South Korea has been working closely with the United States to reclaim its wartime operational command from Washington in 2015 as scheduled, the U.S. Army chief of staff said Friday.
Gen. Raymond Odierno was in Seoul for a two-day trip which included a meeting with his South Korean counterpart, Gen. Cho Jung-hwan. The topics included ways to strengthen the allies’ deterrence against North Korea after the planned transfer of operational command.
"I'm very confident that South Korea is more than capable of taking responsibility of security in the region," Odierno said in a briefing held at Camp Casey in Dongducheon, north of Seoul. "It's important to continue to exercise to establish the appropriate command structures to be able to exercise the operational control after 2015."
Earlier in the day, Odierno held a meeting with Cho in Seoul during which they discussed ways to improve deterrence capability against North Korea and prepare events to mark the 60th anniversary in July of the Korean War armistice.
Among the measures to beef up the allies' combat capability, the U.S. Army chief said his government has recently approved deploying an additional attack-reconnaissance squadron with 24 Apache helicopters in South Korea, though specific plans have not been made yet.
His remark comes after Gen. James Thurman, the commander of Combined Forces Command, asked the U.S. government to send additional squadrons to beef up Combat Aviation Bridge's combat capabilities in June of last year.
"(Gen. Ordierno's) visit is meaningful as this year marks the 60th anniversary of the armistice and alliance between South Korea and the U.S.," Cho was quoted as saying in the closed meeting.
About 28,500 U.S. soldiers are stationed in South Korea as a legacy of the war that ended in a truce, not a peace treaty. (YONHAP)