ROK-U.S. News

Yonhap – U.S. returns 12 military sites to S. Korea, including some at Yongsan Garrison

By Oh Seok-min

SEOUL, Dec. 11 (Yonhap) — The United States on Friday returned 12 American military sites to South Korea, including some in central Seoul, amid persistent concerns that an additional delay would further dampen regional development efforts.

During a virtual joint committee session of the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA), Seoul and Washington agreed on the return of the sites, though they failed to bridge differences on who and how to shoulder environmental cleanup costs, Seoul officials said.

But the two sides agreed to continue consultations on procedures for joint contamination surveys, contamination management criteria and other outstanding issues going forward, they said.

This file photo shows the U.S. Forces Korea's Yongsan Garrison in central Seoul. (Yonhap)

This file photo shows the U.S. Forces Korea’s Yongsan Garrison in central Seoul. (Yonhap)

Among the returned sites are two plots inside the Yongsan Garrison in central Seoul, Camp Kim and four other sites used by the U.S. Forces Korea (USFK) in the capital city.

It is the first time that sites at the Yongsan complex — the erstwhile U.S. military headquarters — have been handed over to South Korean control. Seoul plans to establish a national park there.

The other returned sites are the Camp Walker heliport in the southeastern city of Daegu; Camp Jackson and Camp Mobile in the northern cities of Uijeongbu and Dongducheon, respectively; Sungnam Golf Course in Hanam, south of Seoul; Commander Naval Forces Korea (CNFK) Detachment in the southern port city of Pohang; and Pilsung Air Range in the eastern city of Taebaek.

Combined, they are around 1.45 million square meters.

Seoul and Washington agreed on the return on the condition that they continue consultations on responsibilities for base decontaminations, ways to strengthen the environmental management of installations currently under USFK control and the revision of SOFA-related documents, according to the government.

SOFA governs the legal status of 28,500 American troops here.

“Discussions are under way on the potential return of the remaining 12 U.S. military sites in South Korea,” Choi Chang-won, first vice minister of government policy coordination, said.

Talks about the return date back to the early 2000s, but South Korea and the U.S. have made little progress amid disagreements over decontamination procedures, base realignment considerations and other complicated issues.

The current Moon Jae-in administration has been pushing for their swift return amid residents’ worries that a further delay could complicate decontamination efforts for already vacated bases and hinder regional development prospects.

“The Joint Committee took note of the extensive consultations regarding the conditions of returning camps and reaching a mutually acceptable solution for remediating contamination on those camps,” according to the joint statement by the SOFA committee.

“The parties agree that further delays aggravate the economic and social challenges of the local communities surrounding the camps and that the returns process should be expedited,” it said.

The government is reviewing building public homes at the Camp Kim site and relocating the National Medical Center in Seoul to the vacated site of the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers, according to the officials.

Some of the sites could be either sold off or kept as part of government assets, they added.

Ahead of pushing for those projects, decontamination work needs to be conducted, which is to take around two to three years. The level of oil and heavy metal pollutants in 11 of the 12 returned sites exceeded the threshold set by domestic law, according to the defense ministry.

South Korea plans to pay the decontamination cost first and discuss the matter with the U.S. later.

How much it will cost is not known, but the ministry said it spent around 98 billion won (US$89.94 million) to clean up three U.S. military sites returned by the U.S. last year.

The U.S. has insisted that it should shoulder the burden only when contamination poses imminent and substantial risks to public health and natural environments.

“South Korea and the U.S. have revealed differences in what the SOFA phrase ‘known, imminent and substantial endangerment to human health’ means,” a defense ministry official said.

“We’ve maintained our stance that the U.S. should shoulder part of the cleanup expenses in accordance with the Memorandum of Special Understandings on Environmental Protection, which is one of the SOFA-related documents. We will continue to discuss the matter,” he added.

Some say Seoul needs to use its shouldering of the decontamination expenses as leverage in defense cost-sharing negotiations, but the defense ministry made clear that the base return has nothing to do with the SMA deal.

