GENERAL JOHN H. TILELLI, JR.
COMMANDER IN CHIEF, UNITED NATIONS COMMAND/COMBINED FORCES COMMAND & COMMANDER, UNITED STATES FORCES KOREA
BEFORE THE SENATE ARMED SERVICES COMMITTEE
3 MARCH 1998
Mister Chairman and distinguished committee members, it is my distinct honor to again appear before you as Commander in Chief, United Nations Command, ROK-US Combined Forces Command, and Commander, United States Forces Korea (CINC, UNC/CFC/USFK). This opportunity to present you with the current security situation in the Korean Theater of Operations is one that I look forward to each year. It allows me to present you with my assessment of the threat; the status of the ROK-US alliance and the forces under my command; my priorities as CINC UNC/CFC/USFK; some of the key issues that face us today; and my vision for the area of responsibility and US interests in the Northeast Asia region. I hope that by the time we are finished today I will have been able to highlight the volatile, unpredictable nature of the situation on the Korean peninsula and some of the challenges presented to us.
Before I discuss the weighty issues that face us in Korea, let me start by thanking the Members of the Committee for all the support you have provided to US forces in Korea over the years. The soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines, and civilians of United States Forces Korea are benefiting from that support, as is the citizenry of the Republic of Korea, the region, and the United States. Your support enables us to achieve our theater mission of maintaining the Armistice, deterring aggression, and maintaining a readiness to fight and win if necessary. To accomplish this mission as CINC UNC/CFC, I pursue a strategy based on a strong forward presence, a vibrant combined exercise program, and the tenets of power projection in time of crisis. This strategy has enabled the world to observe 45 years of relative peace and stability on the Korean peninsula and in Northeast Asia. I believe that continued US support of the ROK, and a meaningful US military presence are the keys to continued stability in Northeast Asia. The recent economic crisis in Asia makes this support more critical now than ever, for history shows us that times of economic instability often lead to security challenges. US forces in Korea, along with our stalwart ROK allies, provide deterrence to these security challenges and ensure continued stability in this most important region.
It is not a doctrine of war to assume that the enemy will not come, but rather to rely on one=s readiness to meet him; not to presume that he will not attack, but to make one=s self invincible.
Sun Tzu, 500 B.C.
First, let me impress upon this Committee that while the focus of the world toward Asia is on the economic crisis and the food shortage in North Korea, there is still a significant military threat looming north of the Korean Demilitarized Zone. The massive military machine of the DPRK and the Kim, Jong-Il regime has not gone away. Pyongyang has not disavowed its stated goal of reuniting the peninsula, by force if necessary, under communist rule. We are still in a state of Armistice (cease-fire) and do not have a peace treaty between the two Koreas. The Armistice itself is threatened by North Korea=s refusal to adhere to the protocols of the Military Armistice Commission. These facts, coupled with the unique Korean environment, dictate that we remain ready to face a powerful foe, even while our governments work toward diplomatic solutions.
The North Korean Military is a forward-deployed, offensively oriented force of over one million men. It possesses theater ballistic missiles, weapons of mass destruction, tremendous special operations capabilities, a massive ground force, and an artillery force that is perhaps the strongest portion of the whole. This force is poised to strike into the South with limited warning and is capable of inflicting devastation through the depth of the Korean peninsula. Despite the desperate economic situation in the North that has forced the Pyongyang regime to seek aid from any possible source, the military continues to modernize, to train, and to prepare for war. The high level North Korean defector Hwang, Jang-Yop, has publicly stated that the entire North Korean population is prepared for war. This is the backdrop against which all our decisions must be made and actions taken.
