Korea: October 21, 2000

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South Korea's new defense spending plan calls for dealing with threats from any direction, not just for North Korea. The plan notes that Japan and China are expanding their operations and areas of concern, and increases the focus on Korea's airspace and maritime zones. Korean newspapers have coined the phrase "an omni-directional defense posture". One element of the new policy is a decreasing dependence on the US, partly due to the increasing belief that the US has too many other problems to be a reliable ally, and partly due to a desire to define their own defense separately from the US. The fall of the Soviet Union meant that the US no longer needed to focus on Korea and Japan as a front-line against communism. The US has encouraged the Japanese to expand the role and operations of their military, something that does not make the Koreans happy. China has become increasingly active, trying to control numerous disputed islands in Asian waters. Given all of these developments, South Korea is moving to expand its military and upgrade its capabilities. Over the next decade, South Korea wants to buy AWACS and aerial refueling tankers, three US-designed Aegis-class destroyers, and five new submarines, along with dozens of new fighter aircraft, helicopters, surface-to-air missiles, and unmanned recon aircraft.--Stephen V Cole

 

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