ROK-U.S. News

Yonhap – S. Korea says it can end GSOMIA at any time, as mutually understood by Japan

By Kim Seung-yeon

SEOUL, Aug. 24 (Yonhap) — South Korea can end a military intelligence-sharing agreement with Japan at any time, as the country suspended the pact’s planned termination last year under that condition, the foreign ministry said Monday.

Japan has also confirmed its understanding of the condition, the ministry said.

The comments came after Japanese media reports quoted its government officials as suggesting that the General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA) is seen as being renewed since Seoul did not notify Tokyo of any plan to terminate it by the end of Sunday, the notification deadline.

Seoul has stressed that the Aug. 24 deadline no longer applies, as it suspended the termination decision in November last year on the premise that it can end the pact at anytime.

“Our government suspended GSOMIA’s termination notice on the premise that we can terminate GSOMIA at any time, and upon the understanding between Korea and Japan, we can revive the termination process and end GSOMIA at any time,” the ministry said.

“Both sides have understood that the Korean side has the right to reactivate the termination notice at any time. Both sides have confirmed this understanding.”

Seoul decided to scrap GSOMIA with Tokyo in August last year in response to Japan’s export curbs on key industrial materials vital to Korean tech companies amid strained ties over wartime historical issues. But it suspended the termination decision at the last minute in November, as the two sides agreed to resolve the matter through diplomacy.

South Korea has warned it can resume the termination process at any time if Japan does not retract the export control measures.

S. Korea says it can end GSOMIA at any time, as mutually understood by Japan - 1
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Fox News – Kim Jong Un in coma, sister set to take control, South Korean ex-diplomat alleges

It is not the first time that the leader’s absence has prompted rumors of health problems

South Korean diplomat is speculating that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has fallen into a coma and that his sister, Kim Yo Jong, is poised to take the rogue nation’s reins.

Chang Song-min, a former aide to South Korea’s late president Kim Dae-jung, made the sensational claims to South Korean media, according to the New York Post.

Chang suggested that Kim is in a coma, “but his life has not ended.”

“A complete succession structure has not been formed, so Kim Yo-jong is being brought to the fore as the vacuum cannot be maintained for a prolonged period.”

FILE: Kim Yo Jong, right, helps her brother North Korean leader Kim Jong Un sign a joint statement following the summit with South Korean President Moon Jae-in at the Paekhwawon State Guesthouse in Pyongyang, North Korea. 

FILE: Kim Yo Jong, right, helps her brother North Korean leader Kim Jong Un sign a joint statement following the summit with South Korean President Moon Jae-in at the Paekhwawon State Guesthouse in Pyongyang, North Korea.  (Pyongyang Press Corps Pool via AP)

Chang’s allegation comes just days after South Korea’s spy agency said the North’s 36-year-old leader had delegated part of his authority to his close aides, including his younger sister, the Yonhap News Agency reported.

In a private meeting with lawmakers last week, South Korea’s National Intelligence Service said that “Kim Yo-jong, the first vice department director of the Workers’ Party Central Committee, is steering overall state affairs on the delegation,” though Kim her brother still maintains “absolute authority.”

Still, doubt lingers as to the veracity of the diplomat’s claims. Nor was it the first time that Kim’s prolonged absence from the public spotlight has fueled speculation about his health.

In April, reports circulated that the leader of the Hermit Kingdom had had heart surgery after he was not seen in public for nearly three weeks. The North Korean government never explained Kim’s absence, including why he missed a commemoration that celebrated the 108th birthday of his late grandfather, North Korea founder Kim Il Sung.

After a video was released showing Kim moving around during the completion of a fertilizer factory near Pyongyang, a South Korean government official told Fox News that “our government believes” there was no indication that a medical procedure had occurred.

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Yonhap – Defense chiefs’ talks between S. Korea, U.S., Japan unlikely this month: sources

By Oh Seok-min

SEOUL, Aug. 21 (Yonhap) — The United States has proposed talks among the defense ministers of the U.S., South Korea and Japan in Guam later this month, but the meeting is unlikely to take place due to the coronavirus pandemic, sources said Friday.

