Sunday, July 22, 2018

Aspen Security Forum: Peace on the Korean Peninsula?

An hour and 20 minute video on the Korean Peninsula with the first part featuring a discussion between GEN Brooks in Seoul via video and Gordon Chang followed by a panel discussion with some critical commentary.

GEN Brooks' remarks are an example of a general officer who knows how to speak to the media.  They should show this video at the Capstone course for new general officers.  He faced one of the most complex problems to discuss in public and I think he was masterful.

3:30 – 4:50 PM MDT
Peace on the Peninsula?
Is peace at hand on the Korean Peninsula? Denuclearization and reunification, miraculously, now seem possible. Is this prospect real or a mirage?
Vincent Brooks, Commander, United States Forces Korea; Commander, United Nations
Command; Commander, ROK-US Combined Forces Command
Suzanne DiMaggio, Senior Fellow and US-Iran Initiative Director, New America Foundation
Woongsoon Lim, Deputy Chief of Mission, Embassy of South Korea to the United States
Michael McCaul, Chairman, House Committee on Homeland Security
Sue Mi Terry, Senior Fellow and Korea Chair, Center for Strategic and International Studies
Moderator: Gordon Chang, Columnist, The Daily Beast

Monday, July 16, 2018

Eight Points of Special Warfare

Eight Points of Special Warfare:
Special Warfare is the execution of activities that involve a combination of lethal and nonlethal actions taken by a specially trained and educated force that has a deep understanding of cultures and foreign language, proficiency in small-unit tactics, and the ability to build and fight alongside indigenous combat formations in a permissive, uncertain, or hostile environment.
If there is an indigenous solution or an indigenous contribution to the solution for a complex political military problem conduct special warfare – the essence of which is “through, with, and by” as developed by Mark Boyatt

The American Way of Irregular Warfare - what is it?

1.  Must determine the acceptable, durable, political arrangement that can achieved. (per LTG Jim Dubik) Without this clearly articulated and understood there is no way to achieve unity of effort or to judge mission success. I think Congress must demand this from the Administration.
 2. Eliot Cohen & John Gooch: Military Misfortune:  All military failures are a result of a failure learn, failure to adapt, and failure to anticipate. Look at Mali and Yemen.  Did we anticipate the Turegs and the Houthis?  I would submit that SOF on the ground reported on the growing threats to Mali and Yemen yet our myopic focus on CT blinded us at the strategic level.
3. Larry Cable (the discredited COIN theorist who wrote Conflict of Myths) The three P’s: Presence, Patience, Persistence.  You have to be present to make a difference.  You have to be patient because it takes a long time to influence indigenous forces and develop indigenous capabilities. It takes persistence because mistakes will be made, every operation will include discovery learning and we will have to learn and adapt.
 4. Assessment - must conduct continuous assessment to gain understanding - tactical, operational, and strategic.  Assessments are key to developing strategy and campaign plans and anticipating potential conflict.  Assessments allow you to challenge assumptions and determine if a rebalance of ends, ways, and means is required.
 Understand the indigenous way of war and adapt to it.   Do not force the US way of war upon indigenous forces if is counter to their history, customs, traditions, and abilities.
5.  Assure US and indigenous interests are sufficiently aligned.  If indigenous and US interests are not sufficiently aligned the mission will fail.  If the US has stronger interest than the indigenous forces we can create an “assistance paradox” - if the indigenous forces believe the US mission is "no fail” then the US forces will not allow them to fail and therefore they do not need to try too hard.  They may very well benefit from long term US aid and support.
 6. Employ the right forces for the right mission. US SOF, conventional, civilian agency, indigenous forces.  Always based on assessment and thorough understanding of the problem and available resources and capabilities.  Cannot over rely on one force to do everything.  
7.  Learn how to operate without being in charge.  If we usurp the mission indigenous forces will never be successful on their own.  You cannot pay lip service to advising and assisting.  This is why operations in Colombia and the Philippines achieve some level of success.
 This is not “leading from behind.”  This is the appropriate understanding of the relationship between USSF/SOF and indigenous forces in a sovereign nation or indigenous forces seeking self determination of government.
 8. Campaigning  - we have to develop the campaign plan based on Design thinking to determine the resources and authorities - and then execute the campaign - we have to get good at campaigning and it has to be more than a military campaign.  While disrupting terrorist attacks and attacking terrorist networks, finances and auxiliaries are important they are not a strategy. They can be part of a strategy and campaign but they are not sufficient.  We have to campaign beyond counter-terrorism with a campaign focused on attacking the enemy’s strategy.  This requires deep understanding to include especially understanding the enemy’s political objectives.  Once we understand the enemy ways and means can be employed to counter the enemy’s strategy and his political objectives.  Campaigning is important because it will orchestrate all the activities to achieve the strategic objectives or the acceptable, durable political arrangement we seek.   Campaigns identify the resources necessary (forces, bases, funding).  Campaigns identify the authorities necessary.  Although many in the military and government desire blanket authorities that is not the right way to operate.  However, establishing programs and funding lines such as 1206, 1207, 1208, and 1209 are not effective either.  Authorities need to be specifically applied to each campaign. And with an approved campaign plan Congress can more effectively provide oversight rather than managing funding programs.  Focusing on effective campaigning can discipline the application of the military instrument of power.  Of course it would useful for other elements of national power to be able to “campaign” as well.  (As an aside, we perhaps need to take another look at the 1997 PDD 56 which was for the management of complex contingency operations in the interagency – a disciplined process to orchestrate US government agencies and harmonize the instruments of power.)
·      A Principle of Special Warfare: "Go early, go small, go local, go long”  LTG(R) Charles T. Cleveland remarks at NDU November 30, 2015
·      Understanding indigenous forces:  ”Potential allies always start as at least unproven.  It is hard work that starts with assessments and making the best of who you have, seeking to improve your position (and your partners’) over time.”  LTG (R) Charles T. Cleveland, email January 18, 2016  (Note:  This can apply to resistance in nK)

