Deputy Secretary Wolfowitz Remarks at the Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Seoul
Wolfowitz: Thank you very much, Vice Chairman Lee. Thank you for bringing together such a distinguished audience on such short notice. I know from speaking to your chairman’s brother, sitting next to me at lunch, that the chairman is in Kuwait, or he would be here with us. I’m glad he’s in Kuwait and I hope there’s good business for Korean businesses in Kuwait in [inaudible] rebuilding Iraq. I wanted very much to have a chance to speak to the business community because I know that perhaps nowhere in the world are our security relations as important to the business and economic environment as they are here in Korea. So I think it’s very important to have a chance to discuss our thinking about security issues for a business audience, and I appreciate your giving me that opportunity.
Ladies and gentlemen, this October, the people of the Republic of Korea and the people of the United States will celebrate together the 50th anniversary of the signing of the ROK-U.S. Mutual Defense Treaty. The anniversary and the relationship it represents are unique, and we celebrate them. The alliance we honor has changed the course of history – and changed it for the better. Substantial blood, treasure, and mutual commitment have been invested in this alliance by the citizens of our two countries. We must do everything possible to maintain its strength and its health for the sake of future generations of Koreans and Americans. Today I’d like to discuss America’s commitment to the security of Korea and reiterate the firm intention of the United States to continue doing our part in protecting this extraordinary alliance.
Our alliance is a remarkable and unqualified success. It has stood its ground and defended this nation for half a century as Korea emerged from a massively destructive war and went on to prosper, both economically and politically. Korea is now the world’s 12th largest economy, with a thriving democracy that is the envy of the world. As Korea’s ally, the United States is proud of your success, and proud of the role that our alliance together has played in guaranteeing the security that was necessary for that success. I come to you today as a longstanding believer in the importance of U.S.-Korean friendship and as someone who’s been working for almost 30 years to preserve and strengthen our alliance. We admire the accomplishments of the Korean people in building a prosperous and democratic country, often in the face of great adversity. For your sake, but equally for the sake of our country, we want that success to be sustained in future decades.
As Korea has prospered economically and politically, your military has kept pace as well. Your military has evolved dramatically over just the last 10 years. Returning to government service after an absence of eight years, I was extremely impressed by the progress that Korea’s defense establishment has made, by the maturity of Korea’s military capabilities, and by the confidence with which your military forces are fulfilling their mission.
Underlining Korea’s new importance in world affairs, your leaders have been willing to commit Republic of Korea forces where it really counts, on the ground, to ensure peace, when and where needed. In recent years, Korean forces have stood guard, not only here at home, but they have deployed internationally to keep the peace in East Timor, and more recently to assist in reconstruction in Afghanistan. As we sit here this afternoon, Korean troops have just arrived in Iraq and are working to help build a new and free Iraq. In fact, the Korean commitment to dispatch a construction battalion and a medical unit to serve in Iraq is another contribution to building a better world. The mass graves that are being uncovered in Iraq every day bear witness to the fact that Saddam Hussein is responsible for the deaths of more Muslims than any other individual ever. The Iraqi people deserve something far better than that. We are pleased that Korea, whose own history represents a victory of democracy over aggression and tyranny, will be part of the coalition that gives the Iraqi people that chance. President Roh’s decision to lead the Korean nation to support freedom in Iraq, so soon after taking office, demonstrates real leadership.
President Roh and his national security team understand the importance of Korea placing its military capabilities in difficult locations where they are needed to assist peoples and nations in need of help. That action further enhances Korea’s international prestige and standing. These are noble actions on the part of the government and the citizens of Korea. All of you here today should be justly proud that your armed forces have risen to the challenge. We welcome Korean troops as our brothers in arms in company with other like-minded nations who are willing to step up today’s security challenges; the challenges of fighting terrorism and building a better world beyond the war on terror, a world that the terrorists seek to obstruct and destroy. We are there together in Afghanistan and in Iraq because we share the same values. It is not a coincidence that many of the same nations with which Korea is serving today came to the assistance of your country 50 years ago. In a sense, it is now Korea’s turn and we are pleased that you have risen to the challenge.
