South Korea to shorten mandatory military service period from October


South Korea approved a proposal on 4 September to shorten mandatory military service period by up to three months that will take effect from next month. The Cabinet meeting, chaired by Prime Minister Lee Nak-yon, approved the defense ministry's offer to shorten the military service period over the coming years.


South Korea to shorten mandatory military service period from October 2
The military aimed to cut the number of soldiers to half a million by 2022 from the current 625,000. (Picture source: South Korean Armed Forces)


Starting in October, the service period will be gradually curtailed from 21 months to 18 months for the Army and the Marine Corps, from 23 months to 20 months for the Navy, and from 24 months to 22 months for the Air Force. It was part of the military's reform measures, called the Defense Reform 2.0, to modernize the armed forces instead of reducing the number of troops. The military aimed to cut the number of soldiers to half a million by 2022 from the current 625,000.

The President of the Republic is the Commander-in-Chief (ex-officio). The military authority runs from the President to the Minister of National Defense, who is commonly (but not legally bound to be) a retired 4-star General (equivalent to a British Army/Commonwealth full General or a Royal Navy/Commonwealth Admiral). The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, a 4-star General or Admiral, is the Senior Officer of the Armed Forces and has the Operational Authority over the Armed Forces, with directions from the President through the Minister of Defense. Traditionally (with one exception), the position is filled by an officer of the Army. The chain of Operational Authority runs straight from the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to the Commandants of the several Operational Commands. Currently there are five Operational Commands in the Army, two in the Navy (including the Marine Corps) and one in the Air Force.

The respective Chiefs of Staff of each Service Branch (Army, Navy, Air Force) has administrative control over his or her own service. Each Chief of Staff is also a standing member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.


 

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