Go to contents

Korea Could Assume Wartime Control of Peninsula Forces by 2015

Korea Could Assume Wartime Control of Peninsula Forces by 2015

Posted October. 29, 2005 15:23,   


It is reported that the government is internally reviewing the regaining of wartime operations command from the U.S. by 2015.

A senior government official said on October 28, “After reviewing a plan to regain wartime control for several years, we proposed a negotiation for the first time at the ROK-U.S. Security Policy Initiative (SPI) late last month,” adding, “The timing of our regaining of wartime control will be before 2015.”

This was the first-ever mention of a specific time frame of the regaining of wartime operations command by a government official.

The official said, “Strengthening military power should be a prerequisite of reasserting wartime operations command,” adding, “According to the military reform plans that the government is pushing forward with the target year of 2020, we will make a focused investment in our military over the next 10 years, beginning next year.”

Against this backdrop, the specific timing of reasserting wartime operations command is expected to be within 2010 to 2014 when South Korea will have a considerable independent deterrence against North Korea through military reform.

It is highly likely that the government delivered such a plan to the U.S. at the 37th Security Consultative Meeting (SCM) held on October 21 in Seoul.

He also said, “The negotiation on regaining wartime control could be accelerated if discussion on the peace system on the Korean peninsula makes progress in the six-party talks. But the issue of U.S. forces stationed in South Korea will not be a precondition for negotiations on the peace system,” making sure that the government will not accept if the North claims withdrawal of U.S. forces from the South.

It is also reported that the government created a principle that concerned parties of the peace agreement are limited to four countries; the two Koreas, the U.S. and China, and that South and North Korea will be responsible for the management of military on the Korean peninsula.

However, many hurdles are expected between now and when the government actually regains wartime operations command. The U.S. has not mentioned the timing of handing out wartime control, although it agrees that the role of Korean Armed Forces will be increased.

Korea and the U.S. settled for an ambiguous agreement that they would “appropriately accelerate” the negotiation of wartime operations command at the 37th SCM. At that time, U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld maintained a cautious position, saying, “(Wartime operations command) will be handed over when Korea and the U.S. decide that the timing is appropriate.”

A military official said, “The handover of wartime control requires a preparation process and negotiations over a considerable time period, and the security situation of Northeast Asia, including the ability of the Korean Armed Forces and threats from the North’s military, should be comprehensively taken into account.”

Sang-Ho Yun ysh1005@donga.com