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[Editorial] Contingent Must Be Welcomed By Iraqis

Posted February. 13, 2004 22:49,   


The National Assembly on Friday approved a bill aimed to dispatch troops to Iraq. Fortunately, political circles, once utterly divided over the troop dispatch bill, have finally made a realistic decision. So, it is now time to concentrate our efforts on helping the military successfully accomplish its missions, overcoming conflicts over the deployment.

The most essential part of the preparation regarding the troop dispatch is confirming the nature of our contingent as reconstruction and peace keeping units. It must be clarified that Korean soldiers are going to Iraq not to fight but to help Iraqis in need of help. This will ease criticism raised by the people opposing to the troop dispatch decision and also help heighten the morale of our soldiers.

A very good precedent is the Sangnoksu Unit, which had been dispatched to East Timor between October 1999 and October 2003. The Sangnoksu Unit, which carried out outstanding reconstruction operations, gained not only trust among local residents but a nickname, “King of Multinational Forces.”

The military authorities now have a great deal of work to do ahead of the dispatch scheduled in late April. The military must make sure everything regarding the deployment is prepared perfectly as envisioned, including training of soldiers, procurement and transportation, and co-operation systems with U.S. forces. However, above all, the military must prepare thoroughly so as to prevent unnecessary conflicts with local residents and causalities.

Civil groups should also make united efforts as it is now time for civil groups to encourage the contingent destined for Iraq to stop futile arguments. In addition, the positive outcomes of the troop dispatch will become even greater if the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency, Korea International Cooperation Agency, and NGOs actively commit themselves to Iraqi rehabilitation works.