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.

Article About the Korean War Recommended By Defense Secretary Mattis

During a recent interview with Defense Secretary James Mattis conducted by a high school journalism student; Secretary Mattis recommended that people read a 2013 article in the Atlantic by James Wright that discusses what was learned from the Korean War.  The main point the article makes is that the Korean War began a trend of the US becoming involved in military conflicts before settling on political objectives:

Korea established a pattern that has been unfortunately followed in American wars in Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan. These are wars without declaration and without the political consensus and the resolve to meet specific and changing goals. They are improvisational wars. They are dangerous.

The wars of the last 63 years, ranging from Korea to Vietnam to Afghanistan to Iraq (but excepting Operation Desert Storm, which is an outlier from this pattern) have been marked by:

  • Inconsistent or unclear military goals with no congressional declaration of war.

  • Early presumptions on the part of the civilian leadership and some top military officials that this would be an easy operation. An exaggerated view of American military strength, a dismissal of the ability of the opposing forces, and little recognition of the need for innovation.

  • Military action that, except during the first year in Korea, largely lacked geographical objectives of seize and hold.

  • Military action with restricted rules of engagement and political constraints on the use of a full arsenal of firepower.

  • Military action against enemy forces that have sanctuaries which are largely off-limits.

  • Military action that is rhetorically in defense of democracy–ignoring the reality of the undemocratic nature of regimes in Seoul, Saigon, Baghdad, and Kabul.

  • With the exception of some of the South Korean and South Vietnamese military units, these have been wars with in-country allies that were not dependable.

  • Military action that civilian leaders modulate, often clumsily, between domestic political reassurance and international muscle-flexing. Downplaying the scale of deployment and length of commitment for the domestic audience and threatening expansion of these for the international community.

  • Wars fought by increasingly less representative sectors of American society, which further encourages most Americans to pay little attention to the details of these encounters.

  • Military action that is costly in lives and treasure and yet does not enjoy the support that wars require in a democracy.  [The Atlantic]

You can read the rest at the link.

High School Journalism Student Lands Interview with US Secretary of Defense Mattis

I think this high school student probably just scored himself an A in his journalism class after landing an interview with Defense Secretary Mattis:

A US high school student has scored an exclusive interview with Pentagon chief Jim Mattis after an aide of President Donald Trump inadvertently exposed the defense secretary’s cell phone number.

The Washington Post in May ran a photo of Trump and his bodyguard Keith Schiller walking outside the White House, with Schiller clutching a bunch of papers.

Sharp-eyed readers noticed that atop the papers was a yellow sticky note that said “Jim, Mad Dog, Mattis” along with a phone number.

Retired four-star Marine general Mattis has been nicknamed “Mad Dog” by some in the media and by troops that served under him.

The newspaper quickly took the photo down but not before Teddy Fischer, a sophomore (about 16 years old) from Mercer Island High School saw the number and called Mattis with an interview request.

“I called it to see if it was him, because I was pretty curious if this is actually his number or is it kind of a joke,” Fischer told the King 5 local news channel in his home state of Washington.

He didn’t leave a message but went on to text an interview request.

To his surprise, Mattis called back and agreed to schedule an interview, which ultimately would last for about 45 minutes.  [AFP]

For those that think war with North Korea is imminent I think this passage from Secretary Mattis during the interview is quite telling:

“The most important thing is, if you have to go to war, then do everything you can not to go to war if at all possible,” the defense secretary added. “Then you’ve got to get the political end state right or you’ll never figure out how to end it successfully.”

Mattis cited the 1991 Desert Storm campaign against Iraq as an exception to the US’s half-century pattern of entering conflicts without a planned political end state. In that conflict, Mattis says, President George H.W. Bush formed a coalition and pushed Iraqi forces out of Kuwait, stopping short of invading Iraq, despite calls to do so.

“We went in with more troops than we needed and we ended it quickly, because he had the political end state right,” Mattis said.  [Business Insider]

I don’t think anyone can make the case yet that all options to deal with the North Korean threat have been exhausted.  Based on Secretary Mattis’ statement I don’t think he is going to be an advocate of launching any strike on North Korea until all options are exhausted.

