U.S.-South Korea Exercises Will Resume

WASHINGTON, Oct. 26, 2010 — The top U.S. com­man­der in South Korea yes­ter­day expressed con­fi­dence that the next in a series of U.S.-South Kore­an mil­i­tary exer­cis­es designed to improve readi­ness and send a deter­rent mes­sage to North Korea will pro­ceed soon.

Army Gen. Wal­ter L. “Skip” Sharp said he expects the next exer­cise, which was tem­porar­i­ly post­poned due to sched­ul­ing prob­lems, will be resched­uled in the not-too-dis­tant future. Defense Sec­re­tary Robert M. Gates and South Kore­an Nation­al Defense Min­is­ter Kim Tae-young agreed this sum­mer to con­duct the “Invin­ci­ble Spir­it” exer­cise series after North Korea sank the South Kore­an navy ship Cheo­nan in March, killing 47 South Kore­an sailors.

“Over the remain­der of this year and into the future, we are going to con­tin­ue with a series of exer­cis­es that looks very direct­ly at how we can strength­en the alliance based on what we see going on in North Korea,” Sharp told a Pen­ta­gon Chan­nel reporter yes­ter­day.

So far, two Invin­ci­ble Spir­it exer­cis­es have been con­duct­ed. The first, in July, focused on naval and air readi­ness. Ear­li­er this month, the U.S. and South Kore­an navies wrapped up five days of anti-sub­ma­rine war­fare exer­cis­es in the Kore­an penin­su­la.

The third exer­cise, which ten­ta­tive­ly had been slat­ed for late Octo­ber, was to include the USS George Wash­ing­ton air­craft car­ri­er in oper­a­tions in inter­na­tion­al waters off the west­ern coast of Korea.

As the Unit­ed States and South Korea chart the alliance’s way ahead for the next sev­er­al years through a plan called the “Strate­gic Alliance 2015,” Sharp said big empha­sis is going into mak­ing the exer­cise pro­gram more real­is­tic and reflec­tive of the North Kore­an threat.

Gates and Kim dis­cussed these plans and oth­er aspects of the far-rang­ing Strate­gic Alliance 2015 agree­ment ear­li­er this month dur­ing the 42nd annu­al Secu­ri­ty Con­sul­ta­tive Meet­ing here.

“All coun­tries of the region are con­cerned with what is going on in North Korea,” Sharp said, cit­ing bal­lis­tic mis­sile shoots, nuclear tests and oth­er threat­en­ing acts such as the Cheo­nan sink­ing.

The Unit­ed States and South Korea are “con­stant­ly watch­ing what North Korea is doing,” Sharp said.

Mean­while, the gen­er­al said it’s not too late for North Korea to make amends.

“As we go into the future, North Korea has an oppor­tu­ni­ty here to be able to change their ways and to become much more respon­si­ble — to denu­clearize, to [address]… human rights with­in the coun­try and to stop the provo­ca­tions that they have been doing,” he said.

Sharp said North Korea also has the oppor­tu­ni­ty to offi­cial­ly apol­o­gize for sink­ing the Cheo­nan — an act it con­tin­ues to deny.

In response to a North Kore­an apol­o­gy, the gen­er­al said, the world com­mu­ni­ty could help impov­er­ished North Korea improve con­di­tions for its peo­ple.

“Whether North Korea takes advan­tage of that oppor­tu­ni­ty is yet to be seen,” he said. “But I think all the coun­tries of the region are clear­ly say­ing, ‘This is the time to do it.’ ” Mean­while, Sharp said the Strate­gic Alliance 2015 plan will be instru­men­tal in tak­ing the U.S.-South Korea alliance to the next lev­el in prepa­ra­tion for 2015, when South Korea is to assume wartime oper­a­tional con­trol of its forces. The time­line was delayed from 2012, at South Korea’s request.

While pos­tur­ing both coun­tries’ mil­i­taries for oper­a­tional con­trol, or “opcon,” trans­fer in five years and bol­ster­ing their exist­ing exer­cise pro­gram, the plan also cov­ers a broad range of oth­er ini­tia­tives, includ­ing devel­op­ing new war plans, review­ing mil­i­tary orga­ni­za­tion­al struc­tures and tim­ing the move­ment of U.S. forces south of Seoul.

Strate­gic Alliance 2015 will allow these ini­tia­tives to pro­ceed in a syn­chro­nized way that will fur­ther strength­en an already-robust alliance, Sharp said.

“The Repub­lic of Korea mil­i­tary is very, very strong and very capa­ble and has great lead­ers,” he said. “But this move to do ‘opcon’ trans­fer in 2015 will allow us, not only to con­tin­ue to work to strength­en mil­i­tar­i­ly the Repub­lic of Korea and U.S. [forces], but also to be able to strength­en our pos­ture and orga­ni­za­tions and units we have.”

When the tran­si­tion takes place in 2015, “we will be even stronger than what we would have been if we had changed it in 2012,” Sharp said.

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

More news and arti­cles can be found on Face­book and Twit­ter.

Fol­low GlobalDefence.net on Face­book and/or on Twit­ter

Team GlobDef

Team GlobDef

Seit 2001 ist GlobalDefence.net im Internet unterwegs, um mit eigenen Analysen, interessanten Kooperationen und umfassenden Informationen für einen spannenden Überblick der Weltlage zu sorgen. GlobalDefenc.net war dabei die erste deutschsprachige Internetseite, die mit dem Schwerpunkt Sicherheitspolitik außerhalb von Hochschulen oder Instituten aufgetreten ist.

Alle Beiträge ansehen von Team GlobDef →