[EDITORIALS]What air defense?

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[EDITORIALS]What air defense?

A report by the Agency for Defense Development on a test of Nike missiles, the core of the Korean military's anti-aircraft defense system, is extremely shocking; this year's test showed that more than 70 percent of the missiles deployed at sites throughout Korea are useless. Although the Defense Ministry claims it has alternative defense measures, people cannot help feeling uneasy about the state of national security.

A test conducted in 1998 showed that 92 percent of the Nike missiles deployed at sites in Korea were not useable in combat. The military explained that it has been beefing up the air defense system by improving maintenance of its equipment, and planned to introduce alternative defense measures.

But experts said that problems in our air defense system, based in large part on those Nike missiles, are likely to persist for some time. The missiles are already 30 years old, and Korea is the only country in the world relying on them at this point. So the contention by the military that 30 percent of the missiles here are still useful is no longer very persuasive.

One lesson from the war in Afghanistan is that wars are easily lost without an air defense capability. In the 21st century, wars are fought with advanced weapons. North Korea's military power is formidable; Japan and China are even stronger.

Because our national security measures in the 21st century no longer focus exclusively on the North, the military should reconsider its short- and long-term plans to reinforce military power in step with the changes in modern warfare.

The structure of our military should be reformed as soon as possible to meet our changing needs. An overall review of our military posture, beginning with the army, is essential. Only after reviewing the established military structure can we set up a credible national security system for the 21st century.

The government should also invest aggressively in the development of advanced weapons in order to prevent international arms companies from abusing their monopoly power.

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