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UPDATED: 16:47, January 13, 2005
S. Korea to cut 40,000 troops by 2008
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South Korea will reduce 40,000 from its 690,000 troops by 2008, as part of efforts to reshape its military structure and enhance the military capability, according to South Korean Ministry of National Defense (MND) Thursday.

In accordance with the plan, the South Korean military already cut 9,000 soldiers in 2004 by reconsolidating about 600 small military units with overlapping functions, said a statement of theMND.

But the troop reduction will not undermine South Korea's military capability as the ministry intends to increase its defense spending on force improvement projects, the statement explained.

"To actively deal with future changes in the security situation,the ministry has consistently made efforts to build an intelligence-oriented, high-tech and elite military," the statement said.

The readjustment will mostly affect Army-enlisted men, who account for more than 80 percent of all South Korean troops. Support-unit personnel, who serve in such disciplines as post exchanges, will be replaced by civilians, while other administrative staff will be phased out as automated office systems are introduced, according to the statement.

After South Korea and the United States embarked on negotiations over US troops relocation in 2003, South Korean government mapped out self-defense policy based on Seoul-Washington alliance policy, which underscores enhancing capabilityof its own army while maintain cooperation with the US.

About 32,500 US troops remain stationed in South Korea now. Bythe end of 2008, the US will reduce its troops to 25,000 in South Korea.

Source: Xinhua

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