PACOM commander: Hawaii missile defense must be a priority

PACOM commander: Hawaii missile defense must be a priority

WASHINGTON D.C. (HawaiiNewsNow) - The commander of United States Pacific Command says that Hawaii needs to beef up its missile defense if it wants to protect itself against North Korea's quickly developing nuclear capabilities.

In a discussion with Congress on Wednesday, Adm. Harry Harris — who has been tapped by the president to serve as the ambassador to Australia — touched on key topics in the Pacific region including missile defense, North Korea, and the billion-dollar missile-tracking radar that's being developed for Hawaii.

Harris has been known to consistently support the idea of increased missile defense in Hawaii, and in a statement to the House Armed Services Committee, Harris advocated for a study of Hawaii's defense.

"I'm confident in our ground based systems today to intercept and protect Hawaii that exist in California and Alaska," Harris said. "But I think in the years ahead it would do us well to at least study the possibility of putting some kind of interceptor capability in Hawaii."

Right now, a $1 billion missile-tracking radar is being developed for Hawaii defense that is slated to be up and running by 2023. In his address to Congress members, Harris also expressed his gratitude for the development of the tracker and recent budget cap raises for the military.

According to Harris, the tracker will give the military an enhanced ballistic missile sensing system and help increase capabilities to missile defense systems.

Harris believes that while Hawaii and Guam are both safe for now, PACOM must keep up with threats in the next two to four years.

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