I have just come from an excellent meeting with President Roh at the Blue House. He is an impressive man and I can tell you first hand that his recent visit to Washington, DC was an unqualified success, a success that has strengthened the close relationship between our two countries. I mentioned to President Roh that yesterday I had the honor and the pleasure to meet with American soldiers, airmen, and Marines who are serving us all here in Korea. We are immensely proud of these young Americans who volunteered to serve their country, the United States of America, and through that service, these young Americans are enabling us to honor both the spirit and the letter of our commitment to you and to this great alliance.
These strong, smart, dedicated, and disciplined Americans who have come to Korea, have come to Korea to ensure the peace. They know why they are here and they know what is expected of them by America and by Korea. They are prepared to do the hard work and take the real risks to defend our common security. We are lucky to have their service and they are proud to be here with you and I know that you understand and that you value their commitment just as much as we do.
As Korea’s overall posture in the world has evolved and as Korea has stepped forward to meet international security needs, the nature of international conflict and security structures has changed also. In recent years, the pace of this change has accelerated and, in so changing, has presented us with new challenges, new opportunities, and new dynamics. To preserve the foundation of our alliance, to improve the integration of our forces, and to enhance the deterrence value of our military posture here on the peninsula, we need to make adjustments. We need to do so together and to do so carefully. We need to make sure we get it right and we get it right together. We are aware of the importance of preserving the foundation of 50 years of successful deterrence and we are aware that everything we do should enhance, not diminish, the credibility of our deterrent.
The commitment that we should examine together the needs for change and determine an improved structure for our alliance was made this past December when our two Defense Ministers met in Washington, DC. At that time, we agreed that it was appropriate, particularly with the 50th anniversary of our alliance approaching, to take stock of how we evolve the alliance to best meet the challenges and opportunities of the next decade. This review in Korea is part of a process of taking a fundamental look at the U.S. military posture worldwide, including in the United States itself. Today we face a very different threat than the one we faced historically. Our forces have very different kinds of capabilities, dramatically improved capabilities, capabilities we’ve never had before, and it is appropriate to look at how those forces are postured, how we can get the greatest effectiveness out of them, with the same basic commitment to stability and deterrence that we’ve had all along.
The main drivers for this posture review are fairly straightforward. First, we have developed and battle tested and the world has seen an entirely new capability for long-range, high-precision targeting, which exponentially increases our war fighting capabilities. Second, we have learned to organize ourselves with intelligence collection systems and new approaches to information management in completely new ways. Our ability to integrate our forces into joint operations has provided another exponential increase in military effectiveness. Third, to adapt to a world in which potential threats have become more unpredictable, we place a great premium on mobility, on the ability to move great distances rapidly, and to use temporary basing solutions as needed.
Subsequent to the meeting of our two defense ministers last December, we have fought and won a war in Iraq. New lessons were learned there. New capabilities were tested and refined. Those experiences and those capabilities can be added to our review of alliance planning efforts. So far, we have met twice to begin our dialogue about the future of the alliance. We plan to meet as often as necessary to complete the process. Our goal is to reach a mutual understanding no later than the end of this year, so that we can implement the agreed changes to both forces next year. While change is often difficult, change is also positive. We are determined that the changes we make will enhance the quality of our alliance with the Republic of Korea, will strengthen deterrence on the Korean peninsula, and will reinforce stability in Northeast Asia more generally.
