US pushes 'enhanced deterrence' approach to North Korea - We Are The Mighty
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US pushes ‘enhanced deterrence’ approach to North Korea

North Korea and the U.S. flexed their military muscles April 25 as Pyongyang marked the 85th anniversary of the founding of the Korean People’s Army — without testing a nuclear weapon or conducting a major missile test.


Instead, amid soaring tensions on the Korean Peninsula, the nuclear-armed North carried out large-scale, live-fire drills in areas around the city of Wonsan on the country’s east coast, South Korea’s Defense Ministry said.

The Yonhap news agency said the drill, which involved 300-400 artillery pieces, was overseen by leader Kim Jong Un and was thought to be the “largest ever.”

Some observers had anticipated the regime would test an atomic bomb on the occasion.

The massive live-fire drills came the same day a U.S. guided-missile nuclear submarine arrived in South Korea and as diplomats from the United States, Japan, and South Korea gathered in Tokyo for a trilateral dialogue aimed at discussing measures to “maximize” pressure on the North over its nuclear and missile programs.

US pushes ‘enhanced deterrence’ approach to North Korea
The test-fire of Pukguksong-2. Described as ‘nuclear-capable’, its first test flight was on Feb. 12, 2017. (Photo: KCNA/Handout)

Kenji Kanasugi, director-general of the Foreign Ministry’s Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau, told reporters that the three countries had agreed to further cooperate in their effort to take “resolute” actions against nuclear provocations by the North.

Also read: The tension between North Korea and the US is not good

Kanasugi said the trio also shared the recognition that China — North Korea’s largest trade partner — had a “significant” role to play in reining in Pyongyang’s saber-rattling. He did not elaborate.

South Korea’s envoy on North Korean nuclear issues, Kim Hong-kyun, warned that Pyongyang’s failure to discontinue its missile and atomic tests will be met with “unbearable” punitive sanctions, and that the three countries will seek to “maximize” pressure against the reclusive state.

This could come in the form of tightened oil exports to the North by China, something reports in Chinese state-run media have alluded to in recent days.

Kanasugi is scheduled to meet his visiting Chinese counterpart, Wu Dawei, special representative for Korean Peninsula Affairs, on May 3. In meeting with Wu, Kanasugi said he will discuss the possibility of China cutting off its supply of oil to North Korea.

US pushes ‘enhanced deterrence’ approach to North Korea
One of the most threatening things in the North’s arsenal is its powerful conventional artillery, with hundreds of these 170mm Koksan guns threatening South Korea. (Photo: Reuters/KCNA)

The three envoys said they would “continue to work very closely with China” and “coordinate all actions — diplomatic, military, economic — regarding North Korea,” Joseph Yun, special representative for North Korea policy from the U.S., told reporters after the meeting.

“We really do not believe North Korea is ready to engage us toward denuclearization,” Yun said. “We make clear among ourselves that denuclearlization remains the goal and we very much want North Korea to take steps toward that.”

Meanwhile, the USS Michigan — one of the largest submarines in the world — arrived at the South Korean port city of Busan “for a routine visit during a regularly scheduled deployment to the Western Pacific,” U.S. Forces Korea said in a statement.

The vessel, which began service as a ballistic missile sub but was converted to a land-based attack vessel in the early 2000s, can carry up to 154 Tomahawk cruise missiles and embark up to 66 special operations personnel, according to the U.S. Navy.

The move came less than three weeks after the U.S. launched a barrage of 59 cruise missiles against a Syrian military target in response to a chemical weapons attack by that country’s regime.

That strike was also seen by some as sending a message to Pyongyang that military action remains a credible option for Washington in dealing with the North.

US pushes ‘enhanced deterrence’ approach to North Korea

The Michigan may have been what U.S. President Donald Trump was referring to in an April 11 interview with the Fox Business Network in which he described powerful submarines that were to link up with a U.S. “armada” — led by the USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier — that was heading toward the region.

“We are sending an armada, very powerful,” Trump said. “We have submarines, very powerful, far more powerful than the aircraft carrier. That I can tell you.”

Related: Here is what a war with North Korea could look like

On April 23, the Maritime Self-Defense Force held joint drills with the Carl Vinson and its escort vessels in the Western Pacific as the carrier strike group made its way toward the Sea of Japan.

The Trump administration had in recent days faced criticism over the strike group’s whereabouts after officials had portrayed it as steaming toward the Korean Peninsula when it was, in fact, still thousands of kilometers away.

The carrier group’s last reported location was in the Philippine Sea on April 23.

US pushes ‘enhanced deterrence’ approach to North Korea
The USS Carl Vinson sails during a training mission in the Pacific on July 17, 2016. (Photo: US Navy Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class D’Andre L. Roden)

The North has called the moves “undisguised military blackmail” and a dangerous action that plunges the peninsula into a “touch-and-go situation.”

“If the enemies recklessly provoke the DPRK, its revolutionary armed forces will promptly give deadly blows to them and counter any total war with all-out war and nuclear war with a merciless nuclear strike of Korean style,” the North’s ruling party newspaper Rodong Shinmun said April 24. DPRK stands for the North’s official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

International concern that the North is preparing for its sixth atomic test or a major missile launch has surged in recent months as the Kim’s regime butts heads with Trump.

Speaking to a gathering of United Nations Security Council ambassadors in Washington on April 24, Trump pushed for more pressure on the North, saying that maintaining the status quo was “unacceptable” and the council should take action to tighten the screws on Pyongyang with additional sanctions.

Further reading: How China could potentially stop a US strike on North Korea — without starting World War III

Trump said the North “is a real threat to the world, whether we want to talk about it or not.”

“People have put blindfolds on for decades, and now it’s time to solve the problem,” he added.

Also April 24, the White House confirmed reports that it would host a briefing on the North Korean nuclear issue for all 100 U.S. senators. Press secretary Sean Spicer said the briefing would be delivered by four top administration officials: Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Defense Secretary James Mattis, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Joseph Dunford.

US pushes ‘enhanced deterrence’ approach to North Korea
Potential ranges for North Korea’s ballistic missile program. (Center for Strategic and International Studies/Missile Defense Project)

While administration officials often travel to Capitol Hill to speak with Congress about policy issues, it is rare for the entire Senate to visit the White House.

Earlier April 24, Nikki Haley, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, threatened military strikes on the North if Kim orders attacks on any military base in the U.S. or in allied countries, or tests a long-range missile.

“We’re not going to do anything unless he gives us a reason to do something. So our goal is not to start a fight,” Haley said on NBC’s “Today” when asked if the U.S. is seriously considering a preemptive strike against the North.

However, when pressed on what would prompt a U.S. military response, Haley appeared to draw a line in the sand.

“If you see him attack a military base, if you see some sort of intercontinental ballistic missile. Then obviously we’re going to do that,” she said. “But right now, we’re saying, ‘Don’t test, don’t use nuclear missiles, don’t try and do any more actions’ and I think he’s understanding that.”

