Sunday, November 17, 2013

(Yonhap Interview) OPCON transfer may usher in withdrawal of U.S. troops from Korea: ex-general

GEN Griffith is of course correct.  I think the Korean military and political leadership of the administration fully understand this (which is the reason for Minister Kim's call for delay in July and the reason for the joint committee established after the Security Consultative Meeting in October to study the issue and make recommendations).  But again, we should cease talking about OPCON transfer and shift the discussion to how best to organize the ROK and US military forces to achieve Alliance strategic objectives. OPCON Transfer only means one thing: dissolution of the ROK/US Combined Forces Command.  As I have said many, many times and I apologize for beating the dead horse but both nations exercise equal OPCON of the ROK/US Combined Forces Command through the military committee.  The US simply provides the commanding general to arguably the most combined military command ever created but OPCON is in effect exercised by both nations.  OPCON transfer is a distraction and red herring. The only thing this "OPCON transfer" does is force the Alliance into having separate military forces, one supported (the ROK) and one supporting (the US) and this of course eliminates unity of command, violating one of the basic principles of war.  Let us end the discussion on OPCON transfer and move to the more mature discussion of how to organize the military forces in a way that is in the mutual best interests of both Alliance partners.  (And then of course we need to have a discussion of the UN Command but lets get the Alliance forces right first).

(Yonhap Interview) OPCON transfer may usher in withdrawal of U.S. troops from Korea: ex-general

2013/11/18 07:40
By Lee Chi-dong and Roh Hyo-dong
WASHINGTON, Nov. 17 (Yonhap) -- Should the United States hand over operational command of South Korea's military back to Seoul, it could be a prelude to the withdrawal of American troops from the peninsula, a retired top U.S. Army officer said Sunday.
"Here's my fear: the first step to withdraw of U.S. forces is turn over the command. That's step number one, and it's a slippery slope. We say it's a slippery slope," Retired Gen. Ronald Griffith, former vice chief of staff of the Army, said in an interview with Yonhap News Agency.
He pointed out that the U.S. government will likely face more and more pressure from Congress to bring forces out of Korea not only due to massive defense budget cuts but also as part of downsizing of the nation's military, which has been ongoing since the Cold War.
Gen. Griffith, who also served as the commander of the U.S. 1st Armored Division in the Gulf War, said U.S. military draw-downs in Europe have been done because politicians wanted their troops back to protect the homeland.
He advised South Koreans to take such a reality into account in internally discussing the issue of regaining operational control (OPCON) in the event of a war.
For months, South Korea has been in sensitive consultations with the U.S. over whether and when to take back wartime OPCON.
Shortly after the outbreak of the 1950-53 Korean War, Seoul granted the U.S.-led U.N. troops operational command of its entire military. South Korea regained its peacetime OPCON in 1994. The transfer of wartime OPCON is slated for December 2015.
The planned transition would require South Korea to play a leading role in staging a war against North Korea, with the U.S. playing a supporting role.
But South Korea's Park Geun-hye administration has requested a delay in the transition, arguing its troops need more time to gain the capability needed to deal with North Korea's enhanced nuclear and missile threats.
Basically, according to Gen. Griffith, the decision is up to the people of South Korea, a sovereign nation, as American soldiers are deployed there as "guests."

   "At this point in history, we are there as guests of the Korean people and the Korean government -- at their invitation. I think that serves Korea well. I think it serves the U.S. well. More importantly, I think it serves the region of Northeast Asia well," he said.
(Continued at the link below)

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