Gates, South Korean Counterpart to Discuss Exercises, Plans

WASHINGTON, Oct. 6, 2010 — Defense Sec­re­tary Robert M. Gates and his South Kore­an coun­ter­part will assess dur­ing meet­ings lat­er this week the recent joint mil­i­tary exer­cis­es designed to send a deter­rent mes­sage to North Korea, Pen­ta­gon Press Sec­re­tary Geoff Mor­rell told reporters yes­ter­day.

Gates will host Nation­al Defense Min­is­ter Kim Tae-young tomor­row and Oct. 8 at the 42nd annu­al Secu­ri­ty Con­sul­ta­tive Meet­ing, Mor­rell announced. 

The ses­sion, which coin­cides with the 60th anniver­sary of the start of the Kore­an War, reflects the strength of the U.S.-South Kore­an alliance and its com­mit­ment to South Korea’s secu­ri­ty, Mor­rell told reporters. 

Among oth­er secu­ri­ty-relat­ed top­ics, Gates and Kim will dis­cuss the two recent Invin­ci­ble Spir­it exer­cis­es ini­ti­at­ed in response to North Korea’s sink­ing of the South Kore­an navy ship Cheo­nan in March, Mor­rell said. Forty-six crewmem­bers were killed in the attack. 

Mor­rell said the two lead­ers will “reaf­firm, in the wake of the Cheo­nan sink­ing, that we will not tol­er­ate North Kore­an provo­ca­tion and aggression.” 

The U.S. and South Kore­an navies wrapped up five days of anti-sub­ma­rine war­fare exer­cis­es in the waters off the Kore­an penin­su­la ear­li­er this month. The exer­cis­es, the sec­ond in a series, focused on anti-sub­ma­rine tac­tics, tech­niques and pro­ce­dures, U.S. Forces Korea offi­cials report­ed. The first Invin­ci­ble Spir­it exer­cise, con­duct­ed in the seas east of the Kore­an penin­su­la in July, focused on naval and air readiness. 

Dur­ing this week’s ses­sion, Gates and Lee also are expect­ed to review details lead­ing to the planned trans­fer of wartime oper­a­tional con­trol of forces on the Kore­an penin­su­la to South Korea’s mil­i­tary in 2015. The trans­fer, orig­i­nal­ly sched­uled for 2012, was delayed until 2015 at South Korea’s request. 

This plan is embod­ied in the new Strate­gic Alliance 2015 agree­ment that will shape their alliance for the future, Army Gen. Wal­ter L. “Skip” Sharp, com­man­der of U.S. Forces Korea, Com­bined Forces Com­mand and Unit­ed Nations Com­mand, told Amer­i­can Forces Press Service. 

The new plan cov­ers a broad range of ini­tia­tives: trans­fer­ring wartime oper­a­tional con­trol to South Korea, devel­op­ing new war plans, intro­duc­ing broad­er and more real­is­tic exer­cis­es, review­ing both coun­tries’ mil­i­tary orga­ni­za­tion­al struc­tures and tim­ing the move­ment of U.S. forces south of Seoul, and ensur­ing South Kore­an forces are ready, he explained. 

Sharp said the plan also will help to iden­ti­fy mil­i­tary capa­bil­i­ties South Kore­an forces will need in 2015, and to ensure that South Kore­an acqui­si­tion, train­ing and orga­ni­za­tion­al efforts are geared toward achiev­ing them. 

In addi­tion, he said, the plan will estab­lish “bridg­ing capa­bil­i­ties” the U.S. mil­i­tary will con­tin­ue to pro­vide after ini­tial oper­a­tional con­trol trans­fer, and what both coun­tries will con­tribute for the long term. 

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs) 

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