Pentagon says the US military is sending air assets to help Indonesia look for its missing submarine

indonesian submarine
The Indonesian submarine with 53 people aboard is feared to have sunk about 60 miles off the northern coast of Bali Island on early Wednesday after losing contact.

  • The Pentagon announced it is sending air assets to search for Indonesia’s missing submarine.
  • A desperate search has been underway since the the KRI Nanggala-402 disappeared during training.
  • A number of other countries around the world have offered assistance as well.

The US military is sending air assets to help Indonesia search for a naval submarine that has been missing since it failed to check in Wednesday morning, the Pentagon said.

“We are deeply saddened by the news of Indonesia’s lost submarine, and our thoughts are with the Indonesian sailors and their families,” Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said in a statement Thursday evening.

“At the invitation of the Indonesian government, we are sending airborne assets to assist in the search for the missing submarine,” he said.

He added that Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin has plans to speak with his Indonesian counterpart Friday “to discuss how else the United States can be of assistance.”

Indonesia’s diesel-powered submarine KRI Nanggala-402 disappeared during a training exercise Wednesday with 53 people, more than the boat is built to carry, on board. It is unclear at this time what the exact status of the missing submarine is.

The Indonesian navy has said it believes that the submarine, a 1,400-ton vessel made by Germany in the late 1970s and refitted in 2012, may have sunk to a depth of roughly 2,000 feet, putting the vessel beyond the reach and possibly past the point where the hull can withstand the crushing pressure of the water around it.

Bryan Clark, a former US Navy submarine officer and current defense expert at the Hudson Institute, told Insider that “if a small diesel submarine like the Indonesian one goes down in 2,000 feet of water, it is unlikely to survive” given that it is well beyond the vessel’s maximum depth.

But, on the chance that this is not the case and it has survived, the search is a race against time given that the vessel will run out of oxygen by early Saturday morning. The boat only had 72 hours of breathable air available.

The US is not the only country that has offered to help. France, Germany, Russia, Turkey, South Korea, and India have also offered assistance.

Read the original article on Business Insider

US troops in Syria seem to be getting hit with directed-energy attacks, and the Pentagon suspects Russia is doing it, report says

Army soldiers Syria Bradley fighting vehicle
US soldiers in Syria.

  • There have been suspected directed-energy attacks on US troops, Politico reported.
  • The Defense Department has reportedly been investigating suspected attacks since last year.
  • Troops appeared to be mysteriously falling ill in Syria, and the Pentagon suspects Russia.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

The US is investigating what appears to be directed-energy attacks on US troops, and the Pentagon suspects Russia is behind them, Politico reported.

Four national-security officials involved in the investigation told Politico that the Department of Defense has been investigating the incidents of suspected attacks since last year.

Two sources told Politico that this included incidents in Syria, where troops developed flu-like symptoms last fall.

Politico also reported that the Defense Department has briefed lawmakers on intelligence about the suspected attacks.

But a Pentagon spokesperson told Politico that the Defense Department wasn’t aware of directed-energy attacks against troops in Syria.

Directed-energy attacks involve directing energy towards a particular target, and could involve methods like lasers. It can involve directing microwave energy towards people, which harms people’s health.

US officials in Cuba, China, and Russia have previously become mysteriously sick, and studies have pointed to microwave radiation as the main suspect.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Bernie Sanders expresses ‘serious concerns’ over Biden proposal for modest increase in Pentagon spending

GettyImages 1208705094
Sen. Bernie Sanders said he has “serious concerns” about the Biden administration’s defense spending proposal.

  • The Biden administration is asking Congress for $753 billion to fund US military operations.
  • That’s a slight uptick over last year.
  • Sen. Bernie Sanders said he has “serious concerns” about spending money on a “bloated Pentagon.”
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

The Biden administration is requesting $753 billion in spending on the US military in its first, $1.5 trillion budget blueprint, disappointing progressives and prompting “serious concerns” from the chairman of the Senate committee that will ultimately decide just how much to appropriate.

In a proposal released Friday, the White House requested a 1.7% increase in national security spending, including $715 billion for the Department of Defense. Accounting for inflation, that is roughly the same amount that Congress approved in 2020.

