Combine the academies

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Combine the academies

The Presidential Commission for National Security Review reportedly plans to establish a combined provisional National Defense Academy under the Defense Ministry by integrating the three different military academies of the Army, Navy and Air Force. The establishment of an integrated military academy is aimed at enhancing the combined operational capability of the armed forces in the wake of the Cheonan sinking and overcoming deep-rooted factionalism in each branch of the military.

Maximizing our security capacity by rejuvenating the combined operation capabilities at a time of crisis has long been one of the major tasks facing our military. However, several policies have fallen short of our expectations, primarily due to the imbalance in the number of soldiers in each military branch. For instance, the Army has eight or nine times as many troops as the Navy or Air Force, respectively. Such heavy dependence on the Army may be inevitable, considering our security situation, in which Army soldiers face their counterparts along the heavily guarded, 155-mile border with North Korea.

Combining the Army, Navy and Air Force academies into a broader and bigger entity has long been mentioned as one of the most effective ways to strengthen the integrated operational capability of our military. We believe it is definitely a good solution and needs to be accomplished as soon as possible.

The JoongAng Ilbo already proposed in its June 22 edition to establish a top-notch academy that would blend the existing three academies, substantially increase the number of total cadets and cultivate experts in diplomacy, security and administration beyond the realm of the military. It was a suggestion that reflected not only our current security situation confronting North Korea but also the post-unification era. Considering our geopolitical situation, squeezed between China, Japan, Russia and the United States, training qualified experts in diplomacy and security is more important than ever.

So it’s regrettable that the Presidential Commission’s idea of establishing an integrated academy restricts itself to the military. We hope that the administration will go further.

Our military organization was modeled on the U.S. system in which each branch maintains a strong distinction. The U.S. military is vulnerable to a self-centered approach to security issues. But to prevent such vulnerability, U.S. forces have been restricting promotion from colonel to general when the officer has no experience with the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The U.S. took such a measure even though there is no big difference in the size of troops in each branch of its military. We need to employ a stronger solution. A combined academy is one of the them.
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