News


Tracking Number:  144243

Title:  "US Committed to ROK Defense, DOD Official Says." The United States is committed to the defense of the Republic of Korea according to the Department of Defense. (900626)

Author:  AITA, JUDY (USIA STAFF WRITER)
Date:  19900626

Text:
*EPF202

06/26/90 * U.S. COMMITTED TO ROK DEFENSE, DOD OFFICIAL SAYS (Article on Wolfowitz at Carnegie Council) (800) By Judy Aita USIA Staff Writer

New York -- Until Pyongyang enters into good faith discussions with Seoul, defense considerations must remain the primary focus of Korea-U.S. relations, a top Defense Department official said June 25.

Paul Wolfowitz, under secretary of defense for policy, told the Carnegie Council on Ethics and International Affairs that "the need of a credible U.S.-South Korean deterrent capability continues," but the United States is beginning to adjust its presence on the Korean peninsula in light of the changing security environment and therefore Seoul "must expand its commitment to its own defense."

Until the day comes that the kind of dramatic change seen in Europe shows itself in North Korea, the United States must base its plans "not on hopes but on realistic expectations," Wolfowitz said. "We must continue the same security policies and practices that have served us so well in the past."

The council was holding a two-day session on "Korea's Place in the World" in cooperation with the International Cultural Society of Korea. About 40 diplomats, academics and business leaders attended the session which was held on the 40th anniversary of the outbreak of the Korean conflict.

In his 30-minute speech, Wolfowitz stressed the importance of "sending the right signals -- or more importantly, of not sending the wrong ones -- and the folly of excessive demobilization resulting in 'hollow forces.'"

Wolfowitz praised Korea's economic success, transition to democracy, and greatly improved respect for human rights, but warned it would be wrong to assume that Korea's outstanding economic and political progress would lead the United States to withdraw its military presence from that country.

The U.S. presence on the peninsula, he added, is to deter war "so that we never have to make those kinds of sacrifices again.... Those American forces in Korea constitute an element of a regional presence and basing structure that contributes to the fundamental stability of the whole Pacific region."

GE 2 EPF202 Wolfowitz maintained, however, that "a significantly increased responsibility sharing on the part of the South Koreans is absolutely essential to the health and well- being of the alliance."

The United States, the under secretary said, has adjusted its military presence on the peninsula to take into account Korea's ability to defend itself and purchase weapons.

Citing President Bush's April report to Congress on growing Korean capabilities, the anticipated threat from Pyongyang and U.S. interests, Wolfowitz said, "There is a continuing need for a U.S. military presence in Korea if the U.S. is to remain a significant Pacific power and protect U.S. interests, including deterring a possible North Korean attack. But we will be able to adjust our force structure in Korea substantially over the next decade...because we can count on the growing strength of our ally."

Wolfowitz outlined the three-phase force reduction program, saying that between 1990-92 the U.S. presence in Korea will be reduced by 7,000 personnel.

In the second phase (1993- 95) combat capabilities may be reduced if there has been "genuine tension reduction." The force posture in the third phase (1996-2000) will depend significantly on what North Korea does, he said.

If the ROK is to assume a leading role in its own defense, Wolfowitz said, it will have to assume increased leadership responsibilities both in forces command and diplomatic initiatives.

"For example, we expect to deactivate the combined field army, and have recommended formation of a ground component command to support the combined forces command," he said. "The commander of this new organization would be a South Korean whereas the current commander of the combined field army is American."

"Likewise," he said, "we would expect the South Koreans to take a more visible role with regard to managing the peace with the North Koreans." At some point an ROK officer should become the senior representative of the U.N. Command's Military Armistice commission, he added.

The most tangible evidence of the success of President Roh's political policy of "nordpolitik" and the "increased international stature of Korea," Wolfowitz said, "was the meeting in San Francisco of President Roh and President Gorbachev. That meeting underscored the progress the Republic of Korea has made in gaining international acceptance and respect."

The under secretary noted, however, that the important test for Seoul will be its ability to generate productive dialogue with North Korea. "While clearly the onus for

GE 3 EPF202 improving relations rests primarily on Pyongyang, Seoul, too, must recognize that some compromise and accommodation may be necessary to resolve longstanding issues and move toward mutual respect and eventual reunification." NNNN


File Identification:  06/26/90, EP-202
Product Name:  Wireless File
Product Code:  WF
Keywords:  KOREA (SOUTH)/Defense & Military; KOREA (SOUTH)-US RELATIONS/Policy; WOLFOWITZ, PAUL/Policy; FORCE & TROOP LEVELS
Thematic Codes:  140; 1EA
Target Areas:  EA
PDQ Text Link:  144243