UPDATE: From VOA Steve Herman’s Twitter:
S. Korean JCS & USFK totally knocking down Chosun Ilbo single source story on US forces to be under #ROK command in emergency.
Curious how the Chosun responds. Or if it responds. Here’s the Korean version of the Chosun piece, BTW.
ORIGINAL POST: The Chosun Ilbo is reporting that US troops might be put under South Korean command in the case of North Korean provocations against the South:
Seoul and Washington have agreed that the chairman of the South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff will command support troops from the U.S. in case of a provocation from North Korea, a government source said Thursday.
“The South Korean and U.S. militaries have recently agreed in principle that the chairman of the Korean JCS will command U.S. Army, Navy and Air Force personnel and equipment that support the South Korean military in case of various provocations from the North,” the source said. The two countries are still hammering out the details.
Quoting a military source, the Chosun said “the South Korean JCS has persistently called for the option to mobilize USFK support” since last November’s shelling of Yeonpyeong-do.
Just who will be subject to South Korean mobilization, though, is still be decided:
Which U.S. troops and how many will be under the South Korean JCS chairman’s command has yet to be decided. Under consideration are reconnaissance aircraft such as U-2s and E-8 Joint-Stars, artillery from the Second U.S. Infantry Division like Multiple Launch Rocket Systems and M-109 self-propelled guns, Apache attack helicopters and medevac choppers, and some U.S. Navy and Air Force personnel. The aim is to supply capacity the South Korean military lacks.
I don’t know who on the American side thought this was a good idea, but the prospect of South Korea mobilizing US troops during a North Korean provocation is truly blood-curdling. Leaving aside for the moment that the last couple of provocations have not proven to be banner moments for the military leadership to which we’re going to entrust our men and women in uniform, do we really want the decision to involve US troops in combat operations against North Korea to be left to the chairman of the South Korean JCS? Not that I have anything bad to say about the man — I’m sure he’s a man of honor — but if he’s got command, no matter how limited, of American military might, will he be able to resist using it during the next Yeonpyeong-do or Cheonan?
Just as a historical note, US troops were put under command of Gen. Paik Sun-yup, the commander of the ROK 1st Division, during the Battle of the Bowling Alley (a.k.a. the Battle of Dabu-dong) during the defense of the Nakdong Perimeter in the Korean War.