(Gen Sharp)

New USFK commander talks about his priorities

By T.D. Flack, Stars and Stripes
Pacific edition, Monday, June 16, 2008

SEOUL — Just 10 days into his new command, the senior U.S. leader in South Korea sat down with Stars and Stripes to discuss what he sees as his top priorities.

Army Gen. Walter Sharp, who took command of U.S. Forces Korea, the Combined Forces Command and the United Nations Command from Gen. B.B. Bell during a June 3 ceremony, told Stripes on Friday that he wants to keep the command prepared to fight and win, to strengthen the U.S-South Korean alliance and ensure his community has solid quality of life. He also addressed the North Korean threat, the push to normalize tours on the peninsula and challenges his command faces among other issues.

The following are excerpts from the 30-minute interview:

On readiness:

The North Korean threat is always there and we never know what North Korea is going to do. … That really focuses on readiness and knowing your job … that you’re ready to pack up and go to war tonight. Your families, if they’re here, they’re prepared to (evacuate) out of here as quickly as possible.

On transferring operational control to South Korea:

I believe that’s the right thing to do. The Republic of Korea military is an outstanding military. We’ve got a really good set, I think, of exercises and … planning sessions in order to be able to get to the point by 2012 where the ROKs have developed a supported plan, and we have developed a supporting plan.

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Stars & Stripes  (Posted 6/18/08)