North Korea Says It Does Not Have Plans to Nuke Europe

The fact that Europe is within ICBM range means that any NATO country that to comes to the aid of South Korea during a crisis puts them at risk of nuclear retaliation.  Will any NATO countries risk nuclear retaliation to help the ROK?:

North Korea responded Wednesday to European concerns about being in the path of Pyongyang’s potentially nuclear-capable intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) by assuring the leader of Western military alliance NATO that such weapons were only intended for the U.S.

NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg said during an interview last week with Japanese newspaper Yomiuri Shimbun that “Europe has also entered the [North Korean] missile range, and NATO member states are already in danger.” North Korea’s ruling party-run Rodong Shinmun newspaper countered these claims, calling Stoltenberg’s remarks “false and groundless” because, although European states are indeed in North Korea’s missile range, Pyongyang has no intention of pulling the trigger.

“The DPRK’s ballistic rockets are for deterring the U.S. nuclear war hysterics and ensuring peace and security on the Korean peninsula and the region. They are not for threatening Europe and the world,” the commentary read, according to the official Korea Central News Agency, referring to the country’s official title: The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.  [Newsweek]

You can read more at the link, but this is just another example of how their nuclear and ICBM programs are about more than regime survival.  They also are being developed to isolate the ROK from its allies and ultimately separate the ROK from the US.

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:

Donald Trump Singles Out Other Countries Besides Korea and Japan To Pay More For US Troops

The Donald has once again put allies on notice that they better be ready to pay up in a Trump Presidency:

Donald Trump image

U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump said Friday he will continue to defend South Korea, but wants the Asian ally to pay more for American defense support.

Speaking on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” Trump also said that he’s willing to hold talks with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, but won’t go to the communist nation.

“As far as Japan and South Korea are concerned, all I’m saying is we defend them. They are paying us a tiny fraction of what it’s costing. I want them to pay,” Trump said. “I would love to continue to defend Japan. I would love to continue to defend South Korea. We have 28,000 soldiers on the line between North and South Korea right now.”

Trump has unnerved foreign countries, especially such allies as South Korea and Japan, as he has displayed deeply negative views of U.S. security commitments overseas, contending the U.S. should stop being the policeman of the world.

The real-estate tycoon has said that the U.S. should be prepared to end protection of allies unless they pay more. He even suggested allowing South Korea and Japan to develop their own nuclear weapons for self-defense so as to reduce U.S. security burdens.

“We are not a country that can afford to defend Saudi Arabia, Germany, the NATO nations, 28 NATO nations, many of which are not paying us and they’re not living up to their agreement,” Trump said on MSNBC. “Japan, South Korea, nobody, we’re like the dummies that protect everybody. All I’m saying is, we have to get reimbursed because we can’t afford it.”  [Yonhap]

You can read more at the link, but I was glad to see Trump finally put some focus on Middle Eastern and European nations instead of just Korea and Japan.

NATO Allies Approve General Scaparrotti as Next Supreme Allied Commander

Current USFK Commander General Scaparrotti is very close to doing something that few USFK commanders have done before, be forced into retirement:

When U.S. Army Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti takes up the job of NATO Supreme Allied Commander in the months ahead, he won’t be facing the tranquil European security scene that greeted his most recent predecessors, who walked into the job trying to make a friend of Russia.

If confirmed, Scaparrotti will take his seat at the old desk of Dwight D. Eisenhower with a European mission transformed: Cold War-style tensions with Russia, a refugee crisis threatening Europe’s political order and a NATO alliance still trying to adapt.

On Friday, the White House nominated Scaparrotti as the next chief of European Command and SACEUR.

“His experience as a commander at every echelon while facing incredibly demanding security challenges in our country’s hottest spots give him the experience and skills needed for Europe and our nation at this time,” current EUCOM chief Gen. Philip Breedlove said in a statement. “’Scap’ is a superb match for the security situation in Europe as it is rapidly evolving and becoming more complex.”  [Stars & Stripes]

You can read the rest at the link, but General Scaparrotti next just needs the Senate to approve the nomination which I would be very surprised if anyone tries to block it.

Of note is that ROKHead extraordinaire, @JoeC, did the research and determined that the last USFK commander to receive a follow-on assignment was John Wickham, who went on to become Army Chief of Staff from 83-87. His predecessor, John Vessey was given Army Vice Chief of Staff from 79-82, then became Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff from 82-85.  The only USFK commander given a follow-on job as regional commander was Dwight Beach as commander US Army Pacific from 66-88. Scaparrotti will be the second to get a follow-on regional command.  To complete the list, the first USFK commander. George Decker left USFK to become Army Vice Chief of Staff from 59-60 and Army Chief of Staff from 60-62.

General Scaparrotti Reportedly Selected to Become Next Commander of NATO

Congratulations to General Scaparrotti if the below report is true.  This is pretty impressive that he is going from one very important four-star command to take over another one as the head of NATO.  I can’t remember the last USFK commander that moved on to such a prestigious position after leaving their post in Korea:

Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti, the commander of the U.S. Forces Korea, will probably be promoted to head NATO Forces.

The Wall Street Journal on Thursday said U.S. Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter is to recommend to President Barack Obama that Scaparrotti become the next commander of U.S. European Command.

Scaparrotti will serve concurrently as the Supreme Allied Commander in Europe, or the head of NATO forces. He assumed command of the USFK in August 2013.  [Chosun Ilbo]