North Korea has kicked its weapons programs into overdrive over the last 16 months, conducting two nuclear blasts and a spate of new missile tests.

In one particularly worrisome development for Japan, the North conducted a near-simultaneous launch of four extended-range Scud missiles in March as a rehearsal for striking U.S. military bases in the country.

Experts who analyzed photographs of the drill told The Japan Times at the time that the hypothetical target of those test-launches appeared to be U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni in Yamaguchi Prefecture — meant as a simulated nuclear attack on the base. The exercise showed the North’s first explicit intent to attack U.S. Forces in Japan, they said.

US pushes ‘enhanced deterrence’ approach to North Korea
The largest part of the military is the Korean People’s Army Ground Force, which includes about 1.2 million active personnel and millions more civilians who are effectively reservists. (Photo: Reuters/KCNA)

In the event of conflict on the Korean Peninsula, U.S. troops and equipment from Iwakuni would likely be among the first deployed.

Also April 24, the U.S. State Department announced that Tillerson will chair a special meeting of the U.N. Security Council to discuss North Korea. That meeting is widely seen as an effort to drum up support for increased pressure on the North.

“The DPRK poses one of the gravest threats to international peace and security through its pursuit of nuclear weapons, ballistic missiles, and other weapons of mass destruction as well as its other prohibited activities,” the State Department said in a statement.

“The meeting will give Security Council members an opportunity to discuss ways to maximize the impact of existing Security Council measures and show their resolve to respond to further provocations with appropriate new measures.”

Analysts said the White House was taking a multipronged approach to the issue as it ratchets up pressure on Pyongyang.

“Clearly, the Trump administration is looking to employ a swarm-tactic approach to apply pressure on North Korea through a combination of levers,” said J. Berkshire Miller, a Tokyo-based international affairs fellow with the Council on Foreign Relations.

Miller, however, said that while this might look as if it was a new way of tackling the nuclear issue, it differed little from the approach taken by Trump’s predecessor.

“While it may appear that Trump has a newly defined approach to the security situation on the Korean Peninsula, the reality is that his administration is still largely following the path of the Obama administration through an ‘enhanced deterrence’ approach,” Miller said.

“The pace and scope of joint exercises with South Korea and Japan may be increasing — as are political consultations — but there still has been no demonstrable change in the U.S. approach, except the loose talk and uncoordinated planning, as evidenced by the USS Vinson deployment flap.”

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7 things Jodie will do with your girlfriend this Valentine’s Day

Ah, Valentine’s Day! Love is in the air! Cupid is on the march!


And you have duty. Or are deployed. Or stuck in the barracks. … Whatever.

We all know what that means. While you’re busy mopping floors and standing at parade rest, Joe D./Jodie/Jody is on the prowl, looking for heartsick girlfriends and boyfriends stuck all alone at home. Here’s the date he’s probably suggesting to your significant other right now:

1. He’ll probably give her some nice flowers.

US pushes ‘enhanced deterrence’ approach to North Korea
RIP Mary Tyler Moore. You were the real MVP. (GIF: Giphy/hulu.com)

Most likely roses, but it could be something creative like daisies or tulips.

2. Take a ride in your Cadillac.

US pushes ‘enhanced deterrence’ approach to North Korea

The wax still looks pretty good, and the shine on the tires hasn’t lost any of the luster. Sorry, man. “Ain’t no use in looking back, Jodie’s got your Cadillac.”

3. Dinner …

US pushes ‘enhanced deterrence’ approach to North Korea
(GIF: giphy.com/amzn.to)

Soft light from candles glints off of some fancy silverware as it cuts through delicious Italian food. Filling, but not too heavy.

 4. … and a movie.

US pushes ‘enhanced deterrence’ approach to North Korea
(GIF: giphy.com/foxsearchlightpictures.tumblr.com)

They’re gonna finish up just in time to catch a movie at the theater. Something funny, and not too racey for a girlfriend hanging out with a guy just as friends. It’s not “50 Shades Darker.” It’s “The Lego Batman Movie.”

5. Take a long walk in the park, on the beach, through the woods, or out behind the barn where no one can see them.

US pushes ‘enhanced deterrence’ approach to North Korea
(GIF: youtube.com/ICON)

It was an early movie, so the night is still pretty young. And the clear stars make a walk this time of evening just perfect. Of course, she might have to borrow his jacket, to keep the February chill at bay.

6. Play some nice, soft music.

US pushes ‘enhanced deterrence’ approach to North Korea
(GIF: youtube.com/Topshelf Records)

What? Lots of guys keep smooth jazz on their phone. And Jodie just likes to hear this kind of music.

In the dark. In a secluded area. On a walk. With a service member’s significant other.

7. Let’s be honest, Jodie/Jody/Joe D. isn’t doing anything with anyone. But your girlfriend/guyfriend/general’s daughter-friend could use a good Valentine’s Day.

US pushes ‘enhanced deterrence’ approach to North Korea
(GIF: giphy.com/Limelightlowlifes)

Your significant other is probably sitting at home, still in love with you. But don’t take that for granted. It’s Valentine’s Day for crying out loud.

If you’re stateside and can surprise them, just do everything from this list that Jodie might have done. If you’re deployed, send some nice flowers and a sweet video message.

Both of these things work even if you have to do it on the 13th or 15th.

Come on, give your loved ones some credit. The ladies know better than to give into Jodie’s nonsense. Now, the boys and Jane, on the other hand….

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Three Warthog squadrons could be on the chopping block

Even though President Donald Trump’s defense budget is committed to keeping the A-10 Thunderbolt II attack plane, as many as three squadrons could still be shut down.


According to a report in DefenseNews.com, the Air Force says that unless funding to produce more new wings for the A-10 is provided, three of the nine squadrons currently in service will have to be shut down due to fatigue issues in their wings. Re-winged A-10s have a projected service life into the 2030s.

US pushes ‘enhanced deterrence’ approach to North Korea
A U.S. Air Force A/OA-10 Thunderbolt II from the 355th Fighter Squadron is surrounded by a cloud of gun smoke as it fires a 30mm GAU-8 Avenger Gatling gun over the Pacific Alaska Range Complex in Alaska on May 29, 2007. (DoD photo by Airman 1st Class Jonathan Snyder)

“We’re working on a long-term beddown plan for how we can replace older airplanes as the F-35 comes on, and we’ll work through to figure out how we’re going to address those A-10s that will run out of service life on their wings,” Gen. Mike Holmes, the commander of Air Combat Command told DefenseNews.com.

Presently, only 173 wing kits have been ordered by the Air Force, with an option for 69 more. The Air Force currently had 283 A-10s in service, but some may need to be retired when the wings end their service lives.