Seoul and Washington remain deadlocked over their defense cost-sharing agreement, named the Special Measures Agreement (SMA). The U.S. demanded a hefty increase in Seoul’s financial burden, while South Korea says its best offer stands at a 13 percent increase.

graceoh@yna.co.kr
(END)

 

Artickle: https://en.yna.co.kr/view/AEN20201211005452325?section=national/defense

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Yonhap – U.S. defense chief nominee vows to work with allies

By Byun Duk-kun

WASHINGTON, Dec. 9 (Yonhap) — Lloyd Austin, U.S. President-elect Joe Biden’s pick for defense secretary, pledged Wednesday to work with and help protect U.S. allies.

“I understand the important role in the Department of Defense and the role that it plays in maintaining stability and deterring aggression and defending and supporting critical alliances around the world, including in the Asia-Pacific, and Europe and around the world,” the retired U.S. Army general said at a press conference in Wilmington, Delaware, where he was introduced by Biden.

“I firmly believe, as you have said before, sir, that America is strongest when it works with its allies,” added Austin.

The captured image from the website of U.S. cable news network C-Span shows Gen. Lloyd Austin (retired, at podium) speaking at a press conference in Wilmington, Delaware, on Dec. 9, 2020, where he was formally tapped by President-elect Joe Biden (R) as next secretary of defense. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)

The captured image from the website of U.S. cable news network C-Span shows Gen. Lloyd Austin (retired, at podium) speaking at a press conference in Wilmington, Delaware, on Dec. 9, 2020, where he was formally tapped by President-elect Joe Biden (R) as next secretary of defense. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)

Biden has repeatedly highlighted the need to repair and further improve U.S. relations with other countries, especially its traditional allies such as South Korea, as a way of restoring the country’s “rightful” place as a leader on the global stage.

The president-elect again underlined the importance of working with other countries, while offering reasons for his selection of the former general to be his defense chief.

“What we need is in-depth understanding of what it takes to deter threats wherever they arise, and to defend the American people, our vital interest and our allies from harm,” he said.

Noting the law requires a defense secretary nominee to have left the armed services at least seven years prior to his or her nomination, Biden said he would not have asked for an exception had it not been necessary.

“There’s a good reason for this law that I fully understand and respect. I will not be asking for this exception if I did not believe this moment in our history didn’t call for it — it does call for it — and if I didn’t have the faith I have in Lloyd Austin to ask for it,” Biden said at the press conference. “I believe in the importance of civilian-controlled military. So does the secretary-designate, Austin.”

Austin served as vice chief of staff of the Army before retiring in 2016.

Vice President-elect Kamala Harris said Austin, if confirmed, will not only help strengthen the United States’ own security, but also its role “as a partner to allies around the world.”

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Korea JoongAng Daily – Harris warns against those attempting to put a ‘crack’ in Korea-U.S. alliance

U.S. Ambassador to Korea Harry Harris [U.S. EMBASSY IN KOREA]

U.S. Ambassador to Korea Harry Harris [U.S. EMBASSY IN KOREA]

U.S. Ambassador to Korea Harry Harris warned that one of the biggest issues facing Seoul-Washington relations is the “malign attempt” by those trying to create the perception of a “crack” in the alliance.

However, Harris told the Korea JoongAng Daily earlier this month in a written interview conducted to mark the newspaper’s 20th anniversary, “Ours is a relationship forged in blood, and I am confident the alliance will be ironclad going forward, no matter who is president — not just as of Jan. 20, 2021, but well beyond.”

His remarks follow the U.S. presidential election on Nov. 3 and the victory of Democratic candidate Joe Biden over Republican incumbent President Donald Trump.

Harris went on to say that any attempts to undermine the Seoul-Washington alliance now and in the future will be futile, noting, “Our alliance isn’t brittle. We use the term ‘ironclad’ for a reason. We know that — even if those who wish our alliance ill don’t want it to be true.”

On what to expect from a Biden presidency, Harris reiterated the message from his video remarks posted on Twitter shortly after the U.S. presidential election and said, “I remain confident that we’ll have a leader who values the U.S.-ROK [Republic of Korea] alliance and is prepared to work together to maintain its strength into the future.”

Harris also addressed the rising rivalry between the United States and China, which has often placed South Korea in an awkward position balancing relations between its longtime ally and its largest trading partner.

