Gates, South Korean Counterpart to Discuss Exercises, Plans
By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Oct. 6, 2010 Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates and his South Korean counterpart will assess during meetings later this week the recent joint military exercises designed to send a deterrent message to North Korea, Pentagon Press Secretary Geoff Morrell told reporters yesterday.
Gates will host National Defense Minister Kim Tae-young tomorrow and Oct. 8 at the 42nd annual Security Consultative Meeting, Morrell announced.
The session, which coincides with the 60th anniversary of the start of the Korean War, reflects the strength of the U.S.-South Korean alliance and its commitment to South Korea’s security, Morrell told reporters.
Among other security-related topics, Gates and Kim will discuss the two recent Invincible Spirit exercises initiated in response to North Korea’s sinking of the South Korean navy ship Cheonan in March, Morrell said. Forty-six crewmembers were killed in the attack.
Morrell said the two leaders will “reaffirm, in the wake of the Cheonan sinking, that we will not tolerate North Korean provocation and aggression.”
The U.S. and South Korean navies wrapped up five days of anti-submarine warfare exercises in the waters off the Korean peninsula earlier this month. The exercises, the second in a series, focused on anti-submarine tactics, techniques and procedures, U.S. Forces Korea officials reported. The first Invincible Spirit exercise, conducted in the seas east of the Korean peninsula in July, focused on naval and air readiness.
During this week’s session, Gates and Lee also are expected to review details leading to the planned transfer of wartime operational control of forces on the Korean peninsula to South Korea’s military in 2015. The transfer, originally scheduled for 2012, was delayed until 2015 at South Korea’s request.
This plan is embodied in the new Strategic Alliance 2015 agreement that will shape their alliance for the future, Army Gen. Walter L. “Skip” Sharp, commander of U.S. Forces Korea, Combined Forces Command and United Nations Command, told American Forces Press Service.
The new plan covers a broad range of initiatives: transferring wartime operational control to South Korea, developing new war plans, introducing broader and more realistic exercises, reviewing both countries’ military organizational structures and timing the movement of U.S. forces south of Seoul, and ensuring South Korean forces are ready, he explained.
Sharp said the plan also will help to identify military capabilities South Korean forces will need in 2015, and to ensure that South Korean acquisition, training and organizational efforts are geared toward achieving them.
In addition, he said, the plan will establish “bridging capabilities” the U.S. military will continue to provide after initial operational control transfer, and what both countries will contribute for the long term.