South Korea's military strategy against North Korea will shift from thwarting a full-scale, conventional attack to dealing with limited, unconventional acts of aggression, Defense Minister Kim Tae-young told President Lee Myung-bak on Tuesday. "We admit that there are deficiencies in our ability to deal with infiltrations and unconventional tactics and we need to refocus the direction of our military build-up strategy," Kim said in a meeting between Lee and top military commanders.
South Korea's military build-up so far had primarily focused on dealing with a full-blown war with North Korea, while an infiltration by North Korean commandos or other unconventional tactics were given a lower priority, followed by potential threats from neighboring countries. But the sinking of the Navy corvette Cheonan has prompted a rethink.
As the likelihood grows that a North Korean submarine or semi-submersible was responsible for the sinking of the Cheonan, the military intends to bolster its capability to deal with these so-called "asymmetric" threats such as the North's fleet of 100 subs and 180,000 special forces troops, the largest in the world. North Korea has a large number of vessels that can rapidly deploy special forces commandos across the heavily-armed border. They include around 130 hovercraft capable of traveling at high speeds across the muddy tidal flats of the west coast and 90 high-speed landing vessels. This is why the ministry told the president it intends to revise its strategy to deal with the threat "along the northwestern coast."
The military also plans to start special classes for troops within this month to help them understand the security threats.