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Military Quietly Preparing For War with North Korea

korea threat

By Debbie Gregory.

The welcome news that North Korea and South Korea will participate in the upcoming Olympics under a unified flag has not alleviated the threat of war for the U.S. military.

Two military drills last month and one in February are designed to ready troops for the possibility of war with North Korea, which has made repeated threats to attack the U.S. with its nuclear-capable ballistic missiles

Contingency planning is part of standard Defense Department training and troop rotations. But the timing of the exercises suggests a focus for what could be on the horizon with North Korea.

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and General Joseph F. Dunford Jr., the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, both hope that diplomacy will be the avenue pursued to address Pyongyang’s nuclear ambitions.

Following Hawaii’s false alarm of a text alert warning of an incoming ballistic missile attack, panic underscored the anxiety and uneasiness that most Americans have regarding North Korea.

This is especially true given the rhetoric, name-calling and threats that have been exchanged between the leaders of the two countries.

Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Milley called Pyongyang the biggest threat to American national security, and said that Army officers who lead operational units must prepare to meet that threat.

Countries have contingency plans for all kinds of emergencies, so it’s no surprise that Japan and the US drew up a scheme to remove their citizens from harm’s way.

It is unlikely that the Pentagon would launch military action on the Korean Peninsula without first warning Americans and others in the area.

There are 60,000 Japanese citizens living in South Korea, and the Japanese government has started looking into ways to get them out should a crisis with North Korea break out.

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Sen. Graham Wants Mil Families Out of South Korea

Sen-Lindsey-Graham

In spite of the concerns of Sen. Lindsey Graham regarding the safety of U.S. servicemember families in South Korea, there are no government evacuations plans in the works.

Sen. Graham believes the Pentagon  should start evacuating the families of the roughly 28,500 U.S. troops in South Korea as America gets “close to military conflict” with North Korea.

“It’s crazy to send spouses and children to South Korea given the provocation of North Korea,” said Graham, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

But defense expert Thomas Spoehr, a retired Army lieutenant general, thinks North Korea would see the evacuation as a provocation.

“Certainly when the U.S. seriously contemplates military action family members should be removed. I don’t think we are at that point,” he said in an email. “We should be careful not to act prematurely.”

“North Korea would interpret a move to remove families as a sign of U.S. preparation for offensive military action,” he said.

North Korea and the United States have been enemies for more than half a century, but tensions have never been as high as they are currently. Kim Jong Un’s missile tests and the ramping up of the nuclear program has baited President Donald Trump, who has employed  frequent threats and insults, often in tweets, towards Kim, who he has nicknamed Rocket Man.

“Readiness, safety and welfare of our service members, employees and family members are essential to the strength of the U.S. and South Korean alliance,´said Commander Dave Benham, a spokesman for U.S. Pacific Command.  “We currently have no intent to initiate departures for military dependents, whether on a voluntary or mandatory basis, and no intent to modify the policy authorizing military dependents to accompany military members being stationed in South Korea.”

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Army Updating Missile Defense System to Protect South Korea

patriot missile

By Debbie Gregory.

The U.S. and our allies across the Pacific are taking every precaution to protect South Korea from the North Korean nuclear threat.

To that end, the U.S. Army’s 35th Air Defense Artillery Brigade has been engaged in an eight-month exercise to modernize its Patriot missile defense system charged with protecting Osan Air base.

The modernization effort was the result of a collaborative effort between the 35th Brigade, contractors from Raytheon, and the Lower Tier Project.

For nearly forty years, the Patriot missile defense system has protected the airspace above U.S. forces. Continuously upgraded since introduction, today it protects against the full spectrum of flying threats, from ballistic missiles to consumer-grade quadcopter drones. In fact, since January of 2015, Patriot has intercepted more than 100 ballistic missiles in combat operations around the world,” according to Raytheon.

According to the Army, work will continue to done in the coming months to fortify Army bases on the Korean peninsula against the growing threat of North Korean aggression.

Though Kim Jong-un has not publicly stated any plans to launch missiles at its enemy to the south, his regime recently made a threat to launch a nuclear missile at Guam in advance of a joint military exercise between South Korea and the United States.

