U.S. growing tired of S. Korea's reluctance to take wartime operational control: WP
Some U.S. lawmakers are reportedly growing tired of South Korea's reluctance to take charge of its own defense.
In a recent article, the Washington Post quoted Senator Carl Levin, the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, as saying that "it's important that we see to it that the primary responsibility for defending South Korea during a time of war lies with South Korea."
Levin added that South Korea "is a sovereign nation, and sovereign nations should be responsible for their own national defense in time of war."
The comments were made during a confirmation hearing for the incoming commander of the U.S. Forces in South Korea, Army General Curtis Scaparrotti, in July.
For six decades since the end of the Korean War, Washington has maintained authority over South Korean troops should another war break out with North Korea.
The U.S. was set to transfer its wartime operational control to South Korea by December 2015, but Seoul has recently been very vocal about keeping its forces under U.S. command beyond that date.
South Korean officials are concerned that a lesser U.S. military role could embolden North Korea, while Washington is making significant cuts to its military spending due to budget constraints.
Nearly 30-thousand U.S. troops are permanently stationed in South Korea and Washington has ensured that the transfer will not weaken its commitment.
The issue will be discussed by U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and his South Korean counterpart Kim Kwan-jin during Hagel's four-day stay in Seoul this week.
Hagel, who toured the Demilitarized Zone dividing North and South Korea on Monday, said that the visit to one of the most heavily guarded borders in the world was a reminder that North Korea is not only a threat to the South but also a threat to the United States.
Hwang Sung-hee, Arirang News.
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