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These are the 25 most powerful militaries in the world

An all-out fight may be the only real way to compare military strength, but fortunately, the world hasn’t had many opportunities lately.


Despite an increasingly tense situation in the South China Sea, continued fighting in Ukraine, and proxy wars throughout the Middle East, warfare between nation-states has mostly taken a backseat to peacekeeping missions and fights against terror groups.

Still, a simple evaluation of pure military power can be interesting, so we turned to the Global Firepower Index, a ranking of 106 nations based on more than 50 factors — including each country’s military budget, manpower, and the amount of equipment each country has in its respective arsenal, and its natural resources.

Related: How long the US military would last in a war against the rest of the world

It’s important to note the index focuses on quantity while ignoring significant qualitative differences. For example, North Korea’s 70 submarines are old and decidedly low-tech compared to what the US and others have. The index doesn’t take into account nuclear stockpiles, which are still the ultimate trump card in geopolitics. And it doesn’t penalize landlocked nations for lack of a standing navy.

We’ve created a chart to compare the top 25 militaries according to the Global Firepower Index. The ranking was released in April (before events like the Russian invasion of Eastern Ukraine in August, ISIS’s blitz through Iraq, and the flare-up between Israel and Hamas) and involves a complex set of data that is subject to ongoing adjustments and corrections.

Skye Gould/Business Insider

Here Are The Key Findings From The Index:

America’s investment in being the world’s leading military force.

The US leads the world in military spending at nearly $600 billion a year. China is in a distant second, at nearly $160 billion — less than one-third of America’s overall spending.

Also read: Here’s who would win if Russia, China, and America went to war right now 

According to a report from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), the US has reduced its defense budget by 7.8% chiefly because of America’s gradual withdrawal in overseas military operations, such as in Afghanistan and Iraq. However, President Donald Trump’s proposed budget would effectively reverse that downward trend.

The Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation

Russia, meanwhile, has increased its arms spending and continues to modernize its military equipment and implement higher quality training for its personnel.

Aircraft carriers are key, but few countries have even one.

Aircraft carriers contribute greatly to a country’s overall military strength. These massive vessels allow nations to project force far beyond their borders and across the entire face of the globe. They’re essentially mobile naval and air force bases.

Aircraft carriers can also carry unmanned aerial systems — drones — which significantly change the global surveillance game.

US Navy photo

The US’s absolute monopoly on super-carriers significantly boosts its forward operating power. The US has deployed an aircraft carrier toward the Persian Gulf to bolster its sea and air power before possible strikes against ISIS in Iraq. It also has others keeping a close on the Korean peninsula.

Russia has previously deployed an aircraft carrier to the Mediterranean to support the Assad government in Syria.

North Korea’s submarines are pretty much useless.

At first look, it seems North Korea is amazing when it comes to submarine warfare, but there’s a little more to the story.

Pyongyang does command one of the largest submarine fleets on earth, but most of its vessels are unusable.

The North Korean Sang-O submarine ran aground in South Korean waters near Gangneung, in 1996. | Public Domain photo

A third of North Korea’s subs are noisy diesel-powered Romeos, which have been obsolete since 1961. These submarines have a weapons range of only four miles, whereas a modern US submarine has a range of 150 miles. The Hermit Kingdom’s fleet is unsophisticated but still durable, according to the Pentagon.

In a fight with a more sophisticated adversary, North Korean subs would be toast.

A previous version of this article was written by Amanda Macias.

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These 11 funny military vids will make you wish Vine wasn’t going away forever

October 2016 signals the end of the six-second social video service Vine. Six seconds was not a lot of time, but it was just enough time for Vine to burrow its way into our hearts – but just not far enough to stay in business.


Members of the military used Vine to offer a glimpse into military life and culture. These are 11 perfect examples of the military humor on Vine.

1. This is probably how all Marines feel when dealing with airmen.

From Vine user Lil Buckshot

2. A Brit in the U.S. Army should be prepared to have their Drill Sergeant Vine their history lesson.

From Vine user SFC Holy Fing Shit

3. MARPAT makes a great turtle costume.

From Vine user Chris S.

