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.