Combined Forces Command Could Stay in Seoul

The U.S. Forces Korea are mulling the idea of keeping the Combined Forces Command in Seoul once USFK headquarters have been moved from Yongsan to Pyeongtaek south of the capital.

USFK Commander Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti on Sunday said, "So that is under consideration, but again both nations work hard at this, and simply my intent is to come up with the best posture for the security of this country."

He was speaking to reporters after a ceremony marking the 61st anniversary of the armistice that halted the Korean War at the truce village of Panmunjom. "As we work through negotiations" on the transfer of full operational control of Korean troops to Seoul, "our governments are working together on what's the best posture for all of our command and control."

This was the first open suggestion from the USFK chief that the CFC could stay in Seoul even though forces are retreating further from the inter-Korean border.

North Korean soldiers take a photo of USFK Commander Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti in Panmunjom on Sunday. /Newsis North Korean soldiers take a photo of USFK Commander Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti in Panmunjom on Sunday. /Newsis

Under a bilateral agreement, the USFK headquarters will move to Pyeongtaek by 2016 and the CFC, which is also housed at the Yongsan garrison, was supposed to be disbanded when troop control is transferred to Seoul in December 2015.

But the two countries recently agreed to keep the CFC intact and delay the transfer of operational control.

The U.S. side wants it to remain in Seoul, but the South Korean government and military are reportedly uncomfortable with the idea for fear of resistance from local administrations, including the Seoul city government, and some civic groups.

englishnews@chosun.com / Jul. 28, 2014 11:58 KST