Air Force Brig. Gen. Kenneth Todorov told the Defense Department's American Forces Press Service that the military needed to advance its deterrent capabilities against the growing threat from short- and medium-range missiles.
"We can't take anything for granted," said Todorov, commander of the U.S. Northern Command. "There are adversaries out there and groups of people and nation states that would like to do us harm."
North Korea recently launched a satellite atop a rocket that had a range that could reach the western United States. Todorov said reports that Iran was testing missiles during recent military drills added another layer of concern.
Any missile defense system, he added, could join with a European missile defense system planned by NATO. Those missile plans have frustrated Russia, which said the system could upset the regional strategic balance of power.
"As we go forward as a command, one thing that we will change will be our emphasis and focus on short- and medium-range missile defense of the homeland," Todorov stressed.
The U.S. Northern Command is tasked with protecting the Lower 48 states, Alaska, Canada and Mexico as they pertain to U.S. territorial and national interests.