Push back the dateIt has been agreed that wartime command of Korea’s military will be transferred to Korea and that the joint command system with the United States will shut down by April 27, 2012.
The consensus in the defense committee in the National Assembly and in the general public that no dates should be set before North Korea’s nuclear crisis is settled was overlooked in this decision. For the last 60 years, the joint command system has provided crucial support in the security and stability of the Korean Peninsula, including acting as a nuclear deterrent against the North.
With the date of the dissolution set, the security of our nation falls into uncertainty. It is fortunate that the agreed-upon date has been delayed three years from the initial 2009 date proposed by the United States.
This agreement, however, breeds apprehension for several reasons. First, as the Defense Committee has already mentioned, there is the issue of securing Article 151. It is practically impossible to attain the necessary funding with the annual 4 percent growth rate that is predicted to continue until 2010. The fact that our national defense budget should have increased by 9.9 percent but managed a mere 8.8 percent increase this year is evidence of the lack of funding. Even with the necessary funding at hand to buy the high-tech, highly priced weapons deemed necessary, it would take several years to fully mobilize these armaments. It is objectively impossible for us to take sole command within five years.
Then there is the issue of the U.S. military providing supplementary military force in case of emergency. Even if there were headquarters overseeing cooperation between the two, separate commands by Seoul and Washington would seriously compromise efficiency when it is most needed. Instead of automatic coordination, all measures of cooperation would have to be processed with the U.S. forces one-by-one.
Despite all the problems that might rise from the dissolution of the joint command, it is now too late and we only have our government’s folly to come up with a highly deficient formula to add the concept of “autonomy” to the reality of “security.”
However, we cannot afford to abandon hope. There is a high possibility that the North Korean nuclear situation could worsen or something might go amiss in our plan to increase our military power. Therefore, a countermeasure is urgently needed. The next administration should renegotiate the date of the dissolution of the joint command.