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Report: US Prepared To Launch Preemptive Strike To Counter North Korea Nuclear Threat
The U.S. is "prepared" to execute a preemptive first strike against North Korea, using conventional weapons, "should officials become convinced that North Korea is about to follow through with a nuclear weapons test," several anonymous U.S. intelligence officials told NBC News this evening.
The sabre-rattling comes amid concerns by international observers that Pyongyang is aggressively pursuing new nuclear tests. On Wednesday, the New York Times reported that satellite images reviewed by military analysts suggested North Korea is working to complete its sixth nuclear test.
According to 38 North, a North Korea research group based at Johns Hopkins University, the satellite photos also reveal "high levels of activity" at tunnels beneath the Punggye-ri nuclear site, where the nation's military has carried out previous tests.
In recent weeks, the Pentagon has deployed WC-135 Constant Phoenix "nuke-sniffer" aircraft to military installations in Japan to monitor for nuclear activity across the region, Newsweek reports.
The suspected test could come as soon as this Saturday, the 105th birthday of Kim Il-Sung, the nation's late founder and grandfather of the current leader, Kim Jong-Un. Previous reports suggested that Kim planned on carrying out his next missile launch to coincide with the culturally significant day.
Given the increasing number of long-range missile tests carried out in recent weeks by Pyongyang, the Pentagon is taking the prospect of a successful nuclear test very seriously, according to NBC News:
The intelligence officials told NBC News that the U.S. has positioned two destroyers capable of shooting Tomahawk cruise missiles in the region, one just 300 miles from the North Korean nuclear test site.
American heavy bombers are also positioned in Guam to attack North Korea should it be necessary, and earlier this week, the Pentagon announced that the USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier strike group was being diverted to the area.
The U.S. strike could include missiles and bombs, cyber and special operations on the ground.
The mention of special forces on the ground in North Korea is particularly provocative. Last month, South Korean media reported that Navy SEALs — namely "Seal Team 6," known for executing the raid that killed Osama bin Laden — were preparing for a "decapitation attack" to neutralize North Korean's military and political leadership (The Pentagon denied the report).
The news also comes following the use of the GBU-43 Massive Ordnance Air Blast bomb, one of the largest non-nuclear bombs in the U.S. arsenal, by the Air Force against an ISIS target in Afghanistan — the munition's first use in a conflict.
But on Thursday, North Korean officials warned in a statement of a "merciless retaliatory strike" should the White House take any military actions against the rogue state, NBC News reported.
"By relentlessly bringing in a number of strategic nuclear assets to the Korean peninsula," the statement said, "the U.S. is gravely threatening the peace and safety and driving the situation to the brink of a nuclear war."
Kade Kurita, the 20-year-old West Point cadet who had been missing since Friday evening, was found dead on Tuesday night, the U.S. Military Academy announced early Wednesday morning.
"We are grieving this loss and our thoughts and prayers go out to Cadet Kurita's family and friends," Lt. Gen. Darryl Williams, superintendent of West Point, said in the release.
Mark Mitchell is stepping down as the acting assistant defense secretary for special operations and low-intensity conflict, a position he has held since late June, a defense official confirmed on Tuesday.
No information was immediately available about why Mitchell decided to resign. His last day will be Nov. 1 and he will be replaced by Thomas Alexander, who is currently leading the Defense Department's counternarcotics efforts, the defense official told Task & Purpose.
The U.S. Army's Next Generation Squad Weapon effort looked a lot more possible this week as the three competing weapons firms displayed their prototype 6.8mm rifles and automatic rifles at the 2019 Association of the United States Army's annual meeting.
Just two months ago, the Army selected General Dynamics Ordnance and Tactical Systems inc., Textron Systems and Sig Sauer Inc. for the final phase of the NGSW effort — one of the service's top modernization priorities to replace the 5.56mm M4A1 carbine and the M249 squad automatic weapon in infantry and other close-combat units.
Army officials, as well as the companies in competition, have been guarded about specific details, but the end result will equip combat squads with weapons that fire a specially designed 6.8mm projectile, capable of penetrating enemy body armor at ranges well beyond the current M855A1 5.56mm round.
There have previously been glimpses of weapons from two firms, but this year's AUSA was the first time all three competitors displayed their prototype weapons, which are distinctly different from one another.
We salute the Marine scout sniper who snuck up on an enemy completely naked except for a pair of boots
An expert sniper can sneak up on an enemy naked as the day he was born. It's not particularly advised, but one top sharpshooter did exactly that just to prove a point, Marine snipers told Insider.