“‘The other side’ is busy trying to tell the world that it was defending the peninsula against invasion when it sent hundreds of thousands of troops south of its borders to fight against South Koreans and their UN allies and to deny South Koreans’ right to determine their own future,” said Harris. “When false history and false information masqueraded as truths, the people — and media — of the Republic of Korea immediately recognized those claims for exactly what they were: Blatant revisionist history.”

Harris pointed to the backlash against BTS by Chinese netizens after a remark made by the group’s leader RM honoring those sacrificed during the Korean War while receiving the Korea Society’s 2020 Van Fleet Award in October. The band member had referred to the “history of pain that our two nations shared together” in recognition of the Seoul-Washington relationship.

Regarding Seoul’s position straddling between Beijing and Washington, he added, “If there is a choice to be made, that choice is about values, and shared beliefs: Authoritarianism on one side and freedom and democracy on the other.”

On the feasibility of a declaration to formally end the 1950-53 Korean War which ended in a ceasefire, as being pushed by the Moon Jae-in administration, Harris noted that U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has said that the “suite of issues with respect to the denuclearization of North Korea would obviously include documents that would resolve the state of war between North and South Korea.”

Harris was the first Asian-American to hold a four-star rank in the U.S. Navy and serve as commander of the U.S. Pacific Command before being posted as U.S. ambassador to Seoul in July 2018.

Last month, he tweeted his congratulations to four Korean-Americans elected to the U.S. Congress — Young Kim and Michelle Steel of California, Marilyn Strickland of Washington and Andy Kim of New Jersey, calling it “a first.”

Harris said of the recent election, “The fact that we had the most diverse election with the highest turnout in U.S. history, all during a deadly pandemic, is further proof that the United States will always continue to be a champion of democracy.”

The following are edited excerpts from interview.

Q. How do you diagnose the current status of the South Korea-U.S. alliance, and what direction do you see the alliance going with a new U.S. administration?  

A. Our alliance is ironclad. It has been so since we fought alongside each other 70 years ago when North Korea, backed by the People’s Republic of China and the Soviet Union, invaded South Korea. Ours is a relationship forged in blood, and I am confident the alliance will be ironclad going forward, no matter who is president — not just as of Jan. 20, 2021, but well beyond. But it’s not just military ties between our two great nations that bind us together.

Over 1.5 million Koreans have studied in the United States. Korean culture, food, music and cinema are widely available and consumed all across America and the world. K-pop groups such as BTS, Blackpink and TXT all chart on the Billboard charts in the U.S., and BTS keeps breaking barriers and setting new records — most recently with its first Grammy nomination. Korean cinema, too, is critically acclaimed, with “Parasite” taking home four Oscars at this year’s Academy awards, including Best Director and Best Picture. It’s no surprise, therefore, that there is consistent interest among Americans to learn Korean. The United States and, frankly, the rest of the world, look to South Korea’s shining example for inspiration on how to handle the Covid-19 pandemic — evidenced in Time’s inclusion of KDCA [Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency] Director Jeong Eun-kyeong on its list of the 100 most influential people of 2020. On the flip side, American culture can be seen in so many forms throughout South Korea, often transformed and fused into part of Korea’s own extraordinary culture. So, as you can see, the private relationship our two countries have on a person-to-person level is only growing closer. That doesn’t even take into consideration the work our governments do together across a wide range of humanitarian and social issues, and of course, the denuclearization of North Korea.

A growing and maturing economic dimension undergirds our relationship. Our joint efforts to promote fair trade between our nations have resulted in an increase in two-way trade every year since 2015. Our investment relationship has also evolved. U.S. companies continue to be the top source of investment into South Korea. That’s worth repeating. American foreign direct investment in Korea tops all other countries’. But now South Korean companies are also investing in the United States at record levels. These Korean firms benefit from a liberal, dynamic market economy and a political environment that is guarded by democracy, values both our countries share and cherish.

