The Korea Herald


Bills aim to strengthen status of Marine Corps

By Song Sangho

Published : Jan. 12, 2011 - 18:54

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A ruling party lawmaker is planning to submit to parliament three revision bills this week that would offer more independence to the Marine Corps, which was merged into the Navy in 1973.

The move comes as the need for the Marines’ independence from the Navy has been voiced following North Korea’s artillery attack on Yeonpyeong Island in November that killed two marines and two civilians.

Rep. Chung Mi-kyung of the Grand National Party said that the three bills are designed to give the Marines the authority to independently manage its personnel and equipment. The chief of naval operations has so far held the authority.

The bills seek to revise the three laws pertaining to the military organizations and the management of the personnel and supplies.

The first bill is to enable the Marines to operate as a national strategic mobile force and a rapid reaction force in addition to their primary role focusing on the amphibious landing operations. It is also to allow the Marine commandant to be part of the Joint Chiefs of Staff leadership meeting.

The second bill would enable the Marine commandant to exercise the authority to manage his personnel such as commissioned and non-commissioned officers while the third would allow the commandant to independently manage his troops’ military supplies.

Rep. Shin Hak-yong of the main opposition Democratic Party has also prepared three revision bills aimed at offering the Marine Corps more independence in terms of its handling of the personnel and budgets. He is expected to submit the bills later this month or early next month.

The number of the marines under the 68,000-strong Navy stands at around 27,000.

The Marine Corps, noted for its successful operations during the 1950-53 Korean War and its dispatch to the Vietnam War in the 1960s, was established in 1949.

Ostensibly to economically and effectively manage the military, the Marine Corps was merged into the Navy in October 1973 with the disbandment of the Marine Command, which was re-established in November 1987.

By Song Sang-ho (