[EDITORIALS]Regaining U.S. trust

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[EDITORIALS]Regaining U.S. trust

South Korea and the United States have agreed to a slower withdrawal of 12,500 U.S. troops from the peninsula by delaying the deadline to 2008 from next year.
Washington has been reluctant to accept our delay request, but fortunately it was accepted. North Korea’s long-range artillery is a serious threat; one of a state institute’s analyses said Seoul would fall within 16 days of an attack without U.S. help.
Until now, the United States has deterred North Korea’s long-range gun threats. South Korea agreed to take over the mission by 2006. Therefore, the withdrawal of troops before then would have created a serious security vacuum. It is very important that the multiple rocket launcher system units and radar units are excluded from the troop withdrawal plan.
Taking account of Korea’s defense capabilities alone, the delay in the troop withdrawal schedule is not satisfactory. The U.S. plan to spend $11 billion by 2006 to upgrade U.S. troops’ capabilities here must be implemented smoothly. The plan includes the procurement of advanced arms, such as advanced unmanned reconnaissance craft which would thoroughly watch over the North Korean military’s movements. It is also important to improve the Apache attack helicopters appropriately to deter a maritime infiltration by North Korean special units.
To meet such tasks, regaining the spirit of the U.S.-South Korea alliance is vital. The government must not repeat the hasty “self-reliance” logic of “what’s wrong with some anti-Americanism?”
The attitudes of core officials of the Roh administration, who had acted as if they did not care about the U.S. troops’ withdrawal, must be criticized. It is fortunate that we were able to persuade the United States by realizing the reality belatedly.
We must admit that U.S. Forces Korea’s capabilities are critical in defending our security. It is not an issue of what kinds of weapons will stay and how many years the troop cut would be delayed. The issue is recovering trust between the United States and South Korea as true allies.
The government must provide concrete blue prints on how it will fill up the defense vacuum by using the three years. It must consult with the Untied States in advance about the command and control of the joint operations and the U.S. troops redeployment to overseas destinations from the peninsula.
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