4. If people watching airborne operations didn’t have this song in their head before, they will now.

From Vine user TheJordanBell

5. Reality is not the best recruiting tool.

From Vine User Zane Orion

6. There are too many steps to remember in grenade tossing.

From Vine User Beaz

7. If you have a job where you wear a uniform, at least that uniform is badass.

From Vine user Lil Buckshot

8. Budgeting is the key to a successful household.

From Vine user MorHooahthanU

9. As if the Coast Guard wasn’t already busy enough.

From Vine user SirToodles

10. Every base has that one guy.

From Vine user Will Thurman

11. Being an L-T among enlisted people must feel like Basic Training until they make O-3.

From Vine user SFC Holy Fing Shit

 

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27 Incredible Photos Of Life On A US Navy Submarine

A U.S. Navy nuclear submarine is one of the most mysterious places in which a member of the military could serve.

Armed with advanced technology and enough firepower to destroy civilizations, it’s no wonder that every sailor aboard these vessels must have a secret clearance or better.


WATM scoured the Navy’s official website and asked the sailors of the Submarine Bubblehead Brotherhood for personal pictures to come up with these 27 incredible photos of life under the sea.

Deployment starts with departing from home port…

Photo: US Navy

Submarine life is cramped…

Photo: US Navy

Hatches are smaller than on surface vessels…

Bubbleheads – Navy speak for submariners – go without sunlight for weeks at a time.

Photo: US Navy

Sailors as young as 18 years-old drive the ship…

Photo: US Navy

Seriously, even midshipmen get a turn…

Photo

 

Any sailor on a submarine can pull off Michael Jackson’s “Smooth Criminal” lean move. Here’s a photo of a skipper pulling it off…

Photo: YouTube

Angles and Dangles: When the submarine makes radical depth changes. Usually to ensure everything is stowed for sea properly.

There are no windows on a submarine; sonar technology is the eyes and ears of the crew.

Photo

 Submarines have some of the same amenities as surface ships…

Photo: YouTube

… but, everything in a submarine is modified to limit noise. These are rubber shock absorbers under the treadmill…

Photo: YouTube

Here is a close-up of a rubber shock absorber…

Photo: YouTube

It pays to keep the cook happy…

Photo: YouTube

Submarine chow is some of the best in the Navy…

Photo: YouTube

Swim calls on a submarine are awesome. . .

Photo: US Navy

After months in the ocean depths, a little Vitamin D (sunlight) could be just what the doctor ordered . . .

Photo: A. Ceglia

This is what a steel beach picnic looks like on a submarine . . .

Photo: Reddit

Life-long friendships are made…

Photo: S. Southard

Shipmates become an extended family…

Photo: J. Barton

Some things never change. This photo of sailors painting the sub was taken in the 1950s . . .

Photo: K. Haughton

This one was taken in 2010…

Photo: A. Ceglia

One lesson holds true in any era: Don’t use the submarine paint to dress up like the Hulk . . .

According to a Reddit feed, this man in Brazil used permanent submarine paint to dress like the Hulk. After unsuccessfully trying to remove the paint, his mother came to help with industrial cleaning materials. Photo: Reddit

Submarines sometimes break through the ice to surface on the North Pole.

Photo: US Navy

Santa wasn’t around for this visit, but these polar bears gave a big welcome . . .

Photo: US Navy

Many sailors become shellbacks, but few have a blue nose…

To become a Blue Nose, a sailor must have crossed the Arctic Circle in a Navy vessel. Photo: D. Gudman

The best words a CO could ever say are, “Folks, let’s go home.”

And nothing beats a homecoming…

Photo: US Navy

Nothing…

USS Scranton sailor, Machinist’s Mate 2nd Class Warren Jack holds his daughter for the first time after a seven-month deployment. Photo: US Navy

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This vet won an award for his awesome screenplay about a young Army officer in Vietnam

Brian Martin, MVP Foundation Founder and President, on the far left, stands with the writers of the three top screenplays entered in the Staff. Sgt. John Martin Writing Competition. Brian Delate, in the tan jacket, won the competition. Photo: Greg Vegas, courtesy of the MVP Foundation


Vietnam veteran Brian Delate won a screenplay competition by the MVP Foundation for his script “Dante’s Obsession” on Friday, at We Are The Mighty Headquarters in Los Angeles.

The Staff Sgt. John Martin Veteran Writing Competition was open to active military personnel and veterans.

“Dante’s Obsession” follows the story of a young lieutenant fighting in the tunnels around Saigon at the height of the Vietnam War and the beautiful Viet Cong spy he falls in love with who attempts to steal information from him. It was previously a finalist at the 2015 G.I. Film Festival.

