Fresh from a two-day trip to Afghanistan last week, U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawai'i, said Thursday the U.S. should reassess the latest North Korean nuclear threats and step up efforts to ensure resources to defend against potential missile attacks.

"Over the years, North Korea's intercontinental ballistic missile capabilities have only increased," Gabbard said in a statement. "This is not a threat that will go away."

Hawai'i, Gabbard said, has been placed directly in the "crosshairs" of North Korea by Kim Jong-un's "belligerent threats" against the U.S.

Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawai'i, told The Garden Island last week, while on a trip to Kaua'i, that Jong-un is a "dangerous despot." Schatz reiterated the importance of having the Pacific Missile Range Facility on Kaua'i's Westside for missile defense. The closest U.S. facility to Hawai'i that also has missile defense capabilities is on the Mainland's West Coast, he said.

Gabbard said Thursday that as the U.S. shifts focus to Asia and the Pacific, the country needs to take seriously the regimes that threaten the U.S. and take appropriate steps to ensure the safety of the American people.

"It is clear that more resources must be reallocated to deal with the direct threats and instability on the Korean peninsula," said Gabbard, adding that in 2012, the U.S. spent $111.1 billion in Afghanistan alone, while only $9.7 billion was allocated for missile defense. Next year, the proposed missile defense budget has been cut to $9.16 billion.

Gabbard's comments Thursday came on the heels of a trip to Afghanistan April 4 and 5.

She, along with a Congressional delegation, visited Afghanistan to get an on-the-ground assessment of the coalition force structure posture, status of retrograde, capabilities of the Afghan forces and challenges the U.S. faces in the troop drawdown, according to a news release.

"As our drawdown in Afghanistan continues, American military and civilian personnel there have made great progress in turning over responsibility for security to the Afghan National Security Forces," Gabbard said in the release.

The ANSF are now leading a majority of security operations and have demonstrated confidence and clear capabilities, said Gabbard, adding that she has repeatedly said a stable Afghanistan can only be achieved by the Afghan people.

"I was so grateful to visit with some of our homegrown heroes from Hawai'i, and delivered a little taste of home with some toffee treats, Big Island Cookies and Kona coffee," she said. "Their morale was high as we talked story about the work they do, and about how their families were faring at home."

Gabbard said U.S. service members have conducted themselves professionally and sacrificed greatly, and it is time for them to come home.

"The drawdown is essential as we look at our limited resources, and assess the direct and imminent threats that face us as a country today," she said.

Gabbard met with the International Security Assistance Force Commander General Joseph Dunford and U.S. Ambassador James Cunningham in Kabul. She also visited Bagram Air Force Base, and Forward Operating Base Shank in Logar Province.

U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Ala., Chair of Armed Services Subcommittee on Strategic Forces, Nuclear, and Missile Defense, and U.S. Rep Dan Kildee, D-Mich., joined Gabbard in the trip.

The following is an excerpt from The Garden Island.  To view the full article, click here