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New JCS chairman vows to strengthen readiness posture, back peace efforts

Defense 17:10 September 23, 2020

By Choi Soo-hyang

SEOUL, Sept. 23 (Yonhap) -- Gen. Won In-choul took office as the new chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) on Wednesday, vowing to ensure full readiness posture at all fronts to sternly deal with any provocations.

During his inauguration speech, the 42nd JCS chief also pledged to militarily back the government's efforts to establish peace on the Korean Peninsula and accelerate the push to retake the wartime operational control (OPCON) of South Korean forces from the United States.

"We will improve the completeness of our security operations in peace time and maintain capabilities and a posture to immediately and sternly respond to provocation by any enemy that threatens South Korea," he said.

President Moon Jae-in (L) and Gen. Won In-choul, new chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS), pose for a photo during a ceremony at the presidential office Cheong Wa Dae in Seoul on Sept. 23, 2020, to mark Won's inauguration. (Yonhap)

The former Air Force chief of staff was named last month to succeed Gen. Park Han-ki as JCS chairman.

Referring to North Korea's continued push to develop ballistic missiles, Won said the peninsula is facing "various unpredictable challenges."

"We will develop the future-oriented South Korea-U.S. military alliance, and expand the sphere of our military, security cooperation through catered international military cooperation in line with South Korea's national power and our military's strength," he said.

Won, 59, was commissioned as a second lieutenant in 1984 following his graduation from the Korea Air Force Academy. He has served in various commanding posts, including the JCS' vice chief and the chairman of the Air Force Operations Command.

President Moon Jae-in (L) and Gen. Nam Yeong-shin, new Army chief of staff, pose for a photo during a ceremony at the presidential office Cheong Wa Dae in Seoul on Sept. 23, 2020, to mark Nam's inauguration. (Yonhap)

Won's inauguration was part of a major military reshuffle that included the appointment of Suh Wook, former Army chief of staff, as the new defense minister.

On the same day, new Army Chief of Staff Gen. Nam Yeong-shin, new Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Lee Seong-yong and new Combined Forces Command (CFC) deputy commander Gen. Kim Seung-kyum also assumed office.

In his inauguration speech, Nam vowed utmost efforts for OPCON transition based on strong alliance with the U.S.

The Seoul government seeks to retake the wartime OPCON before the current Moon Jae-in administration's term ends in May 2022, though the transition is not time-based but conditions-based.

"The next five years will be a crucial turning point for the future of the Army and the security of South Korea," Nam said, urging all soldiers to take part in efforts to build a "strong Army that wins."

President Moon Jae-in (L) and Gen. Lee Seong-yong, new Air Force chief of staff, pose for a photo during a ceremony at the presidential office Cheong Wa Dae in Seoul on Sept. 23, 2020, to mark Lee's inauguration. (Yonhap)

Lee, who succeed Won, also pledged to back the peninsula's peace and the country's prosperity with strength.

"By maintaining a perfect air defense posture, we will firmly back military readiness posture at all fronts," Lee said.

Kim, the new CFC deputy commander, vowed to make utmost efforts to deter North Korean provocations through a strong combined defense posture.

"Based on the mutual trust our predecessors have fostered, I will strive for the OPCON transition and the future-oriented development of the South Korea-U.S. alliance," he said.

President Moon Jae-in (L) and Gen. Kim Seung-kyum, the new Combined Forces Command deputy commander, pose for a photo during a ceremony at the presidential office Cheong Wa Dae in Seoul on Sept. 23, 2020, to mark Kim's inauguration. (Yonhap)

scaaet@yna.co.kr
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