Though not as severe as in the past, the rhetoric coming from Pyongyang continues to be hostile toward both the US and the ROK, and there continue to be incidents that threaten the delicate balance on the peninsula. The July 1997 incursion of a 14 man North Korean patrol into the southern half of the DMZ and North Korean reaction to a series of defections indicate that the tensions are still high along the most heavily defended border in the world. These and other less serious incidents have been locally contained, but carried with them the potential to escalate into a much more serious situation. The incidents themselves are attempts by the Kim regime to cause concern, gain concessions, and to further its long-term goal of driving a wedge between the US and our ROK allies.
The Kim, Jong-Il regime that rules the isolated, Stalinist North continues to be an enigma. The closed, paranoid society continues to decline at an accelerated pace while massive celebrations are held to honor the AGreat Leader=s@ birthday and ascension to the leadership positions that were once held by his father. With every economic indicator in a downward spiral the leadership must sense the need for significant reform. However, that very leadership appears to feel threatened by the outside influences that accompany any reform. With regime survival being the overriding objective, reform initiatives like the Nanjin-Sonbong Free Trade Zone, come in uncoordinated spurts that provide little or no long-term impact.
The economic situation in the north is indeed desperate. The stories that come from World Food Program monitors and others depict chronic hunger and deprivation. Just this year the United Nations Food program has asked for $378 million for aid to North Korea, and the situation is worsening. The World Food Program describes an even worse outlook than they previously expected, both in the immediate future and over the next year. According to their reports, this year=s harvest will cover less than half the population=s minimum food needs, while in the coming season dangerously low levels of water reserves will threaten the country with even poorer output. This is coupled with an industrial breakdown, inadequate infrastructure to even support moving the food aid that does get in, and indicators that the entire life support system is breaking down. There are blackouts across the country, including the capital city, a medical system that is inadequate at best, and an ever-growing black market economy. All of these are indicators of a nation on the brink. Meanwhile, the military continues to receive the lion=s share of the resources that are available.
Probably the regime's last viable instrument of National Power, the military, is also constrained by resources, but is continuing to prepare for war. Last year=s winter training cycle was more robust than any of the previous three years. Early indications are that this year's will be just as robust, demonstrating a continued emphasis on the military. Theater Ballistic Missile research and development continue unabated, and modernization and forward deployment of both conventional and unconventional forces continues. These actions are indicative of a nation that will sacrifice everything to maintain its trump card, a significant military threat. There is no reason to believe that this kind of decision making will change in the near future.
Among the threats to ROK and US forces from the North are stockpiles of chemical weapons. It is prudent to assume that they will use them. These weapons threaten the military forces currently on the peninsula, as well as the forces that are needed to reinforce us in times of hostilities. Further, they endanger civilian population centers that are relatively defenseless. These weapons destabilize the region, pose a threat to our allies, and are dangerous to US vital interests throughout the world. As the DPRK is believed to proliferate missile technology to anyone with hard currency, proliferation of other weapons is also a cause for concern. Additionally, it is prudent to believe that the north is working on biological weapons, which raise additional concerns along these same lines.
One positive note in this area is that the 1994 Agreed Framework to dismantle the DPRK's nuclear program appears to be progressing satisfactorily. This agreement has effectively frozen the DPRK's nuclear program and lessened the threat of proliferation of nuclear weapons in the region. The canning of spent fuel rods is virtually complete. Construction has begun on the first of two proliferation resistant light water reactors to provide electrical energy while reducing the threat of weapons production. We will continue to monitor this situation while maintaining our focus on the more direct threats I have already discussed.
Many intelligent people have evaluated the situation and predicted that the Kim regime is destined to collapse in the future. Some have said within the next three years, but those same predictions were made three years ago. I will not predict the collapse of the regime but believe that it is far more resilient than most predict. The regime has demonstrated the ability to remain firmly in control through the application of intense internal security measures. I cannot say that a collapse is imminent. I also cannot say that it is not. What I can tell you is that the circumstances are such that anything can happen, and it is my job to be prepared for whatever may occur.
