The Resurgence of the Taliban (Trailer)- Vice News Published on Nov 2, 2015


In late September, the Taliban launched an offensive against Kunduz, a provincial capital in northern Afghanistan, capturing key buildings and freeing hundreds of prisoners from the city’s jail.

The offensive sparked a fierce battle between the militants and government forces, supported by US airstrikes. After several days of fighting, Afghan troops recaptured the city, and took down the Taliban’s flag from the central square.

American planes targeted Taliban positions, but at the beginning of October, a hospital run by medical charity Doctors Without Borders (Médecins Sans Frontières) was hit, killing 22 hospital staff and patients, with many seriously injured. The Pentagon later admitted that the strike was a mistake.

Gaining exclusive access to the Taliban, VICE News filmmaker Nagieb Khaja spoke to fighters that briefly took control of Kunduz — the first major city to fall to the group since it was ousted from power in 2001.

Watch “Robert Grenier: The VICE News Interview” – http://bit.ly/1KTO5aw

Martin Dempsey’s World Is Falling Apart  By JAMES KITFIELD  September 26, 2015


The outgoing Joint Chiefs chairman bids farewell to an alliance beset by crises.

 

Getty

Getty

BERLIN—As his convoy sliced lights flashing through the busy streets of Berlin on a recent morning, Gen. Martin Dempsey could see a good part of his own career. He could see through the tinted windows of his limousine the bombed out ruins of the World War II-era Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church, and the Brandenburg Gate where the Iron Curtain once placed Germany on the front lines of the Cold War—and where as a young Army lieutenant Dempsey helped guard the border against massed Soviet and Warsaw Pact forces. Soon the convoy would arrive at the German Ministry of Defense where Dempsey would be awarded the Knight Commander’s Cross of the Federal Republic of Germany, and lay a wreath to the war dead of Germany’s modern army next to the same building where Adolf Hitler and his Nazi minions once plotted the conquest of Europe.

At the end of a long and storied career in uniform Dempsey was in a reflective mood, and the one reality he could not escape was just how much war and conflict there still was to be fought, and how many memorials to the fallen had yet to be erected.

 This was his final trip as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the last act of a Zelig-like military career that began over here more than 40 years earlier in a small German village, then proceeded to his personal involvement in every major war since, starting with the famed “left hook” in the first Iraq War and then command of the 1st Armored Division in the second. Forty long years of effort—and yet now at the end Dempsey is blunt in admitting that some things are actually worse than when he started his unusually long four-year tenure as a member of the Joint Chiefs.

http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2015/09/martin-dempsey-retiring-213194

Iran deal opponents now have their “death panels” lie, and it’s a whopper – Updated by Max Fisher on August 19, 2015, 11:31 a.m. ET


The debate over the Iran nuclear deal may now have its own version of “death panels,” a provision that is both a point of overwhelming criticism and largely fictitious.

“Particularly troublesome, you have to wait 24 days before you can inspect,” Sen. Chuck Schumer told reporters last week, explaining why he is opposing the deal.

Conservative media have hammered at this idea: that nuclear inspectors must wait 24 days before visiting any place in Iran that is not a declared nuclear site. Sometimes they imply or outright state, as in the case of this staggeringly misleading but representative Fox News story, that the 24-day wait applies even to known nuclear sites.

This certainly sounds scary. It sounds, as the critics often say, like those bumbling appeasers in the Obama administration have handed Iran the ability to cheat on the deal and then prevent inspectors from catching them.

Fortunately, this is all largely false. It’s a lot like “death panels,” in which Obamacare critics took a benign fact about the health-care bill — it would include end-of-life counseling — and then spun it up into a massive lie about how President Obama was going to cancel Granny’s life-sustaining medications and send her to an early grave. This is an issue on which nuclear deal critics have taken a small truth and then exaggerated, distorted, and outright lied about it to make it into something very different.

How the “24-day wait” lie came about

Article continues:

http://www.vox.com/2015/8/19/9176415/iran-deal-inspections-24-days

Pentagon to Add Drone Flights – By Gordon Lubold Aug. 16, 2015 7:40 p.m. ET


A General Atomics MQ-9 Reaper on a runway in California in July.

A General Atomics MQ-9 Reaper on a runway in California in July. Photo: patrick t. fallon/Reuters

The Pentagon plans to sharply expand the number of U.S. drone flights over the next four years, giving military commanders access to more intelligence and greater firepower to keep up with a sprouting number of global hot spots, a senior defense official said.

The plan to increase by 50% the number of daily drone flights would broaden surveillance and intelligence collection in such locales as Ukraine, Iraq, Syria, the South China Sea and North Africa, said the official, who provided exclusive details of the plan to The Wall Street Journal. It would be the first significant increase in the U.S. drone program since 2011, reflecting pressure on military efforts to address a cascading series of global crises.