Delate works as a writer, actor, and director for film, theater, and TV. He recently performed a play, “Memorial Day,” that was also about his experiences in Vietnam. In 2014, he performed the play in Hanoi on the National Stage in front of Vietnamese and American veterans of the Vietnam War, including his former enemies.

The second place prize in the competition went to Navy Veteran Joshua Katz for his script, “The Ivory Coast.” The screenplay is about a Kenyan Wildlife Services official investigating the slaughter of a family of elephants in a national reserve.

Third prize went to Michael Brown, an Iraq War veteran and former Marine Corps platoon commander. Brown’s script, “Broken, in the Land of Dragons,” tells of a Navy SEAL who meets a local school teacher in Pakistan and works with friendly fighters to defend her school from a concerted attack by religious extremists.

The contest and award ceremony were put on by the MVP Foundation, a charitable corporation that supports veterans in the arts. It was founded in 2014 by Iraq War veteran and Army officer Brian J. Martin. WATM Co-Founder and CEO David Gale was one of the judges.

NOW: 5 Hollywood directors who served and filmed real wars

WATCH: How The ‘American Sniper’ Screenwriter Earned The Respect Of The Navy SEAL Community

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These Air Force Academy uniforms bring the ‘BRRRRRT’ to college football

It’s Shark Week at the U.S. Air Force Academy.


The Falcons paid tribute to Air Force history by donning uniforms featuring the distinctive nose art of the WWII-era Curtiss P-40 Warkhawk and its grandson, the tank-busting, close air support maestro A-10 Thunderbolt II – aka the “Warthog.”

P-40 Warhawk Ace Col. Bob Scott of 23d Fighter Group during WWII. (U.S. Army photo)

The Twitter account Air Force FB Equip tweeted a photo of the “threads” just before the start of the Air Force versus Georgia State game on September 10th.

The distinctive design harkens back to American pilots during the early years of World War II, before the United States joined the war. The 23d Fighter Group, dubbed the “Flying Tigers” for the 1st American Volunteer Group of the Chinese Air Force, flew combat sorties against Japan. Comprised of pilots from the Army Air Forces, the Navy, and Marine Corps, their distinctive Shark nose art remains an icon of military history.

The Flying Tigers’ first combat mission came just 12 days after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, racking up 256 kills at the cost of just 14 airmen until they were disbanded in July 1942. It was a big deal during the early days of the war, when Americans were taking huge losses left and right. For almost eight months, the Flying tigers ruled the skies over Burma.

The modern-day 23d Fighter Group doesn’t fly P-40s, it flies the A-10 – beloved by the troops of the ground for its superb close air support mission capabilities and feared by anyone on the receiving end of the GAU-8 Avenger 30mm cannon around which the airframe was built. This thing is a flying gun with tank armor and wings. Some A-10s feature the legacy shark nose art, which is a rare sight on today’s military aircraft.

A front view of a 23rd Tactical Fighter Wing A-10 Thunderbolt II aircraft parked on the flight line during Exercise SOLID SHIELD ’87. (U.S. Air Force photo)

The home game at the Air Force Academy featured a flyover by four A-10 aircraft 30 seconds before kickoff. It’s almost not even fair – how are the Georgia State Panthers supposed to compete with that? They couldn’t. The Panthers fell to the Falcons like the Japanese fell during WWII – hard.

The final score was 48-14.

And in case you’re not familiar with the BRRRRRT:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b_izdXSIWEg
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That time Nixon wanted commies to think he was crazy enough to nuke them

Eighteen B-52 bombers took off from Fairchild Air Force Base, Washington on October 10, 1969, each loaded with nuclear weapons. Although the bombers were headed toward Moscow, the goal was to influence outcomes around Hanoi. The bombers’ mission was to proceed directly to the Soviet Union in order to convince the Soviets that America at the hands of President Nixon was willing to resort to nuclear war to win in Vietnam.


A critical component of Nixon’s foreign policy was to make the leaders of the Soviet Union and the Eastern Bloc think he was insane — like really insane — and he wanted the Communist leaders of the world to believe that he was ready to start World War III to prevent communist expansion.

