July 12, 2017 11:52
South Korea and the U.S. would need a lot more Patriot missiles to defend themselves against North Korea if the Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense battery here is pulled out, Eighth U.S. Army Commander Lt. Gen. Thomas Vandal warned Tuesday.
Vandal was speaking to reporters as the Eighth Army moved to its new headquarters in Pyeongtaek, Gyeonggi Province.
He said without THAAD a large area would be defenseless and more than 10 million South Koreans would be exposed to danger. "Over 10 million [South Korean] citizens are protected because of the location that was selected that optimizes the capabilities of the THAAD," he said.
The battery has been partially set up on a former golf course in southwestern Korea, but President Moon Jae-in has ordered a procedural review because the deployment was rushed through in the dying stages of the last administration.
Vandal said a single Patriot battery would be enough to defend the air base and other facilities in Pyeongtaek, but South Korea and the U.S. would need a lot more to defend southern region without a THAAD system.
The Patriot system provides a point defense, while the THAAD system is for area defense. Thanks to its location in Seongju, THAAD can also protect large cities like Daegu and Busan, he added.
The U.S. Forces Korea wants to merge 173 camps and installations nationwide, making Pyeongtaek as an operations hub and using two other key installations in Busan and Daegu for logistics.
This provides an effective defense against North Korean missiles with a limited size of Patriot batteries, he said.
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