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Troop Control Transfer Could Cut U.S. Forces in Korea

Posted September. 27, 2008 09:13,   


Certain experts warn that if the Combined Forces Command is abolished along with Korea’s takeover of wartime operational control in April 2012 as scheduled, the U.S. Congress could question the role of U.S. forces in Korea and eventually cut their number.

Analysts in the two countries have urged Seoul and Washington to set up contingency plans to deal with an unexpected political upheaval in North Korea, such as a leadership change.

The conservative U.S. think tank Heritage Foundation, the Council on Korea-U.S. Security Studies in Seoul, the Association of International Korean Studies, and the Hwajeong Peace Foundation and Institute 21 for Peace Studies under the Dong-A Ilbo, and Korea Maritime Institute held an international conference on "A New Era for U.S.-Korea Relations" in Washington Thursday and yesterday.

Bruce Klingner, a senior research fellow for Northeast Asia at the Heritage Foundation, said that if unified leadership disappears, combat capabilities of the two nations could be significantly damaged. Also, the idea supporting the purpose and justice of U.S. forces stationed in Korea will be shaken, he said.

Klingner also warned that if the wartime operational control is transferred to Korea, the support of the U.S. Congress and general public for stationing American forces in Korea could weaken. An additional reduction in U.S. forces in Korea could come if clearly defining the responsibilities of the troops is difficult, he said.

Dan Blumenthal, a resident fellow for Asian studies at the American Enterprise Institute, said it is dangerous that Washington and Seoul have not discussed contingency plans for a long time, urging the United States, Korea and Japan to make concerted efforts.

Kim Tae-woo, vice president of the Korea Institute for Defense Analysis, cited reports released by the Federation of American Scientists and said, “North Korea runs 25 missile bases in which Scud and Nodong missiles can be launched across the nation. The missiles launched from the bases can reach targets in South Korea within three to seven minutes."

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