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Gov`t Agrees to More US Troop Flexibility in S. Korea

Posted October. 09, 2010 10:25,   


South Korea and the U.S. reportedly agreed Friday to seek the strategic flexibility of U.S. troops stationed in the South in return for U.S. provision of complementary forces following the handover of wartime control from Washington to Seoul.

The move is interpreted as Seoul`s guarantee for the strategic flexibility of U.S. forces in Korea to allow deployment to areas outside of the South. In return, the Washington will alleviate fears of a security vacuum in the South by continuously providing anti-North Korea surveillance and surgical strike capabilities that the South Korean military is weak in.

After the 42nd Security Consultative Meeting in Washington, South Korean Defense Minister Kim Tae-young and U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates signed four documents including a joint statement on the plan and Strategic Alliance 2015, a roadmap for the operational control transfer.

Deputy Defense Minister for Policy Jang Kwang-il said the latest meeting had both sides forming the institutional foundation guaranteeing military measures for the command transfer and the synchronization of major alliance issues, including the relocation of U.S. forces in South Korea.

“The relocation of the U.S. Forces Korea means strategic flexibility,” a South Korean military official said. “Because talking about the strategic alliance alone could cause fears over a security vacuum, the two sides have institutionalized concrete and sure U.S. provision of complementary capabilities.”

Both allies also agreed to operate a committee to decide on details of the extended deterrence Washington will provide to Seoul against the threat of weapons of mass destruction from the North and draw up policy alternatives.

Seoul and Washington, however, are said to have differences over details over the strategic flexibility of U.S. troops in the South. One source said both sides disagreed over holding consultations if U.S. forces in South Korea are deployed elsewhere, the number of U.S. troops to be stationed in the South, and the deadline for the relocation of U.S. military bases in the South.