Readiness is critical to thwarting North Korea’s effort to develop nuclear arms and long-range missiles, the commander of U.S. forces in Korea told the House Armed Services Committee here today.
Army Gen. Curtis M. Scaparrotti, who commands United Nations Command and Combined Forces Command in addition to U.S. Forces Korea, said his organizations will work closely with the South Korean military to develop its capabilities and stanch an increasing asymmetric threat on the Korean Peninsula.
“We will … combine [communications] systems, an alliance countermissile defense strategy, and a procurement of precision-guided munitions, ballistic missile defense systems and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance platforms,” Scaparrotti said.
The general noted that North Korea has the fourth-largest military in the world, with more than 70 percent of its ground forces deployed near the Korean Demilitarized Zone. “[North Korea’s] long-range artillery can strike targets in the Seoul metropolitan area, where over 23 million South Koreans and almost 50,000 Americans live,” he said.
In addition to violations of multiple U.N. Security Council resolutions, Kim Jong Un’s regime also is aggressively investing in cyberwarfare capabilities, the general reported.
“North Korea brings risk to the world’s fastest-growing economic region, which is responsible for 25 percent of the world’s [gross domestic product] and home to our largest trading partners,” Scaparrotti said. “Against this real threat, our nation is committed to the security of South Korea and to our national interests.”
The general pledged to transform, sustain and strengthen the alliance, maintain the armistice to deter and defeat aggression, and be ready to fight. Priorities, he added, also include sustaining the force and family readiness and enhancing the United Nations Command, Combined Forces Command and U.S. Forces Korea teams.
“An essential part of this is a positive command climate that focuses on the covenant between the leader and the led and our mission together,” he said. “At the core of mission success is the close relationship we share with our South Korean partners; we benefit from an important history forged on many battlefields, shared sacrifices and democratic principles.”
Over the past 60 years, the general said, the United States and South Korea have built one of the longest-standing alliances in modern history.
“We will continue to ensure strong and effective deterrence posture so that Pyongyang never misjudges our role, commitment or capability to respond as an alliance,” he added.
By Amaani Lyle
American Forces Press Service