“I want the North Vietnamese to believe I’ve reached the point where I might do anything to stop the war,” Nixon told his Chief of Staff. “We’ll just slip the word to them that, ‘for God’s sake, you know Nixon is obsessed about communism. We can’t restrain him when he’s angry — and he has his hand on the nuclear button’ and Ho Chi Minh himself will be in Paris in two days begging for peace.”

Tough talk against a guy who went on the record willing to lose 10 Vietnamese for every invader.

In 1968, Nixon campaigned on ending the war in Vietnam, but well into his first year in office, the North Vietnamese vowed to sit at the bargaining table in Paris “until the chairs rot.” Nixon wanted the Soviet leadership, widely seen as the puppeteers of North Vietnam’s leaders, to force the Vietnamese regime to conclude a peace agreement. The true intent of the plan was so secret, not even Gen. Bruce K. Holloway, commander of the Air Force’s Strategic Air Command knew the mission’s true purpose. The facts about the operation, called Giant Lance, were not made public until a 2000 Freedom of Information Act request revealed it.

The bombers flew along Soviet airspace for three days as other nuclear forces around the world — destroyers, cruisers, and aircraft carriers in the Atlantic, Mediterranean, Gulf of Aden, and Sea of Japan — all executed secret maneuvers that were designed to be detectable by the Kremlin. In response Soviet Ambassador Anatoly Dobrynin met with Nixon to discuss the raised state of alert of U.S. forces.

The Madman Theory worked in that respect. Dobrynin warned the Soviet leadership that “Nixon is unable to control himself even in a conversation with a foreign ambassador,” about Nixon’s “growing emotionalism” and his “lack of balance.” Nixon would order an end to Giant Lance suddenly on October 30.

A B-52 takes off in support of Giant Lance. Presumably, everyone on board is slightly nervous. (U.S. Air Force Photo)

The plan didn’t end the war in Vietnam, however. It was the president’s belief his Madman Theory did lead to agreeable terms for the SALT I (Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty) and his anti-ballistic missile treaties with the Soviet Union in 1972. That same year Nixon would drive the North Vietnamese back to the bargaining table each time they tried to leave through a series of bombing campaigns on North Vietnamese targets with operations Linebacker and Linebacker II.

NOW SEE: 17 Wild Facts About the Vietnam War

OR:  This Marine was the ‘American Sniper’ of the Vietnam War

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Army may use precision-guided rounds for its legendary Carl Gustaf weapon

Army and industry weapons developers are working with the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency to explore the feasibility of precision-guided rounds for a man-portable, anti-personnel and anti-armor weapon known as the Carl Gustaf, officials said.


Current innovations involve a cutting-edge technology program, called Massive Overmatch Assault Round or MOAR, aimed at exploring the prospect of precision guided rounds for the weapon.

While the shoulder-fired infantry and Special Operations weapon currently uses multiple rounds and advanced targeting technologies, using a precision “guided” round would enable the weapon to better destroy enemy targets on the move by having the technology to re-direct with advanced seeker technology.

These guys are stoked. | US Army photo

“We are exploring different kinds of seekers to pursue precision engagement capabilities,” Malcolm Arvidsson, Product Director, Carl-Gustaf M4, Saab, told Scout Warrior in an interview.

The weapon, called the Multi-Role Anti-Armor, Anti-Personnel Weapons System, known as the Carl-Gustaf, was initially used by Special Operations Forces. Several years ago, it was ordered by the Army in response to an Operational Needs Statement from Afghanistan.

Related: US wants to issue special operators a new personal defense weapon

These innovations are still in early conceptual, research and testing phases. However, they are being pursued alongside a current Army effort to acquire an upgraded 84mm recoilless shoulder-fired Carl Gustaf weapon able to travel with dismounted infantry and destroy tanks, armored vehicles, groups of enemy fighters and even targets behind walls, Army and industry officials said.

Acquisition efforts for the weapon began when the Army was seeking to procure a direct fire, man-portable, anti-personnel and light structure weapon able, among other things, to respond to insurgent rocket-propelled grenade, or RPG, fire, service officials said.

The Carl Gustaf get its name from the Swedish weapons production factory known as Carl Gustafs Stads Gevärsfaktori (“Rifle Factory of Carl Gustaf’s town”). | US Army photo

Designed to be lighter weight and more infantry-portable that a Javelin anti-tank missile, the Carl Gustaf is built to help maneuvering ground units attack a wide range of targets out to as far as 1,300 meters; its target set includes buildings, armored vehicles and enemy fighters in defilade hiding behind rocks or trees.

