December 17, 2010

2010 CNAS Report: ROK Must Improve Military Capabilities; U.S.-ROK Alliance Should be Enhanced

North Korea’s ever-growing belligerence,
illustrated by its vow to retaliate against the South for artillery drills and
the recent attacks on Yeonpyeong Island, highlights the need to further
strengthen the U.S.-South Korea alliance.  South Korea must also play a
greater role in regional stability and prosperity, according to a report
released today by the Center for a New American Security (CNAS).

South Korea: A Strategic Alliance for the 21st Century
, authored by
Abraham Denmark and Zachary Hosford, provides policy recommendations for
how the United States can enhance its alliance with South Korea. This
includes how South Korea can create a more adaptive military force –
including ground, air and naval forces – that would allow the country to
meet the wide range of threats posed by its northern
neighbor. Additionally, it would give them capacity to help
manage regional issues such as China’s rise and access to the region’s
numerous seaways. Additional recommendations in the report include:

  • To
    gain the experience, skills and capabilities necessary to respond to a

    North Korean collapse, South Korea’s military should expand its
    participation in international peacekeeping, stabilization and
    humanitarian assistance/disaster relief operations.
  • The
    United States and South Korea should make the management of China’s rise a
    fundamental element of the alliance. While the U.S.-ROK alliance should be
    a vehicle to engage China, it should also sustain a strategic hedge
    against potential Chinese coercion or aggression.
  • South
    Korea should pursue an adaptive force structure that can effectively
    respond to a variety of contingencies, ranging from an attack by North
    Korea to its collapse.
  • The
    U.S.-ROK alliance should expand engagement with Japan to address the
    challenges posed by North Korea and China.

South Korea: A Strategic Alliance for the 21st Century

“While South
Korea can rely upon its American ally for its ultimate defense, challenges to
America’s long-term capacity to project and sustain military power demand a
greater role by the ROK,” write the authors. “South Korea’s military cannot
afford to focus on a single scenario, however, given South Korea’s rapidly
evolving strategic environment. The ROK military must be flexible and
experienced enough to address a wide range of threats.”

address the growing regional threat posed by North Korea, CNAS also released a
report today on Japan's need for enhanced Intelligence, Surveillance and
Reconnaissance (ISR), Robotic
Skies: Intelligence, Surveillance, Reconnaissance and the Strategic Defense of


Center for a New American
is an independent and nonpartisan research institution that develops strong,
pragmatic and principled national security and defense policies. CNAS
leads efforts to help inform and prepare the national security leaders of today
and tomorrow.