Sunday, July 21, 2013

Korean OPCON transfer backfires and The S. Korean military’s failure to develop

Two articles below.

This is going to be a lesson in failed strategic communications. I am really at a loss as to what the the ROK government officials who are behind this are really thinking. I think the ROK Ministry of Defense made a strategic miscalculation by releasing this information now or someone made a huge mistake if the information was inadvertently released.  As I understood there are ongoing discussion in preparation for the fall Security Consultative Meeting (SCM) where the future security arrangements will be discussed and the decision on the proposed Combined Theater Command should be announced.  There does not seem to me to be any logical reason to publicize this now.  If someone thinks that this could result in an increase in resources for the ROK military I think he is sadly mistaken and this incident has opened the ROK military  to enormous criticism as evidenced by the two editorials below, one from the Korea Times and the Hangyoreh  (not the scathing comparisons to both the Israeli and French militaries.

 I hate to say I told you so, but this probably is made worse for two reasons.  One has been a failure to properly explain the command relationship and inform people about the real nature of the command relationships and the fact that the ROK already does have "wartime OPCON" through the Military Committee equal to the US "wartime OPCON."   As I have said over and over again, the myth of OPCON transfer really means the dissolution of the Combined Forces Command and the establishment of separate warfighting commands.  Second, the situation is made worse by those who are saying that the reason for this is because of the north Korean threat which gives the appearance that the ROK military is afraid of the north (which could not be further from the truth). Again, the question that should be asked is how to best organize the Alliance military forces to accomplish the Alliance strategic objectives and support ROK and US government policies.  We should be transforming the Alliance from a position of strength rather than viewing it from the perspective only of the north Korean threat.   But this is an example of the problem that GEN Mattis gust warned about this weekend in his comments about US generals in this quote:
Mattis also warned that Admirals and Generals need to "stop sucking their thumbs and whining about sequestration, telling the world we're weak" because it sends a signal to nations such as Iran and North Korea, and they may start to believe it.
Unfortunately there are ROK leaders who need to heed this advice.  The fact is the ROK military is not weak, it is very capable, and it will defeat the north. The ROK actions have left it vulnerable to criticism that says otherwise.   And together the ROK/US forces that make up the Alliance are an incredible fighting organization that will be able to continue to deter war, and if necessary defeat the north, deal with regime collapse and support the ultimate strategic objective of the Alliance: unifications of the Korean Peninsula.  And since that is the ultimate end state, the policymakers, strategists, and planners should be using this as the guiding question: Does this policy, strategy, campaign plan, or military action or activity contribute to the ultimate end state of unification?  I think there are those who are dealing with the OPCON issue who are not keeping that in mind.

2013-07-19 17:52

OPCON transfer backfires

By Kim Tae-gyu
Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, appears before the Senate Armed Services Committee for a hearing to consider his reappointment to the military’s highest post on Capitol Hill, Thursday.
/ AP-Yonhap
South Korea’s request for another delay in the transfer of wartime operational control (OPCON) of its forces from the United States doesn’t fit its improved status, critics say.

The way it is being handled raised eyebrows after a senior U.S. official confirmed there will be no change to the agreed transfer scheduled for December 2015 after the Ministry of National Defense (MND) inadvertently disclosed that it had requested a delay.

Chang Yong-seok, a researcher at the Institute of Peace and Unification Studies affiliated with Seoul National University, said that a delay of the transition is against national interests.

“There is no free lunch. I think that Washington will ask something from Seoul in return for putting off the transfer,” said Chang. “I don’t know why we have to defer the transition without a clear reason.”

Another said that the delay was like turning the clock back.

“It took 63 years after we surrendered the wartime OPCON to the U.S. in the midst of the Korean War. Back then, it was understandable because our military capacity was meager,” Peace Network chief Cheong Wook-sik said.

“Now, our national defense budgets are twice North Korea’s national output. Why do you think that we cannot still regain our sovereign rights to control our forces in time of war?”
(Continued at the link below)

[Column] The S. Korean military’s failure to develop

Posted on : Jul.20,2013 13:46 KST
Transfer of wartime operational control again being delayed because the S. Korean army still isn’t able to defend 
By Kim Jong-dae, chief editor of Defense 21+
Though its defense budget is only about half the size of South Korea’s, Israel has done an effective job of defending itself against the 300 million Arabs in the Middle East.
Israel’s independent defense strategy is not solely based on the fact that it has nuclear weapons. Rather, Israel relies on its ability to innovate. It has taken a small army and upgraded it into a contemporary force that is run effectively.
These strengths of the Israeli army are nowhere to be found in the South Korean military.
Napoleon once said, “One must change one’s tactics every 10 years.” A military that fails to bring its weaponry in line with the times and accept change is doomed to fight losing wars, no matter how much money it spends. Because of this lesson, most countries are developing modern military strategies and dedicating themselves to building innovative militaries.
When the French military ignored this lesson, it collapsed before the advance of the German military in the Second World War. This was despite the fact that the two countries had invested almost the same amount of money in their militaries.
The ROK army is just as anachronistic as the French military was before World War II. The Korean peninsula is a small battlefield. It would only take five minutes for a fighter taking off from Seoul to reach Pyongyang. Nevertheless, the ROK military still clings to an unrealistic operational plan based on a 120-day war.
The ROK military squanders the precious resources of the defense budget through all kinds of redundancy, a proliferation of inefficient organizations, and a complicated chain of command. About 30% of the lieutenant colonels and colonels in the entire military are not doing any work since they have already missed their chance for promotion. In 1990, the military announced its 818 Plan, which was supposed to be an effort to “improve the structure of the army, making it more nimble and uncluttered.” But today, 23 years later, the plan has still not been implemented.
If anything, the military has become even more bloated and undisciplined. There is something strange about even calling this an military that can win wars. Troubling signs began to appear during the sinking of the Cheonan warship and the shelling of Yeonpyeong Island in 2010.
That’s the ROK military for you. Even after it takes a beating, it still refuses to reform.
Any suggestions that the military should get its act together are met with hostility. We can’t do it, military officers say, because we don’t have the budget for it. This is the same mentality that produced the idea to once again delay the transfer of wartime operational control. The main reasons given for proposing the delay are so embarrassing that one wishes they hadn’t even been made public.
“The defense budget was inadequate, so we weren’t able to strengthen our military capability as planned,” they say. “The ROK military still doesn’t have the ability to command in battle.” “North Korea has increased its nuclear and long-range missile threat.”
If the ROK military is in such a poor condition that it can’t even give orders to its own soldiers, what was the South Korean Ministry of Defense doing when it talked about “preemptive strikes against North Korean nuclear weapons and missiles as a defensive measure,” “an attack on the North Korean command structure,” and “aggressive suppression”?
(Continued at the link below)

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