Following the weapon’s performance in Afghanistan with soldiers, Army weapons developers moved the weapon into a formal “program of record” and began to pursue an upgrade to the Carl Gustaf to include lighter weight materials such as titanium, Arvidsson said.

The upgraded M4 Carl-Gustaf, introduced in 2014, shortens the length and lowers the weight of the weapon to 15 pounds from the 22-pound previous M3 variant, he said. The first M3 variant of the weapon was introduced in the early 1990s.

“We use a steel that is half the weight and half the density. For the barrel, we have improved the lining pattern and added a more efficient carbon fiber wrapping,” Arvidsson added.

US Army photo

The lighter weight weapon is, in many ways, ideal for counterinsurgency forces on the move on foot or in light vehicles in search of small groups of enemy fighters – one possible reason it was urgently requested for the mountainous Afghanistan where dismounted soldiers often traverse high-altitude, rigorous terrain.

At the same time, the anti-armor function of the weapon would enable infantry brigade combat teams to attack enemy vehicles in a mechanized, force-on-force kind of engagement.

The Carl-Gustaf is engineered with multipurpose rounds that can be used against armored vehicles and soft targets behind the walls. There are also pure anti-structure rounds to go through thick walls to defeat the targets behind a wall, Army and Saab developers explained.

The weapon fires High-Explosive air burst rounds, close combat rounds, and then the general support rounds, like the smoke and battlefield elimination, developers said.

Airburst rounds use programmable fuse to explode in the air at a precise location, thereby maximizing the weapon’s effect against enemy targets hiding, for example, behind a rock, tree or building.

Also read: This was the world’s longest-serving modern military rifle in active service

Air burst rounds can detonate in the air or in general proximity to a target. For instance, an airburst round could explode just above an enemy fighter seeking cover behind a rock or wall.

“I want to penetrate the target.  I want to kill a light armored vehicle.  I want to kill a structure.  I want to kill somebody behind the structure. With the gun, soldiers can decide how to affect the targets.  Really, that’s what the Carl-Gustaf brings to the battlefield is the ability to decide how they want to affect the battlefield — not call in air support and mark targets,” Wes Walters, Executive Vice President of Business Development, Land Domain, Saab North America, told Scout Warrior in an interview.

The Army is evaluating a wide range of new technologies for its newer M4 variant to include electro-optical sights with a thermal imager, magnification sights of durable-optical sights, Saab officials explained.

Sensors and sights on the weapon can use advanced computer algorithms to account for a variety of environmental conditions known to impact the trajectory or flight of a round. These factors include the propellant temperature, atmospheric conditions, biometric pressure and terrain inclination,

“There are a number of parameters that the sight can actually calculate to give you a much harder first round probability of hit,” Walters said.

Some weapons use a laser rangefinder which calculates the distance of an enemy object by computer algorithms combing the speed of light with the length of travel – to determine distance.

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Marines ground Hornets for safety review in the wake of recent mishaps

(Photo: U.S. Marine Corps)


The Marines have been having a hard time with their force of F/A-18 Hornets. The situation was bad enough that a couple of months ago, they pulled nearly two dozen from Davis Monthan Air Force Base’s preservation facility. But things have gotten worse, with three crashes, two of them fatal, over the summer.

The result: The Marines recently called a timeout. All three Marine Air Wings were ordered to halt F/A-18 operations for 24 hours while commanders figure out a way to reduce the accident rate on these planes. As reported by the USNI Blog, each MAW is required to take two such days each year for purposes of sharing “best practices” and to figure out how to improve the Marine Corps’ Hornets’ state of readiness. Lt. Gen. Jon Davis, the Marine Corps’ Deputy Commandant for Aviation, who ordered the stand-down, will receive reports on the readiness of Marine Hornet squadrons.

Service-wide groundings of a particular model of airplane have happened before. F-15s across the United States Air Force were grounded in November 2007 after one Eagle assigned to the Missouri Air National Guard fell apart during a flight. It was later discovered that a longeron (that connects the aircraft’s skin to the frame) failed, causing the aircraft’s mid-flight disintegration. The Air Force retired its F-15A/B models as they, too, aged. A report from The Los Angeles Times at the time of the F-15 crash stated that many F-15s were already under flight restrictions due to concerns about metal fatigue.

