US Sailor Makes Marriage to Japanese Military Servicemember Work

It is pretty cool that this couple has been able to make this marriage work despite being in two different militaries:

Brandon and Yuriko Reed pose with their 9-month-old son, Lucas, last month at Yokosuka Naval Base, Japan. Brandon is a Navy religious program specialist, while Yuriko is an intelligence specialist serving in the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force. TYLER HLAVAC/STARS AND STRIPES

While it’s not unusual to see American servicemembers with Japanese spouses in Japan, couples like Brandon and Yuriko Reed are a lot less common.

Brandon, a Navy petty officer first class and religious program specialist, is married to Yuriko, a petty officer third class and intelligence specialist serving in the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force.

The Reeds, who wed in 2012 and have two children, met while both were stationed at Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni. It was Brandon’s first duty station and Yuriko’s second, after a stint as a trumpet player at a Japanese base near Hiroshima.

The couple met through mutual friends after Yuriko sought an American who could help her practice English.

“Everyone wants this crazy story,” Brandon said. “But that’s really all there is. Nothing spectacular.”

Through careful coordination with their respective services, the Reeds managed to secure orders for both to be stationed at Yokosuka. Brandon said he and Yuriko are lucky that his job allows him to be stationed at any major Navy or Marine Corps base. Because the JMSDF has no permanent installations outside of Japan, Yuriko is generally limited to just a handful of U.S. and Japanese bases in Japan.  [Stars & Stripes]

You can read more at the link, but I can’t ever recall meeting anyone in the US military married to someone in the South Korean military.  Has anyone else seen such a marriage?

Should the US Military Be Planning for Preemptive War with North Korea?

All the media has been headlining the preemptive war claim from General McMaster made during a recent interview.  It seems to me this is just prudent planning to provide the President options on how to respond to North Korea’s threats.  I am willing to bet that US military planners provided preemptive strike options to President Obama while he was in office as well.  It doesn’t mean the President will choose that option which clearly so far clearly President Trump has decided not to do:

Lieutenant General H.R. McMaster

The United States is preparing for a “preventive war” with North Korea among many options to deal with its missile and nuclear threats, President Trump’s top security adviser has said.

In an interview aired Saturday on MSNBC, National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster said the president has been clear he will not tolerate North Korea’s threats to attack the U.S. with nuclear weapons.

A preventive war is initiated to prevent an enemy from carrying out an attack.

“What you’re asking is are we preparing plans for a preventive war, right?” McMaster said. “If they have nuclear weapons that can threaten the United States. It’s intolerable from the president’s perspective. So of course, we have to provide all options to do that. And that includes a military option.”  [Korea Times]

You can read more at the link.

US Admiral Makes Point that Military is Under Civilian Control and News Media Freaks Out

A US admiral makes a point about the US military being under civilian control of the military and of course the media runs with sensational headlines such as “If Trump Asked, We’d Nuke China Next Week,’ Says U.S. Navy Fleet Commander”.  The Pacific Fleet Commander probably should have been more careful in his wording considering the pathetically poor state of journalism in the United States currently:

Admiral Scott Swift

But the head of the largest fleet in the U.S. Navy, Admiral Scott Swift, was quick to swear his loyalty to the commander-in-chief Thursday, to the point that the admiral said he would hypothetically follow the president’s orders to launch a nuclear missile at China.

“The answer would be: yes,” said Swift, the commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet, when asked a question during an Australian National University security conference in the Australian capital, Canberra, the AP reported.

Swift made no suggestion that any such order had been given, but seemed to make the remark in the context of underscoring the U.S. military’s oath of allegiance to whoever holds the office of the president of the United States.  [Newsweek]

Really Newsweek do you have to add the statement “Swift made no suggestion that any such order had been given…”  I would think we would be at a state of war with China before any order to nuke the country was given.  Reading the various media articles on this topic almost seems like the media wanted Admiral Swift to say he would not follow President Trump’s orders

President Trump Overturns US Military’s Policy on Transgender Servicemembers

So much for all the mandatory transgender training the US military has been going through as President Trump has now reinstated the transgender servicemember ban:

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump holds a rainbow flag given to him by supporter Max Nowak during a campaign rally at the Bank of Colorado Arena on the campus of University of Northern Colorado in Greeley, Colo., Oct. 30, 2016.

President Trump announced on Wednesday morning that the U.S. military would not “accept or allow” any transgender service members.

In a series of tweets, the commander in chief argued that too much is at stake in the military’s current operations for it to be “burdened” by the medical costs of transgender people or the “disruption” he says transgender service members would cause.  [Yahoo News]

You can read more at the link, but I really think this whole policy would have been less controversial if it did not include free sex change and hormone treatment for new recruits.  Additionally controversy only increased when it was announced that transgenders that chose not to undergo the surgery would be allowed to shower with the sex they identify with.

