USFK Commander Stresses Regional Unity to Address North Korea

Here is what the USFK commander General Brooks had to say about North Korea’s recent overtures:

Gen. Vincent K. Brooks, commander of the U.S. Forces Korea (USFK), speaks in a lecture at Seoul Cyber University on Jan. 4, 2018. (Yonhap)

The commanding general of the U.S. Forces Korea (USFK) on Thursday stressed the importance of combat readiness and unity among regional powers to cope with North Korea’s recent peace offensive.

“We can be generally pleased by the recent overtures that happened. But we must keep our expectations at the appropriate level,” Gen. Vincent K. Brooks, who leads the 28,500-strong U.S. Forces Korea (USFK), said at a lecture in Seoul.

He was referring to North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s New Year’s Day statement that his country is willing to join the Winter Olympics that will open in the South Korean town of PyeongChang next month. He proposed immediate inter-Korean dialogue to discuss the issue.

In a follow-up move, the two Koreas reconnected a cross-border communication channel Wednesday, two years after it was severed, and are preparing to hold high-level talks.

It represents Pyongyang’s “sincere” pursuit of reconciliation, but it may be in line with its typical strategy to keep apart five countries — South Korea, the U.S., China, Japan and Russia — aimed at weakening their power against the regime trying to win the status of a “nuclear capable” nation.

“We can’t ignore that reality,” the command emphasized during the session at Seoul Cyber University, organized by the National Unification Advisory Council, a presidential consultative body mainly on long-term inter-Korean ties.

In the face of the North’s peace gesture, he said, it’s important for South Korea and the U.S. to maintain an “ironclad and razor sharp” alliance and joint combat readiness in the event that it leads to a “negative outcome, not a positive outcome.”

He likened North Korea to the center of a palm and the five regional powers to five fingers, showing his right hand.

The North wants these five fingers to be separated but they should operate in “harmony and closely connected to one another” as a fist to create necessary pressure to cause a change in its course, he added. [Yonhap]

You can read more at the link, but I think the problem with General Brooks analogy is that two of the fingers have no intention of being part of the fist, Russia and China.  It is arguable they share the same strategic objective of the Kim regime to separate the US from the ROK.

Joint Security Area Soldiers Presented ARCOMs for Rescuing North Korean Defector

This will probably be an award these soldiers will remember for the rest of their lives considering the unusual circumstances leading to the award and who presented it to them:

In recognition for their efforts in rescuing a North Korean defector, Nov.13, Gen. Vincent K. Brooks, United Nations Command, Combined Forces Command and U.S. Forces Korea commander, awarded Joint Security Area Soldiers the Army Commendation medal, during a ceremony Nov. 23.

Awardees are Sgt. 1st Class Noh Yeong Soo, Sgt. 1st Class Song Seoung Hyeon, Sgt. Robert Hartfield, Maj. Jeffery Schmidt, Lt. Col. Kwon Young Hwan, and Lt. Col. Matthew Farmer  [USFK Facebook]

You can watch video of the award presentation at this link on the USFK Facebook site as well.  Basically the soldiers received an ARCOM because they were able to pull the North Korean defector to safety while at the same not escalating the situation or violating the armistice like the North Korean soldiers had already done.

Picture of the Day: ROK Defense Minister Visits CFC Headquarters

Defense chief visits CFC

In this photo courtesy of the Defense Ministry, South Korean Defense Minister Song Young-moo, escorted by Gen. Vincent K. Brooks, who commands the U.S. Forces Korea (USFK) and Korea-U.S. Combined Forces Command (CFC), inspects an honor guard during his first visit to the CFC on Aug. 4, 2017. (Yonhap)

USFK Commander Says Kim Regime Trying to Create Tension Between Regional Countries

I tend to slightly disagree with the USFK commander here.  I think the Kim regime wants to create a wedge in the US-ROK alliance which in turn creates a wedge between the ROK and Japan.  These are both goals I think Russia and China are fully supportive of and why they continue to support the Kim regime:

USFK Commander, General Vincent Brooks

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un is attempting to deter unity between South Korea, the U.S., China, Russia and Japan with a string of belligerent acts, the top American military commander here said Thursday.

Gen. Vincent K. Brooks, who commands U.S. Forces Korea (USFK), pointed out that the communist regime’s nearly weekly missile tests have become “the new normal.”

The North test-fired 28 ballistic missiles in 2016 alone, followed by 10 others this year, including what is believed to be an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM).

It’s also reportedly preparing for another missile launch in the coming days, although there was no report of a launch on Thursday, the 64th anniversary of the Korean War Armistice Agreement.

“His actions intend to sow friction and fissures among the five in order to prevent them from coming together as a cohesive block,” Brooks said, addressing a forum under way in Nebraska, a U.S. state, according to the USFK’s website.

The two-day symposium on deterrence is being hosted by the U.S. Strategic Command.

“He’s trying to prevent the creation of a closed fist against him,” the commander said, showing the five fingers of his hand to refer to the five countries involved in the now-suspended denuclearization talks with Pyongyang.  [Yonhap]

You can read more at the link.

