Senator Lindsey Graham Backs A Pre-Emptive Strike On North Korea

The comments from Senator Lindsey Graham are probably not going to go over very well in South Korea that would take the brunt of any war with North Korea:

A ranking U.S. senator said the U.S. should launch a preemptive strike on North Korea if that’s what it takes to stop Pyongyang from building a missile capable of hitting America, even though such military action would mean war.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) made the argument during an interview with NBC News, saying that war would be bad for South Korea, Japan and other countries in the region, but won’t reach the U.S., while an intercontinental ballistic missile could do.

“It would be terrible but the war would be over here (there), wouldn’t be here,” Graham said with a gesture with his fingers. “It would be bad for the Korean Peninsula. It would be bad for China. It would be bad for Japan, be bad for South Korea. It would be the end of North Korea. But what it would not do is hit America and the only way it could ever come to America is with a missile.”

Asked if he would support a preemptive strike on the North, Graham said, “If that’s what it would take.”  [Yonhap]

You can read more at the link.

US Congressman Calls for Shooting Down North Korean ICBM

Once again people that do not understand missile defense are calling for the shoot down of a North Korea ICBM test:

The United States should be prepared to shoot down a North Korean intercontinental ballistic missile in the event the communist regime test-fires one as threatened, a U.S. congressman said Monday.

Rep. Will Hurd (R-TX) made the remark in an interview with CNN as tensions on the Korean Peninsula are running high with the U.S. sending an aircraft carrier strike group to the waters off the divided peninsula to guard against North Korean provocations.

“That battle carrier group has been in the region before. I think Kim Jong-un, he has the ability to kill hundreds of thousands of people right now in South Korea with the push of a button. He will stop at nothing to have an intercontinental ballistic missile,” Hurd said.

“We have to ask ourselves, what are we going to do when we see a potential test of an ICBM? Are we going to try to shoot that ICBM down? Are we going to let the test go on unimpeded? These are some of the questions that should be asked when it comes to Korea,” he said.  [Yonhap]

You can read the rest at the link, but it seems like every time North Korea threatens to do an ICBM test someone says the US should shoot it down.  What people don’t realize is that certain missile defense systems are designed to shoot down certain threats. For example a Patriot battery or even a THAAD in USFK cannot shoot down an ICBM. The only thing the US military has that can shoot down an ICBM is the GMD system that protects CONUS, Alaska and Hawaii. If North Korea fires an ICBM on a test trajectory to the south like they have done in the past the GMD system is not going to be able to shoot it down.

If North Korea fires an ICBM at US territory where the GMD system has to engage it the shoot down of its ICBM will be the least of its worries because that would be an act of war.

Trump Announces Changes to National Security Council, Bannon out; Joint Chiefs Chairman Back In

That didn’t take long for LTG McMaster to shakeup the National Security Council and oust Bannon:

Steve Bannon

President Donald Trump reorganized his National Security Council on Wednesday, removing his chief strategist, Stephen Bannon, and downgrading the role of his Homeland Security Adviser, Tom Bossert, according to a person familiar with the decision and a regulatory filing.

National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster was given responsibility for setting the agenda for meetings of the NSC or the Homeland Security Council, and was authorized to delegate that authority to Bossert, at his discretion, according to the filing.

Under the move, the national intelligence director, Dan Coats, and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Marine Corps General Joseph Dunford, are again “regular attendees” of the NSC’s principals committee. [Bloomberg]

You can read more at the link.

Mattis Poster Causes VA Workers to Run In Fear and Panic

This is so stupid I don’t even know where to begin:

Local United States Department of Veterans Affairs staffers were left horrified after a coworker put up a “Make Killing Great Again” poster on his office door.

It all played out earlier this month at a VA office building on Clairmont road in DeKalb County.

After a source inside the agency sent Channel 2 Investigative Reporter Aaron Diamant a picture of that disturbing poster Thursday night, he spent this afternoon working to find out what the agency is doing to ease workers fears and hold the staffer who put it up accountable.

“I’m afraid. I’m truly afraid,” a VA staffer, who spotted the poster and asked not to be identified, told Diamant.

The long-time VA employee, who asked not to be identified, told Diamant she’s terrified every time she returns to work at the building that houses the Healthcare Eligibility Center.

The poster on a 3rd-floor office door contained an image of Secretary of Defense James Mattis and the words, “Make Killing Great Again.”

“I thought that he would come in there any day and at any time and start shooting the office up,” the employee said.  [WSB-TV Atlanta]

You can read more at the link, but this poster is clearly a parody of President Trump’s “Making America Great Again” tagline that anyone with a sense of humor would understand.  The fact the media is calling the poster “disturbing” and someone working at the VA is “truly afraid” of the poster I think says more about them then the person who put the poster up in their cubicle.

With that all said the work place should be a professional environment which the poster clearly does not contribute to.  When asked to take the poster down by the union the worker took the poster down.  Yet people going running to the media hoping to blow this up and want the guy investigated, for what?

Camp Humphreys Commander Concerned About Government Hiring Freeze

I know a few people that have been impacted by this government hiring freeze.  It will be interesting to see how long it lasts:

Col. Joseph Holland, commander of U.S. Army Garrison Humphreys, says the federal hiring freeze is having a big impact on military operations in South Korea, despite exemptions.

