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CFC commander discusses OPCON transfer with Korean officials

CFC commander discusses OPCON transfer with Korean officials

Posted December. 07, 2020 07:59,   

Updated December. 07, 2020 07:59


It was reported that Gen. Robert Abrams, commander of the South Korea-U.S. Combined Forces Command (CFC), discussed pending issues regarding the U.S.-R.O.K. alliance such as transfer of war-time operational control with Seo Ju-seok, South Korea’s national security council secretary-general. Speaking pessimistically about the possibility of OPCON transfer before the incumbent South Korean administration leaves office, he has recently arranged a series of meet-ups with top-ranking South Korean government officials seemingly intend to deliver his take on conditions for joint military drills and other matters about which the two nations have shown different opinions, according to experts.

A meeting occurred around the end of last month where Commander Abrams and Secretary-General Seo exchanged their opinions about major bilateral issues such as the current status of OPCON transfer, which is highly likely to be left undone under the current South Korean administration, and the timing of verifying the second stage full operational capability (FOC) of the CFC, said an unnamed government source on Sunday. The U.S. delegation during the two nations’ Security Consultative Meeting (SCM) in October showed an objection to the plan to carry out the FOC assessment within next year. Commander Abrams has constantly argued that it may be impossible to complete OPCON transfer given the current level of South Korean military combat readiness and so on.

It was reported that Commander Abrams expressed concern to Secretary-General Seo that the United States Forces in South Korea (USFK) and the South Korean National Defense Ministry decided to cancel shooting drills of the AH-64 Apache, scheduled on Nov. 16 at Suseong shooting range in Pohang, North Gyeongsang Province. Meanwhile, a closed-door meeting was held with Defense Minister Suh Wook at the request of Commander Abrams on Nov. 23.

Military analysts think that the incumbent CFC commander is seeking to have a wide range of discussions with South Korean government officials before leaving office as U.S. Army Pacific Commander Gen. Paul LaCamera has been nominated as his successor. They deem that the CFC commander, known as a stickler for principles, seeks to actively share his views on South Korean troops’ exercise readiness and conditions for USFK-led drills. “He seems strongly determined to express everything he intends to say before leaving office,” according to an anonymous source.

Kyu-Jin Shin newjin@donga.com