US pushes ‘enhanced deterrence’ approach to North Korea
U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Trevor T. McBride

The A-10 has a number of supporters in Congress, notably Rep. Martha McSally, who piloted that plane during her career in the Air Force. In the defense authorization bill for Fiscal Year 2017, Congress mandated that at least 171 A-10s be kept in service to maintain a close-air-support capability.

According to MilitaryFactory.com, the A-10 was originally designed to bust enemy tanks, and was given the 30mm GAU-8 gatling gun with 1,174 rounds. It can also carry up to eight tons of bombs, rockets, missiles and external fuel tanks.

Fully 356 Thunderbolts were upgraded to the A-10C version, which has been equipped with modern precision-guided bombs like the Joint Direct Attack Munition, or JDAM. A total of 713 A-10s were built between 1975 and 1984.

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ISIS is thriving on the internet ‘dark web’

US pushes ‘enhanced deterrence’ approach to North Korea
Photo: Flickr


FBI Director James Comey made waves this week when he suggested that commercial encryption on mobile devices may prevent law enforcement from intercepting communications between Islamic State (aka ISIS, ISIL, Daesh) militants.

“The tools we are asked to use are increasingly ineffective,” Comey told a U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Wednesday. “ISIL says go kill, go kill…we are stopping these things so far…but it is incredibly difficult.”

The FBI wants tech companies using end-t0-end encryption, such as WhatsApp, to give the agency backdoor access to its communications before the encryption leads us all “to a very, very dark place,” Comey argued.

But even if Comey got his way — which doesn’t seem likely given the companies’ protests — ISIS would still have an anonymous forum for procuring fighters, weapons, and cash: the Dark Web.

“ISIL’s activities on the Surface Web are now being monitored closely, and the decision by a number of governments to take down or filter extremist content has forced the jihadists to look for new online safe havens,” Beatrice Berton writes in a new report on ISIS’ use of the dark net.

“The Dark Web is a perfect alternative as it is inaccessible to most but navigable for the initiated few – and it is completely anonymous,” she adds.

Accessed via the anonymous Tor browser, the deep web — anything not searchable by Google — “is kind of like an iceberg,” Aamir Lakhani, senior security strategist at Fortinet, told Business Insider last month. “Only about 30% of it is actually visible, and some say it is around 1,000 times larger than web we use every day.”

Indeed, “since the Dark [Web] is far less indexed and far harder to come across than regular Websites are, there is the possibility that there are Websites used by ISIS of which we do not know yet,”  Ido Wulkan, the senior analyst at dark web tech company S2T, told Defense One.

US pushes ‘enhanced deterrence’ approach to North Korea
Photo: Tor

Messages sent and received on Tor are anonymized via a process known as onion rooting. “Just as an onion has multiple layers, onion rooting on Tor protects people’s identities by wrapping layers around their communications” that are impenetrable — and thereby untraceable — by either party, Lakhani explained.

Tor browser email services such as Torbox and Sigaint are popular among the jihadis because they hide both their identities and their locations, Berton notes. Encrypyted jihadi forums and chat rooms also allow militants and sympathizers to communicate without fear of detection from law enforcement.

As a result, “the dark web has become ISIS’ number one recruiting platform,” Lakhani said.

The browser’s benefits for ISIS don’t stop at anonymous messaging: Supporters of the group from around the world can also use one of Tor’s many ilicit exchanges to transfer Bitcoins — a digital currency — directly into the militants’ accounts.

US pushes ‘enhanced deterrence’ approach to North Korea
Photo: Youtube.com

One ISIS supporter went so far as to create a guide explaining how anyone could help fund the jihadis using Dark Wallet, a dark web app that promises to anonymize your Bitcoin transactions. Numerous dark web websites soliciting bitcoin donations for terror groups have reportedly been found.

The national security community has developed various tools to track the IP addresses and activities of those logged onto Tor — including the NSA’s XKeyscore, the FBI’s Metasploit Decloaking Engine, and the Defense Advanced Projects Research Agency’s Memex project.

If the uproar over FBI director Comey’s comments are any indication, however, web monitoring programs will continue to face significant resistance from internet freedom advocates.

Meanwhile, ISIS is taking full advantage of the shadowiest parts of the web.

More from Business Insider:

This article originally appeared at Business Insider Defense. Copyright 2015. Follow BI Defense on Twitter.

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On the 75th anniversary of Pearl Harbor, remembering the tragedy

US pushes ‘enhanced deterrence’ approach to North Korea
Sailors stand amid wrecked planes at the Ford Island seaplane base, watching as USS Shaw (DD-373) explodes in the center background. | US Navy photo


In the decades that followed World War II, the attack on Pearl Harbor had faded somewhat in the American public’s memory.

The attacks of 9/11 changed all of that. “All those bad memories surged forward again,” said James C. McNaughton, who served as command historian for U.S. Army Pacific from 2001 to 2005. Today, he is the director of Histories Division at the Army Center of Military History.

Just weeks after the 9/11 attacks, McNaughton attended a ceremony commemorating the 60th anniversary of Japan’s surprise attack on Pearl Harbor. At the ceremony, he found himself among a large number of World War II veterans and Pearl Harbor survivors. Both attacks, McNaughton believes, were on all of their minds.

McNaughton attributes the fading memory of the events that transpired at Pearl Harbor 75 years ago, in part, to World War II veterans’ reticence to share their own wartime memories.

McNaughton’s own father, who served as a Marine participating in the Central Pacific campaign, was reluctant to discuss his wartime experiences.

Three missions

The story of the devasting Japanese air strike on U.S. naval forces that day has been well documented, McNaughton observed — less so the Army’s role in the response.

At the time of the attack, 43,000 Soldiers were on active duty in Hawaii, where they were tasked with three primary missions, the first of which was to protect the territory of Hawaii from an invasion. (Hawaii remained a territory until statehood in 1959.)

“It was not beyond the realm of possibility that the Imperial Japanese Navy could carry out an invasion,” he explained. “They didn’t do so, but the Army could not be sure, so it deployed combat troops to defend the beaches.”

The second was to defend the fleet with coast artillery and anti-aircraft artillery. Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. George C. Marshall Jr. had made it very clear to the highest ranking Army officer, Lt. Gen. Walter Short, commander, U.S. Army Hawaiian Department, that his No. 1 mission was to protect the fleet, McNaughton said.

US pushes ‘enhanced deterrence’ approach to North Korea
oeing B-17D Fortresses of the 5th Bombardment Group overfly the main gate at Hickam Field, Hawaii territory during the summer of 1941. 21 B-17C/Ds had been flown out to Hawaii during May to reinforce the defenses of the islands. | Photo Credit U.S. Army Air Corps

Before 1940, the U.S Pacific Fleet had been based in San Diego. President Franklin D. Roosevelt, for his own diplomatic reasons, had ordered the Navy to re-base itself at Pearl Harbor, according to McNaughton. The move added to the Army’s defensive responsibilities.

