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[Editorial] Korean Taxpayers Will Pay Cost of Government’s Defense Policy

[Editorial] Korean Taxpayers Will Pay Cost of Government’s Defense Policy

Posted November. 08, 2005 07:25,   


Recent reports have revealed that in June, the South Korean Ministry of National Defense (MND) asked the U.S. to conclude an agreement for new quick logistic supply between both countries, but was rejected.

The Critical Requirements Deficiency List (CRDL) between Korea and the U.S., a logistical planning tool for a possible war, was abolished late last year, and the U.S. War Reserve Stocks for Allies (WRSA) program will be terminated at the end of 2006. In light of these two programs ending, the U.S.’s refusal to conclude a new military logistics agreement with South Korea is the equivalent of notifying Korea that it will be on its own in the initial stages of any conflict on the Korean peninsula.

The costs of the Self Reliant National Defense program pursued by the Roh Moo-hyun government are becoming true. Most of the supplies provided by the CRDL and WRSA programs consist of ammunition. Nevertheless, the Korean military still only possesses enough ammunition to wage war for about 10 days. The self-reliant defense budget estimate of 621 trillion won, which will be needed through 2020, doesn’t factor in additional ammunition costs. In the end, the government will have to acquire wartime ammunition reserves through additional budget funding.

Even if the government takes on the ammunition supply costs left by the termination of the WRSA program, which are estimated to be about five trillion won, there is a high possibility the U.S. will try to shift additional defense burdens to Korea. Two years ago, the U.S. notified Korea that it would re-evaluate the number of reinforcements it would send in case of a wartime contingency on the Korean peninsula.

The implication is that the U.S. is increasingly unwilling to make additional sacrifices for Korea, which itself is growing distant from the alliance. If the American security umbrella shrinks, the vacuum left by it will have to be filled by the government that is advocating self-reliant defense, and the bill will have to be paid by the Korean people.

The government’s deceptive attitude is also a problem. When Dong-A Ilbo reported in April about U.S. plans to terminate WRSA, the MND boasted, “If WRSA is abolished, there will be no negative effect on the Korean military’s war fighting capability.” In reality, however, two months later, it asked the U.S. for a new agreement. The MND’s ambivalence of assuring the people on one hand, and depending on the U.S. on the other, only makes people more anxious about security.

The Roh government should stop its unsubstantial self-reliant defense ballad and try to quickly reconsolidate Korea’s weakening alliance with the U.S. If it continues on its current path, national security will weaken and the Korean people’s burdens will only increase.