On ten occasions this week AlertsUSA subscribers were notified via SMS messages to their mobile devices regarding security matters. Most pressing for this report, there has been a dramatic increase in tensions on the Korean Peninsula.
The Trump administration is taking a hard line with North Korea in the face of repeated threats of attack on the U.S. and our allies. On Wednesday, AlertsUSA subscribers were notified of a direct warning to N. Korea made by Secretary of Defense James Mattis which stated:
"The DPRK must choose to stop isolating itself and stand down its pursuit of nuclear weapons. The DPRK should cease any consideration of actions that would lead to the end of its regime and the destruction of its people."
Analysis of commercial satellite imagery by the U.S. Korea Institute at Johns Hopkins University suggests North Korea may be accelerating the development of the sea-based leg of its nuclear forces and that a new series of “at sea” test launches may be forthcoming.
Additionally, late Friday USGOV intelligence sources indicated North Korea has begun moving both Intercontinental and intermediate range ballistic missiles, suggesting the possibility of additional launches in the coming hours and days, a move likely to bring a stinging response from the international community.
AlertsUSA subscribers are urged to view this situation with balanced caution, but to be paying close attention. While it is impossible to predict the next actions to be taken by the N. Korean regime, what is very clear is the period of calm negotiation between bespoke, fine brandy swirling plenipotentiaries has drawn to a close.
When the cloudy historical and political narrative is removed, the world is now faced with the following realities:
Given these realities, restraint and the quest for diplomatic solutions virtually assures continued proliferation into the hands of rogue nations and those private individuals and groups with deep enough pockets.
No Evacuation Recommendations... Yet
At the time of this report's preparation late Friday, there have been no official recommendations issued by the State Department for American citizens to leave the Korean Peninsula. This past June, the Department of Defense carried out the first of two evacuation drills known as Focused Passage. Technically referred to as a noncombatant evacuation operation (NEO), Focused Passage was established to ensure that all DoD family members and non-emergency essential DOD Civilians and their families are prepared in case an evacuation order is issued. In addition to DoD related personnel, the drill and this evacuation means are available to U.S. embassy personnel, DoD retirees, as well as contractors and their families. Essentially, this means anyone with normal military base access, which does NOT include general civilians.
In Focused Passage, evacuees are identified, registered, and moved to evacuation nodes located in the southern coastal region. From there, they are ultimately flown to Japan by the U.S. Transportation Command and their ROK counterparts.
U.S. Civilians in S. Korea Should Be Prepared
It is important for readers to understand that this evacuation option is NOT intended for average American civilians in South Korea for private sector work, study, summers abroad, tourism, etc.. American civilians, like those of most other western nations, are expected to conduct themselves in a responsible manner and have a means of evacuation in place when traveling abroad, and in particular, in dangerous or crisis-prone regions.
If you voluntarily choose to be on the Korean Peninsula during periods of tension, such as the present, you better have your act together because it is NOT the responsibility of the State Department or military to facilitate your departure.
In fact, the U.S. State Department website clearly states the following:
"The assistance we provide depends upon the nature of the crisis. Regularly scheduled commercial flights or transportation are always the best option when local communications and transportation infrastructure are intact and operating normally, even if we have advised all U.S. citizens to leave. Our efforts are devoted to keeping the local U.S. citizen community informed of developments and travel options."
"Expectations of rescue by helicopters, the U.S. military, and U.S. government-provided transportation with armed escorts reflect a Hollywood script more than reality. It is almost impossible for the U.S. government to provide in-country transportation service to individuals or specific groups during a foreign crisis. You should therefore heed State Department travel and safety information for the country you are traveling to or residing in, monitor local conditions, and have a plan of action in case of emergency."
The State Department also encourages all U.S. citizens traveling abroad, especially those who plan to be overseas for a significant amount of time, to sign up with the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP). It is important that you keep your contact information up-to-date so that the State Department can notify you or your designated emergency contact of developments and provide valuable information.
AlertsUSA continues to monitor the situation on the Korean Peninsula, as well as the overall domestic and international threat environment, and will immediately notify service subscribers via SMS messages of new alerts, warnings and advisories or any developments which signal a change the overall threat picture for American citizens as events warrant.