But liberal Democrats had been hoping for more. Last year, members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus pushed for a 10% cut in defense spending, arguing that the money – over half of US discretionary spending – could be put to better use funding social programs, especially amid a pandemic.

‘A budget is about priorities’

Sen. Bernie Sanders said the request bothered him.

“I have serious concerns,” Sanders, an independent from Vermont who chairs the Senate Budget Committee, said in a statement Friday. “At a time when the US already spends more on the military than the next 12 nations combined, it is time for us to take a serious look at the massive cost over-runs, the waste and fraud that currently exists in the Pentagon.”

That concern was echoed by Sanders’ liberal colleague, Massachusetts Democrat Elizabeth Warren, at a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing in February.

“A budget is about priorities, and we continue to overinvest in defense while underinvesting in public health and so much more that would keep us safe and that would save lives,” Warren said.

That comment came during questioning of Dr. Kathleen Hicks, the Biden administration’s pick for deputy secretary of defense. Hicks, for her part, said the Pentagon could get by on less money, but that would require “hard choices” the White House does not appear willing to tackle in its first spending proposal.

In 2020, the Pentagon failed its audit for the third year in a row. It does not expect to pass a comprehensive review of its assets until at least 2027.

Biden administration defends proposal

A White House official, speaking on background with reporters on Friday, sought to assuage progressive critics.

“A large chunk of that increase is to pay for the pay raise for men and women in uniform and the civilians that support them,” they said.

According to the federal formula for military pay increases, service members should expect a 2.7% increase in their salary, the Military Times reported last December.

The Biden administration will release a more detailed spending proposal in the coming months.

Have a news tip? Email this reporter:

Read the original article on Business Insider

The Tom Cruise deepfakes were hard to create. But less sophisticated ‘shallowfakes’ are already wreaking havoc

tom cruise BURBANK, CA - JANUARY 30: Tom Cruise onstage during the 10th Annual Lumiere Awards at Warner Bros. Studios on January 30, 2019 in Burbank. (Photo by Michael Kovac/Getty Images for Advanced Imaging Society)
  • The convincing Tom Cruise deepfakes that went viral last month took lots of skill to create.
  • But less sophisticated “shallowfakes” and other synthetic media are already creating havoc.
  • DARPA’s AI experts mapped out how hard it would be to create these emerging types of fake media.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

The coiffed hair, the squint, the jaw clench, and even the signature cackle – it all looks and sounds virtually indistinguishable from the real Tom Cruise.

But the uncanny lookalikes that went viral on TikTok last month under the handle @deeptomcruise were deepfakes, a collaboration between Belgian visual-effects artist Chris Ume and Tom Cruise impersonator Miles Fisher.

The content was entertaining and harmless, with the fake Cruise performing magic tricks, practicing his golf swing, and indulging in a Bubble Pop. Still, the videos – which have racked up an average of 5.6 million views each – reignited people’s fears about the dangers of the most cutting-edge type of fake media.

“Deepfakes seem to tap into a really visceral part of people’s minds,” Henry Ajder, a UK-based deepfakes expert, told Insider.

“When you watch that Tom Cruise deepfake, you don’t need an analogy because you’re seeing it with your own two eyes and you’re being kind of fooled even though you know it’s not real,” he said. “Being fooled is a very intimate experience. And if someone is fooled by a deepfake, it makes them sit up and pay attention.”

Read more: What is a deepfake? Everything you need to know about the AI-powered fake media

The good news: it’s really hard to make such a convincing deepfake. It took Ume two months to train the AI-powered tool that generated the deepfakes, 24 hours to edit each minute-long video, and a talented human impersonator to mimic the hair, body shape, mannerisms, and voice, according to The New York Times.

The bad news: it won’t be that hard for long, and major advances in the technology in recent years have unleashed a wave of apps and free tools that enable people with few skills or resources to create increasingly good deepfakes.

Nina Schick, a deepfake expert and former advisor to Joe Biden, told Insider this “rapid commodification of the technology” is already is wreaking havoc.

“Are you just really concerned about the high-fidelity side of this? Absolutely not,” Shick said, adding that working at the intersection of geopolitics and technology has taught her that “it doesn’t have to be terribly sophisticated for it to be effective and do damage.”

