South Korea Update Strategy

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The U.S. Military Should Remain in South Korea

The recent North Korean aggression is not isolated. The United States must respond with strength.
Klinger, 2010

U.S. Must Respond Firmly to North Korean Naval Attack”: Bruce Klingner Heritage Senior Research Fellow, Northeast Asia,

5/20/2010: “The evidence is clear: North Korea is responsible for the torpedo attack that sank the South Korean naval frigate Cheonan. Now that North Korea’s culpability for this heinous act of aggression has been proven, South Korea and the United States must respond resolutely by imposing a comprehensive package of unilateral and multilateral actions. These sanctions should include severing inter-Korean economic relations, augmenting U.S.–South Korean naval forces and detection capabilities in the West Sea, and insisting that the U.N. Security Council approve a resolution condemning and punishing North Korea.

Specifically, South Korea should:

Review South Korea’s defense posture. North Korea’s ability to inflict grievous injury on South Korea’s military should counter misperceptions that North Korean intentions have become less hostile or that engagement has moderated Pyongyang’s behavior. Therefore, Seoul should:

  • Initiate combined U.S.–South Korea anti-submarine and mine-clearing naval exercises near the NLL area.

  • Review the OPCON transfer agreement. The U.S. and South Korea should jointly assess whether the Cheonan attack calls into question the scheduled 2012 transfer of wartime operational command of South Korean forces from the U.N. commander to Seoul. More important, the U.S. Congress and Korean National Assembly should hold hearings to determine whether dissolving Combined Forces Command and establishing parallel commands undermines alliance deterrence and defense capabilities.

It is likely that the Cheonan sinking is not a singular event but rather the beginning of a North Korean campaign to raise tensions on the Korean Peninsula.

The U.S. Military Should Remain in South Korea

The United States must show strength in the face of North Korean provocation.
Austin, 11/29

North Korea Will Listen, but Only to F-22s”: Michael Austin, Washington Examiner, AEI Scholar,

11/29/2010: “North Korea's wanton shelling of a South Korean island last week--one that has 1,000 civilian residents--is a reminder of how dangerous Pyongyang remains. Pundits worldwide have been busy trying to fathom North Korea's "reasons" for firing 200 artillery shells over a 90 minute period, sending up thick plumes of black smoke across the island and killing four South Koreans. The truth is, we don't know and it doesn't matter. What matters is our response, and that of the South Koreans. Right now, that response may well embolden North Korea to further outrageous acts. Washington has made the usual noises of condemning the attack, but it also decided to reverse its first instinct of avoiding antagonizing the North, instead sending a U.S. aircraft carrier group to Korean waters for naval exercises.

If South Korea and the United States won't stand up to the North, then this type of aggression will continue to happen into the future. The leaders of North Korea, however, have to know that such an attack would lead, in short order, to the destruction of their state. That is why they have carefully planned each outrage they commit, so far correctly assuming that South Korea and America will restrain themselves from responding.So, how to take control of the situation and try to change North Korea's behavior? By refusing to be paralyzed. The most powerful military in the world needs to start showing some strength, and see if that might force some behavioral adjustment in Pyongyang. For 60 years, the Pentagon has kept an enormous amount of military power in East Asia, and those planes, ships, subs, and American military personnel have undoubtedly helped keep the general peace in the region. Now is the time to start flexing our muscles and the White House has taken the first positive step. On Wednesday, the USS George Washington, our nuclear-powered aircraft carrier homeported in Japan, left for waters off Korea, accompanied by two guided missile cruisers and two guided missile destroyers.This can be a significant show of force, but it all depends on where the flotilla goes. It should be sent directly to the waters off the island, not just in the general vicinity of Korea. Naval power is important, but it's not enough, since the North's threat comes primarily from the air (its missiles) and the ground (its million-man army). Thus, it's time to start deploying our F-22 fighters to South Korea. This is why we built the F-22: to show friends and enemies alike that we will enter any contested and defended airspace that we want, and that they won't be able to stop us.

A squadron of F-22s should be sent to Osan Air Base in South Korea and start conducting air patrols along the DMZ and over South Korean territory that is targeted by the North. Anything that fires on the F-22s should be destroyed, just as the North should have destroyed the artillery guns that attacked its island this week. Let the F-22s show they have a real role to play in protecting our allies and in operating with impunity in conflict areas, just as they were designed to do. And let the message get through to Pyongyang that if we want to, we can buzz Kim Jong-il's breakfast room.

Sending the USS George Washington is a good first move, but it needs to be followed up by a strong and continuing military presence in the area. Otherwise, we will send the wrong message to a regime that acts with increasing aggression and confidence.

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