‘OPCON trans­fer should take place with­out set­backs’

Gen. Abrams takes of­fice as new chief of US Forces Korea

The Korea Times - - FRONT PAGE - By Kim Bo-eun bkim@ko­re­atimes.co.kr

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.

Yon­hap

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.

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