Secretary of Defense James Mattis told assembled troops at the 82nd Airborne Division's Hall of Heroes in North Carolina that they must be prepared to fight so American diplomats have credibility in difficult negotiations to avoid war with North Korea.
"My fine young soldiers, the only way our diplomats can speak with authority and be believed is if you're ready to go," Mattis said. "Knowing what went wrong the last time around [in Korea] is as important as knowing your own testing, so that you're forewarned," he added. "So you gotta be ready."
The defense secretary offered a mixed take on whether military conflict on the Korean peninsula is probable in the near future. He maintained that diplomatic efforts are "going positively," and said it is not necessary to withdraw American civilians from South Korea at this time. However, Mattis mused that "storm clouds are gathering" over the Korean Peninsula," expressing "very little reason for optimism."