U.S. Rep. Thornberry discusses North Korea threat

Mac Thornberry was in attendance at the Amarillo Military Entrance Processing Station Thursday, where he discussed current global issues. (ABC 7 Amarillo - Abby Aldrich)

Republican Congressman Mac Thornberry visited the Amarillo Military Entrance Processing Station (MEPS) Thursday morning.

Thornberry was attending a tour at MEPS to discuss topics including the addition of mental health screenings as part of physical and mental exams for citizens joining the military. He said the most important thing in our country's defense system is our people.

During his time at MEPS, Thornberry also discussed current world issues, including his take on North Korea.

Thornberry said he has always had one view he has followed: to speak softly and carry a big stick.

He tells ABC 7 News that in dealing with North Korea, President Donald Trump has not taken this approach. However, Thornberry said a new approach may be necessary to help our defense against North Korea.

Thornberry said the most important thing Congress can do is pass the military budget.

“That increases missile defense, that fixes our ships, that increases the size of our military," Thornberry said, "because we’ve just cut too much.”

Thornberry said President Trump's methods of communicating are unique, but it is up to Congress to make sure there are military capabilities to back up what the president is saying.

The congressman said North Korea has continued to surprise the United States and is a significant threat that officials need to pay attention to.

“We have seen [North Korea] have nuclear weapons far more powerful than we thought they had and they have missiles that can reach the continental United States," he said. "And we’ve seen much more aggressive behavior from them than either of the previous North Korean leaders. It's not the only threat we need to worry about. We still have terrorists, Iran, Russia and China, but North Korea is a significant threat.”

It's a threat that Thornberry said has the potential to stop global trade. He tells ABC 7 News the United States sends a lot of agricultural products all over the far East.

One of those countries is Japan, where North Korea has successfully sent missiles over the top of.

“All of the uncertainty and instability that we see in military affairs," he said, "affects us economically at home too.”

Thornberry said if war is ever declared, the United States is ready.

"We have tremendous military capability and if it comes to it, I have no doubt we will prevail militarily," Thornberry said. "We don't want to have to go through that route however, because it would be devastating. As Secretary [James] Mattis has said, in a way we have not seen since World War II."

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