At a press conference Tuesday, 8th army commander Lt. Gen. Charles C. Campbell talked about potential future roles for the USFK. Here is the Chosun Ilbo's version of it:
Campbell said the future Korea-US alliance should be based on cooperation, just like Foreign Minister Ban Ki-moon has said. Campbell said in the 21st century, the range of operations [of Korea-U.S. allied forces] could be expanded to cover the Northeast Asia region. He said allied forces could carry out humanitarian support and peace keeping operations within the Northeast Asia region.I wish I had a transcript of that part of the news conference, because the Korean government's reaction was swift and strong:
A core government official said Thursday, "Right after Gen. Campbell uttered those statements, a high-ranking Korean government official protested to USFK saying, 'Gen. Campbell's statement contain much basis for misunderstandings and are mistaken'... After making our protests, USFK explained, "[Campbell] just pointed to a hypothetical path of development."Like the true red-meat right-winger I am, I always like to back my side but I think the Korean government has a point here. After all, its called USFK, not USFNEA. Yes, the alliance promotes regional stability but it promotes it by keeping the Norks in check. As long as the North Koreans are a threat, I think that there is no reason to go looking for other things for the USFK to do. If/when North Korea is no longer a threat to regional stability, then I think the days of the USFK will be numbered anyhow, so there still wouldn't be any reason to to look for a new USFK role.
The official said, "From our position, because of China, peacekeeping activities in Northeast Asia and USFK serving as a mobile Northeast Asian strike force are burdensome... We are now considering plans stipulating systemic provisions for the U.S. to deliberate with out government prior to sending USFK anywhere."
Another government official said, "USFK exists for defense on the Korean Peninsula, and while the North Korean nuclear crisis isn't being resolved, how can one talk of changes in the character of USFK?" He added, "Gen. Campbell might have to take responsibility for what he said."
I also want to go back to something that was said by one official:
"From our position, because of China, peacekeeping activities in Northeast Asia and USFK serving as a mobile Northeast Asian strike force are burdensome... We are now considering plans stipulating systemic provisions for the U.S. to deliberate with out government prior to sending USFK anywhere."Right now, most people would agree that there are two potential flash points for a war in Northeast Asia: Korea and China-Taiwan. In those facts, there is a dilemma for Korea. They want the USFK around for a potential conflict with North Korea but they fear what would happen in the event of a Chinese attack on Taiwan. The Koreans fear that if the US supported Taiwan, then the USFK bases in Korea could be subject to attack by China, even more so if the Chinese thought that USFK troops might be directly redeployed in support of Taiwan.
For those reasons I think that Gen. Campbell's statements were ill-advised, even if he were speaking hypothetically. If the US wants a force that can quickly be sent to anywhere in Asia, then I would suggest that the 2ID be redeployed to Guam.