- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 4, 2019

A South Korean general officer has been selected to lead future combat operations involving American and South Korean forces on the divided peninsula, in an agreement reached by the militaries of both countries this week.

Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan and South Korean Defense Minister Jeong Kyeong-doo agreed to nominate a four-star general from Seoul to lead the joint command in the country, dubbed Korea-U.S. Combined Forces Command or CFC, which is the “warfighting headquarters” for U.S. and Korean forces, should hostilities again break out in the country.

Ministry officials announced the plan on Monday, after the two defense leaders met for talks in the South Korean capital, as part of Mr. Shanahan’s recent diplomatic visit through the region.

Army Gen. Robert Abrams is currently the top American officer in charge at U.S. Forces-Korea, and is responsible for coordinating joint operations between the command and its South Korean counterparts. The South Korean four-star general tapped to lead CFC will coordinate with American units under Gen. Abrams’ command, but would be the officer in charge of any U.S.-Korean military campaign.

“When I think of an alliance, the word that comes to mind is trust, incredible trust between our countries forged during combat nearly 70 years ago. That trust endures to this day,” Mr. Shanahan said of the decision.

The move signifies the “tremendous strides that [South Korea] is taking to more rapidly fulfill conditions for the transition of wartime operational control from the U.S. commander to a South Korean commander,” he told reporters in South Korean capital on Monday.

Along with naming a South Korean officer to head the powerful joint command, Mr. Shanahan and Minister Jeong agreed to shift CFC headquarters from Yongsan Garrison in the heart of Seoul, to Camp Humphreys, the main U.S. military base in the country’s Gyeonggi Province.

Both American and South Korean defense leaders say the move from Yongsan to Camp Humphries “will enhance the operational efficiency of the CFC and a combined readiness posture,” according to a statement from the South Korean Defense Ministry.

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