Discussions are under way on when and how to hold a trilateral defense chiefs’ meeting, after the annual security forum of the Shangri-La Dialogue, where the three sides had gathered together, was cancelled due to COVID-19. The forum was initially supposed to be held in June in Singapore.

The three countries then agreed to push for videoconference talks but no such talk has taken place so far.

“South Korea has proposed diverse options regarding a trilateral meeting. But the three sides were unable to arrange the schedule,” a Seoul source said.

The U.S. recently proposed a gathering in Guam on Aug. 29, but it seems to be “not a plausible option for South Korean Minister Jeong Kyeong-doo to make an overseas trip given the worsening domestic COVID-19 situation,” he added.

South Korea has called for all-out efforts to contain the spread of the new coronavirus, as it has seen a drastic surge in new virus cases since last week.

“We’ve had close consultations with the U.S. and the Japanese side since May for trilateral defense ministers’ talks under the notion that South Korea-U.S.-Japan security cooperation is crucial,” Seoul’s defense ministry said in a statement.

“Due to COVID-19 and different schedules of the three chiefs, however, we’ve yet to fix the schedule. Discussions are under way,” it added.

The Pentagon earlier said that U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper will travel to Palau, Hawaii and Guam next week. According to Japan’s Kyodo news, Esper is arranging talks with Japanese Defense Minister Taro Kono on Aug. 29.

The top defense officials of Seoul, Washington and Tokyo last met in November 2019 in Bangkok on the sidelines of the 6th ASEAN Defense Ministers’ Meeting Plus (ADMM-Plus).

U.S. Secretary of Defense Mark Esper (C) holds the hands of South Korean Defense Minister Jeong Kyeong-doo (L) and his Japanese counterpart, Taro Kono, ahead of their trilateral talks in Bangkok on Nov. 17, 2019. (Yonhap)

U.S. Secretary of Defense Mark Esper (C) holds the hands of South Korean Defense Minister Jeong Kyeong-doo (L) and his Japanese counterpart, Taro Kono, ahead of their trilateral talks in Bangkok on Nov. 17, 2019. (Yonhap)

graceoh@yna.co.kr

(END)

Article: https://en.yna.co.kr/view/AEN20200821004300325?section=national/defense

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The Korea Times – Ex-USFK commander named new chairman of veterans association

The Korea Times | By Park Han-sol

U.S. General Vincent K. Brooks, former commander of the United Nations Command, ROK-U.S. Combined Forces Command and the U.S. Forces Korea / Yonhap

U.S. General Vincent K. Brooks, former commander of the United Nations Command, ROK-U.S. Combined Forces Command and the U.S. Forces Korea / Yonhap

General Vincent Brooks, former commander of the U.S. Forces Korea (USFK), will become the new chairman and president of the Korea Defense Veterans Association (KDVA), the organization said, Wednesday.

The retired general will take on the post, currently held by retired Army General Walter Sharp, starting Oct. 1.

Gen. Brooks served as the commander of the United Nations Command (UNC), ROK-U.S. Combined Forces Command (CFC) and USFK from April 2016 to November 2018. He retired from active duty in January 2019.

“KDVA has been essential in bringing together Americans and Koreans who care about the alliance and how the alliance supports both countries,” Brooks was quoted as saying in the KDVA announcement. “My love for Korea and my appreciation for the alliance are well-known, and I very much look forward to the work KDVA will continue to do in keeping both countries connected.”

Gen. Sharp said of the new leader, “General Brooks is one of the most recognized and most respected leaders of the ROK-U.S. Alliance.” He added that Brooks will help bring the KDVA to the next level so that the organization can “continue to fulfill the legacy of our Korean War and defense veterans in keeping the alliance strong to defend our two nations’ interests.”

Founded in 2017, KDVA is a nonprofit organization based in Virginia that advocates for the Korea-U.S. alliance by supporting former and current military service members and honoring veterans who fought during the 1950-53 Korean War.


