The Cable

The Cable goes inside the foreign policy machine, from Foggy Bottom to Turtle Bay, the White House to Embassy Row.

As Trump Threatens to ‘Destroy’ North Korea, Air Force Says It’s ‘Ready to Fight’

General says the bombers are ready.

AAAb52
AAAb52

Hours after President Donald Trump told the United Nations that the U.S. might have “no choice but to totally destroy North Korea” if the regime didn’t halt its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile program, U.S. generals said they were ready for whatever option the president chooses.

“We’re ready to fight tonight,” Gen. Robin Rand, commander of the Air Force’s Global Strike Command, told reporters at an Air Force conference in Washington on Monday. “We don’t have to spin up, we’re ready.”

Rand, who is responsible for the nation's intercontinental ballistic missile and bomber wings, underscored that his units around the globe were all ready to act, not just those in the Pacific.

Hours after President Donald Trump told the United Nations that the U.S. might have “no choice but to totally destroy North Korea” if the regime didn’t halt its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile program, U.S. generals said they were ready for whatever option the president chooses.

“We’re ready to fight tonight,” Gen. Robin Rand, commander of the Air Force’s Global Strike Command, told reporters at an Air Force conference in Washington on Monday. “We don’t have to spin up, we’re ready.”

Rand, who is responsible for the nation’s intercontinental ballistic missile and bomber wings, underscored that his units around the globe were all ready to act, not just those in the Pacific.

“Our role is to be a continuous bomber presence and have the ability to launch bombers from a long way away in a very short period of time,” he said

President Trump has been using increasingly harsh rhetoric to describe his plans for dealing with the regime in Pyongyang, even as diplomatic efforts continue.

Earlier this week, Mattis revealed that he has drawn up military options for striking North Korea that would not put the South Korean capital of Seoul at risk, but declined to elaborate further. Seoul is only 35 miles from the border, and thousands of North Korean artillery pieces are dug deep into granite hillsides, ready to pour tens of thousands of shells on the capital within minutes.

Addressing the Air Force conference on Tuesday, service chief Gen. David Goldfein echoed Mattis, confirming the Pentagon has war plans ready for North Korea, should the need arise. But any options, he said, “are all in support of the pressure campaign that is being led by Secretary of State [Rex] Tillerson.”

Speaking before a meeting with the Romanian defense minister at the Pentagon on Tuesday, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis was asked about Trump’s comments at the U.N. that “rocket man is on a suicide mission for himself and his regime,” referring to the North Korean leader by the nickname he coined on Twitter over the weekend.

“We are dealing with the North Korea situation through the international process and we will continue to do so,” Mattis said. “Secretary Tillerson is leading the effort and we will hopefully get this resolved through diplomatic means.”

 

Photo Credit: U.S. Air Force

More from Foreign Policy

A worker cuts the nose off the last Ukraine's Tupolev-22M3, the Soviet-made strategic aircraft able to carry nuclear weapons at a military base in Poltava, Ukraine on Jan. 27, 2006. A total of 60 aircraft were destroyed  according to the USA-Ukrainian disarmament agreement.
A worker cuts the nose off the last Ukraine's Tupolev-22M3, the Soviet-made strategic aircraft able to carry nuclear weapons at a military base in Poltava, Ukraine on Jan. 27, 2006. A total of 60 aircraft were destroyed according to the USA-Ukrainian disarmament agreement.

Why Do People Hate Realism So Much?

The school of thought doesn’t explain everything—but its proponents foresaw the potential for conflict over Ukraine long before it erupted.

Employees watch a cargo ship at a port in China, which is experiencing an economic downturn.
Employees watch a cargo ship at a port in China, which is experiencing an economic downturn.

China’s Crisis of Confidence

What if, instead of being a competitor, China can no longer afford to compete at all?

Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell testifies in the U.S. Senate in Washington on Sept. 24, 2020.
Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell testifies in the U.S. Senate in Washington on Sept. 24, 2020.

Why This Global Economic Crisis Is Different

This is the first time since World War II that there may be no cooperative way out.

Chinese President Xi Jinping (left) and Premier Li Keqiang applaud at the closing session of the National People's Congress at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on March 11.
Chinese President Xi Jinping (left) and Premier Li Keqiang applaud at the closing session of the National People's Congress at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on March 11.

China Is Hardening Itself for Economic War

Beijing is trying to close economic vulnerabilities out of fear of U.S. containment.