Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Relocation of USFK Headquarters to Go Ahead

Yes, it is logical to move USFK and 8th Army as planned.  But as I have mentioned there are three reasons that the ROK/US Combined Forces Command should remain (and the ROK press should learn the correct title for the command and use it so as to remind the Korean politicians and population that it belongs to Korea with equal control as it does to the Untied States - it is the ROK/US CFC and not a US command because it answers to the Military Committee which is made up of representatives of National Command and Military Authorities (NCMA) of both nations).  (On a positive at least the press is starting to differentiate between the different commands and is no longer saying such incorrect things as USFK controls ROK forces.)

1.  No new facility for the ROK/US Command exists or was planned to be built because the mythical and inaccurately named "OPCON Transfer" was in reality the dissolution of the ROK/US Combined Forces Command so it was to cease to exist.
2.  Since it the command is 50% ROK and 50% US even if a new ROK/US CFC was constructed in Pyongtaek (Camp Humphreys) it is unlikely the ROK would station the senior ROK military personnel who are members of the ROK/US CFC at Camp Humphreys.
3.  In order for the ROK/US CFC to be responsive to the Military Committee it should remain located near the Ministry of Defense and Joint Chiefs of Staff for effective coordination and synchronization (and we should not forget that the primary consideration in the operational planning directives for the ROK/US CFC is the defense of Seoul.)

However, as I have previously mentioned, once USFK and 8th Army depart Yongsan, Yongsan Army Garrison should be turned over from US Army control to ROK military control.  It should be renamed (perhaps the Admiral Yi Sun Shin Garrison) and maintained and operated by the ROK military.  US personnel making up the US portion of the ROK/US CFC would remain on the installation as part of a US tenant organization (which would be relatively small as compared to when USFK and 8th US Army were present).  This should have the potential to reduce domestic political friction over the perceived occupation presence of US forces in Seoul and end the longest continuous stationing of foreign troops in a single location in Seoul.  Yes there would still be some US forces there but no longer would US forces control Korean terrain in Seoul.

Relocation of USFK Headquarters to Go Ahead


Han Min-koo Han Min-koo
Korea will consider keeping the Combined Forces Command in Seoul, but the plan to relocate the U.S. Forces Korea headquarters will be implemented as planned, new Defense Minister Han Min-koo said on Tuesday.

The government will keep its promise to relocate USFK headquarters from Yongsan in Seoul to Pyeongtaek, Gyeonggi Province further south of the border, while taking into account of the changing security situation, and the threat from North Korea, Han added.

In his first meeting with reporters since he took the job, Han said, "Once full operational control of Korean troops is transferred to Seoul, the CFC was supposed to be dismantled or replaced by another military cooperative body, but things have changed as now the transfer will be delayed."

He added further details will be discussed between Korean and U.S. officials.
englishnews@chosun.com / Jul. 30, 2014 12:33 KST

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

OSS Primer and Manuals from USASOC

What an excellent resource.  Another great initiative from the US Army Special Operations Command (USASOC).  A very useful companion to the Assessing Revolutionary and Insurgent Strategies (ARIS) project.

See note from LTG Cleveland below.

About this Primer
Considered a legacy unit of U.S. Army Special Operations Forces, the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) has assumed almost mythical stature since World War II. Several OSS veterans, among them Colonel Aaron Bank, Lieutenant Colonel Jack T. Shannon, and Majors Herbert R. Brucker and Caesar J. Civitella brought unconventional warfare (UW) tactics and techniques to Special Forces in the early 1950s. It should be remembered, however, that the short-lived OSS (1942 to 1945) had two basic missions: its primary one was to collect, analyze, and disseminate foreign intelligence; its secondary one was to conduct unconventional warfare. The first, executed primarily by the Research and Analysis branch (R&A), was considered the most important during the war.
It is the second mission of UW, however, that has received the most attention since WWII. It was this element of the OSS that provided the most exciting stories and which was cloaked by an aura of secrecy and mystery. This section is designed to serve as a primer on the UW elements of the OSS. It is not an exhaustive look at the OSS, nor does it address every OSS function or branch. Its intent is to provide the reader with a basic understanding of what missions the separate OSS branches had, what the main operational efforts were, and where they took place geographically.