Article: https://www.koreatimes.co.kr/www/nation/2020/08/205_294672.html

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Yonhap – 4 U.S. bombers fly simultaneously near Korean Peninsula on eve of joint exercises with S. Korea

By Oh Seok-min

SEOUL, Aug. 19 (Yonhap) — The United States flew four bombers near the Korean Peninsula simultaneously earlier this week to show its commitment to the defense of partner nations on the eve of joint military exercises with South Korea, the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command said.

The demonstration of airpower took place Monday, a day before the launch of the South Korea-U.S. summertime combined exercises. The drills, set to run until Aug. 28, are meant to maintain their combined defense posture, officials said.

This photo from the Indo-Pacific Command website shows the United States and Japan conducting a bilateral integration training exercise on Aug. 18, 2020. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)

This photo from the Indo-Pacific Command website shows the United States and Japan conducting a bilateral integration training exercise on Aug. 18, 2020. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)

According to the Indo-Pacific Command, four B-1 Lancers and two B-2 Spirit Stealth Bombers conducted Bomber Task Force (BTF) missions at the same time over the course of 24 hours Monday.

Four B-1s — two from Ellsworth Air Force Base in South Dakota and another set from its Guam base — flew to the East Sea, according to the command.

They then joined four F-15C Eagles from Japan’s Kadena Air Base, as well as the USS Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group, and conducted large force exercise training, according to the command.

Two B-2 bombers took off from Whiteman Air Force Base in the U.S. and “delivered their own unique capabilities” in the Indian Ocean, it added.

“Our unique strength as an Air Force is our ability to generate integrated actions with our joint teammates and allies and partners to challenge competitors in a time and place of our choosing,” Gen. Ken Wilsbach, commander of the Pacific Air Forces, said.

“These simultaneous airpower missions demonstrated our capacity and readiness to deliver a wide range of proactive, scalable options to quickly deploy our forces to support our mission of ensuring a free and open Indo-Pacific theater,” he added.

The large-scale operation also came days after China conducted massive military exercises in and around the Taiwan Strait. Some Chinese media outlets reported that Beijing’s rare move is to send a strong signal to secessionists in Taiwan amid growing U.S. support for Taipei.

Meanwhile, the U.S. navy’s EP-3E spy plane was spotted in the skies over South Korea’s capital areas Wednesday, No Callsign, a civilian aviation tracker, tweeted.

EP-3E Aries II is one of the key electronic warfare and reconnaissance aircraft by the U.S. military utilizing state-of-the-art electronic surveillance equipment. The U.S. has often deployed such planes to the Korean Peninsula in an apparent mission to monitor North Korea.

North Korea has strongly opposed combined military exercises between South Korea and the U.S., calling them a rehearsal for invasion of the North, though Seoul and Washington say they are defensive in nature.

This year, however, Pyongyang has not made official responses to the summertime program. The communist country is set to hold a plenary party meeting Wednesday to discuss issues for the enhancement of the party’s “fighting efficiency.”

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KDVA Welcomes General (Ret.) Vincent Brooks as New Chairman and President

 

General (Retired) Vincent K. Brooks

빈센트 브룩스 대장(예)

The Korea Defense Veterans Association (KDVA) Board of Directors is very proud to announce that General (Ret.) Vincent Brooks will become the new KDVA Chairman and President on October 1, 2020.  General Brooks was the Commander of the United Nations Command, ROK-U.S. Combined Forces Command, and U.S. Forces Korea (UNC/CFC/USFK) from 2016 to 2018.

주한미군전우회 이사회는 2020년 10월 1일을 기점으로 주한미군전우회의 신임 이사장 및 회장으로 빈센트 브룩스 장군(예)이 취임할 것을 의결하였습니다. 본 결정과 관련하여 現 회장 및 이사장이신 샤프 장군(예)은 다음과 같이 축하 인사를 전하셨습니다.

“General Brooks is one of the most recognized and most respected leaders of the ROK-U.S. Alliance.  He is widely admired for his deep understanding of Alliance topics as well as his love of the Korean people and their culture,” said General (Ret.) Walter Sharp, the current Chairman and President of KDVA.  “Since its founding in April 2017, KDVA has made significant strides in raising awareness of vital Alliance issues and support for the Veterans and Service Members who built the Alliance and continue to serve it.  There is no doubt that Vince will take KDVA to the next level in bringing all stakeholders in the Alliance together so that we continue to fulfill the legacy of our Korean War and Defense Veterans in keeping the Alliance strong to defend our two nations’ interests.”

