USFK chief stresses ‘impenetrable’ posture as allies mark anniversary of CFC
SEOUL-- The United States and South Korea are maintaining an "impenetrable" defense posture, U.S. Forces Korea commander Gen. Robert Abrams said Thursday, as the allies mark the 41st anniversary of their Combined Forces Command (CFC).
Speaking at a ceremony to mark the anniversary, Abrams also said the CFC is "the heart and soul" of the alliance and is "the most ready, capable joint warfighting force in the world, providing an impenetrable combined defense of the Republic of Korea."
"We are ready to deter, defend, and if necessary, to defeat any adversaries who seek to do us harm, while we remain hopeful of our ongoing diplomatic efforts," Abrams said during the ceremony held at the Yongsan Garrison in Seoul, referring apparently to efforts to denuclearize North Korea.
Abrams heads the CFC as well as the United Nations Command (UNC).
Sending a congratulatory message to the ceremony, President Moon Jae-in expressed gratitude for the "crucial role" the CFC is playing in efforts to maintain peace on the Korean Peninsula and in Northeast Asia.
"I would like to ask for your continued role in creating peace by striving further for the transition of the wartime operational control and the formation of the future CFC structure," Kim said.
Currently, a four-star U.S. Army general helms the CFC. After Seoul retakes wartime operational control (OPCON) of its forces from Washington, a South Korean general is supposed to lead their envisioned future joint command.
The allies have been pushing for the "conditions-based" OPCON transition, eying 2022, or thereabouts, as its target date. The conditions are South Korea's capabilities to lead the allies' combined defense mechanism, its capacity for initial responses to the North's nuclear and missile threats, and a stable security environment on the peninsula and in the region.
Thursday's event was also attended by South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) Chairman Gen. Park Han-ki and United Nations Command's deputy commander Vice Adm. Stuart Mayer, as well as around 400 service persons from South Korea and the U.S.
It is the first time that Seoul's JCS chairman attended a ceremony marking the CFC's foundation event, according to the CFC.
"The attendance of those senior-level officials highlights the maintenance of the ROK-U.S. alliance stronger than ever before," the command said in a press release.
The binational entity was established on Nov. 7, 1978, as the warfighting headquarters on a mission to deter outside aggression against South Korea.
For that role, the CFC has operational control over more than 600,000 active-duty military personnel of all services, of both countries.
The CFC, currently headquartered in Seoul, will be relocated to Camp Humphreys, a sprawling U.S. military complex in Pyeongtaek, 70 kilometers south of Seoul, where the USFK and UNC are located. The allies are pushing to complete the relocation by around 2021.
Source: Yonhap News Agency