SEOUL, Dec. 27 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's defense chief on Thursday said the coming year will be a starting point for the test of the country's ability to command its own troops in the event of a war.
Defense Minister Jeong Kyeong-doo made the remark as he presided over a meeting to assess the preparations for the transfer of wartime operational control from the United States.
South Korea handed over operational control of its troops to the U.S.-led U.N. command during the Korean War. It retook peacetime OPCON in 1994, but wartime OPCON remains in the hands of the United States.
Seoul was supposed to regain wartime OPCON in 2015, but it was postponed amid Pyongyang's nuclear and missile tests.
They agreed on a "conditions-based" transition with no specific deadline.
"2018 was the year that (the allies) reaffirmed the commitment to an OPCON transition ... and laid the groundwork for an early transfer," the minister said.
He cited the allies' signing of a plan to establish guidelines on combined defense and command structure change.
In the next year, he added, the two sides will conduct a test of the initial operational capability (IOC) and called for thorough preparations.
More than 200 major commanders of the Army, the Navy and the Air Force attended the session.
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