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is well aware of this diverse landscape, and its Media Forensics (MediFor) team is working alongside private sector researchers to develop tools that can detect manipulated media, including deepfakes as well cheapfakes and shallowfakes.

As part of its research, DARPA’s MediFor team mapped out different types of synthetic media – and the level of skill and resources an individual, group, or an adversarial country would need to create it.

MediFor threat landscape.pptx

Hollywood-level productions – like those in “Star Wars: Rogue One” or “The Irishman” – require lots of resources and skill to create, even though they typically aren’t AI-powered (though Disney is experimenting with deepfakes). On the other end of the scale, bad actors with little training have used simple video-editing techniques to make House Speaker Nancy Pelosi appear drunk and incite violence in Ivory Coast, South Sudan, Kenya, and Burma.

Shick said the Facebook-fueled genocide against Rohingya Muslims also relied mostly on these so-called “cheapfakes” and “shallowfakes” – synthetic or manipulated media altered using less advanced, non-AI tools.

But deepfakes aren’t just being used to spread political misinformation, and experts told Insider ordinary people may have the most to lose if they become a target.

Last month, a woman was arrested in Pennsylvania and charged with cyber harassment on suspicion of making deepfake videos of teen cheerleaders naked and smoking, in an attempt to get them kicked off her daughter’s squad.

“It’s almost certain that we’re going to see some kind of porn version of this app,” Shick said. In a recent op-ed in Wired, she and Ajder wrote about a bot Ajder helped discover on Telegram that turned 100,000 user-provided photos of women and underage children into deepfake porn – and how app developers need to take proactive steps to prevent this kind of abuse.

Experts told Insider they’re particularly concerned about these types of cases because the victims often lack the money and status to set the record straight.

“The celebrity porn [deepfakes] have already come out, but they have the resources to protect themselves … the PR team, the legal team … millions of supporters,” Shick said. “What about everyone else?”

As with most new technologies, from facial recognition to social media to COVID-19 vaccines, women, people of color, and other historically marginalized groups tend to be disproportionately the victims of abuse and bias stemming from their use.

To counter the threat posed by deepfakes, experts say society needs a multipronged approach that includes government regulation, proactive steps by technology and social media companies, and public education about how to think critically and navigate our constantly evolving information ecosystem.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Ted Cruz backed Tucker Carlson in his fight with the US military, accusing senior officers of a left-wing campaign to ‘intimidate’ the Fox host

Ted Cruz
Sen. Ted Cruz.

  • Sen. Ted Cruz accused military chiefs of seeking to “intimidate” Fox News’ Tucker Carlson.
  • The Pentagon excoriated Carlson last week after he mocked the military’s provisions for pregnant women.
  • Cruz accused the Pentagon of being politicized and demanded a meeting with top officials.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas claimed that the US military is launching “political attacks to intimidate” Fox News host Tucker Carlson, and has demanded a meeting with top military officials to discuss the issue.

In a letter posted on Twitter and addressed to Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, Cruz accused the Pentagon of launching “systematic, public attacks against television host Tucker Carlson” in the last week “that in substance, tone, and political resonance are inexplicably inappropriate.”

Cruz in the letter accused the military of undermining its neutrality in domestic political debates “for the sake of left-wing ideology and political expediency.”

“This spectacle risks politicizing the military after several centuries of efforts to keep military officials out of domestic affairs,” he wrote in his letter. “This kind of behavior, while perhaps typical in a military-controlled Third World country, is completely unacceptable in the United States of America.”

Last summer, Cruz had defended then-President Donald Trump’s threat to deploy US troops to quell domestic anti-racism protests, in what was widely decried as a violation of the US military’s political neutrality.

Cruz’s intervention in Carlson’s rift with the Pentagon came Carlson used his top-rated Fox News show to taunt the military over new flight suits for pregnant servicewomen, accusing the Biden administration of seeking to make the US military “more feminine” and claimed that “pregnant women are going to fight our wars.”

“The bottom line is it’s out of control, and the Pentagon’s going along with this. Again, this is a mockery of the US military and its core mission, which is winning wars,” Carlson said.

The comments were swiftly condemned by Pentagon spokesman John Kirby, as well as serving and former US service members.

“What we absolutely won’t do is take personnel advice from a talk show host,” Kirby said in a statement.

