Defense Secretary James Mattis turned a few heads on Monday when he told the U.S. Army “to be ready” should President Trump order military action against North Korea. With the on-going war of words reaching new heights after a series of missile tests this summer, the rogue state of Kim Jong Un has increasingly rattled its saber, now it is threatening nuclear tests in the Pacific Ocean.

Mattis made his comments while speaking at the Association of the United States Army (AUSA) convention in Washington. He said while the US will continue to seek a peaceful solution with North Korea, a nuclear-armed North Korea threatens regional and global peace.

“It is right now a diplomatically led, economic-sanction buttressed effort to try to turn North Korea off this path,” said Mattis. “What does the future hold? Neither you nor I can say, so there’s one thing the U.S. Army can do, and that is you’ve got to be ready to ensure that we have military options that our president can employ, if needed.”

The retired four-star Marine Corps general also spoke about how past mistakes made during battles are “a reminder that we’ve got to be brilliant in the basics of blocking and tackling. Right now, what we want to do is be so ready and be very much aware that we fight the way we come that everybody in the world wants to deal with Secretary [of State Rex] Tillerson and the Department of State, not the Department of Defense and the United States Army.”

Mattis mentioned on-going improvements in budgeting for new troops and equipment, modernizing the force across the board and called on the leaders of industry and the military to get together to allow the services to get their hands on more technologically better pieces of equipment and capabilities.

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