Q. What do you think are the biggest issues facing the Korea-U.S. alliance?  

A. We only have one president at a time, and the next presidential administration starts on Jan. 20. I simply cannot speculate on what the next administration’s approach to these issues will be, other than to reiterate what I said in my election day video message: I remain confident that we’ll have a leader who values the U.S.-ROK alliance and is prepared to work together to maintain its strength into the future. As for right now, today, I can say that one of the biggest issues I think our alliance faces is the malign attempt by some to find — or worse yet, to create the perception of — a “crack” in the alliance. Our alliance isn’t brittle. We use the term “ironclad” for a reason. We know that — even if those who wish our alliance ill don’t want it to be true.

Q. It has been nearly a year since the bilateral defense cost-sharing deal, or the Special Measures Agreement [SMA], expired, and negotiations have been stalled amid the coronavirus pandemic and the U.S. election. What do you believe constitutes a “fair and equitable” burden-sharing?

A. While Covid-19 has caused so much to come to a halt, the conversation about appropriate burden-sharing continues. So, considering how close our nations are, the question we really need to ask going forward is what is “fair and equitable?” As co-equal partners, I have faith that the ROK will work with our negotiators to contribute fairly and equitably in a way that befits South Korea’s status, both within our alliance and on the world stage.

Q: What can we expect on policy toward the Korean Peninsula from a Biden presidency, and should we be concerned about North Korea returning to a path of provocation? Do you believe North Korean denuclearization negotiations will go back to square one, or a “strategic patience” approach, under a new U.S. administration?

A. I think the best thing for all of us — especially if North Korea hopes to have a brighter future for its people — is for the DPRK [Democratic People’s Republic of Korea] to abandon provocations and instead uphold the promise Chairman Kim [Jong-un] made to President Trump to denuclearize. We believe that there’s an important, good outcome for global peace and stability and for the North Korean people, and we hope we can get back to the table and begin to have those discussions.

Q. Is an end-of-war declaration, as being proposed by the Moon Jae-in administration, feasible in the near future?

A. As far as an end-of-war declaration, Secretary Pompeo has said that the suite of issues with respect to the denuclearization of North Korea would obviously include documents that would resolve the state of war between North and South Korea.

Q. There is concern in Seoul about the intensified Sino-U.S. tensions. Can we expect some de-escalation under a new U.S. president, or as some analysts point out, will the United States be taking a hard-line stance toward China regardless of the administration?

A. The United States has partnered well with the PRC[People’s Republic of China]on several important fronts, and we have a robust economic relationship. But, the United States and Beijing fundamentally disagree on how to approach the international order. We ask like-minded partners and allies like the Republic of Korea to join us in calling out the Chinese Communist Party’s malign actions, actions that suppress the freedoms that our two countries have fought and died for – for example, the freedom of speech and the freedom of religion, not to mention the concepts of a free market system and personal privacy, just to name a very few of our shared values. The PRC uses its political and economic weight to muzzle perceived critics, such as BTS’s RM when he merely commented on Korean and American soldiers sacrificing themselves for the good of South Korea.

Ultimately, what the United States seeks from our relationship with the PRC is actually very straightforward: That Beijing abides by simple and powerful standards expected of any nation with aspirations to play a constructive role on the global stage. Does Korea expect the same of the PRC? I see it throughout the Korean media and especially my interactions with Koreans themselves — the answer is a resounding “yes.”

Q. What do you think South Korea’s role is amid such rivalry between the United States and China, and will Washington ask Seoul to choose sides? Some U.S. officials have said South Korea should participate in an expanded Quadrilateral Dialogue, or “Quad” — what does this signify?

A. It’s not about choosing between countries. If there is a choice to be made, that choice is about values, and shared beliefs: Authoritarianism on one side and freedom and democracy on the other, if you will. The Republic of Korea knows who its friends are: Those who chose freedom, the rule of law, human rights and justice when they stood alongside the young Republic to fend off an attack from the north 70 years ago this year. The ROK continues to renew that choice every day since. In doing so, it has become a thriving, successful democracy. The citizens of South Korea participate in free and fair elections, frequently exercise their rights to protest — no matter the reason or political persuasion — and enjoy one of the world’s strongest economies.

“The other side” is busy trying to tell the world that it was defending the peninsula against invasion when it sent hundreds of thousands of troops south of its borders to fight against South Koreans and their UN allies and to deny South Koreans’ right to determine their own future. When false history and false information masqueraded as truths, the people — and media — of the Republic of Korea immediately recognized those claims for exactly what they were: Blatant revisionist history.

