Feasibility of implementing an all-volunteer force for the ROK armed forces
Yim, Jung Woo
Eitelberg, Mark J.
Cho, Kwan Ho.
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This research evaluates the feasibility of introducing all-volunteer military recruitment in the Republic of Korea (ROK). The ROK plans to reduce military manpower strength from 681,000 to 500,000 by 2020. The ROK's plan to downsize military manpower could raise popular expectations for a radical change in the military personnel system, such as eliminating the draft and moving toward an all-volunteer force. Issues of military misconduct, conscientious objection, draft evasion, and an unequal distribution of military service across the sexes were not fully resolved under the draft. In terms of opportunity cost, the draft imposes an economic burden on young people. Further, the present draft may not be suitable for a high-technology military that no longer needs massive numbers of personnel. This study analyzes the type of military service system Korea maintains at present, using key defining indicators, and evaluates the suitability of Korea's current military/economic/political/social factors for voluntary recruitment through an open-systems conceptual model. Results indicate that the draft should be maintained for the near future, but this does not preclude changes in the current system. In the long run, a gradual transition to voluntary recruitment appears necessary to develop a quality-focused approach to military resources that is in liine with national defense reforms and the changing aspects of warfare. The ROK should consider a phase-to-phase transition toward volunteer-driven recruitment, as it eventually brings an end to the draft.
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