Pence to military on North Korea: ‘Be ready’

Pence to military on North Korea: ‘Be ready’
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Vice President Pence told U.S. troops to "stay sharp" and "be ready" on Friday in the face of an increasing threat from North Korea. 

"Now more than ever your commander in chief is depending on you to be ready. Stay sharp, mind your mission," Pence said at Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota. 

"Anyone who would threaten our nation should know that America always seeks peace, but if we are forced to defend ourselves or our allies, we will do so with military power that is effective and overwhelming. And those gathered here at Minot Air Force Base will play a critical role again," he said. 

The base would play a critical role in the face of an attack, as it houses 26 B-52 bombers and 150 intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) sites.

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Pence's comments come as tensions have risen between the U.S. and North Korea.

Pyongyang conducted a slew of ICBM launches this year, prompting President Trump to ratchet his rhetoric up against the nation. 

Trump threatened to "totally destroy" North Korea if they continued to defy the international community during a speech on the floor of the United Nations last month.

Pence attempted to strike a more diplomatic tone on Friday, but said military action was not off the table. 

"I can assure you that the United States will continue to marshal economic and diplomatic pressure to demand that North Korea abandon its nuclear and ballistic missile programs," the vice president said, adding that Trump "has made clear" that all options are on the table.

Pence's comments come after Defense Secretary James MattisJames Norman MattisOvernight Defense: Trump recognizes Jerusalem as Israel's capital | Mattis, Tillerson reportedly opposed move | Pentagon admits 2,000 US troops are in Syria | Trump calls on Saudis to 'immediately' lift Yemen blockade Trump has yet to name ambassadors to key nations in Mideast Mattis, Tillerson warned Trump of security concerns in Israel embassy move MORE offered his support to U.S. troops stationed in South Korea on Friday, telling them the U.S. was doing everything it could to solve the crisis on the Korean Peninsula through diplomatic means. 

"We're doing everything we can to solve this diplomatically, everything we can. But ultimately our diplomats have to be backed up by strong soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines," he said.

Mattis's visit comes before Trump embarks on a 12-day trip to Asia on Nov. 3.

The White House said that Trump was not expected to visit the Demilitarized Zone, the 2.5-mile wide strip of land between North and South Korea, during his trip. But the president appeared to raise the possibility Wednesday, telling reporters, "You'll be surprised."