Go to contents

The U.S. Army Hinted at Giving Up its “Tripwire” Role

Posted November. 21, 2003 22:42,   


Defense Minister Cho Young-kil said on November 21 that the United States expressed its intention to move the U.S. troops to the southern side of the Han River in case the negotiation on the site (of the U.S. Yongsan Garrison) breaks down. “The U.S. Forces Korea are intending to set up a ‘permanent base’ on the south side of the Han River to reduce the doubled expenses if they have to relocate their troops in that area after all,” said Cho.

The Defense Minister met with Grand National Party (GNP) leader Choe Byung-yul and the lawmakers of the GNP’s Committee of National Defense and Committee of Reunification, Foreign Affairs and Trade at the Party’s main office in Yoido, Seoul yesterday morning, and introduced the U.S. position during the 35th Annual Korea-U.S. Security Consultative Meeting (SCM) held on November 17.

The unveiled U.S. stance is likely to be an impact on South Korea-U.S. bilateral talks in the future, since it is hinting on the U.S. abandoning its “tripwire” policy, which ensures an automatic involvement of the U.S. troops in case of emergency.

Cho also reported, “The U.S. Congress tends to freeze the necessary budget for establishing new (military) facilities on the south side of the Han River in South Korea.”

Relocation of U.S. troops to the south side of the Han River becomes inevitable if the U.S. Congress limits the budget alike. In order to move the U.S. forces to the north side of the Han River, the South Korean government will pay for all the relocation expenses.

Concerning the additional troop dispatch plan to Iraq, Defense Minister Cho said, “The Korean government has two scenarios, and one of them, which was suggested by the Defense Ministry, is a plan on sending troops that are able to make independent military operations in a designated area in Iraq, with a size of slightly less than 4,000 troops.”

Cho explained, “At present, South Korea and the U.S. are playing a tough game on pending issues such as additional deployment of troops to Iraq, relocation of the U.S. Yongsan Garrison, and rearrangement of the 2nd Division of U.S. Army.” He also delivered the atmosphere of Korea-U.S. SCM talks, saying, “Negotiators from both countries discussed the issues for the sake of their own nation, and that could have produced many changes and unexpected results at the meeting.”

Meanwhile, the GNP chairman Rep. Choe Byung-yul and lawmakers told Defense Ministry Cho that it is “necessary for the U.N Command and ROK-U.S. Combined Forces Command (CFC) to continue to stay at the current place in a bid to attract foreign investments and eliminate the nation’s concerns about security,” said Park Jin, a spokesman of the Grand National Party.

Yeon-Wook Jung Min-Hyuk Park jyw11@donga.com mhpark@donga.com