On August 29th, Japan’s Air Force demonstrated a Patriot missile-defense system at Yokota in Western Tokyo, just hours after a North Korean missile flew over Hokkaido.

“Bilateral engagements like this one demonstrate the enduring strength of the U.S.-Japan alliance and the determination of both our nations to address the security challenge posed by North Korea’s ballistic missile and nuclear weapons programs,” said Lt. Gen. Jerry Martinez, commander of U.S. Forces Japan.

Raytheon has built more than 220 Patriot fire units and delivered them to customers in 13 nations.

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Experts Raise Capability of North Korean Missiles

north korea test

By Debbie Gregory.

One year: that’s the current estimate that American intelligence agencies have given before North Korea has the ability to launch a missile that can reach the continental United States.

Just a few weeks ago, the official estimate stood at about four years. But recent test launches have intelligence experts updating the narrative. Pyongyang has carried out 12 missile tests since February and conducted its first test of an ICBM on July 4 — which it says could reach “anywhere in the world.”

Most recently, on July 28th, North Korea’s leader Kim Jung-un tested an intercontinental ballistic missile that appears to have the range to hit major U.S. cities, according to the experts.

The missile launch from Mupyong-ni flew about 45 minutes, going 3,700 kilometers (2,300 miles) high and for a distance of 1,000 kilometers (621 miles).

If the missile trajectory had been flattened, it could have reached Los Angeles, Denver and Chicago, depending on how heavy a payload the missile was carrying in its warhead; the heavier the payload, the shorter the range.

In a recent statement, Scott Bray, a spokesperson for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence said, “North Korea’s recent test of an intercontinental range ballistic missile — which was not a surprise to the Intelligence Community — is one of the milestones that we have expected would help refine our timeline and judgments on the threats that Kim Jong Un poses to the continental United States.”

Condemning the missile launch, President Trump said the United States would act to ensure its security.

“Threatening the world, these weapons and tests further isolate North Korea, weaken its economy and deprive its people,” Trump said in a written statement. “The United States will take all necessary steps to ensure the security of the American homeland and protect our allies in the region.”

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What Damage Can North Korea Do?

kim dong

By Debbie Gregory.

North Korea has long been a threat to South Korea and Japan. The country’s arsenal of ballistic missiles and nuclear weaponry grows on a daily basis.

For this reason, previous administrations have avoided confrontation with Kim Jong-un’s regime. Indeed, it would be South Korean and Japanese civilians who would take the brunt of Pyongyang’s wrath in the event of war. And of course, the U.S. has military bases and personnel in both countries.

U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said any military solution to the North Korea crisis would be “tragic on an unbelievable scale.”

President Trump has said he is ready to act, with or without China. But Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has said the nation would need some time to act.

War with North Korea would be a humanitarian disaster and a shock for global economy. This is why a diplomatic solution is widely seen as the only solution.

South Korea has numerous nuclear power plant reactors. North Korea has hundreds of missiles which are hard to stop.

If North Korea were to launch such a strike first, the first wave of shells could land with essentially no warning. Additionally, the North could hit the South with chemical or biological warheads.

The U.S. and South Korea both have preemptive strike plans in place should a North Korean nuclear attack appear imminent. While Japan is considering new options, it still relies heavily on U.S. defense.

While Pyongyang’s missiles might have some reliability issues, there are enough of them to do very significant damage to South Korea and Japan. According to the U.S. Missile Defense Agency, North Korea now fields hundreds of missiles that can reach U.S. forces forward deployed to the Republic of Korea and Japan.

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North Korea Threatens Nuclear Attack

nuclear

By Debbie Gregory.

Tensions between North Korea and the United States are escalating. North Korea is warning of the possibility of a nuclear attack on the United States in response to any sign of American aggression.

Currently, a United States Navy Strike Group, a force President Trump has described as an “armada”, is en route to the western Pacific. The strike group heading towards Korea includes the nuclear-powered flagship aircraft carrier, the USS Carl Vinson, two destroyers and a cruiser. Such a strike group may also be accompanied by submarines.

Referring to North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, Trump said: “He is doing the wrong thing.” Asked if he thought Kim was mentally fit, Trump replied: “I don’t know. I don’t know him.”

