Emerging Threats, Force Structures, and the Role of Air Power in Korea

By Natalie W. Crawford | Go to book overview

Chapter Five
CHANGING THREAT ENVIRONMENT, FORCE
STRUCTURE, AND DEFENSE PLANNING: THE SOUTH
KOREAN CASE1
Chung-In Moon

INTRODUCTION

Despite the global diffusion of a “post–Cold War” ambiance since the late 1980s, Northeast Asia has not been able to escape the lingering inertia of the Cold War. On the contrary, North Korea has become an even more dangerous regional spoiler with potential nuclear capabilities and their means for delivery, as reflected in the launch of its Daepo Dong II missile. Newly emerging tensions between China and the United States and the ongoing debate over Theatre Missile Defense (TMD) between the United States and its allies underscore the strategic instabilities deeply embedded in the region. These instabilities have fostered a new debate in South Korea over the country's future military strategy and force structure.

Two schools of thought have dominated the debate. “Softliners,” inspired by the Kim Dae Jung government's “sunshine policy” of seeking peaceful coexistence with North Korea through cooperation and exchange, call for a more reserved defense posture and the reso-

____________________
1
This chapter was prepared for presentation at an international conference on “Emerging Threats, Forces Structures, and the Role of Air Power in Korea,” organized by the Center for International Studies, Yonsei University, Seoul, Korea, June 11–12, 1999. I would like to thank Byung-chull Kang and Jong-soo Chun for their research as-sistance. Comments are welcome.

-89-

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