- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 9, 2013

The top U.S. military officer in the Asia Pacific region said Tuesday there is a growing sense in South Korea that “it would almost impossible for the South Koreans not to respond in some fashion” if North Korea were to sink one of their ships or shell an island, as the communist state did in 2010.

“Their toleration of a significant provocation towards the South is much lower than it has been in the past,” Navy Adm. Samuel Locklear III, commander of U.S. Pacific Command, told the Senate Armed Services Committee.

The U.S. has signed a mutual defense treaty with South Korea, and would defend the South Korea if it were attacked. The U.S. has 28,500 troops in South Korea to enforce a cease-fire between North and South Korea, who are technically still at war.

Adm. Locklear did not go into detail on what U.S. or South Korean response plans were , but said that if North Korea launched a missile towards South Korea, the U.S. would intercept it.

“What we have in place is the ability for the alliance to have — we’ve planned and thought through some of these events; in fact, a lot of the events,” he said.

“We have the ability to quickly consult with each other and to quickly bring the forces that would be necessary to hopefully — you know, the idea would be to get it under control and to de-escalate it as far as possible so that, I mean, in the end, you know, the best thing we as militaries can do is to preserve the peace, to get it back to peace, so that diplomacy can work. And we would hope that that could be done in North Korea.”

“But it is a very dangerous situation,” the admiral said.