‘We will hit support forces, not just origin of the attack’

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‘We will hit support forces, not just origin of the attack’


Defense Minister Kim Kwan-jin speaks yesterday during a televised debate in Seoul. [YONHAP]

The hawkish top commander of the South Korean military sharpened his aggressive tone toward North Korea yesterday and said Seoul would strike back against a Pyongyang provocation, possibly including North Korean support troops farther inland.

“We will clearly and sternly deal with a North Korean provocation in line with our right to self-defense,” said Minister of National Defense Kim Kwan-jin during a live television debate. “If North Korea provokes again, we could [counter against] auxiliary troops, not just the troops who launched the attack.”

The debate, filmed at the Sejong Center for the Performing Arts in central Seoul yesterday was organized by the Kwanhun Club, a journalists group, mainly to discuss a new military reform plan aimed at strengthening preparedness against the North.

Kim said military responses to the previous North Korean provocations were too defensive because they were restricted by the conservatively designed rules of engagement.

“We will carry out active deterrence strategies this time and that will enable a more decisive response,” Kim said.

Kim, however, ruled out a pre-emptive strike against the North when signs of a provocation from North Korea are detected, as long as it is judged to be a limited provocation.

The North has attacked the South intermittently since the end of the 1950-53 Korean War, which ended in a cease-fire, not in a permanent peace treaty, but the South has become more vigilant against the North since the Cheonan incident in March last year.

The Cheonan, a South Korean Navy vessel, sank in a torpedo attack, killing 46 sailors aboard the ship.

A multinational investigation found the North responsible for the sinking.

The incident was followed by the North’s shelling of the South’s Yeonpyeong last November. Four South Koreans, including two civilians, were killed in the shelling.

Kim announced on March 8 the new military reform plan designed to better deal with a North Korean attack, but the plan, called Defense Reformation Plan 307, has drawn opposition from military leaders because it includes a plan to downsize the number of personnel at the top of the military.

During the television debate , Kim dismissed the criticism, saying the reorganization of the commanding body will serve to strengthen the military’s efficiency.

He said he will work hard to carry out military reform at President Lee Myung-bak’s urging and that most military personnel are responding positively to it.

By Moon Gwang-lip [joe@joongang.co.kr]

한글 관련 기사 [머니투데이]
김관진 국방 "北 도발 지원세력까지 타격"

김관진 국방부 장관은 31일 "북한이 다시 도발한다면 도발의 원점 뿐 아니라 그것을 지원하는 세력까지 (대응타격에) 포함될 것이다"라고 말했다.

김 장관은 31일 서울 세종문화회관에서 열린 한국방송기자클럽 주최 TV토론회에서 "북한이 도발하면 자위권 차원에서 분명하고 단호하게 대응할 것"이라며 이같이 밝혔다.

김 장관은 "북한 도발시 각급 부대 지휘관에게 선(先) 조치를 허가해 적극적 억제전략을 시행함으로써 더욱 과단성 있는 대응이 가능하게 할 것"이라고 강조했다.

다만 김 장관은 `대북 선제공격도 포함되느냐`는 질문에 대해서는 "선제공격은 국지도발 간에 포함되지 않는다"고 설명했다.

북한의 원자력 발전소 타격 가능성에 대해서는 "북한의 여러 가지 도발 유형에 원전에 대한 타격도 상정하고 있다"며 "이는 대단히 위험한 도발 유형"이라고 우려를 나타냈다.

최근 상부지휘구조개편이 합참의장에게 지나치게 많은 권한을 부여한다는 군 일각의 논란에 대해서는 "합참의장에게 제한된 군정권을 부여하는 것은 합참 자체의 인사권과 작전계획을 수립하는데 필요한 군수지원 통제권, 작전과 관련된 징계권 등으로 각 군 총장의 군정권과 상충하는 부분은 전혀 없다"고 설명했다.

장성 수를 2020년까지 15% 감축하는 계획에 대한 군 내부 불만에 대해서는 "대부분의 장성들이 조직의 슬림화를 선호하는 추세기 때문에 불만들은 대승적 차원에서 이해하지 않겠나"라고 평가했다.

이와 함께 청와대가 국방개혁에 반대하는 현역 군인의 행동은 `항명`으로 받아들이고 있다는 일부 언론 보도에 대해서는 "(항명 발언을) 직접 들은 것이 아니지만 청와대 인사가 항명이라고 표현하지 않았을 것"이라고 말했다.
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