·      Frank Hoffman's Principle of Understanding. I am a supporter of Dr. Frank Hoffman’s idea that we need a new principle of war called understanding.  Although that seems like a no-brainer – as far back as Sun Tzu we have be told that we must know our enemies and know ourselves to be victorious.   We all know we need to understand war and warfare, the conditions that give rise to conflict, and the politics that lead to and end conflict.  Yet even though the need for understanding is so obvious that we think we do not need to even mention it, it is surprising how so many of our failures can be traced to our lack of understanding.  SOF, through its various assessment capabilities and engagement with indigenous populations can make a key contribution to understanding.

Saturday, July 7, 2018

North Korea says talks with Pompeo were ‘regrettable’

As I wrote in March and posted on my blog here on June 6, the bar for success of the Singapore summit was pretty low:

​However, despite the above I think the summit will likely occur and success is a low bar with three simple objectives: 

 1. “Meet and greet” to look KJU in the eye and allow the POTUS and Kim to lay out positions.
 2. Agree to allow expert representatives to meet and work on a process for dismantlement of the north's nuclear program without ending sanctions until there is substantive and verifiable action by the north.
 3. Agree to a follow-up meeting to discuss results of expert representative meetings (perhaps in 3 to 6 months)

If we examine the June 12th Summit and the SECSTATE-nK meeting this weekend we are still on track.

Basically what happened this weekend (assuming the reporting is accurate) is point two above. The establishment of the working groups may allow the experts to really work on hammering out  a process.  we could see the initial results of the working group process in September if KJU comes for the UN General Assembly Meeting.

Lastly I would recommend everyone continue to keep these questions in mind as we move forward and try to assess or determine the answers.  We should have asked these going into the summit and we should continue to ask them.

There are two sets of questions we should be asking going into the summit:

First,  we need to think deeply about this:  Has Kim Jong-un given up the foundational strategy of unification of the peninsula under the north's control through subversion, coercion, and use of force in order to ensure regime survival?  Has Kim given up the key supporting objective to split the ROK/US alliance to get US forces off the peninsula so that it can achieve unification? The answer to these questions should guide our strategy.

