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North Korea nuclear, missile activity 'inconsistent' with denuclearization, US general says
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - North Korea's activity on nuclear weapons and missiles is inconsistent with its pledge to denuclearize, the commander of U.S. forces in South Korea said on Wednesday.
A summit between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Hanoi last month broke down over differences about U.S. demands for North Korea to rid itself of nuclear weapons that threaten the United States, and North Korea's demand for substantial relief from international sanctions imposed because of its nuclear and missile tests.
"Their activity that we have observed is inconsistent with denuclearization," U.S. Army General Robert Abrams said during a House Armed Services Committee hearing. Abrams did not provide further details.
He had been asked if the United States had seen a change in North Korea's production of nuclear weapons, material and missiles.
Abrams said that while he had enough intelligence and surveillance resources to deal with the current situation, that might not be the case if relations were to worsen on the Korean peninsula.
"If they change negatively, then our stance and our posture is not adequate to provide us an unblinking eye to give us early warning and indicators," he said.
In a separate hearing on Wednesday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo acknowledged that North Korea had not yet taken the kind of "big step" toward complete denuclearization the administration had hoped for as it began direct talks with Kim.
"I'm hopeful that we can engage and negotiate with them," he said.
There has been no sign of direct contact between Washington and Pyongyang since the collapse of the summit, although Trump has stressed his good personal relationship with Kim.
Speaking alongside Abrams, Randall Schriver, the Pentagon's top Asia policy official, said: Our door is still open for diplomacy, but to date we have not seen movement on denuclearization."
He added he was not aware of sanctions being removed or changed since Trump tweeted last week that he had ordered the withdrawal of additional large-scale sanctions on North Korea. nL1N21912O]
No changes in military capability
Several American think tanks and South Korean officials reported that satellite imagery showed possible preparations for a launch from the Sohae rocket-launch site at Tongchang-ri, North Korea.
There have also been reports from South Korea's intelligence service of activity at a factory at Sanumdong near Pyongyang that produced North Korea's first intercontinental ballistic missiles capable of reaching the United States.
Since then, South Korea's defense minister has said it was premature to say if recent activity at some of North Korea's rocket facilities involved preparations for a missile launch.
Abrams said that despite a reduction in tensions with North Korea, there had been little to no verifiable changes in its military capabilities.
North Korea has frozen nuclear and missile testing since 2017, and Trump has pointed to that as a positive outcome from nearly a year of high-level engagement with North Korea.
The commander of U.S. forces in Asia, Admiral Philip Davidson, also said that China had not been helpful in imposing sanctions on North Korea in the maritime arena.
"They are offering zero assistance. ... They are certainly not monitoring their own territorial seas very well," Davidson said.
U.N. sanctions monitors reported to the Security Council in February that there had been a "massive increase in illegal ship-to-ship transfers of petroleum products and coal" by North Korea that had rendered the latest sanctions ineffective.
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A Minnesota Army National Guard UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter with three Guardsmen aboard crashed south of St. Cloud on Thursday, said National Guard spokeswoman Army Master Sgt. Blair Heusdens.
At this time, the National Guard is not releasing any information about the status of the three people aboard the helicopter, Heusdens told Task & Purpose on Thursday.
The Pentagon's latest attempt to twist itself in knots to deny that it is considering sending up to 14,000 troops to the Middle East has a big caveat.
Pentagon spokeswoman Alyssa Farah said there are no plans to send that many troops to the region "at this time."
Farah's statement does not rule out the possibility that the Defense Department could initially announce a smaller deployment to the region and subsequently announce that more troops are headed downrange.
The Navy could deploy a second carrier to the Middle East if Trump orders an Iran surge, top admiral says
The Navy could send a second aircraft carrier to the Middle East if President Donald Trump orders a surge of forces to the region, Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Mike Gilday said on Thursday.
Gordon Lubold and Nancy Youssef of the Wall Street Journal first reported the United States is considering sending up to 14,000 troops to the Middle East to deter Iran from attacking U.S. forces and regional allies. The surge forces could include several ships.
I didn't think a movie about World War I would, or even could, remind me of Afghanistan.
Somehow 1917 did, and that's probably the highest praise I can give Sam Mendes' newest war drama: It took a century-old conflict and made it relatable.
An internal investigation spurred by a nude photo scandal shows just how deep sexism runs in the Marine Corps
"I will still have to work harder to get the perception away from peers and seniors that women can't do the job."
Some years ago, a 20-year-old female Marine, a military police officer, was working at a guard shack screening service members and civilians before they entered the base. As a lance corporal, she was new to the job and the duty station, her first in the Marine Corps.
At some point during her shift, a male sergeant on duty drove up. Get in the car, he said, the platoon sergeant needs to see you. She opened the door and got in, believing she was headed to see the enlisted supervisor of her platoon.
Instead, the sergeant drove her to a dark, wooded area on base. It was deserted, no other Marines were around. "Hey, I want a blowjob," the sergeant told her.
"What am I supposed, what do you do as a lance corporal?" she would later recall. "I'm 20 years old ... I'm new at this. You're the only leadership I've ever known, and this is what happens."
She looked at him, then got out of the car and walked away. The sergeant drove up next to her and tried to play it off as a prank. "I'm just fucking with you," he said. "It's not a big deal."
It was one story among hundreds of others shared by Marines for a study initiated in July 2017 by the Marine Corps Center for Advanced Operational Culture Learning (CAOCL). Finalized in March 2018, the center's report was quietly published to its website in September 2019 with little fanfare.
The culture of the Marine Corps is ripe for analysis. A 2015 Rand Corporation study found that women felt far more isolated among men in the Corps, while the Pentagon's Office of People Analytics noted in 2018 that female Marines rated hostility toward them as "significantly higher" than their male counterparts.
But the center's report, Marines' Perspectives on Various Aspects of Marine Corps Organizational Culture, offers a proverbial wakeup call to leaders, particularly when paired alongside previous studies, since it was commissioned by the Marine Corps itself in the wake of a nude photo sharing scandal that rocked the service in 2017.
The scandal, researchers found, was merely a symptom of a much larger problem.