New challenges for Korea Coast GuardMaritime power dominates the world. In a narrow definition, the sea power is represented by naval strength and marine police capacity. Lately, some East Asian countries are competing in augmenting maritime power in order to secure marine territorial sovereignty. Who can guarantee that this tension would not spread to Korea’s territorial waters such as Dokdo and Ieodo?
In July, China newly installed the Maritime Police Bureau under the National Oceanic Administration to strongly respond to the maritime territorial issues and fisheries disputes. The new agency will have the second largest maritime control capacity on par with the U.S. Coast Guard by integrating and expanding functions that had been dispersed among many departments. As the territorial disputes over the Senkaku Islands, or Diaoyu Islands, continue between Japan and China, Japan is to create an exclusive unit of 600 by 2015 and permanently allocate 12 vessels.
The Korea Coast Guard will celebrate its 60th anniversary this month. In order to actively respond to any crisis in East Asia, the KCG needs to augment its hardware and vessels, expand its professional workforce, and boost salvage operations capacity. Also, Coast Guard Academy should be expanded and the West Regional Headquarters of the KCG needs to be reinforced. The West Regional Headquarters have jurisdiction over the area ranging from Gyeonggi Province to the Chuja Island in Jeju, and the illegal fishing operation of Chinese vessels and the NLL securities issues are concentrated in the West Sea. Special arrangements to strengthen the West Sea operations are necessary.
The CGA should also be elevated to the status of a university to enhance professionalism and the quality of education. Moreover, in order to respond promptly and strategically to sea disasters and Dokdo and Ieodo Island issues, the general administrative, policy related operations and the salvage operations all need to be separated and specialized.
For functional efficiencies, the structure needs to be streamlined and strengthened, and an internal competitive system should be established so professional and qualified commanders are trained constantly. I hope the new system will produce professional and competent next generation leaders for the maritime age.
*Cho Jeong-jae Director of the Save the Ocean Headquarters and former Minister of Oceans and Fisheries