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Commission for Nat`l Security Review Formed

Posted May. 10, 2010 14:46,   


President Lee Myung-bak’s efforts to overhaul national security will pick up speed with the setup of the Commission for National Security Review Sunday.

The ad hoc task force is led by Lee Sang-woo, chairman of a defense reform committee, and will operate for two to three months. It will, however, play an important role in the fundamental assessment of national security capabilities and suggest the direction of defense reform.

Presidential spokeswoman Kim Eun-hye said, “Taking the opportunity of the Cheonan sinking, the government will review our sense of national security, overhaul national security preparedness, and present solutions through a reexamination of the practicability of Defense Reform 2020.”

The commission will also reassess an “existing threat,” referring to North Korea, rearrange plans to reinforce military capabilities, and review revival of the concept of the North as the country’s “main enemy.”

This is based on the judgment that the previous administration’s pursuit of an “oceangoing navy” and an “aerospace air force” to prepare for future threats instead of the North’s provocations.

In addition, the commission is expected to discuss the delay of the transfer of wartime operational command back to Seoul scheduled for 2012.

Along with Chairman Lee, the 15-member commission has four other civilians: Kim Dong-sung, a Chung-Ang University professor and president of the National Intelligence Society; Kim Seong-han, a Korea University professor and member of the presidential advisory committee on foreign affairs and national security; Hyun Hong-joo, former ambassador to the U.S.; and Hong Doo-seung, a Seoul National University professor and member of the defense reform committee.

The remaining 10 members have military backgrounds: Kim Jong-tae, former head of the Defense Ministry`s intelligence agency; Park Se-hwan, the head of a veterans` association; Ahn Kwang-chan, former head of the national emergency planning committee; Lee Sang-chool and Lee Hee-won, former deputy commanders of the Korea-U.S. Combined Forces Command; Park Cheong-seong, former commander of the 2nd Naval Fleet; Yoon Yeon, former chief of the Naval Operational Command; Park Sang-mook, former chief of the Air Force Education and Training Command; Bae Chang-sik, former chief of Air Force Operational Command; and Kim In-sik, former chief of the Marines.

Park Cheong-seong led the South Korean Navy to victory in the first inter-Korean naval clash in the Yellow Sea in 1999.

The presidential office in Seoul said, “Former top-ranking generals were chosen based on their expertise in their respective fields instead of their reputations.”

The selection of five civilians including the chairman speaks volumes about the nature of the committee. They are expected to urge strong defense reform from an objective perspective.

President Lee also reportedly seeks to put the defense reform committee under his command instead of the Defense Ministry.

The commission will come up with fundamental solutions to improve national security. Accordingly, the creation of the post of special presidential adviser for national security and the upgrade of the crisis situation center to a crisis management center are considered institutional measures.

Lee Hee-won, who was appointed the special adviser Sunday, will also serve on the commission. He will also head the crisis management center.

The main role of the center has been to report a crisis situation to the president, but after the status upgrade, it will take on certain functions of the National Security Council such as diagnosing and formulating strategies for crises.

In addition, the center can directly report a crisis to the president by bypassing the presidential secretary for national security. The center will consist of the teams for security situation management team and planning and management. The former will be led by an Army colonel and the latter by a National Intelligence Service official.

yongari@donga.com koh@donga.com