Major military reshuffle forecast in the next weekA large-scale military reshuffle to reprimand officials responsible for the poor handling of the Cheonan disaster will take place as early as next week, senior government officials said yesterday.
“The Board of Audit and Inspection will inform the National Defense Ministry about the outcome of the inspection before the end of this week,” said a senior official. “Based on the audit board’s report, a massive reshuffle is being considered for next week.”
After the South Korean Navy warship sank on March 26, the military came under fire for its inadequate response to the incident. While an international team of experts looked into the cause of the sinking, the Board of Audit and Inspection launched a probe into the military’s botched crisis management and reporting structure.
The board’s report recently concluded and the reshuffle to reprimand those responsible will be completed by mid-June, another official said.
“Because the routine promotion of the military was delayed, and because we have to censure some officers, it may be seen as a large-scale reshuffle,” said the source.
The audit focused on how news of the sinking was reported up the military chain of command. Lee Sang-eui, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, received the first report about the incident 49 minutes after the Cheonan sank around 9:22 p.m. on March 26, almost 20 minutes after the news reached President Lee Myung-bak. Defense Minister Kim Tae-young was briefed about the situation 52 minutes after the sinking.
The officials at the command of the Joint Chiefs of Staff will likely be reprimanded for the delay in reporting, a government source said.
In addition to the audit board’s report, the government’s conclusion that the military failed to detect that a North Korean submarine had infiltrated the Yellow Sea is also expected to influence the scope of reproach.
By Ser Myo-ja [email@example.com]