Q. Washington has often played a reluctant mediator role between Seoul and Tokyo, though less so in recent years. What direction do you see Korea-Japan relations taking in the coming months, especially with a new Japanese administration, and what role do you think the United States will or should be playing?

A. Korea-Japan relations are of the utmost importance when it comes to regional security — when the United States, Korea and Japan stand together, the region is far more secure. The simple reality is that no important security or economic issue in the region can be addressed without both the ROK and Japan’s active involvement. As you know, we don’t take sides on these issues, but we really hope that both Korea and Japan — our friends and allies — work to ensure a lasting solution to the causes of the bilateral tensions. We hope to see amicable dialogue that leads to a solution that promotes much-needed healing.

Q. You are a pioneer yourself, as the first Asian-American to serve as commander of the United States Pacific Command (Pacom), among many roles. What do you think about a more diverse U.S. administration and Congress, including the recent election of four Korean-Americans in the congressional race?  

A. I was excited to read that news! In fact, you may have noticed that I tweeted my congratulations. The United States is such a diverse nation in just about every sense of the word. Having representation that reflects that diversity is a good thing, indeed. But what is more important is that people of all backgrounds — race, gender identity, religion, political views, sexual orientation, and so on — have decided to get into politics and make sure the voices of their communities, whatever they may be, are heard. Even more important is the fact that these are who the American voters have freely chosen to represent them. The fact that we had the most diverse election with the highest turnout in U.S. history, all during a deadly pandemic, is further proof that the United States will always continue to be a champion of democracy.

Q. You have been posted as ambassador to South Korea since 2018 — what it has been like serving as the top U.S. diplomat here during a global pandemic?

I recently gave a virtual lecture to students at Gachon University, and I noticed on the screen that one of those students was participating in the class while on the subway. The subway! That would be near impossible in the United States for instance, as Wi-Fi and cell services would inevitably cut out from station to station. This was an impressive moment to me. Despite being unable to travel, technology has enabled me to continue reaching out to students all over the country; the student on the subway thought nothing of it, masked up and taking a class while literally “on the go,” and Korea’s 21st century communications network enables your young people to do what they need to do, how cool is that!

Q. Where do you see South Korea-U.S. relations going in the next 20 years?

A. The alliance will continue to be as strong as it has always been. Korea will continue to play an increasingly large role in the region and in global affairs. And, of course, we will be doing it together.

BY SARAH KIM   [kim.sarah@joongang.co.kr]

U.S. Ambassador to Seoul Harry Harris holds up a sign in Korean wishing good luck to students taking the College Scholastic Ability Test (CSAT) earlier this month. [U.S. EMBASSY IN KOREA]

U.S. Ambassador to Seoul Harry Harris holds up a sign in Korean wishing good luck to students taking the College Scholastic Ability Test (CSAT) earlier this month. [U.S. EMBASSY IN KOREA]


Article: https://koreajoongangdaily.joins.com/2020/12/09/national/diplomacy/US-Ambassador-Harry-Harris-US-Embassy-KoreaUS-alliance/20201209185200449.html

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DVIDS – Battle of Chosin Reservoir Remembered

 

ARLINGTON, VA, UNITED STATES

11.27.2020

Video by Lance Cpl. Ellen Schaaf 

Communication Directorate             

Commandant Gen. David H. Berger and Sgt. Maj. of the Marine Corps Troy E. Black discuss the 70th anniversary of the Battle of Chosin Reservoir, where 25,000+ United Nations troops, including from the United States and the Republic of Korea, fought and allowed UN forces to break through enemy lines, saving 98,000 refugees evacuated at Hungnam Port. (U.S. Marine Corps video by Lance Cpl. Ellen Schaaf) For a descriptive transcript text document of this video, contact Kim Hardison at kimberly.hardison@usmc.mil.


