military

U.S. Jets Drop Bombs in ‘Show of Force’ Against North Korea

U.S. jets, along with aircraft from Japan and South Korea, dropped live ammunition in the Korean Peninsula as part of a show of force against North Korea Sunday in response to North Korea’s missile launch over Japan last week. The Pentagon announced that two U.S. B-1B bombers from Guam and four Marine Corps F-35B fighters from Iwakuni, Japan, joined fighters from Japan and South Korea in flying across the Korean Peninsula and practicing attacks on the Pilsung Range training area in South Korea, including the use of live weapons. The move comes amid increasing aggression from North Korea. While the show of force was triggered by last week’s launch, it also comes on the back of a hydrogen bomb test by North Korea this month, as well as another missile launch over Japan last month. The U.N. Security Council has imposed two rounds of sanctions on the regime, cutting off as much as 90 percent of the regime’s exports and limiting its imports of oil. However, that appears to have failed to affect North Korea’s escalation of its weapons program. President Trump is scheduled to address the United Nations General Assembly Tuesday and is expected to call for the international community to keep its focus on North Korea in his remarks. He has made repeated warnings to the regime and last week said that, while sanctions were a good step, they were “nothing compared to what ultimately will have to happen.”

US nuclear sub returns flying pirate flag, sparking speculation

One of the United States’ most advanced nuclear submarines returned to port in Washington state this week flying a Jolly Roger, a move steeped in maritime lore and mystery. The images of the USS Jimmy Carter, a Seawolf-class nuclear-powered submarine passing through the Hood Canal, were posted to a Pentagon media site and Twitter page. They show the skull and bones flying beside the American flag, the Washington Post reported. The 450-foot-long Carter is one of three in its class and designed to conduct covert sea operations, the paper reported. The sub also was filmed returning from its last patrol in April with the Jolly Roger flying from the conning tower. The black flag emblazoned with a skull and crossbones is of significance, says Scottish journalist Ian Keddie, who posted one of the photos on Twitter. The tradition of flying it dates to 1914, during World War I, when a British submarine sank the German battle cruiser Hela, according to the historical book “Submarines at War 1939-45,” the paper reported. When the HMS E-9 returned to port, Lt. Cmdr Max Horton raised the iconic pirate flag to signal that its crew had sunk an enemy warship. British naval fleets have honored the tradition sporadically ever since. It was not immediately clear why the Carter returned to its home port observing a British tradition, according to the paper. U.S. submarine activity is reportedly rarely discussed by the Pentagon, and the vessels operate in secrecy. The paper pointed out that the flag display could represent the success of a more covert mission. The Carter is able to deploy unmanned submersibles and probably splice undersea cables, all while using specially outfitted thrusters to almost hover off the ocean floor. One of the Seawolf class’s namesake subs participated in the Cold War-era operations, in which U.S. subs tapped Soviet communication lines that were underwater.

United States to Sell More Military Equipment to Japan and South Korea

President Trump tweeted Tuesday morning that he is allowing Japan and South Korea to buy “a substantially increased amount of highly sophisticated military equipment from the United States.” “I am allowing Japan & South Korea to buy a substantially increased amount of highly sophisticated military equipment from the United States,” Trump wrote on Twitter. The tweet comes after North Korea conducted its sixth nuclear weapons test over the weekend. Trump did not specify what kind of military equipment the U.S. will sell to Japan and South Korea. A White House readout of a call between Trump and South Korean President Moon Jae-in on Monday said Trump provided his “conceptual approval for the purchase of many billions of dollars’ worth of military weapons and equipment” from the U.S. by South Korea. It also said Trump gave his “in-principle” approval to South Korea’s initiative to lift restrictions on their missile payload capabilities. According to South Korean news agency Yonhap, the decision came after weeks of discussions, and is a means to deter North Korean provocations. South Korea is among the “top customers” for Foreign Military Sales from the U.S. and is an attractive market because of its rising defense spending, according to a recent study by the Congressional Research Service. Between 2008 and 2016, South Korea spent 75 percent of its total foreign defense purchases on U.S. companies, but also buys from European and Israeli defense companies. During that time, South Korea FMS contracts with the U.S. totaled $15.7 billion, and commercial buys totaled $6.9 billion, for a total of $22.5 billion. South Korea is to purchase 40 Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter from the U.S. for a total of $7.83 billion, with the first delivery scheduled for 2018. South Korea is also to purchase four RQ-4 “Global Hawk” drones at a price of $657 million. U.S. military sales to Japan dwarfs South Korea by comparison. Japan spends $11 billion per year on Foreign Military Sales, with more than 90 percent of their purchases from U.S. companies, according to another study by CRS. Recent major purchases include the Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, Boeing KC-46 Tankers, Northrup Grumman E2D Hawkeye airborne early warning aircraft, General Dynamics Advanced Amphibious Assault Vehicles, and Boeing/Bell MV-22 Ospreys.

