According to testimony before the House Armed Services Committee by Gen. Curtis M. Scaparrotti, the U.S.and U.N. Combined Forces Commander in South Korea, in addition to their quest for nuclear weapons, North Korea is also investing heavily to develop their cyber warfare capabilities.
“North Korea brings risk to the world’s fastest-growing economic region, which is responsible for 25 percent of the world’s [gross domestic product] and home to our largest trading partners,” Scaparrotti said, adding that “against this real threat, our nation is committed to the security of South Korea and to our national interests.”
Although North Korea’s people remain in severe poverty lacking food and other critical resources, the nation has managed to build the fourth-largest military globally, with with the majority of its forces deployed near the Demilitarized Zone bordering South Korea, with “long-range artillery can strike targets in the Seoul metropolitan area, where over 23 million South Koreans and almost 50,000 Americans live.”
Few details were provided by General Scaparrotti in the open testimony as to exactly how North Korea is investing in cyber capabilities, at what stage they may be in development of offensive abilities, or how their efforts are threatening the South and allied forces defending the region, but did commit to enhancing the United Nations Command, Combined Forces Command and U.S. Forces Korea teams.
“An essential part of this is a positive command climate that focuses on the covenant between the leader and the led and our mission together,” Scaparrotti said. “At the core of mission success is the close relationship we share with our South Korean partners; we benefit from an important history forged on many battlefields, shared sacrifices and democratic principles.”
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