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.

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.

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.

ROK Government May Reconsider Deployment of Four Additional THAAD Launchers

That did not take long, the Moon administration is now reconsidering the deployment of the additional four THAAD launchers:

Residents of Seongju and Gimcheon, North Gyeongsang, stage a rally near the Blue House on Monday to protest the order by President Moon Jae-in to discuss the deploying of additional Thaad launchers with Washington. [YONHAP]

South Korea’s National Defense Ministry announced Monday that discussions with the United States have begun on the “temporary deployment” of four additional mobile launchers for the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (Thaad) system, which would technically complete a full Thaad battery – but the minister said hours later that even that decision can be “reconsidered if the local public expresses fear.”

Moon Sang-gyun, the ministry’s spokesman, said during a regular press briefing Monday morning that the two countries will decide together whether to deploy four more launchers, but didn’t mention by when or how a conclusion will be reached.

If Seoul and Washington do decide to deploy additional launchers, the delivery process will be “transparent,” Moon stressed when asked whether the military would carry out an unnoticed, late-night operation like the one done by the former Park Geun-hye administration.

The ministry’s announcement was made two days after President Moon Jae-in ordered his aides during a National Security Council meeting to start discussions with their U.S. counterparts on deploying four additional launchers in Seongju County, North Gyeongsang, some 300 kilometers (186 miles) south of Seoul.   [Joong Ang Ilbo]

You can read more at the link, but it looks like the THAAD drama will continue.

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.

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.

Study Says Keeping A Permanently Stationed Brigade in Korea Would Save Money

Even if it is cheaper to permanently station a brigade in South Korea, the reason USFK has been citing for using a rotational brigade is increased readiness of the unit since it trains together, deploys together, and returns to its home station together:

The downsizing of the Army overseas has cost more money than expected because of a reliance on expensive rotational forces when forward-based units can perform the same roles more cheaply, according to a new U.S. Army War College report.

An examination of the costs of troop rotations during the past several years in Europe and South Korea undermines a decade-old Defense Department argument that shuttling units back and forth from the United States is a more efficient way of doing business than basing them overseas, said report author John R. Deni, a War College professor.

There also is evidence that the long rotations are taking a toll on troop morale, with units deployed to Europe and South Korea showing lower re-enlistment rates than their counterparts, the report found.

Deni, whose findings were the subject of a panel discussion Wednesday at the Atlantic Council in Washington, said the Army should base one additional armored brigade in Europe and one in South Korea along with aviation assets and enablers.  [Stars & Stripes]

You can read more at the link, but one of the other positives of the rotational brigade is that if the Pentagon wants to reduce troop numbers on the peninsula it is much easier to do so with a rotational unit that is not sent instead of trying to pull a permanently stationed brigade off of the peninsula.