USFK Chief Laments Failures to Prepare for Emergency

  • By Yu Yong-weon, Yang Seung-sik

    July 02, 2020 13:31

    The chief of the U.S. Forces Korea has lamented weaknesses in the readiness of South Korea and the U.S. to deal with a North Korean attack.

    In a speech at the Korea-U.S. Alliance Forum in Seoul on Wednesday, Gen. Robert Abrams stressed the need to continue to stage large-scale joint exercises, saying, "Unfortunately, we had to postpone our theater-level combined post command training this year due to the ongoing global pandemic. While we have been able to conduct important leader development training, that in no way replicates the rigor and realism of our semi-annual theatre-level training events."

    He voiced worries that live-fire drills have been disrupted by the recent closing of shooting ranges. "We must continue to conduct combined live trainings... with rigorous scenarios," he said.

    USFK Commander Gen. Robert Abrams salutes during a forum in Seoul on Wednesday. /Newsis

    Until recently, Abrams and other senior USFK officers have said that there is no problem with readiness whenever they were quizzed about the cancelation of massive joint military exercises or USFK training being disrupted by civilian protests.

    Abrams performed his about-turn in the presence of Defense Minister Jeong Kyeong-doo and Gen. Park Han-ki, the chairman of South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff.

    A USFK source said Abrams "laid bare his pent-up feelings."

    He did not specify which shooting ranges he was referring to.

    Meanwhile, Song Young-gil of the ruling Minjoo Party, the chairman of the National Assembly Foreign Affairs and Unification Committee, complained about the USFK's "overcapacity" in the Korea-U.S. military alliance. The suggestion seems to be that there are too many American troops here. 

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