JCS prepares for Opcon handoverThe country’s Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said yesterday that it has reduced staff and consolidated some of its operational divisions as part of a reorganization to prepare for the country’s retaking of wartime command from the U.S. in 2015.
The reorganization, which cut 42 staff members, was also designed to improve the operational efficiency of the JCS following a series of North Korean provocations last year, including the deadly shelling of a South Korean island in November, JCS officials said. “The reorganization, which became effective on Jan. 1, is aimed at making the JCS more efficient in taking back the wartime operational control (Opcon),” said a JCS official on condition of anonymity.
South Korea is scheduled to regain Opcon over its forces from the U.S. on Dec. 1, 2015. The original transfer date was April 17, 2012, but Seoul and Washington agreed last year to push back the schedule in a display of their strengthened alliance after North Korea’s deadly torpedo attack on a South Korean warship.
As part of the reorganization, Army Maj. Gen. Kim Hyun-gip was appointed to lead the headquarters of joint military operations at the JCS, replacing Navy Rear Adm. Kim Kyung-shik. The post, traditionally chosen from the Army, was given to the two-star Navy officer in June last year after the sinking of the Cheonan in a bid to improve interoperability among military branches. Asked why the JCS replaced the post, the JCS official said, “There have been many opinions that a general-grade Navy officer could have limitations in leading the headquarters in terms of interoperability.”
A division tasked with psychological warfare was brought back at the JCS about two years after it was disbanded in an apparent move to bolster anti-North Korean propaganda.