The U.S. military has conducted training exercises in North Carolina and Nevada in case a war with North Korea breaks out, and next month will train more than 1,000 reserve soldiers on how to set up so-called mobilization centers that move military forces overseas in a hurry, according to a report in the New York Times.
President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un have exchanged heated rhetoric in recent months as Kim has increased testing of missiles of various range – and a hydrogen bomb in September.
Trump recently told South Korean President Moon Jae-in that he would consider having a dialogue with Kim “at the appropriate time, under the right circumstances," but the recent exercises were likely conducted under orders by Defense Secretary James Mattis to be ready for potential military action against North Korea, according to two dozen current and former Pentagon officials who spoke to the Times.
In North Carolina at the Fort Bragg military base last month, 48 Apache gunships and Chinook cargo helicopters conducted exercises under live artillery fire to assault targets. In Nevada at Nellis Air Force Base, 119 paratroopers jumped out of C-17 military cargo planes during practice runs that mimicked a foreign invasion.
The Pentagon in February also plans to send more Special Operations troops to the Korean Peninsula ahead of the start of the Winter Olympics, which take place in South Korea beginning Feb. 9.
Derek Chollet, an assistant secretary of defense during the Obama administration, told the Times the exercises could be routine, "as simple as these guys reading the newspaper."
"You’re not seeing any massive military movements," indicating that a decision has been made to go to war, he added.
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