The possibility of collapse itself is almost as troubling as the threat of a direct invasion. Trying to look into the North and determine what is happening is nearly impossible, and predicting what may happen as conditions worsen is even harder. There are a myriad of possible outcomes to the current situation. The major problems we face are in distinguishing between these scenarios and in planning our response. I have my staff looking at the possibilities and developing military responses for the National Command Authorities. The bottom line is that to deal with any of these circumstances, the Republic of Korea and the United States must be vigilant, well-trained, and dedicated to maintaining peace on the Korean Peninsula.
THE ROK-US ALLIANCE
Allied effectiveness in World War II established for all time the feasibility of developing and employing joint control machinery that can meet the sternest test of war. The key to the matter is readiness, on the highest levels, to adjust all nationalistic differences that affect the strategic employment of combined resources, and, in the War Theater, to designate a single commander who is supported to the limit.
Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1948
The ROK-US alliance has been the primary factor in maintaining the Armistice over the last 45 years. It is strong, vibrant, and evolving. Our ability to work together toward common goals is represented in our Mutual Defense Treaty and in our Security Consultative and Military Committee Meetings. The annual meetings between the Secretary of Defense and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and their counterparts are the most visible of the many ways in which we constantly cooperate to deter DPRK aggression. We also use this forum to discuss such pressing issues as the possibility of North Korean regime collapse and combined responses to various scenarios that we may face in the future.
This is a time of unprecedented change in the Republic of Korea. First, we, as Americans, can take pride in the emergence of the Republic of Korea as a full-fledged democracy. The recent elections show just how far the political system of the ROK has come. Kim, Dae Jung, once branded a dissident and imprisoned in the 60s and 70s, became President in February. This was the first time that an opposition party has assumed leadership through a civilian to civilian transfer. The transition of administrations was smooth and seamless, thanks to the cooperation between the outgoing and incoming Presidents. I view this as a great success story for Korea and for American perseverance in our support of the people of South Korea. Prior to his inauguration President Kim, despite his past opposition to the military leadership, has spent a significant amount of time becoming more familiar with the military establishment. He visited our headquarters and engaged in meaningful dialogue. Perhaps most importantly, he publicly expressed his understanding of the need for US forces in Korea and a desire for a long-term, post-unification, US military presence. I look forward to working with him in the future.
Having said that, we all know that President Kim and the Korean people face significant challenges over the next few years. The economic crisis that swept across Asia over the last few months has hit Korea hard. The Korean people are concerned, and so am I. We are moving into an uncertain time and it is hard to predict what the future may hold. The International Monetary Fund reforms will be difficult for the proud Korean people. However, President Kim and the Korean people have committed to those reforms and the National Assembly has already passed legislation enacting most of them. My assessment is that the Korean people have the values, discipline, and drive to grow through this economic crisis. My primary concern is the impact that the economic crisis will have on the defense spending of the ROK. We must work together to ensure the alliance remains as strong and viable as ever. We cannot allow the regime in Pyongyang to believe that there is any opportunity to exploit the situation. We have been assured that readiness will be the most important part of their constrained military spending.
We must remain as committed to the alliance now as we have been in years past. Prior to the economic crisis the Korean people demonstrated their resolve and commitment to the common defense by spending a significant amount of their national budget on defense, committing to an aggressive modernization program, and contributing significantly toward US stationing costs. Over the last five years, the Republic of Korea has spent in excess of three percent of its gross domestic product on defense. Last year, this amounted to $17.9 billion and accounted for 21.2% of the national budget. That 20% plus portion of the national budget has been consistent throughout the 1990s. To a great extent it has been spent to modernize the ROK military, increase its level of readiness, and ensure that the most important shortcomings were addressed. Much of this was done using equipment purchased from the US in order to ensure quality and interoperability. In 1996 alone the ROK MND spent over $1 billion on acquisitions from the US on such items as Chinook helicopters, upgrades to their Hawk missile systems, MLRS rocket systems, and Target Acquisition systems.
