The top US commander on the Korean Peninsula said the recent uptick in rocket launches, nuclear threats, and a live-fire artillery drill earlier this week are reflective of a “common strategy” by North Korean leader Kim Jong Un to demonstrate capabilities, particularly as the spring months arrive. Both recent missile launches and live-fire drills in the past week are connected to a “normal pattern of messaging (Kim’s) displeasure with our training,” Army Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti, commander of US Forces Korea, told members of the House Armed Services Committee on Wednesday. “Just recently their rhetoric has begun to pick up a swell, particularly in the last two-to-three days,” following the uptick in March and April military demonstrations. While USFK has maintained a high state of readiness despite the sequester cuts, Scaparrotti said the environment reflects that his first need as a combatant commander, given the threat in his region, is increased intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance. US forces on the Peninsula have limited warning time, he replied to a question posed by Rep. Joe Wilson (R-S.C.). “It’s an increase in ISR that’ll allow me to get indicators and warnings and posture the force properly to be proactive as opposed to reactive,” he added.
The Air Force overall reduced its size by 120 aircraft in fiscal year 2021, but kept about the same number of fighter, bomber and attack aircraft, according to data supplied by the service. The F-35 fleet saw the biggest increase while the B-1B bomber fleet saw the largest decline.