South Korea Eyes Additional Military Changes

South Korea is moving toward assuming operational wartime control of military forces on the peninsula by 2015 and have very effectively modernized their military forces leading up to the milestone, according to the top US airman in the Pacific. “Korea has been a partner with us for a long time, and we have an incredible working relationship,” said Gen. Gary North, commander of Pacific Air Forces, in a meeting with reporters Tuesday afternoon at AFA’s Air & Space Conference. The South Koreans are also exploring changes to their military staff structure and command and control authorities to align with the switchover as well, North noted. The South Koreans have now received their own AWACS platform, have purchased additional F-15K fighters, and they are also pursuing more sophisticated intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance tools—such as working to obtain their own RQ-4 Global Hawk aircraft. North said he believed ROK Global Hawks also would “complement” the capabilities of the US U-2s based on the peninsula and could well replace them in the future. “It depends on what they buy, how they buy, and when it comes online,” North said of a potential South Korean Global Hawk buy.