Posted September. 14, 2009 08:35,
The Defense Ministry in May warned that the transfer of wartime operational control from the U.S. to Korea in 2012 will suffer if next years defense budget is significantly cut, news reports said yesterday.
This is the first time for the military to officially mention the possibility of a snag in the command transfer. Accordingly, if the defense budget for next year is well below what the ministry requests, the demand for delaying the transfer will gain momentum.
This is according to a mid-term defense plan from 2010 to 2014 submitted to main opposition Democratic Party Seo Jong-pyo, who is on the National Assembly`s National Defense Committee.
If the defense budget is cut under the government plan, it will mark the lowest rise since 1991, he said. For conducting defense reform and wartime command shift smoothly, an appropriate amount of funds should be set aside for defense.
The military requested a raise in the budget for improving defensive capability 11.7 percent to 9.62 trillion won (7.87 billion U.S. dollars). The Strategy and Finance Ministry granted just a 5.5-percent increase, however.
To this, the military said in a report submitted to the presidential office of Cheong Wa Dae that a big cut in spending will create a stumbling block to the command shift.
The Defense Ministry said the defense budget had been cut before based on a revised defense reform plan that considered fiscal soundness. If the budget is further reduced, however, a troop disposition plan needed for defense reform will hit a snag, the ministry said.
Furthermore, criticism from home and abroad will say the government lacks commitment to defense reform.
Given that 7.99 trillion won (6.54 billion dollars), or 83 percent of the requested amount for improving defense capability, is for contracted projects, the cut will lead to a big loss stemming from contract changes and interest for delaying payments, the ministry added.
The ministry also said the reform will reduce military power and troops, expanding areas each military unit must cover. This will necessitate the timely provision of weapons and military equipment, but problems have occurred at certain units due to lack of budget.
For instance, certain infantry units were reorganized into armored forces two years ago, but have no armored vehicles due to the delayed disposition of new K-21 next infantry combat vehicles.