With the end of the don’t ask don’t tell policy I predicted it would be a lot to do about nothing which is what happened.  Gay servicemembers were not demanding special treatment, just the ability to serve openly.  If transgenders were just told they can serve openly and must have any surgeries completed prior to joining the military I think there would have been much less push back on this policy that led to President Trump overturning it.

THAAD Conducts Successful Intercept Flight Test In Alaska Against Musudan Equivalent Target

The big take away for Korea watchers from this successful flight test of the THAAD missile defense system is that the threat target was an Intermediate Range Ballistic Missile (IRBM) which is the same class of missile as North Korea’s Musudan.  A THAAD battery was deployed to Guam back in 2013 to defend against the Musudan threat to Guam and this flight test validates its capability to defend against this threat:

The United States said on Tuesday it shot down a simulated, incoming intermediate-range ballistic missile similar the ones being developed by countries like North Korea, in a new test of the nation’s defences.

Planned months ago, the U.S. missile defence test over the Pacific Ocean has gained significance after North Korea’s July 4 launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile heightened concerns about the threat from Pyongyang.

The test was the first-ever of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system against an incoming IRBM, which experts say is a faster and more difficult target to hit than shorter-range missiles.

The U.S. Missile Defense Agency said the IRBM was designed to behave similarly to the kinds of missiles that could threaten the United States.

“The successful demonstration of THAAD against an IRBM-range missile threat bolsters the country’s defensive capability against developing missile threats in North Korea and other countries,” the Missile Defense Agency said in a statement.   [Reuters]

You can read more at the link, but the THAAD system has now had 14 of 14 successful intercepts during flight tests.

Korean Who Served in US Military Faces Deportation; Should He Be Allowed to Stay in the US?

Via a reader tip comes this story about an Iraq War veteran facing deportation to South Korea:

An Iraq war veteran who grew up in Portland is being held by federal immigration agents in a Tacoma detention center and could be deported to South Korea.

Chong Hwan Kim, 41, has lived in Portland since his family immigrated with documentation when he was 5, his friends said.

But federal immigration authorities say Kim was arrested because of criminal convictions.

Immigration authorities detained Kim on April 5 because of a recent first-degree arson felony conviction, said Rose Riley, an Immigrations and Customs Enforcement spokeswoman. Kim later told friends that agents arrested him after he got a call telling him to come downtown to discuss his probation.

But Kim’s friends argue it’s wrong to deport a man who grew up in and went to war for the United States. Jordan Meyers, who met Kim through a Department of Veterans Affairs support group, worries what will happen to his friend if he is sent to South Korea, where he does not speak the language and has no family.

“He came to our country legally. … He fought for our country. He bled with us,” Meyers said. “Does that not earn for him the right to live here?”  [Oregon Live]

You can read more at the link, but serving in the National Guard does not give someone a right to have citizenship.  Part of being applying to be a citizen is to not have a criminal history.  Kim has an extensive criminal history.  On top of that Kim received a general discharge under honorable conditions from the National Guard so he clearly got in trouble during his time serving to not get an honorable discharge.

He could have applied to be a citizen a long time ago if he came to the US with a valid Green Card, but I am willing to bet his criminal history is what has been preventing it from happening.  Based on what I have read it seems Kim has earned his deportation and I recommend he begin brushing up on his Korean.

Army Unit from Alaska Gets to Train in Darkness in South Korea

I never thought of this before, but yes Army units from Alaska would have a very limited amount of time to train in darkness since the best months weather wise to train have a lot of daylight:

A soldier from 1st Battalion, 5th Infantry Regiment, 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division out of Fort Wainwright, Alaska, wears chemical-resistant gear while training at Rodriguez Live Fire Range, South Korea, Sunday, June, 4, 2017.

Six hundred U.S. troops wrapped up a monthlong training rotation to South Korea Monday with something in short supply this time of year at their home station in Alaska — darkness.

Soldiers from the Fort Wainwright-based 1st Battalion, 5th Infantry Regiment “Bobcats” spent May living and training at the 3,390-acre Rodriguez Live Fire Range north of Seoul.

“We’re here to build our lethality,” battalion commander Lt. Col. R. Blake Lackey said Wednesday.

That includes being able to operate day and night, the latter being difficult in the Alaskan summer, he said.

“This time of year we’ll be training at 1:30 in the morning and it’s still daylight,” said Staff Sgt. Benjamin Moore, 34, a recon team leader with the battalion.

