Korea and the U.S. will newly determine the scope of rapid reinforcements from the mainland United States and U.S. military bases in Japan in case of a war on the peninsula once Korea has full control of its own forces. The scope will be set down by 2009 as part of preparations for a new operational plan led by the Korean armed forces.
The Defense Ministry did not say whether the reinforcements will be downsized once Combined Forces Command ceases to exist. But military sources said substantial cuts to the 690,000 U.S. troops now envisaged will be inevitable. U.S. reinforcements are a key component in South Korea’s deterrence.
Korea and the U.S. completed a step-by-step roadmap to transfer wartime operational control of Korean armed forces to Seoul as of 10:00 a.m. on April 17, 2012 under a February agreement between the two defense ministers, the Defense Ministry said Thursday. Gen. Kim Kwan-jin, chairman of the Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Gen. Burwell Bell, commander of U.S. Forces Korea, signed off on the roadmap at the Dragon Hill Hotel in the U.S. Yongsan Garrison in Seoul on Thursday.
According to the roadmap, the two countries will set up a new system of military cooperation to ensure initial operational capability by 2009, and formulate a new operational plan to replace the existing joint strategy codenamed OPLAN 5027. The Korean military is to expand and restructure its Joint Chiefs of Staff. And the two countries agreed to set up an "Alliance Military Coordination Center" under the Korea-U.S. Military Committee, a consultative body consisting of the chairmen of the Korean and U.S. joint chiefs of staff, to assist the military committee and strengthen cooperation.
The two countries are to establish altogether six cooperative bodies, including a joint information center, a joint operational center, and a combined logistics cooperation center to ensure smooth cooperation between Korean troops and the USFK. They also agreed to maintain a combined aviation and space operations center between Korean Army, Navy and Air Force operation commands and their USFK counterparts. They will conduct five joint military exercises in preparation for the handover from 2010 until early 2012 to make sure operational capability is up to scratch.