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Wartime Operational Control, to be Transferred by 2009 as Scheduled

Wartime Operational Control, to be Transferred by 2009 as Scheduled

Posted September. 29, 2006 07:05,   


Deputy defense undersecretary for Asia and Pacific affairs Richard P. Lawless announced on September 27 (local time) that the U.S. is going to complete the transfer of wartime operational control to South Korea by 2009 as scheduled.

At the hearing of the House International Relations Committee, Mr. Lawless said that completing the handover by 2009 is ambitious, but achievable.

He added, “The adjustment of the defense alliance including the transfer of the control is aimed at strengthening the alliance between the two countries. It is imperative, however, Korea spend more on the U.S. troops stationed in Korea and continue to provide appropriate facilities for drill.”

He also said that the two issues are challenges to the U.S.-Korea alliance, emphasizing that they should be resolved as soon as possible to avoid reduction in the troops’ power and any damage to the alliance.

The undersecretary stressed that the alliance and the deployment of the U.S. troops in South Korea are still significant elements in the stability of Northeast Asia even if the U.S. hands over the operational control to Korea and the ROK-US combined forces command is dissolved. He said that the U.S. would stay in Korea as long as South Koreans welcome it.

“According to the Pentagon’s plan, the existing combat brigades on the ground, support for battles of the army and the combat power of the air force will remain in the country. But we are focused on the capacity, not numbers. So, overall, the number of the U.S. troops in Korea is going to be slightly decreased after new command system is established and the supportive role of the U.S. is confirmed.”

He said, “We have seen this as the natural next step in the evolution of the alliance. But it is unfortunate that some in Korea have chosen to define the issue as one of sovereignty versus alliance focusing only on division of the troops.”

Meanwhile, Christopher Hill, the senior State Department official for East Asia, said, “Imposing an additional sanction against North Korea will be decided after discussion with U.S.’ allies and Congress in an official meeting, which has yet to start”, implying that another sanction will be optional depending on the resumption of the six-party talks.

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