US-ROK Alliance Transformation & Wartime Operational Control (OPCON)

The Stimson Center’s Security for a New Century and 38 North Programs hosted a webinar to discuss: US-ROK Alliance Transformation & Wartime Operational Control (OPCON), with particular emphasis on the multiple theater-level military commands in South Korea. The webinar was a closed-door, invitation-only program for congressional staffers and was part of SNC’s Korea Study Group event series.

The featured speaker had extensive experience serving in and writing about US and US-ROK bilateral military command structures in South Korea. His analysis of the multiple theater-level commands on the Korean Peninsula is considered required reading for US personnel stationed there. The webinar discussion explored the inter-connected yet distinct relationships between the four concurrently operating theater-level commands that have roles in defending South Korea, with emphasis on their historical evolution, the potential areas of tension between the commands, and the complexities and misunderstandings surrounding the issue of wartime operational control transfer (OPCON) from the United States to South Korea. The four commands are: US Forces Korea (USFK), a American unilateral command; the ROK Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS), a Korean unilateral command; the Combined Forces Command (CFC), a US-ROK bilateral command; and, the United Nations Command (UNC), an American-led multinational command.

The webinar was moderated by Dr. Clint Work, Fellow for Stimson’s Security for a New Century and 38 North programs. The featured speaker was Col. Shawn Creamer, an active duty US Army Colonel with extensive experience in a wide variety of command and staff assignments, including eight years of service on the Korean Peninsula

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