“When it’s dark in Alaska it’s winter and it’s pretty harsh,” the West Palm Beach, Fla., native added. “So it’s really difficult to get after some of the more basic and fundamental [requirements].”

The Korea rotation has taken the unit “to a higher level of readiness we didn’t think was possible,” Lackey said.  [Stars & Stripes]

You can read the rest at the link.

Where the Majority of US Military Servicemembers Come From

For those who have served in the military these statistics are probably not surprising:

With an active-duty force comprising merely 0.4% of the U.S. population, this divide between the military and the rest of society is unsurprising. However, and despite the services’ continued efforts, two trends are making it harder to bridge the divide: increased regional and familial concentration within the armed forces.

Why should this disturb us? Because of its subtle impact on the most important decision our nation’s leadership ever makes — when to put young men and women into harm’s way. It also undermines the military’s need for public support.

First, the facts: Having a relative who served in the military has become a critical indicator as to whether an individual will even consider military service. Among veterans under age 40, 60% have an immediate family tie to the military, compared to only 39% of civilians. Of the new recruits joining today, approximately 25% have a parent who has served. As time goes on, this pattern isolates military service; it is becoming a burden borne by an increasingly small number of families.

Similar trends emerge when examining the regional makeup of the force. Places where the military has historical roots, including locations close to military bases, draw more young men and women into the service. So 60% of new military recruits come from the South and the West, with the South alone contributing 36.9% of all recruits, while the Northeast and Midwest remain underrepresented relative to their population of people aged 18 to 24. In fact, half of the states in the U.S. contribute more than their fair share, and half contribute less. Though the service academies receive nominations from all 50 states, they are only one source of military commissions, focused solely on officers. Geographically, the military today is simply not representative of the U.S. population, depriving the armed forces of the organizational strength that comes from diversity.  [USA Today]

You can read more at the link.

 

GMD System Successfully Intercepts A Threat Representative ICBM During Test

I think it is important to remember these tests are in a highly controlled environment, but I think without a doubt it does increase confidence in the only system the US currently has to defend against the North Korean ICBM threat:

VANDENBERG AFB, CA – MAY 30: A ground-based interceptor rocket is launched on May 30, 2017 from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California. The rocket from Vandenberg successfully intercepted and destroyed a target missile in space – most likely above waters east of Hawaii that have been temporarily closed to all shipping. (Photo by Al Seib/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

The Pentagon announced that the United States on Tuesday tested for the first time its intercontinental ballistic missile defense system, a system designed to foil the types of missiles Kim Jong-un and North Korea have been looking to develop.

According to Reuters, the Ground-based Midcourse Defense (GMD) interceptor test took place today at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.

The test was a success.

“We improve and learn from each test, regardless of the outcome. That’s the reason we conduct them,” Pentagon spokesman Captain Jeff Davis said Tuesday. “The system that we test today is a developmental system that’s being flown for the first time and we look forward to understanding the results so we continue to mature the system and stay ahead of the threat.”

While the test is said not to be just about North Korea, the timing indicates that it has everything to do with Kim Jong-un’s recent ballistic missile tests.  [Atlanta Journal Constitution]

That is where many in the media are getting it wrong, these tests are planned out and scheduled years in advance.  The fact North Korea fired ballistic missiles recently as the Pentagon has said had nothing to do with the timing of the test.  Plus this system could not shoot down those missiles anyway.  GMD is only used to defend against ICBMs.  The shorter and medium range missiles that North Korea has been firing recently would be defended against by the THAAD and Patriot missile defense systems.

You can read more about this history of the GMD program at Defense News.

Korean Immigrant Becomes Commander of US Special Operations in the Pacific

A bad-ass Korean-American has taken over command of all US Special Forces in the Pacific:

Maj. Gen. Daniel Yoo speaks with a well-wisher after taking command of Pacific Special Operations during a ceremony at Camp H.M. Smith, Hawaii, Friday, May 12, 2017. WYATT OLSON/STARS AND STRIPES

Maj. Gen. Daniel Yoo took command of Pacific Special Operations on Friday, becoming the first Marine to head a theater-level special operations command.

Gen. Raymond A. Thomas III, head of U.S. Special Operations Command, described Yoo as “the embodiment of the American dream.”

“Born on the Fourth of July, in Korea, he immigrated to this country at a young age and the rest, as they say, is history,” he said during a ceremony at Camp H.M. Smith, Hawaii.

Yoo is a career infantry officer who has led units from a rifle platoon to the entire 1st Marine Division. He previously served as director of operations for U.S. Special Operations Command at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa.  [Stars & Stripes]

You can read more at the link.