Article/Main Page: https://www.dvidshub.net/video/774334/battle-chosin-reservoir-remembered

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Donga.com – CFC commander discusses OPCON transfer with Korean officials

It was reported that Gen. Robert Abrams, commander of the South Korea-U.S. Combined Forces Command (CFC), discussed pending issues regarding the U.S.-R.O.K. alliance such as transfer of war-time operational control with Seo Ju-seok, South Korea’s national security council secretary-general. Speaking pessimistically about the possibility of OPCON transfer before the incumbent South Korean administration leaves office, he has recently arranged a series of meet-ups with top-ranking South Korean government officials seemingly intend to deliver his take on conditions for joint military drills and other matters about which the two nations have shown different opinions, according to experts.

A meeting occurred around the end of last month where Commander Abrams and Secretary-General Seo exchanged their opinions about major bilateral issues such as the current status of OPCON transfer, which is highly likely to be left undone under the current South Korean administration, and the timing of verifying the second stage full operational capability (FOC) of the CFC, said an unnamed government source on Sunday. The U.S. delegation during the two nations’ Security Consultative Meeting (SCM) in October showed an objection to the plan to carry out the FOC assessment within next year. Commander Abrams has constantly argued that it may be impossible to complete OPCON transfer given the current level of South Korean military combat readiness and so on.

It was reported that Commander Abrams expressed concern to Secretary-General Seo that the United States Forces in South Korea (USFK) and the South Korean National Defense Ministry decided to cancel shooting drills of the AH-64 Apache, scheduled on Nov. 16 at Suseong shooting range in Pohang, North Gyeongsang Province. Meanwhile, a closed-door meeting was held with Defense Minister Suh Wook at the request of Commander Abrams on Nov. 23.

Military analysts think that the incumbent CFC commander is seeking to have a wide range of discussions with South Korean government officials before leaving office as U.S. Army Pacific Commander Gen. Paul LaCamera has been nominated as his successor. They deem that the CFC commander, known as a stickler for principles, seeks to actively share his views on South Korean troops’ exercise readiness and conditions for USFK-led drills. “He seems strongly determined to express everything he intends to say before leaving office,” according to an anonymous source.

Kyu-Jin Shin newjin@donga.com


Article: https://www.donga.com/en/article/all/20201207/2263928/1/CFC-commander-discusses-OPCON-transfer-with-Korean-officials

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Yonhap – U.S. Army Pacific commander named new USFK chief: sources

SEOUL, Dec. 4 (Yonhap) — U.S. Army Pacific Commander Gen. Paul LaCamera has been nominated to be the next commander of the U.S. Forces Korea (USFK), sources said Friday.

If confirmed, LaCamera will succeed Gen. Robert Abrams to lead the 28,500 American troops based in South Korea, as well as to take the helm of the U.N. Command and the South Korea-U.S. Combined Forces Command. Abrams took office in November 2018.

The nomination is part of a routine reshuffle, though no official term of office is set for a USFK commander, the sources said, adding that LaCamera is expected to face a parliamentary hearing in around February or March.

LaCamera has been in command of the U.S. Army Pacific (USARPAC) since November last year, which is the land forces component of the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command and encompasses such locations as South Korea, Japan, Hawaii and Guam.

USFK said it is “aware of recent reporting” for the next UNC/CFC/USFK commander, but an official nomination or announcement has not been made.

This photo downloaded from the U.S. Army Pacific website on Dec. 4, 2020, shows Gen. Paul LaCamera. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)

This photo downloaded from the U.S. Army Pacific website on Dec. 4, 2020, shows Gen. Paul LaCamera. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)

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Yonhap – Proposed U.S. defense budget bill limits reduction of USFK troop level

By Byun Duk-kun

WASHINGTON, Dec. 3 (Yonhap) — The U.S. defense budget bill for next year seeks to prevent a reduction of U.S. troop levels in South Korea, a U.S. congressional record showed Thursday.

According to the Conference Report on the defense budget, the U.S. Congress seeks to prevent the use of the national defense budget to reduce the number of U.S. Forces Korea from the current level of 28,500.

“None of the funds authorized to be appropriated by this Act may be used to reduce the total number of members of the Armed Forces serving on active duty who are deployed to South Korea below 28,500,” the National Defense Authorization Act said, according to the conference report.

A conference report is an agreement on legislation that results from negotiations between the House of Representatives and the Senate.

