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Korean Army Division to be Maximum of 10,000

Posted October. 19, 2003 22:48,   


The size of South Korean troops dispatched to Iraq will be larger than the type of multinational-composed “Polish Division” previously suggested by the United States, which is big enough to form an independent operation of the Korean army by itself.

“Smaller troop dispatch would make it tough to assure a voice to the U.S.,” a government official said yesterday. “Now that the U.S. already mentioned of gains and losses from the troop dispatch in various ways, the total number of soldiers should range from a minimum of 6,000-7000 to a maximum of 10,000.”

He further explained, “For the efficient self-defense system and strategic operations, it is desirable to compose one division of Korean army including at least more than three brigades, and to position the sub-division to Mosul and other northern parts of Iraq.”

With regard to the statement, report said the Ministry of National Defense is planning to form a number of at least 6,000 to 7,000 soldiers for the Korean troop division by next month, and to switch duties with the evacuating U.S. troops in Mosul, Iraq next January or February.

A Defense Ministry official said, “The number of 3000 (which is a size of polish division) is too small to successfully implement the responsibility of post-war rehabilitation and security maintenance. The dispatched troops are required to reach a level of independent self-protection.”

The government reported that it will complete organizing the troop dispatch by the end of November and begin a warm-up training session at the site from December.

Prior to this, the Blue House spokesman Yoon Tae-young officially announced that President Roh Moo-hyun held an interim National Security Council (NSC) meeting on October 18 and agreed for an additional troop dispatch for the sake of peace and rapid reconstruction of Iraq.

Yoon said, “However, in addition to the United States’ request for the troop’s feature, type, size and timing of deployment, the government will continuously go over an overall nation’s opinion with the research of site-inspection team and the potential of the Korean army, to determine the best way for the stability and rehabilitation in Iraq.”

He added, “The administration decided to offer a total of USD $260 million for the next four years to support Iraqi reconstruction.”

In regard to the decision, some members of Millennium Democratic Party (MDP) and New Party for Participatory Union protested against it, which is likely to raise a criticism during the Parliamentary approval procedure for troop dispatch in the near future.

Meanwhile, Rep. Chang Young-dal, chairman of the defense committee of the National Assembly, said that around 15 lawmakers will form an inspection team and fly to Iraq for the site survey in early or mid-November.