See More on Facebook

Diplomacy

Korea, US sign strategic guideline on combined defense

The defense chiefs of South Korea and the United States on Wednesday signed a strategic guideline on how their combined defense mechanism will operate.


Written by

Updated: +00

The guideline, called “Alliance Guiding Principles,” contains a set of commitments to continue to station US troops in Korea, retain the allies’ Combined Forces Command and the UN Command, and have a South Korean four-star general lead the CFC.

Defense Minister Jeong Kyeong-doo and his US counterpart James Mattis inked the document after they held their 50th Security Consultative Meeting in Washington, the allies’ annual top defense dialogue.

The guideline sought to dispel worries among conservatives that the OPCON transfer may eventually lead to the pullout — or drawdown — of American forces in Korea, the dissolution of the CFC and a weakening of the allies’ combined defense posture.

“The Alliance Guiding Principles are a document that we drew up while thinking of the future of the alliance more than 50 years ahead,” Seoul’s defense ministry said in a press release.

“The principles are expected to address citizens’ security concerns by presenting a direction for the South Korea-US combined defense system after the OPCON transfer and proclaiming the firmness of the South Korea-US alliance,” it added.

Among those concerns was the possibility that the US, with the world’s largest military, may not be willing to undertake a deputy commander role in a combined unit with its ally. But Seoul officials said that concern has also been settled through the guideline.

“The national authorities of the US are to appoint a general or an admiral to serve as the deputy commander of the post-OPCON transition CFC,” the strategic document reads.

The guideline also includes the US’ continued provision of extended deterrence to South Korea and of “bridging and enduring” capabilities for the defense of its Asian ally.

The extended deterrence refers to the US commitment to use a full range of military capabilities, including nuclear, conventional and missile defense assets.

In the cases of major changes in the allies’ combined defense system, such as the transfer of peacetime OPCON in 1994, Seoul and Washington issued a “strategic directive” to the CFC for implementation. But the issuance of such a strategic guideline is rare, Seoul officials said.

The guideline is among a series of other strategic documents that Jeong and Mattis approved on Wednesday.

One of them is the memorandum for the record of the allies’ future command structure. It entails the agreement that a South Korean four-star general will lead the CFC with a US four-star general being its deputy after the OPCON transition.

The defense chiefs also agreed to carry out their verification next year of South Korea’s initial operational capability to lead combined forces. After the IOC verification, the two sides will verify Seoul’s full operational and full mission capabilities.

South Korea handed over the operational control over its troops to the commander of the US-led UN Command during the 1950-53 Korean War. It was then transferred to the chief of the CFC when the command was launched in 1978.

South Korea retook peacetime OPCON in 1994, but the US still possesses OPCON in the event of war. The transfer of wartime OPCON was supposed to occur in 2015 but was postponed, as the allies agreed in 2014 to a conditions-based handover due to Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile tests.

During the SCM, the two sides finalized their decision to suspend their annual massive Vigilant Ace air exercise, originally slated for December, to back up ongoing diplomacy to build trust with North Korea and encourage its nuclear disarmament.

The decision was made based on the judgment that the allies can harness high-tech weapons systems and online communication tools to conduct exercises without joining together.

The US Department of Defense previously said that the allies agreed to suspend the exercise. But Seoul’s defense ministry said the allies just weighed “various ideas, including suspension” in an apparent indication of differences over the fate of this year’s exercise.

At the SCM, Seoul and Washington also agreed to conduct joint research on the defense vision of their future alliance.

“The research will draw up a joint vision aimed at developing the alliance’s cooperation in the defense sector into a more complementary and future-oriented way,” the ministry said.

After the SCM, Jeong and Mattis issued a joint communique.

In the communique, the two sides highlighted that full implementation of all UN Security Council resolutions would continue “until we are confident about North Korea’s complete denuclearization in a final, fully verified manner.”

The statement, moreover, said that Jeong and Mattis also committed to continue to maintain close cooperation between the allies’ military authorities during the process of implementing the recent inter-Korean military agreement aimed at reducing tensions and preventing accidental clashes.

Mattis reiterated the US commitment to maintain the current force level of US Forces Korea and reaffirmed that Washington will provide extended deterrence to South Korea.

Unlike past SCM statements, this year’s communique did not include any strong warning against North Korean provocations.



Enjoyed this story? Share it.


The Korea Herald
About the Author: The Korea Herald is the nation’s largest English-language daily and the country’s sole member of the Asia News Network.

Eastern Briefings

All you need to know about Asia


Our Eastern Briefings Newsletter presents curated stories from 22 Asian newspapers from South, Southeast and Northeast Asia.

