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Korea: The "Antiquated" Trip Wire Strategy of the CFC: End in Sight?

(Source- Channel A News Top Ten, 6.4) Title- Agreement overturned, the CFC will move to Pyeongtaek. "The last bastion of the trip wire broken?" Chart shows relative postions of the US Army's 210th Fire Brigade in Tongduchan and the blue and red emblem of the Combined Forces Command represents the Camp Humphreys, Pyeongtaek location. Banners say, "US Forces Korea trip wire moves south," and, "the security of US automatic entry (is a) Maginot line.

It appears from the discussion on Channel A News Top Ten today concerning the movement of the Combined Forces Command to Camp Humphreys in Pyeongtaek, announced by Secretary of Defense, Patrick Shanahan, and South Korean Defense Minister Jeong Kyeong DU, that the 210th Artillery Brigade will ultimately be removed from Dongduchan South Korea at some point in the future. Movement of this remaining element of the 2nd Infantry Division from it's forward position north of the Han River and proximate to the demilitarized zone, would eliminate in view of some critics the benefit of the so called "trip wire" strategy which automatically triggers US military involvement in the defense of South Korea should a North Korean invasion or other attack occur across the DMZ. Other elements of the division had already been moved southward to Camp Humphreys along with US Forces Korea, and the United Nations Command.

The so-called iron trip wire strategy was long a visible source of stability and security to South Korean citizens knowing it's powerful US ally would automatically be directly involved in the defense of South Korea in the event of a North Korean attack. On the other hand the US military presence sometimes was a source of friction with the local community. According to a July 16, 2017 report of the English language Hankyoreh:

The division was originally slated to be relocated in its entirely to Pyeongtaek by 2016 in accordance with the Pyeongtaek relocation plan. But a decision was made at a South Korea-US Security Consultative Meeting in Washington on Oct. 23, 2014, to leave the 210th Artillery Brigade there through 2020 while the South Korean military beefed up its firepower warfare capabilities.

At that point, three of six military installations in the Dongduchan area operated by the US Army had already been returned to the city.


(Source- Channel A News Top Ten, 6.4) Official ROK Ministry of Defense spokesperson, "The trip wire concept is is quite dated, we consider this to be an outdated idea."

An official statement from the ROK Ministry of Defense, today, disputed that the strength or readiness of the US- South Korean alliance would be adversely affected in any way by the change in the geographical dispositions of US forces, and said the concept of the trip wire engagement of US forces was out of date and not in keeping with modern warfare concepts. The issues have reemerged with the news that a South Korean general not from the ROK Joint Chiefs of Staff would be established in Camp Humphreys as the US- ROK Combined Forces Commander in time of war in the future when preparations are completed and operational capabilities are considered to have been demonstrated. The ROK Joint Chiefs of Staff, would remain in Seoul in their MND headquarters near the old Yongsan garrison location.


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