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[Editorial] Follow-up Measures Needed after Redeployment of U.S. Brigade to Iraq

[Editorial] Follow-up Measures Needed after Redeployment of U.S. Brigade to Iraq

Posted May. 18, 2004 22:19,   


The government has begun to move swiftly to alleviate concerns over the deployment of a brigade of U.S. forces in Korea to Iraq. The foreign minister and other senior officials almost simultaneously went public about how Korea-US relations have unfolded regarding the deployment, and stressed that it won’t cause a hole in the national security. They implied that the government agreed to the deployment because it could not overlook an ally who was in need.

However, the government’s verbal guarantees that the deployment won’t cause a security problem are not enough to ease the nation’s concerns. All in all, a number of issues surrounding the deployment have not been addressed. The government said it just accepted the U.S. proposal while it failed to give a clear answer about when the brigade would leave and whether it will return to Korea or not. Meanwhile there have been U.S. press reports saying that the U.S. would ship 3,600 troops to Iraq from Korea and that they would not return to Korea.

What’s more, there are many people who are concerned about the redeployment of U.S. forces to south of Han River and the movement of U.S. bases out of Seoul. The deployment of the brigade to Iraq is another point of contention. The government needs more than the U.S.’s already existing $1.1 billion plan to beef up combat readiness in its forces in Korea as a deterrent against war to mollify concerns.

The government should come up with contingency measures if the deployment leads to a reduction in the U.S. military presence in Korea. As the reduction is increasingly becoming an immovable fact, the government’s wait-and-see attitude toward the global redeployment of U.S. forces cannot assuage public concerns.

Concerns over the Korea-U.S. alliance are not transient. Mistrust has amassed in a run of conflicts over the new site of the U.S. embassy and Korea’s plans to send troops to Iraq. If the U.S. plans to deploy parts of its forces in Korea to Iraq did not cause any new conflict as the government alleged, then it should gear itself to solving other issues related to the U.S.