North Korea Pushing for Unconventional Arsenal

While North Korea’s push for a strong nuclear arsenal has not come to fruition, the country is still home to the fourth largest military in the world and the US needs a strong presence in the region, the administration’s pick to lead American forces on the peninsula said. Army Gen. Vincent Brooks, nominee for commander of US Forces-Korea, told senators during a Tuesday hearing that North Korea is “shifting their focus” to long-range threats “but doing it on the base of a very large military … even though the conventional capabilities are atrophying to a degree where they don’t get to train them as much as they might like.” North Korea so far this year has conducted a series of tests of ballistic missiles, which “are cause for great concern,” Brooks said. “They’re struggling with getting the program up and operational,” said Brooks, commander of US Army Pacific. He added, “I believe we’re going to see them acquire these capabilities if they’re not stopped.” Brooks was nominated to take over the post being vacated by Army Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti, who has been tapped to take the place of retiring Air Force Gen. Philip Breedlove as commander of US European Command.