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Military Reshuffles Top Brass Posts

Posted November. 16, 2006 06:12,   


Gen. Kim Kwan-jin, the commander of Korea’s Third Army, was named as the new head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in a recent reshuffling of top military posts. The overhaul affected seven generals and one lieutenant general.

Army Lt. Gen. Park Heung-ryeol and Navy’s Vice Adm. Song Young-moo were promoted to Army Chief of Staff and Chief of Naval Operations, respectively.

Lt. Gen. Kim Tae-young, Lt. Gen. Park Yeong-ha, and Lt. Gen. Baek Kun-gi were promoted to four-star-generals and will take command of the First, Second and Third armies, respectively.

In particular, Park Yeong-ha was promoted to the first commander among graduates of Korea Third Military Academy. With the retirement of Commander Kwon Yeong-ki from the Second Army, the era of commander from the Korea Army Infantry School has ended.

Gen. Kim Byung-kwan, who currently commands the Third Army, was appointed as the deputy commander of the Korea-U.S. Combined Forces Command. Vice Adm. Park In-yong was named as the deputy chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Park is expected to be promoted to Admiral next year.

The military reshuffle appears to contain “coded appointments” to help the government execute its major defense policies and regain wartime military control.

Army Lt. Gen. Park Heung-ryeol was promoted to Army Commander after Lee Hee-sung, who was appointed to take up the vacant position of Army Commander after the 1979 coup d’ėtat. That Park is from Busan is expected to draw suspicions of “code appointment” over his fast rise to the top.

Top senior officials, including Gen. Rhee Sang-hee, Defense Minister candidate, Army Commander Kim Jang-soo, and Navy Commander Nam Hae-il are to step down with their retirement only four months away, violating the principle of guaranteeing the term for incumbent commanders, critics say. In particular, Rhee was known to be at odds with core military leadership since he argued for a delay in assuming wartime military control.

Under the principle that the Deputy Minister of Defense be civilian, Seo Joo-seok, senior presidential advisor for national security and foreign affairs, and Kim Young-ryong, director of innovation and planning in the Defense Ministry, are on the short list.

Prominent candidates for army corps commanders are Han Min-gu, director of policy planning under the Ministry of Defense, Jang Gwang-il, military planning director of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Kim Ki-soo, capacity planning director of Army, and Ha Jeong-yeol, advisor to minister for military forces.

Hwang Eui-don, director of military operations and planning under the Joint Chiefs of Staff, will assume the position of Chief of the Defense Security Command. The inauguration ceremony for the Chief of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Army and Navy Chiefs of Staff, and First, Second and Third army commanders will be held on November 17.