Don't worry be happy now
Some news from the Washington Times.
The Pentagon plans to give South Korea wartime operational control over U.S. troops within three years and will keep U.S. troop levels at more than 20,000 over the next several years, defense officials said yesterday.Note- US troop levels are down in the ROK from about 37,000 which were stationed there prior to 9-11. Its natural to me that the SOuth Koreans with the most at stake would want to be in overall command.
Following the latest round of U.S.-South Korea talks July 13 and 14, the Pentagon and South Korean military and defense officials agreed to draw up the command transfer plan that will shift combat authority from the U.S.-led combined forces command to a new structure led by South Korean military commanders and supported by U.S. forces.
The goal is to complete the transfer of authority by 2009, but some changes could take five years.
Those realities include growing South Korean military capabilities, Seoul's pro-engagement policies toward the communist North, and anti-American sentiments among South Korean leaders.
The shift of operational control of South Korean forces "means that they would take the lead in a conventional war on the Korean Peninsula in deterring and defeating" North Korean forces, the official said.
As for troop levels, officials said there are no plans for major U.S. troop cuts beyond plans to have 25,000 troops by 2008. The Pentagon plans to keep 20,000 to 25,000 troops in the country for the foreseeable future, the official said, noting that the fighting power of both U.S. and South Korean forces will remain constant or increase as new weapons are deployed.
In the event of another Korean conflict, I'd have to question how much stomach the US would have for trying to stop it. The ongoing events in Iraq are likely to make both politicians and the public shy about committing US troops to any conflict in the world that doesn't directly threaten the US. I feel this attitude could prevail for some time, just like it did after Vietnam.
However South Korean officials aren't getting that message. Particularly ROK Defense Minister Yoon Kwang-ung.
One of the participants even asked defense minister Yoon, “Minister Yoon, you should deliver our worries to President Roh so that he can make a resolute decision.”Reinforced troops from where? I hope the rest of the government in Seoul isn't as clueless as Minister Yoon. If they are, the 40 million plus South Koreans could be in for a catastrophe.
In response, Yoon said, “Even if we regain the operational control, the U.S. forces will continue to provide intelligence and reinforced troops in case a war breaks out on the Korean peninsula and the alliance of the two countries will not be hampered.”
Hat tip- Richard Gardner at OTB
Open Post- Adam's Blog, TMH's Bacon Bits, Bullwinkle Blog,