“브룩스 장군은 한미동맹사에서 높이 존경받는 지도자 중 한 분으로, 한미동맹 관련 각종 현안에 대한 탁월한 식견과 한국 국민 및 문화에 대한 깊은 애정을 갖고 있는 것으로 잘 알려진 분입니다. 주한미군전우회는 2017년 4월 창립하여 한미동맹과 관련한 각종 주요 사안에 대하여 한미 양국의 국민들께서 인식을 제고할 수 있도록 노력해왔으며, 한미동맹을 건설하고 지속적으로 발전시키는 데 큰 역할을 해 주신 한미 양국의 참전용사님들과 예비역 장병들을 위해 다방면으로 지원해왔습니다. 새로 취임하시는 빈센트 장군께서 우리 주한미군전우회의 이 숭고한 과업을 성공적으로 이어가고 나아가 더욱 발전시킬 것이라는 데 한 치의 의심도 없습니다. 또한, 다양한 이해관계로 얽혀 있는 복잡한 사안에서도 한미동맹의 가치를 필두로 여러 의견을 가진 구성원들을 포용하고 연합하여 동맹을 강화하고 한미 양국의 국익을 증진하는 데 최선을 다할 분이십니다. 브룩스 장군님은 한국에서 복무한 한미 양국의 장병들이 건설한 위대한 이 업적들을 계승하고 발전 시켜 나갈 것입니다.”

General Brooks retired from active duty in January 2019 after serving in his final assignment as the four-star general in command of over 650,000 Koreans and Americans under arms from April 2016 to November 2018 during a critical time on the Korean Peninsula and in northeast Asia.  He is widely respected as a speaker and leader of cohesive, innovative organizations.  He is a combat veteran and a life member of the Council on Foreign Relations.  General Brooks is a Principal with WestExec Advisors and is on the Board of Directors of: the Gary Sinise Foundation, Diamondback Energy Inc., and Jacobs Inc.  He is also a visiting Senior Fellow at the Harvard University Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs; a Distinguished Fellow at the University of Texas, with both the Clements Center for National Security and also the Strauss Center for International Security and Law; and an Executive Fellow with the Institute for Defense and Business.

빈센트 브룩스 장군(예)은 한반도와 동북아 안보에 있어 격랑의 시기였던 2016년 4월부터 2018년 11월까지 65만여 명의 한미연합전력을 지휘하는 유엔사, 한미연합사, 주한미군 사령관으로 한국에서 복무하시고 대장으로 예편하셨습니다. 퇴임 후 현재 미국 내 명망 있는 유수의 기관에서 연설 및 지도 활동을 하고 계시며 미국외교협회의 종신회원이기도 하십니다. 브룩스 장군은 미국 최고의 안보 전문가들로 구성된 집단인 웨스트이그젯어드바이저 (WestExec Advisors)를 비롯하여 게리시니스재단 (Gary Sinise Foundation), 다이아몬드백에너지 (Diamondback Energy Inc), 제이콥스 (Jacobs Inc.) 등 미국 내 권위 있는 유수의 기관 이사로 활동하고 계십니다. 또한 하버드 대학교 내 국제관계 및 과학 연구 관련 기관인 벨퍼센터 (Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs), 텍사스대학교, 클레멘츠센터 (Clements Center), 스트라스 센터, 미국안보경제연구기관 (Institute for Defense and Business) 등의 기관에서 안보 관련 선임연구원으로 왕성한 학술 활동도 병행하고 계십니다.

“This is a great honor for me.  KDVA has been essential in bringing together Americans and Koreans who care about the Alliance and how the Alliance supports both countries,” General Brooks said.  “My love for Korea and my appreciation for the Alliance are well-known, and I very much look forward to the work KDVA will continue to do in keeping both countries connected.”

