Military may reduce DSC personnel by 30%

Former lawmaker Chang Young-dal, head of a taskforce on reforming the Defense Security Command (DSC), speaks during a press conference at the defense ministry in Yongsan, Seoul, Thursday. / Yonhap

By Kim Yoo-chulA taskforce set up to reform the scandal-ridden Defense Security Command (DSC) recommended cutting the unit’s personnel by 30 percent, Thursday.

The team, led by former lawmaker Chang Young-dal, delivered a set of proposals for DSC reform to Defense Minister Song Young-moo after holding its final meeting. Based on this, the defense ministry will finalize plans to reform the military intelligence unit.

“The DSC itself won’t be dismantled. But its functions will be redesigned. We submitted three proposals including reducing the number of DSC personnel by up to 30 percent, preventing its political interference and putting it under the direct control of the defense minister,” Chang said.

“Assuming that the streamlined workforce plan goes through, the remaining DSC personnel will further specialize and focus on their given tasks. DSC agents in regional cities and local provinces will be given new missions once details of backup plans are finalized.”

He added the team suggested Defense Minister Song completely dismantle “all existing measures,” which have so far been untouched by DSC activities.

He said the suggestions, if they are implemented smoothly, will help eradicate illegal activities such as illicit wiretapping and other types of illegal surveillance.

“There will be a lot of debate regarding the taskforce’s suggestions. But I think debate is always good. What we did was to find common ground through open discussions,” Chang said.

The recommendations came a few weeks after President Moon Jae-in hinted at a possible large-scale restructuring of the DSC after he was briefed on the specifics of a document titled “Wartime Martial Law and Joint Action Plan.”

The document, drawn up by the DSC in preparation for the Constitutional Court ruling on ex-President Park Geun-hye’s impeachment in March last year, included detailed plans for the mobilization of 4,800 armed soldiers, including Special Forces and members of the 707th Special Mission Battalion to quell what the DSC expected would be “large-scale,” violent protests if the court rejected Park’s impeachment.

After the unveiling of the document, the DSC said it briefed Song on the document, which the minister flatly denied. Also, the DSC was suspected of wiretapping the late President Roh Moo-hyun and senior government officials while Roh was in office.

President Moon later hinted that follow-up measures will be applied including a plan to penalize top defense officials once the proposals are submitted.

Cheong Wa Dae denied media reports that Moon will sack Song soon.

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