[EDITORIALS]An unstoppable transferA group of 60 or so retired generals is planning to issue a statement on Thursday opposing the transfer of wartime operational command.
The group consists of top military experts such as former chiefs of staff, former chairmen of the joint chiefs, former corps commanders and former vice commanders of the Korea-U.S. Combined Forces Command.
The Korean administration’s attitude of stressing an independent defense capability is not the only problem in the handover of wartime control. Another problem is that the South Korean military cannot effectively subdue threats by North Korea.
North Korea has placed long-range missiles near the cease-fire line, on the western side. It also possesses nearly 1,000 missiles and weapons of mass destruction, such as nuclear weapons and chemical weapons. It has a large number of commandos.
The South Korean defense ministry claims that it will bolster its military capabilities ahead of the transfer of wartime control and that South Korea will be guaranteed U.S. support in case of a war, and thus will be able to deter a war. Despite explanations from the Defense Ministry, few military experts and ordinary citizens feel secure about our strategic position.
The negotiations between the military authorities in Seoul and Washington have focused on whether the transfer will be completed in 2012 or 2009. The transfer has become an irreversible fact.
The demand for the 2012 transfer by Korean Defense Minister Yoon Kwang-ung and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Lee Sang-hee was flatly denied by U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and U.S. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Peter Pace.
This situation, coupled with North Korea’s missile launches on July 5 and the possibility of a nuclear test soon, is making South Koreans feel insecure.
Seoul and Washington plan to conclude the discussion about the transfer of wartime control at the summit meeting in September and at an annual meeting of defense ministers of the two countries scheduled for October.
The government should re-examine its policy of creating an independent defense capacity and try to calm people’s insecurities. It should persuade Washington to postpone the timeline for the transfer to when our military can acquire sufficient capacity. It should humbly admit that national security measures are far more important than the pride of the administration.