The third mission was training, he said.

By 1940, World War II had already engulfed much of Europe and the Pacific, and Americans were beginning to realize their involvement might be inevitable. For the Army’s part, they were organizing and training units — from squad to regiment and division. They were even conducting field exercises and basic training concurrently.

Besides ground forces, the Army at that time also included the Army Air Corps. “They were trying to train flight crews and mechanics and use the limited aircraft they had on hand,” McNaughton said. “This was a fairly green Army.”

US pushes ‘enhanced deterrence’ approach to North Korea
Retired Army Master Sgt. Thomas V. Panettiere Sr., from the Bronx in Hawaii, several months after the Pearl Harbor attack with his unit (he’s the one holding the guitar). He was one of the millions of Soldiers, Sailors and Marines who were in Hawaii during World War II, on their way to various island campaigns in the Pacific. | Photo courtesy of Thomas V. Panettiere Jr.

The National Guard and Organized Reserve had been mobilized as recently as 1940 and the draft, known as the Selective Training and Service Act, wasn’t instituted until Sept. 16 that same year.

In 1940, fewer than 270,000 Soldiers were on active duty. That number would climb to about 7 million by 1943.

Set up for failure

By late 1941, the Army in Hawaii was trying to juggle all three missions. “In my judgment, they couldn’t do all three,” McNaughton said. “They spread themselves too thin. Ultimately they failed.”

Coordination between the services was also poor, he said. The Army and the Navy on Hawaii had separate chains of command, and they engaged in very little coordination, at least in practical terms.

Early Sunday morning, the day of the attack, Adm. Husband E. Kimmel, commander-in-chief of the U.S. Pacific Fleet based at Pearl Harbor and his counterpart, Short, were preparing for their weekly golf game, McNaughton explained. Every Sunday morning, the two flag officers would play golf, enabling them to “check the box” for joint coordination.

“Well, you need more than that,” McNaughton said. “And that’s what they didn’t do.”

US pushes ‘enhanced deterrence’ approach to North Korea
Hickam Field, Hawaii, under attack Dec. 7, 1941. An Army B-17 Fortress is in the foreground. | Photo credit: National Archives

In 1946, according to the Army’s official history, “Guarding the United States and Its Outposts,” the Congressional Pearl Harbor Joint Committee concluded:

“There was a complete failure in Hawaii of effective Army-Navy liaison during the critical period and no integration of Army and Navy facilities and efforts for defense. Neither of the responsible commanders really knew what the other was doing with respect to essential military activities.”

Senior Navy and Army leaders relieved Kimmel and Short of their commands within days after the attack, and they were never fully exonerated.

Early warning signs

Failure of the services to coordinate had real consequences on the morning of Dec. 7, 1941.

In the pre-dawn hours, a submarine periscope was spotted near Pearl Harbor, where there shouldn’t have been any submarines. At 6:37 a.m., the destroyer USS Ward dropped depth charges, destroying the submarine. The incident was then reported to the Navy chain of command.

Meanwhile, at the Opana Radar Site on the north shore of Oahu, radar operators Pvt. Joseph L. Lockard and Pvt. George Elliott detected an unusually large formation of aircraft approaching the island from the north at 7:02 a.m.

At the time, radar was experimental technology, and operators manned it just 3 to 7 a.m., McNaughton said. Usually, the radar was shut off at 7 a.m. for the rest of the day. It was only because the truck that took Lockard and Elliott to breakfast was late that the radar was still on at 7:02 a.m.

The operators had never seen such a large number of blips before, according to McNaughton. They called 1st Lt. Kermit A. Tyler, an Air Corps pilot who was an observer that morning at Fort Shafter’s Radar Information Center.

“Don’t worry about it,” Tyler told them. He had heard that a flight of B-17 bombers was en route from Hamilton Field, California, that morning.

If the Army and Navy had been in communication, McNaughton believes, they might have recognized the signs of the coming attack: the sighting of a large aircraft formation coming in from the north and the sighting of a submarine at the mouth of Pearl Harbor.

“If you put those two together, you might want to put everyone on full alert. But they didn’t,” he said. “There was no integration of intelligence from the two services. So the only warning they got was when the bombs started to fall.”

The attack commences

The first of two waves of some 360 Japanese fighters, bombers and torpedo planes began the attack at 7:48 a.m., having launched from six aircraft carriers north of Oahu.

US pushes ‘enhanced deterrence’ approach to North Korea
An Aichi D3A Type 99 kanbaku (dive bomber) launches from the Imperial Japanese Navy aircraft carrier Akagi to participate in the second wave during the attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. | Photo courtesy of the Makiel Collection via Ron Wenger

While many of the Imperial Japanese Navy aircraft attacked the fleet, other planes attacked all the airfields on the island, including Wheeler Field next to Schofield Barracks.

Among the 2,403 Americans killed, 2,008 were Sailors, 218 were Soldiers, 109 were Marines and 68 were civilians, according to a National World War II Museum Pearl Harbor fact sheet.

Of the aircraft destroyed, 92 were Navy and 77 were Army Air Corps. Two battleships were destroyed and six were damaged; three cruisers were damaged; one auxiliary vessel was destroyed and three were damaged; and three destroyers were damaged, according to the fact sheet.

US pushes ‘enhanced deterrence’ approach to North Korea
The USS Arizona (BB-39) burning after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. | Creative Commons photo

The carriers USS Enterprise, USS Saratoga and USS Lexington were out on maneuvers and were not spotted by the Japanese.

Within minutes of the attack, Navy anti-aircraft guns opened up. The guns were firing at planes in all directions. A number of stray Navy anti-aircraft gun rounds fell in populated areas of Honolulu, killing more than a dozen civilians.

However, the Army’s anti-aircraft gunners at first struggled to engage the enemy because their guns were not in firing positions and the guns’ ammunition was in a separate location, where it was under lock and key.

“You can imagine them looking for the ammunition sergeant who had the keys at 8 a.m. Sunday,” McNaughton said. “It took them a while, but some guns did eventually get into action.”

Why weren’t the Army guns in position?

Short complained afterward that he had received ambiguous guidance from Washington. He said he was instructed to be prepared to defend against an attack but not to alarm the civilian population, which setting the anti-aircraft guns in position might have done.

Even so, the Army, with four regiments of anti-aircraft artillery in Oahu, had rehearsed defense against air raids. “They knew it was a possibility,” McNaughton said. “But certainly they were caught by surprise.”

Nevertheless, Soldiers found some means to counter-attack. At Army installations, Army men fired back with machine guns and other weapons at attacking enemy dive bombers and fighters, according to “Guarding the United States and Its Outposts.”

One of the Soldiers who lived through that day at Schofield Barracks was Cpl. James Jones, who later depicted the chaos in a 1951 novel, “From Here to Eternity,” which was eventually made into a movie that garnered eight Academy Awards.

