Saturday, October 1, 2005

AFP: Roh hints of ending US control over ROK forces in time of war

The AFP reports that "President Roo Moohyun has given a strong indication that he plans to end the United States' right to control South Korea's armed forces in case of war, a source of lingering resentment here."

These comments were made the remarks at a ceremony to celebrate the armed forces' 57th anniversary.
The recently announced military reform programme reflects our determination to achieve independence in defense capability. When completed, this reform will transform our armed forces into advanced, crack units... It will be reborn as independent armed forces that fit its name and reality as well, especially by exercising our own wartime operational control.
US control over ROK military forces in the event of war, which goes back to a controversial 1950 accord, is a sore point for nationalists who see it as an infringement on South Korea's sovereignty. The issue has also been fuel for Pyongyang's decades-old claims that the ROK government and military are US puppets, and many have cited the control issue as evidence of American culpability in the Kwangju massacre of 1980.

This comes amid a context in which South Korea last month unveiled a military reform plan which includes a 26 percent cut in troops to 500,000 by 2020 but a drastic increase in fire power.

So what does this all mean? I'll leave it to everyone to argue whether this is a foolish act of nationalism by Roh, a step toward making the the ROK-US alliance stronger by putting the ROK forces on a more equal and mature footing while allowing for a possible reduction of US ground forces (who are also increasing fire power) in Korea, removal of another major gripe by anti-USFK politicians (along with foreign forces in the capital, a highly sensitive issue), and/or just another symptom of Roh's bout with foot-in-mouth disease.

Roh again said the alliance is stronger than ever, as shown in the two sides' joint efforts to resolve the dispute over North Korea's nuclear weapons program, and he added that, "The alliance will keep developing toward a comprehensive, dynamic and mutually beneficial one in the future."

On the other hand, AFP says a senior defense ministry official said there were no immediate plans to discuss wartime control with the US side: "This issue of wartime operational control should be adressed very carefully in consideration of the security situation and the two countries have not yet started talking about this issue."

What is going on in who's head?


  1. Hopefully, there won't be a war and so this will never be an issue...

  2. Kimcheemonster,
    I think he just passed the bar. At least in terms of legal smarts, he's not a dummy. Or so we're led to believe.


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