President Moon Jae-in has reiterated the importance of maintaining a strong national defense to achieve peace on the Korean Peninsula.
He was being briefed Tuesday by South Korea's defense ministry on its policy goals for the new year. at the Gyeryongdae complex, the heart of the nation's combined military forces.
"The most basic of basics is to maintain a robust military readiness that does not permit even the smallest of mistakes and that no one can hope to match. Our ultimate goal of a Korean Peninsula of peace and prosperity must be backed by a strong national defense."
President Moon highlighted this year's immense defense budget of around 43 billion U.S. dollars, increased by an annual average of 8 percent since the start of the Moon administration.
With this, the president called on the military to push ahead rapidly with its reform.
He reiterated the importance of transferring wartime operational control to South Korea from the U.S. while also strengthening the bilateral alliance and intelligence exchange capabilities.
For this, the ministry plans to establish a firm foundation for the transfer by thoroughly analyzing the North's nuclear and missile capabilities in the latter half of the year.
South Korea also plans to hold its annual springtime joint exercises with the U.S. on a scale similar to last year's.
According to a defense ministry official, the two sides are preparing for the computer-simulated command post exercise as planned, but are open to readjustment based on diplomatic developments.
Seoul has been scaling down the exercises to avoid provoking Pyeongyang amid the denuclearization talks.
But they would likely be escalated should North Korea raise military tensions on the Peninsula by testing intercontinental ballistic missiles.
As for readiness against newly emerging threats, the president added that the military should actively apply the technologies of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
This would hopefully grow the country's exports of high-tech weapons and benefiting the local economy.
Park Hee-jun, Arirang News.