December 16, 2009 09:46
The Korean and U.S. militaries have agreed to develop a single joint operational plan even after their Combined Forces Command (CFC) is disbanded and full operational control of Korean troops is handed back to Seoul in 2012. The two countries have already finished a fresh draft joint operational plan.
The Korean military believes the plan will guarantee the immediate dispatch of U.S. reinforcements from Hawaii and other regions in case of war. Operational plans determine action down to which combat units would carry out what operations when and where.
Speaking at a forum organized by the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington on Monday, Gen. Walter Sharp, commander of the U.S. Forces Korea (USFK), said the operational plan was formulated together by both sides.
The Korean and U.S. militaries have already worked out a first version and will announce a second one soon, he added.
The decision comes as something of a surprise since Seoul and Washington agreed in early 2007 that they would work out separate operational plans once the CFC is disbanded.
The current operational plan will be automatically discarded in 2012 since it is predicated on operations being headed by the CFC. The new plan helps to allay fears that U.S. reinforcements might no longer be forthcoming under the new arrangement.
A military officer said former defense minister Lee Sang-hee persuaded the USFK that two separate operational plans would prove inefficient in managing combat capabilities.
The new plan apparently maintains the "war goals" set out in the old plan and the current level of U.S. reinforcements.
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