Despite Olympics, U.S. retains full options to fight

Despite Olympics, U.S. retains full options to fight

Pentagon Chief Spokesperson Dana White and Joint Staff Director Lt. Gen. Kenneth F. McKenzie Jr. brief the media Thursday at the Pentagon. (Tom Squitieri/TMN)

WASHINGTON — Three B-2 Stealth bombers are on their way to Guam, part of a planned deployment that Pentagon officials said “sends a signal to everyone” that the United States military is ready to act, even as it temporarily reduces activity on the Korean peninsula during the Olympic Games.

“We are ready to go tonight,” Pentagon Chief Spokesperson Dana White told reporters Thursday. She said the U.S. retains “full options” for use of the military should the need arise anywhere in the Pacific region.

As part of the efforts to so-call “deconflict” the Korean peninsula during the Winter Olympics, to be held in South Korea next month, Washington and Seoul agreed to hold their annual military exercise after the games.

Additionally, on Wednesday, CNN reported that President Donald Trump told South Korean officials by phone, “I hope you let them know that there will be absolutely no military action as long as inter-Korean talks are ongoing,” according to the South Korean government’s statement on the phone call.

The president’s statement came after reports the U.S. was considering a demonstration strike to show North Korea its determination to rid the communist nation of nuclear weapons. After this week’s Korean talks, Pyongyang said it would not discuss its nuclear weapons because they were aimed only at the United States and not its “brethren” in China, Russia and South Korea.

North and South Korea did announce their decision to list “military talks to ease tensions” alongside “contact, travel and exchange in various areas” in their joint press release, seen as a pragmatic attempt to look beyond their differences and to include the matters on which they were capable of agreeing.

The Stealth bombers will replace B-52 bombers now on Guam. Additionally, the USS Carl Vinson, a Nimitz-class aircraft carrier, with be heading to waters off South Asia, also part of a previously scheduled deployment.

Joint Staff Director Lt. Gen. Kenneth F. McKenzie Jr. told reporters at the Pentagon on Thursday: “When we move bombers across the globe, we send a signal to everyone.”

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