Friday, June 16, 2006

Panel III. The R.O.K.'s Self-Reliant Military Policy and the CFC: Replacing the Armistice

Below are the summaries for Session III of the Brookings Seoul-Washington Forum.

Kim Dong Shin
Former Minister of Defense, Republic of Korea
Meeting Challenges in Transforming the Alliance Prudently

This article focuses on the challenges to changing the nature of the security alliance. It examines both the possible reduction and repositioning of US forces as well as the possibility of increased role and responsibility of South Korean forces in the defence of the peninsula. The main policy recommendation for this is to establish a political advisory council to create new values for the alliance. He argues that there needs to be more done to create mutual agreement on what the alliance is trying to achieve and how this can done in order to avoid rifts and distractions such as the death of the two school girls and the mess it created for the alliance because it separated US and South Korea in enemy camps rather than being something they needed to handle together.
Deterrence and defense need to be supplemented by a new vision of peaceful coexistence and peaceful unification of the Korean Peninsula. Devaluing and mistrusting the alliance should end in Seoul, while impatience and anger about South Korean new elite and questions raised by them should end in Washington. Therefore, the two countries need to begin two plus two dialogue between Defense Minister and Foreign Minister of the Korean side and Secretary of Defense and Secretary of State on the US side
The body of the paper is rather dull but it ends strongly with a clear conclusion and by emphasizing the need for public diplomacy on both sides to educate the public on what the alliance is there for and why it is important. I think this is the first paper that has actually outlined steps that both sides can be taking to strengthen the alliance.

John Tilelli, Jr.
Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Cypress International Inc. and Former Commander-in-Chief United Nations Command, US-ROK Combined Forces Command

This is a transcript taken from the presentation implying that he did not prepare a paper and spoke with only talking points. Tilelli mainly discusses the idea of when OPCON for ROK forces will be given back to Korea. In this he focuses on how and why that decision should be made arguing that rather than being event-driven it should be time-lined with clear ideas on what capabilities need to be identified in the ROK to know that it is the time to make the change. This means money/investment, C4ISR(command, control, computers, communication, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance) modernization, and agreeing on the role of the US forces. He also talks about how such a move will alter the dynamics of the US-ROK relationship indicating that US forces would move to a supporting role to the ROK command.

Hamm Taik-Young
Professor of Political Science, Kyungnam University
The Self-reliant National Defense of South Korea and the Future of the US-ROK Alliance

Self-reliance depends on more than just military build-up according to this article. Looking back South Korea has long aspired to be self-reliant from certain points of view but in reality it has not set out the necessary path needed to allow for South Korea to become a fully self-reliant military power capable of defending its nations interests, be that against North Korea or a different threat that may arise in the future.
the reform requires indigenous strategic planning and possibly a future defense posture without the USFK. Arms build-ups themselves are not an answer to the call for self-reliance. While South Korea has embraced the goal of self-reliant defence for more than three decades, the dependent mentality in national security has not changed considerably. The foundation of self-reliance is the consciousness of autonomy, responsibility, creativity for a long-term vision, and a wider consensus of and support from the people.
He then goes on to discuss broader implications of ROK self-reliance and the need for a broader peace regime in North East Asia to avoid an arm's race. He rejects the idea of Korea as a neutral or buffer country between US and China or Japan and China and stresses instead multilateral security cooperation to avoid polarization between US and China or Japan and China, which could leave Korea uncomfortably positioned.

Bruce Bechtol, Jr.
Associate Professor of International Relations, United States Marine Corps Command and Staff College
Planning for Change in the ROK-US Alliance: Challenges and Implications

Bechtol outlines two key challenges in Korea's plan to gain 'independent capability' in defense by 2020; finance and transformation. In finance he is concerned that Korea has not clearly outlined how they will guarantee the necessary increase in the defense budget from President to President. In discussing the transformation he makes similar comments to the previous paper that self-reliance requires a shift form having complimentary capabilities to the US to developing capabilities and an outlook on defense which it currently doesn't really have. That is to say that rather than build up weapons Korea needs to be able to take over intelligence and other skilled areas currently handled by the US forces.

The question that was not adequately answered for me in this paper was: does South Korea need to be as strong as the US to be considered ready to defend itself against North Korea? All the comparisons were against what the US has in terms of capability and I think we all agree that US outclasses North Korea well beyond a level needed to deter or defeat North Korea. And also, does South Korea need to have everything it needs before it can be seen capable of defending itself or can it be a more gradual process with South Korea getting to a minimal level and then building more capability on a long-term time-line. In all, even though it is prudent to discuss openly the challenges facing both South Korea, the US and the alliance in the event of Korea taking OPCON, I felt the analysis was too pessimistic and short on practical solutions.

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"Hell" by Yasutaka Tsutsui