Support our mission
South Korean Gen. Lee Hee-won speaks Tuesday morning at the 28th anniversary of the Combined Forces Command. Under current agreements, South Korea will take over this wartime command by 2012.

South Korean Gen. Lee Hee-won speaks Tuesday morning at the 28th anniversary of the Combined Forces Command. Under current agreements, South Korea will take over this wartime command by 2012. (Teri Weaver / S&S)

South Korean Gen. Lee Hee-won speaks Tuesday morning at the 28th anniversary of the Combined Forces Command. Under current agreements, South Korea will take over this wartime command by 2012.

South Korean Gen. Lee Hee-won speaks Tuesday morning at the 28th anniversary of the Combined Forces Command. Under current agreements, South Korea will take over this wartime command by 2012. (Teri Weaver / S&S)

U.S. and South Korean soldiers march Tuesday morning during a ceremony marking the 28th anniversary of the Combined Forces Command.

U.S. and South Korean soldiers march Tuesday morning during a ceremony marking the 28th anniversary of the Combined Forces Command. (Teri Weaver / S&S)

YONGSAN GARRISON, South Korea — America’s top military officer in South Korea called Tuesday’s 28th anniversary of the Combined Forces Command a celebration while acknowledging it would be one of the command’s last ceremonial events.

“The command has effectively deterred aggression,” Gen. B.B. Bell said in front of U.S. Forces Korea’s headquarters on Yongsan Garrison. That effort for the past 28 years has helped South Korea prosper economically and democratically, Bell said.

“Not a bad 28 years of work,” he said.

But Bell also talked during his brief remarks about the beginning of the end of the command, a skeletal organization of South Korean and American forces that would grow with both militaries if war broke out on the peninsula.

“This is not a cause for concern, but rather a cause for celebration,” he said. “Within three to six years, we will stand down this time-honored command.”

Between 2009 and 2012, South Korea will take over wartime command from the Americans and the CFC will dismantle, according to current agreements by political and military leaders of both countries.

The exact turnover date has yet to be set, a compromise thus far between the Americans who are pushing for an earlier deadline and the South Koreans who are asking for a longer transition.

On Tuesday, Bell repeated his pledge that the turnover and the collapse of CFC would not decrease the U.S. military’s commitment to respond in South Korea if ever needed.

He also stressed that the future military protection in South Korea would continue to be a complementary mix of South Korean ground forces and U.S. air and naval supplements.


Stripes in 7



around the web


Sign Up for Daily Headlines

Sign-up to receive a daily email of today’s top military news stories from Stars and Stripes and top news outlets from around the world.

Sign up