions become meaningless if left unenforced.

Brady and his dog have never caused problems, although Bane once lunged at a dachshund owned by an association officer and sometimes barks for extended periods, McGrath said. The situation is complicated because Brady’s adult children resided in a nearby Orange Tree Village condo and kept the dog there until they were cited more than a year ago by the association, the attorney added. And even though no one has done genetic testing, McGrath said Bane could be a breed mix that is prohibited on the condo grounds.

The bottom line is that Brady can continue to pursue further legal channels but must give up the dog in three weeks unless he gets an injunction, McGrath added.

Donna Berger, an attorney who specializes in Florida condominium association law, said property-owner associations can sometimes be “mean spirited” but pet owners can also push the limits in efforts to keep dogs that violate rules.

“Every pet that needs to go suddenly morphs into an ESA [emotional support animal],” she said. “It’s the same old routine.”

She said she is pushing for legislation calling for pet owners to establish the need for emotional support animals with current medical records.

Also Read: New House bill proposes providing veterans with service dogs

Bane lays his chestnut-and-white head in Brady’s lap as his owner describes why he needs the dog: “Since my wife passed, he helps take my mind off stuff, like the war.”

Orange Tree Village Condominiums has focused on Bane’s weight for more than a year. Brady said he has been trying to feed the pet lean food to bring him closer to the limit but he doesn’t want to starve Bane just to comply with the association’s prescribed weight for pets.

Berger, whose firms represents associations across the state, said evicting animals based on their weight is “senseless” because size doesn’t predict whether a dog will attack someone. Larger dogs can be more gentle and puppies are acceptable weights — until they grow up. By then, they are cemented into the family.

“A lot of these weight restrictions are antiquated,” she said.

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Here was the major problem with the South Vietnamese army

“Be glad to trade you some ARVN rifles. Ain’t never been fired and only dropped once.” — Cowboy from Full Metal Jacket.

Many audience members may think this famous line served no other purpose other than showing a few Marine characters’ attempts to negotiate the cheapest deal possible with a Vietnamese prostitute and her pimp.


In fact, the remark is full of meaning when it comes to the relationship that American infantrymen shared with their South Vietnamese counterparts during the war.

Cowboy’s quote in the film was meant to surface the idea that the ARVN — or the Army of the Republic of Vietnam  — didn’t do their part during combat operations.

For many Vietnam vets, that statement couldn’t have been more truthful.

Related: This video shows the ingenuity behind the Viet Cong tunnel systems

Experts say missile defense alone won’t stop growing North Korea nuke threat
U.S. troops with ARVN soldiers on the frontline of Vietnam.

When the U.S. entered the war in the mid-1960s, the goal was to aid South Vietnam with American personnel and equipment to help defeat the communist North.

Many of those South Vietnamese troops serving during the era were members of a militia known as the “Popular Force” or “PF.” Their mission was to protect the local villages from deadly Viet Cong attacks. Many Vietnam vets believed the PF fed intel to the enemy instead of engaging them.

Meanwhile, ARVN troops would patrol alongside selected Marine and Army units taking the fight to the enemy.

“A few of the ARVN units would stay and slug it out,” Vietnam veteran James “Doc” Kirkpatrick states. “But for the most part, they didn’t do shit.”

James “Doc” Kirkpatrick served in Vietnam at Fire Base Stallion (Hill 310) with Bravo Company, 1st Battalion 7th Marines as a Hospital Corpsman from 1968 – 1969. Kirkpatrick had more negative run-ins with South Vietnamese troops than he’d like to remember.

While the NVA would consistently pound it out against American forces, the ARVN would commonly hesitate during the skirmishes and egress out of the area before the engagement was over — leaving their rifles behind.

This action severely upset American forces, diluting their respect for their counterparts.

Also Read: These were the terrifying dangers of being a ‘Tunnel Rat’ in Vietnam

Experts say missile defense alone won’t stop growing North Korea nuke threat
A PF soldier patrol with a Marine unit during the Vietnam War.

