Army missions abroad to be extended

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Army missions abroad to be extended

The Ministry of National Defense said yesterday that it will submit a proposal to the National Assembly this year asking for extension of missions for five overseas units. The ministry’s plan was disclosed yesterday in a report submitted to the Assembly’s standing committee on defense.

Korea has 1,472 troops in 15 different countries including 350 in Afghanistan and 158 in the United Arab Emirates.

“We will seek to extend missions for the Ashena Unit [in Afghanistan], the Cheonghae Unit in Somali seas, the Ahk Forces in the UAE, and the Dongmyeong Unit in Lebanon, and the Danbi Forces in Haiti,” the ministry said in its report.

As for the Ashena Unit, which is made up of more than 300 troops to protect members of the Korean Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT), a ministry official said that it is “considering withdrawing at least some troops as early as next year.” The unit has so far carried out 379 different missions to protect PRT workers and 1,049 air reconnaissance and airlift operations since June 2010.

“The mission for the Ashena Unit will be over at the end of this year and other countries are also set to withdraw their forces from Afghanistan,” the official said. “We’re looking into ways to pull out the forces over several stages.”

The aid team was launched in July 2010, and is set to stay in Afghanistan until 2014.

By Lee Eun-joo [angie@joongang.co.kr]

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