Second, what do we want to achieve in Korea? What is the acceptable durable political arrangement on the Korean peninsula and in Northeast Asia that will serve and protect US and ROK/US Alliance interests?  Again the answer to these questions should guide our strategy.

Personally, I have seen no evidence that Kim has given up on the Kim Family Regime strategy. Therefore unfortunately my personal assessment remains this: 

The only way we are going to see an end to the nuclear program and threats and to the crimes against humanity being committed against the Korean people living in the North by the mafia-like crime family cult known as the Kim family regime is through achievement of unification and the establishment of a United Republic of Korea that is secure and stable, non-nuclear, economically vibrant, and unified under a liberal constitutional form of government determined by the Korean people.

The only way we are going to achieve a unified Korea is through a ROK led effort with the full support of the United States.  And for every scenario short of unification from addressing provocations, deterring North Korean attack, to defeating an attack, to dealing with the myriad contingencies that will arise from North Korean instability and regime collapse a strong ROK/US alliance is necessary for a successful outcome.

De Oppresso Liber

David S. Maxwell
Twitter: @davidmaxwell161

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: David Maxwell <>
Date: Sat, Jul 7, 2018 at 10:00 AM
Subject: North Korea says talks with Pompeo were ‘regrettable’

Not a good sign.  Two different views of the talks from the north and from SECSTATE.  Of course the north does not want to unilaterally denuclearize.  Anyone who believed they would is either delusional or does not understand the nature of the Kim Family Regime.

That said I would not give up all hope. This remains typical north Korean negotiating strategy.  Until they extract the political and economic concessions they demand they are not going to provide any substantive concessions on their part. I think that the only way we will hear about substantive agreements will be when they are agreed to by both POTUS and KJU and are announced jointly.

The fact that SECSTATE did not meet KJU should not be a surprise.  Now that he has met with POTUS and has been legitimized as POTUS' "equal" he is not going to meet with lesser personnel to include the SECSTATE. He probably also did not want to receive the Elton John CD.

I will bet that what is not being reported are discussions of possible preparations for KJU to come to New York for the UN General Assembly and a possible follow-on White House visit.  The positive spin I would put on all this is that with the establishment of the working groups to work on the "nitty gritty" I can imagine that some agreements might be worked out behind the scenes.  Both sides probably want to negotiate in private and then make public announcements and not publicly discuss ongoing negotiations before agreements are reached.  I could see some kind of joint announcement about the work done by the working groups and an agreement on some issues.

If I was a reality TV producer I would say this meeting helps to build the suspense as the end of the season with this "cliffhanger" - are the negotiations going to fail?   When the new season opens in the fall we will see the resolution of the cliffhanger with some agreement that will propel the negotiations (and reality TV series) forward and the timing of such an announcement in September could be useful for the mid term elections.  The timing would be better then than if it occurred right now with this meeting.  And again if we spend the rest of the summer thinking the negotiations are on the ropes when a "breakthrough" occurs in September it will be heralded as a big win and the result of a great diplomatic effort by the two leaders (the only win-win acceptable in this negotiations - both leaders can mutually benefit with positive news at the right time).  This process being extended over time with ups and downs and periodic successes correctly timed could be the gift that keeps on giving.  Extended negotiations could be beneficial to both until the point when the threat to the American homeland is sufficiently reduced so that POTUS can bring home American troops and leave Korea to Koreans (and the Chinese and Russians).

North Korea says talks with Pompeo were ‘regrettable’

Friday, July 6, 2018

Radical Proposal for SOF

Here is my radical new proposal.

Disband USSOCOM in Tampa.  Make JSOC a stand alone combatant command (4 star).

Establish a new HQ for SOF (less JSOC) in DC with a Secretary of SOF (civilian SECSOF) and a Chief of Special Operations (CSO - uniformed 4 star).  Have the new SOF HQ exercise its service like HQ responsibilities and give the new Chief of SOF a seat in the tank with the Chairman (i.e., add him to the Joint Chiefs).  I think that would realize Congress' vision in Nunn-Cohen and it would take the new Section 922 of the 2018 NDAA to its logical conclusion.

