Revised plan on military service - 21 months

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Revised plan on military service - 21 months

The Lee Myung-bak administration and the ruling Grand National Party agreed yesterday to end its push to gradually shorten the mandatory military service period to 18 months by 2014, backing a plan to adjust the mandatory military service period to 21 months.

Earlier this month, President Lee ordered his defense team to come up with a new plan, showing skepticism about the plan to cut the period to 18 months.

At the time, Lee also rejected the recommendation of going back to the 24-month-long term.

At a meeting yesterday, Defense Minister Kim Tae-young, military officials and GNP representatives, including the chairman of the National Defense Committee, Won Yoo-chul, agreed to revise the plan, deciding on the compromise of 21 months.

The initial plan to cut the period of service to 18 months was scrapped because of concerns that shortening service that much would undermine the military’s combat readiness.

South Korea is technically still at war with North Korea, and military service is mandatory for able-bodied Korean men.

Under the administration of the late former President Roh Moo-hyun, a plan to gradually reduce the service period from 24 months to 18 months by 2014 was endorsed.

As of now, the duration of military service for the Army is 21 months. The service period for the Navy is 28 months and the Air Force is 30 months.

Under the proposed revision, the service period for the Navy would be 23 months and the Air Force would be 24 months.

“Going back to the 24-month program is impossible at this time,” Defense Minister Kim said during the meeting with the ruling party.

“The strongest possibility is freezing the service period at the current level of 21 months, starting in February 2011.”


By Ser Myo-ja [myoja@joongang.co.kr]

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