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The U.S. military in the Pacific ensures “we have the proper deterrent posture, not to provoke anyone, but to ensure our defense posture is prudent,” its top commander said Monday in Tokyo.

U.S. Pacific commander Adm. Thomas B. Fargo spoke about security, U.S. defenses and the war in Iraq in a post-Sept. 11 world.

Fargo, who leads all U.S. forces in the Pacific and Asia, was in Japan to visit Japanese defense leaders. He met last week with South Korea’s new president, Roh Moo-hyun, in Seoul.

Fargo said the United States’ relationship with Japan is the linchpin of regional security. He said the U.S. and Japanese work closely to share any information about North Korean threats. He would not comment on whether U.S. or Japanese intelligence reports show a likelihood of future missile launches by North Korea.

“We share information on a military-to-military basis with the Japanese,” he said. “And we find it particularly helpful on both sides.”

Fargo said the U.S military would continue to launch spy planes over North Korea despite the interception of a U.S. spy plane by a North Korean MiG last month.

U.S. forces would take “prudent measures to ensure those planes can complete their missions safely,” he said without elaborating.

Fargo said Pacific forces are adequate to deal with threats throughout the region.

However, some of the annual bilateral exercises planned around the Pacific, he said, might be postponed because of operations tempo elsewhere.

This year’s planned exercises include Balikatan, the counterterrorism exercise in the Philippines. A similar exercise is under discussion and has been criticized by some Philippine leaders.

“We want to do something that they find helpful,” Fargo said.

Fargo concluded the press briefing by applauding and thanking U.S. servicemembers under his command for their hard work and dedication.

He said their skills and sacrifices, with advanced technology and the support of the American people, have made Pacific forces the best he has commanded.

“This is without a doubt the best military I’ve seen in my 32 years,” Fargo said. “The quality of people is exceptional.”

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