Monday, July 2, 2018

Voice of America: [Washington Talk] North Korea slows to follow up ... Impact of China and Russia on denuclearization

On June 30, 2018,  VOA broadcast journalist Connie Kim hosted Frank Jannuzi and myself for the weekly talk show Washington Talk for broadcast into Korea to including the target audience of the Pyongyang elite.  you can access the 20 minute video at the link below.

[Washington Talk] North Korea slows to follow up ... Impact of China and Russia on denuclearization

Washington tackles a weekly analysis of North Korean hot issues with Washingtonexperts. This week, we will look at why North Korea slows down its response to the follow - up promises made at the US - North Korea summit and the impact of China and Russia on the denuclearization process in North Korea. Progress: Connie Kim Dialogue: Frank Jannuzi, President, Mansfield Foundation, David Maxwell, ICAS Senior Researcher.

Monday, June 11, 2018

Three simple things the Trump-Kim summit could—and should—achieve

Three simple things the Trump-Kim summit could—and should—achieve

Quartz · by David Maxwell
Editor’s note: We asked North Korea experts what outcomes of the Trump-Kim summit might leave them feeling a tiny bit relieved. The answer below came in longer than expected, so we’re running it separately. Note that ROK stands for the Republic of Korea, aka South Korea.
In short, as long as there is no damage to the ROK/US alliance and no agreement that results in an order for immediate or near-term withdrawal (or significant reduction) of US troops on the Korean peninsula, I will breathe a sigh of relief. Another way to say it is I will breathe a sigh of relief if the US (and the ROK) does not fall prey to North Korea’s charm offensive and give concessions with no substantive action in return.
There are two sets of questions we should be asking going into the summit:
First, we need to think deeply about this: Has Kim Jong Un given up the foundational strategy of unification of the peninsula under the north’s control through subversion, coercion, and use of force in order to ensure regime survival? Has he given up the key supporting objective to split the ROK/US alliance to get US forces off the peninsula so that the north can achieve unification? The answer to these questions should guide our strategy.
Second, what do we want to achieve in Korea? What is the acceptable durable political arrangement on the Korean peninsula and in Northeast Asia that will serve and protect US and ROK/US alliance interests? Again the answer to these questions should guide our strategy.
Personally, I have seen no evidence that Kim has given up on the Kim family regime strategy. Therefore my personal assessment remains this:
The only way we are going to see an end to the nuclear program and threats—and to the crimes against humanity being committed against the Korean people living in the north by the mafia-like crime family cult in charge—is through unification and the establishment of a United Republic of Korea that is secure, stable, non-nuclear, economically vibrant, and unified under a liberal constitutional form of government determined by the Korean people.
The only way we are going to achieve that is through an ROK-led effort with the full support of the United States. And for every scenario short of unification—addressing provocations, deterring North Korean attack, defeating an attack, dealing with the myriad contingencies that will arise from North Korean instability and regime collapse—a strong ROK/US alliance is necessary for a successful outcome.
Therefore while we pursue diplomacy, which I believe must be the priority, we must keep in mind that the “Big Five​” will always be looming in the background and we cannot take our eyes of the ball in regards to security:
  1. War: the ROK/US Alliance must deter, and if attacked defend, fight, and win.
  2. Regime collapse: The ROK/US Alliance must prepare for the real possibility and understand it could lead to war. Both war and regime collapse could result in resistance to unification within the north. (This would make the Iraq and Afghan resistances pale in comparison.)
  3. Human rights and crimes against humanity: The denial of human rights helps keep the Kim regime in power and is key to prioritizing resources for the nuclear and missile programs. We must focus on the gulags, external forced labor, and other abuses by the regime.
  4. Asymmetric threats (cyber attacks, special operation forces, provocations to gain political and economic concessions) and global illicit activities (Office 39): These are all employed to gain hard currency for the Kim regime and support its political warfare on the peninsula, in the region, and on a global scale.
  5. Unification: The biggest challenge is the unnatural division of the Korean peninsula. It’s also the key to a solution.
The challenge for South Korea, the US, regional powers, and the international community is how to get to unification from our current state of armistice and the temporary cessation of hostilities. The ROK and its allies face an extraordinary security challenge because of the “Big Five.” War, regime collapse, and the nuclear and missile programs pose an existential threat. It is a moral imperative to work to relieve the suffering of the Korean people who live in the worst sustained human rights conditions in modern history. While unification is the desired and necessary “end state,” or better yet the acceptable durable political arrangement, achieving it will be costly in treasure for sure and blood as well. There is likely no path to unification without some form of conflict—it may only be a question of scale.
​However, despite the above, I think the summit will likely occur and that success is a low bar. Here are three simple objectives:
  1. Meet and greet. Allow Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un to look each other in the eye and lay out their positions.
  2. Agree to allow expert representatives to meet and work on a process for the dismantlement of the north’s nuclear program—without ending sanctions until there is substantive and verifiable action by the north.
  3. Agree to a follow-up meeting to discuss results of the expert representative meetings (perhaps in three to six months).
Lastly, based on recent reporting in Washington and Seoul—as well as the results of the Panmunjom Declaration signed at the inter-Korean summit in late April—I think it is possible that we will see a declaration to end the Korean War. As long as we do not fall victim to the euphoria such a declaration will bring and keep the question of the north’s foundational strategy in mind, I will breathe a sigh of relief.
If such a declaration is made, there will need to be a parallel effort by the ROK, US, and the north to develop and implement a peace mechanism that will ensure the security of the peninsula. A declaration of the end of the Korean War will be simple. Developing a peace mechanism and ensuring security and stability on the peninsula while the Kim family regime remains in power will remain the most pressing, complex, and difficult challenge.

