New Marines Command to Protect South Korean Border Islands

  • Our Bureau
  • 07:08 AM, October 20, 2017
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New Marines Command to Protect South Korean Border Islands
South Korean Marine Corps Soldier

The South Korean Marine Corps has announced plans to establish a new command dedicated to protect border islands against North Korea’s attacks and infiltration attempts.

The new command will be built around 2020 and based on the current Northwestern Island Defense Command, The Marine Corps was quoted as saying during the parliamentary audit by Korea Herald Thursday.

It was formed in 2011 following North Korea’s artillery attack on Yeongpyeongdo, one of the farmost islands in the West Sea. 

“Not only do we focus on the northwestern island, the Marine Corps will seek to expand the command into a new defense command for strategic islands,” Marine Corps’ commander Gen. Jun Jin-goo was quoted as saying by the news daily. “We will seek to establish a unified command structure for strategic islands in the west, east and south sea.”

The announcement came amid North Korea’s increasing threat against South Korea’s border areas. In August, Pyongyang revealed its military training designed to seize Yeongpyeongdo and its nearby Baengnyeongdo. 

“In the event of the enemy’s provocations, front-line units can’t afford to judge whether this is a localized skirmish or an all-out war. We will retaliate as if it is an all-out war,” Um told lawmakers. “We have maintained a robust readiness posture.”

The Marines Corps said it would establish a unit to defend Dokdo, a set of islets in the East Sea that have been the subject of a territorial dispute with Japan. Dubbed the “Ulleung unit” -- named after the island near Dokdo -- the unit will interdict infiltration attempts near the water. The Marine Corps seeks to build the unit by 2020. 

In a bid to build an “aggressive operation” against North Korea’s provocations, the Navy also announced a plan to create a new maneuver fleet and an aviation command by 2023. 

If formed, the new fleet will include several 6,000-ton KDDX Aegis destroyers and three additional 7,600-ton KDX-III Aegis destroyers. The KDDX ships, which will be built in the mid-2020s, are to be equipped with an advanced ballistic missile defense system and ship-to-surface missiles.

“We will focus on improving our capability to strike the North Korean leadership and core targets inside (the North’s) ballistic missile operation area,” the Navy said in its report for the parliamentary audit. “We will focus on improving sea-based anti-missile operations.” 

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