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Official: U.S.-ROK Defense Ties Key

Posted December. 14, 2006 07:22,   


-What did you discuss with General Burwell Bell and other USFK generals?

“Most participants suggested the USFK should not transfer wartime operational control (OPCON) to Korean forces under the current security conditions. It was genuine advice with no ulterior motive from former deputy commanders who understands well the capacity of the ROK-US Combined Forces Command (CFC). General Burwell Bell asked Korea to trust the pledges of the U.S. on its commitment to defending the Korean peninsula.”

-Gen. Bell said Korean forces could recover OPCON by 2009 if the U.S. provides bridging capability.

“Since the inauguration of the current administration, anti-American sentiment from politicians and some anti-American groups has dampened the solid mutual trust between Korea and the U.S. What do you think the U.S. congress and people felt watching some Koreans burning the U.S. flag?”

-The government considers the transfer of OPCON as the core element for “military sovereignty” and a “self-reliant military.”

“There is no country not wanting to defend its country on its own. The U.S. has emphasized military exchange and coalition operations with many allies. Why do you think NATO leaves the U.S. commander in charge of its operational control? The administration’s insistence on military sovereignty is misleading and leaves wrong impression to the public that Korea is militarily subordinate to the U.S.”

-The Defense Ministry argues that the demise of the CFC will not lead to disruption in mobilizing augmentation force in the event of a crisis if the two countries create a military cooperation council.

“From my experience of engaging in both the Korean war and Vietnamese war, the CFC regime is one thing and MCC regime is quite another. There is no comparison between the two in terms of operational efficiency. If the CFC is dissolved, the commitment of the U.S. on the defense of the Korean peninsula would not be a “binding duty.” It would be reduced into “collaboration.”

-What effects do you anticipate the demise of the CFC would bring given that the North has nuclear capabilities?

“ROK-US joint operational plans include preparation for conventional, nuclear or any kinds of provocations of the enemy. If a new military cooperation command is established and builds independent operational plans, the level of preparedness for nuclear provocations will not be the same as under the current command.

- How do you assess the CFC’s contribution to the security of Korea?

“It has played a solid role in the event of every provocation and military threat the North made. A good example is the case of the axe murder by North Korean soldiers at Panmunjeom in 1976. Back then, thanks to the CFC’s OPLAN, aircraft carriers of the United States 7th Fleet and air power of the United States Forces in Japan could immediately intervene. The alliance with the world’s strongest country was the reason that China, Japan, and Russia could not downplay Korea, not to mention its economic and military benefits.”

- You are the living proof of the CFC. How do you feel watching divided opinions of Korean people over the issue of OPCON transfer and the disbanding of the CFC?

“I felt vexed thinking about the dedication that I made into the establishment of the CFC when I celebrated the 28th anniversary of the CFC at the commemoration ceremony held last month. It is really regrettable to dissolve the CFC at a time when it is ever needed than before.