‘OPCON transfer should take place without setbacks’
Gen. Abrams takes office as new chief of US Forces Korea
President Moon Jae-in asked the new U.S. Forces Korea (USFK) commander to smoothly oversee the transfer of wartime operational control (OPCON) of Korean forces to the host country, at a change-of-command ceremony held Thursday.
Army Gen. Robert Abrams replaced Gen. Vincent Brooks as commander of the USFK, the ROK-U.S. Combined Forces Command (CFC) and the United Nations Command (UNC) at the ceremony held on Camp Humphreys, a U.S. military base in Pyeongtaek, Gyeonggi Province.
“I believe a more stable South Korea-U.S. joint defense posture will be maintained centering on General Abrams,” Moon said in a congratulatory address.
“I ask that (the USFK commander) seeks to push forward with pending tasks such as the transfer of wartime operational control and relocation of the USFK without setbacks, through close consultation.”
Defense Minister Jeong Kyeong-doo and Indo-Pacific Command chief Adm. Philip Davidson were present at the ceremony, which also marked the 40th anniversary of the CFC.
The President said the history of the CFC is the history of the alliance between the two countries.
“The alliance between Seoul and Washington, which was established during the war, has guarded peace not only on the Korean Peninsula but also in Northeast Asia, and we are in the process of creating a new peace through the power of the alliance,” he said.
“I am deeply honored to have this opportunity to lead this one-of-a-kind triple-headed command, a unique joint combined force that draws its strength from the ironclad relationship with the Republic of Korea and the commitment of the United Nations,” Gen. Abrams responded.
“The U.N. Command, the Combined Forces Command and the USFK are critically important for our shared interests in the defense of the Korean Peninsula and the security of the region. All three are bound by the deep, enduring relationships, commitment to each other, which is critical to the success of their missions,” he said.
The new commander will be tasked with challenges such as maintaining military preparedness while observing the dialogue process with North Korea over its denuclearization. He may also be involved in adjusting the role of the joint military forces here, at a time when the two Koreas are seeking to establish a peace regime on the peninsula. The role in the past has focused on countering North Korea’s military threats.
Abrams is known to have a hard-line stance toward North Korea.
In his confirmation hearing in September, he stated the suspension of joint military exercises between the U.S. and South Korea led to the “degradation” of military readiness.
Abrams graduated from the United State Military Academy. He has held command and staff positions in Germany, the U.S. and Southwest Asia. Most recently, he served as chief of the U.S. Army Forces Command.
Abrams’ father was former Army Chief of Staff Gen. Creighton Abrams, and both his older brothers have served as Army generals.
Outgoing Gen. Vincent Brooks, left, and Gen. Robert Abrams, the new commander of the U.S. Forces Korea, inspect an honor guard at a change-of-command ceremony on Camp Humphreys in Pyeongtaek, Gyeonggi Province, Thursday.