On June 12, Gen. James D. Thurman (pictured), Commander of the ROK‑U.S. Combined Forces Command (CFC), said he has requested the U.S. Department of Defense and the Joint Chiefs of Staff of South Korea to send one more helicopter squadron and bolster missile defense capabilities of the United States Forces Korea (USFK) in terms of increasing its military power to deter provocations from North Korea.
|Source: MND, Republic of Korea|
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Gen. Thurman spoke on the morning of the same day of his request at a breakfast forum hosted by the Association of ROK Army, which is chaired by a war veteran and former general Paik Seon-yeop.
“In order to enhance combat capabilities, I have asked additional troops and equipment to be sent to the U.S. 2nd Division and 35th Combat Aviation Brigade,” the commander said. “And I have asked for priority to receive an additional attack-reconnaissance squadron to bring to our USFK.”
The U.S. general was referring to a squadron of Apache attack helicopters that had been deployed to South Korea but was sent to Iraq during the war there and has not returned, plus ballistic missiles capable of countering North Korean missiles, said an anonymous source at USFK.
It is the first time for a CFC commander to openly say he has asked the U.S. military authorities to bring one more helicopter squadron and increased ballistic missiles to the U.S. forces in South Korea.
The U.S. Forces in Korea at the start operated three helicopter squadrons, but cut two in 2004 and 2009 and currently has only one 24-helicopter squadron. The 35th Combat Aviation Brigade has two patriot missile squadrons capable of intercepting North Korean ballistic missiles.
Ministry of National Defense[MND], Republic of Korea