Sen. Tammy Duckworth, an Iraq War veteran, also tweeted: “F— Tucker Carlson.

Over the weekend a US Marine force Twitter account withdrew a tweet that pushed back against Carlson’s comments, and issued an apology. The now-deleted tweet, addressed to Carlson, said: “Get right before you get left, boomer.”

The II Marine Expeditionary Force apologized on Twitter on Saturday, saying: “We are human and we messed up. We intended to speak up for female Marines and it was an effort to support them. They are a crucial part to our corps and we need them to know that. We will adjust fire and ensure the utmost professionalism in our tweets.”

Read the original article on Business Insider

Trump’s own Pentagon chief says rioters wouldn’t have stormed the Capitol if it hadn’t been for the president’s speech

capitol siege trump supporters
US Capitol siege in Washington DC on January 6, 2021.

  • Trump’s acting defense secretary spoke out about the role of his Jan. 6 speech in the Capitol riot.
  • Chris Miller said no one would have tried to overrun the Capitol if it weren’t for that speech.
  • Trump was impeached and tried for inciting the Jan. 6 riot. The Senate acquitted him.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

The man who was leading the Pentagon on Jan. 6 says that rioters would not have stormed the Capitol if it hadn’t been for President Donald Trump’s speech beforehand.

Asked if he thought Trump was responsible for what unfolded at the Capitol, then-Acting Secretary of Defense Chris Miller told Vice News that the situation appears to be “cause and effect.”

“Would anybody have marched on the Capitol, and tried to overrun the Capitol, without the president’s speech? I think it’s pretty much definitive that wouldn’t have happened.”

Shortly before a pro-Trump mob descended on the Capitol complex, Trump spread falsehoods about the 2020 presidential election and told a large crowd of his supporters that “if you don’t fight like hell, you’re not going to have a country anymore.”

Trump encouraged the crowd to march over to the Capitol make their voices heard, telling them that they have to be strong because “you’ll never take back our country with weakness.”

Amid that aggressive rhetoric, Trump said that demonstrations and protests of congressional efforts to certify Joe Biden’s victory in the presidential election should be peaceful and patriotic. What followed was far from peaceful, though, and has been described as an “insurrection” as rioters sought to stop the election certification and tried to find top lawmakers and even Vice President Mike Pence.

Rioters were already inside the Capitol by the time Trump finally urged his supporters to go home.

Five people were killed during the riot, including one Capitol Police officer, and numerous others were injured when rioters violently forced their way into the Capitol.

Miller said that some of Trump’s comments were “concerning” in his interview with Vice News. “The question is, did he know he was enraging people to do that? I don’t know,” he said.

Trump was impeached for the second time in his one term by the House of Representatives for “incitement of insurrection” in January. He was, however, acquitted by the Senate.

Miller, who became the acting secretary of defense after Trump fired Mark Esper in November, has faced criticism for the military’s delayed reaction to riot. He has described such criticisms as “complete horses–t.”

Maj. Gen. William Walker, the commanding general of the DC National Guard, recently told Congress that he could have had roughly 150 Guard troops at the Capitol within about 20 minutes of the request for support, but it took over three hours for him to get approval from senior military leaders.

Miller again rejected criticisms of his response to the riot at the Capitol during his chat with Vice News. The former Pentagon chief also indicated that there was no external pressure from the president regarding the response to the riot, and he said that he was not worried about an illegal order.

He did say, though, that there were a number of things during his time as the acting defense secretary that made him look closely at his “ethical, moral, and legal red lines.”

“I knew that I was not going to cross any of those lines, and if asked, I would resign,” he told Vice News. “If it’s antithetical to the Constitution or the Uniform Code of Military Justice, it is an illegal order and you don’t follow it.”

Read the original article on Business Insider

Pentagon tells Tucker Carlson it won’t take advice from a talk-show host after he complained Biden is making military ‘more feminine’

Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby speaks at press conference at the Pentagon
Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby at the Pentagon.

  • The Pentagon expressed disgust following Fox News host Tucker Carlson’s recent comments.
  • Carlson recently claimed Biden is making a “mockery” of the military by making it “more feminine.”
  • The top Pentagon spokesman said the military won’t be taking advice from a talk-show host.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

The top Pentagon spokesman said Thursday that the defense secretary is disgusted by Fox News host Tucker Carlson’s comments claiming that President Joe Biden is making the military “more feminine” and that doing so is a “mockery.”

