US Strategic Assets To Participate In Joint Exercise with ROK Forces This Week

There is going to be a lot of firepower in the Korea area of operations this week so it will be interesting to see what North Korea’s reaction to this will be:

This photo, provided by the U.S. military Oct. 13, 2017, shows the Ohio-class guided-missile submarine USS Michigan (SSGN-727) arriving at the southern port of Busan in South Korea. (Yonhap)

The United States is poised to show off its military might this week through joint drills and a defense exhibition in South Korea, deploying an aircraft carrier, nuclear-powered submarine, stealth fighters and other strategic assets.

The show of force comes amid growing tensions on the peninsula, with North Korea expected to engage in additional provocations in protest against the South Korea-U.S. military drills  (…..)

The allies’ militaries are set to hold a joint exercise in the East and West Seas from Monday to Friday, during which the U.S. will deploy its nuclear-powered carrier, the USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76).

It is one of America’s key power projection means of countering military threats in a volatile region.

The 333-meter-long, 100,000-ton Nimitz-class flattop is stationed in Yokosuka, Japan, as part of the Seventh Fleet in charge of the Indo-Asia-Pacific region. The Reagan has a deck the size of three football fields, with some 70 aircraft on board, ranging from fighter jets to helicopters.

During the maritime drills, the Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System, the airborne battle management aircraft, is expected to be deployed. It is capable of monitoring North Korea’s ground force movements and coastal artillery.

The Ohio-class guided-missile submarine USS Michigan (SSGN-727) has already arrived at the southern port of Busan as part of a regularly scheduled deployment to the Western Pacific, military officials said.  [Yonhap]

You can read more at the link.

President Trump Reportedly Has 9 Different Military Options to Strike North Korea

If this report is true the US President has plenty of different options to choose from if military force becomes the only way to deal with North Korea’s nuclear and ICBM programs:

US defence chiefs have drawn up nine options for military action against Kim Jong-un’s North Korea to destroy its nuclear weapons threat, the Evening Standard has been told.

They escalate to different levels of intensity and could be pre-emptive or retaliatory, and could be ordered by Donald Trump in response to an attack on the US Pacific naval base on Guam or American allies such as Japan or South Korea.

However, all of them risk triggering a devastating response by Pyongyang against South Korea, using conventional weapons. At least one senior Whitehall figure is concerned that there may be a shift in Washington towards military action.  [Evening Standard]

You can read more at the link.

B-1 Bombers and Fighter Escorts Fly Across NLL in International Waters in the Sea of Japan

Here is the latest show force executed by the United States this weekend in response to North Korea’s threats:

In this photo made available by the Department of Defense, a U.S. Air Force B-1B Lancer, deployed from Ellsworth Air Force Base, prepares to take off from Andersen Air Force Base in Guam to the Korean Peninsula on Saturday. [YONHAP]

The Pentagon flew its Air Force B-1B Lancer strategic bombers Saturday east of North Korea, near the demilitarized zone, demonstrating U.S. President Donald Trump’s resolve.

The U.S. Department of Defense announced later that day that the bombers flew from Guam, escorted by F-15C Eagle fighters from Kadena Air Base in Okinawa, Japan, to international airspace over waters east of North Korea.

“This is the farthest north of the demilitarized zone (DMZ) any U.S. fighter or bomber aircraft have flown off North Korea’s coast in the 21st century,” said Pentagon Spokesperson Dana White, “underscoring the seriousness with which we take reckless behavior.”

The B-1B, dubbed “the swan of death,” is considered one of three main strategic bombers of the U.S. Air Force, alongside the B-52 and B-2 bombers. It is able to deliver a heavier payload than the B-52 and B-2 bombers, and is also quicker than the other two, capable of reaching the Korean Peninsula from Guam in two hours.

“This mission is a demonstration of U.S. resolve and a clear message that the President has many military options to defeat any threat,” White said, underscoring the “grave threat” that the North’s weapons program poses to the Asia-Pacific region and the international community.

She continued, “We are prepared to use the full range of military capabilities to defend the U.S. homeland and our allies.”  [Joong Ang Ilbo]

You can read more at the link.