As we discuss in Korea how best to transform both our forces, U.S. and Korean, to ensure the continuing effectiveness of our alliance, we are guided by two principal considerations. First, deterrence remains a key objective of our common defense posture. To strengthen deterrence, we need to take advantage of new technology to counter North Korean asymmetric advantages. Second, the changes we make should help to sustain a strong alliance over the long run, by reducing unnecessary burdens on both sides and ensuring that the alliance will remain relevant far into the future. As our discussions progress here in Korea in the coming weeks and months, and as we work out the details of our new force structure for both our countries, we will be making firm commitments to incorporate these new capabilities promptly and as they become available here in Korea. In fact, as General LaPorte explained publicly last week, the U.S. plans to enhance more than 150 capabilities, representing a substantial investment over the next four years in the ROK-U.S. alliance. As this process unfolds, we are confident that Korea will make comparable and complementary investments to improve its own capabilities. I might note, in this regard, I’m impressed at the statistic that says Korea is the most wired country in the world. We’d like to see your military become the most wired military in the world.
Mutually agreed parallel investments by the Korean-U.S. partnership will amply demonstrate that our nations have the will to do what is necessary to ensure deterrence, security, and stability. A necessary part of this enhancement of our deterrence involves our basing structure, where we locate our forces to gain maximum advantage from the new capabilities we are pledging to bring to Korea. This requirement to organize and position ourselves to best utilize our capabilities exists throughout the world in every location where we base or operate forces and changing those arrangements is not unique to Korea. The future of the alliance necessarily requires a force structure that is sustainable over the long run. The American people must be convinced that we have a long-term plan for our presence in Korea.
Just as the Korean citizens are the ultimate judge of the use of Korean forces, the citizens of the United States will best support the commitment of their sons and daughters to Korea’s defense only if they are confident that our plans are sound and are regularly updated. Whatever changes we make, no one should doubt our fundamental commitment to the security of Korea. America has stood with you for more than 50 years. American lives are on the line alongside your own. Ten years ago, our two countries agreed on some important changes to our defense posture on the peninsula, including the removal of tactical nuclear weapons. Those changes did not weaken deterrence. Indeed, our deterrent today is stronger than ever, but it can get stronger still.
This is a time to move beyond outmoded concepts or catch phrases such as the term “trip wire.” It is wrong to think that the trip wire for our commitment in Korea has anything to do with how many U.S. troops are arranged in any particular location on the peninsula. Our response to aggression will be one with yours, united, immediate, and devastatingly effective. The real trip wire is the letter and spirit of our mutual defense treaty, backed up by the substance of our alliance and our strong military forces.
As I stand before you today, to pledge our best efforts to preserve and protect our alliance, I am moved to recall that in a few days another anniversary of a sad event will be upon us, the deaths of two young girls. Last year, on June 13, a tragic accident devastated two families and created doubt and anger about our military presence here in Korea. I join with other Americans, including President Bush and Secretary Rumsfeld, to offer my deepest personal condolences to the families of those two schoolgirls. I assure you the U.S. military has not forgotten these two beautiful young girls. In remembering their lives and regretting their tragic deaths, we must work together to prevent such tragedies from happening. In the past year, U.S. Forces Korea and your government have worked hard to develop new procedures to prevent a recurrence of such a tragic event and this past Friday, our two countries signed an agreement to implement new safety measures.
In conclusion, I have tried today to explain the purpose of this study of the Future of the Alliance. Its focus is improved deterrence based on the phased and carefully coordinated introduction of enhanced capabilities by both the United States and the Republic of Korea. We need to shape and enhance and align our forces in a manner that best utilizes the increased deterrent power we can bring to bear on this peninsula and into the region. Our actions will enhance our continued presence on the peninsula and help to keep this alliance strong for another half century.
In closing, may I thank KCCI for giving me this opportunity and this wonderful venue to speak to the leadership of Korea’s business community and to speak to the Korean people. We need your support to properly enhance our alliance and I know we can count on you. Let no one doubt the firmness of our resolve or the commitment we have pledged to the future of the U.S.-ROK alliance. Bound by a common goal of peace and the principles of freedom that we cherish, we will continue to build prosperity and strength and security on this peninsula and throughout Northeast Asia. A line from an ancient Korean verse captures the essence of our partnership, “Waters rising from deep springs never fail in drought. Forming a river they flow on to the sea.” Our partnership is nourished by freedom’s deep springs, which do indeed form a river that will lead both our countries to peace and prosperity.
Thank you very much.