Note from the USASOC Commanding General
Army Special Operations Soldiers,

 It is important to understand how the past has influenced Army Special Operations Forces.  One of America’s legendary paramilitary organizations during WWII was the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) whose field ranks were largely filled by detailed military personnel. As a wartime organization, it became a USASOC legacy unit because a number of their Army personnel played important roles during the formative years of Special Warfare after the war.
 The OSS was a complex intelligence organization with paramilitary capabilities that was given highest priority to recruit within the military services. Major General William J. Donovan, a WWI veteran and Medal of Honor recipient, reported to President Franklin D. Roosevelt as the chief of an independent agency under the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs. The OSS functions most relevant to today’s ARSOF are:  Operational Groups (OGs); Maritime Unit (MU); Special Operations (SO); Morale Operations (MO); and Secret Intelligence (SI) Branches.

 This website features a primer on OSS wartime activities and functions and republished copies of the declassified manuals for each of the above elements. Although disbanded shortly after WWII, Army veterans assigned to the Psywar Center used their OSS manuals to create Special Forces units and to teach special operations tactics, techniques, and procedures. Individual training, group classes, and field exercises were conducted on Smoke Bomb Hill, Fort Bragg and Camp Mackall, NC, and in Pisgah National Forest, SC.  Knowledge about the connection of OSS to Army SOF is important to your professional development.



Monday, July 28, 2014

Combined Forces Command Could Stay in Seoul

The ROK/US Combined Forces Command has to remain in Seoul unless the ROK JCS is going to relocated Korean officers to Camp Humphreys (and of course no ROK/US CFC facilities have been built at Camp Humphreys).  It also needs to remain there because it falls under the control of the Military Committee.  My recommendation is to move EUSA and USFK to Camp Humphreys while leaving the ROK/US CFC in Seoul.  Once EUSA and USFK vacate Yongsan, the garrison should be returned to ROK military control and renamed.  US forces assigned to ROK/US CFC would remain in the former Yongsan garrison as tenants of the new ROK military installation.

Combined Forces Command Could Stay in Seoul

The U.S. Forces Korea are mulling the idea of keeping the Combined Forces Command in Seoul once USFK headquarters have been moved from Yongsan to Pyeongtaek south of the capital. 

USFK Commander Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti on Sunday said, "So that is under consideration, but again both nations work hard at this, and simply my intent is to come up with the best posture for the security of this country."

He was speaking to reporters after a ceremony marking the 61st anniversary of the armistice that halted the Korean War at the truce village of Panmunjom. "As we work through negotiations" on the transfer of full operational control of Korean troops to Seoul, "our governments are working together on what's the best posture for all of our command and control."

This was the first open suggestion from the USFK chief that the CFC could stay in Seoul even though forces are retreating further from the inter-Korean border.
North Korean soldiers take a photo of USFK Commander Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti in Panmunjom on Sunday. /NewsisNorth Korean soldiers take a photo of USFK Commander Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti in Panmunjom on Sunday. /Newsis
Under a bilateral agreement, the USFK headquarters will move to Pyeongtaek by 2016 and the CFC, which is also housed at the Yongsan garrison, was supposed to be disbanded when troop control is transferred to Seoul in December 2015.

But the two countries recently agreed to keep the CFC intact and delay the transfer of operational control. 

The U.S. side wants it to remain in Seoul, but the South Korean government and military are reportedly uncomfortable with the idea for fear of resistance from local administrations, including the Seoul city government, and some civic groups. 
englishnews@chosun.com / Jul. 28, 2014 11:58 KST

Saturday, July 26, 2014

N.Korean Elite 'Getting Restive'

We have seen a number of reports over the past few weeks that taken together indicate that there could be some significant problems within the regime. These include the "beans for leave" in the 5th Corps, the shooting of the Guards Corps cars in the north by military forces, and the defection of families of "senior" Army officials.  Now there is this significant report below.  We really need to be watchful and wary  - and we should wish we had been making all the preparations necessary since Robert Collins' published his seminal work in 1996, "Patterns of Collapse," also known as the "Seven Phases of Collapse" in which he describes the pattern or phases that the Kim Family Regime and the north Korean elite, military and security services, and the population might go through to reach the catastrophic collapse of north Korea.  The one thing he did not do is put a time estimate on this "process."  I have excerpted the definitions of each of the phases below for reference.  My assessment is that we are seeing the possible transition between Phase four "Suppression" and Phase five "Resistance"  but conditions could bounce back and forth between the two.  But if the regime is not able to continue effective suppression then we could see resistance grow and lead to Phase six, "Fracture."  This bears watching.

