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:
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.
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.
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:
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.
Some of the most powerful ROK and US military officers were recently in Guam touring United States strategic assets located on the island:
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.
This really isn’t anything surprising that the new USFK commander is signaling to North Korea that he would like to resume dialogue in regards to any armistice issues like has been done in the past:
The new commander of the United States military forces in South Korea said Thursday he expects resumption of talks and coordination with North Korea during his first visit to the frontline region separating the two sides.
The Joint Security Area (JSA), the inter-Korean truce village where South and North Korean soldiers are standing face-to-face, was the choice for Gen. Vincent Brooks’ first field inspection as the top commander of the 28,000-strong U.S. Forces Korea.
“Each time I come back (here), it reminds me of how quickly things can change on the Korean Peninsula and why it is that we must be ready all the time and remain strong,” Brooks, who took command last month, said in front of an observation post inside the JSA. The officer had served in South Korea in the past during his long military career.
“It also reminds me that as we are in the military armistice controlled areas, there’s a need to continue dialogue and coordination (with North Korea),” the general, clad in a combat uniform, noted.
“We look forward to the time that (talks) can resume again,” he said, expressing hopes on talks with the North on the context of the armistice which ended the 1950-53 Korean War. [Yonhap]
Anything that goes beyond Armistice talks would fall within the purview of the State Department which has made it clear that talks will only happen when North Korea is serious about denuclearization.