“주한미군전우회를 이끌어가는 막중한 책무를 맡게 된 것을 큰 영광으로 생각합니다. 주한미군전우회는 한미동맹 강화에 뜻을 함께하시는 한미 양국의 국민을 연합하고, 이를 통해 동맹을 더욱 공고히 하여 한미 양국의 국익을 증진하는 데 큰 역할을 수행해왔습니다. 대한민국을 향한 제 애정과 한미동맹에 대한 열정을 많은 분들께서 알고 계십니다. 한미 양국을 더욱 연합하고 이 위대한 동맹이 계속 발전할 수 있도록 제게 위임하신 이 막중한 책무를 성실히 이행하겠습니다.”

After more than three years as the driving force behind the creation and operations of KDVA, General Sharp will become the Chairman of the Military Officers Association of America (MOAA) in October 2020.  KDVA has several events planned for his farewell later this year.

주한미군전우회의 설립자이자 회장 및 이사장으로 3년간 주한미군전우회를 성공적으로 운영하시고 주한미군전우회를 한미동맹의 핵심 기관으로 발전시키신 샤프 회장님께서 미군장교협회의 이사장으로 영전하시어 오는 10월부터 새 여정을 시작하십니다. 샤프 회장님과 관련한 여러 이임 행사가 연말 개최될 예정입니다.

KDVA continues to be the premier association that supports and advocates for the people who built the Alliance and continue to serve it in U.S. Forces Korea and Combined Forces Command.  KDVA is a 501C(3) non-profit organization incorporated in the state of Virginia.  Please contact KDVA at contact@kdva.vet, visit www.kdva.vet, and follow us on Facebook (@kdva.us) and Twitter (@KDVAvets).

주한미군전우회는 주한미군과 한미연합사에서 복무한 경험이 있는 참전용사와 예비역 장병들을 지원하고 한미동맹을 강화하는 사역에 최선을 다하고 있습니다. 주한미군전우회는 미연방법으로 규정한 비영리조직으로 버지니아주에 등록된 기관입니다. 주한미군전우회에 관한 자세한 정보는 www.kdva.vet 에서 확인하실 수 있으며, 문의 사항이 있으신 경우 contact@kdva.vet 으로 문의하여 주십시오. 기관 행사 및 주요 소식은 페이스북(@kdva.us) 혹은 트위터(@KDVAvets)를 통해서도 확인하실 수 있습니다.


Translated by Mr. Hong, Sukgi (professional linguist and KDVA Intern), sukgi.hong@students.mq.edu.au. 번역: 홍석기(통번역사/KDVA인턴), sukgi.hong@students.mq.edu.au.

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Yonhap – N.K. owns up to 60 nuclear bombs, world’s third-largest amount of chemical agents: U.S. military report

SEOUL, Aug. 18 (Yonhap) — North Korea is believed to have up to 60 nuclear bombs and the world’s third-largest stockpile of chemical weapons totaling up to 5,000 tons, the U.S. Army has said.

The U.S. Department of the Army headquarters made the assessment in its report, titled “North Korean tactics,” which was published last month, saying Pyongyang is unlikely to give up these weapons to ensure the regime’s survival.

“Estimates for North Korean nuclear weapons range from 20-60 bombs, with the capability to produce 6 new devices each year,” the U.S. military said, noting that some reports state that the regime could obtain as many as 100 by the end of this year.

“North Korea sought nuclear weapons because its leaders thought the threat of a nuclear attack would prevent other countries from contemplating a regime change,” according to the report, which also pointed out that leader Kim Jong-un witnessed the case of Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi and “does not want something similar to happen in North Korea.”

Negotiations between Washington and Pyongyang on the North’s nuclear programs have been stalled since February last year when the second summit between U.S. President Donald Trump and Kim in Hanoi broke down.

