US Flies B-1 Bombers Over South Korea Again as Show of Force Against North Korea

Here is the typical response from the Pentagon to North Korean provocations:

A U.S. B-1B bomber drops an inert bomb on a mock target during its joint drill with South Korea’s fighter jets on July 8, 2017, in this photo provided by the Air Force. (Yonhap)

Two U.S. long-range strategic bombers flew over the Korean Peninsula on Saturday in a stern warning to North Korea for its long-range missile launch last week.

The B-1B Lancers based in Guam practiced “attack capabilities,” accompanied by South Korea’s F-15K and the U.S. Air Force’s F-16 fighter jets, for several hours in the joint show of force, according to the allies.

In a rare move, they made public a photo and footage of the bombers dropping inert GBU-56 laser guided bombs onto a mock target at the Pilsung range in Gangwon Province.  [Yonhap]

You can read more at the link, but of interest is that the ROK Air Force escorted the B-1’s across the Korean peninsula and then handed off the escort to the Japanese Air Self Defense Force who escorted the bombers across the East China Sea back to Guam after the flight over the Korean peninsula.  That is actually great to see the cooperation between the ROK and Japan which I am sure the Kim regime took notice of.

US and ROK Militaries Conduct Long Range Missile Live Fire In Response to North Korean ICBM Test

Here is the US and ROK’s response to the recent ICBM test conducted by North Korea:

South Korea’s Hyunmoo-2A ballistic missile, left, and the U.S. Army’s MGM-140 Tactical Missile are fired into the East Sea from an undisclosed location on South Korea’s east coast during a joint missile drill, Wednesday, aimed to counter North Korea’s intercontinental ballistic missile test conducted Tuesday. / Yonhap

South Korea and the United States fired ballistic missiles in a joint drill aimed at striking the North Korean leadership, Wednesday.

The live-fire exercise was an armed reaction to the North’s purported successful test of an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) conducted Tuesday.

President Moon Jae-in issued the missile firing order after getting consent from U.S. President Donald Trump, Cheong Wa Dae said.

This marked the first time for the allies to conduct a ballistic missile drill in response to the North’s missile threats, Defense Minister Han Min-koo said in a National Assembly session.

Issuing the order, Moon said the allies needed to demonstrate their joint defense posture “with action not just words,” according to chief press secretary, Yoon Young-chan.

The Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said Seoul and Washington fired their Hyunmoo-2A and the Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS) ballistic missiles, respectively, into the East Sea at 7 a.m.

Both the Hyunmoo-2A and ATACMS are surface-to-surface missiles with a range of 300 kilometers.

Trump backed Moon’s order, saying he respects Moon’s willingness to deter the North’s provocation with action, Yoon said.  [Korea Times]

You can read more at the link as well as view video footage of the fire power demonstration below:

President Trump Pushes President Moon on Paying More for US Troops

It seems like an inevitability that the ROK will end up paying more for the upkeep of the US-ROK alliance since it is an issue that President Trump continues to highlight:

President Moon Jae-in, left, shakes hand with U.S. President Donald Trump in their joint press conference in the Rose Garden of the White House on Friday. [YONHAP]

President Moon Jae-in faced a demand on Friday by U.S. President Donald Trump to resolve trade imbalance between the two countries and pay more of the cost for the presence of U.S. troops in Korea, while winning assurances for stronger defense measures to deter North Korea’s rapidly advancing threats.

In the joint press conference that followed the Oval Office summit, Trump said the era of strategic patience with the North Korean regime has failed. “And frankly, that patience is over,” he added. After calling upon regional powers and all responsible nations to implement sanctions and pressure North Korea to end its nuclear and missile programs, Trump said now the goal is “peace, stability and prosperity for the region.”

The United States will defend itself and its allies, Trump said, and as part of that commitment, he said he wants to ensure that the cost of U.S. military presence in South Korea is equitably shared. “Burden sharing is a very important factor,” he said. “A factor that is becoming more and more prevalent, certainly in this administration.”

Trump also spoke of a “fair and reciprocal economic relationship” with South Korea, while complaining that the Korea-U.S. free trade agreement has increased the U.S. trade deficit with South Korea by more than $11 billion.  [Joong Ang Ilbo]

You can read more at the link.

