Saturday, October 28, 2017

Dunford Discusses Issues Confronting U.S.-South Korea Alliance

By Jim Garamone DoD News, Defense Media Activity

ABOARD A U.S. MILITARY AIRCRAFT, Oct. 28, 2017 — U.S. and South Korean defense chiefs discussed the full range of issues confronting the alliance during two days of talks in Seoul, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said today.

Marine Corps Gen. Joe Dunford spoke to reporters after the Security Consultative Meeting in Seoul. The chairman is traveling to Hawaii for the Tri-CHOD (chief of defense) conference among the United States, Japan and South Korea.

During his visit to South Korea, also known as the Republic of Korea, Dunford met with his South Korean counterpart Air Force Gen. Jeong Kyeong-doo at the Military Committee Meeting.

American and South Korean military leaders attend the MCM to chart the way ahead for the alliance, Dunford said. Held each year since 1978, senior military officials gather to discuss what has occurred over the past year and to determine the best ways to move ahead.

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and South Korean Minister of National Defense Song Young-moo received the report of the MCM and continued the discussions at the follow on Security Consultative Meeting.

Opportunity for U.S.-South Korea Discussions

The meetings are an annual opportunity for leaders to discuss issues the U.S.-South Korea alliance faces and assess how well the issues are being dealt with, Dunford said. The meetings, he added, also provide both countries the opportunity to plan and look ahead and set milestones.

The U.S. and South Korean military leaders spent a lot of time discussing the transfer of operational control to the South Korean military, Dunford said. No date has been set for the transfer yet, he added.

Currently the commander of Combined Forces Command -- the warfighting command for security on the Korean Peninsula -- is Army Gen. Vincent K. Brooks. He is also the commander of U.S. Forces Korea and the United Nations Command. The general’s chain of command goes to both the U.S. White House and the South Korean president’s Blue House.

South Korea Seeks Increased Security Responsibility

The South Koreans “rightfully seek increased responsibility for their own security,” Dunford said. “If we are committed to an alliance, we are going to want to make sure that we’re involved in the decision making process for the employment of those forces. There’s got to be a framework that addresses what will surely be U.S. considerations for how is operational control affected, how decisions are made and so forth.”

The leaders affirmed a couple of things about operational control, Dunford said. First, he said, there are certain conditions that must be met before the shift can occur.

“We’ve got a very detailed list of what has to be done,” the chairman said. “We will meet those conditions and do it in a way that maintains or improves our overall effectiveness.”

Whatever happens, though, must maintain the bilateral method for making decisions, he said.

“The key thing in any alliance is the transparency that leads to trust,” Dunford said. “Secretary Mattis was quoted the other day saying there are three things that are important in the alliance and they are ‘trust, trust and trust.’”

The bottom line is the alliance must not suffer degradation in combat capability given the nature of the threat, simply to make a change, the chairman said.

“We did talk about ROK capability development, which is associated with OPCON transition -- command and control systems, ballistic missile defense, cyber capabilities,” Dunford said.

Multilateral Approach to Address Threats

The leaders spoke about increasing the multilateral approach to the North Korean threat, the chairman said. One way to increase multilateral cooperation, he said, is through the United Nations Command, which was established in 1950 soon after North Korea invaded the south. Regional nations like Australia, India, Japan and others could potentially participate.

The leaders also talked about enhancing ballistic missile defense capability, and enhancing the information and intelligence-sharing network, Dunford said. They also spoke about improving South Korean command-and-control systems.

“I think it is fair to say, I know I do, all of us have a heightened sense of urgency over the past year-and-a-half and in particular over the past few months,” Dunford said. “We’ve got to make sure that as [South Korea]  increases their ballistic missile defense capability, we all have a common picture of the threat so we can integrate our capability to respond. And that applies to BMD, it applies to strike capability, it applies to targeting. If we are going to fight as an alliance we’ve got to be completely interoperable and interoperable in peace time and be able to integrate in combat.”

Mattis: U.S. Will Not Accept Nuclear-Armed North Korea

By Jim Garamone DoD News, Defense Media Activity

HONOLULU, Oct. 28, 2017 — Defense Secretary Jim Mattis reiterated that the United States will not accept a nuclear-armed North Korea.

Mattis spoke at a news conference following talks with South Korean Minister of National Defense Song Young-moo in Seoul yesterday.

The two men met for the 49th annual Security Consultative Meeting in the shadow of North Korea’s continuing nuclear program and following launches of its intercontinental ballistic missiles.

“In light of [North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un’s] expanded outlaw activities that all the world experienced and observed over the past year or two, I cannot imagine a condition under which the United States would accept North Korea as a nuclear power,” Mattis said.

