The United States says it stands “poised to respond” at the border of North and South Korea, where U.S. troops are on high alert.
“They have ratcheted up their bellicose, dangerous rhetoric and some of the actions they’ve taken over the last few weeks present a real and clear danger,” Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel said.
The U.S. is sending a missile battery to Guam and two guided missile destroyers are on the border of South Korea, joining Navy warships already poised to shoot down an incoming missile and U.S. warplanes, including fighter jets, U-2 spy planes and an A-10 attack jet, are in the South Korean skies.
The Japanese soldiers in camouflage face paint and full combat gear were dropped by U.S. helicopters onto this treeless, hilly island, and moved quickly to recapture it from an imaginary invader. To secure their victory, they called on a nearby U.S. warship to pound the “enemy” with gunfire that exploded in deafening thunderclaps.
Perhaps the most notable feature of the war games in February, called Iron Fist, was the baldness of their unspoken warning. There is only one country that Japan fears would stage an assault on one of its islands: China.
Iron Fist is one of the latest signs that Japan’s anxiety about China’s insistent claims over disputed islands as well as North Korea’s escalating nuclear threats are pushing Japanese leaders to shift further away from the nation’s postwar pacifism.