As for the Army Air Corps, they eventually got 12 aircraft in the air and shot down a few Japanese planes. Ultimately, though, the Army Air Corps was overwhelmed. The vast majority of Soldiers killed in action that day were in the Army Air Corps, McNaughton noted.

The Army Air Corps flight of 12 B-17 Fortress Bombers — the aircraft that Tyler thought the radar operators had spotted — arrived in the middle of the attack. They were unarmed and almost out of fuel.

The aircraft landed at various airfields, and one landed on a golf course. One of the aircraft was destroyed by the Japanese, and three were badly damaged, according to “Guarding the United States and Its Outposts.”

“Just imagine, it’s supposed to be a routine peacetime flight and you show up in the middle of the biggest air battle the U.S. had ever seen,” McNaughton said. “Not a good situation.”

No plan for invasion

In fact, the Japanese never planned to invade Hawaii, McNaughton said. Rather, they wanted to cripple the U.S. Pacific fleet so it could not interfere with their plans to seize European colonies in Southeast Asia.

At the time, Army and Navy signals intelligence personnel were working hard to break the Japanese code, he said. They were intercepting communications and decrypting what they could, but the communications they intercepted gave no clear warning of the impending attack.

What the Japanese misjudged was the tremendous anger of the American people, which gave President Roosevelt and Congress the excuse they were looking for to declare war against Japan as well as Germany, McNaughton noted.

US pushes ‘enhanced deterrence’ approach to North Korea
One of many posters produced by the War Department during World War II, designed to get the public behind the war effort. | Photo Credit: Department of Defense

In the aftermath of the attack, the Army immediately took over the territory of Hawaii, declaring martial law, which lasted until October 1944. In this unprecedented situation, all local police, courts and government operated under Army supervision. The Army, Navy and FBI placed the local Japanese-American population under close surveillance and placed many community leaders under arrest.

During the war, the Army Soldiers in Hawaii — as in various places along the coasts on the U.S. mainland — never had to fire artillery guns to repel an enemy fleet, McNaughton said. The Army eventually disbanded the Coast Artillery branch, and today it uses sophisticated air and missile defense, in coordination with the other services.

Among the lessons to be taken from Pearl Harbor attack, according to McNaughton, is the crucial importance of operating as part of the joint force. Another is that of striking a fine balance between training and readiness. “You just don’t know when your unit will be called to mobilize,” he said.

The forced internment of Japanese Americans on the West Coast in 1942, in the aftermath of the attack, was a further tragedy.

“It was really painful to the Japanese-American community at the time,” he said. “The vast majority of Japanese Americans were loyal citizens, those who had the opportunity fought for America. And many of those died for their country.”

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Army Sergeant wins gold at Rio Paralympics

US pushes ‘enhanced deterrence’ approach to North Korea
U.S. Army photo by Tim Hipps


U.S. Army Sgt. Elizabeth Marks won the gold medal and set a new world record in the women’s SB7 100-meter breaststroke Saturday night at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games.

“I had no idea [I was winning],” exclaimed Marks. “I can’t see when I am swimming. About 25 meters in, I have no idea where anybody else is. As long as I feel pressure on my hands, I know it is going well. I was just hoping for the best and putting everything I had into it.”

Marks served as a combat medic in Iraq and suffered serious injuries to her hip while deployed in 2010. Determined to stay in the Army and be declared fit for duty, she turned to swimming during her rehab in San Antonio.

She showed so much promise that she was accepted into the Army’s World Class Athlete Program in 2012, which allowed her to be declared fit for duty.

Marks fell into a coma in September 2014 after flying to London to compete in the Invictus Games. Doctors at Papworth Hospital put her on an external lung machine, saving her life.

She shocked everyone by returning to the pool less than a month after coming out of the coma and won gold at the World Military Swimming and Para-Swimming Open in February 2015 by defeating a field composed almost entirely of men.

Earlier this year, Marks won gold at the 2016 Invictus Games in Orlando. She asked Prince Harry, founder of the organization that puts on the games, to personally award her the medal. After he presented it to her, she returned it to him and asked that he give it to the staff at Papworth Hospital.

In July, Marks was given the Pat Tillman Award, which honors an individual with a strong connection to sports who has served others in a way that echoes the legacy of former NFL player and U.S. Army Ranger Tillman.

Marks will also compete in the S8 100m backstroke on Sept. 13 and the SM8 200m individual medley on Sept. 17.

Watch our interview with Elizabeth Marks at the 2016 Pat Tillman Award ceremony:

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US general suspects Russia is supplying the Taliban

VOA News


Ra may be supplying the Taliban as they fight and NATO forces in Afghanistan, a top commander said Thay.

“We have seen the influence of Ra of late – an increased influence – in terms of association and perhaps even supply to the Taliban,” Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti, NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander and General, told a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing.

Scaparrotti did not elaborate on what kinds of supplies might be provided or how direct Ra’s involvement could be.

His comments are built on suspicions raised last month by General John Nicholson, the commander of NATO forces in Afghanistan, who testified that Ra is giving the Taliban encouragement and diplomatic cover. Nicholson did not, however, address whether Ra was supplying the terrorist group.

“Ra has been legitimizing the Taliban and supporting the Taliban,” he told VOA’s Afghan service in an interview last month.

Ra, which had an ill-fated intervention in Afghanistan that started in 1979 and ended nearly a decade later, has been trying to exert influence in the region again and has set up six-country peace talks next week that exclude .

VOA Afghan contributed to this report.

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These 5 new military technologies will make your combat lifestyle POG-easy

Famed science fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke once wrote that any sufficiently advanced technology will be indistinguishable from magic. Some of the tech the Army and other scientists are working on aren’t quite in the realm of magic, but given the incredible nature of the work they’re doing, there are many reasons to be excited about the future if you’re a U.S. servicemember. There’s no telling how long it will take to apply these ideas to military life, but the possibilities seem endless.


1. Robo-Parachutes

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The U.S. Army is working on a new airdrop system it calls JPADS – Joint Precision Airdrop System. JPADS is intended to be used to drop critical supplies to troops in dangerous locations without endangering more troops by using a truck convoy. Current systems use GPS guidance systems that are prone to the same errors as any satellite system, such as satellites being out of place and their vulnerability to hacking. The new JPADS doesn’t use GPS. It drops the pallet from 25,000 feet at distances up to 20 miles. The JPADS optical sensors analyze the local terrain and compare it to preprogrammed satellite imagery so the chutes move the cargo to its programmed destination.

