Wednesday, October 16, 2013

US-South Korea task force to examine OPCON handover

I am not clear if the title is correct or if the first paragraph is correct; e.g., will the task force look at OPCON transfer or will it study Seoul's ability to respond to nK provocations?

But I hope the task force puts aside the OPCON transfer issue and gets at two real questions:

How should the ROK and US military forces be organized to achieve the strategic objectives of the Alliance? (not merely respond to nK provocations though that is an important consideration but one of many)

As part of that issue this question needs to be answered:  Should the ROK/US Combined Forces Command be dissolved?

The answers to those questions, based on a comprehensive strategic assessment of all the issues on the Peninsula and in Northeast Asia should guide the future organization of the ROK/US Military Alliance and rather than ill-consider decisions that were made based on emotional reactions vice strategic considerations by senior leaders in both countries.

And with the establishment of this task force maybe the pundits and politicians can leave the OPCON issue alone for the next year and wait for the task force to do its job and provide its results.

US-South Korea task force to examine OPCON handover

A U.S. soldier walks forward while a South Korean soldier stands ready as three North Korean soldiers approach the demarcation line at the Joint Security Area, South Korea, July 27, 2013. Both U.S. and South Korean soldiers are United Nations Command Security Battalion members.
By Ashley Rowland and Yoo Kyong Chang

Stars and Stripes

Published: October 15, 201
    SEOUL — A joint U.S.-South Korean task force will study Seoul’s ability to respond to possible North Korean provocations as officials consider whether to delay transferring U.S. wartime control of allied troops to South Korea, according to the Ministry of National Defense.
    The task force will start work next month, and a decision on a delay is expected by the middle of 2014, an MND spokesman said Tuesday, speaking on customary condition of anonymity.
    South Korean Defense Minister Kim Kwan-jin told lawmakers last week that the planned OPCON transfer date of December 2015 is “inappropriate” in light of North Korean provocations earlier this year, including Pyongyang’s third nuclear test in February.
    “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,” he said.
    The top U.S. commander would now lead both U.S. and South Korean forces if war broke out on the peninsula. That responsibility would fall to the top South Korean commander after the transfer of operational control takes place.
    A Pentagon-commissioned study last year suggested the U.S. military take a number of steps to cover for perceived shortcomings in the South’s ability to defend itself, including delaying the OPCON transfer.
    The transfer was initially supposed to happen in 2007, but was postponed until 2012. In 2010, that target date was pushed forward again, to 2015, in the wake of criticism of the South’s response to North Korea’s sinking of one of its warships earlier that year that left 46 sailors dead.
    (Continued at the link below)

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