[EDITORIALS]A military in shambles

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[EDITORIALS]A military in shambles

The deeper the probe goes behind the lapse in defense intelligence communication before the June naval clash with North Korean forces, the more outrageous is the revelation of the military's conduct. Now we have a report by Defense Ministry investigators that a possibly emotional conflict between two key intelligence command units resulted in a 40-day absence of aerial image intelligence sharing. That is a very long time to have a hole in the sharing and use of intelligence for our defense posture against the North.

The problem began in April when Unit 5679, which is assigned to intercept North Korean communications, complained to the Defense Ministry's National Intelligence Bureau that the Defense Intelligence Command had revealed too much of the origin of a piece of intelligence when it disseminated a Unit 5679 report. The Bureau issued a warning to the Command, which obviously did not receive it well. Transmission of aerial images to Unit 5679 was cut off from the end of April to early June.

Gathering and analysis of communications and visual intelligence are separated for a good reason, to allow multiple cross-checking to assess quality. What the defense leadership allowed was a 40-day paralysis in key intelligence sharing; the greater disgrace is that the officers responsible have escaped reprimand. No wonder the defense posture was a shambles as North Korean vessels crossed the border and initiated a clash; the military was in shambles.

The report demonstrates the Defense Ministry's inability to resolve conflict among its subordinate units. A critical mishap in national security operation is evidence of an absence of leadership and command control in the military. It also gives credibility to complaints within the military that misguided appointments to key posts have been the root of its problems. Modern warfare can be won and lost on the quality of intelligence. Our military intelligence operation needs to transform itself by bringing in more qualified personnel. The president, as commander in chief, must reprimand the officers who were in the lines of command of this fiasco and end the lapses in military discipline.
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