Thursday, February 25, 2010
Text Fwd: USFK Seeks to Expand Role Outside Peninsula
1. “Strategic Flexibility” is the word that was concerned by many activists, here in Korea since 2002 . Please see this site.
The National Campaign for Eradication of Crimes by U.S.Troops in Korea
(Find English in the top right, then look for the article No. 31, named
‘Realignment of U.S. Forces in Korea and Changes in US-ROK Military Alliance(Oct 2008)’
‘Negotiations on the relocation of U.S. bases within the ROK were initiated by U.S. demand. The U.S. wanted to manage the USFK in a more efficient manner; For example, they sought to reduce the number of army bases by combining bases and army Training Areas, while simultaneously expanding the air bases and exclusive U.S. marine Training Areas. As a result of the negotiations, the ROK and the U.S. signed the Land Partnership Plan1) in 2002.
The U.S. did not stop at simply obtaining the efficient management and reinforcement of Air Force and the Navy (marines). The U.S. also sought to attain the flexibility and option to dispatch its excellently trained USFK to other battlefields in the region.’
2.The strategic flexibility is a transformation of or critical departure from the traditional US-SK alliance, which was based on the alliance against the North Korea, stipulated in the US-SK Mutual Defense Treaty in 1953, right after the Korean war. The transformation meant the USFK in the SK and further, the South Korean troops would involve in any war lead by the US imperial war. The NATO is utilized and expanded to East Asia to effectively integrate the command and control of the Asian countries. Its content has been more and more concretized as you see the current SK dispatch plan to Afghanistan, whose congress pass is expected this Feb. 18. You may refer to the below.
"joint vision for the future ROK-US alliance" (June 16, 2009)
‘The ROK government's decision to send more troops to Afghanistan endangers the lives and the national sovereignty of the Afghan people. Furthermore, it violates the ROK Constitution, which disavows aggressive war (article 5, paragraph 1) and violates the ROK-US Mutual Defense Treaty (articles 2, 3), which authorizes operations only on the Korean peninsula, and is applicable only on occasion of the armed aggression from outside.’
3. How the transformation of SK-US alliance affects the Japan-US alliance, you may refer to here. It was just accident that I found these two articles below. But it may help.
Changing US-ROK Alliance and Japan
'The realignment of the USFK will increase the relative weight and the role of the US forces stationed in Japan. It is highly possible for the US to deploy the Air Force fighter troops to Kadena and Misawa AFBs and the bomber troops to Guam Island rather than to augment the force in South Korea. And additional Carrier Battle Group will be dispatched to the adjacent sea. Moreover, there is a movement to reorganize the US Navy Assault Landing Force in Sasebo to "the Expedition Attack Group (ESG)", adding four combat warships equipped with Tomahawk cruise missiles. The ESG is considered to execute the preemptive strike strategy by heightening the readiness and mobility with missile attack and fleet defense capability in addition to the landing operation. Furthermore, several plans are reported to strengthen the logistic function in East Asia, such as the expansion of the maintenance and supply facilities of the USFJ bases in Japan, and the newly established North-East Asian Command that integrates the USFK and the USFJ.'
U.S. Japan Envision 'Interoperability' in Troop Realignment Plan:
U.S.-Japan Agrees New Alliance in Washington
‘Zama is expected to play a key role in contingencies in areas surrounding Japan such as the Korean Peninsula and the Taiwan Strait. In a situation where the U.S. is set to reduce its military presence in South Korea, the new U.S. Army command to be set up at Camp Zama would assume charge in an emergency on the Korean Peninsula.
The agreements put the finishing touches on such thorny issues as the transfer of some 8,000 U.S. Marines from Okinawa to Guam, which will eventually facilitate the deployment of U.S. forces to Southeast Asia, a region the U.S. sees as a hotbed of terrorism.
The two countries’ respective headquarters in Japan will be brought together to strengthen interoperability between the Japanese and U.S. forces in hopes of maximizing the benefits at the lowest cost possible. Including the latest decision, there have been three major occasions of U.S. military forces in Japan undergoing structural changes since the early years of the Cold War, and the changes have been made in a way to deepen their bilateral alliance, experts note.
Meanwhile, the headquarters of a Ground Self-Defense Force Central Readiness Force Command will also be transferred to Camp Zama by 2012, a move that will enhance the interoperability of the two countries' forces and pave the way for the operational integration of the flagship forces. In this context, Japan's Air Defense Command will be moved to the headquarters of the U.S. 5th Air Force at Yokota Air Base in Tokyo by 2010 while acting as the headquarters for MD (missile defenses) functions.’
USFK Seeks to Expand Role Outside Peninsula
By Jung Sung-ki
After its decades-long stationary mission in South Korea, the U.S. Forces Korea (USFK) is taking steps toward expanding its missions to outside the Korean Peninsula, which U.S. defense officials do not consider an acting war zone anymore.
