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Key to countering N. Korea lies offshore

14 15 0
11.08.2017

MEDFORD, MASSACHUSETTS – As the world worries about the increasing threat from North Korea and its dangerous leader Kim Jong Un, there is a temptation to believe that the problems will be solved ashore.

Newly installed President Moon Jae-in of South Korea is exploring a return to the Sunshine Policy of dealing openly with the North while using trade and engagement incentives to defuse the situation. The United States wants to deploy a new ground-based missile-defense system to protect troops at the Demilitarized Zone as well as Japan and Guam. China is increasing its control over the notoriously leaky border, moving military units closer to North Korea and preparing for a potential refugee crisis if conflict erupts.

All these are prudent moves, but it is well worth remembering that Korea is a long peninsula, with all approaches dominated by the sea. So it was perhaps not surprising that China and Russia are pushing vigorously to stop the robust program of at-sea exercises the U.S. undertakes with allies in the region as a precondition for talks with North Korea. While canceling some practice drills off the Korean coast may seem like no big deal, doing so would be one of the worst mistakes the U.S. could make, in terms of both security and diplomacy.

Ships and sailors rust in port

It is important to understand just how vital it is to train and exercise at sea, in the demanding maritime environment itself, if we are to be prepared to operate effectively in a crisis. Sailors and their ships effectively rust in port, and the complexity of preparing for large-scale activities on the oceans demands weeks of training individually for each ship, followed by weeks of working together.

The recent collision of the........

© The Japan Times