President Donald Trump has suggested a possible reduction of U.S. troops in South Korea, possibly as a bargaining chip in burden-sharing talks with South Korea. But some still believed a reduction may be possible as part of the U.S.’ global defense posture realignment.

According to the defense budget bill, the U.S. government may still reduce its troop level in South Korea, but only 90 days after the defense secretary “certifies” to the U.S. Congress that a reduction will not undermine the national security interests of the United States or its allies in the region.

The defense secretary must also have “appropriately consulted with allies of the United States, including South Korea and Japan, regarding such a reduction,” the report said.

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UPI – Remains of 36 more Korean War service members identified over year period

The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency said the remains of 36 soldiers have been accounted for during a yearlong remains recovery process from Oct. 1, 2019, to Sept. 30. File Photo by Staff Sgt. Mikaley Kline/U.S. Air Force/UPI

The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency said the remains of 36 soldiers have been accounted for during a yearlong remains recovery process from Oct. 1, 2019, to Sept. 30. File Photo by Staff Sgt. Mikaley Kline/U.S. Air Force/UPI
Dec. 1 (UPI) — Dozens of U.S. soldiers who went missing during the Korean War have been found and identified in the past year, but the search has been slowed by the coronavirus pandemic.

The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency said the remains of 36 soldiers have been accounted for during a yearlong remains recovery process from Oct. 1, 2019, to Sept. 30, Voice of America’s Korean service reported Tuesday.

U.S. soldiers accounted for include Marine Private First Class Henry E. Ellis. Ellis was 22 years old when he was killed in action on Nov. 30, 1950. Ellis, who was accounted for on Sept. 29, was defending a convoy near Koto-ri, North Korea, according to the agency.

The number of remains recovered and identified is down from the previous year, when DPAA said it had accounted for 73 soldiers. The agency said the pandemic has reduced excavations, according to VOA.

North Korea began to return the remains of unidentified soldiers after leader Kim Jong Un and U.S. President Donald Trump met at their historic summit in Singapore in 2018.

Some of the remains delivered to the United States were identified as South Korean soldiers. In June, the United States returned the remains of 147 South Koreans to Seoul.

The U.S. Department of Defense estimates about 7,500 U.S. troops remain missing in action. North Korea previously handed over remains to the United States, between 1990 and 1994, and between 1996 and 2006, according to VOA.

U.S. and South Korean officials recently observed the 70th anniversary of the battle of the Chosin Reservoir in Seoul. The battle marked a turning point in the war and culminated in a U.S. retreat from present-day North Korea.

Eyewitnesses who spoke to NPR last week said 120,000 Chinese troops launched attacks and drove out Korean civilians from their homes. Civilians were able to warn U.S. and South Korean troops of impending attacks, according to the report.


Article: https://www.upi.com/Top_News/World-News/2020/12/01/Remains-of-36-more-Korean-War-service-members-identified-over-year-period/8511606846543/?utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=EBB%2012.02.20&utm_term=Editorial%20-%20Early%20Bird%20Brief

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Yonhap – N. Korea advancing nuclear, missile capabilities: Milley

By Byun Duk-kun

WASHINGTON, Dec. 2 (Yonhap) — North Korea continues to develop its nuclear and long-range missile capabilities, but so are South Korea and the United States to deter provocations, the top U.S. military officer said Wednesday.

Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, also noted the communist state may stage military provocations but said the allies are fully ready and capable to deal with any provocation.

“It is also true that North Korea has advanced their nuclear weapon and missile delivery capabilities. But the deterrence capabilities of not only the Republic of Korea, but also in combination with Japan and most importantly with the United States is very, very significant,” the top U.S. military leader said in a webinar hosted by the Washington-based Brookings Institution think tank.

The captured image from the website of the Brookings Institution shows Army Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, speaking in a webinar hosted by the Washington-based think tank on Dec. 2, 2020. (Yonhap)

The captured image from the website of the Brookings Institution shows Army Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, speaking in a webinar hosted by the Washington-based think tank on Dec. 2, 2020. (Yonhap)

Pyongyang has maintained a self-imposed moratorium on nuclear and long-range missile testing since November 2017.

The communist state, however, unveiled a longer-range intercontinental ballistic missile in an Oct. 10 military parade, indicating its continued weapons development despite the near two-year halt in testing.

