Wednesday, September 20, 2006

The Strategic Importance of South Korea

Policy Forum Online 06-19A: March 9th, 2006
"Strategic Flexibility of U.S. Forces in Korea"

Essay by Lee Chul-kee

I don't agree to his conclusion, but his analysis of strategic position of South Korea is suggestive.
Especially, the main reason for Washington's pursuit of the "strategic flexibility of the USFK" is to prepare for a military action against China. In other words, the primary target of the "strategic flexibility of the USFK" is China. It's very certain that the USFK will be mobilized in case military conflicts occur in the Taiwan Strait between China and Taiwan.

It is a well-known fact that the global strategic goal of the United States is to check and blockade China that can potentially challenge the U.S. global hegemony in the 21st century. Therefore, the principal role of the U.S. forces in Asia including the USFK is changing to that of checking China. The current move to strengthen the naval and air power of the USFK and enlarge their naval and air bases is also intended for China.

even if Korean forces will not directly participate in the U.S. military action against China, Korea will be plunged into a military confrontation with China, if only the USFK are put into military operation against China or the USFK bases in Korea are used for anti-China military operations. Korea will be used as "an advance operation base" of the U.S. and the USFK will act as "foremost troops" to blockade China.

The strategic importance of the USFK bases and South Korea for the U.S is growing further as the U.S. containment strategies against China become more concrete. As President Roh said in Los Angeles, "Korean peninsula is not a place which the U.S. can give up easily even if is not happy with South Korea, because of the peninsula's strategic position"

The greatest danger of "the strategic flexibility of the USFK is that Korea will be firmly incorporated into the global hegemonic strategy of the U.S. The global strategy and Northeast Asian policy of the United States are to check and blockade China through the US-Japan alliance as the main axis and Korea-US alliance as the subsidiary axis.

My opinion is that it is not just against China, but also against North Korea that USA has in mind, and USA is mobilizing UFSK away from the border of the North Korea, because USA considers the conflict as real.See 池上彰
And Roh and the author seem to think that the base in Korea is very essential to USA, that might be the reason of Roh's attitude. But I disagree. After all, the author himself admits that it is subsidiary.

I found another source that confim my point.
▶ Realignment of USFK Under Military Transformation

According to America's military strategy, the role of USFK is changing from a defensive posture against North Korea (for the last 50 years) towards a more flexible, rapidly deployable force for the wider Asia-Pacific region. Specifically, USFK will become more mobile and readily available throughout the Asia-Pacific. South Korea and the U.S. refer to this as "strategic flexibility" for the USFK.

One goal of USFK transformation, and its broader focus as a rapid deployment force in the Asia-Pacific theater, is to constrain China. The United States has tightened its control over the Middle East, Central Asia, Southeast Asia and Northeast Asia; it has strengthened its ability to respond to this outstretched "arc of instability". By enveloping China, the U.S. attempts to deter the challenge and potential threat posed by a rising power. Moreover, the United States is prepared to intervene militarily if a conflict between China and Taiwan arises.

Furthermore, the relocation to Pyeongtaek will put U.S. troops outside of North Korean missile range. This will give the United States time to respond to a North Korean attack, which the U.S. will be able to destroy within minutes. With air force (K-55) and naval forces in Pyeongtaek, the U.S. will be able to achieve their military goals by committing USFK troops throughout the Asia-Pacific region, including China and North Korea.

▶ Relocation of USFK Second Division to Pyeongtaek

The U.S. will relocate USFK as part of its 'Global Posture Review' (GPR) plan. The U.S. will relocate Yongsan Garrison and the USFK Second Division to Pyeongtaek around 2008. Relocation plans will center around two major hubs in Pyeongtaek and Pusan/Daegu.

The purpose of the Pyeongtaek relocation is to increase the capability of USFK into a rapid deployment force for the Asia-Pacific region. The U.S. will reduce its present level 37,000 troop force to 25,000 troops by the end of 2008. In 2005, 5,000 troops were already relocated. This move is related to military transformation, which is designed to maximize advanced technological capabilities.

According to U.S. military plans, the expansion of USFK's role relegates Korean military policy to a much more subordinate position. Meanwhile, the plan integrates the Korean military more tightly into the triangular ROK-U.S.-Japan military alliance. Lastly, the ROK becomes a forward base and staging ground for an invasion of China, and a logistic hub for wars fought overseas.

The expansion of USFK's role in the Asia-Pacific implies U.S. troops will be stationed in Korea indefinitely. However, because ROK military capabilities are superior to North Korean capabilities, the U.S. has no reason to remain on the Korean Peninsula. Moreover, it forces the Korean military to increase its national defense budget and influences the formulation of military policy. Thus the expansion of USFK's role prevents peaceful unification of the Korean peninsula. It also prevents peaceful economic and security cooperation in Northeast Asia.kcpt

I guess the anlysis is more or less correct, but the conculsion is wrong.

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