It is difficult to predict what the final impact of the national Abelt-tightening@ will be on the defense budget. MND plans to absorb much of any cut in general expense categories, but I believe that their modernization program will also be affected. The cuts may delay the planned acquisition of Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) aircraft and heavy submarines. An additional 45-50 smaller acquisitions may also be delayed. In my position, my primary concerns are whether or not cuts in operating funds will impact readiness and what the long-term implications of slowing the modernization program will be. We will continue to work closely with our counterparts to minimize the disruption that this crisis will cause and ensure that we maintain our ability to deter and defend.
Another area that may be impacted by the economic situation is the ROK burdensharing program, the program in which the ROK government provides money, goods, and services to the US to help offset the costs of stationing our troops there. In 1995 the State Department signed a Special Measures Agreement (SMA) with the ROK government committing the ROK to a three-year program of contributions to help offset the cost of stationing US troops in Korea. This agreement had the ROK government providing the United States with $320 million in 1996, and $363 million in 1997. In 1997 this direct contribution, when combined with indirect credits for forgone rents and revenues, covered almost 50% of the non-personnel stationing costs of US forces in the ROK. This contribution makes it less expensive to keep troops in Korea than it is to maintain them in the US. For 1998 the SMA calls for the ROK to pay a $399 million direct payment. I expect the ROK to meet the purchasing power requirements of the SMA, but the devaluation of the Korean currency will make this a challenge that we must work through together.
Against these forecasts there is good news. We recently completed negotiations that resulted in the return of approximately 5000 acres of USFK training areas in Tongduchon to the ROKG. As a part of these negotiations we signed a Memorandum of Agreement that gives US forces shared use of ROK Army training areas. This is an excellent example of the creative means both countries are using to manage SOFA real estate while maintaining mission requirements. We are now looking at the second phase of the Tongduchon relocation that will likely have similar results. We continue to work on numerous other real estate issues so that the needs of the people of the ROK and the mission requirements of USFK can continue to coexist.
READINESS, OPERATIONS, AND TRAINING
There is nothing so likely to produce peace as to be well prepared to meet an enemy.
General George Washington, 1780
Since July of 1996 it has been my great privilege to command UNC/CFC/USFK, one of the most unique and most outstanding military organizations in the world. It epitomizes the model of Goldwater/Nichols reforms in that we are joint and combined everyday. We not only train as we would fight but work everyday in a combined environment. The forces of our two great nations complement each other in capabilities for the war fight and stand prepared to work together to accomplish any mission. My staff, subordinate commanders, and the soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines, and civilians of the command are some of the best and brightest our countries have to offer. American and Korean alike, they are committed to our theater strategy of promoting stability on the peninsula and in the region by maintaining the Armistice; deterring DPRK aggression; and if deterrence fails and the DPRK attacks, to fight and win. Our forces are deployed in a defensive posture, arrayed to stop the North Korean Army=s advance into the South and prevent the capture of Seoul. If attacked, we will interdict and attrit the North=s lead and follow-on forces and when the proper combat ratio is achieved, we will attack and destroy their remaining forces.
I will not tell you that the tasks associated with defeating North Korean aggression will be easily accomplished. This fight would not be a Desert Storm. The casualties on both sides would be
large high and the longer it takes us to build up the necessary combat power to destroy the invading forces, the higher the casualties and devastation. If Korea becomes the second of two simultaneous Major Theater Wars our reinforcement would be slower and I could not build the combat power necessary to complete our plan as quickly as if we are the first. Therefore, deterrence, training, and the strength that comes from the ROK-US alliance must remain our number one priority.