            a. Phase One: Resource Depletion - Economic collapse paradigm stresses across-the-board mistakes in domestic and foreign policies that contribute to inputs/outputs in a national  production model (nKorea emphasizes heavy industry over light industry at an 8:2 ratio).  Policy mistakes and subsequent failures in major components of the economy begin to impact infrastructure and economic sub-systems as major system-maintenance resources become unavailable.

            b. Phase Two: Prioritization - Quantity of resources becomes insufficient to supply/maintain each sub-system of infrastructure.  Administration employs one or both of two policies of selective provision:
                        - Selective provision policy one (SPP 1): Each sub-system receives proportionately less than minimum maintenance level; and/or:
                        - Selective provision policy two (SPP 2): Selected sub-systems receive no resources whatsoever in order to provide subsistance levels to the other sub-systems.

            c. Phase Three: Local Independence - Realization of lack of subsistence or perceived near-term lack creates localized independent motivation to acquire subsistence materials, either individually or collectively, through intentional circumvention of  established policy.  Sub-system types are collective farms, factories and administrative units that are integrated units whereby workers/citizens acquire social identification.

            d. Phase Four: Suppression - Empirically, localized independent economic activity implies a corresponding level of independent political intention.  This in turn is perceived by the Core Group as violation of state (read Core Group) policies and threatening to Core Group control.  National I/S assets will be employed with maximum, even indiscriminate, powers necessary to suppress actions that are in contradiction, or perceived to be in contradiction, of state policies.  This is the most pivotal of phases.  Successful suppression is critical to regime/Core Group survival and the continuation their policies. The lack of success in suppression  implies success in resistance.             e. Phase Five: Resistance - Based on success of suppression (or lack thereof), sub-system groups and/or individual leaders (as opposed to individuals) will elevate levels of resistance both horizontally and vertically, organizationally and violently.             f. Phase Six: Fracture - Progression to this phase is difficult without an extreme amount of violence occurring beforehand.  Increased and confident organizational resistance, from the local level upward, will move Core Group members (read military leaders with real power or influential civilians allied with real military power as opposed to mere influential leaders) to splinter into sub-groups.  These sub-groups splinter because of opposing views in dealing with the resistance.  The splinter process will be consistent with korean political socialization (loyalty based on family, association and/or classmate, regionalism).                       g. Phase Seven: Realignment - Should suppression fail and the fracture phase be reached, a realignment of national leadership will be unavoidable.  The elimination of the entire Core Group is not likely.  New national leadership will find it necessary to implement immediate reform consistent with its support base.  Realignment of the national leadership does not mean immediate peaceful unification with the Republic of Korea.
Also, below the article I have pasted some of the details of Phases four, five, and Six, Suppression, Resistance, and fraction for those who want to try to keep score.  The key question for the Kim Family Regime is whether it can maintain sufficient loyalty of the military and sufficient power to continue suppression.  Again, this bears watching.

N.Korean Elite 'Getting Restive'

Senior officials in North Korea's Workers Party and military are increasingly objecting to policies or ignoring orders from leader Kim Jong-un, leading to rumors that his grip on the country is weakening, sources said Tuesday.

A source said Kim Jong-un recently presided over a meeting on bolstering North Korea's power supply and called for more hydro-electric power plants, but senior officials claimed that the North's chronic power shortage can be resolved only by building nuclear plants. 

"Kim was furious and fired them on the spot, stripping them of their ranks," the source added.

As North Korea forfeited international support to build a light-water reactor after its nuclear test, Kim has been focusing on constructing large-scale hydro-electric projects like the Heecheon and Chongchon river dams. 

But officials insist that will not be enough to solve the chronic electricity shortage.
North Korea leader Kim Jong-un inspects a rural orchard in these photos released by Rodong Sinmun on Thursday. /NewsisNorth Korea leader Kim Jong-un inspects a rural orchard in these photos released by Rodong Sinmun on Thursday. /Newsis
On another recent occasion Kim watched a football match at a military base, and after he left the players beat up the referee to vent their anger at his decision while lower-ranking soldiers in the football squad assaulted senior officers, suggesting that discipline is fraying everywhere. 

