Thursday, February 08, 2018

Pence: U.S., Allies to Continue Peacefully Dismantling North Korea’s Nuke Program

By Terri Moon Cronk DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, Feb. 8, 2018 — In recent years, North Korea has threatened the United States and its allies across the Indo-Pacific region, and for the past two decades, it's devoted every available resource to developing nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles, Vice President Mike Pence told American and Japanese troops at Yokota Air Base in Japan yesterday.

The American people, the people of Japan and freedom-loving people across the wider world long for the day when peace and prosperity replace Pyongyang's belligerence and brutality, the vice president said. “Together with our allies and partners, we will continue to strive to peacefully dismantle North Korea's nuclear program and alleviate the suffering of its people,” he said.

“And sadly, despite our efforts over the decades, every step of the way North Korea has answered the overtures of the wider world, and our two nations with willful deception and broken promises,” Pence noted.

North Korea's continued threats have stirred the United States to act, he said, “and we will continue to act with vigilance.”

The United States and its allies will continue to intensify maximum pressure on North Korea until it abandons its nuclear and ballistic missile programs for good, the vice president said.

Ready For Any Eventuality

“But until that days arrives, let the world know from here at Yokota Air Base and beyond, we are ready for any eventuality,” he said.

The United States will always seek peace and ever strive for a better future, Pence said. “But you, the instruments of American power, know, and let our adversaries know, all options are on the table.”

And the American armed forces and self-defense forces of Japan will be ready to defend our people and our way of life, he said.

“To any who would threaten our people, our allies know this: Under this commander-in-chief with the greatest fighting force in the world, the United States is ready,” the vice president said, “ready to defend our homeland, defend our allies, anytime, anywhere.”

Let the world know, he added, that we will defeat any attack, and meet any use of conventional or nuclear weapons with a response that is rapid, overwhelming and effective.

“[Today] on behalf of your commander in chief, I urge you: Be vigilant. Mind your mission. Look after one another,” Pence told the troops. “And know that the American people and the people of Japan are counting on you -- each and every one of you -- every hour every day.”

Protecting, Preserving Freedoms

The vice president said that as he looked out across the hangar where the audience was gathered, he saw men and women, American and Japanese, who answered the call to put on a uniform to protect their families and preserve their freedoms.

“The burden you carry is a heavy one, full of uncertainty,” he said.

“The challenges that lie ahead will demand every ounce of your courage,” he told them. “But I have confidence that you will confront and overcome whatever trials may arise.”

For generations, the U.S. has stood guard over the Indo-Pacific together with its cherished ally, Japan, and it always will, Pence said.

“Today as in ages past, our commitment is unwavering. Your courage is inspiring, and the spirit of our people is unconquerable,” he said.

“I know freedom will prevail. You will do your duty,” Pence told them. “We will protect our people, we will defend our freedom, and together we will forge a future of security, prosperity and peace for both of our nations for generations to come.”

USS Rushmore Concludes U.S.-Japan Exercise Iron Fist

By Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class Reymundo A. Villegas III, Expeditionary Strike Group 3

PACIFIC OCEAN, Feb. 8, 2018 — The dock landing ship USS Rushmore, with elements from the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit and the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force, concluded exercise Iron Fist 2018 yesterday off the Southern California coast.

Iron Fist 2018 demonstrated more than a decade of interoperability development and enhanced amphibious capability of Japanese and American forces. The Rushmore provided both an amphibious and air platform for Marine Corps and Japan Ground Self-Defense Force members to train and conduct operations.

The amphibious phase of Iron Fist 2018 showed that the Rushmore was able to act as a single focal point for surface, air and amphibious operations, while nearly 300 U.S. Marines and Japanese personnel joined more than 330 sailors aboard, officials said.

During the five-day exercise, the Rushmore launched six amphibious assault vehicles numerous times from its well deck and conducted more than 20 flight deck landings.

Integration, Readiness

"Iron Fist is an excellent opportunity to not only show the [Japan Ground Self-Defense Force] the importance of integrating landing forces with amphibious warfare, but also to continue sharpening our ship's own routine training to maintain the highest level of operational readiness," said Navy Cmdr. John Ryan, the Rushmore’s commander. “It provided the crew with a unique opportunity to work with other nations' armed forces, a crucial skill as the ship prepares for deployment.”

The culminating training event was a scenario-based amphibious assault launched from Rushmore in coordination with an inland helicopter assault. The exercise wrapped up with the components of 11th MEU and Japan Maritime and Ground Self-Defense Forces departing the ship and returning to Camp Pendleton, California.
Joint interagency and international relationships strengthen U.S. 3rd Fleet's ability to respond quickly and effectively to crises in the Pacific. The Japanese-U.S. alliance helps with counterterrorism, counterpiracy, peacekeeping, capacity building, ballistic missile defense, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.