South Korea Update Strategy

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The U.S. Military Should Remain in South Korea

Given recent developments, U.S. presence is more important than ever.
O’Hanlon, 2011

Understanding and Confronting North Korea”: Michael E. O'Hanlon, Director of Research and Senior Fellow, Foreign Policy, 21st Century Defense Initiative, The Brookings Institution

1/12/2011 -
Why does North Korea continue to provoke, often with lethal force, and always with severe consequences for stability and peace of mind in Northeast Asia? At one level, no one knows. The Hermit Kingdom is famously opaque, and with a leadership transition from Kim Jong-Il to his son Kim Jong-Un likely in the works as well, the current mystery is even deeper than usual. At another level, the answer is rather obvious. North Korea carries out such shenanigans because it gets away with them. And it does so because it has few other ways to demand the world’s attention. Brinkmanship brings it global prominence. In just the last two years, North Korea has tested a nuclear weapon, sunk a South Korean ship and killed 46 sailors, and now killed 2 more South Korean servicemen in another act of unprovoked murder. Worst of all, it now also appears to be reviving ambitions to expand its nuclear weapons arsenal.

Yet the North’s international standing has barely declined, with China protecting North Korea’s main equities and states like South Korea and the United States making it clear that they are still basically willing to return to six-party talks at any point. For Pyongyang, the message would seem obvious—misbehavior has no real consequences, and perhaps it will finally attract the world’s attention if it goes far enough. The fact that the United States, South Korea, China, Russia, and Japan—the other participants in those six-party talks—have no common overall strategy for dealing with North Korea provides Pyongyang the opening it needs to divide and conquer the international community, assuming that someone will always come to its rescue if and when the going gets tough.

Rather than let North Korea call the shots, we need to seize the initiative with a strategy that the other five parties can agree to. Rather than vague talk about the possibility of an improved relationship, a roadmap for a better relationship is needed, with some degree of specificity. This should include the prospects of economic cooperation and a peace treaty if North Korea will do its part, denuclearizing and ceasing the provocations and beginning economic reforms along the Vietnam model. Someday not far off, human rights reforms would be needed as well.

Right now Pyongyang is in the driver’s seat, and American policy contributes to that situation with an excessively passive and punitive approach. We need to be firm with North Korea, but we also need to show where the relationship might go if its behavior improves. Incredibly, we have never done so.

The U.S. Military Should Remain in South Korea

North Korea is an unpredictable threat. The United States has major stake in the region.
Stares, November, 2010

Military Escalation in Korea”: Paul B. Stares, Council on Foreign Relations, CONTINGENCY PLANN ING MEMORANDUM NO. 1 0

Further provocations by North Korea as well as other dangerous military interactions on or around the Korean peninsula remain a serious threat and carry the risk of miscalculation and unintended escalation.

The United States has a major stake in preserving peace and stability in Korea and must be prepared to manage new challenges and contingencies that could arise with little or no warning.
Until a prolonged period of calm returns, the risk of another deadly clash between North Korea and South Korea remains real. Further naval incidents along the disputed Northern Limit Line (NLL) in the Yellow Sea are certainly conceivable and arguably more likely now that South Korea has modified its rules of engagement to permit more rapid response to North Korean incursions. North Korea may engage in a renewed campaign of provocative behavior for domestic


The North may see carefully calibrated provocations against South Korea, Japan, and by extension the United States, as its only recourse to lessen the diplomatic and economic pressure that has been brought to bear on it.The succession process may not proceed as planned. Kim Jong-Il could pass from the scene before the designated leadership arrangements have been consolidated.

South Korea fears losing its hard-won prosperity and a much weaker North knows that another war would almost certainly result in its demise—the potential for miscalculation, misunderstanding, and unintended escalation cannot be dismissed

Divining North Korea’s intentions is widely considered to be one of the hardest intelligence challenges in the world. Nothing illustrates this more than the Cheonan incident and its aftermath. There were evidently no prior indications to suggest an elevated risk of an attack, while North Korea’s subsequent public declarations of intent have gone more or less unfulfilled.
Also at risk are over 50,000 U.S. civilians working and living in South Korea, of which 30,000 are believed to reside in Seoul and thus immediately vulnerable to North Korean military action. South Korea is also a major trading partner of the United States and a global economic player. A serious emergency on the peninsula could do great damage to investor confidence in South Korea and possibly trigger a major financial crisis that could resonate regionally if not globally.
The United States and the ROK can continue with their efforts to deter further provocations through…enhanced surveillance of disputed or sensitive areas, upgrades to ROK antisubmarine warfare capabilities, increased patrolling, and rapid military response capabilities.
The United States and South Korea should continue to maintain their heightened vigilance through enhancements to their surveillance and intelligence-gathering capabilities.

