General Dempsey: North Korea's activities are following familiar patterns

Army General Martin E. Dempsey said on April 5 that North Korea's recent activities are part of a cycle.

"There's been a pattern throughout the last 25 or 30 years of provocation to accommodation to provocation back to accommodation," Dempsey said.

Dempsey said he hasn't seen anything yet to suggest that this time will be different, but he is concerned that it could turn into something different because of the new and much younger leader and the U.S.'s inability to understand who influences him.

"Though the United States has little information about North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, he is carrying out a pattern similar to the one his predecessors followed," Dempsey said. "What is new is the bellicosity from North Korea's leadership, especially in response to the annual Foal Eagle field training exercise involving U.S. and South Korean forces."

Dempsey said there is some speculation that the recent U.S. activities have been provocative, even if they have been largely defensive and exclusively intended to reassure the U.S.'s allies. He went on to say their rhetoric is reckless considering North Korea's ballistic missile capabilities.

Dempsey will travel to China later this month and has recently spoken with Chinese counterpart, General Fang Fenghui, which they both agreed was not enough to discuss the situation.

"Looking at these issues in isolation is a guarantee that we'll fail to understand them," Dempsey said. "What I'm not going to do is go over there and deliver the traditional talking point about, 'Can't you get your southern neighbor under control? I know the answer to that question. I would rather take the opportunity to gain a little deeper understanding of ... their issues. ... I think that's kind of the basis of understanding."