South Korea agrees to have U.S. commander in case of war


October 22, 2005|By LOS ANGELES TIMES

SEOUL, South Korea -- Despite a desire by officials here to assume greater responsibility for the defense of their country, the United States and South Korea agreed yesterday to leave a U.S. commander in charge of their combined armies in the event of a war on the Korean peninsula.

With steady improvements by South Korea's military and the nation's emergence as an economic power, South Korean President Roh Moo Hyun said recently that his country was ready to take on more control of its armed forces and suggested altering the current arrangement that put South Korean forces under U.S. command during wartime.

After discussions yesterday between Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and his South Korean counterpart, Yoon Kwang Ung, both sides agreed that the United States would retain "operational control" during a conflict. Yet they raised the possibility that command authority could change in the future.

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