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U.S. General Asks Pentagon For More Antimissile Systems in South Korea

The head of U.S. armed forces in South Korea on Tuesday said he has requested that the Defense Department deliver additional short-range antiballistic missile capabilities and attack aircraft to help his troops meet the threat posed by North Korea, Agence France-Presse reported (see GSN, June 5).

"In order to enhance war-fighting capabilities, I have asked for prioritization to receive an additional attack and reconnaissance squadron to bring our combat aviation brigade to full strength," Gen. James Thurman said in remarks to a Seoul audience. "And I have asked for increased capabilities in terms of theater ballistic missile defense."

The general said he felt assured his request would be granted: "I'm confident we will be able to work this."

"I will ensure that we maintain the highest level of readiness," he continued.

The United States and South Korea are on alert for any sign of aggression or provocation from the North. In recent months, Pyongyang carried out what was widely viewed as a long-range ballistic missile test -- albeit an unsuccessful one-- and is now seen to have made preparations for testing a third nuclear device.

South Korea's armed forces on Monday held a spot drill aimed at assessing their combat preparedness. In the face of continued threatening rhetoric from Pyongyang, Seoul has warned it would "immediately" respond against North Korea's "core command forces" if it is assaulted (Agence France-Presse/Yahoo!News, June 12).

On Tuesday, South Korean and U.S. military personnel took part in a bilateral live-artillery drill in Pocheon, Voice of America reported.

North Korea is widely seen to be behind the March 2010 sinking of a South Korean warship and later that year shelled a populated South Korean island. The two attacks killed 50 people; Pyongyang has dismissed any involvement in the first event and has refused to apologize for the later attack (Voice of America, June 12).

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