To maintain our readiness, the Combined Forces Command has an extensive exercise program. We hold three major theater wide exercises each year. Ulchi Focus Lens (UFL) is our primary warfighting exercise. UFL is the largest computer driven combat simulation in the world, and it is here that we exercise our war plan. All of our combined headquarters participate in UFL in a Command Post Exercise mode. Foal Eagle is our rear area operations exercise, which builds into a corps-level force-on-force training event. Reception, Staging, Onward movement, and Integration (RSOI) is where we practice our ability to accept and integrate forces from off the peninsula, as we would in a crisis. In addition to these exercises, the Combined Forces Command=s component commanders continually conduct field training and computer simulation exercises to ensure that from infantry squad to field army level, we are ready to meet the threat.
Through these exercises we have determined that while we can execute our defense of the ROK with forces currently in country or scheduled to arrive when hostilities arise, there are assets available that upgrade our capabilities and increase our margin of success. During this year we have used the Joint Surveillance Target Acquisition Radar System (J-STARS) in an exercise for the first time and have found it to be an aid to decision making and identification of enemy second echelon forces. I have asked for and been assured of future deployments in support of CFC. Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) are another asset that I will need in theater for our counterfire fight in the early stages of a conflict.
An important part of my ability to meet the threat is the capability that I now have with antitank and antipersonnel landmines. I need these weapons in Korea both for deterrence and if I have to fight. As you know, the President has committed the Department of Defense to developing alternatives to anti-personnel landmines, with the specific goal of fielding such alternatives in Korea by the year 2006. I fully support this initiative, and have actively supported the Department's efforts to develop a mission needs statement, which will guide industry in its quest to replace APL capabilities. However, the APL use moratorium contained in the FY-96 Foreign Operations Appropriations Act would harm my ability to deter and defend by imposing a February 1999 restriction on the use of aerial or artillery delivered, self destruct or "smart" mines in an APL and anti-tank mine mix, which are essential to stopping the North Korean strategic reserves. These reserves are the exploitation force that is designed to drive to strategic depths of the peninsula. Restrictions would also be placed on the use of smart mines for force protection of combat and support units as we defend in depth. If this occurs I will lose a significant capability that I need to successfully fight and win. In my view this fails to take proper account of the unique security situation in Korea. If I am forced to fight without these technologically advanced weapons, CFC will require significant additional force structure to offset the lost capability and we will take additional casualties. I sincerely hope that I will not be prematurely deprived of this vital capability before alternatives can be fielded.
The chemical and possible biological weapons threat from the DPRK is very real. CFC is working diligently to improve our capability to operate in a contaminated environment. In conjunction with our ROK allies and US Pacific Command, we have identified complimentary actions to close the gap in our capability to defend against chemical and biological attacks. I believe that our current and planned actions are sound, deliberate, and prudent steps to enable us to continue to operate effectively in such an environment. I applaud Secretary Cohen=s decision to immunize all US military personnel against Anthrax. This is a major step forward in readiness and in deterring the use of these terrible weapons. However, from my position as a commander, I am also concerned about mission-essential civilians, contractors, and dependents, as well as the ROK forces that make up 95% of the combined force currently in Korea.
PRIORITIES AND RESOURCES
Periods of tranquility are rich in sources of friction between soldiers and statesmen, since the latter are forever trying to find ways of saving money, while the former are constantly urging increased expenditure. It does, of course, occasionally happen that a lesson recently learned, or an immediate threat, compels them to agree.
Charles de Gaulle, 1932
I want to again express my appreciation to the American people, as represented on this committee and in the Congress, for the continued support of the Korean Theater of Operations. Your support, and that of the people of Korea through your counterparts there, has allowed me to begin to address many of my priorities by ensuring that resources are available to help meet them. Unfortunately, the fiscally constrained times in which we live do not allow us to address every issue immediately and we are forced to prioritize. As CINC UNC/CFC and Commander, USFK, my priorities are Combat Readiness, Force Protection, Force Development, and the quality of life of our soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines, their families, and our civilian work force. Meeting these priorities requires funding, funding for which my priorities compete against a host of others. While I understand that, I must still take advantage of this opportunity to share my priorities with you.
