Friday, November 20, 2009

Military Inspection Team to Visit Afghanistan: South Korea


By Jung Sung-ki

The South Korean military will soon dispatch an on-site inspection team to Afghanistan to gauge the number of troops and the equipment required for the planned deployment there, a spokesman for the Ministry of National Defense said Thursday.

The team will visit the Parwan and Charikar provinces, and meet with local officials as well as officials from NATO's International Security Assistant Force (ISAF), he said. The government has made public plans to dispatch more civilian reconstruction workers accompanied by security forces to Afghanistan.

``An exact timeline has yet to be fixed, but the team will leave for Afghanistan soon,'' the spokesman told reporters. Earlier this week a team led by Deputy Foreign Minister Lee Yong-joon returned home having inspected Parwan near the Afghan capital of Kabul, which is considered a suitable area for aid workers to be based.

Against that backdrop, military sources said the troops will number around 300, adding that it may rise to 500. The military is considering deploying unmanned aerial vehicles and helicopters to help in surveillance and reconnaissance operations against improvised explosive devices (IEDs).

Key equipment for the Afghan deployment includes Barracuda 4x4 armored wheeled vehicles, K1A/K2 assault rifles and K200 amphibious armored personnel carriers. Coalition forces in the terrorism-ridden Central Asian nation are struggling to introduce better protective equipment from roadside bombs and improvised explosive devices, the weapons most commonly used by Taliban fighters. Britain, Canada, the Netherlands and Germany have recently ordered armored vehicles to replace less-protected military transports in Afghanistan and Iraq.

gallantjung@koreatimes.co.kr

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