Serious North Korean Threat

The secretary said the threat from North Korea, also known as the Democratic Peoples’ Republic of Korea, has grown more serious since his trip to the country earlier this year.

“In the past few months, the North has conducted two ICBM tests, launched two intermediate range ballistic missiles over Japan and conducted a fifth nuclear test,” Mattis said. “I am here to underscore America’s commitment to our bilateral alliance and to make clear the Trump Administration’s full commitment to the United Nations’ mission in defense of your democracy standing, as it does, as a bedrock countering the DPRK’s effort to destabilize this region and to threaten the world.”

U.S. Supports South Korean Ally

Mattis emphasized that the United States stands by its alliance with South Korea, also known as the Republic of Korea, and also emphasized that the military aspect of the alliance is engaged to allow diplomatic and economic efforts to work.

“President [Donald J.] Trump has made clear that America’s commitments to defending our allies and to upholding our extended deterrence guarantee is ‘ironclad,’” the secretary said.

The secretary said that America’s strategic deterrent capabilities are global in their positioning and reach, “and we are quite assured that they are in a position to be responsive to the Combined Forces Commander, if necessary.”

North Korea should harbor no illusions, Mattis said. “The DPRK is overmatched by the Republic of Korea-United States alliance,” the secretary said. “If it remains on its current path of ballistic missiles and atomic bombs, it will be counterproductive. The DPRK will be reducing its own security.”

‘Any Attempt’ on U.S., Allies, ‘Will be Defeated’

“Diplomacy remains our preferred course of action, but as I have repeatedly emphasized, our diplomats are most effective when backed by credible military force in this sort of situation,” Mattis said.

“Make no mistake: Any attempt on the United States or our allies will be defeated,” he added. “Any use of nuclear weapons by the North will be met by a massive military response -- effective and overwhelming.”

North Korea’s actions compelled the alliance to beef up its defenses by emplacing the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense missile system in South Korea, the secretary said.

“Millions of ROK citizens and our forces are now better protected by this wholly defensive system,” he said

U.S. Official Salutes South Korea’s ‘Very Strong’ Military

By Jim Garamone DoD News, Defense Media Activity

SEOUL, Oct. 27, 2017 — The South Korean military is among the best in the world, and it is the largest part of the force that will “fight, tonight” if North Korea attacks, said a U.S. Forces Korea official speaking on background.

The official spoke to reporters traveling with Marine Corps Gen. Joe Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Dunford is here to participate in the Military Committee Meeting with his South Korean counterpart Air Force Gen. Jeong Kyeong-doo.

‘Fight, Tonight’

Much of the discussion in the Military Committee Meeting is on the military capabilities and capacities that the United States and South Korea bring to the ability to “fight, tonight.”

By itself, the South Korean military is an excellent force. When it is combined with U.S. forces it is world class, the official said.

North Korea is a dangerous state, the official said, noting the North Korean military gets the lion’s share of resources in the country. And, while North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un is working to develop nuclear weapons and the means to deliver them, North Korea’s conventional forces are a worry, as well, he said.

The North has much of Seoul -- South Korea’s capital city with 25 million people -- within range of artillery over the demilitarized zone, the official said. The North has 950,000 service members on active duty and another 600,000 reserve personnel.

South Korean Military

The South Korean military is extremely capable, the official said. The United States and South Korea are strongly tied to one another with U.S. assets aiding the South Koreans and vice versa. The two nations train to the same standards, the official said, and use the same battlefield tactics, techniques and procedures.

“From a person who has worked with a lot of different countries, I put them at the high-end of capability,” the official said of South Korea’s military. “I wouldn’t stretch it to say it is an absolute replacement for a U.S. capability, but combined it is very strong.”

South Korea has a formidable force of its own with about 625,000 service members on active duty and about 3 million in reserve, he said. South Korea has military conscription.

The South Koreans also have an economy to buy and maintain modern military equipment, the official said.

North Korean Military Capabilities

North Korea’s conventional military capabilities “are in the decline,” the official said, “because of the economy, because of their austerity.”

North Korea’s aircraft are old, as are its tanks and armored personnel carriers, the official said. North Korea’s navy has a number of submarines, but it is uncertain how capable they are, he added.

Just comparing capabilities, the official said he’d South Korea’s military capability “way above that of the North.”

But the North has the numbers and “quantity has a quality all its own,” the official said.

“I do not dismiss the conventional threat from the North,” he said. “But the [North’s] unconventional threat -- the nukes, the missiles, cyber capabilities, special operations forces -- are growing.”