Despite rhetoric on North Korea, U.S. military posture hasn’t really changed

NPR reports: President Trump’s “locked and loaded” remark on Friday — part of his ongoing exchange with the North Korean regime — might have set the world more on edge. But if the U.S. military is preparing for a major conflict, there is little evidence of it.

As of Friday morning, no U.S. aircraft carrier was on patrol in the Asia-Pacific region. The USS Carl Vinson and USS Ronald Reagan have both returned to their respective home ports, San Diego and Yokosuka, Japan.

The USS Nimitz Strike Group — often on station in the western Pacific — is deployed to the Persian Gulf, supporting the U.S.-led effort against ISIS.

There are about 29,000 American troops permanently stationed in South Korea. Annual U.S.-South Korea military exercises begin Aug. 21 but are conducted primarily with forces already in place.

And U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis on Thursday appeared to downplay the possibility of armed conflict.

“My mission, my responsibility is to have military options if you need it,” Mattis said. “However, right now, Secretary [of State Rex] Tillerson, Ambassador [to the U.N. Nikki] Haley, you can see the American effort is diplomatically led, it has diplomatic traction, it is gaining diplomatic results.” [Continue reading…]

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