Keep GIs in Korea under U.S. command
The U.S. and South Korea are discussing whether to leave Korean forces under U.S. command in the event of a war.
SOUTH Korea naturally dislikes the idea of placing its highly proficient armed services under U.S. control in the event of war with the North, but that is the current agreement. An alternative command structure is needed, but Americans are not about to accept placing U.S. soldiers beneath Korean command under any scenario.
When the Korean War was ended by truce more than 50 years ago, Americans remained in charge of the United Nations command. Koreans gained command of their own forces in 1994. However, in case of war, the Combined Forces Command, headed by an American four-star general with a Korean second in command, would direct operations of both U.S. and Korean troops.
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Yoon Kwang Ung, the South Korean defense minister, issued a communiqué in Seoul last week reaffirming their commitment to "a solid combined defense posture." Rumsfeld told reporters there would be "adjustments in the command relationship" to reflect South Korea's increased capabilities.
The question is whether the response to an attack by North Korea would be under two forces with independent commands or under a dual command structure. Subordinating U.S. forces under Korean command would be unacceptable, just as Americans have refused to place troops under foreign command of U.N. forces.
In an opinion article in Asian editions of the Wall Street Journal, Rumsfeld suggested the U.S. military will play more of a support role in South Korea. In recent years, Seoul has taken responsibility for several combat missions that had been handled by U.S. forces, and the Pentagon plans to reduce its troop strength on the peninsula from last year's 37,500 to 25,000 by the end of 2008.
Ideally, increased reconciliation between the two Koreas and the U.S. pledge to shield South Korea, along with Japan, under a nuclear umbrella will prevent the hypothetical from occurring.
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Boat owners should repay state for cleanup
The state is paying for clearing the wreckage of two boats that ran aground.
TWO vessels that ran aground on Oahu's south shore
within days of each other have brought attention to the cost of removing the boats and who will eventually foot the bill.
The price tag for clearing away the wrecks could reach as much as $140,000, and though the state's boating division has fronted the money for removal, the state should vigorously seek reimbursement from the owners.
Meanwhile, the state Legislature should consider requiring owners of all boats, even ones now exempt for various reasons, to carry insurance, much like car owners must do.
The Two Star, a commercial fishing boat that ran aground Saturday, is not required to have what's called a certificate of financial responsibility, akin to insurance. At one time, lawmakers exempted such older boats because of their historic value. However its owner, Leilani Fishing Co., should be held accountable if the firm's other boats continue to use state harbor facilities.
The owner of the Misty Blue, a recreational sailboat that became hung up on the beach near the Ala Wai Boat Harbor Tuesday, also should pay compensation. Christopher Payne says he had no insurance on the boat and has no money for its recovery.
The funds being used by the boating division comes from marine fuel taxes, rental income and fees paid by boaters rather than general taxpayer funds. However, the division, like many other state agencies, is short of cash and should be refunded.