News Item: "South Korean Defense Minsiter Kim Jang-soo speaks on the results of the 39th Security Consultative Meeting (SCM) with the US, while his US counterpart Robert M. Gates listens on. [In addition to reiterating that North Korea remains as a threat] They agreed on a plan for the South Korean military to assume more responsibility in maintaining the armistice on the Korean Peninsula by 2012 when it exercises independent wartime operational control of its armed forces."
Commentary: South Korea spends $27 billion a year on defense and exports $1.1 billion worth of arms, it makes its own heavy tanks, jet fighters, cruise missiles and advanced navy ships -- yet it does not have wartime operational control of its own military. This is due to an anachronistic remnant of the Korean War arrangement between the US and ROK which resulted in a sovereign ROK relinquishing its military command to a foreign military (the US) -- a unique (called "unequal" in the old days) arrangement not found elsewhere in today's world. Thus the US commander in Korea remained as the top commander of South Korea's military ever since the outbreak of the Korean War. Only in 1998, did South Korea regain the peacetime operational control of its armed forces. With the two sides of Korea committed to a peaceful settlement, the dissolution of the US Command over South Korean military and the United Nations Command (which the US also heads) is overdue and inevitable.