4 December 2016
South Korea and US forces are stepping up efforts to better counter the growing threat from North Korea's submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBM) that can disrupt the balance of power in Northeast Asia, the Navy said Sunday.
The Navy said Rear Adm. Brad Cooper, commander of US Navy Region Korea, held talks with his counterparts from the South Korean Navy Fleet Command in Busan late last week to discuss Pyongyang's submarine threat and joint efforts to counter such developments.
"At the South Korea-US submarine warfare working group talks, officials from the two countries exchanged views on all aspects of North Korea's submarine capabilities and how best to respond to them in the most effective manner," the Navy said.
In addition, the allies agreed that the North's SLBMs posed immediate challenges to their national security and called for redoubled efforts to strengthen anti-submarine and anti-ballistic missile training.
SLBMs are a particular challenge because they are very hard to detect before they are launched from a submarine, making it that much more difficult knock them out of the sky before they hit their targets.
Pyongyang launched three SLBMs this year, most recently on Aug.
24, when the missile flew some 500km and hit a part of the East Sea within Japan's Air Defense Identification Zone.
The latest talks come on the heels of the bilateral Security Consultative Meeting held in Washington in October during which time the two sides concurred on the need to expand cooperation between the two navies.
Cooper said at the meeting that successful implementation of anti-submarine warfare requires the utmost concentration and dedication. Rear Admiral Kim Jong-il, deputy chief of fleet command, and other South Korean officers emphasized that in order to deal with submerged threats, South Korea and the United States need to work together more closely.
Related to the need for further cooperation between the navies, an annual anti-submarine warfare cooperation committee has been held every year since 2015, chaired by the heads of South Korea's Fleet Command and the US 7th Fleet. The committee is tasked with coming up with effective ways to cope with North Korea's submarine potential.