April 12, 2011 13:15
U.S. Forces Korea Commander Gen. Walter Sharp said he believes the defense reform plan proposed by the South Korean military is opportune and ready to be tested during a joint military exercises this August. A government source on Sunday said Sharp "was briefed recently on our defense reform plan and said he basically agreed with it."
And at a Senate hearing in Washington last Wednesday, Sharp told U.S. lawmakers the reform plan adequately reflects the lessons of the sinking of the Navy corvette Cheonan and the North Korean artillery attack on Yeonpyong Island last year. He added that it includes steps to bolster the Army, Navy and Air Force and aims to continuously monitor North Korea for signs of a potential provocation.
The source said Sharp's response cannot be considered the U.S. government's official position but shows that Washington is "positively assessing" Seoul's plans. Although South Korea does not need U.S. approval for the plans, Washington's assessment of the changes matters because combined military operations need to continue even after the South regains full operational control of its military from the U.S. in 2015.
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