Thursday, June 7, 2018

The Korean Armistice, ROK/US Mutual Defense Treaty and A Declaration of the End of the Korean War

As we speculate about the possibility of a declaration of the end of the Korean War at the June 12th summit in Singapore I was asked what may be the outcome and effects of such a declaration.  So i thought I would provide some background along with my layman's analysis.  I am not legally trained or an international lawyer but I did once stay at a Holiday Inn Express so please take this with a grain of slat. I expect that there could be a number of different perspectives on these issues.

Specifically I was asked what will this mean for the United Nations Command (UNC) , the ROK/US Combined Forces Command (ROK/US CFC) , and United States Forces Korea (USFK)?  Will any or all commands be disbanded and will any or all US forces leave the ROK?

I think we should acknowledge that such a declaration will not have the force of international law as in a treaty or peace agreement.  While a declaration would be good symbolically and for the start of a process there will be a lot of work that will need to be done to put into place mechanisms that will ensure the peace and specific agreements negotiated that will allow the political leaders (heads of state/government and their legislatures) to get approval in accordance with their national processes.

In regards to the Korean situation this is untested international law.  It will be interesting to see how all this plays out.  

The Armistice:

Note that Nam Il signed for nK and for the CPV and Harrison for the UN.  They were the signatories present at the signing.  Kim, Peng, and Clark signed later.  However, these are all military leaders signing a military agreement to suspend hostilities.  The armistice is not a political document.  Also note that neither China nor north Korea were members of the UN (neither was the ROK but the UN intervened to stop aggression against the South)

Note also that all electronic versions of the Armistice at State or at Yale or Cornell in their legal repositories only have Nam Il's  and Harrison's signature blocks.  See the State Department version here: As noted Kim, Peng, and Clark all signed at a later time.  But again this was a military document between two sides fighting the war and not a political document.

So we should remember that the Armistice was an agreement between military commanders and only covered a handful of actions or conditions:

* A suspension of open hostilities
* A fixed demarcation line with a 4km (2.4 miles) buffer zone - the so-called demilitarized zone (DMZ)
* A mechanism for the transfer of prisoners of war

Both sides pledged not to "execute any hostile act within, from, or against the demilitarized zone", or enter areas under control of the other.

The agreement also called for the establishment of the Military Armistice Commission (MAC) and other agencies to ensure the truce held.

The MAC, which comprises members from both sides, still meets regularly in the truce village of Panmunjom.

