[EDITORIALS]Our Generals Are Not Up to Par

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[EDITORIALS]Our Generals Are Not Up to Par

It is a shock for us to hear that the heads of military, including the minister and vice minister of defense and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff continued to play golf after learning that North Korean vessels invaded our territorial waters near Cheju island recently. Although the Ministry of Defense and military officials say that there were no problems because they had already taken the necessary measures, we must ask whether that was the right attitude for commanders. We feel sorry that distrust of the military has deepened among the public with this revelation of a loose attitude in addition to criticism of its lukewarm response to the intrusion.

When the North Korean vessel invaded our waters on June 2, there was serious tension throughout the day in our country. It was 11:43 a.m. when the North Korean vessel Cheongjin 2 attempted to enter our territorial waters near Ulsan. From the communications between our military and the Cheongjin 2 reported by the press at that time, the North Koreans already had plans to invade our waters. The Northern ship's crew said that "passing through the waters was already talked about in the June 15 Joint Declaration" and that "it is a sea route opened up by Chairman Kim Jong-il." It seemed like the North was giving notice in a forceful voice about the transit. After some quarreling with the intruder, another North Korean ship, the Ryeongunbong was spotted at 12:35 a.m. It invaded our waters and sailed through the Cheju Strait. It is definitely an emergency when two ships intrude into our waters. Under such circumstances, military commanders are automatically called to their command posts and they should respond to the situation, maintaining a close watch on the situation. The commanders misjudged the situation if they insist that "it was not that serious when we first started playing golf."

Our navy reportedly recognized the seriousness of the situation about 7:10 p.m. when another vessel Baekmagang was detected off the south coast. Only after being told of the incident while he was having dinner after golf did Cho Yong-gil, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, reportedly ordered an emergency council meeting and return to his home. Many people say that it was irresponsible for Mr. Cho to head to his home when he should have gone to the situation room to direct our response. Regarding the criticism, the Joint Chief of Staff said that the chairman's residence is equipped with communications facilities through which he could issue orders. Many military officials, however, say that the chairman should have commanded his troops from the situation room because it was the first time that North Korean vessels invaded our territorial waters and the incidents occurred consecutively. Not even a small mistake or misjudgment is allowed when it comes to national security. The golf incident should be an opportunity for the military to examine their faults and arm themselves anew.
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