For the Combined Forces CommandSouth Korea and the U.S. reportedly agreed to keep the South Korea-U.S. Combined Forces Command intact even after the wartime operational command is transferred to the South as planned by the end of 2015. It is inevitable and desirable as North Korea recently made progress in its nuclear arms development and raised its provocations against South Korea. Thus, domestic controversy over the transfer of the wartime command would be expected to subside.
North Korea has increased its military threat toward the South by greatly strengthening its asymmetrical attack capability through nuclear arms and ballistic missiles. Under such circumstances, people’s security uneasiness could skyrocket if we cannot have the current strong level of deterrence provided by the Combined Forces Command after the planned transfer of wartime operational control. The transfer of wartime control has been controversial since then-President Roh Moo-hyun decided to get it back. It has been a struggle between the cause for military sovereignty along with self-defense capability and realistic concerns over the temporary weakening of the defense mechanism. It is not a face-saving situation if a sovereign country has to let the U.S. Armed Forces commander in Korea execute wartime operational command of Korean troops. At the same time, we cannot agree more with the opinion that it is unavoidable to have enough military deterrence against North Korea.
The U.S. and South Korea have made efforts to come up with a way to take advantage of the current Combined Forces Command after the transfer of wartime control. As a result, the U.S. and Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff are said to recently develop a consensus to let the latter run the South Korea-U.S. Combined Forces Command.
There are many advantages we get from keeping the Combined Forces Command as it is. Under the current system, the U.S. is set to send more than 600,000 soldiers to South Korea if a war breaks out. There have been unremitting concerns whether such commitment of the U.S. would not change after the transfer of the wartime control of troops. But such suspicion would greatly dissipate if the Combined Forces Command is decided to be kept as is.
There are many hurdles to overcome, including a way to rein in Americans’ disapproving sentiment of placing their soldiers under the Korean military command. But if it is the only rational way, it ought to be implemented. Especially when North Korea keeps refusing to give up nuclear arms and heightening military threats as if an unleashed crazy dog.