SEOUL -- The United States and South Korea are expected to finish hashing out, by year-end, a joint military strategy to respond to any North Korean provocation, according to South Korean Ministry of National Defense documents.
The move is aimed at U.S. desires to have a joint and coordinated plan for dealing with any rise in tensions on the Korean Peninsula.
The U.S. military is expected to play an active role should a situation arise similar to the March 2010 sinking of the South Korean corvette Cheonan, which killed 46 sailors, or the November 2010 artillery attack on Daeyeonpyeongdo island, which killed two marines and two civilians.
According to an operational report submitted recently to the South Korean National Assembly by the Ministry of National Defense, the militaries of both countries will classify signs of military provocation, including movements of personnel and weaponry in the North Korean military.
The strategy will define levels of counterattack in response to varying levels of provocation, such as intrusion by sea and artillery attack on South Korean territories.
When the new plan is completed, the United States and South Korea will have at least three classes of joint military strategies, including one that deals with an all-out war with North Korea and one that addresses any contingency that may occur within North Korea.
When Daeyeonpyeongdo island was attacked in November, the South Korean military scrambled F-15 fighter jets without notifying the U.S. military beforehand. The attack was followed by a succession of hard-line remarks from within the South Korean military. Mike Mullen, then chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, visited Seoul in December and agreed with his South Korean counterparts on drawing up a new plan.
The new strategy, when completed, will allow the U.S. military to play a role in preventing the accidental occurrence and expansion of hostilities even after it transfers wartime operational control on the peninsula to the South Korean military at the end of 2015, said a source close to U.S. Forces Korea.
The two sides have already agreed that, even after the 2015 transition, the U.S. military will remain in control of air force operations; operations to eliminate nuclear weapons and nuclear substances in North Korea; and landing operations by the marines.
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