FORT BRAGG, N.C. (AP) — Defense Secretary Jim Mattis says “storm clouds are gathering” over the Korean Peninsula.

And as diplomats try to resolve the nuclear standoff, Mattis says the U.S. military must do its part by being ready for war.

Without forecasting a conflict, Mattis said diplomacy stands the best chance if America’s words are backed up by a strong military.

He told several dozen soldiers and airmen at the 82nd Airborne Division’s Hall of Heroes at Fort Bragg: “My fine young soldiers, the only way our diplomats can speak with authority and be believed is if you’re ready to go.”

Mattis recommended the Fort Bragg Soldiers to read T.R. Fehrenbach’s military classic “This Kind of War: A Study in Unpreparedness,” published a decade after the Lorean War ended.

“Knowing what went wrong the last time around is as important as knowing your own testing, so that you’re forewarned – you know what I’m driving at here,” he said to the soldiers. “So you gotta be ready.”

There are almost 28,000 troops permanently stationed in South Korea.  If war came, many thousands more would be needed.

Mattis met with troops at Guantanamo Bay naval base in Cuba, Naval Station Mayport in Florida on Thursday and at Camp Lejeune and Fort Bragg on Friday.

Contributed photo

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