Friday, October 11, 2013

South Korean official: Allied transfer of control in 2015 'inappropriate'

This debate comes back to OPCON transfer and can the ROK military defend their own country.  First let me state up front that it is my belief that if the ROK and north Korea were to have a war without outside intervention or assistance the ROK would win and in the end win decisively.  But both north and South would be devastated at the end and in fact things might look a lot like 1953 especially between Seoul and Pyongyang.  And of course it is unrealistic to think that there could ever be an isolated conflict not the Peninsula, that does not spillover into other parts of Northeast Asia and does not have a crippling global economic impact.  But if anyone can envision an isolated conflict then by all means plan accordingly.

However, I think the issue, for the US, should be about what is in the best interests of the US.  I would submit that it is in US interests both to deter such a catastrophic conflict but if such a catastrophic conflict occurs (whether the result of war or collapse) it is in US interests to both end the conflict as rapidly as possible, minimize destruction on the peninsula and in the region (to include Japan as well though that pains many on the mainland to hear), ensure a successful outcome of such conflict and then achieve the strategic end state of the Alliance (stated in 2009 and reaffirmed by both Presidents in May 2013) and that is the unification of the Korean Peninsula (ideally peacefully but of course north Korea has a say in that condition).  Working backward from that goal should guide the analysis as to how to best organize the combined military forces to achieve that end state.

Rather than make comments that belittle our alliance (which also betray a lack of understanding of both the alliance and the regional threat and context) we in the US should focus on what is in the best interests of the United States.  If we decide that it is not in the best interests of the United States to ever contribute to achieving "a stable, secure, peaceful, economically vibrant, non-nuclear peninsula, reunified under a liberal constitutional form of government determined by the Korean people" then perhaps we need to completely re-evaluate our commitment to the Alliance.  Talking about OPCON transfer is counter-productive and a distraction from the real issues which should be how best to organize the complementary military capabilities of the ROK and US to optimize their strengths and mitigate their weaknesses (yes the US military has weaknesses too when it comes to fighting on the Korean Peninsula) so that the military forces can most effectively contribute to achieving the alliance strategic end state.

South Korean official: Allied transfer of control in 2015 'inappropriate'

Passengers walk through Seoul Station on Tuesday evening, shortly after North Korea announced that foreigners should leave the country for their safety in case of war. Many in South Korea, accustomed to hearing threats from the North, have shown little serious concern about a possible military confrontation with Pyongyang.
By Ashley Rowland
Stars and Stripes
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Published: October 11, 2013
Korea tension
In this photo released by the South Korean Unification Ministry, Kim Song Hye, center, the head of North Korea's delegation, shakes hands with an unidentified South Korean officer before crossing a military demarcation line, which has separated the two Koreas since the Korean War, for a meeting with South Korean delegates at Panmunjom in Paju, north of Seoul, South Korea, Sunday, June 9, 2013. Government delegates from North and South Korea began preparatory talks Sunday at the "truce village" on their heavily armed border aimed at setting ground rules for a higher-level discussion on easing animosity and restoring stalled rapprochement projects.
SEOUL — South Korea’s defense minister says the planned transfer of wartime control of allied troops to Seoul in 2015 is “inappropriate” in light of North Korean provocations earlier this year.
“North Korea is different from the past. Considering the third nuclear test and the situations from March to May, the December 2015 deadline is not appropriate,” Kim Kwan-jin told lawmakers during a defense committee meeting Tuesday. Videos of his remarks were posted on the National Assembly’s website.
North Korea issued a series of threats after the February nuclear test, which monitors indicated was its most powerful so far. Bolstered by a successful test of a three-stage rocket last December, it claimed it could hit U.S. targets, though experts say they think Pyongyang has not yet crafted a bomb small enough to fit in a warhead.
Kim said Pyongyang’s ongoing threats over joint U.S.-South Korean military exercises contributed to Seoul’s decision, backed by President Park Geun-hye, to seek a delay.
If war broke out on the peninsula today, the commander of U.S. forces would lead both U.S. and South Korean forces. After the OPCON transfer, the top South Korean general would assume that responsibility.
The transfer was initially supposed to take place in 2007 but was postponed until 2012. After the North’s sinking of a South Korean warship in 2010, the date was pushed forward again to 2015 amid questions about whether the South’s military was ready for the job.
U.S. Forces Korea commander Gen. Curtis “Mike” Scaparrotti, who assumed command last week, told the Senate Armed Services Committee in July that the OPCON transfer is “a good plan...and I think we should move forward with it.” He added that Seoul had to meet a variety of benchmarks before the transfer takes place.
(Continued at the link below)

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