Many Vietnam veterans were unclear about what the South Vietnamese’s actual goal was during the war, especially when experiencing first-hand the south’s lack of effort when compared to the North’s passion to fight.

Doc Kirkpatrick believes the South just didn’t care enough — or wasn’t well enough equipped — to fight the enemy. So the Americans were left shouldering the burden.

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The nation’s only military film festival just announced this year’s lineup

Experts say missile defense alone won’t stop growing North Korea nuke threat
Crowd outside of last year’s GI FIlm Festival outside of Washington DC. (GIFF.com)


The GI Film Festival just announced its complete lineup for the 10th annual event, running May 21 – 29, 2016 in Washington, D.C. and Fairfax, VA.

“This is the most power-packed and diverse lineup of movies we have featured over our ten-year history,” says GI Film Festival President Brandon Millett. “This festival will confront every challenge facing our nation’s military veterans and their families, showcasing some of the most incredible stories of heroism you have ever seen. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, and you’ll be on the edge of your seat, covering your eyes. Come to GIFF X and you’ll experience every single conceivable human emotion. It will be unforgettable.”

Hailed by Bloomberg News as “Sundance for the Troops,” the GI Film Festival’s mission is to preserve the stories of military veterans through film, television and dynamic live special events. Since 2007, the GIFF has spearheaded the lead-up to Memorial Day in our nation’s capital by offering the country’s most expansive view of military themes on film. Including, for the first time this year, on Sunday night May 22, a special event honoring women in the military including a short film showcase and panel discussion.

Kicking off this year’s 10th -anniversary festival will be world-renowned actor Gary Sinise, a supporter of GIFF since year one. Sinise and his Lt. Dan Band will play a concert featuring favorite cover tunes at the Howard Theater on Saturday, May 21.

“The GI Film Festival has become the ‘go-to’ place for military-themed movies,” Sinese said. “Anyone and everyone with a military-themed film will end up at the GI Film Festival, or at least trying to get in.”

Also highlighting the festival will be a 30th -anniversary screening of the military classic “Top Gun,” with a scheduled appearance from actor Val Kilmer, on Wednesday, May 25 at Angelika Film Center in Fairfax, VA, followed by an 80’s after party.

On Thursday, May 26, GIFF will host an advance screening of the new film X:MEN: Apocalypse, for Wounded Warriors, including a special message from Director Bryan Singer.

Friday night, May 27, will see the world premiere of the zombie action comedy Range 15, starring William Shatner, Sean Astin, and Danny Trejo, followed by an after party. This year’s nine-day program boasts a dynamic lineup of 75-plus films.

In addition, GIFF will offer interactive QAs with filmmakers and on-screen talent, embassy soirees, live music, stand-up comedy, star-studded red carpets, and awards ceremonies, all honoring and lending a voice to the veteran community.

Watch the GIFF trailer:

https://player.vimeo.com/video/164105070

For the full 2016 festival and events schedule, please visit: www.gifilmfestival.com.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Turkey sticks with plans to get Russian missiles, kill Kurds

Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu says Turkey may buy U.S. Patriot missile systems if conditions are right, but insists such a deal would be impossible if Washington forces Ankara to cancel its agreement to purchase S-400 antiaircraft missiles from Russia.

In an interview with Turkey’s NTV on Jan. 10, 2019, Cavusoglu said his NATO-member state will not accept the United States imposing conditions in regard to its deal to buy the Russian-made surface-to-air defense systems.

Meanwhile, in another sign of deteriorating relations between Ankara and Washington, Cavusoglu said a military operation Turkey was planning against U.S.-backed Kurdish militia in northern Syria did not depend on a withdrawal of U.S. troops from Syria.


Cavusoglu told NTV it was not realistic to expect the United States to collect all of the weapons it had supplied to Syrian Kurdish fighters who are viewed by Ankara as terrorists.

U.S. President Donald Trump’s announcement in late December 2018 that he planned to withdraw some 2,000 U.S. troops from Syria stunned U.S. allies and led to the resignation of U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis.