Speaking to reporters during an off-camera discussion at the Pentagon, Pentagon spokesman John Kirby characterized Carlson’s recent remarks as “ridiculous,” adding that the Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin “shares the revulsion of so many others to what Mr. Carlson said.”

“We still have a lot of work to do to make our military more inclusive,” he said, according to reporters present. “What we absolutely won’t do is take personnel advice from a talk-show host or the Chinese military.”

Kirby added that “maybe those people think they have something to prove.”

Following Biden’s remarks on International Women’s Day highlighting efforts to make the military more accommodating for women service members, Carlson accused the president of feminizing the US armed forces while overlooking other pressing challenges, like China.

“So we’ve got new hairstyles and maternity flight suits,” Carlson said. “Pregnant women are going to fight our wars. It’s a mockery of the US military.”

Carlson added that “while China’s military becomes more masculine as it’s assembled the world’s largest navy, our military needs to become, as Joe Biden says, more feminine.”

Several Army generals, as well as the Sergeant Major of the Army, the service’s top enlisted member, have called out Carlson, arguing that he “couldn’t be more wrong” about women in the military.

Carlson also faced backlash from other parts of the military, to include US Space Command Senior Enlisted Leader Master Gunnery Sgt. Scott Stalker, who called Carlson’s comments “drama TV.”

“I’ll remind everyone that his opinion, which he has a right to, is based off of actually zero days of service in the armed forces,” Stalker said.

Insider reached out to Fox News for comment on or clarification of Carlson’s comments but has not yet received a response.

Disclosure: This reporter previously worked for the Daily Caller News Foundation, a non-profit news organization affiliated with Tucker Carlson.

Read the original article on Business Insider

The Pentagon is looking for a new way to check social media to prevent extremist behavior in the military

Capitol siege
Supporters of President Donald Trump wearing gas masks and military-style apparel inside the Rotunda after breaching the US Capitol building, January 6, 2021.

  • The Defense Department says it “is examining a scalable means” to screen social media as a part of background checks.
  • The statement, included in recently distributed training materials, indicates plans for a much more aggressive and methodical approach to monitoring troops’ social media, one expert said.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

The Pentagon is looking for a new way to screen social media as part of its background check process, in an effort to prevent extremist behavior in the ranks.

The Defense Department “is examining a scalable means of implementing social media screening in conjunction with background investigations,” Pentagon officials said in suggested training materials distributed for a stand-down to discuss extremism. The military-wide pause in operations was ordered by Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin.

The reference appears in a “common questions and answers” section, in which the Pentagon anticipated troops might ask about checking social media belonging to service members, civilian DoD employees and prospective recruits.

The suggested response notes that when service members and DoD civilians submit an SF-86 form to begin a background investigation process, they consent to having their publicly available social media information reviewed. The FBI now screens social media for extremism and criminal activity, the document states.

But Anthony Kuhn, an attorney with the law firm Tully Rinckey who specializes in security clearance issues, said in an interview Tuesday that the Pentagon’s statement indicates it plans to take a much more aggressive and methodical approach to monitoring troops’ social media in the wake of the January 6 ransacking of the Capitol by a violent mob.

The military doesn’t really have a formal process for doing so now, he said. Typically, a service member draws attention for extremist or other problematic social media posts after a third party sees them and alerts the military.

capitol siege trump suporters
Trump supporters inside the US Capitol, January 6, 2021.

Kuhn said he represents several people who have had their security clearances jeopardized due in part to social media posts, so the military does look at it in at least some cases. But he added that the momentum for doing so will probably keep growing.

Troops are allowed to have and express their own political opinions, Kuhn said, as long as they follow certain guidelines, such as not doing so on duty or in uniform.

But the training materials spell out how service members’ activities can run afoul of the military’s standards, such as by advocating for violence or sedition against the government.

Service members are not allowed to “actively advocat[e] supremacist, extremist or criminal gang doctrine, ideology and causes,” the training materials state. They also cannot actively participate in organizations that “advance, encourage or advocate illegal discrimination based on race, creed, color, sex, religion, ethnicity or national origin,” or “the use of force, violence or criminal activity” to deprive people of their civil rights.

