The US-ROK Alliance: the Feasibility of the Continuing US Military Presence in the Republic of Korea
The U.S. – ROK alliance is currently on a high after a decade of fluctuating relations. Both the Obama and Lee administrations have been focused on producing a future plan that takes both nations strategic interests into account while also considering the changing dynamics in the region. The alliance partners have had to overcome differences of opinion on foreign policy, the rise of anti-Americanism in South Korea, the emergence of China as a power in the region, and the continuing nuclear ambitions and instability in North Korea. This paper discusses how the realignment of the force command structure and a unified long-term strategic plan, has effectively modified the USFK to better deal with these wide ranging issues and remain a force of strategic relevance now and in the future of Asia. The USFK therefore remains an important part of the U.S. – ROK alliance that has positive security implications for both the Korean Peninsula and its surrounding region. It has also become the catalyst for stronger all-round relations between the long-time allies, which lead to positive flow-on effects in economic matters such as the U.S. – ROK Free-Trade Agreement (KORUS FTA).