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.
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)
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.
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)
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)
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)
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.
Army Gen. Lee Sun-jin (L), chairman of South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff, talks with Gen. Vincent Brooks, the new commander of U.S. Forces Korea as they inspect a honor guard during a ceremony at the South Korea-U.S. Combined Forces Command in Seoul on May 10, 2016, to welcome the U.S. military leader, who also heads the command. (Yonhap)
Over the weekend USFK had a change of command with General Vincent Brooks taking over for General Scaparrotti. Being the prior US Army Pacific Commander he should be well familiar with all North Korea issues so I expect this should be an easy transition for USFK:
Gen. Curtis M. Scaparrotti, left, and Gen. Vincent K. Brooks, inspect the troops during a change of command ceremony on Knight Field, South Korea, April 30, 2016.
Gen. Vincent Brooks warned of rising challenges as he took the helm of U.S. Forces in Korea on Saturday, while North Korea reportedly called joint military exercises in the South “tantamount to an open declaration of war.”
In a ceremony at U.S. Army Garrison-Yongsan’s Knight Field, Brooks took over from Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti, who will become the next commander of U.S. European Command and supreme allied commander for NATO forces.
The change of command came as the U.S. and its ally South Korea face unprecedented threats from the North, which staged its fourth nuclear test in January, followed by a long-range rocket launch that prompted harsh new U.N. sanctions. [Stars & Stripes]
You can read more at the link.
This is something i have discussed before that the cost sharing of troops in South Korea actually saves money for the Pentagon compared to keeping the same troops in the US. What else that can’t be calculated is how many US jobs are generated due to the large amount of defense equipment bought by the ROK because of its close military relationship with the US. Like I have maintained, if politicians want to criticize about freeloading US allies I am all for it, but South Korea is a poor choice to try and make this claim with:
The four-star Army general picked to lead American forces in Korea says it’s less expensive to keep U.S. troops stationed in South Korea than in the United States.
In testimony Tuesday, Gen. Vincent Brooks tallied up the financial load South Korea carries in what amounted to a rebuke of Donald Trump, the GOP’s front-running presidential contender.
Trump has called for U.S. allies to pay more for their own defense.
John McCain of Arizona, the Republican chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, prompted Brooks’ answers.
Brooks says South Korea pays half of the annual cost, or $808 million, for U.S. troops to be stationed on the peninsula.
The general says South Korea is paying for 92 percent of a $10.8 billion construction project to build a base for U.S. troops. [Associated Press]