Despite the issues that the F-15 force had with fatigue and flight time, the F-22’s production was stopped at 187 airframes in 2009, forcing a number of F-15C airframes (roughly 178 – almost ten squadrons’ worth) to keep soldiering on, despite their advancing age (the last F-15C serial number for the United States Air Force was from Fiscal Year 1986 – over three decades ago).

The Marines use the F/A-18C/D versions of the Hornet, while the bulk of the Navy’s force has transitioned to F/A-18E/F Super Hornets. The Super Hornets have longer range and greater payload, as well as more modern electronics and some signature reduction. The Marines did not buy Super Hornets, choosing to hold out for the F-35. But because of F-35 program delays, the Marine Hornets have had to hold out longer than planned.

This situation is ironic in one sense: The F/A-18 first entered service with the Marine Corps, which was seeking to replace aging F-4 Phantoms. The Hornet drew raves for ease of maintenance and its availability. Now, the F/A-18s are the aging mounts, and the Marines are struggling to keep them airborne.

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The Israeli Arrow shot down a SAM for its first kill

Israel’s Arrow missile defense system managed to get its first kill. This particular kill is notable because it was a Syrian surface-to-air missile.


According to a report by FoxNews.com, Israeli jets had attacked a number of Syrian targets. After the successful operation, they were targeted by Syrian air-defense systems, including surface-to-air missiles.

An Arrow anti-ballistic missile is launched as part of the on going United States/Israel Arrow System Improvement Program (ASIP). (U.S. Navy photo)

Reportedly, at least one of the surface-to-air missiles was shot down by an Arrow. According to astronautix.com, the system designed to kill ballistic missiles, had its first test flight in 1990 and has hit targets as high as 60 miles up.

Army-Technology.com notes that the Israeli system has a range of up to 56 miles and a top speed of Mach 9. That is about three times the speed of the legendary SR-71 Blackbird reconnaissance plane.

The Center for Strategic and International Studies notes that the Arrow 2 can engage up to 14 targets, with the first battery deployed in 2000, with a second in 2002. A third is reportedly stated for deployment as well.

The surprise, of course, is that the Arrow proved capable of killing the unidentified surface-to-air missile the Syrians fired.

Surface-to-air missiles are much harder targets to hit than ballistic missiles because they will maneuver to target a fighter or other aircraft.

Furthermore, the SAM that was shot down is very likely to have been of Russian manufacture (DefenseNews.com reported the missile was a SA-5 Gammon, also known as the S-200).

A SA-5 Gammon on its launcher. Was a similar missile the first kill for the Arrow? (Photo from Wikimedia Commons)

Most of the missiles are from various production blocks of the Arrow 2, but this past January, Reuters reported that the first Arrow 3 battery had become operational.

The Israel Missile Defense Organization (IMDO) and the U.S. Missile Defense Agency (MDA) completed the second successful flyout test of the Arrow-3 interceptor in 2014. (Dept. of Defense photo)

While the Arrow 2 intercepts incoming warheads in the atmosphere, the Arrow 3 is capable of exoatmospheric intercepts. One battery has been built so far, and will supplement Israel’s Arrow 2 batteries. The Arrow 3’s range is up to 2,400 kilometers, according to CSIS.

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

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.

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Top secret files detail how drone strikes target terrorists — and how they go wrong

Newly unveiled British intelligence documents detail how the National Security Agency worked with its British counterpart when carrying out drone strikes in Yemen and Pakistan and how they targeted terrorists, The New York Times reports.


The documents, released to the Guardian newspaper by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden and shared with The New York Times, also detail how often those strikes go wrong.

The documents also reveal that US forces conducted a strike in 2012 to kill a doctor, identified as Khadim Usamah, who the US believed was surgically inserting explosives into potential Al Qaeda operatives.

Britain’s military has carried out drone strikes in war zones in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya, but the documents suggest that British intelligence also helped guide strikes by the US outside of those zones.

Drone attacks carried out by the US have been heavily criticized in the past, and prompted thousands to protest against their use. Critiques say that drone attacks are not specific enough and often end up killing a lot of civilians.

Outcries against the use of drones were renewed when President Barack Obama disclosed in April that two Western aid workers who were held hostage by Al Qaeda had been killed after a strike against the terrorist group in Pakistan.

