I think the USFK Commander needs to articulate his words a little better because his recent statement in the Stars & Stripes just doesn’t sound right:
The top U.S. military commander in South Korea said this week that he worries about another North Korean provocation, and that U.S. forces are in a period of “high vulnerability” following Pyongyang’s test of a long-range rocket last month.
“I’m not trying to frighten anybody, but that’s the deal,” U.S. Forces Korea commander Gen. James Thurman said during a community briefing at U.S. Army Garrison Yongsan. “What happened on the twelfth of December changed some things over here.”
Statements from high-ranking leaders such as Thurman are unusual at community briefings, which typically address upcoming events and issues of interest solely to the local installations.
He deemed North Korea’s missile launch “highly successful” and said the U.S. military is closely monitoring the North’s actions.
“We’re doing all the right things across all of our components to make sure that we don’t have any potential security problems,” he told the audience.
“I think we’re in good shape on that, but again, we’ve got a dangerous man north of this DMZ up there, and we’ve got to really pay attention to that,” making reference to the country’s young leader, Kim Jong Un.
“This guy’s in charge,” he said. [Stars & Stripes]
The successful launch of the Taepodong-2 last month does nothing to change the balance of power on the Korean peninsula. The North Koreans are not going to launch a Taepodong-2 to take out Camp Casey. So the launch does not make US forces more “vulnerable” in Korea. Maybe he meant that US forces are vulnerable to a provocation from North Korea in response to recent UN sanctions? However, even that is very unlikely to happen because it has been decades since the North Koreans launched a direct provocation against US forces. If they launch a provocation it will be against ROK forces where they know there will be little to no consequences.
The North Koreans would have to be really backed into a corner before directly targeting US forces which right now they have not reached that point. It would take the US implementing real sanctions on the North such as inspecting North Korean ships for them to launch a provocation directly against US forces in Korea. So to say that US forces face a period of “high vulnerability” seems a bit inaccurate to me, but maybe his quote was taken out of context to make a good headline?