Experts say missile defense alone won’t stop growing North Korea nuke threat

Former Defense Secretary Jim Mattis.

(DOD photo by Army Sgt. Amber I. Smith)

But U.S. national security adviser John Bolton told Turkish officials in Ankara on Jan. 8, 2019, that Turkey’s assurance it won’t attack the U.S.-backed Kurdish fighters was a “condition” for the withdrawal.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan accused Bolton of making “a very serious mistake” with the demand.

“We cannot make any concessions in this regard,” said Erdogan, who vowed that “those involved in a terror corridor” in Syria “will receive the necessary punishment.”

The U.S.-backed Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units form the backbone of the opposition Syrian Democratic Forces and have been fighting alongside U.S. troops against Islamic State militants in northeastern Turkey.

But Ankara insists those Syrian Kurdish fighters are linked to the Kurdish Workers Party (PKK), a group that is banned in Turkey and has been considered a terrorist group by the United States since 1997.

This article originally appeared on Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. Follow @RFERL on Twitter.

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The Army is using this FPS video game to help design its weapons of the future

The Army is currently seeking soldiers to provide feedback through online gameplay in order to contribute to the development of the future force.


Operation Overmatch is a gaming environment within the Early Synthetic Prototyping effort. Its purpose is to connect soldiers to inform concept and capability developers, scientists and engineers across the Army.

Experts say missile defense alone won’t stop growing North Korea nuke threat
(Photo from U.S. Army)

“What we want is two-way communication, and what better medium to use than video games,” said Army Lt. Col. Brian Vogt, ESP project lead with U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command’s Army Capabilities Integration Center.

Through a collaborative effort between TRADOC, U.S. Army Research and Development Command and Army Game Studio, Operation Overmatch was created to encourage soldier innovation through crowd-sourcing ideas within a synthetic environment.

“Soldiers have the advantage of understanding how equipment, doctrine and organization will be used in the field — the strengths and weaknesses,” said Michael Barnett, chief engineer at the Army Game Studio and project lead for Operation Overmatch. “And they have immediate ideas about what to use, what to change and what to abandon — how to adapt quickly.”

Within Operation Overmatch, soldiers will be able to play eight versus eight against other soldiers, where they will fight advanced enemies with emerging capabilities in realistic scenarios.

Players will also be able to experiment with weapons, vehicles, tactics and team organization. Game analytics and soldier feedback will be collected and used to evaluate new ideas and to inform areas for further study.

Currently, the game is in early development, Vogt said.

Experts say missile defense alone won’t stop growing North Korea nuke threat
A screenshot of the Army’s video game Operation Overmatch. (US Army photo)

One of the benefits of collecting feedback through the gaming environment within ESP is the ability to explore hundreds — if not thousands — of variations, or prototypes, of vehicles and weapons at a fraction of what it would cost to build the capability at full scale, Vogt explained. A vehicle or weapons system that might take years of engineering to physically build can be changed or adapted within minutes in the game.

“In a game environment, we can change the parameters or the abilities of a vehicle by keystrokes,” he said. “We can change the engine in a game environment and it could accelerate faster, consume more fuel or carry more fuel. All these things are options within the game — we just select it, and that capability will be available for use. Of course, Army engineers will determine if the change is plausible before we put it in the scenarios.”

The game currently models a few future vehicles to include variants of manned armored vehicles, robotic vehicles and unmanned aerial vehicles. The scenarios are centered on manned/unmanned teaming at the squad and platoon level in an urban environment. Through game play, soldiers will provide insights about platform capabilities and employment.

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3 reasons things could still get worse because Turkey shot down that Russian jet

Experts say missile defense alone won’t stop growing North Korea nuke threat


First the good news: Despite Internet memes about Putin having Turkey for dinner last week, the chances are low that Armageddon will be on the menu any time soon.

In other words, the chances that World War III will erupt this holiday season are mighty slim because a Turkish F-16 fighter shot down a Russian Federation Su-24 Fencer M bomber last Tuesday after it apparently violated Turkey’s airspace.

