Friday, February 23, 2018

Congressional Statement for the Record (Korea) from Commander, (CINC) UNC/CFC/USFK

I missed this when it came out on February 14.

I recommend reading this for a good understanding of the military situation in Korea. Usually these statements are a formality but given the situation in Korea this 16 page statement is worth reading.  There is some important information. 

I would like to highlight one excerpt on the Conditions-based OPCON transition plan.  Note that the new combined command will have a Korean Commander and US Deputy Commander.  Just as currently is done the command will continue to operate under the bilateral guidance of both Presidents (or their delegates - I assume the Military Committee will remain to exercise oversight and provide the guidance).  Note also the statement that US forces will continue to operate under US national authorities just as they do now and just as the ROK military forces currently do and will continue to do.  The bottom line is there is no sovereignty issue for the US just as their is not now for Korea.  And just as a reminder Korean forces provide by the ROK JCS to the ROK/US Combined Forces Command have never been under "US Command."

e. Conditions-based OPCON Transition Plan (COTP). The Alliance has made significant progress in setting the conditions for the future combined command. The command will continue to operate under the bilateral guidance of the Presidents of the United States and South Korea or their delegates. After this transition, a U.S. general officer will change roles to serve as the Deputy Commander of the future combined command and remain as commander of the UNC and USFK. U.S. forces will continue to operate under U.S. national authorities. The Alliance is prepared to accelerate OPCON transition as South Korea continues to develop and acquire the critical capabilities required for the Alliance’s wartime success. The OPCON transition process must proceed in a way that strengthens deterrence against North Korea and enhances our combined capabilities. 

The ROK Minister of Defense and U.S. Secretary of Defense pledged in October 2017 to make joint efforts to implement the commitment by President Trump and President Moon in June 2017 to enable the expeditious conditions-based transfer of wartime OPCON. The Minister of Defense emphasized South Korea’s commitment to complete the preparations necessary to exercise OPCON in accordance with the signed COTP. The draft organization of the future combined command was discussed, and the Ministers decided to continue to refine the concept through combined exercises and certifications. They also committed to develop Alliance guiding principles for the further enhancement of combined defense posture post-OPCON transition. The two sides decided to reexamine the implementation plan for OPCON transition, such as the Alliance capability acquisition plan; Terms of Reference – Relationship (TOR-R) and Operation Plan; and combined exercises and certification plan. They also agreed to jointly review and update COTP by the 2018 SCM.

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