While the world’s focus is trained like a laser on the danger of North Korea’s nuclear weapons program, the commander of US Pacific Command says Pyongyang’s conventional forces also pose a serious threat. Adm. Harry Harris told Congress this week the US does not currently have an answer for the artillery forces North Korea has deployed near the demilitarized zone (DMZ) within striking distance of Seoul, the capital of the Republic of Korea. “We do not have those kinds of weapons” to counter such an attack, Harris told the Senate Armed Services Committee Thursday. In testimony before the House Armed Services Committee Wednesday, Harris described the “very dramatic challenges” associated with defending Seoul and its “25 million people in a relatively small area within artillery range of the DMZ.” He said that North Korean premier Kim Jong Un has “a vast array of rocket forces and artillery” located on “the heights north of the DMZ.” He confirmed that the recently deployed THAAD system “is not designed to counter those kind of basic weapons,” and that the US still needs to “develop that capability” to do so.
Air Force Magazine visited South Korea last year. Read our story on USAF operations on the Korean peninsula from the November 2016 issue.