About the U.S. Department of Defense’s mention of separating Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) launchers from their battery in South Korea, Vincent Brooks, former Commander of U.S. Forces Korea (USFK), said on Thursday (local time), “It has been reviewed since 2017 and will be pushed ahead as planned,” adding that he understands the preparations are already underway.
Pentagon has been seeking to change the way the THAAD missile system is operated since it was deployed in Seongju, South Korea in March 2017 and preparations are already underway, including budget allocations and development of technology, according to Brooks.
Speaking to The Dong-A Ilbo via phone on Thursday, Brooks said that separating the THAAD launchers from the battery increases the scope of (missile defense) coverage and the missile defense system can more effectively defend South Korea. “The THAAD is a great missile defense system but there are ways to make better use of that technology and it needs a constant upgrade,” said Brooks.
“It is a matter of how many radius and distance it requires to defend South Korea against missile attacks from North Korea,” said Brooks. “For example, we can expand the scope of defense by placing (the THAAD battery or launchers) in the south and control them remotely.”
“There could come a time when we don’t need to have these discussions if negotiations with North Korea made progress,” said Brooks when asked about the possibility that these moves could provoke North Korea, adding, “But we do at the moment.” About the possibility that China could go up in arms about it, Brooks said, “It has been told many times that the THAAD is a missile defense system that has nothing to do with China.”