In the area of readiness, I focus on personnel, equipment, modernization and training. In the personnel arena, Korea is given a high priority by all the services. USFK does not have a significant personnel problem. An example of our success is that the Army recently approved the manning of Eighth United States Army Headquarters to levels that support our peacetime and wartime requirements. My biggest personnel challenge is in the turnover rate associated with the one year hardship tour that 90% of the personnel assigned to Korea serve: This is mitigated by a robust training program.
In the equipment and modernization areas we continue to make progress. We have upgraded our armor, artillery, attack aviation, and counterfire capabilities and are nearing completion of a prepositioned brigade set of equipment. This equipment will allow forces to flow into theater and "fall in" on equipment far faster than if they had to bring their equipment from home station. The Air Force is replacing the two squadrons of older F-16s at Kunsan AFB with new generation, near all weather, precision munitions capable F-16s that significantly increase our ability to fight in conditions of limited visibility. As you can see USFK has overcome its history of having old equipment after it has been removed from other inventories. We now have or are preparing to field first line equipment in nearly every category. I am satisfied with the efforts of all the services in this area. We must maintain our technological advantage over any potential adversary.
I have already discussed my combined training program, but to adequately discuss training I must discuss funding. My current Operations and Maintenance Account (O&M) funding presents some risk. Flying hours and ground operational tempo are sufficiently funded and allow me to adequately train the force. However, my base operations programs (real property maintenance, security, communications, transportation, and food services) are strained. These funding levels only support bare minimum repairs to facilities. This situation does not allow me to resolve long-standing quality-of-life issues to the extent that our service members deserve and I am concerned that this underfunding will eventually affect readiness. The continued decay of the infrastructure will exacerbate this problem in the future.
To follow that discussion of infrastructure, I will address the priority of the quality of life of your soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines. These service members are forward deployed and conducting their mission on a daily basis. Their PERSTEMPO is 365 days for the year they are assigned in this hardship area. They wake each day to the reality that one of the most threatening situations in the world today is just outside their doors. They deserve our support and an adequate quality-of-life. The hiatus of MILCON dollars for five years in the early 1990s has limited my ability to give them that quality-of-life. While we, with your help, have made progress since the MILCON funding began flowing again there is still much to be done. Everyone in the command appreciates the work that members of this committee have done to ensure that our MILCON requests have been met over the past four years, and we hope to keep that support flowing to these very important men and women. We also rely heavily on Host Nation Funded Construction (HNFC) to upgrade the standard of living of our service members and their families, and as I stated earlier, the ROK financial crisis may have an unknown impact on that funding.
Over a third of my facilities and barracks are more than 25 years old. I still have soldiers living in Quonset huts and Vietnam-era pre-fabricated buildings. We are forced to billet personnel off post where the cost of living is high because our current facilities are overcrowded. The goal for housing service members in United States Forces Korea is the 1+1 Department of Defense Standard. This means one service member per room with two rooms sharing a bathroom. If current MILCON and HNFC levels remain as they are, we will meet those goals for the Air Force component by 2004 and for the Army by 2012. My first goal is to get men and women into adequate barracks which to me means 2+2; I hope to get this done by 2007. I synchronize our MILCON program toward this goal with a Theater Master Plan that focuses on the future of forces in Korea. This continued progress is welcome and promises a brighter future, your continued support is vital to completion of this goal.
Force protection is an issue that I will address at two levels. First, at the level that we most commonly associate with the term, I can tell you that we take antiterrorism seriously in Korea. The long-standing threat from the North and from dissidents and third country nationals in the South causes me to look at these issues with complete seriousness. While I assess the current threat to be low, our vulnerability is fairly high. Since taking command, I have directed an extensive assessment of our facilities to find ways to lessen our vulnerability. We have put procedures in place which reduce the risks. We have formed a task force that reviews every new construction project, MILCON or HNFC, for force protection concerns. As resources have become available we have started work on several small projects that will help ensure the safety of our service members and their families. While we have not experienced any significant hostile activities directed against our forces, I refuse to allow the command to become complacent in this area.
