• 폰트크기작게
  • 폰트크기크게
  • TTS
  • 단어장
  • 기사스크립
  • SNS
2017-10-30 16:13
Compromises may help smooth wartime control transfer

Korea and the United States failed to agree on the restructuring of the two countries’ future Combined Forces Command (CFC).

The bone of contention was the U.S. reluctance to have a Korean general head the new CFC and an American general serve as his deputy. This chain of command will reverse the current CFC format — U.S. Gen. Vincent Brook being commander in chief with Korean Gen. Kim Byeong-joo as second in command — and forms the heart of the challenge for the scheduled ROK takeover of the command and control of its troops should war break out.

The two countries were expected to endorse the reversal of the pecking order at the top this year. In June Presidents Moon Jae-in and Donald Trump agreed to “enable expeditious conditions-based wartime control” of ROK troops. But Defense Minister Song Young-moo and his U.S. counterpart, James Mattis, didn’t produce any results in their meeting Saturday. Rather, the two hinted at giving themselves another year until the next year’s Security Consultative Meeting (SCM).

The tricky part is that the U.S. is not willing to go against its military tradition and have its commanders and troops under other nations’ generals. This tradition has to do with the U.S. reputation as the world’s strongest army and the often expeditionary nature of its forces. Dwight Eisenhower led the 11-nation Allied forces as supreme commander during World War II. Based on that tradition, an American general leads NATO and takes over the wartime control of each member’s troops. In contrast, Japan has both wartime and peacetime control of its Self-Defense Forces.

For Korea, it is a matter of pride. Taking over the peacetime control in 1994 was seen as an important step to complete Korea’s sovereignty.

The previous two conservative governments had first postponed the wartime control takeover to 2015, then moved it to the 2020s without deciding on the date. Now, the current progressive government led by Moon Jae-in has been eager to take it back as soon as possible.

The takeover can’t and shouldn’t be delayed because it is a strong show of Korea’s taking control of its future. However, insisting on that to the point of breaking the alliance is not advisable. Deterring the U.S. from coming to Seoul’s aid or putting constraints in their combined operations at a time of crisis should be avoided. Also inviting the U.S. to reduce its military presence as the result of the deadlock would be a moot point at best.

Having two Korean and American generals on equal footing could be one compromise. True, one may rationally argue that the military can only operate on a top-down vertical chain of command. But today’s military serves as the executioner beholden to political will of the respective civilian governments so a solution to a conflict over the command and control shouldn’t be a make-or-break problem.

  • 폰트크기작게
  • 폰트크기크게
  • TTS
  • 단어장
  • 기사스크립
  • SNS