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“Ensuring conditions where commanders can be devoted to duties is the essence of a strong military”

A conference was hosted by Defense Minister Shin Won Sik

A total of 130 officers including generals attended

Four topics were discussed: personnel, welfare, conditions for commanding, and budget

The participants freely presented their views on development methods


A discussion on “creating conditions for commander


A discussion on “creating conditions for commanders to devote themselves to their mission” was held under the chairmanship of Defense Minister Shin Won Sik in the conference room of Gyeryongdae on May 10. The purpose of the discussion was to listen to the difficulties experienced by field-grade and above field commanders and to identify ways of enabling them to be committed to their duties.



Defense Minister Shin Won Sik said, “Ensuring a condition where commanders, who decide the fate of a battle, can fully dedicate themselves to a combat mission is the essence of building a strong military.”


Minister Shin promised to help commanders to fulfill their duties by making every effort to improve their conditions so that they can be fully involved in unit command.


In his opening remarks to the conference, Minister

In his opening remarks to the conference, Minister Shin expressed his appreciation for the dedication and hard work of the commanders and promised to see to it that conditions are fostered to allow commanders to focus on combat missions.


Minister Shin said, “In order to maintain an operational readiness posture, it is important to improve conditions and then conduct operations, and the deployment of troops is possible only after the troops are raised. He added, “Today, we are discussing how commanders, who are the key to cultivating and using soldiers, can best fulfill their role.”


He also said, “The basic conditions for junior officers have greatly improved, and now we will focus on improving conditions for middle-ranking commanders, and then raise the mission conditions for senior commanders and staff officers.”


He continued, “I urge you as representatives of each branch of the military to present opinions from the field.”


It was the first conference of its kind with the aim to listen to the difficulties facing field-grade commanders and identify the conditions under which they can be fully dedicated to their mission of maintain a robust defense posture. The conference was attended by 130 generals and commanders of the rank of lieutenant colonel and above from all branches of the military, including chiefs of the military services, the deputy commander of the ROK/U.S. Combined Forces Command, and the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.


In order to cultivate a combat-oriented strong military, it is essential to ensure that commanders can devote themselves to controlling their subordinates in a military organization where a chain of command is the cornerstone. Therefore, the Defense Ministry considers the cultivation of a strong, combat-oriented military led by middle-ranking officers to be critical to combat strength, and is committed to fostering an environment in which commanders can fulfill their duties.


The conference began with a speech by Minister Shin, and personnel and welfare systems, budget support, continuous operation support and improving command conditions were discussed, and officers were allowed to present their views.


Participants were free to express their views on difficulties and ways to improve them. In particular, unit commanders identified the following factors as obstacles to mission accomplishment: shortages of personnel, welfare, housing and logistics; inadequate budget for unit command and operations; and excessive responsibility for command and control.


Commenting on military housing, a unit commander in the navy said, “The conditions for moving in seem to be important, and it takes three days to move in into housing for commanders, but general housing takes three weeks or three months at most.”


The commander of B unit of the Air Force mentioned the expenses for combat command activities and raising combat competence. He said, “Regarding the increase in expenses for improving combat competence, it is necessary to expand the units commanded by officers with the rank of major, and the budget is very small, so there is not much money that commanders can actually use.” He suggested that the purpose and target of the budget should be specified so that commanders can implement it without a burden.


The commander of C unit of the Marine Corps spoke about the deputy commander system, and said, “Because the responsibility of a commander in a field unit is so great, a deputy commander is necessary. Since the military structure is becoming leaner due to the demographic cliff, the deputy commander system should be introduced even on a temporary basis by using personnel beyond a capacity to create proper conditions for the fulfillment of duties.”


The commander of the Army’s D unit described the poor working conditions at the GOP and stressed the need to increase the budgets for operations, saying, “I once diverted other budgets to repair old facilities.”


The Defense Ministry and the branches of the armed forces divided the conference discussions into four areas: personnel and welfare, logistics, unit command conditions and budget, and decided to make efforts to address them. The Ministry will select additional tasks in an ongoing consultation process and will hold quarterly meetings to assess progress.


Specifically, the Defense Ministry aims to improve the system for mitigating military punishment, increase spending on combat command activities in line with unit conditions, increase the operational budget for security and operational units, introduce the position of deputy commander in units commanded by lieutenant colonels or colonels, increase the staff ratio, and increase the number of military service advisors and define their roles. To achieve these goals, the Ministry will consult with other government ministries to supplement the systems and secure the relevant budgets.


After the conference, Minister Shin took pictures with each of the participating commanders, encouraged them and shared a meal with them. Lieutenant Colonel Kim Hee Seop, commander of the Geonbongsan Battalion of the 22nd Infantry Division said, “I feel motivated to work hard because of the efforts of the Defense Ministry and each branch of the military to ensure conditions for dedication to duty, and I will do my best as a field commander to establish a military posture of an immediate and strong response until the end.”

By Ah-Mi, Cho <>

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  • (Presentation and Follow-on discussion)