Acting Defense Secretary Patrick M. Shanahan met with South Korean Defense Minister Jeong Kyeong-doo at the Pentagon to discuss their nations’ joint efforts to support denuclearization, peace on the Korean Peninsula and other key alliance issues.
The U.S. and South Korea have been allies for nearly 70 years — since the Korean War when U.S. forces were part of the United Nations’ response to an invasion by North Korea. Twenty-one countries ultimately contributed to the U.N. force, but the United States provided about 90% of the military personnel.
Today, defense officials said the alliance and friendship between the U.S. and South Korea is stronger than ever. Here’s what you should know about it:
- U.S. officials have cited North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un’s regime as a threat to U.S. allies in the region, including South Korea, Japan and Taiwan and say the U.S. presence in South Korea helps mitigate that threat.
- There are 28,500 U.S. service members based in South Korea ready to “fight tonight.”
- The South Korean military has 625,000 active-duty service members and 5.2 million reservists and is one of the most modern in the world. South Korea’s combined forces have more than 1,500 fixed-wing aircraft and about 750 helicopters.
- South Korean soldiers fought alongside American forces during the Vietnam War, losing 5,099 service members.
- Combined Forces Command, at Camp Humphreys, South Korea, seamlessly integrates American and South Korean personnel. The CFC commander, Army Gen. Vincent Brooks, has wartime control of more than 600,000 troops from both countries.
- In 2018, South Korea and the U.S. renegotiated the Special Measures Agreement, a bilateral cost-sharing agreement that determines each country’s level of financial contributions to the defense of the peninsula. South Korea funds about 41 percent of the day-to-day nonpersonnel-stationing costs for U.S. Forces Korea.
- The recent deployment of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system to South Korea is an example of how the two nations continue to work together to bring the latest in military technology to the peninsula, ensuring the development and growth of a modern, interoperable and well-equipped force. THAAD not only bolsters readiness, but also contributes to a layered missile defense capability, providing ballistic missile intercept and destruction from projectiles inside or outside the atmosphere.