Presidents Trump and Moon Begin US-ROK Summit at the White House

So far so good for the Trump-Moon summit in Washington, D.C.  I wonder when North Korea will commit some kind of provocation this week in response?:

South Korean President Moon Jae-in, center, poses with U.S. President Donald Trump, second from right, in their first meeting at the White House, Washington, D.C., Thursday, along with South Korean first lady Kim Jung-sook, second from left, and U.S. first lady Melania Trump. / Yonhap

President Moon Jae-in and U.S. President Donald Trump had “frank and serious” discussions on North Korea, a free trade deal and other issues in their first meeting over dinner at the White House, Friday, according to Cheong Wa Dae.

After the meeting, Trump wrote on Twitter that he discussed with Moon a “new trade deal,” indicating the U.S. request for a renegotiation of the countries’ bilateral free trade agreement.

Yoon Young-chan, Moon’s top press officer, refused to elaborate on this, only saying, “The leaders agreed to resolve the North Korean nuclear issue, establish peace on the Korean Peninsula and ensure economic prosperity for both nations based on their strong alliance.”

It was the first time that Trump has invited a foreign head of state and the spouse to dinner at the White House since his inauguration in January, Cheong Wa Dae said. First lady Kim Jung-sook and U.S. first lady Melania Trump were also present.  [Korea Times]

You can read more at the link.

ROK Vice Defense Minister Meets with Local THAAD Protesters In Seongju

It looks like the ROK government is trying to build trust with the local protesters in Seongju in an attempt to hopefully open the road to the THAAD site:

Vice Defense Minister Suh Choo-suk, second from right, speaks with a group of some 30 residents about their concerns regarding the Thaad deployment at the Soseong-ri town hall in Seongju County, North Gyeongsang, near the golf course where the antimissile system is partially installed. [YONHAP]

Vice Defense Minister Suh Choo-suk told a group of residents of Seongju County, North Gyeongsang, that the government will “guarantee” their participation in the environmental impact appraisal of the U.S.-led Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (Thaad) battery.

Suh sought out Seongju residents on Tuesday at the Soseong-ri town hall, near the former golf course where the U.S. Forces Korea’s Thaad battery is partially deployed. Some have interpreted his remarks as suggesting that the government plans to conduct a full environmental impact appraisal, which would take at least one year, as opposed to a smaller study.

Under the Environmental Impact Assessment Act, a small-scale appraisal does not require gathering input from residents and can take under six months to complete.

Seongju residents and Won Buddhists have been protesting the deployment, especially the stealthy, expedited manner in which it was moved to the golf course in late April under the previous government without a proper environmental appraisal.  (……….)

“The residents are most concerned about including a delegation while measuring electromagnetic waves,” he said.

The vice minister elaborated that he thus emphasized to them the principle of guaranteeing their participation, and that the Ministry of National Defense is reviewing how to do so. But he said it not official that the assessment will be undertaken.  [Joong Ang Ilbo]

If the residents want to go measure electromagnetic waves they can do it right now.  They can purchase their own detection device and stand at their homes or farms and see what electromagnetic waves they detect.  They are not going to detect anything though because a group of Korean reporters were invited to the THAAD site on Guam and have already measured electromagnetic waves and found nothing.

This photo, taken on July 18, 2016, and provided by the U.S. Air Force, shows officials measuring the level of electromagnetic waves from the radar of a THAAD battery in Guam, with South Korean reporters watching and taking notes. (Yonhap)

What is so stupid about this claim is do these activists really think the US military would just let their personnel on the site get exposed to dangerous electromagnetic waves much less local residents?  Do they think soldiers on Guam just keep dropping dead and the US military just keeps replacing them with no one noticing?

USFK Responds to President Moon’s Claim THAAD was Only to Install One Launcher this Year

It appears that President Moon can’t keep his THAAD excuses straight and USFK has had to correct the record:

A THAAD interceptor launcher is in place at a former golf course in Sejongju, North Gyeongsang Province, in this file photo. (Yonhap)

The U.S. Forces Korea (USFK) said Friday it has an “original” agreement with South Korea to deploy the THAAD missile defense system here as soon as possible.