A growing number of soldiers are disgruntled over being roped into labor in construction projects like a ski resort in Masikryong which is one of Kim's pet projects.

Another source said, "One high-ranking military officer was caught complaining about several new construction projects Kim Jong-un proposed in his New Year's address and was punished."

North Koreans are apparently disaffected because Kim was spotted flashing broad grins in public after a high-rise apartment collapsed in Pyongyang in May, killing around 400 members of the elite.

One foreign businessman who visited Pyongyang early this month said, "When Kim Jong-il was in power, North Koreans of all ranks parroted the same opinions, but this time it was different. There were quite a lot of North Koreans who complained about Kim Jong-un and senior party and military officials."
englishnews@chosun.com / Jul. 26, 2014 08:16 KST
            d. Phase Four: Suppression - Both the incorporation of local internal security elements into independent activity and the activity itself are perceived as direct challenges to the authority of Kim Chong-il and the Core Group.  The Core Group will respond to such challenges in both indiscriminate and calculated manners.  This phase must be successful to prevent the further breakdown of the regime’s control.  The regime’s full energies will address whatever the regime itself perceives as threats.  nKorea’s track record at suppressing isolated incidents is well established.  Again, success here is paramount to the survival of the regime and world public opinion will not be an effective deterrent.

                        1/ Internal Security systems (even paramilitary units) will be mobilized to employ indiscriminate force to make examples of groups of citizens or entire sub-system(s). Entire sub-systems, such as collective farms deemed collectively guilty of independent (read politically disloyal) activity, will be instantly converted into political crime camps guarded by military or paramilitary units.

                        2/ Local active-duty company and battalion-level military units will be mobilized to employ indiscriminate violent force for the most severe cases.  A severe case would be organized demonstrations (of any kind, but food riots would be an eminent example) against the local or national government.
                       
                        3/ Suppression operations could be streamlined to improve overall effectiveness in dealing with dissidence and/or independent activity.  An example of this streamlining would be the establishment of local “civil order” commands which consolidate local internal security and military assets.  (Inter-agency sharing of information and planning is indeed uncommon to the nKorean political structure.  However, the severity of the situation most likely would be perceived as justification to consolidate.) This inter-agency cooperation would facilitate both detection of and response to increased dissidence and/or independent activity.  The command function could vary.  Two proto-types would be a local ministry of state security official obtaining operational control of a military quick reaction force provided by the local military commander for the purpose of immediate countermeasure.  A more likely proto-type would be the requirement for local security officials to report not only up their chain of command but laterally or even directly to the local military commander.  The commander then acts on this information and, armed with the authority of the “local civil order command,” orders his troops to suppress the reported dissidence with whatever force necessary. 

                        4/ Mass arrests and purges. nKorea has a long history of this activity.  Political reasons are invariably cited as justification, even when activity is clearly not political but civil crime.  The nKorean regime has already divided the nKorean populace into 51 distinct categories of loyalty or disloyalty.  Those arrested and their families are reclassified to disloyal categories.  Arrests and purges become indiscriminate when local authorities feel personally threatened when pyongyang’s intended impact is not delivered to the expected extent.  

                        5/ Show trials and public executions.  These are employed to demonstrate regime’s resolve and demand for adherence to political guidelines.
            e. Phase Five: Resistance - This phase presupposes that the supression phase failed to meet its intended goals.  Local groups, even new sub-systems evolving out of independent activity, will gain confidence in their ability not to succumb to the government’s suppression attempts either through open resistance or manipulation of reporting that forwards false data.

                        1/  Refusal to obey government directives.  These directives will be ignored because those that resist perceive enforcement is unlikely.

                        2/ Usurpation of government assets, such as storehouses or competing sub-systems.  This will enhance the power of local resistance activities, whether economically or politically based.

                        3/ Threats and violence employed against internal security representatives to either win their culpability or simple elimination.  Resistance groups will lose their fear of internal security forces and either eliminate them, beginning at the basic level, or incorporate them into their local sub-system to assist in their activity.