This file photo shows North Korea test-firing a long-range rocket from the Dongchang-ri launch site in North Pyongan Province in February 2016. Reports on June 21, 2018, said North Korean leader Kim Jong-un pledged to destroy the North's missile launch site soon while having a summit meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump in Singapore on June 12. (For Use Only in the Republic of Korea. No Redistribution) (Yonhap)

This file photo shows North Korea test-firing a long-range rocket from the Dongchang-ri launch site in North Pyongan Province in February 2016. Reports on June 21, 2018, said North Korean leader Kim Jong-un pledged to destroy the North’s missile launch site soon while having a summit meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump in Singapore on June 12. (For Use Only in the Republic of Korea. No Redistribution) (Yonhap)

The report also showed that Pyongyang is estimated to possess “2,500-5,000 tons of chemical weapons of approximately 20 different types, making it the third-largest possessor of chemical agents in the world. It is “highly likely” that the North Korean military would use chemical artillery shells.

The regime has also done research on biological weapons and possibly weaponized anthrax or smallpox, which could be mounted atop missiles for use against South Korea, the United States and Japan, it added.

“Only 1 kilogram of anthrax could kill up to 50,000 people in Seoul,” the report read.

North Korea is also believed to have secured advanced computer warfare capabilities, which is another key means of coercive diplomacy, according to the report.

Under the Cyber Warfare Guidance Unit, more commonly known as Bureau 121, the North manages more than 6,000 hackers, many of whom are operating in foreign countries, such as Belarus, China, India, Malaysia and Russia, the report showed.

“North Korea can successfully conduct invasive computer warfare activities from the safety of its own territory,” the report said. “It has the distributed ability to reach targeted computers anywhere in the world, as long as they are connected to the Internet.”

graceoh@yna.co.kr
(END)


Article: https://en.yna.co.kr/view/AEN20200818006651325?section=national/defense

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Stars & Stripes – South Korea says 457 coronavirus cases linked to church in Seoul

People wearing face masks pass by posters about precautions against the coronavirus at a subway station in Seoul, South Korea, Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2020. AHN YOUNG-JOON/AP

By ASSOCIATED PRESS

SEOUL, South Korea — South Korean health officials said Tuesday that they have found 457 coronavirus cases linked to a huge Seoul church led by a bitter critic of the country’s president, driving an alarming surge of infections in the greater capital area.

Kwon Jun-wook, director of South Korea’s National Health Institute, said outbreaks at the Sarang Jeil Church and elsewhere have pushed the country into the biggest crisis yet since the emergence of COVID-19.

He said a failure to slow transmissions in the densely populated Seoul metropolitan area, home to nearly 26 million people, could create a situation comparable to the “miserable scenes of the United States or European countries.”

There’s concern that the virus’s spread could worsen after thousand of protesters, including members of the church and its ultra-right pastor, Jun Kwang-hun, marched in downtown Seoul on Saturday. Jun, who was unmasked and shared a microphone with several anti-government activists on a stage during the protest, tested positive on Monday and is now receiving treatment at a Seoul hospital.

Health officials have so far tested 2,500 of the church’s 4,000 members, but they expressed concern that many of them are refusing to come forward for testing. Police are pursuing some 800 church members who have been out of contact.

South Korea reported 246 new cases of the coronavirus on Tuesday, raising its total for the last five days to 959.


Article: https://www.stripes.com/news/pacific/south-korea-says-457-coronavirus-cases-linked-to-church-in-seoul-1.641674?fbclid=IwAR2PGI2RdG2AZJkEK84shModt2PZvukv80k2Kcu20ulsYYIpk6DQJQLzBZk

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S. Korea, U.S. to stage joint summertime exercise this week: JCS

SEOUL, Aug. 16 (Yonhap) — South Korea and the United States decided to kick off their annual summertime combined exercise in an adjusted manner this week, military officials said Sunday, following the postponement of their springtime training due to the coronavirus.

The computer-simulated Combined Command Post Training (CCPT) will begin Tuesday and run until Aug. 28, the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said in a statement, noting that the two sides made the decision “after taking into consideration related circumstances, such as the COVID-19 situation comprehensively.”

Seoul and Washington had initially planned to kick-start the training Sunday but pushed back the date after a South Korean Army officer who was supposed to take part in the exercise tested positive for the coronavirus Friday, according to military officials.

