3 carriers in the Pacific; US warship tests truck-mounted artillery; 82% of Puerto Ricans still lack power; How the Soviets hunted subs without sonar; and just a bit more...

Message to North Korea: “Aboard a U.S. aircraft carrier on Tuesday, the chiefs of the South Korean military and the American troops stationed in South Korea reaffirmed combined combat readiness, sending a strong warning against North Korea's potential provocations,” South Korea’s Yonhap News agency reported Tuesday from Seoul.

The setting: “Gen. Jeong Kyeong-doo, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS), and U.S. Forces Korea chief Gen. Vincent Brooks met on the U.S. aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan that was anchored off the port of Busan after joining a five-day maritime exercise with the South Korean Navy in the South Korean oceans.”

Gen. Jeong’s message: “Amid an unprecedentedly grave security situation, the deployment of Ronald Reagan and its carrier strike group to the Korean Peninsula and their joint exercise with South Korea is part of the increased deployment of U.S. strategic assets here. It must have been a strong warning to North Korea."

That carrier is one of now three American flattops in the U.S. Navy’s 7th Fleet AOR — home to 36 countries in the Asia-Pacific, including Japan and the Korean peninsula. The USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76) is the Navy’s forward-deployed carrier for the 7th Fleet. But now it will be joined by the USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71) coming from the east, as the USS Nimitz (CVN-68) enters from the west.

The Navy announced Tuesday that the Nimitz entered the 7th Fleet’s area after more than two months of airstrikes against ISIS in Iraq and Syria. The USS Theodore Roosevelt entered the western Pacific after departing its homeport of San Diego in early October. From the West Pacific, it will move on to the Persian Gulf, Fox News reports.

"It is a major projection of force any time a carrier moves into a region," Adam Mount of the Federation of American Scientists told CNN. "US adversaries will read something into it."

An alternate take: "The Navy is taking advantage of a scheduling overlap to demonstrate its capabilities to potential adversaries," former Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said.

Also in the Pacific Ocean: Big guns. Artillery from truck-mounted HIMARS hit a target about 40 miles away (that’s the max range of the M31 Guided Multiple Launch Rocket System, the kind of round fired) from its launch point on the flight deck of the amphibious transport ship Anchorage on Sunday, U.S. Pacific Fleet said Tuesday.

Writes The Drive: “HIMARS, in particular, makes a lot of sense for sea-based operations,” including a very useful reduction in reload times, as well as use of a “single, larger short-range ballistic missile, known as the Army Tactical Missile System” that “can hit targets approximately 190 miles away.” Read on, here. Or catch video of the launch, here.

From Defense One

US Space Policy Should Aim to Preserve Advantage on the New Frontier // Jerry Hendrix and Adam Routh: As in the 19th-century American West, the government must recognize its limited yet crucial role in fostering the nation's interests in space.

Pentagon Scrubbing Kaspersky Software from Its Networks // Joseph Marks: Last month, DHS ordered civilian agencies to remove anti-virus tools made by the Russian company. Now DOD is following suit.

Welcome to Wednesday’s edition of The D Brief by Ben Watson and Bradley Peniston. Email us. And if you don’t subscribe already, consider subscribing. It’s free. OTD1944: A flotilla of U.S. Navy warships turns back a far larger Japanese force in the Battle off Samar.

Kurdistan’s step forward for Iraqi unity — by going back on that whole independence thing. “Iraq’s self-ruled Kurdish region has offered to freeze the results of its controversial independence vote as part of a dialogue with Baghdad,” the Associated Press reports this morning from Baghdad.
Kurdistan’s three-point plan:

  1. Immediate ceasefire and halt all military operations in the Kurdistan Region.
  2. Freeze the results of referendum conducted in the Iraqi Kurdistan.
  3. Start an open dialogue between the Kurdistan Regional Government and Iraqi Federal Government on the basis of the Constitution.