                        4/ The more successful local resistance becomes, the more likely a resource-denied sub-system (which is already a paramilitary unit within the nKorean social system) will begin to employ counter-force against the regime’s mobilized military units.  Such an incident will become a central issue dominating the attention of the Core Group.

                        5/ Successful armed resistance, though only at the sub-system level (company to battalion-sized paramilitary level) will lead the regime’s Core Group to employ combined arms operations against the resistance group.  Some military leaders receiving such orders will hesitate to employ maximum indiscriminate force against local citizens and will immediately be relieved if not executed on the spot.  Other leaders will execute the executioner.  The depth of the resistance phase can be measured by the rank of the officer who does not obey orders from Pyongyang.

                        6/ Low echelon border units, along both the northern border and the DMZ, will cross the border and the mdl while senior echelons are preoccupied with resistance suppression.   Platoon commanders will be capable of initiating a platoon level crossing of the border or DMZ for the purpose of avoiding punishment, chaos, or worse.  After eliminating the company’s single political officer, a company commander would be capable of taking a whole company across the DMZ.  The senior battalion commander would be forced to call for artillery fires into the DMZ or beyond to halt the platoon or company-sized defections across the DMZ.  He would do this knowing that he would probably be immediately executed for permitting it to happen in the first place.  This process would not likely end until the division or corps level.

            f. Phase Six: Fracture - This phase is the most unpredictable.  The current regime and its Core Group members must see the success of the suppression phase as critical to their survival.  Failure of the suppression phase likely results in a quick transition through the resistance phase to the fracture phase.  Fracture will likely result in violence.  The types of fracture are calculable but where the fissures begin is not.  This phase will be characterized by the following:

                        1/ Internal Security systems (regional or national)  will be unable to comply with directives due to ineffectiveness.

                        2/ Core Group members or sub-group(s) openly (as opposed to private consultation) oppose Core Group directives.

                        3/ Division-sized military unit commanders ignore Core Group orders.  They perceive the orders extraordinary and do not believe them or are so appalled (through Korean perception) by the orders they make a conscious decision not to obey.

                        4/ Public execution employed against core-group member or members.  This is an indication of severe disagreement within the Core Group.  However, successful execution of one of these Core Group members is also an indication of containment to a limited degree.

                        5/ Division-sized military unit commanders who oppose Core Group orders ally with one another to oppose counter actions.  This amounts to civil war.  If Kim Chong-il and the Core Group wait to this point before initiating a nKorean attack against the Republic of Korea (as
a means to put an end to resistance energies), it may be too late.  As other dictators have in the past, a wartime footing provides the opportunity for internal security apparati to eliminate military commanders previously perceived by the regime to as supporters of resistance.

                        6/ Internal security officers executed or neutralized within entire systems or numerous adjacent sub-systems.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Army Needs Balance, Interoperability, Odierno Says

I certainly hope that this is not what GEN Odierno thinks about special operations forces.  If the Army thinks SOF and drones are only good for one kind threat terrorism then perhaps we do need to revitalize the OSS.  I certainly hope he was misquoted and does not think that (of course there are some in the SOF community who might agree  and think that terrorism is now SOF's reason d'être which of course should not be true) 

The Army must remain a balanced force as it downsizes, he said. Drones and special operations forces provide the capability to go after just one kind of threat -- terrorists, the general said.

We are in a bad way if this is the view of the Army and the military writ large and if this is what is being communicated to opinion and thought leaders (e..g, key communicators) at the Aspen Institute.  Again, I certainly hope the General was misquoted or at least that his remarks were taken out of context.



07/24/2014 09:40 AM CDT

Army Needs Balance, Interoperability, Odierno Says

By Claudette Roulo
DoD News, Defense Media Activity

ASPEN, Colo., July 24, 2014 - In the debate about how large the Army should be as the Defense Department faces the return of sequestration spending cuts in fiscal year 2016, it's more important than ever to build a balanced force, Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno said last night.

"I've been very clear ... the president's strategy, that he built and we all signed up for in 2012, is a strategy that we think is sound," he said.

Under that strategy, the Army would shrink to about 490,000 soldiers, the general told the audience at the first day of the Aspen Security Forum.

"We believed that that size and the capabilities that come with that would allow us to execute that strategy," Odierno said. "Since then, we've had some things come in the way, such as sequestration."