 The Trump administration’s hiring freeze has left key jobs vacant and could jeopardize readiness at this U.S. base, the commander said Wednesday.

“The hiring freeze that we’re under right now … is having a big impact on us in Korea writ large,” Col. Joseph Holland, commander of U.S. Army Garrison Humphreys, said in an interview in his office.

President Donald Trump ordered a government-wide hiring freeze on Jan. 23, just three days after taking office. He excluded the military and allowed the Office of Personnel Management to grant exemptions elsewhere.  [Stars & Stripes]

Here is an example of some of the impacts the hiring freeze is having on Camp Humphreys:

For example, the air field, which is active around-the-clock, is relying on an acting manager because officials were unable to push through a final offer to fill the role on a permanent basis before the Feb. 22 cutoff date, Holland said.

“We have a final offer given to a gentleman coming from the United States, but he can’t come here because of the hiring freeze. He fell outside of the window,” he added.

Holland said other vacancies stranded by the hiring freeze included directors for the Army’s substance-abuse program and the community service program, as well as the garrison sexual-assault response coordinator and victim advocate.

You can read more at the link.

State Department Reissues Travel Warning for Americans Traveling to North Korea

The State Department’s travel warning seems pretty pointless to me.  Anyone willing to go to North Korea has to have knowledge of all the Americans detained over the past decade and still people keep going there:

The U.S. State Department on Tuesday issued a new warning against traveling to North Korea.

“The Department of State strongly urges U.S. citizens to avoid all travel to North Korea/the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) due to the serious risk of arrest and long-term detention under North Korea’s system of law enforcement,” the department said.

“This system imposes unduly harsh sentences for actions that would not be considered crimes in the United States and threatens U.S. citizen detainees with being treated in accordance with ‘wartime law of the DPRK,'” it said.

At least 14 U.S. citizens have been detained in North Korea in the past 10 years, it said.  [Yonhap]

Of those 14 citizens detained all of them did something stupid to get detained on top of being stupid enough to travel to North Korea in the first place.

Picture of the Day: Secretary Mattis Arrives at Osan AB

An E-4 carrying the U.S. Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis lands at Osan Air Base, Republic of Korea, Feb. 2, 2017. The visit, which is Mattis’ first official visit to a foreign country as secretary of defense, highlighted the common traits and strengths shared by the U.S. and #ROK governments, including the commitment to bi-lateral cooperation in keeping regional safety and stability in check. #SecDef (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jonathan Steffen)  [USFK Facebook Site]

Defense Secretary Mattis To Visit Korea and Japan as Early As Next Week

This is a sign of how importantly the new Secretary of Defense views the region by making this his first overseas trip:

James Mattis

James Mattis, secretary of defense in the Donald Trump administration, is expected to make his first overseas trip to Korea and Japan next month, according to multiple diplomatic sources. Mattis is expected to hold talks with Korean Defense Minister Han Min-koo amid concerns over North Korea’s nuclear and missile provocations.

“Secretary Mattis, as his first overseas trip, is reviewing visiting Korea and Japan as his top priority,” one diplomatic source in Washington said Tuesday. “This shows that the Trump administration following its inauguration is unswervingly putting emphasis on its relationship with its two allies in Asia.”

Multiple officials said that retired four-star Marine general will visit Korea as early as next week.   [Joong Ang Ilbo]

You can read more at the link.

Did Rex Tillerson Call for A Blockade of Chinese Islets in the South China Sea?

It seems the domestic political situation in China would force them to take action against any blockade of their artificial islands in the South China Sea.  China’s advanced ballistic missile capability is how they would likely respond.  Before any blockade is called for I hope people fully understand the risks:

Rex Tillerson

Rex Tillerson, the former Exxon chief, didn’t get where he is by being nice to China. When Beijing tried to force his company to abandon a gas exploration project in the waters off Vietnam in 2008, ExxonMobil showed it the finger. BP, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, and several others caved to Chinese pressure. ExxonMobil is still there, drilling on a Vietnamese license in waters also claimed by China.

Is Tillerson about to do the same on behalf of the United States? On Wednesday, the secretary of state-designate seemed ready to give China the finger again. He called on the incoming Trump administration to deny China access to the seven artificial island bases it has built in the southern part of the South China Sea.

In response to a question about whether he would support a more aggressive posture in the South China Sea, he told his Senate confirmation hearing, “We’re going to have to send China a clear signal that, first, the island-building stops and, second, your access to those islands also is not going to be allowed.” The jaws of the Asia policy-watching community hit the floor.  [Foreign Policy]

You can read the rest at the link, but the author thinks Tillerson may have misspoke and meant blockading any action by the Chinese to build a base on the Scarborough Shoal which would be less dangerous, but still quite a risky strategy to implement if China is committed to forcing the issue.  It seems it would be a tough sell to the American people to risk war with China over the Scarborough Shoal.

The other wild card in all of this is what if President Duerte in the Philippines cuts a deal with China to let them build on the shoal which is claimed by the Philippines?