While expanding surveillance, the Pentagon plan also grows the capacity for lethal airstrikes, the most controversial part of the U.S. drone program and its rapid growth under President Barack Obama . Strikes by unmanned aircraft have killed 3,000 people or more, based on estimates by nonpartisan groups.

The Air Force now flies most of the U.S. drone flights, including secret missions for the Central Intelligence Agency in Pakistan and Yemen. But the new plan would draw on the Army, as well as Special Operations Command and government contractors.

Demand for intelligence and surveillance missions by unmanned U.S. aircraft has grown over the past decade, from as few as five drone flights a day in 2004.

The Pentagon plan calls for expanding the current number of daily flights—measured in so-called combat air patrols—from 61 to as many as 90 by 2019.

Such drones as the MQ-1 Predator and its newer, longer-range cousin, the MQ-9 Reaper, provide real-time video to commanders and intelligence analysts who use the data to track and target militants and conduct surveillance.

 

Article continues:

http://www.wsj.com/articles/pentagon-to-add-drone-flights-1439768451

Arms race goes hypersonic – By PHILIP EWING 8/11/15 5:07 AM EDT Updated 8/11/15 5:07 AM EDT


The U.S. is competing with Russia and China to make weapons faster than ever before.

The Falcon HTV-2 hypersonic aircraft artists impression
Hypersonic Aircraft That Flies From New York City to Los Angeles In 12 minutes
A hypersonic aircraft that could fly from New York City to Los Angeles in less than 12 minutes is being tested.

The Falcon HTV-2 is an unmanned, rocket-launched, manoeuvrable aircraft that glides through the Earth's atmosphere at incredibly fast speeds - Mach 20 (approximately 13,000 miles per hour).

The super fast vehicle would pave the way for a futuristic arrowhead-shaped weapon able to deliver a conventional warhead anywhere in the world.

A second test flight of the vehicle, developed by the Pentagon-backed Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), was scheduled to launch on Wednesday from California's Vandenberg Air Force Base aboard a Minotaur IV Lite rocket, but has been rescheduled to Thursday due to unfavourable weather conditions.

HTV-2 flew its maiden flight on 22 Apr 2010, collecting nine minutes of unique flight data, including 139 seconds of Mach 22 to Mach 17 aerodynamic data. The flight was deliberately crashed as a safety measure due to technical difficulties.

The Falcon HTV-2 is designed to release from the nose of the Minotaur IV Lite rocket before shooting back to earth.

The goal of the second flight is to validate current assumptions and increase technical understanding of the hypersonic flight regime.

MUST CREDIT PICTURES BY
DARPA/ Rex Features
DM

For more information visit http://www.rexfeatures.com/stacklink/VERROVINP (Rex Features via AP Images)

The United States, Russia and China are waging a secret arms race that could soon usher in a new generation of high-speed weapons never before seen in warfare.

In one test, a missile built by Boeing flew more than 230 miles in just four minutes. In another, a prototype designed by Lockheed Martin blasted off like a rocket and streaked back through the atmosphere at more than 20 times the speed of sound. China has reportedly tested its version over a lake in Inner Mongolia. And in February, Russia joined the fray when it tested a model that intelligence experts assert could be designed to carry a nuclear warhead.

Such hypersonic weapons, intended to attack targets many times faster than the speed of sound — before a defender could even react — have become the newest hope for military commanders seeking to gain an edge over potential adversaries. While most details and the level of funding remains classified, some predict they could be perfected within the next five years.

Critics both inside and outside of the military fear these futuristic missiles could be dangerously destabilizing, but Congress is pushing to accelerate development of these weapons. The missiles could render obsolete even the most advanced missiles defenses and provide a new means to deliver nuclear warheads, prompting some to call for an outright ban.

“We’re just doing it because maybe we can, and because others can too, and people are deluded that it represents some kind of major advance that we can exploit to keep the Chinese or Russian menace at bay,” said physicist Mark Gubrud, a professor in the Curriculum of Peace, War and Defense at the University of North Carolina.

“I think serious strategic thought leads to the conclusion that we would be much better off using our narrow lead to induce others to join us in a moratorium and banning these things,” he said.

Those who are are sounding the alarm, including some members of the military itself, will have to turn the tide of growing enthusiasm. As one senior Pentagon weapons scientist recently assured Congress, hypersonic weapons “will provide us an advantage in a contested environment in the future.” A top missile-builder, Raytheon, calls hypersonic weapons “the new frontier of the missile business.” And new legislation working its way through Congress, which seems firmly on board, urges the Pentagon to step up development, including seeking new ways to defend against hypersonic missiles.

