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DoD Deploys Mattis To Demilitarized Zone To Stare North Korea Into Submission
Secretary of Defense James Mattis ostensibly traveled to South Korea to lay the groundwork President Donald Trump’s upcoming first official visit to Asia: “Our goal is not war,” the Pentagon chief told reporters on Oct. 27. But everything about his visit to the demilitarized zone separating North Korea from South came with a less-than subtle subtext: Don’t fuck with me.
“We’re doing everything we can to solve this diplomatically — everything we can,” Mattis said after descending from a Black Hawk helicopter at Panmunjom, the “truce village” where the uneasy ceasefire between North and South Korea was finalized in July 1953. The U.S. goal, said Mattis, isn’t armed conflict, “but rather the complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.”
But Mattis’ trip to the 38th parallel seems to say otherwise: Just look at these photos of the former Marine general staring down North Korean border guards after declaring the regime in Pyongyang an “oppressive regime that shackles its people, denying their freedom, their welfare and their human dignity.”
Mattis: "I could kill you right now and nobody would suspect a thing."Photo via DoD
Nothing fancy, just Mattis doing 3/4 of a perfect parade rest while casually conversing with a U.S. Forces-Korea staff officerPhoto via DoD
Mattis: "That's a subpar knife hand, but I'll allow it."Photo via DoD
The face of doom.
Diplomacy, Mattis told reporters on Oct. 25, needs a credible threat of force behind it. “Ultimately, our diplomats have to be backed up by strong soldiers and sailors, airmen and Marines, so they speak from a position of strength, of combined strength, of alliance strength, shoulder to shoulder,” he said, adding that North Korea’s “provocations continue to threaten regional and global security.”
Mattis’ comments cap off weeks of slow, steady military build-up as tensions between the U.S. and North Korea once again soar.
On Oct. 25, the Navy announced the retasking of the USS Nimitz aircraft carrier to the Korean peninsula after completing its mission as part of Operation Inherent Resolve against ISIS in Iraq and Syria in the Middle East. That means that three U.S. carrier groups will be operating in the Pacific for the first time in more than a decade. On Oct. 23, the Air Force announced it would deploy a dozen brand-new F35A fighters to Okinawa in “early November,” a move “designed to demonstrate the continuing U.S. commitment to stability and security in the region,” the branch said. And On Oct. 16, the nuclear submarine USS Michigan stopped off in the South Korean city of Busan for a “routine port visit,” outfitted with two silos for SEAL Delivery Vehicles — and raising the spectre of a “decapitation strike” that’s had Kim Jong Un shaking in his boots for months.
It’s not just U.S. Pacific Command rattling its sabers. On Oct. 19, South Korean officials unveiled a brand new, three-layer attack strategy based around — I shit you not — a surface-to-surface “Frankenmissile” that’s “powerful enough to destroy North Korea’s underground military facilities and command center,” according to the Korean Herald.
The “three tier missile attack plan,” as The War Zone succinctly described it on Oct. 26, is “to present North Korea with the threat of rapidly losing much of its ballistic missiles, nuclear weapons, and long-range artillery capabilities, which the South Korean Army said would be ‘unbearable costs’ for Kim Jong-un’s regime.”
Those reports capture South Korea’s significant reinvestment in its own defensive and first-strike capabilities, beyond the protective resources the of U.S. military in the region. Even a U.S. surgical strike on North Korean command-and-control facilities (or a “decapitation” strike against regime leadership) could likely trigger retaliatory artillery strikes from the North, causing potentially thousands of daily casualties in the South. Officials in Seoul are clearly planning to prevent that. “We would use those three types of missiles as the first salvo of the missile strike and concentrate them during the initial phase of war to destroy North Korea’s long-range artillery units and missiles located in ballistic missile operating area,” Korean Army officials wrote, per The Korea Herald.
All of this is, well, pretty sweet. Let’s just hope PACOM doesn’t decide to call in Mike Pence for reinforcements.
29 years after Desert Storm, an Air Force general says we’ve forgotten the lessons that made it so successful
When Air Force Gen. Chuck Horner (ret.) took to the podium at the dedication of the National Desert Storm and Desert Shield Memorial site in Washington D.C. last February, he told the audience that people often ask him why a memorial is necessary for a conflict that only lasted about 40 days.
Horner, who commanded the U.S. air campaign of that war, said the first reason is to commemorate those who died in the Gulf War. Then he pointed behind him, towards the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, where the names of over 58,000 Americans who died in Vietnam are etched in granite.
"These two monuments are inexorably linked together," Horner said. "Because we had in Desert Storm a president and a secretary of defense who did the smartest thing in the world: they gave the military a mission which could be accomplished by military force."
The Desert Storm Memorial "is a place every military person that's going to war should visit, and they learn to stand up when they have to, to avoid the stupidness that led to that disaster" in Vietnam, he added.
Now, 29 years after the operation that kicked Saddam Hussein's Iraqi army out of Kuwait began, the U.S. is stuck in multiple wars that Horner says resemble the one he and his fellow commanders tried to avoid while designing Desert Storm.
Horner shared his perspective on what went right in the Gulf War, and what's gone wrong since then, in an interview last week with Task & Purpose.
The Navy SEAL accused of strangling Army Special Forces Staff Sgt. Logan Melgar was promoted to chief petty officer two months after Melgar's death, according to a new report from The Daily Beast.
The number of major aviation mishaps and associated fatalities among U.S. service members across all four main branches fell dramatically in fiscal year 2019, according to data reviewed by Task & Purpose, a sign of progress amid growing worries of a crisis in U.S. military aviation.
The U.S. military saw 42 Class A mishaps and just 13 related fatalities in fiscal year 2019 across the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, and Air Force, well below the U.S. military's six-year high of 52 incidents and 39 deaths in fiscal year 2018.
When it comes to saving the world, sometimes one uniform just isn't enough. At least, that's what seems to motivate Tech. Sgt. Sean Neri, who, in between coordinating vehicles for security forces at Malmstrom Air Force Base, Mont., dresses up as a Star Wars bounty hunter and volunteers at community fundraisers.
"One of my coworkers introduced me to costuming and showed me there are organizations out there who use it for charity work," said Neri in a Jan. 21 article by Devin Doskey, public affairs specialist for the 341st Missile Wing.
"As a cop, I love being able to help people, but upon discovering I could do it while being a character for Star Wars, I was hooked," said Neri, who is the NCO in charge of vehicle readiness for the 341st Security Forces Support Squadron.
March Air Reserve Base in California will host nearly 200 U.S. citizens who were flown out of Wuhan, China due to the rapidly-spreading coronavirus, a Defense Department spokeswoman announced on Wednesday.
"March Air Reserve Base and the Department of Defense (DoD) stand ready to provide housing support to Health and Human Services (HHS) as they work to handle the arrival of nearly 200 people, including Department of State employees, dependents and U.S. citizens evacuated from Wuhan, China," said Pentagon press secretary Alyssa Farah in a statement on Wednesday.
Wuhan is the epicenter of the coronavirus, which is a mild to severe respiratory illness that's associated with symptoms of fever, cough and shortness of breath, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The virus has so far killed 132 people and infected nearly 6,000 others in China, according to news reports.