According to North Korea’s newspaper, Rodong Sinmun,”Our revolutionary strong army is keenly watching every move by enemy elements with our nuclear sights focused on the United States invasionary bases that are not only in South Korea and the Pacific operation theatre but also in the United States. main land.”

Defense Secretary, James Mattis, said the deployment is a matter of prudence. “She is just on her way up there because that is where we thought it was most prudent to have her at this time,” he said at a Pentagon news conference.

White House spokesman Sean Spicer said Trump had put North Korea “clearly on notice” that he would not tolerate certain actions but dismissed Pyongyang’s nuclear attack threat.

“I think there is not any evidence that North Korea has that capability at this time,” he said. “Threatening something that you don’t have the capability of isn’t really a threat.”

North Korea has conducted five nuclear tests, two of them last year, and is working to develop nuclear-tipped missiles that can reach the United States. This presents President Trump with perhaps his most pressing security issue. It has been said that President Obama told then President-elect Trump that Korea would be the most critical concern of his administration.

Trump tweeted, “If China decides to help, that would be great. If not, we will solve the problem without them!”

Editor’s Note:   These are very scary times for all. I have had the opportunity to spend time aboard a United States aircraft carrier. My biggest take away from the time aboard is that our Navy is constantly training and dedicated to being the very best.   We are in good hands.

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Navy Successfully Tests Missile Interceptor System

150727-N-ZK021-002 PEARL HARBOR (July 27, 2015) The guided-missile destroyer USS John Paul Jones (DDG 53) departs Joint Base Pearl-Harbor-Hickam for a scheduled underway. John Paul Jones replaced USS Lake Erie (CG 70) in Hawaii as the nation's ballistic missile defense test ship. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Nardel Gervacio/Released)

By Debbie Gregory.

Earlier this month, the U.S. Missile Defense Agency (MDA), the Japan Ministry of Defense and sailors aboard the USS John Paul Jones successfully conducted a flight test, resulting in the first intercept of a ballistic missile target using the Standard Missile-3 (SM-3) Block IIA off the west coast of Hawaii.

A medium-range ballistic missile target was launched from the Pacific Missile Range Facility at Kauai, Hawaii. John Paul Jones detected and tracked the target missile with its onboard AN/SPY-1D(V) radar using the Aegis Baseline 9.C2 weapon system. Upon acquiring and tracking the target, the ship launched an SM-3 Block IIA guided missile which intercepted the target.

“Today’s test demonstrates a critical milestone in the cooperative development of the SM-3 Block IIA missile,” said MDA Director Vice Adm. Jim Syring. “The missile, developed jointly by a Japanese and U.S. government and industry team, is vitally important to both our nations and will ultimately improve our ability to defend against increasing ballistic missile threats around the world.”

The interceptor, designed to shoot down medium- and intermediate-range ballistic missiles, is compatible with the Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense System onboard many Navy ships, several of which are based in Japan.

Ship-based missile interceptors are part of U.S. defense plans in the event of an attack on the U.S. or its allies by North Korea, which has continued to develop its ballistic-missile program despite United Nations sanctions.

As recently as February 12th, North Korea test fired a medium long-range ballistic missile under the supervision of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, according to North Korea’s Korean Central News Agency, KCNA.

Kim was present at the site and personally gave the order for the launch, which was the first missile test by Pyongyang since President Trump took office.

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Pentagon Confident in Defense Against N. Korea

missile

By Debbie Gregory.

The U.S. Defense Department, reacting to North Korea’s statement that it plans to test an intercontinental ballistic missile, said it was confident in its ability to protect U.S. allies and the U.S. homeland from threats from Pyongyang.

Pyongyang is the capital and largest city of North Korea.”We remain confident in our ballistic missile defense and in our defense of our allies and our defense of the homeland,” Pentagon spokesman Peter Cook said at a news briefing.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un, in a New Year’s speech Sunday, said the country was “in the final stages of test-launching the intercontinental ballistic missile.”

“We have a ballistic missile defense … umbrella that we’re confident in for the region and to protect the United States homeland,” Cook said.

In 2016, North Korea conducted two nuclear tests and numerous missile launches last year alone in its quest to develop a nuclear weapons system capable of hitting the US mainland.

“We would once again call on the North Koreans to refrain from provocative actions,” Cook said.

