Government proposes regular review of military capacity

Posted on : 2014-04-08 14:54 KST Modified on : 2014-04-08 14:54 KST
Review procedure could lead to another delay of wartime operational control transfer from the US
 at the Joint Chiefs of Staff Headquarters
at the Joint Chiefs of Staff Headquarters

By Park Byong-su, senior staff writer

The South Korean government proposed setting up a regular procedure of reviewing the capacity and condition of ROK forces and the security situation on the Korean Peninsula two years before wartime operational control of the ROK military, or OPCON, is scheduled to be transferred to South Korea. This would mean, for example, that if the current negotiations between South Korea and the US end up delaying the OPCON transfer until 2018, the two countries would first conduct a review in 2016 to make sure there were no issues with the OPCON transfer.

“Even if South Korea and the US adjust the timing of the OPCON transfer, which was initially scheduled for 2015, they will still need to conduct a comprehensive review of unexpected changes in the security situation on the Korean peninsula and the preparedness of ROK forces,” said a senior ROK military officer on Apr. 7, adding that no agreement had yet been reached with the US. Considering that the proposed system could be abused to produce continued delays in the OPCON transfer, attention is focusing on how the US will respond. Even after an agreement is reached on delaying the transfer, South Korea could use the system as a way to once again request a delay because of security concerns.

During the Roh Moo-hyun administration, South Korea and the US settled on Apr. 17, 2012, as the date for transferring wartime OPCON. At the request of the next president, Lee Myung-bak, this was delayed to Dec. 1, 2015. After South Korea requested another delay last year, the two countries set up a joint working-level team, which has been reviewing the changed security situation on the Korean peninsula and how this affects the preparedness level of the South Korean military.


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