2. Stealth Coating

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It turns out stealth aircraft technology isn’t 100 percent fail proof. Radar works by bouncing electromagnetic waves off of objects to pinpoint their locations. Original stealth technology scrambled the returning waves using “destructive interference,” solid layers of material that would amplify the waves so that they effectively cancel out the returning waves. It doesn’t work 100 percent of the time, however. Scientists have created a polarized crystal material that absorbs radar waves to prevent them from bouncing back instead. Hexagonal boron nitride captures 99.99 percent of radar waves and prevents refraction. Researchers will now need to create a thin coating to be able to apply it to current aircraft.

3. Smart Tanks

DARPA, or the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, the military’s premier think-tank for future weapons, is developing a light armor all-terrain tech for vehicles called “Ground X-Vehicle Technology.” This next-gen tank is lightweight, highly mobile, and hard for the enemy to spot on any spectrum, visual, infrared, or electromagnetic. The “crew augmentation” system on the X-Vehicle gives the tank “semi-autonomous driver assistance and automation of key crew functions.” The external sensors on the vehicle allow for the tank not only to avoid being spotted by enemy tanks but to dodge incoming fire if they are.

4. Space Drones

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NASA’s Proteus Unmanned Space Shutte (U.S. Air Force photo)

DARPA strikes again. The new XS-1 space shuttle doesn’t go into space but rather boosts a payload into low-Earth orbit as it flies to the edge of space. The new shuttle has no pilots, but will be so reusable that it could fly ten times in ten days. A flight to boost something into space will still run as high as $5 million, but DARPA is working with private contractors Masten Space Systems, Virgin Galactic, Northrop Grumman, and the Jeff Bezos-owned Blue Origin to make the trips faster, smoother, and cheaper. DARPA already developed a space drone for military purposes, the X37-B, but few details are available, as the X37-B is classified.

5. Jetpack-Assisted Running

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The Wearable Robotics Association conference opened in Phoenix last Wednesday and featured there were Arizona State University students who developed a jetpack that enhances a troop’s ability to run in combat. Using compressed air, the pack can boost running speeds up to 15 mph.

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Women who saw combat star in new play

It was less than two years ago — December 2015 — that the last barriers barring women from certain combat positions finally fell. Now, the new play “Bullet Catchers” envisions a not-so-distant future where women and men officially serve together in the same infantry unit.


“It’s been a 70-year journey for women to fully integrate into all branches, units, and occupations of the military,” said Lory Manning, who served in the Navy for 25 years, starting in the late 1960s.

For Manning, the armed forces offered a different path at a time where options were limited for women. “I did not want to be a schoolteacher and I wanted out of New Jersey,” she recalled by phone. “The Navy seemed like a good opportunity – for travel especially.”

Also read: This is how the military is integrating women

She explained that it has been a piecemeal process to lift the restrictions. For example, in 1992 women were allowed into combat aviation, said Manning, a fellow at the Service Women’s Action Network, known as SWAN. According to the organization’s website, there are “nearly 2.5 million service women in the US.”

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USMC photo by Sgt. Tyler L. Main

The nature of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the sheer number of women deployed during those two conflicts means women (and men) who were not in combat roles saw combat, she said.

Since Sept. 11, 2001, over “300,000 women have deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq,” according to a SWAN report dated Feb. 1, 2017. More than 1,000 women were wounded, and 166 were killed during combat operations, the report noted.

“Now, even though they fought in Iraq and Afghanistan, they are officially allowed to fight,” Manning said.

Sandra W. Lee, who plays two roles in “Bullet Catchers,” saw combat in Iraq although she was assigned to civil affairs, she told Chelsea Now in a phone interview. Lee joined the army in response to 9/11, she said, and served from 2002 to 2010.

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Army photo by Cpl. Mariah Best

Civil affairs focuses broadly on rebuilding a country’s infrastructure, and in Iraq, Lee explained she worked on rebuilding schools. Her unit did train in combat, and Lee said she went along with another division as they conducted security sweeps and raids, and looked for weapons caches.

“We would fill in a lot,” she recalled. “We did a lot of missions that were not part of our job description. But being a solider, that is in the job description.”

Lee, who was in Iraq from 2003 to 2004, said that while driving in the country, her convoy was hit four different times by roadside bombs. She said she has a brain injury that stems from those incidents. She was also diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, known as PSTD. Lee said she was raped by another solider during her deployment.

Her experiences inform how she plays Até, which in the play is the goddess of war and a warrior. Being a woman in the military, Lee explained, there is a perception that females are not good enough and “you have to prove yourself in order to join their ranks.”

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DoD Photo by Spc. Crystal Davis

Due to her brain injury, Lee was somewhat apprehensive about contributing to the writing of the play but said she put her voice into Até, whose character was a “shell” when she joined the production last December.

“The nice thing about this process it was a group effort,” she said.

Indeed, the co-creators of “Bullet Catchers,” Maggie Moore and Julia Sears, sought input from the actors for the play, which was a collaborative endeavor. “It felt like a writer’s room for a lot of the process,” Sears, who is also the play’s director, said by phone.

Related: First 10 women graduate from Infantry Officer Course

The actors were given writing assignments, Sears said, such as writing the fairytale version of their character’s arc in the play, or being challenged to write five minutes of theater within a half hour. “They have so much ownership over what they’re making,” Sears said.

Moore and Sears were the final editors but the actors had a part in shaping their characters, like Lee with Até. Moore, who is also the play’s associate director, said the actors found their voices as writers. While Moore and Sears were honored to be the leaders, she said, the play belongs to the collective. “We all jumped off the cliff together,” Moore said by phone.

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Staff Sgt. April Spilde, a pallbearer with the U.S. Air Force Honor Guard at Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling, is one of two women serving in the elite unit during ceremonies at Arlington National Cemetery. Photo by Paul Bello.

Neither Moore nor Sears served in the military. The genesis of the project stems from when Moore was working at the Washington, DC-based Truman National Security Project in early 2015, she explained. Sears and Moore have been friends since college, and followed the news of whether the last restrictions on combat positions would be lifted. Sears thought the story of women fighting for recognition in combat would be an excellent story, Moore said.

Sears and Moore interviewed 35 veterans and current service members – an about even mix of women and men. The veterans had fought in Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan, Sears said. The interview process took about three months, Sears said, with Moore and her then listening and transcribing the interviews. From there, they started to narrow down stories and characters, Sears said.

A bullet catcher is “army slang for an infantryman,” according to the play’s website, and Moore said, “It’s kind of a badge of honor to be a bullet catcher.”

Some women are going through infantry training right now, she said, and “we’re seeing the movement towards the world we built in the play becoming a reality.”

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USMC photo by Cpl. Tyler J. Bolken

“Bullet Catchers” follows the journey of “the first official mixed gender infantry unit in the US Army, from training to deployment,” according to the play’s website. Moore said it was important to highlight a diversity of experience and so the play’s characters run the gamut from private to lieutenant colonel.

