CAMP H.M. SMITH, Hawaii, Sept. 1, 2017 —
The North Korean threat and the regional alliance highlighted a meeting here yesterday between the commander of U.S. Pacific Command and South Korea's defense minister, a Pacom spokeswoman said.
In a statement summarizing the meeting, Marine Corps Capt. Cassandra Gesecki noted that Navy Adm. Harry Harris Jr. and Defense Minister Song Young-moo had met 10 days earlier in South Korea's capital of Seoul.
Both praised the South Korean-U.S. coordination in response to North Korean missile threats in recent days, Gesecki said.
Harris and Song talked about the grave threat posed by North Korea's ballistic missile and nuclear weapons programs, as well as bilateral coordination measures to effectively respond to provocations on the Korean Peninsula, she said. To protect South Korean citizens and U.S. forces, she added, they discussed the alliance's decision to deploy the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system, which she emphasized is a purely defensive capability.
The admiral commended the professionalism of South Korean air force personnel involved in an Aug. 30 training mission that included live-fire weapons drops on the Pilsung Range by South Korean F-15K's, U.S. Air Force B-1B strategic bombers, and U.S. Marine Corps F-35B fifth-generation fighters, Gesecki said.
"He reaffirmed the ironclad U.S. commitment to the Mutual Defense Treaty, which states that a North Korean attack on one is an attack on both nations," she said. "He emphasized U.S. preparedness to fight tonight if called upon, using a full range of military options in defense of the U.S. homeland and allies."
Harris encouraged greater trilateral cooperation among the United States, Japan and South Korea, which he called a partnership with a purpose to meet the North Korean threat, the captain added.
Robust Combined Defense Posture
Song emphasized the importance of maintaining a robust combined defense posture to support the diplomatic and economic sanctions and pressure aimed at the peaceful denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, Gesecki said.
"He mentioned that he feels reassured to witness the strong readiness posture of Pacom," she said, "and on behalf of the [South Korean] government, expressed gratitude and encouragement for every Pacom staff member's dedication and efforts to support peace and stability of the Korean Peninsula and Northeast Asia."
Song stressed the importance of maintaining close communication and dialogue channels at all times, and pledged to maintain and develop the momentum of expanding military cooperation, she added.