Instances in which civilians have been killed and uncertainty about drones’ accuracy in hitting their target has led to increased public scrutiny of the use of drones. In the case of the hostages who were killed, intelligence officers were unaware they were present at the time of the strike.

Meanwhile, an Algerian terrorist who had been reported dead by the Pentagon after a strike appears to still be alive, according to the Times. And American officials only learned a few days after an attack in Yemen that they had killed the leader of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.

Officials argue that missiles fired from unmanned aircrafts are the most precise way to target terrorists. But for the shots to be as precise as possible, the documents highlight the importance of surveillance and eavesdropping in order to determine not only the exact location, but also whether everyone in a strike zone poses a threat. The documents also detail how that use of technology is flawed.

The British Government Communications Headquarters’ (GCHQ) guide to targeting outlines the importance of identifying whether a phone is used by one or more people, as tracking smartphones is often used to identify a target. Because of the obvious flaw in targeting people only by the location of their smartphones, the agencies also try to identify terrorists by voice and physical appearance.

The guide also says that whether a call was terminated right after a strike is a good way of knowing whether it hit its target.

Amid a parliamentary investigation into whether the UK was part of unmanned aerial vehicle strikes (UAV) in Yemen, British defense minister Mark Francois said “UAV strikes against terrorist targets in Yemen are a matter for the Yemeni and US governments,” according to the Times.

But the new documents suggest that the country provided intelligence for different American strikes, including one in Yemen.

The NSA and CIA both declined to comment to the Times. But the GCHQ said in a statement that it expects “all states concerned to act in accordance with international law and take all feasible precautions to avoid civilian casualties when conducting any form of military or counterterrorist operations.”

More from Business Insider:

This article originally appeared at Business Insider Defense. Copyright 2015. Follow BI Defense on Twitter.

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8 more awesome nicknames that enemies gave the U.S. military

We’ve previously listed some awesome nicknames bestowed on the U.S. military by enemy forces, names like “The Bloody Bucket” that was bestowed on the 28th Infantry Regiment and their vicious tactics.


Here are 8 more unit nicknames from terrified enemies all proudly worn by U.S. military formations:

1. Walking Dead

The nickname “the Walking Dead,” was originally used by Ho Chi Minh to describe all Marines in the A Shau Valley of Vietnam, but the 1st Battalion, 9th Marines, suffered and fought through more in that valley than nearly any other, losing 747 Marines and suffering thousands wounded in the war. Their normal unit strength was only 800.

While some have tried to change the unit’s name to “Walking Death,” Marines kept going back to “Walking Dead.”

2. Roosevelt’s SS

The 30th Infantry Division near La Gleize, Belgium. (Photo: U.S. Army)

The 30th Infantry Division was pitted against Germany’s elite 1st SS Division over and over. First at St. Lo and then Mortain in France and finally in the Battle of the Bulge. The 30th defeated the 1st SS every time, leading to the German high command dubbing them “Roosevelt’s SS Troops.”

3. Rakkasans

(Photo: U.S. Army Spc. Brian Smith-Dutton)

A group of soldiers in occupied Japan were trying to talk to locals when the translator had to figure out how to describe paratroopers to the locals. He went with Rakkasans which meant, “falling down umbrella men.” The locals found the construction clumsy but funny and they made it a permanent nickname.

4. The Red Devils or Red Bulls

A Red Bulls soldier in Afghanistan. (Photo: U.S. Army Spc. Kristina L. Gupton)

Originally known as “The Sandstorm Division,” the 34th Infantry Division’s iconic steer skull patch led to German soldiers in Italy referring to it as the “Red Devils” or “Red Bulls.” The 34th adopted “Red Bulls” as their official nickname.

5. Devils Brigade

First Special Service Force commandos prepare for a nighttime patrol near Anzio in 1944. The soldiers blackened their faces to reduce their visibility in the dark. (Photo: Canadian Lt. C.E. Nye)

One of the greatest fighting forces of World War II was the First Special Service Force, an American-Canadian joint commando unit. According to legend, a German diary was found at Anzio that referred to the legendary men as “The black devils.” The name was applied to the unit as both “The Devils Brigade” and “The Devil’s Brigade.”

6. Iron Men of Metz

Americans escort two captured German prisoners from the Metz garrison in 1944. (Photo: Public Domain)

The city of Metz in the northeast of France had repelled invaders without a single defeat since 451 A.D. when America decided to crack its teeth on it in 1944. The 95th Infantry Division’s success against the Germans got the nickname “The Bravest of the Brave.” The division preferred a nickname from the Germans, “The Iron Men of Metz.”