Milley noted the North may be facing a “wide variety of challenges” internally but that it may resume its military provocations in the future.

“That’s very possible. I mean they have got a long history of doing things like that,” he said.

Many officials and experts here have pointed to the possibility of North Korea trying to test the incoming U.S. administration with military provocations that they say are in “their playbook.”

President-elect Joe Biden is set to be inaugurated on Jan. 20.

The head of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff said the U.S. and South Korea stand ready and capable to counter any North Korean provocation.

“I think we have adequate vigilance. We are monitoring the situation closely as we always do with North Korea, and we have adequate military capabilities to deal with whatever might come our way,” said Milley.

He also highlighted the strength of the Korea-U.S. alliance.

“I think the alliance between the United States and the Republic of Korea is very strong…We have 28,500 troops in South Korea with significant capabilities and the ROK military is very significant. It is one of the better militaries in the world, in fact,” he told the seminar.

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Yonhap – U.S. encouraged by S. Korea-Japan efforts to address differences: Knapper

By Choi Soo-hyang

SEOUL, Dec. 2 (Yonhap) — The United States was “encouraged” by recent efforts by South Korea and Japan to “address their differences,” a State Department official said Wednesday, highlighting the need for trilateral cooperation against North Korean nuclear and missile threats.

Marc Knapper, deputy assistant secretary for Korea and Japan at the East Asian and Pacific affairs bureau, made the remark in a webinar, apparently referring to a series of visits to Japan by senior South Korean officials on the occasion of the launch of the Yoshihide Suga administration.

“We are encouraged by South Korea and Japan’s recent sincere discussions to address their differences to hopefully find a path forward for more constructive and productive relations,” Knapper said.

In this captured image, Marc Knapper, deputy assistant secretary for Korea and Japan at the East Asian and Pacific affairs bureau, speaks during a webinar co-hosted by the Korea-U.S. Alliance Foundation and the Korea Defense Veterans Association on Dec. 2, 2020. (Yonhap)

In this captured image, Marc Knapper, deputy assistant secretary for Korea and Japan at the East Asian and Pacific affairs bureau, speaks during a webinar co-hosted by the Korea-U.S. Alliance Foundation and the Korea Defense Veterans Association on Dec. 2, 2020. (Yonhap)

Last week, President Moon Jae-in picked Kang Chang-il, a former four-term ruling party lawmaker, as South Korea’s new ambassador to Tokyo, expressing hope that he will play a key role in improving relations between the neighboring countries.

Moon’s choice of Kang, who has a wide web of personal networks in Japan, reflects the president’s will to normalize Seoul-Tokyo relations in cooperation with the Suga government, according to a Cheong Wa Dae official.

The two sides have long been in diplomatic standoffs with each other especially over Korean victims of forced labor at Japanese mines, factories and other facilities during World War II.

“The U.S. will continue to pursue bilateral and trilateral security and other cooperation with South Korea and Japan in recognition of our shared interests, particularly as we together seek to address the North Korean nuclear and missile threats,” Knapper said, calling the South Korea-U.S. alliance the “linchpin” of peace and security in the Indo-Pacific region.

The U.S. diplomat also used Wednesday’s event to keep China in check, highlighting American companies’ investment in South Korea over the decades, which he said “contributed to the growth of some of the largest and most important industries” in the Asian country.

“The same cannot be said about the People’s Republic of China whose investment in ROK is minimal, barely 3 percent of the total foreign direct investment in South Korea. The United States is at 15 percent,” he said. ROK stands for South Korea’s official name, the Republic of Korea.

The webinar was co-hosted by the Korea-U.S. Alliance Foundation and the Korea Defense Veterans Association to mark the 70th anniversary of the 1950-53 Korean War’s outbreak.

In a guest speech, Defense Minister Suh Wook said South Korea and the U.S. will maintain an “ironclad” combined defense posture, vowing to continue the push to transfer the wartime operational control of South Korean troops from Washington to Seoul.

U.S. Forces Korea Commander Gen. Robert Abrams said the Combined Forces Command between the two countries “remains fully committed to providing a ready, credible and enduring combined defense posture.”

scaaet@yna.co.kr
(END)

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