Vincent Brooks, former U.S. commander in South Korea, said Thursday (local time) that South Korea’s decision to terminate the General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA) will not only cut off an information sharing channel but destroy one side of an equilateral triangle of security cooperation between the United States and its two Asian allies.
It was unfortunate that Seoul decided to end the agreement, Brooks said in a phone interview with the Dong-A Ilbo. He expressed concerns that the three countries will find it hard to comprehensively understand the security-related circumstances, only sharing partial information.
Brooks was the highest-ranking U.S. Army general who commanded U.S. Forces Korea in 2016 when the crucial military intelligence-sharing pact was signed. He pointed out that the parties concerned could share sensitive military information fast and effectively only when the agreement is in place. If South Korea leaves the deal, it would make it difficult for the nation to effectively respond to cases similar to the ones in which Russia and China allegedly violated the Korean airspace.
He also analyzed that the latest decision of South Korea is highly likely to give an unintended message to both the United States and Japan. Tokyo may misunderstand it as Seoul’s intention to completely halt bilateral cooperation while Washington may get it as a warning sign that Seoul could put the alliance structure in Northeast Asia in danger.
When asked about why he thinks South Korea chose to discontinue the deal, Brooks said that the decision seemed to be aimed at getting the United States more involved as a mediator in the disputes between South Korea and Japan and enhancing the leverage effect.