Tuesday, October 24, 2017

U.S. To Strike N Korea In November? S Korea, Japan And U.S. Kick Off Two-Day Missile Tracking Drill

US May Strike North Korea in November

Recent North Korea’s intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) tests suggest that the country now has the capability to hit the continental US. The CIA has assessed that North Korea's Hwasong-14, the intercontinental ballistic missile tested twice in July, has the capability to reach the US with a nuclear payload. 
According to the US Defense Intelligence Agency, North Korea may well have already developed a miniaturised nuclear warhead that could be delivered on an ICBM.
The defense chiefs of South Korea, the US and Japan met on October 23 at the 4th ASEAN Defense Ministers' Meeting-Plus (ADMM-Plus) to emphasize the importance of strengthening their partnerships in maximizing pressure on North Korea.
The USS Ronald Reagan aircraft carrier strike group arrived in Busan, South Korea, on October 21 after participating in large-scale US-South Korean naval drills. Washington and Seoul started another military exercise on October 23. The annual Courageous Channel drills are to last five days. Pyongyang sees exercises as provocative actions, just like the strategic bombers’ flights. North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho warned last month that his country reserves the right to shoot down US States strategic bombers even outside the national airspace.
British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said he does not rule out a pre-emptive strike on North Korea. North Korean specialist and US military expert Bruce Klingner claims Donald Trump could launch an all-out war without even being threatened. Speaking to Fox News, Mr Klingner said: “US policy states that we would retaliate if we were attacked or pre-eminently if we had knowledge they were going to attack us. But, under Trump, there is a new option, a preventive attack.”

According to well-informed Defense One, the US Air Force is preparing to put nuclear-armed bombers back on 24-hour ready alert, a status not seen since the Cold War ended in 1991. Putting the B-52s back on alert is just one of many decisions facing the Air Force as the US military responds to a changing geopolitical environment that includes North Korea’s rapidly advancing nuclear arsenal. “This is yet one more step in ensuring that we’re prepared,” Gen. David Goldfein, Air Force Chief of Staff, said in an interview during his six-day tour of Barksdale and other U.S. Air Force bases that support the nuclear mission.
The improvements are underway to prepare Barksdale — home to the 2d Bomb Wing and Air Force Global Strike Command, which oversees the service’s nuclear forces — to return B-52s to an alert posture. Two nuclear command planes – the E-4B Nightwatch and E-6B Mercury – will both occasionally visit the base. In the event of a nuclear war those planes would be the flying command posts of the defense secretary and STRATCOM commander (respectively).
The prospect of returning to 24-hour alert is real. It was not in headlines but on October 20 President Trump signed an executive order so the Air Force could bring 1,000 pilots out of retirement. In early October Defense Secretary Jim Mattis told the Senate Armed Services Committee that the US needed to “ensure we have military options.”

President Trump will travel to Japan, the Republic of Korea, China, Vietnam, the Philippines, and Hawaii, on November 3-14, 2017. The trip to South Korea is scheduled on November 7-8. A president’s visit to the demilitarized zone could provoke Pyongyang into conducting a test. In his turn, the US president may be tempted into taking action in response if the decision to strike is taken in principle. It looks like a slam-dunk. After all, Trump has suggested that the military option was the only way to halt the North Korea’s missile and nuclear programs. He has repeatedly made clear his distaste for dialogue with Pyongyang.
The forces are already in stand-by mode. If the mission is to prevent the North Korean capability to strike continental USA and an operation is unavoidable, then Donald Trump will have nothing to lose. If it is a question of not if but when, then there is no reason for delay. It does not make much difference if an attack is pre-emptive or preventive.
This is the time Donald Trump’s popularity has taken a dip to make him the most unpopular president in recent history. No other president had as low an approval rating. A short, victorious military operation is the way to turn the tide. 

The US, South Korea and Japan began a two-day missile tracking drill Tuesday amid rising tensions with North Korea.
The exercises, South Korea's military said, is in preparation for any missile or nuclear threats from the North.
The drill will be held in waters off the coasts of South Korea and Japan, the South Korean military said in a statement. 