Women in the Fight: 15 women who helped pave the way in the Army

Jessica Vera plays Maya de los Santos, who, in the play, is a lieutenant colonel and the first female commander of a forward operating base, Vera explained by phone. Vera described Maya as a leader, someone who not only sees the opportunity before her, but also the weight of that level of responsibility.

While Vera has no military experience, her father was an Army Ranger, her older brother was in the Army Cavalry and is currently serving in the Air Force. Growing up in a military household has informed how she plays Maya, she said.

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Sailors participating in the Riverine Combat Skills course prepare for a field training exercise at Camp Lejeune, N.C., Oct. 24, 2012. Navy photo by Specialist Seaman Heather M. Paape

One of the play’s first scenes is Maya picking up her wife, Jordan, a civilian, and taking her over the threshold after getting married. Lee, the veteran, also plays Jordan in the play, and said Vera helped to shape Jordan’s character. While the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy has been officially abandoned, Lee said, “There’s still a stigma. It depends on who your command is.”

On the other end of the military spectrum is character Joan Boudica, played by Emma Walton. Joan is a private and is brand new to the experience, Walton explained by phone. Joan is part of the reserves and is randomly picked for special training and is deployed, she said. “It’s a coming of age story for her,” Walton, who has no military experience, said.

Walton said women have been in the military for a long time – flying planes and protecting the country like men are. “We’re excited to show it,” she said. “The rest of America thinks that they’re nurses, they’re doing paperwork. That’s just not true.”

Sears, the director, said she hopes the play spurs a myriad of conversations for the audience, including a larger discussion of women in leadership roles. “We’re hoping that this story — as specific and nuanced [as it is] – can still have reverberations for woman and anyone who has tried to move the needle of gender integration in general,” she said.

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These states have their own armies not under the control of the Commander In Chief

A State Defense Force (SDF) is a state militia under the command of the chief executive of that state only. Twenty-five states in America have some kind of SDF, and all states have laws allowing one. Whether they call it state guards, state military reserves, or state militias, they are not a part of the National Guard of that state and only partially regulated by the federal government and cannot come under federal control.


Title 32 U.S. Code § 109 subsection (c) provides for these SDFs.

In addition to its National Guard, if any, a State, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, the District of Columbia, Guam, or the Virgin Islands may, as provided by its laws, organize and maintain defense forces. A defense force established under this section may be used within the jurisdiction concerned, as its chief executive (or commanding general in the case of the District of Columbia) considers necessary, but it may not be called, ordered, or drafted into the armed forces.

During World War I, Congress authorized states to create Home Guards as reserve forces aside from the American Expeditionary Forces in Europe. During WWII, the 1916 legislation was amended to allow state militaries to defend their own states. Now called State Guards, they were trained and equipped by the federal government but maintained their separation. It wasn’t until 1956 that Congress allowed for the continual existence of these units outside of a wartime role. For a time, these SDFs existed only on paper. During the Reagan Administration, that changed. Reagans Department of Defense wanted SDFs in all states.

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A Georgia State Defense Force Volunteer passes a sandbag to a Georgia Army National Guard Soldier during a flood preparation mission near Augusta. The sandbags will be used to protect citizens of Georgia and South Carolina from rising flood waters following rains from Hurricane Joaquin. (Georgia State Defense Force photo by Chief Warrant Officer 2 W. Kevin Ward)

The last part of the legislation says an SDF cannot be drafted into the Armed Forces of the United States, but that same legislation says that an individual member can. This is to ensure the independence of the SDF from the state National Guard. While typically organized as Army units, the SDFs vary, with some akin to the Navy and Air Force.

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Members of the California State Military Reserve perform squad drills.

Before rushing to join your state’s SDF, be advised there are a lot of controversies surrounding SDFs. In the late 1980’s, the governor of Utah had to fire 31 officers for creating an SDF full of neo-nazis, mental patients, and felons. After September 11, 2001, Alaska disbanded its SDF because their lack of actual military training was more of a liability. New York’s SDF was full of Generals who have never had any military training, they were appointed by the governor as a reward for support. Some SDFs have no fitness or weight standards (California) while others are highly restrictive (Tennessee requires its SDF members be honorably discharged from the U.S. military).

State Defense Forces have assisted in many disaster-related capacities, however. They augmented forces in support of Hurricane Katrina relief, especially in states surrounding Louisiana, to assist with the expected influx of refugees. In Texas, the SDF responds to local emergencies (like flash floods) that aren’t declared disaster areas but need help anyway. They provide security augmentees for regular military forces and provide emergency medical training to National Guard units and other areas of the U.S. military.

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Members of the Virginia Defense Force, Shelter Augmentation Liaison Team provide assistance to the Virginia State Police during the 2011 State Managed Shelter Exercise (Photo by Staff Sgt. Andrew H. Owen, Virginia Guard Public Affairs)

The state SDF could be a good way for a military veteran to continue serving their country while providing those without that experience their much-needed expertise. Every state has a different enlistment process and requirements, so there isn’t a single portal to joining, but be sure to do the research on the training and operations for your home state before applying.

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China to deploy its first home-built aircraft carrier

China has quietly been reaching a naval milestone: They floated their first indigenous aircraft carrier on April 23, 2017. The vessel is sort of a half-sister to their current aircraft carrier, the Liaoning.


The Liaoning was once the Varyag, Russia’s second Kuznetsov-class carrier. If you’ve followed WATM, you probably have heard about the Kuznetsov’s many problems. The splash landings, the hellacious accommodations, and the need for oceangoing tugs to sail along because the engines are shit are just the tip of the iceberg for the Kuznetsov. During that carrier’s first-ever combat deployment in 2016, the Russians flew the Kuznetsov’s air wing from shore bases. Or course, their video tribute glossed over all those realities.

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The Liaoning. (JMSDF photo)

And the Chinese decided to copy this less-than-successful vessel – which probably should be hauled away to the boneyard.

According to DefenseNews.com, the new vessel, reportedly named Shandong, is almost a copy of the Liaoning. The big difference is in the arrangement of phased-array radars. But it has the same limited capacity (roughly 36 planes). Appropriately, the carrier has been designated as he Type 001A, while the Liaoning was designated Type 001.

The Liaoning has made some trips to sea. Japan took photos of the Liaoning and some escorts near the South China Sea, one of the biggest maritime flashpoints in the world, last year.

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China’s carrier Liaoning

The Shandong, though, may be the only ship in her subclass. The DefenseNews.com report notes that China is no longer testing the ski ramp – and instead has been trying to build catapults for launching aircraft. According to GlobalSecurity.org, China is planning to build two Type 002 aircraft carriers, followed by a nuclear-powered design, the Type 003.

The Type 002 carriers are slated to include catapults – which are far better at launching planes than the ski jump on the Kuznetsov-class design, and displace anywhere from 70,000 to 80,000 tons. The Type 003 will displace about 100,000 tons and be comparable to the Nimitz and Ford-class carriers.