Obesity epidemic at new high, costs $150B a year, hurts military recruiting

Americans continue to get fatter and it’s delivering a huge blow to the country, both in higher health care costs and undercutting military recruiting, according to a huge new study. The 14th annual State of Obesity: Better Policies for a Healthier America report from the Trust for America’s Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation bluntly reported that 70 percent of the nation is obese or overweight. And while the rate of obesity growth is leveling off, the costs aren’t. The report, for example, said additional health care for obese adults and children is $150 billion a year and billions of dollars more in lost worker productivity. It is also costly to the military, said the report. Nearly one-quarter of military recruits are rejected because they are obese and it costs the Pentagon $1 billion a year in added health care costs for obese troops and their families. More stunning, said the comprehensive 101-page report: ” 70 percent of today’s youth are not fit to serve in the military due to obesity or being overweight, criminal records, drug misuse or educational deficits.” The report is filled with graphics and statistics showing that the epidemic is at a new high, though slowing. It also gives several recommendations to fight it. It charts obesity in every state and found that West Virginia is at the top, with 37.7 percent obese. Colorado is at the bottom with 22 percent obese.

U.N.: N.Korea supplying Syria chemical weapons program

A North Korean mining firm, reputed to be a front for Pyongyang’s weapons development programs, attempted to ship materiel to Syrian officials tied to the country’s chemical weapons program, according to a confidential United Nations assessment of international sanctions against the North. Details of the U.N. findings, first reported by Reuters, found officials from Korea Mining Development Trading Corporation {KOMID) had sent a pair of shipments of unknown contents to members of Syria’s Scientific Studies and Research Centre or SSRC. The Syrian government organization has been responsible for developing chemical and biological weapons for the regime in Damascus since the 1970’s. The shipments never arrived in Syria after being intercepted by international authorities from U.N. partner nations, Reuters reports. “Two member states interdicted shipments destined for Syria. Another member state informed the panel that it had reasons to believe that the goods were part of a KOMID contract with Syria,” the U.N. review states. KOMID has repeatedly trafficked in materials associated with ballistic missile development and other conventional arms programs, and was blacklisted by the U.N. security council as a result of those activities, Reuters reports. As a result, the U.N. “is investigating reported prohibited chemical, ballistic missile and conventional arms cooperation between Syria and [North Korea],” the report states. North Korea and Syria had reportedly been cooperating on efforts to repair and maintain Syria’s arsenal of short-range Scud missiles and the country’s air defense systems. Two American destroyers fired 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles attacked the al Shayrat airbase in western Syria in April. The strike was in retaliation for a Syrian chemical attack against anti-government fighters in Idlib province that left over 70 dead, including 11 children. Damascus had been ordered to dismantle its chemical stockpiles as part of Russian-brokered 2013 peace pact between Syria and the U.S.

Analysis: North Korea may have just shown a capability to strike the continental US

Top U.S. generals are weighing ”military response options” following a North Korean missile test that analysts believe, for the first time, showed a capability to strike the continental United States with an intercontinental ballistic missile. Following the launch Friday morning, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Joe Dunford, and Commander, U.S. Pacific Command, Adm. Harry Harris called the Republic of Korea Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman, Gen. Lee Sun-jin, according to the Pentagon. “During the call Dunford and Harris expressed the ironclad commitment to the U.S.-Republic of Korea alliance,” a Pentagon release stated. ”The three leaders also discussed military response options.” Harris joined Dunford in his Pentagon office to make the phone call. Hours after the launch, there is increasing consensus among analysts that the preliminary characteristics of the launch show the capability to exceed 10,000 km in range, a distance capable of potentially threatening New York or San Diego. Pentagon spokesman Navy Capt. Jeff Davis issued an statement on the launch from the Defense Department. “The U.S. Department of Defense detected and tracked a single North Korea missile launch today at about 10:41 a.m. [Eastern Daylight Time],” said Davis, reading the official statement. “We assess that this missile was an intercontinental ballistic missile, as had been expected.” Davis said the missile was launched from Mupyong-ni, and said it traveled “about 1,000 kilometers before splashing down in the Sea of Japan.” Mupyong-ni “is an arms plant up in the far north of North Korea, north of Pyongyang,” Davis said. The missile “splashed down inside Japan’s exclusive economic zone, about 88 nautical miles from Hokkaido,” Davis told reporters at the Pentagon. “We’re working with our interagency partners for a more detailed assessment,” he said. North American Aerospace Defense Command assessed the launch and “determined it was not a threat to North America,” Davis said.

