Gen. Walter Sharp
By Jung Sung-ki
The Eighth U.S. Army (EUSA) will be transformed into a combat unit after the transition of wartime operational control of the Korean army changes from the U.S. to South Korea in 2012, the top American commander here said Monday.
Gen. Walter Sharp, commander of the U.S. Forces Korea (USFK), also said the command transfer will not lead to the decrease in the number of U.S. troops in South Korea.
About 28,000 U.S. forces are stationed here as a deterrent against North Korean aggression.
Sharp made the remarks at a security forum in Seoul, hosted by South Korean and U.S. defense institutes.
The EUSA will be reformed into a field command unit to support a new U.S. theater command in Korea, Korea Command (KORCOM), to be created after disbanding the ROK-U.S. Combined Forces Command (CFC), said the general. Sharp concurrently serves as chief of the CFC and the United Nations Command (UNC).
Sharp said the field army "will have the ability to command and control U.S. and multinational corps, equivalent units in combat."
Under a 2007 agreement on command arrangements, the CFC is to be deactivated and two separate theater commands of the South Korean and U.S. military are to be set up with the U.S. military shifting to a supporting role.
Whether or not to move the EUSA headquarters to other regions and what roles the command will have after the transition had been debated.
Earlier this year, the USFK announced in a statement that the EUSA will remain in South Korea.
Established in 1944 in Memphis, Tenn., the EUSA became the spearhead for the UNC to halt aggression by North Korea during the 1950-53 Korean War, and ultimately assumed overall responsibility for conducting ground operations on the peninsula under the command of a four-star American general.
But the army command's roles and missions have been significantly reduced since the establishment of the CFC, which assumed charge of wartime operations on the peninsula, in 1978.
Since then, a three-star general has taken command of the EUSA, while the CFC has been headed by a four-star general.
Currently, EUSA's missions are limited to administrative or personnel affairs. The 150-strong unit is in charge of providing forces to the CFC commander and undertaking combat support operations, such as reception, staging, onward movement and integration missions, in the event of an emergency.
미8군 전투지원 부대로
월터 샤프 주한미군 사령관은 미8군 사령부가 2012년 전시작전통제권 전환 이후 전투지원 부대로 변모할 것임을 시사했다.
샤프 사령관은 서울에서 열린 한 안보포럼에서 전작권 전환이 주한미군 감축으로 이어지지 않을 것임을 재차 강조했다. 현재 2만 8천 여명의 주한미군 병력이 한국에 주둔해 있다.
그는 미 8군 사령부는 새로 창설될 미국의 전구 사령부 KOCOM을 지원하는 야전 부대로 전환될 것이라고 말했다.
샤프 사령관은 “미 8군이 미국은 물론 다국적 군을 지휘 할 수 있는 역량을 갖출 것”이라고 말했다.
지난 2007년 한.미 양국은 현 연합사 체제를 없애고 양국의 독자적인 전구 사령부를 창설하는 데 합의했다. 이후 주한미군은 지원군으로서의 역할을 하게 된다.