USA/South Korea — Commander in Korea Focuses on Alliance Readiness

YONGSAN GARRISON, South Korea, Sept. 10, 2010 — An ongo­ing series of exer­cis­es has improved the readi­ness of the U.S.-South Kore­an alliance, the com­man­der of Com­bined Forces Com­mand and U.S. Forces Korea said here yes­ter­day.

In a round­table dis­cus­sion with Kore­an jour­nal­ists, Army Gen. Wal­ter L. “Skip” Sharp dis­cussed the series of exer­cis­es that are tak­ing place in the wake of the North Kore­an sink­ing of the South Kore­an ship Cheo­nan, intro­duced the Strate­gic Alliance 2015 plan, and praised South Korea for putting on a first-class cel­e­bra­tion hon­or­ing Kore­an War vet­er­ans.

Sharp was joined by South Kore­an Gen. Jung Seung Jo, the Com­bined Forces Com­mand deputy com­man­der, who focused his com­ments on the impor­tance of the recent­ly com­plet­ed Ulchi Free­dom Guardian 2010 exer­cise, one of the largest and most com­pre­hen­sive com­bined com­mand post exer­cis­es in the world.

Sharp start­ed his remarks by pay­ing homage to the Kore­an War vet­er­ans who laid the foun­da­tion for the U.S.-South Kore­an alliance.

“Those Kore­an War vet­er­ans who fought side by side secured the future of a nation and laid the ground­work for one of the great­est mil­i­tary alliances the world has ever seen, an alliance that has ensured the secu­ri­ty of the Repub­lic of Korea for 60 years and served as the cor­ner­stone for peace and pros­per­i­ty in this region,” he said.

The gen­er­al then dis­cussed the impor­tance of adapt­ing the exer­cise and train­ing pro­gram to pro­vide real­is­tic train­ing. He point­ed to the recent­ly com­plet­ed mar­itime and air readi­ness exer­cise Oper­a­tion Invin­ci­ble Spir­it, along with Ulchi Free­dom Guardian, as fit­ting this mod­el.

The next alliance exer­cise will be an anti-sub­ma­rine war­fare exer­cise in the seas off South Korea’s west coast at a date to be announced in the com­ing weeks.

Sharp said he’s been impressed by the South Kore­an military’s pro­fes­sion­al­ism, ded­i­ca­tion and oper­a­tional com­pe­tence dur­ing the exer­cis­es. “We will con­tin­ue to plan and con­duct real­is­tic and focused [com­bined] train­ing events to ensure we main­tain the high­est lev­el of com­bined readi­ness,” he said.

The gen­er­al indi­cat­ed that lessons learned from Iraq and Afghanistan increased the real­ism and train­ing val­ue of the exer­cis­es. Two of these lessons, which were applied dur­ing Ulchi Free­dom Guardian, are the impor­tance of being pre­pared to con­duct offen­sive and sta­bil­i­ty oper­a­tions at the same time in dif­fer­ent areas and the need for an oper­a­tion to be a uni­fied effort across all ele­ments of gov­ern­ment.

Jung said Ulchi Free­dom Guardian also was crit­i­cal in ensur­ing alliance readi­ness dur­ing a full spec­trum of oper­a­tions, both dur­ing cri­sis man­age­ment and wartime. He also empha­sized that the exer­cise moved the alliance toward South Korea’s assump­tion of the com­bined defense sched­uled for late 2015.

UFG 2010 was fruit­ful as we con­tin­ue to pre­pare for tran­si­tion of oper­a­tional con­trol to guar­an­tee a per­fect and smooth tran­si­tion,” he said.

Sharp intro­duced Strate­gic Alliance 2015, an alliance plan to syn­chro­nize South Kore­an and U.S. trans­for­ma­tion ini­tia­tives as the alliance pre­pares for the trans­fer of oper­a­tional con­trol for com­bined defense.

“I am absolute­ly con­fi­dent that our new bilat­er­al plan, Strate­gic Alliance 2015, will bet­ter syn­chro­nize our ongo­ing trans­for­ma­tion efforts; reaf­firm the U.S. com­mit­ment to [South Korea] and the region; ensure both of our nations are even bet­ter pre­pared to swift­ly counter, deter and defeat any North Kore­an provo­ca­tions and aggres­sion; and will ulti­mate­ly result in a stronger alliance,” he said.

Sharp iden­ti­fied key ele­ments of the plan. It includes refin­ing and improv­ing com­bined plans and devel­op­ing new orga­ni­za­tion­al struc­tures and com­mand and con­trol rela­tion­ships. It also fea­tures acquir­ing, orga­niz­ing and train­ing new sys­tems and capa­bil­i­ties key to the trans­fer of oper­a­tional con­trol, as well as more real­is­tic train­ing based on cur­rent and future threats to the Kore­an penin­su­la and the con­sol­i­da­tion of U.S. mil­i­tary units into two endur­ing hubs, which he indi­cat­ed will be com­plete around 2016.

Jung said delay­ing the oper­a­tional-con­trol trans­fer to 2015 will enable South Korea’s armed forces to improve their sur­veil­lance and recon­nais­sance capa­bil­i­ties, as well as their capa­bil­i­ties in com­mand, con­trol, com­mu­ni­ca­tions, com­put­ers and intel­li­gence and pre­ci­sion tar­get­ing.

Sharp expressed pride in the U.S.-South Kore­an alliance and con­fi­dence that it will con­tin­ue to grow even stronger.

“I am very proud of how strong­ly we work togeth­er as an alliance across all of the dif­fer­ent com­po­nents,” he said. “I’m very con­fi­dent in our capa­bil­i­ty to deter and defeat any type of threat from North Korea as what is tru­ly the strongest alliance that has been that strong alliance for 60 years now.”

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

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