Defending South Korea:
Transferring Wartime Operational Command (OPCON)
Featuring a Keynote Address by
General B. B. Bell, U.S. Army (ret.)
Former Commander of U.S. Forces Korea, Combined Forces Command, and United Nations Command
Followed by a Panel Discussion with
David S. Maxwell
Associate Director, Center for Security Studies, Georgetown University
Michael E. O'Hanlon
Senior Fellow and Foreign Policy Research Director, The Brookings Institution
Senior Research Fellow, Northeast Asia, The Heritage Foundation
The decision to return wartime operational control (OPCON) of Republic of Korea military forces to that country’s government has been controversial since its 2007 inception. Washington and Seoul appear on the cusp of again postponing the scheduled date for OPCON transition. Seoul cites North Korea’s growing nuclear capabilities as justification for delay while others argue its past time for America’s ally to assume primary responsibility for its defense.
Beyond the timing of the transfer, there are concerns that the current plan to split the combined command into two separate commands is ill-advised and potentially dangerous during hostilities. Indeed, Washington and Seoul have so fixated on OPCON transition as to be distracted from ensuring robust combined and integrated allied capabilities to deter and defeat the North Korean military threat.
Join us as General B.B. Bell, formerly the senior U.S. commander in South Korea, provides his thoughts and recommendations on this timely and important issue, followed by a panel of distinguished experts.
Tuesday, October 7, 2014 – 2:00 to 4:00 p.m.
The Heritage Foundation’s Lehrman Auditorium
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