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FOC assessment for OPCON transfer is most important task next year: defense minister

Defense Minister Jeong Kyeong-doo called Monday for the military to thoroughly prepare for next year’s assessment for the transfer of wartime operational control from Washington.

Presiding over the second meeting to assess the military’s preparedness for the envisioned OPCON transfer, Jeong highlighted the military should be aware that the most important task next year is to successfully complete the Full Operational Capability assessment. 

South Korean Defense Minister Jeong Kyeong-doo (Defense Ministry)
South Korean Defense Minister Jeong Kyeong-doo (Defense Ministry)

Seoul and Washington have been working together to transfer OPCON. In 2014, they set three conditions that need to be fulfilled for OPCON to be completely transferred to South Korea.

The three conditions are: Seoul’s capability 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.

The militaries of the two allies are likely to conduct combined military exercises for the assessment next year. Full Mission Capability is the last of the three-stage assessment.

During the meeting, military officials agreed on the need for comprehensive effort by the entire military for the OPCON transfer and exchanged opinions for a successful FOC assessment next year, including preparation for each echelon and measures to reinforce cooperation with the US, the Defense Ministry said in a press release.

At the meeting, the key commanders viewed the allies as having made great progress this year, in their joint decisions to appoint a South Korean four-star general to lead the envisioned future joint command, and to transfer the US-South Korea Combined Forces Command from Seoul to the US’ Camp Humphreys in Pyeongtaek, Gyeonggi Province, the Defense Ministry said.

The CFC is currently led by Gen. Robert Abrams, a four-star US Army general, who also heads the United Sates Forces Korea and the United Nations Command.

Jeong said the OPCON transfer is a “very precious opportunity” for the Korean military to bolster its defense capability and obtain the strength to lead the combined defense operations of Korea and the US.

About 150 commanders and military officials, including Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Park Han-ki and chiefs of the Army, Navy and Air Force, attended the meeting.

By Jo He-rim (