29 June 2011

CINC-USFK Nominee Talks KJI

GEN Thurman gives his opinion on Kim Jong Il during his confirmation hearings.

North Korea’s Kim Jong Il will continue his “cycle of provocations” and will remain the most dangerous threat to North Asia, Army Gen. James Thurman said Tuesday in his confirmation hearing to be the next commanding general of U.S. troops in Korea.

The general also pledged to take up the recent request by key senators to reassess the 15-year-old Pacific realignment plan, which includes consolidating Korean bases.

“I fully expect to make that the number one priority,” said Thurman, who is commanding general of U.S. Forces Command in Fort McPherson, Ga.

Thurman, who is expected to be confirmed easily, faced few questions during a joint hearing before the Senate Armed Service Committee that gave far more attention to the other two witnesses: Lt. Gen. John Allen, the successor to Gen. David Petraeus, and Vice Adm. William McRaven, who led the raid that killed Osama bin Laden and will take over U.S. Special Operations Command.

But in written answers to the committee’s advance questions, Thurman identified four “major” challenges for Korea:

-- understand the intent behind Kim Jong Il’s “increasingly escalatory and dangerous” actions.
-- train and be ready to fight a war with North Korea.
-- sustain the alliance with Seoul.
-- transform the alliance to reflect regional changes and “fiscal constraints.”

I got to sit next to GEN Thurman back at NTC in 2000 when we were in an AAR together. I got a tickle in my throat that wouldn't stop and he handed me a big-ass glass of cold water to help me stop coughing, since I was against the wall and couldn't easily get out of the AAR. One of the best glasses of water I've ever had - NTC is pretty hot in July.

By: Brant

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