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Wartime Command Turnover Questioned

Posted August. 03, 2006 03:05,   


A group of former defense ministers Wednesday strongly urged Defense Minister Yoon Kwang-ung to halt discussions over regaining wartime command on South Korean armed forces.

In a luncheon meeting with Defense Minister Yoon Kwang-ung at the ministry building, 13 former defense chiefs said that talks over the transfer of wartime operational control must be stopped in consideration of instable security situations of the Korean peninsula and Korean forces’ lack of intelligence capabilities.

The meeting was held upon the request of former ministers, including Kim Sung-eun and Lee Sang-hun. Retired colonel Baek Seon-yeop and former vice-defense minister Lee Jung-lin were also participants in the meeting.

This was an unprecedented event since the former defense ministers criticized the government’s security policies and sought a meeting as a group with the incumbent minister. So far, Yoon has been discussing security issues with retired commanders by inviting them to the ministry or by paying a visit to the Korea Retired Generals and Admirals Association.

“The missile crisis of North Korea illustrates that Korea still lacks intelligence capabilities to take charge of military operations by itself. At this point, the government should make more efforts to strengthen the existing combined forces command based on a solid ROK-U.S. alliance rather than seek the turnover of wartime operational control,” former defense ministers said.

“North Korea’s missile tests conducted last month amid the nuclear crisis shows that North Korea’s military strategies against South Korea has not yet changed at all. While Japan is trying to bolster their military alliance with the U.S., South Korea is doing the opposite,” the ex-ministers said.

One of the participants even asked defense minister Yoon, “Minister Yoon, you should deliver our worries to President Roh so that he can make a resolute decision.”

In response, Yoon said, “Even if we regain the operational control, the U.S. forces will continue to provide intelligence and reinforced troops in case a war breaks out on the Korean peninsula and the alliance of the two countries will not be hampered.”

“The command transfer reminds me of Daewongun`s Seclusion policy during the Joseon Dynasty. The transfer of the command control will make the ROK-US Combined Forces Command be dismantled and the alliance of the two countries will also vanish,” a former defense chief said.

“This is a meeting arranged in order to remind us that the people of South Korea should have one mind and walk towards one direction to make sure North Korea wouldn’t dare to think of another ploy,” Yoon said after the luncheon.