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U.S. Pacific commander voices support for Aegis Ashore in Hawaii to counter N.K. threats

All News 05:50 January 28, 2016

By Chang Jae-soon

WASHINGTON, Jan. 27 (Yonhap) -- The U.S. Pacific commander said Wednesday he supports the consideration of establishing an Aegis Ashore missile defense facility in Hawaii to help counter missile and nuclear threats from North Korea.

The Aegis Ashore system is the land version of the Aegis ballistic missile defense system used on Navy cruisers and destroyers. There have been reports that the U.S. is considering turning the Aegis Ashore Missile Defense Test Complex in Kauai, Hawaii, into an operational facility.

"I've gone on record as talking about the Aegis Ashore facility in Hawaii. My point on that is it is something that we should consider," Adm. Harry B. Harris Jr., commander U.S. Pacific Command, said during a discussion at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

"We have to weight all the pluses and minuses and all of that, when we're talking about the defense of the homeland, I think we should look at all the opportunities. The site in Hawaii may be a good opportunity," he said. "We shouldn't throw it out at first blush. I'm supportive of studying it further and then seeing where it goes."

The commander also said the U.S. needs a THAAD missile defense battery on Guam "all the time" regardless of whether it's rotational or permanently based. The THAAD battery was deployed to Guam in 2013 to cope with threats from North Korea.

The U.S. Army has been working on a plan to put the unit on a permanent deployment basis.

Harris also called on South Korea and Japan to resolve historical tensions and enhance trilateral security cooperation with the U.S. and welcomed last month's landmark deal between Seoul and Tokyo to resolve the issue of Japan's wartime sexual slavery.

"A trilateral operational cooperation between the United States, Korea and Japan is very important," he said. "I think the recent accord agreement between the governments there over the comfort women issue is encouraging. It's positive. I'm very pleased by it."

jschang@yna.co.kr
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