The USFK says the so-called strategic flexibility will not hurt its security commitment to South Korea against a possible North Korean invasion and instead help ensure its stable commitment with longer, family-accompanied tours by U.S. service members here.
Still, there are worries that such flexibility for out-of-area deployment of US troops will weaken the combined defense posture against North Korea.
A senior official at the Ministry of National Defense said last week that South Korean and U.S. defense authorities had opened talks over the issue formally.
"The two governments had already agreed on the issue of strategic flexibility in January 2006, so both sides are discussing how and when the scheme will be implemented," the official said on condition of anonymity. "We're trying to finalize an agreement by the year's end, hopefully before the Security Consultative Meeting (SCM) in October."
The official noted his ministry was focusing on getting proper U.S. bridging capability of intelligence-gathering, surveillance and reconnaissance to South Korea despite the U.S. flexible troop redeployment.
No Immediate Plan to Redeploy Troops
The USFK says it has no immediate plan to redeploy troops from the peninsula but the issue will evolve in coming years. It said in a news release earlier this month that redeployment of troops could be possible in the late 2010s after close consultations with the Korean government.
There are currently about 28,500 U.S. troops serving in South Korea. Despite Washington's repeated promises there will be no further cuts to that level, concerns persist that some may be redeployed after Seoul takes back wartime operational control, or OPCON, of its troops from the U.S. on April 17, 2012.
The defense of South Korea "remains the core mission of U.S. forces in Korea and there will be no reduction of U.S. forces tied to wartime OPCON transition," the USFK said in the statement.
In 2006, South Korea agreed to the U.S. strategic flexibility plan aimed at changing the mission of American forces abroad from stationary ones defending host nations to rapid deployment troops that can be swiftly dispatched to other parts of the world where the United States faces conflict, based on mutual consensus.
The agreement, however, ignited concerns that it could weaken the deterrent capability against North Korea, whose nuclear and missile programs pose a grave threat to regional security.
Some are also worried that intervention by the USFK in other regional conflicts, such as the China-Taiwan sovereignty dispute, or the U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, could have the nation tangled in hostilities with other countries against its will.
"The strategic flexibility is part of the U.S. military's broader plan to realign its overseas forces, so that's not directly related to Seoul's exercise of independent wartime operational control in 2012,'' a senior researcher of the Korea Institute for Defense Analyses (KIDA) said on condition of anonymity. "But it's quite certain that as Seoul assumes more responsibility for national defense in coming years, the U.S. military will have more flexibility in moving its forces in and out of the peninsula."
"The thing is how the U.S. will compensate for the `flow-out' capability," he added. "Personally, I don't believe there will be a significant security vacuum here due to the strategic flexibility scheme, given the U.S. military's overwhelming naval- and air-centric capabilities."
Another defense expert said the strategic flexibility of U.S. troops overseas is an unavoidable "trend.''
He said, "The strategic flexibility is not a matter of conflict but a matter of consultation or coordination. It's time for us to think of what we can get from the U.S. strategic flexibility, not what we can lose from it."
Given that the agreed 21st strategic alliance partnership calls for boosting bilateral cooperation in global issues, we can't and shouldn't deny the strategic flexibility mechanism, said the expert.
"The Lee government should think of how it will get this message across to the public and prevent unnecessary controversy over this issue," he said.
In June, Presidents Lee Myung-bak and Barack Obama issued the Joint Vision for the ROK-US Alliance at the end of their summit in Washington, D.C. The plan calls for building a broader alliance in the realms of politics, economy, culture and other areas, in addition to the security arena.
'No More Combat Zone'
The U.S. Department of Defense approved a new USFK policy in December 2008 that allows about half of its 28,000 troops stationed in South Korea to have their families live with them.
The move reflects a major shift in the American perception toward South Korea, which was once considered too dangerous for families in the face of North Korea's military threats.
The extended tour length will contribute to further solidify the Korea-U.S. alliance by forging lifelong friendships at the family level, USFK officials said. It will also help improve training for service members and reduce stress on troops who have to leave their families behind, they said.
``Tour normalization signals a strong and visible commitment by the United States to the Republic of Korea, reaffirming our intent to remain here for the long term,'' USFK Commander Gen. Walter Sharp said in an interview last year.
``I will say that tour normalization will help establish a strong alliance relationship,'' he continued. ``The principle institutions of the alliance today — the armistice, short tours and the contingency nature of the Combined Forces Command — all have crisis connotations.''
The planned transition of operational control of Korean troops during wartime from the United States to South Korea in 2012 and the tour normalization initiative will move U.S. troops beyond this ``crisis mentality,'' said the commander.
Under the new policy, troops serving in accompanied billets, including Seoul, Osan, Pyeongtaek, Daegu and Jinhae, will stay for three years, while those serving in locations just south of the heavily fortified border, designated Area I, such as Uijeongbu and Dongducheon, will stay for two years.
Unaccompanied tours for most troops will remain at one year, but some "key personnel'' will serve two years of unaccompanied tours.