The full interview with Mattis can be read at the high school newspaper’s website. The student I thought did a really good job because the interview was actually quite interesting and worth taking the time to read.

Defense Secretary Mattis Calls North Korea America’s Most Serious Threat

North Korea has jumped above Iran on America’s enemies list according to Secretary of Defense James Mattis:

Defense Secretary James Mattis, when he led the U.S. Central Command that oversees operations in the Middle East, repeatedly said that the three gravest threats to the United States were “Iran, Iran, Iran.”

But at a press conference in London on Friday, the retired Marine general suggested that North Korea, with its ballistic missile and nuclear programs, now holds the top spot.

Asked about his previous focus on Iran as the most serious threat, Mattis called Iran “the primary state sponsor of terrorism” but pivoted quickly to the secretive Stalinist regime in Pyongyang.

“In the larger scheme of things, obviously, in a global situation that’s dynamic, you’ve highlighted appropriately I think the North Korean threat,” Mattis said (the reporter had not mentioned North Korea).  [Yahoo News]

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?

Tweet of the Day: NATO Warned By US Defense Secretary to Increase Spending

It is telling that Secretary of Defense James Mattis gave no warnings to South Korea or Japan during his recent visit to the area, but did gave a warning to NATO to increase spending:

Report Says Secretary Mattis to Keep General Brooks as USFK Commander

In this Yonhap article about Secretary Mattis’ recent visit to South Korea, there is blurb that states that General Vincent Brooks is likely to stay on as USFK commander:

Another military source said that during the visit, Mattis also expressed his confidence in the U.S. Forces Korea commander, Gen. Vincent Brooks, who was named under the Obama administration and is likely to continue in his current position after the recent administration change in the U.S.  [Yonhap]

You can read more at the link, but I hope General Brooks stays on since I believe he has done a great job as the USFK commander.  However, my concern is that President Trump is known for holding grudges and General Brooks did testify to Congress with information contrary to what President Trump claimed during his campaign.

Secretary Mattis Confirms that US Will Help Japan Defend Senkaku Islands

Will we one day execute Operation Senkaku Freedom?  According to Secretary Mattis we will if the uninhabited islets are ever occupied by China:

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis walks with Japanese Minister of Defense Tomomi Inada during a pass and review at the Defense Ministry in Tokyo, Saturday, Feb. 4, 2017.

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis chastised China on Saturday for “shredding the trust” of its neighbors, while reaffirming that the United States would defend Japan-administered islands claimed by China if they were ever attacked.

Mattis also praised the current cost-sharing agreement for hosting U.S. bases in Japan as a “model agreement,” despite comments by President Donald Trump during his campaign that Japan and South Korea were not paying enough for hosting U.S. troops.

In 2013, China declared an Air Defense Identification Zone over the uninhabited Senkaku Islands, which lie near Okinawa prefecture and Taiwan.

Japanese and Chinese fighter jets regularly overfly the uninhabited territory. Coast guard and other vessels have shadowed one another in nearby waters.  [Stars & Stripes]

You can read more at the link.

Secretary Mattis Reaffirms that North Korea is the Only Reason THAAD is Deploying to South Korea

The Chinese and the Russians both know the THAAD system is no threat to them, they are just using this as a way to create a wedge in the US-ROK alliance.  With a left wing candidate likely winning the upcoming ROK presidency if the impeachment of President Park is upheld it will be interesting to see what happens with the planned deployment of THAAD:

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis answers questions from reporters during a flight to South Korea. Photo courtesy of the Defense Department.

U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said that none other than North Korea needs to worry about the planned deployment of the U.S. THAAD missile defense system in South Korea.

Mattis, who arrived in Seoul on his first overseas trip since taking office, made the remark to reporters traveling together with him on the plane, stressing THAAD is a defensive system, according to a transcript provided by the Pentagon.

“There’s only one reason that we even have this under discussion right now, and that is North Korea’s activities,” Mattis said. “THAAD is for defense of our allies’ people, of our troops who are committed to their defense.”

“Were it not for the provocative behavior of North Korea we would have no need for THAAD out here. There’s no other nation that needs to be concerned about THAAD other than North Korea,” he said.  [Yonhap]

You can read more at the link.