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[Editorial] The Bill for “Self-Reliant Defense” from the U.S.

[Editorial] The Bill for “Self-Reliant Defense” from the U.S.

Posted April. 18, 2005 23:34,   


Reports state that the United States has complained about the Korean forces not having enough supportive measures for the U.S. reinforcements that will be sent to the scene in case of emergencies, and apparently warned that it may have to reduce the size of reinforcements unless this problem was resolved. On the other hand, when the U.S. notified Korea about its plans to discard War Reserve Stocks for Allies (WRSA) in Korea, the Korean government reportedly opposed them, unlike how it was reported to the public.

This issue started at the ROK-U.S. military negotiation table in June 2003. That was when President Roh Moo-hyun began to bring about the issue of building self-reliant defense capabilities. The content of the bill the United States government called for the self-reliant defense theory has been disclosed at last.

During an emergency, 690,000 reinforcements will be sent in to help, with the total value of their equipments at over $387 billion, accounting for 60 to 70 percent of Korea’s Gross Domestic Product. Such war-time preparation plans have served as the deterrent force against North Korea and a strong support for stable economic growth. When such force is made smaller, Korea’s defense cost rises proportionally.

Similar problem occurs when we scrap the WRSA program, more than 99 percent of which includes ammunitions saved for an emergency. For training ammunitions, the provisional standard of the Korean forces is no more than 3.9 percent (field-guns) to 21.6 percent (personal firearms) of that of the U.S. forces. Training requiring high-price ammunition has been replaced with simulation long before because of budget shortage. The story about emergency ammunitions only gets worse. When the WRSA program that accounts for 60 percent of the estimated amount of ammunition to be used at a time of military confrontation, the burden is entirely on Korea. Given that the currency value of WRSA is estimated to be about five trillion won, it will take an even larger budget to stock up on ammunition for the emergency all by ourselves.

The government has announced that it will put in 99 trillion won till 2008 to make the foundation of self-reliant defense. However, this is to be used to cover the security gap following the reduction of 12,500 USFK troops and the base relocations. Once the United States tries to put all of the additional burdens from unexpected points solely on us, the cost of self-reliant defense will snowball.

We need to look back and see whether the root of the issue has been feeding on the government’s attitude of putting forth self-defense without the ability to pay for it. The former government leaders considered the Korea-U.S. alliance important for certain reasons, and it is not that they did not care about self-reliant defense.