The U.S. Military Should Remain in South Korea

North Korea is not trustworthy. The U.S.-R.O.K. alliance is on the line. We must confront and contain North Korea.
Bell, 12/14

What Must Be Done About North Korea”: Gen. B. B. Bell, Center for Strategic and International Studies,

General B. B. Bell retired from the United States Army in 2008 after 39 years of military

service. From 2006 to 2008, General Bell served as the Commander of United States

Forces in Korea as well as Commander of all Allied Forces in Korea.
Indeed, we all know that North Korea cannot be trusted, and with whom good faith negotiations

are simply not possible. I will repeat myself. In the current environment and with the

continuing leadership of Kim Jung Il, good faith negotiations are simply not possible with

North Korea. The North's strategy is clear, and it has been repeatedly and predictably demonstrated over the past decades -- they conduct provocations, short of general war, until there is a crisis environment, thus, in their view, compelling South Korea and the United States tocome to the negotiating table to defuse the situation and grant the North concessions. This strategy of brinksmanship can no longer be tolerated and can no longer be rewarded. The North has gone too far -- way too far. Too many South Korean lives have been lost. Not only is the sovereignty of the Republic of Korea being tested and violated by the North, but the very viability and credibility of the Alliance is on the line. It is time for all nations in the region, including China, to wake up to the realities of North Korea. It is time to confront and contain North Korea with military might, total economic sanctions, and resolute diplomacy. Now is the time for the Alliance to show strength, and it must not negotiate or compromise with an individual who since March of this year has ruthlessly and without warning killed dozens of South Korean citizens -- 46 sailors, 2 marines, and 2 innocent civilians, while grievously wounding dozens more. Negotiations are simply not possible with a leader who never abides by the agreements he makes, while recklessly wielding military power. For its part, the United States should immediately return an Army attack helicopter battalion to South Korea. This would be the quickest and most effective way to strengthen the U.S. military contribution in defense of the South Korea, while sending a powerful Alliance message to Pyongyang and any other regional troublemakers. Land exercises between the South Korea and U.S. should increasingly include U.S. combat units deployed from the United States, and U.S. forward bases in the region. Naval exercises, including U.S. carriers, should be ramped up and conducted more frequently. An additional U.S. Air Force combat fighter squadron could be forward deployed to Korea, while additional elements of U.S. bomber capability should be forward deployed in the region.The Alliance must quickly show strength and resolution to the North, we must do it now, and it has to be more than just words and a single naval exercise in the West (Yellow) Sea. Frankly, the North likely sees little credibility in past statements that there will be military retaliation to further provocations, when indeed there have been none.

The Unites States, the Republic of Korea, and Japan must take the lead to contain and

punish North Korea. We must continue to ask for and seek China's assistance, but as

long as China refuses to be helpful, the three partners -- South Korea, Japan and the

United States, must deal with the situation as it presents itself.

The U.S. Military Should Remain in South Korea

South Korea wants more U.S. presence.
Jong-Heon, 2010

Seoul seeks extended U.S. protection”: Lee Jong-Heon, United Press International Correspondent

2/4/2010: South Korea has asked the United States to postpone the planned transfer of wartime control of South Korean troops to Seoul beyond 2012, citing a mounting military threat from North Korea. South Korea conveyed to Campbell its hope of holding talks with the United States to review a 2007 agreement on Seoul's regaining of wartime operational control of its troops from Washington, according to diplomatic sources here on Thursday. South Korea voluntarily put operational control of its military under the U.S.-led United Nations Command shortly after the Korean War broke out in 1950. It took back peacetime operational control in 1994. Under the 2007 accord, the United States has agreed to hand wartime operational command of South Korean troops back to Seoul by April 2012. The deal was pushed by the former maverick President Roh Moo-hyun, who wanted to reduce the country's military dependence on the United States. But his conservative successor President Lee Myung-bak ,who took office in early 2008, has campaigned to restore the security alliance with Washington, standing firmer against North Korea, which conducted a second nuclear test and a set of missile launches last year. Security jitters here further mounted at the beginning of this year as the North's military fired hundreds of artillery shells near the inter-Korean maritime border over three days last week. The Stalinist country is expected to conduct further artillery fire or short-range missile tests, as it has designated "naval firing zones" along the sea border until next Monday. In the face of the increased security threat from their communist neighbor, more South Koreans want U.S. military protection extended. Meeting with Campbell, Deputy Foreign Minister Lee Yong-joon called for closer military ties to cope with the North's threats. "We discussed security cooperation issues (with Campbell), including American troops stationed in South Korea and the planned transfer of wartime operational control," Lee told reporters at the end of the meeting. In response, Campbell said his government was seriously considering The United States had maintained nearly 40,000 troops in South Korea, alongside the South's 670,000 troops, facing off against the North's 1.2 million-strong armed forces. But it recently reduced the number to 28,500 and is planning to redeploy the frontline U.S. ground forces to south of Seoul, in one of the biggest realignments of U.S. forces in this country since the Korean War.

But the U.S. military said on Thursday that it has no immediate plan to redeploy troops from South Korea. In a statement, the command of the U.S. Forces Korea said a redeployment of its troops, even if necessary, would only be possible in the late 2010s after close consultations with South Korea.

