SEOUL -- The top American military officer here said the Republic of Korea-U.S. Alliance will respond "rapidly, proportionately and decisively" to any future North Korean provocations.

U.S. Army Gen. Walter L. "Skip" Sharp, commander of United Nations Command, Combined Forces Command and U.S. Forces Korea, delivered this clear message to the North Korean regime during his Dec. 15 speech to the East Asia Institute and Center for a New American Security at the Shilla Hotel in Seoul.

"We will not tolerate attacks against the civilian population and all provocations will be met with the utmost response that the combined ROK-U.S. instruments of national power can bring to bear and that the laws of land warfare permit," said Sharp.

Recalling the commemoration ceremonies held this year to mark the 60th anniversary of the Korean War, Sharp said the ceremonies serve as a reminder that the alliance must remain vigilant to deter aggression or fight and win if deterrence fails.

"Although our alliance has deterred all out war, we continue to face a belligerent North Korea that persists in attacking the ROK," said Sharp. "The struggle today is how do we deter provocations and the continued violation of United Nations Security Council Resolutions."

The general said Strategic Alliance 2015, the roadmap for peninsula-wide, whole of government transformation, will also focus on deterring and defeating limited attacks by North Korea.

"In light of recent events, we will seek ways to further adapt our exercises to address limited, as well as full-scale, North Korean attacks," said Sharp. "All of our exercises are designed to improve our interoperability and demonstrate unwavering alliance resolve to maintain peace and stability in the region."

SA 2015 is designed to ensure plans, organizations, capabilities, systems and organizations support the transition of wartime operational control to the Republic of Korea in December of 2015.

Sharp said the ROK-U.S. Alliance is strong and will only get stronger as it synchronizes its efforts through Strategic Alliance 2015.

"The ROK-U.S. Alliance is a vital element in providing security, stability, and prosperity on the peninsula and in the region," said Sharp. "We will always be prepared to deter North Korean aggression and to fight and win if deterrence fails."