Monday, August 28, 2006

There is an old saying that states that "There are more tears shed over answered prayers than unanswered ones." Well I sure did not see this one comming.

On Saturday, I was talking to some of the retired US Air Force men outside of Osan Air Base and we were talking about what will happen in a few years if the USFK collapses. We all arrived at the same conclusion that this will be a very different Korea. It looks like we will see a very different Korea in a few years and I wonder what will become of this land that I live in now? I am so Happy that President Bush has called President Roth's bluff.

Do they actualy realize how much all of this will cost and do they have the will to do it. I wonder what our friends from the north are thinking about this and I wonder if JAPAN CAN NOT BELIEVE HER GOOD LUCK. It becomes very simple, if the USFK collapses, USFJ will become a hell of alot stronger and bigger.

What i have cut and pasted is GI Korea, Marmot and Brendon Carr's postings on this issue, once again this is another major issue that we will have to face.


Don't look for the White House or the Defense Department to do South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun in favors and Mr. Rumsfeld has just confirmed what was speculated President Bush had already approved; the early transfer of war time command to South Korea:

U.S. Defense Secretary of Donald Rumsfeld recently told Seoul the U.S. wants to hand over wartime operational control of Korea's armed forces in 2009, it emerged Sunday. That signals tough negotiations ahead since Korea¿s proposed date is 2012.

Rumsfeld wrote to his Korean counterpart Yoon Kwang-ung on Aug. 17 saying Washington plans to hand over wartime operational control to South Korea in 2009, a government official said. It was the first time the U.S. defense chief has officially confirmed the open secret.

This confirms my earlier speculation that the Bush administration wants to make sure that President Roh reaps what he sows on his watch as President of Korea. The Korean government has been pushing for a 2012 date for the hand over which would mean that President Roh wouldn't be in office when the aftermath of his anti-US policies would really be felt. However, with the 2009 handover that means that probably next year further troop cuts and transformation of the US-ROK alliance would begin. That would mean that any effects a US draw down or complete pull out would have on the economy would begin on Roh's watch. Without a doubt it appears that Roh will go down as the most incompetent President in the history of the Republic of Korea. That's no small accomplishment because South Korea hasn't really hasn't been blessed with to many enlightened leaders since the founding of the Republic after World War II.

What I like even more is that the US government is even rubbing salt into President Roh's political wounds by demanding a more equitable defense cost sharing of the alliance:

In the letter, Rumsfeld also proposed that two allies divide the upkeep cost of the USFK at an "equitable" rate, which pundits say means 50:50. Korea currently shoulders slightly less than 40 percent of the cost. He also pressed for a new bombing range for the USFK to replace a facility in Maehyang-ri that was shut down, and expressed hope that the two sides can sort out their differences over who should pay for the environmental cleanup at bases the USFK is vacating.

It is going to be interesting to see what excuse the Roh's government is going to come up with, about why they can't share the cost of the alliance equitably when they have war time operational control, not the US. Roh has been talking about having a more equal alliance with the US since he took over as President in 2002, well guess what, let's see if his money is where his mouth is.

Just think of the cost this news is going to have on the South Korean tax payer. There is going to have to be a number of system that have to bough immediately to meet the hand over timeline plus if Korea is forced to pay 50% of the alliance costs that is just even more money the South Korean tax payer is going to have come up with. Is it any wonder why the Korean government rather sell apartments on the handed over Yongsan Garrison land instead of turning it all into a park?

Not only is the economic security of the peninsula being compromised by Roh's incompetence, but also the national security as well because even if the government purchases the needed systems in time there is no way they will have trained soldiers and leaders to operate and command those system in time for the turn over. The US government takes it's security commitments very seriously and initially were trying to approach the war time command issue in a rational manner to not compromise the security of the peninsula and still meet the US military's transformation plans, but with Roh and his minions politicizing the issue there is going to be serious national security issues on the peninsula, which will allow the North Koreans to really extort money from South Korea because his military threat to South Korea will be greatly enhanced by a US pull out or reduction.

That is what the lone big question is that is remaining for the US, will it be a complete US pull out or just a reduction? I don't even think the White House knows yet, but I do think they wouldn't be shy about pulling the trigger on a complete US pull out if they don't get what they want like equitable cost sharing, the speed up of the camp relocation issue, and a bombing range for the Air Force.

What about President Roh? Well look for him to try and cover his ass by continuing to make grand proclamations that the ROK Army is ready now for the hand over even though they aren't and he knows it, while the ROK Army turns to their retired brass and veterans to spearhead a drive to delay the hand over.

I think it would be best for the ROK military to cut their loses and do what they can to just keep whatever US presence on the peninsula that they can, but it is quite clear now that the hand over is going to be 2009 and it is no sure thing that a robust US presence is going to remain on the peninsula at all. To make things even worse there is so far no guarantee that the Yankee cavalry will come save South Korea with a massive deployment of forces in case of hostilities:

But abandoning OPLAN 5027, which guarantees automatic U.S. reinforcements, and replacing it with a piece of paper that will require congressional approval, however, is like swapping cash for a dubious promissory note. What's more, we will have to pour W620 trillion into our self-defense by 2020 to exercise sole operational control of our forces.

President Roh wanted an "independent" Korea, well it looks like he got it.

According to media reports today, U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld sent a letter to his South Korean counterpart earlier this month expressing the U.S. desire to transfer wartime operational command by 2009:

“Rumsfeld said in his letter to Yoon in mid-August that it is reasonable to hand over the operational control to South Korea in 2009 considering the timing of moving the USFK Seoul base to Pyeongtaek and the proposed dissolution of the command of U.S.-South Korea Combined Forces,” a Korean government source said on condition of anonymity.