The proposal is “unlikely to be accepted by Baghdad,” AP writes, noting Iraqi officials want the Kurdistan votes “annulled” rather than frozen.
Also demanding an annulment: “The Popular Mobilisation (Hashd al-Shaabi), a powerful paramilitary force dominated by Iranian-backed Shia Arab militias,” the BBC reports this morning.
Complicating matters: This story from The New York Times about exchanges of gunfire between Iraqi and Peshmerga soldiers in two cities, Makhmour and Rabia.
The short story: “Two Iraqi commanders said Kurdish fighters, known as peshmerga, invited Iraqi soldiers to jointly operate a checkpoint before one clash, then suddenly opened fire when the soldiers approached. The commanders spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to give interviews. Peshmerga commanders said Iraqi troops had attacked their positions.” Read on, here.

And clearing up some misinformation about the U.S.-led coalition and the Kurds, coalition spokesman Col. Ryan Dillon wants everyone to know the coalition will not attack Kurdish forces in Makhmour, Iraq. “We call for open dialogue, [and to] focus on ISIS,” Dillon said on Twitter this morning.
One more (fairly obvious) thought about the crisis in Kurdistan: Could oil help resolve it? Very possibly, writes Raad Alkadiri of the Center for Strategic and International Studies. He lays out six steps for getting there in his most recent analysis, here.

Rex Tillerson’s message to Pakistan: Stop supporting terrorism. That from his short stopover in Islamabad en route to New Delhi on Tuesday.
Pakistan’s reax: “The U.S. can rest assured that we are strategic partners in the war against terror and that today Pakistan is fighting the largest war in the world against terror,” Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi said.
Forecast from an old hand: “Getting tough on Pakistan, which we’ve tried before, never works,” Ryan C. Crocker, former ambassador to Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan, told the Times. “In fact, it has the opposite effect. They just dig in deeper.” Read on, here.

Puerto Rico is still in emergency status, Lt. Gen. Jeff Buchanan, the commander of ground forces on the island told Military Times.
As of Tuesday, 82% of residents are still without electricity; but nearly three-quarters have drinking water now.
A few more stats:

  • 65 of 67 hospitals are open (40 on the power grid; 24 on generator power; 1 without power).
  • 85% of the population has cellular services available.
  • 79% of gas stations are open.
  • The U.S. military is using 74 rotary wing and 5 fixed-wing aircraft to assist.
  • And about 13,600 personnel “including Federal Forces and National Guard” are on hand, as well.

A village in Niger near where U.S. troops were attacked is under growing scrutiny, AP reports this morning as U.S. officials piece together what they can of the deadly attack on October 4.

More than 500 cases of “serious misconduct” among senior military officers and defense civilians have been documented by Pentagon investigations in the past five years, according to USA Today, which added them up because DoD apparently does not: “Yet despite the widespread abuses, the Pentagon does no trend analysis to determine whether the problem is worsening, nor does it regularly announce punishments for generals and admirals — all public figures.” Read on, here.

ICYMI: Vivid description of modern naval cat-and-mouse. In May, the Russia Navy’s attack submarine Krasnodar left its homeport in Murmansk, sailed around Europe to the eastern Mediterranean Sea, volleyed cruise missiles into Syria, and departed for the Black Sea. NATO naval forces followed the sub the whole way. Wall Street Journal’s Julian Barnes describes the hunt, using video and maps. Read it (if you can get past the paywall), here.

How the Soviets hunted subs without sonar. A newly declassified CIA report from 1972 describes various sensors that the electronics-deficient Soviet Navy used to track Western submarines — maybe even a nearly silent U.S. missile sub, at least once. Popular Mechanics: “The Soviets did not develop just one device, but several. One instrument picked up ‘activation radionuclides,’ a faint trail left by the radiation from the sub's onboard nuclear power plant. Another tool was a ‘gamma ray spectrometer’ that detects trace amounts of radioactive elements in seawater.” Perhaps most intriguingly, the still-heavily-redacted report says the Soviets had conceived a way to detect the warmer water that a U.S. sub’s nuclear reactor leaves behind. That was 45 years ago, begging the question: what’s possible today? Read, here.