South Korea signed a deal with the United States on Sunday, February 10, 2019, to raise its contribution to the upkeep of American troops here by 8.2 percent this year. South Korea will pay US$890 million for the operation of the 28,500-strong U.S. Forces Korea (USFK), up from 960 billion won in 2018.
United States Soldiers, Airmen, Sailors, and Marines have been stationed in South Korea for over half a century, and the requirement for a robust alliance has never been greater. Situated at the epicenter of one of the world’s most geopolitically volatile regions, the Korean Peninsula is of particular strategic importance to U.S. policy and posture across East Asia.
In order to ensure that the Alliance remains ready to “Fight Tonight,” defend the Korean Peninsula, and (if necessary) defeat North Korea, South Korea and the United States prioritize the development and deployment of a wide array of military assets. These capabilities, coupled with the Alliance’s ability to draw from the United States’ deep wellspring of maritime, aerial, and ground weapons systems, make for one of the world’s most contemporary and formidable fighting forces.
The United States and South Korea 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. The recent deployment of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system to South Korea is one such example.
The United States and South Korea currently manage a Foreign Military Sales (FMS) portfolio of over $26 billion, as South Korea has committed to a number of Alliance critical military capabilities, particularly in the areas of Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR), Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD), Air Superiority, and Maritime Security. Between 2013 and 2016, South Korea spent $14.7 billion in U.S.-origin procurements via FMS, while the U.S. government also authorized $34 billion in licensed defense articles and services via Direct Commercial Sales from U.S. industry for export to South Korea.
Some examples of recent acquisitions include: Global Hawk unmanned surveillance aircraft, PATRIOT PAC-3Upgrades, AEGIS KDX-III Destroyers, upgrades to the F-15K and KF-16, F-35A Joint Strike Fighter aircraft, and AH-64E Apache Attack helicopters. These capabilities and commitments are designed to greatly enhance the warfighting readiness of the ROK-U.S. Alliance, as well as meet many of the conditions required for successful transition of wartime operational control to the ROK (Republic of Korea National Military).