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[Defense Minister Suh Wook] “Realization of Strong Security, Proud Military, and Shared National Defense”

Defense Minister Suh Wook's New Year's Speech
Completing missions without being disturbed regardless of the situation
Establishing an all-round national defense posture and supporting the government’s peace-keeping efforts
Building future-leading capabilities for smart defense innovation
Preemptive and proactive response to infectious diseases and disasters

[Defense Minister Suh Wook] “Realization of Strong

For the new year, Defense Minister Suh Wook emphasized the realization of ‘Strong Security, Proud Military, and Shared National Defense’ according to the ‘righteous path’ for national defense. He also requested to continue supporting the government's efforts to establish an all-round national defense posture and lasting peace on the Korean Peninsula.

In his New Year's Speech, given on January 1, Minister Suh complimented the ROK military personnel and defense families that are silently fulfilling their duties for their hard work in completing the noble mission of national defense in the rapidly changing security situation and national defense environment.

Minister Suh expressed his infinite trust in the dedication and passion of the Armed Forces personnel, mentioning, “Our military supported the government’s efforts to establish a lasting peace on the Korean Peninsula with its ‘strength’ through a firm military readiness posture last year, and has built a strong army through Defense Reform 2.0 and smart defense innovation. Remarkable accomplishments have also been seen in areas such as the transition of wartime operational control (OPCON) and defense diplomacy reinforcement. Beyond this, the members of our military have also dedicated themselves to realizing a military that is trusted by the people through efforts such as protecting the human rights of soldiers, reforming the barracks culture, and supporting the pan-governmental response to COVID-19.”

In addition, Minister Suh predicted that the security environment surrounding the Korean Peninsula will remain uncertain even in the new year. He pointed to North Korea's continuous development of new weapons systems such as missiles and submarines, the North Korean nuclear issue that threatens peace and security on the Korean Peninsula and in the international community, and worsening transnational and non-military threats, as there are traditional security threats such as armament and strategic competition with neighboring powers.

In this sense, Minister Suh stressed two aspects in particular, mentioning the importance of realizing ‘Strong Security, Proud Military, and Shared National Defense,’ which is the goal of the national defense operation according to the ‘righteous path’ for national defense.

First, “the ‘righteous path’ for national defense is to be faithful to one’s own role and duty, as the saying goes - ‘the duty of ROK soldiers is to devote themselves to the country.’ Our military is responsible for safeguarding the country and protecting the lives and safety of the people,” he emphasized.

Also, “We should practice basic quarantine rules and re-examine the quarantine system within the military bases in order to fulfill our duty to maintain readiness and protect the lives and safety of the people, and to overcome the crisis of new COVID-19 outbreaks. As public officials and defense families that are in charge of protecting the people, we need to have a stricter ethical awareness, and therefore should take initiative and participate in the national quarantine measures,” he added.

Minister Suh directed troops not to “... blur the essence of the military by creating political issues and controversies through our own inattentive remarks and behaviors, as well as our SNS activities. We should focus on our duties.” He added, “We must strictly maintain the political neutrality of the military as stipulated in the Constitution, as the presidential election in March and nationwide local elections are scheduled for June of this year.”

Second, Minister Suh mentioned the importance of ‘Strong Security, Proud Military, and Shared National Defense.’ He explained “It is our military's basic mission to protect the country. Based on the establishment of the all-round defense posture, the ROK-U.S. combined defense posture should be strengthened and trust in the military should be built by implementing the ‘9/19 Military Agreement,’” going on to add that the military should establish an all-round defense posture and continue to support the government’s efforts to establish a lasting peace on the Korean Peninsula.

Minister Suh pointed out that the OPCON transition is a task of the times for ‘responsible defense,’ adding that it is necessary to accelerate this by systematically preparing the evaluation for the full operational capability (FOC) of the Future Allied Forces Command.

To proactively prepare for rising transnational and non-military threats, he explained "‘Defense Vision 2050,’ which was published last year, serves as a blueprint for future defense that can nurture the dreams and visions of the military and as a compass that presents the direction for military development,” going on to add that “We need to establish defense capabilities that lead the future through Defense Reform 2.0 and smart defense innovation.”

Minister Suh also asked that dedicated efforts be made to create a trustworthy defense environment. Beyond this, he emphasized the importance of creating a national defense environment in which soldiers are dedicated to their duties, saying “The state and the people are requiring the military to innovate the barracks culture intensively in ways that reflect the changing times and the people’s expectations. Our military will implement reform of the military judicial system and improve military food service more actively and with a strong sense of determination.”

Minister Suh also ordered the military to respond proactively to infectious disease outbreaks and disasters, and take part in pan-governmental efforts in these areas. Minister Suh emphasized his hope that the military will dedicate itself with a firm determination to protecting the lives and health of the people in an unfavorable situation, pointing out “Since the COVID-19 pandemic broke out, our military as a ‘military for the people’ has made a huge impression thanks to our dedicated support for the national quarantine efforts.”

Finally, Minister Suh emphasized again, “Our goals of 'Strong Security, Proud Military, and Shared National Defense' will absolutely be realized if all military personnel and defense families humbly combine their efforts, keeping in mind that we should work together internally and externally in order to achieve our ambitious goals.” The Minister went on to add that he is confident that much progress will be made this coming year if our military follows the ‘righteous path’ for national defense without faltering, regardless of the circumstances.

By Chae-Mu, Im < >

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