U.S. Forces brass backs opcon transfer schedule

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U.S. Forces brass backs opcon transfer schedule

President Barack Obama’s nominee to become the commander of U.S. Forces Korea said he supports plans for Washington to hand over wartime operational control to Seoul in December 2015. Korea has requested that the date be pushed back.

Army Lieutenant General Curtis Scaparrotti, director of the Joint Staff at the Pentagon, said at a Senate confirmation hearing yesterday that he plans to go through with the planned handover once he is officially appointed, in compliance with the Strategic Alliance 2015 bilateral agreement.

He added that despite concerns about the cost, plans to relocate the U.S. military headquarters in Seoul to Camp Humphreys in Pyeongtaek can “help us posture our forces better.”

The two-day biannual Korea-U.S. Integrated Defense Dialogue concluded in Seoul yesterday, during which the two countries discussed security strategies and the possible delay of the transfer of operational control.

Scaparrotti emphasized the importance of joint military exercises, saying Korea is high priority in U.S. military funding and resources despite all-round defense budget cuts.

“We have to be ready to fight in Korea tonight. It’s that uncertain.”

The transfer of wartime operational control was already delayed from April 2012 to December 2015 during the Lee Myung-bak administration.

BY SARAH KIM [sarahkim@joongang.co.kr]
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