U.S. Army’s Odierno Expects Decision Soon on South Korea Apaches

U.S. Army Chief of Staff General Ray Odierno said today he expects a decision soon on the U.S. providing more military support to South Korea, including a plan to deploy additional Apache attack helicopters there.

“We discussed the requirement, potentially, for additional support here in Korea,” Odierno said at a briefing at Camp Casey in South Korea. “We expect a decision on whether we will provide additional capabilities here very shortly.”

A decision to expand military support comes as South Korea prepares to take back wartime military command over its forces from the U.S. North Korea re-ignited regional tensions last month when it launched a long-range rocket in defiance of opposition from the U.S., China and other members of the United Nations Security Council.

South Korea will start leading the annual Key Resolve military drills conducted jointly with the U.S., Odierno said. Earlier today he met his South Korean counterpart, General Cho Jung Hwan, and U.S. Forces Korea Commander General James Thurman as part of a two-day visit.

Odierno briefed Cho today on the Pentagon and the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff approving the deployment of one Apache attack helicopter battalion of 24 aircraft, Yonhap News reported without citing anyone.

Last year, Thurman called for an additional attack-reconnaissance unit, saying it was needed to improve combat ability.

The U.S. gave South Korea peacetime operational control of its military in 1994 and the current agreement between the two countries calls for President-Elect Park Geun Hye’s government to take over wartime command as well in 2015. The U.S. is moving its 28,500 South Korea-based troops away from the demilitarized zone with North Korea.

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