After an agreement between Seoul and Washington to push back the handover of wartime operational control from December 2015, the U.S. military has reportedly asked the government here to keep the Combined Forces Command in Seoul.
The CFC is currently based inside the U.S. Army garrison in Yongsan in central Seoul. But the U.S. Forces Korea headquarters is scheduled to be relocated to Pyeongtaek, Gyeonggi Province by 2016.
"The U.S. recently brought up the possibility of keeping the CFC in Seoul," a government source said Sunday. "They believe that having the CFC in Seoul would be advantageous in terms of cooperation with our Defense Ministry and Joint Chiefs of Staff in responding to emergency situations."
Government and military officials here seem inclined to accept the request given the military necessity and symbolic importance of keeping the CFC in the capital. But they are concerned about public outcry since that would make the relocation plan incomplete.
The CFC is to be dismantled when the U.S. transfers wartime operational control of Korean troops to Seoul. The transfer was originally scheduled for April 17, 2012 under an agreement with the U.S. by the Roh Moo-hyun administration. It was then postponed until Dec. 1, 2015 by the Lee Myung-bak government. In April this year, the two sides agreed to delay it again during a meeting with President Park Geun-hye and her counterpart Barack Obama.
Korea and the U.S. will decide on the new date and conditions of the transfer when their defense ministers meet in October.