Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, reaffirmed his country’s continued commitment to providing extended deterrence to South Korea against a nuclear-armed North Korea, South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said Wednesday.
The top US general discussed the defense strategy involving the US nuclear umbrella and strategic assets with Gen. Won In-choul, chairman of the JCS here, at an annual military committee meeting held online.
The two allies also discussed Pyongyang’s largest-ever intercontinental ballistic missile displayed at its recent military parade, though they have yet to conclude whether it is more advanced and capable of carrying multiple warheads.
On Tuesday, former US Forces Korea Commander Gen. Vincent Brooks told Voice of America that Seoul faces risks from Pyongyang’s conventional weapons as well, as they get upgraded over time.
“Considerable energy and effort have gone into military industry and the production of much newer self-propelled combat systems,” Brooks said, adding that they could potentially strike much deeper into the South.
Modernizing the South’s air and missile defense systems is crucial, Brooks added.
Meanwhile, Bruce Bennett, a senior defense analyst at Rand Corp., told VOA that the improved weaponry the North showed at the Saturday military parade disproved the US Army report a year earlier, when it had underestimated the regime’s conventional weapons.
Seoul should also be on the alert toward Pyongyang’s stockpile of chemical weapons, Bennett added.
Bruce Klingner, a senior research fellow for Northeast Asia at the Heritage Foundation, said the parade epitomized leader Kim Jong-un’s devotion to his military-first policy, quashing speculation over the so-called parallel development, which combines nuclear weapons and economic growth.
“Well, he continued all the military programs, and obviously now, even more programs than we were aware of,” Klingner told VOA.
By Choi Si-young (firstname.lastname@example.org