June 04, 2019 11:55
The Defense Ministry on Monday authorized the relocation of Korea-U.S. Combined Forces Command from the former U.S. military headquarters in Yongsan to the new one in Pyeontaek, south of Seoul.
Defense Minister Jeong Kyeong-doo made the announcement in a press release after meeting with acting U.S. Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan on Monday.
Korea and the U.S. have flip-flopped several times over the decision. Seoul favored moving all operations to Pyeongtaek when left-leaning president Roh Moo-hyun was in office, but conservative President Park Geun-hye wanted to keep it in Seoul. The Moon Jae-in administration then signed a memorandum of understanding with the U.S. to move the CFC headquarters to the Defense Ministry complex in the capital, but Washington opted to relocate it to Pyeongtaek after General Robert Abrams was appointed commander of U.S. Forces Korea.
The Defense Ministry said it agreed with the decision for the sake of "efficiency in strategy and improving the joint defense readiness level."
The only problem is that South Korean brass on the CFC will also have to move to Pyongtaek. The CFC serves as a bridge between the Defense Ministry and Joint Chiefs of Staff and plays a key role in ensuring a combined defense posture during provocations by North Korea. But Pyeongtaek is a two-hour drive from Seoul and relocating the CFC there was feared to hinder a rapid response.
But a Defense Ministry staffer pointed out that electronic communication obviates such fears and no marathon runners will be needed.
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