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North Korea worries U.S. Navy commander most in volatile Asia

  • ASSOCIATED PRESS

    A Navy media team waits for the arrival of foreign dignitaries on the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan at the U.S. Navy Base in Yokosuka, south of Tokyo on Friday.

YOKOSUKA, Japan » U.S. Navy Vice Adm. Joseph Aucoin talked to reporters today about two of the biggest challenges the U.S. military faces in Asia: North Korea and the South China Sea.

It was his first such meeting with the media since assuming command of the Navy’s 7th Fleet last September. He spoke aboard the USS Ronald Reagan aircraft carrier. The 20,000-sailor strong 7th Fleet, based in Yokosuka, Japan, covers a region from India to the international dateline in the Pacific Ocean.

THE KOREAN PENINSULA

Aucoin wouldn’t get into specifics, but he said the Navy is monitoring the situation closely following North Korea’s nuclear test earlier this week.

“I can’t talk about the intel, whether it was an H-bomb, or whatever, but what happened there has definitely got our attention,” he said.

The Korean Peninsula is “what keeps me up” for a possible crisis, more than anything else in the 7th Fleet’s region, he said, noting that North Korea’s ballistic missiles pose a threat to South Korea, Japan and even the United States.

Military information sharing between Japan and South Korea is improving, Aucoin said, despite their deep-seated differences over Japan’s past colonization of the peninsula.

“Am I satisfied? No, but there is a real effort to tighten that relationship,” he said. “It really is in the best interest of all three countries … when you’re trying to defend your country from a ballistic missile.”

CHINA

China’s land reclamation work in the South China Sea is causing angst, Aucoin said, and he called on all countries involved to settle their territorial disputes peacefully.

China has told merchant ships to move out of areas it considers its waters, he said. “It would be nice to get clarity on what their intentions are.”

On the upside, Aucoin said the relationship between the U.S. and Chinese navies is improving: “Sure there are issues that we see day-to-day, but overall we have a collegial relationship out on the high seas, we talk bridge-to-bridge, we make port calls to some of their ports.”

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  • These port of calls he’s talking about is not to make buddy buddy with China; there is no doubt the Chinese navy/commie government has an ulterior motive–to gauge the strength and look at the vulnerabilities of our bases…..only a fool would look at the other way.

  • North Korea has one of the World’s most demented and mad leader. In fact the DNA in the family line is demented and mad. Sadly most of their citizens are brainwashed and starving. You need to join the military to eat just a bit more.

    • Certain crank yanker lunatics try to argue that Obama’s “destroying the military” (yet completely fail to understand how the military is funded) don’t understand why our enemies are focused on asymmetrical and area denial warfare. They cannot compete on conventional terms, nor can they win a straight up brawl, so they focus on finding the weaknesses we have and exploiting those. Area denial is based around the notion of placing costs to occupy well above what we will pay. We CAN win those fights and they know it, but they make the costs high enough that we balk. If our military was so weak as certain people claim it is, China, Russia and Iran wouldn’t be so heavily focused on asymmetrical and area denial warfare. They’d focus on fighting us on a conventional plane. They are not. Because we are so absurdly dominant in conventional conflicts.

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