The planned exercise will be smaller in scale compared with previous ones, as American troops necessary for the program were not able to come to South Korea under coronavirus-related restrictions, they added.

In the runup to the planned exercise, the two sides held a four-day crisis management staff training last week.

The two sides have usually held major combined exercises twice a year — in March and August, but they skipped this year’s springtime CCPT due to the fast spread of the new coronavirus.

South Korea had been managing the COVID-19 situation in a relatively stable manner, but it reported 166 new patients Saturday, which is a five-month high, mostly in Seoul and the surrounding metropolitan areas due to cluster infections mainly from churches, according to health authorities.

South Korean and U.S. service members engage in a computer simulated exercise called the Key Resolve in Busan, South Korea, on March 10, 2016, in this photo provided by the Navy Fleet Command. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)

South Korean and U.S. service members engage in a computer simulated exercise called the Key Resolve in Busan, South Korea, on March 10, 2016, in this photo provided by the Navy Fleet Command. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)

“This exercise will put a focus on the maintenance of the combined defense posture. A run-through based on the future combined command structure after the transition of the wartime operation control (OPCON) will partly be conducted,” the JCS said.

Currently, a four-star U.S. Army general helms the South Korea-U.S. Combined Forces Command (CFC). After Seoul retakes OPCON from Washington, however, a South Korean general is supposed to command the CFC.

As the upcoming exercise will be held in an adjusted manner, a Full Operational Capability (FOC) test will not be conducted fully, which would affect Seoul’s OPCON transfer of its forces from Washington.

The FOC is meant to verify if Seoul is on course to meet the conditions for the OPCON transition. Though it is conditions-based, rather than time-based, the Seoul government seeks to retake it under the current Moon Jae-in administration, whose term will end in May 2022.

During last year’s summertime exercise, the allies conducted an initial operational capability (IOC) test, and their defense ministers decided to move on to the FOC test. Following the FOC test, the two sides will carry out a Full Mission Capability (FMC) test.

“We would accept inevitable circumstances,” Defense Minister Jeong Kyeong-doo said earlier during a parliamentary committee meeting. “If needed, we will change our plans (regarding the OPCON transfer), I believe.”

graceoh@yna.co.kr
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USFK ups warning level for all areas in S. Korea amid virus resurgence

SEOUL, Aug. 17 (Yonhap) — The U.S. Forces Korea (USFK) has raised the health protection level against the new coronavirus for all areas within South Korea as local infections accelerated amid a surge in church-related cases.

Effective at 5 a.m. Monday, the USFK heightened the Health Protection Condition Level (HPCON) to Charlie, or HPCON C, for all areas in the country, USFK said in a Facebook post.

Under the revised rules, the number of personnel working on bases will be reduced, and the USFK will conduct health checks such as temperature screening on all people entering its military bases.

On Saturday, USFK raised its protection level to Charlie within Seoul and the surrounding areas, including the western city of Incheon and eight districts in Gyeonggi Province.

The decision to raise the HPCON level to all areas within the country came after South Korea’s new COVID-19 cases reached a five-month high of 279 on Sunday, spiking up from 166 on Saturday.

The recent surge in cases has prompted the health authorities to place stricter social distancing guidelines on Seoul and the metropolitan areas, scaling up the national alert level by one notch to Level 2 for two weeks from Sunday.

Five more American service members tested positive for the new coronavirus, according to the USFK on Monday.

Among them, three service members arrived at Osan Air Base in Pyeongtaek, south of Seoul, on a U.S. government chartered flight while the two others arrived at Incheon International Airport, west of Seoul, on commercial flights, it said.

They are now all at an isolation facility designated for confirmed COVID-19 patients at Camp Humphreys or the Osan base, it said.

The cases brought the total number of USFK-related infections to 157.

This file photo shows a gate of the U.S. base Camp Humphreys in Pyeongtaek, south of Seoul. (Yonhap)

This file photo shows a gate of the U.S. base Camp Humphreys in Pyeongtaek, south of Seoul. (Yonhap)

julesyi@yna.co.kr

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Article: https://en.yna.co.kr/view/AEN20200817001251325?section=national/defense

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