South Korean military to enhance readiness on border and improve conditions for conscripts
The South Korean military has included cyberspace in its comprehensive defense plan, the Ministry of National Defense said in its annual report on Wednesday.
Meanwhile the Ministry of Patriots and Veterans Affairs revealed that it is reviewing plans to introduce a quota in the civil service for those who have served military duty, as a possible alternative to the points system that gives ex-draftees an advantage.
The Defense Ministry also said that the military will step up efforts to maintain readiness to respond to North Korean provocations this year, including holding joint exercises with U.S. forces for localized incursions by enemy forces, the Ministry of National Defense said Wednesday.
Under the plans, the South Korean and U.S. military will complete related plans soon, and joint exercises will be held at regular intervals. The two nations first agreed to collaborate in responding to localized incursions in October at the Security Consultative Meeting.
The two sides plan to sign the agreement concerning the plans within the month.
Under the plans for improving its readiness, the South Korean military will focus on strengthening its ability to respond to provocations on the border and islands in the West Sea, and to threats in other areas.
Regarding West Sea islands, the ministry said that the military’s capabilities in the area have been strengthened to swiftly respond to attacks, and that if an attack occurs, the military will strike back until the origin of the attack and supporting forces are destroyed.
The ministry also plans to deploy additional surveillance and precision strike equipment in the region, and incorporate guided missiles, anti-artillery radar and other advanced systems in areas close to enemy lines.
In its annual report, the ministry also revealed that it will focus on plans for making an “advanced and strong” military, and improving conditions for conscripted soldiers.
As part of the plans for improving conditions for soldiers, the ministry said that it will begin a project exempting soldiers from paying interest on student loans.
According to the ministry, there are about 25,000 conscripts who have taken out loans, the payment of which begins after they find employment, and it has secured 14.2 billion won ($12.4 million) necessary to cover the costs.
The ministry will also work with concerned ministries to exempt interest payments on other types of tuition fee loans.
In other related areas, the military plans to renew the medical care system by 2016. In the process, it will increase the number of vaccinations given to soldiers to be given at checkup upon reaching the rank of corporal, the ministry said.
Regarding the plans for establishing a combat-ready military, the ministry said that its efforts will be focused on four areas ― bolstering a combat-ready military, preparing for the transfer of war time control, reorganization of the command structure and improving the effectiveness of defense administration.
“The preparations for the transfer of wartime control, scheduled for 2015, are on track and about 51 percent complete at present,” the ministry said.
“This year is the last year in the first stage and will see the reorganization of the command structure and establishment for the foundations for the transfer.”
The second stage will end in 2015, and the military plans to secure strategic capabilities such as information gathering and precision strike capabilities.
By Choi He-suk (firstname.lastname@example.org