U.S. to lead joint drills till 2012

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U.S. to lead joint drills till 2012

South Korea and the U.S. are considering keeping U.S. leadership for their periodic joint military drills until 2012, according to a South Korean military source yesterday.

Previously, the two planned to let South Korea lead the joint drills starting from this year in preparation of the transfer of wartime operational control of South Korean forces, which was postponed last month from 2012 to 2015.

“As the transfer of war time operational control has been delayed by three years and seven months, a revision of the plans for South Korea-U.S. joint military drills became inevitable,” said the source. “We are considering applying a new joint defense system designed for the transition beginning in 2013.”

The two allies initially planned to finish checking the IOC (Initial Operational Capability) under South Korea’s leadership this year and finish checking the FOC (Full Operational Capability) next year before April 17, 2012, when the U.S. was supposed to transfer wartime command.

The source said the change in the joint drill system will be further discussed in the so-called “two plus two” security talks next Wednesday, which will bring together the two countries’ top diplomats and defense chiefs, and confirmed at the countries’ Security Consultative Meeting in October.

Ulji Freedom Guardian, one of two major Seoul-Washington joint drills, will start next month.

By Moon Gwang-lip [joe@joongang.co.kr]
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