While North Korea’s ability to reach the United States with a nuclear weapon is not probable, the US needs to prepare as if it is likely so it is ready to protect the nation and its allies, top missile defense officials said. “We don’t base our readiness levels on that low probability” of North Korea reaching the US, Adm. Bill Gortney, commander of US Northern Command and North American Aerospace Defense Command, told lawmakers on Wednesday. It is prudent for the US to assess that North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un has the ability to hit the US and “we are prepared to engage that in the future,” Gortney said during a Senate Armed Services strategic forces subcommittee hearing. Speaking during a Senate Appropriations Committee’s defense panel on Wednesday, Missile Defense Agency Commander Vice Adm. James Syring said the US is in discussions to deploy Terminal High Altitude Area Defense systems in the region, a move that “would increase the missile defense posture in South Korea for protection of them and our deployed forces.” (See also: Tensions Flare on the Korean Peninsula.)
In a nighttime ceremony contrived to continue concealment of many of its features, the new B-21 bomber rolled out of Northrop Grumman's Palmdale, Calif. plant Dec. 2. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said the aircraft's advanced technology represents "deterrence, the American way."