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2017-10-13 16:45
By Lee Sun-ho



In the midst of Pyongyang’s provocations including its sixth nuclear test, it was of keen interest for me as a member of the Korean-American Association (KAA) and host, to listen to the luncheon speech delivered by Gen. Vincent K. Brooks. Brooks is commander of the United States Forces Korea (USFK), the United Nations Command (UNC) and the R.O.K.-U.S. Combined Forces Command (CFC).

The luncheon meeting was held Sept. 15, soon after North Korea launched an intermediate–range ballistic missile (IRBM) from its Sunan International Airport, which flew 3,700km eastward over Japan (which is the distance between Pyongyang and Guam). The luncheon marked the 67th anniversary of Gen. Douglas MacArthur’s Operation Chromite at Incheon Harbor. Among the 120 attendees were civilians and military personnel from the two nations including KAA Chairman Park Jin and the U.S. Charge d’ Affaires Marc Knapper, and a host of media.

I took some notes on Gen. Brooks’ main points about critical issues on the Korean Peninsula, emphasizing the point that inter-Korean relations are under the assumption that the Kim Jong-un regime will use its nuclear weapons to gain the upper hand in any future negotiations with the United States and its allies.

Brooks seems determined to forge ahead with denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula, not only by deterring the North from developing its arsenal but also by being against any retaliatory development of the South for the eventual unification of this divided part of Northeast Asia. Nor is he looking for the total annihilation of the North. His posture would be tantamount to demanding a stoppage of any Chinese oil going to North Korea by being ready to exercise his position to utterly destroy North Korea.

The top-ranking U.S. soldier in Korea may know of a series of military options for targeted strikes (including cyber strikes) on North Korea’s nuclear and missile sites, controlled by the technically savvy and brutal leader Kim. The North has shown no interest in engaging with the United States unless the Americans and their military presence leave the Peninsula. Pulling back 28,000 U.S. troops from South Korea is, as he knows, a long-time goal to reunify with South Korea on the North’s terms. The little “rocket man” Kim, I presume, could use his nuclear program as a scenario for a military invasion of South Korea in an attempt to occupy the South by force.                           

At West Point, Brooks was the academy’s first African-American Cadet First Captain, the highest position a cadet can hold, an appointment that brought much publicity to him at an early age. He is likely to have a deep understanding of East Asian relations while also safeguarding the role of the United Nations. He was born in Anchorage on U.N. Day, Oct. 24, 1958, the year of the dog. His military career has been in connection with the UNC several times. After graduating from West Point in 1980, he served in Korea and Kosovo among other places. He also became the spokesman of the United States Central Command, the main U.N. force in the Middle East. To say he is accomplished is an understatement.

As the military commander once said, “people can see the achievements and how hard work leads to them.” It is my desire that his endeavors for the U.N.’s world-wide peace-keeping mission, all-weather security and anti-terrorism tasks for the sake of the international community will be fulfilled by using any strategies and tactics in his capacity as the top field commander in Korea on the firm basis of the Korean-U.S. Military Alliance. One that was forged in blood, and which led to the ceasefire of the Korean War in 1953.

 

The writer is an ombudsman columnist for The Korea Times in Seoul. You can reach him at kexim2@unitel.co.kr. This is his 316th article marking the 50th anniversary of his first contribution on October 15, 1967.

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