Korea Scales Down Defense Ambitions

      May 02, 2011 09:41

      The Defense Ministry has scaled back ambitions to build a global defense force, issuing preliminary notice of a defense reform bill that effectively abandons plans to transform the Navy into a force on the high seas and the Air Force into an air and space power.

      Instead, the ministry aims to focus on the defense against North Korea, both in terms of the North’s so-called asymmetrical advantage in local provocations and full-scale warfare.

      This will likely scrap or delay initiatives to boost military capability against threats from neighboring powers and for futuristic high-tech warfare. They include building additional large warships and purchasing aerial refueling aircraft.

      The ministry defines its aims as achieving "a balance in powers of the ground, sea and air forces to effectively combine and command them with a view to winning battles."

      The previous strategy aimed higher, envisaging "adapting to aspects of futuristic warfare that mobilize state-of-the-art science and technology."

      A military source said as a result, the Navy and the Air Force will stop using catchphrases such as "oceangoing force" and "air and space force."

      Some Navy and Air Force officers are concerned that the new narrower focus will leave Korea behind in regional competition to develop and acquire high-tech weaponry.

      But after North Korea's attacks on the Navy corvette Cheonan and Yeonpyeong Island last year, critics said the grander ambitions are futile given that South Korea seems powerless to deal even with small-scale attacks from the North.

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