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Allies' future command to be led by S. Korean general: minister

All Headlines 15:57 February 22, 2018

SEOUL, Feb. 22 (Yonhap) -- The envisioned new combined command of South Korea and the United States will demonstrate the redesigned combat roles of the allies following the transition of wartime operational control (OPCON) of South Korean troops, Defense Minister Song Young-moo said Thursday.

Seoul and Washington are consulting on a new organization that will replace the Combined Forces Command (CFC), which was established in 1978 as the top joint warfighting command in the event of conflict on the peninsula.

The CFC will be disbanded after South Korea regains OPCON in a "conditions-based" transition. The Moon Jae-in administration aims to take it over in the early 2020s so that South Korea can play a leading role in the event of a war here while U.S. forces play a supporting role.

Defense Minister Song said talks are under way on the premise that a four-star U.S. general assumes the post of deputy commander.

The current CFC is led by a four-star U.S. commander, who also heads the U.S. Forces Korea (USFK), and a four-star South Korean deputy commander.

Maintaining the joint command system and the U.S forces' presence in South Korea are also among key preconditions, he said in a speech at a meeting of the Korea Retired Generals & Admirals Association in Seoul.

The defense ministry seeks to reach an agreement with USFK on the issue in the first half of this year.

South Korea handed over OPCON to the U.S.-led U.N. forces shortly after the outbreak of the Korean War. It was transferred to the U.S.-led CFC in 1978.

Seoul was initially supposed to get it back in 2012, but the handover was delayed to 2015 and later postponed indefinitely. President Moon is pushing for an early takeover.

South Korean Defense Minister Song Young-moo speaks at a meeting of retired South Korean generals in Seoul on Feb. 22, 2018. (Yonhap)

lcd@yna.co.kr
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