| The commander of the United States Forces Korea (USFK) has two other titles, as he serves the commander of the United Nations Command (UNC) and the South Korea-U.S. Combined Forces Command (CFC). The UNC commandership was created on June 27, 1950 under the U.N.`s military sanctions on North Korea and the July 7, 1950 resolution on establishing the command. The first chief of the UNC was General Douglas McArthur. The operational control over the UNC was transferred to the CFC when the latter was founded in November 1978. The peacetime operational control was transferred to South Korea in 1994.
The CFC commandership is the heaviest of the three titles, as the USFK chief will exercise operational control over the 700,000-strong South Korean and U.S. troops as CFC commander at wartime on the Korean Peninsula. The primary duty of the UNC commander is to manage the armistice regime. While he is also responsible for operating the UNC Military Armistice Commission and guard posts at the demilitarized zone, the roles have been significantly reduced. When he acts as the chief commander of the 28,500-strong USFK troops, he wears the hat of the USFK commander.
When a new CFC commander was sworn in at a ceremony at the Knight Field at the U.S. military base in central Seoul on Wednesday, he took over three flag: each for the CFC, the UNC and the USFK, respectively. South Korean Defense Minister Kim Kwan-jin and U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, the top guests at the ceremony, received the CFC flag from the outgoing commander, General James D. Thurman, and handed them over to the new commander, General Curtis Scaparrotti. Then, General Martin E. Dempsey, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff and the U.S. representative to the South Korea-U.S. Military Commission, delivered the UNC flag, and Admiral Samuel Locklear, commander of the U.S. Pacific Command, the USFK flag.
The two allies agreed to transfer the wartime operation control over the South Korean military to Seoul in December 2015. Had the transfer proceeded as scheduled, General Scaparrotti would have been the last U.S. commander with wartime operational command. Three-star or four-star U.S. generals will succeed him in the future but will be placed under the command of a South Korean commander in the event of combined operations after the transfer is completed. General Scaparrotti was promoted to four stars just before he was sent to South Korea. It will not be long before a USFK commander takes over just two flags.
Editorial Writer Ha Tae-won (email@example.com)