The U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) and the Republic of Korea (ROK) Ministry of National Defense (MND) held the 21st Korea-U.S. Integrated Defense Dialogue (KIDD) August 16-17, 2022 in Seoul, Republic of Korea.
Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense (DASD) for East Asia, Dr. Siddharth Mohandas, led the U.S. delegation. Deputy Minister for National Defense Policy (DEPMIN), Dr. Heo Tae-keun led the ROK delegation. Key senior U.S. and ROK defense and foreign affairs officials also participated. In addition, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Space Policy Dr. Vipin Narang and Dr. Mohandas together co-chaired the Deterrence Strategy Committee (DSC) session of the KIDD with DEPMIN Heo.
U.S. and ROK officials reaffirmed a shared goal of the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and pledged that U.S. and ROK combined forces would remain ready and postured to defend the ROK.
The leaders discussed the DPRK threat, particularly the increased volume and scale of DPRK missile tests over the course of the last year. With this in mind, and considering the evolving threat posed by the DPRK, both leaders committed to expanding the scope and scale of combined military exercises and training on and around the Korean Peninsula—starting with Ulchi Freedom Shield next week—to bolster combined readiness. They also affirmed the importance of full implementation of relevant United Nations (UN) Security Council Resolutions by the international community.
Both sides shared their assessments of activities at the DPRK’s Punggye-ri nuclear testing site. The two sides affirmed that, should the DPRK conduct a nuclear test, the ROK and the U.S. will engage in a strong and firm bilateral response, to include options to deploy U.S. strategic assets to the region.
DASD Mohandas and DEPMIN Heo co-chaired the KIDD Executive Session. In this session, the two leaders acknowledged an increasingly complex regional and global security environment.
The two leaders reaffirmed the importance of adherence to a rules-based international order based on international laws and norms, including those of freedom of navigation and overflight, and pledged close cooperation to meet regional challenges. They discussed recent unlawful and unsafe actions that complicated the implementation of UN Security Council resolutions concerning the DPRK. The two leaders affirmed their commitment to maintaining peace and stability, lawful unimpeded commerce, and international laws including freedom of navigation and overflight and other lawful use of the seas, including in the South China Sea and beyond, as reflected in the ROK-U.S. Leaders’ Joint Statement in May 2022. The two leaders also reinforced the importance of preserving peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait. They pledged to continue promoting defense and security cooperation in the Indo-Pacific region. To that end, the two leaders committed to continue to closely collaborate so that the ROK Indo-Pacific strategy framework and the U.S. Indo-Pacific Strategy contribute to peace and stability in the region.
Both sides affirmed the critical role that the ROK-Japan General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA) continues to play in enabling bilateral cooperation between the ROK and Japan, as well as trilateral security cooperation among the ROK, United States, and Japan. Both leaders noted that trilateral cooperation among the three countries is critical for advancing shared security interests in the Indo-Pacific region, and committed to further strengthening cooperation. They acknowledged the progress made during the recent Trilateral Ministerial Meeting in Singapore and pledged to deepen cooperation through mechanisms such as the annual Defense Trilateral Talks. They also positively assessed the recently conducted Pacific Dragon multilateral missile tracking exercise, which in addition to the United States, ROK, and Japan, also included Australia and Canada.
Finally, both sides applauded recent progress made to improve access to the U.S. Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) site and acknowledged the importance of the Alliance’s missile defense architecture in defending the ROK people—as well as U.S. and ROK deployed forces—particularly considering recent DPRK missile tests.
During the DSC, the two sides acknowledged progress toward revising the ROK-U.S. Tailored Deterrence Strategy (TDS), as discussed at the 53rd Security Consultative Meeting (SCM).They also affirmed that the TDS is being revised into a flexible, robust document that is aligned with the US National Defense Strategy, Nuclear Posture Review and Missile Defense Review. The DS will enable effective deterrence of the DPRK’s nuclear, other WMD and non-nuclear capabilities with strategic effects amidst a dynamic security environment of the region.
U.S. officials reaffirmed the ironclad U.S. commitment to the defense of the ROK, leveraging the full range of U.S. military capabilities—to include nuclear, conventional, missile defense, and other advanced non-nuclear capabilities. ROK officials emphasized that the Korean 3K(Kill Chain, KAMD, KMPR) Defense System will be strengthened to deter and counter advancing DPRK nuclear and missile threats.
In addition, the leaders committed to hold the Extended Deterrence Strategy and Consultation Group (EDSCG) in September 2022, and conduct a DSC tabletop exercise (TTX)in the near future.
Both sides also committed to engage in closer policy coordination and communication to strengthen Alliance counter-missile capability and posture, and pledged to launch a Counter-Missile Working Group (CMWG) within the DSC to this end.
At the Security Policy Initiative (SPI), both sides reaffirmed that the U.S.-ROK Alliance remains the linchpin of peace and security on the Korean Peninsula and in the Northeast Asia region.
DASD Mohandas and DEPMIN Heo noted combined training and exercises as well as stable, unfettered access to training facilities and bases are critical to maintaining a combined defense posture that is ready to “fight tonight.”
The leaders pledged to continue to implement the Yongsan Relocation Plan and acknowledged progress made over the past year.
Additionally, they pledged to deepen and expand Alliance cooperation in the space and cyber domains to effectively prepare for emerging threats. In particular, they applauded the ROK-U.S. Space Policy Joint Study, which was agreed upon at the 18th Space Cooperation Working Group (SCWG).
To continue to improve interoperability into the future, both sides committed to continue to enhance cooperation in the defense industrial space, as well as research and development. In particular, they committed to explore ROK-U.S. science and technology cooperation in various high-tech domains such as space, quantum, cyber defense, artificial intelligence, automation as well as cooperative measures in the area of 5G and next-generation mobile communications (6G).
During the Conditions-based Operational Control (OPCON) Transition Working Group (COTWG), DASD Mohandas and DEPMIN Heo acknowledged the progress made towards the transition of wartime OPCON to the Future Combined Forces Command (F-CFC) and reaffirmed a mutual commitment to meeting the three conditions under the bilaterally approved Conditions-based OPCON Transition Plan (COTP).
In particular, they applauded the completion of the Joint Study on COTP capabilities and all accompanying annexes.
U.S. and ROK leaders assessed that the 21st KIDD reaffirmed close Alliance bonds, bolstered Alliance coordination, and strengthened the U.S.-ROK combined defense posture.
Based on these outcomes, the two sides pledged to continue progress leading up to the 54th Security Consultative Meeting, scheduled for November 2022.