Sign up and stay updated with the latest news.



By providing us with your email address, you agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.

View Today's Newsletter Here

Diplomacy

Huawei CEO holds dialogue with US tech experts

The company has come under pressure after the US singled the company out for possible espionage for Beijing. Huawei founder and CEO Ren Zhengfei had a discussion with two American technological gurus, George Gilder and Nicholas Negroponte, at the company’s headquarters in Shenzhen on Monday. Ren said he believes the artificial intelligence industry is a driving force for human society, and people need to be inclusive and not regard AI as “negative” future technology. Ren said that Huawei has been committed to business ethics and compliance with laws and regulations since the company was started. “Huawei didn’t, and w


By China Daily
June 19, 2019

Diplomacy

Will Xi’s Pyongyang visit create momentum for stalled nuclear talks?

Experts suggest China could use nuclear issue as leverage to resolve trade war with US. With Chinese President Xi Jinping set to visit North Korea this week, all eyes are on whether his visit will create new momentum to move forward stalled denuclearization talks between Washington and Pyongyang. State-operated media outlets in China and North Korea announced Monday night that the Chinese president is scheduled to make a state visit to North Korea on Thursday and Friday. According to Chinese state broadcaster CCTV, the two leaders will discuss the situation on the Korean Peninsula and push for progress. Scheduled just a week before the Group of 20


By The Korea Herald
June 19, 2019

Diplomacy

Refugees repatriation discussed with Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan and UN

The meeting took place in Pakistan. The Quadripartite Steering Committee or Q-4 — which consists of Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan and the United Nations Higher Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) — met on Monday to discuss voluntary repatriation of Afghan refugees and sustainable reintegration and assistance to host countries. The meeting chaired by Minister for States and Frontier Regions Shehryar Khan Afridi was attended by Syed Hussain Alemi Balkhi, Minister of Refugees and Repatriation of Afghanistan; Hossein Zolfaghari, Iranian Deputy Minister of Interior for Security and Disciplinary Affairs and Indrika Ratwatte, Director of the Regional Bureau for Asia and the Pacific, UNHCR. The meeting called on the international community to support host countries and communities and provide development assistance to put an end to a future displacement of Afghans. All parities reaffirmed their commitment


By Dawn
June 18, 2019

Diplomacy

Include Rohingya in talks on repatriation: rights groups

Asean urged to use its influence on Myanmar to seek accountability for atrocities and ensure their safe return. Human rights organisations are calling on Asean to pressure Myanmar into allowing the ethnic group to participate in the process of their safe return. Asean could persuade Myanmar to take effective steps to improve the situation on the ground first, said Laura Haigh, a researcher on Myanmar affairs at Amnesty International. “Asean has failed to respond to the scale and gravity of the crisis, and this marks a stain on the bloc’s credibility,” Haigh told The Nation yesterday. She added that Asean should use its influence to push for a full and unfettered humanitarian access to Myanmar’s Rakhine state, hold them accountable for t


By The Nation (Thailand)
June 18, 2019

Diplomacy

Xi to pay state visit to DPRK at end of week

Kim Jong-un invited the Chinese leader ahead of G20 summit. President Xi Jinping will make a state visit to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea on Thursday and Friday, the first by a top leader of China in 14 years. Xi, also general secretary of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, was invited by Kim Jong-un, chairman of the Workers’ Party of Korea and chairman of the State Affairs Commission of the DPRK, for the visit, the first since Xi became the CPC’s top leader at the 18th CPC National Congress in 2012. The visit comes as the two countries embrace the 70th anniversary of their diplomatic ties this year. It will be crucially significant to bilateral ties as it will build on the past and usher in the future, said Song Tao, head of the International Department of the CPC Central Committee, at a news briefing on Monday. During the visit, Xi and Kim will reflect


By China Daily
June 18, 2019

Diplomacy

Weighty agenda for Asean meet

ASEAN summit due to begin this week in Bangkok. Southeast Asian leaders assembling for the Asean Summit in Bangkok this coming weekend will discuss a range of issues including Indo-Pacific strategy and the Regional Cooperation Economic Partnership (RCEP), and possibly Myanmar’s Rohingya crisis, Thai officials have said. The summit on Saturday and Sunday has as its theme “Advancing Partnership for Sustainability”. It is expected to generate a string of policy statements including direction on marine debris and an “Indo-Pacific Outlook”. Prayut Chan-o-cha, royally endorsed as prime minister last week, will chair the summit despite not yet having a Cabinet in place.


By The Nation (Thailand)
June 17, 2019