US Secretary of Defense Says There Are Military Options Against North Korea that Don’t Put Seoul at Risk

Of course the United States has military options that do not threaten Seoul.  In fact one was just executed with the recent B-1 show of force bombing exercise in South Korea.  The real question is if there are military options to remove North Korea’s ICBM and nuclear facilities without endangering Seoul:

The United States has military options for North Korea that do not put Seoul at grave risk, Washington’s top defense official said Monday.

The remark by Defense Secretary Jim Mattis marks a departure from the popular argument that there is no viable military option that would not leave thousands of South Koreans and U.S. service members dead.

“Yes, there are,” Mattis told reporters at the Pentagon when asked whether there were military options that would not seriously endanger Seoul. “But I will not go into details.”

Mattis said he discussed with South Korean Defense Minister Song Young-moo the issue of reintroducing tactical nuclear weapons to South Korea to counter North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile threats. But he declined to say whether the option is under consideration.  [Yonhap]

You can read more at the link.

Why the US and Japan Do Not Shoot Down North Korea’s Ballistic Missiles

The article is bias with some inaccurate information from someone who is anti-missile defense, however it repeats something I have said before that the US and Japan cannot shoot down North Korea’s missiles unless you know where they are going.  This is because the Aegis system the US and Japan has do not shoot down missiles on the boost phase which is what a missile traveling over Japan is at.  These ships defend the territory of Japan if the missile was to come down on it in the terminal phase of flight.  It is the same for the THAAD system, unless the missile is coming down on South Korea or on Guam in its terminal phase the THAAD systems in each of those locations cannot shoot down North Korea’s missiles:

Joe Cirincione

The number one reason we don’t shoot down North Korea’s missiles is that we cannot.

Officials like to reassure their publics about our defense to these missiles. Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga toldhis nation after last week’s test, “We didn’t intercept it because no damage to Japanese territory was expected.”

That is half true. The missile did not pose a serious threat. It flewover the Japanese island of Hokkaido, landing 3700 km (2300 miles) from its launch point near North Korea’s capital of Pyongyang.

The key word here is “over.” Like way over. Like 770 kilometers (475 miles) over Japan at the apogee of its flight path. Neither Japan nor the United States could have intercepted the missile. None of the theater ballistic missile defense weapons in existence can reach that high. It is hundreds of kilometers too high for the Aegis interceptors deployed on Navy ships off Japan. Even higher for the THAAD systems in South Korea and Guam. Way too high for the Patriot systems in Japan, which engage largely within the atmosphere.

All of these are basically designed to hit a missile in the post-mid-course or terminal phase, when it is on its way down, coming more or less straight at the defending system. Patriot is meant to protect relatively small areas such as ports or air bases; THAADdefends a larger area; the advanced Aegis system theoretically could defend thousands of square kilometers.  [Defense One]

You can read more at the link.

PACOM Commander to Visit South Korea This Week

The US military brass are definitely making their rounds through South Korea due to the ongoing tensions:

In this photo taken by the EPA on April 27, 2017, Adm. Harry Harris, commander of the U.S. Pacific Command, testifies at the Senate Armed Forces Committee in Washington, D.C. (Yonhap)

The chief of the United States armed forces responsible for the Indo-Asia-Pacific region will visit South Korea to discuss various security issues surrounding the area, a Japanese newspaper reported Saturday.

Japan’s Asahi Shimbun said Admiral Harry Harris, commander of the U.S. Pacific Command, will stay in South Korea from Sunday to Tuesday, and will meet with South Korean Defense Minister Song Young-moo and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Jeong Kyeong-doo.

Harris is also expected to inspect a joint South Korea-U.S. military drill called the Ulchi Freedom Guardian (UFG) exercise that starts Monday and visit the southern port city of Busan, according to the newspaper. Ashai Shimbun added that Harris is also expected to request South Korea to fully complete the deployment of a U.S. missile shield called THAAD.

Harris’ visit is followed by Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford, the chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, who had a two-day visit to South Korea earlier this week.

The newspaper also reported that U.S. Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA), who is the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee will also visit Seoul and ask the South Korean officials to take stricter measures against North Korea.

Meanwhile, Japan’s Kyodo News Agency reported that Air Force Gen. John Hyten, commander of the U.S. Strategic Command, will also visit South Korea and Japan later this month to discuss North Korea’s nuclear threats.  [Yonhap]

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.