Monday, July 14, 2014

U.S. Wants to Keep Combined Forces Command in Seoul

This should not be unexpected.  If the ROK/US Combined Forces Command is going to remain in tact there are only two options.  One it remains where it is.  Two, all the  Korean officers assigned to ROK/US CFC would have to move to Pyongtaek and would out of Camp Humphreys (though as I understand it there is no facility there for the ROK/US CFC because with the mythical OPCON transfer there would be no ROK/US CFC.

Yes there will potentially be domestic political fallout in Korea.  My recommendation is when USFK and 8th Army move out of Yongsan to Camp Humphreys that Yongsan Army Garrison be returned to Korean military control.  Since only the ROK/US Combined Forces Command would remain the US personnel and the US supporting units assigned to the ROK/US CFC could remain as tenants on the ROK military installation. A formal turnover ceremony would mark the end of US foreign occupation of Yongsan (which has been previously occupied throughout history by the Japanese, Chinese and even Mongol militaries back in the 13th Century I believe - of course we should keep in mind that Yongsan was/is outside of Seoul proper but the growth of Seoul after the Korean War has subsumed it thus making it appear that the US is occupying the real estate in the city of Seoul)

Of course this is not a US military decision as the land of Yongsan is controlled by the US Embassy (and there are embassy facilities on Yongsan to include embassy housing); however, it would be wise for the US to consider such a move. Because after all one of the main reasons for moving US forces out of Yongsan is due to the growth of anti-American sentiment in 2002.  See one of Secretary Rumsfeld's "snowflakes" pasted below this article.  He recognized the need to move US forces out of Yongsan (i.e., Yongsan is a red flag and he wanted to change the US footprint in Korea).  Approximately 3 weeks after this snowflake the emissaries from President -Elect Roh Moo-hyun met with Secretary Rumsfeld and with no US interagency coordination nor coordination with the US commander in Korea or the Pacific, he informed them that he was going to move all US forces (to include 2d Infantry Division south of the Han River and out of north Korean artillery range).  This event was the beginning of the wartime OPCON transfer process (or debacle) which makes no military sense given the threats and which wasted countless man hours of ROK and US Staff officers over the past 12 years.   When the command could have been focusing on evolving the ROK/US CFC to the next level of readiness and proficiency a large part of the command was wasting time building plans and briefings for no good strategic or operational reasons because they actually weakened the military capabilities of the alliance.

This link should take you to the snowflake at the Rumsfeld Papers web site (http://papers.rumsfeld.com/)



U.S. Wants to Keep Combined Forces Command in Seoul


After an agreement between Seoul and Washington to push back the handover of wartime operational control from December 2015, the U.S. military has reportedly asked the government here to keep the Combined Forces Command in Seoul. 

The CFC is currently based inside the U.S. Army garrison in Yongsan in central Seoul. But the U.S. Forces Korea headquarters is scheduled to be relocated to Pyeongtaek, Gyeonggi Province by 2016. 

"The U.S. recently brought up the possibility of keeping the CFC in Seoul," a government source said Sunday. "They believe that having the CFC in Seoul would be advantageous in terms of cooperation with our Defense Ministry and Joint Chiefs of Staff in responding to emergency situations." 

Government and military officials here seem inclined to accept the request given the military necessity and symbolic importance of keeping the CFC in the capital. But they are concerned about public outcry since that would make the relocation plan incomplete. 

The CFC is to be dismantled when the U.S. transfers wartime operational control of Korean troops to Seoul. The transfer was originally scheduled for April 17, 2012 under an agreement with the U.S. by the Roh Moo-hyun administration. It was then postponed until Dec. 1, 2015 by the Lee Myung-bak government. In April this year, the two sides agreed to delay it again during a meeting with President Park Geun-hye and her counterpart Barack Obama. 

Korea and the U.S. will decide on the new date and conditions of the transfer when their defense ministers meet in October.
englishnews@chosun.com / Jul. 14, 2014 12:06 KST


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