Security before all else

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Security before all else

The government has organized a presidential task force to reassess the country’s security policies after serious loopholes were revealed by the sinking of a naval warship. We expect the new team will help set up a defense apparatus that has long been neglected.

Our security discussions over the last decade have been disconnected from reality and closer to idealism. North Korea, on the other hand, has built up a 180,000-man special infantry force to exploit holes in our lines, aimed artillery at our capital and secured weapons of mass destruction including nuclear warheads, ballistic missiles and chemical weapons, to be ready to attack the South on command.

The Cheonan crisis demonstrated that the North has been watching and preparing thoroughly for the opportunity to strike us. But we were neither aware nor prepared for how threatening North Korea can be, out of naive assurance that it had been bluffing and that its military buildup had been constrained by its devastated economy. We were instead busy envisioning the post-unification era and ideological strategies to create a broader Navy and Air Force that can engage in global operations.

We must re-evaluate imminent security risks and reprioritize our defense goals, putting North Korea back at the top. We must first equip ourselves with the capacity to deter full-fledged war with North Korea. Unfortunately that is currently beyond our military capability. That’s why we should bolster the alliance with the United States - so allied forces are sure to prevail over the North if it provokes an all-out war.

We also must be ready for guerilla attacks. After the two skirmishes in the Yellow Sea, we expected North Korea not to attempt another because we believed it wouldn’t be bold enough to undertake an underwater attack in the shallow, fast-moving waters off the west coast. But North Korea made full use of our blind spot and torpedoed one of our naval warships. Those blind spots might not be limited to the Yellow Sea. The North may well be working on an underground, missile or massive guerilla attack that is beyond our imagination. We should look around for every blind spot.

Lastly, we must place security above all other state affairs. Such priorities must be upheld at least until unification. Public security awareness must also be sharpened. We must increase enrollment in the Army, Navy and Air Force academies to attract excellent manpower in the defense and security fields. The size of our military and defense budget are also moderate compared to the 1.3 million-man North Korean military. Without stable security, there cannot be a stable economy or prosperity.

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