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Military to create new senior NCO rank

The Defense Ministry seeks to establish a new senior-level rank in the non-commissioned officer system to secure more experienced, skillful personnel and boost their morale, officials said Sunday.

It reported the plan to the presidential transition committee, they said. The plan could be put into action as early as later this year, officials predicted.

“As the ministry plans to bolster the NCO number, the new rank will help ensure a clearer differentiation of troops in terms of their level of military experience,” a ministry official said, declining to be named.

“The new senior rank will also help the military secure more skilled personnel given that many lower-level officers such as staff sergeant and sergeant first class largely work for a short term.”

The new rank is to be put between master sergeant and command sergeant major. With it, the NCO system is to consist of five ranks including a staff sergeant and sergeant first class.

Officials believe the addition of a new rank will help improve the current pyramid-like NCO system, in which inexperienced, less skillful low-level officers, who are to stay for short terms, take the bulk of the NCO personnel structure.

The ministry has recruited some 10,000 NCOs each year over the last three years. Around 30 percent of them can stay in the military for long-term service following the completion of their mandatory four-year service.

The importance of the NCO personnel has increased as President-elect Park Geun-hye has pledged to reduce mandatory service term for draftees by three months to 18 months. The Defense Ministry expressed concern over the pledge, citing a continuing military threat from North Korea.

In 2010, the ministry commissioned the state-run Korea Institute for Defense Analyses to conduct a feasibility study on the establishment of a new NCO rank. The current NCO rank system was established in 1989.

By Song Sang-ho (
Korea Herald Youtube