In the more operational sense of the term force protection, theater missile defense remains one of my highest priorities. In Korea we have one battalion of Patriot missiles with six firing batteries, and I am using them to protect my three most important airbases for both the warfight and reception of follow on forces. This leaves the majority of the command and the rest of the ROK virtually unprotected from the theater ballistic missile threat posed by the North. Our efforts to rectify this situation include placing Patriots early in the scheduled deployment flow in the event of a crisis, and I have addressed this issue with my ROK counterparts. They were taking steps to procure a missile defense capability themselves prior to the economic crisis. However, even if they had been able to procure the Patriot missile system, the problem would not have been solved. What is needed in Korea, and in other theaters, is a multi-tiered system of defense capable of defeating the threat before it gets close to its target. I fully support the development of a comprehensive system capable of protecting the force from these indiscriminate weapons.
Force projection from the United States to Korea and in support of the National military Strategy will be vital to the execution of the warplan or in the execution of our response to the various scenarios that could accompany a collapse in the DPRK. The US capability to get forces into theater in a timely manner is critical. Therefore I strongly support our strategic lift programs. The C-17 Globemaster and fast sealift must remain a high priority for acquisition at the DOD level.
I am not worried about the war; it will be difficult but we shall win it; it is after the war that worries me. Mark you, it will take years and years of patience, courage and faith.
Field Marshall Jan Christian Smuts, 1901
Last year at this time the world was rushing to Asia. The ROK and the other ATiger@ economies of the Pacific Rim were the envy of the world. Now as we enter the "Year of the Tiger", these economies are forced to deal with the effects of perhaps too rapid growth and excess optimism. The reforms that are being affected now may cause turmoil, and will challenge the governments of the region to respond to the needs of the people while the necessary changes are accomplished. This will be an arduous, lengthy process.
I submit to you that this is the time when our allies in the region need our support more than ever. The economics of the situation fall within the parameters of other agencies of our government. However, the support of our longstanding allies is clearly a requirement as they go through a period of reform that will be just as dramatic as the period of growth that has recently come crashing down around them. I believe these countries will recover, and the reforms that the current crisis will bring will make them even stronger than they were before. If Korea is an example of the fortitude of the people of Asia then I have great faith in a recovery. The miracle of the Pacific Rim has been slowed, but Northeast Asia will still be a major economic and geostrategic center of gravity for the United States in the future.
During this time of turbulence we have the opportunity to reinforce our position as the honest broker in the region. We have long-standing alliances in the region, and we should be unwavering in our support of them. Over the years the ROK and our other regional allies have become uncertain of our commitment to the region, just as they have caused us concern about our ability to maintain a long-term presence under favorable conditions. President Clinton=s and Secretary Cohen=s continued public support of the currently deployed forces in the region has helped quell these concerns, but some uneasiness lingers. As the strategic situation continues to evolve our commitment to the region needs to be continually reaffirmed. We must show that we are a partner and a friend in the struggles at hand to ensure that we maintain our influence in this vitally important region in the future.
The next few years may prove pivotal in the security environment in Northeast Asia. The Four Party talks are just beginning. This dialogue is a positive step but any positive outcome may be years in the future. We must continue to pursue this opportunity, but for the foreseeable future we must remain strong and vigilant. The threats are too real to ignore. For the long term we must remain deeply engaged in Korea and in Northeast Asia. The region is too important for us not to remain a participant, and to be engaged we must be present in the region.
The support of this committee, the Congress, and the American people is vitally important to our future in Asia. As we move through these turbulent times we must ensure that our resolve is visible so that the North Koreans, or any other potential adversary cannot misinterpret it. We have an investment of over forty years in the region. We must build on it to guarantee the stability that is so important to the people of the region and to our own national interests.
Thank you very much. I am prepared to answer your questions.