Included in these drills were the Aegis destroyer Yulgok Yii of South Korea, USS Stethem and USS Decatur Aegis destroyers from the States and a JDS Kirishima destroyer from Japan.
The exercise will have the warships detect and track a target while sharing information.
The drills have been taking place every few months since that agreement. 
The United States Air Force will put its ageing fleet of nuclear-capable B-52 bombers on 24-hour alert for the first time since the end of the Cold War, according to its chief of staff.
Amid rising tensions with North Korea and a resurgent Putin-led Russia, General David Goldfein told Defense One that the strategic bomber force will be ready at a day's notice for the first time in 26 years.
Adapting to the 'reality of the global situation', Goldfein's order would see B-52s readied at Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana and armed with nuclear weapons - something not seen since 1991.
In response to the news, North Korea said President Trump was 'overheated with a war fever' and branded him a 'hooligan' and a 'lunatic'.
The government-owned news agency KCNA lashed out in a furious tirade: 'Dignitaries of White House, and State and Defense Departments of the US are having a hard time cooling Trump overheated with a war fever, but only the south Korean puppet forces are fanning up the lunatic fingering a nuclear button. 
Barksdale - the home of the 2D Bomb Wing and Air Force Global Strike Command - is currently being refurbished in anticipation of the change in defense posture to allow the bombers to 'take off at a moment's notice'.
This is the latest defensive move from the US military, matching the bellicose threats that President Trump has posted on Twitter, putting North Korea, Iran and other American enemies on notice he will use the might of the armed forces. 

Russia is preparing to test-launch its new generation of nuclear-armed intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), which it has claimed will be able to penetrate the US’ defensive shield.
Delayed several times, the tests of the RS-28’s launch and first few seconds of flight are to be carried out at the Plesetsk Cosmodrome, in Russia’s north-west, before the end of the year.
The trials had been postponed because launch silos and the projectiles themselves were not ready, according to the state-controlled Sputnik website, which cited the Kommersant newspaper.
The RS-28 Sarmat, a 100-plus-ton ICBM that government-controlled media has claimed could destroy an area the size of Texas, is designed to evade missile defences with multiple hypersonic warheads, known as MIRVs.
Talking up its capabilities, state-linked Russian sites have claimed an 11,000km range, a payload of up to 15 warheads and the ability to “speed past every missile defence system in existence”.
RIA Novosti said individual warheads could have yields up to 750kt and that RS-28 launch silos would be built to withstand seven nuclear strikes.

One month after the devastating Hurricane Maria wreaked havoc on the island of Puerto Rico, the territory is still facing a public health crisis.  And it’s a crisis of epic proportions.
On Friday,  former Puerto Rican Governor Alejandro García Padilla tweeted a photo from inside a hospital, in which scrubbed-up doctors leaned over an operating table performing surgery lit only by a flashlightAccording to Slate, the image quickly made the rounds on the internet; it currently has almost 9,000 retweets and many speculate that that’s probably because the blurry picture feels like it’s worth a good deal more than 1,000 words.  It illuminates just a small sliver of the public health crisis Puerto Rico is currently facing.

Millions of residents still don’t have access to electricity or proper health care, and bacteria in the water have exposed many people to disease. And calls for help have gone unanswered besides the few willing to travel to the devastated island privately. Senator  Martin Heinrich (D-NM) along with a handful of other lawmakers are calling on the federal government to continue to provide aid to the post-apocalyptic ravaged territory. 

The senators stressed that much of the islands’ power and communication networks are out and, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), it will take months before power is fully restored. Hospitals have been forced to prioritize patients, ration services, and forgo elective surgeries.  The power grid’s failure has caused more problems than many anticipated, like the stall of relief efforts.  Without electricity, communications are non-existent too.

giant government-owned hospital ship, the USNS Comfort, arrived in Puerto Rico weeks ago to help out, but many people don’t know about the ship. Without electricity, most cell phone towers are down.  But even if communications were working, residents can’t get to the port, as many of the island’s roads are impassable and most are without gasoline to power a car. The ship has extensive space and equipment for trauma care and a large staff, but CNN reported that as of last Tuesday, only 33 of 250 beds were full.
The looming crisis seems to be getting worse, not better, and Puerto Rico is experiencing a medical crisis of epic proportions.

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