‘Small CFC’ proposal
Joint military operation unit deserves consideration
South Korea and the United States are reportedly negotiating to create a new joint operations unit to take over some key functions of the Combined Forces Command (CFC), which will be dissolved after Seoul retakes wartime command of its military in December 2015.
The unit ― tentatively named the ``joint operation task force’’ ― would be created in 2015 and begin operations the following year, according to Korean military officials quoted by Yonhap News. The body, if established, would serve as a de facto ``small CFC’’ that will take over the military operation functions currently carried out by the CFC.
The idea of creating the joint military body may be deemed necessary, given lingering doubt that the two allies will be able to carry out joint actions as effectively as before if the CFC is dissolved.
In June, Seoul and Washington also discussed a proposal turning the U.S. Army’s 2nd Infantry Division into a joint unit modeled after the CFC. The unit will be stationed in Dongducheon, Gyeonggi Province.
Both proposals appear aimed at maintaining the joint operation functions and the tripwire role of U.S. troops here.
True, the CFC, created in 1978, is the best model in the world for joint military operations and we sympathize with the notion shared by the militaries from the two sides that it is necessary to create an organization that could fulfill the role of command after its dissolution.
We welcome recent debate on follow-up security measures after the dismantling of the CFC, given China’s strong emergence in Northeast Asia and North Korea’s looming nuclear and missile threats. Still, there are persistent calls for postponing the transfer of wartime operation control and scrapping the CFC dissolution, but such arguments would be unreasonable, taking into account U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta’s outright dismissal of such a possibility.
For now, top priority should be given to ensuring there is no security vacuum after the handover of wartime operational control to the South and in this respect, the ``small CFC’’ proposal deserves consideration.
Specifically, our military will have to focus on strengthening capabilities to gather intelligence independently and to issue early warnings on North Korean provocations. What’s most important is to establish a system in which forces are deployed rapidly and efficiently in emergencies through improvements in unbalanced military abilities among the Army, Navy and Air Force and enhancement of their joint operation capabilities.
What is disappointing is lawmakers’ partisan politics with respect to defense reform, which envisions beefing up the role of the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff and granting Army, Navy and Air Force chiefs operational control as part of measures to counter the dissolution of the CFC. To our regret, the defense reform proposal was rejected at the National Assembly last year without being properly deliberated.