Military News

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Four Dead in N. Korean Attack, U.S. Carrier Group Deploys

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Nov. 24, 2010 – South Korean officials announced that two of the four dead in the unprovoked attack by North Korea yesterday were civilians.

President Barack Obama told South Korean President Lee Myung-bak that the United States stands shoulder-to-shoulder with South Korea.

Obama strongly condemned the North Korean attack on the island of Yeonpyeoung. He said North Korea must stop its provocative actions, which will only lead to further isolation, and fully abide by the terms of the Armistice Agreement and its obligations under international law.

The two presidents agreed to hold combined military exercises and enhanced training in the days ahead to continue the close security cooperation between our two countries, and to underscore the strength of the alliance and the commitment to peace and security in the region.

The USS George Washington carrier strike group will join South Korean naval forces in the Yellow Sea west of the peninsula from Nov. 28 to Dec. 1 to conduct the next exercise in the series announced at the 2-plus-2 meetings in July.

This exercise is defensive in nature, said United Nations Command officials in Seoul. “The intent of the series of exercises is to enhance our interoperability with the Republic of Korea, but also as a deterrent to North Korea,” Pentagon spokesman Marine Col. Dave Lapan said today during a press availability.

The USS George Washington with an embarked carrier air wing, the cruiser USS Cowpens, and the destroyers USS Lassen, USS Stethem and the USS Fitzgerald will participate in the exercise along with South Korean ships. The United States has notified China, Japan and other nations in the region of the exercise in international waters. The USS George Washington last exercised in the area in October 2009.

Officials planned the exercises well in advance of yesterday’s North Korean artillery attack, Lapan said.

“Past exercises, sanctions, international condemnation -– there have been any number of things that have been intended to curb the North’s aggression, but for whatever reason they have chosen to disregard,” he said.

The North Korean attack is a violation of the Armistice Agreement signed in 1953. It follows the North Korean sinking of the South Korean ship Cheonan in March -– an attack that killed 46 South Korean sailors.

There have been many North Korean breaches of the armistice over the years, but it is one of the first to target civilians. The attack has had a chilling effect on the people of South Korea.

“Just the act of aggression itself –- regardless of who was killed –- is what’s of concern to us, but certainly attacking civilians takes this to a different level than we’ve seen in the past,” Lapan said.

Obama said the United States will work with the international community to strongly condemn this outrageous action by North Korea, and to advance peace and security in the region.

Gates Condemns Attack on South Korea

By Karen Parrish
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Nov. 23, 2010 – Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates today condemned the attack by North Korea on the small South Korean island of Yeonpyeong, according to Pentagon Press Secretary Geoff Morrell.

"In a phone call this morning, Secretary Gates told [South Korean Defense] Minister Kim [Tae-young] the United States strongly condemns the artillery attack by North Korea, views it as a violation of the armistice agreement and assured him that we are committed to South Korea's defense,” Morrell said in an issued readout of Gates’ call with Kim.

“He expressed sympathy for the loss of life and appreciation for the restraint shown to date by the South Korean government. The Secretary and the Minister agreed their departments should consult closely and coordinate on any response to this act of aggression by the North,” Morrell said.

The White House this morning issued a statement condemning the attack and calling on North Korea to halt its “belligerent” action and to fully abide by the terms of the Armistice Agreement. Officials from both the White House and DOD affirmed the U.S. alliance with South Korea and are closely monitoring the situation on the Korean peninsula in the wake of today’s attack that is reported to have killed two and injured at least 15.

“We will honor our alliance obligations to the South, and … we are determined to promote peace and security on the peninsula,” Morrell said earlier today in an interview on MSNBC.

“We take this very seriously, just as we took the sinking of the Cheonan earlier this year very seriously, [in which] the North murdered some 40 South Korean sailors,” he said.

Morrell said Gates responded to a reporter’s question yesterday about North Korea by saying, “To any question beginning with ‘Why?’ with regards to North Korea, my answer is the same: I don’t know.”

North Korea’s government is extremely unpredictable, and “they do things you could not possibly have predicted in a rational world,” Morrell said.

Morrell said U.S. sanctions in place against North Korea have been strengthened since the March sinking of the Cheonan.

“It’s hard to pile more sanctions upon the North than are already there,” he said, “and yet it seems they are not foolproof. But we’ve always known they aren’t foolproof.”

North Korea’s government “is determined to bypass the sanctions [and] to not abide by its international obligations,” the press secretary said.