Based on the current budget, the Army will instead go down to about 440,000 or 450,000 soldiers by 2016, he said.

"What we don't know is what's going to happen after '16," Odierno said.
"If it goes to full sequestration, we're going to go to 420,000," he added. "And I've been very clear that at 420,000, we cannot execute the current strategy. We will not have the capacity or capability to do it."

If full sequestration returns as scheduled, the general said, the national defense strategy would have to be rewritten. "For me, that is something that is somewhat concerning, because since 2012, the world has not become a safer place," Odierno said.

The Army must remain a balanced force as it downsizes, he said. Drones and special operations forces provide the capability to go after just one kind of threat -- terrorists, the general said.

"So if you believe that's the only threat we have, that's the way to build your force," he added. "I personally believe we have much more diverse threats that we're going to face."

Declining budgets and unstable security situations also put greater importance on interoperability with U.S. partners and allies, he said.

"Our NATO partners have significantly decreased their spending on security, so we have to better understand what all our capabilities are," the general said. "We have to understand what our strengths and weaknesses are. We have to work together to build multinational capability to solve these problems."

The tensions between Ukraine and Russia are a "wake-up call" for NATO, he said, adding that "over the last several years, we've allowed our capabilities in NATO to slip." It's time to rebuild NATO's capacity, Odierno said.

"We have to start doing more exercises, more interoperability," the general said. "We have to have some reassurance of our eastern partners, and we have to make sure we are serious about those. I think we are doing that through small-level exercises today."

(Follow Claudette Roulo on Twitter: @roulododnews)














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TIME FOR U.S. FORCES TO LEAVE SOUTH KOREA

Please go to War on the Rocks to read the entire essay: http://warontherocks.com/2014/07/time-for-u-s-forces-to-leave-south-korea/

Needless to say I cannot express my disagreement with this essay strongly enough. I  will just make a few brief comments.

First, US troops are in Korea now not simply because of the Mutual Defense Treaty but because it is in the US interests to contribute to the alliance to deter an attack by north Korea.  The author would do well to include an analysis of how US interests would be enhanced by removing US forces from Korea.

Second, an analysis of north Korean interests and strategy would be useful to understand how the north will react to what is in effect a key strategic objective it has been seeking since the Armistice and that is a split int he ROK/US alliance.  Although the author mentions some of the comments and concerns of ROK and US policymakers he does not conduct an analysis of what the north might do and how it will exploit this de facto split in the ROK/US alliance (although he mentions extended deterrence I do not think that will have the same deterrent effect as a combined ROK/US force).

Third, I am surprised that there is no discussion of the actual command relationship of the ROK/US Combined Forces Command.  We should keep in mind that the ROK US Combined Forces Command has no "Title 10" authority over ROK forces.  Just as US Title 10 authority is to provide organized, trained, and equipped forces to the ROK/US Combined Forces Command, the ROK JCS has the ROK responsibility to provide organized, trained, and equipped forces to the ROK/US CFC.

While continuously being forward-deployed to South Korea, U.S. forces also created the Combined Forces Command (CFC), led by an American four-star general. 
 
Under the current agreement, South Korean forces would be under this four-star’s command, and he would take the wartime OPCON and oversee the battlefield if a shooting war (presumably with North Korea) emerges. General Curtis Scaparrotti is the current commander of UNC/CFC/USFK and responsible for seamlessly leading, organizing, training, and equipping all forces on the peninsula under Title 10 authority.
This is the usual US perspective that illustrates the lack of understanding of the command relationship.  The ROK/US Combined Forces Command was established in 1978 by both the ROK and US governments in agreement.  The ROK/US/CFC is a completely combined command, with near equal distribution of ROK and US personnel through the entire command (the command. not the subordinate units of course).  But the important point is that the ROK/US CFC answers equally to both governments through the Military Committee. The ROK/US CFC is not a US Command (like most press. pundits, and the population in Korea the author makes the same mistake of equating the ROK/US CFC and US Forces Korea which is the Title 10 authority over US military forces in Korea but it has no relationship with the ROK/US CFC except as a force provider - just as the ROK Joint Chiefs of Staff is a force provider of ROK forces to the ROK/US CFC when it determines that it is in the ROK interests to commit forces to the command).  ROK forces are not under US "OPCON"  and as I have said there is no such thing as OPCON transfer - it is a myth - there is only the dissolution of the ROK/US CFC.  If we are going to have a discussion of OPCON transfer then all the key elements and relationships and processes and procedures should be discussed and analyzed.  This paper falls short of a thorough discussion of command relationships and instead relies on the popular talking points of the press and pundits and those who do not want to remain committed to the alliance (both in the ROK and the US).