Extremist groups often try to recruit current or former service members for their skills and to gain legitimacy for their cause, according to the training materials.

“It’s about extremist ideology, and that can take many forms,” Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby said in a gaggle with reporters Tuesday. “It’s not just about white supremacy, but about extremist ideologies, including [those of] a criminal nature.”

In the new Pentagon training materials, officials said that, while troops have First Amendment rights to speak freely and assemble peaceably, the military must still assess their character, honesty, discretion, judgment and trustworthiness when deciding whether they are reliable enough to have access to classified or sensitive information.

Actions that could disqualify service members include supporting, being involved or associating with, or expressing sympathy for those attempting, training for, or advocating sabotage, espionage, treason, terrorism or sedition against the United States, the training documents state.

national guard dc
National Guard members on the US Capitol grounds on February 13, 2021.

Those who associate or sympathize with people or organizations seeking to use force, violence, or other illegal or unconstitutional means to overthrow the federal or state government; prevent federal, state or local government personnel from performing their official duties; to gain retribution for perceived wrongs caused by the government; or to prevent other from exercising their legal or constitutional rights, could also find themselves disqualified, according to the training materials.

“Any doubt is resolved in favor of the national security,” officials said.

Kuhn said the Pentagon’s language suggests it might add social media checks to its continuous evaluation process, which already uses computers and investigators to track clearance holders and flag any financial trouble, criminal arrests, or emerging drug or alcohol problems.

Tracking violations of DoD regulations’ Guideline A, which requires “allegiance to the United States,” has been difficult to monitor, he said.

“That could be anything from liking a comment on a social media post that’s buried somewhere on the internet, all the way through openly advocating violence against the government or a government official,” Kuhn said. “They’re trying to figure out a system to track that kind of behavior, those types of red flags. Right now, there isn’t one.”

Service members who like and interact with posts by extremist groups such as the Three Percenters, a paramilitary organization that opposes federal government intervention in local affairs, could find that activity flagged by screening, Kuhn said.

Due process still applies, and the service member wouldn’t automatically lose their clearance, he said, but there would likely be an investigation.

“I think that’s going to be very common, moving forward,” Kuhn said.

Three Percenters
A member of the AAF III% militia folds the American flag after a rally at the Indiana Statehouse in Indianapolis.

This could mean automated scanning of accounts on Facebook or Twitter, or even sites such as Parler that do not ban users who post extremist content, he added.

And while the military could start by only periodically reviewing social media posts when troops need background checks, Kuhn said he expects that, before long, it would be expanded into a practice of real-time monitoring to catch whether troops are involved in emerging threats.

“They will be using whatever technology they have available to them at this point to be able to monitor, in real time, social media posts and groups they have concerns about,” he said. “I’m sure they’ve already started” working on a continuous monitoring system after the shock of the January 6 Capitol attack, and the apparently disproportionately large number of rioters with military backgrounds.

Kuhn also expects that background investigations or periodic reinvestigations for renewals of security clearances will include closer looks at social media.

– Stephen Losey can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @StephenLosey.

Read the original article on Business Insider

DC National Guard commander says it took more than 3 hours for Trump’s Pentagon to tell him to send in troops to respond to the Capitol riot

National Guard troops assemble outside of the U.S. Capitol on January 16, 2021 in Washington, DC
National Guard troops assemble outside of the U.S. Capitol on January 16, 2021 in Washington, DC

  • The DC National Guard commander says that the Pentagon dragged its feet responding to the Capitol riot.
  • He said he could have had roughly 150 troops at the Capitol in 20 minutes if he had gotten approval.
  • He said he did not receive approval to deploy troops to the Capitol until almost 3 hours after an initial request.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

The commander of the DC National Guard said Wednesday that it took military leaders in former President Donald Trump’s Pentagon three hours from the time Capitol Police called for backup to tell him to send in troops to respond to the Jan. 6 assault on the US Capitol by a pro-Trump mob.

Maj. Gen. William Walker, the commanding general of the DC National Guard, told senators at a congressional hearing Wednesday that shortly after receiving a call for support, he was ready to send roughly 150 Guard troops to the Capitol. He said they could have been there in about 20 minutes, but he needed approval from Pentagon leadership.

