The highest American navy commander within the Indo-Pacific area stated Tuesday it might be “foolhardy” for adversaries of the US to attempt to make the most of any perceived weaknesses in US operational capability.
The feedback from Admiral Harry Harris, the pinnacle of US Pacific Command (PACOM), got here a day after the usJohn McCain collided with a service provider ship, leaving 10 sailors lacking and one other 5 injured. It was the fourth such accident involving a US navy ship in Asia this 12 months — and has prompted questions in regards to the operational capabilities of US forces within the area.
“Notion is within the eyes of the beholder, and I’ll hope that nobody will check the US on the notion that we have had an issue with USS John McCain and three different belongings — that may be a really foolhardy factor to do,” Harris instructed reporters at a information convention Tuesday.
Harris’ feedback come amid continued tensions on the Korean Peninsula, with Washington and Pyongyang buying and selling heated rhetoric and dueling threats. Observers fear miscalculation on both aspect may have critical penalties.
Tuesday was the second day of the Ulchi Freedom Guardian workouts, joint navy drills between the US and South Korea that each side say are defensive in nature however draw the ire of the North Korean regime, who view them as apply for an eventual invasion.
Harris stated he believed the McCain’s collision wouldn’t have an effect on the US navy’s capacity “to defend the (Korean) peninsula and our curiosity within the area.”
The US Navy ordered a one-day operational pause — which shall be unfold out over a pair weeks and carried out on the discretion of particular person instructions — in response to the McCain collision, however Harris careworn that the string of incidents is not going to have an effect on the US navy’s capacity to defend itself from incoming threats.
The John McCain is supplied with the Aegis missile protection system, which is designed to shoot down ballistic missiles from adversaries like North Korea.
A spokesman for the Pacific-based US seventh Fleet stated the McCain is one among 14 Aegis-equipped ships the Navy has forward-deployed to Japan, and it plans so as to add one other one subsequent 12 months. In whole, the US Navy has 84 vessels outfitted with the Aegis system.
“The ballistic missile protection destroyers and cruisers we’ve within the area are solely a part of the layered protection we’ve within the area,” stated Gen. Vincent Okay. Brooks, the commander of US Forces Korea.
Flanked by two Patriot missile batteries — one other missile protection system designed to shoot down incoming projectiles — Harris spoke Tuesday at Osan Air Base simply south of Seoul.
The information convention got here on the second day of the annual Ulchi Freedom Guardian joint navy workouts between the American and South Korean militaries.
Seoul and Washington say the workouts, which have been happening for years, are supposed to “improve readiness, shield the area and preserve stability on the Korean Peninsula,” in keeping with the US Division of Protection.
North Korea, nonetheless, sees them as apply for an eventual invasion.
The provocative video additionally appeared to indicate a missile heading towards the US territory of Guam, an island within the western Pacific that is house to 2 US navy belongings, and speculated that “that is the fateful finish of sinful US.”
Guam, which is the closest US territory to North Korea, was ensnared in final week’s heated back-and-forth between Pyongyang and the US after being particularly threatened by North Korean state media.
The tense rhetoric has died down considerably since final Tuesday, when North Korea’s state-run information outlet KCNA reported that North Korean chief Kim Jong Un would decide to attend and see what the “silly Yankees” do subsequent after being briefed by his navy advisers on plan to fireside missiles off the coast of Guam.
Harris and Brooks provided sturdy praised US’ missile protection programs Tuesday, each made it clear that the present scenario on the Korean Peninsula should be resolved diplomatically.
“We hope and we work for a diplomatic answer to the problem offered by Kim Jong Un. A robust diplomatic effort, backed by a powerful navy effort, is essential,” Harris stated. “Credible fight energy ought to be in help of diplomacy, not the opposite method round.”