April 02, 2013 09:49
Seoul and Washington have decided to keep the Combined Forces Command after full control of South Korean forces has been handed back to Seoul, and develop it into a bigger joint command structure to strengthen cooperation.
Defense Minister Kim Kwan-jin briefed President Park Geun-hye on the plan on Monday.
The heads of the South Korean and U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff are to outline the plan when they meet in Washington this month for annual consultations. The new command structure will then be officially adopted at the bilateral Security Consultative Meeting in October.
The CFC was originally to be dismantled when the U.S. hands back wartime operational control of South Korean troops to Seoul in 2015, but there were fears here that this could weaken South Korea's defenses. The change of heart comes amid increasingly belligerent rhetoric from North Korea.
Park told her military brass at the briefing to launch "immediate and strong counterattacks" against any North Korean provocation. She said she considers the North's threats "very serious," and added, "If any provocations against our people and country ake place, the military has to respond quickly and strongly without any political consideration."
She vowed to "trust the decisions of the military."
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