New JCS chief vows to support peace efforts, strengthen readiness

SEOUL, Gen. Park Han-ki, the new chairman of the Joint Chiefs Of Staff (JCS), took office Thursday, vowing to back up South Korea’s ongoing peace efforts and strengthen military readiness and cooperation among all armed services.

During his inauguration speech, the 41st JCS chief also stressed his pursuit of “technology-based elite forces” through Seoul’s Defense Reform 2.0 initiative aimed at creating a smaller yet smarter military.

“Now, the security situation on the Korean Peninsula is at a historical turning point where we are moving toward peace and prosperity after long periods of confrontation,” he said.

“Our citizens call for a trustworthy military that can clearly ensure the safety of our citizens and nation while maintaining firm readiness under any circumstances,” he added.

Touching on the recent inter-Korean military agreement entailing a series of arms control measures, Park pledged to make “active efforts” for its implementation.

“It is a crucial task that all of our citizens are interested in and have expectations about,” he said. “While striving to ensure that the agreement will be enforced, we will establish a posture that can deal with any possible situation.”

The two Korea’s defense chiefs signed the military agreement right after the third summit between South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in Pyongyang last month.

The agreement includes disarming the Joint Security Area in the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ), withdrawing some border guard posts and setting up ground, maritime and air buffer zones to reduce tensions and prevent accidental clashes.

During the speech, he also underscored his desire to enhance inter-service cooperation based on the “balanced development” of the Army, Navy and Air Force, and to forge capabilities to counter comprehensive security threats, including those in cyberspace.

“I will seek a shift in the combat paradigm to ensure that all troops and combat units can operate under the same strategy and operational concepts through close inter-service cooperation and communication,” he said.

In a meeting with reporters later, Park said that he is well aware of citizens’ security concerns and of his “mission of the times.”

“I will strive to maintain a strong security posture not just by words but through actions,” he said.

He also stressed his “firm resolve” regarding the importance of the South Korea-U.S. alliance.

“I will maintain a close relationship with (U.S. Forces Korea commander) Gen. Vincent Brooks and his predecessor Gen. Robert Abrams in light of the significance of the (shared) awareness of the firm combined defense system,” he said.

Park, well versed in military operations, has served in various commanding posts, including those at the Army’s 2nd Operational Command, 8th Corps and 53rd Division.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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