The Korea Herald


S. Korea seeks U.S. staff dispatch to border island

By Song Sangho

Published : May 17, 2011 - 18:40

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The South Korean military is seeking consultations with the U.S. over dispatching U.S. liaison staff to Bangnyeong Island, one of the five northwestern border islands, to deter North Korean provocations, officials said Tuesday.

“South Korea and the U.S. are trying to come up with measures to enhance our defense of the five frontline islands, including sending U.S. military personnel as observers for military drills there,” an official at the Joint Chiefs of Staff told reporters, declining to be named.

“We are seeking to begin consultations with the U.S. over sending a U.S. liaison group there, but we are not at a stage yet in which we can tell you about the number of the staff and where they will be sent.”

After the artillery attack on Yeonpyeong Island in November that killed two marines and two civilians, some have cautiously floated the idea of sending U.S. personnel to the islands as a deterrent against the North.

However, military experts said that it would be unlikely for the U.S. to send their troops there, particularly at a time when it is working to relocate its troops in Seoul and north of the capital down to Pyeongtaek, Gyeonggi Province as part of its global troop realignment scheme designed for “strategic mobility.”

News reports said that South Korean and U.S. marines discussed the matter at their three-day tactical “Staff Talk,” which was held on Bangnyeong Island last week.

“At the talk, they did not reach any agreement on the scale and time for the dispatch of the U.S. staff on the island. It will take some time for the U.S. government to make its final decision on that,” said a military official.

The U.S. maintains some 28,500 troops in Korea, a legacy of the 1950-53 Korean War that ended in a truce rather than a formal peace treaty.

By Song Sang-ho (