Careful planning, not fast resultsSouth Korea is moving quickly to fortify its defense on the islands in the Yellow Sea after North Korea’s deadly artillery attack on Yeonpyeong Island last Tuesday. President Lee Myung-bak has given the order to fortify the islands with top-class military power.
The Defense Ministry last week submitted a proposal for an increase of 263.6 billion won in next year’s defense budget to fortify five Yellow Sea islands, but the National Assembly’s National Defense Committee rejected it as insufficient. A couple of days later, the ministry threw in an extra 192 billion won, bringing their proposed spending increase to 455.6 billion won.
The ministry proposed increasing the deployment on the islands of K-9 self-propelled howitzers, a multiple launch rocket system and guided missiles to strike North Korean artillery guns hidden in caves and tunnels along the coast, as well as a weapons-locating radar system.
The five islands and sea border have long been neglected with antiquated artillery and a lax military presence despite their vulnerability to the North Korean threat. The Yeonpyeong attack underscores the need to reinforce defense forces there. But the staggering defense budget proposal has been put together too hastily, raising concerns that the result will be half baked.
Some members of the National Defense Committee questioned whether the islands can support the increased presence of the artillery escort vehicles that carry the K-9 howitzers. Others were skeptical as to whether such a large-scale buildup can be done in a year, with some calling for a more thorough, long-term strategy to turn the islands into a strategic base - rather than just dumping a large amount of artillery.
Some have demanded the import of longer-range missiles capable of reaching as far as Pyongyang and the creation of a land operation by the Marines in case of an emergency, while others warn that such a move could be risky because the missiles could be aimed back at Seoul if they fall into the hands of North Korean invaders.
We suggest the defense authorities work out a thorough defense strategy, even though the circumstances demand quick action. When reinforcements are sent without careful planning, our forces will not be able to fully employ them in a real conflict. It is understandable that the authorities are under immense pressure, but at times like these, the people expect sagacity and fortitude from military authorities, not rashness and quick results.