It is first time that the U.S. secretary has suggested 2009 as the target year for the transfer of the wartime operational control.

Seoul is proposing a 2012 handover. The Chosun Ilbo, quoting a Korean source, reported early this month that the U.S. date might reflect Washington’s irritation with what it believes to be politically motivated demands for operational command.

Some Koreans, however, apparently believe the sooner the better, albeit they’d turn it right over to the North Koreans if they got the chance.

Even more interesting is that Rummy appears to have asked Seoul to put up 50 percent of the bill for keeping USFK around:

Rumsfeld called on Seoul to share an “equitable” amount of defense costs in keeping with South Korea’s growing economy, which is the 10th largest in the world, as well as the Korean military’s greater role in national defense, a diplomatic source said.

Read: Let’s see if you put your money where your “pride” is. Korea currently pays about 40 percent of the bill, and Korean experts believe “equitable,” in this case, means 50 percent.

Some, however, believe Rummy’s letter was a way of putting pressure on Seoul so that negotiations regarding a number of pending military issues—including cost sharing, cleaning up polluted former U.S. bases and the search for a new bombing range—go Washington’s way. In particular, one expert working for a government-funded institute said the United States was well aware of the debate within Korea about the transfer of operational command, and Washington may be trying to use those tensions to its advantage.

Anyway, with the Korea-U.S. summit coming up in September and military talks in October, some believe Korea urgently needs to work on its negotiating strategy. From the U.S. position, they say, the transfer of operational command could be very advantageous, as it would fit into the Global Posture Review, allow Washington to reduce costs to defend South Korea and boost arms sales as Seoul obtains what it needs to assume greater defense responsibility.

From Brendon Carr

This is the Rumsfeld Corollary to the Korean insistence on including Kaesong in the Korea-United States FTA discussions: Inclusion of a known non-starter as a baseline demand in order to undermine the success of the talks while looking “sincere.” How ready are the Koreans to accept a major increase in cost-sharing? Well, in last year’s talks Korea wangled a 9% reduction in its cost-sharing contribution.

That reduction took Korea’s share to less than a third of the notional “stationing cost”, but in actual fact Korea is only contributing about 0.2% or less of the actual total cost of 1/10 America’s total combat arms, which is what Korea has committed to its defense right now in the form of the 2d Infantry Division, 7th Air Force, and Marine and Navy components tied up here or on call to come rushing over from Japan, Okinawa, and Guam to throw their chests in front of North Korean artillery shells bought and paid for with South Korean Shoeshine Policy money. True equity would be at least a hundredfold increase, something so difficult as to be impossible. Yet these Korean clowns live in a Reality Distortion Field so powerful Steve Jobs would sell his very soul to control, so we can expect teeth-gnashing about how unfair the American demand for a few hundred million dollars is.

This year Korea is begrudingly offering to chip in W680 billion (US$708 million); skinflint Japan, by the way, throws in more than US$5 billion. Is it fair to call the Republic of Korea a “free rider” or even a “bloodsucking parasite“? Seven hundred million dollars is 0.16% of the Pentagon’s $416 billion budget request for 2006 (which admittedly is swollen by the costs of the Iraq war), but as noted, about 10% of total United States combat power is tied up in the defense of the Republic of Korea from its impoverished, starving neighbor. For this selfless, thankless (and then some) commitment the Yankee is generally reviled and identified as thief of national sovereignty — even, in some surveys, as Korea’s most likely future enemy. The Republic of Korea is one of the world’s largest economies and a rich country with a $20,000 per capita GDP (a fact they only stop crowing about when the Yankee raises the spectre of an end to the free ride); why can’t they pay for their own defense? America wants out of troop presence here (and has wanted out since 1972!), and we may expect a ratcheting up of demands for basic equity until things break down. Don’t think Yongsan will be vacated by 2008? Don’t bet on that. It happened in the Philippines tout suite. Pyongtaek land speculators ought to be anxious as well.

As I noted in comments to an earlier Marmot’s Hole thread, if there were any justice in the world (alas, there usually isn’t) mid-September’s visit to the White House should be an interesting experience for Roh Moo Hyun. Roh should have to cool his heels in the waiting room for a while as Dubya attends to more important business, like figuring out if he and Koizumi will wear matching shirts to the next G8 world leaders’ meeting. Then, after being ushered across a vast room to have a seat in a chair which has had its legs shortened in the fashion of Chaplin’s “The Great Dictator” to match Roh’s dwarvish stature, bringing his eye level to Dubya’s elbows (watch that you don’t get that guy’s mascara on your sleeve, Mr. President!), the Malcolm Reynolds Make-a-Wish Foundation would announce to the world the independence of the Republic of Korea. Pay for it yerself, Mr. Monchhichi. Now git!

America gets nothing from the “alliance”. America used to have a strategic interest in opposing Communism. It was an existential crisis for the United States, one which made logic go out the window. Bear any burden, pay any price, and all that. That one-time strategic interest is now gone, worldwide Communism having been defeated (ironically, the Republic of Korea is now the only industrialized state in the world at risk of getting more Communist).

The Soviet Union is dead, Eastern Europe is free and prospering, China now works for Wal-Mart, and all that Communism has brought to its periphery is hardship and even starvation. So whereas in 1950 standing “shoulder-to-shoulder” to prevent a poor and wretched land from being gobbled up by worldwide Communism made sense, in 2006 when the erstwhile poor and wretched land is rich, fat, and lazy (just like us!) it doesn’t. In 2006 we have the luxury to look at the math.

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