Not this time..   But, then again, that wasn’t the target.  What we can take away from this is that the DPRK is moving closer and closer toward an ICBM capability that could hit CONUS (the continental United States).  And, that is simply not acceptable.  Talking and talking, and imposing so-called “economic sanctions” have done nothing, so far, to deter Kim Jong Ding Dong from pursuing an ICBM and nuclear capability.  So, our leaders need to start not just planning “military options,”…but, actually preparing to make the decision to execute those military options.  Up til now, it really hasn’t been seriously considered.  Sure we have the 2nd Infantry Division on the DMZ, and we have military assets in that theater.   But, seriously considering taking unilateral military action against North Korea hasn’t seriously been considered to date.  It’s been a can that each presidential administration has just kicked down the road.  We’ll see if President Trump follows that foolish precedent, or takes another course of action.  To read the rest of this article, click on the text above.

Pentagon intensifies focus on missile defense reliability after North Korea’s long-range advances

North Korea’s ballistic missile test is shining an intense spotlight on the Pentagon’s missile defenses, systems installed to protect South Korea and now the U.S. mainland. Recent results have been promising, but U.S. officials acknowledge that Pyongyang’s stunning advances this month are providing a real-world test much sooner than they had expected. The Pentagon has been touting the viability of the country’s ballistic missile systems following the apparent successful test by the regime of Kim Jong-un of a long-range missile on July 4, saying the constellation of missile interceptors and weapons now in place are fully capable of blocking any threat to American shores from Pyongyang or elsewhere. The need for reliability of the missile defense systems, including the new Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile defense battery installed in South Korea, soared amid calculations that the North has tested what could be its first intercontinental ballistic missile. In what Pentagon officials insisted was a previously planned exercise, the U.S. Missile Defense Agency revealed Tuesday that a THAAD system based in Alaska successfully tracked and shot down a simulated intermediate-range ballistic missile that closely resembles the ones Pyongyang is developing. The test was the first of its kind for the system against an incoming intermediate-range missile, which analysts say is harder to hit than shorter-range missiles. “This test further demonstrates the capabilities of the THAAD weapon system and its ability to intercept and destroy ballistic missile threats,” Lt. Gen. Samuel A. Greaves, director of the Missile Defense Agency, said in a statement. Sen. Dan Sullivan, an Alaska Republican whose state suddenly finds itself potentially in range of Pyongyang’s deadliest weapons, praised the test. He said it “provided further confirmation that we have the capability to defend our bases, our troops and our allies in places like Japan, South Korea and Guam against rogue nations like North Korea.” But any test falls far short of real-world conditions, when the enemy doesn’t reveal in advance where and when the missile will be launched or its intended target. “Missile defense, even if it worked perfectly, is not a get-out-of-jail-free card,” Laura Grego, a senior scientist for the Global Security Program at the Union of Concerned Scientists, told the Bloomberg news service. Missile defense systems, critics note, can’t afford to have a single failure against powerful payloads likely to be loaded onto an ICBM. “The homeland missile defense system doesn’t work perfectly and hasn’t demonstrated a real-world capability,” Ms. Grego said. Even before the July 4 test, the Pentagon was poised to invest billions of dollars to boost its anti-missile technology as part of President Trump’s first defense budget. Aside from additional funding, Defense Department officials are spearheading an overhaul of missile defense strategies and tactics. In one of his first acts as Pentagon chief, Defense Secretary James Mattis initiated a departmentwide review of missile defense operations in May. The review, led by Deputy Secretary of Defense Robert O. Work and Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Paul J. Selva, will “identify ways to strengthen missile defense capabilities, rebalance homeland and theater defense priorities, and provide the necessary policy and strategy framework for the nation’s missile defense systems,” Pentagon press secretary Dana White said. The administration’s newfound focus on the network of land- and sea-based interceptor weapons and associated sensors comes on the heels of the first successful test of the Pentagon’s premier missile interceptor system in May. The game-changer in the debate was the successful July 4 test of the Hwasong-14 intercontinental ballistic missile, which flew higher and farther than any previous North Korean long-range missile shots, theoretically placing the entire state of Alaska within range of Pyongyang’s new class of ballistic missiles.