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Contingency plan for Taiwan is in place, says USFK

Posted September. 22, 2022 08:05,   

Updated September. 22, 2022 08:05


In a video interview with the Korea-U.S. Research Institute (ICAS) on Monday, U.S. Forces Korea (USFK) Commander Gen. Paul LaCamera stated that for everything, the leaders are preparing a contingency plan when asked whether there has been any discussion with the South Korean military leaders on U.S. forces’ intervention in case China attempts to invade Taiwan. While he avoided going into specifics, his comments imply that there has been such discussion regarding the roles of the USFK and South Korea in the event of war in the Taiwan Strait.

What the commander mentioned is a highly sensitive issue that may lead to major controversies over the scope of military allies and the role of the USFK. It is even more so as U.S. President Joe Biden indicated the U.S.’ commitment to defend Taiwan, unlike the previous U.S. administrations that had kept “strategic ambiguity” in such a situation. The ROK-US Combined Forces cautioned that the commander’s words were “about policy direction for Taiwan from the U.S. government and the Department of Defense, not about responses from the USFK.”

The commander has voiced the necessity of an expanded ROK-US alliance to deter North Korea and encompass China and Russia in control. While the commander might have been appealing his hope-to-be direction during the interview, it is hardly an appropriate comment to make, considering he is the commander. He is in charge of the combined forces of the two nations. Also, his words do not entail any thought about the U.S.’s allies, concerned about possible disputes that may occur between neighboring countries when the ROK-US alliance expands.

While the comprehensive global strategic alliance of South Korea and the U.S. seeks to go beyond security alliance to include joint responses to economic security and worldwide issues, it should not mean expanding military operations scope. The worst scenario for South Korea would be taking military siege on China and intervening in U.S.-China disputes, which go far beyond deterring North Korea.

Still, South Korea cannot just sit back and watch the elevating tensions over possible military conflicts in the Taiwan Strait. The country needs to undertake close discussions with allies to prevent the situation where the contingency plan is devised to meet what the U.S. needs in an emergency. Even if the conclusion from such a discussion would put South Korea in a difficult situation, it still needs to come out as the result of cooperation and agreement between the two nations.