7. Roosevelt’s Butchers

Tanks from the 4th Armored Divisions and American infantry move through Alsace-Lorraine in World War II. (Photo: U.S. Army Signal Corps)

The German command referred to the 4th Armored Division as elite, but their propagandists called them “Roosevelt’s Highest Paid Butchers.” The “Highest Paid” part was dropped and the 4th used “Roosevelt’s Butchers.”

8. The Little Seahorse

Sherman tanks of the British Army fire from prepared positions on the Anzio beachhead. The 36th Engineer Regiment was specially trained in amphibious assaults like the Anzio landings. (Photo: British Army Sgt. Radford)

The 36th Engineer Regiment was tasked with conducting and supporting amphibious assaults in World War II and hit the beaches at Morocco, Sicily, Naples, Anzio, and Southern France. Their specialty was symbolized by a seahorse on their patch and, after the regiment held 7 miles of frontline at Anzio, the Germans nicknamed them “The Little Seahorse Division.”

“Division” was dropped since the unit was a regiment and later a brigade but has never grown to a full division.

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9 foreign films that capture what happens when armies fight terrorists

Waging a war against insurgents and terrorists is hard. While America has tried to capture its struggles in movies like “Zero Dark Thirty” and “American Sniper,” filmmakers from other countries have made their own great films about fighting insurgencies.


Here are 9 of the best:

1. The Battle of Algiers

“The Battle of Algiers” was screened at the Pentagon during lessons on counter-insurgency warfare. The film was originally released in 1966 but was banned for five years in France. It depicts the atrocities on each side of the actual Battle of the Algiers in the 1950s where French paratroopers eventually put down an Algerian nationalistic uprising.

2. Waltz with Bashir

This animated movie follows an Israeli veteran of the 1982 Lebanon War when Israel invaded. The vet can’t remember anything from the war, and so begins interviewing his former comrades and others who took part in the conflict.

3. A War

“A War” is a new film from Danish filmmakers. An infantry commander is put on trial after a questionable airstrike kills women and children. Back home in Denmark, he must explain to his family why he ordered the strikes while defending himself from prosecution. This is a instant classic about fighting with rules of engagement designed to win hearts and mind more than battles.

4. Timbuktu

“Timbuktu” is a city in Mali which was overtaken by by Islamic militants in 2012. The movie focuses on a community that lives in terror of the radical occupiers. Much like ISIS, the terrorists controlling the city use a perverted version of Sharia law and order executions for even minor offenses.

5. Kandahar

“Kandahar” was filmed and released before the Sept. 11 attacks and shows the horrible state that the Afghan people lived in beneath the Taliban. A Canadian-Afghan woman who escaped the country as a child has to return to try and prevent the suicide of her sister who is being crushed beneath the Taliban regime.

6. The Wind That Shakes the Barley

The Irish Republican Army’s struggle for independence from Britain turned into a civil war in 1921 when half of the resistance accepted a treaty with the United Kingdom that granted dominion but not full independence. “The Wind That Shakes the Barley” follows two brothers in the IRA from their years fighting together against Britain to the Irish Civil War where they wind up on opposite sides.

(“Michael Collins” is another good movie from this conflict.)

7. The Baader-Meinhof Complex

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v9cNxhDrRSo

In post-war West Germany a group of students started the Red Army Faction, a terror group that sought to resist a government that they saw as falling back into the mold of Nazi Germany. “The Baader-Meinhof Complex” follows the rise and fall of these students in a thrilling, blood-soaked narrative.

8. Kilo Two Bravo

A group of British paratroopers in Afghanistan spend their days controlling a hilltop and conducting patrols until a fire team moving down the hill gets caught in the middle of a old Soviet minefield. “Kilo Two Bravo” does a great job of showing the dangers and complexities of operating in a land filled with mines and IEDs.

9. Waar

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8T6pQ6op0bc

“Waar” is one of Pakistan’s top grossing films ever. It follows a former Pakistani Army officer who is roped back in for a counter-terrorism operation. It’s an interesting look at terrorism through the eyes of a country that lives with it in their backyard. (Heads up: some of the story and acting is over the top. Imagine a terror film set in Pakistan and directed by John Woo.)