The head of the U.S. Pacific Command has asked troops to be thoroughly prepared for possible North Korea provocations during an upcoming anniversary.
Adm. Harry Harris told U.S. military personnel at Yokota Air Base in Japan on Friday that they should be "ready to fight [North Korea] tonight," Japanese television network Asahi TV reported.
Harris made the remark during an inaugural ceremony for Lt. Gen. Jerry P. Martinez, who is now in command of U.S. Forces Japan.
Harris, who recently met with Japanese Defense Minister Tomomi Inada regarding enhanced cooperation, described North Korea's provocative actions, including missile and nuclear tests, as the most urgent threat, according to Asahi TV.
The U.S. Pacific Command chief also said that while there is room for debate regarding North Korea's progress in nuclear warhead miniaturization, it is important to work with the countries concerned to combat the threats.
"[We] must consider every possible step to defend the U.S. homeland and defend our allies," Harris said. "That's why I continue to emphasize trilateral cooperation between Japan, South Korea and the United States. And that's why all nations must continue to rally the international community to loudly condemn North Korea's aberrational behavior and be prepared to counter this challenge."
In Seoul, military authorities told local news network MBC that they are on emergency standby in preparation for more provocations from Pyongyang.
South Korean officials said North Korea could engage in any number of provocations ranging from a test-firing of a midrange ballistic missile to the launch of a submarine-launched ballistic missile, or SLBM.
On Monday, Putin issued a decree suspending a plutonium disposition agreement with the United States due to its “unfriendly actions.” (An unofficial translation is available from the Center for Energy and Security Studies in Moscow, as is a draft law submitted by the Kremlin.) Putin’s decree ends one of the last remaining forms of cooperation from that remarkable era.
“Plutonium disposition” is a fancy sort of phrase, the kind of term of art that, when I drop it at a cocktail party, sends people off to refill their drinks.
But plutonium is the stuff of which bombs are made.
After the Cold War, the United States and Russia agreed to dispose of tons of plutonium to make sure it could never be put back into bombs. So believe you me, when the Russians decide that maybe they should just hang on to that material for a while longer, it’s not so boring.
Putin’s ‘Iskander-M’ Ballistic Missile Is a Message to Obama
The KGB officer in the Kremlin seeks one last, grand strategic humiliation for our president before he leaves office
It’s long been obvious that Vladimir Putin and his inner circle view Barack Obama with utter contempt. To the hard men in Moscow, who got their schooling in the KGB, our diffident, wordy Ivy League lawyer president is a weakling—almost a caricature of everything they despise about the postmodern West.
Here the Kremlin mirrors most Russians, who find Obama a puzzling and contemptible man. This is nothing new. I’ve heard remarkable put-downs of our commander-in-chief for years, going back to 2008, even from the mouths of highly educated Russians. Their comments are invariably earthy, insulting, and nowhere near politically correct.
It’s therefore no surprise that Russians view Obama with contempt—and so does their leader. As our president winds up his second term and prepares to move out of the White House, the Kremlin simply isn’t bothering to hide that contempt any longer, even in high-level diplomacy, where a modicum of tact is expected.
Take Syria, the foreign policy nightmare that hangs darkly over Obama’s legacy. The pathetic attempts of John Kerry, Obama’s sad-sack secretary of state, to assert America’s role in that sordid conflict have been rudely rebuffed by Moscow. The Kremlin has made it indelibly clear that it has no interest in further parley with Washington about Syria: We won, you lost, get over it.To be fair to the Kremlin, why on earth would the Obama administration think it had a dog in the Syrian fight anymore? Over three years ago, the White House outsourced American policy there to Moscow, as was obvious to everybody except Obama and his coterie of self-styled foreign policy geniuses. We gave Putin what he wanted in Syria—preserving his Assad client regime while demonstrating Russian resolve and power—and for that we have nobody to blame but ourselves.
This has become deeply embarrassing as the Syrian nightmare has descended into war crimes and even genocide on a truly horrifying scale. For an administration that prided itself on its alleged humanitarianism, this is an appalling ending which the world will not soon forget.
Not content with diplomatic gloating, Moscow is flexing its muscles in Syria now, showing off its strength for political effect. Russia has just sent more late-model anti-aircraft missiles to that country—an odd choice in weaponry given that the Islamic State, which the Kremlin boasts of fighting energetically while accusing Washington of collaborating with it, has no aircraft.
