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USFK`s Reduction Notification

Posted June. 07, 2004 22:16,   


Before the end of 2005, 12,500 soldiers out of the 37,000 soldiers of the USFK will be withdrawn from Korea. This reduction includes 3,600 soldiers from the core ground force, 2nd Infantry Division, which have been already decided upon to be deployed to Iraq.

Therefore, by 2006, the USFK will have about 25,000 soldiers stationed in Korea.

Kim Sook, director general of the Foreign Ministry’s North American affairs bureau, the actual head of the “Three Member USFK Mediation Committee,” held a press conference on June 7 at the Seoul Central Government Complex, and stated that Richard Lawless, undersecretary of defense for Asian and Pacific affairs, addressed this fact.

The U.S government’s early massive reduction decision of the USFK and Korea’s understanding of the reduction starting from 2007 appears to have a gap, so in the future this issue might be controversial.

Also, the government’s plan of “Independent National Defense,” which was set up with having the USFK until 2006 in mind, has to be modified.

However Undersecretary Lawless, in conversations with South Korea, said, “The newly planned reduction of the USFK has taken into consideration of the special situation in the Korean Peninsula and also considered the increase of the ROK army’s capability over the past 20 years. Therefore, the Korean peninsula safety will not be affected by this decision.“

Director Kim said, “This is the first official meeting between Korea and the U.S on the matter of reduction of forces, so the U.S government’s proposal on June 6 will not be decided at this particular meeting. Also, the government will consider ‘Cooperative Independent National Defense’ and centering around the Ministry of Defense, Korea’s standpoint will be reviewed and later on, it will be proposed to the U.S.”

The actual negotiation regarding “Reduction of 12,500 soldiers from USFK” will be discussed later between the ROK Joint Chiefs of Staff and the USFK command in a major general level military committee talk.

Regarding this issue, a highly-recognized official said, “After 3,600 soldiers are deployed to Iraq, as early as the end of this year, another 4,000 soldiers might be redeployed or sent to a different country.”

Before this meeting, the Korean Government’s “Three People Committee” members met with their U.S counterparts, Deputy Undersecretary Lawless Everns Lieber, the special envoy from the U.S. State Department, Timothy Donovan USFK deputy of Planning (Marine Maj. General), and Eric John, a counselor from the U.S Embassy, on June 6 at 8:30 p.m. for two and half hours at the Seoul Plaza Hotel and discussed the troops reduction issue.

Hyong-gwon Pu Ho-Won Choi bookum90@donga.com bestiger@donga.com