Thu, October 19, 2017 | 09:03
Posted : 2017-09-28 15:58
Updated : 2017-09-29 11:03

Moon reaffirms early OPCON transfer

President Moon Jae-in and Defense Minister Song Young-moo review troops during a ceremony marking the 69th anniversary of Armed Forces Day at the Navy's 2nd Fleet Command in Pyeongtaek, Gyeonggi Province, Thursday. / Joint Press Corps

President says peace requires strong defense capabilities

By Kim Rahn

President Moon Jae-in has reaffirmed his pledge to take back wartime operational control (OPCON) of South Korean forces from the United States Forces Korea (USFK) as soon as possible, saying it will improve the military's deterrence capability against North Korea's nuclear and missile threats.

He also encouraged the early establishment of a domestic defense system and vowed to reform the defense industry.

Moon reiterated the need for strong defense during an Armed Forces Day celebration at the headquarters of the Navy's 2nd Fleet Command in Pyeongtaek, Gyeonggi Province, Thursday.

Armed Forces Day falls Oct. 1, but the government advanced the date of the event ahead of the 10-day Chuseok holiday break beginning Sept. 30.

"We are pursuing the early takeover of OPCON," Moon said in a speech. "The handover on the basis of our independent defense capabilities will ultimately lead to a remarkable advancement in the fundamental capabilities of our military."

Moon's predecessor Park Geun-hye delayed the OPCON transfer, which was initially scheduled for December 2015, until late 2020. Moon has pledged to move up the date to during his five-year term if possible.

"When the South has OPCON, the North will fear us more, and our armed forces will be trusted more. With elevated self-esteem, our military will become stronger, and the Republic of Korea will emerge as a security hub in Northeast Asia," the President said.

For that goal, Moon said the nation needs to secure stronger deterrence capabilities against the North's provocations, including setting up a three-pronged defense system — a Kill Chain preemptive defense system, Korea Air and Missile Defense and Korea Massive Punishment and Retaliation.

"As these three powerful Korean systems are the core of our military's independent capabilities, I hope every effort will be made for their early completion."

A Taurus long-range air-to-surface missile is on display during a media day presentation of a commemoration event marking Armed Forces Day at the Navy 2nd Fleet Command in Pyeongtaek, Gyeonggi Province. / AFP-Yonhap

Stressing strong security as the key to making and maintaining peace, Moon said the government is making efforts to enhance the country's military readiness and stabilize the current situation so escalating tension will not lead to a military clash.

"Our government's determination to protect peace requires strong defense capabilities. And we will stand up against reckless provocations with strong punishment," he said.

He called for strengthened South Korea-U.S. combined defense capabilities.

"It will be possible to fundamentally curb the North's nuclear provocations when the alliance's extended deterrence is actually exercised."

The President also called for the eradication of any problems in the military that could harm soldiers' morale and eventually damage national defense.

"Corruption in defense acquisition programs is not only a crime but also an enemy of national security. It is an act benefiting the enemy that spreads distrust in the armed forces and, as a result, hurts the morale of most employees in the industry who devote themselves quietly to the country and, moreover, that of the entire army."

Soldiers of the Army Special Forces arrive to demonstrate their martial arts skills in front of Hyunmoo-2 and Hyunmoo-3 missiles at the Navy's 2nd Fleet Command in Pyeongtaek. / AP-Yonhap

Celebration at naval base and strategic weapons

This was the first time for the government to hold its Armed Forces Day celebration at a naval base: Previous events were held at the Gyeryongdae tri-service headquarters in South Chungcheong Province.

"Gyeryongdae is relatively small in size, so previous events were focused on the Army. But the 2nd Fleet has a larger base where the Army, Navy and Air Force can participate," a Cheong Wa Dae official said.

The 2nd Fleet is also in charge of defending the Northern Limit Line in the West Sea, so the selection of the ceremony venue also signified Moon's strong determination to sternly deal with North Korean provocations, according to the official.