There is much more to say on this but I will have to stop here.  The bottom line is I strongly disagree with the author's proposal.


Time for U.S. Forces to Leave South Korea

TIME FOR U.S. FORCES TO LEAVE SOUTH KOREA

July 24, 2014 · in 
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American foreign policy towards the Republic of Korea (hereafter, South Korea) has focused on a substantial amount of military and economic support and is primarily based on the Mutual Defense Treaty between the United States and the Republic of Korea (1953). The mutual defense treaty continues to be the cornerstone of the security relationship between the two, which guarantees peace and stability by extended deterrence—28,500 United States Forces Korea (USFK) troops on ground and the U.S. nuclear umbrella.
The combined threats of North Korea’s nuclear weapons and conventional forces, as well as the specter of the collapse of the Kim Jong-Un family regime, compel the United States government to continue its strong military defense of, and economic devotion to, South Korea. The need to protect South Korea against its neighbor to the north also drives—in part—America’s ongoing “rebalance” or “pivot” towards Asia.
President Barack Obama recently reaffirmed America’s dedication to Seoul and the mutual defense treaty during his official visit to South Koreain April 2014. During that visit, the president promoted his “pivot” and pledged a continuing U.S. commitment to a strong alliance with South Korea. Obama reminded South Korean President Park Guen-Hye that recent developments in North Korea, such as significant increased activity at Punggye-ri nuclear test site coupled with multiple long-range missile tests, beckoned for fiercer efforts toward denuclearization.
Although the mutual defense treaty has secured the alliance for nearly six decades, transformations from both sides in the last decade suggest that a fundamental change is overdue. Based on new fiscal realities and Seoul’s proven ability to defend its national borders, the U.S. government should immediately conduct the transfer of the wartime operational control (OPCON) to South Korea. The country’s robust military force and its ongoing procurement of advanced military systems, combined with its first-rate economy, afford South Korea the ability to defend itself from most aggressors without substantial involvement of American conventional forces. The OPCON transfer would not change the security guarantee of extended deterrence under the United States’ nuclear umbrella. In addition to the transfer, President Obama should turn away from his status quo approach and implement a new security alliance toward South Korea—one that strongly cultivates an autonomous military without extended assistance from the United States.
Dating back to the Korean War, South Korean forces were under heavy scrutiny and control of the United Nations Command (UNC). U.S. forces played a significant role in establishing a democracy in South Korea. Even today, following this paradigm, U.S. troops and conventional weapons retain extensive control of Seoul. While continuously being forward-deployed to South Korea, U.S. forces also created the Combined Forces Command (CFC), led by an American four-star general. Under the current agreement, South Korean forces would be under this four-star’s command, and he would take the wartime OPCON and oversee the battlefield if a shooting war (presumably with North Korea) emerges. General Curtis Scaparrotti is the current commander of UNC/CFC/USFK and responsible for seamlessly leading, organizing, training, and equipping all forces on the peninsula under Title 10 authority.
Despite the substantial number of forward-deployed U.S. personnel in South Korea, both sides have been gradually working toward giving full autonomy to the South Korean military. In 1994, for the first time in nearly four decades, U.S. forces transferred the peacetime OPCON to South Korea. The next and final step in achieving full autonomy for the South Korean military is to solely take over the wartime OPCON. Nonetheless, there has been much controversy over the necessity and practicality of such a step. Scaparrotti, who endorses a cautious 2015 transfer of power, stressed to the Senate Armed Services Committee that “the South will have to meet a variety of benchmarks before any OPCON transfer can go through; it is important to note that the transition is conditions-driven.”
(Continued at the link below)

Joint Statement between the United States and the Republic of Korea

Some good news here.  Many positive statements in this joint statement. I hope both the ROK and US national security practitioners can take...