July 13, 2006

US mulls separation of forces with South Korea

SEOUL (Reuters) - The United States is considering
separating its forces from South Korea's and establishing an
independent command to support the South's troops on the Korean
peninsula, the commander of U.S. Forces Korea said on Thursday.

South Korea gave the United States command of its troops
during the 1950-1953 Korean War. It later regained their
peacetime control but U.S. forces would still command South
Korean forces in the event of a war.

"While no final decisions have been made, we are
considering creating two independent commands -- one ROK (South
Korean) and one U.S., with U.S. forces in a supporting role to
take advantage of U.S. air and naval warfare capabilities,"
General B.B. Bell told a security forum in South Korea's

He said Washington and Seoul have been studying ways to
change the command structure for months.

The United States has about 30,000 troops in South Korea
working with more than 650,000 South Korean troops. North Korea
has most of its million-strong military positioned near the
fortified Demilitarized Zone that divides the peninsula.

The two Koreas are technically still at war because the
1950-1953 Korean War ended in a truce and not with a peace