The military is considering reorganizing the command structure because there is concern that if the Combined Forces Command and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff take command in wartime and peacetime after the transfer of OPCON, it will cause confusion in emergency response in case of emergency such as a surprise provocation by North Korea. In 2019, the defense ministers of the Republic of Korea and the United States agreed that the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff would not concurrently serve as the combined commander of the Joint Chiefs of Staff due to the excessive workload of the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, but that another four-star general of the ROK military would take over as the combined commander.Reorganizing the military command structure is a formidable task, as seen in the past cases of the Lee Myung-bak administration’s frustration with defense reform. After the sinking of the Cheonan, the Lee Myung-bak administration came up with a plan to reorganize the command structure to change the system of the 3 Army, Navy, and Air Forces parallel to the joint military commander system to strengthen the jointness of the 3 Army, but the reorganization was canceled due to disagreements and opposition from inside and outside the military. The reason why the Ministry of National Defense denied it yesterday, saying that it had “never reviewed it,” is interpreted as being conscious of such an agreement between the ROK and the United States and past failures. However, the reorganization of the command structure should not be rushed as it is a preparation for the post-OPCON transition. What is important now is how our military acquires the conditions for the transition of OPCON, that is, the ability to lead the ROK-U.S. combined operation. It is a transition of OPCON that has been pursued within the current administration’s tenure, but the capability verification of the ROK military has been suspended as the ROK-U.S. joint exercises have been reduced one after another. The Ministry of National Defense has also effectively adjusted the target schedule by stating ‘promotion at the right time’ instead of ‘promotion at an early stage’. Since the reorganization of the command structure is to prepare a wartime response system that depends on the fate of the nation, it is an issue that needs to be discussed in earnest through discussion and adjustment at the entire military level, going beyond a closed internal review. Furthermore, the discussion should focus on further strengthening the combined defense posture under close cooperation between the ROK and the US. It is a first-of-its-kind experiment for the U.S. to entrust the command of the U.S. military to a foreign military. That is why sufficient prior consultations and coordination with the United States must be prioritized above all else.
Source: 동아닷컴 : 동아일보 전체 뉴스 by www.donga.com.
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