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[Editorial] National Defense Worries

Posted September. 26, 2006 07:02,   


Experts are showing growing concerns over Korea’s loss of military strength as they have not been able to carry out drills properly due to a lack of military drill fields and strong protests by residents. Although the government is seeking the retrieval of wartime command control in the name of a “cooperative self-reliant defense posture,” the so called, “self-reliant administration,” has been seriously absent-minded when it comes to national security.

The army has secured only 64 percent of its required exercise land. In particular, the army has secured no more than 53 percent of the required land for firing drills which involve heavy weapons like the K-9 self-propelled howitzer and the multiple launch rocket system (MLRS). The air force has also barely managed to secure half the required land for the eight air-to-ground firing ranges in Yeoju in Gyeonggi Province and in Nakdong in South Gyeongsang Province. If we expect a “mighty army” without improving current situations, it will be like expecting someone who is deprived of education to do well in an exam.

Artillery units and air units have been, respectively, reducing the number of tank fire exercises and low altitude flying exercises due to mounting public outcry over noise and accidental firings. There are even some local people lying down in front of a tank heading toward a firing range or attempting to enter a range without permission. This is exactly what President Roh asked for. His lukewarm attitude toward pro-North Korean and extreme left groups who wield bamboo spears against riot police officers or pull down barbed wire of U.S. military compounds has created chaos.

Moreover, President Roh’s absurd logic has promoted people’s insensibility against security threats. “The missiles of North Korea are too shabby to reach the United States and too big to be aimed at South Korea,” President Roh said. Who can be possibly concerned about security and emphasize the importance of the army when the president says, “The missile test was aimed at achieving political purposes rather than posing military threats.”

The insensitivity among the people against security threats is at a very critical stage. According to a survey, nearly 80 percent of the respondents said that they believe war will not break out in the Korean peninsula. However, we have to bear in mind that we are still exposed to North Korea’s nuclear weapons, some 1,000 long-range artillery systems, 600 scud missiles and 5,000 tons of estimated chemical weapons. It’s time for the government to help people be aware of the seriousness of security threats. Dialogue can be immediately resumed after failure, but peace is very hard to be restored after failure. Pan-government efforts must be made immediately.