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USFK Commander Calls for Role Beyond Korean Peninsula

USFK Commander Calls for Role Beyond Korean Peninsula

Gen. Paul LaCamera, the commander of the U.S. Forces Korea, has called on combined forces to expand their role beyond the Korean Peninsula.

Speaking at the Asian Leadership Conference hosted by the Chosun Ilbo last week, LaCamera pointed at new realities like Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and North Korea’s nuclear armament that are challenging the “rules-based international order.”

“There’s a potential ‘new normal’ — the new world order our neighboring country is seeking to create,” he said. “Are we ready to embrace such a normal? If not, what should we do about it?”

LaCamera took command of USFK in April 2021. Since then, North Korea has escalated its military provocations, launching an unprecedented 31 ballistic missiles in 2022.

“The first time the current world order — the international rules-based order established after World War II — was challenged was in 1950, when communist forces invaded South Korea,” he said. “The U.S. and 22 UN member states stood with South Korea to defend the country and expel the aggressor. As a result, the [South Korea]-U.S. alliance was born.”

Gen. Paul LaCamera, the commander of the U.S. Forces Korea speaks at the annual Asian Leadership Conference at Hotel Shilla in Seoul on July 13.

He pointed out that seventh nuclear test from North Korea is on the horizon some time this year.

“As a military leader, I would guess [North Korean leader Kim Jong-un] is looking at our systems and trying to figure out how he can defeat those,” LaCamera said. “But even through COVID, we have demonstrated that we will continue training, not just at the theater level, or the strategic or operational level, but more importantly at the tactical level, where the fight will be won or lost.”

He said consistent training and preparedness should be prioritized over merely reacting to the North’s provocations. “If we remain reactive to our neighbor’s actions, a different world order could become a reality for all of us,” he warned.

In response to threats such as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Seoul and Washington have the chance to widen the scope of their alliance, he said.

“I see an opportunity for the alliance to extend its reach and become a global comprehensive strategic alliance beyond the Korean peninsula, as President Yoon Suk-yeol and President Joe Biden jointly stated,” LaCamera said. “My advice for [the South Korean military] is to seize the moment of the current security environment and be a coalition leader. That is the new normal that I envision for the alliance.”

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