02 June 2017

News Story: Storm in the Pacific - Defending against growing North Korean threats

CGI of an Aegis Ashore Ballistic Missile Defense System
By: J. J. Coyne

Recent events on the Korean Peninsula have highlighted both the instability of the North Korean regime and the potential vulnerability of the United States to future possible intercontinental ballistic missile attacks. The chief of U.S. Pacific Command, Adm. Harry Harris, indicated in testimony before the House of Representatives that he would welcome additional ballistic missile defense radars and missiles in Hawaii to prevent an attack by the North Koreans. 

While North Korea has not yet demonstrated the capability to marry a nuclear device to an ICBM, they have repeatedly expressed the desire to do so, and have devoted significant resources to making this capability a reality. When they do, U.S. facilities and forces stationed in Korea, Japan, Guam, and Hawaii would be immediately vulnerable to the threat of an attack. The North Koreans have increased the pace of their missile testing, with two successful launches within the past few weeks, including liquid- and solid-fueled missiles. 

A Terminal High Altitude Area Defense, or THAAD, system is currently being deployed to South Korea, and a similar system is located on Guam. U.S. forces in Japan are shielded by U.S. Navy cruisers and destroyers with ballistic missile defense capabilities. This leaves Hawaii — which hosts a major naval base, the 25th Infantry Division, and the headquarters of both PACOM and Commander, U.S. Pacific Fleet — as a key strategic target that is increasingly vulnerable to a North Korean attack. Deployment of a THAAD system to Hawaii could provide the protection required. 

Read the full story at DefenseNews