It was in response to President Moon Jae-in’s view that the deployment process has been “accelerated for some reason” that he does not know.

He has apparently questioned the transparency of the related procedures, especially at home.

“Originally, the alliance decided to deploy THAAD as soon as able in order to substantially improve our layered missile defense against North Korean missile threats,” a USFK spokesperson told Yonhap News Agency.

She would not discuss specifics on the timeline, however, citing “operational security reasons.”

The official stressed that the U.S. “trusts” South Korea’s official stance that the THAAD deployment was an “alliance decision.”

“We have worked closely and have been fully transparent with the ROK government throughout this process,” she said, using the acronym for South Korea’s formal name, the Republic of Korea.

It’s rare for the USFK to issue a statement on the sensitive THAAD issue. It usually leaves it to the Pentagon or refers media to South Korea’s defense ministry.

It came a day after a foreign news report said that Moon, a liberal leader who took office in early May, took issue with the timeline of the deployment of the U.S. strategic asset on the peninsula.

In an interview with Reuters, Moon was quoted as saying that just one THAAD interceptor launcher was originally scheduled to be installed this year, with five others to arrive in 2018.  [Yonhap]

You can read more at the link, but the ROK government and I believe President Moon knew about the six launchers and have just been using this for domestic political reasons to appease his anti-US base.  His upcoming summit with President Trump could be very interesting.

President Moon Says He Does Not Need President Trump’s Permission to Negotiate with North Korea

I think the interviewer could have used a better word choice, but I think this is much to do about nothing:

“CBS This Morning” co-host Norah O’Donnell and South Korean President Moon Jae-in

South Korea or its head of state Moon Jae-in does not need permission from the U.S. president or anyone else to engage North Korea in dialogue, Seoul’s presidential office Cheong Wa Dae said Wednesday.

“Resumption of dialogue with North Korea may need to be pursued in close cooperation and consultation with the United States, but South Korea does not need to be allowed by the U.S. to do so,” Kwun Hyuk-ki, a Cheong Wa Dae spokesman, told Yonhap News Agency.

The remarks came in reaction to a question by a U.S. journalist in a recent interview with South Korean President Moon Jae-in, in which the interviewer from U.S. broadcaster CBS stated it was not clear whether U.S. President Donald Trump would “agree to allow” his South Korean counterpart to negotiate with the North Koreans.  (…..)

Many South Koreans reacted with anger in online postings.

“The president must have been very offended when given the question. He still managed very well,” one Internet user said on a local internet bulletin board.

Without interpreting what the word “allow” may have intended to mean, the Cheong Wa Dae spokesman flatly dismissed the notion that the South Korean president would ask for U.S. permission to engage with North Korea.  [Yonhap]

You can read more at the link, but President Moon’s interview with Norah O’Donnell can be viewed at this link.


US, Canada, and South Korea Conduct Trilateral Naval Exercise this Week

Here is another example of strategic messaging against North Korea that the Canadians are ready to stand with the ROK if needed:

Battleships from the Incheon Naval Sector Defense Command take part in a drill near Incheon and Ijak Island on June 14 and 15 to mark the month of national defense and veterans’ welfare. / Yonhap

South Korea said Monday it will hold a combined live-fire naval exercise with the United States and Canada this week in its southern waters.

Hosted by South Korea’s Maritime Task Flotilla Seven (MTF7), the three-day training exercise will be staged in waters near Jeju Island from Friday, according to the Navy.

It will involve five South Korean warships, including the Aegis cruiser DDG-992 Yulgok Yii, P-3C Orion maritime surveillance aircraft and Lynx multi-role planes as well as the USS Dewey (DDG-105), an Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer from the U.S. Navy, and MH-60R helicopters.

Two major Canadian frigates — Winnipeg and Ottawa — and SH-3 choppers will also take part in the practice.

The three sides plan to hold various drills on interdiction, air defense, anti-submarine operations and ballistic missile detection, along with live-fire training, said the Navy.  [Korea Times]

You can read more at the link.