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U.S. Army Pacific chief nominated for top U.S. Forces Korea post, reports say

U.S. Army Pacific Commander Gen. Paul LaCamera, 57, is expected to be the next commander of U.S. Forces Korea, according to South Korean press reports. Photo courtesy of U.S. Army Pacific
U.S. Army Pacific Commander Gen. Paul LaCamera, 57, is expected to be the next commander of U.S. Forces Korea, according to South Korean press reports. Photo courtesy of U.S. Army Pacific

Dec. 4 (UPI) -- The head of U.S. Army Pacific soon could be named the commander of the U.S.-led United Nations Command and U.S. Forces Korea, according to South Korean press reports.

U.S. Army Pacific Commander Gen. Paul LaCamera, 57, is expected to be the next commander of the U.N. Command and the U.S.-South Korea Combined Forces Command, most likely after the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden, Yonhap and Hankyoreh reported Friday, citing South Korean military sources.

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LaCamera would take over from Gen. Robert Abrams, who was appointed USFK chief in November 2018. Abrams succeeded U.S. Gen. Vincent Brooks, who held the post from 2016 to 2018.

LaCamera previously served as commander of a 74-nation coalition in Syria and Iraq. Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve, or CJTF-OIR, has said it has liberated millions of people from Islamic State-controlled areas of the Middle East since 2014 after "severely degrading" the Islamic State's capabilities.

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Reports of LaCamera's potential appointment to the top U.S. military post on the Korean Peninsula comes at a time of ongoing negotiations between the United States and South Korea over defense burden sharing and conditions-based transition of wartime operation control, or OPCON.

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President Moon Jae-in's administration could be seeking a completion of transfer of military command to South Korea before May 2022, the end of Moon's term, but Abrams has said steps toward OPCON have not been completed.

"We've got ways to go," Abrams said in September.

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Seoul and Washington also have not reached an agreement on defense burden sharing, after the Trump administration demanded a five-fold increase or $5 billion annual contribution from Seoul for U.S. troops.

The two sides recently held a video consultation over costs outlined in the bilateral Special Measures Agreement, South Korean television network KBS reported.

U.S. and South Korean negotiators held discussions Monday for the first time in months. In April, South Korea offered to raise contributions by 13% but Trump rejected the offer, according to KBS.

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