Adm. Willard: North Korean Attack Could Come in 'Months, Not Years'

But US optimistic about Asia-Pacific regional stability

Commander of the US Pacific Command, Adm. Robert F. Willard addresses the media during a meeting at the Shangri-La Dialogue's Asia Security Summit on June 4, 2010 in Singapore. (Carolyn Kaster-Pool/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON, D.C., February 17, 2011 – Despite daily challenges in the region, Admiral Robert F. Willard, Commander of the 300,000-troop US Pacific Command, remains optimistic that the relative security in the Asia-Pacific "can continue unabated in the foreseeable future."

During a speech to the Asia Society Washington Center, Adm. Willard discussed strategic challenges and opportunities in the Asia-Pacific region and the critical role the U.S.military plays in maintaining regional security.

The four-star admiral explained that his optimism "is grounded in the presumption that the United States, our allies, partners and friends are committed to unify against instability factors like North Korea’s provocative behavior and nuclear program, challenges to freedom of maritime movement and freedom of expression over the internet…and transnational threats such as continuing spreading extremism."

Adm. Willard expressed continued concern about North Korea, saying an attack similar to the recent sinking of a South Korean navy ship and shelling on the island of Yeonpyeong could happen "in months, not years" and warned that "the South Korean level of tolerance for a next provocation is very low."  

The Admiral also discussed how the US is developing new strategies in the face of China's expanding military might and emphasized the importance of US military ties to India, which he said are growing.

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LA Times