The Republic of Korea Army (RoKA) has created a new command as part of the government’s Defense Reform 2.0 initiative aimed at developing a more streamlined but technologically advanced military.
In a ceremony held on 8 January South Korean President Moon Jae-in officially launched the new structure – called the Ground Operation Command (GOC) – which combines what used to be the RoKA’s First and Third Army commands.
General Kim Un-yong, who used to command the Third Army, was appointed chief of the new structure, according to a statement by South Korea’s presidential office, which is also known as Cheong Wa Dae.
A day later South Korean Defense Minister Jeong Kyeong-doo took part in a ribbon-cutting ceremony at GOC headquarters in Yongin, just south of Seoul, where he said that the new command will play a key role in the future alliance with the US and spearhead “all joint and combined operations” on the ground, according to the Yonhap News Agency.
In the event of a war on the Korean Peninsula, the GOC, which is also a major component of South Korea's preparations to regain wartime operational control (OPCON) from the US, will play a role as the Ground Component Command in charge of ground combat operations, Yonhap reported, adding that the GOC now commands seven regional corps and one expeditionary corps, as well as a logistical support command, an artillery bridge, and an intelligence unit.
South Korea aims to cut the number of active military personnel by about 125,000 to 500,000 troops by 2022 as part of the Defense Reform 2.0 initiative.
The Northeast Asian country had approximately 625,000 troops, including 490,000 army service members, as of December 2016, compared with North Korea’s 1.28 million-strong armed forces, according to the South Korean Ministry of National Defense’s 2016 Defense White Paper.