North Korea’s irresponsible behavior also is “demonstrated by the fact that it’s trying to be a proliferator of weapons, that it’s dealing with countries that are also under sanctions … unfortunately, this is not out of keeping with their belligerent and unpredictable behavior,” Morrell said.

The Defense Department views North Korea’s actions “with concern,” Pentagon spokesman Col. David Lapan told reporters today.

The North Koreans “certainly increase tensions on the peninsula,” Lapan said, “and so any type of military incidents between North and the Republic of Korea are viewed with concern, because of contributing to instability in the region, and especially on the Korean peninsula.”

Meanwhile, he said, the U.S. government is monitoring the situation and conferring with allies.

"At this point it’s premature to say that we’re considering any [military] action," Lapan said.

A Salute to Military Chefs

Written by: Christopher Lagan
Post written by Petty Officer 3rd Class Victoria Bonk

As America prepares for Thanksgiving – a holiday that has become synonymous with good food – and lots of it, we thought it a fitting time to salute the men and women who prepare food for tens of thousands of Coast Guard men and women every day. Today, we share our thanks for the Coast Guard’s Food Service Specialists.

One of the most forgot-about-jobs in the Coast Guard is the Food Service Specialist. They are the men and women who keep their fellow shipmates well fed to have the energy to complete the many missions of the Coast Guard. A lot of times, they are up well before and go to bed well after most of the crew, serving up to four or more meals a day.

Last week, the USO of Metropolitan Washington held its annual dinner to salute military chefs. All services were represented. Representing the Coast Guard was Petty Officer 1st Class Timothy Sullivan, a food service specialist and enlisted aide to the Vice Commandant of the Coast Guard, Vice Adm. Sally Brice-O’Hara. He joined chefs from all the services to prepare a six-course meal demonstrating their talents and hard work.

“I was excited about cooking for this event. It was my largest plated meal that I have done, 180 plates,” said Sullivan. “It was great to be able to meet and work with other chefs.”

Sullivan has been a food service specialist for nine years and an enlisted aide for one year. His passion for cooking and drive to better his skills led him to apply for the enlisted aide position. When he received orders to become an enlisted aide, it meant he had to also receive more culinary training.

“I felt that I had reached my potential as a shipboard cook and decided it was time for a new challenge and time to take myself out of my comfort zone,” said Sullivan. “I like a challenge and I never want to stop learning.”

Also during the USO dinner, another member of the Coast Guard was recognized for being the Coast Guard Enlisted Aide of the year, Petty Officer 1st Class Stephen Bishop, a food service specialist and enlisted aide to the Coast Guard Commandant, Adm. Bob Papp.

“I’m so honored to have been chosen to be the Coast Guard enlisted aide of the year,” said Bishop.

Bishop has been a food service specialist for nine years and an enlisted aide for three years. He became an aide because of the advice and recommendation from Master Chief Petty Officer Charles Bowen (ret.), the 10th Master Chief Petty Officer of the Coast Guard, who thought he would be good at the job. He enjoys being an aide because of the many opportunities to be creative and work with the senior leadership of the Coast Guard.

“Being an aide has given me the chance to be creative with my cooking since I’m cooking for smaller amount of people,” said Bishop.

The USO took a night to recognize how important cooks are to the operations of the military services and showcase their talents. The Coast Guard has many support jobs that help keep the service going; food service specialist is only one of them. However, without cooks, the Coast Guard wouldn’t be able to run the same.

White House Condemns North Korean Attack

By Karen Parrish
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Nov. 23, 2010 – The White House condemned today’s North Korean artillery attack against the South Korean island of Yeonpyeong.

“The United States strongly condemns this attack and calls on North Korea to halt its belligerent action and to fully abide by the terms of the Armistice Agreement,” according to a White House statement issued this morning.

President Barack Obama attended a late afternoon meeting of his senior national security team on the situation on the Korean peninsula, according to a White House press release. The president was briefed by National Security Advisor Tom Donilon, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, Ambassador to the United Nations Susan E.Rice, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen, and Army Gen. Walter L. Sharp, commander of U.S. Forces Korea.

"The president reiterated the unshakeable support of the United States for our ally, the Republic of Korea, and discussed ways to advance peace and security on the Korean peninsula going forward," the release says.

The attack on the South Korean island of Yeonpyeong is reported to have killed two and injured 15 military personnel.

The White House statement affirms the United States is firmly committed to the defense of South Korea and to the maintenance of regional peace and stability.