ROK kicks off military exercise
Updated: 2012-10-26 08:50
By Zhou Wa (China Daily)
Seoul continued to improve its capability to respond to threats from Pyongyang, as it kicked off a weeklong military exercise aimed at deterring the Democratic People's Republic of Korea on Thursday.
Experts warned the actions of the Republic of Korea will further provoke the DPRK and add to tensions on the Korean Peninsula.
According to the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the military exercise from Thursday to Nov 2, will involve 240,000 army, navy, air force, marine corps personnel and police officers - 100,000 more than last year - to prepare for provocations by Pyongyang and an all-out war.
It will feature drills against infiltration, regional provocation and full-scale conflict.
The ROK exercise will rub salt into the wound on the Korean Peninsula, said Wang Junsheng, a researcher of East Asian studies with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. Wang urged Seoul to rethink its policy toward Pyongyang.
"ROK leaders think that problems on the Korean Peninsula can be solved by frequent military exercises and strengthening Washington-Seoul military ties, but what the exercises do is worsening the situation on the peninsula," Wang said.
"The ROK ignores the DPRK's positive signals to change and develop its own economy under the new leadership, and somehow there is a misjudgment from the ROK, because the lack of communication channels between Seoul and Pyongyang limits the ROK's understanding of its neighbor," he said.
Zhang Liangui, an expert on Korean studies at the Party School of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China, said Seoul's actions indicate its deep concern over the imbalance of military power between the ROK and DPRK.
Pyongyang's failed rocket launch in April and its possible nuclear weapon capacity make Seoul feel it has lagged behind Pyongyang's military power, so it is attempting to improve its military capacity. According to AFP, about 500 US soldiers will take part in the exercise, which Pyongyang had condemned in the past as tantamount to "a war of aggression".
"The ROK expects to gain more protection from the United States and hopes Washington will take on more responsibility in this region," Zhang said.
The US and the ROK reaffirmed the need to "further strengthen the alliance's capabilities and commitment to the defense of the Republic of Korea, particularly at a time of new and emerging challenges on the Korean Peninsula and in the region," according to a report from Xinhua.
The US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and his ROK counterpart Kim Kwan-jin held the 44th Security Consultative Meeting between the two countries on Wednesday, and reaffirmed their alliance.
Panetta said the US and ROK, one of its main allies in Asia, would continue to watch for provocation from the DPRK, and would be prepared to respond if provocations take place.
At the meeting, the US and the ROK agreed to build an attack and defense mechanism called "Kill Chain", which would mean the country would take only 30 minutes from detecting a military threat to enacting counter measures, reported Yonhap News Agency. According to the agency, Seoul and Washington will discuss building a missile intercept system and hold another military exercise to deal with possible nuclear attacks from Pyongyang in December.
Yang Yujun, spokesman of Ministry of National Defense, said at a news conference on Thursday that a country's development of a missile intercept system should not exceed its defense needs, or harm regional security and stability.