"The defense of the ROK (South Korea) remains the core mission of U.S. forces in Korea now and in the future, and there will be no reduction of U.S. forces in Korea tied to wartime operational control transition on April 17, 2012," it said.

In return for longer U.S. military protection, South Korea has vowed to use an inter-Korean summit it is pushing to hold this year to persuade the North to give up its nuclear weapons. "Denuclearization of the peninsula must be the most important agenda item if an inter-Korean summit takes place," a Foreign Ministry official said. "A summit should be arranged as a way to address international concerns about the North's nuclear weapons," he said. In an apparent bid to coordinate summit agenda items with White House officials, Kim Tae-hyo, secretary to President Lee for national security strategy, is visiting Washington this week.

The U.S. Military Should Remain in South Korea

North Korea will pose a direct threat to the United States within five years.
MSNBC, 2011

Gates: N. Korea will pose direct threat to U.S. in 5 years”: MSNBC

1/11/2011: North Korea will pose a direct threat to the United States within five years if the communist dictatorship isn't reined in, U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Tuesday.

Gates cited the North's development of intercontinental ballistic missiles and its efforts to expand its nuclear weapons capability during a press conference in Beijing with Chinese President Hu Jintao.Gates told reporters that he did not believe North Korea would amass large numbers of the missiles, saying it would be a limited capability. "I think that North Korea will have developed an intercontinental ballistic missile within that time — not that they will have huge numbers or anything like that," Gates told reporters.

North Korea has more than 800 ballistic missiles and more than 1,000 missiles of various ranges. It has sold missiles and technology overseas, with Iran a top buyer. Pyongyang's arsenal includes intermediate-range missiles that can hit targets at up to 1,860 miles away, the Yonhap news agency quoted a South Korean official as saying last year. Those missiles could hit all of Japan and put U.S. military bases in Guam at risk.

The Pentagon chief also noted that South Korea's tolerance for the North's behavior has "worn thin."

He said it's time for Pyongyang to demonstrate specific ways it is ready to re-engage with its neighbors, such as moratoriums on missile testing and nuclear testing. Gates said China has played a helpful role in lessening tensions, and said North Korea will be a significant topic when President Barack Obama meets with Hu in Washington next week.

Obama is expected to press Hu to exert more pressure on North Korea, which has alarmed the region by shelling a South Korean island and revealing advances in its nuclear program. China is North Korea's only major diplomatic and economic backer. Gates travels to South Korea and Japan after China, two other countries which are involved in stalled talks aimed at getting Pyongyang to give up its nuclear weapons ambitions.

The U.S. Military Should Remain in South Korea

Prominent Korea expert says a troop increase is necessary.
Yonhap News Agency, 12/2010

U.S. expert calls for increasing American troop presence in S. Korea to stop NK provocations” - Chang Jae-soon- Yonhap News Agency

12/14/2010 -- The United States should seriously think about stationing more troops in South Korea to deter further North Korean provocations, a U.S. expert and former White House security official said Tuesday amid high tensions over the North's artillery shelling of a South Korean island. "The single most important indicator, symbolic and significant indicator of U.S. commitment, security commitment to South Korea, has been its troop presence on the peninsula," Georgetown University professor Victor Cha said during a speech at the Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

"Even a symbolic increase in that troop presence will send a very clear message to North Korea and to China that there are real costs to continued North Korean provocations," he told a forum of South Korean business leaders. Cha, one of the best-known security experts on Korea, had served as the Asian affairs director at the White House's National Security Council in the previous U.S. administration and as a U.S. negotiator in six-party talks on North Korea's nuclear programs. About 28,500 American troops are stationed in South Korea to deter threats from the communist North, a legacy of the 1950-53 Korean War that ended in a truce, not a peace treaty, leaving the two sides still technically at war. Tensions on the divided peninsula have spiked after the North's Nov. 23 shelling of the South's Yeonpyeong Island, which killed four people, including two civilians. The artillery attack came eight months after the North torpedoed a South Korean warship, killing 46 sailors. Pyongyang has also ratcheted up nuclear tensions last month with revelations that it has a facility to enrich uranium that can be used to fuel atomic bombs if highly enriched. The uranium program gives North Korea a second way of making nuclear weapons after its plutonium-based program. Cha praised the measures the current U.S. government has taken to deter North Korea following the island shelling, such as holding joint military exercises with South Korea more frequently, bolstering trilateral relations with South Korea and Japan, and calling on China to exercise its influence over North Korea. But he also suggested other options to discourage North Korea from provocations, including increasing American troop levels in South Korea and getting the U.N. Security Council to adopt a resolution authorizing the use of force against the North. Cha said the recently concluded free trade agreement between Seoul and Washington would also help enhance relations between the two countries, saying the accord is not simply a trade deal, but it will have wider impacts on relations between the two allies.

On the power transition in North Korea, Cha expressed strong skepticism that Kim Jong-un, the foreign-educated youngest son of leader Kim Jong-il, will carry out any reforms. North Korea has made the junior Kim a four-star general and given him senior Workers' Party titles in steps to put him in place to take over after his father.

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