S. Korea Seeks to Take Over Wartime Control of Military From US
South Korean President Moon Jae-in says his government is increasing efforts to take back wartime operational control of its military.
Wartime operational control, known as OPCON, describes the U.S.-led command of South Korean military forces in time of war.
The effort comes at a time when tensions between North Korea and the U.S. are very high.
Moon spoke about the issue at an event marking South Korea's 69th Armed Forces Day Thursday. He said increasing military abilities and reducing dependence on U.S. military power would strengthen the country's position with the North.
"When the South has wartime operational control, the North will fear us more, and our armed forces will be trusted more," Moon said.
Robert Kelly is a professor of political science at Pusan National University in South Korea. He thinks such a move might be a way to show independence from the threats exchanged by the U.S. and North Korea.
"I think this might be a way for Moon to separate himself somewhat from the behavior of (U.S. President) Donald Trump in the last month," Kelly said.
Peacetime control moved to South Korea
The South Korean government took over peacetime command of its military personnel when the country transitioned to democracy.
The South Korean military works closely with the Combined Forces Command and the United Nations Command, led by the U.S. General Vincent Brooks. Brooks also commands more than 28,000 U.S. military forces in Korea.
In wartime, the U.S. commander would take control of South Korean forces. The transfer, however, is not automatic. The South Korean president must first agree to hand over control.
Daniel Pinkston is a security expert with Troy University in Seoul. He said, "In a way, President Moon has control and he has a veto over giving control to the U.S. and giving control to the combined forces command."
South Koreans have different views on control
Moon and some members of his Democratic Party have supported gaining wartime operational control as an issue of sovereignty. It has also been linked to anti-American feelings in the country.
Conservatives have opposed taking over wartime control. They are concerned that such a move might weaken the U.S. commitment to defend South Korea.
Hong Jun-pyo is the leader of the Liberty Korea Party. He recently said that "return of OPCON is basically disbanding the Korea-U.S. military alliance."
Some also have concerns that such a move would be seen as a sign of disagreement between South Korea and the U.S. Kelly said that is "what the North Koreans have wanted for a long time."
Wartime operational control was to be handed over to South Korea in 2015. But the government of then-president Park Geun-hye and the U.S. decided in 2014 to postpone the transfer to 2020 or later. The deal now depends on South Korea gaining necessary operational abilities.
Some experts consider basing the decision on South Korea's capabilities good for the U.S.-South Korea alliance. They say it puts more responsibility on South Korea for its own defense.
Pinkston said that, without discussions about a transfer of OPCON, South Korea would have no reason to increase its defense capabilities.
"South Korea will think we don't have to worry about it because the U.S. will always have OPCON, they will always take care of us, so why should we spend more on our defense budget?" Pinkston said.
Moon's statements on Thursday appears to be part of that effort. He is promising reforms, including creating a more professional military and increasing national defense spending.
Some of that spending could be directed to developing new systems, such as South Korea's own missile defense system.
The country may also seek to launch five military satellites with surveillance and reconnaissance abilities.
I'm Mario Ritter.
1.take back 收回
I take it back, I think perhaps I am an extrovert
2.military satellites 军用卫星
In Malvinas War, the United States allowed the British Forces to use its military satellites.
3.take care of 照顾
Don't worry yourself about me, I can take care of myself.
4.handed over 移交
We handed over all our gold and money.
1.In wartime, the U.S. commander would take control of South Korean forces.
take control of 控制
I believe that you can take control of your destiny through the power of philosophy.
He failed in his attempt to take control of the company
2.The South Korean government took over peacetime command of its military personnel when the country transitioned to democracy.
took over 接管
A new warden took over the prison.
His firm took over the planting and general maintenance of the park last March.
韩国总统文在寅（Moon Jae-in）表示，政府正努力收回军队的战时作战指挥权 。
周四，文在寅在庆祝韩国军人节69周年的活动中谈到这一问题 。他指出，提升军事实力，减少对美军的依赖将强化韩国对朝鲜的立场 。
罗伯特·凯利（Robert Kelly）是韩国釜山国立大学政治学教授 。他表示，此举或为展示韩国不参与美朝“互掐”的一种方式 。
韩国军方与美国总参谋长布鲁克斯（Vincent Brooks）领导的联合部队司令部以及联合国军司令部密切协调，他还担任28,500多名驻韩美军的司令 。
在战时，美国指挥官会接管韩国部队的指挥权，但这并非自动转移 。韩国总统首先须同意放弃军队控制权 。
首尔特洛伊大学的区域安全分析家丹尼尔·平克斯顿（Daniel Pinkston）表示：“从某种程度上说，文在寅总统拥有控制权，他大可以否决将控制权移交美国和联合部队指挥部 。”
保守派长期反对接管战时控制权 。他们担心此举可能会削弱美国捍卫朝鲜的决心 。
自由韩国党领导人洪准杓（Hong Jun-pyo）日前表示：“韩国重掌战时指挥权基本就是瓦解韩美军事联盟 。”
有人还担心此举会被视为韩美两国之间产生摩擦的迹象 。凯利称，“这是朝鲜一直想看到的结果 。”
战时指挥权原定于2015年移交回韩国 。但是，2014年，朴槿惠总统领导的韩国政府与美国决定将移交战时指挥权推迟到至少2020年 。不过该协议取决于韩国是否有必要的作战能力 。
一些专家认为，基于韩国军事能力的决定对韩美联盟有利 。他们表示，韩国将为自身防御承担更多责任 。
文在寅周四的声明似乎印证了这一打算 。他承诺要实施改革，建立更专业的军队和增加国防开支 。