The supposed difficulty of defeating a hypersonic attack is central to its appeal. For example, American commanders worried that an adversary could keep American warships or aircraft well away from contested areas like the idea of launching an attack from thousands of miles away.

“That’s really the future,” Steven Walker, deputy director of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, told the Senate Appropriations Committee this spring. 

Security News This Week: The Pentagon Got Hacked While You Were at Def Con – YAEL GRAUER 08.09.15.


SECURITY NEWS THIS WEEK: THE PENTAGON GOT HACKED WHILE YOU WERE AT DEF CON

But of course, the rest of the security world doesn’t stop for security conferences. So whether you were braving the long lines in Vegas or following along at home, here’s the big news that happened in the rest of the world that you should know about this week. As always, to read the full story linked in each post, click on the headlines. And be safe out there!

Did Russia Hack the Pentagon?

The Pentagon’s Joint Staff email system—luckily unclassified—was hacked, and Russia may be the culprit, at least according to anonymous US officials cited by NBC News. The anonymous officials say the intrusion took place around July 25th and affected around 4,000 Joint Chiefs of Staff personnel (both military and civilian). It’s not entirely clear why the attack is being attributed to Russia. The Pentagon responded by shutting down the entire unclassified email system and internet during the investigation. The system has been shut down for around two weeks.

Firefox Exploit Found in the Wild

Time to upgrade to the latest version of Firefox, now that a critical zero-day vulnerability was found in the wild. The exploit, which was served in an advertisement on a Russian news site, lets attackers create malicious PDF files that inject JavaScript code into local files. The attacker can search for, read, and steal sensitive files—including password and key data—on the victims’ computers. The exploit, which leaves no trace when it has run on a local machine, targets Windows and Linux machines. (Changing the affected passwords and keys would be wise.) Mozilla released emergency security updates on Friday. They’re available for Mac users, too.

Article continues:

http://www.wired.com/2015/08/security-news-week-pentagon-got-hacked-def-con/

The Greatest Threat to America – By Paul D. Shinkman Aug 2015


American flags burn in a flag retirement ceremony on Saturday, Oct. 18, 2014, at Phil Moore Park in Bowling Green, Ky. Matthew Vance of Troop 108 collected about 80 flags to retire as his Eagle Scout project.

In the modern world, dangers against Americans abound.

U.S. decision-makers are confronted with myriad complex issues, including the Islamic State group and “lone-wolf” terrorists, China, cyber attacks from unknown hackers, al-Qaida, cyber attacks from known hackers, Iran, domestic budget cuts, North Korea, climate change, drug cartels straddling its borders, and Russia’s continued ability to reduce the North American continent to a radioactive crisp.

The job of commander-in-chief has perhaps never been more difficult, and public disagreement among the president’s top advisers gives the appearance to those outside the White House Situation Room that top U.S. national security infrastructure doesn’t know where to start.

[READ: Meet the New Joint Chiefs of Staff]

July saw top officials from across the government asked publicly what they believed served as the greatest threat facing the U.S. Their responses gave insight into the most closely guarded meetings within the executive branch where the commander-in-chief and his top lieutenants cannot settle for anything less than accurately anticipating the future. It’s a job the U.S. has never quite perfected, and it is perhaps more difficult now than ever.

“You’re hearing a cacophony of views, because it’s almost unpredictable,” says Barry Pavel, a former senior national security adviser to presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush, and longtime Pentagon policy official. He cites, for example, the “fantastical scenario” a decade ago that the Russian military would act belligerently and march on a foreign country. What may have been considered a fringe forecast turns out to have been pretty accurate.

“It does reflect that there’s no single overriding existential threat to the U.S. as there was during the Cold War,” says Samuel “Sandy” Berger, the national security adviser to President Bill Clinton until 2001. And during that time, the U.S. and the Soviet Union each knew roughly how many missiles the other had. “It was an easy framework to think about.”

So how to prepare for a far more complex world? It became a favored question of Sen. Joe Manchin last month. The West Virginia Democrat exploited a time of almost unprecedented turnover among the Joint Chiefs of Staff to grill the nation’s new top officers about what they fear most.

“My assessment today, senator, is that Russia presents the greatest threat to our national security,” came a snappy answer from Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford, in his nomination hearing. His characteristic clarity surprised some, who figured the infantry commander who earned his combat chops in Iraq and Afghanistan might prioritize Islamic extremism or the cauldron of violence that now serves as much of the Middle East.

“In Russia, we have a nuclear power,” the general responded to Manchin’s request for further details. “We have one that not only has capability to violate sovereignty of our allies to do things that are inconsistent with our national interests, but they’re in the process of doing so.”

Article continues:

http://www.usnews.com/news/the-report/articles/2015/08/07/the-greatest-threat-to-america?int=a14709