Security Trends and U.S.-ROK Military Planning in the 1990s

by Norman D. Levin

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This Note analyzes the broad global and regional trends likely to affect the future Asian security environment. The author considers several possible alternative future environments extrapolated from existing trends: pluralistic open detente, gradually involving North Korea; pluralistic open detente, without North Korea; loose bipolarity; and renewed polarization. Some of the principles for U.S. and Republic of Korea (ROK) policy it identifies include (1) the primary U.S.-ROK military objective in the near future should remain deterrence; (2) deterrence should be considered in terms of combined U.S.-ROK efforts, the aim being to optimize combined combat capabilities; (3) linkage should be maintained between further U.S. military drawdowns and changes in North Korea; and (4) restructuring and reducing U.S. forces should be done gradually, while maintaining ample symbols of continued U.S. commitment, deferring further U.S. Air Force drawdowns, combining demonstrations of increased air and naval reinforcement capabilities with force reductions, aiming for South Korea's assumption of full operational control over ROK forces, and exploring ways in which arms control might improve the balance of power on the Korean peninsula.

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