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YONGSAN GARRISON, South Korea — The U.S. commander in Korea warned Tuesday that North Korea clearly presents a “sizable threat and challenge to regional peace and stability.”

While marking the anniversary of the combined U.S.-South Korea war-fighting command, Gen. Leon J. LaPorte, U.S. Forces Korea commander, said deterrence is carried out through the Combined Forces Command, created in 1978.

“We, as a team, are prepared to defend against any type of aggression on the peninsula,” LaPorte said.

The CFC has operational control over more than 600,000 troops plus 3.5 million South Korea reservists that could be called up during wartime, according to information published by USFK. LaPorte heads the command, with a South Korean four-star general as deputy.

The command is integrated; U.S. commanders are complemented by South Korean officers throughout. The command coordinates both forces training together.

North Korea has deployed 70 percent of its forces within the southern third of its country, LaPorte said. North Korean leader Kim Jong Il continues to pursue a “military first” policy that makes it one of the world’s most militarized nations.

“In addition, it is a credible weapons of mass destruction threat and possesses a missile delivery capability and operational reach that has regional and international implications,” LaPorte said.

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