Hopefully we will tire of the discussion of OPCON transfer over the next year, we will conduct a thorough strategic analysis of how to best organize our combined military forces to achieve our alliance strategic objectives and when the plan is announced at next October's Security Consultative Meeting (SCM) it will not be controversial and will illustrate the proper evolution of the alliance as it adapts to changing conditions while always keep the alliance strategic objectives and threat in the forefront.
Yonhap News Agency
S. Korea, U.S. to decide timing of OPCON transfer next year
By Kim Eun-jung
SEOUL, Oct. 14 (Yonhap) -- Seoul and Washington have agreed to reset the timing of the transfer of wartime operational control (OPCON) next year after reviewing North Korean threat and the South Korean forces capabilities to deal with it, the defense ministry here said Monday.
The issue of the OPCON transfer to Seoul surfaced as the major issue in this year's parliamentary audit on the defense ministry, which in May proposed the U.S. government to reconsider the December 2015 deadline in light of the rising North Korean nuclear and missile threat.
In a bilateral defense summit earlier this month, the two nations agreed to form a task force team to discuss conditions for the right timing and draw a conclusion in the first half of next year, the defense ministry said in a report.
South Korean Defense Minister Kim Kwan-jin stressed the importance of the allies' combined surveillance capabilities to detect movments by the North Korean military, pledging to bolster his military's own capabilities to deter the present danger and potential threat.
"The South Korea-U.S. combined forces are critical in making command decisions, while South Korean forces have enough strike capabilities," Kim said during the parliamentary defense meeting. "The South Korean forces are currently preparing to cope with the North Korean threat, while preparing for potential threat in the future. We will consider mid- and long-term measures to bolster capabilities against potential threat."
South Korea is scheduled to take over the wartime operational command of all troops on the peninsula in December 2015, a timeline that had already been pushed back from the previous deadline of 2012, but rising threat from the communist rival fueled concerns over the planned transition.
In light of the heightened tension with Pyongyang's near-daily war threats against South Korea and the U.S. for their joint military drills in spring, Kim said he suggested that President Park Geun-hye reconsider the timing of the planned transition.
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