Just in case anybody in the Pentagon missed that unsubtle move, Russia’s defense ministry this week bluntly stated that any effort by American airpower to change “facts on the ground” in Syria will be countered with live fire. Responding to rumors that the U.S. military wants enhanced airstrikes against the Assad regime, the Kremlin spokesman minced no words: “I would recommend our colleagues in Washington to carefully weigh possible consequences of the fulfillment of such plans.”
Today’s biggest news, however, comes from Estonian reports that the Russian military is sending Iskander-M missiles to Kaliningrad on a civilian freighter. It’s expected to dock in Kaliningrad today with its alarming cargo.
The Iskander-M system, called SS-26 by NATO, is the replacement of the Scud missile of American Gulf War memory. It has a range of 300 miles and can carry either a conventional or a nuclear warhead. An Iskander-M based in Kaliningrad can strike targets deep in Poland and across the whole Baltic region. Make no mistake, this is primarily an offensive weapons system.This constitutes a direct challenge to Washington by Moscow—and by Vladimir Putin to Barack Obama, personally. The KGB officer in the Kremlin is seeking to get in one last, grand strategic humiliation for our president before he leaves office. And why not? Such reckless antics have worked well for the Russians so far, given Obama’s preference to avert eyes and hope for the best whenever Moscow misbehaves.
Russia has beaten the United States to a key strategy in Syria with its new ability to create a no-fly zone, delivered by a new S-300 surface-to-air missile system, according to military analysts.
Word of the development comes in a report from Reuters, which cited its own analysis of “publicly available tracking data.”
That shows that Russia has been building up forces in Syria since last month when a ceasefire plan collapsed.
Among the benefits of the “increased manpower” likely are specialists to run the S-300 system, which will grant the country better “ability to control air space in Syrian where Moscow’s forces support the government of President Bashar al-Assad, and could be aimed at deterring tougher U.S. action.”
“The S-300 basically gives Russia the ability to declare a no-fly zone over Syria,” Justin Bronk, a research fellow at the Royal United Services Institute in London, told Reuters.
The missile system, Bronk said, “makes any U.S. attempt [to set up a no-fly zone] impossible. Russia can just say: ‘We’re going to continue to fly and anything that tries to threaten our aircraft will be seen as hostile and destroyed.”
But the report said 10 Russian navy ships were documented going through the Bosphorus toward Syria since late September. That’s up from five in a 13-day pre-truce period early in September.
Also, military cargo planes traveled from Russia’s Hmeymim airbase in Syria six times in six days of October, while during August and September there were only 12 in a month.
The report also cited details from Izvestia that a group of Su-24 and Su-34 warplanes had arrived at the Hmeymim base in Syria recently, returning Russia’s fixed-wing numbers in the country “to near the level before the drawdown was announced in March.”
The developments come just as the Independent reported Russia had launched a nationwide civil defense exercise to defend against an expected attack from the West.
“Schizophrenics from America are sharpening nuclear weapons for Moscow,” the Russian Defense Ministry warned.
Russia has recently warned that its S-300 and S-400 air defense systems are up and running in Syria following leaked reports on the US' intentions to bomb Syrian airbases. As Russia’s Defense Ministry cautions the US-led coalition against carrying out airstrikes on the Syrian army, military experts reveal the defense capabilities of the systems.
"The S-300 appeared [in Syria] after experts close to the American establishment started leaking information…that the US could hit Syrian airfields with cruise missiles," Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova said in an interview with Russia's Dozhd TV channel on Friday.
Earlier on Thursday, Russia's Defense Ministry also commented on the revelations, saying it could be a preface to real action.
"A number of Western media outlets have published "leaks" about the talks held in the White House administration about the possibility of missile launches and airstrikes on Syrian army positions," the ministry spokesman, Major General Igor Konashenkov said in a statement.
"Russian air defense system crews are unlikely to have time to determine in a ‘straight line’ the exact flight paths of missiles and then who the warheads belong to. And all the illusions of amateurs about the existence of ‘invisible’ jets will face a disappointing reality," Konashenkov added.
Emergency un security meeting right now
You guys hanging in there Scott?
Doing ok here (specifically) - but in general area a lot of power outages and flooding - waiting to hear from Caver and his latest update - he's much further southeast
We're ok....coming out the backside of this animal. Its been an interesting day. Interesting is an interesting word.
Over 10 inches of the wet stuff and the heavy wooded area looks like, well...like a hurricane came through but no real damage...we don't think. Electrical/internet was on and off for a couple hours.
Thanks, everybody, for your prayers.
Thank You Father!
Praying for our brother Caver!
:) I love to pray for my brethren! Glad you guys are all good!!!!
Glad you guys weathered through it okay, Caver. Now we've got Nicole to watch.
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