President Donald Trump dismissed Pyongyang’s missile claims, tweeting, “”North Korea just stated that it is in the final stages of developing a nuclear weapon capable of reaching parts of the US. It won’t happen!”

North Korea’s drive to develop nuclear ballistic missiles capable of striking the United States and its allies has prompted Washington to reinforce its antimissile defenses in the region.

The defense strategy is based notably on the AEGIS system, powerful TPY-2 radars and the antiballistic missile system THAAD that Washington is relocating to South Korea, a move that has provoked China, North Korea’s main ally.

The Pentagon spokesman declined to comment to reporters on whether the US had prepared scenarios on deterrent military actions to stop North Korea from developing nuclear missiles.

“We’re constantly adjusting to the threat North Korea poses,” Cook said.

Pyongyang “has shown disregard to the international community for its international obligations,” he said. “And we’re watching this very, very carefully.”

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Air Force Developing an ‘EMP Missile’ to Counter North Korea

champ

By Debbie Gregory.

While not quite ready for prime time, the Air Force Research Laboratory is looking to develop an air-launched directed-energy weapon capable of incapacitating the nuclear-tipped ballistic missiles utilized by North Korea.

The experimental Counter-electronics High Power Microwave Advanced Missile Project (CHAMP) weapon uses bursts of electromagnetic pulse (EMP) energy to disable electronic systems.

Air Force officials believe that in an emergency, the weapon could be operational.

After testing on October 16 at the Utah Test and Training Range by the Boeing Phantom Works/U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory Directed Energy Directorate team, the Air Force says that the CHAMP works, but that it needs to get extremely close to the target to be effective, and there are still a lot of unknowns.

“In theory, high-powered microwaves will damage electronics, but I am not sure we really know how much power is necessary to disable specific systems that may be complex and hardened?” said Jeffrey Lewis, the Director of the East Asia Nonproliferation Program at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey.

Though speculation exists surrounding the weapon’s effectiveness against military-hardened electronics, the prospects of its use are bright.

“This technology marks a new era in modern-day warfare,” said Keith Coleman, Boeing Phantom Works’ CHAMP Program Manager. “In the near future, this technology may be used to render an enemy’s electronic and data systems useless even before the first troops or aircraft arrive.”

But it’s possible that the entire conversation is really about securing funding for the CHAMP program.

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Is America Losing The Cyber War?

cyberwar

By Debbie Gregory.

According to U.S. intelligence officials, the Obama administration is contemplating an unprecedented cyber covert action against Russia in retaliation for alleged Russian interference in the American presidential election

Russia, as well as China, Iran and North Korea routinely launch cyberattacks.

Russia has demonstrated its ability to integrate full-scale cyberwar into its military maneuvers, further threatening U.S. allies along its border.

President Obama will ultimately have to decide whether he will authorize a CIA operation.

Complicating the ability to hit back are strict policies on how the U.S. is willing to conduct digital warfare. There are hard-line barriers between cyber operators cleared to carry out the government’s business and those who aren’t.

Too many U.S. combat commanders believe developing cyber tools is as clear-cut a process as making and employing conventional weapons.

America’s cyber shortcomings were at the center of a congressional hearing earlier this month during which Sen. John McCain, the chairman of the powerful Armed Services Committee, pressed the nation’s two top officials for digital combat to appraise the military’s ability to respond to cyber aggression.

“The cyber threat is one of the greatest challenges we face,” offered Marcel Lettre, undersecretary of defense for intelligence.

The Arizona Republican prodded, citing former Joint Chiefs Chairman Martin Dempsey’s troubling acknowledgement in January 2015 that cyber is the only major field of warfare in which the U.S. doesn’t have an advantage over its foes.

“It’s a level playing field,” the Army general said at the time, “and that makes this chairman very uncomfortable.”

The CIA’s cyber operation is being prepared by a team within the CIA’s Center for Cyber Intelligence, documents indicate. According to officials, the team has a staff of hundreds and a budget in the hundreds of millions, they say.

The covert action plan is designed to protect the U.S. election system and insure that Russian hackers can’t interfere with the November vote, officials say. Another goal is to send a message to Russia that it has crossed a line, officials say.

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