[EDITORIALS]A new defense ministerYoon Kwang-ung, the Blue House defense adviser, was appointed to be minister of national defense. His appointment is exceptional because he did not rise in rank to a four-star general and he is from the Navy. And he was appointed to the ministerial post while working at the Blue House.
Such circumstances prompt concern and anticipation at the same time.
There are many important issues he faces, such as the announced reduction of the U.S. forces in Korea, but Mr. Yoon’s top priority is securing the military’s own boundaries by freeing it from politics.
The Blue House and the military confronted each other over the recent failure in reporting about the Northern Limit Line intrusion by the North. Such confrontation is rooted in the politicization of the military.
The military’s duty is defending the nation’s security at all costs. How can the military possibly make an appropriate judgement during its operations when it was asked to think about political logic such as inter-Korean reconciliation? The Navy’s operations commander said he omitted some reports to his seniors because he feared of being stopped from firing warning shots during the intrusion.
Due to some military officials’ involvement in politics in the past, our military has been deprived of its exclusive domain. Personnel appointments have been politicized, and the military has been shaken whenever a new administration was launched. It is now time for the military to become an independent entity of specialists to make its own analyses and judgements to defend the nation’s security.
The minister of defense, as a core member of the National Security Council, is responsible for actively expressing the military’s position to the rest of the council. If the minister only plays a role as a one-way messenger, delivering the Blue House’s positions to the military, who can possibly stand up and speak for the military?
Our military’s morale has hit rock bottom. The military’s morale is at its highest only when the soldiers’ honor is praised and when the people appreciate the role of the military. But the ruling circle is cornering the military whenever possible by rumbling about a “military dictatorship.”
The defense minister must stop all these political noises. The minister’s most important duty is paving the way for our soldiers to walk on a soldierly path.