Outraged Russian officials are already talking about economic sanctions. During a news conference, Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov called the shoot-down a “planned provocation” but said the two countries would not go to war over the incident.

But does that mean Russia will forgive and forget? Hardly. Comments by Russian Pres. Vladimir Putin indicate he is not only infuriated by events, he’s also willing to escalate Russian military presence in Syria as well defend Russian national pride.

Here are three reasons why things could still get out of hand very quickly in one of the world’s most volatile places:

1. In Putin’s world, nobody shoots down a Russian plane and gets away with it

Russian aircraft routinely test the limits of different nation’s sovereign airspace – including the U.S. and Britain. Those missions are absolutely designed and principally intended to appeal to Russian pride and national identity, as well as show the world that Russia military power is a force worthy of respect.

As recently as July 4, multiple nuclear-capable Tu-95 Bear bombers flew into U.S. air defense identification zones off California and Alaska. In fact, some of the Bears flew within 40 miles off the California coastline.

But even though we scramble fighters to intercept the bombers, the U.S. and other NATO nations don’t shoot them down. Turkey did, principally because in recent weeks Russian warplanes bombed Syrian rebels who are also Turkmen, an ethnic group considered kinsmen of the Turkish people.

What’s more, the rebels killed one of the Russian plane’s crew members as well as a Russian Marine who was part of the search-and-rescue operation.

To put it bluntly, Putin is pissed off by the shoot-down and what he considers a war crime committed against Russian fighting men.  In addition, he describes what happened a provocative act on the part of Turkey, hence his “stab in the back” comment.

As far as the Russian government is concerned, their men are heroes. Lt. Col. Oleg Peshkov, the dead Fencer pilot, posthumously received the Hero of the Russian Federation award “for heroism, courage and valor in the performance of military duty,” the Kremlin announced today. Both Alexander Pozynich, the Russian Marine killed during SAR operations, and the surviving Fencer co-pilot Capt. Konstantin Murakhtin both received the Order of Courage, the Kremlin said.

Yes, Lavrov says there will be no war between Russia and Turkey. However, the Russian president is also well-known for practicing the old maxim about revenge being a dish best served cold – and Putin has already amply proved he has no concern about civilian casualties when Russians fight their wars.

2. The Russian people are angry – really angry

In Moscow, crowds of protesters gathered outside of the Turkish embassy, carrying signs calling the Turks “murderers,” pelting the building with eggs, and even smashing windows with rocks. (As an aside, it’s interesting to note that the Russian economy has improved enough that the middle-class can spare the eggs for protest purposes.)

True, the protest could have been a good old-fashioned exercise in agitprop – as far back as the Soviet era Kremlin employees were often organized into groups for “spontaneous protest.”

But Russian social media is white-hot with comments like “f**k the Turks” and calls for revenge. There is even a parody of the Eiffel Tower peace symbol that went viral after the Paris attacks by Daesh – except the Russian version has the silhouette of a Su-24 with its fuselage and wings where the lines of the peace symbol should be, superimposed on the Russian flag.

So, Russians fury toward Turkey is also linked to fierce Russian nationalism. Consequently, the shoot-down is an incident that will not just blow over with the Russian people – and Putin knows that.

3. Syria is getting pretty damned crowded with belligerents

The area is rapidly filling up with the aircraft and missile systems of many nations. Turkey, Russia, France, Canada, Australia, and the United States all have planes in the air either over Syria or near Syrian airspace.

In response to the shoot-down, Russia is deploying its S-400 “Triumf” air defense missile systems (NATO name: “Growler”) to its Hmeymim air base near Latakia, Syria. Using three different missiles with varying ranges and an upgraded radar system, it can strike airborne targets up to 400 miles away.

Russian television also said that Russian bombers will now fly with fighter escorts.

All this hardware and manpower milling around in a very small place could cause things to get out of hand very, very quickly. The result could be old-fashioned nation-on-nation warfare. All it could take would be one more downed warplane.

