(National Sentinel) War Drums: For the second time in as many days, a top U.S. defense official has warned of the potential for a major war in the near future.

On Friday, Defense Secretary James Mattis warned that “storm clouds are gathering” over the Korean peninsula, as tensions between the U.S. and North Korea continue to mount over the latter’s nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs.


Without actually forecasting a future conflict, Mattis nonetheless told American military forces they must always be ready for war.

“My fine young soldiers, the only way our diplomats can speak with authority and be believed is if you’re ready to go,” Mattis told dozens of U.S. Army soldiers and airmen at the 82nd Airborne Division’s Hall of Heroes, on his last stop during a two-day pre-holiday tour of bases to greet troops.

His comments came as the UN Security Council unanimously voted to support tight new sanctions against North Korea. Those include dramatically reducing sales of oil to the regime, and a return of all North Korea expatriate workers within two years, who are seen as a key source of revenue for Kim Jong-un’s government.

While at Fort Bragg, Mattis recommended the troops read T.R. Fehrenbach’s military classic “This Kind of War: A Study in Unpreparedness,” first published in 1963, a decade after the Korean 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 as soldiers listened in silence. “So you gotta be ready.”

Mattis was asked about earlier reports that the families of U.S. service members would be evacuated from South Korea, Mattis said he was still relying on diplomacy to resolve the North Korean crisis.

“I don’t think it’s at that point yet,” he said, adding that an evacuation of American civilians would hurt the South Korean economy.

He added that there is a contingency plan that would get U.S. service members’ families out “on very short notice.”

Mattis’ warning follows that of Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Robert Neller, who told personnel in Norway on Thursday “there’s a war coming.”

Neller said Marines should be ready for combat at any time, predicting a “big-ass fight” on the horizon.

“I hope I’m wrong, but there’s a war coming,” Neller said. ” … You’re in a fight here, an informational fight, a political fight, by your presence.”

He added that he expects the Pacific region — a veiled reference to North Korea and possibly China — as well as Russia would be the U.S. military’s and the Marine Corps’ primary focus in the coming years.

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