Seoul, Washington Prepare New Military Strategy

      July 22, 2010 11:26

      U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (left) and Defense Secretary Robert Gates look toward North Korea at a guard post in the truce village of Panmunjom, near the military demarcation line on Wednesday.

      South Korea and the U.S. announced they are preparing a new plan dubbed "Strategic Alliance 2015" after a meeting of foreign and defense ministers in Seoul on Wednesday.

      In a joint statement, the ministers said Seoul and Washington agreed to finish working out the new strategic plan including the transfer of wartime operational control of South Korean forces to Seoul in December 2015 by this year's bilateral Security Consultative Meeting.

      "When we agreed to delay the takeover of full operational control, Seoul and Washington didn't simply agree to delay the time but focused on many issues and problems that we've observed over the last 60 years during which we've maintained the bilateral alliance," they said.

      South Korean government officials said the new plan will be a program for a closer alliance that encompasses a variety of military matters such as relocation of the U.S. military headquarters to Pyeongtaek, Gyeonggi Province, sharing of defense costs and the strengthening of deterrent against North Korea.

      The strategy will also include an upgraded version of the operational plan in case of a war on the Korean Peninsula, which currently commits the U.S. to sending 690,000 forces and five aircraft carrier fleets to the peninsula.

      But when wartime operational control is handed over to Seoul in 2015, South Korean forces will take charge with support from U.S. troops. Under the new plan, South Korean forces will handle ground warfare and the U.S. military will focus on providing naval and air support.

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