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Military to Focus on `Existing N. Korean Threat`

Posted April. 21, 2010 05:02,   


The military will focus on “the existing threat of North Korea as priority criteria in decision-making to boost its combat capability in the wake of the sinking of the naval patrol ship Cheonan.

Previously, the military had placed more importance on potential threats including China and Japan rather than North Korea when setting a “plan on demand for military capability and the reinforcement of combat ability.”

The plan for military capability demand is designed to determine overall needs based on demand for combat capability requested by the armed forces. That of combat capability adjustment intends to single out priorities for strengthening capacity based on demand.

A military official said yesterday, “We have decided to readjust conventional plans on demand for military and combat capability, and will accordingly start steps to adjust them sooner or later. Combat capability reinforcement is determined through a process of ‘threat analysis -> selection of how to fight -> adjustment of combat capability,’ and the military has decided to conduct threat analysis anew following the Cheonan fiasco.”

He added, “Through the incident, we have confirmed that the existing threat of North Korea remains more significant, including the North’s conventional weapons, reinforcement of its weapons of mass destruction including nuclear weapons and missiles, the deployment of its military forces in frontline areas, and local aggression and welfare on the Korean Peninsula.”

Another military source said, “Over the 10-year reign of the liberal Kim Dae-jung and Roh Moo-hyun administrations, the South Korean military emphasized response to potential threats in the belief that North Korea’s existing threat will not effectively materialize. For this reason, the South Korean Army’s military capacity reinforcement plan focused on potential threats instead of North Korea’s, and thus pushed for the deployment of larger vessels and aircraft more than anything.”

The Navy’s emphasis on an “oceanic navy” and the Air Force’s stressing of “an aerospace military” also coincidently started at this period of time. The Defense Ministry in its 2004 white paper under the Roh administration also removed the concept of North Korea as the “main enemy.” Military officials said the trend to emphasize potential threats rather than North Korea’s existing threat by the South Korean military is also related to the removal of the “main enemy concept.” Seoul’s 2008 defense white paper published last year called North Korea a “direct and serious threat.”

The Defense Ministry and the Joint Chiefs of Staff will brief President Lee Myung-bak on the revised plan “Military Reform 2020,” which proposes a cut of 22 trillion won (20 billion U.S. dollars) in the military budget, by year’s end. Therefore, the military plans to prepare a revised plan for military capability demand and the adjustment of combat capability in advance.