South Korean Military unveils tentative defense reform plan

FILE : South Korean President Lee Myung-bak (C) encourages army soldiers during his visit to a military observation post of the front-line unit in the demilitarized zone in Yanggu, far northeast of Seoul, December 23, 2010. REUTERS/Blue House/Handout

Feb 7 (KATAKAMI.COM) — The Defense Ministry`s latest reform plan is known to include the reintroduction of extra credit for serving in the military, reduction in the number of generals, an active deterrent strategy, and a new headquarters near the five border islands in the Yellow Sea.

A military official said Sunday, “Personnel appointments will be made in April to facilitate the establishment of a new military command in the Yellow Sea islands. Personnel affairs should be resolved first to speed up the establishment.”

The ministry was planning to report Monday its 24-point defense reform package to President Lee Myung-bak, but postponed it because the presidential office asked to include the formation of an inspection team for defense reform promotion.

On the improvement of military decision-making, the ministry will urge a balance of proportion of officers in key decision-making posts from the armed forces. The details will be decided after discussion, however, which will likely spur disputes among relevant parties.

The Defense Advancement Promotion Committee had earlier stipulated the balancing of the number of top decision-making officers in the armed forces under a 1:1:1 ratio and the number of manager-level officials at the ministry and the Joint Chiefs of Staff under a 2:1:1 ratio.

On military capacity, the ministry will also distinguish areas to be enhanced from those to be trimmed.

The ministry will reduce the number of spike missiles from 130 to 90 and use the savings to expand other military capacity. In the wake of North Korea`s shelling of Yeonpyeong Island last year, the government decided to deploy spike missiles in case of further provocations.

Defense Minister Kim Kwan-jin is known to have ordered the reduction of the missile deployment in a meeting. “Missile attacks are symbolic in that they threaten the enemy in the early stages of provocations, but attacking with combat planes equipped with more weapons is more effective,” he said.

Developed by Israel’s Rafael Advanced Defense System, a spike missile has a range of 25 kilometers and can directly be fired at the North’s coastal artillery facilities 12 kilometers from Yeonpyeong. It can also destroy cannons in rear areas through video equipment.

One spike missile costs 800 million won (718,488 U.S. dollars), according to the ministry.

The number of tanks will also be reduced. Minister Kim said, “In our military environment, we don`t need all 2,300 battle tanks. When our military comes to attack North Korea with tanks, the North Korean military would`ve already been beaten by our Air Force.”

Vice Defense Minister Lee Yong-geol is known to be considering putting as a lower priority the K-2 battle tank in defense spending. The South Korean military has 2,400 tanks and North Korea 4,100, according to Seoul`s 2010 defense white paper. (*)

Source : The Donga A Ilbo

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