During the celebration, strategic weapons were displayed including Hyunmoo-2 ballistic missiles, Hyunmoo-3 cruise missiles, surface-to-surface missiles of the Army Tactical Missile System, Taurus air-to-surface missiles, PAC-2 Patriot interceptor missiles and mid-range surface-to-air missiles.

Gen. Vincent K. Brooks, commander of the USFK and the Combined Forces Command (CFC), was also awarded the Tongil Medal of the Order of National Security for his dedicated service in South Korea's defense. It was the first time for a CFC commander to receive a medal at an Armed Forces Day event.

After the ceremony, Moon inspected the destroyer Munmu the Great and had lunch with officers onboard.

한미 국방부 KIDD 회의…"전작권 전환 노력 가속화"

회의 공동보도문 발표…'美 전략자산 정례적 순환배치 강화'

한미 양국 국방부가 한미 통합국방협의체(KIDD) 정례 회의를 열어 전시작전통제권(전작권) 전환에 속도를 내기로 했다.

국방부는 28일 이틀간 일정으로 전날부터 국방부에서 열린 KIDD 회의 뒤 발표한 공동보도문에서 '양국은 연합방위 주도를 위해 필요한 대한민국의 핵심 군사능력 확보를 포함하여 조속하고 효과적인 전작권 전환 추진을 위한 공동의 노력을 가속화하기로 하였다'고 밝혔다.

한미 국방부는 이번 회의에서 KIDD 산하 기구인 '전작권 전환 실무단'(COTWG)을 통해 전작권 전환 이행 계획을 논의했다. KIDD 회의에서 전작권 전환 노력 가속화에 합의함에 따라 다음달 말 한미 국방장관이 참석하는 안보협의회(SCM)에서 구체적인 결과를 낼 수 있다는 관측이 나온다.

국방부는 '양국은 한반도 및 한반도 인근에 대한 미 전략자산의 정례적 순환 배치를 강화하고 한미 공동의 전략적 소통을 향상시키는 등 동맹의 확장억제 실행력 제고를 위한 논의를 지속해나가기로 하였다'고 설명했다.

'미국은 핵우산, 재래식 타격 능력, 미사일방어 능력 등 모든 범주의 능력을 사용한 확장억제 제공을 포함하여 철통 같은 안보공약을 재확인하면서 미국과 동맹국들에 대한 북한의 그 어떠한 공격에도 효과적이고 압도적인, 그리고 강력한 대응에 직면하게 될 것임을 재강조하였다'고 부연했다.

북한의 핵·미사일 도발에 대한 대응 방안은 KIDD 산하 한미 억제전략위원회(DSC)에서 논의됐다.

국방부는 '양국은 북한이 핵·미사일 프로그램을 완전하고 검증가능하며 불가역적인 방식으로 포기할 것을 재강조하였다'며 '북한이 도발을 계속하면 할수록 그들이 추구하는 목표를 달성하지 못할 것이며 오히려 국제사회에 의한 외교적·경제적 고립에 더욱 직면할 것임을 분명히 하였다'고 강조했다.

국방부는 '양국 대표들은 최근의 유엔 안보리 결의 제2375호를 포함한 다수 결의에 포함된 대북 제재가 철저히 이행될 수 있도록 국제사회와의 협력을 강화해나가기로 하였다'고 설명했다.

'양국은 사이버·우주·국방과학기술·방산 등 다양한 분야에서 동맹의 노력을 공동 평가하고 다양한 현안에 대한 긴밀한 협력을 강화·확대하기 위한 여러 방안을 지속 모색해나가기로 하였다'고 덧붙였다.

이번 KIDD 회의에는 장경수 국방부 국방정책실장 직무대리와 로버타 셰이 미 국무부 동아시아 부차관보 대리를 각각 수석대표로 하는 양국 국방·외교 당국자들이 참석했다. 이번 회의 결과는 다음달 한미 SCM에 보고된다.(연합)