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Military to extend basic training to 8 weeks from 2011

All Headlines 17:06 December 30, 2010

SEOUL, Dec. 30 (Yonhap) -- Starting next year, the basic combat training for drafted soldiers will be extended to eight weeks from the current five, as part of the military's efforts to sharpen combat readiness, the defense ministry said Thursday.

Longer basic training will incorporate tougher standards, ministry officials said. For instance, soldiers wearing full military kit will be required to march 40 kilometers a day, 10km more than the current requirement.

Conscripts will also be required to improve their shooting accuracy to 60 percent from the current 50 percent to further enhance their physical fitness, the ministry said.

"The aim is to train and prepare soldiers more swiftly to implement their combat mission," a ministry official said on condition of anonymity.

Currently, all able-bodied South Korean men must serve for nearly two years in the country's 650,000-member military, which faces North Korea's 1.2 million troops across a heavily guarded border.

South Korea remains technically at war with the North because the 1950-53 Korean War ended in a cease-fire, not a peace treaty.

Tensions on the Korean Peninsula have remained acute this year following the North's torpedo attack on a South Korean warship in March and the deadly shelling on the front-line island of Yeonpyeong last month, in which two marines and two civilians were killed. The attack on the Cheonan warship killed 46 sailors.

kdh@yna.co.kr
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