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`Military Reform 2020` Seeing Gradual Elimination

Posted October. 04, 2010 11:15,   


“Military Reform 2020,” a blueprint set up under the former Roh Moo-hyun administration with the aim of building an independent fighting force, has been gradually changed under the incumbent Lee Myung-bak government.

Most of the reform’s goals have been eliminated and implementation will be delayed for a few years. For this reason, voices in the military say the plan should be officially scrapped and for “Military Reform 2030” to be prepared.

The core of Military Reform 2020 is to cut the number of forces while dramatically reinforcing defense capability. The focus is to make the military smarter, increase the defense budget eight percent per year by 2020, and cut the military service period to 18 months and the number of soldiers to 500,000.

Other goals include appointing outside experts to the Defense Ministry and strengthening alignment of the Army, Navy and Air Force.

The reform process, however, is different from the initial intent of Military Reform 2020. The plan has been reportedly nullified in essence due to a change in the characteristics of the bilateral alliance with the U.S., the delayed transfer of wartime command, the global financial crisis, the sinking of the Cheonan, and the passivity of the military.

The inauguration of the Lee administration, however, has had the most direct impact on ending Military Reform 2020. The plan was an urgent matter the administration believed needed fixing since the Roh administration was considered to be a pro-North Korea and left-wing government. In other words, the end of Military Reform 2020 had been predicted from the start of the Lee administration.

The Lee administration thinks a relatively weaker military can be supplemented by U.S. forces by strengthening bilateral ties. The delayed transfer of wartime command has earned time and money for the reinforcement of military power.

“Use of U.S. forces through strengthening of the alliance and delaying the transfer of wartime command resulted in the use of less military budget,” a military source said. “This is in contrast to the rise in military budget under the Roh administration in preparation for a post-reunification time.”

mhpark@donga.com polaris@donga.com