One other thing to note: Past is not always prologue, but it’s interesting to consider that Russia and Turkey (in the guise of the Ottoman Empire) fought one of the longest conflicts in European history.

The Russo-Turkish Wars from the 16th century until the early 20th century included none other than Ivan the Terrible sending the so-called Astrakhan Expedition in 1569 to pound on 70,000 Turkish and Tatar soldiers, Peter the Great and his army capturing Azov in 1696, and Tsar Alexander II sending Russian troops into Ottoman territory in 1877 to protect Christians from Muslim subjugation.

Russian forces overwhelmingly prevailed over the Ottoman Turks during those wars.

MIGHTY TRENDING

An American fighting for ISIS will now stand trial in the US

A Russian-born American has been captured in Syria by the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces. These anti-ISIS fighters have captured thousands of defeated Islamic State militants in the country since the fall of its de facto capital of Raqqa in 2017. To them, this is just one more ISIS prisoner.

They have returned the captured American to U.S. troops in the country and now he will stand trial in the United States.


This is not the first instance of Americans who left to join the terrorist state being captured and repatriated to the United States. Two American women and four children have also been captured and returned to the U.S. since the American intervention in the fight against the Islamic State began.

Experts say missile defense alone won’t stop growing North Korea nuke threat

Thousands of ISIS-affiliated persons have been captured in the former “caliphate.”

The SDF in Syria is a force of American-trained and supported fighters, primarily of Kurdish origin. They have captured thousands of ISIS fighters since the fall of the Islamic State’s “caliphate” and returned many to their countries of origin to face punishment. Most of those returnees come from Europe, who struggles with repatriating the fighters and even with prosecuting them. While the United States stands ready to prosecute the fighter, European countries differ on how to handle returnees.

When the U.S. first started planning for the return of captured fighters, the Trump Administration originally planned to incarcerate them at the U.S. military prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Instead, Trump is sending returning ISIS-affiliated repatriates to the civilian court system. In June 2019, American-born wives and children of ISIS fighters were captured by the SDF and returned to the U.S.

Experts say missile defense alone won’t stop growing North Korea nuke threat

The status of ISIS-born children is an emerging controversy.

Those affiliated with the Islamic State but aren’t accepted by their former country of citizenship are more likely to be held in vastly overcrowded prison camps in Syria or held in government jails. European countries are refusing the fighters because their justice systems would require gathering sufficient evidence of wartime crimes (being a member of ISIS isn’t enough to secure a conviction), and if tried, there’s a chance the ISIS fighters could walk free. The United States isn’t facing a huge influx of returning fighters but has a different standard of proof.

In the meantime, much effort is expended by all armed forces in the region in returning families of Islamic State fighters to their countries of origin, many coming from nearby Iraq or far-flung places as far as China and Uzbekistan. As the SDF finishes eliminating pockets of ISIS resistance, they are sure to find more and more survivors to send home, wherever home once was.

MIGHTY SPORTS

The ‘crazy Swede’ was a paratrooper who rode his bike to summit Everest

Leave it to military veterans to make one of Earth’s last tests of human endurance that much more difficult. It’s a 6,000-mile bike ride from the town of Jonkoping, Sweden, to the base camp of Mount Everest. Former Swedish paratrooper Goran Kropp knew how far it was as he packed up his bicycle with 200-plus pounds of gear and departed on that trip in 1995.


His first summit of a major mountain came when he climbed the highest peak in Scandinavia with his dad – at just six years old. Although he indulged a rebellious streak as a young man, the experience of that first climb never left him, and he soon found himself in thin air once more.

Experts say missile defense alone won’t stop growing North Korea nuke threat

Kropp grew up as a hard-partying punk rocker but soon joined the Swedish paratroopers. This was the event that would shape Kropp for the rest of his life. He met his climbing partner while in the army and moved from an apartment to a tent pitched in a gravel pit that was close to his barracks. While still in the Swedish military, he would test himself through different climbing endurance challenges. The two paratroopers even made a list of progressively higher mountains.

Until it was time to go climb them.

