US Army chief to Chinese counterpart: Relax, THAAD deployment is not a threat to China

Sorry China, but America’s most advanced missile system is moving to South Korea.

US Army chief of staff Gen. Mark Milley met with his Chinese counterpart on Tuesday to ease tensions due to the bilateral decision between Washington and Seoul to deploy a Terminal High Altitude Area Defence (THAAD) battery to the Korean peninsula.

During a two hour meeting, Gen. Milley spoke with People’s Liberation Gen. Li Zuocheng and other Chinese senior leaders and said THAAD is “a defensive measure to protect South Koreans and Americans from the North Korean ballistic missile threat and is not a threat in any way to China,” according to a US Army statement.

Similarly, US Army Gen. Charles Jacoby, former commander of North American Aerospace Defence Command(NORAD), stressed the importance of deploying THAAD to protect the Korean peninsula and US interests, despite it upsetting near peers like Russia and China.

“Certainly the Russians and the Chinese and other stakeholders understand that in South Korea besides being a wonderful ally, significant economic engine for growth throughout the world, that there are tens of thousands of American citizens living there, there is still US forces there, they are playing a defence role and they are at risk everyday to a host of threats that now include the potential for ballistic missile carried weapons of mass destruction,” Gen. Jacoby said during a July 13, Hudson Institute discussion on US missile-technology preeminence.

“We cannot not act.”

In conjunction with the approximately 28,500 US forces in South Korea, Seoul plans to have the unique air-defence system operational by the end of 2017.

“The truth of the matter is, THAAD was really the logical choice and after intense debate and trying to assess what the complexities of the environment might hold to include the perceptions that the Chinese might have, we really can’t get in a world where we refuse to defend ourselves,” Gen. Jacoby added.

During a discussion at the Brookings Institution CIA Director John Brennan said that the deployment of THAAD to the region was an “obligation” on behalf of the US.

“We have certain obligations to our partners and the region so that the appropriate steps are taken to reassure our friends, partners, and allies of US commitment to the security of that area,” CIA Director John Brennan told Business Insider.

Following Gen. Milley’s meetings in China, he is scheduled to travel to South Korea to meet with US troops and South Korean military leaders. Then, he is expected to travel to Japan and will end his Asia-Pacific region visit in Hawaii.

While in Hawaii, Milley is expected to meet with US Pacific Command leaders and visit troops from the 8th Theatre Sustainment Command and the 25th Infantry Division.

Read more about the THAAD missile defence system »

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