Report Says Secretary Mattis to Keep General Brooks as USFK Commander

In this Yonhap article about Secretary Mattis’ recent visit to South Korea, there is blurb that states that General Vincent Brooks is likely to stay on as USFK commander:

Another military source said that during the visit, Mattis also expressed his confidence in the U.S. Forces Korea commander, Gen. Vincent Brooks, who was named under the Obama administration and is likely to continue in his current position after the recent administration change in the U.S.  [Yonhap]

You can read more at the link, but I hope General Brooks stays on since I believe he has done a great job as the USFK commander.  However, my concern is that President Trump is known for holding grudges and General Brooks did testify to Congress with information contrary to what President Trump claimed during his campaign.

Picture of the Day: General Brooks Visits Defense Minister About Impeachment Vote

USFK chief meets defense minister

South Korean Defense Minister Han Min-koo (R) and U.S. Forces Korea Commander Gen. Vincent K. Brooks exchange opinions on the post-impeachment security situation at the Defense Ministry in Seoul on Dec. 13, 2016. (Photo courtesy of Defense Ministry) (Yonhap)

Opposition Parties Call for Delay In THAAD Deployment To Korea

The USFK commander is saying there will not be a delay in the deployment of THAAD to Korea, but the ROK opposition parties are using the current Presidential political crisis as an opportunity to stop the deployment:

In this photo taken on Dec. 13, 2016, and provided by the Ministry of National Defense, USFK Commander Gen. Vincent K. Brooks steps into the ministry’s headquarters in Seoul to meet with Defense Minister Han Min-koo over readiness against North Korean threats. (Yonhap)

The commander of the U.S. Forces Korea said Tuesday there will be no delay in the deployment of an advanced U.S. missile shield in South Korea next year.

Opposition parties have stepped up their objection to the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system since the impeachment of President Park Geun-hye last Friday, demanding the decision to introduce THAAD be delayed to the next administration.

“I don’t expect any delays,” Gen. Vincent K. Brooks told Yonhap News Agency when asked if he expected the political crisis to affect the deployment.

He made the remark after a meeting with Defense Minister Han Min-koo at the ministry’s headquarters in Seoul.  [Yonhap]

You can read more at the link.

Picture of the Day: Korean Defense Chief Visits 2ID Soldiers

Defense chief visits S. Korea-U.S. combined division

South Korean Defense Minister Han Min-koo (6th from L, 2nd row) and U.S. Forces Korea’s top commander Vincent Brooks (5th from L, 2nd row) pose for a photo with a group of soldiers as they visit a South Korean-U.S. combined division in Dongducheon, north of Seoul, on Nov. 29, 2016, to check up South Korean and U.S. troops’ joint readiness to better cope with threats posed by North Korea, in this photo released by the defense ministry. The division consists of a brigade from the South Korean Army and the U.S. 2nd Infantry Division, with each entity to carry out normal duties in its assigned area during peacetime. (Yonhap)

Picture of the Day: USFK Commander Encourages ROK Troops

U.S. military leader visits S. Korean army's drill

U.S. Forces Korea’s top commander Vincent Brooks gives a pep talk to South Korean soldiers in Yeoju, about 100 kilometers southeast of Seoul, on Nov. 2, 2016, as he visits a river-crossing drill conducted by the Army’s 8th Division. The maneuver is part of the broader Hoguk combined drill that the Army, Navy, Marine Corps and Air Force have carried out since 1996. (Yonhap)

USFK Commander and ROK JCS Chairman Visit Strategic Assets on Guam

Some of the most powerful ROK and US military officers were recently in Guam touring United States strategic assets located on the island:

In this photo taken in Guam on Nov. 1 and provided by Seoul's Joint Chiefs of Staff, JCS Chairman Lee Sun-jin (L) and U.S. Forces Korea Commander Gen. Vincent K. Brooks hold a joint press conference in front of a nuclear-powered submarine at Naval Base Guam. (Yonhap)

In this photo taken in Guam on Nov. 1 and provided by Seoul’s Joint Chiefs of Staff, JCS Chairman Lee Sun-jin (L) and U.S. Forces Korea Commander Gen. Vincent K. Brooks hold a joint press conference in front of a nuclear-powered submarine at Naval Base Guam. (Yonhap)

South Korea’s top military officer visited Guam and exchanged views with top U.S. brass on ways to further strengthen their alliance against North Korea’s evolving nuclear and missile threats, Seoul’s Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said Tuesday.

JCS Chairman Gen. Lee Sun-jin and U.S. Forces Korea Commander Gen. Vincent K. Brooks examined the range of U.S. strategic assets in Guam along with senior leaders from the U.S. Department of Defense, U.S. Strategic Command and U.S. Pacific Command, the JCS said in a statement.

“The Seoul-Washington alliance is capable of immediately responding to any type of provocation from North Korea. The allies will consider all options, including the rotational deployment of U.S. strategic assets near the Korean Peninsula, if the North sticks to developing nuclear weapons,” Lee said in a joint press conference held at Naval Base Guam, according to the statement.  (……..)

The military leaders then inspected strategic assets such as the B-1B strategic bombers, nuclear-powered submarines and the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) battery set up in Guam to intercept possible incoming missiles from the communist North.  [Yonhap]

You can read more at the link.