U.S. air force general ‘confident’ of deterrence against North Korea

April 18 (UPI) — The United States is well-prepared to deter incoming North Korean missiles, should a strike occur following a breakdown in talks between the two countries.

Gen. Terrance O’Shaughnessy, the U.S. Air Force’s top general in the Pacific, said Tuesday at his Senate Armed Services Committee confirmation hearing that he has high confidence in U.S. capabilities should an attack be launched, Radio Free Asia reported.

“I would say with high confidence that I believe the ground-based defense system in place today has the ability to defend against a ballistic missile strike,” O’Shaughnessy said. “I have a high sense of confidence that we can defend against North Korean ballistic missiles.”

O’Shaughnessy has been nominated to be the next head of U.S. Northern Command.

The statement from the Air Force general came as a response to a question from the committee on whether he was “100 percent confident” the United States could defend against North Korean missiles.

“There is no mission more sacred than defending the homeland,” O’Shaughnessy said. “If confirmed, I will leverage my experience to include and ensure we can defend our nation.”

The U.S. Navy’s Adm. Philip S. Davidson, also present at the hearing, said U.S. Forces Korea and the U.S. Pacific Command’s responsibility is to present a range of military options.

He also said the Trump administration’s policy of “maximum pressure” against North Korea has worked.

“We have had some success with the maximum pressure campaign,” Davidson said. “My job and Gen. [Vincent] Brooks’ job is to present options across a range of military operations” that could continue pressure, in order to achieve outcomes.

Davidson also said the greatest challenge going forward is “getting clarity on the [North Korea] situation as to what Kim Jong Un seeks.”

Kim has met with CIA Director Mike Pompeo and is expected to meet with President Trump in late May or early June.

Davidson is the leading candidate to head the U.S. Pacific Command after former U.S. Pacific Fleet commander Adm. Scott Swift announced his retirement in September, according to the U.S. Naval Institute.