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.

Army Unit from Alaska Gets to Train in Darkness in South Korea

I never thought of this before, but yes Army units from Alaska would have a very limited amount of time to train in darkness since the best months weather wise to train have a lot of daylight:

A soldier from 1st Battalion, 5th Infantry Regiment, 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division out of Fort Wainwright, Alaska, wears chemical-resistant gear while training at Rodriguez Live Fire Range, South Korea, Sunday, June, 4, 2017.

Six hundred U.S. troops wrapped up a monthlong training rotation to South Korea Monday with something in short supply this time of year at their home station in Alaska — darkness.

Soldiers from the Fort Wainwright-based 1st Battalion, 5th Infantry Regiment “Bobcats” spent May living and training at the 3,390-acre Rodriguez Live Fire Range north of Seoul.

“We’re here to build our lethality,” battalion commander Lt. Col. R. Blake Lackey said Wednesday.

That includes being able to operate day and night, the latter being difficult in the Alaskan summer, he said.

“This time of year we’ll be training at 1:30 in the morning and it’s still daylight,” said Staff Sgt. Benjamin Moore, 34, a recon team leader with the battalion.

“When it’s dark in Alaska it’s winter and it’s pretty harsh,” the West Palm Beach, Fla., native added. “So it’s really difficult to get after some of the more basic and fundamental [requirements].”

The Korea rotation has taken the unit “to a higher level of readiness we didn’t think was possible,” Lackey said.  [Stars & Stripes]

You can read the rest at the link.

ROK Defense Ministry Discloses How It Followed Environmental Laws to Deploy THAAD System

This was actually clever what the Korean Defense Ministry did to comply with ROK environmental laws that would have delayed the deployment of the THAAD missile defense system for up to year:

THAAD site on former South Korean golf course outside of Seongju.

A fact-finding mission into the deployment of a U.S. antimissile system in Korea in April raised a new suspicion that the Ministry of National Defense tried to sidestep an environmental study required by the law, the Blue House said Monday.

Following the discovery, President Moon Jae-in ordered a proper environmental study, effectively stalling the deployment schedule to be completed by the end of this year.

The probe also found that Lt. Gen. Wee Seung-ho, deputy defense minister of policy, has ordered his team to delete crucial pieces of information from a report to Moon’s security team, Yoon Young-chan, senior secretary for public relations, said in a press briefing.

Moon ordered last week an investigation into the ministry’s failure to fully brief his team about the U.S. military’s delivery of four additional launchers for the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (Thaad) antimissile system.

The probe identified Wee as responsible for the omission and revealed that the ministry tried to avoid the environmental impact study. The conclusion was reported to Moon at the senior secretariat meeting on Monday.

Despite protests by Beijing and Moscow, Seoul and Washington agreed on the deployment of a Thaad battery in July 2016.

Key components of a Thaad battery, including a radar system and two missile launchers, were installed on a former golf course in Seongju, North Gyeongsang, on April 26 – less than two weeks before the May 9 election that brought Moon to power.

A Thaad battery typically consists of six launchers, 48 interceptors, a fire control and communication unit and radar. The military authorities of Korea and the United States planned to complete the deployment before the end of this year.

According to Yoon, the ministry created a plan on Nov. 25, 2016 that it will offer the Seongju site to the U.S. military in two separate transfers. Of the 700,000 square-meter (173-acre) site, a 328,779 square-meter piece was transferred in the first phase and another piece, about 370,000 square meters, was planned to be offered later in the second phase.

“By designating the first phase site to be smaller than 330,000 square meters, the ministry planned that only a summary environmental impact study was needed,” Yoon said. The law requires a full-scale environmental study when the site is larger than 330,000 square meters.

Yoon then said the first phase site is an odd-looking inverse U-shaped piece of land. “The shape was abnormally designed in order to exclude the land that is supposed to be inside the U shape,” he said.  [Joong Ang Ilbo]

You can read more at the link, but General Wee claims that he ordered the deletion in the report about the four launchers because the US military asked him to.  My guess would be that the US military wanted to keep the location of the launchers secret for operational security reasons.  We will see how this plays out, but my assessment is that the Moon administration will use this to maximum political advantage to appease his base without actually changing the deployment decision.

Where the Majority of US Military Servicemembers Come From

For those who have served in the military these statistics are probably not surprising:

With an active-duty force comprising merely 0.4% of the U.S. population, this divide between the military and the rest of society is unsurprising. However, and despite the services’ continued efforts, two trends are making it harder to bridge the divide: increased regional and familial concentration within the armed forces.

Why should this disturb us? Because of its subtle impact on the most important decision our nation’s leadership ever makes — when to put young men and women into harm’s way. It also undermines the military’s need for public support.

First, the facts: Having a relative who served in the military has become a critical indicator as to whether an individual will even consider military service. Among veterans under age 40, 60% have an immediate family tie to the military, compared to only 39% of civilians. Of the new recruits joining today, approximately 25% have a parent who has served. As time goes on, this pattern isolates military service; it is becoming a burden borne by an increasingly small number of families.

Similar trends emerge when examining the regional makeup of the force. Places where the military has historical roots, including locations close to military bases, draw more young men and women into the service. So 60% of new military recruits come from the South and the West, with the South alone contributing 36.9% of all recruits, while the Northeast and Midwest remain underrepresented relative to their population of people aged 18 to 24. In fact, half of the states in the U.S. contribute more than their fair share, and half contribute less. Though the service academies receive nominations from all 50 states, they are only one source of military commissions, focused solely on officers. Geographically, the military today is simply not representative of the U.S. population, depriving the armed forces of the organizational strength that comes from diversity.  [USA Today]

You can read more at the link.

 

US Soldiers Find Out What Average South Koreans Really Think of Them

Via Popular Military comes a video filmed by Korean-American servicemembers serving in USFK. They interviewed random South Koreans in Daegu on what they thought about the US soldiers in their country.  The opinions on the whole were largely favorable with most criticism being soldiers spending too much time in clubs, womanizing, and not learning Korean.

Yokota Airbase Worker Injures Japanese Civilian After Drunk Driving Accident

I bet the leadership in USFJ when they heard about this accident probably thought to themselves, at least this accident did not happen on Okinawa:

A Yokota civilian was under the influence of alcohol before the car he was driving crashed into another vehicle, injuring its occupant, Japanese officials said Monday.

A man in his 20s was taken to the hospital after the accident, which happened around 6 p.m. on May 7, a North Kanto Defense Bureau spokesman said. The man sustained minor injuries to his neck, he said.  [Stars & Stripes]

You can read more at the link.