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China has stated a goal of having 10 aircraft carriers by 2049.

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A third US carrier is steaming its way towards North Korea

Two U.S. aircraft carriers that are to train together in the Sea of Japan might be joined by a Nimitz-class nuclear-powered aircraft carrier sailing from a U.S.naval base, according to a Japanese press report.


The USS Ronald Reagan and Carl Vinson are to conduct joint exercises June 1 with a convoy from Japan’s maritime self-defense forces, the Yomiuri Shimbun reported.

A Japanese government official who spoke on the condition of anonymity confirmed the drills. The newspaper reported the aim of the exercise is to deter North Korea, following repeated launches of ballistic missiles.

Japan deployed the helicopter carrier JS Hyuga from Maizuru base in Kyoto the morning of May 31.

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An SH-60 Sea Hawk helicopter flies near the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force helicopter destroyer JS Hyuga. (U.S. Navy photo by Seaman Danielle A. Brandt)

The Ronald Reagan traveled separately to the Sea of Japan, also known as the East Sea in South Korea, by sailing through the Tsugaru Strait between the islands of Hokkaido and Honshu.

The Carl Vinson previously trained with the South Korean military in late April, and the Ronald Reagan completed a routine inspection on May 16.

The Ronald Reagan then conducted flight training near southern Japan before heading out to areas closer to North Korea from its home port of Yokosuka, according to the report.

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Nimitz-class aircraft carrier, USS Carl Vinson (CVN-70) pulls into Republic of Korea (ROK) Fleet headquarters. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Jermaine M. Ralliford)

A Nimitz-class nuclear-powered aircraft carrier traveling from Naval Base Kitsap in Washington State could join the aircraft carriers, or be stationed in another area of the Pacific, but an exercise involving all three U.S. aircraft carriers would be unprecedented, the Yomiuri reported.

Pyongyang’s Workers’ Party newspaper Rodong Sinmun stated Wednesday the state’s “highest leadership,” Kim Jong Un, can order the launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile at any time and place in response to what it claims are U.S. “threats” that include joint drills with U.S. allies in the region.

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8 parting thoughts from one of the Marine Corps’ ‘Chosin Few’

“Consider that, first of all, you are a United States Marine. That is the beginning,” Joseph Owen said just days before his death in August 2015.


He said it as if he were addressing all Marines.

“You are something beyond ordinary people. Now you want to take a step up from there. If you’re not the best, you’re gonna be. If you’re not trying to be the best the Corps has, you’re not worth a sh*t. Why are you here?”

Owen commanded a mortar platoon as a 2nd lieutenant in Baker Company, 1-7 Marines during the Korean War. Owen enlisted during World War II but saw the bulk of his service in Korea. As an officer, he was charged with turning an undisciplined group of reservist mortarmen into a force to confront the enemy.

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Owen near Seoul, ca. 1950. (provided by Joseph Owen)

Related: ‘Anyone trying to kill me, I’m going to kill them’

“You always have to perform to your limit,” he said. “Myself and a fellow officer, we used to sit around and talk about leadership all the time. Combat leadership doesn’t mean a goddamn thing unless you have Marines that will continue the fight no matter what.”

Becoming an officer changed his world.

“I’m not bragging, I’m just saying the facts: two Navy Crosses and a Silver Star – we know what the hell we’re talking about,” he said.

1. His most vivid memories:

“The North Koreans had much more initiative,” he said. “They would come on you tenaciously and keep on the attack until you killed them. And in defensive positions, they were aggressive and used offensive tactics. Even pinned down they would get out and come at you. I had great respect for them. They fought with their brains individually. The Chinese were only tenacious because there was no going back.”

“Some of the Chinese front line soldiers didn’t even have weapons, they had stakes. They would try to get in close and kill you with that. The ones who came after them would try to pick up the burp guns of the first wave. If they got killed the third wave would come and pick up the weapons.”

“The Chinese were wearing sneakers in 30-below-zero temperatures,” he remembered. “Sometimes we came up on them, and some of them would still be in position, frozen solid. They’d put their hands up to surrender. We would take them, pull them out, and find they were just stumbling around on frozen feet.”

2. On racial integration of the military:

“Two Southerners came to request to be in my platoon when they received a black squad leader, a Sgt. Long. When Sgt. Long was killed during a night fight with the Chinese, those two Marines requested to carry Long’s body, because they wanted to pay proper respect to ‘the best damn squad leader in the Corps.’ When the fighting started, everyone was a Marine.”

3. His take on modern American warfare:

US pushes ‘enhanced deterrence’ approach to North Korea

“Today’s troops cannot fight the way I know how to fight. You have to take the battle to the enemy and kill them. These days you have to go through rules of engagement, which ties the hands of soldiers behind their back. You have to keep on going and do not stop. Keep going and kill those bastards. No pity, no mercy, just kill them. As many as you can.”

4. On North Korea today:

“We fought them to a defeat and now they have risen back and are – in effect –  giving us the finger and getting away with it. What are we gonna do? We shouldn’t let that little son of a bitch play around with atomic weapons. That pisses me off.”

5. On harboring ill will toward an enemy:

“Hell no. They were fighting under the same orders I had. They were out to kill me, as I was out to kill them. Hell no. I respect them. I’d love to sit down with one of them and bullshit with them about what they were doing at such and such a time, especially if they were in the same battle as I was.”

6. Why he wrote a book:

“I had been thinking for a long time something should be done to honor the Marines I fought with,” Owen said. “I knew if I wrote about Baker Company it would also cover Able Company. We were all the same, formed up by the numbers, and we bonded very quickly. If I said Baker was the best, they’d say ‘F– you, we’re the best.’ We were the same. So I quit my business and wrote the book. This was a story that needed to be told.”

US pushes ‘enhanced deterrence’ approach to North Korea
1st Lt. Joseph Owen (Retired) bows his head during the invocation of his Silver Star ceremony, 59 years after the actions where he earned it, April 24, 2009. (Marine Corps photo)

“What I wrote about getting to Fox Company after they were under fire for five nights… we came up to Fox Company’s positions. They had stacks of Chinese bodies set up as protective walls against enemy fire. They were using those walls to put down fire on the oncoming Chinese. When we came up on them, I was able to walk 50 yards on just Chinese bodies. There must have been hundreds of them thrown against Fox Company. This is the kind of thing I needed to write.”

7. On life after the Corps:

“Stay active, be proud of what you do. What I say about the pride of being a Marine. That’s all over the place — the rest of your life, make it a good one. Do good things for people to the best of your ability. I had a hell of a life, way beyond the Marine Corps. I look back at night before I go to sleep… I got millions of great, great memories. I remember everything. I think ‘son of a bitch… you were able to get away with that!’ ”

8. Advice for anyone, military or civilian:

“If you’ve never been scared sh*tless, what kind of life have you led?”

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