Urgently needed: Security team

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Urgently needed: Security team

The new government under President Park Geun-hye launched amid turbulent and challenging times at home and abroad. North Korea is brandishing its nuclear weapons and ramping up its saber-rattling. But our country is seriously deficient both mentally and systematically in reacting to the heightened risks. The nation may be facing its greatest danger since the war, yet we have the weakest and least prepared administration. The president and the political parties are all to be blamed.

Our foreign policy and security fronts are going virtually unattended. The newly created position of head of the National Security Office is responsible for coordinating security policies with the president and the government while holding National Security Council meetings. But the post remains unconfirmed because President Park’s proposed government reorganization plan has not yet gained legislative approval. As a result, the nominee, Kim Jang-soo, is reporting to work at the presidential office on an unofficial basis. Considering the urgent security situation, he should instead be put in the vacant vice-ministerial secretariat post for national crisis management for the time being.

The National Intelligence Service is also seriously malfunctioning because the current leaders - the director and three deputy chiefs - have not been properly briefed. Former Army Chief of Staff Nam Jae-joon has been named as the new head of the spy agency, but his confirmation hearings are yet to be scheduled. Though the first, second and third deputies don’t require legislative confirmation, the government has failed to come up with candidates. How can the NIS effectively respond to the North Korean threat under this leadership vacuum?

Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se passed his confirmation hearing but has yet to formally assume his post. President Park wants all of her cabinet members to receive their credentials at once when the government restructuring bill is passed and they’re confirmed. We’re facing serious contingencies, but the team that’s supposed to be overseeing national security hasn’t even been formed. If the president called a national security meeting, only half of the members would be present.

State governance has never been so disorganized since the government first formed in 1948. It has never been so inept even during the war. The government restructuring plan needs to pass as soon as possible for the sake of the country’s security. In less than a month, we will be commemorating the third anniversary of the sinking of the Cheonan. We cannot afford more tragedies like the Cheonan and Yeonpyeong attacks in the future.
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