As a side note, but an important one, the Northern Limit Line (NLL) was established separate from the Armistice as a control measure for how far ROK vessels could go north.  It was established around the Northwest Islands which remained under UN Control after the war.  The NLL is not an internationally recognized boundary and is not part of the Armistice; however, the ROK has treated it as a de facto boundary and the north has also challenged it as a boundary.  As we all know this area has been the location for numerous naval conflicts between north and South.

It is only paragraph 60 of the Armistice that recommends that political parties resolve the "Korea question." (the division of the peninsula - remember at the time north Korea was not a legitimate nation).

Recommendations to the Governments Concerned on Both Sides

60. In order to insure the peaceful settlement of the Korean question, the military Commanders of both sides hereby recommend to the governments of the countries concerned on both sides that, within three (3) months after the Armistice Agreement is signed and becomes effective, a political conference of a higher level of both sides be held by representatives appointed respectively to settle through negotiation the questions of the withdrawal of all foreign forces from Korea, the peaceful settlement of the Korean question, etc.

It is paragraph 62 that explains how it the Armistice is replaced:

61. Amendments and additions to this Armistice Agreement must be mutually agreed to by the Commanders of the opposing sides.

62. The Articles and Paragraphs of this Armistice Agreement shall remain in effect until expressly superseded either by mutually acceptable amendments and additions or by provision in an appropriate agreement for a peaceful settlement at a political level between both sides.

(Note that per para 61 while in force it is the military commanders who must mutually agree to additions or amendments to the Armistice).

The United Nations Command:

Whether the UN Command continues to exist is up in the air.  I think that the UN Security Council resolutions 82-85 would have to be rescinded to dissolve the UN command (84 specifically established the UNC asked the US in command of the UNC).  There is nothing in the resolutions that calls for ending the UN Command.  I think the only thing that would logically happen is the Military Armistice Commission would be disestablished since that is an Armistice created organization.  Of course the ROK could ask for the UN Command to leave at any time for any reason simply by saying it no longer needs UN assistance (note that we (the US) always fight to maintain the UN command for a number of reasons, one of which are the 7 UN designated bases in Japan that will serve as ISBs and key to reinforcing the peninsula in wartime.  Another is the slippery slope that disbanding it could lead to - the dis-establishment of the ROK/US CFC and the redeployment of USFK back to the US.

We should keep in mind that the two belligerents are the north and South. The UN recognized the north's aggression against the South and called on member nations to come to its defense ("to assist the Republic of Korea" which I think is an important phrase).   The Chinese Peoples' Volunteers (an "unofficial" military organization) intervened to assist the north.

Of course if the north and South sign a peace treaty ending their hostilities it is logical to argue that the UN command should be dissolved.  But I do not think there is any international precedent for this.  Also, there is nothing in the Armistice that says the signatories of the Armistice must also sign a peace treaty.  Again international lawyers are going to hash this out but now we have two member nations of the UN (north and South) and if they choose to end the war who can stop them?  And of course once they do that all kinds of arguments will be made (like Moon Chung-in in his May 9 Foreign Affairs essay) that there is no more rationale for the UN command or US troops on the Korean peninsula.

Korea US Mutual Defense Treaty of 1953:

However, USFK and CFC exist and are present as a result of a bi-lateral agreement in the Mutual Defense Treaty of 1953. Note below that the MDT makes no mention of north Korea or the DPRK.  A peace treaty should technically have no impact on the presence of US forces and bilateral ROK/US agreements.  US troops are present by mutual agreement but if the South wants them to leave I expect we will immediately leave - we are not a nation that would occupy a sovereign country against its wishes - even if it were for its own good!! (there is also the ROK/US Terms of Reference and the Strategic Directive from the Military Committee but those are classified ROK/US only).  See the MDT below for details.  

So the jury is still out on all of this.  These are uncharted waters in my opinion. I go to the basics.  There are two belligerents, north and South, and they had a civil war wth the fighting temporarily suspended.  The UN and Chinese intervened to support the two sides.  The military commanders agreed to an Armistice to halt the fighting and to buy time for the political parties to find a resolution (Para 60).  We have been in suspended animation for almost 70 years and now we may see some kind of political movement.