He soon earned the nickname “The Crazy Swede” and became known for his insane feats. The first major peak he summited was Tajikistan’s Lenin Peak, far below the 8,000-meter “Death Zone” of mountaineering, but still a great place to start. What made his summit of Lenin Peak special is that he set the record for it at the time.

Experts say missile defense alone won’t stop growing North Korea nuke threat

The hits just kept coming. Kropp was the fourth climber ever to conquer Pakistan’s Muztagh Tower in 1990. He was the first Swede to summit K2, a much deadlier mountain to climb than Everest. One of every ten people who climb Everest will die there. On K2, the fatality rate is more than twice that. Climbers of K2 regularly face life-threatening situations that end their trip before it begins.

On Kropp’s first attempt at a K2 summit in 1993, he stopped to help rescue Slovenian climbers stranded at a high altitude. His ascent on K2 would happen a week after this aborted attempt, but danger didn’t always stop Kropp. That’s why it took him three attempts to summit Everest.

Experts say missile defense alone won’t stop growing North Korea nuke threat

Kropp leaving Sweden for Nepal in 1995.

Kropp left Sweden on his 8,000-mile journey to Nepal in October 1995 and arrived at base camp in April 1996. He wanted to make the ascent without the use of oxygen tanks or assistance ropes. His first attempt saw him struggle to make it to the south summit in waist-deep snow, but his slow pace meant he would be descending in the dark, a risk he was not willing to take. So, he turned around to climb another day.

As Kropp recovered at base camp, a blizzard killed eight trekkers making a descent from the summit, in what became known as the 1996 Mount Everest Disaster. It was the deadliest climbing season on Everest to date. Kropp joined the relief efforts as he recovered, but it was during this deadly season that Kropp summited the mountain, without oxygen and without sherpas.

Then, he rode his bike 8,000 miles home to Sweden.

Experts say missile defense alone won’t stop growing North Korea nuke threat

From Paratrooper to Adventurer.

He climbed five of the world’s fourteen 8,000-plus meter mountains and was the only Swede to summit Everest twice.

In later years, Kropp and his wife skied across the North Pole ice sheet, attempting to reach the North Pole. He had to back out, however, due to a frostbitten thumb. It was on that trek that the press turned against him, claiming he was a poacher for shooting a Polar Bear that was stalking him and his wife during the expedition. As a result, Kropp left Sweden for Seattle.

It was in Washington State that 35-year-old Kropp died an ironic death. After making so many miraculous summits and life-threatening firsts, he died climbing a routine 70-foot rock wall near his home after two safety rigging failures.

Articles

Here’s the most expensive weapons system ever and all of its ammunition in one photo

Experts say missile defense alone won’t stop growing North Korea nuke threat
F-35A (one of the three F-35 variant aircrafts) and its weapons suite. Photo: Lockheed Martin


Earlier this month the US Air Force told Reuters that America’s most expensive weapons system ever built is on track for “initial combat use” by September 2016.

Designed and manufactured at Lockheed Martin’s massive production facility in Fort Worth, Texas, the F-35 Lightning II can carry an impressive 18,000 pounds of lethal ammunition.

Lockheed Martin’s F-35 program includes three variant aircrafts (the F-35A, F-35B, and F-35C), each designed to meet the specific needs of America’s sister service branches and a number of foreign military buyers like the United Kingdom, Australia, Netherlands, Norway, Japan, South Korea, and Israel.

Lockheed Martin says that each F-35A jet, also referred to as the Conventional Takeoff and Landing (CTOL), costs $108 million (including engine) and is the most requested of the three aircrafts. Thus far, approximately 65 of the anticipated 1,763 F-35A jets have been delivered to the Department of Defense.

The F-35’s carry a similar arsenal except that the F-35A is the only variant to feature an internal cannon, which is located on the left side of the jet between the cockpit and wing.

Here’s an infographic of the weapons the jets are designed to carry:

Experts say missile defense alone won’t stop growing North Korea nuke threat
photo: Lockheed Martin/US Air Force

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