Senior military official acknowledges shortcomings in Seoul’s response after North Korean drones entered South Korean airspace
South Korea has issued an apology to its citizens after failing to shoot down several North Korean drones that crossed the border earlier this week, acknowledging the incident stoked public fears while promising a more aggressive response to the future.
Lt. Gen. Kang Shin-chul, chief operations director of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) of the South Korean military, commented on the drone breach in a statement on Tuesday, noting flaws in Seoul’s military preparation.
“We are sorry that although our military detected and tracked the drones, we were unable to shoot them down,” he said adding “Ultimately, we caused a lot of public concern because of the insufficient military readiness posture.”
The mea culpa came just a day after Seoul announced that five North Korean drones had crossed the military demarcation line that separates the two Koreas, some traveling to the southern capital and remaining in its airspace for several hours. . The military said it scrambled a number of planes and fired more than 100 rounds in an attempt to shoot down unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), but didn’t – at least partly due to fears of accidentally hitting civilian structures, according to local media.
South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol offered his own criticism of the armed forces earlier on Tuesday, saying the drone incident showed the military was “miss a lot” in preparation for. He pledged to “strengthen our surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities by introducing advanced stealth drones”, calling for the creation of a special unit dedicated to drones.
Lt. Gen. Kang also promised new measures to deal with possible drone attacks, saying South Korea would use its strike assets. “aggressively” in response to future airspace violations, as well as conducting periodic drills and procuring new weapons to shoot down unmanned craft. To avoid damage to civilian infrastructure, he said the military would also seek “non-kinetic” systems to deal with drones, a category that includes lasers and other directed energy weapons.
This week’s drone incident came at a time of rising tensions between the two Koreas, with Pyongyang carrying out a record number of weapons tests in 2022 amid a flurry of live-fire military drills by Seoul and Washington. The airspace violation was followed by another brief alert on Tuesday, in which South Korea deployed fighter jets and attack helicopters to intercept what it initially thought were drones. However, media later clarified that the “drones” were actually a flock of birds, citing unnamed defense officials.
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