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USS Michigan nuclear submarine with Navy SEALs onboard strikes a nerve in North Korea

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The US Navy’s recent mission to send a guided-missile submarine into the waters surrounding the Korean Peninsula appears to have struck fear into the top leaders in Pyongyang.

Following news that the USS Michigan was lurking in the waters off the Korean Peninsula, state-run North Korean website Uriminzokkiri wrote that the moment the USS Michigan “tries to budge even a little” North Korean forces would ensure that it became an “underwater ghost.”

“The urgent fielding of the nuclear submarine in the waters off the Korean Peninsula, timed to coincide with the deployment of the super aircraft carrier strike group, is intended to further intensify military threats toward our republic,” Pyongyang said in a statement.

According to the Uriminzokkiri, one of North Korea’s communications arms, the Michigan is in for a “miserable fate.” But North Korea’s belligerence may betray an increasing anxiety about its own fate, as the US installs missile defense systems in its southern neighbor and has sent an impressive show of force to prowl its coasts.

The Michigan was retrofitted in the early 1990s to serve more conventional military purposes after playing a key role in America’s nuclear deterrence triad. According to Military.com, the Michigan is hauling a team of elite Navy SEAL fighters, who may deploy from the sub in SEAL Delivery Vehicles – essentially, miniature submarines used by the elite combat units for the specified purpose of entering anti-access areas or locations where military activity would draw diplomatic condemnation. Each SDV can carry up to six commandos, and the submersibles are “free-flooding,” meaning SEALS are underwater during the entire mission.

The mini-sea vehicles were first conceptualized in a 1952 then-classified report, and were dubbed Underwater Swimmers. They were intended to “play an unseen and literally unknown yet vitally significant role in maritime special operations,” according to the Navy SEAL Museum in Fort Pierce, Florida.

A slew of Tomahawk missiles stand ready for a land attack from the USS Michigan to boot.

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Training Accident Leaves 15 US Marines Injured at Camp Pendleton

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A total of 15 US Marines were injured Wednesday during a training exercise that involved an amphibious landing vehicle at the Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, according to the Marine Corps.

Though the vehicle was engulfed in flames, all of the Marines involved were able to escape, the marines said in a statement. The landing-accident took place at approximately 9:33 a.m. local time when troops were in the middle of a scheduled battalion training.

The Marines are currently being treated for injuries.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the Marines and their families as they receive medical care,” the statement added.

This is the latest in a string of accidents for the US military. Back in July the US Marine Corps canceled all flights for the KC-130T Hercules Transport planes after a crash killed one sailor and 15 Marines in Mississippi.

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Combat vets say tattoo policy is big barrier to re-enlistment to Marine Corps

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Time may be the biggest factor causing combat veterans to leave the Marine Corps, but there’s another reason that should not be underestimated, some vets say: the Corps’ tattoo policy. Jeff Schogol wrote an article on Marine Corps which describes problems that combat vets have with Marine Corps tattoo policy.

Brian Davenport was barred from re-enlistment in 2015 because two of his tattoos were so close together that they were considered to be one tattoo that was too big under the Marine Corps’ tattoo policy at the time, he said. He and other Marines have a similar story: When the Marine Corps stopped deploying to Iraq and Afghanistan in large numbers, tattoos became a career killer for them, even if they had ­combat experience.

“As soon as we got back from Afghanistan and we found out we weren’t going to be going back, everything just did a complete 180,” Davenport told Marine Corps Times. “It was more stressing the little things: your uniform, appearances.”

Where have all the combat vets gone?

The Marine Corps is facing a drain of battle-tested Marines. Davenport deployed to Afghanistan in 2012 as a machine gunner, but he felt the Marine Corps did not value his combat experience after he returned, he said.

“You had leaders saying, ‘We don’t care that you’re a combat veteran,’” he said. “I had a second lieutenant, he was brand new and he’s like: ‘No one cares about Afghanistan. That’s over. We’re moving on. There’s a new Marine Corps.’”

Davenport’s return from Afghanistan coincided with the Marine Corps’ drawdown from 202,000 to 182,000 ­active-duty Marines that was driven by cuts to defense spending. On the day that Davenport found out that he could not re-enlist because of his tattoos, he went straight to an Army ­recruiter, who was able to get him into the Army two days after he left the Corps, he said.

During the drawdown from 202,000 Marines a few years ago, the Corps ratcheted up its enforcement of tattoo policies. Starting in 2014, Marines were required to submit photographs of their tattoos for re-enlistment.

Marine Corps Commandant Gen. ­Robert Neller has explained the reason for the Corps’ tattoo policy: “We are not in a rock and roll band. We are ­Marines. We have a brand. People expect a ­certain thing from us,” he told Marine Corps Times in February 2016.

Marine veterans often look to get jobs as police officers, but local, state and federal law enforcement agencies are very strict on whether applicants can have visible tattoos, Neller added.

In June 2016, the Marine Corps announced an updated tattoo policy, which allows visible tattoos to extend further on Marines’ upper arms and thighs. Although some Marines would have ­preferred a more lax policy, Neller certainly listened to their opinions on the matter, Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps Ronald Green said at the time.

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