[EDITORIALS]Postpone debateKim Hee-sang, the former presidential secretary for national defense, said that a road map for Korea’s takeover of wartime operational command should not be decided at the Korea-United States Security Consultative Meeting scheduled for October. He pointed out that it won’t be too late for the issue to be discussed after Korea is equipped with sufficient military power equal to the Korea-U.S. alliance. His remarks are very timely.
There are two reasons for this argument. First, we cannot trust the government’s claim that it will have sufficient military power at the completion of its military plan in 2011. The procedure to enhance military equipment proves this. A missile procurement project, code-named SAM-X, has been examined for more than 20 years and has not yet proceeded to anything.
For the government’s military plan to be implemented properly, the budget for national defense should have been increased, but instead it was decreased by 1.7 percent compared to last year. Looking at the plan, it will take more than 10 years to introduce considerable amounts of the weaponry. How can the government then talk about taking over wartime command within five years?
Second, this issue has been pursued regardless of people’s opinion. Without presenting any alternative plans, the government presented it as if the takeover of wartime control alone can make our military independent. Last year, the government said it would take over wartime control within 10 years, but this year it said within five years. The government’s words change abruptly because it lacks substantial plans.
As this issue became controversial, the Ministry of National Defense said it would publicize a plan for an increase in the number of U.S. troops in the event of emergency that Washington has confirmed. But this is not sufficient reason to pursue the takeover of wartime control. Although there is a plan for an increase in U.S. soldiers, it is not clear how much Korea’s demand will be answered in reality because the U.S. military is under no other countries’ supervision. A former national defense minister expressed his concerns, saying, “It is obvious what will happen if Korea’s military cannot control U.S. high-tech military equipment, which we will need to depend heavily on in an emergency.”
Korea should regain wartime operational command at some point. However, now is not the time, considering North Korea’s threat and South Korea’s economic situation. The debate on the takeover of wartime control should be postponed.