At 1:49 pm on Jan. 6, “I received a frantic call from then Chief of US Capitol Police Steven Sund, where he informed me that the security perimeter at the Capitol had been breached by hostile rioters,” he said.

In his testimony, Walker recalled that “Sund, his voice cracking with emotion, indicated that there was a dire emergency on Capitol Hill and requested the immediate assistance of as many Guardsmen as I could muster.”

capitol siege trump supporters
US Capitol siege in Washington DC on January 6, 2021.

Walker said that he immediately relayed the request for National Guard support to senior Army leadership and quickly readied available forces.

He did not get approval to deploy Guard troops from Army leadership until 5:08 pm, hours after the violent mob had breached the Capitol. He said that once he finally received approval, he was able to get troops to the Capitol in 18 minutes.

The commanding general said that he had troops “ready to go shortly after the phone call” at 1:49 pm, but while he was ready to respond, he had to wait for approval.

Asked about the potential impact of those Guard forces had they been deployed sooner, Walker said they “could have made a difference,” adding that they “could have extended the perimeter and helped push back the crowd.”

The Pentagon’s timeline of events on Jan. 6 states that although acting Secretary of Defense Chris Miller approved the full activation of the DC National Guard at 3:04 pm, the decision to authorize already available DC Guard troops to move in to support Capitol Police was not made until 4:32 pm.

That timeline shows that troops already available to respond did not depart the National Guard Armory to support Capitol Police until after 5 pm.

Capitol seige invasion trump mob congress
Rioters clash with police while entering the Capitol building through the front doors.

A Department of Defense official who testified before Congress on Wednesday was unable to explain why it took over half an hour for someone to notify the DC Guard commander.

The defense official, Robert G. Salesses, a senior official performing the duties of the assistant secretary for homeland defense and global security, acknowledged that the communications breakdown was a “problem.”

Acting Defense Secretary Miller, a last-minute Trump administration appointee, told Vanity Fair in January that allegations that the Pentagon dragged its feet responding to the Capitol riot were “complete horse—t.”

“I know for an absolute fact that historians are going to look…at the actions that we did on that day and go, ‘Those people had their game together,'” he said.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Biden orders airstrikes against infrastructure used by ‘Iranian-backed militant groups’ in Syria

GettyImages 956528932
A F18 Hornet fighter jet prepares to land on the deck of the US navy aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman in the eastern Mediterranean Sea on May 8, 2018

  • The US launched airstrikes Thursday night against “Iranian-backed militant groups” in Syria.
  • The Defense Department said the strikes were carried out at the direction of President Joe Biden.
  • The strikes came after rocket attacks targeting US forces in Iraq.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

US President Joe Biden ordered the military to carry out airstrikes against the assets of “Iranian-backed militant groups” in Syria on Thursday evening, the Pentagon said in a statement.

The strikes come after militants last week fired rockets that hit an Iraqi airbase used by the US military. That attack killed a US military contractor and wounded nine others.

The Iranian government supports a number of militant groups in Iraq and Syria and has pledged continued retaliation for the January 2020 killing of its general, Qassim Suleimani. That assassination came after Iraqi militant groups, days earlier, had killed another US military contractor in a rocket attack.

Thursday’s strikes, according to defense officials, were primarily aimed at the militants’ “infrastructure,” not necessarily their personnel.

“Specifically, the strikes destroyed multiple facilities located at a border control point used by a number of Iranian-backed militant groups, including Kait’ib Hezbollah (KH) and Kait’ib Sayyid al-Shuhada (KSS),” the Pentagon said. The groups have deployed in Syria to support the regime of Bashar al-Assad, a close ally of Tehran.

“The operation sends an unambiguous message: President Biden will act to protect American and Coalition personnel. At the same time, we have acted in a deliberate manner that aims to de-escalate the overall situation in both eastern Syria and Iraq.”

The incident comes as the Biden administration is also seeking to engage Iran in diplomacy as part of an effort to restore the 2015 nuclear deal scuttled by former President Donald Trump. Last week, the US State Department said it would attend multiparty talks “to discuss a diplomatic way forward on Iran’s nuclear program.”

Have a news tip? Email this reporter:

Read the original article on Business Insider