One last thing. If on June 12th The US, nK and the ROK say that the war is officially ended I do not think that officially changes anything until there is a peace agreement negotiated between north and South with a mechanism put in place to ensure the peace.  I see the US and possibly the Chinese role as mere guarantors of security but I do not think they have to be signatories on a peace treaty since the US was acting for the UN and the Chinese only sent "volunteers."  The treaty obligations of both the US with the ROK and China with nK are separate agreements and do not necessarily impact on the peace treaty (they certainly do not become null and void because of a declaration of the end of the war or a peace agreement/treaty).  I also see no way for the US, China, or the UN to "veto" a peace treaty between the north and South.  I also think it would be political suicide for any party to do so.  I think a declaration of the end of the war would be symbolic only but would have tremendous political influence (and popular influence) and will likely be described by both sides as the start of the process toward CVID, normalization, lifting of sanctions, economic investment, etc.

This is my layman's analysis.  I will have to defer to the International lawyers and judges for interpretations and rulings!

Mutual Defense Treaty Between the United States and the Republic of Korea; October 1, 1953(1)
The Parties to this Treaty,
Reaffirming their desire to live in peace with all peoples and an governments, and desiring to strengthen the fabric of peace in the Pacific area,
Desiring to declare publicly and formally their common determination to defend themselves against external armed attack so that no potential aggressor could be under the illusion that either of them stands alone in the Pacific area,
Desiring further to strengthen their efforts for collective defense for the preservation of peace and security pending the development of a more comprehensive and effective system of regional security in the Pacific area,
Have agreed as follows:


The Parties undertake to settle any international disputes in which they may be involved by peaceful means in such a manner that international peace and security and justice are not endangered and to refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force in any manner inconsistent with the Purposes of the United Nations, or obligations assumed by any Party toward the United Nations.


The Parties will consult together whenever, in the opinion of either of them, the political independence or security of either of the Parties is threatened by external armed attack. Separately and jointly, by self help and mutual aid, the Parties will maintain and develop appropriate means to deter armed attack and will take suitable measures in consultation and agreement to implement this Treaty and to further its purposes.


Each Party recognizes that an armed attack in the Pacific area on either of the Parties in territories now under their respective administrative control, or hereafter recognized by one of the Parties as lawfully brought under the administrative control of the other, would be dangerous to its own peace and safety and declares that it would act to meet the common danger in accordance with its constitutional processes.


The Republic of Korea grants, and the United States of America accepts, the right to dispose United States land, air and sea forces in and about the territory of the Republic of Korea as determined by mutual agreement.


This Treaty shall be ratified by the United States of America and the Republic of Korea in accordance with their respective constitutional processes and will come into force when instruments of ratification thereof have been exchanged by them at Washington.(2)


This Treaty shall remain in force indefinitely. Either Party may terminate it one year after notice has been given to the other Party.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF the undersigned Plenipotentiaries have signed this Treaty.
DONE in duplicate at Washington, in the English and Korean languages, this first day of October 1953.


[The United States Senate gave its advice and consent to the ratification of the treaty subject to the following understanding:]
It is the understanding of the United States that neither party is obligated, under Article III of the above Treaty, to come to the aid of the other except in case of an external armed attack against such party; nor shall anything in the present Treaty be construed as requiring the United States to give assistance to Korea except in the event of an armed attack against territory which has been recognized by the United States as lawfully brought under the administrative control of the Republic of Korea.
[The United States communicated the text of the understanding to the Republic of Korea in a note of January 28, 1954, acknowledged by the Republic of Korea in a note of February 1, 1954. The text of the understanding was included in the President's proclamation of November 17, 1954.]
(1) TIAS 3097, 5 UST 23602376. Ratification advised by the Senate Jan. 26, 1954, and ratified by the President Feb. 5, 1954, subject to an understanding; entered into force Nov. 17, 1954. Back
(2) Ratifications were exchanged Nov. 17, 1954. Back
(3) TIAS 3097. Back

Aspen Security Forum: Peace on the Korean Peninsula?

An hour and 20 minute video on the Korean Peninsula with the first part featuring a discussion between GEN Brooks in Seoul via video and Go...